By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
As Indian-Americans in the US, many elite Indians in India too have been evincing keen interest in the 2020 US Presidential elections and have been guessing about who will be the next US President and the next US Vice President, and who will be the possible candidates of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
Now the suspense is over and a clarity has emerged as far as the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates of the Republican and the Democratic Parties, after the national conventions of both the parties were held in two consecutive weeks during past fortnight.
The November 3, 2020 US Presidential race is between Republican nominee, who is an incumbent President Donald Trump, and Democratic nominee is former Vice President Joe Biden. While Trump’s Vice Presidential running mate remains Vice President Mike Pence, Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential running mate will be so-claimed Indian-American Senator Kamala Harris.
The nominations of Donald Trump and Mike Pence were confirmed at the end of four-day Republican National Convention (RNC) on August 27, while the confirmation of nominations of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were confirmed at the concluding day of the four-day Democratic National Convention (DNC) on August 20.
The inaugural of RNC was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and other cities remotely on August 24, and the inaugural of DNC was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and various locations remotely on August 17.The conventions were held a week apart.
But the suspense over the next President of the US will be over soon after November 3 when nationwide Presidential election is scheduled and counting of votes is completed.
While Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is a well-known “old warhorse” in politics, his Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris though a novice, her identity of Indian origin, is a subject of interest for Indians and Indian Americans.
As far as Donald Trump is concerned, he is upbeat and is seeking re-election, who has become “popular” because of his “unconventional and rash” talk and actions. Though his popularity rating as per a recent survey is very narrow and slightly a few points less than Joe Biden, as both the Republican nominees show a lot of interest in India because of the brotherly cordiality that prevails between Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another hope that the Indians, and the Indian-Americans expect from the US is that if the US successfully makes anti-Covid-19 vaccine before the Presidential election, Donald Trump would see to it that India will be the first country to be favored with its supply.
Dr. Sampat Shivangi, who is a member of National Advisory Council SAMHSA, and Center for national Mental Health Services stationed in Washington DC, who has been a five-time national delegate of the Republican National Conventions successively, says Kamala Harris is neither a true Indian-American as she never spoke in support of India, nor can she claim an African-American or black American succession, as her father is a Jamaican and that counts legally.
By saying she is black American or of the Caribbean origin, Trump says that she is being used by the Democratic Party to woo the 15-18 percent vote bank in the USA, compared to one million Indian-American voters or nearly 1.1 percent of the American votes. President Obama is closely associated with Kamala Harris as she fits his criteria as an African and a woman, as her father was African and mother a “white American.”
Dr. Shivangi says many Indian-American voters are well aware that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have questioned the legitimacy of India scraping the Article 370 of the Constitution and passing the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do not have affinity towards India while Donald Trump supports India on all vital issues.
Claiming that he is voicing psyche of some pro-Biden Indian-American voters, and also some American voters, Dr. Shivangi says as Joe Biden is 78 years old and if he is elected now as President, naturally Kamala Harris, who is 55 years old, will be Vice President. That combination paves the way for Kamala Harris to be Presidential candidate in 2024 election as Joe Biden may not seek reelection for another term as he will be too old to lead the nation as the President. But even if Joe Biden wins or loses, Dr. Shivangi avers, Kamala Harris is making grounds for 2024 US Presidential elections.
This pro-Kamala Harris view has also been supported by some Indian Americans, who say that in 2024 if Kamala Harris contests as a Democratic Presidential candidate, surely the Republican Party can put up against her a much stronger female contestant, Nikki Haley, who with her real Indian ancestry, will win with hands down if the contest is between two women representing two different parties.
Dr. Janardhan Reddy, an independent practicing physician in Hyderabad, does not see any good will come out for India and the world if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected as President and Vice President.
Dr. Reddy says: “The Biden- Harris’s stance on the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Registry of Citizenship) is both facile and hypocritical. CAA has been brought to fast-track citizenship for six minorities – Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis in three Muslim-majority countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) where they face systematic killings, blasphemy laws, rapes, forced conversions and land grab. And the CAA does not stop a Muslim from these countries to apply for Indian citizenship under the regular laws.
“The US also has a CAA equivalent. The ‘Lautenberg Amendment’ enacted in 1989 which provides special treatment to Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics or Ukrainian Orthodox from the former Soviet Union, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania. In 2004, Congress added the ‘Specter Amendment,’ which included Jews, Christians, Baha’is and other religious minorities from Iran.”
