By Neha Dewan
Nowadays, it may hardly come as a surprise when we hear of another South Asian American being appointed to a prominent position in the Biden-Harris administration. From Vice President Kamala Harris to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to Federal Trade Commissioner Lina Khan, the current administration has appointed a historically diverse workforce, with South Asians rising to the call for public service like never before.
But, if we ever wondered if and how that translated to our community’s issues being addressed at the federal level, never was that more apparent than during President Biden’s State of the Union address.
Biden spoke to several topics of significant consequence to South Asian Americans. For instance, he illustrated the importance of the legislation that was passed,and highlighted examples that resonated with our community, all while directly addressing issues that continue to disproportionately impact our community.
Opportunity for Business Owners
At the outset, President Biden noted that a record number of 10 million Americans applied to start businesses over the past two years. We know that for those in the South Asian community who are aspiring business owners, this opportunity has been life-changing.
Gun control weighs heavily on many Americans’ minds, and polling data indicates that it is one of the top voting issues for South Asians.. President Biden discussed passing the most sweeping gun reform law in 30 years and called for renewing a ban on assault weapons.
President Biden committed to making prescription drug prices affordable for all, and used the high cost of insulin as an example of how the recent Inflation Reduction Act will guarantee more affordable drug prices through Medicare. Given the unfortunate reality that South Asians are at a disproportionately higher risk for diabetes, President Biden addressed a condition that South Asians, sadly, are often all too familiar with, and introduced policies directly benefiting thousands of South Asians.
The cultural importance that our community places on education translates to the ballot box, with 82% of Asian Americans considering education extremely important or very important, according to AAPI Data. President Biden emphasized the importance of access to pre-school and early education, stating “Any nation that out educates us, out competes us.”
In my mind, the President was able to address these issues and others that matter to so many South Asians because of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to diverse representation in its ranks.
Because they have successfully brought stakeholders from different communities to the table, I firmly believe that this allowed our community to feel seen and heard. In fact, this is one of the tenets of the work that we are doing at South Asians for America. By mobilizing our community to vote and increasing the number of South Asians serving in public office across the nation, we are ensuring that our community’s interests are represented in the national discourse.
President Biden concluded the State of the Union address by stating that we are at an inflection point. For the South Asian community, this felt like a moment where we too stood at the precipice of that inflection point and saw our nation as that full of possibilities.
(Neha Dewan is the National Director of South Asians for America (SAFA), which transitioned from South Asians for Biden in 2021. The premiere national grassroots organization dedicated to the education, advocacy, engagement, and mobilization of the South Asian community, SAFA increases the civic engagement, political participation, and network of South Asians.)