Citizens' Issues
Obama’s India extravaganza angers Americans

The US is still crawling through a recession and its citizens are unhappy that their president is squandering huge resources on a vacation

There's a groundswell of anger in the US over the high cost of Barack Obama's trip to India this weekend. The sentiment stems from reports that the president and his entourage of about 3,000 officials, business people and security personnel will spend an estimated $200 million a day when he visits India for four days, beginning Saturday.

Topping the list of critics is newly-elected Republican representative from Minnesota Michele Bachmann, who has called the cost of the upcoming presidential trip "over-the-top". In an interview to a television channel on Wednesday, following her victory in a hotly-contested re-election bid to the US Congress, she said, "We have never seen this sort of an entourage going with the president before. And I think this is an example of the massive overspending that we've seen-not just in the last two years, really in the last four."

There has been no independent confirmation of the expenditure figures, but the White House was quick to respond, saying that the figures cited have no basis in reality. "Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated," White House spokesperson Amy Brundage said in a statement.

Still, it's difficult to believe that the elaborate arrangements for the four-day visit will come cheap. Take the bomb-proof surface tunnel that is to be installed by US military engineers on the approach to Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi museum that the president will visit soon after he comes to Mumbai on Saturday. US security officials came up with the plan after inspecting the route to the museum and they felt that the area was too congested to monitor. The kilometer-long tunnel that will be large enough to let Obama's cavalcade drive through, will be put up in an hour.
Several officials from the White House and US security agencies have been in India for the past couple of weeks with helicopters, a ship and high-end security systems, preparing for the visit. While security is a major concern, Americans aren't convinced about the costs involved.

"Some people say that Obama does not get it. I say he gets it just fine. He just does not care. He has his pie and he will eat it with all the toppings he can get on it and to heck with anyone else," writes one reader to a website, in response to the report on the cost of the trip. "This man has had more vacations in his two years in office than I have had in my entire life. He does not care that US citizens are living in tents as long as he is not." 

Bill Hammersley, another writer on the website disagreed with the criticism. "Every time I see this article the number of people grows and grows. It started out as 150 people and now it's 20 times that size. This is the kind of over exaggeration that makes us look so silly and ignorant."

At $200 million a day for the four-day stay, the total expenditure might not be anywhere near $1 billion, perhaps a lot less. But this is apparently a little too much for Americans working through a recession to digest. A large section of them are struggling without employment and factories are continuing to close down. Thousands have lost their houses since the financial crisis set off the economic slide in 2008.

Obama was elected exactly two years ago for the hope he gave the American people. With no significant improvement in the economic situation, the sense of hope has been replaced by frustration and fear which resulted in a dramatic vote against the president and his Democratic Party in mid-term elections this week. As Bill, one of several agitated Americans, wrote after returning from casting his vote: "I'm totally speechless when it comes to Obama and his clowns and the whole political mess. I can't express my anger and resentment anymore."



Anant Vasudevan

7 years ago

This article and what I see from comments have led me to believe that either Americans are foolish and America's superpower status is on its way to end soon. Obviously a president's visit is going to be costly! With the kind of terrorism going on in the world these days, no sane person of Obama's status can go anywhere without proper security arrangements. Obama's visit to India is not a vacation but a planned attempt to pave the way for American corporates to penetrate the growing Indian market. Unfortunately, unless the US takes a better stance w.r.t Pakistan I dont see any outright co-operation from Indians going to the Americans. As an Indian, I personally dont vouch for "America as a reliable ally"(or partner?) either strategically or economically.

John Zorn

7 years ago

Every time George Bush went abroad it cost north of a billion dollars. And even when he was out of the White House domestically, for example at his ranch, it cost more than 100 million a day. The total cost over his two terms was well above 100 billion. I have no idea why it needs to cost so much.


7 years ago

Hi all...

your names don't sound Indian to me....

so i'll guess you are all americans...

and hence i'll have to warn you that the press here in India is not modest like the fourth estate in England...

at their mildest the reporters write stories that are scathing...

