While the Indian-American community in the United States comprises just one percent of the overall population, there are a record number of appointees being called up to top administrative positions in the newly re-elected Obama administration.
US President Barack Obama recognized the immense talent and potential of this community, with appointments to key positions in the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense and Commerce. While there is no formal count as to the number of Indian Americans that have been appointed by the Obama government but unofficial surveys count it up to around fifty individuals.
This though was a far number compared to the Reagan Administration, where the first Indian Americans were appointed to key administrative posts. Back in 1987, President Reagan appointed Joy Cherian to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and later on became its Commissioner between 1990 and 1994.
Another Reagan appointee was Sambhu Banik, a psychologist from Bethesda, who was appointed as Executive Director of the Presidential Committee on Mental Retardation back in 1990.
For President Obama, amongst the key appointees is Raj Shah and the position is USAID administrator. This is the highest appointive position garnered by an Indian American. Another appointee is Vinai Thummalapally, as US Ambassador to Belize. He is the first Indian American Ambassador in US history.
Other appointees include Vikram Singh as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense foe South and Southeast Asia. This is the highest ranking office held by an Indian American in the Pentagon. Preet Bharara is appointed as US Attorney while Subra Suresh is the current Director of the National Science Foundation. This foundation is the agency responsible for the promotion of science and engineering through research and education programs and projects.
Previous appointees include Paula Gangopadhyay as Member of the prestigious National Museum and Library Services Board and Sonny Ramaswamy to the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. There is also Romesh Wadwhani as a member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Anuj C. Desai as a member of the Foreign Claims Settlement Committee.
While many are jumping into the current government, many others who had served during the first term have decided to rejoin the private sector or undertake their own political careers. One such individual is Vivek Kundra, who served as first chief information officer of the United States is now aiming to run as the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Virginia.
More is yet to come.