Where is Huma?

humaweiner.jpgI don’t keep close tabs on goings on in political stories, let alone tabloid-political stories, but it has been hard for me to avoid hearing about “Weinergate”. Here’s Gothamist:

Rep. Anthony Weiner told reporters this morning that he was “desperately” hoping to get back to work as a Congressman today: “This prank has apparently been successful. After almost 11 hours of answering questions, any that anyone wanted to put, today I’m going to have to get back to work doing the job that I’m paid to do.” But just because he isn’t talking about it doesn’t mean that everyone else has stopped talking, gossiping and joking about the strange ongoing saga that is Weinergate.

If you don’t know what the “prank” alludes to, I recommend Google News. But the short of it is that someone with access to congressman Weiner’s twitter account sent a link to a lewd picture to a Washington state journalism student. But it wasn’t a direct tweet. It was available on his public stream! Continue reading

Ricky Gill: The Young (but not Green) Guy from Lodi

Ricky Gill on KOVR-CBS13 Sacramento from Ricky Gill on Vimeo.

Lodi-born San Joaquin County native Ranjit “Ricky” Gill recently announced that he’s running for Congress in central California, in what is currently the state’s 11th district (it seems that district boundaries may change after August 15 when a citizens redistricting commission approves final maps). Sepia Mutiny noted Gill with a hint of envy and admiration back when he was invited at the age of 17 to the Republican state convention. At that time he served as the sole student representative on the State Board of Education, selected by the former Governator himself. Continue reading

25% of 2011 Intel Science Talent Search finalists Indian American

talentfig.jpgChildren of Immigrants Are America’s Science Superstars:

The study, conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, found that 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition — also known as the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of immigrants even though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born.

A think tank called the National Foundation for Economic Policy has released a report (PDF), The impact of the children of immigrants on scientific achievement in America. These aren’t just any “immigrants.” Ethnically 10 out of the 40 finalists are Indian American, and 16 are Chinese American, but perhaps more critically: “While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals.” Continue reading

Peter Thiel doubles down on young browns

We’ve pointed to the Indian American prominence in the National Spelling Bee, and or in the Intel National Talent Search, so I thought it might interest readers that two of Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 fellows are brown:

faheem-zaman_thumb-2.jpgFaheem Zaman has shot the moon on nearly every SAT test he’s ever taken: 5580 points across 5 tests. He wants to decentralize banking in the developing world with a mobile payment system. Because savings are difficult in poor countries–including in some regions of South Asia where many have to hoard and protect cash–Faheem believes mobile financial services will help bring prosperity to these areas. Before he introduces his technology to the developing world, Faheem’s initial plan is to gain a foothold in the U.S. market for mobile financial services.

sujay-tyle_thumb.jpgSujay Tyle is one of the youngest students at Harvard and is passionate about hacking cellulose to create cheap biofuels. He first worked in a lab when he was 11, interned at Dupont as a teenager, and won the grand prize at the 2009 International Sustainable World Energy Olympiad in Houston. With his older brother, Sheel, he also runs ReSight, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to helping the vision-impaired around the world.

I’ve defended Thiel’s idea elsewhere, but the short of it is that the intent is prod some bright young things to take some time off from school and engage in some entrepreneurialism. The fellows are given $100,000 to drop out of higher education (or not pursue higher education) for two years. I think that our society’s focus on higher education as if it must be the ends for all individuals, instead of a means, is problematic. This is an issue which brushes up against the broader themes which Abhi addressed when it comes to Asian American focus on achievement by orthodox metrics only.

Here’s a post on DealBook, Finding the Next Mark Zuckerberg. Peter Thiel is all over the media, so I’m sure you’ll hear the pros and cons. Continue reading

Why Are There No NY South Asian Electeds?

ny-senate-map.jpgAn interesting piece out of WNYC this morning on the increasing population of South Asians in New York but a lack of political representation.

The Asian population in the five boroughs spiked 32 percent in the last decade, and New Yorkers of South Asian descent had a lot to do with it. Numbers from the Census Bureau show that Indian American numbers alone skyrocketed 77 percent in Manhattan to reach 25,857, and in the city over all there are now 192,209 people who identify as Asian Indian. [wnyc]

So there’s a large population. That we all know. Why are there no South Asians in seats of political power?

