What is the Trump card that woos Indian Americans

What is the Trump card that woos Indian Americans
What is the Trump card that woos Indian Americans

It is one of the many perplexities of modern day politics that a politician who has such extreme views on India and Indians can find favour among the Indian diaspora in the US. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has strong and, often offensive, views on just about anything. From wanting to build a wall to block out Mexicans to denying entry to Muslims into the US, he has gone on record with some of the most outrageous statements from any modern day politician.

“They are taking our jobs. China is taking our jobs. Japan is taking our jobs. India is taking our jobs. It is not going to happen anymore, folks,” he famously said during the US primaries. Ironically, it was such hyperbole that probably forced the world to sit up and take notice of a candidate initial dismissed as a credible contender for the post of the world's most powerful man. “I′m pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Americans are looking for the kind of politics that does feed our hopes and not our fears, that does work together and doesn′t try to divide, that isn′t looking for simplistic solutions and scapegoating,” said US President Barack Obama earlier this year, much before Trump emerged as the Republican Party's official US presidential nominee. But many Americans seem to have flocked to whatever Trump, often referred to as The Donald, was selling and the Indian Americans are a solid chunk within that under the umbrella of “Indian Americans for Trump”. Like its hero, the group may have started out as a maverick on the fringes of politics but has gradually gained momentum. Trump's unforgiving stance on terrorism, his promise to stop illegal immigration, his reference to business ties with India, albeit vague, and his tough position on China and Pakistan are among the many reasons they site for this hero worship of the billionaire politician. According to 2014 statistics by the Pew Research Center, a majority of the Indian American community tends to be supporters of the Democratic Party, with only a small minority in favour of the Republicans. The latter tend to be from the wealthier strata of society who are often unhappy with the status quo. Anand Ahuja, vice-president of Indian Americans for Trump, believes that in fact there are far more supporters of The Donald that won't come out until voting day because of the 70-year-old New Yorker's negative image. He in fact likens the American businessman-turned-politician to Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “I normally jokingly say both are very strong headed and both have their own controversies." This group distances itself from another outfit that has been extremely vocal in its support for the Republican party nominee for the November 2016 elections - “Hindus for Donald Trump”. “Some 4 million Hindus reside in the United States. As a group, we have a higher per capita income than any other group. We also have the highest average education levels, the highest proportion of people employed as managers, the highest number of entrepreneurs (one in seven), the largest donations to charity, and are the least dependent on government. Self-sufficiency is a given in our community, and we don't spend more than we earn. Hindu-Americans pay almost $50 billion per year in taxes, and we expect the government to be as judicious with its income as we are as individuals,” says Shalabh "Shalli" Kumar, chairman of the Republican Hindu Coalition.

He's our hero. We are praying for Trump because he is the only one who can help mankind.-Vishnu Gupta, Founder of Hindu Sena
“We eagerly take advantage of opportunities when they are presented. To us, this is a civic duty, and we as a people have a responsibility to the nation that has afforded us so many opportunities to better ourselves. This obligation is represented in the Republican Party platform, while the Democratic Party platform focuses on ethnic victimhood,” he explains, in reference to his group's support of Trump. This Hindu support also has echoes miles away back in India, with members of the Hindu Sena hitting headlines earlier this year for their prayer meetings in support of Trump winning the US presidential race. “He's our hero. We are praying for Trump because he is the only one who can help mankind," Vishnu Gupta, founder of the group, is on record as saying. There is clearly a kind of appeal that some Indians are getting drawn to. However, Trump's contradictory remarks on India - mocking call centres on the one hand and talking about India as a great country on the other - are not yet enough to sway the Indian Americans who may be on the fence about their vote. Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was quick to pick on some of the irony behind his “Make America Great Again” slogan: “Please explain to me what part of America First leads him to make Trump ties in China, not Colorado. Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan. Trump furniture in Turkey, not Ohio. Trump picture frames in India, not Wisconsin. Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again - well, he could start by actually making things in America again.

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