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Home Opinions No calm after the storm in the battleground in America: Should India be concerned?

No calm after the storm in the battleground in America: Should India be concerned?

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agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.

India can have a sigh of relief that there will be no more Trump calling India “filthy” during one of his campaign debates and write his midnight Tweets like, “India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!” With Biden, soon to be the next President, India can expect more substantive, stable, and non-transactional policy and not just the rhetorical and tantrums filled statements from the so-called friend of India, Trump. At a minimum, the two countries need each other because of the “mutual distrust” of China and thus the need to continue cultivating strong relations to uphold the democratic foundation and free society globally. Let me go no further than that until Biden gets to announce his key cabinet appointments which will define how India-U.S. strategic relations and global policies will move forward.

When I wrote about the Jungle Raj in Bihar and Trump Raj in America on October 26, who would have predicted that both will fail in their attempt to win political power. Remarkably, however, both did exceedingly well. In Bihar, the caste-based politics helped the son of former Chief Minister parents (Tejashwari Yadav) and Trump’s strong political base led to an impressive, in fact, an unprecedented number of people who voted for them. It was Yadav’s youth and campaign promise for the government jobs which earned his party (RJD) the highest number of Assembly seats (75) with even BJP (Modi’s ruling party in Delhi and many other States) coming second with 74 seats. With India’s multi-party system, the major election contest was between the political alliances of several big and small parties. For example, the National Democratic Alliance (including major contenders BJP and the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JDU) retained 125 seats to form the government against Yadav’s alliance group getting only 110. Simply put, the Jungle Raj of the Yadav family would not return to power barring any post-election horse-trading, not uncommon in India’s political world.

How about the Trump Raj in America? While Trump and his followers may not agree, it is my informed view that the Trump Raj will not return in America either. But, we must acknowledge that Trump did exceedingly well in attracting over 70 million popular votes, significantly more than 4 years ago. Biden also made history with over 75 million votings for him, an unprecedented number of electorates.  Call it the “positive” impact of the “evil” pandemic that people exercised their vote by mail ballot, a referendum against four more years of Trump Raj, just embracing change or plain and simple awakening of American’s nationalism.  However, it is shame that even after nearly two weeks since the American people voted, there is no calm after the storm in the battleground although the battle is over. President Trump continues to be in denial and unwilling to accept the peoples’ will and verdict. In his first TV appearance since November 3, he announced that only “time will tell” who will run the next administration. Regrettably, he continues to live in an alternate reality, far from the truth.

Historically speaking, the United States and the rest of the free world should have been breathing a big sigh of relief once the votes are counted and the winner announced. However, it continues to be a nightmare because Trump is challenging the election results in the courts citing fraudulent practices and rigging.  While the legal challenge is everyone’s right, there is no serious issue considering relatively high margins (tens of thousands) in the disputed swing States. Are there irregularities in the vote count? Yes, quite likely but not intentional and perhaps a few hundred at best. What about fraudulent activities? Trump had proclaimed conspiracy theory even before the polls and it seems that he is alleging fraud just to stage it and delay the legitimately elected President the place in history.

It is my view that there is no systematic and systemic fraud anywhere except a handful of votes by the “dead” or some people voting both by mail as well as in person. In any system with nearly 150 million voters, such irregularities are unavoidable. Let us leave it to our legal system whether the extent of fraud should necessitate the reversal of people’s choice and verdict.  

The year 2020 will be long remembered for the unprecedented pandemic and associated infections and deaths globally. For the U.S., it will be equally remembered for the chaos, confusion, conspiracy theory, alleged fraud, strongly divided America, and the unduly long wait to know who is the next President. I say that we must begin to work together in restoring democracy, decency, justice, freedom, peace, policy vacuum, trust in science, and above all the people’s will and power. It is time to MOVE ON and rebuild AMERICA to her glorious past.

While politics is being played out to unprecedented levels, I am afraid that it will continue to polarize the people further and destabilize and delegitimize democracy. Can this country with such a long history of democracy and collective resolve to unite, afford the uncertainty in the White House so much so that the current Trump Raj has not yet conceded and offered the rightful authority to the President-elect to have his transition team to start getting ready. Our collective goal must be bringing America back together from the huge divide because of political ideologies because we are one America.  Why Trump is holding America hostage? Is his ego bigger than the country? Why is the Republican party leadership turning their blind eye to his continued tantrums at the expense of national security and public health policy against the common enemy VOVID-19? He just fired the Secretary of Defense and forced some senior officials to resign because they did not agree to his egoistic whims. Why such unprecedented anarchy in the last couple of months before vacating the White House?

