- At least 55 Indian-Americans have been appointed to key positions by Joe Biden
- The appointments were made during Biden’s first 50 days in office
- Almost half of them are women, and the majority of them work in the White House
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Indian-Americans are “taking over the country,” referring to the large number of people from the community who have been appointed to positions in his administration.
In less than 50 days, Biden has appointed at least 55 Indian-Americans to key leadership roles in his administration, ranging from his speechwriter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and nearly in every department of the government.
In a virtual engagement with NASA scientists involved in the historic Perseverance landing on Mars, Biden said, “Americans of Indian ancestry (sic) are taking over the country. You (Swati Mohan), My Vice President (Kamala Harris), and my speechwriter (Vinay Reddy).”
Swati Mohan, an Indian-American scientist, is in charge of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission’s guidance, navigation, and control operations.
On January 20, Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, making history by naming at least 55 Indian-Americans to key positions in his administration. This excludes Vice President Kamala Harris, who is an elected position, and Neera Tanden, who withdrew her nomination for Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget a day earlier.
Almost half of them are women, and a large number of them work in the White House. As of now, the 2009-2017 Obama-Biden administration has the distinction of naming the most Indian-Americans in any administration; having said this, the previous Donald Trump administration was not far behind, having named the first Indian-American to hold a cabinet position and become a member of the National Security Council.
For the first time in history, the Biden administration has named so many Indian-Americans in the first 50 days of his presidency. Dr. Vivek Murthy appeared before a Senate Committee for US Surgeon General this week, and Vanita Gupta is scheduled to appear before the Department of Justice for her confirmation hearing as Associate Attorney General.
“It’s impressive how many Indian-Americans were willing to serve in public service. Since we launched our Government Leaders list on Presidents’ Day last month, there have been several additions. I’m so pleased to see that our community is growing from strength to strength!,” Mr. M Rangaswami, an eminent Indian-American philanthropist and the founder of Indiaspora, told PTI.
While the community is saddened that Tanden’s nomination had to be withdrawn due to Republican opposition, Indian-American women have risen to new heights in the Biden administration. Biden wanted to talk with Swati Mohan, Mars 2020’s Guidance and Controls Operations Lead. She is not, however, a political appointee.
Indian-American women appointed by Biden include Aisha Shah: Partnership Manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Mala Adiga: Policy Director to Dr Jill Biden; Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, State Department; Sumona Guha: Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council, White House; Sameera Fazili, Deputy Director, US National Economic Council (NEC); and Sabrina Singh: Deputy Press Secretary, Vice President White House.
Garima Verma has been appointed as Digital Director of the Office of the First Lady; Shanthi Kalathil has been named as Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights, National Security Council, White House; Sonia Aggarwal as Senior Advisor for Climate Policy and Innovation; Office of Domestic Climate Policy, White House; Reema Shah as Deputy Associate Counsel, Office of White House Counsel; and Neha Gupta: Associate Counsel, Office of White House Counsel.
Tanya Das has been appointed as Chief of Staff, Office of Science, Department of Energy; Mini Timmaraju: Senior adviser to the director, Office of Personnel Management; Shuchi Talati: Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy; Aditi Gorur: Policy Advisor, US Mission to the United Nations; Bhavya Lal is the Acting Chief of Staff, NASA; and Sohini Chatterjee: Senior Policy Advisor US Mission to the United Nations, .
Dimple Chaudhary has been appointed as Deputy General Counsel for Nationwide Resource Protection Programs, Environmental Protection Agency; Ruchi Jain is the Deputy Solicitor for General Law, Department of Interior; Sharmistha Das is the Deputy General Counsel, Department of Homeland Security; Aruna Kalyanam is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax and Budget, Department of the Treasury; Meera Joshi is the Acting Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Department of Transportation.
Neha Dewan, member from South Asians for Biden said, “We are thrilled that this administration represents America’s diversity by having such a large number of South Asians. The presence of South Asians in key senior roles in the Biden-Harris administration would certainly encourage countless South Asians to aspire to public service and run for public office.” Ms. Dewan while taking to PTI further added, “This is a proud moment for our community.”
Gautam Raghavan, Deputy Director in Office of Presidential Personnel; Tarun Chhabra, Senior Director for Technology and National Security at National Security Council White House; Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of National Economic Council; Vedant Patel, Assistant Press Secretary President at the White House are among the Indian-Americans who have been appointed to key posts in the Biden administration.