7 Unusual Things India Is Doing Ahead Of "Brief But Intense" Trump Visit
US President Donald Trump, accompanied by wife Melania Trump, will visit India on February 24 and 25. On the first day of his visit, Trump will visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat.
In Ahmedabad, President Trump will address the 'Namaste Trump' event jointly with PM Modi at the world's biggest cricket stadium.
From Ahmedabad, he will travel to Agra before arriving at the national capital.
President Trump, ahead of his visit, on Tuesday, February 18, said to the reporters, "We can have a trade deal with India, but I'm really saving the big deal for later on."
"We're not treated very well by India, but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot," he added.
The statements come in the wake of the US removing India from the list of developing nations under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) which offered Indian exporters tariff-free access.
Interestingly, the Modi government, on the same day, approved a $2.6-billion deal for acquiring 24 naval multi-mission helicopters MH-60 Romeo and purchase of six more AH-64E Apache choppers from the US.
The Seven Million Promise
Trump is expected to be welcomed by seven million people who will line up to greet him between Ahmedabad airport and the world's largest cricket stadium.
The name of the event which was formerly speculated to be 'Kem Chho Trump' was changed to 'Namaste Trump' apparently to give it a pan-India appeal.
Tribute To The Wall-Loving Trump
A 500 meter long and four feet tall brick wall has been erected in Ahmedabad's Sardarnagar, to block the view of a slum area which is inhabited by more than 2,000 people.
Besides hiding India's poverty, the "beautification drive" involved a makeover for the walls along the route.
The city administration has painted walls with pictures of President Trump alongside PM Modi with messages that welcome him.
Stray Animal Menace
On one hand, the wall would keep the humans out of sight, on the other, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has deployed teams from its Cattle and Dog Nuisance Control Department (CDNCD) to capture stray dogs and other animals and keep them from visiting Trump.
The Slum Dwellers Dwelling
The slum dwellers who have been living in the area near the newly-built Motera Stadium for the past 22 years have been slapped with an eviction notice.
While authorities insist the move to be more about evicting people who've "encroached" upon the land, the notice served to more than 45 families is dated February 11 and allowed them only a week to evacuate.
The Agra Makeover
To ensure President Trump cherishes the memories he would create while visiting the Taj Mahal which stands on the bank of River Yamuna, one of the most polluted rivers with a foul stench, the authorities have released 14,160 litres of water into the river.
The officials from the state irrigation department and pollution control board said that water released into the Yamuna will reduce the smell.
Fountains inside the Taj Mahal complex were cleaned and pathways scrubbed.
The police officers, too, were ordered to cancel their leaves for security requirements.
Paan Shops Shut
A part of the beautification process also includes shutting down paan shops around the airport area. This is an effort to make sure the areas Trump visits are spotless.
A municipal body official said that the move was undertaken to prevent the customers of the paan shops from littering the area with cigarette butts and spit on walls which made it difficult for authorities to maintain cleanliness.
Athithi Devo Bhava
The three-hour visit in Ahmedabad is expected to around ₹100 crores to the exchequer, an amount equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the annual budget of Gujarat.
Over 12,000 police personnel will be deployed for the grand event that will include the roadshow.
Eighteen roads of about 20 kilometres in length from Ahmedabad airport to Motera stadium have been widened and infrastructure improved around the stadium at a cost of Rs 3 crore.
The Logical Indian Take
With setting up 28 stages along the route, organizing cultural events, planting more than 1 lakh trees and flower beds, India is extensively prepping up to deliver PM Modi's promise of "according a memorable welcome to our esteemed guests."
It is interesting to note that ahead of his visit, Trump said that India has not treated his country "very well" on the trade front and later made conflicting statements indicating a "very big" bilateral trade deal with India in "future."
Stamping India as the "tariff king," Trump had earlier raised the issue of high duties imposed by India on American paper products and products such as the Harley Davidson bikes.
It is also important to keep in mind that Trump's visit comes at an unfavourable time for PM Modi. Anti-government protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have engulfed the country since last year.
Also, not to forget the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35a from the state Jammu and Kashmir and a massive shutdown that continues beyond six months has drawn sharp criticism from the international community.
Yet, instead of fixing the inevitable Swadeshi issues at hand, India is enthusiastically engaged in brushing the things under the red carpet for President Trump - the carpet which allegedly costs over Rs 100 crore for a three-hour brief yet intense visit.