Making Sense of Trump

An uninhibited conversation of Edward Luce, an English Journalist and Financial Times chief US Commentator & Columnist with Writer and Editor Keshava Guha.


A conversation about Trump today is so on trend that you do not need to build up, you can get straight to the point and everyone follows, and that is exactly how Mr. Guha led the discussion this morning. Kicking off the session he quite pointedly asked, what is the significance of Trump and his actions today and will any of this be significant 30 years from now, or are we all just stressed about something that may not have a greater impact. 


Mr. Luce jumped straight into it. He said without any reservation that what the American citizen is going through is TDS-Trump Derangement Syndrome. He was of the opinion that Trump believes that there is no such thing as bad publicity and plays on it and the average citizen is being played. He was quick to add, “Trump has not really done anything yet of the size of the disaster of the Iraq War, but is capable of something bigger and that is what he believes should be the cause of worry.” He assertively declared that Trump is a symptom of a greater underlying problem in America, not the disease everyone is trying to cure. He went on to add that the common citizen is feeding into the idea of pluto-populism and that Trump is basically a plutocrat. 


Mr. Guha next delved into the comparisons and contrasts that can be drawn between Prime Minister Modi and Trump. Mr. Luce replied that Trump is not a threat to the US liberal democracy, Modi on the other hand with his core ideologies, might be. More importantly he says, “Trump is the least popular leader in the world right now, he is seen with an eye of disapproval and has a serious chance of being impeached in a few days. The Indian Prime Minister however enjoys huge approval at home and all over the world. He reflects on how this difference of perspectives speaks about how the people of the world see these personalities and their world vision. Where this contrast could lead us remains to be seen.” 


They spoke about the upcoming US elections and how it will be less of a Democrat vs Republican fight and more of a war of populists, the left-populist or right. Mr. Luce was of the opinion that the Democrats have always needed a leader that they love and in that context, Joe Biden may be ahead of the race. He went on to comment on Biden’s election campaign being based majorly on an anti-Trump pitch. He said that Biden is trying to drive home the point that if they can get rid of Trump, America’s problem is solved. He believed that it may not be true and went on to say that this may not be the narrative people need right now. it also overlooks key issues that exist in the country. He then added that Elizabeth Warren with her liberal ideas was more of what America needed but not what they wanted. He reiterated that the symptom that Trump embodies needed to be dealt with.


Bringing the discussion to an end, Mr.Guha finally asked, “…how will the US accept the election result whichever way it goes?.” Mr. Luce remarked that in either case people will be left polarized and we are looking at a time when the western world is already as polarized as it can be. He concluded by saying – “What it will take is a Modi like personality to win the US election. It is interesting times we live in”.


About the Author: Pashmi Dutta is a reader, writer, political enthusiast. Trying to talk with ease about things that make us uneasy, she has her blog at PashmiBlog and currently writes for TheSeer.

Howdy Modi and Why They Hate the NRIs

There was a time when crossing the seas was forbidden in India for the fear of the mlechhas who if mingled with, could disturb the purity of character of the sanctimonious Indian. Out of this fear, many never dared to go to the foreign lands but the traders had to travel to do their trade, so, they would come back and undergo some sort of atonement. However, the worrywarts of the community would still continue to enforce the prohibition and condemnation. As decades and centuries went by, these stopped mattering to people, or at least to most of the people. Most, because, it seems the regressive trend has made a grand come back.


After the NRIs put up a commendable show with ‘Howdy Modi’ at Houston, a set of descendants of mlechha-haters has surfaced on social media to profane at these NRIs who according to them are enjoying all the perks that a developed country offers and yet want Modi to continue at the helm in India. This according to them, is a bad thing. Since, these NRIs have already left the country, they can no longer have any views about India. The US immigration department, it seems, has kept brain scanners at the airports that scan and delete any opinion on India from the NRI’s brain on arrival.


