THE US President Donald Trump is visiting India on 24th and 25th February. The godi media has already created a spectacle of the Trump visit, as it offers the ruling BJP regime and its spokespersons an opportunity to manufacture another diversionary tactic to draw people s attention away from the disaster in Indian economy, skyrocketing unemployment and communal divisiveness across the country. But let us understand the realities beyond the optics of Trump visit:
Wasting Crores To Create Media Spectacle: Donald Trump has emphasized again and again that the most important fact of visiting India will be the 7-10 million people welcoming him from the airport to the event (by the way, the population of Ahmadabad is 5.5 million). The tax payers are going to pay a whopping 80-85 crores for this! The poor of Ahmadabad, on the other hand will be subjected to the humiliation and cruelty of being kept hidden by a wall. The Gujarat Model of making the poor invisible will be on full display during Trump’s visit to the city.
While Trump cries “America First”, for the Modi Government it is “Trump First”, not India. “
India Made to Buy American Weapons, While Preferential Provisions Removed and Tariffs Raised for Indian Exports:
The least publicized yet the high point of Trump’s visit is the arms deal where India is being made to purchase weapons worth 2.6 Billion USD. Thus, while the US is denting our exchequer and pushing its way into the Indian market, Modi govt. shows no spine to fight back the slew of US measures to restrict India’s exports and access to US markets. Since becoming President in 2016, Trump has increased tariffs on Indian steel and aluminum products and removed the General System Preference for Indian goods which gave tariff free access to 23 Indian goods in the American market.
No Diplomatic Advantage- Abject Surrender to US Diktats: Modi Government gave in to the pressure of the United States and has stopped importing oil from Iran. This move was not only surrender to the United States but also meant serious economic disadvantage on at least two counts- a) we had started paying Iran in Rupees rather than dollars and b) Iranian crude was cheaper to refine as our refineries were already designed to work with oil from Iran.
In sharp contrast to the bluster of Modi, his supporters and the Godi Media, the United States has always used India to leverage its own interests in the region.
Reality Behind ‘Developed’ Nation Status to India and False Cheers by the Modi Brigade: The US government's recent move to categorise India as a developed nation from being a “developing” nation is being touted as a big achievement of the Modi government! A lot of BJP Ministers and supporters have already boasted about this. But what is the reality? By classifying India as a developed nation, the United States is basically denying tariff free access to Indian products in the United States. As a result of this, the cost of Indian goods in American will increase and this will hit our exports.
Let's note that US' re-categorisation of India as a 'developed nation' is based on its own arbitrary criterion that India’s share in world trade is more than the threshold of 0.5% set by the US! In contrast, the global criterion followed by the United Nations for defining a 'developed' economy is a per capita annual income of 12,375 USD and India’s per capital annual income at 2000 USD is far away from meeting the global standards of a developed economy.
Clearly, US move of labelling India as 'developed' economy has nothing to do with India’s real economic strength and standard of living, but rather it’s a move driven by US self-interest to make Indian products less competitive and snatch away India’s trade advantages in the US.
Trump Administration’s Repeated Moves Against Indians and Reduction in H-1B Visas: The Trump administration has been continuously making it more and more difficult for Indian professionals to work in America. This is clear in the changing regulation for the H-1B Visa which allows highly skilled Indian citizens to work in America. In 2017, Trump framed a policy of Buy American Hire American which made it harder to hire Indian professionals, as a consequence of this denial rate for H-1B visas rose from 4% in 2015 to 15% in 2018. The share of Indian IT companies in recipients of H-1B fell to 24% in 2019 compared to 51% in 2016. The rate of rejection for the extension of H-1B visas of those already working in America has increased to 18% in 2019 from 4% in 2016.
The data speaks loudly to the fact that Trump has made it more difficult for Indian citizens to work in America. Indians have also been victims of the wave of hatred and xenophobia that Trump has spurred in the United States but the Modi Govt and its supports have nothing to say on this.
Trump has repeatedly said that he is not happy with India but Modi is his friend. What does this mean for India and common Indians? Ultimately what unites both the leaders is their fanning of hatred, divisiveness and xenophobia in their respective countries. And look at the irony of it all - those who never tire of proclaiming themselves to be super-nationalists and castigate every other voice as 'anti-nationals', are the ones who bending on their knees in a meek and shocking surrender to the diktats of Trump.
We must expose the sheer wastage of the taxpayers’ money during Trump visit just for a media spectacle. We must also reject and resist the timid surrender of the Modi Government to the whims and fancies of Trump administration.