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Indian Americans

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Indian Americans
India Square, in the heart of Bombay, Jersey City, New Jersey, home to one of the highest concentrations of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere,[1] is one of at least 24 Indian-American enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged in the New York City Metropolitan Area, with the largest metropolitan Indian population outside Asia, as large-scale immigration from India continues into New York.[2][3][4]
Total population
Regions with significant populations
48% Hinduism
15% Christianity
8% Islam
8% Sikhism
3% Other religion
18% No religion[9]
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Caribbean AmericansIndian people • other South Asian AmericansIndian diaspora

Indian Americans are citizens of the United States with ancestry from India. The terms Asian Indian and East Indian are used to avoid confusion with Native Americans in the United States, who are also referred to as "Indians" or "American Indians". With a population of more than 4.9 million, Indian Americans make up approximately 1.35% of the U.S. population and are the largest group of South Asian Americans, the largest Asian-alone group,[10] and the largest group of Asian Americans after Chinese Americans. Indian Americans are the highest-earning ethnic group in the United States.[11]


In the Americas, the term "Indian" had historically been used to describe indigenous people since European colonization in the 15th century. Qualifying terms such as "American Indian" and "East Indian" were and still are commonly used in order to avoid ambiguity. The U.S. government has since coined the term "Native American" in reference to the indigenous people of the United States, but terms such as "American Indian" remain among indigenous as well as non-indigenous populations. Since the 1980s, Indian Americans have been categorized as "Asian Indian" (within the broader subgroup of Asian American) by the U.S. Census Bureau.[12]

While "East Indian" remains in use, the term "Indian" and "South Asian" is often chosen instead for academic and governmental purposes.[13] Indian Americans are included in the census grouping of South Asian Americans, which includes Bangladeshi Americans, Bhutanese Americans, Maldivian Americans, Nepalese Americans, Pakistani Americans, and Sri Lankan Americans.[14][15]



Members of the Nansemond tribe, descendant of East Indian, Native American, and African American people, c. 1900, Smithsonian Institution

Beginning in the 17th century, members of the East India Company would bring Indian servants to the American colonies.[16] There were also some East Indian slaves in the United States during the American colonial era.[17][18] In particular, court records from the 1700s indicate a number of "East Indians" were held as slaves in Maryland and Delaware.[19] Upon freedom, they are said to have blended into the free African American population, considered "mulattoes".[20]

Three brothers from "modern day India or Pakistan" received their freedom in 1710 and married into a Native American tribe in Virginia.[21] The present-day Nansemond people trace their lineage to this intermarriage.[22]

19th century[edit]

The first Sikh Gurudwara was established in 1912 by the early immigrant Sikh farmers in Stockton, California.

In 1850, the federal census of St. Johns County, Florida, listed a 40-year-old draftsman named John Dick, whose birthplace was listed as "Hindostan", living in city of St. Augustine.[23] His race is listed as white, suggesting he was of British descent.

By 1900, there were more than 2,000 Indian Sikhs living in the United States, primarily in California.[24] At least one scholar has set the level lower, finding a total of 716 Indian immigrants to the U.S. between 1820 and 1900.[25] Emigration from India was driven by difficulties facing Indian farmers, including the challenges posed by the colonial land tenure system for small landowners, and by drought and food shortages, which worsened in the 1890s. At the same time, Canadian steamship companies, acting on behalf of Pacific coast employers, recruited Sikh farmers with economic opportunities in British Columbia.[26]

The presence of Indians in the U.S. also helped develop interest in Eastern religions in the U.S. and would result in its influence on American philosophies such as transcendentalism. Swami Vivekananda arriving in Chicago at the World's Fair led to the establishment of the Vedanta Society.[25]

20th century[edit]

Escaping racist attacks in Canada, Sikhs migrated to Pacific Coast U.S. states in the 1900s to work on the lumber mills of Bellingham and Everett, Washington.[27] Sikh workers were later concentrated on the railroads and began migrating to California; around 2,000 Indians were employed by the major rail lines such as Southern Pacific Railroad and Western Pacific Railroad between 1907 and 1908.[28] Some white Americans, resentful of economic competition and the arrival of people from different cultures, responded to Sikh immigration with racism and violent attacks.[29] The Bellingham riots in Bellingham, Washington on September 5, 1907, epitomized the low tolerance in the U.S. for Indians and Sikhs, who were called "Hindoos" by locals. While anti-Asian racism was embedded in U.S. politics and culture in the early 20th century, Indians were also racialized for their anticolonialism, with U.S. officials, who pushed for Western imperial expansion abroad, casting them as a "Hindu" menace.[30] Although labeled Hindu, the majority of Indians were Sikh.[30]

