Indian-American Community Playing a Crucial Role in American Politics

Surekha Vijh-

In an amazing show, with all the four Indian American Democratic lawmakers, Dr. Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, and Raja Krishnamoorthi re-elected to the House of Representatives, and Senator Kamala Harris as a vice president-elect, many Indian American lawmakers have reiterated that Indian Americans remain to be a force to reckoned with.

In a nationwide post-presidential election meeting, dozens of elected Indian American political leaders on the federal and state levels including political and policy experts, presidential campaigners, and community advocates and organizers came together live for a post-election analysis on November 4, hosted by Indiaspora.

Rep. Ami Bera of California also called the founding father of the Indian American Samosa Caucus as its senior-most member, said Indian Americans have come a long way, as shown by the representation in the House as well as in the Senate.

Dr. Bera, who recently won the seventh Congressional District of California for the fifth consecutive term said there were urgent talks to be had, including a need to stabilize our economy, open businesses and schools, and boost the morale of the people.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives in 2016, said it was time to heal the nation. The country was torn apart with many burning issues and people need to get back to their normal lives. Covid-19 is a serious threat that needs to be taken seriously until we have a vaccine available. The safety of the people is most important, she added.

Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy also emphasized the need to stabilize the economy, fix the motel, hotel, airline, and hospitality industries, since they got the biggest brunt. He said many Indian Americans were badly hurt due to the collapse of the hotel and motel industry and need help.

Rep. Krishnamoorthi, who coined the Samosa Caucus, an informal grouping of Indian-American lawmakers, was re-elected by defeating Preston Nelson of the Libertarian Party. He said Indian Americans have contributed and risen in many fields and their representation in both the Houses was praiseworthy.

Rep. Ro Khanna, with his third-consecutive win from the 17th Congressional District of California by defeating a fellow Indian American Ritesh Tandon of the Republican Party, said, there is no time to rest because there are many areas needing to be addressed including the economy, immigration, and jobs.

Nisha Biswas, President of the U.S. India Business Council and Senior Vice President for South Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a former Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs in the U.S. said that since the country has been divided on many levels, it first needs to be healed. Immigration is also a major issue along with new jobs and safety for all people regarding COVID-19 and otherwise. She said the India US relation has been pretty good and will remain the same if not better. A change of regime will not change anything. PM Modi has already met with Joe Biden as the vice president, and both were keen to develop India-US relations further.

Rich Verma, former US Ambassador of India said, India-US relations were at the peak since both countries were active democracies and understood each other. He also said the Indian American community has played a major role in bringing the two countries together.

“Look at a small number of Indian American communities, in such a short time, they have become a major force to reckoned with, both economically and politically,” Ambassador Verma, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School said while as an ambassador he traveled across India and saw the country close up.  He said that there are many values shared by Indian Americans with the people of India. The bond will always be there. It was good to see Indian American representation in both the Houses, including the four members of the House of Representatives and Senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

The Samosa Caucus is currently comprised of five Indian American lawmakers.

The panel address, which lasted for more than four hours, discussed in length their reactions to the election, what this election meant for the Indian American community, and what was next for the Indian American community and US-India relations. They said in this presidential election, the Indian-American community was considered an important one for the first time in the history of the US presidential elections as both the Democrat and the Republican campaigns initiated several measures to seek the support of the 1.8 million members of the community who emerged as a critical voting bloc in the battleground states of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.