US presidential elections 2016: For Indians, the hope rests in Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has never shied away from attributing the successes of the nation to the immigrants, many important people on her team are of Indian origin.

Written by Pratiksha Menon | Chicago | Updated: November 9, 2016 12:11 pm
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. (Source: Reuters)

“I’m a big fan of Hindu, and I’m a big fan of India.”, proclaimed Donald Trump at a Republican Hindus Coalition event held in New Jersey last month. A few months ago, this same man, mocked Indians by putting on a fake accent while impersonating a call center operator as part of his little tableau on outsiders stealing American jobs. So which Trump are we, the Indians, going to get?

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For a minute let’s forget that this is a man whose stances change quicker than you can shout ‘The nation wants to know!’ and assume that he sticks with the policies that have endeared him to a number of right-wing Hindus in the United States. His tax plan promises to boost their businesses, he aims to overturn the marriage equality law and talks tough on “radical Islamic terrorism”, warming their conservative hearts.

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But a large majority of Indians in the United States of America do not enjoy the privilege that these established businessmen do, they are immigrants looking to build their future. Clinton has never shied away from attributing the successes of the nation to the immigrants, many important people on her team are of Indian origin, including her Women’s Outreach Director Mini Timmaraju, and her plans for immigration reform include proposals to make the citizenship process a much smoother one. On the other hand, Trump’s opposition to visas for highly skilled international workers does not bode well for immigrants. Coupled with his divisive rhetoric, this could prove threatening to their daily existence in the country. The rise of racial hostility, spurred in no small part by Trump’s fiery campaign blaming immigrants of various ethnicities for the perceived downfall of the nation, would become even more normalised, if he were to become the president.

Since Trump intends to cut funding for climate change research, to make his tax cuts on high-income groups viable, there is a possibility that this could spread to other disciplines too. Many Indians who go to school here, especially in the social sciences and humanities, would find it hard to continue their research work in the absence of government aid. Clinton, whose plans to make college debt-free by increasing income tax on higher income groups, has been working on educational reform for her entire political career, would be more aligned with education as a sector that needs to developed and not stymied.

At the end of the day, the policies that are passed are largely dependent on what passes through Congress, but having a president like Trump, whose campaign is fueled by a fear of outsiders, cannot possibly have a positive outcome for any Indian. Clinton, who is arguably one of the most qualified people to run for this post, provides hope for a more inclusive nation. In the long run, safety and a sense of belonging for all, matter way more than short-term fiscal gains that benefit a select few.

Pratiksha Menon is a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Views expressed by the author are personal.