Indians in US politics

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.





PTI, Dec 25, 2022: India Today

By Press Trust of India: Mikey Hothi, whose parents are from India, has been unanimously elected as the mayor of Lodi city in northern California, becoming the first Sikh to hold the top position in the city's history.

Hothi was nominated by newly-elected councilwoman Lisa Craig, who won election to mayor Mark Chandler’s seat in November and was unanimously selected vice mayor.

He represents the council’s fifth district and served as vice mayor this past year under mayor Chandler, who announced last summer he would not seek re-election.

His family was also instrumental in founding the Sikh temple on Armstrong Road, local newspaper The Lodi News-Sentinel reported.

“Our experience is similar to that of the Hispanic community that came before us, the Greek community, the Germans,” Hothi was quoted as saying in the report.

“Everyone came to Lodi because they realised it was a safe family town. (It has) great education, great people, great culture, great values, and just hard-working people in this town. I’m just proud to represent this community as its next mayor,” it said.

Hothi, who graduated from Tokay High School in 2008, said that growing up in the city was a challenge, especially post-9/11, when many Muslims and Sikhs experienced unfair harassment.

But Hothi, whose parents are from Punjab, explained that his family not only survived but thrived in Lodi. Many became business owners and entrepreneurs who still manage successful companies today, the report said. PTI MRJ MRJ


First-ever-Indian-American-US-Senator: 2016

California Attorney General Kamala Harris becomes first ever Indian-American US Senator TNN & Agencies | Nov 9, 2016

Kamala Harris , California's Attorney General, was in Nov 2016 elected to the United States Senate. She was elected from California, her home state, and is the first ever Indian-American to be elected to the Senate, the US legislature's upper house.

Several Indian-Americans+ have served in the lower house of the US legislature, the House of Representatives. Ami Bera, the current [in 2016] representative from California, is one of them.


The position in 2016

The Indian vote

See graphic.

The relative position of Indian- Americans in US politics, Oct 2016
The Times of India

Nov. 2016: 5 PIOs, all Democrats elected to US Congress

All Of Them Democrats, 2 Are Women

Indian-Americans, and indeed New Delhi, will be chuffed by the victo ry of at least five candi dates of Indian origin in the US election -the largest contingent of PIO legislators ever to go to Capitol Hill.

California's attorney general Kamala Harris, a Democrat, won a Senate seat from California as was widely expected, making her the first senator of Indian origin.

Chidanand Rajghatta, 5 PIOs Climb Capitol Hill, Set A Record, Nov 10 2016 : The Times of India

Indians elected to the US Congress, 2016
Pramila Jayapal, Kamala Harris, Ro Khanna
The Times of India
Indians elected to the US Congress, 2016
Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi won.
Lathika Mary Thomas, Peter Jacob and Anil Kumar did India proud by putting up a good fight.
The Times of India

Also making it to the Congress is Ro Khanna, whose campaign claimed victory from California's 17th district even though votes were yet to be fully counted and certified. The most striking thing about a Khanna win is that he will represent the heart of Silicon Valley.

Another landmark for the community comes in the form of a win for Pramila Jayapal, 51, who cantered to victory from a Washington state seat in and around Seattle, another white-collar entrepot with some of the most highly educated constituents in the country . She will be the first Indian-American Congresswoman. Joining Khanna and Jayapal will be Dr Ami Bera, also from a California district around Sacramento. He is coming up with a surprisingly easy third-term win.

Rounding up the win is Raja Krishnamoorthi, who bagged the 8th congressional district in Illinois, President Obama's home state, defeating Republican Peter DiCianni. All five Indian-Americans are Democrats.

The position in 2017

Indians 1%, get 1% representation

Chidanand Rajghatta, In Christian US, Hindus make proportional splash, Jan 06 2017: The Times of India

A new analysis by the Pew Research Center on the religious affiliation of American lawmakers has concluded that the “US Congress is about as Christian today as it was in the early 1960s... although the share of US adults who describe themselves as Christians has been declining for decades.“

The study says among members of the new, 115th Congress that was sworn in in January 2017, 91% describe themselves as Christians.This is nearly the same percentage as in the 87th Congress (1961 to 1962, the earliest years for which comparable data are available), when 95% of members were Christian.

Among the 293 Republicans elected to serve in the new Congress, all but two identify as Christians; the only exceptions are two Jewish Republicans -Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee. Democrats in Congress also are overwhelmingly Christian (80%), but there is more religious diversity on this side of the aisle. The 242 Democrats in Congress include 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims and one Unitarian Universalist -as well as the only member of Congress to describe herself as religiously unaffiliated.

According to the poll, the number of Hindus in Congress rose from one to three, as Ro Khanna (D-Calif), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) joined Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) who was first elected to the 113th Congress (2013 to 2014) and has been re-elected twice, among those who identified themselves as Hindus.

