Indian Americans

This article is about Americans with ancestry from India. For the indigenous peoples also known as American Indians, see Native Americans in the United States.
Indian Americans
Total population
1.25% of the U.S. population
(2015 Census Bureau estimate)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Atlanta New Jersey, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Baltimore-Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, South Florida, Central Florida, North Florida, Metro Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Seattle Metropolitan area
English, Hindi,[2][3] Gujarati,[2] Punjabi,[4] other Indian languages[3]
58% Hinduism, Sikhism,25% 18% Christianity, 4% Islam, 4%, Jainism (2012)[5][6]
Related ethnic groups
South Asian Americans, Asian Americans

Indian Americans or Indo-Americans are Americans whose ancestry belongs to any of the many ethnic groups of the Republic of India. As the most socio-economically successful minority ethnic groups in the U.S., Indian Americans comprise 4 million people, representing around 1.25% of the U.S. population as of 2015.[7][8] Indian Americans are the second-largest self-reported single-race Asian ancestry group after Chinese Americans, and the country's third-largest Asian group alone or in combination with other races after Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans, according to 2015 American Community Survey data.[7] The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term Asian Indian to avoid confusion with the indigenous peoples of the Americas commonly referred to as American Indians (or Native Americans).


In the Americas, historically, the term "Indian" has been most commonly used to refer to the indigenous people of the continents after European colonization in the 15th century. Qualifying terms such as "American Indian" and "East Indian" were and are commonly used to avoid ambiguity. The U.S. government has since coined the term "Native American" to refer to the indigenous peoples of the United States, but terms such as "American Indian" remain popular among both indigenous and non-indigenous populations. Since the 1980, Indian Americans have been categorized as "Asian Indian" (within the broader subgroup of Asian American) by the United States Census Bureau.[9]

While "East Indian" remains in use, the term "South Asian" is often chosen instead for academic and governmental purposes.[10] Indian Americans are a subgroup of South Asian Americans, a group that also includes Bangladeshi Americans, Bhutanese Americans, Nepalese Americans, Pakistani Americans, Sri Lankan Americans, etc.

Indian-American immigration

18th century

The Naturalization Act of 1790 made Asians ineligible for citizenship, with citizenship limited to whites only.[11]

19th century

Indian immigration began in the mid-19th century, with more than two thousand Indians living in the United States, primarily on the West Coast, by the end of the century.[12] The presence of Indian-Americans also helped develop interest in Eastern religions in the US and would result in its influence on American philosophies such as Transcendentalism. Swami Vivekananda arriving in Chicago at the World's Fair led to the establishment of the Vedanta Society. Many Punjabis migrated to the western US in the 19th and early 20th century followed by many other.

20th century

Prior to 1965, Indian immigration to the U.S. was small and isolated, with fewer than fifty thousand Indian immigrants in the country. The Bellingham riots in Bellingham, Washington on September 5, 1907 epitomized the low tolerance in the U.S. for Indians and Hindus. While anti-Asian racism was embedded in U.S. politics and culture, Indians were also racialized for their anticolonialism.[13] Regarded as the Hindu menace, this despite the fact, in the early 20th century, the majority of Indians were Sikh.[13] In the 1923 case, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, the Supreme Court ruled that high caste Hindus were not "white persons" and were therefore racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship.[14] The Court also argued that the racial difference between Indians and whites was so great that the "great body of our people" would reject assimilation with Indians.[14]

It was after the Luce–Celler Act of 1946 that a quota of 100 Indians per year could immigrate to the U.S. and become citizens.[15] The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 dramatically opened entry to the U.S. to immigrants other than traditional Northern European and Germanic groups.[16] Not all Indian Americans came directly from India; some came to the U.S. via Indian communities in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mauritius), the Asia-Pacific region (Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Fiji), and the Caribbean (Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, and Jamaica).


India Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, US, home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere,[17] is one of at least 24 Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged within the New York City Metropolitan Area, with the largest metropolitan Indian population outside Asia, as large-scale immigration from India continues into New York.[18][19][20]
Percent of population claiming Asian Indian ethnicity by state in 2010

According to the 2010 United States Census,[21] the Asian Indian population in the United States grew from almost 1,678,765 in 2000 (0.6% of U.S. population) to 2,843,391 in 2010 (0.9% of U.S. population), a growth rate of 69.37%, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.[22][23]

The New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, consisting of New York City, Long Island, and adjacent areas within New York, as well as nearby areas within the states of New Jersey (extending to Trenton), Connecticut (extending to Bridgeport), and including Pike County, Pennsylvania, was home to an estimated 679,173 uniracial Indian Americans as of the 2014 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, comprising by far the largest Indian American population of any metropolitan area in the United States;[24] New York City itself also contains by far the highest Indian American population of any individual city in North America, estimated at 227,994 as of 2014.[25] As of September 2016, Indian airline carrier Air India as well as United States airline carrier United Airlines were offering direct flights from the New York City Metropolitan Area to and from Delhi, Mumbai, and (Air India) Ahmedabad. At least twenty Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India have emerged in the New York City Metropolitan Area.

Other metropolitan areas with large Indian American populations include Atlanta, Baltimore–Washington, Boston, Chicago, Dallas–Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco–San Jose–Oakland.

U.S. metropolitan areas with large Asian Indian populations

Asian Indian population in Metropolitan Statistical Areas of the United States of America
Metropolitan Statistical Area Indian American
population (2010)[26]
Total population (2010) % of Total
Combined Statistical Area
New York–Newark–Jersey City, NY–NJ–PA 623,000 18,897,109 2.8% New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 171,901 9,461,105 1.8% Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI
Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV 127,963 5,582,170 2.3% Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 119,901 12,828,837 0.9% Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA 119,854 4,335,391 2.8% San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 117,711 1,836,911 6.4% San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, TX 100,386 6,371,773 1.6% Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK
Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land, TX 91,637 5,946,800 1.5% Houston-The Woodlands, TX
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 90,286 5,965,343 1.5% Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 78,980 5,268,860 1.5% Atlanta–Athens-Clarke County–Sandy Springs, GA
Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA-NH 62,598 4,552,402 1.4% Boston–Worcester–Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT
Detroit–Warren–Livonia, MI 55,087 4,296,250 1.3% Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI
Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue, WA 52,652 3,439,809 1.5% Seattle-Tacoma, WA
Miami–Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach, FL 41,334 5,564,635 0.7% Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie, FL
Baltimore–Columbia–Towson, MD 32,193 2,710,489 1.2% Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA
Phoenix–Mesa–Glendale, AZ 31,203 4,192,887 0.7%
Minneapolis-St. Paul–Bloomington, MN-WI 29,453 3,279,833 0.9% Minneapolis-St. Paul MN-WI
Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford, FL 26,105 2,134,411 1.2% Orlando–Deltona–Daytona Beach, FL
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 24,306 3,095,313 0.8% [27]
Riverside–San Bernardino–Ontario, CA 23,587 4,224,851 0.6% Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater, FL 23,526 2,783,243 0.8%
Austin-Round Rock, TX 23,503 1,716,289 1.4%
Raleigh, NC 20,192 1,130,490 1.8% Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 18,764 1,212,381 1.5% Hartford-West Hartford, CT
St. Louis, MO–IL 16,874 2,812,896 0.6% St. Louis–St. Charles–Farmington, MO–IL
Fresno, CA 15,469 930,450 1.7% Fresno–Madera, CA
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 15,439 916,829 1.7% New York–Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA
Trenton, NJ 15,352 366,513 4.2% New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA
Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro, OR-WA 15,117 2,226,009 0.7% Portland–Vancouver–Salem, OR-WA
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 14,696 2,130,151 0.7% Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, OH-KY-IN
Pittsburgh, PA 14,568 2,356,285 0.6% Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
Cleveland–Elyria, OH 14,215 2,077,240 0.7% Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH
Stockton, CA 12,951 685,306 1.9% San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
Denver–Aurora–Lakewood, CO 13,649 2,543,482 0.5% Denver–Aurora, CO
Richmond, VA 12,926 1,258,251 1.0%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 12,669 1,756,241 0.7% Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie, IN
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI[28] 11,945 1,555,908 0.8% Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha, CI
Kansas City, MO-KS 11,646 2,035,334 0.6% Kansas City-Overland Park-Kansas City, MO-KS
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 3,534 422,610 0.9% Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area

While the table above provides a picture of the population of Indian American (alone) and Asian Americans (alone) in some of the metropolitan areas of the US, it is incomplete as it does not include multi-racial Asian Americans. Please note that data for multi-racial Asian Americans has not yet been released by the US Census Bureau.

