US President Donald Trump at the second edition of the presidential debate brought up India and China. The remark, however, wasn't in the manner proponents of a much closer India-US strategic relations would have wished for.
“Look at China. How filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India, it’s filthy. The air is filthy,’’ said Trump, responding to moderator Kristen Welker's question on how he would combat climate change and support job growth.
Trump said, that the US on the other hand has the “lowest number in carbon emissions.” The statement resulted in mixed reaction on social media-- many embarrassed by it and many amused by the statement.
Several Indians asked PM Narendra Modi to take notice.
"India is filthy'-- Wow. Wonderful. Great way to win over Indian Americans, Trump,” one user wrote.
“Oh, dear! @realDonaldTrump called India “filthy.” They are NOT going to be happy,” another user wrote.
Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Print news website wrote, “Our air IS filthy. Every year about 15 of the 20 cities with the filthiest air in the world are in India. We’ve also done little to address this, except pass the buck around. No point being outraged when Donald Trump speaks that truth. Our air is an awful global embarrassment.”
Writer Kiran Manal tweeted, "Air reaches levels of toxicity every single year. Instead of getting all insulted and upset, can we just take it up as a challenge to clean up our surroundings and our air? So no one can ever dare say that again."
Levels of dangerous tiny pollutants in the air in New Delhi have averaged around 180-300 micrograms per cubic metre in recent weeks, 12 times higher than the WHO's safe limits.
Another Twitter user wrote, “Modi had spent ₹3.7 crores on flowers & covered up the slums to beautify Trump's route for the 'Namaste Trump' rally in Ahmedabad. But Trump called India 'filthy' in the Presidential debate today! Will Modi respond? Be rest assured, Modi won't say a word against his BFF Doland.”
Trump, who has been repeatedly accused of downplaying the threats posed by climate change, in 2018, pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming below 2C.
Trump, during the first presidential debate, mentioned India. He said, “You don’t know how many died in China. You don’t know how many people died in Russia. You don’t know how many people died in India. They don’t exactly give a straight count, just so you understand.” He was defending the steps he took to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the US and about the high number of deaths in the country due to the virus.
Welker had chosen six topics for in-depth discussions. Three of them were domestic issues while the other three — climate change, leadership and national security — had foreign policy ramifications.