Kamala Achieved What She Wanted To, Says Aunt

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has achieved what she wanted to do, according to her maternal aunt Sarala Gopalan who lauded the Democrat for the poll victory.

“I am a doctor and I used to work in Chandigarh. Kamala has visited us a number times in Chandigarh and other places. We have always seen her (Kamala Harris) grow up as a good child. She was very good at whatever she did and she has achieved what she wanted to do,” she said.

Dr. Gopalan is the Chennai-based younger sister of Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan who was born in Chennai before she moved to the US for further studies. Shyamala was a leading cancer researcher and activist.

In her nomination acceptance speech earlier this year, Kamala Harris Harris had mentioned her aunts or chithis, as they are referred to in Tamil.

She added that the family is joyous about Kamala Harris scripting history by becoming the first woman and the first Vice-President-elect who is an Indian-American.

Kamala Harris’s maternal grandfather was born in Thulasenthirapuram, located about 320 km south of the city of Chennai. Shyamala was the daughter of PV Gopalan, a high-ranking civil servant.

The Democratic presidential candidate defeated President Donald Trump in a closely contested election and will be the 46th president of the United States.

In this, his third attempt at the White House, Biden, a four-decade Washington figure as a Senator and then a vice president, received more than 74 million votes, 4 million more than Trump, and more than any other presidential candidate. (ANI)

Republicans Split Over Conceding Electoral Defeat

Republicans are split on the projected win by President-elect Joe Biden even as President Donald Trump refused to concede defeat, claiming widespread voter fraud.

Some GOP lawmakers were more accepting of Biden’s lead on Sunday, after he was projected the winner, while others leaned more into Trump’s narrative of voter fraud, championing legal challenges by his campaign, reported The Hill.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah is one of two Republican senators who congratulated the president-elect on his win on Saturday, although he said that Trump will ‘keep on fighting until the very end’.

“You’re not gonna change the nature of President Trump in these last days, apparently, of his presidency,” Romney said.

Moments after Biden was projected to be the winner of the US presidential elections, Trump refused to concede defeat, saying that the election was “far from over”, and promised legal challenges by his re-election campaign.

Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan said on Sunday that though any potential evidence of widespread voter fraud should be released, but he doesn’t believe anything will overturn the projected election results.

“There are legal processes if you think there are mistakes, but I don’t think we’re gonna see anything that’s gonna overturn this election,” The Hill quoted Hogan, who spoke to CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Senator Pat Toomey also said that the news outlets were ‘probably correct’ to declare the winner of the election but stated that there was a reason why the count was done.

Earlier, former President George W Bush also called Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to congratulate him on his election victory, while also congratulating Trump for a hard-fought election.

“They [the people] have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government,” Bush said.

Trump’s campaign has filed several lawsuits to challenge the results in a few battleground states after the president spent months spreading unsubstantiated claims that mail-in ballots could open the election up to fraud, reported The Hill.

On the other hand, Senator Roy Blunt did not acknowledge Biden’s victory, instead noting that it was time for the President to present the facts, referring to allegations of voter fraud by the President.

“It’s time for the president’s lawyers to present the facts, and it’s time for those facts to speak for themselves,” Blunt told an American broadcast network.GOP South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem asserted that Biden’s win was the result of ‘illegal activities’.

Noem insisted that ‘computer glitches’ and reports of ‘dead people voting in Pennsylvania’ were examples of widespread fraud, reported New York Times.

“When you break the process on which we elect our leaders, you will break America forever,” she said.

“Every legal challenge should be heard,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader. “Then and only then will America decide who won the race.”

Likewise, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged Mr. Trump to refuse to concede and fight on.

“Do not accept the media’s declaration of Biden,” said Graham, on Fox News on Sunday morning. He called the election “contested” and urged: “Do not concede, Mr President. Fight hard.”

Meanwhile, several Republican leaders and lawmakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, have refrained from making comments on Biden’s win, which has left Trump to battle against the election results without the full vocal support of his party behind him.

Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, defeated Trump in a closely contested election and will be the 46th president of the United States. He is the oldest person elected President in the history of the US at the age of 78.

In his third attempt at the White House, Biden, a four-decade Washington figure as a Senator and then a vice president, received more than 74 million votes, 4 million more than Trump, and more than any other presidential candidate. (ANI)

Biden Close To Victory With Growing Lead In Pennsylvania

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden closes in on victory in the high staked US Presidential elections as his lead over President Donald Trump is growing the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

A new batch of votes from Allegheny County was counted and released tonight, widening Biden’s lead over President Trump by 27,130 votes, according to a CNN tally. There are 20 electoral votes at play in the state.

