Indian-Americans are experiencing unprecedented political success in the US, where the community comprise 1 per cent of the total population and for the first time ever they now also make up 1 per cent of the Congress, an Indian-American Harvard University academic has said.
US Congress has 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators. And during last year’s elections four of the community members were elected to the Congress, while a fifth member won re-election to a third-term,
Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Kamala Harris were elected to the US Congress last year, and Ami Bera won re-election to a third term.
This represents the largest number of Indian Americans to ever serve in Congressional history, Ronak D Desai wrote in Forbes.
Judge Dilip Singh Saund became the first Asian-American to be elected to Congress in 1956. Nearly four decades later, Bobby Jindal was elected to the House of Representatives from Louisiana before launching a successful gubernatorial bid in the state.
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“Indian Americans are approximately 1 per cent of the US population and for the first time ever they now make up 1 per cent of the US Congress,” said MR Rangaswami, the founder of the San Francisco-based nonprofit Indiaspora.
“This doesn’t count the scores of Indian-Americans senior staffers serving on Capitol Hill working for dozens of members on both sides of the aisle,” he said.
Beyond the legislative branch, Donald Trump’s election to the White House is also proving a boon to some members of the community. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been tapped to become the first ever Indian-American US Ambassador to the UN while Indiana native Seema Verma has been nominated by the president-elect to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Desai wrote.
Since American immigration laws were liberalised in 1965, Indians travelled to the US in record numbers and the Indian American community has become the wealthiest, most educated diaspora in the country, according to Desai. While they have dominated the medical, engineering and computer science industries for decades, Indian Americans are only recently experiencing a commensurate level of achievement in public life, Desai said. Desai is an Affiliate at the Belfer Center’s India and South Asia Program at Harvard University and a Fellow at New America.