"America Mein Khila Kamal": Indian-Americans Celebrate Kamala Harris's Selection

News Network
August 12, 2020

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Washington, Aug 12: Leading Indian-American groups and individuals, including former Pepsico chief Indra Nooyi, have hailed the nomination of Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris as Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, saying it was a "great choice" and a "moment of pride" for the entire community in the US.

However, there were also some community members who questioned Ms Harris's contribution towards the Indo-US ties and said they would not be swayed by identity politics.

Presumptive Democratic party Presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday named 55-year-old Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential running mate, making history by selecting the first black woman to compete on a major party's Presidential ticket.

Kamala Harris, whose father is an African from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is currently the US Senator from California.

"This is a great choice for our country," tweeted Ms Nooyi, who is seen as a role model by millions of women across the world.

Kamala Harris herself was a presidential aspirant until last year before she dropped out of the race because of lack of popular support.

"What an electric moment for the Indian-American community! Indian-Americans are now truly a mainstream community in the national fabric," MR Rangaswami, an eminent Indian-American and the founder of Indiaspora, told news agency PTI.

Welcoming the decision, IMPACT, a leading Indian-American advocacy group and a Political Action Committee, said it will raise USD 10 million for the campaign.

"Kamala Harris's story is the story of a changing, inclusive America...Her candidacy is historic and inspiring, not only for Black Americans, but for millions of Asian American voters, the fastest growing voting bloc in the country," IMPACT's executive director Neil Makhija said.

Kamala Harris's supporters on Tuesday announced to launch a nationwide campaign "America mein Khila Kamal (Lotus blooms in the US)".

California-based Indian-American entrepreneur Ajay Bhutoria told news agency PTI that he is planning to release graphic and social media posts around this slogan in the run up to the November 3 presidential elections.

Mr Bhutoria is also 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 to the Indian-American community.

According to Neha Dewan, National Director of South Asians for Biden, Harris has fought for justice throughout her time in public service, which makes her an "uniquely inspired choice" to take on Trump and the Republicans.

Kamala Harris's selection to serve in the second-highest office in the US is a signal that the community is an important part of the American fabric, said Deepa Sharma, national communications co-chair for South Asians for Biden.

The Indo-American Democratic Organisation, one of the oldest South Asian American political advocacy bodies in the US, noted that a "Biden-Harris administration will prioritise the needs and challenges faced by immigrants".

Ms Harris will build stronger US-India relations, said Rajendra Dichpally from US India Security Council.

However, not all Indian-Americans were happy with Kamala Harris's nomination.

"Yes, there will be initial excitement and confusion for a few weeks amongst the Indian Americans - debating whether to vote for Biden due to Kamala Harris being of Indian Heritage or voting for Trump, who has been great for India-US relations. There is and there will be a lot of hustling by the Biden-Harris combo for the Indian-American votes in the battleground states," Al Mason, co-chair of the Trump Victory Indian American Finance Committee, told news agency PTI.

However, after initial few weeks of excitement, Indian-Americans would continue to support Trump because of his "impeccable track record" when it comes to Indo-US ties and promises fulfilled to the community, he asserted.

Al Mason questioned what Biden and Harris have done for India? And went on to add, "Zero. Future promises by them - after being elected - mean nothing."

According to a recent survey conducted by Al Mason, 50 per cent of the Indian-Americans in key battleground states like Texas, Michigan, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania who traditionally vote for Democrats, are now switching over to the Trump camp.

Prominent physician Dr Deepak Nandi said Ms Harris's selection as vice presidential candidate will have minimal effects on the Indian-American electoral votes as Trump has done so much for the community by supporting their entrepreneurial efforts and ease of doing business in the US.

According to Sridhar Chillara, founder and chairman of the Asian American Republican Alliance, Indian-Americans will vote "with eyes wide open" in the presidential election and "reject the game of hypocrisy and identity politics played by the Democrats".

Acknowledging that Ms Harris's nomination will excite many community members, as this is the closest the community has come to the Oval Office, Indian-Americans for Trump in a statement said, however, there is a lot of opposition to her.

"Until she was contesting for the President, during the Democratic primary season, she had not associated herself with the Indian-American population. That is why, at a debate podium, questions were raised to her about her being of Indian heritage and hiding it. That opened this issue for her," it said in a statement.

Indian-American physician Dr Raj Bhayani said historically, selection of vice president candidates has had no effect on the outcome of the presidential race.

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Agencies
September 17,2020

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United Nations, Sept 17: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the world body was facing its own "1945 moment", noting that efforts must be made to "meet that moment".

