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Biden placates Indian Americans

The Democrat, who may contest for the US presidency, has been in the line of fire for his alleged comments about Indian Americans.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2006 11:00 IST

In the line of fire for his allegedly disparaging comments about Indian Americans, Senator Joseph Biden, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, explained that what he had meant as a compliment had been torn out of context.

His remark that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven (a convenience store) or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent" was only meant to point out that the Indian American community in Delaware now included middle and lower middle class families besides the predominantly engineers and scientists earlier, he said.

On a recent edition of the C-SPAN series "Road to the White House," the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was shown shaking hands with a man and talking about his support among Indian Americans.

"I've had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking," Biden said.

"They didn't play it further than that," the Delaware senator said of the tape that touched off a storm in the community with many an angry Indian American calling his remarks variously as racist, stereotyping or tasteless.

"What I said by the way was that 30 per cent of engineers in the Silicon valley are Indians and that a significant population of Indian Americans in Delaware up to this point have been engineers and scientists. It was a very very wealthy Indian community."

The point he was making, Biden said, was that now an average Indian too was moving to the United States and taking over small businesses.

It's a building community that is now a wholesome and fulsome one ranging all over from the scientists at the DuPont company to the families that are taking over small businesses and helping build the community in Delaware.

It was meant as a compliment to point out that the Indian American community in Delaware is now like other communities with middle and lower middle class families coming and making life not only for themselves and their families, but also helping in enriching and improving the American community.

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