Deccan Chronicle

Over 50 Indians in Barack Obama's White House team

Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent

Published on: December 30, 2013 | Updated on: Invalid date

Washington: Indian-Americans never had it so good in the US, as a record number of members from the over three million-strong community were appointed to key positions in the White House in 2013.

Reflecting his special affection, President Barack Obama appointed a record number of Indian-Americans in the first year of his second innings at the White House, which experts say recognises the inherent talent of this ethnic community.

Possibly for the first time ever, more than a dozen Indian-Americans have been given key positions in the White House, while there are hardly any important departments where Indian-Americans do not occupy key posts.

There is no official list of Indian-Americans in the Obama Administration, but according to a list compiled by the PTI, the number easily crosses 50 — a record figure so far.

Five Indian-Americans are holding key positions in the Obama Administration, which have been confirmed by the US Senate.

While Rajiv Shah, administrator of USAID, continues to be the highest ranking Indian-American in the administration; the most important administrative appointment of the year was that of Nisha Biswal, assistant secretary of State for South Asian Affairs.

Azita Raji, member, President’s Commission on White House Fellowship; Islam Siddiqui, chief agricultural negotiator, US trade representative, and Vinai Thummalapally, executive director, Select USA, department of commerce, are the three others confirmed as administration officials by the Senate.

If confirmed by the Senate, Vivek Murthy, would be the first-ever Indian-American surgeon general. Two other Indian-Americans awaiting confirmation from the Senate include Arun Kumar, assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service.

Puneet Talwar, who played a key role in the Iranian nuclear deal, recently testified before the Senate for the key position of the assistant secretary of state for Political- Military Affairs.

If confirmed, for the first time ever two assistant secretary of state positions at the state department would be held by Indian-Americans.

Mr Obama himself praised Indian-Americans when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House on September 27.

"Indian-Americans make extraordinary contributions to the United States every single day — businessmen, scientists, academics, now Miss America is of Indian-American descent, and I think it’s a signal of how close our countries are," Obama said.

 In fact the top two positions in the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department are being held by Indian Americans. Atul Keshap was recently appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia and is Deputy to Biswal.

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