- NL Sena
Monkeys have always been an issue at the monument, but do we need to speculate on how this might impact a trade deal with the US?
The Western media's "exotic" takes on India and Indian culture is a perennial problem, couching India in the usual stereotypes of elephants, snake-charmers and "tuk-tuks". Donald Trump's visit to India next weeks gives the Western press a chance to flex yet another stereotype: India's "monkey menace".
According to several reports, there are "concerns" of Trump being attacked by monkeys when he visits the Taj Mahal in Agra. Now, monkeys are a problem at the Taj; every now and then a report crops up on monkeys attacking hapless tourists at the monument. But the media took the story and ran with it.
Most foreign publications cited an India Today story that said security personnel are armed with catapults to frighten away the monkeys. The Western press took it to another level.
They referenced "swarms" of "marauding macaques", the "terror" that "troops of aggressive monkeys" will "pounce" on the president and First Lady Melania Trump, and how this will be a potential "disaster" that will "derail" a future trade detail between India and the US.
You need to read it to believe it.
First there's Daily Mail.
The UK-based Metro.
HuffPost US which said "officials will be going bananas trying to prevent him from being attacked by monkeys at the Taj Mahal".
The Independent which went full alarmist: "Local residents have expressed fears that the marauding macaques could pounce on the US president and the first lady during their official two-day trip to India."
New York Post's piece led with this: "President Trump’s Secret Service detail will have to keep a sharp lookout for a swarm of dangerous characters during his upcoming visit to the Taj Mahal — hundreds of aggressive monkeys that harass tourists, according to reports."
Express UK called it a "Trump shock".
Let's be real: there's enough and more to talk about with respect to Trump's visit. A good place to start is how a wall has been built to hide slums on Trump's proposed route in Ahmedabad, or how the city is expected to spend about Rs 80 crore on Trump's three-hour visit.
Given all this, focusing on fears that Trump will literally be attacked by monkeys is not the best choice. All we need now is for the Aam Aadmi Party to chime in and say these reports are offensive to Hanuman.