The liberal elites of Indian society have always identified themselves far more with western society than they have with India. It was never more evident than it was after the media called the US presidential elections 2020 in favour of Joe Biden. That meant that according to the media, Senator Kamala Harris would soon become the Vice-President of the United States of America.
Kamala Harris would be the first woman to become the Vice-President of USA. She would also be the first woman-of-colour to occupy that position. Thus, she would shatter many glass-ceilings if she is eventually crowned the VP of the United States. Thus, it is entirely legitimate for women in USA to celebrate her victory as their own. Bewilderingly, however, some overenthusiastic Indians are considering her victory as their own as well.
Average Bollywood actress Shruti Seth, the quintessential liberal, took to Twitter to congratulate Kamala Harris and declare, “What a WIN this is for all of us!!!” It is unclear why she believes Kamala Harris’s victory is a victory for Indian women as well. In India, we have had women who have occupied the top positions of power and they have amply demonstrated they can be just as awful as men when it comes to wielding it.
Another average Bollywood actress, Isha Koppikar, congratulated Kamala Harris as well, although it has to be conceded that her congratulatory message was not as extravagant as Shruti Seth’s. She congratulated Harris “for shattering the glass ceiling and being the first Indian-American woman Vice President of the United States.”
Congratulations MADAM VICE PRESIDENT ELECT @KamalaHarris for shattering the glass ceiling and being the first Indian-American woman Vice President of the United States. You’ve made history and this is just the beginning! #KamalaHarris pic.twitter.com/6DhjwFWmtw— Isha Koppikar (@ishakonnects) November 8, 2020
Certain individuals have also started referring to her as Madam Vice-President.
Madam Vice President. #USAelection2020 The daughter of immigrants, raised by a single mother, of black and brown heritage, lawyer, leader, Senator. Because ceilings are meant to be broken. @fayedsouza #KamalaHarrisVP https://t.co/UQIOHRPSCS— Menaka Guruswamy (@MenakaGuruswamy) November 7, 2020
Indian liberal elites appear to quite invested into impressing their western counterparts. Mahua Moitra, a Member of Parliament from the Trinamool Congress, commented, “Rosa sat, so Ruby could walk, so Kamala could run.”
Rosa sat, so Ruby could walk, so Kamala could run. pic.twitter.com/iC2V6Zxj7A— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) November 8, 2020
These are only a few individuals but the sentiment remains widespread. Indian liberals across the board are celebrating Kamala Harris ‘shattering the glass ceiling’ as their victory. The only reason for it appears to be that while our liberal elites live in India, their heart yearns for the West. There does not appear to be any other explanation as India has had a long tradition of women in position of power.
India has had a female Prime Minister, President and numerous others who were Chief Ministers. Most of them have wielded unparalleled power while in office. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister unleashed the emergency across the country and ruled authoritatively until she was assassinated. Pratibha Patil served as the president of the country.
Jayalalithaa served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for over fourteen years in power in total. Mayawati served as the CM of Uttar Pradesh for over seven years combined. Mamata Banerjee, to whose party Mahua Moitra belongs, is currently serving her second term as the Chief Minister of West Bengal and will soon complete ten years in office. She has also served in the union government. Sheila Dikshit served fifteen years as the CM of Delhi.
Then there was Rabri Devi, Sushma Swaraj, Anandiben Patel, Vasundhara Raje, Uma Bharti and others. Even the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, which was basically a Muslim-majority state within the secular state of India, had a female Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti. Thus, it is not clear why Indians ought to consider Kamala Harris becoming the VP of USA as their own victory. India traveled that road a long time ago.
Not just India, but a lot of other countries have already traveled that road. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, remains one of the most significant figures in British politics. Recently, they had Theresa May as their Prime Minister. Germany currently has Angela Merkel as their Chancellor, another extremely significant figure in the political history of her country. There are numerous such examples in the western world.
Even in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has held the office of the Prime Minister since 2009, another extremely significant figure in the history of her country. Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country and Islam is the state religion. And while it is a secular constitution, some laws are governed under Sharia.
Thus, it is not clear why Indian women should lay particular emphasis on Kamala Harris becoming the US VP. But liberal elites seem to believe in a global culture, the foundation of which lies in USA. Thus, it is just as important to them that a woman becomes the VP there as it is for women to hold prominent public offices in their own respective countries.
Congratulating Kamala Harris on her victory is certainly in order but for Indians to claim her victory as their own is nothing short of bizarre. Her shattering glass ceilings in the United States has no relevance for women in India. Indian citizens will never be able to become the VP of USA anyway. And if they wish to hold a powerful public office in India, they already have a host of examples to take inspiration from.