Kamala Harris adds ‘diversity colour’ to Biden campaign - The Daily Guardian
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Kamala Harris adds ‘diversity colour’ to Biden campaign

Maneesh Pandeya

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US politics made history in 2008 when the Democratic Party declared Barack Obama a presidential candidate. On Tuesday, Obama’s then running mate and Vice President Joe Biden selected Indian-origin California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate this fall, which the US mainstream media, the African and Indian-American media have hailed as “historic and rare”, and gave the coverage, which many say, “she couldn’t even get when she was in the run for presidential nomination from the Democratic Party”.

The Harris mania has gripped the Indian-Americans after the news on Tuesday that Biden has named the 55-year-old lawyer and politician from California as his running mate to fight the battle of his lifetime against the incumbent Republican President Donald Trump on 3 November this year. It is to be seen if the Indian diaspora will prevail in the poll campaign as many have started to say that “lotus is set to bloom” and Indian poll clone placards will be all over wherever Kamala Harris will be addressing a public rally. California-based Indian-American entrepreneur and techie Ajay Bhutoria is the creator of a multi-language campaign, including in Hindi, which says, “America Ka Neta Kaisa Ho, Jo Biden Jaisa Ho! (How America’s leader should be, like Biden)”, as part of the efforts to reach out to the Indian-American community.

Harris, whose father is an African from Jamaica and mother an Indian, has been described as a trailblazer by former President Obama. But the political pundits are just calculating if she can really make the difference for Biden in this election.

A prominent name in Indian-American community and strong Democrat supporter Frank Islam calls it ‘diversity triumphs in the Big American Dream’, something so close to millions of migrants, who have made America their home. Islam said: “She embodies America’s diversity and American Dream. Diversity makes us stronger, diversity brings us together. I hope her elevation to VP will provide lesson to current Indian government to bring people from all religion and race and draw upon their skills to build a stronger India.”

Going by the mood in Indian-American camp, she looks all set to give the perfect push to Biden camp as she not only enjoys the Indian identity, but also carries the Afro-American lineage, something the Republicans are wary of. Already, top names in Indian community are hailing Biden decision, saying it was a ‘great choice’ and a ‘moment of pride’ for the entire community in the US. So much so that Harris’ supporters on Tuesday announced to launch a nationwide campaign ‘America mein Khila Kamal’ (Lotus blooms in the US).

But, some are also raising the point if it is just an ‘identity politics’ or a ‘real gain’ for Indian community in the long run. Those questioning argue if Harris as VP to Biden will be the same for India and India-US relations as it has progressed under President Trump. It is also a fact that the strong India-US ties actually started under President Obama and VP Biden played a key role then. Of late, many from within the community are questioning if Biden would be the same as Trump with India on the issue of Kashmir, CAA and NRC. Many doubt a positive outcome. If that is so and going by Harris political graph, she has not come in support of India on Kashmir and it is to be seen if she would “really oblige” the diaspora and the country of origin on those critical issues of Indo-US diplomacy.

Having said that, Indian-Americans are elated and the political fervour that is beginning to set in despite the corona fears outdoors, is unprecedented as many are seeing as a “direct connect to the US polls with Harris nomination as VP by Biden”. “This is a great choice for our country,” tweeted Indira Nooyi, who is seen as a role model by millions of women across the world. Many see this a “moment for Indian-Americans in US politics”. Says M.R. Rangaswami, an eminent Indian-American and the founder of Indiaspora: “What an electric moment for the Indian-American community! Indian-Americans are now truly a mainstream community in the national fabric.’’

For women in the Indian-American community, it’s a moment of pride and welcoming the decision, Aparna Dave, an immigration attorney and a resident of Maryland, told The Daily Guardian: “She is the first woman of colour to run for such an important political position. She represents a multi-racial culture, which is really important and required in the US right now. Women will vote for her as she will represent their interests and same goes for the minorities.’’

