The Indian American community’s coming out party began Thursday with celebrations following the swearing in of two of its own as members of the US Congress.
One of them, Ami Bera, is a first generation Indian American physician — family came here from Gujarat — elected to the US House of Representatives from California. The second, Tulsi Gabbard, is an American Hindu elected to the House from Hawaii.
Celebrations will end with Indiaspora Ball on January 19, one of DC’s many parties marking the inauguration of President Barack Obama’s second term on January 21.
But it will be special for Indian Americans. “That will be the Indian American community’s coming out party,” said Shekar Narasimhan, ball organiser.
Indian Americans have never hosted an inaugural ball, often meant to demonstrate the organisers’ political clout, and this is their first. The president is not attending, but that’s okay. “May be the next president will,” said Narasimhan.
But Bera and Gabbard will, as members of the host committee. Bera and Gabbard are manifestations of the growing clout of the Indian American community — three million at last count — in US politics.
Indian Americans queued up to greet Gabbard at an event just a short distance away from the Capitol, where she took the oath with a copy of the Bhagwad Gita in her hand.
Most of the greeters were earlier at a similar event to celebrate Bera’s election and there was clearly an air about them that said: we have arrived, make way.