Rise of Indian Americans

The rapid rise of Indian Americans from politics to administration, entrepreneurship to technology, medicine to hospitality, science to academia has put the global spotlight like never before on the high-achieving four million-plus strong diaspora.

The community happens to be the most educated with the highest median income in the US, with an average household earning of $123,700 — making them the top earners in the US among other Asians in the country.

As the profile of the Indian American community — now the second-largest immigrant group in the US — has grown, so too has its economic, political, and social influence, according to a recent Carnegie Endowment study.

In 2010, only 18 per cent of Americans saw India as “very important” to the United States, according to The Chicago Council survey.

Now, India is perceived by Americans as their seventh favourite nation in the world, with 70 per cent of people viewing India favourably in 2023, says a Gallup survey.

Picture : TheUNN

Much of how America views India today can be attributed to the success of this community, which according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has played a significant role in the all-round development of the nation they live in and also strengthened the India-US relationship.

The fifth largest economy of the world, India today is seen in the US as a strong bilateral partner sharing common democratic values with broad-based and multi-sectoral cooperation in sectors like trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, etc.

American businesses heavily rely on highly-skilled workers from India to fill the gaps in IT and engineering sectors via the H-1B visa programme. These visa holders create prospects for US citizens, by enabling companies to invest in domestic operations instead of sending jobs abroad.

As US Ambassador Eric Garcetti recently said: “India is a place where dreams become reality every day. Our counties have so much in common. Indian dreams and American dreams are two sides of the same coin.”

Addressing the 2019 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, then Foreign Minister late Sushma Swaraj had noted that while the Indian diaspora started migrating centuries ago, it was the migration of the educated, highly-skilled and dynamic young Indians that brought laurels to India.

The dominance of Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, and Parag Agarwal in the IT sector has strengthened the image of India in the US as a technology powerhouse and a source of quality human resources.

With US Vice President Kamala Harris sitting atop the political ladder, the US House of Representatives has five Indian Americans — Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal and Shri Thanedar.

There are close to 60 Indian-American CEOs in Fortune 500. Even though Indians are just 1 per cent of the American population, they are more than 10 per cent of the Fortune 500 CEOs with the likes of Laxman Narasimhan (Starbucks) and Raj Subramaniam (FedEx).

The US now has 20,000 Indian-American professors and at least a third of companies in the Silicon Valley that come for funding, and have an Indian American co-founder, according to Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami.

According to foreign policy experts, it is the success of this community, which has dramatically changed the US perception of Indians and India, with its ability to spread Indian soft power, lobby for India’s national interests, and contribute economically to their mother country’s rise.

As part of “soft diplomacy”, Indian-Americans played a pivotal role in the fructification of the historic Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005.

The community also urged the political establishment — right from the Oval Office down to statehouses — to send aid worth at least half-a-billion dollars to India during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With Half A Dozen Murders In A Week, Are Indian-Americans Safe?

A total of six murders, including that of an eight-month-old infant, within a week’s time begs answer to the question every Indian wants to know — is the community safe in the US?

The US is home to more than 4.5 million Indians, which is the highest-earning ethnic group in the country.

President Joe Biden recently went on record to say: “It’s amazing, Indian of descent Americans are taking over the country: you, my Vice President (Kamala Harris), my speechwriter, Vinay (Vinay Reddy)… You guys are incredible!”

Even as one grappled with the shock of four Sikh family members, within the age groups of eight months to 39 years, found dead in California, news of 20-year-old student Varun Manish Chheda stabbed to death on Purdue University campus, sent shockwaves running across the Indian community world over.

Earlier this week, Gurpreet Kaur Dosanjh, a Walmart employee, was shot dead and lumped inside a car in a parking lot in San Jose, California.

In June this year, Satnam Singh, 31, was shot dead while sitting in a parked SUV down the street from his home in New York. This came days after Sai Charan Nakka, a 25-year-old techie from Telangana, was killed after sustaining an apparent gunshot wound to his head in Maryland

Apart from the gruesome killings, Indian-Americans have been consistently battling racial taunts, assaults, hate crime robberies, and vandalism of their properties.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 161 anti-Asian hate crimes took place in 2019, which rose to 279 in 2020.

Giving a religious break-up, the FBI said that 54 anti-Sikh crimes occurred in 2019, which rose to 89 in 2020.

Anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent last year compared to the year before, with New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other cities surpassing their record numbers in 2020, according to research by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Late in August, four Indian American women were told that they were “ruining” America and should “go back to India” by a Mexican-American woman in Texas. In the same month, Krishnan Jayaraman was racially abused and called a “disgusting Hindu” by Californian Rajinder Singh in a Taco Bell outlet in Fremont.

Community members have also expressed concerns over multiple brazen attacks on Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in New York and other US cities.

“Such bigoted attacks motivated by racism, xenophobia, and other forms of hate victimise not only those directly targeted by them but also broader communities through creating an atmosphere of fear and danger,” Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi had said recently.

Last month, Indian-Americans held a peaceful protest at Time Square against the recent spurt in hate crimes and instances of vandalism of the Gandhi statue in the city.

An Indian American Attitudes Survey released last year found that “one in two Indian-Americans reports being discriminated against in the past one year, with discrimination based on skin color identified as the most common form of bias”.

Somewhat surprisingly, Indian-Americans born in the US are much more likely to report being victims of discrimination than their foreign-born counterparts,” the survey, supported by Carnegie Endowment, said.

Biden had spoken strongly against hate crimes at a recent event against racism.

It remains to be seen what Biden, who boasts of having appointed more than 130 Indian-Americans to key positions in his administration so far, does now for the community that has made significant contributions to this great landscape. (IANS)