Libmonster ID: U.S.-1425
Author(s) of the publication: F. YURLOV

At its core, Indian migration to America is purely economic. Hence its main problems, especially at the first stage: adaptation to a new place of work, home arrangement, getting used to a different socio - cultural environment. At the same time, many questions arise related to integration into American society.

The Indian diaspora, with its deep multi-religious and multi-ethnic traditions, found itself in the same multi-religious and multi-ethnic American reality, which was also complicated by race relations. In the mid-60s, when the first wave of Indians began to arrive in the United States, this country was going through a painful stage of liberation and purification from harsh racial discrimination. It was then, in the wake of African - Americans ' advocacy for their rights, which culminated in the assassination of their leader Martin Luther King in 1968, that laws were passed to promote racial equality in the country's life.


Indian immigrants of the first wave experienced all this firsthand. As a swami (mentor) of a Vedanta temple in the United States, who arrived there about 30 years ago, told me, he and his followers had to face racial discrimination when they purchased land and a building in a prestigious area to house one of the Ramakrishna Mission branches.

However, the situation has changed in many ways over the years. First of all, there is a new generation of Indian Americans born in the United States. In the context of a heterogeneous American society with its huge diversity, each component of which is somehow proud of its historical past, it is perfectly normal to emphasize its spiritual or family - related connection with the historical homeland. This applies to everyone-British, Irish, Germans, Chinese, Russians (which means all immigrants from the USSR and Russia) and others.

Indians are no exception, especially since they have a thousand-year-old, huge and diverse culture and civilization behind them. The appeal of Indian immigrants to their roots seems quite natural and logical, and in the conditions of today's America does not raise perplexing questions.

American author Bharati Mukherjee teaches a course on world literature and a workshop on literary creativity at the University of Berkeley in California. According to her observations, during conversations with Indian - American students, she hears the" inner voice " of young people born and raised in the United States and who have become Americans in many of their guises. And yet, they are trying to find their roots in the past that their parents left behind in the 60s and 70s in India and headed to America to study, work, and get married. While the first generation of immigrants is in many ways "frozen" in the cultural framework of India in the 60s, their children, on the one hand, show a characteristic American self-confidence, on the other, they, if they do not share the feelings and moods of their parents, still feel the need to go beyond what is commonly called "here and now" 1 .

The desire to preserve traditions in the Indian diaspora in the United States is reflected in the creation of Hindu temples, Vedanta societies, which were founded by Swami Vivekananda at the end of the XIX century, and numerous associations based on ethnic and linguistic unity.

In addition to religious rites and ceremonies, Hindu temples in America are also engaged in religious and educational activities, paying special attention to attracting young people and explaining the essence of Hinduism to them. In many cities in the United States, they have become the center of Hindu communication and the revival of Hindu customs. For this purpose, not only the temples themselves are used, but also the complexes with cultural centers that are created at them.

A characteristic feature of a number of churches is the active participation of women in their work. So, at the Sri Venkateswara temple in Pittsburgh, Hindus organize classes for studying religion and classical dance. Some of them are

Ending. For the beginning, see "Asia and Africa today", 2000, N 5.

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they even serve on the temple's business management board. Women feel it is their duty to encourage their children to attend temple 2 .

In the context of a multi-confessional American society, the desire to preserve one's Hindu identity does not mean opposition to other religions. One of the features of the cultural and religious activities of Hindu temples and Indian cultural centers located next to them is the holding of events with the participation of representatives of different faiths.

For example, a multi-faith conference on "Religion and Spirituality in the Next Millennium"was held in one of the premises of the Hindu temple complex in St. Louis in April 2000. Religious figures representing not only Hinduism, but also Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam spoke at the event. Many topics were discussed: how does a representative of this religion view other religions and faiths? What is human perfection, and how can it be realized through religion? How can religion be used to promote unity among people and peace on earth? How can science and scientific approach be reconciled with religious faith and respect for spiritual values? 3

The 13 centers or Vedanta societies of the Ramakrishna Mission in San Francisco, New York, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, St. Louis and other cities are doing a lot of work to promote Hinduism among Indian Americans. Vedanta centers are engaged in religious and educational activities and publish many books and pamphlets. Open to all, they usually include a temple and library for their members. Not only Indians, but also other Americans come to the service in the temple and talk with the Swami-spiritual mentor. In some temples, non-Indian Americans who have been ordained as monks at the Ramakrishna Mission at Belur Math near Calcutta serve as mentors.

