President Donald Trump was in India earlier this week in order to meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to negotiate trade and security deals. Trump was welcomed to India with a large rally. However, many protests also ensued, with some even turning deadly.
There are certain chilling similarities between Trump and Modi, such as their crackdown on illegal immigration. In addition, Modi and Trump are both clearly anti-Islam, with Modi’s legislation targeting Muslims has sparked protests in the capital city of New Delhi.
In December 2019, the Parliament of India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which provided a path to Indian citizenship for illegal immigrants based on religion. The CAA creates a path so that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have fled persecution in their home countries can become citizens of India easily. The amendment most notably does not include Muslims. In conjunction with India’s National Register of Citizens — which documents all legal citizens of India — many people fear that quite a few current Indian citizens who are Muslim may be rendered stateless. Supporters of the legislation argue that Muslims in neighboring countries are not marginalized, and so it is a valid law. However, it does not account for the many who do in fact face discrimination and persecution, such as the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar or the Ahmadiyaa Muslims in Pakistan.
For the past few years, this kind of discrimination and hatred towards certain groups of people has come to light in many parts of the world. Many people are able to clearly see it in the U.S., but it is also present in other countries like India. Modi is anti-Islam, and he is creating very strict rules regarding immigration. Sound familiar? It should.
The similarities between Trump and Modi are terrifying. Both have very frightening nationalistic views, display outward anti-undocumented-immigrant rhetoric, do not condemn censorship of the press and leave untouched forms of racism that target certain groups.
Like Trump, Modi also has an unwavering group of followers. In 2016, in order to combat corruption, Modi declared that certain currency would not be accepted after a certain period of time. The decision was made very abruptly, and a lot of pandemonium ensued. Despite this, and the fact that this strategy was unable to ultimately combat corruption, Modi’s popularity did not waver.
Both Trump and Modi have been likened to leaders of countries in a state of democracy that are gradually turning their rules into autocracies. Their limiting of the press has been likened to the way that President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil threatened the media with regards to the Amazon fires. The nature of the way they rule their respective countries is terrifying.
During his visit to India, Trump claimed that Modi should be called the “Father of India” due to how well he has united the country. However, Modi has clearly not united the country considering the numerous protests regarding legislation that Modi has passed. There have also been major religious tensions erupting in some far-right Hindus bringing batons and stones into a mosque in New Delhi, attacking and killing many people, most of whom were Muslims. These tensions are escalated by Modi’s legislation and the atmosphere that he has created.
Modi was elected to be a democratic leader. However, many of his classist, bigoted actions have very autocratic undertones. The way he is leading India is frightening for the entire world.
In his recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” comedian John Oliver pointed out that many are terrified in India, especially with the new laws and the overall atmosphere.
“I’d say that this atmosphere could get someone killed, but the truth is it already has. Since Modi came to power, there has been an overall rise in attacks against minorities,” Oliver on the February 23rd episode of “Last Week Tonight”.
The dangerous environment that Modi has created is very reminiscent to the one that Trump has created in the U.S. These environments are not even the worst in the world, yet they are still extremely alarming. Everyone around the world must be united in our protests in order to fight what our democracies are turning into.
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Thumbnail photo courtesy of Alex Brandon / AP Photo.
Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.