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Political aspirations of Indian diaspora rise with Obama win

By Khushwant Singh, IANS,

Chandigarh : Democrat Barack Obama’s election as the first African American president of the US has ignited hope among Americans of Indian origin who dream of either pursuing political careers or having members of the diaspora represent them in the political arena.

“The election of Obama is encouragement for any American Indian. It shows us that anything is possible. I hope it motivates American Indians to run for elected offices. In fact, it has encouraged me to think of running again,” American entrepreneur of Indian origin Chiranjeev Singh Kathuria told IANS on telephone from Chicago.

A physician from Brown’s University (Rhode Island) and MBA from Stanford (California), Kathuria made an unsuccessful bid to be a Republican candidate against Obama from Illinois. However, he hailed Obama’s victory as “path breaking for second generation immigrants”.

“I hope in my old age, before I die, I get to see an Indian American elected as president. It was very enriching, exciting and, at times, a trying experience to run for the US senate. It will be an experience I will always remember,” said Kathuria.

Rajwant Singh, national president of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), said: “Obama’s election represents dynamic America at ease with its diversity.

“We Sikhs are proud of this nation, and this election brings new hope to 500,000 Sikhs who have been here for the last 100 years. This victory will certainly inspire many Sikh Americans to aspire for the highest office in this country and will not deter them due to their appearance,” he added.

While Obama’s victory has given a boost to the political aspirations of many immigrants, for minority communities such as the Sikhs, who have been victims of hate crimes post 9/11 because some Americans have mistaken them for Arab Muslims, the victory is a definite sign of change.

Jasbir Singh Kang of the Punjabi American Heritage Society from Yuba City said: “This is a historic day for all Americans. A son of an immigrant has become president-elect. This can only happen in a great country like America.

“This is a great cultural and a historical shift in American politics, and we Sikhs look forward to working with President Obama,” said Satinder Singh Rekhi, CEO of a company in California’s Sacramento city and chairman of SCORE’s board.