Nikki Haley wants diaspora to get involved in American politics

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley

‘Brag about your accomplishments and run for office,’ says daughter of immigrants from India.

Nikki Haley, leading Republican politician of Indian descent, wants the four million strong Indian diaspora to get more involved in American politics and run for government and public offices in larger numbers.

“Whether it is a Republican or Democrat, get involved, don’t just get involved by vote,” she said virtually speaking at the annual summit of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Tuesday.

“Get involved by running, get involved within government offices, in public sectors,” said Haley. “I think Indians are so good at everything they touch, it’s a natural progression to have them get involved in politics as well.”

The first Indian American politician to get cabinet rank as US ambassador to the UN in Trump administration, Haley asked the Indian American community to embrace and “brag about their achievements and not hide behind their traditional humility and shyness.”

At just about 1% of the population, Indian Americans are not big in numbers, but they are the most affluent and educated community, and the most philanthropic.

“Those are things that we should brag about because those that have come before us have worked so hard to reach these points and we have to make sure that we take to the next level,” Haley said.

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“I think that we have to not be so shy and not be super humble, but also go out there and try and share what we know we can be good at, and I think that there’s a lot of different aspects from business to education to health care, everything in between that we can share that will add to this country and make people more proud of the Indian community that is here,” she added.

“I am proud of the Indian community of the US. I am proud of their work ethic, of their assimilation, of the value that the Indian diaspora brings to all sectors of American life,” Haley later tweeted.

“I’d like diaspora to get more involved in American politics and carry the legacy of their parents’ generation forward by participating actively in American political movements,” she wrote.

The number of Indian Americans getting elected to high-profile positions has grown rapidly over the past years with Democratic senator Kamala Harris making a historic bid for vice presidency as Joe Biden’s running mate.

Starting with Dalip Singh Saund the first Indian American to be elected to the US Congress in 1956, the number of lawmakers from the community has risen to five.

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Besides Harris, the other four, Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal, and Ro Khanna, all Democrats, are members of the US House of Representatives.

“The reason the US has aligned more with India is because Americans see the value of Indian citizens in the US” Haley said.

“When you look at the Indian community what makes me so proud is we are the minority that’s highest educated. We are the minority that has the highest per capita income,” she said.

“We’re the minority that’s least dependent on government assistance and the one that makes me so proud we are the minority that is the most philanthropic of any minority in the country, Haley said.

“So, America sees the value of Indians in our country and this plays out multiple ways.”

Unlike Chinese students, Americans don’t see Indian students in the US with distrust, she said.

“We know that this is talent that is coming into the country. We know it’s not going to be used for harm, it is going to be used to continue to build whether it’s here in America or India and have a relationship,” Haley said.

There has been a trust level where we have seen real results, not just words and talking about what Indians can do for America or what Americans can do for India,” she said.

Turning to India-US relations, Haley said President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have developed a very special working relationship and one of trust.

“One of the facts that they are both committed to moving our countries forward and I think that that’s something to be said where you can tell that there’s a lot of confidence there,” she said.


Nikki Haley confirmed as US Ambassador to the United Nations (January 24, 2017)

Nikki Haley moves closer to the world stage with smooth Senate confirmation hearing (January 20, 2017)

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