f at all you remember the speech of Donald Trump, he loudly said, “I love Hindu”. Speaking to a cheering audience of Indian Americans at an election rally in 2016, he added, “We are going to be best friends. There won’t be any relationship more important to us.” Well, that was his election speech and to win, the political leaders make all sorts of claims. Since he became the President of the US, things have changed for India. Recently, he has turned down India’s invitation to be the chief guest during the Republic Day Parade. This comes at a time when the relations between the countries are not in the best of health. The US had recently issued warning against India if it goes ahead with signing the S-400 missile system deal with Russia. India signed the deal for five such systems when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India earlier this month. Besides this, the Trump administration has been threatening India with sanctions if it continues to procure oil from Iran. India continues to import oil from Iran.
Donald Trump’s decisions are always unpredictable, whether for his own country or with other countries worldwide! Image of the US — superpower and highly developed country — is diminishing day by day. Trump’s recent remark that “Modi is a good person, but he is of no use to the United States” reveals an increasingly waning attitude and cold-shouldering feelings of the United States towards India. Indian leadership obsession for the presence of the US President on the Republic Day ceremony, when due regard for our own concerns — be it with regard to visa issues or India getting waivers to import oil from Iran to maintain energy security — has largely been ignored, and even during the visit of Obama when we are taught to practice religious tolerance and protect the right of minorities, sounds ludicrous. A responsible government should be able to address its own concerns with due engagement and yet maintain a credible distance. After the initial affability between the US President Donald Trump and PM Modi, Trump is now speaking out against India on the trade issues. He accused India of charging 100 per cent tariffs on some US goods and threatened to sever trade ties with countries that he said were ‘robbing’ America. Trump’s visit was being seen as an opportunity to mend ties between the two countries that have seen several ruptures over India’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missiles, impending US sanctions over Iranian oil imports, as well as an impasse on trade tariffs. In sharp contrast to his frequent conversations with the then President Obama, Modi and Trump last spoke over the telephone in February and last met a year ago in Manila. Well, the world is angry with him and he is angry about the world. That’s the problem with the civilisations across the globe.
The government is now exploring several other options for the event.
According to multiple government and diplomatic sources, a final decision has been conveyed to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), with Trump’s “crowded calendar” being cited as the primary reason for his not accepting the invitation.
In 2015, when the US President Barack Obama had come to India for the parade, he had been able to negotiate to bring forward the address to January 20 and travelled to India after it.
In the current situation, however, the current Speaker, Paul Ryan, has resigned and Trump would not be able to even begin the negotiations until December, when a new Speaker is elected by representatives going into the mid-term elections on November 6. The misgivings over Trump’s schedule had been conveyed to India when the officials had first “sounded out” the US administration early this year, an official confirmed. Well, that is again once convenience, but unfortunately, the media is showing it as Modi’s failure. The Opposition and the social media brigade all are humiliating out PM but they need to realise that by doing so, they are bringing a bad name to the country and its leader.
India or rather Indians are as divided about Trump as they are about Modi. Most Modi bhakts seem to support Trump irrespective of all his ugliness just because he says things against Muslims. Looking at the overall scenario, India needs to learn to be self-sufficient. India — which makes very few of its own weapons — is the world’s biggest defence buyer and Russia supplies most of its military equipment and spare parts. The US wants to change the dynamics. It has increased its arms exports to India more than five times in the past five years, taking its share in Delhi defence procurement to 15 per cent. In comparison, Russia’s share has fallen from 79 per cent to 62 per cent over the past five years, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Washington has traditionally not objected to India buying defence equipment from Russia.
The US has long believed that India needs to be a strong militarily to counter China in the region — even if it comes at the cost of Delhi buying arms from Russia. Indian diplomats have hinted that India would not back out from the Russia deal because the air defence system was crucial for its security.
India will not lose or miss much if Trump is not coming to attend the Republic Day events. In fact, except for the photo ops, he will not add any value. The Republic Day is significant to India and Indians. Some guests from abroad —among real friends of India or others with manifest goodwill — may be welcomed as the guests. From another angle, India can well do without Trump for now. Both Trump and India have other more important things facing them.
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