Of the 9,288 votes counted, 7,300 were for Biden, and 1,875 were for Trump, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s order for Pennsylvania election officials to put aside late-arriving ballots and count them separately is in line with previous guidance from the secretary of state.

“I think what Justice Alito’s order does is … preserve the status quo, the way things are now,” said Republican elections lawyer Benjamin moments after the ruling tonight.

The ruling comes in a wake of a filing today from Pennsylvania Republicans who argued in court that not every county in the state was abiding by the secretary of state’s guidance, which may not be legally binding.

As slow-moving counting of ballot proceeds, the chances of Trump to win the race falters. He needs 56 electoral college votes to reach the magic 270.

Seeing defeat at his doorstep, Donald Trump has cried foul of elections fraud and vowed to take the legal route.

Meanwhile, there are an estimated 124,500 outstanding ballots in Nevada, according to the secretary of state’s office.

This number includes 58,000 mail ballots and 66,500 voter registration ballots to be counted — 90 per cent of the ballots to be counted are in Clark County.

Voting took place on November 3 for the elections. While counting has been completed in many states, Alaska, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are still counting ballots and winners have not been projected in those states.

Currently, Joe Biden is projected to have won 253 electoral votes and President Donald Trump 214. The race goes to the contender with 270 votes. (ANI)

We Will Be Declared Winner Once Vote Count Ends: Biden

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) stated that there was no doubt that when the vote count of the US Presidential polls was finished, he and Senator Kamala Harris would be declared the winners.

While delivering a statement from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said: “The Senator and I continue to feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners. So I ask all people to stay calm. The process is working, the count is being completed and we will know very soon. So thank you all for your patience but we’ve got to count the votes.”

The former Vice President also emphasised that every vote must be counted in order to confirm a winner in the Presidential race, and asked people to be patient.

“In America, the vote is sacred. It has helped the people of this nation to express their will, and it is the will of the voters, no one, not anything else, that chooses the President of the USA. So each ballot must be counted and that is what we are going to see going through now, and that is how it should be,” he said.

He mentioned that while democracy is sometimes messy and sometimes it requires a little patience, but that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the ‘envy of the world’.

In his statement, Biden also acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic and the lives lost due to the virus, after attending a briefing on the pandemic.

“Cases are on the rise nationwide and we are nearing 240,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to each and everyone who has lost a loved one to this terrible disease,” he said.

According to CNN, Biden has a 40-point lead over US President Donald Trump in electoral votes as of 4 pm ET (2:30 am IST). (ANI)

Trump Says ‘STOP THE COUNT’ As Biden Leads

While the US awaits the final results of the votes cast on November 3, President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded the vote count be stopped.

Taking to Twitter, Trump said, “STOP THE COUNT!”

In another tweet, he said, “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”

This comes as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Trump in several states including Arizona and Nevada.

Earlier, President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign had filed a lawsuit to stop ballot counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania and to prevent the counting of absentee ballots in Georgia that it claims arrived after the deadline on Election Day.

The USA Today reported that the announcements of the Pennsylvania and Michigan lawsuits came shortly before Biden was projected on Wednesday afternoon to win Michigan. As of Wednesday afternoon, he led President Donald Trump by about 46,000 votes with 96 per cent of the estimated votes tallied. (ANI)

Biden Inches Ahead, Needs To Pocket Nevada, Arizona

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is edging towards a victory over incumbent President Donald Trump in the fierce battle of US Presidential elections with 253 projected Electoral College votes.

Biden needs 17 more votes to win the race as counting is underways in key states including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona, according to New York Times projections.

US President Donald Trump, despite winning the big states of Florida, North Carolina, currently has only 214 votes, according to a tally by New York Times.

In a last-ditch effort, Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, challenging the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow officials to count ballots received as late as three days after Election Day if they were postmarked November 3 or before.

Addressing his supporters on Wednesday, Biden said he “believes” he will win. He flipped Arizona and Wisconsin while taking California, Washington, New York and Illinois.

With narrow wins in Wisconsin and Michigan called on Wednesday afternoon, Biden has flipped two of the three northern industrial states that handed Trump the White House in 2016.

Nevada, which has only 6 electoral votes, has also become important as Biden needs 17 more votes. Vice President Joseph R Biden leads President Trump in the state, but by less than one percentage point.

With millions of votes yet to be counted across several key states, Biden is holding narrow leads in Arizona and Nevada. If he can hold those states, the former vice president could win the election even without Pennsylvania.

On Wednesday, Trump claimed victory prematurely and continued to falsely claim ballots counted after Election Day signal malfeasance. He takes Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and Texas.

