This week saw a new, 46th President taking over the reins from America’s perhaps most controversial President in history – Donal Trump – to start everything “afresh” in America. The new President’s term also sees a person of Indian origin – Kamala Harris becoming America’s 49th Vice President – called “the first female, first black, first person of Asian descent”.
Joe Biden took the oath of office as America’s new President but not before the ugly “anti-democratic” violence by Don’s supporters in Capitol Hill took place – which may go down as one of the worst occurrences in America’s history before a new president was sworn in. At least five people were killed including a Capitol Hill police officer and dozens were injured. Donald Trump became the only president in America’s history to be impeached twice following the attacks. He is accused of inciting crowds into violence in an attempt to overturn the results of 2020 United States presidential election. The impeachment charges him with “incitement of insurrection” against the U.S. government and “lawless action at the Capitol”.
Trump who has not formally conceded the Presidency to Biden also became the first president since Nixon to give the new president’s oath-taking ceremony a miss.
The inauguration took place at the US Capitol amidst tight security by some 25,000 National Guards in view of the violent storming of the building on 6 January.
After taking the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden in his inaugural address said “Democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed”. It was a day of “history and hope” he said. Sending a message of unity after the turbulent Trump years, he promised to be a president “for all Americans” – including those who voted against him.
Joe Biden knows it is a tough job ahead of him as he outlined, during his inaugural address, the biggest challenges facing his presidency – the devastating pandemic, massive job losses, a threatened environment, urgent calls for racial justice and a resurgence of political extremism.
On his first day as United States President Joe Biden signed a string of 15 executive orders, memorandums and directives that will reverse some of “the gravest damages of the Trump administration”, including rescinding the so-called “Muslim ban”, rejoining the Paris climate accord, and ending the process to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). There was “no time to waste” said the New President.
“Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities,” he said.
“The president put an end to the Muslim ban – a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia,” Biden’s White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Wednesday evening briefing.
India also congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. “I look forward to working .. to strengthen India-US strategic partnership,” PM Modi tweeted.
Biden’s proposed immigration bill to Congress will eliminate the per country cap for employment-based green cards, a move that will benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, whose current wait period for legal permanent residency runs into several decades.
It is a long road ahead for Biden in undoing the damages that are a legacy of Don’s controversial policies.