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NRI in Illinois immigrants task force

Indian American A Kalayil is on the task force on Illinois New American Immigrants Policy Council.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2005 13:39 IST

Indian American Ann Kalayil, who has been appointed to the Illinois Governor's Commission on Hate Crimes and Discrimination, says the community must convert its economic success to political capital.

The political activist is also on the Task Force on Illinois New American Immigrants Policy Council.

The New Immigrants Policy Council has been formed after Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the "New Americans Executive Order", a landmark initiative that will move Illinois toward better helping immigrants by creating an office to coordinate policies and programmes for newcomers to fully assimilate with the state.

Kalayil, whose parents immigrated to the US from Kerala, has in a short time won the appreciation of several US politicians who look to her for advice regarding the South Asian community.

She has worked for immigration reforms and census education, although she laments that the response from the community is often tepid. "The challenge is to get the South Asian community involved, because they do not get galvanised unless they feel threatened," she said.

"Despite all their political contributions, Indian Americans are far behind in getting jobs, contracts or appointments to commissions. We have not learnt to link the money, or the votes we give, to the policy," Kalayil said.

"We have disparate groups carrying out disparate agendas. What the well off Indian Americans should do is to buy (political) influence and spread that for the community. It is high time we converted our economic success to political capital, and built institutions that will serve our future generations here."

Kalayil has been the president of the Indo-American Democratic Organisation, a political networking group. She has attended the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as a delegate in 1996 and 2000, and has been the DNC's 'Asian caucus' treasurer as well as it's delegate-at-large.

First Published: Dec 13, 2005 13:36 IST