The US Presidential visit to India is a big event; that’s what it is – a big event management show.
The dancers and depiction of Gandhiji’s life on the route from Ahmedabad to Sabarmati is just that - a big show of power, something which Trump and Modi both have in abundance.
Both are so very similar in that way – they are powerful, much bigger than the party they represent, clearly not secular, against immigration, and do not find anything wrong in hobnobbing with the authoritarians around the world. And more importantly, they can get away with anything!
Trump loves a huge crowd and that is what he has got. Maybe not the 7 million (which grew to 10 million) which Trump expected but big enough for Trump to think its 7 million. Rs.120 crore spent on a 3-hour visit is a lot but the things it has got (apart from the shameful walls to cover the poor) is something which people have fought for years. The re-tarring of roads, widening the road to Sabarmati, the beautification of the city, the pots lining the street, the ‘mud-pack’ for the tombs of Shahjahan and Mumtaz at the Taj; people living in the vicinity are happy.
Indeed it’s a good idea to have such powerful politicians visiting the country as it manages to do things in a supersonic speed. It might all be just superficial, after all its just a 3-hour visit but it’s got things done.
Let’s not kid ourselves that this deal will bring a lot of moolah for India; Trump has already indicated that with election scheduled for Nov, he cannot make large deals. He in turn, has come in as a salesman for USA, hoping to go back with multi billion dollar deals, which is what will happen in all likelihood. The officials at Washington have made it pretty clear that the comprehensive trade agreement he seeks with India remains far-off.
One does not expect much from this trip, economically, but what it most certainly will do is feed Trump’s ego. He is most certainly being made to feel that he is getting a welcome which no other world leader has ever got. Well, this feeding of the ego might help us if he gets re-elected.
This visit will be great optics, great photo-ops but hopefully will have some lasting results too, instead of concentrating only on the applause from the crowds in a stadium.
We all probably know that this visit will not get us much, economically. But we are doing all this to create this “soft corner” for India which, we hope will come to use when dealing with China or more importantly, Pakistan. Its about the image we are projecting to the world which is important now and really, that’s all it is about, so what if it is the tax payers money which is being squandered to massage an ego!