List of U.S. states by population of Asian Indians

Asian-Indian population by states
State Asian Indian population
(2010 Census)[29]
% of state's population
(2010 Census)
Asian Indian population
(2000 Census)
% change
(2000 - 2010)
California 528,176 1.42% 360,392 46.6%
New York 313,620 1.62% 296,056 5.9%
New Jersey 292,256 3.32% 169,180 72.7%
Texas 245,981 0.98% 129,365 90.1%
Illinois 188,328 1.47% 124,723 51.0%
Florida 128,735 0.68% 70,740 82.0%
Virginia 103,916 1.30% 48,815 112.9%
Pennsylvania 103,026 0.81% 57,241 80.0%
Georgia 96,116 0.99% 46,132 108.3%
Maryland 79,051 1.37% 49,909 58.4%
Massachusetts 77,177 1.18% 43,801 76.2%
Michigan 77,132 0.78% 54,656 41.1%
Ohio 64,187 0.56% 38,752 65.6%
Washington 61,124 0.91% 23,992 154.8%
North Carolina 57,400 0.60% 26,197 119.1%
Connecticut 46,415 1.30% 23,662 96.2%
Arizona 36,047 0.56% 14,741 144.5%
Minnesota 33,031 0.52% 16,887 95.6%
Indiana 27,598 0.43% 14,865 85.7%
Tennessee 23,900 0.38% 12,835 86.2%
Missouri 23,223 0.39% 12,169 90.8%
Wisconsin 22,899 0.40% 12,665 80.85
Colorado 20,369 0.41% 11,720 73.8%
Oregon 16,740 0.44% 9,575 74.8%
South Carolina 15,941 0.34% 8,856 80.0%
Kansas 13,852 0.49% 8,153 69.9%
Alabama 13,036 0.27% 6,900 88.9%
Kentucky 12,501 0.29% 6,771 84.6%
Oklahoma 11,906 0.32% 8,502 40.0%
Nevada 11,671 0.43% 5,535 110.9%
Delaware 11,424 1.27% 5,280 116.4%
Louisiana 11,174 0.25% 8,280 35.0%
Iowa 11,081 0.36% 5,641 96.4%
New Hampshire 8,268 0.63% 3,873 113.5%
Arkansas 7,973 0.27% 3,104 156.9%
Utah 6,212 0.22% 3,065 102.7%
Nebraska 5,903 0.32% 3,273 80.4%
Mississippi 5,494 0.19% 3,827 43.6%
Washington, D.C 5,214 0.87% 2,845 83.3%
Rhode Island 4,653 0.44% 2,942 58.2%
New Mexico 4,550 0.22% 3,104 46.6%
Puerto Rico 3,523 0.09% 4,789 -26.4%
West Virginia 3,304 0.18% 2,856 15.7%
Hawaii 2,201 0.16% 1,441 52.7%
Idaho 2,152 0.14% 1,289 67.0%
Maine 1,959 0.15% 1,021 91.9%
North Dakota 1,543 0.23% 822 87.7%
Vermont 1,359 0.22% 858 58.4%
Alaska 1,218 0.17% 723 68.5%
South Dakota 1,152 0.14% 611 88.5%
Montana 618 0.06% 379 63.1%
Wyoming 589 0.10% 354 66.4%
Total Asian-Indian population in US 2,843,391 0.92% 1,678,765 69.4%
Historical population

Statistics on Indians in the U.S.

The United States is host to the second largest Indian diaspora on the planet

In 2006, of the 1,266,264 legal immigrants to the United States, 58,072 were from India. Between 2000 and 2006, 421,006 Indian immigrants were admitted to the U.S., up from 352,278 during the 1990–1999 period.[30] According to the 2000 U.S. census, the overall growth rate for Indians from 1990 to 2000 was 105.87 percent. The average growth rate for the U.S. was 7.6 percent.Most of the Indians in USA are from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab.

