” America’s Presidential Election, November 3, 2020 – Advantage India ” – July 19, 2020.
US President Donald Trump’s ‘Political Power Play’ (PPP) is his trump card in this election. He came up trumps on many occasions by skilfully handling the trumped-up charges against him with his ‘Political Power Play’. With just one signature he can display his threatening behavior invoking trade barriers, immigration ban, visa suspension, financial withdrawal, exports ban .. .. or display his healthy behavior supporting arms sales, military assistance, financial assistance, friendship, ratification of treaties and the likes. It needs a thoughtful approach for the Leader to take actions for the safety and welfare of the people. His score sheet always showed a good score. Until the COVID-19 crisis, of course.
November 3, 2020, marks an important date in the American Election Process. With just 107 days away, the two major political parties have firmed up their candidates. Donald President, the incumbent President, seeks a second term for the Republicans ; and Joe Biden, former VP, seeks his first term for the Democrats. Countries around the World are taking a close look at the developing events in America to decide who will be better for them.
The role played by Indians in these Elections has always been a matter of opinion, substance, and interest, specially in the last three decades and more. Michigan, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania are some States where the influence of Indians is expected to be significant. Also significant is the fact that they hold their share in the election campaign process by active participation.
President Donald Trump’s Visit to India in February 2020 and his participation in “Namaste Trump” event in Ahmadabad had the above fact in mind evoking discussions at great lengths. News outlets laid special emphasis on this event depicting President Donald Trump’s role more as a ‘political play’ than that of an ‘Americans President’. The public perception, however, in India was that it was an acknowledgement of admiration for the President and his achievements.
The merit was followed by the mess immediately after his return.
COVID-19 tragedy ; job losses ; economic slowdown ; death of the black man, George Floyd in the hands of Police ; protests throughout the country – all within a period of four months marked a major setback that does not hold out much hope for his recovery. His Campaign strategy, “America First” and “Keep America Great Again” is still an ace up his sleeve.
There were serious doubts about his “spontaneous action results” among Indian officials when President, Donald Trump, took charge first in January 2017 sowing the seeds of uncertainty about a thriving relationship between the two countries. Removal of the waiver granted to India on buying Oil from Iran in May 2019 ; trumping up the charge that India places a higher tariff on American exports ; and suspension of H1B and L1 visas are some decisions that still irk India. Trump, however, was liberal in sale of military armaments and techniques. His anti China stance and strong condemnation of terrorism issues of Pakistan are viewed in India’s favor. President, Donald Trump, also stood by India on the issues of Abrogation of Article 370 and CAA. He didn’t speak a word against it, maintaining a cautious silence. Democrats on the other hand spoke freely against those two issues.
“Howdy Modi” in Houston (September 22, 2019,) and “Namaste Trump” in Ahmadabad (February 24, 2020) paved the way for a conciliatory approach to our relationship. President, Donald Trump’s laudable attempt to crown PM, Modi, as ” an individual whose care for the welfare of Indians is unique ” even while pointing to his refusal to lower the tariffs for American exports was a masterstroke.
Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, on the other hand has recorded in his Campaign website a clearly opposing stance against CAA and Abrogation of Article 370. He also criticised the defence deal signed between India and US during President Donald Trump’s Visit to India in February 2020, saying that the two countries should be working together, instead, to combat Climate Change. But he strongly supported fair trade with India and on the issue of Suspension of visas he clearly stated his intent to revoke it when he comes to power.
In most fundraising speeches, Joe Biden, has been a loyal supporter of India on many issues. Biden calls India its ” natural partner” and strengthening of US-India relationship as his high priority. He hinted at a more inclusive and generous immigration policy. Respect for Human Rights and promoting diversity are two aspects embedded in the DNA of Democrats. He also recalled the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement with India he supported as Senator and continued through his 8 years as VP while reassuring and reaffirming his support, strengthening India’s belief that America will be a strong and dependable/reliable ally. His Campaign speeches in support of India are to all intents and purposes a clever move to placate the Indian diaspora while retaining their interest.
