DC meet to fuel Desi community politicians


The effort is to bring different groups together and coordinate their activities in the run-up to the elections


A Washington correspondent


As 80 Indian Americans run for elected offices across the country, politicians – former, current and emerging – are converging in Washington, DC, later this week.

Organizers say this is part of their effort to politically empower the community, which constitutes about one percent of the country’s population. The day-long gathering includes brain-storming sessions from elected officials, candidates, philanthropists, and political strategists, in addition to keynote addresses by Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Harris, from California, is the first American senator of Indian origin, while Booker represents New Jersey, which has among the highest concentration of Indian Americans in the US.

The organizers, from Impact, a new organization based in DC, said this is part of their effort to bring the political aspirants of the community on one platform and have them share their experiences, but it also aims to help them coordinate their efforts.

“We are thrilled to host the first-ever gathering of Indian American elected officials, candidates, philanthropists, community leaders, and political strategists,” said Gautam Raghavan of Impact. Raghavan has served in the White House during the Obama administration.

The day-long meeting on June 7 is expected to be attended by nearly 200 Indian-American elected officials, candidates, philanthropists, community leaders, and political strategists from across the country. “It will feature provocative panel discussions about how we can build political power in the Indian American community,” he said.

“We are also honored that Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker will join us and give keynote remarks. Senator Harris has been a source of great inspiration for the Indian American community, and all immigrant communities and people of color. Her leadership and commitment to public service are a testament to the talent and patriotism of the Indian American community,” Raghavan said.

“Senator Booker, who represents the state with the third largest Indian American population in the country, has been a steadfast ally to our community throughout his career. We look forward to hearing from both of them about the importance of political and civic engagement,” he said.

“I’m particularly excited that we have over 30 Indian American candidates and elected officials attending the Summit. Many of them are eager to connect with one another, to share stories from the campaign trail and lessons learned along the way. We look forward to celebrating their courage to run for office,” Raghavan said.

Formed recently with the focus on leadership development and training, the board members of Impact are Raj Goyle, a former member of the Kansas State Assembly, Deepak Raj, chairman of Pratham USA, Priya Dayananda from KPMG, Vinai Thummalapally, former US Ambassador to Belize and Mini Timmaraju, former national women’s vote director for Hillary For America.

So far it has endorsed several Indian-American candidates running for office: Sri Preston Kulkarni, Hiral Tipirneni, Aftab Pureval, Aruna Miller, Ashwani Jain, Padma Kuppa, Samir Paul and Josh Kaul

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