It is not clear why the sur vey did not count Washington state lawmaker Pramila Jayapal, who also lists her religious affiliation as Hindu. Another Indian-American lawmaker, California's Ami Bera calls himself a “Unitarian Universalist“, while the religious affiliation of Senator Kamala Harris is not known, although she campaigned heavily in Black and Methodist churches during the election.

The current US Congress has just two Muslim lawmakers constituting 0.37% representation for a community that is 1% of the US population. Jews, who make up 2% of the US adult population, hold 30 seats in the new Congress (6%), up from 28 seats in the 114th (5%).

Hindus, counting Jayapal, appear to be proportionally represented to their population, which according to a Pew Study is 2.23 million, or 0.7% of the population.

The position in 2018

Indians in US midterms fail to grow

Chidanand Rajghatta, 'Samosa Caucus' fails to grow but remains warm, November 8, 2018: The Times of India

All four Indian-American incumbents in the US House of Representatives were re-elected fairly comfortably in Tuesday’s Congressional elections. But the so-called “ Samosa caucus + ” – the moniker for desi lawmakers’ group on the Hill -- failed to add to its strength, with a dozen other aspirants coming up short.

Sitting members Ami Bera (California 7 th District), Ro Khannna (California 17 th district), Pramila Jayapal (Washington 7 th District), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (Illinois 8 th district) all retained their seats, Bera for a fourth term and others for a second term.

In fact, Jayapal polled 83 per cent of the votes cast in her district, Khanna bagged 72 per cent, and Krishnamoorthi bagged 65 per cent, attesting to the Democratic credentials of their districts. Bera, whose previous three victories were all narrow and involved recounts, sailed through relatively comfortably this time, polling almost 53 per cent votes to his opponent’s 47 per cent.

Tulsi Gabbard, the self-professed Hindu-American, also retained her seat in Hawaii.

But newbie aspirants elsewhere came up short: Two Indian-American women put up a decent fight in Arizona before losing to their Republican rivals: Physician Hiral Tipirneni polled 94,000 votes to Debbi Lesko’s 123,000 in Arizona’s 8 th district in a race that attracted national attention. Also in Arizona 6 th district, Anita Malik polled 95,000 votes to David Schweikert’s 123,000 votes.

In Texas, former State Department foreign service official Sri Preston Kulkarni 137,500 votes against five-term Republican incumbent Pete Olson’s 152,000 votes.

In other House results involving desis, Republican Bill Posey 217,000 votes defeated Sanjay Patel (D) 142,000 in Florida’s 8 th district; Republican Rick Crawford 138,000 votes defeated Chintan Desai (D) 57,500 votes in Arkansas 1 st district, and Jim Himes (D) 165,000 votes defeated Republican Harry Arora 106,000 votes in Connecticut 4 th district

However, scores of Indian-Americans who ran for state legislature and local offices such as school county boards tasted success as the “desi” community continued to make incremental inroads and progress in US public life.

According to PTI, Democratic Nima Kulkarni defeated Joshua Neubert from the GOP to make her maiden entry into the Kentucky Assembly from State District 40. Mujtaba Mohammed entered the North Carolina State Senate from the Senate District 38. Incumbent Jay Chaudhuri, an accomplished entrepreneur, was re-elected to North Carolina Senate from the State Senate District 15. And Republican Niraj Atani, 27, registered his third consecutive electoral victory from Ohio House 42nd District.

In Washington State, Manka Dhingra and Vandana Slatter were re-elected for the State Senate. Among others re-elected at the State level are Sabi Kumar in Tennessee and Ash Kalra (California).

Tuesday’s election also saw a surge of women and minorities (mostly from the Democratic Party) breaking through the white establishment that has long dominated US politics.

Among the stars of the day was Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29, became the youngest EVER woman elected to Congress.

Democrats Sharice Davids (Kansas) and Deb Haaland (New Mexico) also became the first Native American women elected to Congress. And Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib (a Palestinian-American) and Ilhan Omar (a Somali-American) of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party became the first Muslim women in Congress.

2018: 17 PIOs in the fray for HOR

Chidanand Rajghatta, ‘Samosa Brigade’ spices up US election for Indian-Americans, November 5, 2018: The Times of India

Group Of 5 PIO Lawmakers Set To Grow With 12 More In Fray

A spicy sidebar that has Indian-Americans involved or interested in one of the most virulent election in American history pertains to the ‘Samosa Caucus’ — and whether it will grow in strength from its current four members.

Samosa Caucus is the term used to describe the group of Indian-American lawmakers in Congress — Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna in the House of Representatives and Kamala Harris in the Senate. All four representatives are up for re-election in Tuesday’s midterm election after serving a two-year term, and with another dozen Indian-Americans on the ballot on November 6, there are hopes the samosa brigade will be strengthened.

