Editorial: Namaste Trump (Before the event)

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Washington, DC – India and the United States in recent years, especially post-cold war era and after the rise of China, have shown a remarkable bonhomie while proclaiming to share a strategic partnership and cooperation in security and stability in the region. However, things on pragmatic levels are not exactly as projected by leaders of both the democracies.

On the back-burners, the trade relations are simmering, more obvious since the US under the Trump presidency withdrew the preferential market access to American markets under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, and India under Modi retaliated with tariffs on 28 American products ranging from apples to engineering goods. There are umpteen issues when one goes into details of trade, tariffs and duties between two nations, along with H-1B visas for techies ever eager to migrate to the US.

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Now the situation is such, that at any major bilateral meeting or a meet-greet on the sidelines of an international summit, there are immediate speculations about a trade deal.

During the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Week (UNGA), the trade grapevine was rife with rumors of a trade deal signing with US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, as Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal also came in the Indian delegation.

The next hype of a deal was generated when the bilateral between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump in New York was about to happen. Even Trump fanned the speculation as he told journalists he expected to have a mini trade deal soon and a bigger trade deal down the road, but to no avail.

With such a bumpy road following each optimistic green signal for a trade partnership tie-up, the latest upcoming Indian trip of President Trump along with First Lady Melania Trump is no different so far as substance is concerned, but be prepared for glittering optics.

Media in India hardly talked about how much Indian taxpayers have paid for Modi’s rockstar show at Madison Square Garden, New York, and then the Howdy Modi show in Houston, Texas. The total amount that the Indian government paid for covering the costs of travels, security and allied expenses comes in millions of dollars. Notwithstanding the fact that those events were held in the US, the organizers had to pay the staggering amounts by the blessings of the Indian exchequer.

And now the only known fact is that the Indian taxpayer is again going to pay a significant amount to put glitter on a short visit of US President Trump and his wife Melania Trump. There will obviously be a few official meetings and much will be made of the visit by the Godi Media (Media houses which behave like lapdogs there).

For us in the US, let’s sit back and enjoy the circus and commentaries thereof.

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Tejinder Singh, Editor, India America Today & White House Correspondent

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