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Call for top Obama NRI to quit

Rajiv Shah, the seniormost Indian-American in the Obama Administration, may be coordinating the American relief effort in quake-hit Haiti, but a senior Congressman has demanded for his removal from the post of Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development for lacking minority staffers.

world Updated: Feb 06, 2010 01:07 IST

Rajiv Shah, the seniormost Indian-American in the Obama Administration, may be coordinating the American relief effort in quake-hit Haiti, but a senior Congressman has demanded for his removal from the post of Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for lacking minority staffers.

US Representative John Conyers, from the state of Michigan, sought the “demotion” of Shah in a letter to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Cornyers alleged that Shah does not have enough African-American on his staff.

Shah had apparently appeared before the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus without any African American staffers in tow.

According to a copy of the letter published by The Hill, Conyers wrote: “I was alarmed and chagrined to learn that none of the approximately dozen staff he brought with him were African American. This is so serious an error in judgement that it warrants his immediate demotion to a subordinate position at AID.”

He went on to complain, “It is well known that there has long been an under-representation of minorities in key positions within the State Department. I am confident this Administration will immediately begin addressing this problem.”

Conyers, of course, may have missed the fact the Shah himself is from a minority community and is a key appointee in the State Department.

Conyers is scheduled to travel to Haiti as part of a Congressional delegation. He is one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

US President Barack Obama had asked Shah, a physician by training, to be the “unified disaster coordinator” for American efforts in Haiti which was devastated by an earthquake barely within a week of Shah assuming charge as the USAID Administrator.

At the time of his appointment, Obama had said of Shah: “Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal. “

Shah has earned praise for his work with regard to Haiti.

Days after the earthquake, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley said about Shah: “Thankfully, he was on board when this tragedy took place. And he has energised USAID.”