Farmer shows off his two phones to Obama

08 November,2010 11:24 AM IST |   |  Alisha Coelho

Nashik farmer ecstatic after meeting the US President in an agricultural innovations exposition at St Xavier's College

Nashik farmer ecstatic after meeting the US President in an agricultural innovations exposition at St Xavier*s College

A face-to-face conversation with the American president on Sunday morning sent Nashik farmer Sanjay Sathe into a tizzy.

"I knew he was coming but I didn*t know he was going to talk to me," exuded Sathe, who was part of the agriculture and infrastructure expo organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at St Xavier*s College.

Sathe*s conversation found way into the president*s address at the Town Hall later where he mentioned about how farmers were using phones to receive crop information.

Sathe had told Obama how his two cell phones helped him stay informed and make more money. "I showed him my cell phones, and he asked me how it had helped me.

I said I made more money. He then asked me about what I was going to do with the money, and I told him I wanted to send my children to school and buy a car," said Sathe.

"My daughter was upset. I think she would have liked to ask Obama something had she known he was meeting me. But I had no clue at all. Meri Diwali mein Diwali ho gayi hai."

Town hall

After the expo, Obama held a town hall meeting where he faced a volley of questions from some 300 students of different colleges gathered at St Xavier*s to hear the president.

The President*s wife, Michelle, had, while addressing the students before Obama did, urged them to ask her husband *tough questions*. And from the answers they elicited, it seemed they hadn*t disappointed the First Lady.

From Pakistan, to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, to what the mid-term poll loss meant to Indians, Obama responded to questions from eager students chosen on merit to attend the event (see box).

Security arrangements on and around the premises were tight. "The arrangements were stringent when Hillary Clinton visited last year.
But this is on a different scale entirely," said Father Anthony Dias, director, Xavier Institute of Social Research.

"The team combed the premises for more than eight days before the event. We had sniffer dogs come into our rooms before it was even daytime on Sunday, and there were patrollers on the roof. But the event concluded excellently."

Manashri Soman (18), a visually challenged student from St Xavier*s was ecstatic.
"Even though I couldn*t see them, I now can claim the honour of having met not one but two presidents," said Soman who had also met former president A P J Abdul Kalam during his visit to the college last year.

Obama speaks

On Pakistan: We will work with the Pakistani government to eradicate extremist elements that we consider a cancer within the country and that can potentially engulf the country. And I think the Pakistani government understands. But progress is not as quick as we like.

On globalisation: It*s not unfair for the US to say that if our economy is open to everybody, countries have to open up markets for us. If we can have those kinds of conversations, then we*ll be fine. There has to be reciprocity with our trading partners.

On the mid term poll loss: When people are not happy, it is their right and duty to express this. That*s a good thing. My obligation is to make sure that I stick to the principles and ideas that will move America forward because I profoundly believe we have to invest in education; invest in a strong infrastructure.
It also requires me to make some mid course adjustments and corrections. It will be done through discussions with the Republicans.
There will be agreements and disagreements. I think that the US has enormous fondness for India. I believe India will be a critical partner of the US in the 21st century.
It was true when Bush was president, it was true when Clinton was president.

St Xavier College Farmer crop information Sanjay Sathe agricultural
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