HOW DOES INDIA FEEL ABOUT TRUMP?
Super Tuesday brought upon the sudden rush of the world acknowledging that Donald Trump was not a candidate to take lightly. Winning three successive races, he launched himself as a frontrunner for the Presidential candidacy. The ruder he got, the more supporters followed him. The less he sounds like a conventional politician, the more he stands up as the man who might punch the Washington political establishment in the face. He has described Mexicans as rapists and expressed opinions such as building a wall across the vast southern border to keep the migrants out. In Nevada he suggested that a female TV host was hard on him because she was menstruating.
Donald Trump as a global ‘risk’
Donald Trump is the epitome of “anti-politics”, so the shorthand is too simple, of course. Trump is proving himself to be a communicator and campaigner playing the roles better than anyone else around. And he has that key ingredient which really helps in American political affairs, and that is infinite wealth. The world’s biggest democracy has not been immune from this global trend towards anti-establishment politics. Donald Trump was all over the news when he made a statement to call a ban on all Muslims entering the States. He has somehow taken on the role of a living troll. John Oliver in his program Last Week Tonight said, “Donald Trump is America’s black Mole. He may have seemed harmless a year ago, but now he’s gotten frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it.”
That was not the most ridiculous thing he has said; he maintains that “Pakistan is ‘a serious problem’ because they have nuclear weapons that work and ‘a lot of them’, just like North Korea and its ‘mad man’. He has offended the masses time and again, another example is this insinuation, “You have to get India involved … They have their own nukes and have a very powerful army. They seem to be the real check … I think we have to deal very closely with India to deal with it (Pakistan),” said Trump in his goals for foreign policies.
Donald Trump as President is now listed as one of the ten top global “risks” by The Economist, somewhere nearing to an oil price shock, and maybe to the rising menace of terrorism. His supporters love his hard-hitting dialogue against immigrants. On one day in an interview Trump said, “I’m speaking with myself, number one. I have a very good brain… my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.” But then two days later, he revealed the names of his foreign policy advisers, and they were men who didn’t really shine at the Washington establishment.
Trump’s position on the H-1B visas for foreign workers is befuddling, to put it nicely. His website claims he revolts these visas, but Trump said he would change his position. He may be juggling the Indian American vote, but his foreign policy adviser, Senator Jeff Sessions as the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on immigration; He holds annual trials on Capitol Hill to ill repute the H-1B program. Indian software companies will bear the pain of higher fees as they grab the largest share of H-1B visas. Trump’s campaign aimed at the H1-B and the J-1 visa program that enables both US and India to have mutual valuable outcomes. He maintained that increasing normal wage for H1-B workers claiming majority of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest permissible wage level. Increasing the usual wages paid to H-1B visa holders will compel companies to offer these coveted entry level jobs to the unemployed natives, instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. Trump maintains that this will mend the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in the Silicon Valley who have lost labor in favor of the H-1B program.
What Trump means to India
Most Indians have never heard of Donald Trump. If you walk past any roadside magazine stand here in New Delhi you will see “Trump” printed glaringly on the fronts of Indian publications. Just recently, two of India’s top English weeklies ran cover stories on the elections. Outlook magazine’s cover read “Donald Trump: American Nightmare” and had a caricature of a scowling, fuming Trump spread across the entire page. “Loud. Brash. Divisive. Insensitive. Xenophobic.” it stated.
“It’s the world’s biggest democracy meeting the world’s greatest election.”
Said Mr. Krishna Prasad, the editor of Outlook magazine as they often put American presidents on their covers but it’s rare to give a single candidate this exposure, especially seven months in advance to the elections. “For us, Trump was an excuse to put a mirror in front of Indians,” he said, pointing out what he sees as parallels between the rise of Trump and that of Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister in 2014. “Both were outsiders, and both ran on a demonstrable record of getting things done” continued Prasad. “Modi and Trump tapped into the angst of the people. Trump’s racist comments mirror things that have been said here as well,” he added, indicating to the recent comments made by ruling-party politicians on Islam.
Trump is a business tycoon but Narendra Modi, The President of India, is someone who means business. Modi has working belligerently for decades to achieve his promises to the nation, but when it comes to Trump he fails to show the same potential for his country.
When asked about what India thinks of Trump, there were too many diverse answers that led to the understanding that many in the country do not know of the man by name but very few have avoided his various antics. Like Giridharan Velamore a keen follower of politics said that, “Know him as a billionaire real estate developer and television personality and a Republican Party member. It is generally believed that Republicans are better friends of India than democrats (I’m not certain about it though).” Kavi Mazumdar said “He is the personification of every bad stereotype Indians might have about Americans.”
Actress Priyanka Chopra who has been featured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world shared her opinions about the battle against extremism, which has repeated itself in the 2016 presidential race. The Bollywood actress stars in “Quantico”, an American TV series on fighting terror. She has slammed the front runner for his call to ban Muslim immigrants from the US.
“I just think you can’t put a ban on anyone. Generalizing a type of people is really primitive,” Priyanka said. She said that the battle against terrorism has turned so difficult that “you can’t put a face on it any more”.
In an interview in March Trump declared “Islam hates us.” Pressing further at a Republican debate in the same week Trump was asked if he meant to say that all 1.6 billion Muslims around the world hated Americans. “I mean a lot of them. A lot of them,” Trump replied. Mihir Joshi, a well-known Indian musician and talk show host from Mumbai, said that he would not feel safe traveling to America.
“I have a beard, I have dark skin, I could be mistaken for a Muslim and what, and every time I enter America I have to prove I’m not a Muslim? How do you go about that? When you hear some of the things he says it does sound like he’s a fascist.”
The Trump Empire also has a foothold in India, keeping two super luxury apartment projects in Pune and in Mumbai. Business ties may grow further with or without a Trump as a president. Tribeca Developers, the firm taking care of his interests in India, have explained that Trump and sons are “extremely bullish on India” and intends to develop many more cities.