(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Kamala Devi Harris, the Democratic Party “Vice Presidential” nominee, has attempted to stir emotions and sentiments of “Gullible Indian American and Black People” not only in USA but also all over the world, particularly euphoria in her mother’s home state of Tamil Nadu by her dual lineage.
Kamala Devi Harris, as per polls, undeniably is heading to be the Vice President of the USA after January 2021. So, the Indian establishment has to brace itself to deal with anti-India American Indian on quite a few key issues, particularly her stand on Kashmir and cooperation with China on a range of issues. Kamala Devi Harris in her interview with the Council of Foreign Relation had stated that “she would seek to cooperate with China on a range of issues, including by seeking agreement on a path toward easing the environmental damage caused by global warming.”
Personality trait analysis and assessment is not simple. In particular, when Kamala Devi Harris is known to be too ambitious, not a team player, too aggressive, hard to work for, too progressive, not progressive enough; if a woman of colour, she will be challenged as ‘not really’ or too radical; will be called a token or merely a symbol who can’t deliver, as per Sherman – US Observer.”
Lawyer and District Attorney by education and profession, and first time Senator as a politician, Kamala Harris has excelled in her performance in the Senate, intelligence and various committees. One can, therefore, expect a hardnosed Vice President to deal with for the Indian establishment considering her past views on India.
US Democratic Party activists like Shekar Narasimhan support her candidacy that would be “seismic” for the Indian-American community. “Why should Indian-Americans not be proud of her? It’s a signal that we are coming of age.” “She’s a woman, she is biracial, she will help win the election for Biden, she appeals to various communities and she’s really smart.” Harris will impact Diaspora funding more than voting. But, unity in Indian Diaspora is also anathema.
Instead, she arouses white supremacist, particularly the middle class without jobs living on doles and “Food Coupons” in USA, ire on migrants. Also, her posture on human rights adds fuel to the prevailing communal cauldron in India.
Call it vote bank politics in USA, Kamala Devi Harris is recalling her proud Indian heritage and how her mother always wanted her “to understand where she had come from and where we had ancestry”, which may be viewed as a political gimmick to win over the Indian Diaspora. Elaborating the deep influence of the Indian heritage on her, Harris had invoked, “In Madras I would go on long walks with my grandfather, who at that point was retired. We would take morning walks where I’d hold his hand and he would tell me about the heroes who are responsible for the birth of the world’s biggest democracy.”
Irrefutable facts about her lineage are simple. Her mother’s ancestry is “Hindu Brahmin” – highly conservative. Her father, P V Gopalan, was born into a Tamil Brahmin caste family in 1911 in Painganadu, a village in the erstwhile Tanjore District, Madras Presidency, in British India.
Had Kamala claims to have had a deep influence of the Indian heritage on her, she is patently lying to arouse the sentiments and emotions of the Indian American community. Had her claims be true, even her mother, a Brahmin, should not have married a Jamaican Black Christian. Also, after her Jamaican father had given divorce to her mother Shymala Gopalan, Kamala should have changed her name to Kamala Gopalan, if she was proud of her ancestry.
On search of her current religious identity, Kamala Harris is member of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, a congregation of the American Baptist Churches USA. Her dropping of “Devi” is also an indication of her religious leanings. And, she has married attorney Douglas Emhoff, a Jew, who was at one time partner-in-charge at Venable LLP’s Los Angeles office, on August 22, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California. Kamala Harris is a stepmother to Emhoff two children from his previous marriage to Kerstin Emhoff.
In sum, Kamala Harris is also a “Janus faced” politician to attract “Gullible People” to her vote bank. One should not expect her to be a “political angel upholding ethics, morals and values.” Her assets are her “Charisma” and her legal background. And, she too has learnt the professional penchant to indulge in “Congenital lies” to survive and prosper in messy politics of democracy.
Like Rahul Gandhi visiting temples during the 2019 elections, none should be surprised if Kamala Harris goes around wearing the traditional Tanjavur Sari with Tilak on her forehead participating in the forthcoming Ganapthi and Dusshera festivals in the USA to fool gullible “Indian Diaspora”? Her latest political stroke is to appoint a Sikh as her Secretary.
Ipso facto, Kamala Harris claims to be champion of “Human Rights” cause all over the world. But, she has committed the worst partisan fraud by leading the other four Indian American lawmakers to bash India on Article 370 or CAA. And, the “Gang of Five” includes: Kamala Harris, Raja Krishnamurthy, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, and Ami Bera. In fact, they had pushed a resolution in December 2019.
Why is the “Gang of Five” not bashing the Muslims of Kashmir valley for driving out the Hindus, particularly the Pundits, in 1989 from the valley? How are they blissfully ignorant of the past Kashmir’s history (how the Muslims forced and brutal migrations of Hindus, particularly Pundits since 18th Century)? Why the current tirade to urge India to end restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.
