The nomination of Kamala Harris, a half-Jamaican, half-Indian American, as the running mate of the Democrats’ presidential nominee, Joe Biden, for vice presidency of the United States of America, is a decisive moment not just in the history of America, but also for the entire ‘White Europe’.
The people of the US, with a gory and long history of enslaving and brutalising the Africans and mass trading in humans, made significant progress in 2009 when they elected Barack Obama as their president, notwithstanding a significant and assertive section of white racists who reacted to the 10 year rule of Obama by electing a corrupt, boorish, sexist, uncouth and obnoxious Donald Trump. Trump is everything that the people of the US voted against when they chose an African-American as their president who even attempted pretty successfully to put some checks and balances on the privileges enjoyed by the big corporate fat cats, thriving on loans and munificence of private banks and government largesse, while the ordinary people reeled under a post-recession, crumbling economy, under George Bush.
However, all this did not matter for the Anglo-Saxon white, racist, supremacists who hated Obama for his colour and who enjoyed Trump’s sexist and ugly comments. They were determined to put a white man in the White House, and the worse and more obnoxious, the better.
These four years of Trump’s rule, under cloud for his numerous business dealings in and out of the country, to the extent of endangering the security of the US, an issue of great concern to his white, racist supporters, coupled with his persistent attacks on not just Blacks, but all coloured citizens and Mexican immigrants, has brought to the forefront a vast majority of indignant white youth as well, standing shoulder to shoulder with the African-Americans, the Asians, Mexicans and Latinos, all victims of Trump’s unabashed racist policies. Add to that his refusal to acknowledge, leave alone act, to tackle the corona virus and instead instigate the white racists to defy the gas mask and social distancing regulations in certain states — they have all joined into one solid phalanx for all those determined to get rid of Trump in the coming elections, barely three months away.
Kamala is the daughter of an Indian mother and though her father was from Jamaica, she was brought up by her mother Shyamala single-handedly. Therefore, her ascendance to the vice-president’s office will be of immense significance to India and Indians as well.
More than two months after the public murder of George Floyd by the police, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is still raging in most parts of the US and has influenced similar protests in several European nations where the Africans often face similar discrimination. Police violence notwithstanding, the civil laws prohibit any discrimination on account of colour or other similar distinctions.
The likely victory of Biden in the November presidential polls of the US, accompanied by Kamala Harris by his side, may surely send a message of ‘liberation’ for the people of African, Latin American and Asian origins settled in Europe, America and Canada. Kamala is the daughter of an Indian mother and though her father was from Jamaica, she was brought up by her mother Shyamala single-handedly. Therefore, her ascendance to the vice-president’s office will be of immense significance to India and Indians as well.
It is ironical that while the nomination of Kamala signifies the Americans’ resolve to usher in a new era of equality and accommodation for all the citizens of the US, irrespective of the colour and origin of birth of either parent, in India we are faced with a diametrically opposite situation. We have a government at the Centre which flaunts its communal, polarizing, unconstitutional and discriminatory laws and brazens it out so blatantly. Thanks to this, the other three pillars of democracy, the media, the bureaucracy and the judiciary, are all getting visibly corroded.
It is ironical that while the nomination of Kamala signifies the Americans’ resolve to usher in a new era of equality, in India we are faced with a diametrically opposite situation. We have a government which flaunts its communal, polarizing, unconstitutional and discriminatory laws and brazens it out so blatantly.
THIRTY YEARS AGO, the then prime minister, VP Singh, caused a huge upheaval in the placid waters of India by awarding reservation to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs). It suddenly caused huge upsurge among the backwards all over the country, as also among the Dalits, who were already entitled to reservation since independence, thanks to the first stirrings by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, but were hardly getting their due in government services. Since then, the Indian State has slowly and steadily started shrinking the space for government employment to the extent that the successive orders of the Supreme Court have further squeezed the opportunity for Dalits and OBCs in universities and institutions of higher education.
Now, with the Narendra Modi government out to sell even the railways, Air-India, coal mines, PSUs and such other government institutions, the scope for the entry of Dalits and OBCs are further diminished. The government’s decision to bypass the central services examinations and recruit directly their favourites in the higher bureaucracy too is going to adversely affect the entry of meritorious candidates, including Dalits, OBCs and minorities.
VP Singh gave immense hope to the Dalits and OBCs that even before they could avail of reservation, the political firmament in the Hindi heartland turned green and blue, colours largely identified in public perception with the OBCs and Dalits. Thus, from 1991 till 2017, UP remained the impregnable citadel of OBCs and Dalits and Bihar in fact is still governed by an OBC leader Nitish Kumar, though only by default. It is also difficult to say how long he will last.
Even if the BJP-JD-U combine wins the next elections, scheduled for later this year, which is quite likely given the disarray and despair in the opposition ranks and within Lalu Yadav’s family, Nitish may not last long. This is because that victory will be entirely a BJP victory and Nitish Kumar is fast losing his utility in the eyes of the Brahmin-Bhumihar-Lala vote bank of the BJP, which propped him up for its own political survival in the face of OBC-Dalit assertion under the 15 years of Lalu-Rabri rule earlier in Patna.
The foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ram Janambhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya on August 5 was a remarkable spectacle. It was undertaken by Modi, claiming to be an OBC. But what about Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar — all OBC leaders of the BJP — whose presence as frontline leaders of the Ram Mandir movement enabled the OBCs to join the movement, notwithstanding the surge of the Mandal movement?
None of them had any place there because they have outlived their utility. Not even LK Advani, the man who led the Sarnath to Ayodhya movement which further led to the criminal demolition of the Babri Masjid by Sangh Parivar goons, and who was once hailed by the same set of enthusiasts as the reincarnation of Lord Ram himself.
There are myriad achievements of Modi and his six years rule over entire India and before that his 12 years of governance of Gujarat for his alma mater, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). First and foremost, he is putting the insolent ‘musalman’ in his place and showing him that his vote doesn’t count to come to power in India. Second, through continuous communalistion in the garb of Hindutva reassertion, he has won over large sections of Dalits and OBCs to his side who till the other day looked at the BJP as a Manuwadi party. And, lastly, he has completely demoralised and crushed the OBC and Dalit leadership in UP and Bihar. In effect, his Rightwing ‘counter-revolution’ has succeeded in emaciating the entire opposition from one to the other end of the political spectrum.
IN THE 2016 elections, the total number of votes polled by Hillary Clinton were more than those polled by Donald Trump. The counter-revolutionary assertion of white supremacists ensured Trump’s victory, whose victory earlier against his Republican rivals in the primaries looked uncertain. The decision of Joe Biden to have Kamala Harris, a woman of coloured origin, as his running mate, symbolises a radical assertion of the marginalised and despised sections among the US citizens, thanks to the massive street display of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Political logic says that ‘counter-revolution’ is an outcome of the crisis in the establishment when it feels threatened by the rise of the suppressed and oppressed classes. However, counter-revolution also leads to further strengthening and coming together of the marginalised and suppressed. India, at the moment, is in the throes of a successful counter-revolution. Surely, the present first-generation leaders of the OBCs and Dalits have capitulated. But the obtaining situation in India is merely awaiting another leader, a selfless and assertive leader, an Ambedkar in a new incarnation. And he can’t be far behind. As Shelley said, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”