Geneva: President Biden went to Europe for a week to convince the allies that America was back, and for good; gather them in common cause against the rising threat of China; and establish some red lines for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he called his “worthy adversary.”
At G7 he made inroads on China on which in Europe here has been reluctance to think of China as a threat — economically, technologically and militarily.
In Geneva, Biden expressed cautious optimism about finding ways to reach a polite accommodation with Putin. But it is far from clear that any of the modest initiatives the two men described on Wednesday, after a stiff, three-hour summit meeting on the edge of Lake Geneva, will fundamentally change a bad dynamic, rcometns New York Times
Biden, one of his senior aides said after the meeting was over, “is perpetually optimistic” that Mr. Putin may, despite a long history of efforts to undermine the Western alliance, see advantage in changing course.
This was Biden’s first foreign tour as President. He began over the weekend in England, on the rocky shores of Cornwall, the venue for G7, talking about friendship, alliances, consultation, comity and multilateralism. At every stop he opened with the same three words: “America is back.”
In Brussels, at NATO’s 31st summit on Monday, he said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people. He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”
President Biden will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House next month, his third in-person visit with a foreign leader in Washington since taking office at the beginning of this year.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced last Friday that Biden would meet with Merkel, who is in her final year as chancellor, on July 15 and that the visit “will affirm the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany.”
“The leaders will discuss their commitment to close cooperation on a range of common challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values,” Psaki said.
The meeting is also likely to delve into more contentious issues, such as the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany. The Biden administration has criticized the pipeline but waived sanctions on the company heading the project earlier this year in what was widely interpreted as a move to avoid tensions with Germany, a U.S. ally.
Merkel will be the first European ally to visit the White House. On separate occasions earlier this year, Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Geneva: After their first in-person summit Wednesday, President Joe Biden and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia addressed the press separately to make broad claims of good will, but on issues ranging from cyberattacks to human rights, the two sides remain divided, reports The New York Times.
“There has been no hostility…. our meeting took place in a constructive spirit,” said Putin.
Biden too said, “The tone of the entire meeting was good, positive.”
As for differences, Putin denied that Russia has played a role in a spate of increasingly bold cyberattacks against U.S. institutions and accused America as the biggest offender.
Biden said that he had pressed the Russian president on a variety of issues. “I made it clear to President Putin that we’ll continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights,” he said. He expressed optimism that Putin would not seek to escalate the tensions between the two nations.
“The last thing he wants now is a cold war,” Mr. Biden said, noting that “we have significant cyber-capabilities, and he knows it.”
On the positive side, Putin said the two nations had agreed that their ambassadors, who both returned to their home countries amid the tensions, should return to their posts in the near future. He said they would also begin “consultations” on cyber-related issues.
“We believe the sphere of cybersecurity is extremely important for the world in general — including for the United States, and for Russia to the same degree,” he said.
Putin, who flew in from Sochi, Russia, A short time later, Mr. Biden’s motorcade pulled up as Russian, American and Swiss flags waved in the breeze under a blue sky with the United States entourage.
The two leaders were greeted by President Guy Parmelin of Switzerland, who welcomed them to Geneva, “the city of peace.” The summit was held at an 18th-century Swiss villa perched above Lake Geneva.
The high-stakes diplomatic engagement came at the end of a whirlwind week long European tour for Biden in which he sought to rebuild the traditional alliances that often bolstered the United States’ position during the Cold War. Biden has argued that the world is at an “inflection point,” with an existential battle underway between democracy and autocracy.
Federation, but those that contain it — which is the publicly announced goal of the United States.”
Brussels: President Biden repeated a call Monday to prove to the world and to his own people in America that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver the needs of our people. Addressing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 31st summit in Brussels Monday, he said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people. He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”
After the summit,NATO members issued a communiqué highlighting the “threat” presented by Russia and the “challenges” posed by China. “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” the communiqué read. On China, the statement said: “China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance. The statement added that the NATO members “will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance.”
The leaders of the 30 NATO countries agreed “that the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack,” an assessment that could lead to the invocation of the organization’s mutual self-defense clause, Article 5. The countries “(reaffirmed) that a decision as to when a cyber attack would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis,” the joint statement released during the NATO leaders’ summit said.
President Biden was asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he will make clear where the “red lines” are. “I’m going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind,” Biden said.