"In this 75th anniversary year, we face our own 1945 moment. We must meet that moment," Xinhua news agency quoted Guterres as saying at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

"We must show unity like never before to overcome today's emergency, get the world moving and working and prospering again, and uphold the vision of the Charter," he added.

The UN was established after the Second World War with the aim of preventing future wars, succeeding the ineffective League of Nations.

On April 25, 1945, 50 government representatives met in San Francisco for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter, which was adopted on June 25, 1945 and took effect the same year on October 24.

Pursuant to the Charter, the organization's objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law.

At its founding, the UN had 51 member states.

The membership now is 193, representing almost all of the world's sovereign states.

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News Network
September 23,2020

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Taipei, Sept 23: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday visited a military base on one of its outlying islands, Penghu, after a recent show of strength by Beijing, in which, scores of Chinese jets had crossed the midline of Taiwan strait.

During the visit, Tsai said that provocations by the People's Liberation Army are disturbing the peace of its area.

"I know that having to face the provocations of the People's Liberation Army surrounding Taiwan, and their actions in disturbing the area's peace, in the situation, everyone's duty at the frontline air defense at Penghu has become heavier," Tsai was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post.

"But I have faith in every individual, that every one of our well-trained air force brothers and sisters is able to lift this heavy responsibility," she added.

China flew as many as 37 aircraft including bomber and fighter jets over the Taiwan Strait following the visit of a US State Department official, which apparently angered Beijing.

According to the SCMP, China regards Taipei as a "breakaway province" and has said that it wouldn't mind using force to claim it. At the same time, Beijing has also accused Washington and Taipei of promoting independence.

On Monday, Taiwan had responded to China's threat to "set off the war", in a cheeky manner.

"How do you deal with a neighbour sending you death threats just for having dinner with friends visiting from afar? Asking for a friend," Taiwan Presidential Office Spokesperson tweeted.

This statement followed the threat issued by the Chinese mouthpiece Global Times after US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach had visited Taipei.

"Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, who pledged deeper ties with the US at a dinner for a visiting senior State Department official, is clearly playing with fire. If any act of her provocation violates the Anti-Secession Law of China, a war will be set off and Tsai will be wiped out," wrote Global Times.

During Krach's visit, Tsai Ing-wen had pledged deeper ties with the US.

According to an official statement, Taiwan President has committed collaboration with the US to strengthen ties.

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Agencies
September 18,2020

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New York, Sept 18: Warning against "securitisation" of environmental issues, India on Thursday said that linking environmental degradation to peace and security will not enhance the collective effort to address climate change issues.

In a statement at the UN Security Council High-Level open debate on 'Maintenance of international peace and security: Humanitarian Effects of Environmental Degradation and Peace and Security', India said that environmental degradation can have humanitarian impact or effect just as many other aspects of human activity have humanitarian dimensions.

It stressed that should be a greater resolve to implement the committments and contributions undertaken under environmental agreements.

"Environmental degradation affects not just the ecosystem but also the people who depend and live on it. It is also a multi-dimensional issue. To begin with, it can be caused by those who live on it due to a range of inter-related factors, foremost amongst which is poverty and not necessarily greed. In many developing countries, such problems arise from issues related to people living at subsistence level," India said.

It stated that in many other cases, the perpetrators of environmental degradation may well be outside national boundaries while the people suffering are inside.

"Environmental degradation can have humanitarian impact or effect just as many other aspects of human activity have humanitarian dimensions. However, merely to link up everything related to environmental issues with peace and security does nothing to enhance our understanding of the problem; does nothing to help us address these issues in a meaningful way, and does nothing to call out the real perpetrators and make them adhere to their commitments on environmental issues or help change behaviour of people at subsistence level," the statement said.

India noted there has been an increasing tendency both in the Security Council and outside to start discussing environmental issues with a certain disregard for the various important principles which govern environmental discussions, including climate change and biological diversity.

"What we need is a collective will to address such important issues multi-dimensionally without shirking our respective commitments under the various important conventions, inter alia, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement etc. What we need therefore is greater resolve to implement the commitments and contributions undertaken under environmental agreements instead of 'securitisation' of environmental issues," it said.

India remarked that it is a leading contributor to "climate action" and the country has reduced 38 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually over the past few years.

In the course of the last decade, around three million hectares of forest and tree cover has been added, which has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56 per cent of the total geographical area of the country, it said, adding that India has taken a leadership role to protect the environment.

"Going forward, India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030. We have set additional targets of eliminating single-use plastic by 2022 and installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030," the statement said.

India stressed that every industry, including the private sector, civil society and the government can make more climate-friendly lifestyle choices to ease the transition to a sustainable lifestyle.

"Let us view environmental degradation as an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and seek equitable and inclusive solutions to build a greener, cleaner and a sustainable world," it further said.

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