Barack Obama’s presidency has been an era of many firsts for the position, a trend that will be continuing when Barack becomes the first American head of state to visit the country of India twice while in office. Obama will also be the first one to visit during India’s Republic Day celebration on January 26 — the day when India ratified its first constitution 55 years ago.
That kind of momentous occasion has the Indian capital abuzz with excitement, but also frantic to make sure everything runs smoothly. Before Barack’s visit, one of the oddest ways that the city is polishing its streets is by following a directive to force out the large amounts of cows and monkeys that hang around New Delhi, reported The New York Times.
“With days to go before President Obama‘s arrival on Sunday, the order went out to “sanitize.” Municipal cow catchers were ordered to round up the stray cattle that amble down the city’s thoroughfares, unperturbed by the backup of traffic behind them. Men with slingshots have fanned out in the neighborhood around the Indian president’s sandstone palace, shrieking and barking in an effort to frighten away hundreds of rosy-bottomed monkeys.”
The amount of wildlife wandering around New Delhi — along with the large number of homeless people — are two of the major struggles the city faces in the face of Barack’s impending visit. Indians, who are largely Hindu, respect many animals as holy figures and therefore will not cause them harm of any kind. Combine this with city sprawl that keeps New Delhi’s limits encroaching more and more on the forest, and you’ve got a serious monkey problem, municipal council chairman Mr. Shrivastava told NYT.
“I have had any number of such complaints from senior government officers — of my rank and senior. They ring me up on my mobile and say, ‘I am stuck in my house, there is a horde of monkeys outside, and I can’t get out, and here is a guy breaking the kitchen window.’ I say, ‘Sir, please bear with us.’ “
Whether or not the city is able to clear out the cows and monkeys might be of minute importance to the rest of Obama’s visit to India. Barack will be meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time in less than six months, as Modi visited the U.S. in September. That could mean the countries are inching closer together, especially considering the tense situation between the two countries last year, Robert Hathaway, the former director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center, told Time. In late 2013, Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York City was strip-searched after being accused of visa fraud and unfairly compensating her domestic help.
“The Indians were outraged, it was a big thing in the media, and the relationship was put on hold. The contrast of last year to this year is perhaps the most remarkable thing about this visit.”
Obama will kick off his visit to India on Sunday.
[Image via First Post]