Representational image. | Image Courtesy: flicker
The Howdy Modi programme in the USA and Namaste Trump event in India were organised with much fanfare. While Prime Minister Modi was accorded a rare rousing welcome in Howdy Modi programme, President Trump was greeted and honoured to a tumultuous welcome in Trump event participated by a massive population of over 1,25,000 Indians. The people of India were spell bound by the honour accorded to our Prime Minister and the way he could mobilise hundreds and thousands of people to greet Trump.
The direct telecast of the Howdy Modi programme convinced the people of India that because of our Prime Minister, India has been deeply honoured in that massive event. Millions of rupees were spent in Namaste Trump programme in Gujarat to greet the American President on February 24, 2020, even after the World Health Organisation had declared the alarming spread of COVID-19 or novel coronavirus disease as a global health emergency. Those two events were projected as affirmation of India's huge credibility at the global level because of the leadership of PM Modi, who has been given credit by his ardent party leaders for heightening the prestige and image of India in a manner which no other Prime Minister of our country had done during the last seven decades.
A month later, Indians were asked to clap, bang their utensils and ring bells to indicate our support and solidarity with healthcare professionals fighting the COVID-19 menace, even though the Government of India on March 13 had declared that there was no health emergency in India on account of COVID-19. On April 5, 2020, people were urged by Prime Minister to light a lamp for nine minutes at 9 PM, to affirm our unity in the face of the COVID-19 threat. People across the country paid heed to the Prime Minister, who sincerely believed that his strong leadership in leading the country and people is getting reinforced in a big way in this unprecedented crisis.
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But lo and behold, the same Indians, who were fed with the information that no other leader of India heightened the prestige of our country at the global level as has been done by the PM Modi, are now humiliated by the surrender of the ruling Indian leadership to US President Trump. The US President had asked the Indian Government to supply the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to the USA. He had even threatened in a press conference that any attempts by Indian government to stop supply of that drug would be met with retaliation by the American government. The threat of retaliation, slightly more than a month after the hugely attended Namaste programme, testifies to the hollowness of the much touted claim that there is warmth, understanding and better personal equation between Modi and Trump. That intimidation of Trump worked and the Indian government, which had banned the export of that drug on April 4, 2020, lifted the ban on April 7 and agreed to supply the same to the USA.
It is unacceptable for Indians and India to see the Indian leadership buckle under threat and surrender to the dictation, intimidation and retaliation. It means that India stands humiliated and the top ruling Indian leadership did nothing to counter and oppose it. India's image has to be salvaged. Recall what the former President of India, late K R Narayanan did when US President Bill Clinton had visited India. While the Atal Bihari government went all out to welcome President Clinton in spite of his highly objectionable statement that Kashmir was the most dangerous place in the world, President Narayanan, in his banquet speech in honour of Clinton, boldly said that the US President’s statement was alarmist and such description only served the cause of cross border terrorists who wanted to promote terrorism and violence in Kashmir and rest of India. Narayanan's boldness in defending the honour of India right in the presence of President Clinton was appreciated. None other than Professor Hiren Mukherjee hailed Narayanan as the only saving grace in a situation where the ruling leadership of India bent over backwards to please Clinton.
Now, when Trump has humiliated India by his threat of retaliation, India's honour has to be defended. People of India, who followed Prime Minister Modi's appeal so enthusiastically to clap, ring bells and light a candle, must come forward in defence of the honour and dignity of India and tell the ruling Indian leadership to learn from our rich legacy to do so.
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The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K.R. Narayanan and had a tenure as Director in the Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.