Tag Archives: Indian Americans

Desis In the House!

Democracy was under siege in the last four years as the Trump administration took a wrecking ball to free and fair elections, human rights and the rule of law.

The divisive politics that polarized our country climaxed in the appalling spectacle of an enraged mob invading the Capitol to reclaim a ‘stolen election’, followed by the deaths of five people in the riot, and a group of lawmakers refusing ratify the electoral college results.

And yet, despite the chaos over the voting process that preceded the election in the middle of a pandemic, the nation flexed its collective democratic muscle in Election 2020, and set a record for the highest turnout in over a century.

Democracy prevailed. People asserted their will, and the results were historic, especially for multi-ethnic, multicultural America. High turnouts by voters of color proved decisive and gave Joe Biden the edge in this election,

More than 159 million Americans cast their vote. Among them, Asian Americans – the fastest growing ethnic group in the country according to a Pew study, who made up at least 5% of these eligible voters, with more than 1.8 registered Indian American voters nationally.

Kamala Harris, a woman of color with African American and Indian American heritage became the first ever woman elected to the office of Vice President of the United States

A record 51 women of color were elected to serve in the next 117th Congress.

People of color now represent 28% of the House, including 16 Asian Americans. Indian Americans had reason to celebrate as their ranks include Ami Bera and Ro Khanna (D) CA, Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) IL, and Pramila Jaypal (D) WA, all of whom were re-elected to the House of Representatives.

And, in a new record for the Indian American community, at least 20 Indian Americans, including 13 women, have been named to senior posts in the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

Click this LINK to see who they are!

https://youtu.be/rF3TVDOzl5Q

Undoubtedly these numbers mirror the growing ethnic diversity within the Asian American electorate. And, even though Indian Americas constitute just over 1% of the US population, their inclusion in the new administration reflects the surge of Indian Americans informing the national dialogue as they participate in civic engagement, US politics, advocacy and community activism.

Indiaspora founder M R Rangaswami  told PTI, “The dedication that the Indian-American community has shown to public service over the years has been recognized in a big way at the very start of this administration! I am particularly pleased that the overwhelming majority are women. Our community has truly arrived in serving the nation.”

In 2020, on Indian Independence Day, Joe Biden had told an Indian American audience,”As President, I’ll also continue to rely on the Indian-American diaspora, that keeps our two nations together, as I have throughout my career.”

And despite the hurdles imposed by voting in an election during the COVID19 lockdowns, this new administration more than reflects that promise.

“We pulled off an election in spite of incredibly powerful forces who wanted to stop brown and black voters from participating,” noted Myrna Perez, Director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program at an Ethnic Media Services briefing on January 8. “We did it in the face of a once in a century pandemic, we did in amidst an economic crisis, and we did it amidst politicians at all levels of government purposely trying to confuse, mislead and lie to voters.”

Civil rights advocates at the briefing cautioned that the insurrection at the Capitol on January 5 signaled a growing ‘whitelash’ against voters of color and that widespread misinformation will continue to undermine the rights of voters, especially from minority communities.

The riots were not an isolated incident warned Judith A. Browne Dianis, a civil rights attorney and co-director of the Advancement Project. The insurrection was about the rise the confederacy and the rise of white supremacy, “These riots were motivated by the same anti-democratic sentiment that inspired lawmakers to challenge November’s election results based on baseless conspiracies and lies and misinformation about voter fraud perpetrated specifically in communities of color, ” she explained.

Dianis also cautioned against restrictions  on the right to vote. “In the wake of the 2020 elections, state lawmakers are already proposing additional restrictions,”  such as the proposal to eliminate ‘no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, the proposal to stiffen identification requirements in Pennsylvania and tighten standards for signature matches.” But what Dianis is most worried about is disinformation. “We don’t know what the truth is any longer, she said. “How do we make sure that people of color are getting the truth?”

“We need to take precautions to secure right to vote,” said Gabriela D. Lemus, board chair of Mi Familia Vota (MFV).

“As we become more and more successful (as voters), there are more repressive mechanisms.” She emphasized the need to address the lack of infrastructure in many states about educating voters on their rights and accessing ballots in their own language. Lemus pointed out that the media had a big responsibility to ensure that disinformation was held in check in order for ‘democracy to thrive’.

But we also need to invest more resources in the elections, added Perez. She called on the nation to increase preparedness for the next election to ensure that democracy can withstand future threats.

“We cannot be making this up as we go along. There should be protocols!”

Perez reiterated that people cannot take for granted “that we have to fight for the idea that all of our communities deserve a place at the table.”  She urged Congress to pass legislation on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act, to secure the future of the vote.

“We have to make the case every day for a robust, participatory and inclusive democracy.”


Meera Kymal is the Contributing Editor at India Currents

Sundown or Sunrise, Climate Change Waits for No One

As we look back on this past decade of rapid and polarizing social change in the USA, its end has been defined by political upheaval, the #MeToo reckoning, and climate change controversies. In spite of climate change deniers and the defanged EPA, we saw progress with respect to the climate crisis. Names like Greta Thunberg and Naomi Klein are recognizable but have you wondered why a Green New Deal is suddenly in demand?  

The Great Climate Awakening has been planned, organized, and executed by a diverse coalition that includes but is not limited to Extinction Rebellion, Sierra Club, 350, Mothers Out Front, and Greenpeace. But it has been the fastest growing and youngest group within this nonprofit network – Sunrise Movement — that has made the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.  A relatively decentralized army of high-schoolers, college students, and folks under 35 have undeniably transformed today’s political discourse by publicly demanding ambitious climate justice and environmental protection policy from elected officials and those running for office.

Sunrise created and championed the most recent iteration of the Green New Deal. GND has become part of the Democratic party platform and has been hotly debated during the primaries. Although the Green New Deal concept has been around since 2006, it was not until right after the 2018 midterms that the GND attained public awareness in its entirety. A large cohort of Sunrise volunteers organized a sit-in in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand a detailed ‘national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ capable of making the U.S. economy carbon neutral. 

GND become a litmus test for Democrats and Republicans; the candidates and their supporters must reexamine their own convictions about the climate crisis and environmental devastation as they relate to corporate accountability, worker justice, racial justice, and a livable future for all. Nearly every single Democratic presidential candidate has pledged to it, and many dozens of governors, senators, and Congressmen have heeded the call to pledge their support or co-sponsorship.

This has been only one of many acts of rebellion that is attributed to the Sunrisers. In August of 2019, San Francisco Sunrisers interrupted a DNC Resolutions Committee meeting with songs and chants of protest; they had learned that the DNC had decided not to have any of their presidential debates focus on the climate crisis. In December, that same hub also shut down PG&E’s Spear Tower office. In collaboration with disability justice and utility justice activists, Sunrisers demanded that: PG&E return shareholder profits to the people, invest in protecting the most vulnerable, and give up ownership of utilities to the public since the company’s own approach proved reckless. The company’s negligence resulted in 1500 fires that PG&E’s equipment sparked over a 6-year period. These actions have been followed by more rallies, strikes, and sit-ins all over the country.

Significantly, the call to action comes from Sunrise CoFounder and Executive Director, 26 year old, Indian-American Varshini Prakash. It was shaped by a shared dream that Prakash had with a handful of like minded friends in 2017 and has since evolved into a grassroots behemoth made up of over 300 hubs across the United States. Her message resonates with young Indian-Americans, as hundreds have joined the Sunrise Movement – fighting for clean air, clean water, clean energy, sustainable agriculture & development, and good jobs.

Maya and Mahesh, young Indian-Americans at the forefront of this movement, were interviewed to provide insight into the diverse backgrounds of those within the movement; varied interests didn’t limit the contribution they could make to Sunrise. You can get involved too!

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Hey Maya! Which school do you go to and how did you first come to know about Sunrise?

I am a Biology and Political Science major at Northeastern University. I was taking this class called Intro to Global Health, and for my final paper, I decided to research the potential public health effects of the Green New Deal. I heard about Sunrise through a professor during that research process and I really admired the work they were doing. 

