April 9, 2006


Nuclear pact unifies Indian-Americans (David R. Sands, April 9, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

California entrepreneur Arjun Bhagat concedes that his fellow Indian-Americans have been a little slow to use their economic power to promote closer U.S.-Indian ties -- by a couple of decades or so.

"Getting these two countries together should have happened 20 years ago. They are natural allies, but somehow it never happened," he said. "Now we have a real chance to make it so."

The political clout of one of the country's wealthiest and best-educated minorities is being put to the test as the Bush administration faces a tough fight in Congress to pass a major civil nuclear-power agreement with India, one that administration officials say could cement ties with an emerging world power and redraw the strategic map of Asia. [...]

Mr. Bhagat, chairman and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Calibrated Group, a technology-services firm, said that for the nation's estimated 2 million citizens of Indian ancestry, the stakes and the payoff are even higher.

"This issue has galvanized our community like nothing we've seen in the past," he said. "If this deal does not pass, we fear that those in India who never wanted a closer tie with the United States will have all the ammunition they need to turn against us."

Sanjay Puri, CEO of the U.S.-India Business Alliance and chairman of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), said Indian-American groups and U.S. businesses hoping to tap the booming Indian market are already in "full campaign mode" to sell the deal.

"Frankly, it is a campaign for us, the first of its kind. We've been organizing letters, faxes and calls to congressmen, briefings for lawmakers and staffers, doing whatever we can," he said. [...]

Indian-Americans were the fastest-growing ethnic group in the 1990s, according to census data, and remain one of the largest sources of legal immigration to the United States.

Indian-American entrepreneurs own nearly 20 percent of all Silicon Valley high-tech startups, and an estimated 55 percent of all U.S. motels are owned by Americans of South Asian ancestry. In 2000, a staggering one of out every nine Indian-Americans was a millionaire and almost 60 percent of Indian-Americans over 25 have graduated from college.

The Congressional India Caucus began in 1992 with eight members. It now boasts more than 180 -- among the largest on Capitol Hill -- but Mr. Hathaway told a Capitol Hill summit last year that many members appeared to look on the Indian-American lobby as a "cash cow," not a serious force in politics or foreign policy.

When Rep. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Republican, won a House seat in the 2004 election, he was the first Indian-American to serve in Congress in a half-century.

Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, is a past co-chairman of the India caucus, saying he first appreciated the achievements of Indian-Americans practicing real estate law back home. Indian-Americans, he found, own the majority of hotels and motels in his state.

"One problem, ironically, has been that Indian-Americans are so successful here and assimilate so well, you don't appreciate their numbers," Mr. Wilson said. "I think they now see they are more welcome in the political arena and that both parties are competing for their votes."

Mr. Wilson noted that, like many immigrant groups, the first generation of Indian-Americans tended to support Democrats, and the Capitol Hill caucus was once heavily tilted toward Democratic members. Now, he says, the ratio is about one-to-one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2006 8:22 AM

Republicans have allowed the media to put a face to the party and that face is an overweight, pasty-white bible-thumping evangelical created in the image of Jerry Falwell, living somewhere in the wilderness of fly-over country and only a hair's breath away from the KKK.

That this is a false face needs to be drummed home. In fact, all other explanations of tribal memory, etc. not withstanding, I think the reason so many Jews stick with Democrats is their uneasiness at being lumped in together with this un-hip, lo-brow demographic.

A real blitzkrieg public relations campaign should have been started like yesterday.

Posted by: erp at April 9, 2006 10:43 AM

Nativists. Indians. How very confusing.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 9, 2006 2:20 PM

Except Asian Indian-Americans voted 90%-9% for John F. Kerry in 2004.


Posted by: Steve Sailer at April 10, 2006 3:40 AM

I stand corrected about y'all figuring it out, but so did Italo and Irish Americans used to vote Democrat. The GOP needs to learn the lesson and woo these cohorts quicker--they'll switch.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2006 7:03 AM
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