‘Namaste Trump’ to ‘buy, buy Trump’

‘Namaste Trump’ to ‘buy, buy Trump’

United States President Donald Trump’s visit to India was, as expected, more about show and spectacle than substance. The two sides decided to upgrade ties to a “Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.” However, just three agreements – two of them in the nature of US sales to India— were signed during the visit. These included defence deals for India to buy choppers worth $3 billion from the US and a ‘letter of cooperation’ in energy, by which the US oil giant ExxonMobil is to help Indian Oil Corporation import more LPG. The third was a memorandum of understanding on cooperation relating to mental health and safety of medical products. The much-anticipated bilateral trade pact did not materialize, although “positive discussions” are said to have taken place. A possible deal on American sale of nuclear reactors to India also failed to happen.

India will gain from the deals done during Trump’s visit. Acquisition of American choppers, for instance, will add to the logistical capabilities of the Indian Army and Navy and contribute to diversification of India’s sources of military hardware. However, it is hard to ignore the fact that the balance of benefit to the two countries from Trump’s visit tilts heavily in the US’ favour. While Trump and American business leaders have gone home with lucrative energy and defence deals in their pockets, India will find itself having to reckon with the impact that these pacts will have on its relations with other key countries. The India-US energy deal, for instance, would eat into India’s already declining oil trade with Iran. The US’ emergence as India’s new ‘energy ally’ comes at the cost of Delhi’s trade with Iran and will not go unnoticed in Teheran. Again, Trump’s mention of India-US co-operation in the ‘Quad’ figuring in his talks with Prime Minister Modi is bound to rile China. Trump has ruffled feathers in Delhi, too, with his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan.

So, was Trump’s visit to India a success? It is widely believed that the main item on Trump’s agenda for the visit was to win the support of the sizeable Indian diaspora in the US, especially in states like Texas. The Trump and Modi show of solidarity at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Gujarat is sure to have gladdened the hearts of Modi supporters in the US. They can be expected to rally behind Trump in the upcoming presidential elections. As for Modi, if he was hoping to use Trump’s visit to show the world that India’s diversity thrives under his rule, then that did not happen. The communal violence in Delhi, even as Trump was in town, laid bare the dangerous impact of his policies.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)