And then you joined in?

Yeah, in April I started volunteering consistently, doing campaign work for local candidates through the Electoral team, which is part of the Action team.

What else are you excited about?

The Boston City Council had an amazing victory; 7 out of 8 of our candidates won. I want to see the outcomes of that – how they’re going to use their new power. I’m also looking forward to seeing what happens with the State House and Congressional elections. 

And who are your favorite Presidential candidates?

I’m a big fan of both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. 

Me too. Now tell me more about you – who is Maya Mudgal?

Well, I grew up in Lexington with my parents & two brothers. My parents immigrated to the US in ‘93, and we’ve been in Boston since 2001.I got involved in college radio as DJ, my show was called Trail Mix. I also joined a global health organization. My friends would describe me as independent, driven, detail oriented, and someone who tends to jump into too many projects. I enjoy long walks and I love to make playlists – everything except country music & EDM. 

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Hey Mahesh! Where did you go to school, and how did you first come to know about Sunrise?

I graduated in May from Washington University in St. Louis, where I majored in biochemistry (I’m studying to be a doctor). I first heard about the Sunrise Movement on ABC News and I was encouraged to join by my sister. 

And then what? 

I recently joined the Fundraising team and just became the new Treasurer. I volunteered for Beyond Schools for two and a half years; this is my first time volunteering for climate justice and environmental protection in my community. 

Tell me about yourself. Who is Mahesh Challapalli?

In my free time I like to cook and read novels. I was on the tennis team in college. I’m okay at guitar, still learning. My friends would describe me as ‘lost and clueless’. My mom would describe me as loving. I’m a good friend and brother. I prefer talking to people in small groups because I feel more introverted than extroverted.

Who are your favorite presidential candidates?

I like Warren and Sanders. Definitely not Pete Buttigieg. 

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Get engaged. As the new year rolls in, we need to reflect on our civic duty. NYC, Chicago, DC, LA, San Francisco, San Jose, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Boston have the highest density of Indians; all of these cities face major environmental risks in this decade. For some, this means rising sea levels, increasingly frequent hurricanes, and loss of wildlife and wildlife habitats. For others, the risks can mean air pollution, wildfires, extreme heat, coal & fracking-related illnesses, deforestation, and clean water scarcity. 

The youth of the Sunrise Movement see it as their dharma – their duty – to mitigate these risks through activism. That is why we ask YOU to contribute in whatever way fits your interests and abilities: volunteering at your local hub, small monthly donations, or starting the dialogue about Sunrise. We need the support and participation of the Indian-American community at large; we can’t do it without you.

Sara Singh is a Revenue Operations Analyst and recent US citizen who became politically activated after the Sunrise Northeast Regional Summit. Having witnessed air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, and trash proliferation — in India, Chile, and many parts of the US – she’s switching careers to focus on environmental justice. 

Edited by Srishti Prabha

The Growing Political Power of Indian Americans

Indian Americans are a growing political force who are being wooed as potential donors by Election 2020 presidential hopefuls  – though they represent just over 1% of the US population, Indian Americans have donated more than $3 million so far towards the 2020 presidential campaigns.

Both Democrat and Republican candidates are courting Indian American constituents not just because this second largest immigrant group in the US is growing wealthier, with median household incomes at $107,000,  but also because Indian Americans are successfully permeating the establishment in industry, academia, and other fields, and actively engaging in politics to make their voices heard.

As more Indian Americans from across the political spectrum participate in US politics to advocate for their community’s interests, several political action groups have been formed to promote issues that matter to their members, among them, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT),  the United States India Political Action Committee, and the Republican Hindu Coalition

A 2018 survey confirms that South Asian communities are steadily developing a civic and political network  of ‘voters, donors, elected officials, appointees and public policy advocates’, that is driving engagement in the political process.  The AAPI reports that as more individuals from Asian American communities run for office (over 80 in 2018),  “they engage their network of extended family and friends to become involved.” 

This infrastructure is pivotal in driving voter registration and voter engagement in primary and special elections. Indian Americans, one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States, register and vote at high rates, a fact not lost on political contenders trying to claim a portion of the vote share in the upcoming elections. 

