India

Barack Obama in Delhi: Five images to remember

US President Barack Obama's visit to India is making headlines because of a breakthrough nuclear deal and his presence as chief guest at Monday's Republic Day parade in Delhi.

But his easy bonhomie with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the food he has been served and Michelle Obama's dress sense - or lack of it - have all been talking points too, as Geeta Pandey reports.


1. The 'Bear Hug'

Image copyright Reuters

In a break from protocol, Prime Minister Modi himself was at the airport to receive Mr Obama and he greeted the US president with "a bear hug" as he stepped off Air Force One.

Mr Modi then talked about his "chemistry" and the "strong friendship" he had struck with "Barack", sending Indian commentators into a tizzy about the brewing "bromance" between the two world leaders.

Considering the Indian prime minister was denied an American visa for close to a decade because of his alleged complicity in sectarian violence in his home state of Gujarat, the affection the US president has displayed towards his host shows Mr Modi has managed to put his controversial past behind him.


2. Women power

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Indian air force officer Wing Commander Pooja Thakur became the first woman officer to lead the Guard of Honour for President Obama at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential Palace.

She told The Times of India that it was "a proud moment" for her and her family and many in India applauded the event, saying another "glass ceiling" had been broken.

The theme of the Republic Day parade was woman power and for the first time, women contingents of the army, navy and air force walked down the parade route.

In the last couple of decades, women have been seen and heard more in India - tens of millions more are going to college for higher education and joining the work force. They now head banks and industry and female scientists played a crucial role in India's successful mission to Mars.

But in recent years, India has received much flak globally for its treatment of women - the country has been rocked by brutal gang rapes, its sorry treatment of girls and the apparently ever-rising number of cases of domestic violence.


3. Michelle's dress

Image copyright AP

The US first lady is usually complimented for her smart dress sense and her fashion choices are generally lauded.

But the outfit Michelle Obama wore at a banquet hosted by India's president on Sunday night has been largely panned, with critics describing it variously as "disastrous" or "a nightmare".

One wondered if she was wearing "a bedcover" or a "curtain from her house", while another wrote that the "bustle-skirt dress is seriously unflattering".

Her "messy hair" and "kitten heels" were described as "awful".

However, it was not just Mrs Obama who was criticised - many of the female Indian ministers and politicians present at the do were seen as "dowdy".

The only one praised for her fashion sense was Sonia Gandhi, with the fashion-watchers giving the Congress party president's green sari and shawl full marks.


4. The Bread

Image copyright Reuters

As the nearly 250 invited guests sat down to dinner at the Presidential Palace for the formal banquet, thousands of piping hot handmade Indian breads were served with melt-in-the-mouth kebabs, fish curry, and chicken malai tikka.

Dozens of other vegetarian and meat dishes were also on the menu.

What's not known however is what Mr Obama ate and how much - according to one report, he is suffering from acid reflux and has been advised by his doctor to keep off spicy food.


5. The Tea

Image copyright Reuters

The picture of President Obama putting a cup to his lip while Mr Modi - a former tea seller - looks on is one of the most interesting images of the visit.

Mr Modi has often spoken proudly of his humble origin and on Sunday night, the US president talked about it too.

"I've often said that my life story could only happen in America. But of course, Mr Prime Minister, your story could only happen in India," Mr Obama said.

"Here this evening, we think back to all those years ago - to your father selling tea in the train station, and your mother working at other families' homes to support her own. And tonight, their son welcomes us as the prime minister of the world's largest democracy," he added.

The two leaders, however, refused to say what they discussed over tea, with Mr Modi saying "let them remain behind the curtains" and Mr Obama adding that "we can't tell you everything that we talked about".

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