Indian Americans for Biden-Harris, a recently formed grassroots group, celebrates the groundbreaking announcement on August 11th of Senator Kamala Devi Harris as the vice-presidential running mate of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. The group Indian Americans for Biden was formed in July 2020 to establish a unified Indian American voice to support and help elect Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. With the addition to the 2020 ticket of Senator Harris, proud daughter of Indian immigrant Mrs. Shyamala Gopalan, the rapidly growing grassroots group saw a phenomenal number of requests to join the group within hours of the announcement which has grown by over 1,000% since July.
The Indian American community in the U.S., which is now over 4 million strong has achieved incredible success on the path paved by the U.S. civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King and John Lewis, who as Senator Harris notes, were inspired by the non-violence philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. “Senator Harris has got this, and we as a community have got her back. She knows what it means to operate on multiple identity levels in America. The Indian American community is overwhelmingly Democratic, and we will see unprecedented levels of organizing and voting in the Indian American community, as well as the larger Asian American community.” said Seema Nanda, former DNC CEO, the first Indian American CEO of any U.S. political party.
It is befitting now that we mobilize to elect the first woman of both Black and Indian descent to the White House along with VP Biden, who appreciates that Senator Harris represents the essence of America as VP Biden was quoted to say “Her Story is America’s Story”. With this first major decision as President, VP Biden has ignited energy and hope not only for Indian Americans and South Asians, but for all women of color that hard work, courage and determination are still the path to achieving the American Dream. “This is the America we must fight to protect with everything we have and elect the Biden-Harris ticket this November” said group’s co-founder Anu Kosaraju. Another co-founder Dr. Suresh Kumar, noted that VP Biden, has suffered unimaginable tragedies and understands what’s at stake in this election for all Americans, particularly immigrants. “We as immigrants who left our birth-country and worked hard to build our lives in America should feel the same urgency. Being the swing voters in battleground states, we have an extraordinary responsibility in this election,”said Dr. Suresh Kumar.
To cap off this historic week, on August 15, the Indian American community had an opportunity to hear a special message from both VP Biden and Senator Harris at a virtual celebration to mark Indian Independence Day. In a strong show of support to India, and recalling the countries’ mutual special bond and his efforts over 15 years to deepen ties with India, VP Biden reiterated his belief that the US becoming closer friends and partners with India will make the world a safer place and if elected President, will stand with India in confronting the threats in the region. Senator Harris’s fondly reminisced about her trips to Madras (former name of Chennai) and how listening from her grandfather about the heroes of India’s Independence fight and watching her mother march in the civil rights movement instilled in her to fight against injustice and that these values shaped her. The trifecta of historic events culminated with the Biden-Harris campaign releasing a policy statement for Indian Americans which underscores the contributions and importance of our community in the beautiful quilted fabric of America.
For decades, Indian Americans have contributed significantly to the economic growth of the United States, but were conspicuously absent from political discourse, civic engagement and a formal recognition by political parties. “The rising xenophobia coupled with the onslaught of American and democratic values and institutions in the last three years, has driven the community to get politically engaged but has yet to develop a collective and unique Indian American narrative within the Democratic Party even though we immigrated from the largest democracy in the world,” said Satish Korpe, a co-founder of the group.
“While Indians make up 80% of the South Asians diaspora and share the same, political challenges values and goals of the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community as well, we are also proud of our unique Indian heritage,” Dr. Suresh Kumar said. Through extensive conversations with Indian American community leaders the group’s founders realized that the immigrant Indian community which makes up about two-thirds of the total Indian American voting bloc wanted to coalesce around their common ties to India and the issues that particularly impact them and US-India relationship, and so the group Indian Americans for Biden was formed and has evolved this week to Indian Americans for Biden-Harris.
According to the group’s founding members, Satish Korpe, Dr Suresh Kumar and Anu Kosaraju, Facebook was the platform they found to be the fastest way to bring together people from across the country to unite in the mission to get Joe Biden, and now Senator Kamala Devi Harris elected this November, while also solidifying an Indian American identity within the Democratic Party. With less than 80 days to November 3, the group is working tirelessly inspired by Senator Harris’ call to action, “Our children and grandchildren will ask us where we were when the stakes were so high. They will ask us what it was like. I don’t want us to tell them how we felt. I want us to tell them what we did.
To get involved with Indian American for Biden-Harris, please join our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/indianamericansforbiden/