On Wednesday, when US Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate, it brought about a lot of cheer amongst the Indian-American community, as people felt that ‘one of them’ had a chance of becoming the first woman vice president in United States history.
Harris is of mixed race, with her roots hailing from India on her mother’s side, and Jamaica on her father’s. Several Indian leaders, including Shashi Tharoor, lawyers such as Prashant Bhushan, and celebrities shared tweets on the historic moment in the history of the United States of America.
And while, Harris has roots that are based in Chennai (her grandfather participated in India’s freedom movement and was even a senior diplomat after India attained independence), she has been critical on more than one occasion of the policies of her mother’s motherland.
When the Narendra Modi-led BJP government repealed Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir last year, that eventually resulted in a statewide lockdown, Harris was one of the harshest critics. In a report in Pakistan daily Dawn, Harris is reported to have said: “We have to remind the Kashmiri people that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping track on the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands.”
In an article published in the Quint, it was believed that Indian-Americans were weary of Harris despite her crediting her Tamilian mother as a major influence in her life – particularly in her ‘political career’.
Harris has continued her criticism of the Modi government, and even lashed out at External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for not meeting her colleague Pramila Jayapal, who has also been a staunch critic of India’s action in the Valley.
Harris said she stands with Jayapal. "I'm glad her colleagues in the House did too," she said responding to a news report in The Washington Post which said that Jaishankar refused to attend a meeting of House Foreign Affairs Committee, because Jayapal was also scheduled to be present in that meeting along with other lawmakers.
Jayapal, the first Indian American women to be elected to the House of Representatives, has introduced a resolution in the House on Kashmir.
The pending resolution on Kashmir introduced by Jayapal in the House is not a fair characterisation of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told a group of Indian reporters on Thursday.
"I am aware of that (Congressional) resolution. I don't think it's a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or a fair characterisation of what the government of India is doing. And I have no interest in meeting (Jayapal)," Jaishankar said when asked if he asked for a meeting with Jayapal.
Even Senator Elizabeth Warren came out in support of Jayapal. "The US and India have an important partnership - but our partnership can only succeed if it is rooted in honest dialogue and shared respect for religious pluralism, democracy, and human rights," she had tweeted.
Notably, Harris and other India-origin Democrats, barring Raja Krishnamoorthy, boycotted the Howdy Modi event in Texas.
Notably, if Biden does win the November Presidential election, it will be interesting to see how the United States tackles the India situation. While most of us feel that US-India relations are much better than they were two decades ago, experts will be closely monitoring the situation.