Ayyadurai, who is trying to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, denounces â€œestablishmentâ€ politicians, in an interview with The American Bazaar.
Shiva Ayyadurai, who announced his candidacy for the US Senate from Massachusetts in February, has been in news this past weekend when he headlined the Boston Speech Rally on Saturday. A Trump-style populist whoâ€™s campaigning against establishment politicians, the academic and entrepreneur has fiercely defended his speech at the event. â€œI didn’t see any of the other career politicians who grandstand of their commitment to the American constitution attend this event,â€ he wrote in an email. â€œWhat we all saw was them one-upping each other of their false commitments to fight racism and white supremacy.â€
Born in Mumbai, Ayyadurai came to the United States when he was 7. At the age of 13, he developed an electronic emulation of the interoffice mail system, named â€œEMAIL,â€ for which he holds a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Ayyadurai, who has four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is currently the Chairman & CEO of CytoSolve, Inc., which provides a platform for modeling complex diseases as well as for discovering multi-combination therapeutics.
The Indian American says his ability to decode and understand the complex issues and provide pragmatic and real solutions are his strong points. In an extensive interview with The American Bazaar, this past spring, Ayyadurai spoke about his candidacy and positions, among other issues. Here are the edited excerpts:
Why have you thrown your hat into the political ring? Why are you running for the Senate?
I have always been involved and interested in change. I have always been a citizen politician. So for me, Trumpâ€™s victory in November, was a necessary disruption that needed to take place, in my view. Because I donâ€™t think the needs of Americans, particularly poor and working-class Americans,Â wereÂ really being addressed.Â And I think what has happened over the last many years, both [Democratic and Republican] parties, establishment parties, have not been serving the needs of the people. And I felt in Massachusetts, part of the problem I had is that the intellectual elites, whom I know quite well, are very influential. Basically, they think that everyone else is stupid. I think the anger has nothing to do with Trump.
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In the 21st century, a typical model of an American politician is a lawyer, then they do some academic work, then they become a career politician. But Massachusetts has been a center of artificial intelligence, biotech research, and innovation. A state like that should be represented by someone like me. You canâ€™t really understand and make policies unless you are actually a worker, builder, and creator. My point is policymakers in Washington were always 15 to 20 years behind the curve. Because none of them had ever created anything. I donâ€™t know if they can even fix the electrical stuff in their home. The original goal of the founding fathers was that it would be citizen democracy.
I think we need real change, and I think we need a 21st-centuryÂ leadership. We are building our campaign organically, at the grassroots level, and we are going to win. We deserve to win and we will represent the American democracy. Thatâ€™s what it is about.
You have said that you have always been a fighter and a change-maker. Can you elaborate?
I came to America in 1970 from India. Some people donâ€™t like to talk about this. You know India has this caste system. We were considered part of a lower caste, and I experienced some of the injustices of the caste system. As a child, I have always wanted to understand why that existed. The fact that my parents came here was quite significant. When I came here, we settled in New Jersey. I grew up in Paterson. During those days, there were very few Indians here.
When I was an undergraduate student at MIT, there was this program called Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, or UROP, and I wanted to understand why the caste system even came about. And in fact, I did a detailed studyÂ finding aboutÂ the origins of the caste system, and that was fascinating. In fact, a lot of Indians even donâ€™t know that, in the 8thÂ Century, the Shankaracharya movement, which is the foundation of the modern Hinduism, asked a very fundamental question: if there is equality in heaven, then why there isnâ€™t equality on earth? And that was the part of the â€œBhaktiâ€ movement. â€œBhaktiâ€ is devotion to God.
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I was always interested in political history and I always wanted to understand the system. After I came to the MIT, I fought for more women students to come to MIT,Â more poorÂ and minority students. If you go to my website,Â shiva7.com,Â there is a picture of me burning the South African flag. I led a huge protest at MIT. I led a protest march against the apartheid in Boston. So I have always been fighting.
You are running as a Republican. Have you always been a Republican? Are you a conservative or libertarian? What would you call yourself?
First of all, all of these terms were created by the establishment to create these divisions. Okay. You have to understand something. What has happened is these political parties and their establishments are basically machines. I stand for truth. Many of the issues are not really left or right. For instance, climate change. You have to actually look at the facts and you have to come up with a real solution.
I am running under the Republican Party. But I really have great admiration for Lincoln. Lincoln is the one who said labor precedes capital, which means that work is important.
Since you mentioned global climate change, what is your position on that?
Everyone wants a short answer, but I am not going to give a yes, or no. What I can tell you is that there is data that climate on earth is bound to change. There are natural cooling and warming periods. There are other data that suggest that human beings are affecting that cycle. Some newspapers are saying that 95 percent of the scientists say that global warming is taking place. Thatâ€™s actually not true when you look at the data. There is a whole lot of scientists who are questioning that, too. What I do know is that all the developing nations are burning coal. I think China is putting a new coal plant every week. Now thatâ€™s the reality of whatâ€™s going on. Let’s assume global warming is occurring because of human activities. The way out of it is notÂ debate. Let’s start innovating. Innovation is what is always got us out of all sorts of problems in history.
