Mon Jan 19, 2009 by Anil Kalhan
SAJAforum: Five questions for South Asians for Obama
In 1993, the last time I was in Washington to attend a presidential inauguration, Representatives Robert Matsui and Norman Mineta cohosted the first significant Asian American reception in connection with any U.S. presidential inauguration. While some attendees had mixed feelings, since by then it had become clear that President Clinton’s initial round of cabinet nominees would not include any Asian Americans, there was nevertheless a sense that the Asian American community had marked an important political milestone.
Fast forward sixteen years: The president-elect is a biracial, second generation American who grew up in Hawaii and considers himself desi. South Asians and other Asian Americans feature prominently in both the transition and the new administration’s significant appointees. And in contrast to that one Capitol Hill reception in 1993, Washington is chock full of Asian American events in connection with the inaugural celebration, including several South Asian-oriented gatherings.
South Asians for Obama got a jump on the festivities on Saturday evening, hosting an informal happy hour which drew over 300 attendees. One of the group’s cofounders, Hrishi Karthikeyan, took some time out of his inaugural week schedule to answer a few questions.