Joe Biden, is keenly aware of the excellent personal relationship between Donald Trump and PM, Modi, and the need for him to plan a counter strategy to win over them. Joe Biden accusing Donald Trump on not doing enough to counter the Chinese desire for dominance is also viewed as an opportunity to sustain a good relationship with India. Joe Biden for his part hopes to be viewed as a better Leader.
Joe Biden could also use John Bolton’s observations of Donald Trump in his book : ” The room where it happened : A White House Memoir ” on India’s Iran oil purchase ; slowing down of Chabahar port project work ; Trump’s dislike of India’s purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia ; Donald Trump’s initial insouciance regarding minority rights of Uighurs in Xinjiang ; and Donald Trump’s unpredictable relationships with Japan, Europe, and Canada. These can trigger more doubts in the minds of the voters still.
There is an interesting parallel with the doubts that existed in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the opponent. Donald Trump was the victor then. Hence, it is not without reason if people expect Donald Trump to win this time too.
Since 1992 America had 3 Presidents who completed two successive terms. President, Bill Clinton, President, George W Bush, and President Barack Obama. People gave them chances willingly. It will not be a mistaken belief if Donald Trump hopes that this trend will continue. Along with this is also his hope that in the next 106 days he will be able to turn the tide in his favor with people support for his economic programs.
Events of the next three months within America and outside (internationally) will shape the choice and make the voice of Americans heard in the General Election in November 2020. The election will also witness economic and strategic interests weighing more than political, party, or personal interests in the choice of decisions.
Recent actions of America in Hong Kong, South China Sea, economic sanctions against China along with a tough stand – are regarded as an encouraging pointer to America’s interest to promote and protect its relationship with India – a powerful nation in Asia. Donald Trump still remains popular ; he can still come within an ace of victory.
Donald Trump or Joe Biden in 2021 in America – either will be a generous, favourable, and advantageous leader supporting India for sure.
” Dieu avec nous “
Sunday, July 19, 2020 – 6.09 p m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” India will hold a very special place in our heart ” – President, Donald Trump, in Ahmedabad, February 24, 2020.
” Singapore General Elections – Difficult to Rewind the Past ” – July 18, 2020.
Following Taiwan and South Korea, the Election of Parliament in Singapore has left the entire world watch in awed silence.
Singapore became independent in 1959, but it was only in 1965 that it proclaimed itself as a fully independent, Democratic and Sovereign Republic. Its 18th General Election was held on July 10, 2020 when it elected the 14th Parliament of Singapore since its Independence in 1965 using the first past the post Electoral System.
As was expected, the People’s Action Party (PAP) secured its 15th consecutive term in the Government since 1959 but with a distinct difference. The party that won in the past with little opposition and with huge mandates (PAP) will now face a reasonably strong opposition party in WP , the Worker’s Party. This is the important lesson that is learned from this election. Voting was mandatory for all Singaporeans who were aged 21 or above as of March 1, 2020. 192 candidates from 11 parties contested in this election, the most ever in the history of Singapore. There were 73 new faces including an independent candidate.
PAP led by PM, Lee Hsien Loong, won 83 seats out of the 93 for which Elections were held. The opposition, Worker’s Party, contesting its first General Election, captured 10 seats. This is viewed as a “turning point” in this election. This is the first time since 1966 that any opposition has secured so many seats.
Ruling PAP secured 61.24℅ of votes, the lowest since the 2011 Elections ( 1524781 votes ). PAP’s victory is widely regarded as the victory for its effective handling of COVID-19 crisis ; a stable employment record ; and a stable wage performance. Nevertheless, the increase in the vote share of the opposition, WP, ( 11.22 ℅ and 279245 votes ) was an unexpected setback. Ruling Party will certainly be embarrassed by the performance of WP which secured more votes than the opposition SDP in 1991.
A sign that people begin to embrace the new Party with open arms.
