India rolls out cultural extravaganza to welcome Donald Trump - Eastern Mirror
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India rolls out cultural extravaganza to welcome Donald Trump

By PTI Updated: Feb 24, 2020 10:48 pm

‘New history’ being created, says Modi; calls President a ‘special friend’ of India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday.

Ahmedabad, Feb. 24 (PTI): 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 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.

Air Force One carrying Trump, his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner landed at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport here at 11.37 am, officials said. It was scheduled to land at 11.40 am.

The first stop in the Trump visit was the Sabarmati Ashram, home to Mahatma Gandhi between 1917 and 1930 during India’s freedom struggle.

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

Addressing the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at the new-look Motera stadium, dubbed as the world’s biggest, Modi underscored the significance of the president’s visit to India at the turn of a new decade, describing it as a “big occasion.”

Describing India and the US as “natural partners”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called President Donald Trump a “special friend” of India and said his visit to this country has created a “new history” in Indo-US relations.

The prime minister also asserted that “new India” has brought many new opportunities for a “resurgent America”.

With Trump by his side, Modi said “America’s commitment to defeating terrorism and the leadership of President Trump has served humanity and, therefore, I believe that a special leader like President Trump and a special friend of India coming to India at the beginning of this decade is a big occasion”.

Welcoming the President, Modi said a “new history” is being created and asserted that foundations of new alignments, challenges, opportunities and changes are being laid.

“India and the US relations and cooperation will play an important role in deciding the course of world in the 21st century. I am of the categorical view that India and the US are natural partners,” he told an estimated one lakh-strong audience who broke into cheers frequently.

Trump’s visit to India at the turn of the new decade is a big occasion, he said.

Modi also said that we are inspired by a long-term vision, not just short term considerations.

“Our bilateral relations will grow, our economic partnership will expand, our digital cooperation will increase,” he said.

The Indo-US ties are no longer just another partnership but have touched far greater heights, and the Trump’s trip with his family shows this, Modi said.

“Welcome to world’s biggest democracy,” the prime minister said.

Modi said President Trump’s visit is a new chapter in the relations between India and America. “A chapter that will become a new document of progress and prosperity of the people of America and India,” he added.

There is so much that the two countries share, Modi said.

“Today the country with which India has the most extensive research and development partnership is America,” he said.

Trump praises India’s unity in diversity, calls it an inspiration to the world

India embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights and the rule of law, and is admired around the globe as people of different religions worship side by side in harmony, US President Donald Trump said on Monday, lauding the country’s accomplishments during his maiden state visit here.

He noted that India has an incredible potential and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is laying the foundations of its future.

Hailing India’s diversity, the US President said its unity is an inspiration to the world as it is known for its democracy, tolerance and peace.

“India is a country that proudly embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of every human being.

“Your nation has always been admired around the earth as the place where millions upon millions of Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Jews worship side by side in harmony,” he said while addressing a packed Motera stadium at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event here.

“The story of the Indian nation is a tale of astounding progress, a miracle of democracy, extraordinary diversity, and above all, strong and noble people.

“India gives hope to all of humanity. In just 70 years, India become an economic giant, the largest democracy ever to exist and one of the most amazing asians anywhere in the world,” Trump said.

The potential for India is absolutely incredible, he said while noting that India’s rise as a prosperous and independent nation is an example for every nation all over the world and one of the outstanding achievements of the century.

The US President quoted Swami Vivekananda who had said, “The moment I stand in reverence before every human being, and see God in him, that moment I am free.”

Trump thanked India for the contributions its culture and traditions have made to the United States and said Americans are eager to strengthen ties between their people.

Modi, Trump to hold extensive talks on Tuesday to expand Indo-US global partnership

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will aim to expand India-US global partnership in their extensive talks on Tuesday, a day after both lavished praise on each other and vowed to script a better future for people of the two democracies.

In an address at a massive “Namaste Trump” rally at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, the US president announced that deals to sell state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment worth over USD 3 billion will be sealed on Tuesday.

