President Trump undertook a tour of India in a 36-hours trip during the end of February.
He visited the capital New Delhi, and then he went to the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra. He followed that by flying to Ahmedabad, the biggest city in the western state of Gujarat, where he spoke to more than 100,000 people in an event named “Namaste Trump.” This was India’s public diplomacy response to the “Howdy Modi” event held in Houston in 2019, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump addressed a crowd of 50,000 Indian-Americans. Trump’s India travel was very festive, with lots of colors, music, and sight-seeing.
One of Trump’s aims was to inspire the growing Indian-American population, a group that possesses 2.4 million voters, to support him. The images of him in India will help his campaign as he enters the national elections. His biggest goal, though, was to negotiate trade deals more favorable to the United States.
Trump alleges India has become more protectionist in its economic strategies, and this does not sit well with the trade-deficit-focused president. But there was no big trade deal announced at the end of the trip. Trump and Modi arrived at some defense and security agreements, and India agreed to buy $3 billion worth of American military equipment.
Trump’s visit was also helpful for Modi, whose government is facing an economic downturn and protests against alleged anti-Muslim policies. Modi is implementing measures that could jeopardize the citizenship of many Indian Muslims. Critics claim that the Indian government is violating the secular Constitution of the country. In Trump’s Ahmedabad speech, he referenced the controversial moves of the Indian government by calling India a place where people “worship side by side in harmony,” but also emphasized his administration’s attempts to stifle “radical Islamic terrorism.” Many American politicians have condemned Modi’s actions. However, Trump’s public position has been to “leave that to India.”
Overall, Trump’s visit delivered much more in terms of spectacle and less by way of policy.