In the next two months, almost 814 million voters will make their way to polling booths across the length and breadth of the country to cast their votes in the largest democratic elections in the world. The general elections, in which voters will elect a total of 543 members to the lower house of Parliament, or Lok Sabha, will ultimately decide the fate of the nation. The upcoming elections, described by local analysts as historic, pits the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the broadly centre-left Congress party, which has been in power for 10 years. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is Narendra Modi while the Congress campaign is led by Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India’s most famous political dynasty.
All the hype and buzz about the upcoming elections have whipped up enough interest all around the world and Indian Americans are equally keyed in to the updates. Only a few of them have a vote back home, but that does not stop them from being excited about the elections and hoping that the election brings forward a clean government and a corruption free India. Sensing their growing interest in the Indian elections, US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) has come up with a unique initiative which is running a series of weekly conference calls with noted analysts from India providing their expert opinion to the American callers. The discussion points during the calls touch upon subjects such as possible outcomes of the elections, impact on trade and investments in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, energy, aviation, IT, status of civil liability bill and possible shift in India’s foreign policy. The calls which began on March 22nd will continue till May 16th and India’s leading political analysts and experts will be offering their expert opinions with respect to the Indian elections. In the last two weeks, the featured experts were Dr. Jagdeep S Chhokar, the founder member of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit organization that’s working for government and electoral change in India, Dr. Anupam Srivastva, Managing Director, Invest India, Madhav Nalpat, Director of the Geopolitics and International Relations Department at Manipal University and Yashwant Deshmukh, prominent broadcast journalist and founder of C-voter.
The various questions they were asked ranged from effectiveness of the next government to implement the bills to how will the government curb the rampant corruption and what is the 100 day plan? Predictions were also made that the Bhartiya Janata Party led alliance (National Democratic Alliance) will get a minimum of 230 seats in the Indian parliamentary elections, according to Mr. Yeshwant Deshmukh, of C-Voter, a leading polling agency. In such a situation, the NDA will be well placed to attract support from some of the regional parties – to easily cross the magical figure of 271 to form the next government in India.
Participants across 9 cities, which included leaders of the Indian American community, policy-makers at Capitol Hill, investment bankers and investors from the Wall Street along with technology entrepreneurs and academicians connected through the call.
With the first two calls turning out to be such a raging success, the rest of the calls are set to witness an even better response. As Sanjay Puri, Chairman, USINPAC says, “There is significant interest in the U.S. about the upcoming elections in India. Policy makers, businesses, and investors want to evaluate the developments. Major policy and business decisions would depend on the outcome of these elections. Through this initiative we aim to provide a better understanding of India to our U.S. members so that bilateral relations which are seeing a rocky present have a cooperative future.”
This week the panel of experts will comprise of Prof. Chintamani Mohapatra and Rajiv Kumar. To register for the call, click here.
India currently stands as the best model of democracy and stability in South Asia. Pakistan has been unable to shake free of a history of Islamic extremism. Afghanistan continues to face daily domestic security challenges and serious obstacles to development. Bangladesh yet again appears to be in the throes of political instability, with Prime Minister Sheik Hasina’s facing acts of violence from Islamist groups and activists affiliated with the opposition parties. Sri Lanka remains burdened with the difficulties that follow a prolonged and violent civil war. Of course, countries surrounding South Asia—such as Burma and Iran—face numerous challenges as well.
These realities must drive U.S. policy in the region.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) understands this. From even before taking the oath of office, she has supported a stronger U.S. relationship with India because she recognizes that India is a friend in a region of the world riddled with unfriendly actors.
As a result, when some members of Congress cosponsored House Resolution 417—a bill that unfairly criticizes the Indian national and state governments’ application and enforcement of religious freedom laws, particularly with respect to the 2002 religious riots in Gujarat—she promptly argued against it. This was the right decision. Rep. Gabbard stated about the United States and India, “It is critically important that we focus on strengthening the ties between the two nations, and I do not believe that H. Res. 417 accomplishes this.”
It was particularly important that Rep. Gabbard pointed to India’s rich history of allowing a litany of religions—including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Tibetan Buddhism—to prosper.
Rep. Gabbard concluded that “India is a democratic multi-cultural and multi-faith society, and shares many common values and strategic interests with the United States.” She recognizes that the United States and India are natural friends and also that the former has much to gain from a good relationship with latter, stating, “I think it is critical the US and India have strong ties. A strong partnership with India will be a huge win for the US.”
The U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) supports Rep. Gabbard not only for her advocacy of improved U.S-India relations, but also for a number of other reasons.
Most importantly, Rep. Gabbard has served America honorably, having enlisted in the Hawaii National Guard in April 2003 and deployed since then to both Iraq and Kuwait. She received the Meritorious Service Medal for her work during Operation Iraqi Freedom and an award of appreciation from the Kuwaiti military—the first woman ever to do so. Even now, as a Congresswoman, she is a Military Police Company Commander with the Hawaii National Guard.
By gaining valuable experience in the military, she has also been able to bolster the effort to fight for the right of women to serve in all military capacities, including combat roles.
Rep. Gabbard was one of the first two female combat veterans to be elected to Congress. Her current committee assignments in the House of Representatives include the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Homeland Security. Through this portfolio, she has begun to strengthen her credentials in foreign policy and national security, issues which will only become more important as new global threats arise to challenge the United States.
USINPAC recognizes that Rep. Gabbard’s continued presence in Congress is good for both the security of the United States and for U.S.-India bilateral relations, which include such areas as counterterrorism, defense, and trade. USINPAC supported Tulsi Gabbard before she was elected to Congress, and it will continue to support her during her time in office.
Indian-American businessman Gopal T K Krishna has been elected as the co-chair of the Republican Party in the US state of Iowa.
Krishna, who is a successful businessman with a background in electrical engineering, was elected for this second top most Republican position in Iowa along with Danny Carroll, who was elected as Chairman.
“I have been, and am a Republican for all Republicans. The first three letters of my name are G-O-P. I ran because I don’t want to wait until the primary elections to promote unity.
“I want to continue to increase our party’s voter registration advantage and participation in the forthcoming elections,” Krishna said after he was elected by the 18-member governing board at the Republican Party headquarters in Des Moines.
Krishna received 11 votes and six board members abstained. He has been elected seven times to the state central committee. This was his fourth election as co-chairman.
“I look forward to working with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to advance the Growth and Opportunity Project, work to reach out to minorities and bring new people into our Republican Party,” said Krishna.
“As long as I am Co-Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, outreach to all minority communities will be a priority,” said Krishna, who is from the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition.
Source: Business Standard