In early September, Sen. Kamala Harris used a video tweet to launch her  “South Asians For The People” initiative, to muster support from Indian Americans for her election campaign. She expressed pride in her South Asian heritage and in her grandfather, a freedom fighter who believed that, “all people should be treated equally – regardless of the circumstances of their birth”. 

Maya Humes, a spokesperson for the Harris campaign told India Currents that several Indian American volunteers had revealed “how much Kamala’s run for president means to their community.” Harris’ campaign has set up a hub on its website to bring South Asian supporters across the country together to help them “get to know each other, host events, and spread the word about Harris’ plans to enact bold change within their communities.”

In another event on September 28, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of VP Joe Biden, sought support for her husband’s presidential bid at a fundraiser in Fremont, CA, hosted by tech executive, community leader, and philanthropist Ajay Bhutoria and his wife Vinita Bhutoria. 

Dr. Biden shared her thoughts about stories that “remind us that our differences are precious and that our similarities infinite— that our community, our country, is capable of beautiful and powerful things.” 

Although Indian Americans have traditionally voted Democrat,  (over 62% in an AAPI poll), President Trump has sought and received support from a cohort of Indian American community leaders.

Before the 2016 elections, a video ad sponsored by Chicago-based billionaire Shalabh Kumar, featured then candidate Trump exhorting Indian Americans to vote for him, “Ab ki baar Trump sarkar”. That refrain was repeated at the recent Howdy Modi event at Houston’s NRG stadium in September, which was attended by President Trump.

Adi Sathi, Chief of Staff at the Young Republican National Federation explained that many Indian American business leaders support President Trump’s commitment to tax reform and economic deregulation

At the Howdy Modi event, Trump, who has strategically appointed at least 22 Indian Americans to important government jobs, solicited Indian American support for his re-election bid by highlighting his 2017 tax cuts and business friendly agenda, “I want you to know my administration is fighting for you each and every day.”

In his speech Trump lauded his Indian American audience saying, “You enrich our culture. You uphold our values. You uplift our communities. You are proud to be Americans and we are truly proud to have you as Americans.”

With sentiments like these and the 2020 election in their sights, the quest by presidential candidates for Indian American support symbolizes the potential power and remarkable political influence of this ethnic community in the next US election.

Image source: biden-viks-photography-1835.jpg

Meera Kymal is a contributing editor at India Currents.

 

In The Valley, Hi-Tech Collides with Mental Health

I have lived in the Silicon Valley for over twenty years and watched the Indian American population increase in number and influence but some things stay the same, the stubbornly insular thoughts on what success is – meteoric academic success followed by a STEM degree and financial success in a tech company. There is nothing wrong about those dreams, but it leaves little space for any others.

Saila Kariat started on the same path, a doctorate in Electrical Engineering followed by a successful career in the tech world.  But she was not happy because, since her childhood, Saila had always dreamed of being a filmmaker. So, she took a chance and went to film school to learn about screenwriting, directing and film history.

And then her brother died.  Losing a sibling was traumatic, but what was more devastating was that her brother, who was schizophrenic, never got the help he needed.

Her family was not alone in their failure to help a suffering child because they were unable to cope with an illness they could not understand.

Saila acutely remembers the pain of being shunned by other Indian families because of her brother’s mental health condition.  For a long time, mental illness has been a taboo subject in the Indian American community, and society at large did not recognize or acknowledge the issue, or provide much needed therapy.

“My brother had a very rough life,” said Saila.  She realized that this story was replicating itself over and over again, and it gave her the impetus to write what would become her first movie – The Valley.

As a novice scriptwriter, it took her nine revisions, and input from many folk for over a year, before Saila had a finished script for The Valley.

Then came the really hard part – finding the money to produce the movie. Saila encountered various obstacles, including potential producers who suggested that she make her characters Caucasian, to appeal to a wider audience.

Eventually, she found the right investors and cast and learned how to schedule and budget the making of a movie – competencies Saila is now confident about when she makes her next film.