Your opponent Sen.Â Elizabeth Warren has a huge money advantage. How are going to compete with such a well-stocked candidate?
If you look at the last election, it showed that money is not the key indicator of success. Trump raised half the amount of money compared to Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warrenâ€™s message is really not much of a message. No matter how much money you put in a weak message, it is not going to help. If she were running against a standard Republican candidate, I would say it would just be money against money. But our message is far more powerful. People of this state are seeking a whole different kind of leadership. And they are not going to get it from Elizabeth Warren, who is basically a lawyer and career politician and academic. I think people have had enough of that.
Do you consider yourself as an insurgent candidate?Â
I consider myself as a candidate who will speak and stand and spend my life for the truth. Here are these people who are talking about these great things, but they donâ€™t really risk anything. You know, I risked my career; I just had to fight when I was in India. I didnâ€™t have to fight at the MIT, I could have just kept my mouth shut and not created a controversy over the email. So if thatâ€™s insurgency, then Iâ€™m an insurgent candidate. If speaking the truth isÂ insurgency, then you can call me insurgent.
Do you expect some other Republicans to run the primaries?
The reality is [they] are typical Republican candidates. And to beat Warren, people need someone like me.
One of the memes that your campaign has used is that you are the “real Indian” in the race. You have accused Sen. Warren of faking her ethnicity.
You have to understand that this is a very serious issue. This woman has lied that she was an Indian, an American Indian. There are enough written materials about this, but the mainstream media doesnâ€™t cover this because they want to keep everyone happy and friendly. But the reality was that she is probably was unqualified to ever become a professor at Harvard. She shouldnâ€™t have even been there. Elizabeth Warren is absolutely insidious. The biggest thing that is really unfortunate is that she is not even running for being a senator. Letâ€™s all be very honest, she is running for president. So her goals are completely somewhere else right now. She is completely unqualified.
You mentioned the email controversy. Does it bother you that so many people are still not recognizing your contribution?
Well, first of all, itâ€™s not really a lot of people, it’s actually a vocal minority. So let’s be clear on that.Â Hereâ€™s a kid who has black and white facts. I have all the codes. I got the first year’s copyright. There is no doubt about the email. The issue is why should I have to fight so far. Thatâ€™s the real issue. The real story is not about who invented email, the real issue is why did people feel that they have to call me a fraud, an asshole, a dick â€” a guy who did four degrees at MIT, has been innovating many things beyond email. I didnâ€™t even want a credit for it. I never said I invented the electronic messaging, which dates back to the telegram of the 1800s. I created email, the system as we know it today. They have purposely confused simple exchange of text messages with the email system. They demonstrate cleverly to take credit for something they did not do.
Do you feel validated by theÂ GawkarÂ settlement? You received a nice amount from the now defunct website.
I think it was historic that they had to remove three articles about me, and they had to pay me close to a million dollars. That is a huge victory. Definitely, not only do I feel vindicated and I feel justice was served and they were punished. They deserved to be put out of business, they deserved to be punished. And I think justice was served.
A few years ago, you went back to India as an adviser to the government but had to leave under some unfortunate circumstances. How do you look back at that experience?
I did the right thing by exposing the corrupt Indian establishment, and Iâ€™ll do it again because I did the exposure on behalf of all scientists in India. India has many, many smart people, but since 1947, India has not produced oneÂ indigenous Noble prize winner in the field of science.Â Indians have won Nobel elsewhere. But think about that: Indians had to leave India so they can succeed. Har Gobind Khorana could not even get a job as an instructor in India because of the nepotism there. Thatâ€™s what I exposed. I could have sat there within my bungalow, but thatâ€™s not me.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited me back to the country. If you look at India, the country was under the rule of the Nehru-Gandhi family for several decades. Modiâ€™s election in 2014, in my opinion, was a big change because he was not from the standard establishment.
How supportive is the Indian American community? Are they helping your campaign?
Indian Americans are extremely supportive, and I thank them for that. I think they are inspired by my running. My campaign provides an opportunity for people to participate. I feel honored to be an Indian American and participating in the political process. Indian Americans, so far, have been extremely positive about my run.
Some people are saying that Trump has empowered the worst elements in the American society. How would you react to that?
You know the Democratic Party has been the party of racism for many, many years. People donâ€™t know this. The south was completely Democratic. I am a scientist. I look at facts. The Democratic Party does not have a great history. I have an apartment in New York. I know that Trump has done a lot for New York. The guy is not some racist guy. If he were, he wouldnâ€™t survive in New York. Come on. This is just rhetoric.
There are people who are racist and they should be exposed. And justice should be served upon them. But to say that Donald Trump has inspired racism, I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s true. I would argue that if you look at the number of shootings that have taken place since Barack Obama got in office, there have been more race riots in this country since Obama came in.