From Kamala Harris to Vivek Murthy

Joe Biden

Joe Biden | Photo credit: AP

Indians make up nearly 1.5% of the total population in the US, but when it comes to the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden, Indians seem to be on the front lines!

Start with his run mate, Kamala Harris, who becomes the first Indian, Asian-American, and woman to become Vice President of the United States.

Another woman who smashes the glass ceiling to become OMB secretary is 50-year-old Neera Tanden, who is the first black woman to hold this office.

Ms. Tanden was born in Bedford, Massachusetts to immigrant parents. She graduated from Yale Law School in 1996 and subsequently worked for think tanks and various senatorial and presidential campaigns for the Democratic Party, in which she held key positions.

Another Indian-American person who is already on Team Biden is Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist with roots in a village in Tamil Nadu. She was appointed to the Coronavirus Task Force.

An Indian-American surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, also serves as co-chair of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force.

Murthy’s family is from Karnataka. He also served as a surgeon general under the Obama administration but was urged to resign by the Trump administration in 2017. Murthy’s inclusion on Biden’s COVID-19 task force marks his return to general policy making.

Aside from Cabinet & Whitehouse, positions in Joe Biden’s Agency Review Teams or The ARTs are filled by Indians.

ARTs are responsible for understanding how each agency operates and ensuring a smooth transfer of power. The ARTs are preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris and their cabinet to take the first step on day one.

Arun Majumdar, a former Google Executive & Stanford graduate, is the team leader for the Department of Energy ART. A former West Virginia state health officer, Dr. Rahul Gupta, leads the transition to the National Drug Control Policy Office.

Kiran Arjandas Ahuja, an American lawyer and activist who was Chief of Staff to the Director of the United States Human Resources Office from 2015 to 2017, has been named team leader for the Human Resources Office.

Puneet Talwar, former Deputy Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs in 2014-15, served as Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama in the Middle East. He played a central role in the back-channel diplomacy that spawned the Iranian nuclear deal. He focuses on the State Department.

Pavneet Singh, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, has been appointed to two ARTs, the National Security Council and the Bureau of Science and Technology.

Arun Venkatraman, a computer machine learning expert and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has also been appointed to two ARTs, the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Commercial Agency.

Pravina Raghavan is executive vice president of small business and community economic development for Empire State Development, New York.

Atman Trivedi is the Managing Director of Hills & Company, International Consultants for the Department of Commerce.

Shital Shah is the philanthropic manager for the Department of Education’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

R Ramesh is a professor known worldwide for his contributions to the science and technology of complex functional oxide materials on the Energy Department team.

Rama Zakaria is Senior Manager of Regulatory Policy and Analysis for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) at the Department of Energy.

Subhasri Ramanathan is an attorney who worked for the Department of Homeland Security.

Raj De as a cybersecurity and data expert for the Department of Justice.

Seema Nanda was CEO of the Democratic National Committee and would be investigating the Ministry of Labor with Raj Nayak, former COO of Viacom 18.

Reena Aggarwal is the Robert E. McDonough Professor of Business and Finance, Vice Provost to the Faculty, and Director of the Center for Financial Markets and Policies at the Georgetown University School of Business and Satyam Khanna, former senior legal advisor to the United States SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson is on ART for the Federal Reserve Bank.

Bhavya Lal is a three-degree scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a nuclear expert. She’s at ART for NASA.

Dilpreet Sidhu most recently worked for the US State Department as an economic representative in Basra, Iraq, where she advanced US political goals. She’s on the National Security Council.

Divya Kumaraiah, with an MBA from Harvard, is looking at the Office of Management and Budget

Kumar Chandran served as Chief of Staff for the US Department of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and serves in the ART for the Department of Agriculture.

Aneesh Paul Chopra was the United States’ first chief technology officer, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, and will audit the US Postal Service.

While most of the Indian Americans named in these positions have a degree or two from Ivy League institutions, this move is seen by Biden as a way to appease his relations with India and immigrants in the United States. Well, only time can tell whether Biden took this step for better governance or just for minorities and international appeasement. That seems to be a plethora of Indians on Biden’s side, all preparing for inauguration!

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