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Indians In The Us Essay, Research Paper
A large number of Indians came to the US in the 1910s abd 1920s, not just from India, but from Hong Kong and other areas in Asia as well. Some Indians came as students to
universities such as the University of California at Berkeley. It was during this period that the British and the US government started cooperating to limit Indian immigration. This policy
was tested when the British informed the US authorities that a ship called the “Komagatu Maru” was headed to the US from Hong Kong with about 375 Indians. When the Maru arrived
at Angel Island (the port of entry which holds terrible memories for Asian immigrants) the AEL ( Asian Exclusion Leage ) had organized a huge mob to prevent the offloading of any
Indians. The people on the ship were denied food and water for days and were prevented from landing. Finally, in exchange for food and water, they were turned away.
The Indian population in the US and Canada grew very slowly during this period. It consisted mostly of students coming to study at universities. These students organized
themselves into a few associations. Some of them supported the cause of Indian freedom from the British while some were loyalists to the British. The British stationed a full time secret
agent named Hopkinson to monitor their activities and to influence the US government into deporting the freedom seekers. The deportees were usually prosecuted by the British in India.
Hopkinson developed an efficient network of spies and was very successful in deporting a number of Indian leaders on the pretext that they were planning a revolution in India. It was
under these circumstances that the “Ghadhar party” was formed in the US to support Indian freedom. They published newspapers for distribution in India that openly called for a freedom
struggle against the British. An ongoing battle of wits raged between these Indians and the British-Americans. Hopkinson was assassinated in an American courtroom, when he was
testifying against an Indian (for deportation).
A number of these Indian freedom groups associated themselves with the German government during the second world war because the Germans promised them help in
gaining freedom from the British. Hopkinson exposed a number of these links and a large number of these people were imprisoned in the US. After the war, the first war collaborators
were tried and were deported. Even the German Nazi collaborators in the US were tried after these Indians. (In a way it seems like the war provided a nice excuse for the US government
to deport these Indians.) During this period a large number of Indians started to apply for naturalization. At this point US law only allowed whites to become naturalized citizens. But
most judges couldn’t decide how to classify Indians and a large number of them granted Indians citizenship. A New Orleans judge wrote about how dis-concerting it was to see a “dark
white man” – the Indian – before granting him citizenship. A number of southern Europeans looked like Indians as well, so Indians benefited from this similarity.
A number of Indians were also getting married in the US. A few of the farm workers in California married Hispanic women. However, most of these marriages ended in
divorce because of the cultural and religious disparities. A few Indians married white women as well. At this point the movement to formalize the exclusion of Asians from America was
gaining momentum. The Chinese had already been excluded through the Chinese exclusion act in the late 1800’s. A senator from California mounted a very popular campaign to exclude
Indians. However there was a problem because Indians were immigrating to the US, not just from the Indian mainland but from other countries in Asia as well. But the US government
was determined to stop them. Congress passed the “Immigration Regional Restriction Act” in 1917 over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson. It basically drew a line around the areas
in Asia from which Indians and Filipinos were immigrating and banned them. Of course there was a provision to allow Europeans born in this region to immigrate.
The exclusionists had achieved most of their goals by now. Asian and Indian immigration was virtually banned. However, this wasn’t enough. A movement was mounted to
deny citizenship to the Indians in the US, take away the citizenship from Indians who had already been granted citizenship and to apply the Regional Exclusion Act retroactively to deport
all Indians in the US. It worked partially. A large number of Indians left. Many of them were denied citizenship, with the supreme court upholding one such decision that was challenged.
On February 19, 1923, with Justice George Sutherland delivering the opinion, the Supreme court held that East Indians were not eligible for United States citizenship because they could
not be considered white or Caucasian. A few Indians lost their citizenship. One interesting case was that of an Indian lawyer in California who had married a white woman. Under the
law, if a man lost his citizenship, his wife automatically lost hers too. He challenged in court that if his citizenship was revoked his wife would lose hers too and then she would have
nowhere to go because she was a white American. He retained his citizenship. The 1920’s were the period of the most immigration to the USA. Virtually all immigrants came from
Europe. A large number of Americans trace their ancestry to these immigrants. Asians however, were banned from immigrating by law.
Towards the end of second world war, President Roosevelt started the to lift immigration restrictions on Asians.The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed. The Indian Regional
Exclusion Act was however, stuck in there. Roosevelt had to send his personal envoy to the hill to lift the ban on Indians. However, Indian immigration didn’t pick up until after the
immigration reform act was passed, making immigration a little less racist and a little more equitable.
Indian immigration picked up considerably in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a number of Indian doctors immigrating to fill the shortage of doctors created by the
Vietnam war. The momentum gained during this time has led to the continuing increase in Indian immigration through the 1980s and the 1990s. An Indian gentleman was elected to
congress for two consecutive terms (from California) in the 1960s. Congressman Saund’s eligibility to run for congress was challenged in court because he hadn’t been an American
citizen “long enough”. However, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that by January 3, 1957, when Saund would take office, he would have been a citizen for the
requisite amount of time. The Indian congressman’s (Dulip Singh Saund) term ended with his death. Currently, there are a few Indians running for Congress (Peter Mathews-leading in
polls, Neil Dhillon – lost his primary due to very negative advertising his opponent, Kumar Barve, Raj Uppulluri – lost his primary).
Most Indians currently immigrating to the US are either the family of US citizens or professionals. The Indian community in the US is currently the most well educated and
prosperous one. Close to 89% of Indians in the US have completed high school, 65% have completed college and a stunning 40% have completed Masters or Doctorate degrees. Their
per capita income is the highest in the USA. Their educational and income levels are higher than other Asian American groups, Whites, Hispanics and Blacks. (US Census figures).
Indians in the USA have ventured into almost every field and occupation, though most of them are professionals such as doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and financial
analysts. Indians have held positions such as the sheriff of a county in Maryland, a member of the coaching staff for the San Francisco 49er’s, etc. Zubin Mehta, as a conductor of the New
York.Philharmonic, is one of the most renowned Indians in the US. Ismael Merchant is a well established movie producer. Freddie Mercury (alias Farhud Balsara) of the rock band
Queen was part Indian. Other established rock bands with Indians include Seven MaryThree, No Doubt (Tony Kanal-bassist) and Sound Garden (Kim Thayil). The founder of Gupta
Technologies and the co-founder of Sun Microsystems are a few among a number of other pioneering Indian entrepreneurs. Close to 3000 Indian Americans work in the New York
MTA, contributing to the management of the worlds largest transit system. Miss Teen USA for the year 1994 is Miss Ratna Kancherla an Indian American from Georgia. I could go on
and on about the variety of professions and fields that Indian Americans have contributed to, but it should suffice to say that Indian Americans have consistently contributed a great deal
to the economic, social and cultural prosperity of the United States of America.
As you have probably learned from this document about the history of Indians in the USA, Indians are not new to this country and have been an integral part of the American
mosaic for a long time. Most of the historical facts stated here are almost never taught in American schools and are generally ignored by the media. Since the number of Indian Americans
is growing rapidly,it is essential that more of the American populace know this history. It can lead to more acceptance and integration of Indians into American society. A good
understanding of this relationship between Indians and the USA may also serve as a foundation for better relations between India and the USA. It is about time two of the greatest
democracies in the world started co-operating and working together. Perhaps with a better understanding of their past, Americans of Indian origin can contribute resolutely to developing
friendly relations between the USA and India. The social, cultural and economic benefits to both countries could be immense.
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