Who Is Sam Pitroda, Called 'American Uncle' By PM Modi Amid 'Racist' Remark Row

Earlier, Indian Overseas Congress head Sam Pitroda’s comments triggered row with his comment that 'Indians in the East resemble the Chinese, while those in the South look like Africans.'

Indian Overseas Congress head Sam Pitroda | Photo: PTI

In a sharp reaction to Indian Overseas Congress head Sam Pitroda’s description about how Indians look like amid the ongoing election season, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday targeted the grand-old party—Congress for “insulting Indians based on their colour”.

Addressing a rally in Telangana’s Warangal, he said, “I was thinking a lot that Droupadi Murmu who has a very good reputation and is the daughter of Adiwasi family, then why is Congress trying so hard to defeat her but today I got to know the reason. I got to know that there is an uncle in America who is the philosophical guide of ‘shehzada’ and just like the third umpire in cricket this ‘shehzada’ takes advice from the third umpire. This philosophical uncle said that those who have black skin are from Africa. This means that you are abusing several people of the country on the basis of their skin colour.”

Earlier, Pitroda’s comments triggered row with his comment that “Indians in the East resemble the Chinese, while those in the South look like Africans.”

In an interview to a news portal, Pitroda said, "We could hold together a country as diverse as India, where people in East look like Chinese, people in West look like Arabs, people in North look like maybe White, and people in South look like Africans. It doesn't matter. We are all brothers and sisters."

He added, "We all respect different languages, different religions, customs, and food. That's the India that I believe in, where everybody has a place and everybody compromises a little bit."

Also, the Congress distanced itself from Pitroda's remarks, terming them as "unacceptable".

"The analogies drawn by Mr Sam Pitroda in a podcast to illustrate India's diversity are most unfortunate and unacceptable. The Indian National Congress completely dissociates itself from these analogies," said Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

This is not the first time Pitroda’s comment has triggered row in this election season. Last month, he had said that the inheritance tax in US was an interesting law and could be among issues that people in India debate and discuss.

It was turned by BJP into an electoral issue, with its leaders bringing it up during election rallies claiming that the Congress will impose an inheritance tax and “snatch” the inheritance of voters’ children.

Who is Sam Pitroda?

Pitroda is the head of the Indian Overseas Congress. It is said to be an organisation of "concerned, committed, diverse, capable, and courageous Overseas Indians and Friends of India," which is the foreign wing of the Congress party.

As per Pitroda’s own website, he is a "globally-respected telecom entrepreneur, investor, development thinker, and policy maker." It also says Pitroda has worked in the IT industry for fifty years.

Pitroda was born in Odisha to Gujarati parents. He graduated from Vallabh Vidyanagar in Gujarat for his elementary education. At Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara he completed his master's degree in physics and electronics. In 1964, having completed his master's degree in physics, he travelled to the US to attend the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago to earn a master's degree in electrical engineering.

According to his website, Pitroda holds around 20 honourary PhDs, close to 100 worldwide patents, and has published five books and numerous papers and lectured widely all over the world.