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Three Mayors Dominate Democratic Race; "The Nation City," a New Book by Rahm Emanuel; Rahm Emanuel, Former Chicago Mayor, is Interviewed About Local Politics; Will U.S. Defend Religious Freedom?; Bobby Ghosh, Member, Bloomberg Opinion Editorial Board, is Interviewed About India; Interview With America Ferrera. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 25, 2020 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Three mayors dominate the 2020 Democratic Race, and as they duke it out, party elder and former mayor, Rahm Emanuel, tells me that local politics is
now driving major change.
Then President Trump's official visit to India amid deadly clashes, over the controversial new citizenship law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMERICA FERRERA, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "GENTEFIED": We're not one block, like we have such varied experiences of being Latino and what that means
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Actress and producer, America Ferrera talks representation and her new show, " Gentefied."
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The Democrat's race for the presidential nomination will become much clearer this time next week, with the Super Tuesday delegate haul likely to
determine the one with the unstoppable lead. Candidates generating most buzz right now are three former mayors, Buttigieg, Bloomberg and Bernie
Sanders, who is the current front-runner. If one of them wins the actual presidency, he'll be the first former mayor to do so since Calvin Coolidge
100 years ago.
Which is the perfect introduction to my guest today. Yes, a former mayor who believes that local politics determine the national good more than at
any other time in history. Rahm Emanuel has served in the White House under Presidents Clinton, Obama, in Congress and as mayor of Chicago. And e's
here now to talk about his new book "The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World".
Welcome to the, Rahm, Emanuel.
RAHM EMANUEL, FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR: Thanks, Christiane. How are you?
AMANPOUR: I'm good. And how are you? You've been in all, as I said, all these different positions and you've concluded that your last position that
you held, the mayor's job, is one where you can make real lasting impact in a way that we haven't seen in decades.
EMANUEL: Absolutely. I mean, today, mayors are making the major changes. When you think about your life, where you live, where you work, how you get
to work and home, where you send your kids to school, the amenities around your country, your parks, your libraries, all of those services are
delivered by local government, from transportation, to safety, to schools, to parks, to libraries, that's local government.
And then in addition, the kind of values you want in your community on immigration, climate change, research, income or exclusive economic
policies, that's not coming out of London, it's not coming out of Brussels, not coming out of D.C., it's coming out of local government. And the
minimum wage was increased across the United States at the local level.
Pre- for early childhood education for three-year-olds and four-year-olds happening at the local level. At the local level in Chicago and other
cities, we made community college the next two years after high school free, all being done at the local level. Though innovation is not only on
minimum wage, but the earned income tax credit, the local level.
And so, while we have been here before in America, it is taking on a new significance, which is not only doing the local stuff, you're now taking on
more and more national, international issues, and doing it without the approval of the foreign minister, the secretary of state, the secretary of
The mayor of Paris and I decided to do a major conference on cities and waterfront where we were building a river walk, what they were doing, and
mayors from seven -- five different continents showed up. The mayor of London, his first visit to America was the City of Chicago, Mayor Khan, my
good friend, he saw what we were doing on the Chicago River. I took him to a city, a part of the city where we were -- there was a food desert, where
they don't have a major grocery store and saw what we were doing in England.
And then an element of soft power. And I compliment the Mayor Khan in the book about this. On Saturday he happened to be in the city and he came to
synagogue with me. Two people, two different faiths, both though fathers of young women who are going on to college, and we understood the role of
faith, family and community. And in the shadows of President Trump and divisive politics, we showed a different way, that even though they were
mayors of two different cities, mayors who were proud of our faith and heritage, how we could find the commonality of a singular language and a
singular aspiration for our children.
AMANPOUR: Well, you may --
EMANUEL: So, mayors both in hard and soft power are leading in major and dramatic ways across barriers today.
AMANPOUR: So, look, you're making a very, very persuasive case for abolishing the federal government. Why would anybody want to run for
president if the real power sits with you lot, with the mayors?
EMANUEL: Well, no. First of all, I say it in the book, I would love a federal partner. But as you probably know, Christiane, from knowing me from
back, patience is not one of my strong suits. My wife always joked if we had a fourth child, she should name it Patience. I consider it a waste of
You cannot wait. I'll give you an example out of Chicago. When I became mayor, we were the last major city with two coal plants operating in the
city. I sat the -- could I wait for national legislation? No, I sat the executive down and I told him, I said, either natural gas prices will shut
you down or I'll give you a parade if you do it unilaterally. Two weeks later he called me up and we shut it down, after a 30-year battle. I
couldn't wait for the poor kids of Pilsen and back at the yards who were having higher hospitalizations for asthma to wait. That's not in the
fortitude of a mayor to wait when you have the health and the public health of your city at stake.
And I would rather have a federal government as a partner. But without a partner, you're going to have to do things unilaterally and we all copy
from each other. And as I said to you, you know, in America, our commitment ends after 12th grade. But that was so yesterday as an educational need for
an economic success in the future. So, we made it, if you get a 3.0 or B average in the City of Chicago, we make the next two years of college free,
transportation, books, and education, and we let dreamers in.
