With Bobby Jindal one step shy of becoming the first American governor of Indian origin, in Louisiana, the focus is once again on the rising influence of the almost 2 million-strong Indian American community in the United States.
The money-power of the community speaks for itself. The US Census Bureau has pegged the average Indian American family annual income at $60,000 as against the national average of $38,885. Despite the recession, the dotcom bubble burst and the tech meltdown, the estimated annual buying power of Indian Americans stands at $20 billion.
This high average comes as no surprise. American Indians are running Fortune 500 companies and regularly featured in top business magazines across the world. Rono Dutta, president of United Airlines; Rakesh Gangwal, president and CEO of US Airways; Kolkata-born Rajat Gupta, the managing director of consulting giant McKinsey & Co.
The number of New Economy millionaires is in the thousands, though many have been bitten by the meltdown. Some successes are well known, such as Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems; Sabeer Bhatia sold Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million; Massachusetts’ Gururaj Deshpande, co-founder of a number of network-technology companies, was at one time worth between $4 billion and $6 billion.
There are many more who make an elite mass. Until recently, more than 300,000 Indian Americans worked in technology firms in California’s Silicon Valley, with their average income estimated at $125,000 a year. About one-third of the engineers in Silicon Valley are of Indian descent, while over 7 percent of valley’s high-tech firms are led by Indian CEOs.
It is no surprise that among the tasks spelt out for new governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California is the Asian element of his constituency, as well as the vexed issues of outsourcing and a cap on H1-B and L-1 visas that regulate the number of foreigners working in the country.
Technology of course is the known area of Indian expertise. The story has moved further. Prominent Indians who have become symbols of success for the Indian community are the late Kalpana Chawla, who became the first Indian American to fly in a US space shuttle; Walt Disney paid Manoj Night Shyamalan $2.5 million for the screenplay of the movie The Sixth Sense. Amartya Sen won the Noble prize in economics in 1998, joining laureates Har Gobind Khurana of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and S Chandrashekhar in medicine and physics
As with any other culture, the ingenuity of Indian Americans is not limited only to the positive aspects of society. Indian white-collar criminals have also surfaced in the process, leaving a trail of fraud and dubious records. Surinder Singh Panshi, an Indian American doctor, has been sentenced to 16 years in jail by a California court for running a fraud ring that bilked the state’s health program of $20 million. A Los Angeles-based lady doctor, Lakshmi Nadgir, has pleaded guilty of defrauding Medicare of $5.5 million. Across the Atlantic, 26-year-old computer clerk Sunil Mahatani has earned the notoriety of being Britain’s biggest credit card fraudster. With his dotcom wealth, Naveen Jain bought two mansions, yachts and a piece of an NBA team; a US federal court has asked him to fork out $247 million for insider trading.
The negative, however, has been more than balanced out by the positives. In the arena of politics, feisty faces, apart from Jindal, have emerged. It is no easy matter for Jindal to be top contender, despite Louisiana being as conservative as an American state can get.
Perhaps the highest profile effort to play a direct role in politics, until Jindal arrived, is by Kumar Barve, a US-born Indian American, a delegate for several terms in the Maryland assembly. Upendra Chivukula is a member of the New Jersey assembly; Satveer Chaudhary at 33 is the youngest member of the Minnesota state Senate while Swati Dandekar is the first Indian woman to be elected representative in the US in Iowa. Several Indian-Americans have held the position of mayor – Bala K Srinivas in Hollywood Park, Texas, John Abraham in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Arun Jhaveri in Burien, Washington.
Indian-Americans have traditionally exercised the most political influence through campaign contributions, and have been actively involved in fund-raising efforts for political candidates at the federal, state and local levels. Though the Indian American population in Louisiana is far too small to influence Jindal’s election, reports from the US suggest that 20 percent of the nearly $2 to $2.5 million has come from Indian Americans. It is only in recent years that they have begun taking a more direct role in politics, as well as continuing to help through their financial contributions.
This was the natural course of progression as in addition to being achievers in the professional realm over the past decade, Indian-Americans have become a strong voting force in the US. According to the US Census, around 35 percent of Indian Americans have been naturalized. Along with close to half a million US-born Indian-Americans who are already US citizens, the Indian-American community comprises a formidable voting bloc. More Indian-Americans have chosen to undergo the naturalization process, and their voting power is growing.Perhaps one of the biggest friends of the Indian American community has been former US president Bill Clinton. Clinton is closely associated with the American India Foundation and visited India in 2001, as head of an Indian delegation to collect funds for victims of the Gujarat earthquake. There was considerable talk at that time that the Clinton visit was a well-orchestrated plan to cultivate the Indian American community to prepare for Hillary Clinton as president of the US.
From powerless, to power-brokers to powers-in-themselves, Indian Americans have truly arrived.
After IT India now moves towards Biotechnology
According to one research India will emerge as a super power in IT and Medical Research by 2025.
NRIs head the following blue chip companies also:
AppNet American Online
Proxicom Network Solutions
General Dynamics Corporation
Bell Atlantic Cable & Wireless
The Motley Fool
Hughes Network Systems
Net 2000 Communications
INOVA Health System
Consumer Elec. Ass’n
The Carlyle Group
Intelsat Draper Atlantic
Venture Fund, L.P
Raytheon Systems Corporation
The co-founder of Sun Microsystems – the company which is sweeping the internet with its brainchild Java is NRI Vinod Khosla. The Creator of the Pentium Chip which runs 90% of the computers in operation is NRI Vinod Dahm. Azeem Premji, CEO, Wipro is the third richest person in the world. Arun Netravalli is the current president of AT&T Bell Labs (AT&T Bell Labs is the creator of C, C++, Unix to name a few). The GM of Hewlett Packard is Rajiv Gupta. Sanjay Tejwrika is the Testing Director of Windows 2000. The Chief Executives of Citibank, Mckinsey and Stanchart Bank are Victor Menezes, Rajat Gupta and Rana Talwar respectively. Hotmail – the world’s first No.1 web based e-mail program was created by Sabeer Bhatia.
Also see India was shining !!