By Arul Louis
New York, A day after US President Joe Biden joked that Indian-Americans were taking over the US, he appointed two of them as special assistants for advising him on domestic policies.
The White House on Friday released the announcement by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris appointing Chiraag Bains and Pronita Gupta to those positions on the Domestic Policy Council. Both of them had served in the administration of former President Barack Obama, when Biden was the Vice President.
Bains will deal with criminal justice while Gupta will deal with labour and workers.
The duo joins more than 20 Indian-Americans who have been appointed by Biden to senior positions in his administration. They will not require Senate confirmation as they will be on the President’s staff.
Bains worked in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, first as a prosecutor of civil rights crimes and then as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general.
He was one of the investigators and prosecutors in the federal case against the city of Ferguson for civil rights violations over the shooting of an African American teenager by a white police officer in 2014 that led to nationwide protests and riots.
He was recently the director of legal strategies at Demos, a national public policy organisation, where he led voting rights litigation. Before that, he was a senior fellow at the Harvard Law School and a clerk for a federal judge.
A key component of Biden’s election manifesto is criminal justice reform to ensure that minorities are not treated unfairly by laws and law enforcement agencies.
Gupta was the deputy director of the Labour Department’s Women’s Bureau in the Obama administration.
She was recently the director of job quality for the Center for Law and Social Policy.
Her previous jobs included stints as research director for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and for the Living Wage Campaign at the LA Alliance for a New Economy.
While congratulating Swati Mohan, the NASA engineer who guided the Mars rover Perseverance to a soft landing on the planet, Biden had said on Thursday, “Indian-descent Americans are taking over this country — you, my vice president, my speechwriter Vinay (Reddy). But I tell you what, thanks. You guys are incredible.”
On Wednesday, Biden had announced the appointment of a Pakistani American, Dilwar Syed, to be the deputy director of the Small Business Administration.
Biden has a track record of working with Indian-Americans and other Asians to promote their participation in US politics.
He is the co-founder with Shekhar Narasimhan of the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Victory Fund, which is a political action committee that encourages and helps Asian Americans to run in elections, besides raising funds and mobilising voters.
He is the president and CEO at Lumiata, an Artificial Intelligence company in the healthcare field.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)