There are segments of the South Asian community–particularly those in Manhattan–who are affluent and vote….Other segments of the South Asian population, particularly in the outer boroughs, tend to be less politically active and more economically diverse. But with this spring’s redistricting opportunity, there’s a growing movement in Queens to redraw district lines in hopes that the South Asian population can increase its political power. [wnyc]

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the civic engagement tools that are in place are disproportionately constructed to marginalize voices of people of color. The access that South Asians have to the electoral process is oppressed by the system in place. It’s not just about voting, but about having access to an electoral system. One of the tactics to dis-empower South Asian communities is in the process of how district lines are drawn.

Part of that momentum is “Taking our seat,” a new group applying for non-profit status. The organization is focused on redrawing the lines of the 31st Assembly district in South Eastern Queens to create a ‘brown district.’ Their analysis of Census Bureau data showed that two of the highest density South Asian American census tracts lie within that district and four other high density tracts–which are split between four other Assembly districts–are located just blocks away….Richmond Hill’s South Asian community is divided into two city council districts and five assembly districts. [wnyc] Continue reading

Going Back to Cali

On the heel’s of my national Desi post, and Razib’s international Desi post, I got curious. What about California? That is a state where data was released for “Asian Indians only” by the Census data so far. A friend asked me for California numbers over the weekend (he wants to set up a practice in California and wanted to see where Desis were living – I never would have thought to use census data for that). To make it visually easier for him (and me) I dropped the data for California cities with Asian Indian populations on a google map.

View Asian Indian Population in California in a larger map

It’s no fancy GIS map nor does the data really tell you much beyond population and concentration – but it was quick and simple. The purple markers represent the top ten cities with Asian Indian populations and the yellow markers are for everything above a population of 3,000. The blue markers are for cities with high concentrations of Asian Indians but did not have a population of Asian Indians over 3,000 people. Once again, this map is for people that marked “Asian Indian only” – it does not account for mixed race, nor does it account for other South Asians like Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc…

To me what was the most surprising were the really small cities in the central valley that have a relatively large concentrations of Asian Indians. I’d love to do a Cali road trip based on this map, and hit up the Indian restaurants along the way. Because I imagine, where there’s an Indian population, there’s a saag paneer joint not too far away. Is there an app for that? Continue reading

Where the browns be internationally

This is an American-focused weblog, but the internet knows no borders, so there are browns from all over who leave comments and post. It’s interesting to get different perspectives (OK, most of the time!). But on the heels of Taz’s post on the 2010 US Census data release I thought it would be interesting to revisit how “South Asians” are distributed outside of South Asia. To do that I had to look around for ethnic data on a selection of nations with large South Asian populations.

There are some qualifiers here. Since the non-Indian South Asian data for the USA isn’t released yet, I just looked at Indian Americans. This is “good enough for government work” in the USA I think because the brown community is overwhelmingly Indian origin. In contrast that would be a really bad approximation in the United Kingdom, where half of the brown community is non-Indian (this includes into the Indian class those who arrived from East Africa I believe). The distinction between Indian and non-Indian also gets into the “not-even-wrong” category if you are looking at the West Indies, where most South Asians arrived before partition, and so were all “East Indian” no matter where they were from (though I know that in places like Mauritius there is sometimes a post facto identification with post-partition nation-states, often based on religious divisions). Finally, for some Gulf Arab nations the demographic data is nebulous and hard to get. Part of this is due to the fact that the South Asian Diaspora in places like Saudi Arabia is quite transient, and the probability of actually becoming a citizen is low. I couldn’t find Saudi data easily, though it seems likely that there are several million South Asian residents of Saudi Arabia at any given moment. But it seems agreed upon that the United Arab Emirates is about half South Asian, and this community is arguably the most rooted, even if they don’t hold citizenship, so I’m including it in the comparisons.

Below are two scatterplots which show the absolute numbers of browns vs. the % of browns in a given nation. The second plot is log-transformed percentage so you can compare the proportions at the low end of the scale. Continue reading

Ravi Bhalla Runs

Ravi Bhalla.jpg Hoboken City Councilmember-at-Large Ravi Bhalla has thrown his hat…(uh, turban??) in the legislative ring – this past week he announced his candidacy for NJ State Assembly in the 33rd Legislative District. The Democratic primary election is June 7th.

