Sudhanshu Prasad, a doctor of Indian origin who has been elected as a member of the town council of Edison, New Jersey, took his oath of office on the Bhagvad Gita, Hinduism's sacred text, and says he aims to improve relations between Indian Americans and other groups in the US town.
While being sworn in as a member of the Edison Township Council on Jan 1, Prasad chose to take the oath of office on the Bhagvad Gita, which he said he grew up believing in.
The Bhagvad Gita "is where my conscience is", said Prasad who belongs to the Democratic Party.
Prasad, an internal medicine specialist and former chairman of the J.F.K. Medical Centre's department of medicine, has lived in New Jersey for almost 18 years.
"I've always been involved in the affairs of the township. I was involved in the election process in the past two elections, so it was almost like a natural progression," he said when asked about his plunge into politics.
He said he was not desirous of holding office, "but my team almost pushed me into candidacy".
Edison, named after Thomas Alva Edison and home to his laboratory, has a population of more than 100,000 people, according to the township's official website.
Prasad said among the issues that will top his agenda is improvement of relations between the Indian-American community and other groups in Edison.
Hinting at a few incidents that have strained relations between the Indian American community and the police, he said: "Indian Americans are by and large law-abiding people and so are the others. We have a good police department and we want to work with them to bring more understanding of our issue."
Prasad, who now has private practice, said he has been asked many times how he plans to balance a physician's life with council responsibility.
"It is a matter of priority and commitment. People play golf, they go to Atlantic City, they go to see shows and they volunteer. My interest, of course, is public service. If you have an interest, you make a commitment and you keep it," he said.