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Ami Bera, Tulsi Gabbard Sworn In As US Lawmakers
Lalit K Jha/Washington | Jan 04, 2013

Indian-American physician Ami Bera and the first Hindu US lawmaker, Tulsi Gabbard today scripted history after being sworn in as newly-elected members of the US House of Representatives.

Bera, 47, is only the third Indian American -- after Dalip Singh Saundh in 1950 and Bobby Jindal in 2005 -- to have ever been elected to the House of Representatives.

Gabbard, 31, is the first Hindu ever to win the Congressional election. She also became the first to take oath of office on the sacred Bhagavad Gita, instead of the Bible.

They sworn in as a Member of United States House of Representatives by Speaker John Boehner.

Noting that being sworn in as a member of the US House of Representatives is a "culmination of American dream" for his father who migrated from Gujarat in 1950, Bera said that besides working on his priority areas of health care and education, he wants to help strengthen the economic relations between India and the US.

"My father migrated in 1950s from Gujarat and this is a culmination of American dream for him. He worked hard to see his son to be sworn in today in the House of Representatives. It's really the culmination of everything," Bera told PTI in his first media interview at his new Congressional office at the Capitol Hill.

Democratic lawmaker from California's 3rd congressional district, Bera has been made a member of the powerful House Foreign Committee, where he is likely to play an important role in shaping the foreign policy of his country and work towards achieving his goal of strengthening relationship between India and the US.

Explaining the reasons for taking the oath of office on Gita, Gabbard said, "I chose to take the oath of office with my personal copy of the Bhagavad-Gita because its teachings have inspired me to strive to be a servant-leader, dedicating my life in the service of others and to my country."

"My Gita has been a tremendous source of inner peace and strength through many tough challenges in life, including being in the midst of death and turmoil while serving our country in the Middle East," Gabbard said.

At 21, she became the youngest person elected to the Hawaii Legislature.

Elated at the swearing in of Bera and Gabbard as US lawmakers, members of the Indian-American community today termed it as a "historic day" hoping that their success story would inspire the younger generation.

Bera and Gabbard are the part of America's 113th Congress which also has 43 African American members.

A large number of members of the Indian-American community, in particular the Hindus, have supported Gabbard's campaign from the very beginning.

"Representative Gabbard and Dr Bera serve as an inspiration to Hindu students across the nation. These historic elections have hopefully opened the flood gates to having more members of the next generation with Hindu backgrounds find their voices in America's political system," said Sohini Sircar, general secretary of Hindu Students Council.