Grand Tamasha

Trump’s India Trip, Delhi Riots, and India in American Domestic Politics

Episode Summary

Milan breaks down the news with Sadanand and Tanvi.

Episode Notes

This week, Milan sits down with podcast regulars Sadanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution for the first “Grand Tamasha” news round-up of 2020.

The three discuss President Trump’s whirlwind, 36-hour visit to India, the ghastly Delhi riots that coincided with his trip, and the prospect of India becoming a political football in America’s 2020 presidential election season.

And the trio could not resist talking about Ivanka Trump’s Tal Mahal internet memes, a very strange puppet video, and a Delhi schoolboy who would not let the Secret Service get in the way of his bhangra moves.

Episode Transcription

Intro: 00:00 "Unabashed" "The most unpredictable" "becomes a headline." "The most volatile" "outrageous behavior." “Unsubstantiated narratives" "A battle of personalities."

Puppet Narendra Modi: 00:12 Thank you for visiting India, President Trump.

Puppet Donald Trump: 00:15 It's great to be in a place where the people really get me.

Puppet Narendra Modi: 00:20 We have much in common.

Puppet Donald Trump: 00:21 Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Puppet Narendra Modi: 00:22 I am. Hit it, Rajiv!

Milan Vaishnav: 00:42 Welcome to Grand Tamasha. I'm your host Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. At long last, we are back at this table with our regular Bews Roundup. As usual, I am joined in the studio by podcast regulars Sadanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution and the author of the brand new, bestselling title "Fateful Triangle." Welcome back to the studio.

Sadanand Dhume: 01:03 Good to be back.

Tanvi Madan: 01:04 Good to be back, Milan.

Milan Vaishnav: 01:05 So, I don't know if you guys saw over the weekend James Crabtree made a plea to podcasts that they should eliminate the first two to three minutes of useless chatter and just get to our.

Sadanand Dhume: 01:16 But our whole thing is useless chatter.

Milan Vaishnav: 01:18 The main substance.

Tanvi Madan: 01:20 If you don't want to useless chatter, this is wrong podcast for you.

Sadanand Dhume: 01:23 You have the wrong guests!

Milan Vaishnav: 01:24 So, so our friend Ed Luce commented and saying, well, can we just scrap the remaining 57 and 58 minutes of podcasts? So in that spirit, we have a lot to catch up on. We're going to go right into it. This week on the show, we're going to tackle three topics. First, President Trump is back home in Washington. After a whirlwind, 36 hour visit to India, we'll discuss the highs, the lows, and the internet memes. Second, the presidential visit coincided with an intense outbursts of violence in Delhi. 40 people were killed, scores more were injured. We'll discuss the causes and the consequences of the worst riots in Delhi in over three decades. And last but not least, we'll talk about the implications of what's happening in India for U.S. Domestic politics and the 2020 presidential race. Let's start first with the visit.

Milan Vaishnav: 02:04 Sadanand, let me come to you. Commentators, I think had been split into two camps. When it comes to the takeaways. On the one hand, you have those who say this was style over substance. On the other hand, some argue, well actually the U.S. And India have achieved some important milestones. If you look at the sweep of the bilateral relationship. Where do you come down on this score? You in the former camp or in the latter?

Sadanand Dhume: 02:23 Probably more of the latter. I mean, I would say that what we've seen under Trump is, you know, in a sense a narrowing of the relationship, the focus is much more almost exclusively on defense and security than it was before. The economic relationship is not in great shape. They weren't able to come to a trade deal. There've been all kinds of economic frictions and the Trump administration seems to have largely abandoned the whole, you know, democracy and democracy and values leg of the tripod. So, but that said, I think they have made gains on the security side. This is a relationship that is defined mostly by strategic interests at this point. And I think credit is due there where they have kept that part, they've kept that part going.

Milan Vaishnav: 03:08 Tanvi, what about you? What stood out from this visit?