In the early 20th century, a range of state and federal laws restricted Indian immigration and the rights of Indian immigrants in the U.S. Throughout the 1910s, American nativist organizations campaigned to end immigration from India, culminating in the passage of the Asiatic Barred Zone Act in 1917.[29] In 1913, the Alien Land Act of California prevented non-citizens from owning land.[31] However, Asian immigrants got around the system by having Anglo friends or their own U.S. born children legally own the land that they worked on. In some states, anti-miscegenation laws made it illegal for Indian men to marry white women. However, it was legal for "brown" races to mix. Many Indian men, especially Punjabi men, married Hispanic women, and Punjabi-Mexican marriages became a norm in the West.[32][33]

Bhicaji Balsara became the first known Indian to gain naturalized U.S. citizenship. As a Parsi, he was considered a "pure member of the Persian sect" and therefore a "free white person." In 1910, judge Emile Henry Lacombe of the Southern District of New York gave Balsara citizenship on the hope that the United States attorney would indeed challenge his decision and appeal it to create "an authoritative interpretation" of the law. The U.S. attorney adhered to Lacombe's wishes and took the matter to the Circuit Court of Appeals in 1910. The Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Parsis are classified as white.[34] On the same grounds, another federal court decision granted citizenship to A. K. Mozumdar.[35] These decisions contrasted with the 1907 declaration by U.S. Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte: "...under no construction of the law can natives of British India be regarded as white persons."[35] After the Immigration Act of 1917, Indian immigration into the U.S. decreased. Illegal entry through the Mexican border became the way of entering the country for Punjabi immigrants. California's Imperial Valley had a large population of Punjabis who assisted these immigrants and provided support. Immigrants were able to blend in with this relatively homogenous population. The Ghadar Party, a group in California that campaigned for Indian independence, facilitated illegal crossing of the Mexican border, using funds from this migration "as a means to bolster the party's finances."[36] The Ghadar Party charged different prices for entering the U.S. depending on whether Punjabi immigrants were willing to shave off their beard and cut their hair. It is estimated that between 1920 and 1935, about 1,800 to 2,000 Indian immigrants entered the U.S. illegally.[36]

Bhagat Singh Thind was twice denied citizenship as he was not deemed white.[37]

By 1920, the population of Americans of Indian descent was approximately 6,400.[38] In 1923, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind that Indians were ineligible for citizenship because they were not "free white persons."[39] The court also argued that the "great body of our people" would reject assimilation with Indians.[40] Furthermore, the court ruled that based on popular understanding of race, the term "white person" referred to people of northern or western European ancestry rather than "Caucasians" in the most technical sense.[41] Over fifty Indians had their citizenship revoked after this decision, but Sakharam Ganesh Pandit fought against denaturalization. He was a lawyer and married to a white American, and he regained his citizenship in 1927. However, no other naturalization was permitted after the ruling, which led to about 3,000 Indians leaving the U.S. between 1920 and 1940. Many other Indians had no means of returning to India.[39]

Indians started moving up the social ladder by getting higher education. For example, in 1910, Dhan Gopal Mukerji went to UC Berkeley when he was 20 years old. He was an author of many children's books and won the Newbery Medal in 1928 for his book Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon.[42] However, he committed suicide at the age of 46 while he was suffering from depression. Another student, Yellapragada Subbarow, moved to the U.S. in 1922. He became a biochemist at Harvard University, and he "discovered the function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as an energy source in cells, and developed methotrexate for the treatment of cancer." However, being a foreigner, he was refused tenure at Harvard. Gobind Behari Lal, who went to the University of California, Berkeley in 1912, became the science editor of the San Francisco Examiner and was the first Indian American to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.[43]

After World War II, U.S. policy re-opened the door to Indian immigration, although slowly at first. The Luce–Celler Act of 1946 permitted a quota of 100 Indians per year to immigrate to the U.S. It also allowed Indian immigrants to naturalize and become citizens of the U.S., effectively reversing the Supreme Court's 1923 ruling in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind.[44] The Naturalization Act of 1952, also known as the McCarran-Walter Act, repealed the Barred Zone Act of 1917, but limited immigration from the former Barred Zone to a total of 2,000 per year. In 1910, 95% of all Indian Americans lived on the western coast of the United States. In 1920, that proportion decreased to 75%; by 1940, it was 65%, as more Indian Americans moved to the East Coast. In that year, Indian Americans were registered residents in 43 states. The majority of Indian Americans on the west coast were in rural areas, but on the east coast they became residents of urban areas. In the 1940s, the prices of the land increased, and the Bracero program brought thousands of Mexican guest workers to work on farms, which helped shift second-generation Indian American farmers into "commercial, nonagricultural occupations, from running small shops and grocery stores, to operating taxi services and becoming engineers." In Stockton and Sacramento, a new group of Indian immigrants from the state of Gujarat opened several small hotels.[45] In 1955, 14 of 21 hotels enterprises in San Francisco were operated by Gujarati Hindus.[46] By the 1980s, Indians owned around 15,000 motels, about 28% of all hotels and motels in the U.S.[47]