Now, Boston, Louisville, Denver, San Francisco, Oakland are all replicating it. And nobody has been to Washington to talk to them and nor has
Washington asked us.
AMANPOUR: So, it's really interesting, because you said in the book, you know, you said that 50 years ago mayors came to Washington and said, save
us, we're burning. Now, they come to Washington and say, we'll save you, you're burning. So, all --
EMANUEL: From yourself.
AMANPOUR: Yes. What has changed? What has caused this dynamic to shift so dramatically?
EMANUEL: Well, there's a lot of both social, economic and cultural. So, it's not kind of a thing. Technology has made some things different. So,
one of the things is, you know, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, cities were emptying out and there was a flight from the cities, both corporate, as
well as others.
Today, the density that created its problem has become an asset, not a liability. Technology has changed. Educational aspirations have changed.
Quality of life has made a contribution. But in addition to that, as a federal government for a whole host of reasons, national government like in
England has pulled back from making investments.
I know as the mayor of Chicago that unless I invest in O'Hare, which is right behind Heathrow as the second most connected and busiest airport in
the world, unless I'm adding two new runways, about three-and-a-half million square feet of new terminal space, unless I make that investment,
Chicago's future is going to be less than what it could be.
If I don't add four years of educational time, kindergarten, pre-K and the early two years of college, freshman and sophomore year, my citizens won't
be able -- all of them, regardless of background, won't be able to access the opportunities that tomorrow will bring.
And so, in my view as mayor, I have to step into this void. They don't have a choice. And it's not just big mayors. I highlight Carmel, Indiana, I
highlight Louisville, Kentucky, Oklahoma City, it's Democrats and Republicans, big, small and medium size cities, they're all taking steps,
investing in the future of their community and also then taking on challenges that used to be purely the purview of the federal government.
And I do believe, and I said this repeatedly as mayor, the decisions we make today in the next two or three years will determine what Chicago will
look like in the next 20 to 30 years. And that is not the view of the national government. In all the weaknesses of the national government,
disinterested, dysfunctional, distant, match up against all the strengths of the local government. Intimate, immediate, impactful.
And so, that shift in the center of gravity of our politics. Here, I don't know about it in England, but I do know here in the United States, national
government, 25 percent confidence legal. Local government, 76 percent confidence.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is extraordinary.
EMANUEL: That confidence gives you the ability to get something done.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, those poll numbers are pretty extraordinary, especially on the, you know, famous trustometer that we get shown all the
Look, I'm sitting in London. The prime minister of this country was the former mayor, Boris Johnson. And you happen to be in the United States,
where as I said, three of the strongest contenders for your party's nomination are three former mayors. You mentioned Carmel, India, well, of
course South Bend, Indiana is where Pete Buttigieg is from. Burlington, Vermont is where Bernie Sanders was mayor. And Bloomberg -- as we've
mentioned Michael Bloomberg from New York. And all seem to have made a really good job of their time as mayor.
So, just describe to me -- I mean, I don't know, there's panic in the -- is there panic in the Democratic process right now?
EMANUEL: Yes. I would say panic would be the adjective to describe the mood right now.
AMANPOUR: And should there be?
EMANUEL: Yes. Sure. This is a consequential election and you don't want to make a mistake. So, let me do -- there's two parts here. What's
interesting, if you go back the last 100 years, the most important part of your resume to make it from where you were to the presidency was governor.
Five governors ran this time, all dropped out. And five mayors ran and three are still standing. That tells you about something in the shift about
the lower to the ground you are, the more credibility and confidence people have in your capacity.
Second is, if -- and this gets to my background in the sense of doing politics. In -- since 1992 from Bill Clinton's election and re-election,
Barack Obama's election in '08 and '12 and then the national midterm elections of 2006 and 2018, it's been one playbook of what I call a
metropolitan majority between suburban and urban coming together to give Democrats a majority.
That playbook from 1992 has been the same when we have been nationally successful. If you don't govern and run in a center-left faction, but only
left, you'll get a replica of what just happened months in England, in my view. And this is too consequential because our number one goal is beating
Donald Trump, our number two goal is beating Donald Trump and our number three goal is beating Donald Trump.
And you not only have the presidency, you have congressional, Senate, governorships and control of the state houses that matter (INAUDIBLE). I
would not take the roll of the dice when you have not one, but six national elections that all come out of one singular playbook of how to win. So, to
me, it's not a risk worth taking. And I think that we have proven, and in the last 100 years only three Democrats have won re-election, Franklin
Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Two of them are around. They showed you how to do it. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. We know what works. And I think that if -- you know,
I'm not a fan of senator -- personally, I'm friendly with Senator Sanders. I'm not a fan of the politics. I think it will lead to an electoral defeat
when, in fact, the country is looking for an alternative to Donald Trump. They want to vote in a different direction.
AMANPOUR: So, just to play a little devil's advocate there, because Bernie Sanders, as we said, is the current front-runner. We don't really know
what's going to happen beyond -- you know, to Super Tuesday, as I alluded.
