We bring out this issue in times of great despair and gloom. Ironically, the months of February-March are considered the best of the year in the northern plains of India. The pollution is at tolerable level, the weather salubrious and the spring flowers at their glorious best. Yet, this February-March will perhaps go down in history as the cruellest months in Delhi for a long time to come.
Unprecedented communal violence broke out in several parts of north-east Delhi and continued unchecked for two days. The police stood by as mute spectator in most places citing absence of orders to control the violence. And probably for the first time in independent India, journalists were attacked in large numbers by armed mob in a bid to prevent them from doing their job, i.e., reporting. The last time journalists were threatened and prevented from doing their job was on 6 December 1992 when the Babri Masjid structure was being pulled down by the mob ostensibly collected to do ‘voluntary work’ towards the building of a Ram temple in the north Indian town of Uttar Pradesh.
By the time Delhi police received the order to control the violence 42 people had died. This number is likely to go up as several people are still missing and many seriously injured are undergoing treatment in various hospitals. The most disturbing aspect of Delhi violence is pungent hatred that has suffused the public spaces and continues to pollute the atmosphere.
This violence threw a long shadow over what was billed as one of the most high profile event of the year – US President Donald Trump’s two and half day visit to India along with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. In a reciprocation of Howdy Modi event in Houston, reportedly attended by nearly 50,000 Indians, a Namaste Trump event was organised in Ahmedabad. A hundred thousand people turned up at the Motera cricket stadium to hear the US President, an event that was beamed live over several television networks, ensuring a viewership of nearly a billion.
After the grand optics, Trump arrived in Delhi via Agra and signed a couple of agreements. However, the event went beyond agreements, as the Trump visit held out promises for deeper cooperation in hitherto unexplored areas. Could this be a transformational moment for India-US ties? For that, read the cover story inside, which while focussing on the visit, puts the relationship in perspective.
The other big story in this issue is the show report on DefExpo 2020, which was held in early February in Lucknow. As we always do, we bring you not only the news from the show, but also a bit of the flavour for those who would have wanted to be there but couldn’t make it. With that, until next month!