Archives  >  2019  >  September  >  23rd

Ab Ki Baar, Trump Sarkar

1. What’s the story?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a 50,000-strong crowd in Texas on Sunday, heaping praise on US President Donald Trump, and throwing his support behind the latter’s upcoming bid to be re-elected the President. He also emphasized the strong ties between the two nations and repurposed his catchy election campaign for his counterpart at the White House, promising everyone that “ab ki baar, Trump Sarkar”. (Quick recap: US and India have had a couple of skirmishes recently, when President Trump imposed trade tariffs on the nation and also volunteered to mediate on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan.)
Tell me more.

The widely publicized event, titled “Howdy, Modi!”, is mainly being seen as a show of strength by the Indian diaspora. Indian Americans are one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the country. It was a star-studded event, attended by a large number of senators and congress people], as well as Indian performers of various hues and colours.

In his address, part of which was also delivered in Hindi, Modi re-iterated India’s commitment towards being a liberal and secular democracy, claiming that “India’s diversity is the basis for our vibrant democracy. We take our diversity along wherever we go.” He also claimed that “all was well in India.”

Donald Trump, who flew to Houston especially to address this rally, promised to be a “true friend” to India, and thanked the large gathering of Indian Americans for their hard work and patriotism. He also praised the Modi Government’s social initiatives in India and described him as “America’s greatest, and most loyal friend.” Interestingly enough, the Indian diaspora had overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in the last US elections.

Presidential hopeful and Democrat Bernie Sanders, however, had a different take.

“”When President (Donald) Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, we will hear much about the friendship between the American and Indian peoples,” the 77-year-old leader said…

“However, there will be a deafening silence when it comes to a human rights crisis unfolding right before our eyes – and that is unacceptable,” he added.”
So, what next?

Not everyone has been happy with Houston’s warm welcome to Modi. Thousands also came together throughout this week in Houston for the “Go Back Modi” campaign, having dubbed him the “Face of Indian terrorism”.

“Houston City Council was filled with minorities protesting against Modi with signs such as “Go back Modi,” “Save Kashmir,” “Stand with Kashmir.”

Pieter Friedrich, an author specialising in analysis of historical and current affairs in South Asia, stood up for the Indian minorities and called the Americans “complicit in Modi’s crimes against humanity.”

Watch this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Kashmir, that’s where. The state still remains under sporadic communication blackout, and prominent political leaders are under house arrest. However, Union Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh, claimed that the leaders being detained are more like “house guests” of the states and were being offered every comfort.

 ““This is no house arrest which Amit Shah (Union Home Minister) has done. They are living in five star guest houses where even I may not get a place to stay when I go to Srinagar,’’ he said, adding that such facilities are being provided to them which are not available to one even at home.

 “We provided you brown bread, cassettes of Hollywood movies and also a gym for exercise and even then you complain. You are not under house arrest, but you are house guest. Even a guest visiting one’s house does not get such a treatment,’’ Singh said at a public rally organized by members of the civil society on the eve of the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir who signed the Instrument of Accession merging his state with the Dominion of India in 1947.”

3. What more?

In a strange turn of events, the Enforcement Directorate (that generally chases economic offenders) has found itself dealing with chimpanzees and marmosets as part of a complicated money-laundering case.

“In a first, the agency has issued an order for provisional attachment of three chimpanzees and four marmosets. “The value of each chimpanzee has been assessed as ₹25 lakh and marmosets are worth ₹1.5 lakh each. Therefore, the total valuation stands at ₹81 lakh,” said an official.

The ED probe is based on separate cases registered by the Wildlife Department of West Bengal in 2014 and the State Police on June 19, 2019, against one Supradip Guha. The accused ran an organised wildlife smuggling racket.”

4. Anything else?

Assam has been building detention centres for its illegal immigrants. However, in a grim and ironic twist of fate, “workers building mass camp for undocumented immigrants fear they may be detained there…

“The camp in the lush, tea-growing state of Assam is intended for at least 3,000 detainees. It will also have a school, a hospital, a recreation area and quarters for security forces – as well as a high boundary wall and watchtowers, according to Reuters interviews with workers and contractors at the site and a review of copies of its layout plans.

Some of the workers building the camp said they were not on the National Register of Citizens in Assam released last week as part of a drive to detect undocumented immigrants. That means the workers could themselves end up in detention.

Shefali Hajong, a gaunt tribal woman from a nearby village, said she was not on the list and will join nearly two million people who need to prove they are Indian citizens by producing documents such as birth and land ownership certificates dating back decades.”

5. Is that all?

India’s first woman sound engineer has remained unsung till date. An unassuming woman in a madisar saree, this is her fascinating story.

““When he commissioned the noted sound engineer Poddar to work for his studio, Narayanan assigned his wife Meena as his assistant. She worked with Poddar for the film Srinivas Kalayanam produced at a cost of ₹60,000. It was released in Crown and Broadway,” said journalist and historian Nivedita Louis.

By the time Poddar quit the studio, Meena, who had just completed high school, had learnt every aspect of sound engineering. Narayanan used her as the sound engineer for the next film Viswamitra.

“There are a lot of problems when sound recording is done by those who have no idea of the language and trend in music. This can be attributed to the poor quality of Tamil films. Since I wanted to rectify it, I paid attention to sound engineering and gained experience in two years,” Meena had said in an interview to the Tamil magazine Ananada Vikatan in 1936.”

6. Before you leave…

Read about how climate protestors and world leaders live in the same planet, but in different worlds.

“The latest report by a United Nations-backed scientific panel, meanwhile, projected that if emissions continue to rise at their current pace, by 2040, the world could face inundated coastlines, intensifying droughts and food insecurity. Basically, a catastrophe.”

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