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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 11, New Delhi February 29, 2020

We the People of India and Visit of Trump

Sunday 1 March 2020

by D. Raja

The use, rather abuse, of massive amount of people’s money by the Modi Government to welcome President Donald Trump in a mammoth gathering in a stadium in Gujarat spoke volumes of exhibitionism and utter servility of powers that be in India to please the President of the USA. The slum dwellers of Ahmedabad were hidden behind a long wall specially erected on the road on which Trump’s carcade moved. It is indeed painful that the Modi regime, instead of wiping out poverty, is hiding the poverty-stricken people out of sight for the sake of making a false impression on the mind of the visiting dignitary that there is no poverty in India. The bizarre manner in which Prime Minister Modi bent down to extend an ostentatious welcome to President Trump by hiding the poor behind a wall constituted an affront to the dignity and poise of the people of India who are known for civility and grace while welcoming a guest and according honour to him or her. Such abuse of a huge amount of people’s money at a time when the Indian economy is suffering unprecedented slow-down and the ordinary people are robbed of their purchasing power because of the thoughtless economic policies of the Modi Government is a cruel joke on the people. Even President Trump’s visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s sacred Sabarmati Ashram and his remarks in the visitor’s book there expressing thanks to Prime Minister Modi and never referring a word on Mahatma Gandhi, whose hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary is being celebrated across the nation, was certainly contrary to the ethos and legacy of the Ashram which was the nursery of Satyagraha and nucleus of the freedom movement till the epoch-making salt Satyagraha of 1930. In fact the welcome accorded to President Trump in Gujarat by Prime Minister Modi with so much chest-thumping and muscular mannerism constituted an affront to the grace and decency of the Indian civilisation. It appeared that a lord and master is welcomed by a serf. By any yardstick India stood diminished in stature. Anyone with some sense of culture and civility would have felt embarrassed by the cacophony and grand-standing associated with the extravagant welcome which involved keeping away the poor people from the sight of Trump. It drove home the point that India is beholden to the might and majesty of the US President as if he is the Lord and Master visiting India and announcing on the soil of Gandhi’s Gujarat that sophisticated weapons, missiles and war planes worth billions of dollars would be supplied by America to India. Such patronising pronouncements smack of arrogance and muscular diplomacy.

I am reminded of the words of Mahatma Gandhi who in 1936 wrote: “When Americans come and ask me what service they could render, I tell them, if you dangle your millions before us, you will make beggars of us, and demoralise us. But in one thing I don’t mind being a beggar. You can ask your engineers and agricultural experts to place their services at our disposal. They must come to us not as lords and masters, but as voluntary workers.”

On the occasion of the one hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi the treatment and welcome accorded to President Trump by the Modi Government as if the US President is a lord and master is indeed unfortunate.

It is quite instructive to note that the above quote of Gandhiji was used by the President of India, late K.R. Narayanan, in his speech delivered at the banquet organised by him in honour of US President Clinton when he visited India during the tenure of Prime Minister Vajpayee. He also went out of the way to welcome him. An Indian newspaper reported the elaborate manner in which the Vajpayee regime welcomed Clinton and commented that the round the clock effort to beautify Delhi for the American President’s welcome gave the impression that the Viceroy of India was visiting Delhi. In fact in the Central Hall of Parliament when after President Clinton addressed the Members of Parliament, some Members fell one over the other to touch President Clinton’s hand. That sight made us to hang our heads in shame. There was craze to touch the hand of President Clinton even as he had insulted India by describing the Indian subcontinent as the dangerous place and Kashmir as a potential theatre of nuclear war.

It was President K.R. Narayanan who, in his banquet speech in honour of President Clinton, saved India’s dignity by telling him that his view that Indian subcontinent was the most dangerous place and Kashmir was a nuclear flash-point would encourage those who indulged in terrorism. He said: “These alarmist descrip-tions will only encourage those who want to break the peace and indulge in terrorism and violence. The danger is not from us who have declared solemnly that we will not be the first to use nuclear weapons; but rather it is from those who refuse to make any such commitment.”

The speech of President Narayanan and his upfront remarks that President Clinton was making alarmist statements prompted Communist leader Professor Hiren Mukherjee to say that President K.R. Narayanan was the only saving grace in a situation marked by all-out attempt to please President Clinton at the cost of India’s honour and dignity. Even the New York Times observed that Indian President Narayanan rebuked Clinton through his speech. When the honour and dignity of India has been put at stake during President Trump’s visit there is none like President Narayanan who would be hailed as a saving grace. But we, the people of India, would be the saving grace by our own conduct to defend the honour of India.

Whatever the deals done between the USA and India, Trump has succeeded to get them to boost the American economy at a time when the Indian economy is in shambles. Now India has joined the global comprehensive strategic partnership with the USA thereby undermining its independent foreign policy.

We, the people of India, have to stand up to defend the country and its interest. That is the only

Hope  for the future.

D. Raja is the General Secretary, Communist Party of India.

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