Vinay Reddy, Swati Mohan, Jay Chaudhry, Dev Shah, Bobby Jindal—these names resonate not only with their Indian heritage but also with their remarkable achievements on American soil. From politics and space exploration to education and public service, these Indians have risen to prominence.
Their journeys testify to the talent, resilience, and diversity that the Indian diaspora brings to the American landscape. The profound impact these trailblazers have made in their respective fields has effectively rendered the tag “ABCD” (American-Born Confused Desi), which originated as an alternative to the derogatory term “FOB” (Fresh Off the Boat), irrelevant, shattering stereotypes, and exemplifying the remarkable abilities of Indians to succeed against all odds.
The Landmark 1965 Immigration Law
The earliest recorded evidence of Indian emigrants to the United States dates back to 1790, when a resident of Madras (now Chennai) traveled to Massachusetts. However, the enactment of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965 truly transformed the landscape of Indian immigration to America.
This landmark legislation ended a xenophobic quota system that had barred Asians, Latin Americans, and Africans from emigrating to the United States since the 1920s. As a result, a new era dawned for highly skilled and educated middle-class Indians.
With the act’s passage, approximately 170,000 Indian immigrants seized the opportunity and embarked on a journey to the land of opportunities, shaping the future of the Indian diaspora in America.
Median Family Earnings and Prosperity
The United States is now home to 4.2 million Indians, with an average household earning of $123,700. Surpassing Taiwanese and Filipinos ($97,129 and $95,000, respectively), Indian Americans have achieved higher median family earnings.
So much so that, despite constituting only 1% of the US population, Indian Americans contribute approximately 6% of the nation’s tax revenue. Within this community, notable billionaires have emerged, with Jay Chaudhry leading as the top billionaire of Indian descent in the US, with a net worth of $12 billion in 2021.
|1.||Jay Chaudhry||$8.3 billion|
|2.||Vinod Khosla||$5.3 billion|
|3.||Romesh T. Wadhwani||$5.1 billion|
|4.||Niraj Shah||$2.8 billion|
|5.||Aneel Bhusri||$2.3 billion|
|6.||Kavitark Ram Shriram||$2.3 billion|
|7.||Brian Sheth||$2.2 billion|
|8.||Jayshree Ullal||$1.43 billion|
|9.||Bharat Desai||$1.27 billion|
|10.||Thomas Kurian||$1.2 billion|
Source: Gulf News
These statistics reflect the significant economic and financial accomplishments of Indian Americans, solidifying their influence and prosperity within American society and serving as a powerful rebuttal to the notion that being ABCD carries any sense of insignificance.
In education, Indian Americans have established themselves as strong contenders, inspiring future generations to strive for greatness. A significant 79% of Indians in the United States are college graduates, surpassing the national average of 34%.
Nearly three-fourths of Indian Americans have attained a college education, with 40% completing postgraduate studies and another 33% finishing four years of undergraduate study.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee
|2014||Sriram J. Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe|
|2015||Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam|
|2016||Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Saireddy Janga|
|2019||Rishik Gandhasri, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Rohan Raja|
Indian American notable impact in the Scripps National Spelling Bee cannot go unnoticed. Since 1999, they have consistently excelled in the competition, producing an impressive 27 champions from their community. The most recent champion is Dev Shah, who claimed the title in 2022.
The journey of Indian Americans in the Spelling Bee began in 1985 when Balu Natarajan became the first person of Indian origin to win the championship. Following in his footsteps, Atman Balakrishnan, his son, participated in the competition in 2018, continuing the legacy.
These achievements highlight the dedication and commitment of Indian American students to academic excellence.
Indian flavor has left an indelible mark on American politics as well. In just a decade, the second-largest immigrant group in the United States has become increasingly prominent in the political landscape.
In 2013, the House of Representatives had only one Indian American member, with fewer than ten serving in state legislatures and none holding Senate positions or running for president.
However, the political scenario underwent a remarkable transformation within 10 years. Congress now boasts the swearing-in of five Indian American members, with a significant presence of 50 Indian Americans in state legislatures. This achievement reached a crescendo with Kamala Harris, who made history as the first Indian American vice president.
The momentum continued as Nikki Haley announced her campaign for the 2024 presidential election, marking the third consecutive cycle with an Indian American presidential candidate.
Reflecting on this shift, a pivotal turning point can be traced back to 2016 when then-Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana made history as the first Indian American to enter the presidential race.
Since that groundbreaking moment, the presence and influence of Indian Americans in American politics have been on a steady upward trajectory, steadily gaining momentum.
Notably, Indian Americans have also made significant strides beyond elected positions. Atul Gawande, an Indian-American surgeon, has received Joe Biden’s nomination for a senior role in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Additionally, Vivek Murthy, an Indian-American physician, has been sworn in as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States, further solidifying the impact of Indian Americans in various spheres of American society.
The rise of Indian Americans in American politics and their contributions in crucial roles demonstrate the increasing diversity and representation within the political landscape, inspiring future generations of Indian Americans aspiring to make a difference in the nation’s governance.
Indian-Americans have also cracked into the field of aerospace and made groundbreaking contributions, including Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian origin to venture into space, serving as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997.
Sunita Lyn Williams, an American astronaut and naval officer, held records for the most spacewalks by a woman and the longest spacewalk time.
Additionally, Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari, an Indian-American astronaut test pilot, and Sirisha Bandla, an American aeronautical engineer, have also made significant contributions to this field of exploration and discovery.
The artistic brilliance of Indian creativity has captivated even the palates of Hollywood.
From Ashok Amritraj, the Chairman and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment and a former professional tennis player, to Mira Nair, acclaimed for her award-winning film Salaam Bombay, and Tarsem Singh, whose film Immortals topped the American box office in 2011, Indian American filmmakers showcased their artistic creativity and made significant contributions to the industry.
Let’s not overlook the groundbreaking work of M. Night Shyamalan, renowned for reinventing the horror genre with his masterpiece The Sixth Sense.
Their collective presence illustrates the immense talent and diverse perspectives brought by Indian American filmmakers to the world of cinema.
In various domains, Indians continue to make waves, leaving an indelible mark on American society. Notably, Arun Subramanian, an accomplished attorney, has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Indian American judge of the Manhattan Federal District Court in New York.
Furthermore, a prominent civil rights lawyer, Vanita Gupta, has etched her name in history as the first Indian American Associate Attorney General. She is esteemed as the United States’ third-highest-ranking official in the Justice Department.
The list of achievers and newsmakers is long. It won’t be saying much that the indelible mark left by Indian Americans in politics, space exploration, education, and entertainment showcases their exceptional achievements and highlights the transformative power of talent and diversity.
Their trailblazing journeys have shattered stereotypes, reshaped the American landscape, and inspired generations to reach extraordinary heights, proving that Indian talent knows no boundaries.
Moonpreneur is on a mission to educate and ignite the flames of entrepreneurship through our holistically created online STEM programs, which will help kids master the futuristic sciences such as Robotics, Game Development, App Development, Advanced Math, and much more!!