Indian Americans have been making strides in American politics. According to recent media sources, Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker from Hawaii in the US Congress, is considering to run for the American presidency in 2020.
On Friday, at a Medtronic conference in Los Angeles, an eminent Indian-American Dr Sampat Shivangi introduced Gabbard, 37, and said that she could be the next president of the US in 2020.
The brief statement was marked by a standing ovation, in the presence of the four-term Congresswoman from the 50th US State. Gabbard, a Democrat, who addressed the gathering, however, neither confirmed or denied that she is running for president in 2020.
Gabbard an Indian American, not Indian
Ms Gabbard was born in American Samoa to a Catholic father (Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard) and her mother, Carol Porter Gabbard, is of Caucasian descent who professes Hinduism.
Gabbard moved to Hawaii when she was two and embraced Hinduism as a teenager and is well-versed in the scriptures. If Gabbard declares her presidential bid she would be the first Hindu candidate ever from a major political party to announce to enter the race for White House.
More about Tulsi Gabbard
An advocate for environmental policy, Tulsi was elected to the Hawai‘i State Legislature in 2002 when she was just 21 years old, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. A year later, she joined the Hawai‘i Army National Guard to serve Hawai‘i and our country. In 2004, Tulsi volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers, becoming the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone.
Tulsi served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. Tulsi’s 2005 deployment was a 12-month tour at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour. – Official Bio
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.
Every year, January 9 is celebrated as Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), an annual celebratory day that marks the contribution of overseas persons of Indian origin (PIO) towards their homeland. This year, the theme has focused on engaging political and elected leaders from across the globe.
The 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi in Delhi on 9th January 2018. Welcoming the delegates to the Conference, the Prime Minister said that while many people may have left India over the course of hundreds of years, India continues to have a place in their minds and hearts. The Prime Minister said that Persons of India Origin (PIOs) are like permanent ambassadors of India and partners for India’s development, who have an important position in the Action Agenda till 2020, drafted by the NITI Aayog.
Addressing the 2nd Plenary Session on ‘Resurgent India–Role of PIO Parliamentarians’, Shri Ananthkumar, Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs said that, “I am honoured to be here on the momentous occasion of the 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference and extend a warm welcome to all of you.”
At the outset, the Minister congratulated Union Minister for External Affairs (MEA), Smt. Sushma Swaraj for hosting this important and historic conference, where a Rainbow of Parliamentarians of Indian Origin from over 20 Democracies of the World gathered to share Parliamentary best practices and mutually enrich each other with their experiences.
Shri Ananthkumar stated that under the dynamic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, India and the Indian Diaspora has found greater recognition and popularity among the Comity of Nations. This is evident from the unprecedented response received by the Prime Minister in every country that he has visited. Occasions such as this conference provide us with an opportunity to further strengthen and diversify our engagement with diaspora, the Minister added.
Elaborating the contributions of PIOs in different countries around the world, Shri Ananthkumar said that people of Indian origin have contributed considerably to the economy and social upliftment of the countries in which they lived. The Minister conveyed his sincere appreciation at how languages like Hindi, Bhojpuri, folklore such as Ramayana, literature from India, traditional cuisine etc. have not only survived but are flourishing in these countries. This was possible and achieved only because Indian migrants in these countries were determined to preserve their traditions, norms and customs. “All of you here are members of our extended family and bound by ties of history, emotional attachment, cultural affinities and kinship”, the Minister added.
Shri Ananthkumar called the gathering as a mini World Parliament of People of Indian origin. He congratulated the External Affairs Minister for laying a strong platform today by organizing todays summit on PIO Parliamentarians. Further, he stated that PIOs have achieved great heights in Politics and Governance in various countries and also become Heads of State which is a matter of great pride and happiness for 1.25 billion Indians here.
The Minister invited the august gathering of PIOs to partner in the development of their Motherland India. Flagship schemes of Government of India such as Skill India, Start up India, Stand up India, Make in India etc. provide a great opportunity for PIOs to partner in India’s resurgence as a global power, Shri Ananthkumar stated
The session also witnessed distinguished PIO Parliamentarians placing their experiences before the gathering and how they are still very much connected to their roots in India through the Principles of Peace and Harmony that they have imbibed from their ancestors. Other dignitaries who addressed the gathering included Shri M. Thambidurai, Deputy Speaker Lok Sabha and Shri D.K. Mulay, Secretary MEA. (PR)
As many as 120 parliamentarians, mayors and political leaders from 23 countries are participating in the conference.
January 9 is celebrated every year as ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas’ to commemorate the contributions of overseas citizens of Indian origin towards India.
While 124 MPs from the UK, Canada, Fiji, Kenya, Mauritius, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and other countries are slated to take part in today’s conference, 17 mayors from US, Malaysia, Switzerland, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago will also participate in it.
No lawmaker from the US is attending this year’s PIO conference because of the ongoing session of the Senate.