Indian American political figures Kamala Harris and Nikki Haley, as well as comedian Hasan Minhaj were among the dozens of individuals recognized by Foreign Policy as 2017 Global reThinkers.
Harris, a Democratic U.S. senator from California, was named to the list for giving the Democratic Party hope in the current President Donald Trump era.
This year was the year Harris got her foot in the national door. Suddenly, California’s 53-year-old junior senator has become an early favorite to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Foreign Policy wrote.
A native Californian, Harris grew up in Berkeley just as the civil rights movement took hold of the Bay Area. The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris developed a discerning eye for injustice, the publication said.
She attended public school, and the family worshipped at a black Baptist church. Harris earned degrees from Howard University and then the University of California, Hastings law school; by the early 1990s, her career as a state prosecutor was well underway, it added.
Harris' professional bona fides and two decades as a prosecutor, her commitment to social justice, and her personal “firsts” make her appealing to voters still smarting from Clinton’s loss and hungry for a charismatic nonwhite, nonmale presidential candidate, Foreign Policy said.
Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was named to the list for trying to preserve America's traditional vision of international affairs.
In a cabinet stacked with decorated generals and multimillionaire moguls, the daughter of Indian immigrants whose only major political experience was serving as governor of South Carolina seemed an unlikely pick, the publication wrote of Haley.
Her previous foreign-policy experience amounted to little more than courting foreign businesses to her state and resisting refugee resettlement during her time as governor from 2011 to 2017, it said, adding that she made no reservations in conveying her dislike of Trump.
But Haley took the U.N. job insisting that she was a “policy girl” who wanted to be “part of the decision-making process,” the publication wrote.
And, by all appearances, that’s just what she’s become, promoting an establishment view of America’s place in the world, even while the administration she serves has often questioned and undermined that position, it said.
Minhaj was named to the 2017 list for defining the narrative of a "New Brown America."
It was likely not a coincidence that Minhaj, the 32-year-old pompadoured “Daily Show” correspondent, was chosen to host the first White House Correspondents’ Association dinner of the Trump administration, Foreign Policy wrote.
After all, just when the U.S. president was desperately trying to ban more Muslims from entering the United States, Minhaj — the son of Muslim immigrants from Aligarh, India — was making a name for himself as the right comedian for the wrong time, it said.
Of course, Trump chose to skip the event. But that didn’t deter Minhaj; on the contrary, he made the guest of honor’s absence, as well as Trump’s obsession with the media and its many shortcomings, the focus of his act that night, the report went on.
Since his Washington star turn, Minhaj has gone on to win even wider acclaim with his stand-up special, “Homecoming King,” which aired on Netflix in May. Although its inception long predates Trump’s presidential candidacy, the show nonetheless functions as a response to his provocations, the publication wrote.
At a difficult time for Muslims and immigrants in America, Minhaj has found an effective way to describe a side of the United States that its current president ignores and rejects, it said.
Foreign Policy said the list, which features legislators, technocrats, comedians, advocates, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, presidents, provocateurs, political prisoners, researchers, strategists and visionaries, is a group who together found amazing ways not just to rethink our strange new world but also to reshape it.