Podcast: Indian Americans Take to the Streets to Protest Corruption in India

Supporters of Anna Hazare and the anti-corruption movement in India chanted in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill at the 2011 India Day Parade in NYC. (Photo: Mat McDermott/flickr)

In this Feet in Two Worlds podcast, Atul Kumar, an Indian immigrant and entrepreneur and S. Mitra Kalita, an Indian American writer and journalist, explore the growth of a new political consciousness in middle class Indians and Indian Americans. Listen:

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A social movement born in India has crossed the globe.

It’s hard to imagine what could inspire NRIs (Non-Resident-Indians) in the U.S. to take to the streets to protest corruption in their native country. But since January 2011, Indian Americans in New York and other U.S. cities have gathered in large numbers to do just that.

Their inspiration is Anna Hazare, an Indian civil rights leader who has led hunger strikes and protests for the past year in India against corruption by government officials. While Hazare has been jailed for his protests, mass demonstrations by members of the Indian middle class on his behalf have caused a government turnabout and prompted the Indian parliament to pass an anti-corruption bill.

Indian Americans have helped to foster the movement through social media, street protests and drawing the attention of  Indian media in the United States. For many, this new Indian American involvement is an issue of national pride in their homeland and also crucial to the future of bi-national economic collaboration and growth.

Corruption is endemic in India and occurs everywhere, from getting to the front of a line when buying a train ticket to bribes that affect how multinational corporations do business. One guest on this podcast, Atul Kumar, tells us that professional Indian Americans like him believe it’s time for change, and they’re trying to make it happen by harnessing the power of the Indian diaspora.

Fi2W podcasts are supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and the Sirus Fund, and are produced in association with the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and CUNY-TV.