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11 Indians join US Army
George Joseph | April 02, 2009 21:39 IST
At least 11 Indian citizens have joined the US Army as part of a new programme titled Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI.)
Sixteen of the 52 new recruits were sworn in by General George W Casey Jr, the Army chief of staff, at a public ceremony in Times Square, New York City. Citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Korea and Sweden were among them.
The MAVNI programme is limited to 1000 people in the first year for those with medical expertise and foreign language skills. Those who came on work visas or student visas and lived in the US for two years are eligible to apply for the programme.
But illegal citizens are not allowed. Those selected are eligible to become US citizens on an expedited programme, usually within six months. They will be exempt from naturalization fee also.
A report in New York Times said 4,833 people applied for the programme so far and 52 were enlisted. Of the 52 new enlistees, 11 have master's degrees and 31 have bachelor's degrees. The major share of the 52 went to Koreans with 24 people. Eleven 11 speak Hindi, 9 speak a Chinese dialect, 3 speak Russian, 3 speak Arabic and one speaks Urdu. Speakers of Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi and Malayalam are also eligible to join.
To maintain their citizenship, the enlistees must honorably complete their service, which ranges from two to four years of active duty, plus reserve duty, depending on their specialty.
But some told the media that it was not the promise of citizenship alone that attracted to join the army. Some even applied before the announcement of the programme.
Toniya Mishra, 24, an Indian with a master's degree in industrial engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, applied a day before the announcement of the program. She was out of her job after a New Jersey company laid her off. She did not expect a call from the army because of her nationality.
Umesh Sharma, 37, has a master's degree in international education policy from Harvard.
He was working for a private tutoring firm in Virginia. He told the Times that he was motivated to enlist as a way of helping developing countries in areas like education reform.