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Second Indian-American bids for Republican presidential nomination with campaign against ‘woke’ culture

New York, Feb 22 (IANS) A second Indian-American, Vivek Ramaswamy, has joined the fray for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination taking on former President Donald Trump as well as Nikki Haley with a campaign focused on culture wars.

The conservative entrepreneur made the announcement for a longshot bid in a video and on a talk show on Fox News cable channel on Tuesday.

“This isn’t just a political campaign; this is a cultural movement to create a new dream for the next generation of Americans” in a nation facing an “identity crisis”, he said in his video.

He took on affirmative action, the “woke” left’s culture agenda, the burgeoning bureaucracy and the “new culture of fear” that he said has “completely replaced our culture of free speech in America.”

Ramaswamy, whose family is from Palakkad in Kerala, is the co-founder of two technology companies and a financial management firm, as well as the founder of a pharmaceutical company, which made him a multimillionaire at age 37.

According to Politico, he has a net worth of $500 million which can fund his campaign.

Ramaswamy is the fourth Indian-American to make a bid for a presidential nomination, and the third in the Republican Party after former Louisiana Governor Piyush Bobby Jindal, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016, and Haley, who was the first from the community to serve on the US cabinet and is in the 2024 race.

Kamala Harris sought the Democratic nomination for 2020, but dropped out and was picked by President Joe Biden to be the vice president.

Ramaswamy made his mark as a writer of two best-sellers that blasted what he calls the “woke” culture.

He is appealing to the same crowd as Trump that sees the US being undone by liberal policies and the power of what they see as an elite.

“Faith, patriotism and hard work have disappeared, only to be replaced by new secular religions like ‘Covidism’, ‘climatism’ and gender ideology,” Ramaswamy said in his video.

He stressed his opposition to affirmative action programmes for minorities that have some similarities to the reservations in India.

“The American dream means you believe in merit, that you get ahead in this country, not on the colour of your skin, but on the content of your character and your contributions,” he said.

He also took on the “cancel culture” that targets people opposing the politically correct dogmas exposing them to media attacks and even punitive actions that he called the “culture of fear”.

Haley, who announced her run for the nomination last week, also had a strong element of opposition to the “woke” culture of what the American right perceives as extreme liberalism on social issues.

Trump, who Ramaswamy says inspired him, ran his presidential campaign on these premises, which have been adopted by other Republicans like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to be the front-runner to challenge the former President.

With Trump and more entrenched Republican expected in the race besides Haley, Ramaswamy told Politico about his maverick campaign, “You know, maybe all of this is ill-advised and I’ll fall flat on my face.”

But he added: “I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”

Paradoxically for a campaign based on culture wars, Ramaswamy said in his video that he is running to be a national unifier to revive “the Pluribus Unum from many, one” which is the American motto found on the national seal.

“I have a dream that we can be one people” although “we have obsessed so much over our diversity and our differences, that we’ve forgotten all the ways we’re really just the same as Americans,” he said.

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