Being an immigration attorney, the interest of the immigrants is high on Dave’s mind and she is also seeing hope with her candidature. Dave told TDG: “Being a daughter of immigrants, she will understand and have empathy for immigrants and will understand their contributions to the American society.” The immigrants’ visa issue is also being seen as a crucial poll factor and the Biden camp is raising it to score against Trump. It is to be seen what Harris says on this key issue in her poll campaign and also if she would deliver “immediately to make thousands from her community, waiting in Green Card queues, happy.’’

Many have also seen Harris nomination as the picture of political inclusiveness in America. She enjoys the twin lineage of Afro-American and Indian-American, both being crucial communities and fastest growing voting blocs in the country.

Former top journalist of leading US publications and now the Assistant Dean of the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Professor Jackie Jones sees this as “a wise decision”. Professor Jones, who is a woman and is from the Afro-American community, said: “Kamala Harris was a good strategic move in a traditional political way. She brings voter constituencies that Biden will need to succeed, particularly African-American voters. Her history as a prosecutor may bother some Black voters, but appeal to more conservative or moderate voters, who feared the ticket would lean too far to the left and likely will capture non-committed voters, who aren’t sure they want four more years of Trump.’’

Jones, however, points out that, “the problem will be with progressives and young people who feel the choice reflects too much old-school thinking, which led to getting Trump in the first place and now requires an extreme move in the other direction to set this nation aright.”

Jones added, “Harris’ pick is important to women, Black people and other people of color. The question is whether White women, who abandoned Hillary Clinton in droves in 2016, are willing to support a woman, particularly a woman of color. White women, unbelievably, voted against their self-interests in 2016 by choosing a bigoted misogynist, who publicly disrespects women and describes them in derogatory terms and targets them for special verbal abuse when he is challenged.”

But Jones is sceptical if Harris can ensure victory on her own, but she can influence, though. “Harris cannot, strictly on her own, move the needle far enough to victory, but she has solid constituencies who, if well-organised, could help influence other communities. She is a Howard University grad, which is among the elite of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with major, politically active alumni. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first historically African American Greek-lettered sorority, which is a major service and social organisation, which will pull in other fraternal organisation members. She will pull in support from the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights organisations, including, the NAACP. If all these groups coalesce well, she will be a major boost to the ticket and I believe that’s what drove Biden’s decision,” Jones told TDG.

Added Bhutoria, who is the fund raiser for Biden camp and a key member of his campaign, told TDG: “It’s great moment of pride and celebration for Indo-American community… Harris is a strong proven leader who has demonstrated, throughout her career a strong commitment to the community’s progressive and pluralistic values. She shares the values, hopes, and dreams of the immigrant community. Bilateral relationships between India and US will flourish in all areas including People to People, Business to Business, and industry to Industry.”

That’s something on which all eyes are currently and the Indian media is debating. New Delhi and the majority of Indian Americans, who currently are on a nationalism-high, will not like to see the new establishment in the White House, if it is the Biden-Harris combine of the Democratic Party upsetting the narrative on Kashmir, Article 370 and the strong Indo-US front against China in the Indo-Pacific region.

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Mast Barsaat is a tribute to Wajid Khan: Soundarya Sharma

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Actor Soundarya Sharma recently joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the actor opened up about her debut music video Mast Barsaat, sharing the screen space with Salman Yusuf Khan, experience of shooting in the new normal and much more. Read excerpts:

Talking about the response she has been getting for her music video and receiving a shout out from Salman Khan, Soundarya said, “It has been overwhelming. It is amazing to start my music video, which is my debut music video with Sajid ji. This is a tribute to Wajid sir. What a way to start with Salman sir tweeting. He supported our song and he totally loved it. Apart from that, everyone is loving it. They have told us that it is growing on them – the feelings, the music. In the song, there is only harmonium that is playing. There are no electronic progressing or anything. It is a very organically made and done song, so that it is very rooted. The response has been amazing.”

When asked what made her choose Mast Barsaat as her debut music video, Soundarya responded, “I didn’t choose it to be my song. The song chose me. I auditioned for it. I met Sajid ji. Everybody auditioned for it. He was looking for someone who really can enact. He said that the song is really close to our heart and I want somebody to portray the emotions the same way we have made it, with the same love. When he called me, I was super thrilled and excited. He asked about my profile. It worked for me. Ultimately, it should work for us. We connected over the feelings of the song. When Taleem studios shortlisted me, I was really thankful.”

