The Great Wall of Trump: After Mexicans, Muslims, will Indians be next?

Written by: Maitreyee
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"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me."

The above are the famous lines from Pastor Martin Niemöller's poem - First they came - engraved in New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts, US. The poem, written just after the Holocaust, in a nutshell asks all to end apathy towards 'the others' and stand for an inclusive world. Since then, the poem has become an anthem for protests across the world.

The Great Wall of Trump: After Mexicans, Muslims, will Indians be next?

In the current scenario, just days after US President Donald Trump took over the reins of the country, these few lines best describe the precarious situation the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in following the unilateral decisions of the world's most powerful person.

Trump is a man, who is definitely not backing off from his primary stand - America First - which he reiterated during his oath-taking ceremony. Thus, the fears of those opposing his administration has started coming true.

Immediately, after entering the White House, Trump's first duel was with Mexico over building a 'wall' in the US-Mexico border. The famous 'wall' will supposedly curb entry of Mexicans to America and also stop the infamous cross-border drug trade.

On January 27, Trump signed the controversial executive order and halted the entire US refugee programme for 120 days. The EO banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia - from entering America. The US administration has hinted that Pakistan is also likely to be included in the list in the near future. The latest move, the Trump government says, is to save America from terrorist attacks.

While protests have rocked America and parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, against the EO and former US President Barack Obama has criticised the decision as discrimination of people based on religion or faith, India's is yet to make any official statement in this regard.

In spite, of the news of an impending clampdown on H-1B visas by the Trump administration, all that India did was express its 'interests and concerns' to the US on Tuesday. Why did not the Modi government raise an immediate protest? Or, it would have been a knee-jerk reaction?

The proposed legislation on H-1B - called the High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 - will make it difficult for American firms to hire foreign workers, including software professionals from India.

These proposed measures have triggered speculation among Indian Information Technology companies, as India receives highest H-1B visas issued worldwide. On Tuesday, top five Indian IT firms had lost Rs 50,000 crores in market value.

Going back on the issue of ban on entry of Muslim immigrants to the US, if reports are to be believed, officials of Indian intelligence agencies have welcomed America's plan to bring Pakistan in the same embargo list. India which is fighting a war against terror with its neighbouring country, feels that the ban will put pressure on Pakistan to take action against its homegrown terror groups.

In fact, a well-known leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has praised Trump government's clampdown on Muslim immigrants. The BJP's controversial leader Yogi Adityanath said India too needs similar curbs to 'check' terrorism in the country. Definitely, the statement made by Adityanath is not the official stand of the Centre on the issue. However, such 'divisive' comments against people belonging to one particular religion might be viewed as India's 'silent and subtle' support to Trump administration.

Meanwhile, both Trump and Modi had a 'pleasant and fruitful' telephonic conversation recently on a range of issues, including security and fight against terrorism. Both the leaders have also invited each other to visit their respective countries in the coming months.

India which is yet to emerge as a global power can't afford to strain its ties with the US. Nonetheless, if the country's business interests and the very fabric of global peace have come under threat because of recent contentious decisions by the US administration, can India still manage to remain silent? What if in the coming days the US target Indian immigrants?

The answers to these questions lie in the future. At a time when the US is trying to undo one of history's biggest realities - free and constant flow of people from one place to another - by suppressing migration in the name of religion or faith - world's largest democracy - India - can definitely make an impact by raising its voice against 'exclusion'.

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