20 In 2020: 20 South Asians Who Have Made A Difference In Politics This Year
Culture & Lifestyle Dec 16, 2020
With Vice President-elect Kamala Harris making history as the first woman and that of South Asian and Black heritage to reach such a high office in the United States government, it has got us to thinking about all the other South Asians who are making their mark in American, Canadian and British politics. So, in addition to Vice President-elect, here are 19 others who are political game changers for our list of 20 South Asians who have made a difference in politics this year.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement
The Honourable Anita Anand is a scholar, lawyer, researcher, and mother of four children. Born and raised in rural Nova Scotia, she moved to Ontario in 1985. For the past two decades, Anand has been a legal academic, employed most recently as a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto where she held the J.R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance. She served as Associate Dean and was a member of the Governing Board of Massey College and the Director of Policy and Research at the Capital Markets Research Institute, Rotman School of Management. She has also taught law at Yale Law School, Queen’s University, and Western University. In 2019 she was elected to be a Member of Parliament representing Oakville, Ontario.
Currently she is one of the leading faces of the Federal Government during the COVID-19 pandemic and the federal distribution of the various COVID-19 vaccines.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
The Honourable Navdeep Bains has been the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Malton since 2015, and was previously the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Brampton South from 2004 to 2011. He has served as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and was the Parliamentary Secretary to former Prime Minister Paul Martin. Previously, he was the critic for Public Works and Government Services, the Treasury Board, International Trade, Natural Resources, and Small Business and Tourism. He made history as the first Sikh person to hold the position of Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth
The Honourable Bardish Chagger was elected in 2015 as the Member of Parliament for Waterloo.
Minister Chagger is devoted to inclusion and community building and in her current capacity has participated in policy conferences on many issues, including the advancement of same-sex marriage rights and a national manufacturing strategy. Hailing from Waterloo, she has been passionate in assisting with recreational sports for kids to volunteering with seniors, she is committed to strengthening the bonds of the Waterloo community. Including working with Rotary Club of Waterloo, Interfaith Grand River, and the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin.
In an earlier role with the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, Minister Chagger worked to foster diversity within the community and provide opportunities for social and economic engagement. She was also an executive assistant to former Member of Parliament Andrew Telegdi where she gained a deep understanding of the issues of importance to residents of Waterloo, including manufacturing, technology, and innovation. Chagger is a graduate of the University of Waterloo.
Mayor of Calgary, Alberta
Mayor Naheed Kurban Nenshi is the 36th mayor of Calgary Alberta. He first elected in 2010 was the first person of Indian descent to hold this political office and the first Muslim mayor of a large North American city. In 2013, he was re-elected with 74% of the vote. This year he marks his tenth year as the leader of one of Canada’s largest metropolitan cities.
Minister Of National Defence
The Honourable Minister Sajjan immigrated to Canada from India with his family when he was five years old. He was a former detective with the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years and a former Lieutenant Colonel with the British Columbia Regiment where he served in four deployments, one to Bosnia and three to Afghanistan. He was first elected as Member of Parliament for Vancouver South in 2015. He served with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet since 2015 making him the first Sikh person to be the Minister Of National Defence.
Leader of New Democratic Party
The Honourable Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal is a lawyer and a human rights activist who served as an Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) from 2011 until 2017. On October 1st, 2017 as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Burnaby South, British Columbia, he became leader of Canada’s National Democratic Party making him the first Indian-Canadian and a first Sikh person to lead one of the three federal parties of Canada.
Congressman at the US House Of Representatives
Prior to becoming representing the California’s 7th Congressional District (and the longest serving South Asian member of the US House of Representatives) when he was elected to office in 2013, Ami Bera spent twenty years as a doctor in the Sacramento area, after which he then became the Chief Medical Officer for Sacramento County. Education then became his calling and he became a clinical professor of medicine and associate dean for admissions and outreach at University of California, Davis. Bera is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine.
Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey
Out of six candidates Ravinder Bhalla became the first Sikh to hold elected office and the first directly-elected Sikh to hold office in a major American city when he became the 39th mayor of Hoboken New Jersey in November 2017. Having studied at University of California at Berkeley, the London School of Economics, and Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Bhalla gained national recognition as a lawyer in Newark, New Jersey who suffered a violation of his own civil rights while visiting a client in jail. This led Bhalla to successfully reform the federal government’s visitation policies at correctional facilities across the United States. It was in 2009, when he decided to run for City Council by his motivation to change the mismanaged local government, earning the most votes for a first-time candidate Bhalla. He remained on the City Council for two terms until 2017 when he successfully ran for and won the Mayorship of Hoboken.
Dr. Sadaf Jaffer
Mayor of Montgomery Township, New Jersey
Dr. Sadaf Jaffer became the first female Pakistani-Muslim woman to become a mayor of a major American city. She’s also the first South Asian woman to become Mayor of Montgomery Township in New Jersey. Having been schooled at Latin School of Chicago, School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and also getting a PhD from Harvard University, Jaffer is also a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University where she teaches courses on South Asian, Islamic, and Asian American Studies. A resident of Montgomery Township since 2012, it was not until 2016, when she decided to take her first shot at a spot on the Montgomery Township Committee — as a write in candidate. She tried again a year later and won the election. In 2019 during the Council’s annual reorganization she became the Mayor of Montgomery Township. In September of this year, she declared that she wasn’t seeking a re-election looking to focus more on her academic career.
Congresswoman at the US House Of Representatives
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal became the first South Asian woman to be elected to the House Of Representatives when she was elected in November 2016. Representing Washington’s 7th District, Jayapal holds various committee positions including as the House Judiciary Committee, the House Education & Labor and Budget Committees. She is also the elected Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which represents approximately 40% of the entire Democratic caucus; the Immigration Subcommittee Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific Asian Caucus; and a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus. Before entering political office Jayapal spent 20 years working internationally and domestically in the global public health and development space. She came to India at the age of 16 to attend Georgetown University, she then went on to Northwestern University where she received her MBA.
Congressman at the US House Of Representatives
Ro (Rohit) Khanna represents California’s 17th Congressional District, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Born in Philadelphia, Khanna attended University of Chicago and got his law degree from Yale. He continued to specialize in intellectual property law and was also found at the front of the classroom as a professor teaching economics at Stanford, American Jurisprudence at San Francisco State University as well as law at Santa Clara University. He is now serving his 2nd term as a member of congress. Khanna is also on various committees including the House Budget, Armed Services, and Oversight and Reform committees and is first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He also serves as an Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus.
Congressman at the US House Of Representatives
Thanks to scholarships and student loans Raja Krishnamoorthi graduated from Princeton University with a degree in mechanical engineering and a certificate from the Princeton School of Public Policy. He continued on, graduating with honours from Harvard Law School and clerked for a federal judge before practicing law in Chicago. He served as the Special Assistant Attorney General for Illinois and as the Illinois Deputy Treasurer before returning to private sector to serve as the president of research-oriented small businesses developing technology in the national security and renewable energy industries. It wasn’t until November 2016 when Krishnamoorthi was elected to represent the 8th District of Illinois as a Congressman in the United States House Of Representatives. As a congressman he serves on various committees including the Oversight Committee, for which he is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, the House Intelligence Committee and was selected as an Assistant Whip and serves on the Steering and Policy Committee.
Dr. Vivek Murthy
Surgeon General of the United States
Dr. Vivek Murthy has been picked to be the Surgeon General of the United States by President-Elect Joe Biden. This will be his second run at this position as he held that position, the very first South Asian person to do so, during December 2014 through April 2017.
In addition, Dr. Murthy who also serves as the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations in over 800 locations domestically and abroad.
Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his M.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Yale. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and later joined Harvard Medical School as faculty in internal medicine. Before his post, he created various non-profits and community programs geared towards various outreach programs including a peer-to-peer educational programs in India and the United States, a community health partnership focused on women health issues in Indian villages, as well as co-founding a software technology company that improves research collaboration in clinical trials and is powering research studies around the world.
