Op-eds

Beware the Trump Effect: Op-Ed by Dean Chakravorti in the Indian Express

Indian Express

Bhaskar Chakravorti is a Senior Associate Dean at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

This is a tale of two septuagenarians; I hope they never meet. One is the country of India as an independent democratic nation. The other is the American president, a reminder that independent democracy provides no guarantee for its product. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington DC, he extended an invitation to the Trump parivaar to visit India. Ivanka Trump accepted right away and recently the details of her visit have been re-confirmed by the official medium of this White House — over a tweet. While Ivanka’s appearance would be harmless enough, it would be best if Daddy chooses to stay away.

Daddy’s appearances elsewhere have followed a worrisome pattern: Wherever principles of tolerance and civility are already under attack, Daddy’s appearance tips the balance, making a bad situation worse. The craziest elements feel empowered to do crazier things. Given that the kettle of intolerance is coming to a boil in India, a Trump senior visit would not be a good thing. Consider three theatres of activity: America, Saudi Arabia and Poland. Each is a country where civil society was already under siege before Trump stepped on to the stage.

In keeping with the slogan, consider America first. The US has been struggling with growing tensions involving race relations, deep political divisions and anti-Islamic rhetoric, and much of it had been nearing a tipping point in the years since Obama’s election. Enter Trump; his election rallies unleashed the beast within. Hateful speech and action became de rigueur at Trump rallies. Intolerance has mushroomed around the country. A telling statistic comes from Trump’s home base, New York City, right after his election.

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