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The Good must prevail over the Evil

Dr. Shailendra Palvia

Dussehrathe popular Hindu festival, occurs this year on October 25, barely 9 days before the most critical presidential election of the USA in recent times.  Dussehra celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana and the triumph of good over evil. In this context I urge all voters to exercise their civic duty to vote so that the last four years of this national nightmare are over, and democracy is saved.

Biden is for diversity & inclusivity

On January 12, 2017, Vice President Joe Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his meritorious contribution to the security and national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural and other significant public and private endeavors. These qualities are at the core of his persona. Trump calls national heroes like John McCain and other military people losers and suckers.  Biden wants his administration to represent America’s diversity. His vision for America is to embrace diversity while Trump’s administration caters predominantly to the white American population. The Trump administration is predominantly white Americans.  Biden wants us to respect all humans irrespective of their race, religion, profession, or sexual orientation. Trump has made hateful statements and supported discriminatory policies against Muslims and blacks while at the same time sympathizing with white supremacists. Trump is against minorities. Today it is Muslims, tomorrow it may be Hindus or Jains or Buddhists or Sikhs. We need to keep America secular.  Biden seeks equal opportunity and pay for women while Trump calls women “nasty” when they do not agree with him.

Our Constitution says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Biden finds a way to work with Republicans to plan and implement effective solutions for the USA and the world.  Trump hates his predecessor Barack Obama and dumps everything that was initiated by him – Paris climate accord, Iran nuclear deal, trashes DACA and renames NAFTA with minor modifications.

As for policy with regards to India, clearly Hindu Americans overwhelmingly (90%) support Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and abrogation of Article 370 and 35a passed last year. Any past statements to the contrary by either Biden or Harris will hurt them significantly and as such making a statement in this regard to allay their fears now will help. Meanwhile, the Hindu community has reached a historic first having received responses from Biden to several questions posed by a bipartisan group, the Hindu American Political Action Committee regarding hate crimes, climate change, immigration, educational reform and religious persecution.

 

Trump and criminal associates

It is not hard to say that the stark differences between Biden and Trump remind you of Ram vs Ravan fight.  Biden is truthful and trustworthy. Trump lies incessantly and is impossible to trust.  Michael Cohen, his personal attorney for 10+ years said about Trump, “he is a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man”.  Ravan’s 10 heads, as per mythology, represent his 10 characteristics: Kama (lust), krodha (anger), moha (delusion), lobha (greed), mada (pride), matsyasya (envy), ahamkara (ego), manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), and chitta (will). Trump possesses the first 7 negative characteristics and lacks in the last 3 positive characteristics. His one head can be associated with his two top enablers of Trumps’ continued deceit, lies, distortions, and other crimes – Mitch McConnell and Attorney General Barr.  We can also associate his other heads with his past associates who have been indicted and/or jailed for one crime or the other – (1) Steve Bannon (2) Roger Stone (3)  Paul Manafort (4) Michael Cohen (5) Michael Flynn (6) Rick Gates (7) George Nader and (8) George Papadopoulos.  Trump himself was Impeached by the US Congress.

Bob Woodward’s conclusion in his new book is that Trump is not the right man for the presidency. And Biden has termed his rival’s apathy towards the 200,000 deaths due to Covid-19 as criminal, since action to stop the pandemic spread by the President even one week in advance could have saved thousands of lives.

It may be normal for a politician to use his/her power to help out a friend or relative. What is not normal is using the power to cheat one’s way to election or re-election.  If Indian Americans and Hindus want our adopted country to stay as great as it was when we first chose it, we cannot allow its democracy to be compromised by the likes of Trump. Whether it’s sucking up to Russia’s Putin or coercing a Ukrainian president to help him, or sabotaging the USPS, Trump has taken corruption to unprecedented dangerous levels.

Democratic values vs dictatorial tendencies

Joe Biden wants to sustain cordial relationships with democracies around the world, foremost among them is of course, India.  Trump cozies up to brutal dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Russia’s Putin.  Biden is civil and courteous.  Trump is the exact opposite – vindictive and vicious.  Biden insults nobody. Trump insults anybody who dares to differ with him.  Biden will be an undisputed Uniter in Chief. Trump has proved unequivocally as the Divider in Chief.  Biden believes in tax laws that promote equitable distribution of wealth. Trump wants the wealthy to become wealthier (including himself), thus aggravating the existing wealth inequality.

Thousands of mostly mask-less supporters attended Trump campaign rallies in Nevada on September 12 and 13, held in violation of state directives which cap at 50 the number of people who can attend public gatherings.  There is no clear data yet, but it is estimated that such behavior on the part of the president and his always-Trumper followers poses huge risk to public health and puts an additional strain on already astronomical costs of handling Covid 19 patients.  The guy who is supposed to be law enforcer becomes blatantly law violator – that is a clear sign of dictator in making.

Admonition of science and abrogation of leadership

The number of Covid deaths in the USA has crossed 200,000 and the number of cases has crossed 7 million mark. While our population is only 4% of the world’s population, the number of coronavirus infections here is 25% of the world’s numbers. Indian American doctors (mostly Hindu) constitute almost a fifth of the number of doctors in the country. They have been very visible in the fight against coronavirus on the frontlines and in the media in almost all states. Some of them sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. They included two doctors, father and daughter, who succumbed to the virus while treating patients.