PM, Lee Hsien Loong’s positive approach to this growth of opposition is a sign of his political and democratic maturity. He said : ” People’s desire and the need for diverse voices and push for solving problems by the Parliament is well understood. At the same time the mandate given to PAP is their likeness for political continuity. It also appears that youth segment specially favors opposition. We respect the decision of the people “.
It is a sincere reflection of the PM’s responsible words and political clarity filled response. True to his words, he has also promised to accord the status of the “opposition leader” to Pritam Singh, Leader of the Worker’s Party. This is the first time that a recognised Opposition Leader will take his responsibility in Singapore Parliament.
Decrease in voter percentage and increase in opposition seats are not just the causes for the Ruling Party’s worries. Reasons go beyond this. Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Hang Swee Keat, has been declared as the Political successor in a bid to dispel rumours of any surprises in leadership succession. Also, in 2004, PM, Lee Hsien Loong, had announced that he will retire from Politics in February 2022 when he will attain the age of 70.
That Hang Swee Keat could manage to win by only a small difference also represented a temporary setback in the election process. It has always been the tradition for the prime leader to secure more votes in terms of the national average ( more than that of the national average ) in their election victories – be it the present PM ( Lee Hsien Loong, from 12 August 2004 to present, 5762 days ), or the previous ones, Goh Chok Tong ( retired on 12 August 2004, 5006 days term ) ; the first PM, Lee Kuan Yew ( June 5, 1959 to 28 November 1990, 11499 days ). They never fell below 70℅ .
Significant to note is the fact that women make up 29℅ of the elected 93 seats. Out of the 40 women contested 27 won, the highest ever. In 2005 there were 21 women parliamentarians.
2020 Election outcome possibly spells the beginning of a wave of Change. Youth all over the World want change and the same had possibly made its power felt (although in a small measure ) in Singapore Elections also.
Enthusiastic youth will probably be eager to look beyond Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and India and set their eyes on the entire world in future.
Results of 2020 Elections are seen as a representation of this impact.
” Dieu avec nous “
Saturday, July 18, 2020 – 11.49 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change “. – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
” Russian Referendum – Stage managed by Vladimir Putin ” – July 8, 2020.
Just as belief and emotion cannot be separated, so are Communism and Dictatorship. Doctrine of absolute rights and dictatorship is the fundamental guiding principle here. Russia under Vladimir Putin ; China under Mao Zedong ; Cuba under Fidel Castro ; and a few other communist regimes have all existed as dictatorial regimes with complete power over people. The general feeling amongst the dictators that they will last permanently and in the end find themselves betrayed by their own associates has been recorded again and again in history.
Dictatorship has taken a different form in this 21st Century. ‘Dig oneself in behind the shield of democracy’ is the prime goal of leaders in many places. Election of Vladimir Putin (67) has made himself an immensely powerful Political Force in the World. The methods adopted and the circumstances under which Vladimir Putin grabbed absolute power may be subject to serious discussions, but he was clever in not allowing any obstacle in his path to accomplish his Aim.
That Russia’s Opinion Referendum has enabled a stable Government for the future years is a positive sign, though. When the entire world is struggling for measures to combat COVID-19 with its impact felt seriously in World economy ; jobs; and unemployment, Russia’s efforts to remain stable even if by undemocratic manoeuvres has to be recorded as a good outcome.
When Russia’s former Intelligence Officer (KGB), Vladimir Putin, became the Leader in 1999, the thought of him becoming an unshakeable political force was simply beyond dreams. Except for a four year period between 2008 and 2012 when he was the Premier, he has held the position of President in all remaining years.
This Opinion Referendum ( between June 25 and July 1) has permitted Vladimir Putin to continue for two more full terms of 6 years each (uptil 2036). This, in addition to the remaining 4 years of his present term. It is against the background of “Constitutional Reforms” advocated by Putin that he succeeded in this. The question arises as to why he chose to conduct this now when he has another 4 years without a hurdle.
