When it became clear on November 7 that Joe Biden has defeated incumbent Donald Trump in a bitterly-fought election to become the 46th President of the United States of America, among the many who took to the streets in celebration were swathes of Indian Americans.
It has been a turbulent few years under Trump administration. Even amid the pandemic, the election had attracted a record number of Americans eager to cast their votes, manifesting a change in the world's oldest democracy.
Shouts, cheers and fireworks erupted across the US cities as American media called the race in favour of the Democrats.
For Indian Americans in the States, the youngest immigrant community in the States, the victory was sweeter still. With Kamala Harris securing the second-highest US office, they now have representation in the highest corridor.
Harris is the first woman, and the first Asian American to become the US Vice President.
Onmanorama spoke to several Indian Americans, especially Keralites settled in the US, this past week to get their responses. They were all thrilled at the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States and described his running mate Senator Kamala Harris' victory as a dream come true for the community.
“My friends and I have been following the election closely, and this was the result that we were expecting and hoping for. This is definitely a step in the right direction for the country. I am cautiously optimistic about the President-elect, and hope we see better leadership in the coronavirus pandemic response,” Vineeth Thomas Alex, a software engineer based in Seattle, said.
“As an immigrant, I also hope he reverses the rash executive orders President Trump has made over the last several months, puts an end to the attack on legal immigration, and improves the broken green card wait times,” Alex added.
Thomas Kurien, who resides in North Carolina where Trump edged Biden by a slender margin of 73,325 votes, said the Democrats won the election because of Trump's foul mouth.
“Trump did several good things for Americans, but his unnecessary remarks on COVID-19, immigrants, WHO, climate control cost him dearly. A majority of Americans think he disgraced America in front of the world through his comments.
On the other hand, Biden is an experienced politician known for his calm and collected attitude. He never ridicules his opponent, and his selection of Kamala Harris as Vice President candidate gave him an upper hand, especially among women in coloured communities. Moreover, Biden's family and political background are better than Trump's,” Kurien said.
“Still Trump got approximately 70 million votes out of 150 million. That is no small accomplishment,” Kurien added.
Alappuzha native Anu Gireesh who now resides in Florida is hopeful that the Biden administration can stitch together a country torn by hated and violence in recent years. She is also optimistic about the changes that Biden will bring to the economy and immigrant policies.
“He [Biden] is likely to understand our problems better as he too comes from a working-class family,” Anu added.
Govind V Menon, a Business Analyst from Florida too seconds Anu's statement.
"I was happy and relieved on learning that Biden has won the election and is on track to become the 46th President of the United States. I was rooting for him," Govind said and elaborated the reasons why - the present government's lack of basic response to COVID-19, the tightening of immigrant policies, and Trump's failure to publicly denounce and confront the growing racism in the US.
"I think Joe Biden could make a difference. One of his campaign promises had been to take concrete steps from a scientific standpoint to curb the spread of the virus. Also, Biden administration has already planned a roadmap to undo the needless curbs around immigration. I hope they will also take a strong stance against racism and come up with actual, workable policies to tackle the issues faced by the minorities here," Govind said.
The election result was a welcome relief to Sarath Chandran Puthenthermadam. “To be frank, for the first time after more than 4 years I didn’t feel uncomfortable seeing a large group of people (who were celebrating the Biden win) waving the US national flag. As an immigrant, Trump supporters waving the national flag conveyed a hostile vibe.”
“The political discourse over the last 4 years under Trump was unruly and stressful. [Trump] lacked principles and didn’t deeply care about anything. His colossal mismanagement of COVID is evidence of that,” Sarath said.
“But I think Democrats have a lot of introspection to do as to why they were not able to make significant inroads [this election]. Around 48 per cent of the voting public still voted for Trump,” Sarath points out.
Soumya V Jom, a consultant working for a firm in New York, spoke about how vital H1-B visas are for the technology sector in the US and how Biden's victory is the restoration of hope after all the uncertainties that prevailed in the sector under Trump's presidency.
“Biden’s H1B visa reforms can open wider employment opportunities for the H1Bs. The technology consulting companies with access to affordable tech resources from India can expect favourable policies under Biden,” Soumya said.
“Kamala Harris and Biden have been strong supporters of HR 1044 Bill; the bill to lift the country quota for Green Cards. Thus, to end the decades-long wait for employment-based Green Cards for high population countries like India and China. We can also expect favourable policies for India's health professionals for their entry and employment in the US,” Soumya added.
India contributes 73.9 per cent of all H1-B visas in this industry.
Sushma Kokkatu, a nurse who has been at the receiving end of Trump's irresponsible handling of COVID-19, which claimed over 250,000 American lives, said that she was very excited at the possibilities that this election victory unfolds.
“Along with (Joe) Biden's win, Indian-origin Kamala Harris becoming the first woman Vice-President is a proud and inspiring moment for all of us. Even though there is a conflict about his political agenda even among my colleagues and friends, I am hoping for a peaceful future under Biden,” Sushma said.
Like them, several more Keralites too portrayed Biden and Harris' victory as a ray of hope in these troubled times. While the correct handling of COVID-19 and the rebuilding of the economy may pose the biggest challenges now, a lot more work remains to be done before we see the fabled America of old.