Ashish Kumar Sen, a DC-based contributor to Outlook magazine, in India, scored a lengthy interview with Barack Obama, the first for any South Asian media outlet. I would have asked him how he did it but fortunately he's written a separate piece, "How I Chased Obama."
Allow us to reproduce an excerpt:
What began as a shot in the dark was to soon become an obsession for me. Perhaps it was because I was witness to the Obama mania sweeping America. To watch him campaign during those months was akin to experiencing a rock star inspire millions to dance to his tunes of hope. "Yes, we can"—his campaign slogan read. These simple words, transposed to my very specific situation, suddenly started making a lot of sense.
But before the Obama interview became a bee that wouldn’t stop buzzing in my head, things were already in motion. I called an Illinois-based friend and supporter of Obama who put me in touch with a campaign advisor. She promised to forward my request with a strong recommendation. My selling point: "Outlook may not be distributed in the US, but our website is the gateway to India for expat Indians living in the US."
Three weeks later, I received a call from the Obama advisor. Could I submit a sample of the questions I wished to ask Obama? I did. Days later, in mid-March, I received yet another call from the advisor. What’s your last deadline? "Wednesday," I said, excited. I drew my own conclusions: nobody asks for your deadline unless...
The interview appears to have been conducted by email, and touched upon issues ranging from the nuclear deal - Obama says he's "reluctant to seek changes" - to the irreversibility of outsourcing, to the Islamic world:
If I go to a poor country and speak about both the US obligation to work with poor countries to relieve suffering, and also the responsibility of poor countries to clear up corruption and increase transparency and rule of law and build their civil service, I do so with the credibility of someone with a grandmother who lives in an impoverished village in Africa.
In the same way, if I call a summit of Muslim world leaders, I think that I can speak credibly to them about the fact that I respect their culture, that I understand their religion, that I have lived in a Muslim country, and as a consequence I know it is possible to reconcile Islam with modernity and respect for human rights and a rejection of violence. As I have said before, that doesn't mean that Muslim leaders will automatically act on the American agenda if it's contrary to what they perceive to be their self-interests.
On the environment...
We share an interest in combating global climate change, and the US and India can both do more to lead the world in securing a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. I intend to increase energy cooperation with India so we can together address the climate crisis that threatens our planet. We share an interest in combating the spread of disease, including HIV/AIDS. And we share an interest in combating global poverty, which is why I will seek the UN's goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. We cannot allow the world's neediest to be left behind. <snip> I would also like to see agriculture given a higher priority in our relations, as India pursues its goal of a 'Second Green Revolution'.
As for outsourcing, he says it's a fact of life.
But we must find a way to make globalisation and trade work for American workers. The American worker needs to be supported and given the tools needed to compete in the global economy. So I would pursue common-sense measures such as offering tax incentives to companies that create jobs in the US, undertaking policies such as supporting growth sectors like renewable energy and building up our infrastructure that will lead to creation of well-paying jobs and, most importantly, investing in education and job retraining programmes.