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News & Views of Dr. Surat Singh

http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jan/210109-Barack-Obama-US-president-elect-historic-inauguration-ceremony-Washington.htm

http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jan/200109-Barack-Obama-US-President-elect-historic-oath-taking-ceremony-Washington.htm

http://www.latinamericanews.net/story/453787

http://in.rediff.com/news/2009/jan/14uspoll-obama-indian-classmate-to-attend-inaugration.htm

http://www.asianage.com/archive/htmlfiles/Delhi/Lawyer recalls Obama years.html

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=Q0FQLzIwMDgvMTEvMDcjQXIwMjIwNA==&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom

http://news.zakhas.com/2008/11/barack-obama-as-i-knew-him-dr-surat-singh/

http://inhome.rediff.com/news/2008/nov/05uspoll33.htm



Mid Day: January 21, 2009
http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jan/210109-Barack-Obama-US-president-elect-historic-inauguration-ceremony-Washington.htm

'A friend took oath'

People cried, cheered Obama but ignored Bush after the ceremony, says Surat Singh, the Delhi lawyer buddy of US president Barack Obama

By: Bipin Kumar Singh

Surat Singh, the beer buddy of US President Barack Obama, blogs for MiD DAY about the historic inauguration ceremony from Washington.

10.15 am (US time): I am at the Capitol Building and am feeling on top of the world, being one of the important guests who will see the US and the world entering the Obama era. I am going to be seated among the top 150 VVIP guests, including presidents, prime ministers, American senators and heads of different world organisations. My seat is in the Green section, which is reserved for dignitaries and senior American journalists.

Common guests will fill the Yellow and Orange seats.

Right now I am standing near the US Congress Library and next to me is the House of Representatives. Chopper and fighter jets are patrolling the skies.

10.18 am: I am entering the venue from Gate No 2 and am very near to the Capitol Building , where Obama will take the oath. It is about 100 metres away.

10.20 am: It very cold but millions have gathered to cheer their leader braving the chilling temperature.

10.22 am: I am at Gate No 2 and seven people are standing in front of me for security clearance. (As the formalities go on, this is what the security personnel ask me)

10.25 am: Singh to security personnel: I am college friend of Obama. He was with me at the Harvard Law School.

Security person:
Oh thats great. From which country?

Singh: From India.

Security person: Your visa and passport?

Singh: Please have it

Security person:
Ok. Indian visa valid till 2010. Passport ok. Thanks, sir

10.30 am: I am at the Rayburn House now from where I will witness the ceremony. I can see the crowd dancing despite the cold.

10.33 am: Music is on and the crowd is dancing.

11.20 am: The usher is announcing, Now I present President-elect Barack Obama." As Obama makes his first appearance, the crowd goes berserk, shouting Oba-ma, Oba-ma, Oba-ma. Many people around me are crying.

Especially African-Americans and coloured Americans are very emotional. Many elderly African-Americans are crying. People are excited. No person has been left untouched. Everybody is excited in one way or the other.

Cameras are clicking. In fact, I have never clicked so many photographs of one person.

Even Rev Joseph E Lowery of Atlanta , who is reciting the prayer before Obama takes oath, is crying. As he says, a dream has been realised today, he has tears in his eyes.

(Around) 11.30 am:
Obama is taking oath. The Chief justice is administering the oath on Lincolns Bible. As I watch him, I feel as if a friend has become the American President. A friend is taking the oath. More than that, it is the joy that a good man has taken charge of such an important position.

But Obama looks strangely subdued. May be a little solemn just like the groom who is about to get married and suddenly realises the weight of his responsibilities. He doesnt look as excited as we had expected him to be. Even his speech is not as emotional as people were expecting it to be.

But as Obama speaks, I realise that we too should do something for India. As he says, We have to do this for America , I say to myself that we also have to do it for India . Its a public responsibility. Obama is saying, The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. … those of us who manage the publics knowledge will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government. I feel we Indians too should say this. Obama is speaking about fighting terrorism. As he says, Terrorists cant diminish our spirit, people cheer loudly.

Right now I feel I should quit my legal practice and join public service.

Barak Obama is very generous and thanks outgoing President George W Bush at the beginning of his speech.

Ironically, just after the speech is over, the same crowd that had braved the cold wind to listen to Obama, rushes out without even waiting for George Bush to leave. It is very cold and taxis are not available so I suppose the people just want to leave quickly.