Tanvi Madan: 03:11 I think I'm kind of where Sadanand is on this, which is, you know, I really think it depends on what you expected from this visit going in. And so if you were somebody who's interested in the defense security cooperation side of the relationship, you'd be rather pleased. There was a defense deal, but also they seem to have - and the defense deal was important because the Trump administration's actually not got a defense deal from India. Most of the defense deals were signed either under Manmohan Singh or by Prime Minister Modi when President Obama was in office.

Tanvi Madan: 03:45 So I think that was important so that there was a kind of juicy round number to give President Trump as well. But I think they - even for the defense and security folks, they would look at President Trump's kind of positive mood and hope it buys some space with him for a little while so that some of those trade frictions, which haven't been resolved yet they'll, they won't spill over into the defense and security side but I think also, I mean you'll see that even on the trade side there was some language, not just during the trip and the joint statement, but from Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar that potentially you could expect something at least a Phase One deal in weeks, if not a few months. And so I think, you know, you'd see that on the positive side.

Tanvi Madan: 04:28 Having said that, you know, if you expected that trade deal to come through this to be that action forcing event or President Trump to forget about them these frictions, - which he didn't, he mentioned it towards the end of his trip that these trade issues are still on his mind - or you expected, for example, kind of the administration to say something publicly about what was happening in Delhi, then you'd say, you know, that hadn't happened. To give the administration credit, they did talk about the importance of diversity and pluralism seven times in President Trump's speech.

Milan Vaishnav: 04:59 So, just to recap for our listeners, when you talk about a phase one trade deal, that's the kind of mini deal that addresses some of the irritants that both sides have identified. Phase two would presumably be something larger or perhaps as large as a free trade agreement or an FTA, which there's been chatter about, but seems kind of a long, long way in the distance.

Tanvi Madan: 05:18 It does. I mean for one, it'll depend on what happens in the November elections here. I think, you know the far Indian foreign minister in his interview after the trip, kind of, essentially suggested that it's easier for India to have a free trade agreement with the U.S. Than some other countries. Now that also reflects the fact that the Indian foreign ministry's always been more supportive of trade deals because they understand the strategic nature of trade than the commerce ministry or the prime minister's office sometimes even - not just in this government but in previous governments as well. So I think it'll be a tough sell for them internally. But also, you know, if they do have a second Trump turn, he's gonna want bigger concessions from India because he's gonna, you know, he'll say, I've won. My approach has won. And if you thought I was going to, you know, just ask you for X, Y, and Z, you know I'm going to ask you for A, B, and C also now. And then, you know, if there's a Democratic administration, again, it'll depend very much on who that president is. But I think, you know, so for now, I think the idea is to do kind of a phase one mini deal that just takes this away from being a front burner issue to putting it on the back burner.

Milan Vaishnav: 06:28 So Tanvi, you tweeted a bit at President's Trump's speech that he gave at a South Carolina rally over the weekend. And here's what he said about his India trip quote, I may never be excited again about a crowd after going to India. They have a great leader and they have a great love for the people of this country. That was really a worthwhile trip. So the Indian government calculated that playing to Trump's sort of vanity would pay off. Is this mission accomplished as far as the governor of India is concerned?

Tanvi Madan: 06:54 I think for now they will think so that you know, he's gone away with a positive mood. It was a very personalized welcome not just the big crowds but, you know, Prime Minister Modi quite unusually for Indian prime ministers when they're with their us counterparts, they don't usually announce defense deals or talk numbers. Whereas Prime Minister Modi specifically gave him numbers to talk about, mentioned them in his own kind of statement when they were making joint remarks. Also the state dinner very much kind of rolled out the red carpet. Rashtrapati Bhavans very impressive. And is designed to awe and I think it did. So I think, you know, in that sense that at least in terms of the mood you saw it pay off in terms of President Trump clearly still talking about the trip in positive terms.

