Washington DC – With the long awaited announcement of Kamala Harris as the running mate by the Democrat candidate Joe Biden after, it was immediately greeted by the mainstream media as a historic decision to put “a black woman” on the ticket by a major party.

Simultaneously miles away in Indian media and in the US, the citizens of Indian origin started claiming her as their “own candidate.”

In broader terms in the US, Harris’s image is identified as an African-American politician as the Black Lives Matter movement picked up and which she herself projected as well.

But Americans of Indian heritage have long claimed her as theirs as soon as she came into public limelight and became a potential rising star of the Democrat Party.

Harris, the Senator from California, is the daughter of Indian-born mother Shyamala Gopalan and Jamaican-born father Donald Harris. The parents separated when Kamala was just five and she and her sister Maya were raised by their mother.

Track Record
Follows AG Harris

Writing in an article KAMALA HARRIS’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE RECORD KILLED HER PRESIDENTIAL RUN on December 4, 2019, Lara Bazelon, a law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law writes, “In 2015, when called upon by the Legislative Black Caucus to support bills that would have mandated that all police officers wear body-worn cameras and that the Attorney General’s office investigate lethal officer-involved shootings, she declined.”

Noting that “as attorney general, she weaponized technicalities to keep wrongfully convicted people behind bars rather than allow them new trials with competent counsel and prosecutors willing to play fair,” Bazelon wrote: “She championed a law that went after the parents of chronically truant children, laughed when asked if marijuana should be legal, and supported a system that locks up people who are too poor to post exorbitant money bail.”

Sikh Sentiments
Still Simmering

Commenting on the candidature of Senator Harris, Jasdip Singh Jesse, a leader of the organization “Sikhs of America” told IAT, “Indians in the USA should be careful of candidates like Kamala Harris who would say anything to get their vote and then work against India and the community here in USA, as evidenced by other Indian American Democrats elected in the past.”

When Harris was the Attorney General of California, she denied Sikh prison guards the ability to practice their faith and keep their religious identity intact, thus showing that AG Harris was insensitive to the practice of Sikhism, according to Sikh leaders.

According to Religion News Service, Trilochan Oberoi, a former commander in the Indian navy, had applied to be a state corrections officer in 2005 and completed the various evaluations and background checks required for the job. But the California Department of Corrections denied him the position because he refused to shave the facial hair required by his faith.

When Oberoi appealed, an arbitration board ruled in his favor that the agency had discriminated against him by making “no effort” to consider alternative accommodations, such as allowing him to wear a tight-fitting mask. Oberoi reapplied for the position and was again denied. He then sued the state for discrimination.

In Sacramento County court filings, Harris backed the agency, arguing that Oberoi couldn’t be properly fitted for a gas mask unless he shaved and that no exception to the rule had been made since the policy came into effect in 2004.

“Watching her during the debate, it was like there was a complete disconnect with her record and the intentional actions she took to discriminate against a Sikh man in California,” said Winty Singh, a Los Angeles-based health care administrator who blogs about Sikh American issues and helped lead the petition. “It just reeks of discrimination, and it was alarming to me as a fellow Sikh man with a beard in California.”

There are believed to be between 500,000 and 700,000 Sikhs in the United States, roughly half of them in California, and 27 million worldwide. Sikhism is one of the largest organized religions in the world, with 20 million Sikhs living in India.

Reactions from
Indian Americans

Atul Jain, an entrepreneur based in Northern Virginia told IAT, “An excellent choice. In my judgement, the best from the top five that were being talked about at the end. She has spunk. She has youth. She is credible. And she is black *and* brown.”

Suresh Shenoy had a piece of advice for incumbent President Donald Trump as well saying, “She (Kamala Haris) is a strong candidate for sure. Trump must think out-of-the-box and dump Pence in favor of Nikki Haley. That may improve his chances and save the Republican Party. Just my 2 cents as I am not a political pundit.”

Commenting on August 11, the date Joe Biden picked a daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother to be his VP, Shekar Narasimhan, Chairman, AAPI Victory Fund told IAT, “I am thankful when I think of the struggle for civil rights it took to get here, but energized for the fight ahead for Biden-Harris to win and take back the soul of the United States.”

Summarizing the feelings of a majority of Indian Americans, Attorney Ravi Batra, Chair, National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs told IAT: “That Joe picked a woman of color is his promotion of BLM – as Jim Clyburn wanted and got and what the late great John Lewis marched for all his life – in Kamala Harris. In our two-party system, the VP slot is reserved for a fighter-debater; a pugilist, and Kamala is surely that even in her sleep.”

“I leave for last – Kamala’s partial “Indian” roots: I note it; but for me – a Democrat – I will vote not because the candidates pander to one ethnic or religious group or another – be they Christian, Hindu or Muslim, as each must enjoy First Amendment rights,” note Batra, adding, “Rather, I will vote for the top-of-the-ticket who will stand up for America and all Americans, having the right to pursue the American Dream and happiness, and who will best protect our Public Safety and Public Health from enemies foreign and domestic.”

Batra, himself a COVID-19 survivor from New York lambasted China for “deliberate export of the Wuhan Virus that Pearl Harbored us more than 150 times in numbers of Americans killed – then, perhaps, It’s greatest miscalculation, got belligerent, globally reminiscent of Nazi Hitler’s dreams of global domination, with concentration camps.”

With that critical blasting of China, Batra concluded: “I will not vote for an Appeaser-in-Chief, a Neville Chamberlain, but for a POTUS that will restore American greatness and exceptionalism worthy of Ben Franklin and each of our Founders, exceptional in then-history, including, my favorite, author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.”

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