Mayor of Elk Grove, California
In November of this year, Bobbie Singh-Allen became the first Sikh-American to serve as a mayor for the city of Elk Grove, California. This also makes her the first Sikh-American from the Central Valley area to have been directly voted by the constituents, apart from past appointments which have been selected by the Council City Council. Singh-Allen’s remarkable feat is even more notable when you consider the short campaign time frame she had to work with, having just entered the race in late July. Having lived in Elk Grove since 1992, her passion for her town was evidenced by her having served eight years on Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Trustees, the Elk Grove Food Bank Board of Directors and the Elk Grove Teen Center Board of Directors.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Neera Tanden has always had a hand in public policy and politics dating back to 2000 when she held roles of legislative director, deputy campaign manager and issues director in Senator Hilary Clinton’s office. She then became policy director during Clinton’s official 2008 presidential run. Tanden continued on the policy path by becoming the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign. During the Obama years, Tanden served as the senior advisor for health reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, playing an integral role during the development of The Affordable Care Act. After working with the Obama administration, Tanden moved on to become president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and the CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. This month she was appointed to join President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet as the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which oversees all financial decisions at the presidential level.
Attorney General For England And Wales
Suella Braverman has been a Member of Parliament since 2015 when she represented the people of Fareham. Having studied at Cambridge University and Pantheon-Sorbonne University she practiced as a barrister from 2005 to 2015. Two years later in 2017, following the general election, Braverman was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Ministers of the Treasury. She then became the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and the Department for Exiting the European Union. In February 2020, she then was appointed as the Attorney-General for England and Wales and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland. She holds this position being the second female Attorney General and the very first Conservative female Attorney General.
Secretary Of State For The Home Department
Priti Sushil Patel studied economics at Keele University and did her post graduate studies at Essex University. She has been a member of the British Parliament since 2010 where as a member of The Conservative Party, she represented the Witham constituency, earning a re-election in 2015. Since then, she has been elevated onto the national stage with various positions across the British federal government, including being the Secretary of State for International Development from 2016-2017. Two years later she was became Secretary of State for the Home Department since 2019 a position which she currently holds.
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Prior to entering politics, Alok Sharma has been working in the banking world holding various senior roles in London, Stockholm and Frankfurt. That was until 2010 when he entered politics as an elected Conservative MP in Reading West. Since then, he continued to serve in various capacities including as the Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Treasury and from 2012 to 2015, and in 2016 as the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Envoy to India. Prior to his current post, Sharma was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from July 2016 to June 2017.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Oxford and Stanford educated Rishi Sunak left the financial world to pursue politics in 2013. A newbie to the British political scene he was elected in 2015 to a Tory seat in rural Richmond, Yorkshire with 51% of the vote. Since then his star continued to rise.
Nine years later he was appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the position of Chief Secretary to the Treasury from July 2019 until February 2020. In February 2020 he was appointed as the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) in an era where he will be steering the UK economy through the biggest Covid-induced financial crisis since the Second World War.
Hina P. Ansari
Hina P. Ansari is a graduate from The University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario). Since then she has carved a successful career in Canada's national fashion-publishing world as the Entertainment/Photo Editor at FLARE Magazine, Canada's national fashion magazine. She was the first South Asian in...
Profiles 3 & 4: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI List Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — For The Kids
The Colour Of Change: How Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris Became The Most Powerful South Asian Woman In The World
Profiles 9 & 10: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI LIST Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — For The Foodie
Profiles 11 & 12: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI LIST Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — Books (Part One)
Profiles 13 & 14: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI LIST Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — Wellness
Profiles 15 & 16: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI LIST Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — Books (Part Two)
Profiles 27 & 28: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI LIST Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — Guilty Pleasures
Profiles 29 & 30: ANOKHI LIFE’s 18th Anniversary Special x The ANOKHI LIST Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — Home Decor
Why Our Founder/ CEO Raj Girn A 20-Year Media And Events Veteran, Is Launching A Transformation Academy To Build Personal & Professional Confidence During Trying Times ... And Why Her Mission Goes Deep Into Her Own 50-Year Trauma Journey
COVID-19: Are We The Virus? The (Much) Cleaner Earth Breathes In New Life Thanks To The Global Lockdown
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
My Multiple Sclerosis Journey: Three Ways I've Enhanced My Wellness Routine
Here's How To Make Our Faith Bigger Than Our Fear
Summer Reading List: These 6 Desi Books Are Perfect For The Beach
Indulge In The Best Indo-Chinese & North Indian Dishes At Sugar & Spice Lounge In Queensbury
Suffering Has A Purpose — Here's What That Is
Stay Cool & Feel Fresh With These Tropical Fruit Recipes
Take A Closer Look At What Angers You In Order To Be More Compassionate
Red Light District Workers In India Are Struggling To Survive Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Is It Time To Cancel The Catholic Church For Their Role In Canada's Residential Schools?
