BY KARNIKA BEHL
Kamala Devi Harris. This name has been creating waves in our country ever since the US Presidential Candidate Joe Biden announced Ms.Harris as the nominee for the position of Vice President in the upcoming US elections. Suddenly the entire nation wants to know why she is a subject of national interest and how she could be affecting our ties with the Super Power.
The first time I ever read or heard about Kamala Harris, I remember being in school. It was when she had been elected as Attorney General for California State in the 2011. Why was I reading a news article on an Attorney General of a foreign country? It was no way that it could affect my personal interests. What had actually grabbed my attention was the fact that her first name sounded very Indian. Upon further reading about her, I realized that she is of Indian and Jamaican descent. It felt great knowing that an Asian American is a prominent figure in American Politics!
In the last decade, Ms.Harris went from being an Attorney General to Senator in 2016. She describes herself as a “progressive prosecutor”. In January 2019 , she officially kick started her campaign to run for the president but unfortunately had to suspend her campaign in December 2019 admitting that she was out of funds for the campaign and couldn’t raise the exorbitant amount needed in order to keep the campaign going.
On August, 2020 US Presidential Candidate , also a Democrat , announced Sen Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential nominee. This year for Ms.Harris is about many firsts as she is the first black and South-Asian American woman to be nominated for the office by a major party. Her experience in the government as an Attorney General and US Senator made sense as why she was the perfect choice by Biden. As Ms.Harris is from California , it is a major boost to the Democratic party as they have a chunk of Democratic voters and Democratic donors. At the age of 55 , she represents a younger generation of leaders. She’s known to make her opponents nervous and weak in the knees and is always ready with tough questions. Her priorities include Criminal Justice Reform and Racial Justice Legislation.
Now the question , Is her nomination relevant to India ?
Ms.Harris has spoken extensively about her Indian roots and her love for bhindi , Idli and masala dosa especially in the last 4 years. She has been vocal about her support for immigrants and also spoke in the favor of immigrant women seeking jobs in the US while also batting for H-4 Visas given for spouses of H-1B visa holders.
In December 2019 when Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar visited Washington he refused to meet members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee if Rep. Pramila Jayapal , another Indian origin congresswoman was present. Ms.Jayapal had strongly criticized India’s Kashmir policy hence the irked politician demanded that she be dropped from the meeting. The chairman of the committee, Eliot Engel , refused to entertain his demands and cancelled the scheduled meeting at the last moment.
At the time, Ms.Harris backed her colleague and criticized Jaishankar’s actions. She said that it was wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members were allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill and that she stood with Jayapal. She sure doesn’t mince her words.
In October 2019, 2 months after India revoked the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir , she had a warning for Delhi and said , “We are watching”.
She is the daughter of a south Indian mother and a Jamaican father but she is very much American and will take decisions in the best interests of America. We Indians have a tendency to claim anything and everything that is even remotely related to our country.
As her uncle Gopal Balachandran said , “She likes India , but that doesn’t mean she’ll give a free pass to everything India does”.
Some of her views on politics may not go down too well with the current Indian government, but nevertheless, I wish her luck with the upcoming elections.