Reasons can be found in the following : First, the havoc caused by COVID-19 that was not anticipated in the early stages ; Second, the damage caused to its Economy ; and Third, but not the least, the declining popularity of Vladimir Putin as the undisputed leader. Sweeping air of insouciance amidst the COVID-19 tragedy actually raised Vladimir Putin’s chances of success in this referendum.
The fairness and probity of the referendum was always in doubt ; there have been violations of rules and irregularities throughout the period of voting ; citing the dangers of COVID-19, opponents have been prevented from engaging in campaigns ; there were complaints of ballot fraud ; freebies promised and doled out to the voters for supporting the Constitutional Reforms ; part of the referendum was conducted on line ; there were failures of supervision and checking of votes – People did not seem to have any other safe option but to accept Putin’s decision.
Significant to note is the fact that Putin did not conduct this referendum solely for the purpose of extending his reign. He proposed several changes in the guise of Constitutional Reforms, one of which pertaining to the removal of the fixed term rule.
Voters can say “yes” or “no” only.
He had included in his proposal, aspects like : (1) enhancement of retirement benefits ; (2) minimum wages ; (3) ban on same sex marriage ; and (4) faith in God – as fundamental items in the changes. Voters are thus compelled to vote on the basis of the reform in its entirety only. Retirement benefits and Faith in God were the factors that firmly tilted votes in favour of Putin and not necessarily for his rule continuing in unbridled fashion. 78.56 % voted “yes” ; and 21.44 % voted “no” in the referendum.
Everyone will be aware of what happened in China a couple of years ago when President Xi jinping was conferred the status of a ‘lifetime leader’.
Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini – all set out to enhance and enlarge their powers permanently in life.
This is the cake that Vladimir Putin held in his hands and now eating it too.
” Power may well be an enabler ; Will time remain silent ?” – is the 64 thousand dollars question.
“Dieu avec nous”
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 – 2.39 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Voting is completely unimportant ; what is extraordinarily important is … … who will count the votes ; and how?” – Joseph Stalin.
” Being Comfortable with Black History in America ” – July 4, 2020.
All the lights of the most pleasing and beautifully decorated White House went out on May 31. The place was drowned in darkness.
President, Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and son Barron safely took shelter in the bunker in the basement. Military personnel around the White House gathered to ensure protection.
Just opposite were protesters in masses who were being driven away by tear gas and rubber bullets. The crowd could not be dispersed. Noise and roar continued deafeningly. Not just Americans but the whole world stood in astonishment that this should happen to the US President.
About 43/44 Presidents have lived in the White House so far. About 19 years back in 2001 (September 9) on that fateful day of the attack on the twin towers in New York, then President and family were safely guided to the bunkers. It was to protect the President from terrorists/extremists then. It is to protect the President from People Protest now.
The reason for this is not difficult to seek. The cruel killing of 46 years old black man in the hands of police on May 25 affords it. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost 8 minutes. He was handcuffed, begging for life, muttering that ”he can’t breathe”. His cry was only greeted with fierce glare, looks, and actions. Derek Chauvin ignored not just his plea but that of the onlookers too. “White men’s ears do not probably hear the cry of black men”. George Floyd embraced death lovingly.
George Floyd’s death caused public outrage from both whites and blacks. People took to streets in almost all of the 50 States. Not to dismiss the possibilities of outrage spreading to other countries. The storm of protests still continues. America has virtually become a battlefield because of this incident.
The most powerful nation in the world, America, is facing a tumultuous period now. Uncontrolled COVID-19 cases on one side ; and domestic riots due to racial discrimination on the other. No outsider is responsible for this. The leader’s approach and policy constitute the main reasons – is possibly the general perception.
Whites in America make about 60% of the population. By the year 2045 it will become a white minority nation, according to one study. Sensing the danger, Donald Trump fought the election in 2016 on his “America First” slogan and won with praise, popular acclaim, earning respect in the process.
Under President Donald Trump’s Leadership, in America, however, attacks on blacks and minorities seem to have increased 17%. It includes blacks, muslims, sikhs, and hindus too probably. The whites there are mostly people migrated from Europe. Another survey says that not a single day passes without an incident of this nature somewhere.