One of the main ideas that is preached in these centers is that Vedanta is not an exclusive religion. It adheres to the universal spiritual truth that underlies all religious doctrines. As such, it represents the common ground or foundation of all religions. Vedanta does not insist on any dogmas. It professes spiritual principles that are common to most religions. The Vedanta teachings appeal to all people, regardless of race, nationality, or religious affiliation. The works published by Vedanta societies emphasize that they have two main missions. The first is to help individuals in their spiritual development. The second is to promote mutual understanding and respect among followers of different religions. One of the main principles of Vedanta is reflected in the saying from the Rig Veda: "The truth is one. The saints gave it different names."

Spiritual mentors of Vedanta societies also emphasize that they came from India not as missionaries, but at the invitation of individuals or groups interested in Vedanta, that they are not professionals, but spiritual mentors leading a monastic lifestyle. They do not receive wages, but depend on voluntary offerings. Their work is entirely funded by American followers and friends. It is emphasized that the activities of Vedanta societies are not intended to separate the adherents of Vedanta culturally, nationally or socially from other groups of the population. 4 This is confirmed by the fact that during one of the Sunday services in the temple on "How to practice Vedanta in everyday life", which I happened to attend, along with Indians, there were African - Americans, representatives of other racial and ethnic groups.

Public associations of Sikhs, Gujaratis, Bengalis, Telugu, Tamils and representatives of other Indian ethnic groups living in America play a significant role in uniting Indian Americans. In turn, these ethnic organizations are part of the Federation of Indian Associations. An overview of the activities of such associations can be obtained from the program of the VI Convention of the American Telugu Association, held in Atlanta in July 2000. It included an exhibition called "Andhra Bazaar", a seminar on religious topics, a meeting of businessmen, a women's forum, youth events, theater performances, national dances and songs with the participation of invited artists from India.

Around the same time, the Gujarati Matri Association organized a special event in New York for young people aged 21 to 35, the main purpose of which was to assist in the selection of a partner for married life. For this purpose, a preliminary collection of biographical data was conducted from the participants of the meeting. In addition to the photo ("high quality for maximum results"), the necessary matrimonial data were provided, such as marital status, status in the United States (citizen, holder of a residence permit, etc.), education and current place of work, hometown in India, full name of the father and mother. Brief information about this data was sent to the meeting participants in advance, and upon arrival at the site, they were given a complete list of"applicants". It is interesting to note that the organizers of the meeting also provided for the participation of parents and guardians of "applicants". However, they were not invited to the evening of dancing for bride and groom candidates at the prestigious Albert Royal Palace 5 .

In some cases, ethno-religious events took on a mass character on the streets of cities. So, in Jersey City (New Jersey), as part of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Sikhism, a procession was held dedicated to the feat of five Sikh soldiers who gave their lives protecting Hindus from forced conversion to Islam in those distant years. Turbaned Sikhs paraded down one of the city's main streets, singing religious hymns. At the head of the procession were five armed Sikhs, symbolizing the fallen heroes. Prominent Sikh leader Baba Kashimira Singh has arrived from Delhi to participate in the festivities. One of the main guests of this event was the mayor of the city Bret Schundler6 .

Indian Americans unite not only on an ethno-religious basis, but also on a professional basis. For example, two large Indian medical organizations - the Association of American Physicians from India and the Indian Medical Association - are well known for their activity. The main objectives of these associations are to provide free medical care to Indians in the United States and India. Clinics are being set up in both countries for this purpose. AAVI currently operates 13 clinics in India and plans to expand its operations to all major cities.

In the United States, there is also the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (World Organization of People of Indian Origin), which previously

page 10

She was involved in protecting the rights of Indians around the world. Currently, it focuses on creating favorable business opportunities for Indians from India, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, Suriname and other countries.

Newspapers published in major cities in English and Indian languages, such as "India Tribune", "India Post", "India West", "India Abroad" and a number of others, play a significant role in the life of the Indian diaspora in the United States.

