Indian leadership failed to defend India's honour in the face of Trump's threat of retaliation
The Howdy Modi programme in the USA and the corresponding Namaste Trump event in India were organised with much fanfare, with Prime Minister Modi being accorded a rousing welcome in Texas and President Trump treated to a tumultuous welcome in India in front of 15000 Indians.
The direct telecast of the Howdy Modi programme convinced the people of India that Prime Minister Modi, and therefore, India, had been deeply honoured in that massive event. Millions of rupees were spent on the event for President Trump on 25th February 2020 even as the World Health Organisation had declared the alarming spread of the coronavirus as a global health emergency. Those two events were projected as an affirmation of India's huge credibility at the global level because of the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, who has been given credit by his party for heightening the prestige and image of India in a manner that no other Indian Prime Minister had managed to do over the last seven decades.
A month later, Indians were asked to clap, bang their utensils, and ring bells to indicate our support and solidarity with healthcare professionals fighting the corona menace, even though the Government of India had declared on 13th March that there was no health emergency in India on account of the coronavirus. On 5th April 2020, people were urged by the Prime Minister to light a lamp for nine minutes at 9 PM in the context of the corona threat to affirm our unity in the face of the frightening COVID-19 disease. People across the country listened to the Prime Minister and sincerely believed in his strong leadership in this unprecedented crisis.
But lo and behold, the same Indians who were fed with the information that no other leader of India heightened the prestige of our country at the global level, as has been done by Prime Minister Modi, are now humiliated by the surrender of the Indian leadership to the President of the USA. President Trump asked the Indian Government to supply the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to the USA and threatened in a press conference that any attempts by the Indian Government to stop the supply of that drug would be met with retaliation by the American government.
The threat of retaliation slightly more than a month after President Trump’s visit to India testifies to the hollowness of the much touted claim that there is warmth, understanding, and a better personal equation between PM Modi and President Trump. The intimidation worked and the Indian Government, who had banned the export of that drug on 4th April 2020 lifted the ban on 7th April and agreed to supply the same to the USA.
It is unacceptable for Indians and India to see the Indian leadership buckle under threat, and surrender to intimidation and the threat of retaliation. It means that India stands humiliated and the Indian leadership did nothing to counter and oppose it. India's image has to be salvaged. Recall what the President of India, late Shri K R Narayanan did when the President of America Bill Clinton visited India. While Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government went all out to welcome President Clinton, in spite of his highly objectionable statement that Kashmir was the most dangerous place in the world, President Narayanan in his banquet speech in honour of President Clinton boldly said that the statement of the American President was alarmist, and that such a description only served to promote the cause of cross border terrorists who wanted to promote terrorism and violence in Kashmir and the rest of India.
President K R Narayanan's boldness in defending the honour of India right in the presence of President Clinton was appreciated, and none other than professor Hiren Mukherjee hailed President Narayanan as the only saving grace in a situation where the leadership of India bent over backwards to please President Clinton. Now when President Trump has humiliated India by his threat of retaliation, India's honour has to be defended. The people of India who followed Prime Minister Modi's appeal so enthusiastically to clap, ring bells, and light candles must come forward in defence of the honour and dignity of India and tell the Indian leadership to learn from our rich legacy.
The author served as Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan