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Joe Biden to prioritise India ties to fight terror, stop China threats

Unlike communal appeals to Muslims and Jewish people in religion-specific documents, there were no such Biden agendas for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jains but only a general document directed at Indian Americans.



Vice President Joe Biden

New York: A document, “Joe Biden’s Agenda for the Indian American Community,” issued by his campaign on Saturday outlining his stand on issues of interest to those citizens said that Biden will introduce several immigration reforms that could benefit Indians, who face decades-long backlogs, and modernise the H1-B and other work-based visas for highly qualified professionals.

The document said, “No common global challenge can be solved without India and the United States working as responsible partners.”

“Biden believes there can be no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia – cross-border or otherwise,” the agenda said.

“A Biden administration will also work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbours with impunity,” it added.

Unlike communal appeals to Muslims and Jewish people in religion-specific documents, there were no such Biden agendas for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jains but only a general document directed at Indian Americans.

The Democratic Party’s list of religious leaders who will be saying the opening prayers and giving the blessings at its convention sessions has only members of various Christian sects, the Jewish faith and Islam.

On bilateral relations with India, the Agenda for Indian American Communities noted that when Biden was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007, he had said, “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.”

“Biden will deliver on his long-standing belief that India and the United States are natural partners, and a Biden administration will place a high priority on continuing to strengthen the US-India relationship,” it said.

It added, “Together, we will continue strengthening India’s defence and capabilities as a counter-terrorism partner, improving health systems and pandemic response, and deepening cooperation in areas such as higher education, space exploration, and humanitarian relief.”

On issues directly impacting Indian Americans, the agenda said that “Biden will ensure that South Asian Americans are represented in his administration, starting with his vice presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, whose mother emigrated from India.”

On immigration, the agenda said that reforms that while supporting family-based immigration, increase the number of green cards for those qualifying based on employment, subject to “macroeconomic conditions,” the agenda said.

These reforms will cut the decades-long waits for visas, it said.

Any recent PhDs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields would be exempt from the limits on the number of green cards, it said.

Biden will also support reforming the the H1-B and other employment-based visa systems to “protect wages and workers,” the agenda said without providing further details.

It said that Biden will support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants from India, who it said numbered 500,000.

Trump has proposed ending green cards for extended family members beyond the nuclear family, while introducing a merit-based system of immigration.

Biden’s agenda said the work visas procedures for religious workers like priests and imams would be streamlined.

The Biden agenda offered direct federal protection for places of religious worship like temples, gurdwaras and mosques so that they don’t have to depend on donations to ensure their safety.

The document mentioned the 2012 White supremacist attack on a Wisconsin gurdwara in which seven people were killed while he was vice president and the 2019 “horrific act of vandalism” against a Hindu temple in which a murti or sacred image was defaced, window broken and xenophobic messages painted.

It said that “we cannot leave our faith-based organizations to rely on donations and internal fundraising efforts to guard against deadly attacks” and said that Biden would “ensure that places of worship have access to robust and direct security support from the federal government.”

The agenda accused Trump of encouraging and emboldening prejudice and hatred dangerously.

“Indian Americans of all backgrounds — Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Jain, and others — have been subjected to bullying and xenophobic attacks and need now, more than ever, a reassurance that our leaders in Washington will have their backs,” the agenda said.

A Biden administration would prioritise fighting hate crimes, “confront White nationalist terrorism” and increase penalties for hate crimes occurring in places of worship like “gurudwaras, mandirs, temples, and mosques.”

The agenda directed towards Indian Americans offered that “Biden will rescind Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ on day one,” even though the restrictions by the Trump administration does not apply to all Muslims, but to citizens of all faiths from certain countries where there are problems with screening visa applicants.

India is not among those countries and there are no blanket bans on Indian Muslims.

The Agenda for Indian American Communities was silent on the Kashmir issue and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which had been raised in his Agenda for Muslim American Communities.

In contrast, the document for Indian Americans was silent on the persecution or infringement of the rights of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians in Muslim countries, whom the CAA sought to protect.

