LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In Southern California, it is well known that Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has a strong India connection. Her daughter Amelia is married to Sushil Tyagi, an Indian American who came to the U.S. to make his fortune and, together with their children Octavia, Lavinia, and Atticus, make their home in Los Angeles.
Warren’s daughter has been spotted at events like the Indian American community-hosted reception to welcome then ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Jaishankar, and Tyagi very recently attended a TiE Southern California meeting, as reported earlier by India-West (see https://bit.ly/2wEOKTG).
Not overtly political, Tyagi in this election cycle seems to be dipping his toes in the heated Democratic primaries. The Warren team in Michigan recently had him scheduled for a “South Asians With Warren” call where he was to talk about the importance of the South Asian vote and make a pitch for his high profile mother-in-law.
Tyagi grew up in humble circumstances in Uttar Pradesh. N.K. Tyagi, his father, to augment the meager family income from farming also worked as a police constable. As a child of a small farmer, he has said, he grew up driving cattle to water ponds and sugarcane carts to crushing mills.
His is the story of determination, overcoming circumstances, big dreams and what an education can do. Nobody in his family had gone to college, his mother Sharmila did not even read or write, and his early education was in Hindi. Tyagi, nevertheless, showed his brilliance by getting admission to the challenging Indian Institute of Technology. He credits an Uttar Pradesh police scholarship for helping ease the cost of college.
After IIT Delhi, he arrived at UC Berkeley and from there went on to Wharton for an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met classmate Amelia. Their common bond, Tyagi has said, was education. Elizabeth Warren has traveled to India several times since for family milestone events and met Tyagi’s relatives. In her memoir, she writes about attending Tyagi’s brother’s wedding in India. His mother now lives in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, where her grandchildren go visiting.
After his MBA, Tyagi worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in their media and technology group in Los Angeles. He has also been involved in Hollywood and ran Tricolor Films. One of his earliest works featured the famed Aishwarya Rai and was directed by Bharat Bala, but the film, “Taj Mahal,” unfortunately did not release.
Now, he has launched an autonomous underwater swarm robotics research initiative for ocean exploration and conservation: Berkeley Marine Robotics. Tyagi has said that the latest venture stems from prior engineering work on marine structures at UC Berkeley from where he also earned a second master’s degree in ocean engineering.
His wife, meanwhile, who had worked for McKinsey & Company, is now the president of the Business Talent Group that works with Fortune 100 companies to provide independently contracted talent for business projects.