On January 20th 2021, Joe Biden took charge as the 46th President of the United States of America replacing Donald Trump. On a positive note, the Indian community was more engaged in this election than any other in the past. It should be recognized that the community was also divided on the two candidates along party lines. Here are some thoughts and reactions by topic, gathered from conversations, Facebook posts, comments, WhatsApp text and other forums.
The biggest concern was whether America will continue to back India against China’s aggressive posture along the Indo-China border. Trump administration’s hawkish China policy benefited India. Trump’s tough trade policy was also helping shift some industries from China to India. Also, Trump took a tough stand on terrorism sponsored by various organizations in Pakistan. This is an important topic as most Indian Americans have strong family and economic ties with India. The hope is that the Biden administration will continue stick to the same policies. It is however unlikely that Biden and Modi will exhibit the bonhomie that Trump and Modi shared.
Many Indian Americans are extremely concerned by the anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric in America. Many families are concerned for their kids’ future. In many cases Indians were incorrectly portrayed as job stealers. The fact remains that our community members continue to play a role in propelling America’s standing in the Information Technology race. There is clear evidence that our professionals and entrepreneurs are job creators.
This is another major discussion topic. There are complaints that anti-Hindu groups in USA have been vocal (especially on social media platforms) with Hinduphobia messages. There are claims that these groups are funded by foreign organizations. Unfortunately, Indian American candidates (here and elsewhere) were targeted with misinformation by hate groups. There are instances where local city governments and elected officials passed resolutions against the Indian government on domestic Indian policy matters. Many believe that this kind of rhetoric forced community members to split on party lines. The community recognizes this as a disturbing trend as it is very divisive.
Immigration and Visa
Thousands of H1B visa holders were subject to incredible stress and anxiety during the last few years under the Trump administration. It caused many to migrate back to India. Consequently, thousands of jobs moved from USA to India as companies found it hard to fill open positions here. This continues to impact economic growth here. The fake Farmington University entrapment by the US Government, a couple of years ago, has left a bad taste with the Indian student community. Hope such activities are not repeated again. There is a high expectation that the Biden administration will speed up the Green card process and make it less restrictive for companies to fill high tech jobs. The Biden U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 introduces a system to clear family and employment-based immigration backlogs and increasing per-country visa numbers. The bill also provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and notably, children will be prevented from “aging out” of the immigration system. This is great news for the community and will instantly boost the housing market in Michigan. Let us hope that the Bill passes unscathed.
Stock market growth and a vibrant economy is something that the community pays close attention to. Our community members invest billions of dollars in the stock market and also real estate in Michigan. Many friends pooled together to buy residential rental and commercial properties last year. IT consulting companies are relatively doing well despite H1-B constraints and last years mass cutbacks at Ford and FCA. Restaurant owners are hurting the most. There is hope that Biden will help get the economy back on track.
Kamala Devi Harris
As the daughter of an Indian mother, Vice President Kamala Harris has inspired many Indians in America. There is an expectation that she will speak more about her Indian heritage. Many feel that she only speaks about her mother but rarely about her Indian heritage. It appears that she is careful with her words and actions. Noticeably there were no saris at the inauguration! Will she travel to India?
WhatsApp groups lit up with names and photos of about several Indian American appointments by the Biden administration. While it certainly has a “feel good” effect, reality is that these individuals are going to focus only on their jobs serving the nation. Unlikely to see their presence at community event. They do have the support and best wishes from the community.
Our community has been very engaged in the war against the virus. Thousands of front line health care workers continue to treat and save lives around the country. Sadly, we lost a number of our own. Kudos to the scientific researchers for coming up with the vaccine. Restaurants, event organizers, fashion boutiques, taxis, hotel/motels, religious organizations and travel agents have been hit hard by the pandemic. Thousands of families have deferred their India travel as well. Expectation is high for a quick recovery with the help of the vaccine. President Biden has clearly made this a top priority and the community welcomes it.
God Bless America!