Never in the recent history did an election for American President become all about salvaging the soul of America. Never was it a battle for reclaiming the core values of democracy, freedom and liberty that the country so fondly cherishes. The four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, marked by lies, racist abuses, indecent attacks on political opponents and anti-science policies, had vitiated the political atmosphere so much that the presidential race had become a fight essentially to save democracy from being choked to death like George Floyd, an African-American whose death in police custody triggered nationwide outrage. At a time when America’s global image as a vibrant democracy was rapidly eroding and its internal divisions widening, the election of Joe Biden as the country’s 46th President marks the triumph of the forces of decency and empathy over bigotry and hatred. It is also an inflection point for a nation that has been through bitter polarisation and racial tension. The election of Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants and the first black woman of Afro-American and Indian descent, to the office of the Vice-President holds huge significance as it smashes yet another glass ceiling and stands as a testimony to the power of possibilities. The historic verdict, which is still being contested by a graceless Trump and his band of supporters itching for a legal battle, brings the curtains down on a phase in American polity that was marked by harsh rhetoric and personal attacks. It is time for healing now. And, for redemption. Quite appropriately, Biden, in his victory speech, spoke about providing the healing touch, unifying the country and ending acrimony.
Rarely have Indian stakes been riding as high as now on the US presidential elections. The prolonged border standoff with China, the incessant tension with Pakistan over Kashmir and the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan are among key issues where the stand of the new US administration is crucial for India. However, the fundamentals of Indo-US relations are so strong and deep that they go beyond transient issues, making them natural strategic allies. Over the last two decades, there has been greater convergence on a wide range of issues, from terrorism to climate change, despite some trade-related irritants. Irrespective of the political dispensation in Washington, India is seen as a counter to the fast-growing and aggressive China. Both the countries are part of Quad, along with Japan and Australia, to counter Beijing’s territorial hegemony in the Pacific. This arrangement is unlikely to be altered in the Biden administration. However, New Delhi needs to reset its expectations because the Democratic leadership will continue to be critical about issues like Kashmir, human rights and majoritarian policies of the NDA government.
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