U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embrace in Washington, DC | Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi embrace in Washington, DC | Mark Wilson | Getty Images
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This is the latest in a long line of diplomatic faux pas committed by the US President, and might end up affecting relations between the two countries.

New Delhi: US President Donald Trump wanted to help Narendra Modi find a wife. According to a report by Politico, he had inquired whether or not Modi would be bringing his wife along on his 2017 visit to the White House. On being told by his national security aides that Modi and his wife, Jashodaben, had been separated for decades now, Trump, allegedly joking, said: “Ah, I think I can set him up with somebody.”

The mysterious figure of Modi’s wife — Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi, now a 66-year-old retired school teacher, has eluded mainstream discourse even in the Indian media. They were married at a young age by their families in Vadnagar, Gujarat in 1968 — a practice common for the Ghanchi caste in the area.

Also read: Now, US civil society groups urge Trump govt to make TB drugs affordable

At the time, Modi was barely 18 years old and Jashodaben was 16. Modi left his village and Jashodaben shortly after the wedding, but the couple never officially divorced. The subject never came up until 2014, when the announcement of Modi’s candidacy for prime ministership forced him to publicly confront the gaping hole in his personal narrative.

Jashodaben, who now lives with her family in Gujarat, continues to call herself Modi’s wife. In an interview in 2014, she had said “if he calls me, I will go,” adding that she feels very good when she hears Modi speak on the television.

Faux pas galore

For Trump, however, the matter was of less sensitive significance. The President’s effort at match-making, the same article reports, is just one of the many diplomatic faux pas he has made in his controversy-riddled 20 months in power. The article mentions instances where Trump has repeatedly tried to call Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at inappropriate hours of the night, as well as his “awkward meetings” with global leaders.

Also read: Narendra Modi’s charm and grand Republic Day invite won’t fix ties with Donald Trump

In a briefing ahead of a meeting with Modi in 2017, the American President also reportedly mispronounced Nepal as “nipple” and Bhutan as “button”. In the same incident, Trump was reportedly genuinely perplexed when he looked at a map of South Asia, because until that moment, he had not known that these two countries bordering India even existed.

The Politico report acknowledged that US presidents, before they take charge, often have little clue about the world beyond their borders — that this was true of George W. Bush as well as Barack Obama. But Trump, Politico implied, pretty much led the presidential race in the “I have no clue” department.

The story comes a couple of weeks before the much-postponed 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US finally takes place on 6 September in New Delhi, and adds much grist to the mill about a deteriorating personal relationship between Modi and Trump.

ThePrint had earlier reported that the two leaders maintained a cool distance when they met in Manila during the ASEAN summit last November, and that Modi felt Trump was treating him like “just another Asian leader”.

The Washington Post has also reported that Trump mimicked Modi’s Indian accent in conversations within his own administration.

For ThePrint's smart analysis of how the rest of the media is doing its job, no holds barred, go to PluggedIn

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5 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Knowledge of India or anything of the world history, of American Presidents was exhibited by Bush long back. This news itself is a result of the expectation that American presidents have 1/8 th of the knowledge of Indian counterparts. Please leave this world-joker

  2. The Prez is an overconfident lout
    Maybe because of his millions. Let’s overlook his insensitive outlook as we have our share of problems here . Let USA learn to accept him. Born in the USA.

  3. If our beloved Prime Minister could say that 600 crore Indians voted for him-at a forum where the shrewdest of world political leaders had gathered- when the total population of India is ONLY 125 crore.

    If our PM can claim that ancient civilizations, which are now in Pakistan, were in the state of Bihar- in a public rally.
    If electrification, roads and bridges built in Vietnam & South Korea are mistakenly shown as India’s achievements on Independence Day – and later – regret issued for the goof up.

    CERTAINLY Donald Trump is entitled to such foolishness.

  4. How stupid is this coverage!

    We have a magazine that is going head-over-heels in trying to find a ridiculous spin to habitual Trump goof-ups.

    I’m an apolitical person and ‘am shocked at the kind of rhetoric elections bring up in media; the only educative aspects being the exposure of which side a media house is sold to & how shallow their editors are behind big slogans claiming ‘Freedom of Expression’

    Having given 31 years as an Army Vetaran to India & its Democracy, I find it extremely Anti-National to print anything about the leader who is Competing for India World-wide.

    This writer & magazine who have stated that Indo-US relations could be affected by this habitual Trump-gaffs, is ridiculous at the lightest or at best should be in jail since the proof his deliberate attempt to derail Indian attempts at improved foreign collaborations is written in this piece.

    Before my comments are classified into politics I state categorically that other than for India & humanity I do not have any other kind of ‘Bhakti’ be it of Gandhi or Modi.

    As an Indian alone, I find this article deliberately mischievous, very appalling & spreading anti-anti-national sentiment.


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