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 dramatically opened entry to the U.S. to immigrants other than traditional Northern European groups, which would significantly alter the demographic mix in the U.S.[48] Not all Indian Americans came directly from India; some moved to the U.S. via Indian communities in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, the former British colonies of East Africa,[49] (namely Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, Mauritius), the Asia-Pacific region (Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Fiji),[49] and the Caribbean (Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Jamaica).[49] From 1965 until the mid-1990s, long-term immigration from India averaged about 40,000 people per year. From 1995 onward, the flow of Indian immigration increased significantly, reaching a high of about 90,000 immigrants in the year 2000.[50]

21st century[edit]

Mohini Bhardwaj, 2004 Summer Olympics medalist in gymnastics
Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN

The beginning of the 21st century marked a significant wave in the migration trend from India to the United States. The emergence of Information Technology industry in Indian cities as Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, and Hyderabad led to the large number of migrations to the U.S. primarily from the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu in South India. There are sizable populations of people from the states of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu in the United States.[51] Indians comprise over 80% of all H-1B visas.[52] Indian Americans have risen to become the richest ethnicity in America, with an average household income of $126,891, almost twice the U.S. average of $65,316.[53]

Since 2000, a large number of students have started migrating to the United States to pursue higher education. A variety of estimates state that over 500,000 Indian American students attend higher-education institutions in any given year.[54][55] As per Institute of International Education (IIE) 'Opendoors' report, 202,014 new students from India enrolled in U.S. education institutions.[56]

On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris, who is Indian American, made history as the first female Vice President of the United States.[57] She was elected vice president as the running mate of President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. This was a major milestone in Indian American history, and in addition to Harris, another 20 Indian Americans were nominated to key positions in the administration.[58]

In recent years, especially following the 1990 inception of the H-1B visa program and the dot-com boom, there has been a shift in the Indian American population from being dominated by immigrants from Gujarat and Punjab to being increasingly dominated by immigrants from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Tamil Nadu, as well as immigrants from Kerala, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.[59][60] Between 2010 and 2021, Telugu rose from being the sixth most spoken South Asian language to being the third most spoken, while Punjabi fell from being the fourth most spoken South Asian language in the United States to become the seventh most spoken. There are significant differences between these groups in terms of socioeconomic factors like education, geographic location, and income; in 2021, 81% of Americans speaking Telugu at home spoke English very well while only 59% of Americans speaking Punjabi at home did the same.[61][62]

Number of Americans speaking South Asian languages at home (2010–2021)[62][63]
South Asian language 2010 2021 Change % Change
Gujarati 356,394 436,909 80,515 22.59%
Hindi 609,395 864,830 255,435 41.92%
Urdu 388,909 507,972 119,063 30.61%
Punjabi 243,773 318,588 74,815 30.69%
Bengali 221,872 403,024 181,152 81.65%
Telugu 217,641 459,836 242,195 111.28%
Tamil 181,698 341,396 159,698 87.89%
Nepali, Marathi, and other Indo-Aryan languages 275,694 447,811 172,117 62.43%
Malayalam, Kannada, and other Dravidian languages 197,550 280,188 82,638 41.83%


Percent of population with Indian ancestry in 2010
Historical population

According to the 2010 United States census,[67] the Asian Indian population in the United States grew from almost 1,678,765 in 2000 (0.6% of U.S. population) to 2,843,391 in 2010 (0.9% of U.S. population), a growth rate of 69.37%, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.[68]

The New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, consisting of New York City, Long Island, and adjacent areas within New York, as well as nearby areas within the states of New Jersey (extending to Trenton), Connecticut (extending to Bridgeport), and including Pike County, Pennsylvania, was home to an estimated 711,174 uniracial Indian Americans as of the 2017 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, comprising by far the largest Indian American population of any metropolitan area in the U.S.[69]

Aerial view of the numerous greenbelts of exurban Monroe Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey housing tracts in 2010. Since then, significant new housing construction is rendering an increasingly affluent and suburban environment to Monroe Township, while maintaining the proximity to both New York City and Princeton University sought by Indians in this township with the fastest-growing Indian population in the Western Hemisphere.

New York City itself also contains by far the largest Indian American population of any individual city in North America, estimated at 246,454 as of 2017.[70] Monroe Township, Middlesex County, in central New Jersey, ranked the safest small city in the United States,[71] has displayed one of the fastest growth rates of its Indian population in the Western Hemisphere, increasing from 256 (0.9%) as of the 2000 Census[72] to an estimated 5,943 (13.6%) as of 2017,[73] representing a 2,221.5% increase over that period. Affluent professionals and senior citizens, a temperate climate with numerous greenbelts, charitable benefactors to COVID relief efforts in India in official coordination with Monroe Township, and Bollywood actors with second homes all play into the growth of the Indian population in the township, as well as its relative proximity to Princeton University. By 2022, the Indian population surpassed one-third of Monroe Township's population, and the nickname Edison-South had developed, in reference to the Little India stature of both Middlesex County, New Jersey townships.[74] In 2014, 12,350 Indians legally immigrated to the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA core based statistical area;[75] As of February 2022, Indian airline carrier Air India as well as United States airline carrier United Airlines were offering direct flights from the New York City Metropolitan Area to and from Delhi and Mumbai. In May 2019, Delta Air Lines announced non-stop flight service between New York JFK and Mumbai, to begin December 22, 2019.[76] And in November 2021, American Airlines began non-stop flight service between New York JFK and Delhi with IndiGo Air codesharing on this flight. At least 24 Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India have emerged in the New York City Metropolitan Area.

