Barack Obama in Delhi Townhall HIGHLIGHTS |  Find your voice, articulate your views and tell your story, former US President tells youth leaders

Former US President Barack Obama addressed a town hall in New Delhi today and interacted with nearly 300 young leaders drawn from various parts of the country.

Published: 01st December 2017 04:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st December 2017 08:46 PM   |  A+A-

Former U.S. President Barack Obama | AP


NEW DELHI:  Former US President Barack Obama on Friday said that his post-presidency priorities are to lend his voice to issues that he cares about and training the next generation of leadership

Speaking at a town hall meeting with young Indian leaders organised by the Obama Foundation, the non-profit organisation that was set up after he left the presidency, Obama said that he has decided to lend his voice to a number of specific issues through the Obama Foundation.

He said that he would focus the rest of his career on issues like climate change, inequality, women getting same opportunities as men, and fighting against the forces of discrimination, tribalism and racism.

"But the single most important thing that I want to focus on is lifting up and identifying and working with and training the next generation of leadership not just in the United States but all around the world," he stated.

Stating that this was the central goal of his foundation, Obama said that though it was going to be based in Chicago, "we want to have projects, programmes, partnerships, and digital networks everywhere".

"The reason I thought it was so important to something in India (is) you have got the largest population of young people in the world. That's a lot. So we might as well start big."

Here are a few highlights from the address of the former US president: 

  • On a question on the importance of mentorship, Obama sais "If you want to keep your organisation fresh and engaged and attract young people into it, you can't hold all the power yourself. You can't have a complete top-down [approach]. There has to be some element in which people are valued."

  • To a question on state terror against minority, and patriarchal power and domination  by Akkai Padmashali, a transgender from Bangalore who asked, Obama said, "It begins with what you just did, which is to find your voice, and articulate your views and tell your story. And that's true for any group that's marginalised and stigmatised."

  • Listen and find out about what people are concerned about and you will be able to change faster. Don't think you know what their problems are. Engage in a conversation too.

  • Take time to have some fun, in the middle of your work. If you're trying to do something good and important, you also have to create space to do something fun, sometimes do something that creates joy.

  • Change is hard, set expectations right. Goals should be doable and in manageable pieces. You will escalate and win quicker.

  • Make sure that you are listening to the people you claim you want to help. A lot of young people get discouraged because they have a theory in their head, and their theory bumps up against the reality.

  • Know ahead of time that change is hard, so you are not getting discouraged. Try to break up your efforts into bite-sized manageable pieces.

  • Start with children, and with their mothers if you want the world to do better.

  • The single biggest contributor to the health of people in advanced countries are things like clean drinking water.

  • If you have a healthy community, particularly starting with healthy children, that's going to be an indicator for the overall development of the country.

  • India and the US have so much in common. The US is home to so many Indian Americans and their proud heritage is combined with the incredible contribution they make in every field in the US.

Stating that there has never been a better time to be a young person, Obama said: "The fact is the world has never been healthier, it has never been wealthier and despite terrible conflicts that are still taking place around the world and remarkable cruelty and suffering, the world is actually less violent and more tolerant than it has ever been." 

He said that none of these happened just because of luck but because people chose to make it happen.

Later, in an interaction with the gathering Obama expressed his views on issues like global health, technology fitting into education, the dangers of technology, encouraging people to change, discrimination against minorities and the role of mentors in society.

Earlier in the day, he addressed the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit and also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(With inputs from Online Desk)

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