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Woo second-generation Indian-Americans

Yashwant Raj / Hindustan Times Share:
Chicago's Little India on Devon Avenue. The street has been settled by many Asian immigrant groups, including Indian Americans. wikimedia/Erstwhile.Human

Undeterred by weather or wallet, they do their bit — hold up placards, shout slogans, lobby lawmakers, and, involuntarily, prefix “our” to references of Indian prime ministers.

They still do their bit, but not as often as they did once. Their children? Even less. “The diaspora that the Indian government has come to know is not static,” says a new report based on a 2020 survey of Indian-Americans. Indian-descent Americans born and raised in the United States (US) “exhibit different sensibilities both with respect to politics in India as well as politics closer to home”. They are also “less engaged with India and more US-focused than their parents’ generation”.

This aspect of the report — “How Indian Americans view India? Results from the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey”, authored by Devesh Kapur, Milan Vaishnav and Sumitra Badrinathan — merits more attention. Second-generation Indian-Americans tend to be more American than Indian, as compared to their parents, and are, therefore, less indulgent and forgiving of India.

Indian-Americans matter. They lobbied the US Congress and the White House to lift sanctions slapped by President Bill Clinton in response to the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests, which were eventually removed by President George W Bush. They rallied — partly mobilised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then a rising Bharatiya Janata Party leader, and Sushma Swaraj — to pressure Congress and the administration to punish Pakistan for the Kargil intrusion in 1999. And they helped facilitate the 2008 passage of the India-US Nuclear Agreement, a landmark development that changed the bilateral relationship forever. In 2016, the community helped block the Barack Obama administration’s sale of F-16s to Pakistan.

India has shown its gratitude to them with the highest civilian awards. It’s time for the government to reach out to their children, the second-generation Indian-Americans, who are now moving into key government positions. And that should not be difficult.


The views expressed are personal. Hindustan Times

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