Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

Recently on visit to Washington DC, saw a special exhibit on Asian Indians — Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, which will be on display till August, 2015. The exhibition explores the heritage, daily experience and numerous, diverse contributions that small Indian immigrants and Indian Americans have made to shaping the United States.

Displayed on the walls of the gallery were eye-catching statistics – 10% of Indians in America are doctors; 50% of all motels are owned by Indians; 73% of National Spelling Bee winners since 1999 have been Indian and 15% of all start-ups in Silicon Valley have Indian founders.  Juxtaposed with these statistics are less well-known facts. Indian Americans it turned out are also hip-hop musicians, football players, fashion designers and farmers.

After viewing the gallery and doing some rudimentary research, noted that Indian Americans (Asian Indian) comprise just about 3 million people (1% of the U.S. population). The community has moved from the initial image of being owners of seven eleven stores and motels to a highly educated community. As per latest US census data, 71% of them have a bachelor's or higher degree (compared to 28% nationally and 44% average for all Asian American groups) and almost 40% having a master’s, doctorate, or other professional degree, which is five times the national average. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Indian Americans had the highest household income of all ethnic groups in the United States.

The prominent Indian Americans include Zubin Mehta, principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic;  Amar G. Bose founder of Bose Corporation;  Fareed Zakaria, host of GPS program on CNN; Kalpana Chawla, astronaut; filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan  of The Sixth Sense fame; Indra Nooyi CEO of PepsiCo.; Vikram Pandit CEO of Citigroup; Shantanu Narayen CEO of Adobe Systems; Sanjay Jha Co-CEO of Motorola, Inc.. and recently Satya Nadella was appointed as CEO of Microsoft.

Indian Americans also have representation in political sphere in shape of Bobby Jindal, Governor of the State of Louisiana and Nikki Haley, a fellow Republican is the Governor of South Carolina.  

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