Obama hails India's thriving democracy to promote freedom

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 18:00 hrs

United Nations, Sep 23 (IANS) Hailing India for peacefully throwing off colonialism and establishing a 'thriving democracy' of over a billion people, US President Barack Obama has pledged to support free flow of information to promote democracy around the world.

'There is no right more fundamental than the ability to choose your leaders and determine your destiny,' he said at the opening of the UN General Assembly here Thursday but stressed democracy would not succeed because America dictates it.

'Make no mistake: the ultimate success of democracy in the world won't come because the United States dictates it; it will come because individual citizens demand a say in how they are governed,' the president said.

At the same time, he believed 'There is no soil where this notion cannot take root, just as every democracy reflects the uniqueness of a nation,' said Obama citing several examples including India, that he is set to visit in early November.

'Later this fall, I will travel to Asia. I will visit India, which peacefully threw off colonialism and established a thriving democracy of over a billion people,' he told the annual gathering of world leaders.

'I will continue to Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, which binds together thousands of islands through the glue of representative government and civil society.

'I will join the G-20 meetings on the Korean peninsula, which provides the world's clearest contrast between a society that is dynamic and open, and one that is imprisoned and closed,' he said.

'I will conclude my trip in Japan, an ancient culture that found peace and extraordinary development through democracy.'

'Each of these countries gives life to democratic principles in their own way,' said Obama describing civil society as 'the conscience of our communities'.

Vowing to always extend American 'engagement abroad with citizens beyond the halls of government', Obama said: 'We will call out those who suppress ideas, and serve as a voice for the voiceless,' said.

'We will promote new tools of communication, so people are empowered to connect with one another - and, in repressive societies, to do so with security,' he said.

The United States 'will support a free and open Internet, so individuals have the information to make up their own minds,' said Obama calling it a 'time to embrace - and effectively monitor - norms that advance the rights of civil society, and guarantee its expansion within and across borders.'

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)



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