Other metropolitan areas with large Indian American populations include Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore–Washington, Boston, Chicago, Dallas–Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Francisco–San Jose–Oakland, and Seattle.

The three oldest Indian American communities going back to around 1910 are in lesser populated agricultural areas like Stockton, California south of Sacramento; the Central Valley of California like Yuba City; and Imperial County, California, also known as Imperial Valley. These were all primarily Sikh settlements.

U.S. metropolitan areas and states with large Asian Indian populations[edit]

Asian Indian population in Metropolitan Statistical Areas of the United States of America as per Census 2020[77]

Metropolitan Area Asian Indian Population Total Population Percentage
New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA 792,367 22,431,833 3.53%
San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA CSA 513,349 9,225,160 5.56%
Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI CSA 253,509 9,986,960 2.54%
Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-VA-MD-WV-PA CSA 253,146 10,028,331 2.52%
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK CSA 239,291 8,157,895 2.93%
Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA CSA 231,515 18,644,680 1.24%
Houston-Pasadena, TX CSA 162,343 7,339,672 2.21%
Philadelphia–Reading–Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD CSA 158,773 7,379,700 2.15%
Atlanta–Athens-Clarke County–Sandy Springs, GA-AL CSA 158,408 6,976,171 2.27%
Boston–Worcester–Providence, MA-RI-NH CSA 152,700 8,349,768 1.83%
Seattle-Tacoma, WA CSA 144,290 4,102,400 2.79%
Detroit–Warren–Ann Arbor, MI CSA 108,440 5,424,742 2.00%
Sacramento–Roseville, CA CSA 76,403 2,680,831 2.85%
Miami–Port St. Lucie–Fort Lauderdale, FL CSA 63,824 6,908,296 0.92%
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX CSA 63,524 2,352,426 2.70%
Phoenix-Mesa, AZ CSA 61,580 4,899,104 1.26%
Raleigh–Durham–Cary, NC CSA 59,567 2,242,324 2.66%
Orlando–Lakeland–Deltona, FL CSA 54,187 4,197,095 1.29%
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA CSA 50,673 3,276,208 1.55%
Charlotte–Concord, NC-SC CSA 50,115 3,232,206 1.55%
Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN-WI CSA 48,671 4,078,788 1.19%
New Haven–Hartford–Waterbury, CT CSA 45,600 2,659,617 1.71%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA 43,690 3,175,275 1.38%
Columbus–Marion–Zanesville, OH CSA 43,461 2,606,479 1.67%
Portland–Vancouver–Salem, OR-WA CSA 35,714 3,280,736 1.09%
Indianapolis–Carmel–Muncie, IN CSA 33,489 2,599,860 1.29%
Denver–Aurora–Greeley, CO CSA 31,452 3,623,560 0.87%
St. Louis–St. Charles–Farmington, MO-IL CSA 28,874 2,924,904 0.99%
Cleveland–Akron–Canton, OH CSA 28,467 3,769,834 0.76%
Fresno–Hanford–Corcoran, CA CSA 25,055 1,317,395 1.90%
Cincinnati–Wilmington, OH-KY-IN CSA 24,434 2,291,815 1.07%
Pittsburgh–Weirton–Steubenville, PA-OH-WV CSA 24,414 2,767,801 0.88%
Kansas City–Overland Park–Kansas City, MO-KS CSA 22,308 2,528,644 0.88%
Richmond, VA MSA 21,077 1,314,434 1.60%
San Antonio–New Braunfels–Kerrville, TX CSA 19,611 2,637,466 0.74%
Milwaukee–Racine–Waukesha, WI CSA 18,779 2,053,232 0.91%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro, TN CSA 18,296 2,250,282 0.84%
Jacksonville–Kingsland–Palatka, FL-GA CSA 16,853 1,733,937 0.97%
Albany–Schenectady, NY CSA 16,476 1,190,727 1.38%
Las Vegas–Henderson, NV CSA 14,913 2,317,052 0.64%
Buffalo–Cheektowaga–Olean, NY CSA 14,021 1,243,944 1.13%
Salt Lake City–Provo–Orem, UT-ID CSA 13,520 2,705,693 0.50%
Bakersfield, CA MSA 12,771 909,235 1.40%
Harrisburg–York–Lebanon, PA CSA 12,497 1,295,259 0.96%
Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point, NC CSA 11,660 1,695,306 0.69%
Allentown–Bethlehem–East Stroudsburg, PA-NJ CSA 11,188 1,030,216 1.09%
Memphis–Clarksdale–Forrest City, TN-MS-AR CSA 10,502 1,389,905 0.76%
Madison–Janesville–Beloit, WI CSA 10,361 910,246 1.14%
Louisville/Jefferson County–Elizabethtown, KY-IN CSA 10,259 1,487,749 0.69%
Oklahoma City–Shawnee, OK CSA 10,237 1,498,149 0.68%
Virginia Beach–Chesapeake, VA-NC CSA 9,985 1,857,542 0.54%
Greenville–Spartanburg–Anderson, SC CSA 9,809 1,511,905 0.65%
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR MSA 9,028 546,725 1.65%
Des Moines–West Des Moines–Ames, IA CSA 8,081 890,322 0.91%
Columbia–Sumter–Orangeburg, SC CSA 7,586 1,056,968 0.72%
Rochester–Batavia–Seneca Falls, NY CSA 7,564 1,157,563 0.65%
Dayton–Springfield–Kettering, OH CSA 6,281 1,088,875 0.58%
Omaha–Fremont, NE-IA CSA 6,241 1,004,771 0.62%
Gainesville–Lake City, FL CSA 6,207 408,945 1.52%
Grand Rapids–Wyoming, MI CSA 5,995 1,486,055 0.40%
Tucson–Nogales, AZ CSA 5,977 1,091,102 0.55%
Lansing–East Lansing–Owosso, MI CSA 5,860 541,297 1.08%
Birmingham–Cullman–Talladega, AL CSA 5,714 1,361,033 0.42%
Champaign–Urbana–Danville, IL CSA 5,299 310,260 1.71%
Bloomington–Pontiac, IL CSA 5,225 206,769 2.53%
Lafayette–West Lafayette–Frankfort, IN CSA 5,111 281,594 1.82%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers-Naples CSA 5,042 1,188,319 0.42%
Tulsa–Bartlesville–Muskogee, OK CSA 5,032 1,134,125 0.44%
Knoxville–Morristown–Sevierville, TN CSA 4,793 1,156,861 0.41%
Reno–Carson City–Gardnerville Ranchos, NV-CA CSA 4,761 684,678 0.70%
Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Los Alamos, NM CSA 4,555 1,162,523 0.39%
Springfield–Amherst Town–Northampton, MA CSA 4,398 699,162 0.63%
Scranton—Wilkes-Barre, PA MSA 4,367 567,559 0.77%
Peoria–Canton, IL CSA 4,151 402,391 1.03%
College Station-Bryan, TX MSA 4,149 268,248 1.55%
Urban Honolulu, HI MSA 4,122 1,016,508 0.41%
North Port-Bradenton, FL CSA 4,090 1,054,539 0.39%
New Orleans–Metairie–Slidell, LA-MS CSA 4,048 1,373,453 0.29%
Syracuse–Auburn, NY CSA 4,023 738,305 0.54%
Lexington-Fayette–Richmond–Frankfort, KY CSA 3,758 762,082 0.49%
Tallahassee–Bainbridge, FL-GA CSA 3,705 413,665 0.90%
Asian Indian Population by State or Jurisdiction
State Asian Indian


