Indians in America: Resilience and Authority

Indians in America: Resilience and Authority

May 31, 2016 | Author: Scott Haas | Author and Psychologist

“Those Immigrants: Indians in America”  is my latest book, out in May, 2016, and it takes a close psychological look at the lives of thirty prominent Indian-Americans.  The purpose is to provide deeply honest insights into the why and how of success.

Raised in an immigrant household myself—my father was from Germany—I knew first-hand of the challenges faced emotionally and culturally by immigrants.  I also understood the resiliences which make success possible against the odds.  

I am also intrigued by the extraordinarily rapid and widespread achievement of Indians throughout North America, and wonder about the private lives of the increasing number of colleages from India I meet at work.

Then, too, there exists, frankly, a climate of suspicion and stereotyping of immigrants to the United States, and this year has brought a harvest of disrespect out into the open.  This book is an attempt to confront stereotypes and provide readers with knowledge of the lives and deep individualism of people they may meet in doctor’s offices, in business, and in government.  

And for families in India who are thinking of coming to the U.S. and Canada, or sending loved ones, the book provides stories of people who succeeded.  Perhaps these will be inspiring.

So much has changed in terms of immigration from India to the United States.

Up until 1965, immigration to the United States was restricted by legal quotas established in 1924 that favored white, Christian northern Europeans.  During the period of the Civil Rights movement, however, the federal government recognized that discrimination, based on perceived racial differences, ran counter to efforts to create a society in which access to power was merit based.  

So, in 1965, the U.S. Congress established the Immigration Reform Act, which abolished quotas that had limited Asians from immigrating.  Prior to the passage of this legislation, fewer than 10,000 Indians lived in the United States.  


India is the third largest source of immigrants to the U.S., after Mexico and China.  In 2010 alone, 69,000 Indians moved to the United States.  That same year, the estimate of Indians in the U.S. was 1.6 million people.

That is the context for the greatest phenomenon of emigration in history.  It is not just the numbers, but the extraordinary success of Indians who have to to the United States that is so fascinating.

Whether it is fields of law, business, entertainment, or medicine, Indians, in a remarkably short period of time, are making their mark.  

This book takes the unique, specific, anecdotal stories of Indians in the United States and explores from individual narratives what helps to account for the achievement.

Through an ongoing series of interviews in Times of India, I developed a clear understanding of the cultural implications of resiliencies and established goals.  Each person I have spoken to has shared a collection of insights into the ways in which their private reckonings have underpinnings in how they were brought up in India or by Indian parents in the United States.

As a clinical psychologist, I recognize that the stories I am being told illuminate themes of Indian society.  While I can embrace the abstraction of sociology, philosophy, and political theory which led to the massive upheaval of immigration, I am more deeply charmed by the particulars of ordinary people who, through their deeds, become extraordinary.

By investing emotionally and intellectually in the lives of the people in this book, we will learn about the broad as well as the specific currents of India.  We will also be able to identify in ourselves the habits that lead to success.

One of the most fascinating aspects of immigration, and one which was behind the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, was the implicit moral belief that character transcends race.  This book will show readers the characters who revolutionized both their own places of origin, by leaving, as well as their new homes.  By contributing towards the creation of a more egalitarian society through their mere presence, they introduced a new brand of democracy to the culture that enabled them to head West.


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