If I am elected as the President, the Indian and Hindu community will have a big friend in the White House.
For those of us who believe in the above sentence, I hope the optimism of this statement is, in fact, true. For those of us who do not believe in the above sentence, let’s ponder over the possibilities it could bring for us Hindus and for those who aren’t.
Since this statement was made, Trump has definitely hit headlines in India. Pages like Trump for Hindus have been made on Facebook. There have been talks about videos with Diwali greetings. A Bollywood night cum cultural program to dedicate Trump’s support for Hindus has been organised. The Hindu community’s fantastic contributions to the world civilization and to American culture have been highly appreciated.
However, this uproar and hubbub hide away some very serious points that we should all be concentrating on, as Indians.
The very first thing to note here is the use of the word ‘Hindu’. Not Indian, Hindu! A choice of word that very conveniently rubs away Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and of course, Islam among others.
Trump’s ignorance towards the multi-ethnicity of the Indian culture made him concentrate very minutely on the Hindu-Muslim spat of the two regions. This attempt on his part looks like nothing but a desperate endeavour to garner some votes from the Indian-American community in the wake of recent India-Pakistan spats.
Not very long ago, the Republican candidate had called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States until “their country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
How can in this scenario, Trump look at India as an aid? Is it to imply that India is a friend of the US only to a certain degree? A degree to which there is no Muslim population taken into account.
The campaign cum Bollywood night organised for the Hindu community clearly stated that “the proceeds of the event will benefit global victims of Islamic terror”. “Islamic” terror! One surely cannot ignore the desperate conscious desire to bring the two religions to a feud. As if, we did not already have enough destructive elements ridiculing the religious harmony of India time and again, Trump’s campaign and support towards India will only create a bigger religious divide between the people of India residing overseas.
Trump also went all the way trying to adopt the Modi strategy in attracting votes. His recent campaign of ‘Ab ki baar Trump sarkar’ is a great way to garner the attention of the otherwise democratic favouring Indian–American group. However, it comes across as nothing but scornfulness.
The Hindu–American Foundation reacted to the event organised by Trump by issuing a booklet. As if subtly trying to clear all misconceptions of the republican candidate about India. The foundation also released a statement, “We hope the materials we’ve sent prove educational, and clear up any misunderstandings about the beliefs and practices of Hindus that may be out there.”
Whether or not Trump has figured out India correctly, Indians do have a history of the caste system and social oppression. In general, Indians have a reputation of being racist, dogmatic and colour-conscious, a trait that whether we accept or not, might have in common with Trump.
Indians also form one of the biggest income generating communities in the US, which implies that Indian-Americans are now active participants in the country’s politics. In such a case, the Indian American community is one of the most important vote banks for a presidential candidate. Trump is the first presidential nominee to have addressed such an event for Hindus. He could perhaps also be the most strategic and well calculated candidate in this regard.
Can India appreciate Trump’s cause and so-called concern towards the Indian-American community?
Are we going to be hypocritical and continue to let an outsider create a divide yet again as had happened during independence?
Are we in actuality similar in our thought process when it comes to social segregation?
Or are we really desperate for the US support that we are willing to settle for whatever we get?
Either way, if both the countries are to accept this absurdity, there could not have been a better example of racism and social alienation in recent times as this one!