In 2017, Wavefront Pictures released The Valley, written, directed and co-produced by Saila Kariat, and starring well-known actors Ally Khan and Suchitra Pillai.  The movie has been invited to 22 film festivals.  It has won several awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island International Film Festival as well as Best Original Screenplay for  Saila Kariat at the Madrid International Film Festival.

Saila Kariat’s award-winning film, The Valley

The Valley addresses a difficult subject matter.  It raises issues like self-harm and suicide, as well as sexual assault and violence.  It is important to understand that watching or reading about these themes could serve as  a trigger for individuals suffering with mental health issues; according to experts, stories about teen suicide (currently the second leading cause of death for children and young people 10 to 24 years old), can have a ‘contagious’ or copycat effect.  So while movies like The Valley can serve as a powerful teaching tool, “children in groups at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts and actions should not watch the show alone.”  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers additional guidelines on how to view such programs with vulnerable or at-risk children.

I saw The Valley at a premiere in Palo Alto, Calif. and was moved. The story centers around Neal Kumar, a father agonised by his daugher’s suicide, who goes on a quest to understand what happened to her, and why. His search reveals that there are no villains in this story and despite everyone doing their best, nobody recognized the signs of anxiety and depression. And that was the ultimate tragedy.

That the story plays out against a backdrop of affluence and success in the Silicon Valley, is fundamental to understanding how some vulnerable kids lose their way.  The devastated father is confused by his daughter’s suicide in a family that had the best life he could provide.

In the Silicon Valley the pressure to succeed  is extremely high, especially on kids from successful, immigrant families, where parents are not able to stomach any failure from their children.  It’s hard to tell desi friends you are struggling with anything, because everyone pretends to be perfect. The Silicon Valley loudly trumpets the mantra of  “Fail fast, Fail often”, but also masks the fact that there is frantic pedalling going on unseen, underwater. This sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Saila shares her motivation, “I wanted to tell a story that shows that every person – regardless of their ethnicity, position, wealth or education – has intrinsic value. And I want to shed light on mental health issues, which often go unnoticed and untreated, particularly within the Asian community. I want people to think about the inherent conflict between ambition and human connection. The first breeds hyper competitiveness, while the latter encourages empathy. Empathy is what is needed to deal with any mental health issue.”

Does Saila think her movie is a success?  Yes, because she has seen first hand the impact that it has had on some young people who are now getting the help they need.

Saila has other ideas in the pipeline on hard hitting topics, including gun control.  It takes a lot of courage and grit to launch a new career. But Saila is doing them for the right reasons.  I applaud her for it!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8772540/

You  can watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube, among other streaming services.

Saila Kariat is writer, director and producer at Wavefront Pictures

Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney is a Bay Area resident with experience in educational non-profits, community building, networking and content development and was Community Director for an online platform. She is interested in how to strengthen communities by building connections to politics, science & technology, gender equality and public education.

Edited by Meera Kymal

Colon Cancer: Why you should get tested

The Consulate General of India in New York, in association with Northwell Health, recently hosted an information session on the importance of colon cancer screening and prevention for the Indian American community.  The incidence of colon cancer among Indian Americans living in the US is estimated at 15 cases per 100,000 individuals according to a study by the International Journal of Epidemiology and is higher than in those residing in India.

So, awareness of the importance of colonoscopies is critical. The two-hour event – Colon Cancer Screening: An Indian Perspective – featured Lenox Hill gastroenterologists Aakash Aggarwal, MDArun Swaminath, MD, Director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox and moderator Patrick Okolo, MD, chief of the division of gastroenterology at Lenox Hill and professor of medicine at Northwell’s Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, colorectal cancer (which includes both colon and rectal cancers) is the third most common cancer worldwide, for both men and women, with 1.8 million new cases reported in 2018. Colorectal cancer is expected to cause about 51,020 deaths during 2019 and the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends (USPSTF) recommends that adults aged 50–75 should have a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Most colorectal cancers typically start as small abnormal growths (called polyps) that form in the inner lining of the large intestine. Over time, some polyps can become cancerous and grow into the wall of the colon or rectum.