A, do you buy the premise that Super Tuesday will pretty much dramatically tell us who has the unstoppable momentum? But b, Bernie Sanders made a big
effort on a town hall overnight where he spoke about his record as mayor of Burlington where he worked with Republicans, where he worked with
developers, where he worked, you know, to -- Mr. Pothole, for instance. You know, he did the things that mattered to people and he worked across the
aisle when it mattered.
In fact, people say -- you know, he talks about revolution, but he's not. He's a pragmatist. Do you think that he can sell that story today?
EMANUEL: Well, I'll tell you, remember, one of the things that happens in a campaign, the other side has a rebuttal. And that's a good sign that he's
starting to realize he's going to have to have a wider breadth than the revolution he's going to lead and the massive turnout, because I got to be
honest, in my politics, I never knew there were 70 million socialists in America just ready for a socialist revolution. That would be news to a lot
of Democrats who have been toiling in the field for years.
I think that the case of the matter is he'll have a record, he'll be able to promote it, but don't kid yourself that Donald Trump and President Putin
are going to have a say in what Bernie Sanders' record looks like by the time he gets there to do that.
AMANPOUR: Let's just play this -- you know, I mean, just -- you know, say I'm playing what President Trump has said, in other words, backing up what
you're just warning about. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: 132 lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our health care system,
wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans. To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know we will
never let socialism destroy American health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Rahm Emanuel, I heard what you said before, I don't know that we have 70 million socialists in the Democratic party or in the United
States. But, and this is a big but, President Trump talked about health care. The Democrats believe health care to be a massive issue. It was a big
issue in the midterms.
But look at these polls. Democratic voters support a national health care, according to state entrance polls, Democratic voters want to ditch private
insurance, 57 percent in Iowa, 58 percent in New Hampshire, 62 percent in Nevada say they would prefer a government-run health plan. 64 percent of
Democrats support a government plan nationally according to NPR/PBS news hour poll. Is the ground shifting?
EMANUEL: So, here's the thing. There are two parts of the polls. One, health care has always been a dominant economic and social policy issue
with the public. That's where you have to start first. Number two, between Donald Trump and the Democrats, we have a 20 some odd point advantage on
health care and credibility. Number three, Trump not only knows he's at a negative, if the other side is painting you as a socialist, you don't lead
with being a socialist, proving their point.
And he'll be able to go into Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and say to the auto workers, the steelworkers, all the blue-collar workers who have
negotiated their health care plans, Bernie Sanders has a plan, and that's take your health care away. Now, if you don't believe me and you want to
try this out, we can give it a run.
As I would like to say, would there have been six elections in America run on a different playbook. Jeremy Corbyn just ran on a playbook very similar
to the one that is being proposed now. We now know six elections in the United States turned out and we know what happened in your election that
usually is, you know, a warning sign, a flashing yellow light coming to a theatre near you.
In my view, as somebody who was responsible for President Obama's passing his Affordable Care Act and negotiate for President Clinton, the expansion
of health care to children, health care is important. My father was a pediatrician. I've worked twice on the two major successes of passing
health care. This is not a place you want to give the other side a bat to beat you up, because they have no interest in either covering costs or
expanding coverage to working people, but they will use your plan that doesn't have a chance to pass and become law to scare people.
Why would you give them an electoral and political opportunity to use an asset and make it a liability?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, you've talked in the past and in the book and in recent articles about the process. You've talked about it in interviews.
The process, I think you believe or you have believed that it works. So, I'm talking about the process where you have all these candidates, they're
all on the debate stage, they're all taking shares of the delegates or not at all, but they're all still going.
Do you still believe in the process? Do you think it will be successful, this particular process?
EMANUEL: No. Look, I believe in the process. And I think the right thing to do is to have a process and have a debate. But I'd want them -- and if
there was malpractice in our profession, a number of candidates would be sued.
Look, in Las Vegas two years ago there was a major mass shooting. There's only one candidate on that field who voted against an assault weapon ban
and has been supported by the NRA. His name is Bernie Sanders. Not one of the other Democrats brought that up. Now, I -- that's not 20 years ago of a
mass shooting, that's a couple years ago. It was one of the worst in American history. The front-runner voted against his assault weapon ban.
He's been endorsed by the NRA. What are you doing not bringing it up?
Number two, he's advocated Medicare for All for everybody. When he had his heart attack, he was in Nevada. Did he use a Medicare card for his health
care coverage or as a senator, did he use the plan that only senators and cabinet members and other federal government employees get?
You have a responsibility as a candidate to perform, otherwise you don't get the ticket out. That's crazy to me.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's go back to mayors.
EMANUEL: I believe in the process, but I want people to show up and do their job as candidates.
AMANPOUR: So, let us talk about mayors again, because one of the people who you admire in terms of what he's achieved as mayor is Michael
Bloomberg, who, yes, he has billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars and that seems to be standing sort of against him, the way the
candidates are beating up on him for "buying the election."
AMANPOUR: But to your point about getting things done that mattered to people, he has a record of doing that. And sort of sharing the wealth
around the mayors, right?