% of State's


Asian Indian


% Change
California 978,566 2.51% 528,120 85.29
Texas 578,113 1.90% 245,981 135.02
New Jersey 447,906 4.82% 292,256 53.26
New York 389,000 1.99% 313,620 24.04
Illinois 287,868 2.29% 188,328 52.85
Florida 223,167 0.99% 104,000 114.58
Virginia 182,040 2.09% 103,916 75.18
Georgia 180,326 1.63% 96,116 87.61
Washington 178,411 2.28% 61,124 191.88
Pennsylvania 164,879 1.27% 103,026 60.04
Massachusetts 141,666 2.02% 77,177 83.56
North Carolina 134,789 1.24% 57,400 134.82
Michigan 133,954 1.33% 77,132 73.67
Maryland 114,583 1.85% 79,051 44.95
Ohio 111,506 0.95% 64,187 73.72
Arizona 68,697 0.92% 36,047 90.58
Indiana 61,616 0.90% 27,598 123.26
Connecticut 58,872 1.63% 46,415 26.84
Minnesota 49,359 0.86% 33,031 49.43
Missouri 42,141 0.68% 23,223 81.46
Tennessee 40,551 0.57% 23,900 69.67
Colorado 40,429 0.69% 20,369 98.48
Wisconsin 39,268 0.66% 22,899 71.48
Oregon 36,787 0.87% 16,740 119.76
South Carolina 28,950 0.54% 15,941 81.61
Kansas 22,996 0.78% 8,726 163.53
Nevada 18,734 0.59% 11,671 60.52
Iowa 18,190 0.57% 11,081 64.15
Delaware 18,037 1.75% 11,424 57.89
Kentucky 16,858 0.37% 12,501 34.85
Alabama 16,771 0.33% 13,036 28.65
Oklahoma 14,795 0.36% 11,906 34.43
Louisiana 14,105 0.31% 11,174 26.23
Utah 13,517 0.40% 6,212 117.59
Arkansas 13,345 0.44% 7,973 67.38
New Hampshire 11,615 0.83% 8,268 40.48
Rhode Island 10,147 0.93% 4,653 118.07
District of Columbia 9,497 1.40% 5,214 82.14
Nebraska 8,809 0.45% 5,903 49.23
Mississippi 7,644 0.26% 5,494 39.13
New Mexico 5,983 0.28% 4,550 31.49
Puerto Rico 5,130 0.16% 3,523 45.61
Hawaii 4,605 0.32% 2,201 109.22
West Virginia 3,905 0.22% 3,304 18.19
Idaho 3,760 0.19% 2,152 74.72
South Dakota 2,705 0.29% 1,152 134.81
Vermont 2,404 0.37% 1,359 76.89
Maine 2,297 0.16% 1,959 17.25
North Dakota 2,187 0.28% 1,543 41.74
Alaska 1,679 0.23% 1,218 37.85
Montana 1,172 0.10% 618 89.64
Wyoming 950 0.16% 590 61.02
United States (Total) 4,980,329 1.49% 2,843,340 75.16%