Easier said than done, though. The US House of Representatives has a very high rate of incumbency re-election, an inertia that has led to the term ‘Congressional stagnation’, although the retirement of some 42 Congressmen this election cycle has led to openings for many aspirants. Even so, the rate of incumbency reelection in recent years this rate has over 90%, with rarely more than ten sitting members losing their House seats every election cycle.

Sri Kulkarni would know it how hard it is to break into Congress. A US Foreign Service officer who resigned from the administration to challenge five-term Republican Pete Olson in Texas’ 22nd Congressional district, his is one of the most watched races in the country because of the energy and verve he has brought to the campaign. Asian Americans make up 19.2% of the population in this district southwest of Houston, and the polyglot Kulkarni’s outreach has involved reaching the diverse constituency in a dozen languages, including Hindi, Mandarin, Turkish, Nepalese, and Sinhala, given that 40% of the district speaks a language other than English.

Still he still faces a formidable task in ousting Olson, himself not shy of showcasing his global embrace, turning up in sherwanis and bandis to desi fundraising events and bragging about his close ties to PM Modi, and Houston’s energy connections to India. But such is the threat from Kulkarni to what was till recently considered a Republican pocketborough that Olson took the very red route of referring to his opponent as an “Indian-American carpetbagger”, although Kulkarni traces his ancestry from his mother’s side to Sam Houston, the hero of the “Texas revolution”. Although Olson is expected to retain his seat, Kulkarni’s energetic campaign could provide an upset if there is indeed a socalled Democratic “blue wave” that has been spoken about but never seen or felt.

A similar challenge of breaking through the established Republican fortress faces Hiral Tipirneni and Anita Malik, two Indian-American women fighting to oust incumbents in Arizona. Tipirneni, a physician, is locked in what is a rematch of the race she lost in April this year to Republican Debbie Lesko in a byelection, and latest polls show her trailing by a mere four points, within the margin of error. Tipirneni has also raised more money than Lesko for the November race, and if indeed there is a blue wave, she could overcome the deficit come Tuesday.

The fact that Lesko sees Tipirneni as a threat became evident when her campaign began using “fake doctor” signs — simply because the Indian-American had not been a practicising physician for over a decade, necessitating an intervention from the Arizona Medical Political Action Committee that viewed the campaign signs against Dr Tipirneni “as an insult to the medical profession, discounting the education and training required of physicians to become licensed and credentialed”.

While most other “desi” challengers are seen as alsorans, the four incumbent Indian-American lawmakers, all Democrats, are expected to retain their seats. California’s Dr Ami Bera is bidding for his fourth term from the state’s 7th district in and around Sacramento, having won three previous elections by relatively narrow margins. But he is expected to have an easier time this cycle against an opponent who is a marine. Elsewhere in California 17th District, Ro Khanna, whose constituency encompasses most of Silicon Valley and includes storied companies such as Apple and Intel, looks set to win a second term, as does Pramila Jayapal in Washington State, whose 7th district is also considered a Democratic fortress.

The position in 2019

Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard bid for White House

Chidanand Rajghatta, Kamala joins Tulsi in run for White House, January 22, 2019: The Times of India

California Senator, Dubbed ‘Female Obama’, Seen As Frontrunner For Democratic Nomination

Indian-Americans, and US Democrats at large, will face a choice between Tulsi and Kamala among others in a race from the left to challenge Donald Trump for the White House in 2020.

In an announcement that was not entirely unexpected, Kamala Harris, the Indian-African-American first-term Senator from California, announced on Monday that she is running for president in 2020, saying that the time has come to fight against “the injustices... of the Trump presidency”. However, to get into the final stretch of the race Harris will first have to clinch the Democratic nomination in what is adding up to be a crowded field. Aside from Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu-American of Caucasian descent, two other women have been exploring the field – Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Then there are the men: Former vice-president Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders among them.

In purely numerical terms, the Democratic field is starting to resemble the Republican gaggle of 17 candidates that ran for the GOP nomination in 2016 when New York businessman Donald Trump, rather unexpectedly, clambered over the likes of Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others to win the party ticket to face Hillary Clinton. For 2020, it is Trump who appears to be a shoo-in for the Republican ticket with more than a dozen Democrats duking it out to face him.

But Harris, who some commentators have dubbed as a “female Barack Obama” (Bi-racial, first-time Senator, new generation, and left of center) has straightaway become the front-runner. The Spectator Index put her chances of winning the Democratic nomination at 25%, ahead of Beto o’Rourke (20%), Joe Biden (17%) Bernie Sanders (13%) Elizabeth Warren (10%) and Other (15%).

Daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris, 54, declared her intention to run on what is Martin Luther King Jr Day in an appearance on Good Morning America, following it up with a brief video of her campaign released on social media. “The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” the former prosecutor and attorney general of California said in the video. “That’s why I’m running for president of the US. I’m running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together.”

