NEWS INDIA TIMES

www.newsindiatimes.com – that’s all you need to know Cover Story 5 News India Times March 15, 2019 By Ela Dutt very time one writes about Indian-American women's achievements, the tendency is to focus on those whose names appear in mainstream media, national figures like former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Randhawa Haley, former PepsiCo head Indra Nooyi, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris; astronauts like SunitaWilliams and the late Kalpana Chawla; in the entertainment field, Mindy Kaling, Padma Lakshmi, Mira Nair, Priyanka Chopra; authors Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai; politicians like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal ofWashington state. There are other notable women such as State Reps. Padma Kuppa of Michigan, and Nima Kulkarni of Kentucky; Saru Jayaraman, advocate for restaurant workers, political organizers like Sayu Bhojwani of New American Leaders in New Jersey; Seema Agnani, executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, Mallika Dutt of Sakhi and Breakthrough, judges ... the list goes on and on and to name some and not others is an injustice best avoided. However, these are apart from the scores of Indian- American women working in every corner of this country, from the conservative free-thinker in Boulder, Colorado, to the ordained Hindu priest in greaterWashington, D.C., who make an impact on American society, who push the boundaries of cultural adaptation, and broaden the hori- zons of communities outside their own. There has been real change going on at the grassroots since Indians began immigrating in large numbers after the 1965 Immigration Act, and those home-makers and professional women, engaged in community activities, formed organizations, and got busy in local temples and gurdwaras; they need to be brought to the front burner as they touch the day-to-day lives of not just other women, but the families and communities that surround them. Most exciting is the fact that they are not cut from the same cloth, nor do they adhere to the same political ideolo- gy, though a majority may be Democrats, even if not neces- sarily a Liberal- a sort of amalgam of tradition and moder- nity. Then there's the second generation of women who have grabbed the expanding space for women in numerous fields - from space exploration, to standup comedy. "We need to celebrate the unsung heroines," says Ann Kalayil, founder of the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute in Chicago. "Most of our community service organizations around the country are led by women. Don't misunderstand me - we are very proud of the Indra Nooyis and Kamala Harrises, but we also need to pay tribute and honor the women who really define our community," Kalayil said. "If we were to create a nation- wide map of community organizations - they would reveal the difference Indian-American women are making to this country." Her views were echoed by Preeta Bansal, a pioneering woman in the Indian-American community who in 2001 became the first South Asian American to argue a case in the US Supreme Court. "It used to be there were few acceptable routes to pursue achievement, power, success. Now pursuing your passion is success." Her unsung heroes are Sujatha Baliga, a national leader in restorative justice who works extensively with victims of child sexual abuse. "She has an unwavering commitment and is a national leader," notes Bansal; and Pavithra Mehta who bring out a good-news portal (Daily Good), since 1999, and is the author of InfiniteVision, about the Aravind Eye Hospitals in India. "These are just amazing, amazing women, connected to their souls," says Bansal, who a former constitutional lawyer and former Solicitor General of NewYork State, now committed to grassroots social change. The variety within the community of Indian-American women is significant. It includes Conservative with a big 'C' NilamDesai, of Boulder, Colorado, director of Free To Be Coalition which aims to promote free speech and Women's History Month E Continued On Page 6 The diverse voices of Indian-American women reflect the richness of their contributions to the social fabric of this nation Seema Agnani, Executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development Ann Kalayil, founder of the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute in Chicago Nilam Desai, Director of Free To Be Coalition Dreamstime.com CourtesyNilam Desai Courtesy:LinkedIn Courtesy :Twitter

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