- Colourful pageantry greeted Trump as he travelled in armoured car
- Donald Trump’s visit comes amid tense trade talks between India, US
- “Namaste, Trump” being seen as parallel to “Howdy, Modi!”
US President Donald Trump was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a warm hug as he and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in Ahmedabad this afternoon for a 36-hour visit to India. Colourful pageantry greeted President Trump as he travelled in the armoured black car known as the “Beast” on the streets of Ahmedabad, the largest city in PM Modi’s home state Gujarat. The two-day state visit comes ahead of President Trump’s re-election bid – the US votes in November – and just months after PM Modi’s “Howdy, Modi!” event in Texas last year. Mr Trump’s visit also comes amid tense trade talks between the two countries.
Here are the top 10 points as Donald Trump visits India:
“Electric Atmosphere at Motera Stadium as people eagerly wait to welcome President,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted. En route to the “Namaste, Trump” event, President Trump’s convoy passed through the Sardarnagar area of Ahmedabad, which contains several slums. A four-foot tall, 500-metre-long wall has been built along this section, which residents say is meant to “hide the poor people” ahead of Mr Trump’s visit. Local officials, however, say the decision to build the wall was taken well before the presidential visit.
At Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, President Trump and the First Lady tried their hand at spinning the charkha as PM Modi explained the significance of the traditional spinning wheel to the visitors. PM Modi was seen showing the Trumps around the revered ashram and explaining the marble depiction of Gandhi’s three monkeys to Melania Trump.
President Trump and his family were served high tea, which, reports said, featured broccoli samosas and apple pie. After the short visit, the Trumps, along with the President’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, headed to the main event of the day, the “Namaste, Trump” reception at the newly-built Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Cricket Stadium – said to be the world’s largest.
“Namaste, Trump” is being seen by many as a parallel to the lavish “Howdy, Modi!” event organised for PM Modi in Houston during his visit last year to the US. The stadium, which has a capacity of over one lakh, filled up hours before the event.
From Ahmedabad, Donald Trump and his family will travel to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, which has been treated to several rounds of beautification with the help of mud packs; this too has been described as something that had already been planned. Authorities have also released vast volumes of water into the Yamuna River, which flows along the Taj Mahal, in order to lessen the usual whiff of raw sewage and industrial effluent.
President Trump and his family will fly to Delhi this evening for the operative part of the trip, which includes high level talks tomorrow. An Indo-US trade deal is likely to be discussed. Hopes of an agreement between two of the world’s largest economies have faded in recent days after differences over proposed tariffs by India to protect domestic manufacturers. India’s action came after the US scrapped the general system of preferences that allowed the export of $5.6 billion worth of goods.
Apart from growing protectionism, Donald Trump’s visit also comes against the backdrop of India’s multibillion-dollar purchase of a Russian missile shield system, which had added friction to its ties with Washington.
Among other issues the two leaders will discuss during this visit is religious freedom in India. Last week White House officials confirmed President Trump would discuss this “in private” with PM Modi. Mr Trump’s visit comes amid a wave of anti-citizenship law protests, including two violent clashes on Sunday night, that have turned the spotlight on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, that activists and PM Modi’s political critics say discriminates against Muslims.
First Lady Melania Trump’s scheduled visit to a Delhi government school has also drawn controversy after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia were dropped from the event. Tensions between Mr Kejriwal’s AAP, which rules Delhi and PM Modi’s BJP, in power at the centre, spiked after a bitterly fought Delhi Assembly election last month that the AAP won. Late Sunday evening the US embassy issued a clarification.
Just before he landed in Ahmedabad for his first-ever visit to India, President Trump had tweeted in Hindi: “We are eager to visit India. We are on our way, will see you all in a few hours.” PM Modi responded: “Atithi Devo Bhava (guest is god)”.