Trump’s chances of winning a second term depended on his ability to hang on to his leads in states like Georgia and in Pennsylvania — where Biden has been narrowing the gap as vote counting progresses — and on overtaking Biden in one of the states where he is currently ahead.

Pennsylvania’s secretary of state said there were more than 1.4 million mail-in ballots still to be counted, and those votes are expected to heavily favour Biden.

Trump held leads in North Carolina and Georgia, and his campaign expressed hopes that his early Pennsylvania lead could withstand an influx of mail-in ballots for Biden. (ANI)

Biden Camp Calls Trump’s Claims Of Win ‘Outrageous’

Former US Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign slammed President Donald Trump’s claim of victory prematurely as “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect”.

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillion issued a statement after Trump’s remarks at the White House where he said that he would go to the Supreme Court to put the counting of ballots to a halt after election day.

“The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted. Because that is what our laws — the laws that protect every Americans’ constitutional right to vote — require,” O’Malley Dillon said in a statement, as quoted by The Hill and added that there was “a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens.”

She further said that the Biden campaign is prepared to battle Trump in court if he goes through to try and stop the tabulation of votes.

“We repeat what the Vice President said tonight: Donald Trump does not decide the outcome of this election. Joe Biden does not decide the outcome of this election,” O’Malley Dillon said and added, “The American people decide the outcome of this election. And the democratic process must and will continue until its conclusion.”

This comes after Trump claimed that he had won the election on Wednesday (local time), thanked the American people for their tremendous support and said the results of polls have been “phenomenal”.

“I thank the American people for their tremendous support. A very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we will not stand for it… The results tonight have been phenomenal… We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” he said while addressing a crowd, many of whom were without masks, from the White House.

Addressing his supporters from the East Room in the White House, Trump said, “We want voting to stop.”

“We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 in the morning and add them to the list… as far as I’m concerned, we’ve already won,” said Trump. (ANI)

Trump Claims Victory Ahead Of Vote Count

Claiming victory in the 2020 presidential elections, United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday (local time) thanked the American people for their tremendous support and said the results of polls have been “phenomenal”.

“I thank the American people for their tremendous support. A very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we will not stand for it… The results tonight have been phenomenal… We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this elections,” he said while addressing a crowd, many of whom were without masks, from the White House.

Voting has closed in the US and all eyes are on the vote count to decide the race for the White House between incumbent President Trump and his rival, veteran Democrat Joe Biden.

Democratic presidential nominee Biden has garnered a lead of 220 electoral votes against Trump’s 213 votes in the US presidential polls, according to current projections by CNN on Tuesday.

To win the presidency, either Trump or Biden must acquire over 50 per cent of the electoral college vote, which is 538 in total. Therefore, each candidate must get a minimum of 270 electoral votes to clinch the presidency.

Biden is projected to win Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

California has one of the biggest shares in the Electoral College, with 55 votes, while Illinois also has a significant contribution with 20.

Biden is also projected to win Colorado, Connecticut, Vermont, Delaware, Washington, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

According to the projections, Trump is expected to win Wyoming, Missouri, Utah, and Kansas. (ANI)

Khadi Inc Bucks Slowdown, Creates Jobs & Wealth

Like it or not, Modi has lent glamour to the khadi fabric and contributed to its popularity and profitability. This is evident from the Khadi Commission’s balance sheets in the last five years

Amidst India’s current economic slowdown — from aviation to biscuits to cars – the ‘desi’, or the native, is defying the depressing trend. 

Rooted in soil and traditions, khadi or khaddar, the hand-spun, hand-woven fabric and an array of home-made products of daily use in drawing room, kitchen and toilet are selling better than the branded domestic and multinational stuff.

This is no mere patriotic song; it means jobs and money. And it’s voluntary and now, market-driven.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) ought to be on the national and global bourses except that it is a statutory government corporation established by an Act of parliament.

After long years of neglect and charges of bad performance despite being heavily subsidized, it has entered the profit trajectory.

Its annual turnover of Rs 75,000 crore in 2018-19 is more than double of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). India’s largest corporate manufacturer/marketer, the British-Dutch MNC accounted for Rs 38,000 crores in that year.

KVIC’s growth has been phenomenal in the last five years. From relatively low Rs 33,000 crores during 2014-15, it jumped to Rs 50,000 crores two years later, growing at 25 percent annually. Buoyed by the latest performance chart, the target for 2019-20 is 20 percent higher, at Rs 80,000 crores.

Proportionately, others do make greater profits. But KVIC, more than just a corporate success story, should be viewed for depth and extent to which half-a-million people work for it directly, making it one of the largest employers. And indirectly, another 15 million collaborators are spread across individual homes and farms and small and medium manufacturing units.

This defies the current phase of growth without producing jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector.  

