Ahead of his much anticipated first-ever bilateral talk with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi will meet the illustrated Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday amidst the ongoing Quad talks involving the USA, India, Australia, and Japan. The timing of the meet is historically significant. Exactly two years back, Modi was received on the US soil amidst much fanfare in the extravagant Howdy Modi show. In 1958, Shyamala Gopalan, Kamala’s mother had arrived on Uncle Sam’s land after finishing her B.Sc. in Home Science at the Irwin College, New Delhi to do her study to find out “protein contribution of the chapatis”.
Since Shyamala’s arrival, world politics has seen a sea change in the dynamics whereas, since Modi’s last arrival on the US soil, much water has flown on US domestics politics as well. Two years back, it was a favorable Indian outing with India’s natural ally, the megalomaniac Donald Trump on power. Priorities of both nations now have changed. The ouster of Trump and the pandemic breakout have changed the complexion of the relationship between the two great nations.
Kamala Harris, despite her Indian origins, is not considered a great friend of the Indian rightists. She is a Left-Liberal in her ideologies. Her parents Donald Harris and Shyamala Gopalan had been prominent social rights activists in the US during their growing years. Even though Harris is Half-Indian, and she is often found performing Hindu rituals, she considers herself an Afro-American, highlighting her paternal lineage even though her parents divorced when she was just seven. This identity trick may be considered a strategic move. The number of Indians living in the US is only around four million whereas the Blacks are manifolds the figure. So, who is more important to be wooed in terms of vote bank?
Normally, a meeting with the US VP should not have bagged so much media attention. But Kamala is not an ordinary Vice President. She had played a key role in establishing the Biden regime and Joe Biden has returned the favors by allocating her important portfolios like heading the Space Force, Covid response, Immigration, etc. She enjoys so much of power hitherto unheard of in the history of American politics in recent times.
The Bilateral Talks are to cover a plethora of subjects like strengthening the relationships between the two nations, reinforcing the Quad grouping (Quad is Quadrilateral Security Dialogue involving the USA, India, Australia, and Japan) more efficient handling of the pandemic scenario, mitigating the climate crisis, maintaining the supply chain with emphasis on the vaccine and semiconductor supplies and so on. But there is a hint that Kamala Harris may discuss democratic, social and civil rights with PM Modi. Now, this is an interesting hint. Kamala Harris as mentioned earlier has often been a critic of India’s domestic governance under PM Modi and the alleged incessant violation of civil rights in India. So, what she might be interested in while discussing such sensitive issues with the Indian Premier raises much interest.
It may be pertinent to point out that at present the grounds of US interference in India’s domestic matters are flimsy and unlikely. The Biden Government is under tremendous domestic and international pressure owing to the Taliban insurgence, increasing threat to internal security, the never-ending Covid crisis, and continuous rise of China in the global socio-economic and political scenario. How the talks unfold is now of paramount importance for both the nations as India’s leverage as an emerging international force to be reckoned with cannot be ruled out. Let us presume that both nations grab the opportunity to usher in a new era in the bilateral and multilateral goals of both.