‘Pageantry’, ‘No Substance’: Foreign Media on Trump’s India Visit

From Delhi riots, to Trump’s silence on CAA and his mispronunciations. The foreign media says it all.

5 min read
Hindi Female

US President Donald Trump came to India for a whirlwind 36-hour official visit in which he visited three cities and also attended a mega rally hosted by Prime Minister Modi to welcome him in Ahmedabad.

While a minute-by-minute update of Trump's visit was meticulously broadcast by the Indian media, here's a look at how the foreign media covered the Modi-Trump meet.


Trump’s India Visit Opens With More Symbolism Than Substance As He Celebrates Ties With A Fellow Nationalist: Washington Post

The Washington Post opened its report with the observation that while Trump heavily praised India's diversity and tolerance, he did not condemn PM Modi's actions over the past few months that have been widely seen as discriminatory. The report observed:

“Trump returned to the theme repeatedly but did not mention Modi’s controversial citizenship law that passed in December or the state of emergency that his Hindu nationalist government imposed on Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.”

The report also mentions that Trump had said before the visit that he would bring up the issue of religious freedom in India with PM Modi in private. This comes as many in the US have been vocally critical of the citizenship law and the Indian government's actions in Kashmir.

The report also mentions the riots that took place in Delhi during the president's visit and the wall erected in Ahmedabad to hide a slum from his view.


Trump Concludes India Visit Without Major Agreements: CNN

CNN called Trump’s visit a "showy state visit to India", "with plenty of impressive photos but without major announcements on trade or security".

Through the course of the report, CNN mentioned multiple times how the outcome of the visit appeared to be "more about optics than policy".

Like The Washington Post, this report too dwelled on how he did not publicly bring up the citizenship law or Indian action in Kashmir, which has been discussed in the political circles of the US as well. The report said:

“Modi has come under sharp criticism for steps that his critics fear could deny Indian Muslims citizenship, which prompted the deadly street protests in Delhi. American officials have expressed concern about the law, fearing it could amount to anti-Democratic backsliding. In his remarks on Monday, Trump made broad references to India’s history as a pluralistic democracy, noting it’s a country where people of multiple faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” But he did not directly raise the issue during his multiple public appearances with Modi, and in his Ahmedabad speech Trump said “every nation has the right to secure and controlled borders.”

It also mentioned how Trump, once again, offered to mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.


'America Loves India' Trump Declares At Rally With Modi: The New York Times

The New York Times began its report by describing the atmosphere in Ahmedabad ahead of the 'Namaste Trump' event, pointing out that while ostentatious, the number of people present at the event were much less than Trump's estimated 10 million.

The report observed:

“...although Mr Trump said with satisfaction that 125,000 people had turned out to see him, more than one third of the crowd appeared to leave before the end of his nearly 30-minute remarks, and another third was gone by the time Mr Modi spoke after him.”

It also pointed out that even as he name-dropped Indian cricketers and Bollywood actors, Trump's speech betrayed his unfamiliarity with India as he "stumbled over several pronunciations, including those of Ahmedabad itself, as well as Gujarat, the state it anchors and Mr Modi’s political home base."

The report also observed that while US-India relations were held together by the "personal bond" created by both Modi and Trump's cult personalities, this bond has done little to solve and push forward policy issues in both countries. It mentioned how Trump said that India and the US will be making “very, very major trade deals", but also joked that Modi was “a very tough negotiator".

Like The Washington Post and CNN, the NYT too, mentioned how Trump did not bring up the citizenship law or Kashmir in public discussions and that the capital city of Delhi saw large-scale violence during the president's visit.


For Trump And Modi, Ethnic Purity Is The Purpose Of Power: The Guardian

The Guardian focused almost entirely on how Trump did not denounce Modi's citizenship law publicly. The article gives a historical background of America's citizenship laws in early 20th century, which made certain races ineligible for naturalisation.

The writer goes on to say that Hitler was impressed by this American policy and even mentions it in his autobiography Mein Kampf.

It further states that Trump's present policy on immigration is a throwback to early 20th century America, and his refusal to call out Modi just shows that the two converge on this ideology. The report says:

“India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act allows for a fast-track to citizenship for non-Muslim migrants, thereby discriminating against Muslims. The proposed national register requires residents to prove their citizenship with documentation – which many in India lack. Together, these laws place Muslims without documentation in a quandary. Large detention centres are being built to house India’s Muslim residents who are declared ineligible for citizenship. Like the US immigration policy so admired by Hitler, these laws are a mask: they are designed to privilege Hindus in the citizenship laws of the world’s largest democracy. Trump leads an administration that seeks to return the US to the national state of Hitler’s adulation. In many respects, Modi’s India is considerably further along this path. The student has become the teacher.”

India Pours on the Pageantry With Colorful Welcome For Trump: Associated Press

Of all the foreign publications, The Associated Press probably took the most conservative stance on the Modi-Trump meet. However, while detailing the elaborate arrangements made for Trump's address in Motera, the article also mentions the violence in Delhi and anti-Trump protests in many city.

It also calls the 'Namaste Trump' event at Motera, the "back half" of the "Howdy Modi" rally that PM Modi attended in the US last year. It also observed that this could be Trump's way of wooing the Indian origin voters back in the US before the presidential elections in the country. It said:

“This trip, in particular, reflects a Trump campaign strategy to showcase him in his presidential role during short, carefully managed trips that provide counter-programming to the Democrats’ primary contest and produce the kinds of visuals his campaign can use in future ads. His aides also believe the visit could help the president woo tens of thousands of Indian-American voters before the November election.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news and india

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More