When Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have a meeting, I feign interest. But when the meeting is in New Delhi with their Indian counterparts, I’m all ears.
U.S.– India relations are in the headlines again. Trade barrier reduction and economic growth strategies are being hotly debated in both countries. And more than ever, Indian Americans have a say in the matter.
“U.S.government officials regularly refer to the diaspora as an important partner in driving U.S.-India relations,” writes Karl “Rick” Inderfurth, Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in his latest paper, “The Indian-American Diaspora: Ties that Bind.”
The growing influence of the Indian diaspora was an inspiration for me. With the advice of many key members of our community, I launched Indiaspora earlier this year to unite the wide and powerful network of 3 million Indian Americans and to harness their individual success for greater impact in India and globally.
I’m proud and humbled to say that Indiaspora’s first steps have been impressive. Scientists, economists, authors, musicians, politicians, activists, investors, doctors, academics, executives, artists and philanthropists were among the 100 Indian Americans who gathered last month for Indiaspora’s inaugural forum.
After participating in the meeting, Inderfurth underscored the opportunity for Indian Americans succinctly in his paper:
“What are the [Indian American] community’s priority concerns in U.S.-India bilateral relations; and how can the two governments facilitate the diaspora’s ability to further unlock the full potential of the overall U.S.-India relationship?”
Over the three-day Indiaspora Forum, thought leaders discussed a variety of critical issues impacting Indian Americans both domestically and in India – from healthcare to economics to entertainment to philanthropy – and inspired each other with new ideas.
Now we must turn our inspiration into action.
Clearly, Indiaspora members are already making a big impact in their respective fields. In the few short weeks since the Forum, several of our participants have achieved significant new milestones:
- Economist Raj Chetty was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow for his study of the impact of economic and public policies on individuals.
- Technology titan Romesh Wadhwani signed the Gates’ Foundation Giving Pledge to donate 50 percent of his wealth to charity, channeling much of his fortune toward fostering Indian entrepreneurs. He was also named a trustee of the Kennedy Center.
- NPR promoted Madhulika Sikka to Executive Editor of National Public Radio and now sets the “news agenda for the entire division.”
- Viswa Subbaraman will raise the baton as the Skylight Music Theatre’s artistic director and conductor starting with the 2013-14 season.
As the individual accomplishments of Indiaspora participants continue to pile up, it is easy to imagine what we can do when we work together. As an executive who has combined professional networks in the fields of software, entrepreneurship and corporate sustainability, I know the sky is the limit!
We want to be a catalyst for our diverse and influential community and hope to inspire all Indian Americans to make a positive impact.
I’d love to hear what you have to say.