Donald Trump’s remark on ‘filthy’ Indian air sparks row

U.S. President clubs India with China, Russia for inaction over climate protection

Updated - November 28, 2021 01:30 pm IST

Published - October 23, 2020 10:40 pm IST - Washington DC

U.S. Presidential Donald Trump reacts during the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

U.S. Presidential Donald Trump reacts during the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

Speaking during his second and final presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, U.S. President Donald Trump called India “filthy” and clubbed it with Russia and China — both considered U.S. rivals. The President’s comments were made in the context of the U.S.’s (former) emission commitments under the Paris Climate AccordMr. Trump had withdrawn the country from the agreement on the grounds that it was unfair towards America.

“And we have the best carbon emission numbers that we’ve had in 35 years under this administration, we are working so well with industry, but here’s what we can’t do: look at China, how filthy it is, look at Russia, look at India, it’s filthy, the air is filthy,” Mr Trump said responding to a question on how he would combat climate change and support job growth.


“The Paris Accord… I took us out because we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly,” he added.

Mr. Trump has previously compared the U.S. to India and China (and sometimes Russia) in the same breath, for instance in the multilateral climate change context or in the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which, according to Mr. Trump, has treated the U.S. unfairly. More recently his comparisons have been on the amount of known coronavirus cases versus the amount of testing and how the U.S. is testing far more than other countries, including India.

The language used on Thursday, however, was stronger than normal and comes a few days before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper are scheduled to travel in New Delhi to meet their counterparts for the U.S.-India 2+2 ministerial. They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr. Trump’s comments predictable sparked strong reactions on social media: from the impact of the remarks on Indian American voters — a constituency both Republicans and Democrats are courting —  to some users saying Mr. Trump was speaking the truth and that the air in Indian cities was indeed bad and there was “no point being outraged” by his words. One politician challenged Mr. Modi to respond to Mr Trump. The Modi-led NDA government had rolled out the red carpet for Mr Trump during his visit to India at the end of February this year.

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