Modi Obama
Reuters file

Former US President Barack Obama spoke about his race and the difficulties that the people of Africa face to build rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and get India onboard the Paris Agreement.

PM Modi had earlier shown his reservations to signing the deal saying that there were 300 million people in India living without electricity and with the Paris deal, they will not be allowed to use coal to produce electricity. This information was revealed by Obama's ex-aide Benjamin Rhodes during a podcast interview conducted by a former US Ambassador to India and an Assistant Secretary of State, reports PTI.

To convince PM Modi, Obama had said, "Look, you know, I get it. I'm black, I'm African American. I know what it's like to be in an unfair system where a bunch of people got rich on your back...but I also have to live in the world that I'm in...if I just made decisions based on that resentment, then I actually would never catch up."

When Obama was the US President, he had proposed the Paris climate change agreement for which he got China on board with a lot of difficulty in 2014 when they announced bilateral emissions reduction targets. The only major power in his way to clinching the deal was India, Rhodes said. Obama wanted to bring the country on board, reports PTI. 

The Paris agreement involved countries stopping the use of non-renewable energy such as coal for electricity and switch to renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and water power.

In Paris, the Indian authorities did not agree with the directives placed by the agreement and had gotten into an argument with Obama and his aides before PM Modi arrived to diffuse the situation.

"I'll never forget. Obama comes around the corner and the Indian negotiators are there before Modi...they start arguing with Obama. I'd never seen anything like this...This argument between Obama and Indian negotiators went on for 30 minutes. The president had no luck, till Modi arrived," Rhodes recollected.

The former President had also rescheduled the State of the Union Address in January 2015 to make it to India as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade to create some goodwill between the countries. 

Rhodes said, "Given that India was more important for the US for its Paris agreement, his top advisors told him to develop a personal rapport with Modi...and advised him that he should accept the invite and go...And Obama really did develop a personal rapport with Modi over multiple meetings."