Mid Day
: January 20, 2009

http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jan/200109-Barack-Obama-US-President-elect-historic-oath-taking-ceremony-Washington.htm

Barack Obama historic oath-taking ceremony: When Barack Obama had a few beers with Surat Singh

Delhi lawyer, who was at Harvard Law School with the next US President-elect Barack Obama, is in Washington for the historic oath-taking ceremony

By: Bipin Kumar Singh

Surat Singh is an ecstatic man these days. Even you would be if you were US President-elect Barack Obama's college friend and had been invited to attend his historic swearing-in ceremony being held in Washington today.Singh, who had studied with Barack Obama at the Harvard Law School in 1988 where the first coloured US President was pursuing his Degree in Law, said he had become "good friends" with the Democrat and was now looking forward to congratulate him. "I am absolutely thrilled to be among the few privileged Indians who are attending the oath ceremony of President Barack Obama. The amount of enthusiasm generated by Obama's inaugural ceremony is unprecedented. Every four year somebody takes oath as the US President but never before has the District of Columbia, Washington , been so enthused. Even the common man seems to be excited," said Singh, talking to MiD DAY from Washington

When asked if he had been able to meet Barack Obama yet, Singh said, "I haven't been able to meet him, but common friends say that he looks relaxed, just what the most demanding job in the world requires."

Recalling his Harvard memories, Singh said, "I met Barack Obama for the first time in 1988 at the Harvard Law School where I was studying for my Doctor of Laws and he came to study for his basic Degree in Law. We used to meet at Harkness Commons, a pub for law students, and chat over pitchers of beer. There were many seminars and classes which were common to both American and international students. Dr Larry Tribe, a well-known professor of constitution law, is the favourite teacher for both of us. In fact, in the last couple of days, I have met Tribe and the Dean of the Harvard Law School and the would-be US Solicitor General Elena Kagan."

Stressing that Barack Obama has always had great respect for our country, Singh recalled that when the Democrat leader came to know that his fellow student was from India , he had said, "I know that part of the world. India is a great country and civilisation." Other than Barack Obama, Singh is planning to meet a few other college friends who will be joining the new American power team. "I will be meeting several of my Harvard Law School friends who will be ministers in the Barack Obama government. I have already launched a society, Indo-American Friendship Forum, where mutual interests of the two countries can be further strengthened."

However, other than meeting friends and may be clicking a photograph or two with the First Family "if protocol doesn't come in the way," Singh is carrying a message for the new leader. "My message to President Barack Obama is that America and India should jointly fight common enemies like terrorism, economic recession and global environment degradation. India and America can have a better collaboration in the field of education and technology transfer as well. India can learn a lot from America but America too can be inspired by our civilisation.

"I also want to stress that apart from official diplomatic channels, President Barack Obama should take into confidence his friends from Harvard, who would give him a more honest picture about America, Indiaand the rest of the world. A good administrator should have both official and un-official channels of communication open."




Latinamerican News
: January 15, 2009

http://www.latinamericanews.net/story/453787

Obama will be fair to India, Pakistan, says his Harvard classmate

US president-elect Barack Obama 'will be fair to both India and Pakistan, without sacrificing American strategic interests', says an Indian who studied with him at the Harvard Law School.

Surat Singh, who is headed for Washington to attend the presidential inauguration next Tuesday as a special guest, says he is looking forward to the ceremony but before that, the brunch for the Harvard Law School alumni that Barack and Michelle Obama are to host Sunday.

Surat Singh, who has written a book 'What Can India do for Obama? A Lot', says the least that the Indians can expect of Obama is that his approach would be 'international, as opposed to a parochial American approach'.

He has no illusions about Obama protecting American interests on the outsourcing issue that seriously impacts India. But he is confident that Obama will make American economy 'more open and more competitive'.

On the Kashmir tangle, in which Obama has displayed some interest in a manner that has upset the Indian establishment, the next president could bring India and Pakistan to talk together, 'to see that they disagree, without appearing disagreeable', Surat Singh said.

He was with Barack and Michelle at the Harvard Law School at the same time (1988-91) when, he recalls, Obama would go out of his way to befriend foreign students, who formed barely 20 percent of the community.

Having a part of his family in Indonesia, Obama would say over pints of draught beer: 'I know that part of the world. I know Indonesia. I know India.'

