| stuff | quotes: times of india
Dec. 3, 2001
in the USA
1.5 million-strong Indian American community in the US is displaying
its Capitol clout as never before, with more than $60 billion in
income from Silicon Valley, fundraisers, and direct bids for office.
Viral Bhayani reports
wants to be a crorepati. Bill Clinton had said so famously at
the banquet for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his US
visit. Well, all the crorepati Indians in the US want to be in politics.
Or so it seems.
it is 118 of the 435 legislators in the US Congress who have become
members of the India Caucus, the 16 Indians who were part of Clintons
government, the eight Indian Americans who stood for State elections
this year, or more importantly, the money Indian Americans have
raised for US politicians, their Capitol clout is a given fact.
not a moment too soon. Nearly 43 per cent of the H-1B visas granted
from February last were made to recipients from India. Nationwide,
Indian American incomes average $60,000, according to the 1990 census,
higher than any other Asian immigrant group.
if there was any doubting this, Dr Anmol S. Mahals hilltop home
in Washington was the venue in September of a fundraiser by Bill
Clinton for the Democratic National Convention. The amount, $1 million,
the highest so far at an Indian American political fundraiser. The
event was put together by high-tech executive Visveswar Vish Akella,
chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ample Communications, and
Dinesh Sastry, a long-time Democratic Party activist and fundraiser.
Combined with the nearly $400,000 raised for Congressional candidate
Mike Honda at businessman Jessie Singhs home later in the day, a
total of nearly $1.4 million materialised at the two events for
the Democratic Party.
talks. It resulted in Clinton becoming the first American President
to officially put out a statement from the White House greeting
Indian Americans on Diwali eve with Al Gore following suit. And
it caused a repeat on Guru Nanak's birth anniversary.
then with Indian Americans collectively earning $60 billion in California,s
Silicon Valley last year, it,s not surprising. In 1999-2000, more
than 185 of the Fortune 500 firms, outsourced their software requirements
to India. Indian Americans now run more than 750 companies in the
Silicon Valley, Clinton admitted during Vajpayee,s visit. The share
of North America (US and Canada) in India,s software exports is
almost 62 per cent, which is expected to grow further. Naturally
because the IT industry in India has zoomed from $150 million 10
years ago to $ 5.7 billion in 1999-2000 with an average annual growth
of above 50 per cent.
it is not only that. Parag Khandahar, Policy Associate of the Asian
American Federation of New York, feels that IT and the huge donations
that Indian Americans have made cannot be distilled as the only
quantifiable reasons. He believes the end of the Cold War has focused
the attention of US lawmakers on areas of global tension: India,s
problems with Pakistan mark it as a hotspot. This coupled with the
prospective market of nearly a billion anxious Indian consumers
who are exposed to Polo Sport and Coca Cola in every other Bollywood
scene makes NRIs a respected force, he adds.
Nasim Memon, member of the board of Asian America Action Fund, who
has experience with fundraising and community leadership, believes
American interest in India could not be just a gimmick where they
get strong votes and support from the Indians. She believes the
greater unity between Indian organisations has enhanced the community
even if, as Swadesh Chatterjee, President of the Indian American
Forum for Political Education (IAFPE), points out, half of the 1.5
million-strong community doesn,t vote, while the other half is not
eligible, it does not matter because of campaign contributions.
Add to this, says Sreenath Sreenivasan, Associate Professor, Columbia
University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, the fact that
second generation Indians are more willing to experiment with their
careers. Like 31-year-old Satveer Chaudhary, who served two terms
as Minnesota representative and successfully ran for the state Senate
his year: Indians across America are just beginning their involvement
and I am excited for our political future.
Americans are beginning to play a more direct role and perhaps the
highest profile candidate is Kumar Barve, a US-born Indian American
and a delegate for several terms in the Maryland Assembly, while
several Indian Americans such as Bala K. Srinivas in Hollywood Park,
Texas, John Abraham in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Arun Jhaveri in
Burien, Washington, have held the position of mayors.
Naresh Chandra, Indian Ambassador to the US, hesitates to use the
word clout. "I think the funding is a done thing in America. All
this fundraising is quite normal and legal.,, And Khandahar insists
that nothing will change until a national leadership emerges for
the Indian Americans.
| stuff | quotes: times of india