President Obama Promotes U.S.-India Partnership on Open Government

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 8, 2010
President Obama Greets Students in Mumbai

As Samantha Power writes on the White House blog, President Obama attended an Expo on Democracy and Open Government in Mumbai, India, yesterday. The event highlights transparency, citizen participation, government responsiveness, and political accountability.

Before delivering his remarks, President Obama spent some time talking with expo participants and learning about their approaches to promoting open government.

As Ms. Power reports,"Part of what Indian civil society groups have discovered is the importance of using personal stories and publicizing factual data in order to mobilize democratic demand. President Obama spoke with Janagraaha, a group that created the website Ipaidabribe.com where Indians upload videos of their experiences in paying a bribe, in refusing to pay a bribe, and in "not having to pay a bribe" -- where Indian public servants provide services that citizens wish to celebrate. The website has received 120,000 hits in two and a half months. He also met with Arghyam, which holds public gatherings in rural India to test local drinking water. By ensuring that citizens are present to witness the water tests (the tests turns yellow for dirty water, purple for clean), the group is able to build bottom-up and intense pressure for clean water and hold local officials accountable if the water quality does not improve. A growing portion of this demand comes from women -- women's civil society groups, and women village leaders. The 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1993 mandated that one-third of Indian seats in government would go to women. More than one million women have been elected since this law was passed, and President Obama heard from the Hunger Project, which has trained more than 90,000 women local leaders. The President met a woman leader from a rural Panchayat who -- once elected -- overcame the opposition of the village leaders and mobilized her community to build the village's first-ever school for girls."

In his remarks, the President lauded India's use of technology to "leapfrog some of the intermediate stages of government service delivery, avoiding some of the 20th century mechanisms for delivering services and going straight to the 21st." He also encouraged India to share its experiences and best practices with other countries seeking to strengthen democratic civil society. The United States announced an initial commitment of approximately USD 1 million -- with a matching commitment of in-kind assistance from the Indian government -- to enable the U.S.-India Partnership on Open Government to support the efforts of reformers and activists in other countries.

A transcript of President Obama's remarks at the expo, along with a transcript of his Town Hall remarks with students at the college where the expo was held, and transcripts of other meetings and events in Mumbai and New Delhi, is available on the White House site.

Comments

Comments

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 9, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I was pretty impressed with Pres. Obama as he delivered remarks to India's parliment.

Logical, strait forward, and someting every comman man-and woman can reflect upon.

And without asking it directly, he posed the great "what if?" suggesting Democracy is indeed not just a national experiment, but a global one.

The President of these United States (and any president of a democracy for that matter) is not simply the "chief executive", or its Commander in Chief for that kind of leadership to be trully effective he must become their nation's "Instigator in Chief" to bring the changes we the people seek in the world.

It can be said that if neccessity is the mother of invention, desperation is the father.

Lot of human misery to contend with in this world, and tyrany and terrorism lends exponential potential to that status quo.

Democracy is the only proven methodolgy to have countered it, on a social level.

These things being rightfully self evident can no longer be ignored for to remain silent in the face of such adversity is to surrender to fear.

To the inability of one's potential on an individual level to be able to rise above it and stand up for one's fellow human and planet Earth.

It is no longer adequate to simply condem it, for democracies have no choice but to deal with tyrany and terrorism and eradicate it, on all levels. They must change or be changed, for changes are inevitable.

One doesn't require genius to understand this.

When my granddad helped design and build the first atomic bombs in 27 months, he changed the nature of the world we live in.

Made it untennable for nations to rationally contemplate another world war as being "winnable".

Times change, people change, and attitudes adjust accordingly.

"Every nation must chose peace." becomes an understatement in today's world.

The duality mankind faces is in the creation of that peace from scratch, as we as people face uncertainty, hard times, and those who phrophesize, lend support to, and work to create "end times".

Goes without saying one creates their own reality. Or others will create it for you.

And such is the responsibility of nations.

For unless we the people cause leadersip to instigate, a "quiet Earth" may yet lend mute testiment to our collective failure of imagination and failed vision.

The concequences of which are flat unacceptable.

Therefore one must accept the hard task before all of us, to win this war against tyrany and terrorism using every means at democracy's disposal.

To put politics aside for the duration, and build nations that not only strive to live in peace, but no longer need live in fear of each other.

To embrace "regime relacement therapy" when and where needed to achieve global peace and prosperity.

For far too long nations and peoples have cut tyrants way to much slack seeking "behavior change" without result.

And to simply condemn the actionable, pays only lip service to humaniy's future.

Does nothing to further or sustain the notion of democratic principal, and leaves those seeking liberty hanging out to dry in doubt and depair, want and fear, poverty and intolerance.

If we seek to end war forevermore as my granddad and those who worked alongside him hoped to achieve, nations must find the courage of leadership to get there from here.

Our responsibily as people in this world is to stand beside those who stand up to the challenge and lead nations forward.

I really have no choice but to say these things in hopes these words insipre the instigator in chief to take us there in one peace. United, never divided in our common purpose.

dheerajganga
November 12, 2010

Dheerajganga writes:

The duration American president spend in India give a Message to the entire global economy that, America consider India in its high list of economy partner.

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