Surat Singh does not claim close intimacy with the Obamas, being 'one of the thousands of students' at the Harvard Law School. But he kept in touch with them after he moved to Oxford for another doctorate and returned home to practise law.

Surat Singh practises at the Supreme Court of India and at the Delhi High Court, is president of the All American Universities Alumni Association and was secretary of Oxford Cambridge Society of India. He has also headed the Harvard Club of India.




Rediff.com
: January 14, 2009

http://in.rediff.com/news/2009/jan/14uspoll-obama-indian-classmate-to-attend-inaugration.htm

Obama's Indian classmate to attend his inauguration

By: Onkar Singh, New Delhi

Four persons have been invited to the inaugration of Barack Obama in

Washington. America. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, business tycoon Mukesh Ambani [and Dr Surat Singh, a lawyer at the Supreme court who was Obama's class mate at HarvadLawSchool.

"I was estatic to learn that a representative change and a fresh vision has taken American leadership. It is a triumph of hope over despair, victory of spirit over circumstances and a celebration of human values over cynicism," Surat Singh told rediff.com in an exclusive interview.

Singh will leave for Americato attend the inaugration ceremony on the January 17. " I have requested for a meeting with him. But I would be meeting some of the members of his team, particularly people like his chief economic advisor Larry Summers, former president of HarvardUniversityand now director of the national economic council. I hope to meet the important dignitaries of his cabinet who have Harvard connections," he said.

While in Washington, he would address a series of meetings including one at Reed Smith on the changing legal landscape in India.




Asian Age
: November 10, 2008

http://www.asianage.com/archive/htmlfiles//Delhi/Lawyer recalls Obama years.html

Lawyer recalls Obama years

By: Suchitra Kalyan Mohanty, New Delhi

Nearly 20 years ago, Surat Singh, now a senior advocate in Supreme Court, was involved in a heated argument about civil rights situation in India with one of his classmates at Harvard Law School (HLS) in the United States. Little idea did he have that a certain Barack Hussein Obama he was arguing with would go on to become the 44th President of the US . And how.

When Mr Obama was declared elected November 4, Mr Singh decided to call up his HLS mate and congratulate him. It was pleasant surprise for him when the person on the other side returned the call with the same warmth.

Recalling his first meeting with Mr Obama in 1989, Mr Singh said he generally asked where I was from. "When I told him that I belonged to India , he told me that he had some beautiful experiences of that part of the world," said Mr Singh. Mr Obama had spent his childhood days in Indonesia.

Mr Singh said the US President-elect, who has created history by transcending the colour barrier to reach the highest post in his country, came across as a realistic person even then.




Times of India
: November 07, 2008

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=Q0FQLzIwMDgvMTEvMDcjQXIwMjIwNA==&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom

‘He was a president at Harvard too’

Publication: The Times Of India - Delhi; Date: November 07, 2008; Section: Times Global; Page: 22

By : Surat Singh, New Delhi

Barack Obama was my class fellow at Harvard Law School for two years. While he entered the school in 1988 and left in 1991, I spent six year at Harvard, doing my Doctor of Laws degree from 1984 to 1990.

The thing I remember about Obama during our university days is his warm personality. When I met him first time at Harkness Commons, a bar-cumcommon room of the law school, he asked me where I was from. The moment I mentioned the name of my country, he enthusiastically replied, ‘‘Oh, India. I have some experience of that part of the world. In fact, I spent my childhood in Indonesia.’’

Immediately, we went into a discussion about civil rights condition in India. Obama was particularly curious about how do Indians deal with the untouchables. To me, he came across as a caring person whose thinking went beyond America.

Obama showed a similar attitude in the classroom. His thinking was always international. While most students took a parochial approach on various issues, Barack would wonder about the impact of an issue on rest of the world. Obama was extremely hard working and methodical, but he always enjoyed a good laugh over his self-deprecating remarks.

During his law school days, Obama was searching for his identity — who he really was; Can a person be defined only in terms of his race or whether a person is much more than the accident of his birth?

At the same time, Obama displayed his great leadership skills. He became the first student from lower middle class, African-American background to get elected as president of the prestigious magazine of the school — Harvard Law Review. The Law Review chief is elected by a group of bright and ambitious students. Due to his consensusbuilding ability, Barack was able to persuade them to elect him the as president of the journal. While campaigning for the post, he talked about his vision for the magazine — not for self-glorification but in the best interest of the institution itself.