According to Census 2018, there are 26.5 lakh Indians in America. About 16 Indians are members of the Senate. It is a matter of pride for the Indians. Senator, Kamala Harris, CA, a prominent member of this group had called for, “adequate security and protection to the minorities against such attacks”. Her suggestion to the President also calls for constructive measures to safeguard the interests of minorities in America.
If religion and caste are the curses we fear in India, it is seen in the form of apartheid in America. These have the potential to change the directions of elections in both countries. What is needed is change in the period of time in the history of the nation for these. A new resolution to break the barriers to peace and harmony.
Lyndon B Johnson in 1965 cancelled the proposed visits of both the then Indian PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and the then Pakistan President, Ayub Khan, due to the strong feeling that the visits of these two supposedly black men will make him lose the election.
Racial discrimination began in America in 1619 itself. American Supreme Court in 1896 had enshrined in the country’s laws that, “American eyes can distinguish between divisions among people, a trait that is inherent as spelt in the Constitution.” Change has been effected.
In February (2020) in the midst of a running training, a black man, Mr Arbery, was shot dead (in Glynn County, Georgia) because he knocked a white man.
Three policemen shot an African American medical worker, 26 year old Breonna Taylor in her apartment (in Louisville, Kentucky) itself without any reason. (March 13).
In the recent Minneapolis protests, a white man on a bike plowed through the protesters in rage. Many died in this incident. The white man was, however, released. (June 28).
There is growing anguish and attacks on blacks. Whites feel that blacks are responsible for their plight. This is not America. People with character, compassion, and justice exist in all groups in abundance.
Chief of Police Department, Art Acevedo, of Houston, while tackling a protest marched with the protesters, went before them, embraced them, and even fell at their feet with words to the effect : ” President, Donald Trump, please do good to these people ; be silent “. The people were overwhelmed and he drew national praise. (June 1).
New York city Police Chief during the prayer meeting of George Floyd in Times square went down on his knees to pay his last respects to the black man. Another senior Police Officer commenced a peace procession holding the placard, : ” Let us live with shared aims”. These were the scenes in Florida, California, and many other cities.
Former President, George Bush, expressed his opinion that, “African Americans to get attacked in their own land is to be condemned”.
A poll survey expresses 55% dissatisfaction with the approach adopted to national security problems which can impact the President’s re-election as seen at this juncture. Still 124 days left and who knows what will happen ?
Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in front of the Embassy in Washington DC has been vandalised (June 2). It is a matter of pain and discomfort to Indians, specially. It is restored yesterday (Thursday) though.
It is important that we recall Mahatma Gandhi’s own saying : ” My statues can be damaged ; but not my principles. Religious, Caste, and Apartheid differences should be abolished. What is needed is truth and purity of mind. Think for a while and work together as brothers.”
Albert Einstein held Mahatma Gandhi as his idol. Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy, two of America’s great Presidents had their lasting effect with their Political ideals and Experience in America. They also revered Mahatma Gandhi.
President Donald Trump visited Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, (February 24) attesting to his Greatness. He wrote in the Visitors book : ” The American people stand strongly with a sovereign and wonderful India – The Vision of Mahatma Gandhi. This is tremendous.” As regards the desecration and pulling down of monuments and statues he said strongly : ” You play with our monuments and statues ; and you go to jail for 10 years “. Comes from the bottom of his heart.
Martin Luther King Jr. held Mahatma Gandhi as his Political Guru. In his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (August 28, 1963) here’s : ” I have a dream that one day little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. That they will not be judged by the Color of their skin but by the Content of their character.”
People yearn for Peace ; with a strong and emotional desire to make this a reality.
” Dieu avec nous”
Saturday, July 4, 2020 – 11.09 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” If you can’t fly, then run ; if you can’t run, then walk ; if you can’t walk, then crawl ; but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward ” – Martin Luther King Jr.