Tanvi Madan: 07:40 You saw it in the lack of criticism that they would have. And in some ways it showed in the kind of a discipline that President Trump's showed, which even he admitted at the beginning of his press conference, was unusual for him in terms of sticking to his talking points, at least when it came to India issues. The big question is how long does this afterglow last? You know, we've seen this with Chinese leader, Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that they've had these trips where they've rolled out the red carpet for President Trump. He's gone away saying good things. But just a little while later he returns to the things he has problems with. So I think India will be hoping to extend this period of kind ofbonhomie but I think they'll need - there's also recognition, which is why this need to get this mini trade deal that it might not last.

Sadanand Dhume: 08:30 So let me just quickly add to that. I agree with what Tanvi said, but you know, in addition to you know, the fact that the Indian government clearly wanted to charm Trump and seems to have succeeded in charming him. I think this is also a public diplomacy win for India, you know, here you have the U.S. President going into the American Heartland and essentially saying nice things about India, the Indian people, and the Indian government. So, you know, in that sense it definitely, you know, something that played out largely the way they would have liked to see it play out.

Milan Vaishnav: 09:01 Sadanand, the U.S. President, although the significance was implicit, it wasn't stated, but it was noticed that he did not make a separate stopover in Islamabad to see the Pakistani prime minister and his leadership. Is that a significant detail?

Sadanand Dhume: 09:15 Yeah but this is not the first time. I don't think Obama did either. I think that, you know, the old, our old assumptions about the hyphen they were weakened when - that they've been weakening over time. And then over the last couple of visits the American president has not felt that they must necessarily go to Pakistan every time they go to India. And that just reflects the fact that the strategic weight of those two countries is they're not in the same ballpark anymore in India is simply a much more important to the U.S. Than Pakistan is.

Milan Vaishnav: 09:48 Tanvi, let me ask you about another country, which is China. Your new book, we're going to talk about this in the podcast in a couple of weeks, traces 30 years of the triangular relationship between the U.S. India and China. I'm curious, what was the reaction in Beijing to Trump's visit? Do they have reason to worry?

Tanvi Madan: 10:05 So I'll answer that, but just just to pick up on Sadanand's point about Pakistan, I mean, one thing was striking is if any other U.S. President had gone to India and said relatively positive things about U.S.-Pakistan relations and about Pakistan, you would have seen a much more critical reaction in India. And I think the fact that there wasn't shows how carefully the government and kind of the people around them are handling this president recognizing he doesn't like kind of criticism On China, We haven't seen kind of an official reaction yet, but I can't imagine they would have necessarily, they would have seen this visit positively. China has - doesn't often think of India as a priority, but they do worry about India in conjunction. India with the U.S. India is a U.S. Partner as being problematic for them.

Sadanand Dhume: 10:55 And they have been efforts to, for example and you know, by officials as well as kind of a lot of analysts close to the Chinese government who have tried to on occasion make statements that would create differences between the U.S. And India, essentially saying to India, look, the U.S. Is just trying to use you as a frontline state or you know, try the Asia for Asian lines Asian line. And so I think you would see kind of a Chinese government that wouldn't necessarily be happy about the U.S.-India relationship getting closer but also seeing in some ways an opportunity perhaps in the fact that there are some constituencies in the U.S. That are concerned about the economic and values legs of the relationship. You're not going to see, for example, anybody in Beijing criticize India for what's happening within India. And so I think you will see some who see an opportunity but I think overall, especially collaboration defense and security side they won't happy about that situation.

Sadanand Dhume: 11:55 Maybe the Chinese are criticizing India for not mistreating its Muslims enough.

Milan Vaishnav: 11:59 Which is a nice segue to our second topic, which is the bloody riots that broke out over about a three day period coinciding with the very tail end of President Trump's visit. Sadanand, some observers are calling this a pogrom launched by Hindus against the minority Muslim community in Delhi. Others are being more cautious saying, actually the story is far more nuanced. It's too messy to firmly establish causality. How would you characterize the violence that we've seen?