Indians comprise 16.4 percent of the Asian-American community. In 2000, the Indian-born population in the U.S. was 1.007 million. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 1990 and 2000, the Indian population in the U.S. grew 130% – 10 times the national average of 13%.

Indian Americans are the third largest Asian American ethnic group, following Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.[31][32][33]

A joint Duke University – UC Berkeley study revealed that Indian immigrants have founded more engineering and technology companies from 1995 to 2005 than immigrants from the UK, China, Taiwan and Japan combined.[34] A 1999 study by AnnaLee Saxenian reported that a third of Silicon Valley scientists and engineers were immigrants and that Indians are the second largest group of Asian-born engineers (23%) following the Chinese (51%). Her research showed that in 1998, seven percent of high-technology firms in Silicon Valley were led by Indian CEOs.[35] A recent study shows that 23% of Indian business school graduates take a job in United States.[36]

Pre-1980 data refers to ethnic "Hindus" in the accompanying historical population table. In 2014, the Pew Research Center published an article listing some more interesting facts about Indian Americans.[37]

Socioeconomic status

Indian Americans continuously outpace every ethnic group socioeconomically per U.S. Census statistics.[38] Indian Americans, along with other Asian Americans, have attained the highest educational levels of all ethnic groups in the U.S. 71% of all Indians have a bachelor's or higher degree (compared to 28% nationally and 44% average for all Asian American groups). Almost 40% of all Indians in the United States have a master’s, doctorate, or other professional degree, which is five times the national average.[39][40] Thomas Friedman, in his book The World is Flat explains this trend in terms of brain drain, whereby the best and brightest elements in India emigrate to the US in order to seek better financial opportunities.[41] Indians form the second largest group of physicians (3.9%) after non-Hispanic whites as of the 1990 survey, and very likely much more like 10% in 2015.[42]


Educational attainment among Asian ethnicity
2010 census[43] (25 years of age and older)
Ethnicity Bachelor's degree or higher
Indian 75.0%
Taiwanese 73.6%
Chinese 52.4%
Asian 44.0%
US national average 28.0%

A study from Pew Research Center in June 2012 showed more than 80 percent of Indians were holding college or advanced degrees,[44] surpassing the previous Taiwanese American average figure of 74.1%. Taiwanese American men still attained the highest bachelor's degree among men at 80.0% but only 68.3% of Taiwanese American women had attained a bachelor's degree, with Indian American women having the highest percentage among women of all ethnicities and Indian American men being second only to the Taiwanese American men. 39.1% of all Taiwanese in the United States possess a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is nearly four times the national average[45][46] compared with 40% of Indians who have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average.[39][40]

Bachelor's degree or higher educational attainment in 2000[47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]
Ethnicity or nationality % of population
Indian 70.0%
Taiwanese 67.9%
Pakistani 60.9%
Jews 59.0%
Iranian 57.2%
Korean 50.8%
Chinese (incl. Taiwanese) 50.2%
Venezuelan 49.7%
Japanese 43.7%
Bangladeshi 41.9%
Argentinean 38.9%
Non-Hispanic White 30.7%
US national average 28.0%
Vietnamese 26.1%
Black 16.5%
Hmong 16.0%
Cambodian 14.6%
Laotian 13.0%



Hindi radio stations are available in areas with high Indian populations, for example, in the New York City metropolitan area, KLOK 1170 AM IN San Francisco, RBC Radio; Radio Humsafar, Desi Junction in Chicago; Radio Salaam Namaste and FunAsia Radio in Dallas; and Masala Radio, FunAsia Radio, Sangeet Radio, Radio Naya Andaz in Houston and Washington Bangla Radio on Internet from the Washington DC Metro Area. There are also some radio stations broadcasting in Tamil and Telugu within these communities.[56][57] Houston-based Kannada Kaaranji radio focuses on a multitude of programs for children and adults.[58] In South Florida Bhawan R. Singh host a Indo-Caribbean/Indian Hindustani radio program called Sangeet Mala on WHSR 980 AM every Saturday. Indians/Indo-Caribbeans in New York City have their own station called WICR.

AVS (Asian Variety Show) and Namaste America are nationally available South Asian programming available free to air and can be watched with a TV antenna.

