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 recognizes the inherent talent of this ethnic community.
Five Indian-Americans are holding key positions in the Obama Administration, which have been confirmed by the United States 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. 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. (PTI)