Sharing her experience of working with Salman Yusuf Khan, the actor said, “Very nice. I think he is very professional and he is a really nice guy. He really comforted me. He, himself, is a dancer, performer so he made it really easy for me to work because we decided to shoot in a very short span. We shot for more than 23 hours in a row, so for that you really need a performer to be gelling with you. We were just chilling and working. “

Speaking about shooting for the song in a new normal, Soundarya said, “The new normal, apparently, is actually not that normal because it was scorching. When we shot, it was very hot and everybody was wearing masks but then we were so energised and pepped up by the song that none of us felt even for once that we are exhausted, we are tired. We were so moved by the entire feeling and the enthusiasm to work towards it. I think some things are meant to happen and this was meant to happen for all of us.”

As the pandemic struck the world, Soundarya found herself stuck in Los Angeles, where she was taking an acting course. “I took up the acting course in Los Angeles with New York Film Academy. I was there for 1.5 year and then I was stuck in pandemic. You end up becoming a better human being, learn so many things. Pandemic has taught us so many things in life. I felt like I don’t know what is next, whether I would be able to finish my course. Forget about work, it was a challenge to be on your own and living in a new country. But, I think god is kind. Everything ended well and I am here. I got work,” she further shared.

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PUNJAB AGRICULTURE MINISTER CALLS ON MANDAVIYA ON DAP CRISIS

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On the intervention of Punjab`s Minister for Agriculture, Farmers` Welfare and Food Processing Randeep Singh Nabha on DAP shortage crisis, Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday assured to supply 10 rakes of DAP (Diammonium Phosphate), 5 rakes of NPK (Complex Fertilizer) and 2 of SSP (Single Super Phosphate) within three to four days to Punjab. Considering Punjab`s demand Union Minister also assured for adequate supply of Urea to Punjab in the coming November and December.

Punjab Agriculture Minister, who called upon Mandaviya at latter`s office here, informed the Union Minister that the total requirement of DAP for rabi crops is 5.50 lakh MT, out of which 4.80 lakh MT is required during October & November for timely sowing of wheat crop. DAP is an essential input for ensuring optimum productivity of wheat, which is sown on an area of about 35.00 lakh hectares in Punjab.

“We apprised the Union Minister that the Punjab, known as food bowl of the nation, is being allocated much lesser quantity of DAP in comparison to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. We have been writing the union government for last six months on this sensitive issue. We also informed the Union Minister that shortage of DAP on the onset of Rabi season can lead farmers` unrest“ said Nabha expressing hope that the Union government would stand by its commitment of supplying DAP.

After the meeting, Nabha revealed that Union Minister has said that the shortage of DAP was due to non-availability of the fertilizers in the international market and the union government would ensure adequate supply of DAP to Punjab.

“During the meeting we also demanded that the Union Government must repeal the farm laws against which the farmers are protesting for last one year. The farmers are feeling insecure as they argue that with these farmer laws the big Corporate would get away their farm lands,” said Nabha.

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BJP MP wants more central forces’ deployment for West Bengal bypolls

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Emphasising the need for free and fair polling in the upcoming by-elections, BJP MP Arjun Singh on Tuesday urged Chief Election Officer of the state to allot more security personnel for bypolls in four constituencies, which is scheduled to be held on October 30.

In the letter, Arjun Singh said, “As you are aware the spate of post-poll violence, which started from the day of counting after the General Election still continues.

The High court also took cognizance of the situation and ordered a CBI probe in the case.” He also mentioned that the “TMC goons” attacked the party candidates – Joy Saha from Khardah and Ashok Mandal from Dinhata – while they were doing door-to-door campaign in their respective constituencies.

Requesting to deploy more security personnel in the constituencies, Singh wrote, “In this context, we repeat our request made earlier for immediate allotment of Central Security cover for our candidates as we have no reliance on the West Bengal Police.”

The MP requested the CEO to deploy 30 companies of CAPF per constituency to ensure free and fair polls on October 30.

