State Representative Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield) stated in an interview in
his native India, the land of his ancestors* that "Within 10-12 years, you can expect an Indian American to be in the US presidential race. I won't be surprised when it happens." Goyal was in India visiting family and friends over break. The interview was apparently conducted in Hindi (there's a reference to his American accent), with an English language version carried on India eNews.
Goyal sites two factors for his optimism. On one hand, Indian Americans are increasingly interested in politics as a profession:
- "With the second generation of Indian Americans, there will be a significant increase in the number of young members of the community proactively participating in US politics," he said while referring to the spectacular success of Bobby Jindal, who won the election on a Republican platform to become the governor of Louisiana last year.
This interest in politics stands out in dramatic contrast to the 1970s and 1980s when Indian Americans were not sure whether politics was the right choice for them.
"It's changing now. Indian Americans have always chosen safe professions in which they can succeed financially. Politics was looked at in a different light. Now of course all that is changing," Goyal said.
On the other hand, Indians are generally assimilating successfully and racial prejudice against them is waning:
- "Racism exists. Racism exists everywhere. My family too has faced discrimination and snide comments like you don't belong here. This attitude became slightly more pronounced after 9/11," said Goyal.
"But an overwhelming majority of people looks past that. They look at your values and actions. And the Indian and American values are identical in terms of emphasis on family, education and hard work."
I can't find who first pointed it out, but at the recent Democratic debate, John Edwards was the only white male. It's true that Americans are getting increasingly comfortable with racial diversity, though comfort with cultural diversity or religious diversity seems to be lagging. It is unlikely, for example, that America is ready for a Hindu presidential candidate. And an Indian candidate would be questioned (unfairly or not) about his ability to objectively handle foreign affairs in South Asia.
Still we can dream: President Subodh Chandra.Image from Ohio.gov.
*CORRECTION: Rep. Goyal was born in the U.S.