List of communities by number of Asian Indians (as of the 2010 census)[edit]

Little India on 74th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens


The United States is host to the second largest Indian diaspora on the planet

From the 1990 census to the 2000 census, the Asian Indian population increased by 105.87%. Meanwhile, the U.S. population increased by only 7.6%. In 2000, the Indian-born population in the U.S. was 1.007 million. In 2006, of the 1,266,264 legal immigrants to the United States, 58,072 were from India. Between 2000 and 2006, 421,006 Indian immigrants were admitted to the U.S., up from 352,278 during the 1990–1999 period.[79] At 16.4% of the Asian population, Indian Americans make up the third largest Asian-American ethnic group, following Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.[80][81][82]

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 United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, and Japan combined.[83] The percentage of Silicon Valley startups founded by Indian immigrants has increased from 7% in 1999 to 15.5% in 2006, as reported in the 1999 study by AnnaLee Saxenian[84] and her updated work in 2006 in collaboration with Vivek Wadhwa.[85] Indian Americans have risen to top positions at many major companies (e.g., IBM, PepsiCo, MasterCard, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Adobe, Softbank, Cognizant, Sun Microsystems.) A 2014 study indicates that 23% of Indian business school graduates take a job in United States.[86]

Year Asian Indians (per ACS)
2005 2,319,222
2006 2,482,141
2007 2,570,166
2008 2,495,998
2009 2,602,676
2010 2,765,155
2011 2,908,204
2012 3,049,201
2013 3,189,485
2014 3,491,052
2015 3,510,000
2016 3,613,407
2017 3,794,539
2018 3,882,526
2019 4,002,151
2020 4,021,134

Socioeconomic status[edit]

Indian Americans continually outpace every other ethnic group socioeconomically per U.S. census statistics.[87] Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, in his 2005 book The World Is Flat, explains this trend in terms of brain drain, whereby a sample of the best and brightest people in India emigrate to the United States in order to seek better financial opportunities.[88] Indians form the second largest group of physicians after non-Hispanic Caucasian Americans (3.9%) as of the 1990 survey, and the share of Indian physicians rose to approximately 6% in 2005.[89]


According to Pew Research in 2015, of Indian Americans aged 25 and older, 72% had obtained a bachelor's degree and 40% had obtained a postgraduate degree, whereas of all Americans, 19% had obtained a bachelor's degree and 11% had obtained a postgraduate degree.[90]

Household income[edit]

The median household income for Indian immigrants in 2019 was much higher than that of the overall foreign- and native-born populations. Indians overall have much higher incomes than the total foreign and native-born populations.

In a 2019 survey, it was found that households headed by an Indian immigrant had a median income of $132,000, compared to $64,000 and $66,000 for all immigrant and U.S.-born households, respectively. Indian immigrants were also much less likely to be in poverty (5%) than immigrants overall (14%) or the U.S. born (12%).[91]

According to 2022 US Census data, the median Indian American household income is now $151,485.

Culture and technology[edit]

Food companies[edit]

Patel Brothers is a supermarket chain serving the Indian diaspora, with 57 locations in 19 U.S. states—primarily located in the New Jersey/New York Metropolitan Area, due to its large Indian population, and with the East Windsor/Monroe Township, New Jersey location representing the world's largest and busiest Indian grocery store outside India.

