If you sort of guessed this is about my relationship with my students in my professional engagement as a teacher in my retired life, you couldn’t be more wrong. The relationship I am going to talk about spans across the seas, via land, sea and air routes.
It is about what the India’s prime minister is teaching the American president. They are, if you have studied history of the past two decades or so, birds of the same feather and they are flocking together. Modi’s helmsmanship helping Trump weather heavy seas.
It was in November 2016, at the stroke of midnight between November 7th and 8th, Modi announced the so-called demonetization of high end currency, only to introduce a higher end currency soon after.
The date and timing are significant. At the dawn of next morning in the USA, give or take a dozen hours, Trump era began. Trump could not wait to get the transition period behind him. I would suspect he was re-enacting what Modi did before the latter was sworn in, inviting SAARC honchos to his swearing in ceremony. Here, Trump did, even before his administration was instituted, started talking about policy matters, sidelining the so-called China-one policy, praising Vladimir Putin, insulting Mexico, and kept waiting the “special relationship” card holder Theresa May waiting and all that. The student beating the teacher at his own game!
In the first week of his presidency, even before the executive branch was anywhere near being filled up, Trump used all kinds of executive powers he was tutored that he did have to get rid of TPP and more significantly, affecting the “undocumented aliens”, ordinary citizens and Green Card holders in the here and now, he “banned” entry of foreign nationals from a select few countries that just happened to have Muslim majority populations. This was par for him, as through the campaign, he asserted (I would not want to add the qualifier “falsely” which would imply that once in a while he speaks the truth) that terrorism is exclusively the product of Islam. Never mind, IRA was all Roman Catholic (years earlier).
Now, to the parallels between Modi’s demonetization and Trump’s entry ban executive order. If you feel exceptionally charitable you may say that the roll out of both was severely botched. If you do not feel so, both smacked of being the front end of the I-cannot-be-wrong mindset that both Modi and Trump harbour.
From news reports, all of them ostensibly “fake news” from the protagonists’ perspective, the minions were kept out of the loop. In the case of India, the governor of RBI was reduced to a rubber stamp. That perhaps was more inclusive than what Trump did to his secretary of defence and homeland security apparatus. Trump did better than Modi. Of course, Modi did not have Bannon at his side. Amit Shah is OK but he cannot do double duty, one at BJP HQ and the other at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, the erstwhile Race Course Road.
What did happen in both the instances? Both of them walked back many steps, but seemingly moving forward. They were doing Michael Jackson’s moon walk, better than the dancer-cum-musician ever did.
Here, Modi was the teacher and, to be sure, he was not bettered by his acolyte. Thank the more responsive US judicial system.
The whirlpools both created are slowly draining out, but not before unleashing severe damage to the country, as much as to the protagonists’ egos. The student is raring to be the teacher and the teacher is refusing to let go his first-mover (by about 30 months) advantage. Let us wait and see. Hoping for lasting impacts.
Daring to dream is the job of the fool.