29 November, 2020

Blog

Kamala Harris & Her Far-East Relatives

By Ravindra Gunasekara –

Ravindra Gunasekara

Some are hopeful, others fear, and the rest dumbfounded upon the arrival of vice president-elect Kamala Harris. She has been the heyday topic among many far east countries during and after the US Presidential election. When it comes to this part of the world, Sri Lanka fears, particularly over the role of her big neighbor India and, this time our guest has an ancient origin in Chennai, Tamil Nadu in which the struggle for self determination for Tamils has located in response to the North-East conflict in Sri Lanka. The U.S interests in the world map of economic and geo-political realities, the rise of possible superpower China, Sino-India relations and, finally, Sri Lanka, a desperate facilitator in between three giant industries – a complex deal in a diverse structure. However, the outcome is, neither adventurous nor hilarious because, apart from all visible variables, there is a great factor to be considered. 

Struggle for Power

Born to a biomedical scientist mother from Madras, India and an economics professor father at Stanford University from Jamaica, Kamala Harris was a privileged child in a prestigious family. However, she has faced to many difficulties during her childhood: probably the hardest is the divorce of her parents when she was seven and, moving to Montreal, Canada at the age of twelve where she was taught in French speaking primary schools. More seriously, the intolerable gap between black and white at which she and her sister were not allowed to play in the neighborhood because they were black. According to her story, none of these discouraged her, instead, she had influences and insights: these came from her mother who introduce Hinduism for Harris sisters, her grandfather who had progressive views on democracy and women’s rights and moreover from black movements in the U.S such as Black Law Students Association where she served as president and so on. 

Graduated in economics and political science and, later by studying law at the University of California, Kamala Harris rose to District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004 and Attorney General of California in 2011 and, the U.S Senator from California since 2017. In comparison to the story of President-elect Joe Biden’s fifty-year struggle for power, Kamala Harris has succeeded within twenty years of strategic mission, being an outsider to the U.S politics and a member of a marginalized community. In politics, nothing prepared for you; if you assumed so, sorry to be dramatic that you will be soon wiped out. Colors of her dream in politics have been designated so meticulously and applied deliberately – you might see it and feel but it is almost impossible to imagine the laws behind. Kamala Harris is undefeatable maneuver in an unparalleled path for power; perhaps, she would be the hottest model in politics – she knows the focal point and the story starts here. 

Bureaucracy and democracy

Pardon me in this old discussion, I am not in a position to pass-up it due to a fundamental reason. Let us begin with this; how do you explain United States? The guardian of freedom and democracy, the greatest explorer in the Century, the smartest guy in the city of world states etc. I, as an enthusiastic in democracy, admit to look at the U.S as a government by the people. We have been bored by reading the fundamentals of democracy but unaware in its integral arm, the bureaucracy which plays a key role in managing standards of democracy. Unfortunately, a limited number of literatures recommend bureaucracy as an essential component of democracy, but bureaucracy does. Sociologist Max Weber in his theory of ideal bureaucracy has categorically explained the non-bureaucratic leadership or democratic guidance as an indispensable element in a successful bureaucracy. In this sense, bureaucracy operates with its fundamentals assigned but under the purview of representative authorities. In the emerging countries, this principle has been utterly violated with semi-feudal or quasi-democratic regimes in which bureaucracy is enslaved into a role of sub-servant for political gains. As a result, many changing nations remain emerging or failed states in the absence of considerable growth in politics and administration.

The relationship between bureaucracy and democracy has been magnificently interconnected in many developed countries. Some scholars argue that these countries are more bureaucratic than democratic, or they have heavily been commanded under bureaucratic iron law during the first industrial revolution. Moreover, political rights and labor standards were completely banned unleashing the relationship between capitalists and workers into the principle of exploitation. However, nearly two centuries after in the dawn of forth industrial revolution, freedom and democratic rights are brighter than ever despite cultural or physical boundaries in the developed world. In the meantime, they are, surprisingly, bureaucratic at which every action in the advanced societies is guided by a set of rules and regulations: whether it is private or public institution, task over serious issue or minor matter, pertaining to natives or migrants, the action is certain and everybody aware about the procedures, institutions and the people. They do not complain about the procedures and practices available to lead them; instead, they love it, because they have been trained for it from the kindergarten. Therefore, the bureaucracy disinfected by a democratic observation is not a red tape for rational actions, it is a beacon light to ensure the correct path of democratic governance. This equilibrium of bureaucracy and democracy appears every single decision making in the politico-administrative affairs of advanced societies in which run-way tongues and actions have little or no room until they are affected by reasons.  

