Tag Archives: Indian-American community

Indian-American nominated to the US Advisory Board on Human Trafficking

HaroldMIT SOGUS President Barack Obama has nominated Indian-born Harold D’Souza, a victim of human trafficking, to the key post

In a world torn by war and unrest, the story of a victim-turned-policymaker comes as a shining beacon of hope for the world to be inspired by. In a recent highly admirable move, President Obama nominated Harold D’Souza, an Indian-American victim of human trafficking, to a key position on the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

Harold D’Souza was born in Vadodara, a city in the Indian state of Gujarat. He secured an L.L.B. and an M.Com. degree from the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara before taking up a job as a Sales Manager in India. As a result of a series of unfortunate events, Harold landed up becoming a victim of labor trafficking and debt bondage. Finding his feet in the United States of America, Harold went on to pull himself out of his debilitating circumstances with the active support of the system for protection of victims of such crimes.

By 2008, Harold had become a Senior Supply Chain Associate with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a position he has held since then. He was a founder member of the National Survivors Network (NSN), which was launched by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) in 2011, and he has also been active with End Slavery Cincinnati. His work against slavery and human trafficking was given special recognition by the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Conference 2015, where he was invited to be an advocate to create awareness about the issue.

His nomination to the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking by the President himself comes as a welcome acknowledgment of his struggle as a victim as well as a socially responsible survivor of human trafficking in the USA. This move is likely to help foster better Indo-American relations with respect to the protection of human rights and ending slavery, both causes India is dedicated towards.

We at USINPAC stand staunchly against evil practices like debt bondage, slavery and human trafficking, at a national as well as international level. We are proud supporters of Harold D’Souza and the global fight against all such brutalization of human rights and dignity. We, along with the entire Indian-American community, wish Harold well and hope that his appointment will prove highly effective in creating strong Indo-American advocacy towards ending slavery and human trafficking.

Source: Business Standard

Good Intentions With Bad Consequences: Affirmative Action

Guest post by Kush Desai

Each year, thousands of aspiring high school seniors send thousands upon thousands of college applications in to their dream schools. Laden with application fees (which alone can add up to several hundred, if not, thousand dollars), these applications are sent in with high hopes of a good education and future – and fears of outright rejection and failure.

But of the many merit-based factors that can affect a college admissions decision, from SAT scores to GPAs to extracurricular activities, none is as uncontrollable as one’s ethnicity. Statistically under-performing ethnic groups – like African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans – can receive a ‘boost’ in undergraduate admissions. Statistically over-performing ethnic groups – such as East, and, in our case particularly, South Asians – are considered more rigorously for admission.

Simply, affirmative action policies are futile attempts to correct a much bigger and complex problem. They aim to somehow establish a new equilibrium of racial representation and achievement in academics and education. How significant is affirmative action’s influence? Consider this: when Texas abolished its affirmative action policies in 1996, Texas’s prestigious Rice University’s freshman class had 46% fewer African Americans and 22% fewer Hispanic students compared to previous freshman classes (NCSL.org). Such jaw-dropping statistics are indicative of how important affirmative action is for many ‘under-performing’ minorities, many of whom come from poverty and otherwise difficult circumstances.

But in this otherwise virtuous and munificent undertaking, hardworking and intelligent members of ‘over-performing’ minorities are in turn discriminated against. Princeton University sociologist, Thomas Espenshade, reported in a study that while Asian applicants to prestigious universities received an admissions ‘penalty’ equivalent to about 140 points on their SATs, black and Hispanic students received an admissions boost equivalent to about 310 and 130 points, respectively, on their SATs (CornellSun.com).

We, as the Indian-American community ought to be outraged.

While I myself am a proponent of some sort of affirmative action policy, I think currently many modern affirmative action policies are outdated and ineffective. More importantly, the affirmative action policies of providing ‘boosts’ and ‘penalties’ for members of certain ethnicities deal with the results of the problem, not the problem itself. Education is a lifelong process, and one’s demographics and socioeconomic circumstances go a long way.

Consider Indian-Americans singularly, as a case example. The USINPAC website proudly reports that the median household income for Indian American families is “nearly double the median income of all American families”. Across the board, wealthier households – regardless of race – produce more educated children. They tend to live in cities and towns with better schools that can open more doors for college admissions. Wealthier households may simply have more resources available for their children’s education – SAT classes, prep books, tutors, the ability for mothers to stay home and ensure proper management of their children’s time, etc. Additionally, many Indian-American parents themselves belong to the well-educated classes of Americans, saturating career fields in medicine, research, IT, and, increasingly, finance. More educated parents are more likely to stress the importance of a good education to their children. For households who do not necessarily fit into this wealthy minority mold, Indian and Hindu culture stress the importance of and respect for education, a paradigm indicative in the Upanishads’ famous line “acharya devo bhava” or “the teacher is God”. At common cultural and religious events, Indian-American children and families are likely to associate with other Indian-Americans who are better off and who can brush off the right ideas of work and education. Many teens (including yours truly) may lament the “monkey see, monkey do” competitive mentality of their parents with regards to SATs and college admissions, but it is a social habit that has helped induce widespread educational success.

Given these circumstances, it should hardly be surprising to discover that Indian-American students are routinely competing for seats at America’s finest universities. It would be unfair to punish these students for simply being born with a leg up in the education process.

