Chronology of migration from India to USA


A Letter From Grandpa

Niranjan Shah, a civil engineer, who pioneered famous high-rise buildings in Baroda, is a broadcaster in India and the USA and a prolific writer. Under “A Letter from Grandpa.” he has been writing since 2002 on India’s historical, philosophical, and literary heritage. He can be reached at   

By Niranjan Shah
My dear Siddarth and Sonam:
Migrants from India had settled all around the world in historic and prehistoric periods. India was the spring- board for the colonization of Europe, Asia, Australia and ultimately the Americas. India had influenced all the nations of the world, culturally. 

Migrants from India have settled in 102 countries of the world. Many of them hold high political and social positions and ranks like lords, justices, members of parliaments, governors, and even as high as prime ministers and presidents of the countries. The Governor-Genearl of New Zealand and the President of Singapore are of Indian origin. Similarly the  Prime Misters of Mauritius, Guyana and Trinidad are of Indian origin.  

The East India Company brought over Indian indentured servants to the British American colonies in 1600s. Following American independence from the British, Indian immigrants began entering the independent United States as maritime workers in 1680.  First two ships arrived in the Caribbean with Indian indentured workers, landing in British Guiana in 1838. First significant wave of Indian immigrants, mostly Sikh farmers and laborers form Punjab region of British India, started arriving in California (Angel Island) on ships via Hong Kong in 1899-1914. A.K. Mozumdar became the first Indian-born person to earn US citizenship in 1913, having convinced the Spokane district judge that he was “Caucasian” and met the requirements of naturalization law that restricted citizenship to free white persons. In 1923, as a result of a US Supreme Court decision that no person of East Indian origin could become a naturalized American citizen, his citizenship was revoked. In 1923 The US Supreme Court ruled that people from India (at the time, British India, e.g. South Asians) are aliens ineligible for citizenship in United States.  In 1943, Republican Clara Booth Luce and Democrat Emanuel Celler introduced a bill to open naturalization to Indian immigrants to the US. Prominent Americans Pearl Buck, Louis Fischer, Albert Einstein and Robert Millikan gave their endorsement to the bill. President Franklin Roosevelt also endorsed the bill, calling for an end to the “statutory discrimination against the Indians.” In 1946 President Harry Truman signed into  law the Luce-Celler Act of 1946, returning to Indians the right to immigrate and naturalize. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the INS Act of 1965 into law, eliminating per-country immigration quotas and introducing immigration on the basis of professional experience and education. 

In 2007, Bobby Jindal was elected Governor of Louisiana and is the first person of Indian descent to be elected Governor of an American state; he was inaugurated on January 14, 2008. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Preetinder S. Bharara (born in Firozpur, India; graduate of Harard College Class of 1990 and Columbia Law School Class of 1993) as United States attorney for the Southern District of New York Manhattan, Eboo Patel and Anju Bhargava on President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Parnerships, and nominated Rajiv Shah, M.D. as the new head of United States Agency for International Development. 

In 2010, State Senator Nikki Haley is elected Governor of South Carolina, and became the first Indian American woman, and second Indian American in general to become Governor of an American state. 

A joint Duke University – UC Berkeley study revealed that Indian immigrants have founded more engineering and technology companies from 1995 to 2005 than immigrants  from the UK, China, Taiwan and Japan combined. Indian Americans have the highest percentage of higher education when compared to other racial groups.  

Young members of the Indian  community have been progressing very well. 

— Grandpa’s blessing


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