Several cable and satellite television providers offer Indian channels: Sony TV, Zee TV, TV Asia, Star Plus, Sahara One, Colors, Big Magic, regional channels, and others have offered Indian content for subscription, such as the Cricket World Cup. There is also an American cricket channel called Willow.

Many metropolitan areas with large Indian-American populations now have movie theaters which specialize in showing Indian movies, especially from Bollywood and Telugu cinema.

In July 2005, MTV premiered a spin-off network called MTV Desi which targets Indian Americans.[59] It has been discontinued by MTV.

In 2012, the film Not a Feather, but a Dot directed by Teju Prasad, was released which investigates the history, perceptions and changes in the Indian-American community over the last century.

In popular media, several Indian-American personalities have made their mark in recent years, including Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling.[60]


Communities of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jews from India have established their religions in the United States. According to 2012 Pew Research Center, 51% Consider themselves Hindus, 18% as Christians (Protestant 10%, Catholic 5%, other Christian 3%), 14% as Unaffiliated, 10% as Muslims, 5% as Sikh, 2% as Jain.[6] Unaffliated are generally those who were raised as Hindus but aren't really practising in the traditional sense.

The first religious centre of an Indian religion to be established in the US was a Sikh Gurudwara in Stockton, California in 1912. Today there are many Sikh Gurudwaras, Hindu, Christian Churches, Buddhist and Jain temples in all 50 states.

Indian Hindus

As of 2008, the American Hindu population was around 2.2 million,[61] and Hindus are the majority of Indian Americans.[62][63] Many organizations such as ISKCON, Swaminarayan Sampraday, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Chinmaya Mission, and Swadhyay Pariwar are well-established in the U.S. Hindu Americans have formed the Hindu American Foundation which represents American Hindus and aims to educate people about Hinduism. Swami Vivekananda brought Hinduism to the West at the 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions.[64] The Vedanta Society has been important in subsequent Parliaments. Today, many Hindu temples, most of them built by Indian Americans, have emerged in different cities and towns in the United States.[65][66] More than 18 million Americans are now practicing some form of Yoga. Kriya Yoga was introduced to America by Paramahansa Yogananda. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada initiated the popular ISKCON, also known as the Hare Krishna movement, while preaching Bhakti yoga.

Indian Christians

There are many Indian Christian churches across the US; Church of South India, Church of North India, Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Knanaya, Indian Orthodox Church, Mar Thoma Church (reformed orthodox), Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, The Pentecostal Mission, Assemblies Of God, Church of God, Sharon Pentecostal Church, Independent Non Denominational Churches like Heavenly Feast, Plymouth Brethren, and the India Pentecostal Church of God. Saint Thomas Christians from Kerala have established their own places of worship across the United States. The website has collected a comprehensive list of all the traditional St. Thomas Christian Churches in the US.[67] There are also Catholic Indians hailing originally from Goa, who attend the same services as other American Catholics, but may celebrate the feast of Saint Francis Xavier as a special event of their identity.[68][69][70] The Indian Christian Americans have formed the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) to represent a network of Indian Christian organizations in the US. FIACONA estimates the Indian American Christian population to be 600,000.[71]

Indian Muslims

Indian Muslim Americans generally congregate with other American Muslims, including those from Pakistan and Bangladesh, but there are prominent organizations such as the Indian Muslim Council - USA.[72]


Adherents of Jainism first arrived in the United States in the 20th century. The most significant time of Jain immigration was in the early 1970s. The US has since become a center of the Jain diaspora. The Federation of Jain Associations in North America is an umbrella organization of local American and Canadian Jain congregations.[73] The large Parsi community is represented by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America.[74] Indian Jews are perhaps the smallest organized religious group among Indian Americans, consisting of approximately 350 members in the US. They form the Indian Jewish Congregation of USA, with their headquarters in New York City.[75]


Like the terms "Asian American" or "South Asian American", the term "Indian American" is also an umbrella label applying to a variety of views, values, lifestyles, and appearances. Although Asian-Indian Americans retain a high ethnic identity, they are known to assimilate into American culture while at the same time keeping the culture of their ancestors.[76] They may assimilate more easily than many other immigrant groups because they have fewer language barriers (since English is widely spoken in India among professional classes), more educational credentials (as Indian immigrants are disproportionately well-educated). Additionally, Indian culture, like many other Asian cultures, puts emphasis upon achievement and personal responsibility of the individual as a reflection upon the family and community.