BUT STILL.. the first question that springs into my mind.. is that if you aren't from India.. how did you get hold of/come across, this piece of news/thrash..? and that too at this web site...

Marie Mahoney

7 years ago

"There has been no independent confirmation of the expenditure figures" ... And yet you are basing your whole screed on these figures. Of course, arrangements for a president's state visit don't come cheap. What would you have him do? Fly AirIndia and sit in coach? Share your opinion, if you must; that's your right. But you are doing no one any favors by printing unsubstantiated rumors.

Impeach the fool

7 years ago

Only a wimp would run off on vacation after the people have spoken. This clearly contemptable act is his way of saying. "who cares, I do what I want".

When he gets back, he should be arrested and put on trial for Identity theft and crimes against America. Oh wait, then Biden would be President! Wow, what a mess we are in.

I wonder what type of vacation he will take after they shove Cap n Trade; Amnesty; more bailouts down our throats. It would be nice if they would at least read it first, and how about including us citizens in the back room bargaining, instead of Unions and La Raza.

Fat chance!


7 years ago

The $200M a day figure is obviously false. Think about it even if he got 3000 hotel rooms at $1000 an night that is 3 million, if he pays 1000 security personel $1000 a day that is another million. If round trip flights cost around $4000 a person for 3000 people divided by the 4 days that is another $3 million a day. If all 3000 people eat $333 worth of food a day that is another $1 million. I am estimating high and that is still only around $8 million, where is the other $192 million going? These absurd numbers have no basis in reality. It might cost 200 million Indian rupees a day, which comes out to around $4.5 million dollars a day, still a lot but no where near $200 million dollars a day which is a ridiculous and unfounded figure. Think before you blindly accept what people tell you.



In Reply to Someguy 7 years ago

You shouldn't include the cost of the military. If the military didn't shift forces to protect the president, they would be running training drills or sitting in big green tents;anyway.


In Reply to Someguy 7 years ago

He thinks he is owed this. Count the number of planes and add 40 ships and building a tunnel and buying all the rooms in the Taj Hotel. He and Michelle think they are owed the ability to live like emperors no matter what is going on in the US. All this so they could be in India for the Festival of Lights or something. An Indian holiday. State Dept. is not involved and no one knows what the purpose is other than a holiday. And the country is bankrupt with his help.


In Reply to Someguy 7 years ago

You may be right...but even it it is only $10 to $20 million per day, isn't it still a bit extravagant?


In Reply to Someguy 7 years ago

Thats just the tip of the iceberg.Here are a few more-
1 Aircraft Carrier- 5 Mn / Day (Remember, its travelled all the way to India)
33 Warships-33 mn / day
Two Fighter Jets-2 Mn / day
Guns / artillery/ sniper equipment/ Barack Mobile etc - 10 Mn / day


In Reply to Someguy 7 years ago

Don't forget the warships and planes and helicopters, etc. That is how you get to the big $$.

eugene tinus

7 years ago

The sad thing is that the end result will not be more jobs for America but more use of outsourcing services from India by American companies. After we outsource our country to India and China, the only jobs left will be in Washington DC. Perhaps we should outsource our politicians.


7 years ago

Maybe you are right. Maybe it is only a few million dollars. Shucks - that is "chicken feed". We can afford THAT, can't we? But I am thinking that we would really get our money's worth if the President would extend his trip to India - let's say for another 24 months.


7 years ago

Basically, this is more right-wing BS that they spread in the media to stoke phony outrage and keep the sheep angry at phantom enemies.

I have not seen one reliable source for the 200 million figure. Unnamed people.

Enough crap. There is a REAL figure, and the damned news should say what it is, instead of repeating rumors.


7 years ago

I don't get it...How do we allow this to happen...or is it not true?