EMANUEL: Yes. But here's what I would say on that. All the other candidates are upset because what I would call the sweat equity of
politics. They've been in the snows of Iowa for months tilling. Now, it harkens back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was in New Hampshire, he told a
crowd way into the wee hours of the night or early morning, I'm going to be here until the last dog dies, that's a phrase that's used -- a homespun
They knew in New Hampshire he wasn't giving up on them. As he said then, the hits on me are nothing compared to the hits your kids are going to take
if we don't turn this country around. All the other candidates are upset because Bloomberg is parachuting in and missing all the hard stuff early
and just putting his money, it was an attack on his -- not his equity but the lack of sweat equity, that he was actually just putting money down
without actually doing the retail work of earning people's vote, and he's vulnerable to that.
He is vulnerable to that attack, because whether you agree with X, Y or Z candidate, they had shown sweat equity and he had shown a reluctance to
actually put that type of skin in the game. And they hit him on it and that's a vulnerability. It doesn't take anything away from his tenure as
mayor. I guarantee when he was running for mayor, he was making all the community stops and working it. And their view was, you've got to work this
thing. You can't come in here on the marathon race and act like Rosy and just hit the last 10 miles. You've got to work this. It's a fair criticism.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you one last --
AMANPOUR: -- personal question, because you've been waving your hand around and I can see that you have one finger that is a different size than
the other fingers. And I'm not asking you a cosmetic question, because I'm asking you a question about what I think is an incident that kind of led to
your passion and your aggressive passion for policy and to do different things. Just tell us about that story.
EMANUEL: Well, I was working as a meat cutter and they didn't tell me about a steel glove when I was cleaning the blade and I sliced it bad. I
don't want to ruin anybody's meal. I ended up nearly dying. I had five blood infections, two bone infections and gangrene.
And the truth is, if it wasn't for the fact of my dad being a doctor in medical profession, I could have been in the first 72 hours somewhere else.
I ended up staying seven weeks in the hospital. Not only my life saved, but my arm saved, and the nurses and doctors did a great job. And a quiet,
reserved shy person came out of that hospital bed who really didn't put any effort into anything. I came out determined to make something of my life
and make a difference.
And it was one of those moments that literally my life changed because I saw life fleeting away. And I made -- I don't -- it was not like the sky
opened, sun came through, the rain stopped and Beethoven's 9th was playing, but there was a moment in those nights -- and I had three roommates who
died in that hospital, and I became a changed person. And the son of a pediatrician, and the son of an activist found his passion, which is to do
good and make good.
AMANPOUR: That's an incredible story. Rahm Emanuel, thank you so much.
EMANUEL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Author of "The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World". Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
EMANUEL: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And now, we're going to turn to India, where President Trump's official state visit has ended with a deal on defense cooperation, but a
huge amount of ceremony and not that much substance. It began with a raucous welcome by 120,000 strong crowd and visits to iconic cultural
heritage sites like the Taj Mahal.
But the trip has also been marked by some of the deadliest clashes in India in decades. This has been building since the controversial citizenship law
brought in by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, that discriminates against Muslims.
Now, in speeches, President Trump as championed India's historic religious freedom. So, can the U.S. influence Modi, a Hindu nationalist?
Journalist, Bobby Ghosh, of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board has covered India extensively and was editor-in-chief for the Hindustan Times
there. And he's joining me in the studio.
Welcome to the program.
BOBBY GHOSH, MEMBER, BLOOMBERG OPINION EDITORIAL BOARD: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, this must be a really interesting view into global politics and where Trump and -- you know, and democracy and nationalism merge. What
are your initial thoughts on this sort of split screen trip that he's had, on the one hand so much ceremony, as we've said, the crowds that he loves
but on the other hand, this real religious clash that is taking place there now?
GHOSH: Well, I think for Prime Minister Modi, this trip was meant to be a distraction from that kind of violence, protests against that particular
law have been going on for months. There's also the problem in Kashmir where the Indian government, essentially, has kind of blacked out state for
six or seven months now.
He had hoped that the Trump trip will draw attention away from that, it would remind voters in India that Modi is a leader on the world stage
embraced by the most powerful man in the world. That's not how it's turned out, because the violence has grown, the protests did not die out.
And what we saw today in India was a reminder of just how broken the Indian polity has grown under Narendra Modi. But Trump, that's a different thing.
For Trump, this trip basically was an opportunity to speak to a captive audience. He likes that. Actually, he has that in common with Modi. He had
a big audience. He got some nice photo opportunities. He got time in front of the camera. He got away from the U.S. where things are going. On the
whole, pretty well for him.
So, I don't think he had anything to lose from this trip. He doesn't go away with a big business deal that he can show off. But frankly, they had
managed the expectations around this trip so well that he comes off as fine. For Modi, not so much.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting, because as you say, managed expectations. I mean, I think President Trump even said, no, we didn't get
a deal this time, a business deal, but that's a win because we're going to get a better deal down the road. So, as you say, managing expectations.
But it looks like this controversial law has taken center stage and is going to be kind of a big issue. So, my question was, will the U.S. use its
traditional influence to defend religious freedom and pluralism? Let's just play what President Trump said about this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We did talk about religious freedom and I will say that the prime minister was incredible on what he told me. He wants people to have
religious freedom and very strongly and he said that in India, they have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom. So, as far as
the individual attack, I heard about it, but I didn't discuss that with him. That's up to India.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, he's not talking about the clashes, he said there, but on the issue of religious freedom, he took Modi's word. But it's also very
interesting because, yes, he's defending religious freedom, but not really talking about this particular law.