Deep Foods, founded in 1977 in New Jersey, is one of the largest Indian food companies in the US.[92] Specializing in frozen Indian food, their products were sold in around 20,000 stores as of 2024.[93]

Notable Indian Americans in the Business and technology industry[edit]


Raja Kumari is an American singer
Sendhil Ramamurthy is an actor who appeared in Beauty and the Beast and The Flash

Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu, Marathi, Punjabi, Malayalam, and Hindi radio stations are available in areas with high Indian populations, for example, Punjabi Radio USA, Easy96.com in the New York City metropolitan area, KLOK 1170 AM in San Francisco, KSJO Bolly 92.3FM in San Jose, RBC Radio; Radio Humsafar, Desi Junction in Chicago; Radio Salaam Namaste and FunAsia Radio in Dallas; and Masala Radio, FunAsia Radio, Sangeet Radio, Radio Naya Andaz in Houston and Washington Bangla Radio on Internet from the Washington DC Metro Area. There are also some radio stations broadcasting in Tamil within these communities.[94][95] Houston-based Kannada Kaaranji radio focuses on a multitude of programs for children and adults.[96]

AVS (Asian Variety Show) and Namaste America are South Asian programming available in most of the U.S. that is free to air and can be watched with a television antenna.

Several cable and satellite television providers offer Indian channels: Sony TV, Zee TV, TV Asia, Star Plus, Sahara One, Colors, Sun TV, ETV, Big Magic, regional channels, and others have offered Indian content for subscription, such as the Cricket World Cup. There is also an American cricket channel called Willow.

Many metropolitan areas with large Indian American populations now have movie theaters which specialize in showing Indian movies, especially from Kollywood (Tamil), Tollywood (Telugu) and Bollywood (Hindi).

In July 2005, MTV premiered a spin-off network called MTV Desi which targets Indian Americans.[97] It has been discontinued by MTV.

In 2012, the film Not a Feather, but a Dot directed by Teju Prasad, was released which investigates the history, perceptions and changes in the Indian American community over the last century.

In popular media, several Indian American personalities have made their mark in recent years, including Ashok Amritraj, M. Night Shyamalan, Kovid Gupta, Kal Penn, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Padma Lakshmi, Hari Kondabolu, Karan Brar, Aziz Ansari, Hasan Minhaj, Poorna Jagannathan and Mindy Kaling. In the 2023 film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the fictional world of Mumbattan (portmanteau of Mumbai and Manhattan) is introduced.[98]

Indian Independence Day Parade[edit]

New York City's annual India Day Parade, the world's largest Indian Independence Day parade outside India,[99] marches down Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The parade addresses controversial themes, including racism, sexism, corruption, and Bollywood.

The annual New York City India Day Parade, held on or approximately every August 15 since 1981, is the world's largest Indian Independence Day parade outside of India[99] and is hosted by The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA). According to the website of Baruch College of the City University of New York, "The FIA, which came into being in 1970 is an umbrella organization meant to represent the diverse Indian population of NYC. Its mission is to promote and further the interests of its 500,000 members and to collaborate with other Indian cultural organization. The FIA acts as a mouth piece for the diverse Indian Asian population in United States, and is focused on furthering the interests of this diverse community. The parade begins on East 38th Street and continues down Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan until it reaches 28th Street. At the review stand on 28th Street, the grand marshal and various celebrities greet onlookers. Throughout the parade, participants find themselves surrounded by the saffron, white and green colors of the Indian flag. They can enjoy Indian food, merchandise booths, live dancing and music present at the Parade. After the parade is over, various cultural organizations and dance schools participate in program on 23rd Street and Madison Avenue until 6PM."[100] The New York/New Jersey metropolitan region's second-largest India Independence Day parade takes place in Little India, Edison/Iselin in Middlesex County, New Jersey, annually in August.

Sikh Day Vaisakhi Parade[edit]

The world's largest Sikh Day Parade outside India celebrating Vaisakhi and the season of renewal is held in Manhattan annually in April. The parade is widely regarded as being one of the most colourful parades.[101]


Religious Makeup of Indian Americans (2018)[9]

  Hindu (48%)
  Christian (15%)
  Muslim (8%)
  Sikh (8%)
  No religion (18%)

Communities of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, irreligious people, and smaller numbers of Jains, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and Indian Jews, have established their religious (or irreligious) beliefs in the United States. According to 2023 Pew Research Center research, 48% consider themselves Hindu, 15% as Christian (7% Catholic, 4% Evangelical Protestant, 4% Nonevangelical Protestant), 18% as unaffiliated, 8% as Muslims, 8% as Sikh, and 3% as a member of another religion.[9] The first religious center of an Indian religion to be established in the U.S. was a Sikh Gurudwara in Stockton, California in 1912. Today there are many Sikh Gurudwaras, Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, Christian churches, and Buddhist and Jain temples in all 50 states.


