Indians Immigrating To America Their homeland has the second largest population in the world, yet in America they form one of our smallest minorities. Americans were influenced by their beliefs long before the first immigrants arrived, and an important interchange of ideas has continued to the present day. Although many came to America as early as the turn of the century, they were denied citizenship until a congressional act granted it in 1946. Now they are students and teachers in our universities; they are artists and writers, musicians and scientists. Their contributions to industry, commerce, and agriculture have been valuable to America and to the world. Who are these people? They are the East Indians in America.
Asian Indians have supplied innumerable contributions to the culture and well being of the United States; the majority of these contributions are geared notably to engineering and the sciences. The reason for immigration in the period from 1830-1890 is quite clear. India was in a great shape. However when the British took over India, they depleted the country of all her wealth and gave her poor citizens no choice but to leave. The main reason why everybody wants to go to the United States is because if they would go somewhere else, like France or Japan although they would get higher wages, there is much greater chance of getting harassed, arrested or deported in those countries as opposed to the United States (Takai 32). Here in the United States land remained plentiful and cheap.
Jobs were abundant and labor was scarce. The United States, in the nineteenth century, remained a strong magnet to immigrants, with offers of jobs and land for farms (Hess 12). The Jews came for religious freedom, Italians and Asians came for work, and the Russians came to escape persecution. America had jobs and religious freedom. Consequently, America was referred to in many countries as the Land of Opportunity.
This is land is also often called the melting Pot of the World. This is because it is believed that people from all over the world come to the United States and loose their cultural identity and ‘melt’ into or assimilate into the American culture. However, nowadays, the above is an unfair statement to make. Nowadays with the growing Chinese restaurants, Indian grocery stores, and European languages is school, etc., one can say that individual cultures are trying hard to voice their distinction amongst the overall American culture. One can therefore refer to the United States as the Salad Bowl of the World where every culture has its own flavor, just like in a salad, where every vegetable has its own taste even though it has a common dressing, the American culture.
Amongst the Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, etc. and other immigrants, the East Indians represented a big group of those people who wanted to be part of the American culture. The East Indians, who came to America, were mostly spread out in little groups up and down the West Coast (Pavri 56). Their story is an especially important part of the history of Asian Americans, for they were a new kind of immigrant. The large majorities of the first immigrants from India were Punjabis, from a region called the Punjab.
Most of these immigrants were young men, between 16 and 35 years old (Daniels 33). Many of them were married; however, they did not bring their wives across the sea with them. Their family and community ties remained strong after they left home; they came to America in small groups of cousins and village neighbors, and these relationships formed a network of interconnections among them in the new country as they lived and worked together. They had many reasons for leaving their homeland. They were being 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 (Millis 32). These families became the basis for the new East Indian communities. They had come to the United States with high hopes, expecting to make their fortunes, but they discovered that life in America was unexpectedly challenging. Some found it hard to get work.
Moreover, those who had jobs lived a life very different from the life they have known in India (Karitala 2). Instead of belonging to a settled community of families, they traveled from place to place with their work gangs. And although most of them had been farmers of farm laborers in the Punjab region of India, in America they often had to turn to other kinds of work (Dayes 22). Many of them encountered prejudice, born of ignorance and fear. White sometimes associated the Asian Indian immigrants with blacks, Chinese, or Japanese (22).
Often the Asian Indians were lumped together with other Asian peoples as Asiatics, whom prejudices whites considered unfit to be part of American society (22). Samuel L. Gompers, a leader of the American Labor Movement, said, Sixty years’ contact with the Chinese, and twenty-five years’ experience with the Japanese and two or three years’ acquaintance with Hindus should be sufficient to convince any ordinarily intelligent person that they have no standards(Brass 45) The Asians were often blamed for the violence directed against them by whites, who knew nothing of Asian peoples and often misinterpreted their behavior. In all cases, we may say the Oriental is at fault, declared the Asiatic Exclusion League, an organization whose goal was to keep Asian immigrants out of western states (Pavri 24). The Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, a winner of the Nobel 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. Tagore canceled his tour and promptly 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. (Hundley 45) Despite the difficulties they encountered, they felt that life in America had more to offer than they could expect in their homeland. The definition of American is becoming broader and more multicultural. At the same time, however, a few people feeling threatened by the growing diversity that they see around them in streets, stores, and schools, have lashed out in hate crimes against people whose ethnic backgrounds are different from theirs. In recent years, Asian Indians have been among the victims of violence fueled by prejudice.
(Hess 42) While many of these people have become self-employed entrepreneurs by choice, others have found themselves pushed into self-employment by discrimination. Similarly, an Asian Indian engineer who had worked for a company for some twenty years told his friend, They [management] never give you [Asian Indians] an executive position in the company. You can only go up so high and no more. (Brass 69) Frustrated by limited opportunities to advance in their careers, many Asian Indian professionals have turned to opening their own businesses. Furthermore, their turbans and their dark skin brought the Sikhs taunts and verbal abuse from whites.
They were called by insulting names such as rag-heads and treated as inferior beings (Hundley 38). One California Sikh recounted, I used to go to Maryville every Saturday. One day a drunken white man came out of a bar and motioned to me saying, ‘Come here, slave!’ I said I was no slave man. He told me that his race ruled India and America, too. (39) Assimilation has been a powerful source in American life, particularly in policies and attitudes toward immigrants in the twentieth century (Dayes 23) Furthermore, members of American minorities had learned that assimilation is not an all-or-nothing process.
To complete the process, the enterprising minority individual must jump through several hoops (23). Similarly, all immigrant groups have faced the question of whether they should cling to their cultural roots or try to become American as quickly as possible. Assimilation-blending into the larger society-has been more difficult for Asian immigrants than for European ones, for Asians can be identified by their physical appearance even when their clothing, speech, and actions have been completely Americanized (Pavri 74). Those Asians who choose to follow traditional customs stand out even more readily. The earliest Asian Indian immigrants to North America were singled out as strangers because of their turbans. Today, the customs of Asian Indian Americans continue to make them vulnerable to racism.
Since they were denied the right to own land until 1947, property ownership is a matter of pride to East Indians (Daniels 47). In San Francisco East Indians own or lease more than 50 hotels, forming the second largest Indian community group in America. Most of the hotel owners from Gujarat, a state on the west coast of India (48). East Indians have been assimilated into their country and city surroundings. Their children are marrying Americans. Their enthusiasms have transferred from cricket to baseball.
In addition, East Indians are owners of machine shops, photo studios, restaurants, and many other successful businesses, including impo …