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Sunday Schmooze // When Donald Trump-ed it by calling India filthy

Sun 25 Oct 2020    
| 2 min read

While social media may not necessarily be such a bad thing with its penchant to be on top of news (in my effort to peer into a glass that is half full, I am being generous and discounting the substantial ‘fake’ component), I find the lot of those who inhabit the domain as determined denizens to be of a very dubious variety.

The latest issue to get my goat is US President Donald Trump’s “controversial” jibe: when he called India “filthy.”

In a recent presidential debate, this is what he said, in the context of global pollution: “Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India — it’s filthy. The air is filthy.”

Of course, there is a huge difference between a place being filthy and its air being filthy — it’s a face-off between visual aesthetic and respiratory sensory — but my point is, even if he had called India, the place, filthy, he wouldn’t really have been off the mark.

He glossed over that and only indicated that the country’s pollution levels are alarming. Last recorded, eight or nine of the world’s list of toxic cities happen to be in India.

So he called a spade a spade. And yet, most inhabitants in the realm of Indian social media are seeing code red.

Now, first off, I’m not batting for Trump — or endorsing his brand of politics (whatever they may be, I’m too far removed from the scene of American action to claim to have a grip).

But my question is: why is everyone gasping with outrage even as they gasp while breathing polluted air?

There is a section of jingoistic Indians who feel it’s way better to breathe fumes than take a hard look at ground realities. They are the sort who justify India’s national “pastime” of sexual assault as not being so bad since, hey, there are other countries where rape statistics report a higher incidence (never mind the stringent follow through action in those places).

Then, there is a counter brigade, where an alternative narrative is playing out. Apparently, Indian PM NaMo and American Prez Trump

are best buddies. They exchange cool pleasantries. One calls the other Dolund, the other says HowdyModi and so on. Today, in India and among the diaspora, Modi haters allege it is Modi’s big fail since “Trump” has dared to call his BFF’s home turf filthy.

Again, I’m no fan of Modi, but honestly, what can the poor chap do if his “friend” states the obvious? Surely that cannot become an election plank for the Opposition to breathe fire into?

If, on the other hand, I was part of the Russian social media brigade, I’d have been seriously ticked off. By all accounts, the air condition in Putin-land is “moderately unsafe”, and to be button-holed in the same category as India and China is like being subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in The Brew View – our opinion section – are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the company, or any of its members.

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