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Obama Holds Town Hall in India, Flies to New Delhi to Meet Singh


U.S. President Barack Obama on stage as he answers questions during a town hall meeting with students at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

U.S. President Barack Obama on stage as he answers questions during a town hall meeting with students at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

On the second full day of his three day visit to India, President Barack Obama conducted a "Town Hall" meeting with students at a Catholic college in the financial center, Mumbai. Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle then flew on to New Delhi for talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

After announcing billions of dollars worth of new business deals with India the previous day, and visiting the former home of India's independence hero Mohandas Gandhi, the president and the first lady visited the Holy Name High School in Mumbai.

There they watched a candle-lighting ceremony and watched a folk dance performance for Diwali, the five-day Festival of Lights.

But the Obamas were observers for only a short time before youngsters urged first Michelle Obama and then the president into the dance.

Later, the Obamas moved on to St. Xavier College, a Catholic college in Mumbai. In a Town Hall meeting with students, the president employed some of the same personal connection techniques he uses back home in the United States.

Mr. Obama had this advice for a young man who asked about core moral values versus materialism.

"I don't want any young person here to be dismissive of a healthy materialism because in a country like India, there are still a lot of people trapped in poverty, and you should be working to try to lift folks out of poverty, and companies and businesses have a huge role in making that happen," Mr. Obama said.

The president was introduced by Michelle Obama who spoke about Indian and American students studying in each other's countries, and urged the audience to ask the president tough questions.

The president also toured expositions at the college dealing with agriculture, and open government and technology.

U.S. officials say these visits underscore Mr. Obama's commitment to using technology to advance principles of open government and further citizen empowerment and accountability.

The president viewed a demonstration of a new system called "e-Panchayat", a new effort to enable people in the more than 400 local districts across India to obtain and share information.

The Obamas then flew to New Delhi for a dinner hosted by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife. On Monday they visit Raj Ghat, the memorial that marks the spot of Gandhi's cremation in 1948.

Bilateral talks with Prime Minister Singh will cover the revitalized economic relationship the two are trying to forge, and issues such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Obama will also meet with other Indian political and opposition leaders.

Prime Minister Singh and President Obama hold a joint news conference before Mr. Obama addresses India's parliament Monday evening, nearing the end of the longest visit he has made so far as president to a foreign country.

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