NEWS
23/09/2019 9:14 AM IST | Updated 23/09/2019 9:26 AM IST

'Stroking Trump’s Ego': How US Media Covered The 'Howdy Modi' Event

Outside the event, thousands protested against the lockdown in Kashmir and allegations of human rights abuses by the Indian government.

SAUL LOEB via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend "Howdy, Modi!" at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, September 22, 2019. 

The ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump shared the stage and addressed a crowd of over 50,000 Indian Americans saw widespread coverage in the US media.

At the event, Modi seemed to extend support for Trump’s 2020 re-election as he said ’Abki Baar, Trump Sarkar” when the US president joined him at the rally.

Outside the event, thousands protested against the lockdown in Kashmir and allegations of human rights abuses by the Indian government. Protesters chanted “Go back Modi” and “Modi is a terrorist”, ABC13 reported.

Here’s how American media covered the event:

Ahead of the rally, US Senator and Democratic candidate for the 2020 US presidential election Bernie Sanders wrote for the Houston Chronicle.

“When President Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, we will hear much about the friendship between the American and Indian peoples. However, there will be a deafening silence when it comes to a human rights crisis unfolding right before our eyes — and that is unacceptable.”

Sarah Philips, a member of South Asian Youth in Houston Unite, wrote an op-ed for the CNN, titled ‘Trump and Modi are two sides of the same coin’.

“It’s shameful to see the prime minister being enthusiastically welcomed in the city I know and love under the guise of multiculturalism and inclusion ― especially when Modi has stoked Hindu nationalist sentiments since he was first elected in 2014.”

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CNN on Howdy Modi

“Instead of embracing Modi, we should be holding him accountable for the horrific human rights abuses happening all across India, and especially in Kashmir right now,” she wrote.

In The New York Times, Michael D. Shear said Trump played second fiddle to Modi at the rally.

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NYT on Howdy Modi

Shear wrote:

Mr. Modi delivered in English an over-the top introduction of Mr. Trump, declaring that the president’s name is “familiar to every person on the planet” and “comes up in almost every conversation in the world on global politics.” Standing next to Mr. Modi, the president beamed with pleasure as the prime minister delivered a twist on his own election slogan: “Abki baar Trump sarkar” or “This time, a Trump government,”

Shear said the goal of the prime minister’s US trip was to attract investment as India’s economy suffered “its biggest downturn in years” and also shore up diplomatic support. 

The Washington Post said, “The foreign strategy of soothing tensions with the United States by stroking President Trump’s ego was put into vivid effect here Sunday when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lathered praise on his American counterpart at a massive rally celebrating the Indian diaspora.”

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Washington Post on Howdy Modi

“Modi’s overtures come at a delicate moment in U.S.-India relations. After the United States imposed tariffs on Indian steel and aluminum imports, India has been looking for ways to decrease trade tensions with the Trump administration and stimulate fresh investment,” Phillip Rucker wrote for The Washington Post.

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board wrote, “The joint appearance also underscores the growing strategic significance of U.S-Indian ties. The world’s two largest democracies are a vital check on China’s ambitions to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, as Mr. Trump recognizes and Barack Obama did as well.”

“The event had the feel of one of Trump’s campaign rallies, complete with a packed venue and a roaring crowd, and Trump treated it that way at times. He ticked off his accomplishments in office, highlighted a drop in the unemployment rate among Indian Americans and extolled their contributions to the US as he pitched for their vote in a Republican state Democrats have visions of winning next year,” the Associated Press reported.

Modi, who is on a week-long visit to us the US, has left for New York where he will address the United Nations General Assembly on Monday.