Modi is better than Trump

US President in India: "Namaste Trump" follows "Howdy Modi"

US President Donald Trump stepped onto the stage of the world's largest cricket stadium on Monday and immediately made hymns of praise: India was a "miracle of democracy", with "incredible potential", an "economic heavyweight". All over the world, people would love Bollywood films. His "friend" Narendra Modi stood right next to him and was also not at a loss for superlatives: According to the Indian premier, a "new story" was being written in the stadium in Ahmedabad.

"Namaste Trump" was the name of the mega-event in Modi's home state of Gujarat. It was the Indian response to a reception by Modi in Texas last September: 50,000 US Indians cheered at "Howdy Modi", and around 100,000 in Ahmedabad. The three-hour appearance there alone is said to have cost twelve million US dollars - and the other stations of the visit, in Delhi and Agra, were cleaned and paved at full speed until the weekend. Roads along the routes the US President would take have been renewed.

The bank of the Yamuna, which grazes the Taj Mahal, has been cleared. A Gandhi memorial now shines in new splendor. A six-meter-high wall was erected in front of the Saraniya Vas slum - so that the high-ranking guest could not see the run-down barracks. Slum dwellers told Reuters that Modi's BJP party would have offered them 200 rupees if they lined the streets. The BJP denied this.

Trump relies on US Indians

The effort should hide the relationship between the United States and India, which has not been so easy in the end. Trump is only the seventh US president to visit India - albeit the fourth in a row. This reflects the growth of the subcontinent into a world power in recent years. And Trump can also ensnare the electorate of Indian origin at home with the pomp.

India needs the USA as a strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region in order to be able to assert itself against China. So far the US-Indian interests coincide, especially under Trump, who is taking a tough line against China. But currently many newspapers in India are writing about the "dealmaker" Trump. Because he is asking Modi to dismantle the sometimes massive trade barriers in his country - something Modi is not ready to do.

Unity on armaments issues

Trump and Modi were only able to come to an agreement on armaments. He looks forward to providing India with "the best and most feared weapons in the world," said Trump. The US would sell attack helicopters to India worth around 2.8 billion euros. However, this deal was long since signed and India is traditionally one of the largest arms buyers. The reality is that the Indian economy is not booming as Modi would like it to be, China is leaving India behind. And then there are the US talks with the Taliban: an agreement to reduce US troops in Afghanistan is not in India's interest. There are fears that the region will be destabilized, which could cause problems for India in Kashmir.

While Trump made his way to the Taj, accompanied by Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath, protests escalated in the capital New Delhi. Supporters and opponents of a controversial citizenship law clashed, the police used tear gas. Since December, people across the country have been protesting against the law, which critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Some of the protesters carried anti-Trump signs. Talks are to take place behind closed doors on Tuesday, ten kilometers away from the scene of the riots the previous day. Trump has announced that he will address the controversial law. (Anna Sawerthal, February 24, 2020)