From vision to spectacle: Why US president's India visit may not just be about Modi-Trump optics
New Delhi, Feb 22: United States President Donald Trump's first visit to India on February 24-25 will be a "delightful spectacle" marked by a mammoth roadshow, a giant sports stadium rally.
The host, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is making all efforts to make the US President feel even more glorified than usual.
There is no doubt that the media is likely to devote a considerable amount of coverage to a joint appearance in Ahmedabad, where Trump and Modi will address an expected 100,000 people at the world's biggest cricket stadium.
The glitzy optics will also focus on the budding personal chemistry between the two leaders, how both are men of the people who share same love for the media.
However, the much hyped visit will be heavy on optics but also on substance. The meeting will underscore what brings the two countries together, wide strategic interests, people-to-people ties and everything in between.
Ahead of India visit Trump has made yet another tall claim about the size of the crowd that will welcome him in Ahmedabad, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told him that there will 10 million people to greet him on his arrival for his maiden visit to India.
"I hear, they are going to have 10 million people. They say anywhere from six to 10 million people are going to be showing up along the route to one of the largest stadiums in the world, the largest cricket stadium in the world, which is brand new and beautiful," Trump told reporters.
But according to a top civic official in Ahmedabad, the total population of the city is only around 70 lakh.
The authorities believe that between one to two lakh people are expected to line up along the 22-km route of the road show by Modi and Trump from the airport to the Motera cricket stadium, said to be the world's largest.
5 pacts on the cards
There are at least five pacts on the cards ahead of Donald Trump's India visit. These would include homeland security, trade facilitation and intellectual property rights.
The two sides will also issue a joint statement on counter terror, Indo-Pacific, space and nuclear issues.
Trump has said that he saving the big deal for later and does not know if it will be done before the presidential election in November.
This is a clear indicator that there would not be a trade deal when Trump visits India on February 24. It was expected that the two countries would sign a trade deal during US President Donald Trump's visit to India this month.
NRC, religious freedom
Trump will also raise the issue of religious freedom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India next week.
"President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration," a senior official told reporters in a conference call.
Trump is also expected to encourage India and Pakistan to reduce tensions and engage in a bilateral dialogue to resolve their differences.
The US President will urge both countries to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control and "refrain from actions or statements that could increase tensions in the region".
However, India has persistently spurned Trump's offers to mediate on the Kashmir issue, saying the region is an integral part of the country and there is no room for third party mediation.
Trump's image in India has gained favour since his candidacy in 2016, jumping from 14 per cent confidence to 56 per cent over three years.
The timing is also significant as this is the first visit by a US President during a year in which he is facing re-election.
Trump, in an election year and looking to the NRI vote, is happy to set foot in India.
Trump's visit could become a sequence of the US presidential election campaign for the Indian diaspora.
Similar to Howdy Modi
The 'Namaste Trump' event in Gujarat's Ahmedabad during US President Donald Trump's India visit will be similar to the 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston last September.