Sadanand Dhume: 12:26 So look, there's an element of it that's nuanced and there's an element of it that's not nuanced at all. What is nuanced is if you start looking at the violence in microscopic detail it's certainly true, that perhaps, you know, in some neighborhoods Hindu suffered disproportionately and in other neighborhoods, Muslims suffered disproportionately.

Sadanand Dhume: 12:47 There have been deaths on both sides and so on. So that part I think is is nuanced. And, and, and we, and we do, we should treat it with the nuance, but the larger point, which is that one side had the backing of the ruling party and the government machinery and that side was not, the Muslims is very clear.

Milan Vaishnav: 13:11 And the police for that matter.

Sadanand Dhume: 13:12 Right. That's what I mean by the machinery of the state. It's not as though the cops were involved in the rioting or involved in the violence everywhere, but in many places they were ineffectual and in other places they were not just ineffectual, but they were working alongside the mobs and the mobs that they were working alongside were the Hindu mobs. So I think this sort of grand attempt by elements on the Hindu right to treat this as though this was simply, you know equal bloodletting on both sides. You know, is a giant con job because it ignores this sort of fundamental and you know, to my mind all important distinction.

Milan Vaishnav: 13:54 But I guess I have a question about the timing, right? Which is why would groups affiliated or sympathetic to the ruling party want to unleash such violence when you have the eyes of the world, you know, focused on New Delhi, the president is still, you know, on your sovereign ground. I guess I'm wondering, you know, what's the incentive and do you think that the Modi government bears some responsibility for the violence?

Sadanand Dhume: 14:23 So sure. I think ideally if, you know, if they were calculating this, ideally they would have, you know, wanted the violence perhaps to start after Trump had left because the fact is that those images and those headlines did mar the visit. In fact you had a BJP leader who you know, just before the violence broke broke out saying exactly that, that, well, let's just, we're just gonna wait for Trump to leave and then we're going to, you know, then we'll do what we need to do.

Milan Vaishnav: 14:51 And that was speaking of specific relation to protests that were blocking essentially commuter and arterial roads to say, once Trump leaves, if the police doesn't handle this, we're going to do it.

Sadanand Dhume: 15:03 We're gonna go and clear it out ourselves. Right? Now. So. But you can't always control these things, right? This is stuff happening at, you know they're, these are street level thugs, these are people affiliated with the party. They could also just be sort of regular people who get caught up in the emotions and things got out of hand. So I'm not saying that everything is sort of, you know, - that if they had, you know, chosen a moment, this is the best moment.

Milan Vaishnav: 15:27 Right.

Sadanand Dhume: 15:27 But I still think that the, you know, the evidence is overwhelming. If you look at the kinds of speeches that were made in Delhi by BJP leaders, this whole new slogan, right? That has become very common about shooting the traitors and everybody knows who the traitors are in that slogan. This is incendiary incendiary stuff.

Milan Vaishnav: 15:49 Tanvi, I want to ask you about a point that's not been raised, which is sort of the international ramifications of these riots, Sadanand said they marred the visit. You had most major television networks in India anyway, cutting to a split screen where you had the president or the first lady on the left hand side and then, you know, billows of black smoke, fires, bodies on the right. Does this have lasting consequences for India's reputation?

Tanvi Madan: 16:16 You know, and I think the most stark split screen was the first lady attending a happiness class and then, you know, somebody being beaten in the other split screen. You know, I think the question really is what, how various constituencies see this in different countries. I think in the U.S. Some of you have heard me say this before, they're essentially gonna have three baskets of constituent three kind of constituencies that the India relationship has had the strategic economic and values based communities. That's, you know, think - and for the last two decades you've generally had them all converged. And this idea that India is important. And I think what these, what the kind of Delhi riots will do. I think it definitely feed into the idea that the values constituency has that there have been setbacks with regard to India.

