Column: Kamala Harris and the failures of identity politics

India is in crisis.

There have been over 200,000 new cases of COVID-19 recorded every day since April 15. The daily number of cases rose to over 300,000 just a week later. On May 1, India recorded more than 400,000 new cases – a world record.

Thousands of people die every day; it is estimated that more than 200,000 people in India have lost their lives since the start of the pandemic. The true death toll is likely much higher than these official figures, as local politicians may collude with hospital administrators to underestimate the death toll.

Hospitals are running out of beds and oxygen, and crematoriums are overwhelmed.

India faces the deadly combination of a new variant of COVID-19, barely existing healthcare infrastructure, and a ruling government that has completely abandoned its responsibility to its citizens.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every member of my family who lives there has or is directly exposed to COVID-19, and that non-resident Indians and members of the Diaspora probably face a similar situation. with their own family.

As individuals, there is little we can do to help outside of organizations in the field and endlessly disturbing. In situations like these, we’re supposed to ask our elected leaders for help – and we did. We were disappointed.

After more than two weeks of radio silence since the start of that brutal second wave, the Biden administration finally announced it was delivering $ 100 million in supplies on April 25. This aid policy only saw the light of day after sustained pressure from defenders and activists.

Additionally, the United States is currently sitting on tens of millions of doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, which the Biden administration only agreed to share with the rest of the world on April 26. still unknown.

Throughout these tumultuous weeks, Vice President Kamala Harris has remained silent – despite her family’s Indian roots.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, the Indian diaspora was delighted to have a half-Indian woman representing us at the second highest echelon of American politics. People were thrilled to see Harris wearing a sari, doing masala dosa with Mindy Kaling and speaking Tamil on the national stage.

But apart from one Impersonal Tweet After the administration previously announced it would send supplies, Harris did not offer a single word of sympathy or make a public statement about this crushing disaster until last Saturday, when she said the coronavirus situation in India “is tragic”.

(This is the “who fears” statements.)

This disaster clearly shows that identity is not enough. The ability to do masala dosa and speak Tamil did not translate into an urgent desire to help the Indian people.

As an American first, Harris obviously has no obligation to India or any other country. But as thousands of people suffered and died in the country she so proudly claimed in the elections, her silence during this crisis has been particularly marked.


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