Trump visit and India’s monkey mania
Being excessively worried about the security of US President Trump, India has not only arrested dozens of rhesus monkeys but also deployed their big brothers, langurs, to scare the juniors away.
Probably the Indians are scared that the monkeys might take Trump for a lost relative because of his appearance and demeanour and crowed around him to welcome him on his homecoming. (No offence intended.)
President Trump is landing in India tomorrow (Monday) for a 36-hour trip during which he and First Lady Melania will also watch the sunset at the Taj Mahal.
Raag Patel, an official of the Nature Conservation Foundation said they have caught 45-odd monkeys in the past 10 days.
“They come [here] in search of food."
The captive monkeys are put in cages with food and sent to a distant location from where they are later released, Patel told an India media outlet.
Later, an India Today report revealed that to tackle the problem of the ubiquitous monkeys, the security agencies have deployed five langurs (long-tailed monkeys) on the route of Trump's convoy.
This is being done despite heavy security arrangement for the visiting dignitary.
The internal security of US president and his family is being handled by the American Secret Services, 10 companies of paramilitary forces, 10 companies of PAC and NSG commandos have been deployed for the external security.
The services of a local NGO and the forest department have also been sought to keep to monkeys of the roads and birds of the sky around the runway, where the Air Force One is scheduled to land.
The Cattle and Dog Nuisance Control Department (CDNCD) has also formed a crackdown team to remove stray dogs and errant cows in a three-kilometre radius of the president’s route.
The Indian officials are probably keen to avoid a repeat of a dog hit incident that came during the visit of then-US secretary of state John Kerry's 2015 visit to Ahmedabad.
Cows - another common sight in the Indian cities – are probably an even bigger problem as any mishandling to the “mother cow” could hurt the religious Hindu sentiment and invite a strong backlash.
For the Taj Mahal visit of Trump and family, the Archaeological Survey of India has for the first time given mud-cap treatment to the graves of Emperor Shahjahan and Empress Mumtaz Mahal.
Some culture-conscious Indians are likely to protest and express fears that this treatment might turn out to be mistreatment indeed and damage the graves' marble.
The photo opportunity highlights of the Trump visit include a rally of 100,000 people at the newly-built world's largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad. In fact, Trump will inaugurate this stadium.
The 110,000-seat Sardar Patel Stadium is the biggest in the world, even bigger than Australia's Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The venue, created in a bowl shape similar to the MCG and at a cost of $100 million, has blue and saffron seats in recognition of the Indian team and comes with four dressing rooms and a swimming pool.
Besides impressing Trump with the huge stadium, the Indian Prime Minister also has a plan to impress him with the massiveness of his country’s population.
"He (Modi) told me we’ll have 7 million people between the airport and the event [at the stadium]," Trump told reporters last week.
After the rally, Mr Trump and First Lady Melania will go to the Taj Mahal.
And, I bet Trevor Noah will have a cringe to see them together at a site that is seen as the world’s most conspicuous symbol of love.
The world-famous comedian is convinced that there could be anything in Trump-Malania relationship except love. His jokes about their assumed rivalry are my favourite.
So, brace for it Trevor, as I brace for your daily show to see how you play on this Trump visit!