And in October 2019, two months after India revoked the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir, Harris had warned New Delhi: “We are watching.” She had clearly stated that “Kashmiris are not alone in this world” and “if required, we will have to interfere in Kashmir affairs.” On two occasions she had backed the demand for intervention.
When External affairs minister S.Jaishankar refused to meet Jayapal during his visit to America terming her understanding of the situation as “unfair”, Harris had jumped in support of Jayapal. Also, Kamala Harris criticised S. Jaishankar for cancelling the meeting with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that included Rep. Pramila Jayapal, saying, “its wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members are allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill.”
Is she not aware that Kashmir issue is a “bilateral issue” to be resolved? Even Trump attempted to mediate, but has failed. Her rabid utterances are but natural coming from a first generation converted Christian aligning with Islamists. Naturally, Pakistani media has gone overboard in supporting her views.
Had Kamala Harris (a Christian) and the four other Indian American Democrats been sensitive to human rights violations against Hindu’s, Sikhs and Buddhists in Pakistan who are virtually wiped out during the past 74-years, one could not have found fault due to their championing the “Human Rights” cause. Why are they muted on Pakistani human rights violations in Baluchistan, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and even Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)? Why have they not tabled a resolution in the US House and the Senate? Are they scared about Muslim vote bank backlash in their constituencies or radical Islamists targeting them?
Furthermore, the “Gang of Five” is muted over China’s human rights record in Xinjiang: over one million Uyghur’s in 1200 camps interned. Why have they not moved a resolution in the House of Representatives against China?
No wonder, Kamala Harris’s uncle, Gopalan Balachandran, told the Hindustan Times Harris “likes India. … But that doesn’t mean she gives a free pass to everything that India does.”
In sum, Kamala Harris and her four Democratic Party ilks are fooling “Gullible People of India Diaspora in their backyards and also in India” about championing the “Human Rights” cause for the sake of votes.
Never too late for the “Gang of Five” to internalize Samuel P. Huntington prophesy: “The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order”. Someone should also bring to her notice contents of HUSAIN HAQQANI’s recent article – New Great Game initiative of Imran Khan – highlighting the frequent talk about Pakistan’s forthcoming grand role in a China-Russia-Turkey-Iran-Pakistan alliance with Pakistan (epic enter of global terrorism) at the centre. And, Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan has encouraged discussions about this five-country alliance, ignoring the various issues that might hinder cooperation among this diverse grouping.
Be that as it may, Kamala Harris has been remarkably positive when she wrote against revoking the “right of spouses of H-1B visa holders to seek employment”. Similarly, Harris has called for the elimination of country quotas for getting green cards. No wonder, Indians on H1B Visas and also aspirants in India will be deeply appreciative by her postures. In 2019, Kamala Harris was a lead co-sponsor for legislation (which ultimately did not pass), whose impact would be to increase the number of green cards that could go to countries like India and China. But, they only favour those who are bent upon migrating to USA and not for the majority of people in India.
The most significant issue that must concern Indian foreign policy establishment is Kamala Harris known foreign policy postures. During her primary campaign, she was advised by seasoned foreign-policy experts. She has also served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the United States’ vast array of spy agencies and has played a key role in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections. So, her statements cannot be termed as off-the-cuff remarks.
As per supporters, Kamala Harris has strong instincts on foreign policy and “She’s smart and she understands the complex national security challenges that we’re facing.” In August 2019, when the think-tank Council for Foreign Relations asked all candidates about their positions on twelve foreign policy issues, Kamala Harris failed to clearly support the Indo-Pacific concept, which is one of the central pillars of the US’s relations with India. Instead, Kamala Harris stated:
“There is currently no ambassador to Pakistan and that needs to be addressed. If the United States in any meaningful way will have any influence on what’s happening in Kashmir, we need to have a representative on the ground.”
However, during her presidential campaign, Harris called on the need to confront China over its “abysmal” human rights record and “unfair trade practices,” but stopped short of supporting President Donald Trump’s trade war. Harris framed Russia as one of the United States’ top foreign-policy challenges in her primary run and repeatedly condemned the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 elections; but not China.
In sum, it is premature to appreciate Kamala Harris foreign policy postures on being elected as the Vice President. As it stands, she will be hot on Russia; but cold on China and Pakistan. With many far reaching ongoing realignments in the Muslim World, how the Democratic Party under Biden-Kamala Harris duo will reorient the US foreign policy posture: to re-emerge as a global player by renewing Europe’s strategic alliances in the West and Japan-Australia-Taiwan-New Zealand in the East. Where does India figure in Kamala Harris foreign policy initiative particularly in the Indo-Pacific region and the QUAD?