By Inder Singh
In 1965, the US Congress passed a law to liberalize immigration to the United States. The new law opened a floodgate of immigrants from India and brought thousands of professionals in search of educational and employment opportunities. With the increase in population of Indian immigrants, cultural, religious and regional organizations mushroomed at a rapid speed to serve the needs of the new immigrants. In large cities, regional umbrella groups such as Federation of Indian American Associations (FIA) were formed, predominantly to celebrate India Independence day, India Republic day, and similar other events which volunteers of these associations organized 

During the 1980s, there were immigration reform bills proposing drastic reduction in the quota for family reunification. There were three dominant country-wide advocacy groups, namely, National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) and Association of Indians in America(AIA), which promoted the interests and aspirations of the people of Indian origin and opposed any reduction in the family reunification quota. After a long struggle, the US Congress yielded and kept the family reunification numbers intact in the new bill which was enacted into law. A few more advocacy, professional and civic organizations have also been formed by the new generation of volunteers at local, regional and national level. Besides NFIA, IAFPE and AIA, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), Indian American Friendship Council, the US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and some others have been actively engaged with the issues of the community. These voluntary organizations have waged impressive and vigorous campaigns when issues concerning Indian community and India have come up (read our cover story). A major accomplishment by these advocacy groups was the US-India nuclear treaty that was achieved despite opposition from several US Congressmen. 

Several committed and dedicated community activists such as Thomas Abraham, Inder Singh, Joy Cherian, Swadesh Chatterjee, Piyush Agrawal, Ramesh Kapur, Krishna Srinivasa, Sanjay Puri and Rajen Anand have been working persistently, either independently or through one or more national organizations for the betterment of the Indian American community. Some of them have repeatedly and consistently demonstrated extra-ordinary leadership in fighting for the issues and concerns of the Indian community and India. In the process, they carved out new paths and trails for the community, converted stumbling blocks into stepping stones and have made positive contributions for the wellbeing of the Indian American society.

Inder Singh regularly writes and speaks on Indian Diaspora. He is Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He was president of GOPIO from 2004-2009, president of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and was the founding president of Federation of Indian Associations in Southern California. He can be reached at

August 2011

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