Indians have "Arrived" in US
When Dalip Singh Saund got elected to the US Congress, he became the first Indian American to gain entry into one of the most powerful political bastions in the world.india Updated: Jan 06, 2004 22:13 IST
Saund's extraordinary journey from that of an ordinary immigrant farmer to the US Congress is inspiring, if not revolutionary. Because the Indian American community has now progressed so far into the American political ethos that the latest national elections saw more than 30 candidates of Indian origin contesting for various positions in the Congress and the Senate, city councils and school boards.
The Indian dispora in the US has made phenomenal progress in terms of gaining political empowerment. Whether it is influencing Capitol Hill through its Congressional Caucus or funding mainstream candidates during elections, or even influencing the victory or defeat of a candidate, there is an obvious confidence among Indians which portends a clear positive trend in their involvement in mainstream politics.
Ample proof of this is the overwhelming victory of three Indian-American candidates in the November 2002 elections. The fact that two of them are incumbent winners reiterates the fact that Indian-Americans are increasingly being accepted into the fold of mainstream politics.
Kumar Barve won the election to the Maryland House of Delegates for a record fourth time, while Satveer Chaudhary won a second term to the Minnesota State Senate. A significant winner in many ways for the Indian-American community is Swati Dandekar who got elected to the House of Representatives from lowa, for the first time. Barve is the first person of Indian origin to be elected as a State legislator in the United States' history. This 43-year-old legislator is a graduate of Georgetown University and Founder and CEO of two companies QueBITS, a software development company, and the Environmental Management Services, a company that cleans up toxic waste sites.
In 1995,1996 and 2000, he received the 'Legislator of the Year Award'. In 1996,he was on the 'Honor Roll' of legislators awarded by the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Barve's grandfather, Shankar L. Gokhale, was the President of Holkar College in Indore, India, before he migrated to the US in 1911.
Going back to where it all began makes for an interesting study. The earliest immigrants, mainly Sikhs from Punjab, came as farm labourers, between 1907 and 1924, eventually settling down on the West coast as landowning farmers. Immigration from the subcontinent slackened considerably in the late 1920s owing to strict immigration laws, which practically banned further immigration from India.
The late 1960s saw a second wave of immigration from India. They were predominantly professionals, especially doctors, who were welcomed wholeheartedly to fill in the shortage in the US caused by the Vietnam War. The software boom of the 1990s, however, saw the largest number of immigrants from India to the US, and a fledgling population of 6,400 Indians prior to 1964, grew to nearly one million by the early 1990s and today stands at a little more than two million, 62,000 of which are students in universities across the US.