Impact aims to get more Indian Americans elected to Congress down to school boards.
Looking at the 2020 elections as a ‘pivotal moment,’ an Indian American political group plans to spend $10 million to help more members of the community win political office from Congress down to school boards.
“This is a pivotal moment for our community and our country,” said advocacy group Impact’s new executive director, Neil Makhija, a public interest lawyer son of Indian immigrants, who made Pennsylvania’s coal country home.
The group’s efforts would be focused on recruiting, training and supporting candidates, and though it is not explicitly aligned with Democrats the group’s “values certainly lean that way,” he told the New York Times.
According to the research firm CRW Strategy, cited by the Times, more than three-quarters of Indian American voters supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Makhija said they were also likely to support presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Indian Americans are the second largest immigrant group in the United States, after Mexicans, but they account for only five members of Congress, Times noted.
Impact’s investment is an effort to increase that number, and also to elect Indian American candidates to offices as far down-ballot as local school boards, it said.
In a nod to the community’s growing political clout, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running an ad in Hindi, the main Indian language, Times noted.
The lone Indian American Senator Kamala Harris, who has emerged as a leading contender to be Biden’s running mate welcomed the Impact announcement.
“I’m excited about the Indian American community’s growing engagement in the political process — not just as an Indian American, but as someone who believes the more Americans of all ethnicities and backgrounds feel ownership in our democracy, the stronger our democracy will be,” the California senator said.
“As Impact moves to its next phase of leadership, I look forward to being joined in the Capitol by even more Indian Americans to move our country forward for everyone,” she said.
“The groundbreaking investment and prominent hire signals a new phase in the organization’s development at a time when Indian Americans — the second largest immigrant group in the US – are beginning to flex their political muscle on the national stage,” Impact stated.
The number of Indian Americans in Congress has grown five-fold in just the past eight years; a record number of dollars are going to Indian American candidates; and just last week, the campaign arm charged with electing Democrats to Congress released its first-ever Hindi-language political ad,” it noted.
Indian Americans are one of the fastest-growing segments of the US population — doubling in size over the last two decades — ensuring their footprint on the political landscape will only grow in the coming decades, Impact said.
“After significant gains in previous election cycles, Indian Americans are poised to assert our emerging power by electing more Indian American candidates at every level of government, and by supporting excellent candidates of all backgrounds who share our ideals of inclusivity, equity, and civil rights,” Makhija said.
“Over the next 100 days, Impact will be laser-focused on supporting these efforts to maximize the far-reaching potential of the Indian American community through powerful fundraising, targeted outreach, and grassroots mobilization,” he added.
“By organizing to win elected office, Indian Americans are infusing politics with new experiences, ideas, and global connections,” said Nikil Saval, State Senator-elect in Philadelphia and the first Indian American elected to the Pennsylvania legislature.