Death and dying is a topic we seldom give much thought to. And when we encounter untimely death of family or friends, we try and follow the rituals as dictated customs and mores dictated by the society. If a relative or a close one dies in a foreign country, the costs and paperwork associated with repatriation can make a terrible event even worse.
The logistics of Death gets magnified when the person in question dies in a foreign land. For instance, when a death occurs in Abu Dhabi, or the middle-east, the family might opt to have the funeral and last rites in India, their home country. This requires jumping through bureaucratic and logistical hooops to ensure the body can be transported across international boundaries. Here’s a link to an article on GaramChai.com that briefly describes the process.
Besides the logistics and paperwork required to transport bodies, families of the bereaved have to budget for the cost of embalming, storage and Air-transport of the bodies that can amount to a sizable sum of money.
Now comes news that the Indian national Airliner, Air India will Charge 40% Less For Bringing Back Bodies From Gulf Countries. According to a PTI news release
In order to reduce the expenses of grieving families in bringing back dead bodies from gulf nations, Air India has decided to reduce prices by 40%.
“After discussions with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, we have decided that we will be charging a ”flat rate” to bring back dead bodies from six Gulf countries…This flat rate would be 40 per cent lower than what is usually charged,” a senior Air India official said on Monday.
He added that this “flat rate services” for bringing a body back would currently be available for six Gulf countries–United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
According to the current exchange rates, the “flat rate” be as follows in Indian currency — Rs.29,000 for the United Arab Emirates, Rs. 41,800 for Saudi Arabia, Rs. 43,000 for Qatar, Rs. 42,500 for Bahrain, Rs. 29,500 Oman and Rs. 40,900 for Kuwait.
Marvel Comics’ Champions has broadened its focus in recent months, going from outer space to Weirdworld. The series is being relaunched in January to recruit from all of those places.
Writer Jim Zub is relaunching Champions on January 2, and will be joined by his long-time Wayward partner Steven Cummings. Their new Champions line-up is made up of 14 heroes – five founders from the previous run, but also some surprise additions.
According to Zub,
Qureshi Gupta is an East Indian boy from Delhi whose codename is Pinpoint. He loves hip hop music and eating vada. He creates teleportation portals that can take people around the world in the blink of an eye. He joined the Forums (the online chat group where young heroes stay in touch with each other that was first established in Secret Warriors) and lurked there for weeks, nervous about getting involved until he saw Ms. Marvel’s call to action.
Zub adds in an interview
“Pinpoint is an East-Indian boy, 15 years old. He’s relatively short and thin. His hair is crackling with the same green energy we see around the portal he’s summoned. His eyes have no irises when he uses his powers. His superhero outfit should include form-fitting pants and a kurta shirt with a modern cut and collar to it.”
I wanted Pinpoint’s outfit to mix Indian clothing with an iconic symbol for teleportation/focus. It’s the kind of costume a 15-year old could pull together on his own but also comfortable and not going to inhibit him in combat.
One frequently hears of NRI brides and women seeking NRI alliances being duped by unscrupulous men. In a strange twist.
According to media reports, Sadar police in Ludhiana (Punjab) have registered a case against a Non Resident Indian (NRI) woman’s family, for allegedly duping a Ludhiana resident of Rs 5.50 lakh on the pretext of marrying him and and sending him abroad.
Krishan Kumar Khatri had placed a matrimonial advertisement the local newspaper calling for alliances for his daughter who is settled in Australia. After initial conversations, the bride’s family asked the family of Kulwinder Singh, the prospective groom for 90,000 Australian dollars. They agreed to take the money in three installments, and were paid Rs 1/2 million rupees as the initial installment. After receiving that money, the bride’s family ended all connection with the prospective groom and his family.
The father of Kulwinder complained to the local police, who registered a case under Section 420 (cheating) of the IPC against Mr. Khatri. The investigating officer from Sadar police station, ASI Ravinder Kumar, confirmed that although the ‘negotiations’ had taken place a few years ago, the family filed a complaint only in 2016. A case was registered recently after the initial investigation was completed.
There are a number of Indian churches and places of worship in Canada. GaramChai.com has cataloged an extensive list online and we continue to update the database frequently. Yesterday, a reader reached out with a brief note:
Can you please add Holy Trinity Hindi Church Brampton to your website.
Our service is every Sunday Morning at 239 Inspire Blvd, Brampton, ON L6R 0B6.