NATO leaders largely backed the US decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Some American allies had griped ahead of the summit that they weren’t properly consulted before Biden announced he would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Others have questioned how security can be maintained in the country when US troops leave, particularly at Kabul International Airport and at other diplomatic facilities. NATO leaders have also agreed to provide “transitional funding” to ensure that the international airport in Kabul continues to operate.
Washington: America’s reputation on the global stage appears to have significantly rebounded since Trump left office and Joe Biden became the commander in chief, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week.
As Biden went to Europe to repair relations with America’s allies, the poll found that several countries in the region like the current president more than the former. A median of 75 percent of respondents in 12 countries expressed confidence in Biden, compared with 17 percent for Trump last year.
In the UK, for example, 64 percent of those surveyed said they view the U.S. favorably, up from just 41 percent under Trump.
Similar favorability improvements of 25 percentage points or more were found in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Of the 16,254 people in 16 countries surveyed in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region between March and May, more than 60 percent in each country said they have confidence in Biden to “do the right thing in world affairs.”
Pew conducted the survey in countries including Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan.
The study found, however, that many still view the U.S. as a “somewhat reliable partner.” No more than 20 percent of respondents in any one country said the U.S. is a “very reliable partner.” Reliability is highest in the Netherlands, where 80 percent say the U.S. is somewhat or very reliable. Seventy-five percent of respondents in Australia and Japan both said the U.S. is somewhat or very reliable. But 44 percent in Taiwan and 43 percent in Greece said the U.S. is not very or not at all reliable, the survey found.
However, attitudes toward the U.S. still vary in different countries. For example, only about 50 percent of people in Singapore and Australia have a favorable opinion of the U.S., and only 42 percent of New Zealanders like the U.S., according to the survey. Favorability in Taiwan is down slightly from 68 percent to 61 percent, compared to a 2019 Pew survey.
However, a median of only 50 percent of respondents said in the Pew survey that they believe American democracy is working well.
The survey noted, however, that attitudes toward the U.S. ebb and flow as administrations change.
Pew noted that when former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, favorability increased compared to George W. Bush’s administration. Similarly, when Trump entered the White House in 2017, favorability saw a sharp decline. For instance, a median of 34 percent of those surveyed across 12 nations had a favorable overall opinion of the U.S. last year, the survey found. Now, a median of 62 percent of nations hold the U.S. in glowing regard.
Federalism refers to a form of government that is based on a relationship of parity and a constitutionally defined division of powers between two levels of government of equal status. Political thinkers view it as the best system for integrating diverse fiercely autonomous political, ethnic, class, religious, socio-cultural and other groups with competing interests, all of whom may have cause to fear control by an overly powerful center.
America’s 13 colonies deeming themselves as free independent nations opted for the federal form of government precisely to retain their parity vis-à-vis each other and with the federal government. India’s several hundred kingdoms and competing political entities and interests were similarly inspired (in some cases coerced) to do the same. Both countries formulated and adopted a constitution that demarcates powers between the central or federal government and the governments of the constituent states.
In recent years, federalism seems to be under fire as the center and states in both countries are increasingly inclined to test the limits of their powers. Once formed, the evolution of federal nations suggests a gradual movement of power from the component states to the centre. Federal governments tend to acquire additional powers, mostly in response to unforeseen situations and emergencies.
Such appropriation of new powers by a federal government can occur through formal constitutional amendment or simply through a broadening of courts’ interpretation of a government’s existing constitutional powers or by federal agencies through their regulatory powers. The federal government in the US, for instance, chronically uses carrots and sticks to beat their counterparts in the states to fall in line with the federal mandated policies and programs. This leads to inevitable clashes and lawsuits challenging the validity of federal or state decisions and actions.
A most recent clash is seen in the Texas Governor deciding to build the wall on his state’s southern border in order to prevent illegal immigrants from entering or inhabiting his state. The Covid pandemic, and the risk of infection from unvaccinated or untested Covid infected immigrants, has enhanced the pressure on Governor Greg Abbott to keep them out, especially against President Biden’s failure to address the problem. With foreign relations and border security defined as strictly federal powers, whether the Texas Governor can ban, prevent or eject foreigners from illegally entering his state is a burning constitutional issue all set to be heard and settled by the highest court in America.
