President Obama and PM Modi forge an 'unlikely friendship': New York Times
That the pair would get along was not a given. When Obama came to office in 2009, the Hindu nationalist was banned from entering the United States over his role in anti-Muslim riots.
Meanwhile, a New York Times report describes the bond between the two as an "unlikely friendship".
It added that the two largest democracies in the world have "compelling reasons" to find common cause.
The Times said that Obama had made the protection of minorities a central pillar of his life because he believed that "criticism and dissent were core tenets of democracy".
"But Modi, by contrast, spent much of his life rising through the ranks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing paramilitary organization that campaigns forcefully for India's Hindu majority," it said, recalling the Gujarat religious riots that saw some 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, killed in 2002 when Modi was the chief minister of the western Indian state.
The 2002 Gujarat carnage is again in the spotlight because a court only last week convicted 24 people for massacring 69 Muslims in mayhem in Ahmedabad's Gulberg Housing society.
The Times, citing a Human Rights Watch report, said that the BJP government in India had "increasingly used the country's broad and vague laws restricting free speech to stifle dissent".
The newspaper also raised the issue of shutting down non-governmental organizations, such as Greenpeace – a global aid group that has offices in over 40 countries.
On a personal front, The Times said, both leaders "avoid the socializing common in their capitals".
"Obama is a doting father and dutiful husband who maintains close bonds with his childhood friends...Modi abandoned his arranged marriage decades ago and has no children or any public friendships."
The newspaper, however, drew some "similarities that extend beyond political beliefs" between the two.
Both men rose from modest circumstances, had difficult relationships with their fathers and were widely considered transformational figures when elected.
"Modi's humble origins, largely corruption-free government and intense focus on winning foreign investment are sharp breaks from his predecessor," it said.
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