The Indian diaspora's constant connection to India is also supported by a strong interest in America on the part of Indian businessmen, public and cultural figures, as well as politicians. They use contacts with Indian-Americans to develop business and other relationships with the United States. The Indian diaspora is an important tool for strengthening ties between the two countries. Indian communities in America are quite successful in lobbying for their own interests, and more broadly for India's interests, both locally and nationally. At one of the conferences devoted to the development of American-Indian relations, the Consul General of India in Chicago said that there are 17 lobbyists in the US Congress in favor of India only from the states of the Midwest.

Indian Americans are gradually becoming involved in active political life in the United States. At the local level, in individual cities and states, some of them participate in election campaigns as candidates for elected office. Two of them, Kumar Barve and Satveer Chaudhuri, were elected to the House of Representatives in Maryland and Minnesota, respectively. In the November 2000 election, the latter became a senator, the youngest (31 years old) in the State Senate. At the national level, the role of Indian Americans is still limited mainly to raising funds for political parties and their candidates. During the campaign for the US presidential election in November 2000, Indian Americans did not stand aside from the party-political struggle. Thus, businessmen Vinod Gupta and Sabir Bhatia contributed $ 1 million and $ 600,000, respectively, to the Democratic Party foundation. And while a significant number of other Indian-Americans also mostly supported the party and its candidate, Al Gore, some gave financial support to Republican candidate George W. Bush. The total amount contributed to the funds of both parties by Indian-Americans was about three million dollars. But the important thing is that this is the first time this has happened. "It's time for Indians to become more involved in American politics and public life," said Suhas Patel, founder of Sirrus Lodge. "We have been isolated for too long." (Indian Express. 3.11.2000.)

All this taken together suggests that the still young Indian diaspora in America continues to preserve its distinctive identity. But it would be a gross exaggeration to say that the assimilation process did not affect her. This is especially evident among those Indians who were born, studied and grew up in the United States. Assimilation seems to be one of the prerequisites for success in America. Knowledge of the specific features of American culture and business life provides the key to moving forward in a tough competitive environment. And this applies not only to Indians, but also to all other immigrants. The market economy, consumer psychology, and generally accepted norms of behavior in America cannot but have a huge impact on the way of life of any diaspora.

The ethno-social integration of Indian immigrants in the United States is facilitated by the fact that different communities (Gujarati, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, etc.) there is no common language other than English. Therefore, bilingualism (mother tongue plus English) of the vast majority of Indian immigrants does not interfere with this integration.

The mother tongue remains a means of communication in the family or in the ethnic community. But since the framework of such a community is extremely unstable and is subject to erosion in the process of communicating with other Americans, including Indians who are native speakers of another language, ethno-linguistic isolation in fact becomes impossible both within the Indian diaspora itself and in American society as a whole. The second and even more so the third generation of Indian Americans are increasingly exposed to acculturation, in the process of which the traditional culture of an ethnic group is exposed to the cultural influence of American society. What many Indian Americans have in common is belonging to one religion - Hinduism. But beyond such an important rallying factor, Indian Jains, Muslims, and Sikhs remain. And this weakens the consolidating role of religion.


The situation of the Indian diaspora in the United States should be considered in the context of the entire American socio-economic, cultural and political life, as well as taking into account the state's immigration policy.

The first big wave of Indian immigration essentially began with the passage of Congress in 1965, probably the most important immigration law in American history, which was prepared for 13 years from 1952, when Harry Truman was President of the United States. Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, the new law removed discriminatory restrictions on immigration policies that had previously given huge benefits to immigrants from Britain, Germany and Ireland. At the same time, the number of immigrants was almost doubled - from 154,000 to 290,000 annually. The law eliminated quotas for individual countries and shifted the focus to family reunification, although it retained the privileged immigration of highly qualified workers.

The Indians, as well as representatives of many other countries, made extensive use of this opportunity. The Immigration Act of 1965 literally opened the gates for people who wanted to work in the United States.-

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work and live in the USA. Family reunification (including numerous families from the East) was the mechanism that led to an unexpected three-fold increase in immigration. First of all, this concerned political refugees from South Vietnam in the 70s, then Cuban immigrants in the 80s, and after them thousands of immigrants from Central America and Mexico. In this stream, the Indians occupied a rather modest place.