Tanvi Madan: 17:11 They're not going to pushing this relationship in the same way anymore, but it has the potential to at least effect the economic constituency for the relationship, which is already kind of questioning the economic growth slow down but also kind of the lack of economic reforms over the last few months, especially in kind of a second Modi term because the questions and all of us are getting them, you know, is this a safe and stable place to invest in when I can invest in somewhere else relative to some other place? I think many companies are still saying we're going to go into India. It's indispensable, but there are questions. But I think as long as that's strategic and we saw this with the Trump visit and the very fact that President Trump even went, given some of these other concerns over the last few months related to either Kashmir or CAA as long as there's enough of a strategic constituency and a strategic case for India, that is, and the idea has generally been in the face of a rising China and particularly concerns about Chinese behavior, a relationship with India is crucial, particularly as part of an Indo-Pacific strategy. As long as that is moving forward, there's a willingness to kind of look the other way or at least not pay so much attention to these issues. Now even with this constituency, the question down the line, and that'll answer your question about whether this lasts the question down the line for them will be, do they start to - does this stay? Does India keep doing enough? Or do they start to wonder if these issues, these developments are making India so insular over time, so focused on domestic social issues that they are not, the government is not putting in the effort on the economic side economic capabilities and therefore military capabilities aren't being built in a way that India can, might even be willing to serve as that contrast and counterbalance to China, but it's unable to do so because just don't have, the capabilities. Not to mention that its image and relationships in the region in the Indo-Pacific are starting to get affected, whether that's with Bangladesh or Indonesia because of some of these domestic issues. So I think for now the strategic issues will perhaps continue to kind of drive the relationship despite some of these developments but we shouldn't take it as a given that that's inevitable.

Sadanand Dhume: 19:19 One place where you know, you already do see a very clear change is among the, you know, the Democrats. You had Bernie Sanders tweeting about this. And if you kind of take this, if you take the riots along with the aggregation of autonomy in Kashmir and then the situation in Assam with the building of detention camps and the ill advised, citizenship law, if you take all of this together, it's very clear that at least on the left in the U.S. The idea of India as essentially this symbol of functioning pluralism has taken a real severe, beating.

Tanvi Madan: 19:56 And what we've seen, which was a departure from a few months earlier, which is that with the letter by the co-chairs of the India caucus Senator Warner from Virginia and Senator Cornyn from Texas, that this is not just a Democratic thing anymore.

Milan Vaishnav: 20:11 Right, that's one Democratic Senator, one Republican Senator.

Tanvi Madan: 20:13 One Republican senator, that these are things that even the kind of Republicans are starting to notice. And one of the things that I think is, you know, yes, you might not have people on the Hill necessarily introducing legislation, but India's had the advantage where people have actually been rooting for it. So pushing things forwards, so even if people just, it's the equivalent of an election where you might not go vote for somebody or vote against them, but if you stay at home, so if people stay at home when it comes to India, when it comes to key moments, that in effect is, you know, it was also of going to be an issue. Again though I will say that, you know, and I think this is going to put pressure on India to deliver on that strategic side and the defense side and to make sure they keep President Trump in good stead for the next few months. As long as there's a sense that that will, there's enough happening on that front, I think you'll see people overlook some of these issues. But it does make it harder even for people in the administration to make the case for India.

Milan Vaishnav: 21:13 Sadanand, in many of the social media criticized President Trump for not addressing the Delhi violence for deferring questions on the Citizenship Amendment Bill for generally refraining from making any pointed statements that could be seen as critical of Modi's domestic agenda social policies. Was this the right move?

Sadanand Dhume: 21:33 Broadly, you know, you can quibble, you could say that maybe he needed to have said more, but you know, as Tanvi pointed out earlier, he did mention diversity and pluralism several times. He made it clear that that is something that binds India or has bound India and the U.S. Together. And I personally am okay with the president not going out of his way while he's on Indian soil to sort of criticize the Indian prime minister that would have, you know, would have sort of satisfied many Modi detractors. But that's not the goal. That's not the role of the U.S. President. Right. He's trying to advance U.S. Interests. Where I would be more critical is the relatively muted response from other officials. So I get it. Maybe the president doesn't have to say so much, but I really do think that the administration at other levels could be saying more.

