Indian Immigration to America

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Indian Immigration To America

Asian Indians Their struggle as immigrant minority and major contributions to the American society Asian Indians come from an area with the second largest population in the world, but form only one of the smallest minorities in the United States. America was influenced by their religious and political beliefs long before the first immigrants arrived in the 19th century. The congressional act of 1947 granted them citizenship. Now, Asian Indians hold many important occupations (students, teachers, writers, musicians, scientists). Their most important contributions are geared toward engineering and the sciences. India was in a great shape up until the end of 19th century. When British arrived, the country was depleted of its wealth and resources. The poor had no choice but to come to the United States (The Land of the Free and the Land of Opportunity). The United States, due to the abundance of jobs and scarcity of labor, became a “Mecca” for immigrants from all over the world. The United States, in the nineteenth century, remained a strong magnet to immigrants, with offers of jobs and land for farms. Asians and Italians came for work, Russians came to escape persecution, and Jews came for religious freedom. Immigrants from all over the world including Europe, China, and Japan wanted to experience the freedom of improving your life and being able to take care for one’s family. East Indians represented a big group that wanted to take part in American culture. The large majorities from India were Punjabis, from a region called the Punjab. Most of Gielar 2 these immigrants were young men, between 16 and 35 years old. They left their families in India, and came here in small groups of cousins and village neighbors. Thus, the family and community ties remained very strong. They had several reasons to come to America. They were repressed by the British rule and had no land to farm on. To make matters worse, famine devastated India from 1899 to 1902. Thus, large-scale immigration began in 1906, when six hundred Asians applied to enter the United States. They came here in hopes of changing their lives around. Unfortunately, they soon found out that life in America was very challenging. Many Indians were farmers back in India, but when they came to the United States they had to take jobs no one else would. They also encountered prejudice. Whites sometimes associated the Asian Indian immigrants with blacks, Chinese, or Japanese. Very often, Asian Indians were blamed for the violence directed towards them. Whites did not want or try to understand Indian culture and traditions. The Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (a winner of the Noble Prize in literature) traveled to North America. When he applied for entry to the United States, Tagore encountered difficulties and when he finally made it to the country, he experienced racial prejudice in Los Angeles. He cancelled his tour and returned to India, saying in disgust, “Jesus could not get into America because, first of all, he would not have the necessary money, and secondly, He would be an Asiatic.” Despite of everything they encountered, the immigrants still believed that the life they left behind was much worse than thy life they faced in America. Gielar 3 Another major problem Asian Indians faced came from the white population. Many people felt threatened by the increasing multi-cultural population. Many Indians had limited opportunities to advance their careers due to prejudice. Frustrated because of their current situation, they opened their own businesses, which gave them a lot more freedom and control of their own lives. Furthermore, whites taunted the Indians because of the color of their skin and wearing of traditional turbans. They were called by insulting names such as “rag-heads” and treated as inferior beings. A California Sikh who came from India at that time said, “I used to go to Maryville every Saturday. One day a drunken white man came out...
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