Amid turbulence, Biden era begins

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr has taken an oath of the President of United state of America on Wednesday. Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris inherit a fractured nation ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, economic turbulence and cultural fissures caused by deep racial divisions. Shortly after taking office on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a series of executive actions to reverse the policies of Donald Trump administration on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
 “There’s no time to start like today," Biden said in his first comments to reporters as president. Soon after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, the president signed 15 executive actions and two directives that amount to an attempt to rewind the last four years of federal policies with striking speed.
Covid-19 has killed more than 4,00,000 Americans, with a big portion of the socio-economic toll attributable to federal mismanagement. The US has also abdicated its role as leader of the free world, squabbled with democratic allies while keeping authoritarian populists everywhere chuckling at its post-truth misadventures. This month’s attack on the Capitol highlighted how much domestic polarisation has poisoned the polity. In short, the new administration really has its work cut out devising correctives at multiple levels. It is a mighty challenge.
The promise of a new dawn is both powerful and credible. The diversity, sobriety and experience of the incoming cabinet strongly suggest that they have a good measure of the problems at hand, and the ambition to attempt necessary solutions.  After the hollowing of institutions and anarchic flailings seen in the Trump years, it will indeed take solid international cooperation to revitalise the global rules-based order. The incoming secretary of state Antony Blinken has indicated a welcome pragmatism in saying, “We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is.” Pragmatically speaking, rebukes on human rights issues for India may be part and parcel of Washington’s liberal revival, alongside the many Indian-Americans in the Biden team.  A more strategic and sensible approach is expected from the Biden administration. Against this economic backdrop, India should not just aim at status quo ante but a comprehensive trade agreement.  

- Prabhakar Purandare

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