Modi and Trump love to build walls and hate the poor


The National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization (NCU) unequivocally condemns the visit of Donald Trump, President of USA, to India and the humiliating measures that India is taking to improve the quality of his visit, especially by constructing walls outside the habitations of the poor.

Both Trump and Modi have a commonality of disregard to its people especially the minorities and the poor. India too has embarked on a similar path with the CAA-NRC-NPR which directly targets unorganized sector workers, homeless people, migrant workers, basti dwellers and transgender persons.

The NCU has stated, akin to Modi, Trump is also known for his love of walls which he wants to build to keep the ‘Mexicans’ out. Similarly, the Indian PM is constructing walls aimed mainly to keep Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis out of the sight of Trump. This is rather not new; similar walls were constructed for other foreign dignitaries as well. For ages, India has been hiding its poor and calling it beautification. 10,000 basti dwellers were relocated for the surgical makeover of the Sabarmati river front, thus causing immense distress to the relocated families.

To showcase his Gujarat model of development to his noble compatriot who is visiting him in Gujarat on 24 February, Modi is building a wall in the city of Ahmedabad to prevent exposing Trump’s ‘pure white’ eyes to ‘impure brown squalor’. 
On the way from the airport to Gandhinagar is the Indira Bridge. Next to the bridge is a basti named Sarniya. About 700 families have been living in that basti for the last 80 years. The families in this basti are mainly informal workers, who comprise nearly 93 per cent of India’s total workforce. They form the backbone of India’s economy and run its cities.

Since the wall is being built to hide the distressing existence of these 700 families, we decided to give these families a visit to ask them what they thought about it. Some of their responses are record here –
“This 7-foot wall that they are raising is being built on our chests."
“We feel caged because of the wall."
“We are being made to feel that we are poor and the government does not want to show us to Trump."
“We are a stain on the city and the country."

The people in this basti are the quintessential urban poor of India whose lives are being targeted in the quest for making cities ‘slum-free’. They still have the same day to day problems with basic amenities like water supply, electricity, sewage disposal, hygiene, health, and open defecation along with more entrenched issues like robbery of the ration they are supposed to get through ration cards. The seven-foot wall with the grill on top of it is another mindless humiliation added to their lives. The modus operandi of making smart and world class cities in India seems to be to invisibilize and alienate the poor in those cities. 

As conscientious members of India’s civil society who stand with the oppressed against injustice everywhere in the world, we extend unconditional solidarity to the basti-dwellers in India who cause the government such shame and the African-Americans, Muslims and ‘Mexicans’ who engender such resentment in the post-impeachment President of United States. The NCU strongly condemns both the wall that is being built to ‘beautify’ India and Donald Trump who has caused immeasurable suffering and hardship to the minorities and poor of America in the name  of making America great again. 

-National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization (NCU)

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