A tale of two neighbourhoods
Donald Trump and Narendra Modi hug as Delhi burns

Neither America’s president nor India’s prime minister had much to say about a bout of sectarian rioting

THE CONTRAST could not have been starker. At one end of the city, Donald Trump and Narendra Modi, America’s president and India’s prime minister, were celebrating a new “strategic partnership”. With the shared passion of politicians eager to shift voters’ attention, the two leaders exchanged hugs and compliments. The other side of India’s sprawling capital was feeling a different kind of warmth: it was on fire. Slum districts in the north-east of the city had erupted in riots that left at least 27 dead, dozens injured and many properties torched.

Most of the victims were Muslims, a largely impoverished group that makes up 14% of India’s population (and 13% of Delhi’s). Ironically, in a flattering speech, Mr Trump had praised India for its commitment to freedoms and its tradition of religious tolerance. Yet it is the policies of Mr Modi’s own Hindu-nationalist government that created the current polarised atmosphere. A particular thorn has been its insistence on pursuing a national head count which, combined with new citizenship rules that discriminate according to religion, has raised fears that millions of Muslims may be stripped of their rights. Inflammatory rhetoric from Mr Modi’s party makes things worse. During local elections in the capital in February, one of its candidates led crowds in chants of “Shoot the traitors!” in reference to groups protesting the citizenship law.