GHOSH: No, he's not. He didn't want to engage with any details, and from the sound of it, he sort of allowed Prime Minister Modi to deliver the
Indian talking point without much pushback. Keep in mind, of course, that Donald Trump himself has form on this, his own rhetoric about Muslims and
about Islam are actually closer to Modi's point of view for anything else.
So, the two men do see the world and do see Islam anyway and Muslims through a common lens. So, it's an opportunity missed, previous world
leaders, previous prime ministers throughout the 30 odd years that I've been doing journalism, have used this opportunity to talk about this
seriously. This doesn't sound like a very serious discussion.
AMANPOUR: Apparently -- we don't know this, but we don't have evidence that he brought up the controversial law in his bilat. So, as you said,
previous American presidents would make it, you know, a matter of bilateral conversation.
AMANPOUR: What does this mean, though, beyond what went on between the two leaders? What does this law mean for India? I mean, as we said, it's the
deadliest clashes in a long, long time. Give us a little bit of history. Perhaps we remember that in '48, '47, India was partitioned, the Muslims of
India and a mass migration went to what became Pakistan. Hindus, by and large, stayed in what became just, what, what remained as India.
GHOSH: Yes. But a very large number of Muslims stayed on in India. India was the second largest populated Muslim country after Indonesia. So,
compared with Pakistan as it is today, India has more or less the same number of Muslims. So, India has been --
AMANPOUR: So, it's a huge deal.
GHOSH: It's about 150 million people. It's a very large number of Muslims. India is by its constitution a secular state, you know, religion should not
matter in anything, much less your citizenship. That is now under threat. It has been. Modi represents a Hindu nationalist political movement that
has a long history of a very strong anti-Muslimism line. Muslims have been feeling under greater and greater pressure over the last four or five
years. And this particular law seems almost designed to poke a finger in the eye.
What the law says is that people from the neighboring countries, of India's neighbors, can seek Indian citizenship if they are being oppressed in those
countries. Except for Muslims. It seems to make a point of putting the Muslims in a separate basket. It speaks to the Muslim sense of not being --
not feeling like they are treated as equal in the country.
There's another piece of legislation coming up about a national register of citizenship and these two things in combination have Muslims worried, and
not just Muslims.
Plenty of secular-minded Indians of all religions look at these two pieces of legislation and they feel that it is challenging the secular core, the
secular idea of India, the idea of Gandhi, the idea of Nehru.
AMANPOUR: Well, you bring up Gandhi.
And, again, India almost lectures the rest of the world about being the world's biggest democracy.
AMANPOUR: It likes it. It takes pride in this distinction. Numerically, it is the world's biggest democracy. Right?
Well, it has been. Yes, it is, bigger than Indonesia. It is the biggest democracy. But here's the thing. You mentioned Gandhi. And it is very
worrying, because "The New York Times" had a -- it's been written about.
But here's a quote from "The New York Times." "As Hindu nationalism continues its march across India, a cult of personality is rising around
through Nathuram Godse, the Hindu extremist who killed Gandhi. Across the country, more than a dozen statues of Gandhi's killer have been erected.
Several Hindu temples are being converted into Godse temples."
I'm it's one person, but yet it's a massive -- I mean, Gandhi was the hero of not just India, but the rest of the world -- of secular India and the
rest of the world, peaceful, nonviolent protests for democracy and freedom.
Again, this is really disturbing, isn't it?
GHOSH: It is very disturbing, and not only that this is happening, but it is being enabled by conversations that are taking place among the
leadership of the country.
So you have people in Parliament who are members of the prime minister's party who openly talk about Godse as a hero, who are demanding that Godse's
role be reexamined and redefined. There are people who don't quite yet openly attack Gandhi, because Modi portrays himself as an inheritor of
Gandhi's, credibly or not.
But there are people in this party who take this view. And it's a very extremist view. It has always existed in the fringes of Indian society,
just as in any other society, but it has become mainstream.
And it is of a piece of this mainstreaming of extremism that we have seen taking place around the world. In India -- you put your finger very
artfully on it. The mainstream of Nathuram Godse is sort of emblematic of a deep problem in India that this political party has exploited, has
And that leads to a situation where Muslims feel frightened, where all minorities feel frightened, where people from India has still a very
prevalent caste system. People from the lower castes, the poorer castes feel like they're being victimized.
And you have a majoritarian government that is the product of the world's greatest democratic exercise, but does not behave like it represents the
world's greatest democracy. It behaves like it only represents a small portion of the population.
AMANPOUR: So, tell us a little bit again about Modi's history, because it wasn't so long ago that he was denied entry. I mean, he was denied a visa
to the United States, right, after being chief minister of Gujarat province.
And there were terrible riots and killings of Muslims there. And he was heavily implicated.
GHOSH: Well, yes, he, ironically, comes from the same home state as Mahatma Gandhi did, very successful chief minister. The state enjoyed an
economic boom in his period there.
