FIIDS launches voting campaign for Indian American community

Ritu Jha-

The US-based Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) on October 25 launched “#IndoAmericanVotesMatter” campaign ahead of the November 8 general election, and published a list of pressing issues and policies that matter to the Indian American community.

FIIDS is a non-profit organization for policy research and awareness based out of Washington, DC with outreach and engagement centers in Silicon Valley, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver, Boston, Seattle, and Atlanta.

Khanderao Kand, Director of FIIDS based in Silicon Valley, told indica that this is an “appeal to vote” asking the Indian American to create momentum.

“Today we launched the advisory and we will be launching different campaigns every week until election day,” he said. The target, FIIDS said, is to reach out to leaders of 1000-plus Indian-American organizations to propagate this message to their over two million members. “We are also launching media advertisements and social media campaigns,” Kand said. “The objective is to increase Indian American participation in the 2022 US general elections.”

FIIDS engages the South Asian diaspora in the US to strengthen collaboration in policy matters related to geo-political issues, economics, immigrant issues, and US foreign relations, especially with India, South Asia, and the Indo-Pacific, to establish terrorism-free and war-free peace and economic prosperity.

Kand said that prior to this, earlier this month, FIIDS had initiated a campaign urging Indian Americans to register for voting. “Our target is to reach a million people,” he said, and added that “mere registration is not important but to make them vote. It needs a collective effort of 1000-plus organizations.”

Meanwhile, the policy research team of FIIDS has compiled a list of issues based on past surveys, discussions with community leaders, analysts, and its own research and analysis. “We are also releasing voting records of candidates on bills that are important to us. We will provide their Congressional vote record.”

A FIIDS statement said, “Indian Americans are almost 4.5 million in population with a high concentration in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas, and California. We believe that the Indian American voters will raise these issues and their voices will be heard. As mail-in voting has begun and will continue for the next two weeks, this list will be useful for Indian American voters to reflect on and discuss issues of their importance with candidates and within the community.”

Professor Ved Nanda, a senior law professor at Denver University and a FIIDS advisor said through a press note, “As an immigrant minority, it is not only a civic duty, but it is also imperative for Indo-Americans to vote in the elections to get their voice heard.”

FIIDS encourages more participation in the election to augment the community’s influence on policy matters. “Both Democrats and Republicans should recognize the importance of Indo-Americans as they are concentrated in critical races spanning states such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas, and California,” said FIIDS in a statement.

FIIDS National Executive Committee member, Nar Koppula, said a team will survey Indo-American voters on policies and issues important to the community. “FIIDS’ policy research team will provide an in-depth analysis of candidates in critical races to Indo-American voters.”

“It is important for Indo-Americans to participate in the electoral voting process to ascertain our rights, especially many issues of religiophobia and discrimination against Indo-Americans and a negative campaign against India,” said Dr Sampath Shivangi, chairman of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPIO) and a patron of FIIDS.

Issues and policies highlighted by FIIDS for Indian American voters before the US 2022 Congressional elections:

US-India Strategic Partnership: We appreciate there is a bi-partisan agreement that India is a global strategic partner and that both Democrats and Republicans supported partnerships like the Indo-Pacific Quad as well as I2U2. We request continuing support for any initiatives related to the same as well as strengthening joint ventures with India in various areas like energy, startups, military manufacturing, and nuclear. We also request your help to permanently remove India from CAATSA sanctions. To strengthen the partnership further, we further request to expedite the appointment of an ambassador to India.

Terror Funding / Military Aid to Pakistan: We are aware that despite India being a global strategic partner, the Biden administration approved $450million military F-16 upgrade, which will most likely be used against India. We are also more concerned that despite ongoing acts of Pak-sponsored terrorism against India, Pakistan has been removed from the watch list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the watchdog of terrorist funding.

Stop Injustice to High Tech Immigrants: Though Indian immigrants are a 30% workforce building most advancements in the tech industry that provide an international edge to the USA, the Indian tech professionals, are stagnant like bonded laborers for more than 50-60 years due to country-wise green card limit of 5000 GC per year for processing hundreds of thousands of backlogs. Hence, we urge elected officials and executives to one time clear all the backlog and pass the HR 3648 Eagle Act 2022 to prohibit this backup in the future.

Eliminating Visa Appointment Delays: After the painfully long covid period ended and travel restrictions were lifted, my relatives want to visit us to meet family, attend events, and heal together from the losses we endured. However, visa appointments in the US consulates in India have an almost 900-day long wait, making all of us suffer. We request help in pursuing the department of state to add staff to eliminate the waiting period.

Inflation and Recession: We are concerned about both inflation and recession. As the sudden and high increases in interest rates so far didn’t reduce inflation but pushed us into a recession, we think that the focus should be to address root causes like increasing gas supply to reduce high gas prices and pressure on production and the supply chain from China.

Cultural Recognition: As a recognition of the 4.5million Indian Americans’ contribution as well as their cultural heritage, we think that elected officials should introduce/support resolutions recognizing cultural festivals like Diwali – Holi, Sewa Diwali, heritage months, honoring personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Swami Vivekananda, as well as contributions of charity organizations like Sewa International, etc.

Campaign of Misinformation and Hate:  We observe that in this land of liberty and freedom, there is a vicious campaign of negative propaganda against India and the Indian diaspora, resulting not only in friction in otherwise smooth US-India relations but also increased incidents of ethnic and religious hate crimes against Indo-Americans in general and Hindu-Sikh communities in specific. We request investigative agencies’ help as well as legislative help in stopping hateful misinformation campaigns and the entities behind the campaigns.

Related posts