Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Administration: A Boon or Bane for US-India Partnership?

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Joe Biden, the speculative Democratic nominee for president, will place a very high priority on continuing to strengthen the US-India relationship and his administration will have zero tolerance for cross-border terrorism in South Asia, according to his campaign.

Biden campaign has released a policy document, which says his administration will work with India to support a “rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region” in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbours with impunity.

The policy document read that Biden would deliver on his long-standing belief that India and the United States are natural partners and a Biden administration would place a high priority on continuing to strengthen the US-India relationship.

“No common global challenge can be solved without India and the United States working as responsible partners”, said Biden’s campaign on Joe Biden’s agenda for the Indian American community.

The policy document comes days after former vice president Joe Biden named Indian-origin US Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. It further added that his government will reflect the diversity of the United States, and Indian American voices will be included in shaping the policies that impact their communities.

“From fighting COVID-19 to building our economy back better to reforming our system of immigration, a Biden-Harris Administration will be one that Indian-Americans can count on,” it declared. As the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India are bound together by their shared democratic values: fair and free elections, equality before the law, and the freedom of expression and religion, the campaign added.

But Biden also reminded the Indian-Americans that he had been advocating strong friendship with India since his days as Senator. “Our government will reflect the diversity of the United States, and Indian-American voices will be included in shaping the policies that impact their communities,” he promised.

Biden also promised to reform the H-1B visa system. Joe Biden will support reforming the temporary visa system for high-skill – H-1Bs – to protect wages and workers and then their numbers. He will “preserve family unification as a core principle of our immigration system”, increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration Green Cards, overturning the Trump administration’s switch to a merit-based system.

“Biden will appoint leaders at the Department of Justice who will prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes, and he will order his Justice Department to focus additional resources to combat hate crimes — including religion-based hate crimes — and to confront white nationalist terrorism,” the campaign document said.

Kamala Harris’ selection as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate has evoked mixed reactions from the influential Indian-Americans, with a majority of them expressing unfavourable opinions about the Indian-American senator’s track record and her stance towards India and the community.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden scripted history by selecting 55-year-old Kamala Harris, an Indian-American and an African-American, as his running mate in the election to be held on November 3. Born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, California Senator Harris, if elected, would be the first woman vice president ever for the country.

Joe Bidden remarked that Kamala Harris is smart, tested and prepared. Biden also brought up the story of the immigration her mother to the United States and also stressed upon the fact that it began from India. “For your sacrifices, and your family’s courage, you became pillars of our community and our country. You’re patriots and the frontlines of this pandemic. In this reckoning of systemic racism, you’re making a real promise that America is a place where people of all races and religions can live together in peace,” he said.

While her nomination has filled many aspiring women, particularly young women of colour, with joy in all parts of the globe, Harris’ selection has also generated mixed reactions from about 3.9 million Indian-Americans, both Republicans and indecisive voters, who believe she lacks understanding of what she stands for and does not consider herself as a woman of Indian origin.

After talking to various Indian-American groups, they all seem proud but have doubts at large on her handling of various critical issues towards the community and India. Allegations like Kamala Harris is a supporter of the anti-India, anti-Hindu brigade, who calls herself Black, hates Indian side of her family, never recognised herself as an Indian are common.

Rajiv Verma, a Houston community activist, believes that with Harris as Vice President, the Biden campaign has wilfully forfeited any hopes to get the Indian-American votes as she opposes both removals of Article 370 and passage of the new citizenship amendment act by the Indian parliament.

Kamala Harris’ uninformed comments on Kashmir are interference in another sovereign country’s internal matter and are setting up a dangerous precedent for American politics. The fact that the Democrats have shown no understanding of why India has taken the steps it has, makes me think they are purposely being obtuse. How is implementing the Constitution of a sovereign nation across the country discriminatory?” asks Professor Amulya Gurtu of Green Bay, California.

According to Subhash Razdan, Chairman and Co-Founder of Gandhi Foundation USA, Harris need to brush up her knowledge of Indo-US relations, failing which the votes of admiring Indian-Americans are not likely to translate into votes for the blue ticket. The ongoing Indo-US relations with Modi-Trump chemistry is at its peak since centuries and Indo-Americans voters are very happy and satisfied with that.

“My decision not to support Kamala has nothing whatsoever to do with whether she identifies as Indian or Black. It’s about all the Democrats, including her & Biden, toeing the line for vile Kashmiri terrorists in my ancestral homeland of Kashmir,” said Dr Vasudev Patel, president Federation of Indian-American Association.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asserted that if elected, his administration will stand with New Delhi in confronting the threats it faces and called for strengthening the “bond” between India and the U.S.

Presidential elections in the U.S. will be held on November 3 and the 77-year-old is challenging incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in the polls.

“Fifteen years ago, I was leading the efforts to approve the historic civil nuclear deal with India. I said that if the U.S. and India became closer friends and partners, then the world will be a safer place,” Biden, who was vice-president in the Obama administration, said while addressing the Indian-American community on India’s Independence Day. If elected president, Biden said, he will continue to maintain this and also continue to stand with India against the threats it faces from its own region and along its borders. He said that he will work on expanding two-way trade between the two nations and take on big global challenges like climate change and global health security.

The Democratic candidate also said that he will work to strengthen the democracies where diversity is a mutual strength. On this day, let us “continue to deepen the bond that endures between our nation’s and our people, Biden said. He said “as President, I’ll also continue to rely on the Indian-American diaspora, that keeps our two nations together, as I have throughout my career…My constituents in Delaware, my staff in the Senate, the Obama administration that had more Indian-Americans than any other administration in the history of this country, and this campaign with Indian Americans at senior levels, which of course includes the top of the heap, our dear friend (Kamala Harris) who will be the first Indian American vice president in the history of the United States of America,” Biden said.

Biden played a chief role, both as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as the Vice President, in systematically deepening the strategic engagement of US, people to people ties, and collaboration with India on global challenges, the campaign said. The campaign also highlighted how he had worked very closely with President Obama to approve the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008. The Obama-Biden administration continued to deepen collaboration between India and the United States on strategic, defence, economic, regional and all other global challenges.

So, taking into consideration every other aspect, it will be quite interesting to see how things turn out if this duo comes into power. 


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