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100,000 Indians say 'Namaste Trump' and the president ignores some key human rights concernsPresident Donald Trump kicked off his first official visit to India by addressing a rally of more than 100,000 people on Feb. 24 in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. Trump promised the thousands of cheering Indians who greeted him “an incredible trade deal” and “the most feared military equipment on the planet.” Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, he then toured Sabarmati ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi lived for 13 years. Afterwards, Trump visited the Taj Mahal, a 17th-century mausoleum built by an Indian emperor for his beloved wife. Trump and Modi have built a personal rapport. The U.S. president’s 36-hour visit to India – named “Namaste Trump” – is seen as India returning the favor for “Howdy Modi” – a rally in Texas in fall 2019, where the two leaders appeared together. A few news reports have suggested that Modi and Trump could discuss rising violence and discrimination against religious minorities in India. However, the White House has scrupulously avoided making any public statement on the subject. I am a scholar who studies U.S. foreign policy toward India. In the past, U.S. administrations concerned with boosting trade with India have celebrated the two countries’ shared commitment to democracy and human rights. Under the Trump administration, I argue, the relationship is in danger of becoming purely transactional. Departing from the pastOver the past several decades, American presidents, regardless of political affiliation, have reaffirmed the shared values that have bound the two states.Despite the ebbs and flows in the India-U.S. relationship, both sides have long seen democracy as an important link. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter visited India shortly after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi lost an election. Gandhi had declared a state of emergency in India, ruthlessly curtailing civil rights and personal liberties. Carter opposed providing U.S. nuclear fuel to India because India had conducted a nuclear test in 1974, arguing that it had violated the spirit of a prior agreement.Nevertheless Carter went out of his way to laud India for its ability to restore democratic practices, following the state of emergency. Several decades later, a president of a wholly different ideological leaning, George W. Bush, adopted a markedly similar stance when hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a state visit in Washington.When introducing his visitor to his wife Laura Bush, the U.S. president famously celebrated the absence of religious extremism in India, calling it “a democracy which does not have a single al-Qaeda member in a population of 150 million Muslims.” Bush went on to attribute the absence of Islamic extremism in India to its commitment to democracy. By the time of the first George W. Bush administration, the Indo-U.S. bilateral relationship had opened up a significant market for American goods. A big reason for this growing trade relationship was a shift in India’s U.S. foreign policy. Even as trade grew, the U.S. presidents have not shied away from criticizing India. After President Barack Obama’s second visit to India in 2015, he criticized India’s failure to uphold human rights during Prime Minister Modi’s first term in office. “Every person has the right to practice his religion or not to practice it if they choose so without persecution,” Obama stated in a speech in Mumbai shortly before his departure from India on Jan. 27, 2015. A transactional relationship?Trump’s visit diverges from this past of U.S. presidents alternately celebrating and critiquing democracy in India. Trump seems to be focused on material issues – primarily India’s increasing spending on U.S. military supplies. In recent years, defense and military sales relationship with India has been burgeoning, growing some 557% between 2013 and 2017 over the previous five-year period and now reaching almost US$20 billion. In early February of this year India announced it would purchase $2.4 billion in Sikorsky naval helicopters from the U.S. These military acquisitions, in considerable part, stem from India’s growing apprehensions about China. These fears stem from China’s military capabilities arrayed along much of India’s Himalayan border and the failure to resolve a border dispute. Indeed Trump has adopted a hard line stance toward India when it comes to business transactions. On the eve of his departure to New Delhi, Trump ended India’s preferential trade status as a developing country. The move could impose as much as $260 million in new duties and is meant to induce India to open up its markets to a range of American manufactured and agricultural products. A requiem for human rights?Missing from Trump’s visit is any allusion whatsoever to recent disturbing political developments in India. In early August 2019, India ended the special status of the portion of the state of Kashmir, under India’s control. It also placed a number of prominent politicians under house arrest, blocked telephone and internet services and dramatically bolstered its military presence in the region.In December 2019, India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, a law that allows the immigration of a range of minorities to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan but bars Muslim migrants. Protests that erupted across the country in opposition to the new law have been brutally repressed by police.India is also drafting a National Register of Citizens, an effort to document all voting-age Indians that could in effect disenfranchise millions of poor minorities because of their inability to produce appropriate papers.All of these policy initiatives have been undertaken since Prime Minister Modi was re-elected in April 2019. Several members of U.S. Congress, most notably U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle, have been outspoken about India’s human rights challenges. But Trump has stayed silent – and he seems unlikely to break that silence on his first-ever official visit to India.As I see it, Trump’s message is clear: As long as India opens up its markets to American products, and is willing to make common cause with the United States on some foreign policy issues, the shared commitment to democratic values and civil rights of minorities can be set aside. [Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Trump and Modi: birds of the same feather, but with different world views * Howdy Modi in Houston: why India’s Narendra Modi puts so much effort into wooing the diasporaSumit Ganguly receives funding from the US Department of State, the US Army War College and is affiliated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

2/25/2020 7:52:08 AM

A California man drove his Jeep off the roof of a six-level parking garage and crashed into a McDonald's, police sayPolice say a California man drove a Jeep off a parking garage and into a McDonald's. Two people dove out of the car before it crashed.