Sophie Johnson

7 years ago

Ridiculously sad. This guy is a clown. We have people in America going bankrupt everyday and he travels around like a king. Disgusting!!!



In Reply to Sophie Johnson 7 years ago

Well said. And when he is not traveling at great expense, his wife is taking her entourage. I am amazed not only at his thoughtlessness, but at the people who continue to defend him.


7 years ago

"The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the presidential visit," a top official of the Maharashtra government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit said."



In Reply to martin 7 years ago

Wrong yet again


7 years ago

The Obama response: "Let them eat cake."


7 years ago

Seriously, the $200 million figure is made up. Anyone with common sense would be able to tell that.

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that he was taking 3000 people to India. Let's say everyone got their own hotel room at $1000 a night. That's still only $3,000,000 a day. Am I to believe that they're then spending $197 million a day above and beyond that on transportation, food and security?

Ronald J Reynolds

7 years ago

He just does not care about this country but why should he he is not an american any way he has never proved he is

Thursday Closing Report: More gains likely

Signs of easing of the global economy brought about by various central banks boosted global markets today and India was no exception. The market picked up the festive fever and the Sensex finished at a new all-time closing high today.

 The market opened in the green today on signs of easing of the economic pressures across the world. The US Federal Reserve’s stimulus initiatives announced last night were welcomed by investors worldwide. The listing of the shares of Coal India and fall in the weekly food inflation figures for the third week in a row also played a part in perking up sentiment as the market pushed further in its bid to regain the summit reached 34 months ago.
The Sensex closed at 20,893, up 427.83 points (2.09%). The index touched a high of 20,917 and a low of 20,605 in trade today. The Nifty settled at 6,282, surging 121.30 points (1.97%). The benchmark touched an intraday high of 6,290 and a low of 6,199 today.
The gainers outnumbered the losers in terms of market breadth. The Sensex ended with 28 gainers against two declining stocks. The Nifty had 44 advancing stocks while six stocks ended in the red. However, the broader indices were left behind in the race. The BSE Mid-cap index settled 0.83% higher and the BSE Small-cap index gained 0.66%.
The top Sensex gainers included State Bank of India (up 4.98%), Tata Motors (up 4.03%), Reliance Industries (up 3.71%), Hindalco Industries (up 3.66%) and Jaiprakash Associates (up 3.26%). The two laggards today were Hero Honda (down 1.32%) and Bharti Airtel (down 0.55%).
All sectoral indices, baring the BSE Consumer Durables, had a green closing today. The top gainers were BSE Oil & Gas (up 2.77%), BSE Metal (up 2.27%), BSE Bankex (up 2.12%), BSE Auto (up 1.67%) and BSE PSU (up 1.66%). The BSE Consumer Durables index settled 0.10% lower.
Sliding for the third straight week, food inflation fell to 12.85% for the week ended 23rd October from 13.75% for the week ended 16th October.
Experts said food inflation would soften further by November-end when kharif crops come to the market. Food inflation remained high in August and September as heavy monsoon caused a supply glut.
Markets in Asia settled with splendid gains following the US Fed’s new stimulus initiatives announced last night. The development is seen as a move to spur the economic recovery.
The Shanghai Composite jumped 1.85%, the Hang Seng surged 1.62%, Jakarta Composite gained 0.65%, KLSE Composite was up 0.27%, Nikkei 225 advanced 2.17%, Straits Times rose 0.48%, Seoul Composite was up 0.34% and the Taiwan Weighted ended 0.77% higher.
Amid concern that further liquidity injection by the US central bank would lead to a surge of capital inflows, a key economic adviser today said India has large capacity to handle these funds, but should keep all its options open in case the situation turns alarming.
Chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu told reporters that currently capital controls should not be stepped up as record fund flows by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have not become a matter of concern as of now.
The US indices closed higher on Wednesday after the Fed announced that it would purchase government bonds worth $600 billion over the next eight months in a bid to lower interest rates and perk up growth and borrowing. The Fed left options open for additional measures if growth and inflation don’t stabilise in the months ahead. Besides, the Republicans’ strong gains in the mid-term polls are likely to encourage business activity.
The Dow surged 26.41 points (0.24%) at 11,215. The S&P 500 added 4.39 points (0.37%) at 1,198. The Nasdaq rose 6.75 points (0.27%) at 2,540.
Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs987 crore on Wednesday. Domestic institutional investors net sold equities worth Rs370 crore.
India Cements (up 2.48%) has reduced the prices of cement to Rs255-Rs265 per 50 kg bag, two days after the Tamil Nadu government asked the cement manufacturers to take steps to cut the escalating cost of the key construction component. In a statement, the Chennai-based company said that it has reduced the cost of a 50 kg bag to Rs255 in Chennai and Chengalpet and Rs265 per bag to stockists in other districts of the state.
Pipavav Shipyard (down 0.88%) has received a licence to build warships for the Indian Navy. With this, the company has become the first private sector shipyard with modular construction facilities along with a huge dry dock to get this licence. The company has been permitted to build five warships per year, as per the terms of the licence. This means at any given time, it can undertake construction of over 20 warships of different capacities simultaneously.
Pratibha Industries (up 0.39%) has won an order worth Rs63 crore from Raheja Universal for construction of residential buildings in Mumbai. The project involves civil construction (with finishing work) of three buildings of 20 floors above stilt level with a total built-up area of 4 lakh square feet. The project is scheduled for completion within 21 months time.


