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Harris’s Indian and African-Jamaican heritages create American dream

In this, there are echoes of the life stories of the last two Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Their fathers were divorced from their mothers and virtually estranged from them.

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 Kamala Harris

New York, Aug 12 : Kamala Devi Harris has deftly melded her dominant African American identity with that of her Indian background as a Tamil to create the evergreen American classic of the immigrant dream.

Born in the US to immigrants, cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan from India and economics professor Donald Harris from Jamaica, Harris has leaped in a generation to running for a position that could put her a heartbeat away from the presidency.

She wrote in her memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” that she was raised in “a place where people believed in the most basic tenet of the American Dream: that if you worked hard and do right by the world, your kids will be better of than you were.”

On Tuesday Joe Biden, who is to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, announced that she would be on his ticket at the nominee for vice president.

Her multiracial background – which includes a layer of a White Jewish husband, Douglas Emhoff, and two step children – gives her a degree of identity fluidity to navigate American society riven by race and ethnicity.

After her parents divorced when she was only seven, Harris was brought up by her mother, whomAshe has described as “tough and fierce and protective” yet “generous and loyal and funny,” and credits her for her success.

In her memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” Harris wrote that the lesson “it was service to others that gave life purpose and meaning” that she inherited from her mother came from her grandmother Rajam, who had not completed high school but was a fiery protector of victims of domestic abuse.

Moving from New Delhi to Berkeley for her PhD in the tumultuous era of the 1960s civil rights movements, Shyamala Gopalan joined the protests “with a sense of justice imprinted on her soul,” Harris wrote.

Her relationship with fellow-activist Donald Harris grew under the clamour of the protests and Kamala Harris recalls, “My parents often brought me in a stroller with them to civil rights marches.”

In this environment, she wrote, “My mother understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters. She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya as Black girls, and she she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women.”

Her sister Maya is also a lawyer.

One of her experiences from her childhood popped up in her memorable confrontation with Biden during a debate last year when she was running for president against him – and almost 20 others – in the initial phases of the Democratic presidential race.

Questioning his credentials on racism, she said that while he opposed efforts to racially integrate schools by transporting children by bus from their racially segregated areas to schools in another place to break down racial barriers, she was one of the children on those buses.

That also brought out the age difference between them. If he wins, he will be the oldest president to take office next year at 78 when she would be only 55.

Hence, one of the criteria for his vice president pick was for her to be younger, but with enough experience and capability to become president if the need arose.

While the African American identity became the dominant one – and, in fact, the one that boosted her chances to the get the vice presidential nomination – Harris wrote, “Our classical Indian names harked back to our heritage and we were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture.”

She wrote, “My mother, grandparents, aunts and uncle instilled us with pride in our Souh Asian roots.”

“I was also very close to my mother’s brother, Balu, and her two sisters, Sarala and Chinni (whom I called Chittis, which means ‘younger mother’ [in Tamil]),” she recalled.

Her uncle, G Balachandran is a retired academic, who has a PhD from the US. Her aunt Sarala is a retired obstetrician and the other aunt, whose formal name is Mahalaxmi, was an information scientist in Canada.

She made a humorous video with actor-director Mindy Kaling about making masala dosaiAand it was released during her campaign for presidential nomination.AA

Her father P V Gopalan was born in Painganadu in Tamil Nadu and joined government service under the British and his work took him and the family to Mumbai, Kolkatta, Delhi and Lusaka, Zamibia, before he retired to Chennai.

Harris writes that her grandfather had also been a “freedom-fighter.”

She recalls visiting him as a child in Luska, where he had been sent by the Indian government in the late 1960s to help that young nation deal with a refugee crisis brought on by a renegade White supremacist government breaking away from Britain in neighbouring Southern Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwer after overthrowing them.

Shyamala Gopalan moved to Canada to teach at McGill University in Montreal when Harris was about 12. Harris rounded off her international exposure going to high school in Quebec. But returned to the US to study at Howard University, an African American institution in Washington.

But she does not have appear to have close ties to her father.

When she was asked the about 1,900 convictions her office obtained for offences relating to marijuana when she was the San Fracisco prosecutor, she admitted smoking it and reportedly joked, “Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”

Her father rebuked her saying, according to Jamaica Global, “Myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”

He accused her of bringing up “the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics.”

The publication said that according to some Jamaicans, “Harris tends to downplay her Jamaican heritage when it suits her, crediting her Tamil Indian mother with the most significant influence on her life and outlook and rarely talks about her father’s influence. Her father Donald, hardly ever gets credit except when mentioned alongside her mother, but rarely as an individual.”

In this, there are echoes of the life stories of the last two Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Their fathers were divorced from their mothers and virtually estranged from them.

Election

Madhya Pradesh: Task cut out for Kamal Nath and Congress in, Gujarat bypolls

Besides, one parliamentary seat in Bihar and two Assembly seats in Manipur will also go for bypolls on November 7. The counting of votes will be take place on November 10.

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Political stakes are high for former Chief Minister Kamal Nath in the bypolls for 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh and for the Congress in neighbouring Gujarat, where eight seats are vacant.

All these seats were in Congress’ kitty after the Assembly elections, but slipped out of its hands after the party MLAs resigned — in Madhya Pradesh, they opted to support Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020 and walk into the camp of a waiting BJP to ensure the fall of the then government led by Kamal Nath; and in Gujarat, they resigned to ensure the defeat of the Congress nominee in the contest for the second Rajya Sabha seat in June 2020.

The Congress will need to bag all the 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh to again get a majority in the Assembly, which is a tough task. The party has already announced 24 candidates.

