India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a visit from Trump on February 24 while violent anti-Muslim riots raged in Delhi. Trump congratulated Modi on what a good job he was doing in India, almost as good as Trump thinks he is doing in the U.S.! We can certainly see the similarities between Modi and Trump – both power-hungry, arrogant, and bigoted against their countries’ minorities. They are symptoms of the same horrible system, offering false solutions to the problems faced by ordinary people, and stirring up hatred and violence.
India faces a wide variety of problems. In fact, before Trump came to Gujarat as part of his tour of India, local government officials tried to hide some of these problems – they put up a wall to hide a slum from view of Trump’s motorcade and the media accompanying him. 73 million people in India live in extreme poverty. Nearly half of all children are malnourished and 75% are anemic. There are nearly 25,000 cases of rape reported every year, with a widespread problem of law enforcement ignoring accusations or being responsible themselves. Government corruption is very widespread. And linked to all this corruption and poverty, much of the country’s economy has for many decades been under the domination of U.S. and European corporations.
Modi is the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP is a Hindu nationalist party, meaning that they believe India should be a Hindu nation, despite the 200 million Muslims and many other religious groups of India. Modi is also a leader of the RSS, a paramilitary organization that has terrorized the Muslim community in India for decades. Modi was elected president of India in 2014 using anti-Muslim slogans, the same way Trump uses anti-immigrant rhetoric and flirts with far-right, racist ideas and phrases.
Last August, the Indian government revoked the semi-independent status of Kashmir, a majority-Muslim area of northern India which has been under military occupation by the Indian army for decades. This move triggered widespread outrage, so the Indian government doubled down on their military occupation. For several months Kashmir was isolated from the outside world, including phone and internet access.
Then in December, Modi’s government passed a new law, the Citizenship Amendment Act (the CAA), effectively forcing every single Muslim in India to prove their citizenship to the government with documentation or else face deportation. This law sparked a mass protest movement including Indians of all religious backgrounds. The protesters have faced severe government repression and violent attacks from Hindu-nationalist gangs, including four days of anti-Muslim attacks in Delhi last month that killed 42 people, injured hundreds, and destroyed entire Muslim neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the protests continue.
People who are sick of the system start to look for radical solutions. People like Modi and Trump seem to offer radical solutions, and unfortunately many U.S. citizens and Indian citizens are excited by those promises. But in fact, these politicians just further enrich themselves and the capitalist class they represent. The problems we see in the world are all problems of capitalism. The far right points to immigrants, minorities, gays, and other oppressed groups as the reason for these problems – anything but capitalism itself. That’s why it’s so important for us to offer alternative solutions, solutions that unite working people and rely on our own power instead of turning us against each other.