Indian Americans and the Obama Administration

Kiran Ahuja addressing the WH Summit

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The Obama administration has appointed more Indian Americans to key positions than any other administration in the past.  More than three-dozen Indian Americans have served or are currently serving  in his administration as presidential appointees.  

In February, the Obama Campaign appointed Actor Kalpen Modi, Kamala Harris, California’s first female Attorney General and Sai Iyer, former White House intern and a student at Virginia Commonwealth University as co-chairs of his re-election campaign. They are among 35 national co-chairs that include celebrities, community leaders, politicians and supporters from around the country who will play a key role in defending his record and mobilizing voters this November.

Indian Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the country, with about 3 million citizens nationwide. As we near the November election, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are shifting into high gear with their outreach efforts to Indian Americans.  The Democratic Party in particular has managed to capture a majority of support, not only from Indian Americans but most Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).  According to national data from the 2008 election about 62 percent of Asian American voters supported President Obama while about 35 percent supported Sen. John McCain. When the data is broken down by ethnic subgroups, more than 90 percent of South Asians voted for Barack Obama.  

One reason why the President enjoys high approval from Asian Americans is likely due to his uniquely personal understanding of issues important to the Asian American community. Born in Hawaii, the President also spent his childhood growing up overseas in Indonesia—experiences that contributed to his deep-rooted understanding of the struggles immigrants face.  

Since Obama took office in 2008, his administration has undertaken several initiatives that have directly benefited Indian Americans.  Some of the administration’s accomplishments for the AAPI community are listed below.  The complete list can be found on the Obama Campaign’s website (

• Through the Recovery Act and the Small Jobs Act, the Obama administration provided over 10,000 loans totaling $7 billion to Asian American small business owners to encourage hiring and make job-creating investments.

• The Department of Labor (DOL) has conducted robust outreach to protect the well-being and wages of Asian American Pacific Islander workers. This outreach includes translating materials into Hindi, Urdu and several other languages.

• President Obama doubled the amount of funding for Pell Grants, making college more affordable for more working families. As a result, approximately 40,000 additional Pell Grants will be made available to AAPI students by 2020. In addition, more than 50,000 AAPI borrowers will benefit from student loan repayment reform. – See more at:

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