How they see us: India gives Trump a warm welcome
President Trump’s trip to India this week may have been short on substance, but it was nevertheless “a spectacular success,” said Sriram Ramakrishnan in The Economic Times. Speaking to a packed crowd of 110,000 in Ahmedabad’s enormous Motera cricket stadium—festooned with Trump posters—the U.S. president called for “closer and deeper” U.S.-India ties, embraced Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and name-checked Hindu spiritual leaders and Bollywood movies. “America loves India!” Trump proclaimed. Together with first lady Melania, he hit all the major Indian highlights during the trip, touring the Taj Mahal in Agra and planting a tree at a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. Admittedly, no progress was made on the long-delayed trade deal between India and America. But that’s OK, because this visit was about “personal chemistry and bonding,” a way to highlight the warm relationship between two nationalists who genuinely enjoy feting one another.
Let’s hope this blossoming friendship results in a trade deal soon, said Ajit Ranade in Mint. As “the world’s two largest democracies,” India and the U.S. have “linked destinies.” The U.S. is our largest trading partner, and India is home to many of the world’s leading software and offshoring firms. The “productivity and efficiency gains of offshoring substantially flow back to American corporations,” so it would be nice if the U.S. shared some of the wealth Indians generate for it. Perhaps Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft could be listed on our stock exchanges so Indians could invest in them. Trump could also reinstate the preferential trading status that he pulled from India last year, exposing our exports to $200 million a year in tariffs. India is now prepared to buy more U.S. farm goods to cement a new deal.
What Trump really wants India to buy is more arms, said Vijay Prashad in The Hindu. The one deal that came out of this summit was an agreement by India to purchase more than $3 billion in American helicopters and other military equipment, and that’s on top of last month’s promise to buy $1.8 billion worth of air defense missiles and radars. Trump sees our nation as a bulwark against China, which is flexing its muscles abroad. But Trump’s new Indo-Pacific defense strategy includes “no discussion” of how China is to be contained, “only rhetoric that skates into belligerent territory.” India must guard against becoming America’s pawn, to be sacrificed in an Asian conflict.
But for now, Modi is the winner, said Abhijit Iyer-Mitra in ThePrint.in. By going all-in for Trump in a U.S. election year, Modi has guaranteed that the White House will stay silent on critical issues. Other Western nations have denounced Modi’s imposition of martial law in Muslim-majority Kashmir, and his citizenship law, which discriminates against Muslim immigrants. Even as Trump visited, supporters and opponents of the law fought bloody street battles in northeastern New Delhi, leaving at least 13 people dead. Trump, though, “praised India on its democratic values” without offering “even the mildest of criticism.” ■