The less than four million Indian Americans appear to be gaining prominence and have come to be recognized as a force to reckon with in this land of opportunities that they have come to call as their adopted homeland. They are the most educated population in the United States, with more than 80 percent holding college or advanced degrees, as per a report by Pew Research Center. They have the highest income levels, earning $65,000 per year with a median household income of $88,000, far higher than the U.S. household average of 49,000, according to the survey.
Although disparities persist with nearly nine percent of Indian Americans live in poverty, they have made a mark in almost every field in the United States through their hard work, dedication and brilliance. Notching successes in fields as diverse as poetry and politics, some three million- strong Indian American community packed more power and influence far beyond their numbers in the year gone by.
A whopping 84 per cent Indian-Americans voted for President Barack Obama in the last general election. And they are recognized by the Democratic Party with important jobs in Washington, DC as never been before. “It is very exciting to serve in an Administration that has so many great Indian-Americans serving,” said Raj Shah, Administrator of USIAD, the highest ranking Indian-American in the Obama Administration.
A record 30 Indian Americans fought to win electoral battle with Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Kamala Harris handily winning back their jobs as South Carolina governor and California’s attorney general respectively. Amiresh ‘Ami’ Bera, the lone Indian American in the US House of Representatives, repeated history by winning a tight California House race. Eight Indian Americans scored victories in the states with 23-year- old law student Niraj Antani, a Republican, creating history by winning a House seat in Ohio to become one of America’s youngest lawmakers.
Dr. Vivek Verma won an uphill battle against the powerful Gun Lobby and won the majority support at the US Senate last week. President Barack Obama appointed Richard Rahul Verma as the first envoy from the NRI community to India. Nisha Desai Biswal is heading the State Department’s South Asia bureau. Puneet Talwar took over as assistant secretary for political-military affairs to serve as a bridge between the State and Defense departments, while Arun Madhavan Kumar became assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service.
Satya Nadella is the CEO in place of Steve Ballmer, making him perhaps the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world. Stanford University Professor Thomas Kailath received the Medal of Science from Obama for his “transformative contribution to science and technology”, while Arun Majumdar was chosen to serve as one of four US Science Envoys.
Subra Suresh was inducted into the Institute of Medicine (IOM), making him the only university president to be elected to all three national academies, while Sujit Choudhry, a noted expert in comparative constitutional law, became the first Indian American dean of the University of California-Berkeley, School of Law, a top US law school. Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe won the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest after 52 years and for just the fourth time in the contest’s history. Indira Nooyi, another person of Indian origin has been leading as the CEO of Pepsi, one of the largest corporations.
New York’s US attorney Preet Bharara continues to make history with going after small and big law breakers in the nation. Among many judges of Indian origin, Sri Srinivasan stole the headlines with his unanimous support from the US Senate to the US Federal Court in DC.
The India-US relations are poised for a takeoff after an eventful year and a historic election that transformed India’s new leader Narendra Modi’s visit to India and the return visit by President Obama to preside over the Republic Day celebrations of India in New Delhi later this month. The Indian American community continues to play an important role in shaping the relationship between India, the largest democracy and the US, the greatest democracy in the world.
Indian-Americans are tremendously important and we hope they would be increasingly visible not only in the government, but also in all parts of American life,” said Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng, maternal half-sister of Obama, adding that the President was very proud of the community. “It is certainly a reflection of how important India is and how important Indian-Americans are to the fabric of the nation. I would just like to celebrate all of the contribution artistic, political and so much more of the community,” said Maya.
“It is time we come to recognize fully the contribution of the Indian-American community here,” said Maya, reflecting the views of Obama who has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian-Americans in any presidential administration ever. Congressman Joe Crowley, Co-Chair of the Congressional India Caucus, agrees, “I think it is wonderful for the Indian-American community. It is coming of age, politically for them.”