Barack Obama: President & Nobel Laureate

Barack Obama the tall, ‘black’ and handsome Senator from Illinois whom the Time magazine in 2005 dubbed as among hundred most influential persons in the world, is poised to make history by becoming the first African-American to rise to the Presidency.

Smita Mishra

Barack Obama the tall, ‘black’ and handsome Senator from Illinois whom the Time magazine in 2008 dubbed as its Person of the Year, made history by becoming the first African-American to rise to the US Presidency.

He was elected to be the 44th President of the United States, on November 4, 2008, after a hard -fought two-year presidential campaign. He was sworn in as President on January 20, 2009.

On October 9, 2009, the Nobel Committee announced that President Barack Obama had been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement raised eyebrows around the world and led to sharp criticism of the Nobel Committee who awarded Obama for ‘creating a new climate in international politics.’

Son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, Barack Hussein Obama II was born at Honolulu, Hawai in 1961. Having lived mostly with his mother after his parents separated, when he was barely two years old, Obama’s first emotional meeting with his father was just before the latter died in an accident.

Obama attended schools in Jakarta and Honolulu where he stayed with his maternal grandparents for some years. After graduating from Columbia University and being trained as a lawyer, Obama went to work as an attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 1996. He also served as a lecturer of constitutional law at the Chicago Law School for sometime.

He married Michelle Robinson in 1992 who is also a Harvard Law School graduate. The couple have two young daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha ("Sasha").

Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, 1998 and 2002. But in early 2000 he failed in his bid for the US House of Representatives. He came in the limelight for the first time in 2004, when during his campaign, he delivered an address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston for which he received a standing ovation. The speech is likely to go down in the history of America as one of the finest.

A strong critic of the Iraq War and Bush’s other key policies, Obama’s main focus in foreign affairs has been arms control for which he traveled extensively across the world.

As Illinois Senator, Obama focused on areas as diverse as the challenges of globalization, economic upliftment of low income groups, poverty and the bitter aftermath of hurricane Katrina, genocide in Darfur, tax cuts and use of alternative fuels.

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was marked by the extensive use of a logo consisting of letter ‘O’ with the centre suggesting a sunrise and his emphasis on his patriotism. Obama was able to create a tremendous fan following due to his magnetic personality, brilliant oration and ability to connect to the youth.

After becoming the President, Obama signed the economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009.

He undertook a number of domestic policy initiatives including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a major piece of health care reform legislation which he signed into law in March 2010 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which forms part of his financial regulatory reform efforts, which he signed in July 2010.

He has altered the foreign policy of the George W Bush era by gradually withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, increasing troop levels in Afghanistan (keeping terrorism in mind), and signing an arms control treaty with Russia. He has announced a strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region that envisages giving help to India’s western neighbour to fight the Taliban on its soil.