Professionalism in politics  

In the above context, the Asian-Jamaican origin of Kamala Harris would not be affected by desires ignited on primary factors such as kinship, religion or ethnicity. But there is a context affected by reason: her long-run intent to stand for human rights and marginalized communities. However, one of them would be effective until it directly comes to the U.S agenda of national interests. Perhaps, they may already there but this time the U.S requires a more strategic map to deal with the problems of market fundamentalism and the geo-political realities in South Asian. Therefore, the traditional U.S police state may significantly disappear and a more soft project for power with sincere requests and pinches readily available for the new road map of global power.  

Needless to say that 2024-28 will be more critical years for Kamala Harris to accomplish her relatively quick but deliberately planned run for post-presidency. Even though Joe Biden led administration prepared a massive strategic mission with the great support of U.S think tanks, Kamala Harris has multiple challenges to confront. Among them, the declining neo-liberal world order and the need of a rapid action to ensure democratic standards would be the thought-provoking mission in the century, according to many scholars. In this sense, Kamala Harris needs a master project and a massive task force from all over the world to be the guardian of liberal democracy, if succeeded, she will be the true heroine of 167 democratic nations nearly 75 per cent of the world population.                 

*Ravindra Gunasekara teaches Politics and Administration at the Department of Political Science of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 9
    3

    The Far East , I believe, doesn’t include Chennai. It isn’t even in South-East Asia.

  • 4
    13

    Is Kamala Harris fluent in Tamil…?
    Can Maya Harris speak Tamil…?
    Can Meena Harris speak Tamil…?

    • 3
      9

      On another tone….
      Can Willie Brown -former San Francisco Mayor- speak Tamil …?

      • 7
        2

        SCP – I understand that Kamala Harris can speak rudimentary Tamil. (like I can speak broken Sinhala or like you can speak broken English).

        Kamala Harris and Biden are taking a crash course in Tamil
        There will be a ceremony in Tamil during the Inauguration Ceremony on 20 Jan 2021.
        Kamala Harris will wear saree , and pottu and adorn Tamil style hair do with flowers.
        A Hindu priest from Jaffna is flying to DC to conduct the ceremony.
        Backdrop to the Tamil Ceremony will be the map of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam

        I hope this feeds in your frustration of Kamala Harris’s Tamil roots . Enjoy!

        • 6
          0

          I forgot to add Biden will be adorning traditional Tamil attire vesti and shawl

      • 5
        0

        SCP
        FYI
        SWRDB was not very fluent in Sinhala when he entered politics with a Sinhala nationalist agenda.

        • 3
          1

          SWRDB was not fluent in any language except language of racism!

          • 1
            0

            R
            Be fair.
            SWRDB did not use racist language.
            There were racists like KMP Rajaratna whom he antagonised by placing him under house arrest in 1958 along with the FP MPs after the communal riots.
            If you compare the language of that time and of 1977 and after (JR’s “If you want war etc.”) language was largely civilized.
            *
            SWRDB’s use of rising Sinhala nationalism was cynical I would say. But he had sense enough to realize that things had gone wrong. But he could not control the forces that he brought to the fore.
            JRJ was consistently anti-Tamil. He proposed Sinhala only in the State Council. He organized a march against the B-C pact. He sabotages efforts to create Disatrict Councils under Dudley S (1965-70). What he did since 1977 many conveniently forget.
            *
            People like to think that SWRDB started it all. The reality is that he capitalised on something already there and brewing among the middle classes owing to rivalry for government jobs. (Rivalry for trade caused the riots of 1915. Desire for Sinhala dominance in parliament and to weaken the working class vote led to the Citizenship Act of 1948.)
            The starting point of open S-T political rivalry is not 1956 but was much earlier, like the 1920s. It suits some interests on both sides to fix it at 1956.

    • 2
      1

      Kamala Harris does speak Tamil. She has been to Chennai too. Is that bad?

