NAYLA, India (AP) -- In this dusty village, President Clinton listened today to heartfelt stories of women's struggles for a better life and told them they are proof democracy can conquer poverty and inequality, even if that journey is slow.
The president met members of a women's milk cooperative who have been crusading for child care, higher wages and improved education for girls. He joined them in a traditional folk dance in the village courtyard; the women pulled affectionately at his shirtsleeves and pelted him with so many flowers that he left with yellow petals in his hair.
Asked by a questioner if he thought Indians were ''backward,'' Clinton said, ''No.
''But what I hope my trip will do is to help people all over the world see India in a more complete way,'' he continued. ''There are many people here who are poor, but you are proving that democracy can be used to lift the poor, can be used to end discrimination against women and keep children -- girls and boys -- in school, and can be used to bring people of different tribes and castes together.''
The visit to the western Indian village finally brought Clinton into the embrace of the public in a trip where crowds, under extraordinary security, have been kept well at bay.
In Nayla, however, he plunged into a crowd of thousands to shake hands. Sandy Berger, his national security adviser, said Clinton had been frustrated by the lack of personal contact up to then.
Clinton and his daughter Chelsea saw a male tiger lying in the grass about 20 feet from their open jitney. Several hundred yards down the road, they spotted a female tiger in repose by a stream.
Clinton goes Saturday to Pakistan, where the military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, pledged today to hold nationwide local elections starting in December.
Clinton's spokesman, Joe Lockhart, welcomed the scheduling of local elections but said it does not go far enough. ''It's a positive step but what we're looking for is a roadmap to national elections and a restoration of democratic rule,'' he said.
The president is seeking a quick return to democracy in Pakistan after October's coup and -- with little effect so far -- has been encouraging Islamabad and New Delhi to tamp down their violent territorial dispute over Kashmir.
Musharraf called two rounds of local elections but said only that federal and provincial elections would come ''in due course.''
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