The Name Debate
Year 2000 United States Census
There are 1,678,765 Indian Americans in the USA
Since 1990-2000 the overall growth rate for Indian Americans was 105.87%
This is the largest growth in the Asian American community, the average annual growth rate was 7.6%
Indian Americans represent .6 percent of the United States population with 1,678,765
Asian Americans 10,242,998 in number constitute 3.6 percent of the United States population.
Indian Americans comprise 16.4% of the Asian American population.
Indian Americans are the 3rd largest constituency in the Asian American community after the Chinese American community, and the Filipino American community
The Asian American community grew at a rate of 48.26% from 1990-2000
* The total population of the United States is 281,421,906
The Indian American community in the United States is over a million and a half strong, but this large number has grown from small beginnings and an expansion of
immigration within the last thirty years.
The first Indian immigrant entered the United States in 1790 as a maritime worker, as part of the early commerce connections between India and the U.S. After that,
the next noticeable groups of Indians came to the west- coast of the United States, in the state of Washington, entering from Canada. These early twentieth century immigrants
were largely agricultural workers. In the early 1920s only about five thousand Indians resided in the Unites States.
At the time Indians were denied citizenship and the right to own land in many states. After World War 11, the U.S. desire for more professionals, particularly doctors,
engineers, and entrepreneurs, facilitated the immigration of Indians. In 1946, the Indian Citizenship Bill, co-sponsored in a bipartisan effort of Congressmen Emmanuel
Celler and Clare Booth Luce, legalized the ability of Indian immigrants to seek naturalization and granted India a token quota of one hundred immigrants annually.
When the Immigration Act of 1965 lifted immigrant quotas that had been in place for more than fifty years, the entry of Indians into the United States increased during the
late 1960s and ‘70s.1 In 1960, estimates showed only five thousand Indians in the United States, but by 1970, this population had grown to approximately three hundred
and fifty thousand. The 1990 U.S. Census records the number of Indian-Americans at 815, 447, and between the 1980 and 1990 Census, the annual growth rate of the community was
According to the estimate of the Population Reference Bureau, the Indian American population has grown by 103% in 1980-90, a growth rate second only to the Chinese among
Asian American ethnic groups, and by 55% in 1990-97, second only to the Vietnamese. As a result the Indian American population numbered 1.215m in 1997, making it the third
largest Asian American ethnic group in the US, after the Chinese and the Filipino Americans, outstripping the Japanese. Certainly, the Indian American community in the
United States has experienced a remarkable transformation from its modest beginnings.
The U.S. Census bureau defines Indian-Americans as "Asian Indians." When households fill out the census they define themselves as Asian Indians, a sub-category of the
Asian or Pacific Islander group People who choose to write in more specific categories, such as Gujarati or Sikh, are still classified as Asian Indians. People are classified
as Asian Indians if they are of Asian Indian origin or if they are of Asian Indian race, or if they are foreign born people from India.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the national census count of 1990 differed from the true population by less than two percent, which means that their
statistics about the size of the Indian American population are quite accurate. Using this margin of error, the Indian American community in 1990 would, at its highest
count be approximately 831,755 people. This means that perhaps, with the highest estimates, around 15,000 Indian-Americans were left out of the census. In estimating this
undercount, the Census Bureau uses birth and death records, immigration records and previous censuses to estimate the true population. It also conducts special surveys by
taking scientific samples of census blocks and re-interviewing them independently of the census enumeration to determine accuracy. It is, however, difficult to accurately
estimate the undercount of Indian-Americans because adequate records on this segment of the population have not existed for a long period of time.
The Census Bureau margin of error, an estimated 15,000 uncounted Indian-Americans, is consistent with the United States Immigration and Naturalization
Services estimate that the number of undocumented resident immigrants from India in October 1988 was around 15,000. Furthermore, according to INS estimates, the number of
undocumented Indian-American immigrants in 1992 had grown to about 28,000. Most of these undocumented Indian immigrants are people who were supposed to visit the United
States only for a specific period of time, but then decided to remain indefinitely. The largest portion of these immigrants reside in the states of California, New York,
New Jersey, Texas, Florida and Illinois in that order.
The 1990 U.S. Census published some revealing information about the Indian American community.
* Indians have attained a high level of education.
Eighty-five percent of them have at least graduated from high school, and fifty-eight percent of them have received a bachelor's degree or higher. This is an impressive level of
higher education, especially when compared with the twenty percent of the total population who hold a bachelor's degree or higher. High levels of education have enabled Indian
Americans to become a productive segment of the population, with 72.3% participating in the work force, and an even higher 84% of men doing so. Of these labor force participants,
43.6% are employed in managerial and professional specialties. Technical, sales, and administrative support occupations constitute another 33.2% of the labor force, and the
remaining 23.3% of the population works in other areas, such as operators, fabricators, laborers and precision production. Higher labor participation rates have
also led to a higher per capita income of $17,777.00 for this community, as compared with a national per capita income of $14,143.00 The mean earnings of Indian-American
households in 1989 was $56,438.6In contrast, the poverty rate for Indian-Americans is only 9.7 percent, lower than the national average 13 percent. Considering the size of
the population and income figures, it is estimated that the annual buying power of Indian-Americans in the United States is around twenty billion dollars annually7 .
