Former US President Barack Obama is in Delhi to address a townhall of “youth leaders”. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Obama’s Chief International Advisor Ben Rhodes says it is important to spread democratic values, as well as raise the importance of NGOs, religious tolerance and LGBT issues.
In the world today, a lot of young people feel disconnected from the forces that are shaping their lives. We see that leads to young people not becoming active citizens. Active citizenship doesn’t just mean running for office or going into politics, it means starting organisations that promote change or solve a problem, pursuing social good with economic success. This is not politically partisan, so we aren’t looking to promote people with certain views, it is an empowerment point, so the youth have agency over their lives.
Inevitably. In China, you just don’t have the space for civil society and independent discourse and free media that you do in India. That’s why India’s success is so important as the world’s largest democracy. However, I must say there are many young people in China, and we have met many positive change-makers who want to give back to their system. Especially on the issues we want to take up like clean air and climate change, they want to be a part of the solution. We want India to be a focus, and the reason for this townhall here is that India has this unique mix of being a rising economy and a dynamic democracy in a world in which there is a lot of creeping authoritarianism.