FRANK F ISLAM, a great entrepreneur in America, philanthropist, civic and thought leader who was in India to deliver convocation speech at AMU as chief guest and to receive the degree of Doctor of Literature (LittD). In an interview with MOHAMMAD NAUSHAD KHAN on the ongoing US elections, he said Hillary Clinton has the right stuff in terms of experience and the domestic policy and international relations. She is a great friend and ally of India and she will take the relationship to the next height. Islam also said he would like to see by the year 2020 if we can get trade with India close to one trillion dollar as we do with China.
What is the significance of US elections in rest of the world?
Well, America, as we all know, provides leadership in the changing world and America is also the second largest and oldest democracy in the world. So all eyes are open on them as to who will be the next US president. As you all know that American president is a very powerful person. I personally believe, I may be biased because I know Hillary Clinton very well and part of her campaign, that she will be the next president of the United States. I am not a book maker, but the indications are good that she will be the next president of the United States.
Clinton has the right stuff in terms of experience and the domestic policy as well as international relations. She is a great friend and ally of India and I anticipate that she will take the relationship to the next height. I also say that there are several things that the new president of the United States should do with India. First is to continue to promote trade, commerce and investment. I would like to see by the year 2020 if we can get trade with India close to one trillion dollar as we do with China. We should help India to become a part of the National Security Council, a permanent seat. And we should give India support to have more say in the region.
A powerful and prosperous India, I firmly believe, can change the landscape of the world. We need to share some intelligence sharing in terms of curbing extremism and terrorism and also give them a prominent role in Afghanistan. Besides investment we also need to partner with India in terms of education, help them to manufacture in digital India and smart India, national security, food security and also in the agricultural sector. India has also to do something which Americans believe that economic reform has been slow and still a lot of paper work needs to be done in order for any countries to do investment here. They need to reduce bureaucracy and get rid of corruption. They have to protect citizens in terms of property rights. And the most important thing is India has to work to improve the infrastructure which is not quite there yet.
How would you like to compare the Democrat and Republican candidates?
On the Republican side, there are lots of candidates. Jeb Bush dropped out, Christie dropped out and so did some others. The remaining ones are Ted Cruz, Marko Rubio and Donald Trump. I am not a person who can predict, but I personally think that Donald Trump has insulted everybody. The conversation in terms of his thought on banning the Muslims and immigrants is very disturbing to all of us. You cannot insult people to be the next president of the United States. He represents a very ugly and angry face of America and those are not the values we believe in. I am not sure that he will win the elections but you never know. I think he is capitalising people who have anxiety, less educated, frightened of the immigrant community. On the Democrat side, there are two candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Hillary has won the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses. This made her the first woman to win the Iowa caucuses. In the first primary, held in New Hampshire on February 9, she lost to Sanders by a wide margin. She then won the Nevada caucuses on February 20 and the South Carolina primary on February 27.
What could be the percentage of people that might have endorsed Donald Trump’s views on Muslims or rejected it?
Most of the Republicans I know have rejected it saying that this is not the view of America. America is an open and inclusive society. It has always welcomed immigrants with open arms because they have always shaped America. And Donald Trump’s family also came as an immigrant. He needs to first look at his own personal roots. He came as an immigrant and made up in America. America gave him the opportunity and how he can deny the opportunity to others. President Obama has spoken about it many times. In Hillary Clinton’s words, he is a gifted demagogue and I would like to add more that he is a loudmouth demagogue.
But America is a democracy and we have to see who becomes a candidate. But the way the trend is going it is believed that he may be a candidate. He never governed and never ran for election in his life. He is outside of Washington. Governing is a very constraint thing. It requires apprentice and on the job training. So I hope he does not become president of the United States.
I have come to know President Obama has been able to suppress anti-Muslim feelings. How would you like to react or has Donald Trump proved it wrong?
Donald Trump rejects anything that he does not like. He insults anybody it does matter who they are. He insults Obama about his certificates. He wants to become president of the United States by insulting people. You asked a good question. President Obama came to Islamic Centre at Baltimore about a month or three weeks ago; he invited me there and said very clearly that attack on one faith is attack on all faiths. He also said you are part and the fabric of this nation. You are a Muslim and American. You have right to practise your faith and you should have the freedom of faith.
People like Karim Abdul Jabbar, Mohammad Ali and many more American Muslims have contributed to our society. They are the integral part of the fabric of the nation. And if we ban them and discriminate them and if we practise prejudice, it would be very unfair to the fabric of our nation. But Donald Trump is a mystery to me as to how he won the primary by making statements like that. The immigrants have always been bedrock and cornerstone of our country. There were many immigrants who reached the top position in America and shaped our nation and the people.
What according to you should be the issues during the election campaign?
So the issue for most Americans is to make sure we can build the middle class because they are left behind. The next is income, equality and justice in America. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. We need to get education-specific community. Obama proposed free college education president. Small entrepreneurs need to be encouraged because they are the engine of our economy. We must help them to start their business to prosper. We also want to make sure that the situation of financial collapse of our economy does not get repeated once again. We also wish to train our workforce. We need to ensure that the dreams of America and Americans have not slipped away. We want to make sure that we will rebuild the dreams of America. They have job for them, dinner on their table and roof over head.
We need to continue to be partner with India because we share some common interests and values with India. The democracy and the diversity of India bind us together. We need to ensure that terrorism and ISIS does not come to our homeland. We want to make sure that immigration reform does happen in domestic areas. There are environmental issues; we will have to be militarily and economically strong.
What according to you is the biggest achievement of Obama and how would people remember his regime?
The biggest accomplishment of Obama is that he managed to come out of the economy that had collapsed. We had the largest deficit. The Dow Zones was the lowest in the history. Obama was able to turn it around in terms of economy. He has been able reduce the deficit. He has been able to reduce the unemployment rate to single digit, now close to about 5 per cent. These are the biggest achievements. But the most significant thing President Obama has done in the domestic policy is in the healthcare sector known as Obama Care. He was able to protect our homeland. He believed in inclusive society. He has been able to make nuclear agreement with Iran. Iran should become part of the global world and the economy. He had said to reduce the troops in Afghanistan and he did.
President Obama has made final attempt to persuade the Congress to close the Guantanamo Bay. Your comment?
President always wanted to do that. He has taken positive steps; I hope he can do it.