Howdy Modi: Indian Diaspora Biggest Winner of Trump-Modi Bonhomie

Raghav Bahl explains in seven points why Indian Americans fare better than other Asian Americans.   

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Video producer: Anubhav Mishra

Cameraperson: Sumit Badola


So, who emerged the biggest winner from the Howdy Modi-Trump spectacle at Houston? For diehard bhakts (devotees), Modi catapulted to the political stratosphere by yanking POTUS to a private rally. For Trump’s fanatical Republican followers, he “gotcha” the elusive Indian-American votes, socking it to the Democrats.

But frankly, who were both Modi and Trump openly serenading? They were unabashedly wooing the most potent third force in the giant stadium, viz the economic, intellectual and electoral firepower of the Indian-American diaspora.

They were clearly the biggest winners. And here’s why.

Nearly four million strong, Indian-Americans comprise the second biggest sub-group of Asian immigrants, after Chinese. About 72 percent possess a bachelor’s degree or more – compared to 51 percent of other Asian immigrants; they hold top jobs in every field from medicine to government; and their annual median household income is the highest of any ethnic group in the US – $100,000 in 2015, compared to an average of $73,000 for all Asian-American groups.

Though Indians comprise 6 percent of Silicon Valley’s workforce, they have founded nearly 15 percent of its start-ups. Several of America’s biggest tech companies are headed by Indian-Americans, including Satya Nadella at Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayan. They send tens of billions of dollars home each year, consistently making India the world’s top remittance recipient, with nearly $70 billion flowing in from across the globe every year since 2017.


So why have Indian-Americans succeeded so spectacularly? Here are seven reasons:

1. The Competitive Indian Education System

For all its shortcomings, India’s test-based education system prizes math and science, making them highly respected and extremely competitive fields of study which produce one of the world’s best-trained technical workforces.

2. Proficiency of Indians in English Language

Thanks to the imperial Brits, Indians arrive in the US not just well-educated, but also extremely proficient in English, the global language of business. Seventy six percent of Indian immigrants speak English ‘very well,’ Pew’s Asian-American survey finds, compared to just over half of Chinese immigrants.

3. Familiar With Capitalist Economy

What’s more, Indians – unlike the Chinese – are familiar with the workings of a capitalist democracy and are adept at navigating the minefields of a raucous multi-ethnic society defined by competing interests.

4. The Resilience and Tolerance of Indians

Their experience of growing up in India enables its immigrants to accomplish so much abroad. Living cheek-by-jowl with a billion-plus people of different backgrounds and faiths goes a long way toward fostering resilience, tolerance and flexibility – all characteristics associated with success.

In fact, India’s unwieldy bureaucracy may provide the ideal training ground for an aspiring entrepreneur who is unlikely ever to face a more complex or frustrating set of challenges.

5. Discrimination Isn’t a ‘Major’ Problem

Indian-Americans remain less troubled by discrimination than other Asians. The 2012 Pew survey found that just 10 percent of Indian Americans considered discrimination a ‘major’ problem, 48 percent ‘minor’, and 38 percent no problem at all. The Chinese and Hispanics fared, and felt, much worse.


6. Commitment to Family Values

Their unwavering commitment to family keeps them stable and rooted. More than 70 percent of Indian adults in America are married, compared to 59 percent of other Asian Americans and just over 50 percent of all Americans – most of them to other Indians.

And they place the highest priority on raising children; 78 percent rated being a good parent as ‘one of the most important things’ in life compared to 67 percent of all Asian Americans and 50 percent of the general public.

7. The Unwavering Support From Community

Indians who venture to the US are welcomed by an extremely nurturing diaspora network. Irrespective of which state they hail from, they realise they have all overcome the same obstacles and challenges. So, they support each other, invest in their companies, sit on each other’s boards and hire from within the community.

And that’s how – these seven reasons – Indian-Americans made history at Houston!

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