In a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, former U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concerns about the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in India, warning that the country may face division if these rights are not upheld. Obama emphasized the importance of unity across faith and community lines for India’s economic success.
Former president Obama, known for his support of President Biden within the Democratic Party, stated that discussions about the protection of minority rights should be held honestly between the U.S. administration and Prime Minister Modi. He highlighted the need to address the situation, particularly the protection of the Muslim minority within a Hindu majority India.
“If the [U.S.] President meets with Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a Hindu majority India is worth mentioning. If I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you don’t protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, there is a strong possibility that India would at some point start pulling apart,” stated Obama.
The former U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned against the consequences of large internal conflicts, highlighting that such conflicts would not only be detrimental to the Muslim population but also to the overall unity of India. Obama emphasized the importance of having open and honest conversations about these issues.
Obama’s remarks came in response to Amanpour’s question regarding President Biden’s policy on defending democracy worldwide. Biden has made the defense of democracy a central focus of his administration, openly criticizing leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and hosting Indian Prime Minister Modi, who is considered by some to be autocratic or at least an illiberal democrat.
Obama has had previous interactions with PM Modi, hosting him in the United States and being hosted by Modi in India. During his visit to India in 2015, Obama expressed concerns about social harmony and stressed the importance of unity for India’s success as an economy. In a speech at Siri Fort Auditorium, he stated, “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith—so long as it’s not splintered along any lines—and is unified as one nation.”
The remarks made by Obama shed light on the potential risks India faces in maintaining social harmony and protecting the rights of its minority communities. These issues are not only crucial for the welfare of vulnerable sections of society but also for the overall unity and progress of the nation. As India continues to navigate its path forward, addressing these concerns and promoting inclusivity will be vital in building a strong and prosperous future for all citizens.