IAGB Spotlight – Celebrating the Indian – American Identity

Ramesh Kapur

The Indian American community has come a long way in its journey of settling down in the USA.  From being migrant manual laborers to being considered the model minority. Albeit, this journey has taken many ups and downs. The community is anything but monolithic and embraces an eclectic mix of diverse characters. Without doubt our social, economic, and political influence has grown. The open question is how we decide to deploy this influence. 

Mr. Ramesh Vishwanath Kapur, the founder and president of the US India Security Council, answered this question for himself a long time ago.  And his answer is, ‘by getting involved within the mainstream American community and claiming a rightful seat at the table’ for our community members.  That is what he has been working on in a bipartisan way for more than three decades. He has seen the community flourish in various fields such as medicine, technology, education, business, and entrepreneurship. He knows that the leaders in these fields have become the opinion makers in this country. And is proud of the fact that now there are five Indian American representatives in the US Congress and the Vice President of the USA is an Indian American too! 

At grass roots level Mr. Kapur has witnessed the community’s engagement priorities evolve as the younger generations’ participation has increased. Though faithful citizens and residents of this country, he has seen earlier immigrant generations focused on India-centric causes. With the fresh outlook of the younger generations, the Indian American community is getting engaged with more global issues and he thinks that is the way to go. He appeals that Indian Americans should really get involved with mainstream American charities and be the digital equalizer within our local communities.  That way everyday Americans will get to know and appreciate the Indian Americans more.  Running for office and getting elected at larger numbers will not be a mystery then. He is aware that not everyone can do this. As a Gandhi believer, his suggestion for everyone is to carve a little time out from the busy life for the larger community and get involved at least on a small scale.  

His own journey exemplifies the values he espouses. As an immigrant to the USA, he started increasing his community engagement early on. With a community focused upbringing he received from his parents, Mr. Kapur knew the inspiration one can get from that activity. The organizations he worked with or helped found have been instrumental in developing strong US – India relations. He has been crucial in many highly publicized developments in this growing relationship. And had many opportunities to rub shoulders with the most powerful personalities in both the countries. Yet what he appreciates most is the respect and support he received from his community. 

The Indian American story as well as the American story is ever evolving.  How can we bring some difference to the larger narrative with our inherent diverse roots? Mr. Ramesh Kapur’s answer is clear and helpful. We thank him for that!