The much-awaited US 2020 Presidential election has come to a near finish, and what a race to the wire it has been.
From going neck-to-neck in the initial days of the counting to gaining a considerable margin over Trump-Pence, Biden-Harris has proven to be a formidable pair to watch out for in the coming term.
Biden has officially gained a landslide victory by bagging 11 votes in Arizona after Pennsylvania and Nevada voted in favour of the Democratic party.
However, Trump continues to have a meltdown and is in a state of denial. The White House is planning for a second Trump term despite the considerable defeat and the US Federal officials rejecting all claims of fraud in the 2020 elections.
He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
I WON THE ELECTION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2020
It’ll help Trump and his supporters to rewind and tap into the memories of the past year. Trump was impeached around this time last year over his ties with Russia. Trump’s staunch Christian supporter base stood on shaky ground when Christianity Today, the evangelical Christian magazine founded by televangelist Billy Graham, supported Trump’s removal from office post his impeachment. Last month, Pope Francis’s endorsement of same-sex civil unions was seen as tacit support to Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.
Back home in India, it’s amusing to watch fundamentalist Hindutva groups support Trump and the Republican party while talking of ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programs that staunchly oppose Christian missionary work in the country. It’s equally amusing to watch Christian fundamentalist groups who oppose the right-wing ruling BJP government in India, support the Republicans and their presidential candidate, Trump.
Interestingly, if you scratch and dig beneath the surface, you’ll discover the ugly head of capitalism in full mode play under the garb of religion and nationalism in the two largest democracies in the world. On that note, let’s discuss how Biden-Harris will be good for India, contrary to the naysayers within the country. But before that, let’s go back in time to the last US elections.
When Trump was elected to power in 2016, it raised the same anxiety and debate among Indians both in America and India. Indian Americans feared Trump’s presidency would mean a rise in racism, as indicated by his electoral campaign’s general mood. The xenophobia was real, and it heightened with Trump’s foray into politics, and during his presidential term, be it his unsavoury comments and actions on the Mexican, Muslim, or Asian communities.
Indians living in their home country feared Trump’s presidency would mean closing the borders and the doors of their American dream. The fears were not unfounded, as proven with Trump’s restrictive visa policies. Trump’s overtly Christian fundamentalist outlook, which clashed with the ruling government, BJP’s Hindutva agenda, was seen as another area of concern.
The previous Obama’s government was liberal and accepting of all faiths and new age religions. Obama and Modi shared a fairly cordial diplomatic bond. It was President Obama who celebrated Diwali and lighted the first-ever diya in the Oval Office.
However, what tied the Trump and BJP government together in the last few years were their common enemies and threats: Radical Islam and China.
Trump and Modi were seen as strict authoritarians who prioritized their nation’s security over diversity. While Trump had a no interference policy unlike the previous Democratic governments on the Kashmir issue, and especially the CAA-NRC Act, India joined forces with the US in their trade war against China after the pandemic.
The Modi government grossly overestimated the Trump government’s victory in the 2020 elections when it volunteered to be part of the “Howdy Modi” and “Namaste Trump” campaigns. While there is no doubt that Donald. J. Trump is hugely popular among a section of the Americans and all right-wing supporters, it’s also a fact that America is a changed demographic today with a steady rise in diverse communities.
The idea of a supremacist White male regimen doesn’t make the cut anymore. This is where the RSS’s efforts to mobilise the NRI community in America in favour of Trump failed. The promise of the ‘Acchhe Din’ was not alluring enough for the Indian-Americans to return to their home country, nor did they want to die by political suicide in their adopted country.
Here’s exploring five reasons the Biden-Harris win is good news for Indians and India.
The general mood and perception under Trump’s regime among his supporters were that if you question Trump, you’re questioning God. Compare this to the current national sentiment that if you question Modi or the BJP government, you are an anti-national. The logic is not just flawed but also sets a dangerous precedent.
The Biden-Harris regimen will usher in the openness of the mind and spirit to embrace opposing viewpoints and decipher them rationally and contextually in an increasingly diverse world.
How is it good for India?
Hopefully, it will dispel the notion that questioning the establishment or authority is an anti-national travesty. Take the case of Kamala Harris in point. Ms Harris has her roots in Tamil Nadu, a South India state with 90% Hindus and not Hindi-speaking, but has rejected the BJP, which failed to garner a single seat in the previous elections. Her father is an African American, an enslaved community, mistreated, and outcast for years in America.
Harris’ win will hopefully bring to the table the discussion point of the meaning of patriotism and nationalism both in America and India. You’re not a bad Hindu or no less of one if you don’t vote and support the BJP. You’re not an anti-national if you question and don’t support the BJP or any of its policies.
Biden-Harris might not be good news for the BJP, but their ideology is certainly aligned with the Indian Constitution and upholds all that it stands for.
Trump’s idea of building a wall and closing the borders is preposterous and racist. To think that America is the bastion of a select privileged few is racist. There is no place for divisions in a diverse world.
Under the leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, America will have a fair immigration system, free of racial bias. They will relax the visa restrictions, clear the Green Card and family visa backlog, and push for overdue reforms to the visa programs. Indians will stand to gain with Biden-Harris lifting all restrictions on employment-based visas, including H1B and employment-based green cards or permanent resident cards. Biden-Harris will also lift caps on research graduates in science & tech programmes, allow flexible post-degree work options, and stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities for foreign students.
Biden and Harris’ presidential regime will break the walls and open the borders for anyone who wants to study, work, or migrate to America. Indians who harboured the great American dream have the option now to move from their home country and start a new chapter of their lives in their adopted country of choice.
I don’t see the US-India relations being strained because of a Democratic win. Here’s why!
Joe Biden is the kind of leader who believes in taking everyone along with him. And that includes taking India along with Pakistan, China, and other countries. There is nothing wrong with that philosophy of thought, and in fact, it will be the wisest thing to do in a diversified world. Competition is passe’ and collaboration is in vogue.
I understand the mistrust in some groups of Indians regarding Joe Biden and his cordial relationship with Pakistan, especially after the country honoured him with the second-highest civilian honour, ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’. Biden had also criticized the planned killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan under the Obama presidency. But, it is also true that during Obama’s presidential regime, Biden supported the Major Defense Partner (MDP) designation given to India to boost its capacity-building. The title was given to India to recognize being treated on par with US’s closest allies and that it had to strengthen its military base with the latest technology.
Biden is one of the originators of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, which recognises the evil of terrorism in Pakistan, and offers billions in assisting civilians to escape from its evil clutches. Biden has always dealt with Pakistan’s terrorism problem and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) with a firm hand.
Vice President Kamala Harris is a forceful advocate of human rights and diversity, which she believes lends a competitive edge to any country and its economy. Ms Harris’ life is a shining example of diversity.
The Biden-Harris duo stands for freedom of speech, religion, choice, and civic liberties. It will push the Indian ruling government to introspect on its poor human rights track record and hold it accountable to higher standards on that front.
The US-India relations during Modi and Trump were high on show and low on substance. There was excessive PDA and vulgar pomp of abundance amidst the reality of penury.
While there was a lot of media coverage, the “Howdy Modi” and “Namaste Trump” did little to nothing for Indians and India. Before coming to India, Trump made a weird statement that the USA was not treated well by India, but he liked Modi. Trump had accused India of putting tariffs on American products, which he said was unacceptable. Post his India visit, Trump continued to insult the country in his tweets, calling it filthy.
Biden is keen to forge and strengthen the US-India relations. He has to his credit, being the first former Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become America’s president. Biden understands how foreign relations work between countries and how to bring different interests on the table to a mutual consensus.
Let’s look at some of the different interests and how they could affect US-India relations.
The common enemy for America and India is China. Be it the Republicans or Democrats; they will not allow China to become a bigger threat than it already is and supersede America’s position as a global superpower. Biden will be hard on China like his predecessor Trump but will adopt a more conventional approach when dealing with China. Biden has condemned China’s trade policy and called Xi a “thug.” Also, India’s proximity to Russia could be another challenging area in US-India relations.
In trade with India, Biden-Harris will still prioritize the “America first” philosophy but will take a closer look at some of the Trump tariffs and trade with China.
India stands to benefit with Biden and Harris’ stance on climate change, and the dire need for green tech, which can open up collaboration opportunities for India. They also plan to expand Obamacare, which is good news for Indian generics. However, Biden is against breaking pharma patents, and this will not bode well for India.
India has seen several women leaders at the top in both Prime Ministerial and Presidential positions. On this front, India overtakes America by leaps and bounds as our women politicians have proven their mettle, and reclaimed their spot at the top. I know Kamala Harris is a bonafide American. But it feels satisfying that a woman of half Indian descent broke the glass ceiling in American politics to become the first female Vice-President. The long wait was worth it!
America has voted for inclusiveness, and diversity in the 2020 US elections. What makes the victory the sweetest is that Trump lost to the first elected woman US Vice-President and a most likely US President in the future.
It will be exciting to watch Kamala Harris take centre stage as she, in particular, looks very promising. She was the Democrat’s trump card in bringing down Trump. I wish people would stop referring to Kamala Harris as the female Obama. Ms Harris is an accomplished politician in her own right and comparing her to anyone is disrespectful of her acumen and stature. Kamala Harris will be inclusive of India, its people and interests. Her win brings hope for many diverse communities around the world.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.” – Kamala Harris.
The US-India relationship is much bigger than its leaders. It’s beyond Modi, Trump, Biden, or whoever’s in power right now.
Like any other relationship, there will be positive and negative implications. India will need to capitalise on the strengths and opportunities the new political equation brings for the country, its citizens, and immigrants. The differences in ideologies are a learning opportunity for India to pause and introspect this current hardline stance on minorities, and other diverse, unprivileged sections of the society.
Last but not least, India will need to become ‘Atma Nirbhar’ or independent so as not to let the external circumstances affect the vision and progress of the country.