As expected, the Indian community in America and all over the world is agog with excitement and pride over the selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate. So are most people in India. Self-congratulatory messages are flying over the internet as we Indians pat ourselves on our back for a great collective achievement, as though we have all been individually, jointly and severally been selected for the VP position, not Ms. Harris!
I am only not sure why we are all jumping up and down so much. Ms. Harris has been chosen because Biden needed a female candidate of African-American descent. Her great Indian blood and background has nothing to do with it. Also, she is not of ‘Indian origin’ as bandied about in the media, her mother is. Ms. Harris was born, bred and buttered in America and is as American as American pie! So let’s us bring our elation down a notch.
As for our Indian brethren, it will be interesting to see how they vote. I believe a large majority had voted for Hillary in 2016, but that was when they were uncertain about Trump. But now, Trump is Modi’s bosom pal and with the kind of following our PM has in the US, I was almost certain Trump would get the largest share of the Indian vote. I wonder if the equation changes, now that we have somebody of apparently ‘Indian origin’ on the ticket.
However, I doubt she is as happily disposed to the Modi administration as Trump is. Historically too, the Dems have not been as supportive of India as the Republicans. Sorry to break it to you, my beloved fellow Indians, but India has not and does not matter much to Americans. At best, we are a counterweight to China and a big market for US companies, but we are not a household name in America. China was and is. Things may seem different now, but that is because Trump and Modi think alike on many issues. So it is also going to depend on how Biden tackles China. If they reconcile as Dems generally do, India will slide down the totem pole before you can say Donald Trump. It will be a test of Modi too and how he adapts to a different political culture.
Numerically, Indian-Americans are not a huge voting block, but we are perhaps the most prosperous. Deep pockets count where numbers don’t.
Having said all that, I think Ms. Harris is a terrific candidate. She is strong, gutsy and articulate. Joe is most probably a one term President, given that he is already 77 years old. In 2024, Ms. Harris will still only be 59. I think it bodes well for America to have an African-American lady ready to take over. The one adjective I forgot to add about Ms. Harris. Ambitious. To be honest, I won’t be entirely surprised if she challenges Joe when 2024 rolls along.