Pastor Rajan Salvi: 647 926 9932
Sudeep Salvi: 416 559 2886
This listing now appears on our database. Thanks Sudeep and visitors to GaramChai.com for keeping our listings updated and current !
The digirati in online forums like Quora, Rediff frequently wonder about ‘the first’ Non-Resident-Indians, Overseas Citizen of India and the original Indian diaspora. An interesting article in the Economist magazine “One hundred years since servitude” traces the history of Indians migrating overseas a century ago.
DOOKHEE GUNGAH, born of Indian migrants, began life in 1867 in a shed in Mauritius and worked as a child cutting sugar cane. By his death in 1944, he was one of the island’s richest businessmen. He is a notable example of how some indentured labourers prospered against the odds.
Between the 1830s and 1917 around 2m migrants signed up for ten-year terms (later cut to five) in European colonies (see chart on next page). Most were from India, with smaller shares from China, South-East Asia and elsewhere. Some “coolies” were fleeing poverty and hunger; others were coerced or deceived. In British colonies from 1834, and in French and Dutch ones from later, they replaced freed African slaves on sugar and coffee plantations.
“Slavery under a different name” is how The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society described the indenture system in 1839. It had a point. Many migrants died en route, and at first plantation owners, used to slaves, treated their new workers hardly any better. But conditions gradually improved. When the Indian Legislative Council finally ended indenture, a century ago, it did so because of pressure from Indian nationalists and declining profitability, rather than from humanitarian concerns.
The indentured labourers’ fortunes varied from place to place, according to their numbers, who else lived there, and laws about land tenure and race. But a shared post-colonial identity is now emerging, combining pride in India’s economic rise, religious and cultural traditions—and, increasingly, commemoration of their ancestors’ struggles to establish themselves.
Indo-Mauritians are among the richest and most politically powerful of those descendants. As a British colony, Mauritius took the greatest share of indentured migrants: some 450,000. Their descendants are now two-thirds of the island’s 1.26m inhabitants. Many of the largest businesses are owned by Franco-Mauritians whose ancestors dated from the earlier French colonisation, though they make up just 2% of the population. But Indo-Mauritians dominate the public sector.
Local legend has it that Dookhee (pictured with family, third man from left, around 1912) owed his meteoric rise to finding buried treasure. The true story, says his great-grandson, Swetam Gungah, is that “whatever little he had, he would put it aside.” Unlike slaves, indentured labourers were paid, and since most were unable to leave their plantations, they spent little. Aged 21 Dookhee bought land and started growing sugar cane. “He was savvy enough to diversify. He planted an orchard, started a bakery and much more,” says Mr Gungah. When the price of sugar plummeted in the 1880s most plantation-owners went broke. Dookhee got richer. Other former indentured labourers were also able to buy broke colonists out. By 1933 Indo-Mauritians owned almost two-fifths of all land planted with sugar cane.
Land also gave indentured labourers a start in South Africa, where many were granted plots after their servitude. Koshir Kassie’s great-grandfather arrived in the province of Natal and worked on a plantation and then in a gold mine. He saved enough to pay his employer to end his contract early, and bought land. But under apartheid many Indian South Africans, including Mr Kassie’s family, were forced off their land and into Indian townships. “After indenture, Indians built themselves up,” says Mr Kassie. “Then came apartheid and they had to start again.”
Many managed to rebuild. Today, Indian South Africans’ average income is three times higher than that of black South Africans, and they are nearly twice as likely to have finished high school. But these days they are politically marginalised. In the first democratic elections, in 1994, two-thirds voted for the National Party, which had previously defended apartheid. Those with less education particularly resent South Africa’s new system of racial preferences in jobs and education for blacks.
Seeds in fertile ground
Indentured labourers in Trinidad and Guyana (formerly British Guiana) were also granted land. That was less generous than it seems: much of it was ill-suited to growing sugar cane. The Indians, however, discovered it was perfect for rice. Many prospered. But in both places, though people of Indian origin are the largest ethnic group (35% and 40% respectively), they have struggled to gain the level of influence that Indo-Mauritians have.
In Mauritius the departing British colonists regarded Indians as the heirs to power. In Trinidad, however, the mantle was passed to Afro-Trinidadians, who were settled decades before the indentured labourers arrived. Politics and the public sector operated through a patronage system, which kept Afro-Trinidadians in charge. Even after independence in 1962, Indo-Trinidadians were largely excluded from government and public-sector jobs.
Today, politics is still divided on ethnic lines, with the People’s National Movement supported by Afro-Trinidadians and the People’s Partnership coalition supported by Indo-Trinidadians. But socially, the groups are mingling more—and increasingly intermarrying. Nearly a quarter of the population identifies as mixed-race.
