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'President Trump loves Hindus and India'

November 10, 2016 19:51 IST

Shalabh Kumar helps Donald Trump light a diya at a campaign event in New Jersey October 15. Photograph: Reuters

IMAGE: Shalabh Kumar helps Donald Trump light a diya at the Republican Hindu Coalition event in Edison, New Jersey, October 15, 2016. Photograph: Reuters

'Foreign aid to Pakistan. Forget it, bye bye...'
'F-16s to Pakistan. Forget it.'
Shalabh Kumar, the desi who knows Donald Trump best, speaks to's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel.

"It's a second Diwali!"

That's how Indian-American Republican activist Shalabh 'Shalli' Kumar ecstatically describes Wednesday, obviously the best day of The Donald's life.

"It was a historic moment."

The day, Kumar, founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, says, when a man, who "loves Hindus," won a hard-fought battle for the White House and won.

This engineer and businessman, who runs AVG Electronics, an electronics manufacturing firm out of Chicago, was at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel along with hundreds of other dizzily elated Trump supporters to the wee hours of the morning.

No, champagne was not flowing. But "there was beer floating around. And a bar. And a lot of excitement," he says in a telephone interview with

"The electorate of the United States is very smart," says Kumar. "They have seen for years and years and years that traditional Democrats are beholden to lobbyists. Rather than (being) beholden to the citizens."

"(America) needed a total outsider, who is not driven by lobbyists, to take over control, because there are too many problems in the country otherwise..."

'The two largest democracies on the face of this earth will make wonderful partners.'
'You could almost call it Trump Sarkar and Modi Sarkar joining hands!'

"The American electorate -- and I hope the world electorate -- is intelligent enough not to base decisions of who the next leader of the free world will be, based upon what Donald Trump said in a locker room 11 year old ago," says Kumar, referring to the incident where the president-elect was heard on an Access Hollywood tape making dereogatory references to women.

The win, Kumar declares, is particularly crucial for desis.

"We should be looking forward to a dramatic shift in policy -- US policy and its relation to Indian Americans, Hindu Americans, as well as towards India. Policies are going to significantly improve. Because Mr Trump... (he corrects himself) President Trump loves Hindus and loves India."

"And believes the two largest democracies on the face of this earth -- both very peaceful democracies; they do not like war, but peace through trade -- will make wonderful partners. Particularly under the leadership of two very like-minded leaders -- Donald Trump and (Narendra) Modi. You could almost call it Trump Sarkar and Modi Sarkar joining hands!" he says triumphantly.

That Trump likes Hindus is not something that Trump privately told Kumar. No sir. It is something, Kumar tells you, proudly, that the president-elect declared in public at the New Jersey Expo Center in October in front of 5,000 Indian Americans, in a ceremony "watched by hundreds of millions of people," where Trump even lit a diya.

But could Trump really like Indian immigrants, particularly Indian Hindu immigrants? When he dislikes Muslims, Mexicans, women and many other ethnic groups?

Kumar vigorously disagrees. Trump, he says, values the contributions of Hindu Americans to the American culture. And it is not that he dislikes Mexicans. Or even Muslims.

"Not at all," he declares. "He does not like troublemakers in any community. Mexicans, who are crossing the borders without any documents, as well as carrying a lot of drugs into the United States."

And Muslims coming in as refugees from countries that are waging 'World War III' and are 'enemies of the free world' are the ones Trump does not like.

Indian immigrants are educated, skilled, professionals, who don't do these things, Kumar says adamantly.

Trump speaks at his victory rally in New York. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

IMAGE: Donald Trump at his victory rally in New York, November 9, 2016. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

But what of America's now widespread collective depression post-Trump's unpredicted victory?

Or their anxieties that the man who has dotted the globe, from to Manila and Mumbai to Tampa, with towers named after him, does not have adequate governing experience or the temperament to lead America?

His anger at your question is almost perceptible, even if this is a transatlantic phone line you are speaking to him on.

He splutters irately, "He is any day a thousand times better leader than Hillary (Clinton) could ever be. What has the leadership of 20 years of experience of Hillary led to? What does she have to show for it? IS, Al Qaeda, terror attacks in the United States. That is what is called leadership?!"

"Obamacare? Where normal citizens in the country have to have two jobs to make their ends meet? Is this called leadership! Or the national debt rising from 9 trillion dollars to 19 trillion dollars? Is that called leadership?! Gawd forbid (the last said in a proper Republican twang with no hint of an Indian accent)."

What makes him certain that Trump has what it takes? That the Democratic candidate with '20 years experience' did not. "He is a very, very competent businessman. He is going to set the economy straight. The economy of the United States is stuck at 1. 2 per cent growth rate per year for almost seven years. After a deep recession, normal GDP growth rate is at least 4 to 5 percent."

"What Donald Trump has been able to do in the business world he can certainly do that for the nation. He is eminently more qualified and adequately qualified to run the affairs of the country."

But running a business is different from running a country. Right? Kumar politely requests you to recall what people said of Ronald Reagan when he got onto the road to the American presidency.

Kumar has a special regard for Reagan because an interaction with The Gipper, he says, converted him from the die-hard Democrat he was since he arrived in Chicago in 1969 from Punjab, into a Republican for life, because Reagan made him realise he was actually a conservative.

"When Ronald Reagan came on the scene the same press labeled Ronald Reagan as an incompetent, dumb actor, who would lead the world to the brink of nuclear war."

'Foreign aid to Pakistan. Forget it, bye bye...'
'F-16s to Pakistan. Forget it.'

"And what happened? The record you obviously know. In the next seven years the economy grew -- had enough GDP growth -- that it created 45 million new jobs... And got rid of the evil Soviet empire... Such a performance was a (new) precedent in American history."

"I am sure Donald Trump will not only replicate that regime, that golden age in American history in the 1980s, (but put on) an even better performance in the upcoming years."

How does that guarantee a better relationship for India?

Why is he certain that India stands to gain from a Trump White House?

Given that the businessman-turned-president-elect recently said that India had stolen American jobs,

"Every policy which the other side had initiated will be reversed. I will give you all the specifics. Foreign aid to Pakistan. Forget it, bye bye... F-16s to Pakistan. Forget it."

"Immigration policies that affect revenue to India of almost $30 billion a year. And Bill 744 which would have required almost 500,000 Indian IT professionals to have to go back to India those who are on H-1 visas."

"There is a bill going on right now, HR 6069, to declare Pakistan as a terrorist State. Even though Indian Americans collected almost 1 billion signatures in support of HR 6069, the administration found it technically deficient to make it null and void. Those kind of things will not happen under a Trump administration."

"I could go on, bill after bill after... Card check legislation, which will never see the light of day under a Trump Sarkar..."

Kumar's association with Trump goes back five years when they first met at a donor meeting and he has gotten to know him better since.

He describes Trump as: "A great businessman. Acts like a businessman. Not like a politician. Straightforward. To the point. Quick. Very smart. Eager to learn. Obviously very, very friendly. A warm person."

"Quite knowledgeable about India. Loves India. Loves Indian people. Quite familiar with India."

Vaihayasi Pande Daniel