|1,501,782 - 2,765,815
0.50% - 0.92% of the U.S. population (2007)
(includes Multiracial Indians)
|Regions with significant populations|
|New Jersey · New York City · Los Angeles · San Francisco Bay Area · Chicago · Dallas · Houston · Philadelphia · Washington-Baltimore|
In North America the term Indian has an ambiguous meaning. Historically and currently, Indian was and is commonly used to indicate Native American. If a more specific term was or is needed, American Indian and East Indian were and are commonly used. American Indian is still the most common term, although Native American can be used to refer to the Indigenous peoples of North America. East Indian is still in common use. Currently South Asian is often used instead of East Indian. While some consider it derogatory, people of Indian origin use the term Desi to refer to the diasporic subculture of overseas Indians. The word "desi" means "of the country/homeland" in Hindi and is also used as "countryman" in the U.S..
A number of Indian Americans came to the U.S. via Indian communities in other countries such as Fiji, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom (where over 2.7% of the population is Indian), Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, South Africa, Canada, Guyana, Mauritius and nations of Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Singapore. Indian Americans are mostly Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jain and are among the most highly educated in American demographics.
According to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Asian Indian population in the United States grew from almost 1,679,000 in 2000 to 2,570,000 in 2007: a growth rate of 53%, the highest for any Asian American community, and among the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States. Indian Americans are the third largest Asian American ethnic group, after Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.
The U.S. states with the largest Indian American populations, in order, are California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Illinois. There are also large Indian American populations in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and Ohio. The New York metropolitan area, consisting of New York City and adjacent areas within the state of New York as well as nearby areas within the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, is home to approximately 600,000 Indian Americans as of 2009, comprising by far the largest Indian American population of any metropolitan area in the United States. As of August 2009, Indian airline carriers Air India and Jet Airways as well as United States airline carrier Continental Airlines were all offering flights from the New York metropolitan area to and from India. At least seventeen Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India have emerged in the New York metropolitan area.
Other metropolitan areas with large Indian American populations include San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington/Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta. The town of Edison, New Jersey (total population 100,499) is 17.5% Indian American – the highest percentage of any municipality in the United States. But the mostly agrarian Imperial Valley, California near the Mexican border has a long history of Indian Americans (an estimated 21,000 live in Imperial County, California alone) since the first arrivals to the California desert in the early 1900s. The first American Sikh temples were in the Sacramento (Marysville and Yuba City) and San Joaquin Valleys (Lodi and Stockton) to serve the early wave of Sikh Indian workers arrived there. In contrast with East Asian Americans, who tend to be concentrated in California and other areas near the Pacific coast, Indian Americans are more evenly distributed throughout the United States.
In the year 2006, of the entire total 1,266,264 legal immigrants to USA from all the countries, 58,072 were from India. Immigration from India is currently at its highest level in history. Between 2000 and 2006 421,006 Indian immigrants were admitted to the United States, up from 352,278 during the 1990-1999 period. According to the US census, the overall growth rate for Indians from 1990 to 2000 was 105.87 per cent. The average growth rate for the whole of USA was only 7.6 per cent.
Indians comprise 16.4 percent of the Asian-American community. They are the third largest in the Asian American population. In 2000, of all the foreign born population in USA, Indians were 1.007 million. From 2000 onwards the growth rate and the per cent rate of Indians amongst all the immigrants has increased by over 100 percent. According to the US Census Bureau, between 1990 and 2000, the Indian population in the US grew 130% - 10 times the national average of 13%.
A joint Duke University - UC Berkeley study revealed that Indian immigrants have founded more engineering and technology companies from 1995 to 2005 than immigrants from the U.K., China, Taiwan and Japan combined. A University of California, Berkeley, study reported that one-third of the engineers in Silicon Valley are of Indian descent, while 7% of valley hi-tech firms are led by Indian CEOs.
Indians along with other Asians, have one of the highest educational qualifications of all ethnic groups in the US. Almost 67% of all Indians have a bachelor’s or high degree (compared to 28% nationally and 44% average for all Asian American groups). Almost 40% of all Indians in the United States have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average. Source: The Indian American Centre for Political Awareness. Thomas Friedman, in his recent book, The World is Flat, explains this trend in terms of brain drain, whereby the best and brightest elements in India emigrate to the US in order to seek better financial opportunities.
Indian Americans have the highest percentage of higher education when compared to other racial groups. According to the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, there are close to 35,000 Indian American doctors . According to the 2000 census, about 64% of Indian Americans have attained a Bachelor's degree or more.(compared to 28% nationally, and 44% average for all Asian American groups). Almost 40% of all Indians have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average. (Source: The Indian American Centre for Political Awareness.) Among Indian Americans, 72.3% participate in the U.S. work force, of which 57.7% are employed in managerial and professional specialties.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Indian American men had "the highest year-round, full-time median earnings ($51,094)", while Indian American women had a medium income of $35,173. This phenomenon has been linked to the "brain drain" of the Indian intelligentsia from India (source: Journal of Political Economy - University of Chicago Press). Recently, however, there has been a drop in immigration of Indians from India to the United States. This is generally attributed to the improving economy of India. A large group of Indian Americans are presently second or third generation.
