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Opinion | What India expects from the Biden administration

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope. Of renewal and resolve.” – With these words US President Joe Biden took office on Thursday after being administered the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol, scene of unprecedented violence by an unruly radical white mob which went on rampage on January 6 after being egged on by Donald Trump, his predecessor, who had lost the elections but was unwilling to concede.   As Biden continued, the crowd watched and listened with rapt attention, with National Guards keeping a vigil. He said, “Today we celebrate the triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause: the cause of democracy. The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We have learned again, that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”   These were words scripted by an American of Indian origin, C. Vinay Reddy, whose family hails from Telangana. He had written Biden’s speeches throughout the presidential election. He is director of speech writing in Biden’s transition team. Reddy was with Biden during his days as Vice-President during Obama’s regime.   Biden said: “We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility. Must to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain. Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. It has taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. … And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we much confront and we will defeat.”   In his speech, Biden said: “I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans”. Earlier, history was created when Kamala Devi Harris took oath of office as the first female Vice-President, the first of Black and Indian heritage. Hours before the inauguration ceremony, Donald Trump exited the White House in a Marine One helicopter to Maryland air base, where he delivered a speech to his supporters promising “we will be back in some form”. There were reports that Trump may form a new political outfit called the Patriot Party. The outgoing Vice-President Mike Pence did not attend Trump’s farewell, but attended Biden’s inauguration.   It is a fact that during his turbulent four-year rule, and particularly during the weeks after his defeat in the presidential elections, Donald Trump divided the American people on the basis of race and ethnicity, and it was left to Biden to stress on “Unity” several times in his inauguration speech.   Every  American of Indian origin felt pride on watching Kamala Harris taking oath as the Vice-President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to greet her on Twitter and said “It is a historic occasion. Looking forward to interacting with her to make India-USA relations more robust. The India-USA partnership is beneficial to our planet.” To Joe Biden, Modi tweeted: “I look forward to working with him to strengthen India-US strategic partnership.”   The new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, appointed by Biden, has already described India-USA relations as “a bi-partisan success story”. India expects continuity in US policies towards the world’s most populous democracy. Already there has been much progress in the field of defence ties.   India expects the US to come forward with a comprehensive trade agreement that will be beneficial for both.  Both the countries will have to jointly fight the scourge of terrorism that is being nurtured and exported from the neighbourhood.

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