Original Print | Aug 21, 2017 | The Huffington Post

In a country where a bad review of a film like 'Toilet' can bring out the troll army, a business leader putting forth a critique of the Prime Minister will certainly be courting trouble.

The politics of one country can never be transplanted wholesale onto another. The contexts are different as are the historical trajectories. But it's still hard to look at the ongoing chaos in American politics and not draw comparisons with one's own.

On one hand, Donald Trump with his trigger-happy Twitter finger has made many other world leaders almost statesmanlike in comparison. Even Narendra Modi's most bitter enemies will concede that the Indian Prime Minister rarely makes a PR misstep. Even when he was widely perceived as taking a swipe at outgoing vice president Hamid Ansari, in response to Ansari's Rajya Sabha TV interview, Modi chose his words carefully, cloaking them in cutting courteousness.

But more than the overblown Modi-Trump comparisons, what's far more fascinating is watching civil society react to the two men.

The headline in The Telegraph today reads "Silence of business lambs". It compares how Indian business bosses reacted to the lynching stories in India versus how CEOs of America, including those on Trump's business advisory councils reacted to the march of white supremacists (and more importantly Trump's reaction to them).

Of course, one could argue whether an apples or oranges comparison is being drawn between scattered cases of cow vigilantism which Modi condemned and a white supremacist resurgence in a country with a history of slavery.

But it's still interesting to see the pushback Trump, a person who prides himself as being a businessman, received from the CEOs of companies like Merck, Walmart and JP Morgan. These are not seen as bastions of liberal thought. But the chief executive of Walmart, Doug McMillon still felt it necessary to say that the president "missed a critical opportunity to bring our country together." Jeffey Immelt, the chairman of General Electric called Trump's statements "deeply troubling". 

Trump, a man who clearly prefers to always be seen as calling the shots, decided to pre-empt the collapse of his councils by disbanding them first. He scrapped the Strategic and Policy Forum and the White House Manufacturing Jobs Initiative saying he was "ending both" rather than "putting pressure on businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum." Days later he said his advisory council on infrastructure which was still being formed would not go forward either.

The Telegraph says in India this is unlikely to happen...


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