One of the intellectually lazy, actually the word should be moronic but I am trying to be kind here, connections often made by our liberal media cognoscenti is between Trump and Modi, between the Republicans and the BJP, between the Right of India and the Right of the US, and if a poke in the eye as to the difference was ever needed, it was delivered by a succession of Trump’s executive orders. To put it in perspective, if Modi had come to power in 2014 and within a week, asked for the construction of a wall on the Bengal border, allocated more resources to search and weed out illegal Bangladeshi refugees already in India, threatened the government of West Bengal of withdrawal of federal aid if they continued to turn their back to influx of Bangladeshi refugees, put in place a number of policies that would essentially make legal Muslim migration an impossibility, and, then just for fun, asked for stringent laws across the country to ban cow slaughter, and asked Parliament for a plan to build the Ram Temple in 180 days, and made sex-determination of fetuses legal, and made Yogi Adityanath his number two man in government, then, yes, perhaps there would be a smidgen of similarity between the two.
Whatever you may have thought of Trump, one thing you have to accept. He does not waste much time. Within a week of coming to power, he has put in place, through executive orders, the foundation planks of some of the most extreme of his election promises. The hand of alt-right bannerman and the right ear of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon has never been clearer. Needless to say, stopping PhD students in linguistics or professors in biology from entering the country, some of whom have been here for years and have green cards, and some of whom are from Iran, the land of Shias who the ISIS hate the most, will do nothing to curb the ISIS menace or radical Sunni terror. Not that Trump cares. He doesn’t because a bulk of his supporters, the so-called alt-right, don’t care either. For them, this is red meat, the humiliation and defenestration of the undesirable “minorities”. For now, Trump has gone as far as he can, while being within the limits of the Constitution, which a blanket “Muslim ban” would possibly have violated, though I doubt just this would be deemed satisfactory if this is all that Trump does in four years.
That’s why Bannon is there. To keep the pressure on. And he he hasn’t done badly. This is just Week One. And it is already Christmas in January for the Breitbart crowd.
For a lot of Indian NRI Hindus, I observe regrettably an emotion that ranges from “Won’t happen to me because Trump loves Hindus” to schadenfreude because those affected are Muslims. While I would not have the courage to stick my neck out and predict what Trump will do next week, let me posit a sobering hypothesis. Steve Bannon’s army, or one of Trump’s core constituents, may rail against the Muslims and the Mexicans, but they know that their odds of being killed in a road accident are higher than of being killed by Islamic terror, and that the Mexicans aren’t the ones who are taking the jobs they would care for. Their real enemies, they believe or are made to, are the Chinese who have taken their manufacturing jobs and, hold your breath for while, Indians who have taken their IT gigs. So the sabre rattling against China will go on, on trade, but then again Trump and his team knows, and remember Trump understands his own interests if not anything else, that an all-out trade-war with China will not end well.
Fighting with nations is hard. China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia.
Individuals, well that’s quite easy.
Which leaves the H1B program, the perfect low-hanging fruit for Trump to score some brownie points with his constituents, made even lower by the fact that Donald Trump’s businesses won’t be affected by its gutting. And trust me, if Indian Cobol developers are summarily sent back, there won’t even be the gentle consolation of crowds of ACLU lawyers with “Free legal help for those affected” at the airport, or impassioned articles in the Times.
So be careful in your neutrality or delight, dear desis. Be very careful.