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NRIs seek census presence

The document is called the Bhasha Sahayta Guide. It’s an official document released by the United States Census Bureau.

world Updated: Mar 10, 2010 00:44 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

The document is called the Bhasha Sahayta Guide. It’s an official document released by the United States Census Bureau.

This language assistance guide is in Hindi as the Bureau targets greater participation from ethnic groups including Indian-Americans in the 2010 US Census. The guide is also available in several other Indian languages — Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.

The language assistance guide is actually a step-by-step manual to filling up the Census form. The Bureau has also hired outreach partners from the community and representatives often attend community events.

At the same time, Indian-American organisations are making a concerted effort to make sure that participation on Indian-Americans is enhanced in 2010.

Part of the reason is that there are misconceptions about the Census. Many Indian-Americans do not realise that it includes not only citizens but also green card holders, people with work or student visas and even illegal immigrants.

In fact, for the latter, filling up a government form is a serious block even though the Bureau does not share personal details with other Federal agencies. Indian-American community groups are working to overcome these obstacles.

Gurpal Singh, Executive Director of the New York-based SEVA, said, “The community loses $ 30,000 per person who does not participate in the Census.”

Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of the Washington-based South Asian Americans Leading Together or SAALT, said, “This is a nationwide count. It’s really important that we have accurate datapoints. We know the community has grown quite a bit so we want to capture its diversity.”

The Census data affects everyday life, including political participation since constituencies are redistricted according to the information generated every 10 years. In addition, there is a host of social services that get impacted, as Iyer said, “A lot of money from the Federal Government is based on Census data. Money for schools, hospitals, senior centers.”

SAALT already has in place a campaign to educate the community to be part of the process. That includes translated factsheets, media outreach through webinars, articles in the ethnic media and television appearances.

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