This is the India that has grown over a century since M K Gandhi launched khadi or khaddar in 1918. Before he involved the masses in the fight for political freedom, this was his first mass-based venture bringing the rural India under the spell of productive self-reliance that meant work and gave a sense of dignity. Thus, khadi was not mere a piece of cloth but became a way of life.

It’s an unlikely story that explains why and how India sustains despite poverty and vagaries of nature.

Gandhi started spinning himself and encouraged others. He made it obligatory for all members of the Indian National Congress, then in fore-front of the freedom movement against the British, to spin cotton themselves and to pay their dues in yarn.

He collected large sums, including from industrialists and thus involving them directly, to create a grass-roots network to encourage handloom weaving. Ironically, handloom thrives today even as many textile mills have closed.

Charkha (spinning wheel) was the symbol of Gandhi-led movement. It became part of the Congress flag, eventually to be replaced by the Ashok Chakra in the national tricolor.

Tragically, people in the present century need to be reminded of all this. The political class has discarded khadi. Economic reforms have pushed urban India away from this cost-effective, climate-friendly fabric.

The other reminder is to people discarding khadi. The white cap that carried Gandhi’s tag is fast disappearing with the ebbing of the Congress party and its political culture.

It began early: Babu Jagjivan Ram who swore-in 400 Congress winners in 1984 Lok Sabha polls lamented before senior journalist Vijay Sanghvi that leave alone Gandhi cap, none was even clad in khadi. Today, the party has moved farther way from the common man it once represented.

This has naturally opened space for political appropriation and re-branding by the present dispensation that was not part of the Gandhi-led movement.  Last century’s “Nehru jacket” is now popularized and marketed as “Modi jacket”. The current premier patronizes khadi in its multiple hues and textures. He has also clothed several world leaders in khadi.

Modi has lent glamour to the fabric and contributed to its popularity and profitability. This is evident from the KVIC’s balance sheets in the last five years. The sale of khadi products has reached USD 1.56 billion in the last five years.        

Modern textile technology has helped immensely in softening khadi’s cotton yarn and its bleaching and blending. KVIC is collaborating with top textile brands Arvind for denim and with Raymond.

Helped by fashion designers, khadi helps the elite make fashion statement if only to help them to “rise above” the class that chases the easy-to-maintain global brands or their local imitations which are mass-manufactured and hence relatively cheaper.

It has gone digital. A pair of trendy Western wear is available for a modest Rs 2,000. The high range could be a few hundred rupees for a meter of fabric. 

The challenge lies in marketing. Leaving out main markets in major cities where it is given peppy look, Khadi Bhandars across India wear traditional, desolate look.

Yet, marketing of khadi and other products, even their exports, remains a unique example of public-private participation (PPP). Private entities buy from KVIC-affiliated and state government-run cooperatives. Encouraged, KVIC is looking for export markets after a survey in 21 overseas markets showed that khadi was the most recalled Indian brand, along with yoga. Its success could build on India’s ‘soft’ diplomacy.   

Having credited khadi for generating the overall ‘desi’ revolution, it must now be conceded that the fabric that sold for Rs 2,005 crores forms only 4.3 percent of the total KVIC turnover. Fuller credit is due to numerous items like papad, soaps and shampoos, herbal medicines and cosmetics, honey, handicraft material, brassware, vegetable oils and organic grains and pulses.

They are produced by nameless housewives, rural artisans including cooks, potters and painters and small entrepreneurs in both public and private sectors. They make and market goods with or without the KVIC supervision and umbrella and form a unique network that probably exists nowhere else. 

Industry experts attribute the organisation’s success to many domestic and international fashion designers preferring to work with sustainable and natural fabrics. There is also a buzz among millennial shoppers, who care about whether the clothes they wear or the products they use create jobs. Since khadi cloth is handspun and its products are mainly created by artisans in rural areas, the brand invokes good vibes in consumers.

In the last five years, the KVIC has promoted new schemes under Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) that have created 2.17 million new jobs. They include Honey Mission and Kumhaar Sashaktikaran Yojana (for potters’ empowerment). This includes distributing bee boxes and electric chaaks or potter wheels in the troubled Kashmir Valley and in Ladakh.  

Such a massive exercise cannot be a top-down process from capital cities without involvement of the makers-cum-beneficiaries. There is need for debate. For instance, where does one draw a line between preserving cultural heritage and industrial/commercial pursuit?

Handloom, for one, should be revived as a skilled occupation that offers livelihood with dignity for both the weaver and the physical environment around, says B. Syama Sundari, coordinator, policy research and advocacy at Dastkar Andhra, an organisation that   promotes handloom weaving as a viable rural livelihood. 

The writer can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com

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