Harris’ mother Shyamala Gopalan, who passed away in 2010, was a breast cancer researcher who immigrated to the US from Madras (now Chennai) in 1960. Her father, Donald Harris, is a Stanford University economics professor who emigrated from Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study in economics at University of California, Berkeley. They divorced when she was 7, and Kamala and her sister Maya, a civil liberties activist, grew up with their mother, who was granted custody of the children by court-ordered settlement.

Although she identifies herself primarily as African-American, as indeed does the US media, Harris has spoken in the past about her influential Indian past that involved summer holidays in Chennai’s Besant Nagar, where she visited her maternal grandfather, P V Gopalan, a freedom fighter and an Indian diplomat.

She later attended Howard University in Washington, DC, where she majored in political science and economics, before returning to California, where she earned her Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and was subsequently admitted to the State Bar in 1990 before going to become the first-ever female district attorney in San Francisco and the first black DA in all of California.

Harris is married to Doug Emhoff, a media, entertainment and intellectual property partner with two children from his earlier marriage. Her sister Maya, who will be her campaign chair, is a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. She announced that her campaign headquarters will be based in Baltimore.

Harris’ declaration of a White House run, while dispensing with the exploratory committee preamble, was timed with the Martin Luther King Jr Day, and her campaign noted that Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president in a major party, launched her campaign 47 years ago this week. “The thing about Dr. King that always inspires me is that he was our country is aspirational,” Harris said. “I’m honoured to be able to make my announcement on the day we commemorate him.”

The position in 2020

State assemblies

New York

Desi lawyer in NY assembly

A 38-year-old Indian-American lawyer has become the first South Asian woman to be elected to the New York state assembly. Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democrat, is a Stanford-educated immigrant rights advocate. She will represent New York City’s 38th assembly district. Indian-Ugandan Zohran Kwame Mamdani, son of filmmaker Mira Nair, also won a seat in the NY state assembly. Mamdani, 29, Democratic nominee for NY’s 36th assembly district, ran unopposed. AGENCIES

The position in 2021

20 Indian-Americans in Biden admin

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated at least 20 Indian-Americans, including 13 women, to key positions in his incoming administration, a record for the community that constitutes 1% of America’s population. As many as 17 of them, including Neera Tanden who has been nominated as the director of management and budget, would be part of the Biden administration in the White House. On Saturday, Biden nominated former foreign service official Uzra Zeya as the under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights. Biden has also nominated Vanita Gupta as the associate attorney general at the department of justice. “The dedication that the Indian-American community has shown to public service over the years has been recognised in a big way!” founder of the non-profit organisation Indiaspora, M R Rangaswami, said. PTI


January 20, 2021: The Times of India

Indian- American in Biden's administration- Kamala Harris, Neera Tanden, Dr Vivek Murthy
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India
Indian- American in Biden's administration- Vanita Gupta, Uzra Zeya, Vinay Reddy
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India
Indian- American in Biden's administration- Bharat Ramamurti, Gautam Raghavan, Mala Adiga, Garima Verma
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India
Indian- American in Biden's administration- Tarun Chhabra, Sumona Guha, Shanthi Kalathil, Sonia Aggarwal
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India
Indian- American in Biden's administration- Sabrina Singh, Aisha Shah, Sameera Fazili, Vedant Patel
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India
Indian- American in Biden's administration- Vidur Sharma, Neha Gupta, Reema Shah, Rohit Chopra
From: January 20, 2021: The Times of India

Who are the Indian-Americans in US President Joe Biden's administration

NEW DELHI: For the first time in the US history, more than 20 Indian-Americans have either been appointed or nominated to be part of the US government with as many as 17 of them in key positions.

On Wednesday, as President Joe Biden takes oath as 46th President of the USA alongside vice-president elect Kamala Harris, who too has roots in India, here is a list of Indian-Americans announced to be a part of Biden's administration:

Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden has been nominated as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Following her nomination in December 2o2o, Neera said in a tweet, "After my parents were divorced when I was young, my mother relied on public food and housing programs to get by. Now, I’m being nominated to help ensure those programs are secure and ensure families like mine can live with dignity. I am beyond honoured.”

Born in Bedford, Massachusetts, Tanden (50) currently serves as the president of Center for American Progress (CAP), an influential domestic policy think tank.

She has been associated with the Centre in various capacities and is lauded for its success.

Known to be a Clinton loyalist, in 2008, Tanden was the top aide on Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign.

As an Obama administration official, she worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, and during the Trump administration, she called the CAP to the ramparts during Republicans’ efforts to repeal it.

Dr Vivek Murthy

Dr Vivek Murthy (43), nominated to be the 21st US surgeon general has earlier served as 19th Surgeon General of the United States under the Obama administration.

He was asked to step down by the Trump administration which the Democrats had called as political targeting.

The Indian-American is also the co-chair of the Coronavirus task force formed by Biden in December 2020.

During his first tenure as surgeon general, Murthy worked on a report on the role of climate change in the public health crisis.