2/23/2020 8:49:08 PM

Detectives eye Yellowstone in missing Idaho kids casePhone records show Tylee Ryan visited Yellowstone with her mother, uncle and brother JJ ‪on September 8, according to court documents.

2/24/2020 7:30:58 PM

Bernie Sanders says it's 'unfair' to say everything Fidel Castro did was bad, condemns his 'authoritarian nature'Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper for a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday night, and he agreed "it is a bit shocking" he's the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. When Cooper asked if Democratic voters are "really wanting a revolution," Sanders suggested they "go easy on the word rev— 'political revolution.'" Cooper noted that's the word Sanders uses, and Sanders said he doesn't want "people, you know, to overstate that." His Medicare-for-all plan, he said, is "not socialized medicine. This is keeping the same system intact, but getting rid of the private insurance companies."Cooper played clips of Sanders saying positive things about the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the 1980s. "We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it's unfair to simply say everything is bad," Sanders told Cooper. "When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?" Cooper noted that Castro also jailed dissidents and worse, and Sanders said "we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump" with North Korea's despotic ruler. "I do not think that Kim Jong Un is a good friend," he said. "I don't trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine."> Bernie Sanders defends his 1980s comments about Fidel Castro in an interview on 60 Minutes.> > — 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 24, 2020Sanders wasn't very specific on how he planned to pay for Medicare-for-all and his other big initiatives, and he didn't explain how he would get his plans through Congress. But he did acknowledge that his policy proposals were influenced "a lot" by his family or origin and childhood in Brooklyn. Still, " I don't like to, you know, talk about personal stuff that much," he said. Cooper asked if his "personal stuff" wasn't important to who he is, and Sanders said it may be but he's "kind of private" and "not particularly anxious to tell the world about everything personal in my life."Read the transcript and watch the full interview at 60 Minutes.More stories from The coronavirus recession? The real third way in 2020 Top member of Trump's coronavirus task force asks Twitter for help accessing map of virus

2/24/2020 6:41:00 AM

Iran's deputy health minister says he has coronavirusIran's deputy health minister confirmed on Tuesday that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, amid a major outbreak in the Islamic republic. Iraj Harirchi coughed occasionally and wiped sweat from his brow repeatedly during a news conference in Tehran on Monday with government spokesman Ali Rabiei. At the time, he denied a lawmaker's claim that 50 people had died from the virus in the Shiite shrine city of Qom, saying he would resign if the number proved accurate.

2/25/2020 8:15:53 AM

China said it would relax its lockdown of Wuhan's 11 million residents, only to immediately reintroduce itWuhan announced that some people could leave the locked-down city, only to reverse the announcement hours later as the coronavirus spreads.

2/24/2020 5:25:13 AM

New Virginia sentencing law ends high court's DC sniper caseLee Boyd Malvo, the Washington, D.C., area sniper, and Virginia agreed Monday to dismiss a pending Supreme Court case after the state changed criminal sentencing law for juveniles. Under the new law, signed by Gov. Ralph Northam earlier in the day, people serving life terms for crimes they committed before they turned 18 can be considered for parole after serving at least 20 years. The two sides agreed that Malvo's life term would remain in effect, though he will have a chance at parole early in 2024.

2/24/2020 2:21:36 PM

How South Korea’s Coronavirus Outbreak Got so Quickly out of ControlSouth Korea now has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside mainland China

2/24/2020 2:37:57 AM

14 products dermatologists recommend for soothing redness and rosaceaThese products help soothe skin, minimize redness and prevent flare-ups of rosacea.

2/24/2020 3:59:54 PM

Senate FISA Abuse Investigation to Focus on Mystery Source Who Contradicted Steele DossierSenator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Sunday told Fox News the Senate's investigation into FBI abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will focus on interviews the agency conducted with a Russian source who contradicted much of the information in the Steele dossier."The first thing I want to do is call the people who heard from Russian sub-source that this dossier is a bunch of bar talk and hearsay," Graham said on Fox's Sunday Morning Futures. "I want to find out when did [former FBI director James] Comey and [former FBI deputy director Andrew] McCabe understand it was not reliable and start from there."The source, known in the Justice Department Inspector General's report as "Primary Sub-Source," was former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele's only direct contact in Russia for the allegations contained in the dossier. However, the IG report states that the primary sub-source told the FBI and Justice Department that Steele's allegations were false or misleading, including the assertion of Page's involvement in what the dossier terms a "well-developed conspiracy of cooperation" between the Trump campaign and Russian government."The Primary Sub-source made statements during his/her January 2017 FBI interview that were inconsistent with multiple sections of the Steele reports, including some that were relied upon in the FISA applications," the IG report states.Following the publication of the IG report, prominent Republicans called for an overhaul of the FISA system to prevent future abuses. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported the Trump administration is considering doing just that before FISA legislation is set to expire in March.

2/24/2020 8:04:06 AM

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