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Time to raise our political profile in US: Hasan

Meet the first Indian to be appointed member-at-large in the Democratic National Committee.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 16:27 IST

Kamil Hasan, a long time Silicon Valley based educator, entrepreneur, and angel investor was recently selected At-Large Member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and a Member of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party.

Hasan'sgoal is to help the Indo-American community gain well-deserved political clout to make major influences on the competitiveness, economic growth, and the future direction of US.

He says that he is enjoying getting involved in politics as it is very exciting, especially the hope that his efforts of today could have a major impact on the future generations and in some ways, on the future of US.

Here's an exclusive interview with HindustanTimes.com.

Q. What key initiatives are you undertaking in your new role to bring together the vital political players of the Democratic Party and the Indo- American community?

A. I hope to mobilise the Indo-American community, get them excited about getting involved in politics and public service, and help raise funds for the Democratic Party from the community.

There are 75 At-Large members of the Democratic National Committee in US. As an At-Large member, I have a seat at the table to give my inputs to the party at a high level.

On April 25th, we organised a meet and greet event for Governor Mark Warner (who recently ended his Term as Governor of Virginia), a potential Democratic presidential candidate, to meet sixty leaders of the Indo-American community from Silicon Valley.

On the evening of May 10th, we will host an Indo-American community fundraiser for DNC, with Governor Howard Dean, who is planning a visit to India after the November congressional elections.

I also suggested the invitation of Governor Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at the upcoming Annual TiE Conference. He will speak to around 600 TiE Charter Members on the evening of May 11th.

Q. What initiatives are you undertaking at the community level to raise political visibility?

A. We are trying to bring the intellectual and the financial power of the Indo-American community to help the Democratic Party.

We have established Indo-American Council at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) under Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader.

Through this Council, we are helping DCCC raise funds for congressional candidates from the Indo-American community for the upcoming congressional elections in 2006.

We have organised Issues Conferences on the West and East Coasts of US where leaders of the Indian community from these regions proposed initiatives on Energy Policy, Improvement of Education, Advancement of Research and Development and Telecommunications Policy for improvement of the competitiveness of the United States through innovation.

At the West Coast Issues Conference, several prominent Indo-Americans, including Vinod Khosla, Dr Kailash Joshi, Kumar Malavalli, Bipin Shah, Deven Verma, Ramesh Kapur participated in panel discussions with several Bay Area Congressmen and Congresswomen, including Anna Eshoo, Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren and Nancy Pelosi.

Leader Pelosi has adopted most of our recommendations in the Democratic Innovation platform.

Q. How should the Indiandiaspora get involved in the American local and national politics?

A. The Indian Americans have done extremely well in various professions like medicine, engineering, Motel Ownership, education and entrepreneurship.

At present in Silicon Valley, at least one-third of the new companies are started by Indo-Americans.

We have also been involved in social entrepreneurship and charitable work, but despite our financial and entrepreneurial strength, we as a community have not developed political influence and though we have made financial contributions to political candidates, it has not been done in an organised way to get credit or generate influence.

Currently, only one congressional representative i.e., Bobby Jindal represents ourcommunity in the American politics. It is time to raise our political profile by getting involved in public service and influencing the policies and the future direction of US.

During the presidential campaign of John Kerry, several Indian Americans including Ramesh Kapur from Boston, Deven Verma, Ro Khanna established the "Indo-American Leadership Council" at DNC. We raised $1.5 million from the Indian community.

Over the next several years, I expect to see many Indo-Americans running for elective office, not only for Congressional seats, but also (perhaps more so) for State Legislatures and City Councils all over US.

If Democrats come to power, we expect that several Indo-Americans will be appointed in the administration at the national level. We have already started seeing appointments of Indians in the administration at State levels, for example, in Virginia.

Q. How were you chosen as an At-Large Member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)?

A. Last year in September, about twelveIndians from all over the US met Governor Howard Dean, Chairman of DNC, in Washington DC to discuss various issues important to the Indian community.

We talked about our interest in getting intimately involved with the party at a national level to provide our inputs on policies, message and the platform of the party.

As a result of the meeting, Dr Dean decided to appoint an Indo-American to DNC and he selected me to be an At-Large Member of the DNC.

My affiliation to the strong high-tech community and Silicon Valley and long time support to the party for many years could have triggered the selection.

First Published: May 12, 2006 16:27 IST