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Namaste Trump, India’s Diverse Culture On Show For President Trump’s Visit

India’s rich and diverse culture will be unveiled grandly to welcome the U.S. President Donald Trump when he lands at Ahmedabad on February 24, a first standalone state visit by a U.S. President to India. He will be accompanied by the first lady Melania Trump and a high-level delegation.

“From the moment of their arrival at the airport a little before noon on February 24, the delegates will be treated to a display of famed Indian hospitality and India’s unity in diversity. The route of their travel to the stadium is expected to have tens of thousands of ordinary citizens of India as well as artists showcasing the performing artists from different states and Union Territories of India,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told journalists here on Wednesday.

As many as 28 stages representing various parts of the country are being set up along the route, in what is being called the India Road Show. The route will also feature decorations depicting different events in the life of Gandhiji, whose association with the city is well-known.

President Trump will be greeted by the people outside the Motera stadium, the world’s largest cricket stadium with a capacity of nearly 1.10 lakh people. Inside the new stadium, President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address a full-capacity audience, which would include people from different parts of the country and all walks of life, reflecting the diversity of India. President Trump will address the “Namaste Trump” event jointly with Prime Minister Modi at the newly built stadium in Ahmedabad.

It will be similar to the landmark “Howdy, Modi!” event hosted by the Indian-American community in honor of Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Houston in September 2019, in which President Trump had participated.  After this event, President Trump and the First Lady would visit Agra, where they would spend about an hour at the Taj Mahal before the sunset. President Trump’s visit will be a brief one but intense, with all essential elements of a State visit, and two additional legs in Ahmedabad and Agra, all squeezed into less than 36 hours.

In the third leg of his visit to New Delhi on February 25, President Trump will be accorded a ceremonial welcome in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan. He will then visit Rajghat to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. It would be followed by restricted and delegation-level talks between President Trump and Prime Minister Modi at Hyderabad House.

The talks will be comprehensive and cover issues relating to our strategic partnership in the areas of defense, security, counter-terrorism, as well as trade, energy, people-to-people exchanges, and other bilateral matters. They would also exchange views on regional and global issues of shared interests. Prime Minister Modi would host a lunch for President Trump.  In the afternoon, President Trump is expected to attend certain private events at the U.S. Embassy, including a private roundtable with industry representatives.

The final element of his visit will be meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind and a banquet hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the evening. President Trump would depart India later in the same evening.

Prime Minister Modi had met President Trump at the White House in June 2017 and extended an invitation to him for visiting India. Mr. Trump had promised to visit India in his first term. His high-level delegation is likely to have several senior members of his cabinet. This will be President Trump’s fifth meeting with Prime Minister Modi in the past eight months —  reflecting the renewed intensity of high-level bilateral engagement since the NDA Government returned to power.

Foreign Secretary said there had been three incoming visits of U.S. Presidents to India during the 1947-2000 period and post-2000 four such Presidential visits — Mr. Bill Clinton in 2000, Mr. George Bush in 2006, and Mr. Barack Obama in 2010 and 2015 — have taken place.  

He said that a relationship with the U.S. has evolved to “one of our most consequential relationships today.”  Describing it as a “strategic partnership based on shared values and geared towards the 21st century”, he said the two countries have the convergence of interests in areas ranging from countering terrorism to ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

“We have procured over US$18 billion worth of defense items from the U.S., which have enhanced our defense preparedness significantly. We conduct more bilateral exercises with each other than we do with any other country,” Mr. Shringla said.  

The U.S. is India’s largest trading partner in goods and services combined, and the overall bilateral trade increased by over 10 % per annum over the past two years to reach US$ 142 billion in 2018; it is expected to cross US$ 150 billion for the first time this year. The U.S. is now India’s sixth-largest source of crude oil imports, with hydrocarbon imports rising to US$ 7 billion in the last two years.

The India-U.S relationship also has a large people-to-people component. The size of the Indian Diaspora in the U.S. is estimated at around four million, with a million of NRIs. There are more than two lakh Indian students in the U.S. and there is comprehensive engagement among academics, scientists, professionals and other stakeholders of the two countries.

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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