Murthy’s family hails from Karnataka, India. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and pursued MD and MBA from Yale University. Murthy completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. He later joined the Harvard Medical School as faculty in internal medicine.

Vanita Gupta

President-elect Joe Biden nominated Vanita Gupta to serve as Associate Attorney General.

An Indian-American, Gupta would be the first woman of colour to serve in this role. Gupta has also served as acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division from 2014-17.

A reputed civil rights attorney in the US, Gupta was the country’s former chief civil rights prosecutor.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Indian immigrant parents, Gupta did her Bachelors from Yale University. In 2001, she received her Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law.

Uzra Zeya

An Indian-American diplomat, Uzra Zeya is nominated as the under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights.

Zeya had quit her state department job in protest against the Trump administration's alleged racial and sexist bias, as his under secretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights.

Zeya, who traces her family roots back to Kashmir, is President and CEO for the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

Zeya has more than two decades of experience with the department of state and has expertise in Near East, South Asian, Europe, human rights and multilateral affairs.

As chief of staff to the deputy secretary of state from 2011 to 2012, Zeya also helped shape the US response to the Arab Spring.

In the 1990s, Zeya served in the US Foreign Service. She has served as a US diplomat in capitals such as New Delhi, Muscat, Damascus, Cairo and Kingston.

Zeya is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Vinay Reddy

US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed his long-time associate Indian-American Vinay Reddy as his director of speechwriting.

Reddy serves as a speechwriter on the Biden-Harris Transition and was the Senior Advisor and Speechwriter for the Biden-Harris Campaign.

He previously served as chief speechwriter to former vice-president Biden in the second term of the Obama-Biden White House, after which, he worked as vice-president of Strategic Communications at the National Basketball Association.

Reddy grew up in Dayton, Ohio, the second one of the three sons in an immigrant family and is a product of Ohio public schools from kindergarten to Miami University to The Ohio State University College of Law.

He currently lives in New York with his wife and their two daughters.

Bharat Ramamurti

US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday appointed Indian-American Bharat Ramamurti as deputy director for the National Economic Council for Financial Reform and Consumer Protection.

The National Economic Council coordinates the domestic and international economic policymaking process for the Administration, helping to design and implement the President's economic vision for America.

Ramamurti is the Managing Director of the Corporate Power program at the Roosevelt Institute. He was also appointed in April to serve on the Congressional Oversight Commission for the CARES Act by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Previously, Ramamurti was the top economic adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren during her 2020 presidential campaign and senior counsel for banking and economic policy in her Senate office.

Born in Massachusetts, Ramamurti is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters.

Gautam Raghavan

US President-elect Joe Biden named Gautam Raghavan, who previously served in the White House, as Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel.

Raghavan serves as Deputy Head of Presidential Appointments on the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to joining the transition, he served as Chief of Staff to Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Previously, Raghavan served as an Advisor to the Biden Foundation, and as vice-president of Policy for the Gill Foundation, one of the oldest and largest private foundations dedicated to the cause of LGBTQ equality.

During the Obama-Biden Administration, Raghavan served in the White House as the liaison to the LGBTQ community as well as the Asian American & Pacific Islander community, and in the White House Liaison Office for the US Department of Defence and as Outreach Lead for the Pentagon's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” Working Group.

A first-generation immigrant, Raghavan was born in India, raised in Seattle, and graduated from Stanford University. He lives in Washington, DC with his husband and their daughter.

Mala Adiga

Mala Adiga has been appointed as policy director to the future First Lady Jill Biden. Adiga was a senior advisor to Jill and had served as a senior policy advisor during the Biden-Kamala Harris campaign.

Adiga is known to specialise in education policy and Jill, being an English professor, is expected to focus on the education sector and community colleges.

Mala served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for academic programs at the bureau of educational and cultural affairs in the Obama administration.

She also served as the chief of staff and senior adviser to the ambassador-at-large, and as the director for human rights on the national security staff.

Mala hails from the prestigious Kakkunje Adiga family. She is a relative of late K Suryanarayana Adiga, founder of Karnataka Bank Pvt Ltd and Aravind Adiga, winner of 2008 Booker Prize.

Mala graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School. She did her Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota.

Garima Verma

Incoming First Lady Jill Biden named Indian-American Garima Verma as her digital director.

Verma served as an audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris campaign.

Before joining the campaign, Verma was a volunteer with the content team, designing graphics for distribution to Biden-Harris volunteers across the country.

She previously worked in the entertainment space, marketing films at Paramount Pictures and television shows at The Walt Disney Company's ABC Network, and media agency Horizon Media.

Verma has also served as an independent consultant in marketing, design and digital for a number of small business and non-profit clients.

Verma was born in India but grew up in Ohio and the Central Valley of California.

Tarun Chhabra

US President-elect Joe Biden named Tarun Chhabra as Senior Director for Technology and National Security of Biden administration's National Security Council.

