India needs to cherish and nurture its Muslims: Barack Obama

New Delhi Dec 2: India needs to cherish and nurture its Muslim population that is integrated and considers itself Indian, former US President Barack Obama said here on Friday. It is an idea that needs to be reinforced, he said addressing a media event here.

Mr Obama said he had emphasised the need for religious tolerance and the right to practice one’s own faith during closed-door talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last trip to India in 2015, eight months after the Modi government had assumed office in May 2014. 
The comment Mr Obama had made in New Delhi in 2015 was also seen as a veiled message to the Modi government. Mr Obama also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first meeting between the two leaders after Mr Obama left the White House in January 2017. At another event in New Delhi on Friday, Mr Obama was quoted by websites as saying: “I like him (Modi)... I think he has a vision for the country... he is making efforts to modernise some elements of the bureaucracy. But I was also great friends with Dr (Manmohan) Singh.”
The 44th US President, who held office from 2009 to 2017, had made strong comments in favour of pluralism in New Delhi during a public interaction on the last day of his January 2015 visit, which had come against the backdrop of a controversy over religious conversions.