“I am running for Assembly because the voters in Hoboken and the entire district deserve a real alternative to the politics as usual in Hudson County. Important decisions are made behind closed doors by power brokers outside of Hoboken instead of where they should be: at the ballot box. I believe voters should be provided a real choice instead of hand-picked political patrons. And, I am proud to say Mayor Dawn Zimmer agrees completely. That’s why she fully supports my candidacy,” said Bhalla in an email from his office. [nj]

For too long, our leaders in Trenton have been chosen by party bosses in backroom deals with no input from the voters they claim to represent. Decisions affecting your future are made behind closed doors and no one has the guts to challenge them. As a Councilman in Hoboken and Chairman of the local Democratic Party in Hoboken, I have seen firsthand the corrupting influence machine politics has on the democratic process. I am running because it is time to give residents a real choice, an alternative to candidates that are pre-selected to represent you by the Hudson County party machine. [bhallaforassembly]

I heard about Ravi’s race rather recently, from members in the community. I’m more familiar with West Coast politics, and had to do some rooting around. I had no idea there was a Sikh sitting on city council in Hoboken, a city with a substantial South Asian population. Who is Ravi Bhalla?

Ravi is a small businessman, managing a four-lawyer law firm with offices in downtown Hoboken and Newark. His firm specializes in employment law, civil rights, commercial litigation, and local government law. He was included in the 2009 edition NJ Superlawyers and NJ Monthly magazine as one of those designated as a ‘Rising Star’ in the New Jersey legal community….Ravi has long been an advocate for the legitimate rights of tenants and landlords, serving for close to two years as Hoboken’s Rent Board Attorney and Special Litigation Counsel for Rent Board matters, and continuing to serve as Union City’s Tenant Advocate. [ourhoboken]

I’d be interested to hear from our readers on the ground in New Jersey to hear what they have to say about Ravi Bhalla. Was his run a surprise? Does he have a shot? Are you volunteering to get him elected? Please let us know. Continue reading

Where My Desis At…So Far?

Two million South Asian Americans. At least, those are the figures we’ve been working with since the 2000 Census and many of us have been on the edge of our seats to see how these numbers have changed in the past 10 years. The US Census is slowing releasing their data and this week they released numbers the larger Asian subcategories under Asian. Meaning, we now have access to some “Asian Indian only” data for SOME of the states. This didn’t keep the media from publishing findings, and I spent some time trying to suss out their source.

A little surfing on American FactFinder (actually, a really inordinate amount of time surfing – they’ve updated the site and it’s not very intuitive). It turns out the South Asian American population has grown – of the Asian American categories, Asian Indians are the second largest only after Chinese. The South Asian population is at 2,802,676 and these will most likely change as the 2010 numbers get published on the census site.

So. Where exactly are the Desis at?

Concentration of Asian Indians v.2.JPG

I took the population data available and did a county break down of all the Asian Indians residing and divided that by the total population. Please note, since the data is still being released in waves, we are still missing a few states to this analysis – Arkansas, New Jersey and Texas and likely some more. Clearly the data for New Jersey and Texas will change the findings. Also keep in mind that the sub-categories for Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc… have not been published yet.

At 11.1% concentration, we have Sutter County, CA listed at the top. Home to Yuba City and a long history of Sikh American farmers, this should come as no big surprise, though the percentage point is rather high. Santa Clara County is next on the list and is considered the “Silicon Valley”, including landmarks such as Stanford University and Google. Third on the list is of course, Queens County, which is where the Indian neighborhood Jackson Heights is.

Largest Populations of Asian Indians v.2.JPG

If you look at raw population count alone, Santa Clara County is number one, Queens County is number two and Los Angeles County is number three. Continue reading

Nikki Haley, kingmaker 2012?

Nikki Haley has been the subject of posts on this blog going back to the middle of the last decade. Now Politico has the first of what are probably going to be many similar stories leading up to the 2012 South Carolina primary, Nikki Haley muscles up for 2012:

With noted smackdowns of two top GOP 2012 contenders, a high-profile presence at the May 5 Fox News debate and a schedule heavy with cable news show appearances, the first-term Republican governor is signaling her intent to use South Carolina’s key early presidential primary to claim a place on the national stage.

Haley’s recent muscle-flexing came at the expense of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, both of whom are still licking their wounds after her frank–and non-constructive–criticism of them.

Continue reading