However, responding to the attack on a gurdwara in Afghanistan, had said in May, “I stand with the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan seeking safety for their families and the freedom to practice their faiths.”

He had urged the Department of State to give them emergency refuge.


Recount of presidential votes in Wisconsin ends, reaffirms Biden’s win




Joe Biden

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin has been reaffirmed after two of the state’s largest counties completed the recount of the ballots cast in the November 3 presidential election, with just a little change in the tally.

The Democratic former Vice President’s lead over incumbent President Donald Trump in the key swing state grew by 87 votes, after the latter gained 45 votes in the Dane County recount and Biden got a 132-vote net gain in the Milwaukee county recount, Xinhua news agency reported.

The statewide tally showed Biden won Wisconsin by over 20,000 votes.

The Trump campaign has, as required by state law, paid $3 million for the recount, only to see his defeat more apparent.

A day before the recount results, Trump had tweeted on Saturday that he would file a lawsuit “Monday or Tuesday” to continue challenging the results.

“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally,” he said.

“We have found many illegal votes.”

Wisconsin is set to certify the results on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative voter group, has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, asking the state’s Supreme Court to prevent the certification.

But Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ attorneys filed a response to the lawsuit on November 27, calling the group’s effort a “brazen attack on democracy itself” and asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss it.

The Democratic Governor said the lawsuit was a “mishmash of legal distortions” that attempted to disenfranchise millions of Wisconsin residents.

He said failing to certify the election results would alter other election results across the state, throwing the government into chaos.

Trump also suffered consecutive legal defeats in Pennsylvania, as the state’s Supreme Court on Saturday ruled against a Republican-filed case alleging voting irregularities, after a federal appeals court denied his re-election campaign’s effort to appeal its own case that was rejected by a lower court.

Trump told Fox News on Sunday that he “would like to file one nice big beautiful lawsuit” in the US Supreme Court, complaining that “it’s hard to get into the Supreme Court”.

He said the high court needs to be “willing to make a real big decision”, adding he’s got “the best Supreme Court advocates, lawyers that want to argue the case if it gets there”.

Last week, US District Judge Matthew Brann rejected the Trump campaign’s lawsuit accusing Pennsylvania of allowing voters to fix errors in the mail-in ballots and seeking to prevent the state from certifying the results.

The judge also refused the campaign to file an amended complaint.

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Around 52% Polling recorded in 1st phase of DDC Polls in Jammu and Kashmir

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.





Jammu: State Election Commissioner (SEC) K.K. Sharma said on Saturday that the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir has been conducted successfully with a voter turnout of 51.76%.

The polling was by and large peaceful in the 43 constituencies of DDC that went to the polls on Saturday in which 3,62,766 voters, including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females, out of 7,00,842 voters, exercised their franchise to choose their representatives in their respective councils, the SEC said in a press conference.

Sharma said that Reasi district recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent, followed by Rajouri (70.52 per cent), Poonch (68.69 per cent), Samba (68.61 per cent), Doda (64.49 per cent), Kathua (62.82 per cent), Jammu (61.49 per cent), Ramban (64.21 per cent), Udhampur (57.13 per cent) and Kishtwar (55.16 per cent) — all in Jammu division.

In the Kashmir division, Budgam district recorded the highest polling at 56.96 per cent, followed by Kupwara (50.74 per cent), Ganderbal (48.62 per cent), Bandipora (43.57 per cent), Anantnag 43.32 (per cent), Shopian (42.58 per cent), Kulgam (34.35 per cent), Srinagar (33.76 per cent) and Baramulla (32.51 per cent).

The SEC further said that large number of people came out to cast their votes in the first phase of DDC polls and panch/sarpanch bypolls. Long queues could be seen despite severe cold conditions in the Kashmir division and the hilly areas of the Jammu division, Sharma added.

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

He also appreciated all the stakeholders for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personnel were deployed at all the polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.

The SEC further informed that arrangements for the second phase of polling — to be held in 43 constituencies, 25 in Kashmir division and 18 in Jammu division — have been put in place.

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Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’




Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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