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The historic and hopeful January 20, 2021

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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.

What it was and what it can be in a matter of two short weeks? January 20 made history with the 46th President Biden and Vice President Harris was sworn in on Capitol Hill where the world’s oldest democracy was damaged and threatened on January 6th. The rowdy crowd on the 6th seizing the temple of democracy to America’s Who and Who celebrating the new day on the 20th on the same rotunda. First time ever, a fortified Washington D.C. had a somber, serious, and spectacular ceremony and remembered nearly 400,000 lives lost during the pandemic. On the way, January 13 became monumental negatively when the only U.S. President (Trump) was ever impeached for the second time. A longstanding tradition was also lost with the outgoing President choosing not to stand next to the incoming President. What a shame?

Why historic? Biden was the youngest Senator in 1973 when he started his political career and now the oldest President after a long journey of nearly 48 years. He has seen it all-the good, the bad, and the ugly but stood to his principles. Biden faced the ugliest challenge by the outgoing President Trump claiming victory for the election he had not won. Harris, the first woman of color of Indian and African American descent ascended to the second-highest office in the land. She truly opens the doors for every immigrant and person of color to realize her/his dream in this land of opportunities. Nothing could be more historical indeed.

How quickly and remarkably the nation came together from the horrific desecration of the Capitol to celebrate the democracy on the same steps. It is better that we put the events of January 6th behind forever, and only remember the message of renewed hope, strength, and unity. What a disgrace that President Trump chose not to concede till the end? One can only hope that history will judge him kindly for whatever he did in making America great again, putting democracy second to his personal interests, and denying the reality and fatal nature of coronavirus. It is a monumental change in the political climate of Washington with the dawn of “different” democracy, i.e. the Democratic leadership in the White House and both chambers- the Senate and House. We must remain alert and watch keenly to not let the party in power get distracted from what the people voted them to do.

What sums up this historic day is the most eloquent, emotional, relevant, stunning, and timely poem by Amanda Gorman, the youngest person (age 22) reciting in honor of the oldest President. Her poem composed over the past few weeks acknowledges the previous President’s incitement of insurrection to the new President’s message of hope and unity. Her title, “The Hill We Climb,” is as powerful as her message. In part, it reads:

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust.

For while we have our eyes on the future,

History has its eyes on us.

Let January 20 serve as a stark reminder for the world at large that the democracy may have been halted temporarily but it has returned with greater hope and not fear. Only COVID-19 must fear and accept defeat because of the new executive order requiring masks and a promise of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. America is back being a “global” partner in the important Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization on this historic day.

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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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