Based on several metrics, it is abundantly clear that the Trump administration horribly mismanaged the fight against this pandemic. Why? Because Trump does not believe in science. He called Covid-19 a Democrats’ hoax, just like he called Russian interference in the 2016 elections a hoax. Woodward confirmed in his book that he lied to the American people in public that Covid-19 was like the ordinary flu, while in private he admitted that it was much more deadly than flu. He does not encourage  mask wearing or lockdown even in the worst situations.  His loyal AG Barr says that lockdown is like slavery. So, we are all slaves since we do not want to die and do not want others to die.  Trump has been encouraging early opening of the economy at the cost of human lives so that he can enhance his chances of re-election.  Like a dictator, he scolds expert epidemiologists and doctors like Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield.  Biden has unequivocally stated that he trusts vaccines and science and not Trump. Taming Covid-19 is a public health issue we must keep in mind.

Just like the pandemic, the epidemic of gun violence is also a public health issue as asserted by former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Biden and President Obama tried to pass common sense gun laws, but failed by a couple of votes in the Senate.  Trump has resisted doing anything to control gun violence even when there were mass protests by high school students in the wake of mass shootings in a Florida school and in Las Vegas.  Our country must wake up to the hard reality that even though we are 4% of the world population, we own 50% of the world’s guns.  Trump boasts about his relationship with the NRA whose lobbying for gun rights is responsible for mass shootings and deaths of innocent adults, teens and young children.

Hindus and other religions that emanated from India like Jainism believe in Ahimsa (nonviolence) as the supreme religion, where we don’t live in fear from each other and don’t use deadly weapons at the slightest provocation or mental imbalance. Who is ultimately paying for the escalating healthcare costs?  We the taxpayers.

We Indians Americans are rational people and give credence to science – after all, so many discoveries and innovations in science and mathematics have emerged from India. And Trump?  In his egomaniac attitude, he persists in incessant destruction of reason, evidence and science in the service of his personal whims, conspiratorial mindset and political requirements. Biden has termed him a climate arsonist.  Biden believes in controlling climate change caused by huge carbon footprints throughout the world. Trump dumped the Paris Climate Accord even when all other countries remain committed to it.  It is critical that we keep ecological balance and respect climate change that happens because of incessant pollution and emission of unwanted gases.

Biden and Trump are polar opposites

Biden has had a public service contribution since the age of 29 for almost 50 years now. Trump wandered into politics in 2015, primarily because of his hate for Barack Obama. In the prime of his youth, Trump received five deferments using medical excuses. And in his inherited business, he squandered the wealth.  He took advantage of every tax loophole to enrich himself and has not released his tax returns in spite of numerous demands from several politicians. Biden has released 21 years of his tax returns.

Biden is devoutly religious and full of empathy. Trump pays lip service to religion and uses the church and Bible for photo-op.  Biden is a caring family man who has struggled with family tragedies and every time rose to the occasion for public service.  Trump is an opportunist real estate mogul who has to fake empathy for anybody.  Biden has been loyal to his both wives. Trump has had affairs while married with two earlier wives and now while married to Melania.

During the Obama-Biden administration, Obama visited India twice, unique in the history of relations between India and USA and designated India as a major defense partner and improved immigration policies affecting Indians.  Trump revoked India’s special trade partner status, cut visas for Indian immigration, levied tariffs on Indian imports, blamed India for being greedy for not withdrawing from the Paris accord, and ultimately visited India on the condition that Modi arrange the biggest possible rally to satisfy his mountain size ego.  Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney in 2018 described Trump as, “our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size.”

Whether the issue is racial injustice, climate crisis, inequality, world peace or democracy’s future, Biden can certainly deliver and stop the ongoing divisive turmoil at home and dangerous confrontation abroad.  It is his last shot at the top spot for the love of our nation.  So, please help elect this marathon public servant – 49 years and still going strong. He has a conventional centrist outlook, empathetic style and courteous demeanor. A pandemic recovery plan, police reforms, leadership in climate control, curbs on social media abuses, and above all regaining civility and the soul of America are among his cherished goals. Biden and Harris are clearly on a path to think once again in terms of entire humanity rather than America versus the rest of the world.  The following Sanskrit verse sums up this sentiment.

अयं निजः परो वेति गणना तु लघुचेतासाम

उदार चरितनाम तु वासुदेव कुटुम्बकम

(This is mine and that is somebody else’s are the thinking of narrow-minded people. Broad-minded people think of the whole world as one great family.)

In conclusion, Biden-Harris administration will: (a) strengthen US-India ties as two largest democracies in the world are natural partners; (b) work with India to promote global security including on issues related to terrorism and countering aggression from China; (c) will advocate for India to have a permanent seat on UN Security Council.

As Lord Krishna says to Arjun in Bhagavad Gita, “For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, Arjun, for it comes as an open gate to heaven. But if you do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your dharma and your honor.”

So, I urge all Indian Americans to become warriors and make sure we all vote and facilitate victory of Good over the Evil.

thesatime | The Southasian times

Dr. Palvia is Professor Emeritus of MIS, College of Management at Long Island University Post in Brookville, NY. email: Shailoo.palvia@gmail.com

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