Requesting to deploy more security personnel in the constituencies, Singh wrote, “In this context, we repeat our request made earlier for immediate allotment of Central Security cover for our candidates as we have no reliance on the West Bengal Police.”

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SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL NAMES 4 MORE PARTY CANDIDATES FOR 2022 POLLS

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The Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday announced 4 more candidates of the party for coming 2022 Assembly election. SAD Senior Vice President Dr Daljit Singh Cheema disclosed that Baldev Singh Mann will be party candidate from Sunam, Bhai Gobind Singh Longowal from Lehra, Harpal Juneja from Patiala Urban & Hardev Singh Megh (Gobindgarh) from Balluana assembly seat. He said that with this announcement, now the party has so far announced 74 candidates.

Meanwhile, Punjab assembly speaker Rana K P Singh has accepted the resignation of MLA Bholath, Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Tuesday. Due to this Bholath assembly constituency has been declared vacant according to a notification of Punjab assembly. On this Khaira said, “I had resigned as MLA on 3rd June before joining Congress. Thereafter the Speaker asked me to submit resignation in a proper format , which I did today in person. My resignation has been accepted.” It may be noted that Khaira had won from Bholath in 2017 assembly election as AAP candidate and recently joined Congress.

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SWASTH HARYANA APP TO CUT LONG QUEUES AT HOSPITALS

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The Haryana government has launched a string of new applications have been launched by the government recently. Several new applications were brought into existence for the better and fair administration as well as for the benefits of commoners.

In this series, a new app namely Swasth Haryana by Anil Vij, state Health Minister for needy people visiting the government health institutions for the treatment. New app will get rid of long queues as they can get themselves registered on the app before going to hospitals. Vij said: “Through this app, patients can get themselves registered at any Civil Hospital of the State and the app is also available on Google Play Store.”

Further, he said that the government is consistently working to contain the spread of Covid and to augment it further, the Haryana State Health Systems Resource Centre (HSHRC) has developed “Swasth Haryana’’. Mobile app. It is pertinent to mention that it is being considered a milestone as the premier health institute like PGIMER, Chandigarh is providing the facility to the local as well the patients coming from neighbouring states.

Vij added that now the patients can get themselves registered in advance before going to the hospital through this app. while sitting at home and thus the rush of people at the State Hospitals can be managed in a systematic manner. He stated that with this app, the patient can directly go to the specialist doctor and no longer does he need to stand in long queues.

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PUNJAB DY CM SMELLS CONSPIRACY IN SINGHU LYNCHING, PROMISES JUSTICE

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Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Tuesday said that there appeared to be a deep rooted conspiracy to defame the farmers’ stir. Referring to the recent incident of lynching of a SC labourer from Tarn Taran, and latest disclosures in media, the Deputy Chief Minister, who also heads the Home Department, promised complete justice saying the government will reach to the bottom of the case and identify and expose as who were the conspirators behind the incident.

Randhawa said, in view of the recent disclosures about one of the Nihang leaders having already been in touch with the Union Minister for Agriculture NS Tomar in particular, the lynching incident has now taken an entirely different turn. The same Nihang leader is now defending the main accused for the killing of Lakhbir Singh, he added.

“Lakhbir Singh, the victim belonged to village Cheema Kalan and was very poor. We need to find out as who lured him to Singhu border and who paid for his travel as he could not even afford his meals”, the Deputy Chief Minister observed, while adding that he had instructed the local administration to find out under what circumstances he was taken away from his home in Cheema Kalan village to Singhu border.

Randhawa said, in view of the recent photographic evidence available, the Nihang leader will also need to explain as in what capacity he had met the union agriculture minister NS Tomar and whether he was mandated to do so by the farmers’ organisations spearheading the campaign against three farm laws.

The Deputy Chief Minister said, given the important place the Nihang leader was camping at and staging dharna at Singhu Border, it was mandatory on his part to keep the farmers’ unions informed and updated about his meetings with the union minister. “This has raised genuine doubts and suspicion among the minds of people which will need to be cleared and the Punjab government will do everything to reach to the root of the conspiracy and expose and punish the culprits,” he promised.

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