As Donald Trump and Joe Biden came face to face for the last time during the second and final presidential debate, a comment from Mr Trump calling India “filthy” has provoked an angry response from many Indians online.
Mr Trump was being questioned about the global climate crisis by moderator Kristen Welker, when he defended his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which, he said, would have made America a non-competitive nation.
The comment did not go down well with Indian Americans and on Twitter in India itself on Friday morning, with many people voicing their opposition to Mr Trump’s comment. New York Times writer Wajahad Ali sarcastically called it a “great way to win over Indian Americans”.
India’s own media quickly picked up on the comment, with NDTV leading its bulletins with a headline calling it an attempt to shift the blame for climate change onto developing countries.
And many Indian politicians, particularly from the opposition, laid into Mr Trump. Sudheendra Kulkarni, a columnist and former BJP official, described it as a “racist slur”.
"India is filthy"
Wow. Wonderful. Great way to win over Indian Americans, Trump.
— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) October 23, 2020
Oh wow, Trump, “the least racist person” called my mother country filthy. Disappointed but not surprised. #Debates2020
— Indian Michael Cera (@GrandmastaShash) October 23, 2020
Tuned in late to debate tonight but have heard Trump is the least racist person in the room and then within a few minutes start talking about filthy India is. Subtle bro. #Debates2020 #
— Birinder Narang (@DrBirinderSingh) October 23, 2020
As much as the offensively racist slur "India is filthy" says about #DonaldTrump,
it also says a lot about those who campaigned for him by declaring "Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar!" 2/2
— Sudheendra Kulkarni (@SudheenKulkarni) October 23, 2020
Much has been made in the past four years of the good relationship enjoyed by Mr Trump and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, with the pair hailing each other as “good friends”.
Mr Trump’s characterisation of India as “filthy” on the world stage led critics of the prime minister in India to suggest this was not such a great foreign policy victory as it is often described.
A senior leader of the opposition Congress party, Kapil Sibal asked if this was all Mr Modi had to show for the expensive and much-vaunted “Howdy Modi” and “Namaste Trump” events held by the two countries to welcome their respective leaders in recent years.
Trump : Fruits of Friendship
1) Questions India’s COVID death toll
2) Says India sends dirt up into the air
India “ air is filthy “
3) Called India “ tariff king “
The result of “Howdy Modi “ !
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) October 23, 2020
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
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) October 23, 2020
So you deny spread of #COVID19 so a huge election campaign can be held for your 'good friend' #Trump, you take him and his family for sightseeing. You even build a wall to hide the slums from him. But months later, he calls India 'filthy'.
— Pooja Prasanna (@PoojaPrasanna4) October 23, 2020
“Look at India, it’s filthy!” I hope you’re listening @narendramodi. “Ab ki bar Trump sarkar.”
— Aatish Taseer (@AatishTaseer) October 23, 2020
Trump: India is filthy.
Trump-train Hindu nationalists: *crickets*
— Audrey Truschke (@AudreyTruschke) October 23, 2020
Referring to Mr Trump’s pronunciation debacles during the Namaste Trump event in India in February this year, comedian Vir Das said: “Svami vivakamudununfu will be really angry."
Many users also pointed out that the air of India’s national capital is indeed in the “very poor” category right now, as the smog season has arrived in the north of the country with temperatures dropping and stubble burning underway in neighbouring states.
A report released this week called State of Global Air 2020 revealed that India’s air pollution has been responsible for the deaths of more than 116,000 babies in 2019 alone due to their mothers’ exposure to bad air in pregnancy.
All of us feel hurt on being called a filthy country by President Trump but that doesn't change our reality. Have seen so many mocking Sawach Bharat Mission rather than contributing to it.
Respect is earned, not demanded. pic.twitter.com/tXOWCFd9s1
— Arun Bothra (@arunbothra) October 23, 2020
Other Twitter users called on Mr Trump to look at the air quality in the west coast of his own country, after the impacts of the California wildfires this year.
cleanest air? please look at the air quality on the west coast.
cleanest water? please pay attention to flint, michigan. @realDonaldTrump you’re an embarrassment.
— taylor (@taylordlovejoy) October 23, 2020
trump said we have the cleanest air as if there r not raging wildfires on the west coast which prevent ppl from even being able 2 go outside bc of the air quality.. stfu
— dal | MARTY DAY!!!!! (@KIYOOMlGF) October 23, 2020