NEW DELHI: Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday night named Indianorigin Kamala Devi Harris as his running mate, evoking waves of cheers from the Indian community in the US. Harris was born to two immigrant parents. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in Chennai and immigrated to the US in 1960. Her father, Donald Harris, was born in Jamaica. Those close to her say, Harris grew up embracing the Indian culture.
So, given her strong bonds with India, what impact would she have on India-US ties, if Biden wins the election in November and she become the Vice President? Harris has been a vocal supporter of human rights, and has expressed concerns over the alleged human right violations in Kashmir. But, experts say it is unlikely that as V-P she will have a huge impact on Washington’s ties with New Delhi. “Human rights in India have been under scrutiny long before the Trump administration assumed office.
Under Trump our actions in Jammu and Kashmir last year and also the CAA have drawn greater Congressional scrutiny which has not impacted the trajectory of the overall USIndia relations,” Harinder Shekhon, an expert on India- US relations, said. She added that bilateral relations with India are not viewed through the prism of human rights alone.
“Hence, if elected, Kamala Harris as vice-president, though a vocal supporter of human rights, will not make a big difference to India-US ties,” she said. Shekhon also feels Indian- American community’s hopes that Harris would accord a greater priority to visa issues is a misplaced. “I think it will be business as usual,” she said. A former diplomat said it was important to note that Harris would only be the vicepresident. “A vice-president does not really draw the US foreign policy,” he said.
More progressive than Biden
- Her mother was born in Chennai. Her uncle says she understands a bit of Tamil. On her childhood trips to Chennai, Harris enjoyed strolls on Elliot’s beach
- Harris has shown herself to be more progressive than Biden, especially on issues like health care and climate change