Ro Khanna: Indian American lawmaker who professes ‘progressive capitalism’

Ritu and Ro Khanna

Date of birth: September 13, 1976
Place of birth: Philadelphia
Profession: Member of Congress
California’s 17th Congressional District
Party affiliation: Democrat
 Ritu Ahuja
Alma mater: University of Chicago (BA) and Yale University (JD)

One tweet from Indian American Congressman Rohit Khanna says a lot about this intrepid social and political warrior.  “We are a nation of immigrants. Nothing any administration does will change that,” wrote the second-term representative of California’s 17th Congressional District.

Today, Ro Khanna as he is better known, sits on the House Budget, Armed Services, and Oversight and Reform committees and is first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He also serves as an Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus.

Since 2017, this American academic, lawyer, and politician has represented the only majority Asian American district in mainland US. “This is the area where the Indian American community enjoys more respect than anywhere and has contributed to creating jobs locally,” he says.

Khanna sees himself as a “progressive capitalist,” who is passionate about both development and inclusivity.

His motley list of priorities demonstrates his fight for change: Banning lobbyist money, creating technology and manufacturing jobs, providing debt-free college, supporting apprenticeships and vocational training, women’s rights and new industries as well as clean technology… and so on.

An important step that won Khanna all round appreciation was release of an internet Bill of Rights, a set of consumer data privacy regulations principles.

His bold ideas are compiled in his book, Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing Is Still Key To America’s Future, which is all about giants. He has also called for more progressive economic reform and backed a bill to prevent exploitation of foreign workers while recognizing the contributions of immigrants.

The Silicon Valley constituency is a dream district for Khanna, who has degrees from the University of Chicago and Yale Law School, where he defeated eight-time incumbent Mike Honda.

Born in 1976 in Philadelphia to Punjabi Indian immigrants, Khanna seems to be carrying the legacy of his Indian forefathers, especially his engineering graduate father, teacher-mother and maternal grandfather.

Khanna once said: “My commitment to public service was inspired early on by my grandfather, who told me stories about participating in Gandhi’s independence movement in India and spending several years in jail for promoting human rights.”

With an interesting parade of achievements to his credit, Khanna summed himself up best as he defined change-thinkers: “The crisis in front of us demands bold climate champions.”


Congressman Ro Khanna on 2020 elections, role of social media in politics and gig economy (November 13, 2019)
What is the Congressional Pakistan Caucus that Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna has just joined (August 16, 2019)

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