Colon cancer is usually treated with surgery, often in combination with chemotherapy.The good news is that routine colon screenings lets doctors find and remove colorectal polyps before they turn malignant or identify cancerous cell clusters earlier when the disease is easier to treat.

The USPSTF also recommends several less invasive tests for low-risk people aged 50 to 74, who have no prior history, family history, genetic disposition or symptoms to the disease. These include virtual colonoscopies, like the one President Obama had in 2010, a test that uses special X-ray machines to examine the colon. Other options include sigmoidoscopy, which uses a lighted tube and camera to examine just the lower portion of the colon and rectum, or home stool tests such as fecal occult blood tests.

Healthier lifestyles and advancements in treatment over the last few decades have reduced the overall death rate for colorectal cancer; there are now more than one million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Getting tested in any variety of ways is a good thing.

Lenox Hill Hospital has a national reputation for outstanding patient care and innovative medical and surgical treatments.Its highly rated gastroenterology department performs more than 4,500 colonoscopies annually. To make an appointment with a Lenox Hill Hospital gastroenterologist call 212-434-5596 or go to www.lenoxhillhospital.org. for more information.

Meera Kymal is a Contributing Editor at India Currents.

 

2018 Midterm Elections Voter Guide For Indian-Americans

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) released its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide, the only resource designed to engage, educate, and mobilize the growing South Asian American electorate in Congressional districts nationwide.

At over 5 million strong, South Asian Americans are the second-most rapidly growing demographic group nationwide, across longstanding community strongholds and newer regions in the South. As a result, South Asian Americans occupy an increasingly significant position in the American electorate. In this critical election year, South Asian Americans have a stake in key policy questions that affect our communities, and are deeply impacted by issues spanning immigration, civil rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Census.

This guide is a voter education tool that equips South Asian Americans and all voters with the crucial information they need to cast informed votes this November. SAALT’s non-partisan 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide does not endorse any candidate—rather; it analyzes House of Representatives candidates’ positions on four critical issues for South Asian Americans in twenty Congressional Districts with the highest South Asian American populations. The Guide also includes analysis on two additional races that feature a South Asian American candidate and a Congressional district whose member currently holds a leadership position in the House of Representatives.

Each race shows the Democratic and Republican candidates’ positions on the issues of immigration, civil rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Census based upon their responses to a series of questions. SAALT reached out to all candidates with a questionnaire and analyzed publicly available information on their voting records on federal legislation, public statements, and policy platforms to develop our analysis. For all incumbent candidates, SAALT analyzed only their voting record on key legislation to determine their policy positions. All questions are included in the Guide to allow voters to assess a candidate’s positions themselves even if a particular Congressional district is not featured.

The Voter Guide will continue to serve as a critical community education tool that keeps the focus on the important issues impacting our nation on the road to the November 2018 elections and beyond.

Indian Americans, Do We Belong?

Indian Americans, Do We Belong?

The killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe, Kansas hit close to home for many of us. It’s tempting to assuage our concerns by labeling the shooting as an outlier incident in a conservative “red” state. But I keep coming back to two questions posed by Srinivas’s widow Sunayana in her poignant post on Facebook, where she asks, “Do we [Indians] belong here? Is this the same country we dreamed of, and is it still secure to raise our families and children here?”

Pay It Forward

My answer to Sunayana’s question of whether we belong here may seem to come from a “privileged” immigrant point of view of someone living in Silicon Valley, California; a place where the accomplishments and culture of nearly 100,000 Indian Americans is embraced and celebrated; where Google CEO Sundar Pichai, billionaire entrepreneur Vinod Khosla, House Representative Ro Khanna, and Senator Kamala Harris are our neighbors.

No matter where in India we hail from, or where we call home in the United States, as immigrants we personify the same drive and discipline to reach our highest potential. And subsequently, we do have a shared desire to give back to our adoptive country. We are part of an extraordinary community whose contributions continue to pave the way for America’s undisputed technological, financial and industrial leadership.

