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Nearly 20 Indian-Americans given 17 key positions in Joe Biden administration

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Washington: At least 20 Indian-Americans, including 13 women, have been given eminent positions in US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, where as many as 17 of them would be part of the powerful White House complex. This power concentration secured by this small ethnic community that constitutes one per cent of the country’s population, is a new record in itself.

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Less than 100 hours ahead of his  inauguration, has either nominated or named at least

Just 100 hours are left for Biden to sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, as on January 20th his historic inauguration, the 59th in all, will take place. This date will also mark another historic event as for the first time ever a woman Kamala Harris would be sworn as the vice president of the country.

The 56-year-old, Harris, is also the first ever Indian-origin and African American to be sworn in as the vice president of the United States. It is also for the first time ever that so many Indian-Americans have been given place into a presidential administration ever before the inauguration. Biden, however, is still quite far away from filling all the positions in his administration.

Topping the list is Neera Tanden, who has been nominated as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and Dr Vivek Murthy, who has been nominated as the US Surgeon General. Vanita Gupta has been nominated as associate attorney general Department of Justice, and on Saturday, the US president-elect Biden nominated a former foreign service official Uzra Zeya as the under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights.

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“The dedication that the Indian-American community has shown to public service over the years has been recognised in a big way at the very start of this administration! I am particularly pleased that the overwhelming majority are women. Our community has truly arrived in serving the nation,” Indiaspora founder M R Rangaswami told media.

Mala Adiga has been appointed as policy director to the future First Lady Dr Jill Biden and Garima Verma would be the digital director of the Office of the First Lady, whereas, Sabrina Singh has been named as her deputy press secretary.

It is to be mentioned that for the first time ever among the Indian-Americans include two who trace their roots to Kashmir: Aisha Shah, who has been named as partnership manager at the White House Office of Digital Strategy, and Sameera Fazili, who would occupy the key position of deputy director at the US National Economic Council (NEC) in the White House.

White House National Economic Council also has another Indian American, Bharat Ramamurti, as deputy director.
Gautam Raghavan, who has also served at the White House in Obama Administration, returns to the White House as Deputy Director in Office of Presidential Personnel.

Among Biden’s inner circle is his top confident for year Vinay Reddy, who has been named as director speechwriting. Young Vedant Patel is all set to occupy a seat in the White House lower press, behind the briefing room, as assistant press secretary to the President. He is only the third-ever Indian American to be part of the White House press shop.

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Furthermore, three Indian-Americans have made their way to the important National Security Council of the White House, thus leaving a permanent imprint on the country’s foreign policy and national security. They are Tarun Chhabra: senior director for technology and national security, Sumona Guha, senior director for South Asia, Shanthi Kalathil: coordinator for democracy and human rights.

Vidur Sharma has been appointed as policy advisor for testing for the White House Covid-19 Response Team, while Sonia Aggarwal has been named senior advisor for climate policy and innovation in the Office of the Domestic Climate Policy at the White House.
Two Indian-Americans women have been appointed to the Office of the White House Counsel: Neha Gupta as associate counsel and Reema Shah as deputy associate counsel.

For the first time in any administration, the White House would have three other South Asians in key positions. Pakistani-American Ali Zaidi as deputy national climate advisor White House; Bangladeshi-American Zayn Siddique: senior advisor to the White House deputy chief of staff; and Sri Lankan-American Rohini Kosoglu as domestic policy advisor to the Vice President.
During the campaign, Biden had indicated that he would rope in a large number of Indian Americans.

“As President, I’ll also continue to rely on Indian-American diaspora, that keeps our two nations together, as I have throughout my career,” Biden in his address to the Indian-American community during a virtual celebration of India’s Independence Day on August 15, 2020 had said.

“My constituents in Delaware, my staff in the Senate, the Obama Biden administration, which had more Indian Americans than any other administration in the history of this country and this campaign with Indian Americans at senior levels, which of course includes the top of the heap, our dear friend (Kamala Harris) who will be the first Indian American vice president in the history of the United States of America,” Biden further said in his video address.

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