An Indian American student at St. Lawrence University in New York has made a name for himself from his research into Indian Americans’ involvement in World War I.
Tanveer Kalo, 21, of Queens, N.Y., the son of Indian immigrants from Punjab, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in government with a minor in history, and took part in an internship at the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission in Washington, D.C., as part of the Washington Center Program, which led to him conducting the research.
“The Washington Center helped me find the internship and I was interviewed by the commission to be an intern,” he explained to India-West about the spring 2017 internship which was focused on research and administration.
Kalo helped with the commission’s April 6, 2017, commemorative event, “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace,” during his time there, helping to coordinate the invitation list, which generated the attendance of over 5,000 guests at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.
“The other aspect of the internship entailed conducting World War I research and on South Asians that served in the U.S. military during the conflict,” he told India-West.
Kalo said he has been passionate about history for as long as he could remember, but added that the internship made him increasingly more passionate about the subject.
“The most important information I gained so far in my research is how the racial classification impacted and shaped the experiences of Indians in the military during the conflict and after,” he explained of his research, which was published by the commission.
“Some of these men were recorded as white, Hindu, colored, East Indian, Malaysian, etc. Their racial classifications determined their right to naturalization,” he said. “Prior to World War I and during, these men gained citizenship. After the war, the U.S. government revoked the naturalization off South Asians because they were not white,” he told India-West.
Kalo added that some of those soldiers fought against the government’s move, such as Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind, who argued his case against the U.S. Supreme Court in 1923 and lost because the justices ruled that people from India are not white, the researcher explained.
“Only years later would these men regain their citizenship,” he said from his research findings. The entirety of his published findings can be found here.
Kalo said he is working with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and D.C. lobbyist Puneet Ahluwalia on the possibility of having a commemoration for World War I Indian American veterans at Pershing Park in D.C.
The research Kalo conducted isn’t the last he intends to work on throughout his collegiate career. He hopes to focus on the military experience of Indian Americans in World War II, Korea and other wars and conflicts when he moves on to graduate school.
Additionally, he will look into researching the Indian diaspora’s military experiences in other nations, he said.
Kalo has received many accolades in his young career. To date, the Indian American history buff has been named to the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, and the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program. Additionally, he has received awards from the Hanaway Fund, Juckett Research Fund, Associate Dean’s Fund and Dean of Student Life Fund.
Kalo urged the Indian American community and anyone who might have information on individuals of Indian descent who served in the U.S. military during World War I to contact him through the WorldWarICentennial.org site or to firstname.lastname@example.org to further add to his research.