When it comes to the Indian American community, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election on November 6 is a foregone conclusion. Barack Obama, a Democrat, would win by a landslide. Indian Americans, by large numbers, support Democrats over Republicans. This fact was corroborated by a recent National Asian American Survey which found 68 percent of Indian Americans surveyed backed Mr. Obama, while 5 percent said they would vote for his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of political science at the University of California at Riverside, is director of the National Asian American Survey. He says Indian American support for the Democratic Party comes down to three factors: in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton portrayed the party as pro-economic growth and that attracted immigrants; racial profiling against South Asians that followed the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, under a Republican administration drove Indian Americans to the Democratic Party; and the Democratic Party is generally viewed as more tolerant than the Republican Party of different religions and race.
“Given their educational attainment and socio-economic status, you might think that the Republican Party is a potential home for a lot of Indian Americans,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan. Instead, Republican policies on racial discrimination and immigration, and the rise of Christian conservatives within the party, has led many Indian Americans to stay away, he added.
There are some Indian Americans for whom the Republican Party is the obvious choice.
Ashok Mago, a prominent Indian American based in Dallas, Texas, says he identifies with the Republican Party primarily because of its pro-business policies and unwavering support for the U.S.-India relationship. “You may agree or disagree with the policies of President [George W.] Bush, but what he did for India no president has ever done or will ever do — help to lift the nuclear ban imposed on India,” said Mr. Mago.
Joseph Melookaran, a Republican from Kansas, says Mr. Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, are the “clear choice” for voters because of their pro-growth tax and regulatory reform. While Kansas is solidly behind the Republican nominees, the neighbouring state of Missouri “needs some effort,” he said. So, besides hosting political fundraisers, Mr Melookaran is working on “get out the vote” campaigns in Missouri.
Indian Americans are increasingly playing a more personal role in elections. Take for instance the example of Dr. Ami Bera, a Democrat who is running to represent California in the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Bera’s family came to the U.S. from Gujarat in the 1950s. He says his decision to run for office is part of a natural progression within the Indian American community. “The first generation, my parents, put their heads down, worked hard and tried to get some stability for us. For me it was, ‘Get your education, be a doctor or an engineer.’ And I think for the generation coming up now, their horizons are much broader,” he said. “The country really is ready and things are evolving where Indian Americans should be taking a seat at the table,” he added.
Despite the community’s affinity for the Democratic Party, some of the most high-profile Indian Americans in office are Republicans — Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, who are the governors of Louisiana and South Carolina respectively. But, said Mr. Ramakrishnan, many Indian Americans do not see “a Jindal or Haley model as relevant to them because those are two individuals who converted to Christianity, while most Indian Americans are Hindu or Muslim.”
“They are seen as an inspiration for Indian Americans who want to aspire to higher office, but they also show through their examples some of the limitations of what Indian Americans might expect in the political process,” he added.
A shorter, edited version of this appeared in print and also, earlier, in this space
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Indian Americans are like Jews of America. They very well know that Republicans are more pro their native country but they will vote for Democratic party. People generally vote for their own self interest than in larger interest.
>> The HAF is calling for strict gun controls which Parag Tope (who claims to have some special authority on account of being a decendant of Ta(n)tya Tope) finds offensive.
You are right. My comment, "Hindu American Foundation opposes Obama's new gun control initiatives," was wrong. I should have said, "Parag Tope opposes Obama's new gun control initiatives." My apologies to Hindu American Foundation.
I read both the article "Hinduism Calls For Armed And Vigilant Society" and the HAF letter to Obama.
I would have thought your liberal views would be supportive of those expressed by the HAF and find Tope's article representative of the loony right. To which, if any, of the HAF's recommendations do you object or see as a dilution of gun control?
The HAF is calling for strict gun controls which Parag Tope (who claims to have some special authority on account of being a decendant of Ta(n)tya Tope) finds offensive. I do not know if the HAF has a broad based membership sufficiently large to justify a claim to be representative of all American Hindus. Definitely there will be many who do not consent to be so represented.
However, Tope who has arrogated to himself the right to define his personal views as those representing "Hinduism" is definitely not so justified. In fact I find Tope's entire article a rambling rant indicating that he is dealing (unsuccessfully) with some serious issues and needs to obtain immediate medical help or be placed on a "watch list" to prevent him doing harm to himself or others. I do not know about you, but I most certainly would not want to be in his vicinity if he is carrying a weapon.
>> Hindu American Foundation opposes Obama's new gun control initiatives
Did you even bother reading HAF's letter, before vomiting your hate on this board?
"Hinduism Calls For An Armed And Vigilant Society"
Hindu American Foundation opposes Obama's new gun control initiatives:
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