The average Indian-American family has 3.83 people, and 89.2 percent of this population is married-couple families. To extrapolate, this indicates the importance of
family-centered life for the Indian-American community, as most Indian families consist of a husband, wife and their two children.8
Not only is the Indian American Community strong in its numbers, facts and figures, but more importantly in the successful endeavors it has ventured to undertake over a
spectrum. Large Indian-American communities exist in every state in the nation, the five largest in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, with populations of
over 60,000. The Washington D. C. metropolitan area has a community of over 50,000 people.9 Moreover, Asian Indians are the largest of Asian American ethnic groups in
New Jersey, the second largest after the Chinese Americans in New York and Maryland, and after Filipinos in Illinois, and the third largest after Vietnamese and Chinese in
Texas. The Indian American community has strength and unity, as is illustrated by the over 1,000 Indian-American organizations across the country. These organizations engage
in a wide range of activities, from cultural festivals and civic work to political activism. Not simply separate groups, many of them belong to larger, unifying umbrella
organizations, such as the National Federation of Indian-American Associations (NFIA), the American Indian Associations (AIA), and the Indian American Forum for Political
Education (IAFPE), which enables them to pursue their interests in a more cohesive and effective manner.
In their occupations, Indian-Americans have attained a high degree of professionalism. They are most prevalent in the fields of science and technology. Indian-Americans
are also very involved in academia. Over five thousand Indian-American faculty members are teaching at various universities around the nation.10 Indian-Americans have also
become successful entrepreneurs, and many of the hotels and motels in the United States are owned by Indian Americans. These entrepreneurs have established an organization,
the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, (AAHOA) to further their business goals through contact and cooperation with others. AAHOA has over four thousand members, and
together these people own over fifty percent of the economy in the lodging sector, with approximately 640,000 rooms. In all, they own around 12,500 hotels, with a total market
value of their properties estimated at $31b.11 Furthermore, 30,000 Indian-American medical doctors are practicing in the United States today.12 The first Indian to graduate
from a medical school in the United States was a woman, Anandibai Joshee, who graduated from the Women's Medical College, Pennsylvania on March 11, 1886. These physicians have
organized themselves through the American Association of Physicians from India (AAPI), a powerful grouping that enables them to better promote their interests, and have opened
up a full time legislative office in Washington D. C. on December 13. 1995. AAPI is particularly concerned with the future of Indian-American physicians and Indian medical
health management organizations, where they may face subtle discrimination. AAPI's effort is reportedly the first of any Indian-American organization to set up a legislative
office in Washington D.C
Second generation Indian-Americans born in the United States have demonstrated a strong commitment to pursuing higher education. Of the 16,873 U.S. born Indian-Americans
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, 14,776 have graduated at least from high school. Furthermore, 10,965 of them have received a college education.14 With
approximately sixty-five percent of this age group having attained some college education, clearly young Indian-Americans in the United States, following the example set by
their parents, are interested in bettering themselves and securing a comfortable position for themselves in the community. Moreover, this new generation of Indian-Americans
is pursuing more diverse professional interests. While Indian-Americans have traditionally felt most comfortable entering fields of science and technology these young people
are now more aggressively pursuing careers in the social sciences and liberal arts, as well as the traditional sciences. As Indian-Americans branch out into different
occupational fields, this diversity will only enhance the strength of the community.
In addition to being a great professional force in many realms, Indian-Americans have also become a strong voting force in the United States. According to the 1990 U.S.
Census, of the 593,423 foreign-born Indian-Americans, 34.3% of them have been naturalized. Along with the other 212,021 United States born Indian-Americans who are already U.S.
citizens, the Indian-American community comprises a formidable voting force. Certainly, these numbers have increased a great deal in the past six years, as more
Indian-American have chosen to undergo the naturalization process, and their voting power is growing15. Moreover, by the year 2000, it is projected that there will be around
two million Indian-Americans in the United States, making them an even more formidable voting force16.
More voting power has also led Indian-Americans to become increasingly involved in the political system of the United States. Indian-Americans have traditionally exercised
the most political influence through their campaign contributions, and are actively involved in fundraising efforts for political candidates on the federal, state and local
levels. In recent years, they have begun taking a more direct role in politics, as well as continuing to help through their financial contributions. Perhaps the highest
profile effort to play a direct role in politics is by Kumar Barve, a US born Indian American, a Delegate for several terms in the Maryland assembly. Several Indian-Americans
have held the position of mayor. Examples are Bala K. Srinivas in Hollywood Park, Texas, John Abraham in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Arun Jhaveri in Burien, Washington. Like these
leaders, more and more Indian-Americans have the courage, ambition and resources to pursue election for public office17. Indian-Americans have also been appointed to various
levels of government by the Clinton Administration. Indian-Americans are working at all levels of the political spectrum, and their efforts, particularly in grassroots
movements, are growing.
The Indian American community is rapidly emerging as a political force and also helping to promote a better understanding of the policies followed by the Government of
India. As a result of these activities, together with the growing commercial interest in investment in India, the India caucus in the House of Representatives now numbers 112.
US Congressmen have been enthusiastic participants in functions celebrating 50 years of India’s freedom.
The leading Indian American political grouping is the Indian American Forum for Political Education, an umbrella organization for the majority of political activists in
every State. Their annual Congressional lunch held every year on Capitol Hill, was best attended on May 15, 1997 with Senator Helms as Chief Guest.
The cohesion of the community has continued to grow. Although internal differences within community organizations continue to subsist, as they do between organizations,
the community was able to get together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Independence on August 15, 1997, in Washington D. C, with a gala banquet attended by community
representatives from across the country, representative of all sections, religious and regional, of Indian Americans. The Banquet was graced by the presence of the First Lady
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary of State Albright and the Secretary Commerce Bill Daley among a number of distinguished guests. A specially recorded video message from
the President Bill Clinton was projected on the occasion.
Reports of well attended celebrations of the 50th Anniversary, organized by Indian American organizations, poured in from across the US. Community leaders helped secure
India Day Proclamations in several cities, by Mayors and many States, by Governors. The best attended of such events was perhaps at Detroit IL, attended by 18,000.
ble contribution to countries not only they have adopted but also to the ancestral motherland, culturally, economically and politically.