Chhabra served on the National Security Council staff as Director for Strategic Planning and Director for Human Rights and National Security Issues during the Obama-Biden administration. He also served as a speechwriter to the Secretary of Defense at the pentagon.

Born in Tennessee and raised in Louisiana, Chhabra is a senior fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University.

He was previously a Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Perry World House.

Chhabra is a first-generation American and a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School.

Sumona Guha

President-elect Joe Biden appointed Sumona Guha as Senior Director for South Asia, National Security Council.

Sumona Guha was co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign, and serves on the transition’s State Department Agency Review Team.

Guha is Senior vice-president at Albright Stonebridge Group.

Previously, she served in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and later, on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff where she focused on South Asia.

During the Obama-Biden Administration, she was Special Advisor for national security affairs to vice-president Biden. Guha is a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University.

Guha lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.

Shanthi Kalathil

President-elect Joe Biden appointed Shanthi Kalathil as Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights.

Kalathil is currently senior director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, where her work focuses on emerging challenges to democracy.

Previously in her career, she served as a senior democracy fellow at the US Agency for International Development.

She worked as an associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Hong Kong-based reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal, and an advisor to international affairs organizations.

Kalathil is the co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003).

Originally from California, Kalathil is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Sonia Aggarwal

Sonia Aggarwal has been named as the senior advisor for climate policy and innovation.

An expert on energy and climate change Aggarwal led America's Power Plan, bringing together 200 electricity policy experts, at Energy Innovation, of which she was a co-founder and vice-president.

Aggarwal also directed the team that developed the Energy Policy Simulator to analyse the environmental, economic, and public health impacts of climate and energy policies

Earlier, she managed global research at ClimateWorks Foundation where she worked on the McKinsey carbon abatement cost curves and led research for the American Energy Innovation Council.

Born and raised in Ohio, Aggarwal has a masters at Stanford University in civil engineering.

Sabrina Singh

Indian-American Sabrina Singh will serve as deputy press secretary to the vice-president Kamala Harris. Singh was Press Secretary to vice-president-elect Kamala Harris on the Biden-Harris campaign.

Prior to her role on the campaign, Singh served as senior spokesperson for Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign and National Press Secretary for Cory Booker's presidential campaign.

She previously served as deputy communications director for the Democratic National Committee, spokesperson for American Bridge's Trump War Room and Regional Communications Director on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

She has also worked at SKDKnickerbocker, served as Communications Director for Rep. Jan Schakowsky and worked at various Democratic committees.

Aisha Shah

US President-elect Joe Biden named Aisha Shah as the partnerships manager for his White House Office of Digital Strategy.

Shah had also held the position of partnership manager for the Biden campaign, before joining the museum, zoo and education organisation, the Smithsonian Institution, as an advancement specialist.

Shah also worked as an assistant manager on the Corporate Fund of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts "supporting the first-ever expansion of a presidential memorial".

She has been involved in promoting non-profit organisations as a strategic communications specialist at Buoy, a marketing firm specialising in social impact communications and helping non-profits use pop culture as a tool for social change at Spitfire Strategies.

Shah had also done a stint as a philanthropic events coordinator at LexisNexis, the information and analytics company.

Born in Kashmir and raised in Louisiana, Shah graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a degree in English language and literature, and had studied Spanish at the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain.

Sameera Fazili

US President-elect Joe Biden appointed Indian-American Sameera Fazili as Deputy Director, National Economic Council at the White House.

The National Economic Council coordinates the economic policy-making process and provides economic policy advice to the US president.

Fazili is currently the Economic Agency lead on the Biden-Harris Transition. She was earlier posted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta where she served as the Director of Engagement for Community and Economic Development.

In the Obama-Biden administration, Fazili served as a senior policy advisor on the White House's National Economic Council and as a senior advisor at the US Treasury Department in both Domestic Finance and International Affairs.

Prior to that she was a clinical lecturer of law at Yale Law School.

Fazili also worked at ShoreBank, the nation's first CDFI (community development financial institution) bank. Her work in finance has spanned consumer, housing, small business and microfinance.

She received her law degree from Yale Law School and her bachelor of arts in social studies from Harvard College.

Vedant Patel

US President-elect Joe Biden named Indian-American Vedant Patel to be the Assistant Press Secretary. He is only the third-ever Indian American to be part of the White House press shop.

Patel is currently the senior spokesperson of the Biden inaugural committee and has been a part of the Biden campaign as well where he served as Regional Communications Director.

During Biden's primary campaign, Patel served as the Nevada and Western Primary-States Communications Director.

Previously, he worked as Communications Director to Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Western Regional Press Secretary at the Democratic National Committee, and Communications Director to Congressman Mike Honda.

Born in India and raised in California, Patel is a graduate of the University of California-Riverside and the University of Florida.