The pandemic has highlighted other disputed areas of delegation of powers, muddling the so far believed to be clear-cut constitutional boundaries between state and federal authority. As a result of political decisions by both state and federal elected officials on public health protection and reopening of economy including issues such as mask wearing, social distancing and socializing, participation in psychologically vital societal activities such as weddings, restaurants, sports, athletics, religious, and cultural entertainment gatherings, intra- and inter-state travel by land, sea or air, in each arena, state legislatures and governors are testing their authority vis-à-vis each other while also challenging the federal government’s exercise of power. Presidents such as Biden and Governors such as Newsom and Cuomo have assumed unprecedented rule-making power which directly contravenes the constitutionally provided authority to legislatures to do so.
In other cases, such as electoral laws, the US Congress is laying claim to regulatory power that normally rests with state legislatures and designated authorities. With renewal of threats to expand and pack the Supreme Court, even the judiciary’s autonomy is at stake. No wonder today’s American government looks different than originally contemplated by the nation’s founders.
In India, federal-state tensions are on the rise with the most dramatic exhibition of federal power over a state when the Modi Government in 2019 managed to successfully repeal Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that assigned special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and passed the J&K Reorganization Act, which dissolved the state and reorganized it into two separate union territories of Jammu and Kashmir. That political outrage storm had barely settled when Covid hit India enabling the Modi Government to appropriate several regulatory powers over national and state economic and public health policies. Enacted by the Modi Government are highly controversial laws such as those regulating citizenship and agriculture, which have added to the centre-state tension in India.
Testing the stability of Indian federation, a serious clash of wills occurred most recently between PM Modi and West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reportedly over the tenure of a civil servant who was serving as Chief Secretary of the state. He was due to retire but Modi extended his service by three months to ensure continuity in COVID control in the state. Such extensions are not unusual. A few days later with a terrible cyclone ravaging Odisha and West Bengal, Modi undertook an aerial survey during which period security regulation prevented Mamata’s helicopter from entering the aerial space. She therefore was not only unable to meet the PM on his arrival at a local airport, but showed up late at the meeting to discuss cyclone related needs with him. Those two failures were played up by vested interests as her rebuff to Modi. Worse, rather than engaging in a calm and cordial discussion, she reportedly declined to sit down, handed over a damage report to the PM, said a few words and presumably left to fly to another disaster location with her Chief Secretary tagging along.
Reportedly, while the PM did not overtly object, fury’s floodgates opened soon enough resulting in an immediate announcement of the Chief Secretary’s transfer to Delhi, on his very last day of service. Mamata retaliated by refusing to release the civil servant, an authority which Modi had similarly exercised as Gujarat’s Chief Minister! Declining the 90 days’ extension of service given by the Centre, Mamata awarded the civil servant a three-year post-retirement term as her ‘Adviser’.
The Centre responded by issuing a notice under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act on the civil servant for “refusing to comply with the direction given by or on behalf of the Central Government”. The provision authorizes up to two years imprisonment of offenders. The step, while legal, is unprecedented and worse, it opens the floodgates for manipulation of civil servants out of spite. Observers are eager to see whether the firebrand Mamata will use the same power to imprison a central government official as part of her vendetta.
The petty incident has incendiary potential with Mamata already moving to call for an end to Modi’s regime for his many failings including undermining state autonomy on farming, public health, covid handling, and other administrative issues.
According to a retired civil servant, “The interesting question we have now is whether the Center expects IAS officers to defy the state government. The matter will soon move to the courts and the federal Constitution looks forward eagerly to a direction. Should officers serving states continue to be loyal to them? Or is it now legitimate for them to undercut the latter – whenever Delhi gets miffed with a chief minister? That is the crux of this battle.”
But the battle’s implications are surely widespread and grimmer. As skeptics of federalism have always believed and its doomsayers have predicted, increased regional autonomy or enhanced federal aggression are equally likely to lead to secession or dissolution of the federal nation.
Whether in the US or India, as the Constitution’s federal characteristics are being increasingly and constantly tested, the battling parties are called upon to ace those tests.
Failure is not an option as it could well mean a collapse of the Indian, or for that matter the American, state and nation as we know it.
The California based writer frequently contributes opeds and essays to The South Asian Times.
London: With the world confronting the immediate crisis of a pandemic and the long-term challenge of climate change, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain met on Thursday.
Their meeting, as per a joint statement, focused on democracy, human rights and multilateralism; defense and security; science and technology; trade and prosperity; climate and nature; health; and the shared commitment to Northern Ireland.