Dr. Reddy questions: “Is Biden suggesting that the Lautenberg-Specter Amendment makes America less secular and should be scrapped? Even in the case of the NRC, Joe Biden reveals double-standards. Is it wrong or illegal for a nation to keep its registry of bona fide citizens? Should resources in a developing country go to illegal immigrants and squatters? Should takeover of culture be facilitated by the state in the name of secularism?”
Dr. Reddy adds that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have questioned the legality of India passing Article 370 and CAA. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do not have affinity towards India likes of Donald Trump.
Supporting Donald Trump’s candidature, Dr. Reddy says: “Trump stated that these matters — CAA, NRC and Article 370 — are India’s internal issues.”
G. Narendra, an IT professional working with a Multinational Company in Chennai, says that for most people of Tamil Nadu, Kamala Harris’ nomination as Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate seems to be more interesting news than Joe Biden’s Democratic Presidential nomination. That is why they got interested in the US Presidential election, and thus want the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris team to win the election. They even have been offering payers in her ancestral temple in her ancestral village Painganadunear Mannargudi in Thiruvarur district in Tamil Nadu.
He further says that though her ancestors and their families have spent very little time in the village, their family temple still bears her name along with grandparents’ names on its walls, acknowledging the contributions they have made for the temple over the years.
Dr. Sarod Pundaleeka, a well-known physician, who immigrated from Karnataka to the US some decades, and now lives in Burr Ridge, IL, says that there are several reasons that Joe Biden should win.
Dr. Pundaleeka says that Joe Biden is an experienced person in handling national and international affairs; he has respect for science and scientific advisors, who have dealt with infections like SARS; he is an advocate of environmental factors; being a Democrat, he is sympathetic to all people – colored, brown skinned and white population; he supports immigration of white and non-white people; he is fiscally responsible for government spending and cutting down governmental defense spending; as a Democrat he always supported a balanced budget unlike Republicans, who are spendthrifts; and he favors police brutalities. More interestingly as a person of 78 years old, he is trying to groom Kamala Harris, a woman for Vice-Presidency later to become a President of the US.
Prof. K.V Nagaraj, former Pro Vice-Chancellor of Assam Central University located in Silchar, Assam, says most Indians look for the US for support against the People’s Republic of China.
Most people, he says, think that the Chinese leadership has betrayed India once again. India had almost forgotten the 1962 war. Our previous Defense Minister George Fernandes had rightly described China as number one enemy of India. Naturally Indians will have a soft corner for Trump. The issues like H1B visa may not matter much since the issue is diluted now. Still the US is the dreamland of many Indians. The Kamala Harris factor may affect the Trump prospects to some extent.
Prof. Nagaraj adds: “I have seen how the Chinese society is. China loves China out of fear. It is a closed society. Many of us would like Joe Biden to make right noises for us against China. Most middle class Indians may not prefer Trump. For me, the Kamala Harris factor may not be a great count for many Indians. We Indians do not favor much that the Indian ladies marrying the men of African descent. Unless Joe Biden becomes aggressive in his campaign against Trump, the results will be a close finish. He can only encash the general discontent against Trump.”
Prof. Srinivas Kunuthur, a noted soil scientist of ANGR Agricultural University, Tirupati, sounds more an alert to Donald Trump rather than an open support to him. Nonetheless he does not talk about Joe Biden.
The Professor says the US has been created on the maxim of unity and equality of all religions and races. It is a country of immigrants where the citizens are constitutionally bestowed with all the freedom. The governance of US has to reflect that maxim. But the President Donald Trump government has been pursuing the “sons of soil” concept. If he continues this concept,and if he, who is seeking re-election as the Republican Presidential nominee, is elected, the country would be further divided racially.
The construction of a “wall of disconnect” to bar the entry of Mexicans along the border to the US has further accentuated conservative mindset of the Trump governance which goes contrary to the concept of globalization.
Prof. Srinivas Kunuthur says: “Trump’s governance has undermined the universal brotherhood and narrowed down the principles on which the US has been created. It will slow down the growth of the country. The recent outbreak of violence is an indication of racial discrimination where a cop virtually killed a colored individual.”
The restrictions imposed currently on the H1 B visa-holders particularly during the period of global health emergency due to Covid-19 insurgence, virtually driven them out of the US losing their employment.
He adds: “The US is supporting India as anear-warlike situation is currently prevails between India and China. But it should not result in a world war thereby shattering the world economy afflicting the common people across the world.”
The November 3, 2020 Presidential election is very close contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and Trump’s second-term prospects can become brighter provided he adopts radical measures to prove his passion for universal brotherhood among all the nations of the world.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao