Innovate to face India, China challenge: Obama

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON - Citing once again the growing challenge from emerging powers like India and China, US President Barack Obama asked Americans to unleash their creative spirits and innovate to “win the future” in a rapidly shifting global economy.

“That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful,” he said in a State of the Union address Tuesday to a joint sitting of the US Congress less than three months after his Democratic party’s defeat in the midterm elections.

“The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business,” Obama said.

“Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an internet connection.”

“Meanwhile, nations like China and India realised that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science.”

“So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us,” he said describing it as “our generation’s Sputnik moment” - a reference to the 1950s space race against the Soviet Union after its launch of the first artificial satellite.

“To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 - because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home,” Obama said.

“Already, our exports are up,” he said noting the US recently “signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States.”

Turning to foreign policy issues, Obama again cited “new partnerships with nations like India” to show “how we are shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity.”

“We have reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and built new partnerships with nations like India.”

In Pakistan, Al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001, Obama said suggesting, “Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking.”

At home, acing steep budget deficits, Obama proposed a five-year freeze in most discretionary spending and tens of billions of dollars in defence cuts even as the country fights two wars.

He also touched on immigration, saying it is time to allow students who are in the country illegally to remain.

“Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can be staffing our research labs, starting new businesses, who could be further enriching this nation,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

Filed under: Economy

will not be displayed