Commodity market already discounted US Fed’s $600 billion programme

The commodity market, except the crude oil has already discounted the US Fed’s move to buyback the debt from banks and so far have remained flat.

Commodity prices are not likely to witness a great momentum in the long-term following the US Federal Reserve's (the Fed) $600-billion programme to buy debt from banks, which may weaken the dollar further, say analysts.

"The programme will certainly impact the US dollar negatively as the Fed's decision will increase liquidity of the greenback in the market. However, the market was fully aware about the Fed's action so the impact would not be very acute. And I don't think it will create a significant pressure on the dollar," said an analyst from a Mumbai-based research firm.

The Fed also announced that the $600 billion programme would be topped by around $250 billion of re-invested assets, mainly mortgages, from the quantitative easing.

"The market was expecting around $500 billion, but they have come up with $600 billion. They will also continue their re-invest programme, so total would be around $850-$900 billion," said the analyst.

In early trades on Thursday in London, base metals prices gained marginally. Copper for the three-month delivery gained 1.3% to $8,430 per metric tonne, while aluminium gained 0.9% to $2,439 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange (LME). Ony silver was up about 3% and zinc was up 2%.

"We have not seen a great impact of the Fed's announcement on commodities as of today and since tomorrow is the holiday in India, there is not much action in the market," said a senior analyst from Anand Rathi Financial Services Ltd.

"Fundamentals are still not good for commodities. Commodity prices are climbing just because of the depreciation of dollar and will go further, except agriculture commodities, which are still in a better place due to huge demand-supply mismatch situation," added the analyst. 

Analysts also feel that the package announced by the Fed would give some support to crude oil price.

"Crude oil prices indicate the global economic condition in a better way than metals. Since last two to three months, metal prices have recovered very fast. However, crude oil prices are not showing the same performance and are hovering between a broad range of $75-$85 per barrel. Unless the US economy shows some recovery, crude oil prices will not move up much. However the Fed package and China's action to build up its strategic petroleum reserves due to lower crude oil prices, is likely to support oil prices to gain some strength," said an analyst.

JP Morgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML) have also said that crude oil would rebound and may touch $100 a barrel in 2011 as the US economy strengthens its growth. 

"We are expecting maximum price of oil would be $90 per barrel," added the analyst from Anand Rathi Finance.

The analyst was also bullish on gold. He said, "Gold prices will increase due to the dollar factor and fears of inflation. I think it would be a win-win situation for gold." 


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