The Deputy Director of Asia Programme at Wilson Centre, Michael Kugelman said that US President Donald Trump's speech at the 'Namaste Trump' event was a reminder of Narendra Modi's joint address to the US Congress in June 2016. He said that in Modi's speech he had invoked cultural icons like baseball and Abraham Lincoln.
Speaking to the media Kugelam said, "Trump's speech reminded me of the speech Modi made at the Congress in Washington a few years ago in a joint address to Congress when he was talking about baseball and Abraham Lincoln which went of very well. It (speech) demonstrated strong awareness and understanding and empathy for India's political history. The fact the Trump was invoking all these cultural icons. Cleary his speechwriter had done their homework in understanding their audience. (sic)"
Commenting over the much-talked-about Modi-Trump chemistry, he said, "You hear so often in the US-India relationship this notion of chemistry between the leaders. We heard it about George W Bush and Manmohan Singh and we heard it about Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh. They are not soulmates but clearly they seem to get along well. They have a lot of things in common, particularly in their politics"
Over the issue of a possible waiver on Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), he said, "I think this whole CAATSA thing has been the whole elephant in the room in US-India relations in the whole and certainly this Trump visit to India. My sense is that the Trump administration would rather give India a waiver and it does not want to sanction India. (sic)"
"I think for the US the optics of slapping sanction on a country that it regards as its biggest strategic partners not only in Asia but in the world, the optics will be very problematic. I think it is just a matter of time before there is a waiver," he added.
On the reference of China in Trump's speech, he added, "One thing that brings this partnership together is the shared concern about China. Both nations may have different ways in which they believe they should go about the China challenge but both agree that China's issue is a challenge that needs to be tackled. Concern about China is an issue that really binds this (US-India) partnership."
On the expectation for Day Two of Trump's visit, he said: "Day 2 is where the rain business begins. On day one it was the spectacle. Now we will have the substance on Day 2. I think one of the main issues for both Modi and Trump would be to figure out how to move forward on the issue of Trade front."
"It remains to be seen, how Trump and Modi will pitch their public messaging in a way they will show positives about the trade issue, given how much of a disappointment it was for the two leaders and the relationship that there was not a trade deal during the Trump visit," he said.
On the mention of Pakistan in the speech, he said, "The reference to Pakistan was the only blemish to which was otherwise a pitch-perfect speech. It is always risky to bring out Pakistan in a positive context. But that what Trump did by saying that relationship with Pakistan is improving and things will be okay. Trump conveyed in the speech that he managed to tackle terrorism in Pakistan, in order to do that he had to make the relationship with Pakistan work better."
In his address, President Trump lauded India for the unity it showcases despite the religious diversity. Describing the journey of India as a “miracle of democracy”, he opined that the country gave hope to all of humanity. Moreover, he talked about how the Indian economy had grown by leaps and bounds.
To highlight how Indians and Americans shared the intention to be better and greater, and how the countries have become ‘thriving centres of culture, commerce and civilisation, giving light and vitality to all of the worlds,’ Trump spoke about Indian films. Trump said, “This is the country that produces nearly 2000 movies a year, from the hub of genius and creativity, known as Bollywood." In his speech, Trump also made a special mention to Indian cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
Ahmedabad witnessed thunder as US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive crowd in the Motera stadium – called the 'world's largest cricket stadium' – on Monday. Attended by US First Lady Melania Trump and the Trump family, the event displayed the strong bond of Indo-US relations. The 'Namaste Trump' event was the second of Donald Trump's long list of engagements in his two-day state visit to India.
(with ANI inputs)