When India became independent, it was to the United States an unknown land of beggars with their bowls, holy men with beards, cows wondering on the streets and poverty everywhere. Then it became a country of hypocritical political moralists. Then things began to change with the steady and massive migration of young Indian scientists and technologists who went on to become real US citizens. Now an amazing turn has taken place which is truly astounding.
Where are Indian Americans heading? How potently have their intrusion into the American administrative system changed events? It used to be said at one time that almost a third of NASA consisted of Indian Americans. Now just think of Nina Devaluri, newly-elected 2014 ‘Miss America’! Fancy an ‘Indian’ American winning such a prestigious award against a brigade of ‘White’ competitors! True, she was subjected to a little teasing and petty damnation, many mistaking her for a Muslim and a terrorist besides! But let that go. She is certainly the first Indian American of truly Indian descent to win a beauty crown in White America. But what has surprised me is the list of Indian men and women who have made it to some of the highest administrative jobs in the country. Three news items in recent times were a heart-warmer. One said that US President Barack Obama has nominated an Indian-American, Dr Vivek Hallegere Murthy for the post of Surgeon General. Dr Murthy is described as the co-founder and president of Doctors of America which began in 2008 as Doctors for Obama.
Fair enough Then on November 20, there was another news item that said that an Indian-American actor Kal Penn has been nominated for a key post in the President’s committee on the Arts and Humanities. Then came a third news item which said that seven Indian-origin academics figure among Thinkers 50 described as the Oscars of Management Thinking.
I remember another news item which said that Puneet Talwar has been nominated by President Obama to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs. What bigger honour can one Indian American expect in the US Administration? Talwar, according to published report, will provide policy direction in the area of international security, security assistance, military operations, defence strategy and Plans.
I spent some twelve years in New York (at the UN) and in Washington (1955-58 and 1969-78) and remember the times when then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles summoned Vijayalakshmi Pandit, then Indian Am- bassador to Washington to tell her that Non-Alignment was a sin, the time when former President Richard Nixon called Indira Gandhi a ‘bitch’, in private conversation with his own Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, and treated her most shabbily and the days when four of Indian correspondents were deliberately treated as outcasts under instruction from Kissinger who himself was abusive of Indians.
Who has directed the new change? President Obama? If so, he deserves to be congratulated. Indian Americans have individually done very well indeed. They did so in the past, when they were few and far between, but now they are apparently being seen everywhere, in practically every aspect of life and both respected and rewarded. We have made it, especially in the fields of Science and Medicine. There is hardly any important University that does not have a top-ranking Indian professor. India, it seems, is now coming into its own and the truth cannot any longer be kept a secret. It is time we are proud of our fellow ‘countrymen’ even if they are Amercians by citizenship. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat. Jai India-Amerca.
All that is now left for one of them is to get elected to the Presidency of the Untied States of America. And why not? Haven’t at least a couple of them been elected Governors of states? And in the fields of Trade, Commerce and Industry? Haven’t they excelled?