Contributions of Asian Indians Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 1903 words and 8 pages.

Contributions of Asian Indians

Asian Indians
Their struggle as immigrant minority and major contributions to the American society

Asian Indians come from an area with the second largest population in the world, but form
only one of the smallest minorities in the United States. America was influenced by their
religious and political beliefs long before the first immigrants arrived in the 19th
century. The congressional act of 1947 granted them citizenship. Now, Asian Indians hold
many important occupations (students, teachers, writers, musicians, scientists). Their
most important contributions are geared toward engineering and the sciences.

India was in a great shape up until the end of 19th century. When British arrived, the
country was depleted of its wealth and resources. The poor had no choice but to come to
the United States (The Land of the Free and the Land of Opportunity). The United States,
due to the abundance of jobs and scarcity of labor, became a “Mecca” for immigrants from
all over the world. The United States, in the nineteenth century, remained a strong
magnet to immigrants, with offers of jobs and land for farms. Asians and Italians came
for work, Russians came to escape persecution, and Jews came for religious freedom.
Immigrants from all over the world including Europe, China, and Japan wanted to experience
the freedom of improving your life and being able to take care for one’s family.

East Indians represented a big group that wanted to take part in American culture. The
large majorities from India were Punjabis, from a region called the Punjab. Most of these
immigrants were young men, between 16 and 35 years old. They left their families in
India, and came here in small groups of cousins and village neighbors. Thus, the family
and community ties remained very strong. They had several reasons to come to America.
They were repressed by the British rule and had no land to farm on. To make matters
worse, famine devastated India from 1899 to 1902. Thus, large-scale immigration began in
1906, when six hundred Asians applied to enter the United States. They came here in
hopes of changing their lives around. Unfortunately, they soon found out that life in
America was very challenging. Many Indians were farmers back in India, but when they came
to the United States they had to take jobs no one else would. They also encountered
prejudice. Whites sometimes associated the Asian Indian immigrants with blacks, Chinese,
or Japanese. Very often, Asian Indians were blamed for the violence directed towards
them. Whites did not want or try to understand Indian culture and traditions. The Indian
poet, Rabindranath Tagore (a winner of the Noble Prize in literature) traveled to North
America. When he applied for entry to the United States, Tagore encountered difficulties
and when he finally made it to the country, he experienced racial prejudice in Los
Angeles. He cancelled his tour and returned to India, saying in disgust, “Jesus could not
get into America because, first of all, he would not have the necessary money, and
secondly, He would be an Asiatic.” Despite of everything they encountered, the
immigrants still believed that the life they left behind was much worse than thy life they
faced in America.

Another major problem Asian Indians faced came from the white population. Many people
felt threatened by the increasing multi-cultural population. Many Indians had limited
opportunities to advance their careers due to prejudice. Frustrated because of their
current situation, they opened their own businesses, which gave them a lot more freedom
and control of their own lives. Furthermore, whites taunted the Indians because of the
color of their skin and wearing of traditional turbans. They were called by insulting
names such as “rag-heads” and treated as inferior beings. A California Sikh who came
from India at that time said, “I used to go to Maryville every Saturday. One day a
drunken white man came out of a bar and motioned to me saying, ‘Come here, slave!’ I said
I was no slave man. He told me that his race ruled India and America, too.”

Assimilation has always been an important part of American life. Furthermore, American
immigrants found out that assimilation is not a one step process. They were forced to
complete several steps on their way to being American. It was especially difficult for
Indians because of their appearance (skin color, clothing, and distinctive speech).

In East India, property ownership is a matter of pride. Unfortunately Indians were denied
that simple right until 1947. Presently, Asian Indians own upward of 40 percent of all
the motels in America with rooms of 150 and less. Asian Indians are following in the
tradition of other immigrants, entering occupations or businesses that involve the entire
family, said Bruce Stave, chairman of the history department at the University of
Connecticut in Storrs. No figure exists, he said, yet stereotypes persist because when
high numbers of immigrants become employed in specific occupations, their visibility is
obviously greater. Another reason why Asian Indians go into motel business is because it
provides work for the entire family. Each family member can clean carpets, fix broken
equipment, and paint if necessary. Shah, who has owned the Coronet Motel in Berlin for
five years, is an assistant foreman for Advanced Products Co. in New Haven. His wife,
Pretta Shah, runs the motel and takes care of the family. Sometimes when she comes to the
registration counter, her diaper-clad son trails behind her. Not all the new comers are
professional and well educated. These people opened their own small businesses such as
restaurants and clothing stores, which serve many ethnic communities.

Many people are under an assumption that someone who is called a Hindu follows the
religion of Hinduism, which is not true. Some immigrants were Hindus, others were
Muslims, and yet others were Sikhs. They follow a religion of Sikhism, a blend of
elements from Hinduism and Islam. Back in their homeland Sikhs and Punjab were thought of
a soldiers by the British government. To demonstrate their religious commitment, they
never shaved their beards or cut their hair. They wore turbans, for their faith required
them to cover their heads in their temples. Many of them share the name Singh (lion), a
sacred to Sikhs. Many immigrants also tried to retain their diet based to religious
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