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Mixed feelings abound ahead of Obama's trip to India

Many Indian merchants hope to capitalize on the meeting between the two world leaders this coming week.
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NELLORE, India --  As President Barack Obama moves into lame duck presidency mode following this week’s State of the Union address, he will be visiting Delhi, located in northern India, and surrounding areas, beginning this Saturday and concluding on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Obama will be the first American president to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade in Delhi, India’s second largest city.  The parade will follow India’s most impressive avenue, Rajpath.  The demonstration of military capabilities and cultural heritage lasts for almost two hours and includes the world's only camel-mounted security force.

The president will be accompanied by his wife Michelle Obama and a team of senior officials in his administration, including six aircrafts, carrying security staff. 

The President's cavalcade, will include 30 cars. It is rumored that 1,600 people will be in the president's entourage.  Obama will be staying at the luxiourius ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi. Guests currently staying at the hotel have already been asked to vacate.

President Obama and his wife will also visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Obama last visited India in 2010.

According to the Indian newspaper The Hindu, “a 30-member security team of Mr. Obama has been camping in Agra and is checking the security drill on a daily basis in coordination with the local police.”

According to Rakesh Modak, SSP Agra, about 100 American security personnel and 5,000 Indian security forces will provide a protection for President Obama and his family when they visit Taj Mahal on January 27. The monument will be closed to the public that day.

Agra businesses along the route and surrounding the Taj Mahal have been told to close leading up to and during the Presidential visit.  The roads into Agra will be closed. 

While the terrorist threat is high around the world, the level of security the Obama administration is requiring has been criticized as “unprecedented.”

According to reports in The Times of India today, Obama’s meeting with newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are not only expected to discuss energy policy and climate change, but also the economy, defense and regional and global issues. Modi and Obama met at a summit in September 2014.

An American diplomat told The Times of India that “US-India cooperation can significantly advance American interests in terms of promoting economic ties and increased exports to a growing market.”

Meanwhile, here in southern Andhra Pradesh, several hours north of the regional metropolis of Chennai, people we spoke to have mixed feelings about the world leader’s visit.

“It is an honor to have the US president visiting India.  But the security demands are too high. India is capable of taking care of national leaders, so they should let them." said an Andhra Pradesh resident who spoke to this Red Dirt Report correspondent.

The trip to India has also been criticized a glorified site seeing trip with little diplomatic value.  Americans visiting India, who also spoke with Red Dirt Report, said they did not see the value of the trip when it was costing so much for the American taxpayers and the Indian government.

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Marie Mentesana

Marie Mentesana is a second-generation American of Sicilian descent who started out as a...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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