Milan Vaishnav: 22:24 As soon as Trump got back to the States, his reelection campaign took out digital ads targeting Indian Americans on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, other online platforms. We've had at least one top BJP leader call out Bernie Sanders who is right now the democratic front runner for being too critical.

Sadanand Dhume: 22:41 He quickly deleted his tweet though.

Milan Vaishnav: 22:41 The BJP official deleted the tweet.

Tanvi Madan: 22:44 He got a phone call.

Milan Vaishnav: 22:46 So I guess I'm wondering is, you know, it's not only about what American officials or politicians, representatives of the state might say about India, it's also what representatives of India might say about domestic politics here. Are we getting to the point where there is evidence, sufficient evidence of a clear partisan bias on the part of the Modi government with respect to the outcome of this election in the United States?

Sadanand Dhume: 23:12 I think that in India more broadly, I think there's a very unsophisticated view off U.S. Politics and off the importance of the Indian American vote in U.S. Politics first of all. And there is also I'd say an unsophisticated view about how much the Indian American voter cares about what is, you know, about, you know, an endorsement from Modi and so on. And in both cases, there seems to be this assumption that one that Indian American voters are extremely important in the process, which they are not and second, that somehow by you know, - that getting the right signal from Delhi will be able to sort of move them in large numbers. And again, there's no evidence for that at all. Now, it may be in India's interest if Trump believes both of these things to be true. I don't believe either of them is true.

Tanvi Madan: 24:12 You know, I'll preface what I'm going to say by saying, I think, you know, Senator Sanders when he tweeted that, you know, what's the point of defense deals, you should be doing climate change deals, you know our, our friend and colleague, Joshua White, who used to serve in the Obama administration, pointed out those two things are not mutually exclusive. The Obama administration did both a defense deal number of defense deals, but also kind of a climate change agreement with India. So I think there are problems with Senator Sanders' kind of view of this and he also clearly missed that. During the visit there was an agreement that the new U.S. Development finance corporation is going to finance $600 million worth of clean energy projects, renewable energy projects in India. So I think, you know, you can argue and one should about how Senator Sanders kind of sees these aspects, but I think it is I think India should be very wary of remembering its own history both as a target, but also looking at how other countries attempts to influence American elections have gone. That I think India should be very wary of getting into this game or even be seen as getting into this game. Particularly at a time when in the U.S. There's a lot of concern about foreign influence or interference in American elections. This is not going to win India any friends. And in fact it will lose India friends. The Indian government is aware that and concerned about that India being seen as a partisan issue now. They have been trying to fix that. If you see some of the moves they've made in the last few months, even the fact that this guy deleted - this MP - deleted the tweet tells me that somebody called him up and said, don't do this. Because it will have it will, you know, we've seen these Indian attempts or alleged Indian -

Sadanand Dhume: 26:02 But how do you stop like stupidity from breaking out in the BJP ranks all the time, everyday?

Tanvi Madan: 26:06 I don't think, I don't, I don't think it is the random tweet. Right? If the random tweet had happened without the context of a number of, kind of people who have official roles either in the BJP or the government saying similar things, plus a very loud and obvious effort in the UK on the part of the Overseas Friends of BJP and also countries like Canada expressing concerns. CSIS, the Canadian intelligence agency, put India in its top five list of countries whose, whose influence it was concerned about in the election in the last election. And let that be a lesson to folks who think that India can have an effect. They backed the wrong horse in Canada and these kinds of things have an impact. And in the UK they might tell themselves that it had, you know, positive effect, but all the data shows that those those moves didn't have a positive effect on the actual results. And they managed to upset some people about what India is capable of doing. Even the UK government led by the Tories expressed concern, officially about these groups doing it. So I just think, especially in the U.S. Where unlike Canada and the UK, they're actually not even that many swing votes, so to speak. That is not gonna serve India well, to be seen as, as doing some of these things.

Sadanand Dhume: 27:26 Just - we're not, we're not disagreeing on what should be done, what I'm just pointing out that there are many people including at very senior levels in the BJP who habitually, you know, find themselves in these kinds of situations. And I just don't see this changing anytime soon.

