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Why The Rise Of Donald Trump Has Given India Something In Common With The US

28/01/2016 8:26 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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CEDAR FALLS, IA - JANUARY 12: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the University of Northern Iowa on January 12, 2016 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Donald Trump's rise in the 2016 American elections has been nothing short of a miracle. A billionaire, a real estate mogul, a reality star -- with no experience in government -- he was expected to bring some fun to the primaries. However his huge popularity has surprised shocked the US and the world.

Barack Obama has had several domestic and foreign policy achievements in his seven years in the Oval Office. His health reform act (popularly known as Obamacare) and his impact on the rise of the American economy are but a few of his domestic achievements. His foreign policy accomplishments are numerous. Establishing normal relations with Cuba after nearly half a century of discord was a bold step. The Paris Climate meet which resulted in an agreement was a huge success, and the historic Iran nuclear deal owes a lot to the leadership provided by Obama. There have undoubtedly also been some disappointments like the rise of ISIS, North Korea and more, but his reign as President has been devoid of scandals like the type that plagued Bill Clinton or lasting controversies like the Iraq war that will taint George Bush's presidency forever. Obama will rank as one the greatest modern presidents of the US. However his approval ratings have not been high due to various reasons. One reason put forward is that some Americans have still not accepted a President who is Black.

Politics today in the US resembles what India and probably several counties have been practicing regularly for years!

The surge in the popularity of Donald Trump is largely due to the support he gets from mainly White Americans who feel that immigrants (both legal and illegal) have snatched away their jobs. Trump has played on their fears by proclaiming the need to deport Mexicans and keep a watch on American Muslims. His comments have outraged millions of people, American and otherwise, including leaders around the world. Not that this has stopped him though. By continuing with his inflammatory ideas and his disregard for decent discussion with his fellow candidates, he has eclipsed strong candidates like Jeb Bush who has been Governor for several years and was a front runner for the Republican nomination.

We in India have watched this drama unfold in the US with some fascination, a fair bit of trepidation and a lot of amazement. We usually see American political debates and campaigns as civilised and academic, a far cry from the political campaigns fought here, but the fracas ensuing in the US today seems like new territory for them, and rather familiar for us. Politics today in the US resembles what India and probably several counties have been practicing regularly for years!

Migrants and religion have become an issue in the current US election, just as caste and religion have occupied a major role in Indian politics and elections for the past several decades. The release of the Mandal report and the destruction of the Babri Masjid changed the face of Indian politics forever. It is an unfortunate fact, but India will have to live with these factors for several more years.

Migrants and religion have become an issue in the current US election, just as caste and religion have occupied a major role in Indian politics and elections...

All elections in the last few decades have used caste and religion as vote banks by political parties and unfortunately the situation remains largely unchanged. The 2014 Indian election mainly focused on the corrupt and inept UPA government and the various scams perpetrated during their 10-year rule. These could not be defended, and ultimately played a big role in the overthrowing of their governance. While the NDA mainly stressed on inclusive growth and clean governance in its election agenda, it did use the communal card where required to win seats and it won an absolute majority.

Donald Trump might be a buffoon, but he's a rather intelligent one, who's using his years of experience in business to understand the pulse of the blue collar workers (the bulk of his supporters) who are losing their jobs to migrants and others. His rise hence is not entirely surprising since no candidate so far has been so brutally frank in insulting migrants and people of other religions. Trump may or may not win the Republican nomination but the issues he has raised will not easily disappear.

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