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xx New wave of Indian American politicians
« Thread started on: Jun 20th, 2010, 09:09am »

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/indians-abroad/Nikki-not-alone-7-other-PIOs-in-race-for-office/articleshow/6069438.cms

[b]Nikki not alone, 7 other PIOs in race for office
AP, Jun 20, 2010, 03.25am IST

WASHINGTON: Meet Reshma, Surya, Manan, Raj, Ami, Ravi, Nimrata and Kamala — a new wave of Indian-American politicians. At least eight children of Indian immigrants are running for Congress or statewide office, the most ever. The star of this trend is Nikki Haley, born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, who is favoured to win polls for governor of South Carolina.

Indian heritage is where Haley’s similarity with the other candidates seems to end. She is the only Republican, the only one who has been widely mistaken for a white woman, the only one who has been accused of abandoning her heritage for converting to Christianity.

Manan Trivedi, a doctor and Iraq war veteran who recently won a Democratic primary for Congress in eastern Pennsylvania, said he did not view his ethnicity as a handicap: “The American electorate is smarter than that.”

He called criticism of Haley’s name and religion unfounded. “Nikki Haley and (Republican Louisiana gov.) Bobby Jindal are on the wrong side, but they worked their butts off, they had the bonafides to get the votes, and I think it had so much more to do with their work ethic than the fact that they may have changed their names and adopted a different religion.”

Christianity is a more critical issue for white Republicans than other groups — could a Hindu who worships multiple gods, or a turbaned Sikh who doesn’t cut his hair, survive a statewide Republican primary in the Bible Belt?

Vidya Pradhan, editor of India Currents magazine, thinks not. Haley and Jindal “were really ambitious about their politics, and they could not do it being Hindu or their old religion,” Pradhan said. “I do think it was a political move. They felt that not being a Christian would hurt them.”

“This campaign is all about vision and values and policies,” said Raj Goyle, who is battling for the Democratic congressional nomination in his hometown of Wichita, Kan. “I don’t spend time thinking about differences, I think about ways that Kansans can come together.”

He said he doesn’t worry about appearing more American or more Indian. “I am who I am, I’m proud of my background and what I’ve accomplished and my family. Kansas voters absolutely will choose the best candidate based on the merits.”

In California, Kamala Harris won the Democratic nomination for state attorney general and is favoured to win the election this fall. “Slowly, perhaps, people will start to understand the diversity of the people.” she said.

Indians began immigrating to the United States in large numbers about 50 years ago, but just two have been elected to Congress: Dalip Singh Saund in 1954 and Jindal, who entered Congress in 2004 and became governor midway through his second term.

In 2008, J Ashwin Madia, a Minnesota Democrat who lost a congressional election in 2008, says he was the only major Indian-American candidate for Congress.

Today there are six, including Goyle and Trivedi. Ami Bera in California, Ravi Sangisetty in Louisiana and Reshma Saujani in New York face upcoming primaries, and Surya Yalamanchili won a primary in Ohio.

« Last Edit: Jun 20th, 2010, 09:25am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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