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‘Indian American members of Congress will have crucial role’

04IN_THVLR_RAJA_KRISHNAMURTINewly-elected such members of the U.S. Congress exhort the community to encourage more people to run for office.

Newly-elected Indian American members of the U.S Congress exhorted the community to encourage more people to run for office. With five members, the current Congressional cycle has the largest representation of the community in history. “This country belongs to all of us. My victory has inspired confidence in many young women and I hope a whole new generation of political people rises among us,” Pramila Jayapal, Congresswoman from Washington, said, addressing an event to felicitate the five. Ms. Jayapal left a finance job for social activism and is the first Indian American woman to be elected to Congress.

With one percent of the U.S population, Indian Americans constitute one per cent of members in the new U.S Congress. “With two per cent of the country’s population, the Jewish community has 10 per cent of the members of the U.S Congress. That is the kind of aspiration we need to have,” said M. Rangaswamy, a California-based tech entrepreneur and founder of Indiaspora, a bipartisan organisation of Indian Americans, which organised the event. At least two dozens members of the U.S Congress attended the event.

This trailblazer

Ami Bera and Ro Khanna from California and Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois are members of the House of Representatives along with Ms. Jayapal. Kamala Harris from California is the first Indian American U.S Senator.

Mr. Bera, who has become a trailblazer, scored his first victory in 2012 to become the first Indian American Representative after Dalip Singh Saund, who retired in 1963. With three victories in a row, Mr. Bera is now an influential voice in the U.S lawmaking process.

Crucial role

All five Indian Americans are Democrats in a Republican majority Congress. That makes their role even more crucial, according to Neera Tanden, president of the Centre for American Progress (CAP), and a close aide to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Personal experiences of individual members of the Congress matter in how decisions are made about laws. Under a Trump administration, Congress will have a crucial role to play in ensuring that future generations of Indian Americans will have the same opportunity that we got in America,” she said. Ms. Harris, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, will have an influential role to play in the immigration debate that the new administration will open.

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