They need, use, and leverage each other for the high stakes of the bigger picture. It is a reciprocal backscratching society, this leadership couple forced to fight above their weights, and who somehow always seem to emerge from their self-inflicted wounds glowing and stronger.
The two political battle cruisers are the President of the United States and the weighed down, slowed down, and falling down Prime Minister of the so-called largest democracy in the world, India.
Though their relationship has had some ups and downs, with trade issues and sanctions controversies, it has been a convenient and mutually self-serving political partnership that, at times, could exhibit all the elements of a full-blown love fest.
And that is precisely what happened on centre stage before a watching world anxious about coronavirus, but still intrigued and engaged enough to observe the raucous welcoming rally in the home state of the Indian Prime Minister.
It was one more spectacular show put on by the careful and politically sharply calibrated Indian leader, who did the same for visiting leaders, such as China’s Xi Jinping, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, and America’s Barack Obama (Wall Street Journal, “Trump kicks off India visit with massive rally”, February 24).
Once again, it should not surprise anyone if the host did heavily orchestrate the massive turnout from his base of countless multitudes.
It is the fitting occasion to showcase to the world his seeming popularity, while it emphasizes the fervent religious hold that his politics, and increasingly his country, has found fit to prioritize upon, capitalize upon, and expand upon to the detriment and distress of formidable minorities in India.
The leader of the Western world knows how to fuel immigrant fears and passions, and relishes sticking it to both those who come, and those who stand in his way within the United States.
Nativist rages and energies are artfully harnessed and rechanneled against those who dare to object, who speak of the great precepts of liberalism, human rights, and similar such bracing dignities.
For his part, his Indian counterpart has been a casebook study of first taking stock, then moving ruthlessly against by trampling upon, by slow and inexorable degrees, those who stand in resistance against his autocratic and heavy-handed ways.
The hue and cry has come from inside India and some of the more tolerant and progressive segments of its far-flung diaspora. They have both been to little avail, since the man at the helm of the subcontinent has responded by putting his head down, which limits his hearing of what he does not want to hear, and continued along his chosen course of action by charging straight ahead.
When the domestic programmes and actions of the two leaders are observed and compared, it becomes clear that they will not shrink from steamrolling forward.
Regardless of how matters shake out, they resist internal opponents and critics, international watchdog agencies and foreign leaders, or the legacies being spawned, along with the still unknown and unintended consequences that come from such putdowns, comedowns, and throw downs.
As in the United States, a huge number have been impacted, and not for the better. In fact, their lives have been made more miserable, through the imagined, if not lived, hells brought about by policies and processes that are draconian and lacking in any feel, any sympathy, for those on the receiving end of the disfigured results that rear ugly heads and frighten into submission and retreat.
It is from circumstances such as these, which are tailor-made for the retaliatory, that unchecked and undetected militancy rise to the fore and wreak havoc.
The United States is concerned about origins and dilutions to its Eurocentric base, which is more than demographic, and definitely stained with deep concerns over ethnic taint. In India, the inclinations are less of racial bigotries and more of widening religious ones, no matter how denied.
And this is what bonds the two leaders and the vast majority of their peoples: it is the fear of the rampaging outsider dictating terms and threatening by seepage and time to overwhelm and diminish. Both leaders see themselves as saviours of the homeland, as once known, as still envisioned. And therein comes a world of dissonance.
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