In Guyana ethnic divisions cut much deeper. Compared with Trinidad, its sheer size meant ethnic groups formed more segregated communities. A fragile inter-ethnic harmony, nonetheless, prevailed for the first half of the 20th century. That ended in 1964, when a pre-election conflict broke out between the largely Afro-Guyanese People’s National Congress and the largely Indo-Guyanese People’s Progressive Party. “I had Hindu friends, African, Portuguese, Chinese friends,” says Khalil Ali, a Muslim Indo-Guyanese novelist, of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. “Then suddenly my black friends stopped speaking to me and I stopped speaking to them.” The resulting violence led to hundreds of deaths and thousands fleeing abroad.
Ethnic divisions persisted after independence in 1966, and were worsened by economic hardship. Even as Trinidad boomed because of oil, disastrous left-wing policies reduced resource-rich Guyana to one of South America’s poorest countries. But in 2015 a multi-racial coalition came to power, promising unity. Although change is slow—the government is still mostly Afro-Guyanese and Mr Ali says Indo-Guyanese who joined the coalition have been called traitors—elections in 2020 offer another glimmer of hope. Younger Guyanese are further distanced from the events of the 1960s. The mixed-race population, now around 20%, is growing.
Indentured workers’ descendants have done least well where their ancestors could not own land, as in Fiji. Its indigenous population resented the new arrivals, and the British made promises about land ownership to their tribal chiefs. Many Indo-Fijians became tenant farmers, and for part of the 20th century did quite well, says Crispin Bates, who leads a project funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council entitled “Becoming Coolies”. But when their leases came to an end, starting in the 1980s, their status declined.
Sporadic attempts to improve their position after independence in 1970 ended with a coup in 1987. A new constitution reserved majorities for ethnic Fijians in both houses of parliament. Over 10,000 Indo-Fijians left the island as a result. Two further coups centred on their rights. Finally, in 2013 Indo-Fijians were given equal status in the constitution. And, in 2014, in free elections, Frank Bainimarama (who led the most recent coup, in 2006) won with an anti-racist message. His task is considerable: though land has been made easier to lease, holdings by ethnic Fijians still cannot be sold. Indo-Fijians are still excluded—and ethnic Fijians are newly aggrieved. Anti-Indian sentiment is rampant.
Pride and prejudice
In most places that took indentured labourers, racial animus persists. Their arrival was “a real trauma” for indigenous and former-slave populations, says Mr Bates. In Trinidad and Guyana “coolie” is used as a slur (and the Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Trinidadians have plenty of racist terms for their compatriots of African origin). In Fiji and the French Caribbean “z’Indiens” are stereotyped as money-grubbing, and mocked in expressions such as “faib con an coolie” (“weak as a coolie” in Guadeloupian creole). In the 1970s a Fijian politician, Sakesai Butadroka, said in parliament that “people of Indian origin” should be “repatriated back to India”. As recently as 2014 a popular song by the Zulu band, AmaCde, called on black South Africans to confront Indians and “send them home”.
Strangers in strange lands, indentured labourers and their descendants preserved some traditions, from caste practices to recipes. From the 1880s the Arya Samaj, a religious group, attempted to reinstate Hindu culture in the diaspora—which rallied, in turn, behind Gandhi’s Indian nationalist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. During periods of ethnic strife in the 20th century hyphenated-Indian communities turned inwards for self-protection.
In recent years, though, a new kind of “Indian pride” has begun to take form. Mauritius has had strong links with India since post-independence tax and trade deals. But of a recent visit to Mauritius, Ashutosh Kumar, the author of a new book about indenture, “Coolies of the Empire”, says “the way Mauritians were discussing Indian politics: it was like I was back home in India.” In Trinidad, which got its first Indo-Trinidadian prime minister in 1995, there is “a new sense of Indian cultural pride”, says Andil Gosine, an Indo-Trinidadian academic in Canada. “When I go back now I see loads of people wearing saris, which they wouldn’t have done before.”
This cultural revivalism is, to some extent, the work of Hindu nationalists, particularly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council). It has recently devoted more attention to the diaspora—and stirred up tensions between Hindus and Muslims. More is due to India’s rise as an economic power. Diaspora Indians are seeking to “bask in the reflected glory of their motherland”, says Mr Kumar.