In countries such as the United States, Canada, and until more recently, the United Kingdom, there has been a large influx of Indian immigrants, beginning in the late 1960s. As a result of assimilation, mixed European and Indian backgrounds are becoming more prevalent. The 2001 U.S. Census Bureau’s publication of the 56,497,000 married couples, shows that overall the percentage of Indian males married to White females (7.1%) was higher than Indian females marrying with White males (3.7%); whilst for those who were US born the reverse was true with more Indian females marrying with White males (39.1%) than Indian males married to White females (27.3%).[77]

Linguistic affiliation

The United States is also home to associations of Indians united by linguistic affiliation. Some major organizations include, Telugu Association of North America (TANA), American Telugu Association (ATA), Association of Kannada Kootas of America (AKKA), Federation of Kerala Associations in North America, Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, North American Bengali Conference and Orissa Society of the Americas and Maharashtra Mandal. These associations generally put on cultural programs, plays, and concerts during some major Hindu festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi and other religious (e.g., Christian) and cultural events such as Christmas and New Year.

Immigration and progression timeline



According to the official U.S. racial categories employed by the United States Census Bureau, Office of Management and Budget and other U.S. government agencies, American citizens or resident aliens who marked "Asian-Indian" as their ancestry or wrote in a term that automatically gets classified as an "Asian-Indian" get classified as part of the Asian race on the 2000 US Census.[90] As with other modern official U.S. government racial categories, the term "Asian" is in itself a broad and heterogeneous classification, encompassing all peoples with origins in the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

In previous decades, Indian Americans were also variously classified as White American, the "Hindu race", and "other".[91] Even today, where individual Indian Americans do not racially self-identify, and instead report Muslim (or a sect of Islam such as Shi'ite or Sunni), Jewish, and Zoroastrian as their "race" in the "some other race" section without noting their country of origin, they are automatically tallied as white.[92] This may result in the counting of persons such as Indian Muslims, Indian Jews, and Indian Zoroastrians as white, if they solely report their religious heritage without their national origin.


Unlike many countries, India does not allow dual citizenship.[93] Consequently, many Indian citizens residing in U.S., who do not want to lose their Indian nationality, do not apply for American citizenship (ex. Raghuram Rajan[94]).

Current social issues


In the 1980s, a gang known as the Dotbusters specifically targeted Indian Americans in Jersey City, New Jersey with violence and harassment.[95] Studies of racial discrimination, as well as stereotyping and scapegoating of Indian Americans have been conducted in recent years.[96] In particular, racial discrimination of Indian Americans in the workplace has been correlated with Indophobia due to the rise in outsourcing/offshoring, whereby Indian Americans are blamed for US companies offshoring white-collar labor to India.[97][98] According to the offices of the Congressional Caucus on India, many Indian Americans are severely concerned of a backlash, though nothing serious has taken place yet.[98] Due to various socio-cultural reasons, implicit racial discrimination against Indian Americans largely go unreported by the Indian American community.[96]

Numerous cases of religious stereotyping of American Hindus (mainly of Indian origin) have also been documented.[99]

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, there have been scattered incidents of Indian Americans becoming mistaken targets for hate crimes. In one example, a Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was murdered at a Phoenix gas station by a white supremacist. This happened after September 11, and the murderer claimed that his turban made him think that the victim was a Middle Eastern American. In another example, a pizza deliverer was mugged and beaten in Massachusetts for "being Muslim" though the victim pleaded with the assailants that he was in fact Hindu.[100] In December 2012, an Indian American in New York City was pushed from behind onto the tracks at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside and killed.[101] The police arrested a woman, Erika Menendez, who admitted to the act and justified it, stating that she shoved him onto the tracks because she believed he was "a Hindu or a Muslim" and she wanted to retaliate for the attacks of Sep 11, 2001.[102]

In 2004, New York Senator Hillary Clinton joked at a fundraising event with South Asians for Nancy Farmer that Mahatma Gandhi owned a gas station in downtown St. Louis, fueling the stereotype that gas stations are owned by Indians and other South Asians. She clarified in the speech later that she was just joking, but still received some criticism for the statement later on for which she apologized again.[103]

