By Arul Louis
New York, Nov 9 (IANS) Indian-American organisations and leaders are seeing the announcement of the election of Kamala Harris as the next US Vice President as a vindication of the dream of America as the land of opportunities and look forward to working with her and Joe Biden as President in healing the national divide.
“A generation of Indian-Americans made this country their home because they knew it meant anything was possible for their children. Today, the daughter of one of those Indian-Americans proved their faith,” said Neil Makhija, the executive director of the Indian-American Impact Fund, an advocacy and political action group.
He said that the Indian-American community coming out to vote in key states like Pennsylvania and Arizona took the Biden-Harris team to victory.
IMPACT raised $10 million to support the voter turnout efforts of the Asian and Indian American community “in critical states, including Pennsylvania and Arizona, where our community’s engagement was enough to make the margin”.
The organisation spent nearly $2 million in each of the key states, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas, to get more from the community to vote, he said.
“Harris has broken many glass ceilings. I never dreamed that in my lifetime a person of Indian heritage would be a heartbeat away from the Presidency but here we are,” said Shekar Narasimhan, the chairman of the Asian American Pacific Islander Victory Fund that supports candidates of the ethnicity.
“We have proved once again that democracy works and ‘We the People’ make the choice,” he said.
He added that it was “both an exciting and a sobering time for America” because of the challenges the Biden-Harris leadership will face and the community and fund “stand ready as we did in January when we endorsed Vice President Biden to do our part”.
M.R. Rangaswami, the founder of Indiaspora that promotes Indian-American activism, recalled his organisation hosting a Diwali celebration at Biden’s residence when he was Vice President in 2016 and said: “We now look forward to doing the same with President Biden in the White House.
“We applaud Biden’s commitment to re-join the Paris Climate accord as the environment is an important issue for the Indian-American community.
“Biden has promised policies that will directly help Indian-Americans who are small business owners.”
Ajay Bhutoria, a Biden Campaign National Finance Committee member, said that soon after hearing the media announcement “we are celebrating with Bhangra and Dhol today”.
He made campaign videos for the Biden-Harris team in 14 Indian languages and one of them was the “Chale Chalo, Biden, Harris ko vote do”, based on a song from the Hindi hit film, “Laagan”.
“For the first time, we will also have a woman of colour and Indian-origin ascend to the second-highest office in the land,” he said.
Addressing the nation’s polarisation, Bhutoria said: “It’s time for America to unite and heal. It’s time to put the anger and harsh rhetoric behind us and come together to rebuild our nation under the leadership of Biden and Harris.”
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) “looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to address issues of mutual concern and interest to the Hindu-American community,” said Suhag Shukla, the advocacy organisation’s executive director.
She said that HAF had a list of “the legislative priorities and core issues that we believe are of fundamental interest, not just to Hindu Americans, but to all Americans”.
HAF “will redouble our commitment to promoting dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism”, she added.
Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) and Founder of EcoSikh, said: “Sikhs across the US have expressed joy at Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’s election.
“America needed a leader who would be serious about solving the biggest health challenge of Covid-19 and would set a positive tone in the nation and the world.”
“A core value of Sikhism is woman’s empowerment and we are encouraged to see a woman elected to high office in the US,” said Gurwin Singh Ahuja, co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign.
“Biden has always supported issues of concern to the Sikh community and we are confident that Biden White House will welcome Sikhs and other communities to play a role in strengthening this nation,” he added.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)