The two leaders laid out their “global vision” in an updated version of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, the agreement authorized by Roosevelt and Churchill that established a set of post-war objectives for the two countries’ relationship.
President Biden is on his first visit abroad to attend the G7 summit in England, meet NATO and EU leaders in Brussels, and have a fraught one-on-one meeting with the Russian President Putin in Geneva.
Giving words to the message of this trip, Biden told US troops at an air base in eastern England on Wednesday, “We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges.”
President Biden embraced allies that his predecessor, Donald J. Trump disparaged, saying nations must join forces on the pandemic, global warming, free trade and the challenges of China and Russia.
Under pressure to address the global coronavirus vaccine shortage, Biden announced on Thursday that the US will buy half a billion doses of vaccine and donate them for use by about 100 low- and middle-income countries, including India, over the next year.
“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” Mr. Biden said in a speech.
VP Harris’ stern message on migration
Also traveling abroad, Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday, capping her first foreign trip with a discussion on economic cooperation, as well as joint efforts to combat human trafficking and manage migration to their shared border.
According to a statement from her spokeswoman, the Biden administration would issue loans for affordable housing, efforts to grow cacao and coffee and infrastructure project development.
The U.S. will also invest $130 million over three years to support labor protections for Mexican workers and will also provide forensic training to Mexican officials seeking to find tens of thousands of missing people.
“The two leaders also agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration,” Ms. Sanders said.
Ms. Harris and Mr. López Obrador signed an agreement in Mexico’s national palace reiterating their governments’ commitment to deter migration north by addressing its root causes: poverty, persecution and corruption in Central America.
The meeting concludes a high-stakes visit for Ms. Harris to Mexico and Guatemala, where she was on Monday. She has been tapped by President Biden to be the administration’s emissary for one of its more complex and politically volatile issues: improving conditions in Central America and deterring migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.
It could justifiably be said that if ever Congress had the chance to show the American public that they were capable of doing bipartisanship work, it was over the decision to get an independent, bipartisan commission to probe into the January 6 insurrection. Not since our Capitol was attacked and ransacked like the British did in 1812, the 2021 assault came at the very time when Congress was carrying out one of its most sacred duties: confirm the results of a democratic presidential election, one of the most sacrosanct aspects of democracy, along with the vote.
We all remember vividly the onslaught on the Capitol, every moment of it, from the gathering of the Trump supporters outside the White House to protest the Congressional session (as some of us innocently thought), to the then President’s instigation “to fight like hell” to overturn the results of a democratic process, to the marching of over two thousand people to the Capitol. Then, suddenly, the mutiny. We stared in disbelief as Trump’s “troops” armed with everything from tridents to sling ropes and knives, stormed the building shouting at lawmakers to “stop the steal,” a slogan the former president popularized since the night he lost the election. Still, those of us who grew into adulthood in this country, who have witnessed justifiable protests against unjust political phenomena like the Vietnam War, or the peaceful civil rights marches, couldn’t believe that these protesters, coming from all over America, would actually break barriers and attack our lawfully elected Congress members; would demand the demise of the Speaker and Vice President; tear into the classical, august structure symbolizing the oldest democracy in the world. We stared in disbelief.
The formal election of the 46th president was delayed by many hours, way into the wee hours of the following morning, after the Capitol lay waste, documents of political and historical import confiscated, policemen dead, and scores wounded. All this while, for what amounted to almost twelve hours, our former president’s only concern was whether Congress would overturn the results of a democratic election, and return him as president! He had coaxed, cajoled and bullied his supporters to rebel violently, and after its failure, was unrepentant and petulant.
An independent commission would have been the logically obvious consequence. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers were targeted with cries of kidnapping Nancy Pelosi and hanging Mike Pence. There hadn’t been an attack on an American institution since 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination. We expected a commission to go deep into the matter. It was a foregone conclusion. The other two warranted commissions. This one would too. All early indications pointed to it. The minority leaders of both the House and Senate publicly criticized the president. The talk of an independent commission started the very next day. All roads pointed to Rome.
Then the reality set in for Republicans. They began to realize how grossly the outgoing president had overplayed his hand. Just as he was itching to become president again, so were the Republicans readying themselves to win back the Senate and the House where they had lost by razor-thin margins. Given that the midterms are usually bad for incumbent parties, a Republican resurgence was on the cards. But thanks to Trump, a long drawn out Commission, with subpoenas of all the major players, including Trump, could badly hurt their chances in 2022. They couldn’t afford to risk another loss. By hook or by crook, they had to stop the Commission.