On April 5, 2006, the Hindu Mandir of Minnesota was vandalized allegedly on the basis of religious discrimination.[104] The vandals damaged temple property leading to $200,000 worth of damage.[105][106][107]

On August 11, 2006, Senator George Allen allegedly referred to an opponent's political staffer of Indian ancestry as "macaca" and commenting, "Welcome to America, to the real world of Virginia". Some members of the Indian American community saw Allen's comments, and the backlash that may have contributed to Allen losing his re-election bid, as demonstrative of the power of YouTube in the 21st century.[108]

In 2006, then Delaware Senator and current U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was caught on microphone saying: "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."[109]

On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page shot six people and killed four at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Illegal immigration

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that there were two hundred thousand (200,000) Indian unauthorized immigrants; they are the sixth largest nationality (tied with Koreans) of illegal immigrants behind Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Philippines.[110] Indian Americans are also the fastest growing illegal immigrant group in the United States, with an increase in illegal immigration of 125% since 2000.[111][112] In 2014, Pew Research Center estimated that there are 450 thousand undocumented Indians in the United States.[113]


Indians are among the largest ethnic groups legally immigrating to the United States. The immigration of Indians has taken place in several waves since the first Indian came to the United States in the 1700s. A major wave of immigration to California from the region of Punjab took place in the first decade of the 20th century. Another significant wave followed in the 1950s which mainly included students and professionals. The elimination of immigration quotas in 1965 spurred successively larger waves of immigrants in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With the technology boom of the 1990s, the largest influx of Indians arrived between 1995 and 2000. This latter group has also caused surge in the application for various immigration benefits including applications for green card. This has resulted in long waiting periods for people born in India from receiving these benefits.

As of 2012, over 330,000 Indians were on the visa wait list, third only to Mexico and The Philippines.[114]

In December, 2015, over 30 Indian students seeking admission in two US universities—Silicon Valley University and the Northwestern Polytechnic University— were denied entry by Customs and Border Protection and were deported to India. Conflicting reports suggested that the students were deported because of the controversies surrounding the above-mentioned two universities. However, another report suggested that the students were deported as they had provided conflicting information at the time of their arrival in US to what was mentioned in their visa application. "According to the US Government, the deported persons had presented information to the border patrol agent which was inconsistent with their visa status," read an advisory published by Ministry of External Affairs (India) which was published in the Hindustan Times.[115]

Following the incident, Indian government asked the US government to honour the visas given by its embassies and consulates. In response, the United States embassy advised the students considering studying in the US to seek assistance from Education USA.[115][116]



Several groups have tried to create a voice for the community in political affairs, including the United States India Political Action Committee and the Indian-American Leadership Initiative, as well as panethnic groups such as South Asian Americans Leading Together and Desis Rising Up and Moving.[117][118][119][120] Additionally, there are industry groups such as the Asian American Hotel Owners Association and the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin. A majority tend to identify as moderates and have voted for Democrats in recent elections.[121] Polls before the 2004 presidential election showed Indian Americans favoring Democratic candidate John Kerry over Republican George W. Bush by a 53% to 14% margin, with 30% undecided at the time.[122] The Republican party has tried to target this community for political support,[123] and in 2007, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal became the first United States Governor of Indian descent when he was elected Governor of Louisiana.[124] Nikki Haley, also of Indian descent and a fellow Republican, became Governor of South Carolina in 2010. Republican Neel Kashkari is also of Indian descent and ran for Governor of California in 2014. Raja Krishnamoorthi who is a lawyer, engineer and community leader from Schaumburg, Illinois is seeking the Democratic nomination in Illinois's 8th congressional district for the United States House of Representatives.[125] Jenifer Rajkumar is a Lower Manhattan district leader and candidate for the New York State Assembly. If elected, she will be the first Indian American woman elected to the state legislature in New York history.[126] In 2016, Kamala Harris (the daughter of a Tamil Indian American mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, and a Jamaican American father, Donald Harris[127][128][129]) became the first Indian-American and second African American female to serve in the United States Senate.[130]

Notable Indian Americans

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