During his campaign for the post of US president, Obama exhibited these qualities again as he asked people to rise above petty party divisions.

(The writer is an attorney of Supreme Court of India)




Zakhas.com
: November 05, 2008

http://news.zakhas.com/2008/11/barack-obama-as-i-knew-him-dr-surat-singh/

Barack Obama, as I knew him - Dr. Surat Singh

By: News Team

I knew Barack Obama from his days at the Harvard Law School . He was doing his three-year law degree from August 1988 to June1991. Till 1990, I was doing my doctorate there.

I cannot invent intimacy with Obama now that he has become the world’s most powerful person; I knew him as one of the hundreds of students who attend law classes at Harvard. But a couple of things impressed me about Barack even then in the interactions I had with him.

One, he was extremely friendly and warm. At Harvard Law School , 80 per cent of the students are Americans doing their three-year JD programme; foreign students make up just 20 percent. And, there is not much intermingling. But Barack was extremely friendly with foreign students.

His perspective was also global, not just America-centric. He was able to look at issues and how they would affect the rest of the world not just America . He would say that we are born in a certain race but that does not exhaust our identity.

Barack also came across as equally smart. He was the first African-American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review, the prestigious Harvard Law School magazine.

He was nice, but he was not naive. He knew that having good ideas is one thing, but getting them implemented is quite another. He would say that truth does not win itself; you have to build a working consensus around it to make it win.

You could say he was both lion and fox a combination of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D Roosevelt, if you will.

Another remarkable quality of Barack is his dogged determination. Once he starts a venture, he will finish it.

During this election campaign, in several e-mails to his supporters, his message was: Though we are leading in polls, we should not slacken our efforts.

He wrote on October 17: ‘Anyone who tells you this election is already decided is dead wrong. Let’s not forget the 2000 election, when Al Gore was up by double digits in October. The surest way to lose a race is to slow down with the finish line in sight.’

Till the last day, Barack and Michelle exhorted everyone not to become complacent and to ask all friends and well-wishers to go out and vote.

Even after the landslide victory, he has been saying ‘we have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track.’

That is quintessentially Barack: Never relenting, never yielding, working hard, making others work hard.

And always sharing the credit.




Rediff.com
: November 05, 2008

http://inhome.rediff.com/news/2008/nov/05uspoll33.htm

Barack Obama, as I knew him

By: Dr. Surat Singh

knew Barack Obama from his days at the Harvard Law School. He was doing his three-year law degree from August 1988 to June1991. Till 1990, I was doing my doctorate there.

I cannot invent intimacy with Obama now that he has become the world's most powerful person; I knew him as one of the hundreds of students who attend law classes at Harvard. But a couple of things impressed me about Barack even then in the interactions I had with him.

One, he was extremely friendly and warm.


At Harvard Law School , 80 per cent of the students are Americans doing their three-year JD programme; foreign students make up just 20 percent. And, there is not much intermingling. But Barack was extremely friendly with foreign students.

His perspective was also global, not just America-centric. He was able to look at issues and how they would affect the rest of the world not just America. He would say that we are born in a certain race but that does not exhaust our identity. Barack also came across as equally smart. He was the first African-American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review, the prestigious Harvard Law School magazine.

He was nice, but he was not naive. He knew that having good ideas is one thing, but getting them implemented is quite another. He would say that truth does not win itself; you have to build a working consensus around it to make it win.

You could say he was both lion and fox a combination of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D Roosevelt, if you will.

Another remarkable quality of Barack is his dogged determination. Once he starts a venture, he will finish it.

During this election campaign, in several e-mails to his supporters, his message was: Though we are leading in polls, we should not slacken our efforts.

He wrote on October 17: 'Anyone who tells you this election is already decided is dead wrong. Let's not forget the 2000 election, when Al Gore was up by double digits in October. The surest way to lose a race is to slow down with the finish line in sight.'

Till the last day, Barack and Michelle exhorted everyone not to become complacent and to ask all friends and well-wishers to go out and vote.

Even after the landslide victory, he has been saying 'we have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track.'

That is quintessentially Barack: Never relenting, never yielding, working hard, making others work hard.

And always sharing the credit.

Dr Surat Singh is an attorney with the Supreme Court of India


 
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