Hundreds of thousands of Indians came out to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump in the northwestern city of Ahmadabad as he began a two-day tour of the country. This is his first official visit to the Asian country.

Crowds cheered President Trump as he rode in the armored presidential limousine, “The Beast,” along the 22-km route from the airport to the Motera stadium, venue for the “Namaste Trump” rally.

“Namaste Trump” Rally

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined President Trump at the Motera stadium, where they both addressed a gathering of over 100,000. Tens of thousands of attendees donned white “Namaste Trump” hats bearing the U.S and Indian flags. People view the event as a sequel to the September 2019 “Howdy Modi!” rally. About 50,000 Indian-Americans showed up for that event in Houston, Texas.

“The US will always be faithful and loyal friend of India. Thank you for the spectacular welcome,” President Trump said.

The Times of India newspaper reported the opening events of the two-day presidential visit:

US President Donald Trump landed here on Monday for his first visit to India to a grand welcome by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thousands of people who lined the streets and packed into the Motera stadium to say “Namaste Trump”.

There were tableaux, folk dancers and musicians rolling out to the cultural tapestry that is India, at the airport, on the way and at the spanking new cricket stadium where about 100,000 people waited patiently since early in the morning to hear the two leaders speak.

Trump stepped out wearing a black suit and a buttercup yellow tie while the first lady was in a white jumpsuit by French-American costume designer Herve Pierre. In a hat tip to Indian textiles, the jumpsuit was paired with a green silk with gold thread embroidery discovered by the designer in an early 20th century Indian textile documents given to him by his friends.

The 22-km ‘India roadshow’ began as the cavalcade, with the the US president’s gleaming black car that has earned the moniker ‘The Beast’, moved out of the airport towards the Ashram [a Hindu monastery-turned museum associated with Mahatma Gandhi] and then to stadium. About 50 stages were set up on the way, showcasing dance groups and singers from different parts of the country.

Over 10,000 police personnel, besides officials of the United States Secret Service, and personnel of the National Security Guards (NSG) and the Special Protection Group (SPG) were deployed for the high profile visit.

(…) Trump and Modi resumed their roadshow till Motera stadium, the stage for the “Namaste Trump” event that saw a cultural extravaganza and addresses by the two leaders waving at the crowd during the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston last year. Also put up along the road were replicas of historic places in Gujarat.

Watch: President Trump’s full speech

Following the rally, President Trump and the First Lady headed to the northern Indian city of Agra, home to the famous monument Taj Mahal. A similar welcome was accorded by the city as well, with thousands showing up to greet the visiting U.S. leader.

US, India United in Fight Against “Radical Islamic Terrorism”

Trump has backed India in its fight against Islamic terrorism. He offered to provide “India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet” in its fight against “radical Islamic terrorism,” to use his own words.

“Every nation has the right to secure and controlled borders,” the U.S. President said in his speech. “The United States and India are committed to working together to stop terrorists and fight their ideology.”

Indian newspaper The Economic Times reported President Trump’s comments:

India and the US are committed to defend their people from radical Islamic terrorism, resolved to significantly expand defence ties and are working on a “fantastic” trade deal, said US President Donald Trump on Monday while asserting that his country “loves” and is “loyal” to India. (…)

“India and the US are committed to fight terrorists and their ideology; that is why my government is working with Pakistan to crack down on terror groups,” Trump said (….).

“The US will always be faithful and loyal friend of India. Thank you for the spectacular welcome,” he added.
He also announced that the two countries will firm up defence deals worth $3 billion on Tuesday and that the US will become India’s premier defence partner.

“India and US have natural and enduring friendship,” Trump said to a cheering crowd.

The Mainstream Media Reacts

The public support for Trump was too overwhelming for even the critical media outlets to ignore. “India Greets U.S. Leader With Epic Party,” NPR reported. Even CNN begrudgingly admitted: “the crowd was massive.”

“Across the stands of the world’s biggest cricket stadium, a sea made up of the faces of Donald Trump and Narendra Modi stared out,” UK’s left-wing newspaper The Guardian noted. “The 125,000-strong crowd who had gathered to welcome to US president on his first visit to India alongside the Indian prime minister.”

The German state television ARD disparagingly described the visit as the “meeting of two showmen.” It’s all about “superlative, megalomania and far-right; that’s what unites these two statesmen,” the state-run news outlet remarked.

The New York Times bashed the President for “[m]aking no mention of a growing backlash against what critics call Mr. Modi’s anti-Muslim Hindu nationalism.”

UK daily Independent also echoed the NYT, complaining: “Trump fails to condemn Modi’s ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship law.”

In December, the Indian parliament passed a law easing citizenship rights for refugees fleeing Islamist persecution in the neighboring Muslim-majority countries. The law opens the path to naturalization for the followers of six faiths, including Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians, but excludes Muslims. The move angered many Indian Muslims, who took to the streets across the country, setting fire to vehicles, throwing stones, and hurling home-made bombs at security forces called in to restore order. NYT, BBC, and other mainstream media outlets showed great empathy towards these enraged Muslims men.

Regardless of what the mainstream media outlets may say, the U.S.-India ties are rooted in the firm bedrock of realism. Both countries are aware of the threat of growing Islamism in the Muslim world and China’s military expansionism. Unlike his Democrat predecessor, President Trump has little qualms about naming these two threats, and above all, taking firm and decisive action to stem them. The destruction of the ISIS caliphate in the Middle East and recent decapitation of Iran’s regional terror network will not be lost on Indian leadership.

[Cover image via YouTube]

 

 
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