Serial bearhugger Narendra Modi received Trump on Feb. 23 at a rally in India, Trump’s first presidential visit to the country. This got John Oliver to thinking—how are Modi and Trump similar?
Well, first, as Oliver notes, Modi’s India is pretty split on him. Most people either zealously follow after him donning Modi face masks, or riot in the streets because of the recent Anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act. Oliver has some personal investment in this story, given his very first story on Last Week Tonight concerned Modi’s election. As such, he acknowledges some of the positive effects Modi has had on the country.
Modi is a right-wing Populist who grew up quite poor. To a degree, his platform has been about helping the poor, from expansion of cooking gas availability to building over 110 million toilets. On the other hand, many of his policies lead to outright chaos, such as his declaration that 86% of India’s money was immediately considered invalid and his staunch dedication to Hindu nationalist values. Modi himself was a former member of the RSS, a paramilitary volunteer-based nationalist group that was founded partially out of admiration for Hitler’s dedication to racial purity.
Like Trump, perhaps, Modi is often taken to refusing to answer for mistakes. Once, after a 1000-casualty riot in which Modi failed to intervene, he walked out of an interview after receiving a question about whether he regretted his actions then.
Most shockingly, Modi introduced mandatory textbooks that contain passages about Indian supremacy, with metaphors about God cooking bread and taking it out too early to make white people and, conversely, too late and making black people (it actually uses a more charged word to refer to black people).
On the Citizenship Amendment Act, Oliver says it’s “diabolically clever,” continuing, “Everyone would need to provide documents proving they were Indian citizens, something many people, particularly the poor or illiterate, simply do not have.” This prong of the act may not target Muslims specifically, but there’s a second section to it. The Citizenship Amendment Bill grants citizenship to any person who is from a religious minority other than Islam. “They’re basically Marie Kondo-ing the Indians, and it’s only the Muslims who don’t spark joy in them.”
You can check out the episode below, and ponder how all of the current world leaders seem to be working in tandem to making the planet a worse place for nearly everyone.