Milan Vaishnav: 27:43 Well, I mean I think this kind of links back to Sadanand's answer a little bit on the riots, right? Which is, it is not as if there is always a very clear command and control system. There are people who are operating at the locality - at the neighborhood level, forget about locality level, right? - Who may take a certain statement or a tweet or a message or a WhatsApp as a signal of encouragement, of emboldenment and act. That doesn't necessarily mean it emanated from the very top.

Sadanand Dhume: 28:14 But this wouldn't be a problem if it's just some guy at the neighborhood level. The problem is that you have people at very senior levels who seem to display the same lack of judgment as someone at a neighborhood level.

Tanvi Madan: 28:25 At the end of the day, you know, the prime minister could not have made it clearer with his welcomes for both president Obama and President Trump, that he considered the U.S. Relationship crucial to his strategic and economic plans. It even helps give India some cover on these issues. And it helps India in the UN with the financial action task force, he's made this a priority if, if the message has to come from him to these folks. Now it's true. He cannot control, I mean, nobody can control, as we know from personal experience, you know, everybody on Twitter, but a signal has to be sent including by kind of consequences for people if they think that these things actually matter. And I don't know, maybe they think it doesn't matter. And maybe we're just, you know, over overblowing this, overplaying this. But if they think it matters, I think a signal has to be sent in some ways that the, these things are not acceptable. And you can't, you know, you might not be able to control violence. But when you, for example have people who were you know, MPs who were, for example, using some of these slogans shoot the traitors, et cetera, during Delhi elections and given the front row seat at the Trump speech in Ahmadabad, that sends a signal of a different kind. So you might not be able to control it, but they are ways of actually sending a message for your own folks about what's acceptable and what is not.

Milan Vaishnav: 29:48 So I want to end the show like, we do every week, asking each of you to tell our listeners about one story coming out of India that they should be paying attention to but may not be. What's on your list, Sadanand?

Sadanand Dhume: 29:58 So Maharashtra, the Maharashtra state government has decided to make Marathi mandatory in all schools. Now, in the past, there have been exemptions for certain schools, basically schools that are, you know, where non non-state schools some of the more elite schools. It'll be very interesting to see if this is in fact implemented if it is implemented, you know, I think this is an interesting step towards - well, you could call it, linguistic pride or linguistic chauvinism depending on your point of view. But I think it's just a larger trend that we're seeing in many parts of India that is worth keeping an eye on.

Milan Vaishnav: 30:37 Tanvi, what about you?

Tanvi Madan: 30:38 So the story I thought didn't get enough attention was the Trump round table with Indian business leaders. For so many difference would be that that transcript or if you want to watch it, the video was amazing because the one time you saw President Trump kind of, you know not stick to his talking points. And you know, actually then also tell Indian CEOs kind of maybe to wait for the after the election to invest in the U.S. Which any other American president would have been criticized for. But to me it was also kind of the Indian business leaders, not just their kind of style and kind of the way they were talking to him, but how they very much in line with the Indian government's kind of effort to talk about India's utility for the U.S. Well, you know, highlighting how they were creating jobs in the U.S. How they're contributing to skilling Americans to manufacturing in America. And the one I noticed, because I, I kind of watched the Huawei story closely was this was this kind of one of the kind of CEOs talking about how he was keeping Chinese equipment out of his telecom network.

Sadanand Dhume: 31:47 That was Ambani, right?

Tanvi Madan: 31:48 Yup that was Ambani. And so it is, you know, they would never say this thing after all, just a, you know, just a few weeks ago there was another Indian CEO, um a business leader, Sunil Bharti Mittal doing the opposite. Saying, you know, on stage with with the secretary - commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross making the case for Huawei. So it's just, it was just really interesting to me to watch how you know, these official, these business leaders were saying things. Now, I don't know if they didn't expect this to be on video or, or kind of public, but it was quite striking to me. Also to tell you how important maybe the U.S. Has become for them, or at least they, it was conveyed to them that it's a good idea for them to highlight what they're doing in the U.S.

