Indian Clout

Republican Nikki Haley is the 29th and current United States Ambassador to the United Nations, served as the 116th governor of South Carolina and is a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. (Twitter photo)

The 4.2 million Indian Americans constitute a model minority, the highest educated and highest paid. Nearly 85% have college degrees or above, whites have 38%, and Jewish people have 55%. A family of four of Indian Americans make $108,000, Jewish families $97,500, and the national average is $49,000. Indian Americans have been competing steadily and consistently. Finally, they have beaten Jewish Americans in education and income. Their next target is to beat the Jewish Americans in political clout.

At present, America has elected 7 U.S. Senators and 22 Congressmen of Jewish origin. America has elected 7 Indian Americans to the House of Representatives, 1 U.S. Senator, 2 Governors, and approximately 50 to the State Legislatures as follows:

  1. Bobby Jindal (R), Governor of Louisiana (2008-2016)
  2. Nikki Haley (R), Governor of South Carolina (2011-2017)
  3. Kamala Harris (D), U.S. Senate
  4. Dalip Singh Saund (D), U.S. Congress (1957-63)
  5. Mervyn Dymally (D), U.S. Congress (1981-1993)
  6. Bobby Jindal, Republican (2005-2008)
  7. Amir Bera (D), (2013-present)
  8. Pramila Jayapal (D), (2017-present)
  9. Ro Khanna (D), (2017-present)
  10. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D), (2017-present)

Indian Americans won in state and local elections across the U.S. in November 2017. This is another demonstration of the community’s political clout. From Washington State to New Jersey, Indian Americans won some of the most competitive races in the country, many of which have national implications. In more than one race, candidates overcame brazen acts of racism targeting their Indian American heritage and prevailed at the polls; Indian American women comprised the majority of the winners.

While Indian Americans have been leading in private industry as CEOs of 20+ Fortune 500 corporations including Microsoft and Google; deans of Harvard Business School, Harvard Undergraduate College of Arts & Science, M.I.T., NYU Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago School of Business, Northwestern University School of Business; and leading in high technology in Silicon Valley (40% of startups are by Indians), they have started changing the American political landscape.

Nikki Haley is our ambassador to the U.N. and within a short time she has demonstrated skills in diplomacy and international relations. This is the stepping stone for her to aim for the White House, having born in the U.S.

Deepak Raj and Raj Goyle, co-founders of Impact, a new initiative that closely monitored the 2017 elections, offer a compelling explanation behind the recent surge of Indian Americans successfully running for public office.

“At a time when so many of our values are under attack, Indian Americans are stepping up to run, win, and lead. In November 2017, 25 of them won their elections in N.J., N.C., Tennessee, and Washington state. We already know of 50 candidates on the ballot next November—so it is critical that we lay the groundwork now to elect the most viable candidates who reflect our community’s values. Our community is on the rise.”

Goyle became the first Indian American elected to the Kansas State Legislature, serving two terms from 2006-10. Ohio State Representative Niraj Antani, the youngest Indian American elected official in the U.S., sums it by saying, “Holding political power for the Indian American community is vital to our future.”

Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, three-term State Representative and Assistant Republican Leader of the state of Connecticut, is a leading candidate for governor of Connecticut. He has already met the minimum fundraising requirements of raising small donations from 6,000 electors, and therefore most likely to be elected.

Indian Americans have built a strong foundation for the future generations. Their strengths in highest education, highest income, family values, hard work, and English language will contribute to their ambition to reach the top of the political clout ladder.

(The author has an MBA from Columbia School of Business and was president and CEO of First Asian Securities in New York. He is the national senior vice chairman of the Indian American Republican Committee.)

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