Protesting Obama in India

Pranav Jani reports from India on the little-noted protests over Barack Obama's visit.

President Obama inspects guards at India's Presidential Palace during a ceremonial welcomePresident Obama inspects guards at India's Presidential Palace during a ceremonial welcome

WHILE THE Indian media and politicians celebrated Obama's visit here, many others were opposed to his presence as a symbol of the global economic and military system that has led to destructive wars and the widening gap of rich and poor across the world.

After all, it was clear that the photo ops with school kids and landmarks was just a cover for the real purpose of the trip: making money. Accompanied by 200 CEOs from the U.S., the trip resulted in tens of billions of dollars worth of contracts. Don't take it from me: check out the Wall Street Journal citing the White House.

Here's a glimpse of actions and events that took place in India protesting Obama's visit:

-- Friday, farmers in Vidarbha (eastern Maharashtra)

From the Hindustan Times: "U.S. President Barack Obama is our guest and we respect him...[But he] should know that the U.S. policy of providing huge subsidies to cotton farmers in America has triggered over 16,000 farmland suicides in India," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishor Tiwari said at a rally.

-- Saturday, Bhopal gas victims protest, Bhopal

OneIndia News: "Despite knowing that over 25,000 persons have died until now due to the leak of poisonous gas from the Union Carbide factory here, why did the previous presidents of America, in the last 26 years, and Obama himself, not bother to utter a word on the Bhopal Gas disaster?" questioned an open letter given by the gas victims to Obama, through the U.S. Embassy.

-- Saturday, left protest, Mumbai

OutlookIndia: "Left parties today staged protests here against U.S. President Barack Obama's India visit, demanding justice for Bhopal gas tragedy victims and accusing the United States of not helping India on terrorism issue." [I admit I don't get why they're speaking the language of "national security" here!]

-- Sunday, permits for rally by Jammat e-Islami Hind withdrawn, Delhi

Zee News: "The rally on the theme 'Save the country from slavery, unrest and poverty,' the Jamaat members said, was in no way related to Obama's visit, though it was a coincidence that one of its key theme was raising a voice against 'neo-imperialism.' 'Our country is moving in the direction of becoming a slave of the country which Obama leads as the president. We wanted to oppose this onslaught on neo-imperialism, but the government apparently doesn't want us to do so,' [said JIH secretary general Nusrat Ali]."

-- Sunday midnight to Monday midnight, Maoist "bandh"

Maoists called a bandh, a shutdown, in six states to protest Obama's visit. Here's one story from Jharkhand. The original statement read: "We strongly protest the visit, as it is a further step to sell out of our country to American imperialism, and for that we have called the bandh." (central committee member, Kishenji to PTI)

-- Monday, protests around India

In Delhi, about 700 people affiliated with left parties and groups protested Obama's visit at Jantar Mantar. The headline over the e-mail announcement for this rally read: "Leader of War Mongers, Looters and Exploiter of World People, U.S. President Obama Go Back!"

First published at ScarletGuju.