The Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans was once the largest of all the groups in the US Congress. However, recently, the numbers have been dwindling. Efforts by several Indian American community leaders have been on for months now. During a meeting organized by the representatives of several Indian-American organizations on February 5, 2016,
Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., a first-term Congresswoman from New York joined the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans.
Rice, who represents Long Island in New York pledged to help raise the dwindling number of lawmakers on the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans. The meeting hosted by the Indian American Voters Forum, was held at the Long Island, N.Y. at the home of Virander Bhalla, chairman of IAVF. It was meant to kick-start a renewed effort to increase the membership of the India Caucus. “While the Indo-U.S. relations have blossomed under President Obama, the India Caucus has a vital role to play in taking this relationship to the next level,” Rice is quoted saying in a press release.
Rep. Grace Meng, D- N.Y., who was present at the event also pledged to work towards enhancing the membership on the Caucus. “The U.S and India share and unbreakable bond and the work of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans continues to strengthen this special relationship, and highlight the important role that the Indian-American community plays in every sector of our society,” Meng was quoted to have said. “It is critical for the Caucus to continue this important work and as a member, I look forward to doing so,” she added. Both lawmakers were presented with plaques by India’s Consul General in New York Dnyaneshwar Mulay.
Bhalla said this was not the first time IAVF had furthered the goals of the caucus. “In 2009, Riti Bhalla, a television host and member of the Indian American Voters Forum successfully connected with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to get her to join the Senate India Caucus,” Bhalla recalled. Dr. Ajay Lodha, president-elect of AAPI, and Dr. Vaijinath Chakote, president of the Queens & Long Island chapter of AAPI, appealed to other community leaders to join IAVF’s initiative. Dozens of community leaders representing the Association of Indian Americans, the Nargis Dutt Foundation, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the Long Island Indian Association and the Rajasthan Association, attended the event.