Khal Torabully, a Mauritian poet of mixed Indian descent, has coined the word “coolitude” for a new identity, which mixes heritage from India and the other sending countries with a century of history in racially diverse former colonies. Acknowledging their ancestors’ servitude as part of that can be uncomfortable. Indian South Africans are “proud to be Indian”, says Mr Kassie, but “don’t like to talk about indenture much”. Mr Gosine recalls his grandfather describing his own grandfather: “A Brahmin, riding around the plantation on a horse, dressed all in white. But then my grandmother chipped in: ‘What on earth are you talking about?’”
Making sense of displacement and difference, struggle and success, is also a work in progress for host countries. But some have started to weave the history of indentured labourers into their national narratives. In 2006 Aapravasi Ghat, where they first arrived in Mauritius, was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site. In the same year the Indian Caribbean Museum opened in Waterloo, Trinidad. Last year the 1860 Indian Museum, dedicated to indenture, opened in Durban. “We still have a lot of problems to think of ourselves as Mauritians,” says Mr Torabully. “But remembering indenture, just as we remember slavery, is at the heart of that identity.”
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Society for Science & the Public Jan. 23 named 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors, with nearly one-third of the field Indian American students.
The competition, in its 77th year, is designed to engage and inspire the next generation of scientific leaders, a joint Regeneron, Society for Science news release said.
Alumni have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, found top science-based companies and invent groundbreaking new medical treatments, it added.
The finalists were selected from a pool of highly qualified entrants based on their projects’ scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientific leaders.
“The Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are tomorrow’s scientific leaders, and their projects address some of the most urgent challenges we face as a society. Our world has no greater or more important resource than these bright young minds,” said Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron and Science Talent Search winner in 1976.
“I have deep respect and appreciation for each student who conducted extensive scientific research and completed a Regeneron Science Talent Search application. I look forward to what the finalists will achieve, as they add to the list of world-changing accomplishments by Science Talent Search alumni before them,” he said.
Among the finalists are Sidhika Balachandar, of Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla., for her project, “Picoscale Mechanics of Atomically Engineered Materials.”
Kavya Kopparapu, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., was selected for the project, “GlioVision: A Platform for the Automatic Assessment of Glioblastoma Tumor Features, Molecular Identity, and Gene Methylation from Histopathological Images Using Deep Learning.”
San Jose, Calif.-based Lynbrook High School’s Rohan Mehrotra was chosen for his project, “On-Demand Electrically Controlled Drug Release from Resorbable Nanocomposite Films.”
For his project, “SNPpet: Computational Dissection of the Noncoding Genome Reveals Regulatory Sequence Patterns and Disease-Causing Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms,” Rajiv Movva of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., was named a finalist.
Chythanya Murali, a student at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md., was named a finalist for the project, “CAR-NK-Cell Therapy: Raising the Tail of the Survival Curve.”
For her project “Evaluation of Gender Bias in Social Media Using Artificial Intelligence,” Nitya Parthasarathy of Irvine, Calif.-based Northwood High School was named among the 40 finalists.
Mihir Patel was named a finalist as well. The Alexandria, Va.-based Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology student was chosen for the project, “Automating Limb Volume Measurements of Lymphedema Patients Through Computer Vision.”
Advait Patil of Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif., was also named among the 13 Indian American finalists for the project, “A High-Throughput Multi-Omics Framework for Global Identification of Novel Molecular Interactions and Genome-Scale Modeling of Multicellular Ecosystems.”
Abilash Prabhakaran of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colo., was named a finalist for the project, “Selective Transfection Using DiBAC4(3).”
For the project, “Investigating the Developmental Requirements of Sex Chromosome Genes Affected in Turner Syndrome,” Isani Singh, also of Cherry Creek High in Colorado, was named a finalist.
For her project “Reinventing Cardiovascular Disease Therapy: A Novel Dual Therapeutic with FOXO Transcription Factor and AMP Kinase,” Marissa Sumathipala of Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., was named a finalist.
Vinjai Vale of Exeter, N.H.-based Phillips Exeter Academy was among the finalists for the project, “A New Paradigm for Computer Vision Based on Compositional Representation.”
And Teja Veeramacheneni of Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, Calif., was named a finalist for the project, “A Novel 3D Wavelet-Based Co-Registration Algorithm with Improved Accuracy for Fusion of PET and MRI Brain Scans.
“This year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists are some of the best and brightest young scientists and mathematicians in our country,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News.
“Their projects demonstrate the remarkable power of scientific curiosity, commitment and the desire to make the world a better place,” she said. “We are eager to see how they shape the future of STEM in our country and impact people all across the globe.”
The finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., from March 8 to 14, where they will undergo a rigorous judging process and compete for more than $1.8 million in awards.
They will also have the opportunity to interact with leading scientists, meet with members of Congress and display their projects to the public at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on March 11, the news release said.
The finalists are each awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 awards range from $40,000 to $250,000. The top 10 Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018 winners will be announced at a black-tie gala awards ceremony at the National Building Museum next month.
A total of 300 students were chosen as semifinalists Jan. 9, with at least 70 Indian American and South Asian American students selected. The competition began with a field of roughly 1,800 entrants.
Regeneron is only the third sponsor of the Science Talent Search, with a 10-year, $100 million commitment. Regeneron believes that scientists should be the world’s heroes and are committed to fostering the next generation of scientific talent through STEM education efforts, the news release said.
The competition overall awards $3.1 million to provide the opportunities and resources that students need to become the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs and STEM leaders.
As per media accounts, at least 14 Indian Americans — including four incumbents — are running for the US House of Representatives this year. The list of Indian Americans who have announced their candidacy from various congressional districts across the country include:
Candidate: Aruna Miller District: Maryland’s 6th congressional district Party: Democrat
In May 2017, Maryland State Delegate Aruna Miller became one of the first Indian Americans to jump into fraywhen she filed a “Statement of Candidacy” form with the Federal Election Commission to run for Congress from Maryland’s 6th congressional district. The incumbent John Delaney has announced that he’s not seeking reelection.
Miller, who is a civil engineer by profession, came to the United States at age 7. She first got elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in November 2010. She is a member of the Ways & Means Committee and its subcommittees on revenue, transportation, and education. She is the second Indian American delegate from Maryland to run for Congress in two years. Fellow Democrat Kumar Barve ran unsuccessfully from the neighboring 8th district in 2016. Miller and her husband, David Miller, live in Darnestown, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.
Miller has said her focus areas will be jobs, economy, and infrastructure.
Candidate: Dr. Hiral Tipirneni District: Arizona’s 2nd congressional district Party: Democrat
Dr. Tipirneni, an emergency room physician, first announced her candidacy from Arizona’s 8th districton July 19, 2017. A special election was announced for the seat after the incumbent Rep. Trent Franks resigned on December 8, following a House ethics panel decision to investigate him over sexual harassment charges.
The primary is scheduled for February 27 and the general election for April 24.
Tipirneni’s family immigrated from India when she was three. She grew up in suburban Cleveland and obtained a medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University. After serving as Chief Resident of the University of Michigan’s Emergency Medicine program, she and husband, Kishore, whom she met at the medical school, moved to the Phoenix, AZ, area. The couple has three children.
Candidate: Anita Malik District: Arizona’s 6th congressional district Party: Democrat
Businesswoman Anita Malik is running for the US Congress in the 6th congressional district of Arizona. The daughter of immigrants from India, Malik is running for the seat held by three-term Republican, David Schweikert.
Malik believes in fair tax reform that benefits both individuals and small businesses. She is assuring quality, low-cost health coverage for everyone and support to immigrants by policies that unite families and bring diverse talent. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Malik was 7 when her family moved to Arizona where her father worked as a mechanical and computer engineer.
She went on to graduate summa cum laude with degrees in both computer information systems and finance from Arizona State University. She later earned her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California in 2002.
Candidate: Jitendra Diganvker District: Illinois’ 8th district Party: Republican
Jitendra Diganvker announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Illinois’s 8th congressional district race in November.
If nominated by the Republican party, Diganvker will be facing another Indian American and Democratic incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi, and it will be the first time two Indian Americans will be facing each other in the congressional general election.
Diganvkar is campaigning on the issues of security, affordability, fairness, and entrepreneurship.
Born in India, Diganvker’s father was a government officer and his mother a teacher. According to his website, he graduated from Shah N. H. Commerce College, in Valsad, Gujarat, with a degree in Business Management and Advanced Accounting.
In 1995, Diganvker immigrated to the United States to pursue his American dream. He got a job working at a small retail store in Chicago, then worked as a ticket auditor for United Airlines. He became an American citizen on February 4, 2003, and after years of hard work and saving money he launched his first business, of renting cars, which he ran for years.
After closing down his car rental business, Diganvker launched his credit card processing firm based in Schaumburg.
Candidate: Vandana Jhingan District: Illinois’ 8th district Party: Republican
Another Indian American running for the Republican Party nomination from Illinois’ 8th district is Vandana Jhingan, a journalist by profession. She is backed by the Republican Hindu Coalition.
