US President Donald Trump will arrive in India to a major charm offensive, despite no substantive agreement on the agenda. Walls have been built to hide slums, and the army has been deployed to provide security.
India is set to welcome Donald Trump on Monday, as the US President arrives for a two-day visit that will feature a mega rally attended by a crowd of "millions." The visit follows weeks of preparations that have made headlines in the country, and often been criticized for being excessive.
Trump arrives in the western city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat — the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — after a 17-hour flight with a refuel stopover at Ramstein military base in Germany.
"I look forward to being with the people of India, we will be with millions and millions of people. I get along very well with the prime minister; he is a friend of mine. The prime minister told me this will be the biggest event they have ever had," the US president told reporters before leaving for India.
Modi is expected to welcome Trump at the airport, after which the two leaders will travel across the city to a mega rally at a newly-built cricket stadium — billed as the largest in the world. The 22-kilometer (14-mile) stretch will be lined with huge billboards featuring Modi, Trump and his wife Melania. Thousands of people, mostly vetted supporters and workers of Modi's Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), will also be standing along the newly-paved road, cheering as Trump's motorcade passes by.
$13 million for Trump's three-hour visit
China's Xi Jinping and Japan's Shinzo Abe have also taken similar trips to the city, the largest in the state, but unnamed officials told Reuters news agency that the scale of preparations for Trump's visit were "unprecedented."
Trump's three-hour visit to Ahmedabad may cost civic authorities $13 million (€12 million), according to some estimates. This includes a wall built to hide one of the slums adjacent to the road expected to be used by Trump.
"Our people have lived here for three generations, but no one has created any facilities for us here," Keshi Saraniya, one of the slum's residents, told DW. "Important people pass by this road, but we're being hidden. Since they're spending so much money on the wall, why not use that to improve our community and provide better facilities for us?"
Critics have also said they expect the trip — Trump's first to India as president — to be rich in pomp and symbolism but lacking in substance.
Military security cover
Indian security agencies have been working with the US Secret Service to provide what has been called a "multi-layer security cover."
ITC Maurya, the five-star hotel where Trump and his entourage will be staying, has been turned into a fortress. Located in the city's highly secure Diplomatic Enclave, the hotel will not be accessible to the general public and all the 400+ rooms have been booked.
Anti-sabotage teams from both the army and paramilitary forces will be patrolling the roads near the hotel, and security agencies have also deployed anti-drone detachments, snipers, and sharp shooters on the buildings in and around the area.
The Grand Presidential suite, where Trump will be staying, will not be accessible to most of the hotel staff. This area will be covered by the inner cordon, manned by the Secret Service and a special wing of the Delhi Police. A second layer of security will be deployed around the hotel's lobby, parking and pool area, while the third layer will be deployed in the area outside the hotel compound.