The much-awaited visit of American President Donald J. Trump ended successfully on a high note. The US President made his first official visit to the world’s largest known democracy – India, after dodging the impeachment trial ahead of the upcoming US elections. The 36-hour tour of the President along with the First Lady, Melania Trump, began on Monday, 24 February 2020.
The US President landed well on the scheduled time of 11:38 am IST (UTC+5:30) at the Sardar Patel Airport in Ahmedabad, Gujrat and stepped out of his designated Air Force One Boeing 747. The President was received none other than India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he hails as his ‘best friend’. Post dignitary introductions, President Trump began the first leg of his maiden visit in ‘the beast’, a Cadillac One. Thus began, President Donald Trump’s ‘India Road Show’.
The 22km route to the next destination on his itinerary, was dotted with dance groups and performers from different parts of the country. They showcased India’s exquisite cultural diversity. Welcomed under the social hashtag ‘Namaste Trump’, the cavalcade reached ‘Sabarmati Ashram’.
The two leaders spent almost 15 minutes of their visit paying homage to the Father of India – Mahatma Gandhi. As guests of honour, Trump and his wife even tried their hand at spinning khadi (natural fibre) on charkha (spinning wheel).
The world’s largest stadium was awaiting the guests of honour. With a capacity of one lakh seating, the ‘Motera Stadium’ was packed to the gills to welcome the US President with salutation ‘Namaste Trump’. The stadium’s arena chanted “India-US friendship, long live, long live” messages, a sight similar to ‘Howdy Modi’ event in America. The afternoon audience rejoiced while focus was brought to international level cricketers India has given including ‘God of Cricket’ Soo-chin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
After highlighting the achievements India has attained, both the country leaders shared pride in the global recognition of India.
The Trump entourage moved to the wonder city of Agra. They were received with a hearty welcome by the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The American President along with wife Melania Trump then headed to wow at the beauty of one of the seven wonders of the world – Taj Mahal. They were accompanied by his daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. The 17th Century monument was refurbished ahead of their visit.
The first day of Trump’s maiden visit ended as the first couple landed in India’s national capital New Delhi, for a night halt.
The last few hours of President Trump’s visit along with First Lady began with a grand welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House) by India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Modi.
President Trump then went on to pay his tribute and lay a wreath at the samadhi (Mausoleum) of Mahatma Gandhi, at Delhi’s Raj Ghat.
The two leaders headed towards ‘Hyderabad House’ for the long-awaited bilateral ties. They would play a significant role in enhancing and strengthening strategic partnership between the two nations. The two countries signed three Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs), relating to strategic areas. The MoUs focused on mental health, safety on medical drugs, the last was a letter of cooperation between Indian Oil Cooperation Limited (OIL) and Exxonmobil (Exxon).
As the leaders and high-end delegation discuss bilateral topics, the US First Lady headed out to attend the ‘Happiness Class’ at Delhi’s government school. She interacted with students and teachers of the schools. She shared quality time with the budding youngsters and reveled in their creativity and enthusiasm.
FLOTUS also highlighted the efforts made by the schools to promote values of compassion and respect. The First Lady runs her initiative by the name ‘Be Best’, which stands on three pillars, danger of drug abuse, importance of online safety, and overall wellbeing of children.
The trip to the Indian subcontinent of President Trump and his family ended with a ceremonial banquet organized by the first citizen of India – President Ram Nath Kovind. The evening hosted by President Kovind was lighted by renowned celebrities, including music composer AR Rahman and mega industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
With President Trump’s visit to India, he gifted India a USD3 billion defense deal. The US leader in a move to expand their defence cooperation, signed the deal for advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo Helicopters, which are said to be the finest in the world. US-India also discussed 5G technology and its importance for the future in a meeting. They committed to protect citizens from radical Islamic terrorism. The two leading democracies also signed a letter of cooperation between Indian Oil Cooperation Limited (IOC) and ExxonMobil (Exxon).
President Trump’s every halt brought him a souvenir to take back home with him as memories to cherish. A three wise monkeys’ statue and a charkha (spinning wheel) was gifted to the President at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. He later received a large portrait of the Taj Mahal from CM Adityanath.
The US First Lady was gifted original Madhubani painting during her visit to Delhi’s Sarvodaya Co-Ed Senior Secondary School.
Though this journey began smoothly with high intents, it ended with a few bumps as the Anti – CAA protests occurred in the capital city. As India was hosting President Trump, the country underwent serious tensions as instances of stone-pelting between two groups was witnessed in the morning of 25 February 2020. Party leaders called an urgent meeting to curb and control the violence for which they had been taking heat in the national capital.
While the tight hugs between the leaders of the two great democracies are not to be missed, the underlying anticipation of deal and sanctions being executed is high. A powerful handshake initiated by PM Modi, shall be testament to how long and how strong a friend US is for India.