March 2015 \ Diaspora News \ GOPIO PERSPECTIVE
Indians in America: Progress, Opportunities, Issues and Challenges

Indians in America: Progress, Opportunities, Issues and Challenges

By Ashook Ramsaran
  • Ashook Ramsaran

 Among the vast global expanse of the Indian Diaspora, non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) in the United States of America constitute the largest national community of NRIs and PIOs. The NRIs and PIOs in USA are a rapidly increasing population exceeding 4 million with unparalleled upward mobility and significant achievements in all segments of US society. Their average per capita far exceeds other recent immigrant groups as NRIs and PIOs have made enormous strides in economic progress, science and technology, businesses, hospitality, medical profession, media, academia and politics. In addition, the recent advances in strengthening of the relationship between India and USA further enhance the importance of NRIs and PIOs in the USA.

Despite the remarkable advances and levels of assimilation in US society, from time to time NRIs and PIOs are victims of attacks and harassment perpetuated by other Americans as well as law enforcement. Some of these actions may be silent while others are physical in nature. These are harsh realities, to those who are victims and those who view these attacks in the larger perspective. These experiences are rude awakenings which can jolt the NRI/PIO community to take notice, to understand the motivations, be aware, be vigilant and take steps to alleviate and prevent such incidents. Many of the issues are institutional, ingrained in the US society from its inception, and it would be logical that solutions would have to be institutional in order to be effective – at all levels of society: political, civic, economic, academic, social, religious and media.

Individually and collectively, NRIs and PIOs must be actively engaged as part of the fabric of American society, participating in multi-ethnic organizations and contributing to social programs benefiting all Americans - and not be viewed as isolated groups. America is the “great melting pot” and NRIs and PIOs are part of that mix. The lessons of Uganda can be stark reminders of unexpected outcomes by those who view NRIs and PIOs as outsiders or isolated.

The events of recent months clearly show how widespread disparities have evolved into a national problem of enormous proportions which beg for an urgent solution or a series of solutions, examining the underlying causes, confronting perceptions versus reality. The urgency is to examine and asses the disparities in educational opportunities, economic opportunities, law enforcement and risks, perceptions which dictate actions perpetuating misplaced beliefs and actions, and developing partnerships for social and social progress.