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Indian-American doctors show political savvy, claim clout

world Updated: Dec 24, 2010 00:25 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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They are among the richest Indian Americans, and were so for far longer than the techies, who unceremoniously dethroned them some years ago. They are now as a group claiming unmatched political savvy and clout in the community.

An association of physicians of Indian origin has said it beat every Indian American grouping in collecting money for the November congressional elections and also funding candidates who went on to win.

"(That) 96 per cent of our endorsed candidates won their election, indicates the coming of age of Indian American physicians," said Dr Krishan K Aggarwal, an official of a body of Indian American physicians in a statement on Tuesday.

Those they claim to have beaten included US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), which works as a political pressure group on the Hill, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

Unfortunately for the tribe, two of their own - Dr Ami Berra and Dr Manan Trivedi both Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives - lost. But Nikki Hailey, an American of Indian origin, who the physicians backed, won.

And so did a lot of other heavy hitters. Among them was Republican John Boehner, who is most likely to the next speaker in the House of Representatives - a position third in line to the presidency, if anything were to happen to the President and the Vice-President.

The association spread their collections - $ 80,000, which they crowed was collected in only 10 weeks - well.

John McCain, Tom Coburn, Orrin Hatch and Hailey were among the Republicans backed by the association, while Democrats included Minority whip Steny Hoyer, senator Barbara Mikulski and Frank Pallone.

"I am glad that the API is getting politically active," said USINPAC's Sanjay Puri, adding, "it can engage in political activity to bring about much needed change in health care in the US - specially medical malpractices."

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association collected $109,398 and got into the endorsement the race, backing and funding 21 candidates, according to campaignmoney.com, a website that monitors election funding. But its strike rate was not half as good as the physicians'.

"It demonstrates our political savviness (sic) and dedication to empowering our members in the political arena," said API's Aggarwal, adding, "This is just the beginning of our efforts and we look forward to even greater activism."

Their next opportunity is coming in 2012, the big Presidential race when Barack Obama will most certainly seek a second term, up against a resurgent Republican party, which would look to continue its November winning spree.