On the other hand, the ruling BJP needs only nine seats to reach the magic figures of 116. In case the Congress wins less than 28 seats but manages around 24, it will still be in the game. Otherwise, it will have to depend on Independents, two MLAs of Bahujan Samaj Party and the lone Samajwadi Party MLA.

In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the BJP has 107 MLAs, Congress 88, BSP 2, SP 1 while 4 are Independents.

“The Congress will come back to power again. We will defeat the BJP on these seats. The people will give a befitting reply to those who dishonoured the public mandate and murdered democratic values,” Kamal Nath said.

Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are visiting each of the 28 Assembly segments to ensure their party’s victory, though it remains to be seen what they can do since most vacant seats are in the Gwalior-Chambal belt — considered a Scindia stronghold.

However, the Congress is banking on the fact that the belt has a sizeable population of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The party is also hopeful of reaping the public goodwill due to waiver of farm loans announced by then Chief Minister Kamal Nath and the ongoing agitation by the farmers over the new farm laws.

In Gujarat, the Congress MLAs had resigned, which led to the defeat of Congress leader Bharat Singh Solanki on one Rajya Sabha seat. Had all these MLAs remained in the Congress, it could have won the second RS seat in Gujarat as well.

Congress leader Rajeev Satav, who is in-charge of Gujarat party affairs, said, “I will meet leaders of various frontal organisations, cells and departments and district presidents of the Congress. Looking forward to having substantial discussions with the party leaders and workers.”

Apart from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, seven Assembly seats are also vacant in Uttar Pradesh, two each in Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Nagaland and Odisha, and one each in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Telangana.

Besides, one parliamentary seat in Bihar and two Assembly seats in Manipur will also go for bypolls on November 7. The counting of votes will be take place on November 10.

The EC has decided not to hold by-elections in seven constituencies in four states. Polling for these seats will be held early next year.

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India

Congress Slams Yogi Adityanath for Not Allowing Durga Puja ‘Pandals’ in Uttar Pradesh

Congress’ newly-appointed Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada, raising the concerns of the Bengali community said, “Massive political rallies can be allowed in Madhya Pradesh but the same BJP government in UP will not allow the Bengali community to celebrate Durga Puja with restrictions.

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Jitin Prasada Congress UP

New Delhi: Ahead of Durga Puja which is slated for the last week of October, the Congress has raised the cause of Bengalis in Uttar Pradesh and lashed out at the UP government for not allowing Durga Puja ‘pandals’ in the state.

Congress’ newly-appointed Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada, raising the concerns of the Bengali community said, “Massive political rallies can be allowed in Madhya Pradesh but the same BJP government in UP will not allow the Bengali community to celebrate Durga Puja with restrictions. Only shows that for the BJP faith is a matter of convenience while the only thing that matters to them is politics.”

The Congress leader who has just been appointed the state in-charge and has been meeting state leaders has raised the issue to corner the BJP in Bengal which has high political stakes. The BJP is rising in the state politically and Congress has a tough challenge to retain its position in the state.

The Congress has pitched this issue after the matter was raised by Swapan Dasgupta who is a nominated MP but close to BJP, and he has termed it discriminatory.

Dasgupta said in a tweet: “UP Govt’s order that Durga Puja should be done at home is unfair and even absurd. Like the allowances for Ram Lila, Durga Puja should be permitted with harsh but sensible restrictions. Otherwise it is discriminatory. Bengali Hindus in UP appeal to @myogiadityanath to review order.”

The UP government has issued guidelines regarding Durga Puja and has asked the worshippers to do worship at home but has directed authorities that Ram Lila should be only with 100 people due to Covid-19 protocols and to curb the spread of the virus.

The Congress is trying to regain its position in Bengal where Durga Puja is a major festival while the TMC in the state has been targeted by the BJP which accuses the Mamata Banerjee government of minority appeasement so this issue could lead to a new political battle for ‘Bengali Asmita’ in the state.

State government sources say that it has been left to district officials to ensure that there is no crowding during Durga Puja. The matter was also challenged in the Allahabad High Court which refused to entertain the petition filed by Bengali Welfare Association of Prayagraj.

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Election

Shiv Sena to decide soon on contesting Bihar polls

He reiterated that the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray — comprising the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress will complete its full five-year term, despite all effort by the state Opposition to topple the coalition.

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sanjay raut

Mumbai, Sep 29 : The Maharashtra-based Shiv Sena will soon take a decision on contesting the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections, party MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut said here on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of demands from our people there. We shall discuss it with party President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and decide on whether to contest the Bihar Assembly polls or not,” Raut told mediapersons.

On the move by ex-top police official of Bihar, former DGP Gupteshwar Pandey’s decision to join politics, the Sena leader said he was free to do whatever he wants since that’s his personal choice.

“Our objection was to the manner in which he painted the Mumbai Police in a bad light in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. He tried to drive a wedge between the police and people of the two states for his advantage when he was the DGP,” Raut said.

To a question whether the Sushant case was a conspiracy to tarnish the image of state Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, Raut replied in the affirmative, but declined to elaborate.

However, he pointed out that the Shiv Sena has emerged unscathed from the entire episode, but those who attempted to throw muck at the party, screaming at the top of their lungs on television channels, will meet a similar fate.

“They were criticising the Mumbai Police probe in the Sushant case. Now, the probe is with the CBI for over a month. The people want to know what’s the outcome. If they (Sena critics) have the guts, then they should be asking questions to the CBI now, just as they demanded answers from Mumbai Police earlier,” Raut dared.

Referring to the fracas surrounding his meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, Raut put at rest all speculation and claimed that “it was purely to finalise the interview schedule” between Sena and Fadnavis.

He reiterated that the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray — comprising the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress will complete its full five-year term, despite all effort by the state Opposition to topple the coalition.

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