Howdy Daddy: Hindutva meets White Supremacy

This marriage of convenience is not entirely surprising as the foreign policies of USA and India are on a converging path from past three decades and even more so after Modi came to power.


In 1947 an American TV puppet show named “Howdy Doody” became popular. In this show usual peanut gallery (front row audience) was replaced by children and they would cheer at the puppet and the instructions of the TV show hosts with commercials of Colgate and Wonder Bread in between breaks.

The term Howdy is often used as a shortened expression for “How do you do” in many parts America and term doody was the popular puppet in the show that the children cheered for. The Houston event organised by Texas India Forum, just like Howdy doody show had many corporate sponsors. Walmart which is trying to enter Indian Market, Hospitality company Oyo hotels funded by Trump supporter Peter Thiel and Tellurian a natural gas company that has recently struck a deal with Indian Public Sector energy company. In fact, the first thing Modi did in Houston before the rally was meet energy executives of Tellurium, ExxonMobil and many other global energy companies.

This marriage of convenience is not entirely surprising as the foreign policies of the USA and India are on a converging path from the past three decades and even more so after Modi came to power. Trump was even invited for the India republic day celebration of 2018 which was turned down later by Trump. Trump on his part is building detention camps for illegal immigrants near Mexican borders and Modi is building detention centres in Assam in the name of illegal immigrants. In fact, the biggest applause and cheers from the audience came when Trump called India an ally in the fight against “Radical Islamic Terror”.  Trump is bombing Islamic countries more than Bush or Obama administration.

While Modi is pursuing the “India First” policy, Trump is pursuing his Make America Great Again through America First Policy. And for contradictions, America First policy is being compromised as Lockheed martin is manufacturing F-16 parts in India under the “Make in India” banner. Along with this, there are also plans to tweak the existing F-16’s and producing what America calls F-21 in India. Trump has initiated the biggest ever trade war against China and facing a lot of backlash for his policies in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and ongoing crises directed against Iran.

Modi on his part has pushed India towards America like never before. Under his administration, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed in August 2016 known as LEMOA and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement on 2018 SEP called COMCASA which brings both the countries militarily closer. The coming together of Trump and Modi is also seen as the converging ideologies of White Supremacy with Hindutva in America. Both are built on mixture of Islamophobia and nationalism based on racial superiority.

Protests outside the Howdy Modi event

This event is also seen as an extension of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electoral juggernaut overseas into America. With more than 50,000 people attending Narendra Modi’s “Howdy Modi” event, current President Donald Trump hopes to gain the support of increasing Indian American voting population(which traditionally voted for Democratic Party) in the coming next year November 3, 2020, presidential elections. Modi even spoke in 8 Indian languages to say “everything is fine” in India, when in fact entire Kashmir is under military rule with complete communication shut down from the last two months.  The economy under severe stress and Institutions afters institutions are rendered toothless with the onslaught of the ruling party’s virulent Hindutva ideology. The powerful PR machinery was even successful is Trump promoting Modi to the status of “Father of India”.

The gradual shift in the Indian Identity into a religious nationalistic character is not only dangerous for itself but for all the oppressed communities it has stood with historically. When the Majority of Indians and Americans are suffering due to the ill-advised and dictatorial policies of the two leaders, it only remains to be seen how far this puppet show will keep the peanut gallery happy in both countries.


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April 2024


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