"Yes We Can", Barack Hussein Obama made history four years ago as
he became America's first African-American president. On Tuesday,
he did it again to retain the world's most powerful office.
But the path to victory over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney
for the son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother from
Kansas with a "funny name", as Obama himself once put it, wasn't
as easy this time around.
Catapulted to power on the slogan of 'hope' and 'change' with a
landslide victory over Vietnam War veteran Republican John McCain
then, he had lost some of that aura as he sought to capture the
magic of 2008 with the new slogan of "Forward".
After winning the presidency for the second time, Obama said:
"Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right
to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union
"... It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has
triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this
country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope,
the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual
dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as
one nation and as one people.
"... while our road has been hard, while our journey has been
long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back,
and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America,
the best is yet to come," he declared to deafening cheers of
thousands of supporters at the Obama campaign headquarters in
Obama entered the fray with a no mean record - end of Iraq war,
death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to a signature healthcare
law and bringing the US out of the throes of a recession, yet a
still slowly recovering economy and loss of tens of thousands of
jobs threatened to bar his return and take the shine off some of
his lofty campaign promises.
Many began derisively referring to him as a "fallen angel".
But some encouraging economic news in recent days - good jobs
numbers, growing consumer confidence, improving housing market, a
rising stock market and a display of cool leadership during
superstorm Sandy helped him pull it off.
Born in Hawaii Aug 4, 1961, Obama was raised with help from his
grandfather, who served in Patton's army, and his grandmother, who
worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management
at a bank. He lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971 with his mother
and her second husband.
After working his way through school with the help of scholarship
money and student loans, Obama moved to Chicago to work as a
community organizer before going on to Harvard Law School, where
he was elected as the first African-American president of the
Harvard Law Review.
He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught
constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from
1992 to 2004, served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997
to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the US House of
Representatives in 2000.
Coming into limelight with a keynote address at the Democratic
National Convention in July 2004, he won the Senate election in
November 2004 before throwing his hat into the ring for the
presidential race in February 2007 where after a bitter fight with
former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won his party's
nomination. The rest is history.
Just nine months into his presidency, catching the imagination of
the world as he overcame challenges about his place of birth, his
religion and his race, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize "for his
extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and
cooperation between peoples".
Initially opposed to the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal as a
senator, Obama after election quickly warmed up to India and
called the US-India relationship as one of the "defining and
indispensable partnerships of the 21st century", which has become
a catchphrase of his administration.
In Obama's second term, his Democratic party has vowed to
"continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with
India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic
anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean
The only beef that India had with Obama is his election cycle rant
against outsourcing. But now that the dust of election has
settled, one can expect India-US relationship to continue its
upward trajectory with the two-way trade between them set to cross
$100 billion this year.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)