US President Barack Obama has addressed a town hall-style meeting with young people in Delhi on the final day of his visit to India.
The US can become India’s “best partner”, Obama told the gathering of university students and activists.
Speaking at a joint business forum in Delhi on Monday, Obama said there was “much untapped potential” in the US-Indian economic relationship.
He was also the chief guest at India’s Republic Day military parade
Tuesday’s town hall meeting took place at the Siri Fort Auditorium in the Indian capital.
Some 2,000 people – mostly students and one of this year’s two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi – cheered wildly as Obama described relations between the two countries as the defining partnership of the 21st Century, says the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.
The US wanted to propel India into the future by helping it tackle climate change and improve health and infrastructure, Obama said, adding that he would press for India to be made a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
He also spoke of the importance of religious tolerance and raised the issue of women’s safety and dignity.
“Every woman should be able to go about her day – to walk the street, or ride the bus – and be safe and be treated with the respect and dignity that she deserves.”
India has been criticised for its treatment of its women ever since a 23-year-old student was gang-raped and murdered on a bus in Delhi in December 2012.
Obama’s three-day tour has been aimed at boosting economic ties between the two major allies.
On Sunday, the first day of his visit, Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a breakthrough on a pact that will allow US companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology.
Analysis: Soutik Biswas, BBC News, Delhi
The historic 2006 India-US nuclear deal had been held up for eight years amid US concerns over who would be liable for any nuclear accident. Singh, the deal’s architect, had told the parliament that it marked the “end of India’s decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream”.
Now, a large insurance pool will be set up, without the need for any further legislation. The plan, according to reports, is to transfer the financial risk to insurers in the case of an accident.
Analysts say the two governments have done “all they can do” and it is now up to the suppliers – or American firms wanting to sell reactor technology to India – to do business.
At the business event on Monday evening, both he and Modi hailed the bilateral progress, with the Indian leader saying a stronger relationship “will make this world a better place for all”.
Obama said trade had grown by around 60% in the past few years which was a “win-win” situation.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “That said, we all know that the US-India economic relationship is also defined by so much untapped potential.”
Obama’s visit to India has been shortened so he can visit Saudi Arabia and pay his respects following the death of King Abdullah. It means he and his wife, Michelle, will now not visit the Taj Mahal.
Source: The Daily Star