And they chose Mitch McConnell to lead the way.
A word about McConnell. Having been in Congress for over forty years, much of it as a majority or minority leader, no one is probably more Machiavellian than Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr of Kentucky. He calls himself Mitch, eschewing though perhaps not consciously the name of a famous classical English essayist, Joseph Addison, who used to be a model of humor and logic. This Mitch is logical too, but famously humorless (at least in public), and one who perverts logic rather than use it toward positive ends. All he understands is party in the service of power. He will demean himself shamelessly, smirk with an eighty-year old decrepit smile at insults hurled toward him, even by a president, as long as his party stays in power, and he is in the forefront. Nothing else matters. He used to be Joe Biden’s friend. Not any longer. McConnell pledged before the 2020 election, in which he won a seventh term, that he would be the “grim reaper” of liberal policy proposals. “If I’m still the majority leader in the Senate, think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass,” he told voters in Owensboro, Ky. He wasn’t the majority leader anymore. But effectively it didn’t make any difference. The Republicans got their way.
The Republicans called the Democrats’ proposal of a commission everything from “witch hunt” (Trump) to “playing politics” (McConnell). Late in the political football game, McConnell sounded to his fellow Republican senators, the two-minute warning. 𝑃𝑜𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑜 reported that the Senate minority leader told Republican colleagues over lunch the day before the vote that they should oppose the creation of a Jan. 6 commission, no matter 𝒉𝑜𝑤 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑑, because it “could hurt the party’s midterm election message.” The Republicans took advantage of the filibuster to stop a vote on the commission which, from all accounts, would have garnered the 60 votes necessary.
Now, the filibuster is not legally or constitutionally provided to counter proposals by the majority party. It is a senatorial invention, effected in 1806, but was seldom used until the twentieth century. President Woodrow Wilson, a doctorate in political science, had successfully introduced a way to stop filibusters by the three-fifth of the senate voting it down. Ironically, the Democrats also employed the filibuster when they lost the majority in Congress in 2014. Obviously, they saw it as protecting the country from voting an unfair law by the majority party. Now that the Democrats are in the majority, filibusters do not suit them. There is talk of gutting it by a simple majority vote, but the Democrats fear that they might need it in the future when they lose the majority. In the final analysis, filibuster is an antidote to bipartisanship. When the latter is impossible, the Senate needs it.
Is bipartisanship dead, a thing of the past? Not long ago, President Obama had appointed two Republicans to his cabinet because he wanted “the best in his cabinet, regardless of political allegiance.” How ironical it is that the same president was rendered practically ineffective by a Republican Congress who, because of his color and creed, refused to even debate his proposals during the last two years of his presidency. Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, became president this year and promised bipartisanship in his inaugural speech – to little avail. He has been trying idealistically to encourage bipartisanship by inviting important Republican members of Congress to the White House to discuss his proposals. Frustrated, he is trying to go beyond the elected representatives to the American people, addressing them in his speeches. Over 60% support his proposals to boost the health and economic conditions of the post-Covid middle class. As he tries to forge ahead, putting back together a country broken by Covid and an incompetent wayward president, to “build back better,” his former colleagues in the senate – like Mitch McConnell – who had nothing but praise for him before, have now turned enemy.
Like Satan in 𝑃𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑒 𝐿𝑜𝑠𝑡, McConnell might as well say to his fellow senators in the minority,
𝐹𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑛 𝑐𝒉𝑒𝑟𝑢𝑏, 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑎𝑘 𝑖𝑠 𝑚𝑖𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒,
𝐷𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑢𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔: 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝒉𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑒.
𝑇𝑜 𝑑𝑜 𝑎𝑢𝑔𝒉𝑡 𝑔𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑒 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑡𝑎𝑠𝑘.
𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑜 𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑔𝒉𝑡,
𝐴𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑟𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝒉𝑖𝑠 𝐻𝑖𝑔𝒉 𝑊𝑖𝑙𝑙,
𝑊𝒉𝑜𝑚 𝑤𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑖𝑠𝑡.
Shivaji Sengupta is a retired Professor of English at Boricua College, New York City. He has a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and has been a regular contributor to The South Asian Times. He is a member of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee.