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Vijay Mehta

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« Thread started on: Feb 13th, 2009, 10:28am »

Indian American Named to Obama Faith Initiatives Office
By SUNITA SOHRABJI February 12, 2009 03:40:00 PM
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A young Muslim American was named Feb. 5 as one of 25 advisors to President Barack Obama’s newly-created Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The new president named Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, based in Chicago, Ill., among several other secular and faith-based advisors, to serve as a resource for non-profit organizations working in local communities.

Obama also announced Feb. 6 the appointment of Nicholas Rathod as deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Rathod served as the director of intergovernmental affairs on the transition team.

Earlier, Rashad Hussain was appointed by Obama Jan. 28 to serve as deputy associate counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel. Hussain — who holds the distinction of being the first Muslim Indian American appointed to the new administration — most recently served as a trial attorney at the Department of Justice.

“There is a force for good greater than government,” said Obama, announcing the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, shortly after a national prayer breakfast in Washington D.C.

“It is an expression of faith, this yearning to give back, this hungering for a purpose larger than our own, that reveals itself not simply in places of worship, but in senior centers and shelters, schools and hospitals and any place America decides,” he said.

The new office has already established several key priorities, including making community organizations part of the nation’s economic recovery plan. The office is also charged with examining teenage pregnancy with the goal of reducing the need for abortions, and for creating initiatives to support fathers and encourage responsible fatherhood.

The Office will also work with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue with world leaders and scholars.

Patel, 33, founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 1998, with the overarching goal of encouraging mutual respect and pluralism among young people from different religious traditions, by empowering them to work together to serve others.

In a telephone interview from Chicago, Patel told India-West the appointment came as a complete surprise to him. He received a phone call from Joshua Dubois, Obama’s 25-year-old campaign director of religious affairs, asking him to be on the advisory board.

Patel and the other advisors met Obama for a half-hour meeting in the Oval Office Feb. 5, at which the new president stressed the importance of the office in fostering national and global peace. Advisors will meet several times a year to develop policy.

Patel said his goal was to “operationalize the process of training a generation of interfaith leaders,” largely in the manner of his own organization. IFYC staff travel to college campuses and make presentations to recruit young people into becoming interfaith leaders.

The son of Sadruddin and Rukshad Patel of Mumbai grew up in the Western suburbs of Chicago and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a doctorate in the sociology of religion. He writes “The Faith Divide,” a featured blog on religion on the Washington Post’s Web site and serves on several religious boards and foundations.

Rathod, also 33, is the national outreach director of South Asians for Obama and one of its founding members. He also co-founded South Asian Americans Leading Together.

Deepa Iyer, executive director of SAALT, told India-West in an e-mail: “We are glad to see that South Asians are playing important roles in the Obama Administration. The appointments of Nick Rathod, Preeta Bansal, Neal Katyal, Rashad Hussain and others are positive examples of civic and political engagement by South Asians, and we hope that there will be many more to come.”

“We look forward to engaging South Asians in the administration about needs and concerns faced by community members in the near future,” she said.

Rathod previously served as the deputy director of the Federal Affairs Office for New York Governor David Paterson. The community organizer is the recipient of the Frederick B. Abramson award, and was named the National South Asian Bar Association’s public interest attorney of the year in 2005. Rathod attended Wesleyan University in Nebraska and graduated from American University Law School in 2000.

Several Indian American organizations hailed Hussain’s appointment to the Office of the White House Counsel. Before his stint at the Department of Justice, the 30-year-old attorney previously served as a law clerk to Judge Damon Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The Wyoming-born Hussain, whose family now lives in Plano, Texas, also served as a legislative assistant to the House Judiciary Committee, where he reviewed legislation related to the U.S. Patriot Act, established post 9/11.

The son of Mohammed and Ruqaya Hussain of Bihar earned his law degree from Yale, where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. Hussain also holds a Masters in Public Administration and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He earned bachelors degrees in philosophy and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
« Last Edit: Feb 13th, 2009, 10:29am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

Greatest threat to Hindu religion comes from Dhongi Baba - Dada - Didi - Swami etc.
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