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Kamala Harris is Not an Indian American and Any Claim to Indianness is Very Debatable

Kamala Harris is Not an Indian American and Any Claim to Indianness is Very Debatable

  • In fact, she does not even claim to be an Indian American and identifies herself as an African American or Black American.

I think Kamala Harris is a great choice for Democrats under the circumstances, as they need an African American or a minority candidate, or a woman with fundraising capabilities and some administrative background, which she has.

In reality, she is not an Indian American, neither does she claim to be one, as she identifies herself as an African American or Black American. Her father is Jamaican and that counts legally. 

Harris always said that she is Black and Baptist, possibly because African Americans constitute 15-18 percent vote bank in the U.S., compared to 1+ million Indian American votes or just 1.1 percent of the electorate. 

Harris’s choice is historic for being the first Black woman and a woman with Indian heritage ever to be running for vice presidency of the United States, on the heels of racial turmoil that has rocked the nation post-George Floyd’s murder and creating a phenomenal worldwide movement of Black Lives Matter. This is possibly a fitting answer by the Democratic Party to showcase to the world that America, after all, is not a racist nation and Black lives do matter.

It is a fact that Harris has bitterly opposed Biden’s candidacy for the presidency in early part of the Democratic primary campaign, calling him a a racist who opposed bussing to integrated schools. Harris even scored surprising victories in early debates attacking Biden vehemently. Politics, however, makes strange bed fellows and there is no better example than Biden choosing Harris as his running mate.

There is definitely going to be splitting of votes as some Indian Americans will have tough decisions to make — if they have to be loyal towards a so-called candidate of Indian heritage or support President Trump because of his pro-India stances. 

Harris’s Indianness is very debatable. There are many  controversial stories about her grandfather participating in India’s independence movement or if he was just a civil servant in the British Raj; if she really spent time with her grandfather in Chennai in early childhood and his influence on her political leadership.

And there is definitely going to be splitting of votes as some Indian Americans will have tough decisions to make — if they have to be loyal towards a so-called  candidate of Indian heritage or support President Trump because of his pro-India stances. 

Definitely many Indians are wary about the fact that both Biden and Harris have questioned the legitimacy of India revoking Article 370 and passing the CAA. Both do not have affinity towards India like Trump does. 

Indians are right in saying that Biden is not tough on China as well. President Trump and the Secretary of the State Michael Pompeo are very critical of China’s trade policy and its aggressive behavior in Asia, including its attack on India in the Ladakh region, which has brought worldwide criticism of China. 

President Trump’s solidarity with India on this issue and the formation of Indo-Pacific treaty comprising the U.S., India, Japan and Australia has brought tremendous appreciation in South East Asia. 

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People are wary about the Biden-Harris strategy in dealing with China in trade or defense matters as they are seen as being soft. India may not be too happy if Biden and Harris emerge victorious as Trump and Modi have a strong relationship and because of Trump’s solid support to India with regard to China, Pakistan and on the issues of Article 370 and the CAA. 

President Obama is closely associated with Harris because she is an African American and a woman, as his father was African and mother a white American. He exerted great influence on Biden to select Harris as vice president candidate. President Obama even described Harris as a trailblazer. 

If elected, Biden will be 78 by the time of his inauguration and may not seek a second term, and Harris has a greater chance of being presidential candidate in 2024. It’s a great chance for Sen. Harris to achieve her dreams. 

President Trump has warned that a Biden-Harris administration will raise your taxes, cut critical police funding, kill vital American energy jobs, open borders to illegal immigrants and appease socialistic dictators which may be true to some extent if the history of previous Democratic administrations is any indication. Time will tell.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi is a Republican and the National President of Indian American Forum for political Education. He has been recently elected a delegate to the Republican National Convention (RNC) for the fifth time in a row.

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  • She is qualified to get OCI card per Indian government. It requires one parent or grand parent must be born in India. This legally makes her an Indian American as per government of India guidelines

  • Since when is Dr. Shivangi the arbiter on who gets to “count” as being Indian or not? Kamala Harris’ mother is from Chennai; she’s Indian. Let’s not erase the experience of biracial individuals by saying she doesn’t get to also identify as being Indian or South Asian because her father is Black. And to insinuate that she is lying or exaggerating about spending time with her grandfather in India, as Dr. Shivangi does, is frankly offensive.

    I’ll also add that as Democrats and progressives, we can disagree with the Modi regime’s policies and still love and be proud of our Indian heritage. Case in point: I am Hindu, I am Indian, and I find Modi’s actions with regard to Kashmir and the Citizen’s Amendment Act to be Islamophobic, abhorrent, and an abrogation of India’s obligations under international human rights law.

    But at the end of the day, this election is not about Modi. This election is about who will be the best leader for the people of color in the United States. Someone like Trump who refers to Nazis as being “good people,” who posts clips of supporters giving the white power symbol in his videos, and who is no longer allowing immigrants to enter this country (because he has frozen the issuing of Green Cards and H1B visas,) is no friend to Indians, Indian Americans, of other members of the South Asian diaspora. If Dr. Shivangi thinks that cozying up to the RNC and Trump supporters will give him a seat at the table and insulate him from further racism and discrimination, then he is sadly mistaken. Because I can guarantee that those “very fine people” that Trump referred to in Charlottesville will not care about whether Dr. Shivangi is a Hindu, an Indian, a MAGA hat wearer, or someone who votes Republican. They’ll just care about the color of his skin.

  • I find this to be a very simple-minded opinion piece which offers no value or insight whatsoever into the complex issues we face today. This Republican is like so many Indians who somehow thinks Trump’s racism does not apply to him. Well, it does. You are black, too.

  • Your bias and bizarre interpretation of what constitutes your own ethnicity and culture is questionable at the least and stoke offensive I would imagine to a woman born to and raised by an Indian mother. You don’t like her politics — that’s one thing and open for discussion and debate, but your personal interpretation of her ethnicity and culture is simply absurd, frightening and categorically wrong. If you removed political views from it you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would agree with you theoretically or otherwise.

  • Dr Shivangi, your choice also suggests that you don’t care about gun control, women’s rights and the environment. I completely understand that you’ve been paid to influence the Indian-American community and are afraid to bite the hand that feeds you . I would strongly recommend that you watch the series “Dharmakshetra” to find your true compass.

  • Forget about KH being Indian or not and forget about the President’s pro-India policy. Just look at how Covid-19 has been handled. 160k Americans have died and 2 people died of Ebola, which is a similar pandemic. This is not over yet. The fall is here soon.

    Now, talking about KH, take a look at Jamaican history. They are a comingled population of white (Indian/Bihari) and Blacks who are a majority. So on her father’s side she has a fraction of “north” Indian and on her mother’s side she is “south” Indian. Does that help ?

  • Ignorant piece. Trump’s MAGA motto itself is a racist dog whistle promising to turn the clock back to a time when women and people of color practically had no rights. I bet the author doesn’t even consider himself a person of color. Well, sir, 60 years ago Trump supporters would have lynched you. He’s a con artist and an embarrassment. You should be ashamed of
    yourself for supporting a thin skinned charlatan. Look up the No Nothing party of 1800s to see the similarities with the MAGA crowd. Learn history. My daughter was arrested and harrassed by racist cops in Florida in February “for trespassing” in a restaurant. She was dragged to a cop car and one of the cops yelled Make America Great Again! She was the only Indian kid with a dozen white friends. Who do you think emboldened those racist cops?? This could have been your child “doctor”!!! Indian. Trump supporters remind me of Dave Chappelle’s blind, black Klansman character who doesn’t know he’s black.

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