But his social policies, but particularly his policies around religious tolerance, came under the scrutiny in 2002. There were riots between Hindus
and Muslims. And his government -- and there were inquiries into this -- his government did not respond adequately at the right time to stop the
And much of that violence was aimed at Muslims. And it was horrific. The exact death toll is controversial, but it certainly runs into many, many
hundreds. And, as you say, it made him a kind of pariah internationally.
There were questions about whether he would receive a visa to go into the U.S. He didn't travel internationally quite so much. Now he plays the sort
of world-traveled international statesman. That was not even possible at the time.
AMANPOUR: So, where do you think this is leading? What is the point of all of this? I mean, 150 million Muslims is a lot to keep down or to kick out.
What is the objective? And are there any reins on Prime Minister Modi? Is the press able to be robust enough? Does he have any opposition that's
meaningful in Parliament?
GHOSH: Well, the opposition has been very poor. The Congress party of Gandhi and Nehru has been in deep, deep decline for more than a decade now.
And in general elections last year, his party, Modi's party, won another thumping victory, an even bigger mandate than four years previously.
So there's not a political -- there's no political reins on him. The press has, in India, been to a substantial degree captured in a way that we have
seen happen in other countries.
AMANPOUR: You faced quite a lot of pressure when you were editor in chief of "The Times" there.
GHOSH: Indeed. And anything we did that was critical of the government got very, very strong pushback against me, against my colleagues, against the
people who own the paper.
We have seen that kind of press capture take place in countries like Turkey, and like Egypt, which have very, very poor records in terms of
media freedom. This was not the case in India. India prided itself, as you said, not just of being a big democracy, but being a liberal, secular,
That has been -- that has been sort of systematically ironed out over the last few years. So, there's not a lot restraining Modi. If there is any
hope, it lies in local elections.
So, Modi, only last month, lost -- Delhi, the capital city, had its own election. And Modi's party did very, very poorly. There are other pockets
in other states -- and Indian states are gigantic, the sizes -- the size of several countries -- where the party has done poorly.
But at the national level, he personally still enjoys enormous appeal among Indians, who see him as a rags-to-riches story, a man who does not come
from one of the great dynasties of Indian politics. He came from a humble beginning, brought himself up by his own bootstraps, achieved this national
status, and, as we saw this week, is hugged by the president of the United States, gets to sort of stand -- sit at the high table of world affairs.
All of those things make him very compelling to the Indian voter at the national level. We will have to see whether this violence begins to chip
away at that image.
AMANPOUR: Well, we will watch it very closely.
Bobby Ghosh, thank you so much, indeed, for joining me.
GHOSH: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And now we're going to turn to the new bilingual Netflix drama "Gentefied." It's set in Boyle Heights, which is a predominantly Mexican-
American Los Angeles suburb.
The series follows three cousins and their fight to keep their grandfather's taco shop open as their neighborhood faces rapid
The executive producer is actress America Ferrera. She's best known for her roles in "Ugly Betty" and "Superstore." Ferrera herself is a first-
generation Latina whose parents immigrated from Honduras.
And she's joining our Michel Martin from Los Angeles to discuss how her experiences shape the way she portrays the Latino community.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: America Ferrera, thank you so much for talking with us.
FERRERA: Thank you, Michel, for talking with me.
MARTIN: So, you're executive producing a new show on Netflix called "Gentefied." And your "Superstore" has just been renewed. And you're
expecting your second baby. And, in addition to acting, you're also directing.
MARTIN: So you're not busy at all.
FERRERA: Just normal amount of busy for me, but everything's great.
MARTIN: So tell me about "Gentefied." It's a really special project. Just describe what it's all about.
FERRERA: It's a story about a family that lives in Boyle Heights. It's a neighborhood of East Los Angeles, a very historic neighborhood, very
entrenched in Latino culture and organizing and activism.
And "Gentefied" uses Boyle Heights as the backdrop to tell this family story that is -- but that also really explores the tension between roots
and tradition, and also progress and change and moving forward.
And the show is called "Gentefied," because gentefication is when the people of the neighborhood have a lot to do with the changing of the
neighborhood. And so for -- what that means in a place like Boyle Heights is that young people of my generation whose parents came to this country to
give their children more opportunity are part of that change.
They go away, get education, get fancy jobs, get lots of opportunity, and come back to their neighborhoods, because that's where they're from, but
control due to the changing of it.
MARTIN: The focus is a family that has run a taco restaurant, and it's a neighborhood spot. But it's challenged. I mean, it's challenged by rent
It's challenged by the fact that that neighborhood is changing. They're trying to figure out, like, what do we do? Like, what do we hold on to?
What do we change?
MARTIN: I want to play a clip.
It's the grandfather, who's the patriarch. And he's talking to his granddaughter, Ana, who is trying to be an artist, and she's also helping
out with the business. And she's trying to sort of make her way as an artist, even as she's trying to help him hold onto the business.
So we will play that clip, and then we will talk a little bit more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GENTEFIED")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): Change is something very hard to do. Old folks like me don't like it.
But Ofelia will come around.
Maybe that mural will help her. Maybe it won't. Maybe charging chips will help. Maybe it won't. But we need to try, mija. What doesn't feel good is
being treated like you can't handle your own business, as if you're some idiot who can't make her own decisions.
