Washington: Indian-Americans are taking over the country, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, referring to the high number of people from the community getting a place in his administration.
In less than 50 days of his presidency, Biden has appointed at least 55 Indian-Americans to key leadership positions in his administration, ranging from his speech writer to the NASA, to almost every wing of government.
“Indian-of-descent Americans (sic) are taking over the country. You [Swati Mohan], my vice president [Kamala Harris], my speech writer [Vinay Reddy],” Biden said in a virtual interaction with NASA scientists who were involved in the historic Perseverance landing at Mars.
Indian-American scientist Swati Mohan leads the guidance, navigation and control operations of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.
Biden, who was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021, has created history by appointing at least 55 Indian-Americans to key positions in his administration. This does not include vice president Kamala Harris, which is an elected position, and Neera Tanden, who a day earlier withdrew her nomination from the position of director of White House Office of Management and Budget.
Nearly half of them are women, and a sizable number of them are working in the White House. So far, the Obama-Biden administration (2009-2017) has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian-Americans in any administration. The previous Donald Trump administration did not lag far behind as it appointed the first ever Indian-American with a cabinet rank and inside the National Security Council.
The Biden administration has for the first time appointed such a large number of Indian-Americans in the first 50 days of his administration. This past week, Dr Vivek Murthy testified before a Senate committee for US Surgeon General, and Vanita Gupta is all set to appear for her confirmation hearing for associate attorney general Department of Justice.
“It is impressive to see how many Indian-Americans were ready to go into public service. There have been so many additions since we launched our Government Leaders list last month on Presidents’ Day. I am so proud to see our community is going from strength to strength!” eminent Indian-American philanthropist and Indiaspora founder M. Rangaswami told PTI.
While the community is disappointed that Tanden had to withdraw her nomination because of stiff opposition from Republicans, Indian-American women have reached a new height in the Biden administration. Biden sought to speak with Swati Mohan, guidance and controls operations lead, Mars 2020. She is not a political appointee though.
Indian-American women appointed by Biden include Uzra Zeya, under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, state department; Mala Adiga: policy director to Dr Jill Biden; Aisha Shah: partnership manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Sameera Fazili, deputy director, US National Economic Council; Sumona Guha: senior director for South Asia at the National Security Council, White House; and Sabrina Singh: deputy press secretary, Vice President White House.
Shanthi Kalathil has been appointed as coordinator for democracy and human rights, National Security Council, White House; Garima Verma has been named as digital director of the Office of the First Lady; Sonia Aggarwal as senior advisor for climate policy and innovation, Office of Domestic Climate Policy, White House; Neha Gupta: associate counsel, Office of White House Counsel; and Reema Shah as deputy associate counsel, Office of White House Counsel.
Tanya Das has been appointed as chief of staff, Office of Science, Department of Energy; Shuchi Talati: chief of staff, Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy; Mini Timmaraju: senior adviser to the director, Office of Personnel Management; Sohini Chatterjee: senior policy advisor US Mission to the United Nations, Aditi Gorur: policy advisor, US Mission to the United Nations; and Bhavya Lal is the acting chief of staff, NASA.
Dimple Chaudhary has been appointed as deputy general counsel for nationwide resource protection programs, Environmental Protection Agency; Sharmistha Das is the deputy general counsel, Department of Homeland Security; Ruchi Jain is the deputy solicitor for general law, Department of Interior; Meera Joshi is the acting administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Department of Transportation; Aruna Kalyanam is the deputy assistant secretary for tax and budget, Department of the Treasury.
“We are thrilled that this administration reflects the diversity of America by including an unprecedented number of South Asians. The Biden-Harris administration’s inclusion of South Asians in key senior staff roles will undoubtedly inspire countless South Asians to aspire to public service and run for public office. This is a proud moment for our community,” Neha Dewan from South Asians for Biden told PTI.
Gautam Raghavan, deputy director in Office of Presidential Personnel; Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of National Economic Council; Tarun Chhabra, senior director for technology and national security at National Security Council White House; Vedant Patel, assistant press secretary president at the White House are among several other Indian-Americans who got key posts in the Biden administration.