So yes, I believe we belong here. We have worked very hard to get here, and we are not resting on our laurels. And, we are paying our taxes and paying forward.

Prejudice Is Here To Stay

That brings me to Sunayana’s second question: Is it still safe for Indian Americans to raise our families and children here?

I believe we are no more or no less safe than before because this recent wave of racist incidents didn’t just come out of nowhere. America’s history has always been punctuated by periods of discrimination against ethnicities, communities and ideologies deemed “different” or “unamerican.” But this is not the case just in America. Bigotry borne of ignorance and fear of the unknown may not be as overt, but it exists everywhere. Our motherland has quite a checkered history of intolerance of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, women, and towards those belonging to lower castes.

The only difference for us here and now is that Donald Trump’s rhetoric has granted carte blanche for blatant expressions of fear and hatred. And his what can only be called perfunctory “condemnation” of recent hate crimes has driven us to this climate of turmoil.

Trust In The Good

So, what do we do?

We make sure that our voices are heard at all levels – from our city councils and school boards, to our state, and ultimately federal government. We support organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood so they can continue to fight on our behalf. We push back every time we experience ignorance and prejudice. It may be scary, but it’s the only way to eradicate ignorance and fear.

And finally, we have faith that there is a lot “more good” in this world than bad. When Adam Purinton shot Srinivas and his friend, Ian Grillot, a bystander, intervened, and was seriously injured. Asked why he did what he did, he said it was the right thing to do as a fellow human.

In her Facebook post, Sunayana recalled that whenever she would express doubts about their future in America, Srinivas would say, “if we think good [sic], be good, then good will happen to us and we will be safe.”

Let’s prove Srinivas right.

Vibeka is a well-intentioned mother, daughter and wife living in the Bay Area. She loves to write, sing, and express her opinions to whomsoever will listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Indian-Americans Sworn in to U.S. House of Representatives

In an historic day Tuesday, four Indian American members of the House of Representatives and the first Indian American Senator were sworn in to the 115th Congress of the United States, not only exceeding the number of Indian Americans ever elected to Congress, but quadrupling the community’s representation in the House. Rep. Ami Bera, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rep. Ro Khanna, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal were sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives, marking the first time in history more than one Indian American has served in Congress simultaneously. Sen. Kamala Harris Tuesday was the first Indian American sworn in to the Senate.

“This milestone is not only a proud moment for Indian Americans, it’s a proud moment for all Americans,” said Rep. Ami Bera of California’s 7th Congressional District. “As a nation of immigrants, the United States has greatly benefited from one generation after another of Indians and Indian Americans living here. I’m proud that Indian Americans now have the chance to contribute to our nation’s democratic fabric, and as someone who served for four years as the only Indian American in Congress, I’m honored to be joined by such qualified colleagues. With the door wide open, we hope to inspire the next generation to serve the country that we love.”

“The contributions and struggles of the Indian-American community are woven into our nation’s fabric. This is a watershed moment in our community’s history, representing all that is great about America,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th Congressional District. “As the first Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives, I’m proud to serve with such capable colleagues, and I hope that our presence in Congress inspires the next generation of leaders.”

“I’m humbled and honored to join my friends in Congress in this historic moment. We know we stand on the shoulders of the Indian Americans who came before us. They established themselves in this country, gave back to their communities, and paved the way for us to follow,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi from the 8thCongressional District of Illinois. “The story of our community is unique but also similar to that of immigrants throughout American history. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make our contributions to that legacy, knowing others will follow.”

“It’s an extraordinary time to serve in Congress and I am proud to represent the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States,” said Rep. Ro Khanna of California’s 17th Congressional District. “As a son of immigrants and grandson to a freedom fighter during India’s independence movement, the protection of civil rights — no matter a person’s gender, race, or sexual orientation — will always be side-by-side with my commitment of economic fairness for all.”

Bera, who in the 114th Congress Co-Chaired the Caucus on India and Indian Americans, was the lone Indian American member in the 113th and 114th Congress. Prior to Bera, Dalip Singh Saund and Bobby Jindal served in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1957-1963 and 2005-2008, respectively.