Milan Vaishnav: 32:29 And we all spent a long time trying to figure out who this steel magnate Patel was. It was really Mittal. We'll end with best week, worst weeks. Sadanand, who had the worst week in India?

Sadanand Dhume: 32:42 Amit Shah. Home Minister Amit Shah. You had the national capitol burning during a visit by the U.S. President, where the hell was Mr. Strongman Master Administrator?

Milan Vaishnav: 32:54 Who - we should remind our listeners that the police in Delhi fall under the jurisdiction, not of the state government, but the Union Home Ministry, which Amit Shah.

Sadanand Dhume: 33:03 Yeah, absolutely. And I think he'd be criticized - he has been criticized, but he would be criticized even more if people weren't so terrified of him.

Milan Vaishnav: 33:10 Tanvi, who had the worst week?

Tanvi Madan: 33:11 My hometown Delhi. It's just been really sad to see I grew up in India in the eighties and nineties. These issues, you know, there was constantly these kind of issues that were being re-litigated from history ending up in violence. This is, you know, sad from a human basis, but it's also sad for the country, which really, I mean the, these issues are taking away from the forward progress India should be making and has been making in many ways on a number of economic and social fronts. So it's just, it was just a sad moment for me, kind of more on a personal basis, having kind of lived through things like the 1984 riots. That's not a place India wants to go back to.

Milan Vaishnav: 33:56 And on the flip side, best week, who had it?

Sadanand Dhume: 33:58 Ivanka Trump. I thought she handled some of the stuff on Twitter. Some of it was a little bit, you know, sexist, but.

Tanvi Madan: 34:06 Creepy is the word.

Sadanand Dhume: 34:06 She, she handled it, she handled it great, great panache and aplomb that sort of stuff about her going to the Taj Mahal and then various people short of Photoshopping their own pictures onto it to sort of indicate that they were kind of with her there.

Milan Vaishnav: 34:21 And her having a good laugh.

Sadanand Dhume: 34:22 Yeah, I thought it was, I thought it was very, very closely, great public diplomacy.

Milan Vaishnav: 34:26 Tanvi, what about you?

Tanvi Madan: 34:27 The best week was the advisors and officials around President Trump and those on the Indian side hoping that there were no surprises during the visit other than obviously the Delhi issue. But I think people had expected the president himself to throw out a few verbal surprises and he was extremely kind of disciplined in terms of sticking to his brief. So I think there'll be people both in Washington and Delhi breathing a sigh of relief.

Milan Vaishnav: 34:53 Well I have to to put it in my candidate here, it was the Sikh school boy who stole the Melania Trump visit to a Delhi school where there was a gender component. As you pointed out too.

Tanvi Madan: 35:08 Yeah, I have mixed feelings about that.

Milan Vaishnav: 35:10 Bunch of school girls dancing. No one was paying attention to them because this boy just could not listen to Bhangra without letting his moves show.

Tanvi Madan: 35:18 And as a, as a Punjabi, I understand that instinct. It's, it's the shoulders can't resist and then you can't. But yeah.

Sadanand Dhume: 35:24 You should find a way to link to that video.

Milan Vaishnav: 35:26 I will link to the video on the show page. My guests today are Sadanand Dhume of AEI and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan at the Brookings Institution. Guys, look forward to seeing you back here soon.

Sadanand Dhume: 35:35 Look forward to being back.

Tanvi Madan: 35:36 Thanks Milan.

Outro: 35:40 Grand Tamasha is a coproduction of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Hindustan Times. You can find us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Don't forget to rate and review. It helps others find the show more easily. For more information about the show and to find the writing we referenced on this week's episode, visit our website, Production assistance comes from Megan Maxwell and Rachel Osnos. Tim Martin is our audio engineer and Lauren Dueck is our executive producer. Thanks for listening and see you next week.