Indian Americans own 50% of all economy lodges and 35% of all hotels in the United States, which have a combined market value of almost $40 billion. (Source: Little India Magazine). In 2002, there were over 223,000 Asian Indian-owned firms in the U.S., employing more than 610,000 workers, and generating more than $88 billion in revenue.
Indian Americans have brought Indian cuisine to the United States, and it has become established as a popular cuisine in the country, with hundreds of Indian restaurants and eateries nationwide. There are many Indian markets and stores in the United States. Some of the biggest Indian markets are in Silicon Valley, Chicago, New York City, the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and Edison, New Jersey. Areas with a significant Indian market presence also include Devon Avenue neighborhood/market in Chicago, Pioneer Blvd. in the Los Angeles region, and University Ave in Berkeley, California. Other predominantly Indian neighborhoods are Journal Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, Jackson Heights in Queens, New York, Hillcroft Avenue in Houston, Texas and Richardson near Dallas, Texas.
Hindi radio stations are available in areas with high Indian populations, for example, RBC Radio in the Tri-state Area of New York city, parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York state, Radio Humsafar, Desi Junction in Chicago, Radio Salaam Namaste in North Texas, FunAsia Radio, and Sangeet Radio in Houston. There are also some radio stations broadcasting in Tamil and Telugu within these communities.
Many metropolitan areas with high Indian-American populations now have movie theatres specialized for showing Indian movies specializing Bollywood. Silicon Valley, for example has two such multiplexes: one in Fremont and one in San Jose.
The Dallas - Ft. Worth Metroplex has a "Desi" Multiplex in the Richardson township. The area also has a movie theatre that plays Indian movies, FunAsia. In 2006, the first 24 x 7 Desi F.M. station in North America was launched, Radio Salaam Namaste 104.9 FM, in the Dallas area. A similar multiplex, featuring Indian film exclusively on two screens (and other international films on four additional screens) opened in 2002 in Cary, N.C.. FunAsia owns all Desi multiplexes in the state of Texas including two(six and five screens) in Houston. (www.funasia.net)
Communities of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and Jews from India have established their religions in the country. The first religious centre of an Indian religion to be established in the US was a Sikh Temple (gurudwara) in Stockton, California in 1912. Today there are many Sikh gurudwaras, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain temples as well as Indian churches and mosques in all the 50 states. As of 2000, the American Hindu population was around a million, and Hindus are the majority of Indian Americans There are many Hindu temples across the United States. Many sects such as ISKCON, Swaminarayan Sampraday, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Chinmaya Mission, and Swadhyay Pariwar are well-established in the U.S.
Indian Muslims generally congregate with other American Muslims, including those from Pakistan, but there are prominent organizations such as the Indian Muslim Council - USA. A large percentage of American Muslims are of Indian origin. The large Parsi community is represented by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America. Indian Jews are perhaps the smallest organized religious group among Indian Americans, consisting of approximately 350 members in the United States. They form the Indian Jewish Congregation of USA with headquarters in New York.
Swami Vivekananda brought Hinduism to the West at the 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions. The Vedanta Society has been important in subsequent Parliaments. Today, many Hindu temples, most of them built by Indian Americans have emerged in different cities and towns of America. More than 18 million Americans are now practicing some form of Yoga. Kriya Yoga was introduced to America by Paramahansa Yogananda. In addition, A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada initiated a popular ISKCON also known as Hare Krishna movement while preaching Bhakti yoga.
There are many Indian Christian churches across the US; Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Knanaya, Indian Orthodox Church, Mar Thoma Church (reformed orthodox), Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, Church of South India, The Pentecostal Mission, and the India Pentecostal Church of God; there are also a number of Indian Christians in mainstream American churches .
Like the terms "Asian American" or "South Asian American", the term "Indian American" is also an umbrella label applying to a variety of views, values, lifestyles, and appearances. Although Asian-Indian Americans retain a high ethnic identity, they are known to assimilate into American culture while at the same time keeping the culture of their ancestors. They may assimilate more easily than many other immigrant groups because they have fewer language barriers (English is widely spoken in India among professional classes), more educational credentials (Indian immigrants are disproportionately well-educated), and come from a democratic society. Additionally, Indian culture, like many other Asian cultures, puts emphasis upon achievement and personality responsibility of the individual as a reflection upon the family and community.
In countries such as the United States, Canada, and Britain, there has been a large influx of Indian immigrants, beginning in the late 1960s-70's. As a result of assimilation, mixed European/White, and Indian backgrounds are becoming more prevalent. In the 2001 U.S. Census Bureau’s publication of the 56,497,000 married couples, it shows that Indian males married almost twice as much with White females (7.1%) than Indian females marrying with White males(3.7%).