Pride Is A Lifestyle, Not A Month: Mango Lassi On His Life As An ‘Openly Queer, Femme Man'
4 Hot Tech Gadgets That Are Out This July 2021
These Are The Reasons Why It's Important To Balance Grief & Gratitude
Cumin Crusted Chicken & More: These Recipes Will Bring Our Favourite Spices To Life
These Are The 7 Ways You Can Get A Good Night's Sleep
It's Important To Understand The Power of Saying "No"
A Mindful Guide To Understanding The Grieving Process
Check Out These Father's Day Recipes That Any Desi Dad Will Love!
PRIDE 2021 Special: Let Me Tell You My Trans Journey From Female To Male & How That Has Affected My Desi Family
This Is Why Malala Won't Marry Your Son
4 Hot Tech Gadgets That Are Out This June 2021
Let It Out Because These Are The Reasons Why Crying Is Good For You
PRIDE 2021 SPECIAL: 10 LGBTQ+ Voices That We Need To Listen To
South Asian Heritage Month 2021: #Reclaimingmyname — We Need To Stop Mispronouncing Our Name For The Benefit Of Others
Part Two: What Goes Up Must Come Down: Conquering The Cycle Of Panic
Part One: What Goes Up Must Come Down — Understanding & Navigating The Cycle Of Panic
Dine In Posh Pods At Ponsbourne Hotel Near Central London
South Asian Heritage Month 2021: 8 Desi Books That Will Create Teachable Moments For The Young Minds In Your Life
Meditate With Deepak Chopra & Alicia Keys Plus 4 Other Mindful Ways To Unplug & Relax Anywhere
The Ripple Effect: Why We Need To Pay Attention To Our Thoughts
Enjoy The Sunshine With These Fresh Drink Recipes That Have A Desi Twist
Feeling, Healing & Growth: Tips On How To Navigate Your Negative Emotions
OMG! Gulab Jamun Pancakes & Other Brilliant Brunch Recipes
4 Hot Tech Gadgets That Are Out This May 2021
Give From Your Overflow … Not From Your Well! Tips On How To Help More Efficiently
South Asian Heritage Month 2021: Get Lit With These 8 Trending Novels By Desi Authors
This Delish Ramadan Charcuterie Board Is The Perfect Addition To Iftar
My Takeaway Treat From Spice Rack Lounge In North West London
These Recipes Will Give Your Boring Salad A South Asian Kick
Put The Cookie Down! Recharge With These Recipes For Healthy Desi-Inspired Power Snacks
My Takeaway Treat With Madhu's New 2 Go Option In Knightsbridge, London
Cheap & Cheerful! Freshen Up Your Space This Spring With These 4 Decor Tips Under $40
4 Hot Tech Gadgets That Are Out This April 2021
Sick Of Your Omelette? Check Out These Delish Desi Breakfast Recipes Right Here!
5 Reasons Why Volunteering Will Always Be Good For Your Soul
Make Your Reading List Lit With These 7 Spring Books By Desi Authors
I Tried A Plant-Based Diet & Here's What Happened
#IWD2021: The Great Shecession: Will Reshma Saujani's 'Marshall Plan For Moms' Save The Women Labour Force From Extinction?
4 Hot Tech Gadgets That Are Out This March 2021
My Takeaway Treat From The Regency Club: Kenyan-Indian Fusion Fare In North London
From Muslims To Farmers: Is Modi Turning A Blind Eye To Human Rights?
Sri Lanka's Dark History Of Enforced Disappearances Of Its Citizens
Blasphemy Laws In Pakistan: A Weapon Used To Silence Religious Minorities
Teach Them The Value Of Stillness With These 3 Mindful Books For Toddlers
Guacamole Pani Puri & More: Give Your Vday Dinner A Desi Tapas Twist With These 7 Crazy Delicious Pani Puri Recipes
Indian Farmers Go Viral With Support From Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Rupi Kaur & Lilly Singh
A Timeless Ritual: Why Is Burning Sage All The Rage?