Jhingan, a Chicago-based journalist, is the Midwest Bureau Chief of the Indian American cable network TV Asia. Like Krishnamoorthi, she also lives in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Jhingan, who is from New Delhi, came to the United States after graduating in Business Administration from the Faculty of Management Studies in Delhi. She also studied philosophy at University of Delhi.
Candidate: Sapan Shah District: Illinois’ 10th district Party: Republican
A physician by profession, Shah is running from Illinois’ 10th congressional district seat as a Republican.
The 37-year-old candidate from Libertyville mainly plans to focus on the areas including healthcare crisis, taxes and spending; and championing the role of citizen legislators as intended by the nation’s founders.
The seat is currently held by the three-term incumbent Democrat Brad Schneider.
The Republican primary is scheduled for March 20. Shah is competing against two other Republicans, Jeremy Wynes and Doug Bennett, who have already announced their candidacy earlier.
Shah is the founder of Flagship Healthcare, a Chicago firm that supports some 800 physicians and several hospitals across the country.
Candidate: Harry Arora District: Connecticut’s 4th congressional district Party: Republican
Businessman Harry Arora is running for Congress from Connecticut’s 4th congressional district.
Arora, who is seeking the Republican nomination, filed his paperwork with the state to register as a candidate in December. His focus would be on reviving the economy of Connecticut, lowering the cost of healthcare and improving government.
Born in India, Arora came to the United States as a graduate student. After his graduation, he worked for large corporations for a decade.
After working with Amaranth Advisors, LLC, a Greenwich-based hedge fund that collapsed in 2006, Arora started his own investment management firm, ARCIM Advisors, LLC. In 2012, he co-founded Northlander Advisors, an investment firm with a focus on European energy.
Candidate: Abhijit ‘Beej’ Das Party: Democrat District: Massachusetts 3rd congressional District
Abhijit Das, “a constitutional lawyer by training, but an entrepreneur at heart,” as he calls himself, is the first Indian American congressional candidate to run from Massachusetts. He is one of the 13 candidates who have so far entered the race to succeed the retiring Democrat Niki Tsongas, the wife of former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas.
Son of immigrants from India, Das — popularly known as “Beej” — grew up in Lowell, MA. After earning his bachelor’s in political science from Middlebury College in Vermont and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School, he worked as a lawyer for a few years. He went on to work for Hilton Worldwide, where he was responsible for the development of its brands on the Indian subcontinent. Das left Hilton to launch his own hospitality business, Troca Hotels & Yachts.
Das says he is running for congress because politicians in “Washington have become overgrown unruly children who can neither get along nor get out of each other’s way.” He says on his website, “We all want an American government as worthy as its people. ”
The primary in the state is on September 4.
Candidate: Sri Preston Kulkarni Party: Democrat District: Texas 22nd congressional district
Sri Preston Kulkarni, who worked as aide to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is running from Texas’ 22nd congressional district, which has the largest Indian American population in the state.
The former Foreign Service Officer has spent time in Iraq, Israel, Russia, Taiwan and Jamaica during his 14-year career with the Department of State.
The Democrat says he is running because “hostility and conflict are being inflamed in our own country, through the politics of anger and demagoguery, demonization of specific ethnic and religious groups, threats to rule of law, degradation of women, and an undermining of democratic institutions like a free press.”
The Texas 22nd district, which is in the Greater Houston area, is currently represented by Republican Pete Olson. It has a highly diverse population with 25 percent Hispanics and 18 percent Asians. Having served the country as diplomat, he says he knows how to “push back the tide of fear” and offer “a positive vision for the future that all groups can believe in.”
Candidate: Chintan Desai Party: Democrat District: Arkansas 1st congressional district
Chintan Desai moved to Helena, Arkansas, from California in 2010 to teach fifth graders as part of Teach for America. Seven years later, he’s preparing to take on the three-term incumbent Republican Rick Crawford.
Desai grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, and earned his undergrad degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. “My unlikely story began when my parents moved to this country with little money and even fewer friends,” he says on website. “They lived the American Dream working hard every waking moment to provide their only child a bright future. I had opportunities beyond my wildest dreams — going to college to earn a degree and launching a career in education.”
Desai is running on a progressive platform. Among issues that he’s advocating are making higher education more affordable, closing the income and wealth inequality, sensible gun-control legislation and slowing climate change.
Once a Democratic stronghold, the district is reliably Republican now.