That's a matter of respect. You have to give her the respect that gringo will not.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: All I wanted was to do what I loved without having to worry about money.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): Me too, mija. Me too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: Oh, I love this clip so much, because the grandpa speaks in Spanish, and granddaughter answers in English.
He wants to hold onto his business, and he's not really sure how. But every time somebody suggests that they change something, he gets mad. How did you
come up with the tone of this? How did you know what you were going for?
FERRERA: Well, our show creator is Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez, two young Latino writers, creators.
They created this world on the page. And it's based on their family, their moms, their aunts, their uncles, their cousins. And I remember reading the
scripts and laughing so hard and crying at the same time and feeling the heart and the warmth that I really recognized in my own family and in my
own life experience.
And, also, we're used to seeing our communities portrayed in very polarizing ways, where either broad, comedic jokes that don't resonate with
me, or it's gritty and it's raw and it's all the drug-riddled gangbanging grit.
We never get to be other things. We never get to be funny and hilarious and stylish and smart and witty and all the other parts of the scale of human
dimension. And thank you for showing that clip.
Joaquin Cosio, who plays our grandpa, our pops in the show, is just such a phenomenal actor, who he himself, like, talks about what this role meant to
him, because he's always played the drug dealer, the gangbanger, the bad guy. Like, they don't -- there aren't opportunities for him to play roles
that show other colors for him.
And he has spoken personally about how, for him, this is him telling the story of his father, what his father went through and gave up to pursue a
better life for him and his family.
MARTIN: I want to play another clip. And you're in this one, you won't be shocked, where grandpa's trying to hold onto his taco restaurant in the
face of a big rent increase that he's really struggling to pay.
So he goes to get advice from you. And I believe, in this, you play like a lawyer, like a tenant's rights lawyer that they go to get some advice from.
FERRERA: Yes. Yes.
MARTIN: So let's just play that clip, and I want to talk a little bit about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GENTEFIED")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Reads a few books, now he thinks he is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
I read all about her in my women's studies class at Boise State. That's where I got my degree in business.
FERRERA: Is that -- you're done?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm done.
FERRERA: Well, Erik is asking all the right questions. California is a tenant state. So he can give you an eviction notice, but as long as you're
complying with his demands within the allotted time, then you're good.
Landlords like to pull the scare tactic often. Now, in order to prevent a future detainer or a forced eviction via court, just pay your rent on time.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's it?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): Well, that's great. Thank you so much, Ms. Cruz.
God bless you. Look, I don't know how to thank you, mija, but--
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, Jesus, pop.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (through translator): I hope you like carnitas.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Seriously?
FERRERA: No, I -- getting paid in carnitas is OK by me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: So, it's so sweet, because here, again, the subtleties here.
First of all, Chris, he's the young aspiring chef. He's aspiring to be a classically trained chef and go and get a really expensive sort of culinary
education. He's aspiring to get like Michelin stars and get that kind of claim.
And Erik's just trying to kind of hold on to things to help his grandpa hold onto things.
MARTIN: And they're both trying to help.
One of the things that I sort of appreciated about this is, you showed sort of the awkwardness of the not fitting in, as you talked about, that feeling
like you're neither here nor there.
MARTIN: I was really intrigued by this, because it seems as though a lot of these kinds of programs that are aimed at -- quote, unquote -- "ethnic
audiences," often, they're choosing sides.
Like, one person has to be the good person, right, and one person has to be the bad person.
We're not one bloc. Like, we have such varied experiences of being Latino and what that means. And Chris is the cousin whose father moved to Idaho,
like, moved his son to Idaho, and he grew up in Idaho. And now he's back in this neighborhood that he was originally from and couldn't feel more out of
And that is a very true experience for a lot of us who, for whatever reason, we weren't surrounded by our culture outside of our home. We had to
adapt and assimilate to whatever circumstances we found ourselves in. And Chris is definitely having that experience as he returns to Boyle Heights,
trying to reconnect to a past version of his life and to a past identity.
And they don't make it easy for him. His own family doesn't make it easy for him.
MARTIN: Did that ever happen to you?
FERRERA: Oh, all the time, yes.
Girls in school would talk about me in Spanish like right in front of me and just assume that I didn't speak Spanish, because I didn't dress like
them or talk like them or I didn't ride the bus to school with them.
So people assume all kinds of things about you. And the experience I was speaking to is one where -- in my own family. Like, speaking Spanish and
making mistakes in Spanish, you would get made fun of.
So it would make it that I didn't want to speak Spanish, because I didn't want to make mistakes and I didn't want to be called a white girl, and I
didn't want to be made fun of at home.
But then I go to school or to hang with the neighborhood kids, and I wanted to fit in there too. And so you kind of -- you couldn't go right in either
But the family making fun of you, and making fun of your assimilation and your adaptation, is a very authentic experience to me, and one of that's a
bit confusing, because, in large part, the messaging is, go forth, assimilate, succeed, do what you have to do to make the most of these
opportunities we gave you, and we might make fun of you along the way.
So, that certainly is true how -- for how it worked for me in my childhood and growing up.