Let’s understand this with an example confined within the boundaries of our country. If an NRI cannot have an opinion on India or a stake in Indian story, why should a Kashmiri studying in JNU or a Bengali settled in Bangalore have any opinion on Kashmir or Bengal respectively? In fact, when all the hotshots of Indian media can spend weeks of prime-time discussing US politics and their favorite Satan Trump, why should the austerity of self-censorship be forced only on the NRIs? Or perhaps NRIs are not the problem. It is not the NRIs who generate the hate.


Just a few monsoons ago, Kangana Ranaut was the Iron Lady of Indian feminism, hailed and cheered from all corners of self-declared woke media. Then, she made a mistake and professed her liking for Mr. Modi. This was a gobar-on-the-face moment (gobar is cow-dung) for many people who were looking for a new member for the Modi-Haters group on whatsapp.  This was not the only time they had gobar on their face. Ranvir Shorey was a greater disappointment. Considering his filmography of off-beat and critic friendly cinema, he was to receive a wild-card entry to the group. Alas, he too spoiled his chances by backing Mr. Modi and was castigated by leading lights of the group on Twitter. The trend became predictable at one point after people like Kabir Bedi, Shekhar Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Vikram Sampath, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Maurice Obstfeld voiced their confidence in Mr. Modi and were hounded by the touchy people who deactivate their social media accounts for a day and skip their leg day every time Modi gets an award outside the country.


Your enemy’s friend is your enemy. Your enemy’s nobody is also your enemy. The hate originates, primarily for Mr. Modi and after travelling a distance of about 14000 kilometers now, seems to have reached Houston. This anger is mostly for the NRIs in the US and not the other countries like Saudi or the UAE. A reason could be that one of the admins of Modi-Haters group was beaten fair and square in a full house wrestling bout by the NRIs at the Madison Square Garden in 2014. However, I wouldn’t count on that as the primary reason. The NRIs in the US are somehow amazingly tantalizing at displaying their affection for Mr. Modi and with their money and political muscle, they manage to organize these colossal shows that give Mr. Modi global platforms to laugh at people who effected his US-Visa denials while he was the Gujarat Chief Minister.


It is not only Modi who is hated with such gusto. His supporters are told to drink Gau-Mutra (Cow Urine) and eat Gobar (Cow Dung) by almost all of these self-appointed custodians of India’s secularism. You are told to not talk to Modi supporters, not have Modi-supporting friends, not marry a Modi supporter, and push the Modi-supporting old woman crossing the street under the bus. For this set of people, either you shouldn’t have a political opinion so that they have a shot at washing your brain and injecting hatred for Mr. Modi or if you have one, it must conform to theirs. If it is neither of the two, then either you would be requested to drink cow-piss or in case you happen to speak English, you would be shouted down at literature festivals. No matter how many trees you have planted in your lifetime or how many people you have helped with your abilities, if you like Modi, you become Public Enemy No. 1. Unfortunately for Modi-Hate hags, the Houston event was not a literature festival. It was a display of the growing power of India in global decision making. At such events, only a leader who is democratically elected and has the backing of a majority of his countrymen can make a mark. It is a far cry from a literature festival of the self-proclaimed intellectuals who lecture on moral standards during the day and entertain with their drunken fights during the night. There are so many individuals in our country today who have Modi-Hate as their only claim to fame.


I was on an author’s panel once. One of the panelists had published his first novel and even though the book was grammatically holding fine, he struggled while speaking in English. That notwithstanding, he went on about his book at length. This was not received very well by a lady poet sitting beside me who continued to smirk at his struggles with grammar and accent. Once the event was over, she ran up to me to share her opinions about this author and all she had were words of insult and condescension for this writer. Of course, I was expected to join her in her circus of snobbery. To her disappointment, I had only respect for this guy who could complete a book in spite of his limitations with the language. Of course, in an instant, I became an NRI-mlechha to her. If only I had conjoined my sur (tune) with hers, I could have been part of some non-native-speakers-haters group. When you find out that the person next to you is not thinking like you do, hate begins to unfold. When you find out that a majority is not thinking like you do, you start turning into a fanatic.