Vidur Sharma

US President-elect Joe Biden named health policy expert Vidur Sharma as the testing adviser on his Covid-19 Response Team.

Sharma, like many Biden nominees, is an old White House hand having served in the administration of former President Barack Obama, when Biden was vice-president.

In that stint, he was a health policy adviser on the Domestic Policy Council working on implementing Obama's signature programme of trying to ensure health insurance for all, known as Obamacare.

As President Donald Trump tried to end Obamacare, Sharma worked to counter it as the Deputy Research Director of Protect Our Care, a coalition of organisations against repealing it.

He has also advised health sector organisations.

Neha Gupta

US President-elect Joe Biden named Neha Gupta as associate counsel at the Office of White House Counsel.

Gupta, an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the Biden-Harris Transition has been chosen to serve as Associate Counsel.

Gupta has previously served as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney's office, where she was general counsel to several city agencies, litigated constitutional and statutory challenges to city laws and administrative decisions.

She participated in the office's affirmative public protection advocacy.

A graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School, Gupta also previously clerked for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Richard Seeborg of the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Reema Shah

US President-elect Joe Biden named Reema Shah as Deputy Associate Counsel at the Office of White House Counsel.

Shah, a graduate of Harvard College, Cambridge University and Yale Law School, served on the debate preparation team for President-elect Biden on the Biden-Harris Campaign.

Prior to that, she was an associate at Latham & Watkins and a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the Department of Justice.

She served as a law clerk to Justice Elena Kagan on the US Supreme Court and Judge Sri Srinivasan on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Rohit Chopra

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Rohit Chopra to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, tapping a progressive ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to helm the agency whose creation she championed.

Chopra, now a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, helped launch the consumer agency after the 2008-09 financial crisis and served as deputy director, where he sounded the alarm about skyrocketing levels of student loan debt.

The pick comes as Democrats are eyeing ways to provide student loan relief to millions of Americans as part of a Covid-19 relief package.

Chopra was a deputy to its first director, Richard Cordray, as the agency undertook enforcement actions against an array of companies large and small, and returned tens of billions of dollars to consumers harmed by illegal practices.


March 5, 2021 PTI

Indian-Americans taking over US, says Biden as they keep getting key positions

PTI | Mar 5, 2021

WASHINGTON: Indian-Americans are taking over the country, US President Joe Biden said, referring to the high number of people from the community getting a place in his administration.

In less than 50 days of his presidency, Biden has appointed at least 55 Indian-Americans to key leadership positions in his administration ranging from his speech writer to the NASA, to almost every wing of the government.

"Indian-of-descent Americans (sic) are taking over the country. You (Swati Mohan), my Vice President (Kamala Harris), my speech writer (Vinay Reddy)," Biden said in a virtual interaction with NASA scientists who were involved in the historic landing of Perseverance landing at Mars.

Indian-American scientist Swati Mohan leads the guidance, navigation, and control operations of NASA's Mars 2020 mission.

Biden, who was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, has created history by appointing at least 55 Indian-Americans to key positions in his administration. This does not include Vice President Kamala Harris, which is an elected position, and Neera Tanden, who a day earlier withdrew her nomination from the position of Director of White House Office of Management and Budget. Who are the Indian-Americans in US President Joe Biden's administration Nearly half of them are women and a sizable number of them are working in the White House. So far, the Obama-Biden administration (2009-2017) has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian-Americans in any administration, the previous Donald Trump administration was not lagging far behind as it appointed the first ever Indian-American with a cabinet rank and inside the National Security Council.

Murthy testified before a Senate Committee for US Surgeon General and Vanita Gupta is all set to appear for her confirmation hearing for Associate Attorney General Department of Justice.

While the community is disappointed that Tanden had to withdraw her nomination because of stiff opposition from the Republicans, Indian-American women have reached a new height in the Biden administration. Biden sought to speak with Swati Mohan, Guidance and Controls Operations Lead, Mars 2020. She is not a political appointee though.

Indian-American women appointed by Biden include Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, State Department; Mala Adiga: Policy Director to Dr Jill Biden; Aisha Shah: Partnership Manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Sameera Fazili, Deputy Director, US National Economic Council (NEC); Sumona Guha: Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council, White House; and Sabrina Singh: Deputy Press Secretary, Vice President White House.

Shanthi Kalathil has been appointed as Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights, National Security Council, White House; Garima Verma has been named as Digital Director of the Office of the First Lady; Sonia Aggarwal as Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation; Office of Domestic Climate Policy, White House; Neha Gupta: Associate Counsel, Office of White House Counsel; and Reema Shah as Deputy Associate Counsel, Office of White House Counsel.

Tanya Das has been appointed as Chief of Staff, Office of Science, Department of Energy; Shuchi Talati: Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy; Mini Timmaraju: Senior adviser to the director, Office of Personnel Management ; Sohini Chatterjee: Senior Policy Advisor US Mission to the United Nations, Aditi Gorur: Policy Advisor, US Mission to the United Nations; and Bhavya Lal is the Acting Chief of Staff, NASA.

