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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2009

Indian-American Legislator Wants More Indians to have Political Voice in US

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 10 May (Asiantribune.com): Kumar Barve, a third-generation Indian-American whose grandfather emigrated from Indore, India, in 1911, the majority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates urges his 2 million fellow Indian immigrants in the United States to participate in local politics because “in America that is the only way to influence policy.”

He says most Indian-Americans are professionals leading upper-middle class lives in America’s suburbs, and “they are more focused on foreign policy than community affairs.”

He urged Indian immigrants in general to become more politically visible in order to be counted as U.S. citizens with a voice in policy-making, and stressed that Indian-Americans compete for elected office.

Barve made those comments at a luncheon recently hosted by the Asia Society and the South Asian Journalists Association in Washington.

“Nobody listens to you unless you have a vote in the legislature,” Kumar Barve said. Just as other minority groups such as African Americans, Jewish Americans and, increasingly, Hispanic Americans have been recognized for their contributions to American society, Indian Americans need to be recognized too, he further said.

But it will not happen “if you remain silent” and ambivalent about your presence in the United States, he advised.

Another problem, according to Kumar Barve, is the false notion that an Indian-American needs a constituency of fellow citizens to be elected.

“I got elected in a district with less than one percent Indian Americans. It is not necessary to be a majority in a constituency to be elected. It is far more important to have a seat at the table,” Barve emphasized.

Kumar Barve represents a legislative district in the Maryland House, in the State of Massachusetts with a population of 110,000 in the Montgomery County. He is a third-generation Indian-American whose grandfather emigrated from Indore, India in 1911. His mother was born in Schenectady, New York; his father came to the United States in 1957. Kumar Barve graduated from Georgetown University in Washington and is currently chief financial officer of two U.S. companies.

Barve is one of the five Indian-Americas currently holding elected office in the United States at state and national level:

Bobby Jindal is a first-term U.S. Congressman from the State of Louisiana, who has served as an assistant secretary in the Health and Human Services Department with the Bush administration in Washington.

Swati Dandekar is the first Indian-American female lawmaker to represent her district in the Iowa state legislature.

Satveer Chaudhary is a Minnesota state senator, and Upendra Chivukula represents his district in the New Jersey state legislature.

Dalip Singh Saund, who was elected in 1956 from California, was the first Indian American to occupy a seat in the U.S. Congress. He came from India in 1920 for graduate studies at the University of California. He then became a successful lettuce farmer in California’s Imperial Valley.

- Asian Tribune -

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