    • 5
      1

      Kamala Harris is not tamil. So why should she be fluent in Tamil ?
      .
      Kamal Harris is made a tamil for some reasons. Her father is a jameccan amarican.
      :
      Obama is kenyan american. He never knew any of the Kenyan lanuages.
      :
      SCP, please go back to your cage. All these are out of your subjects. You are asked to take good care of the overflowing toilet pits in Medamulana.
      By the way, why was that GOTLER was behaving different to Mafia boss ?

      • 0
        0

        LM
        Her mother is a Tamil who brought up the daughter as a single parent after her divorce.
        Tamil is not her first language, but she has family that speaks Tamil.
        But what is its relevance?

        • 0
          0

          SJ,
          .
          Kamala Harris s mother was a single parent and their marriage life lasted just not longer than 7 years.
          :
          But going back to those days, I really dont think if KH had the chance to learn tamil, because her mother was a cancer researcher (her publications are known to my friends in Europe – most of them were based on breast cancer research). Also looking at my relations, in UK and US, most of their second generations dont speak their parents# langagues. In contrary to our people, indians make every effort to let their children to learn their own langauges and cultures.
          :
          Relevance is that many today make effort to brand KH as a tamil, which I think is no right.

  • 16
    1

    Tamils and Sinhalese invariably trace their origin to India, . Nevertheless why is it they are unable live in peace despite the fact that Hinduism/Buddhism also were imported from India ,Just because Kamal Harris is said to be of Indian Tamil origin, it will be wishful thinking of the Tamils to expect that she will assist to sort out the Tamil problem. It is meaningless to go in search of her ancestry whether she is from, Manipai, Batticaloa, Thoothukudi or Timbaktu and live in fools paradise. Similarly it will be ridiculous for the Sinhalese to fear Kamala and create a Kamala phobia and flirt with China exclusively. This may suit Rajapakses but not the Srilankans as a whole.
    The best way of living without fear of each other is to ensure that the Tamils/Sinhalese live under a Federal Constitution with equal rights, details of powers could be worked out wit the assistance of UNO.
    Let not the Sinhalese CONTINUE TO MISINTERPRIT FEDELRALISM AS DIVISON OF THE COUNTRY. IT IS LIKE CHILDREN MOVING OUT OF THEIR PARENTAL HOMES AFTER MARRIAGE OR ON REACHING ADULT HOOD, WITH NO LOVE LOST.
    DESPITE THE FACT THAT TRUMPH IS ALSO AN AMERICAN WHY IS HE UNABLE TO TRIUMPH OVER HIS EGO.

  • 2
    0

    Ravindra Gunasekara “In the above context, the Asian-Jamaican origin of Kamala Harris would not be affected by desires ignited on primary factors such as kinship, religion or ethnicity.”
    ==================
    are you speaking for her or is it your opinion?

  • 3
    0

    There are too many other important problems Sri Lanka have to face with . Most importantly the economy, health and well -being of the people. Rajapakses are very smart politicians . A case in point was how President Gothapaya had dealt with U.S. outgoing Secretary of State during his recent visit to Sri Lanka.

  • 6
    0

    Ravindra Gunasekara should be commended for keeping us entertained during these boring days of social isolation. He is giving us an amusing puzzle: “see if you can figure it out what I’m trying to say.”

    • 4
      0

      Ajay,
      Ravindra Gunasekara has a lot of ideas, but he needs coherence. I didn’t quite understand most of what he said. He may have to improve grammar and express his ideas in simpler sentences.

      • 2
        0

        True. Though my concern was more about the relevance of some of the ideas he has deployed. I think he has tried to fill up space by recycling some of his old notes: on Weber’s theory of bureaucracy and rationalization. This has made him lose the drift.

  • 3
    1

    Pasqual does the Chinese guy and Imran speak Sinhala.

  • 4
    1

    Pasqual does the Chinese guy and Imran speak Sinhala. FYI the Virus seems clueless of any language. Grow up.

    • 1
      0

      Chiv,
      .
      Did you not know that SCP worked diehard to paint the picture otherway around ?
      *
      S/he worked diehard going beyond an expert virologist. Most of his/her statistics were based on Rajapakshes subjective report
      *
      SCP `s loyality to Rajapakshes is similar or go beyond the levels of their domestic dogs.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.