MARTIN: But, in the series, it also makes the point that, at some point, people need the knowledge and expertise that has been gained by people who
have kind of left the community, right?
I mean, doesn't -- isn't that part of it, too?
FERRERA: I think it makes the point that there's different kinds of knowledge and that all of our experiences are valid.
And I think that's something that I haven't experienced as a Latina American, that my experience of being Latina is a valid one, too. We all
have different experiences of our identity, and we're all struggling with what that identity is, individually and collectively.
And Erik stayed in Boyle Heights because he didn't have a choice, and he's making the best out of what he has. But he's also in a relationship with a
young, amazing, intelligent woman who went to Stanford and also chose to come back to Boyle Heights and be rooted back in her community.
And you mentioned Ana before, whose deep desire is to be an artist, and her many identities create struggle for her, because she's queer. And that
obviously creates some tensions in her relationship with her family and her mom, but it creates tension in her identity as a Latina, because,
sometimes, her Latina-ness is not accepted in her queerness and vice versa.
MARTIN: So let's go back and talk about you for a minute.
You have been at this for a long time. And I sense that this is a real kind of passion project for you and something that you feel really strongly
about and really close to.
Do you remember that, when you started out, is this what you thought it would be like? Is this what you hoped for?
FERRERA: To be perfectly honest, I never thought about my Latina identity. I was just who I was.
And it wasn't really until I started auditioning and acting and getting cast in roles that I realized that, even if I didn't see it, people saw it
when they looked at me, and that there was no escaping that part of my identity, particularly when it came to what characters I could play and
what kind of characters people saw me as.
I was lucky enough to get to start in "Real Women Have Curves" as the first film I ever did, which also took place in Boyle Heights, by the way. And
all I wanted at 17 was to live my dream. Like Ana said, like all I want to do is do what I love.
And I think, at 17, when you realize that you are representative of millions of other people, that can be daunting. It can be hard to wrap your
mind around of people see themselves in me, or when I speak or when I act or when I take on a role, it's not just me out there. It's millions of
Latinos like me who've never seen themselves, millions of women like me who've never seen themselves in this way.
But I think, as I have grown in my career and as a person, it no longer feels like a responsibility. It feels like a deep privilege and a deep
desire of mine to use whatever access I have to create more opportunity and more space for new kinds of stories and new kinds of portrayals to exist.
MARTIN: Where did the directing come in? Is that part of that, of trying to give space for other people?
Because, in addition to performing, you have now started directing. You have directed a couple of episodes of "Superstore." You have also directed
a couple of episodes of this series as well. What motivates that?
FERRERA: The push that I needed to overcome any hesitation or fear about taking that step definitely came from seeing other women around me do it,
seeing other actresses sort of step up and take on that role, watching Eva Longoria direct on TV shows she was acting in or producing, watching Amy
Poehler and Lena Dunham, and just watching other actresses step into those roles and be wonderful at them, and turn back, and give me the
encouragement that I could, in fact, do it.
And, also, I think what helped me get over the fear of asking for that opportunity did come from me realizing that, if I, with all of my access
and all my opportunity and all my experience, if I couldn't break that barrier, then how could I expect the young women and young people of color
behind me with so much less opportunity and access to overcome their fears and step up and claim something that they wanted as their own?
MARTIN: And where does the activism fit in to this vision? How did that start for you?
It's interesting, because, on the one hand, we're very accustomed now to celebrities being active, particularly politically. On the other hand, they
often get pushback for it. People are like, who do you think you are? Take a seat.
How do you decide what you're going to get involved in? And how do you see yourself as an activist? Where does it kind of fit into your sense of
FERRERA: Well, for me, it's always been a part of who I am.
I have always been deeply curious and involved and engaged in the world around me and in my community just as a person in the world. I claim my
right to be interested and engaged and use whatever platform I have to do what I want with it.
And I think, whether you're a plumber or a teacher or an actor or a poet, that your job title doesn't take away your right as a human being to be
engaged in the world around you.
MARTIN: Obviously, some people are very well-known for their political activism.
But other women have told me, very -- particularly members of historically marginalized communities, that they have had to think long and hard,
because they have had fears that they will be blackballed or deprived of opportunities.
And I just have to ask you if you have ever had that fear, and how did you address it?
FERRERA: Well, I think that those fears are real and rooted and are valid.
But, like I said, I didn't become an actor and then gauge what my -- what my engagement in the world was going to cost me as an actor. I was an
engaged human being and person in the world long before I had an acting career.
So, I didn't -- I never -- I personally never felt like I had to relinquish a part of who I was to take on this career. So, for me, it -- there was
never an America, the actress, without America, all the other things, including my activism and my interest in the world.
And I'm also an artist because I'm deeply curious and engaged in the world.
MARTIN: America Ferrera, thank you so much for talking with us.
FERRERA: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, a pairing for the ages.
Two young leaders fighting for change met for the first time today, Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, one the symbol of a generation fighting for
female education around the world, the other the face of activism against the climate crisis.
They met as Greta is in the United Kingdom to support a school strike, with Malala tweeting: "She's the only friend I'd skip school for."
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.