The United States is also home to associations of Indians united by ethno-linguistic affiliation. The big organizations include Cultural Association of Bengal and their annually sponsored event the North American Bengali Conference, AKKA (Association of Kannada Kootas of America) Kaveri Kannada Sangha and Kannada Koota, Telugu Association of North America (TANA), Orissa Society of the Americas, Brihan Maharashtra Mandals of North America(BMM), Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, Gujarati Samaj, Prabashi Federation of Kerala, Associations of North America(FOKANA), Punjabi American Heritage Society and Punjabi-American Cultural Association. These associations generally put on cultural programs, plays, and concerts during the major Hindu festivals (Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Padva, Pongal, Sankranti, Ugadi, Baisakh, Onam, Vishu ) and other religious (e.g., Christian) and cultural events such as Christmas and New Years.
According to the current parameters defining the official U.S. racial categories employed by the United States Census Bureau, Office of Management and Budget and other U.S. government agencies, American citizens or resident aliens who marked "Asian-Indian" as their ancestry or wrote in a term that automatically gets classified as an "Asian-Indian" gets classified as part of the Asian race on the 2000 US Census. As with other modern official U.S. government racial categories, the term "Asian" is in itself a broad and heterogeneous classification, encompassing all peoples with origins in the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. For further discussion on the term Asian American, please see that article.
In previous decades, Indian Americans were also variously classified as White American, the "Hindu race", and Other. Even today, where individual Indian Americans do not racially self-identify, and instead report Muslim (or a sect of Islam such as Shi'ite or Sunni), Jewish, and Zoroastrian as their "race" in the "Some other race" section without noting their country of origin, they are automatically tallied as white. This may result in the counting of persons such as Indian Muslims, Indian Jews, and Indian Zoroastrians as white, if they solely report their religious heritage without their national origin.
Explicit discrimination is not widespread, but has been known to happen in certain instances. In the 1980s, a faction group known as the Dotbusters tried to intimidate Indian Americans in Jersey City, New Jersey. Studies of racial discrimination, as well as stereotyping and scapegoating of Indian Americans have been conducted in recent years. In particular, racial discrimination of Indian Americans in the workplace has been correlated with Indophobia due to the rise in outsourcing/offshoring paranoia, whereby Indian Americans are blamed for US companies offshoring white-collar labor to India. According to the offices of the Congressional Caucus on India, many Indian Americans are severely concerned of a backlash, though nothing serious has taken place yet. Due to various socio-cultural reasons, implicit racial discrimination against Indian Americans largely go unreported by the Indian American community.
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, there have been scattered incidents of Indian Americans becoming mistaken targets for hate crimes. In one example, a Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was murdered at a Phoenix gas station by a white supremacist. This happened after September 11, and the murderer claimed that his turban made him think that the victim was a Middle Eastern American. In another example, a pizza deliverer was mugged and beaten in Massachusetts for "being Muslim" though the victim pleaded with the assailants that he was in fact Hindu.
On April 5, 2006, the Hindu Mandir of Minnesota was vandalized allegedly on the basis of religious discrimination. The vandals damaged temple property leading to $200,000 worth of damage.
On August 11, 2006, Senator George Allen allegedly referred to an opponent's political staffer of Indian ancestry as "macaca" and commenting, "Welcome to America." Some members of the Indian American community saw Allen's comments, and the backlash that may have contributed to Allen losing his re-election bid, as demonstrative of the power of YouTube in the 21st century.
The number of racially-motivated murders of Indian American students has also increased. Of significance is the December 14, 2007 killing of two Indian Ph.D. students at Louisiana State University. The motive behind the killings is unknown; nothing was stolen however, and the murders occurred near the officers of then Governor-elect Bobby Jindal, an Indian American himself, raising concerns of a racially-motivated killing, later investigated by the Embassy of India in Washington. In another incident that took place on January 18, 2008, second-year student Abhijit Mahato was murdered at Duke University. The motives were again unknown.
Indians are among the largest ethnic groups legally immigrating to the United States. The immigration of Indian Americans has taken place in several waves since the first Indian American came to the United States in the 1700s. A major wave of immigration to California from the region of Punjab took place in the first decade of the 20th century. Another significant wave followed in the 1950s which mainly included students and professionals. The elimination of immigration quotas in 1965 spurred successively larger waves of immigrants in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With the technology boom of the 1990s, the largest influx of Indians arrived between 1995 and 2000. This latter group has also caused surge in the application for various immigration benefits including applications for green card. This has resulted in long waiting periods for people born in India from receiving these benefits.
Several groups have tried to create a unified or dominant voice for the Indian American community in political affairs, including US India PAC. Additionally, there are also industry-wide Indian American groupings including the Asian American Hotel Owners Association and the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin. A majority of Indian Americans tend to identify as moderates and have voted for Democrats in recent elections. Polls before the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election showed Indian Americans favoring Democratic candidate John Kerry over Republican George W. Bush by a 53% to 14% margin, with 30% undecided at the time. The Republican party has tried to target this community, and several prominent conservative activists are of Indian origin.
In 2007, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal became the first United States Governor of Indian descent when he was elected Governor of Louisiana and is cited as a leading GOP presidential contender in 2012 or 2016. Nimrata Haley is a leading Republican Gubernatorial Candidate in South Carolina and has been endorsed by former Governor Mitt Romney.
Indian American voters have shown support for both the Democratic and Republican parties and have had political candidates of both parties. A list of notable Indian American politicians and commentators can be found here.