United States President Donald Trump has mangled the pronunciation of several Indian names, including cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, on an otherwise successful first day of his state visit to India.
- The leaders were full of praise for the other but refrained from any substantive announcements
- Mr Trump also stumbled over the names of Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat
- The two countries will sign deals on Tuesday to sell military helicopters worth $4.5 billion
Mr Trump came at the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the pair spoke at the world’s largest cricket stadium, Motera Stadium, with a seating capacity of 110,000.
It was the world’s largest democracy welcoming the first and most powerful.
The visit to Ahmedabad was style over substance, with each leader full of praise for the other but refraining from any substantive announcements.
“[Prime Minister] Modi is a great leader,” Mr Trump said.
“Everybody loves him, but he’s very tough,” he added with a smile, prompting cheers from the crowd.
Fans filled the stadium wearing hats blazoned with Mr Trump’s name, and attendees wore masks of each leader with great enthusiasm as they danced to music blaring throughout the stadium.
During his speech, Mr Trump also cited a famous 19th century Hindu monk — often quoted by Mr Modi himself — Swami Vivekananda, but it came out as “Vivekamumund”.
Donald Trump mispronounces Sachin Tendulkar
Mr Trump also stumbled over the names of Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat and its biggest city Ahmedabad — where he was speaking — as well as the names of two Indian cricket heroes, Sachin Tendulkar and current team captain Virat Kohli.
Mr Trump and his wife Melania later attended a photo opportunity at the Taj Mahal, in Agra, joining a long list of politicians and celebrities to do so.
Trump and Modi’s strong similarities
Many supporters see the two leaders as strong politicians, particularly when it comes to cracking down on terrorism.
“America is a superpower, India is a cultural superpower,” one attendee told the ABC.
“If both superpowers can come together, the entire world will become a family.”
Similarities between the two leaders are often pointed out as to why Mr Trump and Mr Modi get along so well.
Both are renowned as populist leaders with a staunchly loyal following.
Both like to circumvent the traditional media and use social media and lively political rallies to talk directly to their base.
In fact, Prime Minister Modi has never done a traditional press conference with media at home.
They both present themselves as political outsiders and swept into power on promises to shake up the establishment.
Jeff Smith, a research fellow at the Washington DC based Heritage Foundation, said the friendship between the two appears genuine.
“Trump, I think, genuinely does though have a personal connection to Prime Minister Modi,” he told the ABC.
“He’s not one to fake a personal rapport with others and when he doesn’t get along with other leaders it’s quite obvious.”
Professor Rajesh Rajagopalan, from the Indian university JNU, said this trip was always likely to be much more about the spectacle than substance.
“I think for both it is domestic politics that matter more than international politics,” Professor Rajagopalan told the ABC.
“For Trump, going into an election, it’s good to be seen with the large crowds of adoring Indians.
“[Whereas] Modi, having a global leader like Trump helps him with the domestic politics.”
It’s no secret that Mr Trump hates trade deficits.
And the deficit with India, a country renowned for imposing high tariffs, has continued to grow in recent years.
Even the US President has called India the “tariff king” on multiple occasions.
Hope of a massive trade deal was scuttled in the leadup to Namaste Trump, with the US President tweeting such a deal might not happen until later this year, possibly after the election.
“We are in the early stages of discussion for an incredible trade agreement to reduce barriers,” Mr Trump reassured crowds in Ahmedabad.
“India has traditionally never liked trade,” Professor Rajagopalan explained.
“It has always wanted to build an economy that is based on its own internal market rather than as an export orientated market.
“There’s a suspicion [trading partners] will take advantage of India that will hurt India’s domestic agriculture, or domestic industry.”
Mr Trump said the two countries will sign deals on Tuesday (local time) to sell military helicopters worth $US3 billion ($4.5 billion) and that the United States must become the premier defence partner of India, which relied on Russian equipment during the Cold War.
Reuters reported earlier that India has cleared the purchase of 24 helicopters from Lockheed Martin worth $US2.6 billion ($3.9 billion).
“We make the greatest weapons ever made,” Mr Trump told supporters in Ahmedabad.
“We make the best. And we’re dealing now with India.”
Mr Smith said the US views India as a strong, democratic force in the Indo-Pacific.
“The last few years in particular, the US and India have come into closer alignment than at any point in modern history,” Mr Smith said.
“And that includes terrorism.”
‘Donald J Trump is Number 1 on Facebook’
Mr Trump and Mr Modi are the two most popular world leaders on social media.
In the days leading up to the visit, Mr Trump tweeted: “Donald J. Trump is Number 1 on Facebook. Number 2 is Prime Minister Modi of India”.
Donald Trump tweets about his popularity on Facebook
It’s actually the other way around.
But with both leaders so popular online, it came as no surprise that social media was abuzz with memes and commentary before and during the visit.
When Mr Trump mispronounced the name of Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar, it quickly gained ridicule online.
News that a wall had been built for Mr Trump, this time to cover up a slum in Ahmedabad, also gained strong traction.
A man in India’s south who had built a shrine for Mr Trump got his 15-minutes of fame, although not enough points to meet the President.
And India’s booming IT industry was on show, as amusing videos of Mr Trump inserted into Indian pop culture were shared widely.
But in a sign of the underlying political tensions in India, violent protests broke out in Delhi — where Mr Trump is due on Tuesday — over a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims and is a further attempt to undermine the secular foundations of India’s democracy.
Mr Trump planned to raise the issue of religious freedoms in India with Mr Modi, an administration official said last week.
Whatever the outcome for US-India relations, there’s little doubt Mr Trump and Mr Modi will have gained a few more followers.