- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

India power

Indian-Americans are poised to become a major political force and already make up the third largest ethnic Asian group in the United States, a scholar said at a seminar in New Delhi ahead of President Bush’s trip to India and Pakistan.

However, they will have to become better organized if they are to make their voices count, said Cherian Samuel, an analyst on U.S.-Indian relations at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.

Addressing a seminar in the Indian capital, he said Indian-Americans “are nowhere near acquiring the influence of their role model,” the powerful Jewish-American lobby.

“They are yet to build up networks and war chests that would be needed to sustain such an enterprise,” said Mr. Samuel, whose comments were posted on the Indian Embassy’s Web site at www.indianembassy.org.

More than 1.7 million Americans claimed Indian heritage in the 2000 census, and the population has grown by “an incredible 106 percent” since 1990.

Mr. Samuel also noted that Indian-Americans and Indian immigrants are wealthier and better-educated than the average American. They comprise 10 percent of the estimated 1.7 million American millionaires, and 64 percent have college degrees. Only 27 percent of all Americans are college-educated, he said, citing Census Bureau numbers.

“Indian-Americans replaced Japanese-Americans as the third largest Asian community in the U.S., after the Chinese and Filipinos,” he said. “Indian-Americans will become a political force in the years to come.”

Global town hall

The foreign minister of Pakistan on one side of the world and a former top U.S. diplomat on this side will open an unusual “town hall” meeting today to discuss President Bush’s visit to South Asia.

In Washington, Thomas R. Pickering, former deputy secretary of state, will open the dialogue at George Washington University at 8 a.m. In Karachi, Pakistan, Foreign Minister Khursheed M. Kasuri will appear via satellite at 6 p.m. local time. Mr. Pickering, one of America’s most senior Foreign Service officers before his retirement, served as U.S. ambassador to India in 1992.

They will deal with issues ranging from cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, which sparked widespread protests in Pakistan, to the threat of Islamic terrorism, said Kelly Keane of America Abroad Media, which is hosting the event here. The co-host is Pakistan’s Geo TV.

The event also will feature a man who served only one month as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States before he was fired by President Pervez Musharraf, when he shook up the country’s diplomatic corps in his 1999 military coup.

Ambassador Tariq Fatmi had just taken over as chief of mission at the Pakistani Embassy in September that year when he was relieved.

Mr. Fatmi was ambassador to Jordan and the European Union under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was overthrown by Gen. Musharraf, who is now one of the most reliable U.S. allies in the war on terrorism.

Condi pumped up

If you are reading this item after 6 a.m., you missed seeing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a sweat suit and lifting weights with Channel 4’s Barbara Harrison.

Miss Rice and Mrs. Harrison exercised together Saturday at the State Department’s gym and discussed how the top U.S. diplomat maintains her weight during all those four-course banquets with foreign potentates.

“It was very interesting to hear about the importance of exercise in her life,” the TV reporter, who specializes in health issues, said on her Web log on Channel 4’s Web site, www.nbc4.com.

“She also talks about a period in her life when she gained 30 pounds, and she shares with us how she managed to lose it all.”

Two more segments are due to be broadcast tomorrow and Friday during the 5 a.m. news hour.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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