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US Senator's 'racist' remark upsets Indian Americans
A Correspondent | July 07, 2006 10:42 IST
Last Updated: July 08, 2006 00:51 IST
Senator Joe Biden (Democrat, Delaware) has triggered angst within sections of the Indian American community with a comment that prima facie has racist overtones.
Speaking on the nationally-syndicated Hugh Hewitt radio show, Bhakta pointed out that Indian Americans are among the leading practitioners in medicine, law, corporates and small businesses.
'And pretty soon, Senator Biden will be really shocked that there will be another Indian-American in Congress,' Bhakta said, adding, 'I will be sure to stop by his office when I get there. I would not be bringing coffee.'
Bhakta took up the cudgels on behalf of his party, pointing out that there would have been an almighty furor if the comment had been made by a Republican, and accused the mainstream media, which is yet to report the incident, of being soft on Democrats.
Also quick off the blocks to condemn the incident was Dr Raghavendra Vijayanagar, a leading Republican fund-raiser and president of the Indian American Republican Council, who in a statement, said Biden has a history of making such insensitive statements.
Vijayanagar took it up a notch, suggesting that Democrats as a party are prone to belittle the Indian American community. In this context, he said, 'In 2004, Senator John Kerry referred to Sikhs as terrorists, and Senator Hillary Clinton jokingly referred to Mahatma Gandhi as a gas station owner.'
The Senator himself has not commented. A spokeswoman in his office is reported in sections of the media as saying, 'The point Senator Biden was making is that there has been a vibrant Indian-American community in Delaware for decades. It has primarily been made up of engineers, scientists and physicians, but more recently, middle-class families are moving into Delaware and purchasing family-run small businesses.'
Ironically, a little over a week ago Senator Biden, the senior Democrat on the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a hero to the community for having, along with committee chair Senator Richard Lugar, authored and successfully piloted through mark-up in the committee the bill relating to the US-Indian nuclear cooperation agreement.