First things first , Varghese K George has in his inimitable and candid style of presentation has brought to the fore India – US ties like never before. And he does that with his ground reports and precise analysis as the events unfold . He touches upon the India- US relationship at the time of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with lot of finesse .
The author observes the two leaders closely how they came to power and gives his point of view . President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have built their politics on the promise of making their countries ‘great again’ . Placing the US and India as leaders on the world stage is the stated objective of their respective foreign policies , based as they are on the assumption that both inherited a mess from their predecessors.
The author strikingly points out that both Donald Trump and Narendra Modi when they ran their election campaigns for the respective posts, President of US and Prime Minister of India, in the elections in their respective nations in 2016 in case of Trump and 2014 in case of Modi spared no effort in lamenting and criticising the tenure of their predecessors i.e. Barack Obama and Dr Manmohan Singh. Both are trying to relitigate the notions of self enemy and allies in their respective countries.
And the similarity in Trump and Modi’s campaigns has been explained subtly by the author . When he says Trump’s speeches through the 2016 election cycle seemed almost as an American adaptation of Modi’s speeches throughout his political career. Both of them promised economic progress, employment infrastructure, focus on military , muscular foreign policy and above all , the restoration of their nation’s glory. Modi termed his politics ‘India first’ for the first time in an address to an American audience on May 14, 2013 that he could not deliver in person due to a travel ban.
Modi said India’s election commission was acting against him. Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh were voting against his party. So he promised to deport them. But he was of the view that Hindus coming from other countries must be protected.
Trump said illegal Mexicans were voting for the Democratic party and they would be deported, while Christian refugees would be given preference. Modi said Manmohan Singh – the first non- Hindu Prime Minister of India – was weak and indecisive., and foreign leaders did not respect, particularly Pakistan’s Prime Minister. Trump said Barack Obama – America’s first non- white President – was indecisive and weak and foreign leaders did not respect him, particularly China. Modi called journalists ‘news traders’ , Trump called them the ‘lowest form of life’
The author in this book , provides an insightful overview of the changes occurring in America’s relationship with the world under the Trump’s Presidency and what it all means for India which has become an aspirational nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi . While Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush had emphasised that the US’s relations with India would shape the twenty- first century, Trump’s ‘America first’ politics is a repudiation of the nation’s strategic culture. His alignment with Modi’s world view – what the author calls the Hindutva Strategic Doctrine – and the US’s changing relationships with India’s neighbours , Pakistan . China, form a crucial part of the narrative.
And this narrative is engrossing to say the least . The finer points had been laid down on the table with plenty of data, research, reports, history , and interesting anecdotes.
And the gamut of Indo – US ties in the era of Trump and Modi have been aptly explained in five tight chapters – 1. America first : Slogan of a Retreat in Slow Motion. 2 Modi’s World View : Hindutva Strategic Doctrine ? 3. India in the Age of Trump. 4 China : The Dragon in the future. 5 Islam and Terror : Trump’s war.
Both Trump and Modi according to author had built their politics on a huge amount of hype. But by now the limits of it are visible. Both have consolidated certain constituencies while polarizing their politics. And both in the days ahead face tests from the electorate as well.
The leader of the world’s oldest democracy is campaigning for the congressional elections to be held in 2018, while the leader of the largest democracy is bracing for a tough re- election contest in 2019.
This similarity between Modi and Trump in many ways has never been illustrated in such emphatic manner . It is a sheer delight to read the comparisons. So too fascinating is to find out how America deals with the likes of Russia , China, Pakistan , Afghanistan, Iran , North Korea.
Overall , Open Embrace one can say without any doubt raises the bar when it comes to explaining the Indo- US Ties. The ties under Modi and Trump will be enhanced if Modi gets re- elected given the current bonhomie . But there could be twist in the tale too if he does not . So one is keeping fingers crossed as to what will happen next. Watch this space !
INDIA – US TIES
IN THE AGE OF MODI AND TRUMP
VARGHESE K GEORGE