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Biden: No cause to worry for India

November 12, 2020 16:24 IST

Washington might occasionally make some noises about alleged human rights violations and related issues, but commonality of interests will only see India-US ties grow stronger, observes Virendra Kapoor.

IMAGE: United States President-elect Joe Biden and his family celebrate at a victory rally in Wilmington, Delaware, November 7, 2020. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
 

Social media is a great place for editorialising.

If you are an avid follower, you will notice that almost all facets of an issue in news are freely thrashed out -- and trashed.

There has been an incessant to-and-fro traffic on digital platforms about the agonisingly slow counting process in the US presidential poll.

This has given a number of Indians something to exult about, at last something of their own.

The desi Election Commission has drawn fulsome praise for conducting polls in a country with four times the US population, and conduct them smoothly without a major glitch.

Even under the baleful pall of COVID-19 virus, the trouble-free Bihar assembly poll is a case in point.

As for the outcome, it is made available within hours of the start of the counting.

We know the reasons why the US is saddled with the far more intricate electoral process.

But isn't it time the world's oldest democracy updated the process for it to be in tune with the ubiquitous availability of modern tools of transport, communications such as the Internet, secure digital platforms for polling, etc.

A more pertinent point is the over two-month waiting period for the president-elect to be installed in office.

This allows for hanky-panky by the outgoing incumbent in the lame duck period, like granting pardon to friends and others convicted of serious crimes.

It is argued the US electoral laws are what they are due to the tremendous autonomy enjoyed by the states.

A federalism which adds to public confusion and feuds such as those between the loser Trump and his supporters on the one side and Biden and his supporters on the other would scar American society if the handover of power was not immediate.

However, we have to grant that despite brazen attempts by Trump, the US electoral system has worked without any evidence of bias or fraud.

Even the Republican party governors and other officials in the states have conducted themselves with becoming independence and fairness, ignoring cries from Trump that the election is rigged.

Indeed, Trump should feel grateful that despite his rotten record in office, he has polled millions of more votes than he had in 2016.

Maybe it was the rottenness which netted higher support from his largely white non-graduate male supporters.

He had reveled in inciting his base against the Black Lives Matter campaign, suggesting that under Biden the whites will not be secure, that the white suburbs will be swamped by poor housing, etc, all from the same playbook which incentivised white supremacist groups.

He made law and order an effective issue in the backdrop of recent incidents of rioting and looting in a few suburbs following the death of Blacks at the hands of the police.

Suggestion that the police departments would be de-funded should Biden come to power also paid rich electoral dividend.

As did the false charge that the Biden-Harris ticket represented 'socialism,' a pejorative term in the lexicon of a consumer-capitalist society.

IMAGE: Supporters wait for President-elect Biden to speak in Wilmington, Delaware, November 7, 2020. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Meanwhile, never before was the White House tenanted by a man who was so undeserving of this august office, a revered symbol of global power.

Trump was a gadfly who challenged established precedents and conventions of presidential behavior.

The buffoonish Trump made every attempt to antagonise America's friends and comfort its enemies -- President Vladimir Putin of Russia most than others.

In the coming weeks and months there will be a welcome effort to take account of his toxic four years in the White House.

For the US, still by far the most powerful military and economic power, what it does, and doesn't, has serious repercussions for the wider world.

The world at large, barring, naturally, Russia and North Korea, would be happy to see the back of Trump who created chaos at home and abroad in equal measure.

He is probably the only one of the 45 American presidents since George Washington's election in 1788 who found himself catapulted into the White House without ever having held any elective office -- no, not even of a local city councilor.

And his rude amateurishness showed daily in his actions and words.

Incidentally, his successful challenger has been in public life for close to half a century.

If something good emerged from Trump's ill-spoken words and whimsical acts, it was unintended.

Like his attack on NATO, which pleased Putin no end.

His insistence that the member-States contribute two percent of their GDP towards common defence made them realize the need to organise their own collective security since the US could no longer be relied upon to defend them.

EU members were now stepping up military budgets to bolster common defence.

IMAGE: US President Donald J Trump returns to the White House after news media called the presidential election for Joe Biden, November 7, 2020. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Another salutary contribution was to make the world at large realise the immense threat China posed to global peace and security.

After the US had invested so much money and energy in empowering China in the mistaken belief that an economically strong China would embrace democracy and human rights, it was left to Trump to frontally warn the world that the communist giant posed a greater challenge than even the former Soviet Union.

If there was one thing Trump and Biden were on the same page it was on the need to stop China before it was too late.

The Biden administration will not ease pressure on China though its actions might be nuanced and well-targeted.

On its part, India has no cause for worry since her relations with the US are not only on an even keel but under Biden the closer cooperation in defence and other areas would get further fillip.

Washington might occasionally make some noises about alleged human rights violations and related issues, but commonality of interests will only see India-US ties grow stronger.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

VIRENDRA KAPOOR