“Two Sides” of Trump’s India Visit!

President Donald Trump’s brief visit (Feb 24-25), his first to India, has left many questions unanswered for both sides, United States as well as India. Of course, there is no denying that Trump would not have travelled all the way to visit just one country if he did not foresee some gains. The same may be said for Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi having gone overboard in making preparations to welcome him. A mega-mega show was organized for him in Modi’s home state, Gujarat. It seems, Trump loved each minute of it as in his view no other leader had been welcomed in the same manner as he had been. On his part, Modi must have been quite delighted by Trump appearing to be fairly pleased by his brief visit. But this is one side of the story.

Looking at the whole show from Trump’s own perspective, that there are “two sides” to everything, one may draw varying interpretations. He used these words while addressing a press conference (attended by this scribe) prior to heading back for Washington. As various analysts have put it, a key aim of Trump is to gain votes of Indian Americans settled in United States during the race for presidential elections. Will he or will he not, time will tell. Of course, prospects of his gaining their votes on the basis of his addressing a large crowd at “Namaste Trump” program organized at Motera Stadium (Ahmadabad, Gujarat) are fairly dim. This is the largest cricket stadium in the world. The crowd that he addressed has nothing to do with US elections. Most of them probably did not understand his English speech. But that apparently did not matter for either Trump or Modi. Both were more concerned about a packed stadium listening to Trump irrespective of whether what he said was Greek to the crowd or not.

Paradoxically, while organizing the Namaste Trump program at a cricket stadium, Modi government paid little attention to minimal importance of cricket the game in United States. Indians are cricket-crazy but the same cannot be said about Americans. Cricket does not figure in the list of popular games in United States. This aspect may have been sidelined as stadiums of games Americans are fond of just as Basket-Ball, Base-Ball and others, would not have been able to hold as large a crowd as desired by Trump and Modi.

On his part, initially Modi must have been pleased at being described by Trump as “very good friend.” But he was probably left flabbergasted when Trump used practically the same words for Prime Minister of Pakistan, a country known as India’s permanent enemy. During the press conference when questioned on Kashmir-dispute between India and Pakistan, he talked of having a “very good relationship” with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. He reiterated the words, “very good” and then said, “I’ll do whatever I have to do, if I can do that, because my relationship with both gentlemen is so good.” Interestingly, considering that India doesn’t want external interference in what it views as its “internal” problem, his willingness to help solve Kashmir-dispute as well as his having “good friendly ties” with premiers of both countries, did not exactly symbolize hug diplomacy displayed earlier by the two. Or it would be more appropriate to say that Trump was not able to avoid Modi’s hugs, a diplomatic practice the latter is fairly adept at. Trump received several Modi-hugs during his brief visit. He was greeted on his arrival with a hug, was showered with another at Motera Stadium…

But Modi’s hug diplomacy was apparently given only some importance by Trump. It had little or no impact on the latter’s diplomatic stand towards Pakistan. It is possible, Trump deliberately laid stress on his relations with premiers of both countries. Ah, the visiting President chose not to give any diplomatic importance to internal usage of anti-Pak card by India. This refers to Indian politicians’ tendency to try their hand at their much tried and tested anti-Pak card frequently particularly during their electoral campaigns. At certain levels, it is viewed as their trump-card.

Modi probably hoped that Trump’s visit would play a great role in elevating his diplomatic image through substantial coverage accorded to it across the world. Here too, Modi’s diplomatic calculations faltered. India’s capital city was rocked by violence, with extremist elements allegedly linked with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), brutally targeting property and lives of minorities, while Trump was here. Thus headlines across the world gave importance to Trump’s visit as well as violence in Delhi. At present, Modi’s diplomatic image seems to have been severely punctured in most parts of the world. Queries continue to be raised on why did his government fail to check the violence?

Prospects of political gains in store for Trump because of his brief India-visit seem minimal. With respect to Modi, whatever he sought to gain by playing on this Trump-card stands defeated by Delhi-violence!


More articles by:

Nilofar Suhrawardy is a senior journalist and writer with specialization in communication studies and nuclear diplomacy. Her latest book is Modi’s Victory, A Lesson for the Congress…? (2019). Others include:– Arab Spring, Not Just a Mirage! (2019), Image and Substance, Modi’s First Year in Office (2015) and Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp, In the Name of Indian Secularism (2006).

Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman
Kathleen Wallace
The End of the Parasite Paradigm
Anthony DiMaggio
Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media
Andrew Levine
Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo
David Rosen
God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus
David Schultz
The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change
Evaggelos Vallianatos
In the Grip of Disease
Edward Leer
Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt
Robert Fisk
What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19
Daniel Warner
COVID-19: Health or Wealth?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism
Ramzy Baroud
BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy
Richard Moser
Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead
Ron Jacobs
Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism
Chris Gilbert
Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures
Richard Eskow
Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout
Jonathan Carp
Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations
Andrew Bacevich
The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom
Peter Cohen
COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival
César Chelala - Alberto Luis Zuppi
The Pope is Wrong on Argentina
James Preston Allen
Alexander Cockburn Meets Charles Bukowski at a Sushi Bar in San Pedro
Jérôme Duval
The Only Oxygen Cylinder Factory in Europe is Shut down and Macron Refuses to Nationalize It
Neve Gordon
Gaza Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic
Alvaro Huerta
To Survive the Coronavirus, Americans Should Learn From Mexicans
Prabir Purkayastha
Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to All Societies
Raouf Halaby
Fireside Chatterer Andrew Cuomo for President
Thomas Drake
The Sobering Realities of the American Dystopia
Negin Owliaei
Wash Your Hands…If You Have Water
Felice Pace
A New Threat to California’s Rivers:  Will the Rush to Develop Our Newest Water Source Destroy More Streams?
Ray Brescia
What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Responding to COVID-19
The Covid-19 Opportunity
John Kendall Hawkins
An Age of Intoxication: Pick Your Poison
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Propaganda Virus: Is Anyone Immune?
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 1: Dispatches From a Terrified Heartland
Nolan Higdon – Mickey Huff
Don’t Just Blame Trump for the COVID-19 Crisis: the U.S. Has Been Becoming a Failed State for Some Time
Susan Block
Coronavirus Spring
David Yearsley
Lutz Alone
CounterPunch News Service
Letter from Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer to the Publisher Zuade Kaufman
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Striking Truthdig Workers