While the media plays its own game and depends on what you read and which channel you listen to, there is already speculation that Trump may not easily move out of the White House making things ugly and unpleasant. He is planning to use Presidential power to pardon his supporters, family, and friends including, as the rumor has it, himself. The question of pardoning himself is the most intriguing of all. It begs the question, what he is afraid of in his post-Presidency? Did he commit something which may lead to criminal proceedings, charges, and potentially prison?

Topping it all, Trump has a dream to come back in 2024. If he really has such a dream to return to the White House when he is four years older, he should rather exercise restraint on what he says and does in his last couple of months in the current Presidency. People in America are very forgiving, or shall we say have short-lived memory, that they may vote for him again. If I was one of Trump’s advisors, which I am not, my advice would be to just relax, take life easy, play golf, run Trump empire, watch Fox news, enjoy his wealth some of which he has accumulated by using tax loopholes and not paying the taxes he owed, etc. He can start a charitable organization to do a greater good for society and earn people’s goodwill and blessings. Most former Presidents have written their autobiographies but I wonder what would he have to write and brag about?  He should start the Presidential library to preserve history but what is there worth preserving? He should be the celebrity speaker but what will he speak about?

As I write this opinion, the U.S. has a huge resurgence of COVID-19 all across the country. Unfortunately, we have over 10.5 million reported cases of positive coronavirus and over 240,000 deaths with over a thousand succumbing to death every day. The public policy experts have forecast an extremely grim picture with the number of deaths reaching as high as close to 280,000 by December 5, in less than a month. It is for the first time on February 12 when President Trump spoke about his plans for the distribution of vaccines but not directly addressing people’s health and/or death. He still is our President and we expect him to lead the nation through this monumental deadly crisis but he is more concerned about the election results hanging in the basket, rightfully or wrongfully. What a shame that the Presidency in Trump’s mind is bigger than the people who the President is expected to serve.

As Hindus, we always resort to God’s will and accept our fate in circumstances like Trump’s loss of elections. Accordingly, I highly recommend that President Trump must accept the will of the people which is perhaps also ordained by his Christian God although he is known not to be a practicing Christian. As a good friend of India, Prime Minister Modi, and many Indian Americans in the U.S., I have no doubt that Hindus will welcome him to Hinduism. Subsequently, he is welcome to renounce the world and take refuge in the Himalayas if he can let go of his ego.  

India has nothing to be concerned about the inevitable change taking shape in Washington. I am firm in my opinion that India is a rising power politically, economically, militarily, intellectually, and morally and thus deserves a respectful place on the global platform. Furthermore:

  1. Modi and his team are well equipped diplomatically and politically to weather the change as they had done admirably during Obama to Trump transition in 2016.
  2. Geopolitically, the Indo-Pacific region is important to the U.S. foreign policy which will necessitate India being a strong partner to safeguard the US strategic interests. Equally important for the U.S. is to contain and constraint China’s policy of expansionism and thus the need for stronger ties with New Delhi militarily.
  3. Global terrorism, although diminished, continues to be a threat. The recent incidences in France and other parts of Europe is a stark reminder of the 9/11 and many terroristic incidences since then by anti-America Jihadists on U.S. soil. Recent events in France also remind us of who these terrorists are and where they came from. Likewise, India has been and continues to be threatened by the Jihadists for many decades being harbored in neighboring Pakistan. The only way to rid of terrorism is to build a strong alliance among like-minded nations such as the U.S., India, and European countries.
  4. If democracy and freedom are to be the lightning rod in the new world order, the natural allies are India and the U.S. because they represent the largest and proven stable democracy and the oldest democracy, respectively. India’s immediate neighbors, Pakistan and China, pose constant threats to democracy and are known to promote dictatorship.
  5. India is not only becoming economically stronger and self-reliant by the day; it offers the largest market for U.S. products and thus stronger trade relations are essential.
  6. India’s burgeoning youth offers the most well-educated workforce for academia, corporate leadership, and technology platforms. For example, the guest worker visa, dubbed as H1B, has been the lifeline of many tech giants which was repeatedly under attack by Trump through Executive orders. Biden has already announced to restore the dignity, respect, and certainty for H1B visa holders. In fact, there are positive vibes that Biden’s immigration policy will welcome the graduate students to stay back and offer expedited Green cards and citizenship to many with the appropriate academic credentials.

In conclusion, the U.S.-India ties are expected to grow and get stronger with the Biden-Harris team. It is the need of the hour in 2021 and beyond for geopolitical stability in the emerging new world order. Nothing sums up better than Biden’s own words when he said, “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.”


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agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.

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