On the other hand, underrepresented minorities are typically poorest. They are often confined to reside in poorer inner-city neighborhoods. These inner-city neighborhoods’ schools – as a result of low property values – are often underfunded and ridden with issues akin to poor urban areas in every nation: gang influence, troubled family life, and the stresses of people living paycheck-to-paycheck. In many cases, high school students are forced to drop out of school and take up low wage work to help their struggling households. Unlike with Indian-American students, there is no coherent and binding cultural/religious tenet upholding the necessity of education or much – if any – association with better educated and mentoring kin. It should hardly be surprising that minorities who are often subjugated to such circumstances fail to truly compete with their Asian-American and white peers, all of whom are much more likely to have better resources and support.
But it is from here, where students receive the foundations of their education, where affirmative action ought to take root. Better school funding, organization, and out-of-school help and welfare programs may help these poorer minorities to bridge the wealth-education gap. It is a solution that gives real gains to minorities, and it is a solution that does not punish Asian-American students either.

To summarize, current affirmative action policies – those of ‘helping’ underrepresented minorities at the expense of over-represented minorities – are outright unjust. There are better alternatives out there, alternatives that work with minority students at the very foundations of the problems of under-representation. In the ensuing political discourse and widening public interest in American education, I hope people become cognizant of such woes. As the wise axiom of social rights activist Malcolm X once put it: “education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”. While we focus a great deal on the visas and passports of immigration, it is time we focus on the Indian-American youths’ “passport to the future”.

The Voice of the Majority – 3 – Religion & Government Legitimacy

Our second article in this series was based on the proposition that:

  • A regime that is seen, felt and recognized to be respectful and supportive of the majority religion tends in turn to be supported by the majority of the people.

In this article, we examine the related hypothesis:

  • A regime that is seen, felt and recognized to be disrespectful and unsupportive of the majority religion tends to be opposed by the majority of the people.

Think back to America in 2008 and 2009. Remember the 2008 election and the now famous quote of Candidate Obama about people in small townsclinging to their religion and guns”? Though denied and explained away, this quote lives on as one of the more visible symbols of disrespect of religion and belief systems of the American majority.

The early policies and the tone of the Obama Administration persuaded the American majority that its core belief systems were being trampled. The result was the rise of the Tea Party, a movement that sprung like a geyser from the core of the American majority. The American Elite derided the Tea Party as backward, uneducated, right wing, prejudiced and overtly religious. That did not work.

The emotional and loud protest of the Tea Party culminated in a sweeping victory in the 2010 mid term election. The 2010 victory cooled down the temperature of the country. Gone are the rallies, the placards and the hot emotion that bubbled in 2009 and 2010.

This is why America is a shining validation of our hypothesis. On the other hand, India represents a seemingly perfect counterexample.

Last month New Delhi, India’s capital, witnessed a vicious attack in the dead of night by hundreds of baton charging policemen on a crowd of 50,000 people sleeping peacefully. This crowd had gathered to support a fast until death by Baba Ramdev, an Indian Guru with a national and international following. His fast was a protest against the deep corruption that has reportedly engulfed parts of the Indian Government including Cabinet Ministers.

Unlike another protest by Anna Hazare, a secular “Gandhian” activist, the protest by Baba Ramdev, the Indian Government believed, could become a religious “Hindu” movement. And, based on the 60-year track record of the Congress Government, a “Hindu” nationwide protest was deemed intolerable by the Congress Regime. And so the Indian Government behaved exactly like the minority Bahraini Government and launched a vicious night attack on a large group of peaceful, non-violent sleeping protestors.

This brings to fore the decades long suppression of core Indian belief systems by the Indian Elite. Much like American Elite Liberals, the self-proclaimed “modern”, “secular”, “progressive” Indian Elite have waged a coercive battle against India’s “Hindu” majority. This suppression of India’s majority is organized and planned with the full resources of the Congress Regime. The list of other deliberate legislative, executive acts against India’s majority religion would fill several such articles.

This might surprise many but the American and Indian people are very similar in their belief systems. Both societies are deeply religious and spiritual. In contrast, European and Asian societies are not. Both American and Indian societies are multi-religious, multi-ethnic and tolerant at heart. But their belief systems run deep. This is why foreign films, books and culture do not make inroads into these societies. This is why global Hollywood has not been successful in making inroads into India and US TV Networks have to create purely Indian channels to become financially successful in India.

Then, unlike the American majority, why does the India’s majority tolerate the trampling of its religion and belief systems by its governing regime?

  • One reason is that India’s majority has been under the rule of India’s minority religions for the past 1,000 years. So the behavior of the Congress regime is a continuation of the British and Mughal Regimes.
  • Secondly, India’s majority is totally focused on raising its economic standards. That is today’s top priority for the Indian people. So all other issues are being put aside. But they are not ignored.

But the calm you see on India’s surface is covering up the deep anger within India’s majority. Jim Yardley of the New York Times used the term “visceral rage” to describe the sentiments of India’s Middle Class. This Middle Class is the new factor in Indian society, a factor that will come to dominate India’s Society, Government Policy and its relationship with America in years to come.

India’s middle class is becoming broader, richer and more secure in demanding its rights. It is also much more religious and conservative than the Indian Elite who run India’s Government, NGOs and Media. It is beginning to feel confident in expressing its views in the terms and framework of its religion, culture and belief systems. This will put it in direct conflict with the self-proclaimed mission of India’s Elite to suppress India’s majority religion at the altar of a “modern, secular, progressive” culture.

As we saw in its reaction to the attack on Baba Ramdev, the Indian-American community is beginning to participate in the struggle of the Indian Middle Class. And this community understands the lessons of America’s Tea Party.

Will the Indian-American community succeed in helping India’s Middle Class attain the confident fighting spirit of the American majority? Will India’s majority and its driver, the Indian Middle Class, succeed in changing the regime of India’s Ruling Elite? The answers will drive both India and its relationship with America.