Dimple Chaudhary has been appointed as Deputy General Counsel for Nationwide Resource Protection Programs, Environmental Protection Agency; Sharmistha Das is the Deputy General Counsel, Department of Homeland Security; Ruchi Jain is the Deputy Solicitor for General Law, Department of Interior; Meera Joshi is the Acting Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Department of Transportation; Aruna Kalyanam is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax and Budget, Department of the Treasury.

Gautam Raghavan, Deputy Director in Office of Presidential Personnel; Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of National Economic Council; Tarun Chhabra, Senior Director for Technology and National Security at National Security Council White House; Vedant Patel, Assistant Press Secretary President at the White House are among several other Indian-Americans who got key posts in the Biden administration.

The position in 2023

As in 2023 February

Maggie Astor and Jill Cowan, February 28, 2023: The Times of India

In 2013, the House of Representatives had a single Indian American member. Fewer than 10 Indian Americans were serving in state legislatures. None had been elected to the Senate. None had run for president. Despite being one of the largest immigrant groups in the US, Americans of Indian descent were barely represented in politics.

Ten years later, the Congress sworn in last month includes five Indian Americans. Nearly 50 are in state legislatures. Vice-President Kamala Harris is Indian American. Nikki Haley’s campaign announcement this month makes 2024 the third consecutive cycle in which an Indian American has run for president, and Vivek Ramaswamy’s newly announced candidacy makes it the first cycle with two. In parts of the government, “we’ve gone literally from having no one to getting close to parity,” said Neil Makhija, executive director of Impact, an Indian American advocacy group. Most Indian American voters are Democrats, and it is an open question how much of their support Haley might muster. In the past, when Indian Americans have run as Republicans, they have rarely talked much about their family histories, but Haley is emphasising her background.

Activists, analysts, and current and former elected officials, including four of the five Indian Americans in Congress, described an array of forces that have bolstered the political influence of Indian Americans. Arange of factors, such as the relative wealth of Indian immigrants and high education levels, has propelled a rapid political ascent for the second and third generations. Advocacy groups — including Impact and the AAPI Victory Fund — have mobilised to recruit and support them, and to direct politicians’ attention to the electoral heft of Indian Americans, whose populations in states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas are large enough to help sway local, state and federal races. “It’s really all working in tandem,” said Raj Goyle, a former state lawmaker in Kansas who co-founded Impact.

“There’s a natural trend, society is more accepting, and there is deliberate political strategy to make it happen. ” When Goyle ran for the Kansas House in 2006 as a Democrat against a Republican incumbent, he was told that the incumbent’s reaction to learning she had a challenger had been “Who is Rod Doyle?” “It was inconceivable that someone named Raj Goyle —let alone Rajeev Goyle — would run for office in Wichita,” he said. Today, “the average voter’s a lot more familiar with anIndian American face on TV, in their examining room, in their classroom, at their university, leading their company. ”

In retrospect, the watershed appears to have been 2016, just after then-Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana became the first Indian American to run for president. That was also the year Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Ro Khanna of California and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois were elected, bringing the number of Indian Americans in the House from one — Rep. Ami Bera of California, elected in 2012 — to four. It was also the year Kamala Harris became the first Indian American elected to the Senate. Since then, the number in state legislatures has more than tripled. Last month, the four House members — who call themselves the Samosa Caucus —were joined by Rep. Shri Thanedar of Michigan.

Notably, the increase in Indian American representation is not centered on districts where Indian Americans are a majority. Jayapal represents a Seattle-based district that is mostly white. Thanedar represents adistrict in and around Detroit, amajority-Black city, and defeated eight Black candidates in a Democratic primary last year.

“This is quite a different kind of phenomenon than what we often are seeing from Latino and Black representation,” said Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College in Southern California and a senior researcher at AAPI Data, a group that provides information about Asian Americans. “It means they’re pulling a coalition of support behind them. ” She and Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Riverside, and founder of AAPI Data, pointed to characteristics of Indian American communities that may have eased their movement into politics.

Immigrants from India are often highly educated and, often speak English, “which lowers barriers to civic engagement,” Ramakrishnan said. India is also a democracy, which Ramakrishnan’s research has shown means Indian Americans are more likely to engage in the American democratic system. By and large, Indian Americans have been elected on the Democratic side of the aisle. All five Indian Americans in Congress, and almost all state legislators, are Democrats. Haley’s candidacy could be a case study in whether an embrace of Indian immigrant heritage can resonate among Republicans, too. Raman Dhillon, CEO of the North American Punjabi Trucking Association, said his interest in Haley had been piqued by the fact that her family is from the same city he is, Punjab, where a significant portion of truckers in Canada and the US trace their roots. 

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