Responding to this situation, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Act of 1990. Efforts were made to stop mainly illegal immigration. The number of legal immigrants, based on the 1990 law, was increased to a record level of 825 thousand people.

The main stream of immigrants in the 90s traditionally came from Mexico. Of the five to six million illegal immigrants who, according to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, live in America, Mexicans make up the majority. The number of "illegal immigrants" is growing by 300 thousand annually. At the same time, more than 40 percent of illegal immigrants enter the country legally and stay there after their visa expires. Most of them eventually achieve legal status 7 .

All this was only indirectly related to the not so large Indian diaspora. But, one way or another, she also uses a variety of tricks and leads to replenish her ranks. In the first place - the reunification of families and the creation of new ones. Single Indians - US citizens or holders of residence rights-eventually bring their wives and husbands from India, and after them, their relatives.

Indian Americans, like many immigrants from other countries, are concentrated in states such as California, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, and several others. In the largest U.S. state, California, foreign-born individuals now make up 25 percent of the population. These are mainly Mexicans, as well as Chinese, Indians (about 300 thousand people) and others. Some American politicians and scientists speak of a dangerous violation of the ethno-cultural balance in this state and even that California is on the verge of a demographic and cultural crisis. In their opinion, the situation with immigration is out of the control of the state.

At a Senate hearing on immigration in 2000, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan praised the economic benefits of immigration and identified several issues "related to culture that have troubled the United States for a hundred years": unskilled immigrants are being brutally exploited and form a new "subclass" of poor immigrants. Skilled immigrants reduce the wages of American skilled professionals. Young Indian and Chinese programmers, for example, receive only a fraction of the salary that an entrepreneur pays a middle-aged American. Children of immigrants go to public schools and thus use resources that would go to the education of Americans. And Assistant Secretary of Labor Raymond Euchald said that "immigration undermines efforts to improve education, to create better conditions for retraining workers, and draws the unemployed (i.e., immigrants )into the labor market." 8

According to Suzanne Martin, director of the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University, if the economic situation worsens, America can expect a national explosion against immigration.

Meanwhile, the majority of Americans believe that immigrants represent a source of replenishment of the country's population and strengthening the power of the state. They say that American culture, like US global interests, is a product of ethnic diversity, which connects the United States with different regions of the world and turns immigration into a kind of foreign policy tool. In addition, many teachers and parents of students believe that communicating with children of immigrants, students go beyond a kind of "parochial" perception of life, expand their vision of the world.

And representatives of the business world insist on maintaining large quotas of qualified immigrants. So, two years ago, during the annual congressional debate on temporary work visas for foreigners, large entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley argued for the need to invite qualified software specialists for these visas. It was not only about Indians and Chinese, but also Russians, who are in great demand in the market of high-tech technologies.

America is in need of highly qualified specialists. A 1999 report by the Ministry of Labor estimated that about two million jobs would be created in the computer industry over the next decade. In America itself, universities and colleges annually graduate only 46,000 engineers and technologists capable of doing such work .9 Thus, we will have to look for an additional one and a half million specialists in other countries. India has proven to be one of the most promising labor markets in this area.

However, both Indians, Chinese, Russians, and other qualified workers who intend to apply their knowledge in the United States cannot ignore the ambiguous processes associated with immigration to this country, the struggle that is openly and gradually being waged in American society on this issue.

1 "The Sunday Times of India Review", December 31, 1995.

Aparna Rayaprol. 2 Negotiating Identities: Women in the Indian Diaspora. Delhi, OUP, 1997, pp. 64, 70.

3 Inter-Faith Conference on Religion and Spirituality in the Next Millenium. The Hindu Temple of St. Louis, April 9, 2000.

4 Vedanta in America. Vedanta Society of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, 2000.

5 "The India Tribune", 6.05.2000.

6 "The India Post", 21.04.2000.

James Goldsborough. 7 Out of Control Immigration. // "Foreign Affairs", New York, September/October 2000, pp. 92-95.

8 Ibid., p. 91.

Ramachandran R. 9 India and the U.S. A Regime of Restrictions.// Frontline, Vol. 17, Issue 20, Sept. 30 - Oct. 13, 2000.


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