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    US President’s delegation to India may include several Indian American officials

    Synopsis

    Vanila Singh, who was chief medical officer in the US department of health from 2017 to 2019, too says Indian Americans in top government positions will see Trump’s India visit as an opportunity to send a message to the immigrant community in the US.

    Agencies
    2020 is an election year for Trump and he is likely to use the optics around his Delhi and Ahmedabad visits to reach out to the Indian American electorate back home.
    When Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for nuclear energy in the US, was in New Delhi last week, she met with officials at the ministry of external affairs and department of atomic energy to discuss civil nuclear collaboration. It is likely that Baranwal, the first woman to lead America’s nuclear energy office, will be seen with the team accompanying US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during their first visit to India on February 24-25.

    Six more high profile Indian Americans may be part of Trump’s delegation to India. This includes Prem Parameswaran, a member of the Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Advisory Commission; Bimal Patel, assistant secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions; Manisha Singh, assistant secretary in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs; Ajit Pai, chairman of Federal Communications Commission; Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Kash Patel, a key Trump adviser who works on the National Security Council, and Sampat Shivangi, a Republican fundraiser and a part of the Mental Health Services National Advisory Council.

    2020 is an election year for Trump and he is likely to use the optics around his Delhi and Ahmedabad visits to reach out to the Indian American electorate back home.

    “For the Indian prime minister to visit the US and do a joint event with the president, followed just five months later by the president visiting India and doing a joint event with the PM is unprecedented. This is certainly a new high for the relationship between the two nations and Indian Americans will relish this,” says Niraj Antani, a state representative in the Ohio House and the first Indian American elected in the state.

    Vanila Singh, who was chief medical officer in the US department of health from 2017 to 2019, too says Indian Americans in top government positions will see Trump’s India visit as an opportunity to send a message to the immigrant community in the US.

    “The president has a team which is driven to produce results. Many of his team members of Indian origin are certainly advising him on his strategic engagements in India in trade, entrepreneurship and health,” she told ET Magazine from Silicon Valley.

    Not all political analysts, however, believe there will be any major swing in the support for Trump or the Republicans, considering that Indian Americans have traditionally been supporters of the Democratic Party.

    A 2016 postelection National Asian American Survey had found that 77% of Indian Americans voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and just 16% voted for Trump.

    “The main issues will remain the inexplicable Modi-Trump bromance, and the more thorny issues around trade,” says Nish Acharya, CEO of Equal Innovation, a consultancy in Boston that advises companies and governments.

    Besides, even within the Republican support base, not everyone supports Trump. “He is not a traditional Republican candidate and even those Indian Americans who support him are probably aware of the tremendous polarisation that exists about this administration,” says Sanjay Puri, chairman of the Washington DC-based US-India Political Action Committee.

    However, given the strong optics of the Trump-Modi friendship, which will follow from the Howdy Modi event held in Houston last year, there could be a shift of 10-20% Indian American votes in favour of Trump, says Robinder N Sachdev, president of Imagindia Institute, a think tank in New Delhi. “In the 2020 elections, I do see a larger support for President Trump by the Indian American community, as compared to the past, both in terms of vote share and campaign finance.”

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    1 Comment on this Story

    Narain Bhatia346 days ago
    I know many of my friends and family members who are strong supporters of President but I don't believe that President's going to Delhi and Ahemadabad and optics with Narendra Modi is going to sway any Indian Americans here. Those who do not like him do so for his abusive and excessive use of power as well as creating problems with ICE while entering or leaving USA because they are mistaken as Muslims. Additionally tax cuts mainly seen for the rich, huge new debt and tariffs are policy issues.
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