Five Indian-Americans sworn-in as members of US Congress


Washington: Sealing a historic breakthrough for Indian-Americans, five were sworn-in on January 3 as members of the US Congress — one of them, Kamala Harris, becoming the first to become a Senator.
Ami Bera, who was the only Indian-American in the 435-member House of Representatives and re-elected in the November elections, was joined by the four others, increasing the Indian-American contingent to five members in the Congress.
All five are Democrats and three of them — Harris, Bera and Representative Ro Khanna — are from California. The other two Representatives are Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois and Pramila Jayapal from Washington state.
Harris, whose mother was from Chennai and father from Jamaica, has a dual identity as both an Indian-American and an African-American. Vice President Joseph Biden administered her the oath of office which she swore on a Bible copy held by her husband Doug Emhoff.
A few hours later, the focus of the community shifted to the House Chambers wherein as many as four Indian Americans were sworn in as its members, including Congressman Ami Bera, who has been re-elected for the third consecutive term.
Joining Bera were young and dynamic Ro Khanna (40) representing the Silicon Valley. He was sworn in on a bicentennial edition of the Constitution on loan from the rare books division of the Library of Congress.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, 42, who won the election from Illinois took the oath on Gita. He is only the second US lawmaker after Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii to take the oath on a Gita.
Ms Gabbard, the first ever Hindu to be elected to the US Congress took the oath for third consecutive term.
Having created a national niche for herself even before being sworn in Pramila Jayapal (51) is the first Indian American woman in the US House of Representatives. Her 78-year-old mother, who especially came in from India, watched the proceedings from the gallery.
Less than a mile away, Indian Americans from across the country gathered later in the night to celebrate the historic occasion at a gala organized by Indian Americans.
“This is a historic moment. Today we are celebrating from success to significance,” said M. R. Rangaswami, eminent investor, philanthropist and entrepreneur.
“Today, we are actually one percent of the Congress. We have come a long way but we have a long way to go,” Rangaswami said. “The best of the (Indian American) community is yet to come,” said eminent Indian American Ashley Telis at a pre-gala news conference, adding that more is in store from the next generation of Indian Americans.
“Indian Americans running for office and winning for Congress is really historic,” said political activist Neera Tanden.