Trump’s India Visit 2020

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Laghima Pandey

President Trump arrived in India on Monday, February 24 for his first official visit to the world’s largest democracy. He started his day with a 36-hour tour with a mega-rally that drew about 100,000 people and a visit to India’s iconic Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal, built in the 17th century by an Indian emperor as a tomb for his beloved wife, was buffed and scrubbed for the first time in 300 years before Trump and the first lady took a private sunset tour. Trump, who was visiting the monument for the first time, told reporters that it was “incredible, truly incredible.” 

This visit seems to have generated a lot of attention as the two countries have been facing stubborn tensions over trade even as they continue to deepen their security cooperation. Also, the Modi government has been facing considerable international criticism over the issue in Kashmir, a state which has always been caught between the two successor nations of India and Pakistan. Modi had announced the repeal of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution which had given Indian-administered Kashmir some autonomy; the right to craft limited local policy and to deny outsiders the right to acquire land there, which many Muslim Kashmiris saw as protection against Hindus from the rest of India moving to the region, changing its demographics, and undermining its push for independence (majority of people living there are Muslims and have been protesting for a long time for independence). Another reason for criticism is the ­religion-based citizenship law (gives undocumented immigrants of six religions a fast-track path to citizenship but excludes Islam, a faith that 200 million Indian citizens practice) which has also led to protests nationwide. 

Despite all the criticism the Modi government has been receiving, Trump seemed satisfied with his visit and even expressed his gratification in front of hundreds of people. Before visiting The Taj Mahal, Trump was welcomed by a huge crowd in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city. He addressed the crowd at the Motera cricket stadium, calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “true friend.” He praised the bond between the United States and India and expressed a desire to strengthen that bond further.  He also complimented the unity found in India by saying, “Your nation has always been admired around the Earth as the place where millions upon millions of Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Jews worship side by side in harmony.” 

On Tuesday, Trump and Modi announced that they would sign off on a $3.5 billion arms deal, which would see the sale of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy and six Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for the Indian Army. They also announced co-operation in fighting radical Islamist terrorism and deepening energy ties, as well as pledging to work together to make 5G technology safer. However, the two leaders failed to agree to an anticipated trade deal to ease tariffs.  Still, during his remarks on Monday, Trump mentioned that the parties were in the “earlier stage” of discussions. He later told reporters that he was in “no rush” to secure a trade deal with India.

“We are doing well with India, we are making deals,” Trump said.