The deals mentioned by Trump will include procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India from the US at a cost of USD 2.6 billion. Another contract to acquire six AH-64E Apache helicopters for USD 800 million from the US is also on the table.

Tuesday’s talks between Modi and Trump are likely to send across a clear message of growing congruence of interests between India and the US on major geopolitical developments in the region and beyond, particularly when China has been expanding its military and economic clout.

However, the talks between the two leaders are unlikely to produce tangible outcome in resolving thorny issues like trade tariffs.

On the morning of February 25, Trump and the First Lady will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. From there, they would go to Rajghat to pay homage at the ‘samadhi’ of Mahatma Gandhi.

It would be followed by restricted and delegation-level talks between Trump and Modi at Hyderabad House.

Cong takes pot shot at Trump for not mentioning Mahatma

Congress on Monday criticised US President Donald Trump for not mentioning Mahatma Gandhi in the visitor book of Sabarmati Ashram and instead praising Modi and called him “great friend” (PM Modi) and called his tour a “wonderful visit”

“This is a snapshot of the note that someone sent. It ostensibly is @realDonaldTrumps note at Sabarmati. No mention of the Great Mahatma. Does he even know who Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was?” Manish Tewari wrote while tweeting the pictures of the visitor book.

Tewari also shared the picturess of Barack Obama who praised Gandhi during his visit. “And this is what @barackobama had to say about the Great Mahatma possibly at Rajghat or Sabarmati.

“The distinction cannot be more stark…The visiting US president Barack Obama wrote about Gandhi in 2010 that ‘a hero just not to… India but for the whole world’.”

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth. Messrs Modi and Trump doing their best to prove Einstein right in a way he didn’t intend — by erasing the Mahatma from his abode!” tweeted Tharoor.

Anti-Trump protest in Kolkata, Bhopal, Indore

Leftist organisations on Monday held rallies and burnt effigy of US President Donald Trump here against his India visit, but the police stopped the protestors before they reach the United States Information Service (USIS) office here.

Members of Leftist trade unions and student bodies marched towards the office of the USIS from Esplanade at the heart of the city.

Police stopped the rally, led by CPI(M) leaders Surjya Kanta Mishra and Mohammed Salim, in front of the Indian Museum, a few hundred metres from the USIS office.

An effigy of Trump was burnt and anti-US slogans, terming the US president as an imperialist, were raised by those who participated in the rally.

Leftist student unions also held a procession towards the USIS from Lenin statue at Esplanade in the afternoon.

Members of Leftist party SUCI also burnt a cut out of Trump at Esplanade to protest his visit.

Meanwhile, organisations representing the 1984 gas tragedy survivors on Monday staged a protest in Bhopal against the visit of US President Donald Trump claiming his dispensation was not extending help in the ongoing trial into what has been widely acknowledged as the world’s worst industrial disaster.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said protesters at Bhopal’s Iqbal Maidan registered their anger at the US government not serving summons issued by a court in MP’s capital city to Dow Chemicals, an American multi-national company.

Dow Chemicals is the current owner of Union Carbide, from whose factory in Bhopal poisonous gas leaked on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, killing 3,000 people and affecting 1.02 lakh.

“Since 2016, when Trump came to power, the Bhopal district court has twice summoned Dow Chemical, as the owner of Union Carbide, on charges of corporate manslaughter. However, the US Department of Justice has refused to serve these summons on Dow,” Dhingra said.

The protesters held placards alleging the Trump administration was sheltering fugitives of the Bhopal tragedy.

In Indore, local organisations protested at regal Chauraha by forming a human chain, which also saw the participation of former state advocate general Anand Mohan Mathur.

Talking to reporters, Mathur claimed Trump had come to India as part of a “conspiracy” to obtain votes of American citizens of Gujarati origin in the US presidential elections due in November.

“Another purpose of Trump’s visit to India is to sell the arms of US companies. But history has shown that America’s capitalist mindset has been against India’s interests,” Mathur said.

Protesters held placards demanding that US investment in India’s agriculture, animal husbandry and dairy sectors be banned.

By PTI Updated: Feb 24, 2020 10:48:04 pm