As of 2008, the American Hindu population was around 2.2 million.[103] Hindus form the plurality religious group among the Indian American community.[104][105] Many organizations such as ISKCON, Swaminarayan Sampradaya, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Chinmaya Mission, and Swadhyay Pariwar are well-established in the U.S. and Hindu Americans have formed the Hindu American Foundation which represents American Hindus and aim to educate people about Hinduism. Swami Vivekananda brought Hinduism to the West at the 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions.[106] The Vedanta Society has been important in subsequent Parliaments. In September 2021, the State of New Jersey aligned with the World Hindu Council to declare October as Hindu Heritage Month. Today, many Hindu temples, most of them built by Indian Americans, have emerged in different cities and towns in the United States.[107][108] More than 18 million Americans are now practicing some form of Yoga. Kriya Yoga was introduced to America by Paramahansa Yogananda. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada initiated the popular ISKCON, also known as the Hare Krishna movement, while preaching Bhakti yoga.


From the time of their arrival to the U.S. in the late 1800s, Sikh women and men have been making notable contributions to American society. In 2007, there were estimated to be between 250,000 and 500,000 Sikhs living in the United States, with largest populations living on the East and West Coasts, together with smaller additional populations in Detroit, Chicago, and Austin. The United States also has a number of non-Punjabi converts to Sikhism. Sikh men are typically identifiable by their unshorn beards and turbans (head coverings), articles of their faith. Many organisations like World Sikh Organisation (WSO), Sikh Riders of America, SikhNet, Sikh Coalition, SALDEF, United Sikhs, National Sikh Campaign continue to educate people about Sikhism. There are many "Gurudwaras" Sikh temples present in all states of USA.


Das Lakshana (Paryushana) celebrations at the Jain Center of America, Queens, New York City, the oldest Jain temple in the Western hemisphere[109]

Adherents of Jainism first arrived in the United States in the 20th century. Jain immigration became more significant in the second half of the 20th century. The U.S. has since become the epicenter of the Jain diaspora. Jains in America are also one of the highest-earning socio-economic adherents of any religion in the United States. The Federation of Jain Associations in North America is an umbrella organization of local American and Canadian Jain congregations.[110] Unlike India and United Kingdom, the Jain community in United States does not find sectarian differences—both Digambara and Śvētāmbara share a common roof.[citation needed]


Hasan Minhaj, Fareed Zakaria, Aziz Ansari,[111] and Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan[112] are few well-known Indian American Muslims. Indian Muslim Americans also congregate with other American Muslims, including those from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Myanmar when there are events particularly related to their faith and religious believes as the same can be applied for any other religious community, but there are prominent organizations such as the Indian Muslim Council – USA.[113]


There are many Indian Christian churches across the US; India Pentecostal Church of God, Assemblies of God in India, Church of God (Full Gospel) in India, Church of South India, Church of North India, Christhava Tamil Koil, The Pentecostal Mission, Sharon Pentecostal Church, Independent Non Denominational Churches like Heavenly Feast, Plymouth Brethren. Saint Thomas Christians (Syro-Malabar Church, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Chaldean Syrian Church, Kanna Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, CSI Syrian Christians, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Pentecostal Syrian Christians[114] and St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India[115]) from Kerala have established their own places of worship across the United States.[116] The website USIndian.org has collected a comprehensive list of all the traditional St. Thomas Christian Churches in the U.S.[117] There are also Catholic Indians hailing originally from Goa, Karnataka and Kerala, who attend the same services as other American Catholics, but may celebrate the feast of Saint Francis Xavier as a special event of their identity.[118][119][120] The Indian Christian Americans have formed the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) to represent a network of Indian Christian organizations in the U.S. FIACONA estimates the Indian American Christian population to be 1,050,000.[121] The Syro-Malabar Church, an Eastern Catholic Church, native to India since the 1st century,[122] established St. Thomas Syro-Malabar diocese of Chicago was established in the year 2001.[123] St. Thomas day is celebrated in this church on July 3 every year.[124]


The large Parsi and Irani community is represented by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America.[125] Indian Jews are perhaps the smallest organized religious group among Indian Americans, consisting of approximately 350 members in the U.S. They form the Indian Jewish Congregation of USA, with their headquarters in New York City.[126]

Deepavali/Diwali, Eid/Ramadan as school holidays[edit]

Momentum has been growing to recognize the Dharmic holy day Deepavali (Diwali) as a holiday on school district calendars in the New York City metropolitan area.[127][128] New York City announced in October 2022 that Diwali would be an official school holiday commencing in 2023.[129]

Passaic, New Jersey established Diwali as a school holiday in 2005.[127][128] South Brunswick, New Jersey in 2010 became the first of the many school districts with large Indian student populations in Middlesex County in New Jersey to add Diwali to the school calendar.[128] Glen Rock, New Jersey in February 2015 became the first municipality in Bergen County, with its own burgeoning Indian population post-2010,[130][131] to recognize Diwali as an annual school holiday,[132][133] while thousands in Bergen County celebrated the first U.S. county-wide Diwali Mela festival under a unified sponsorship banner in 2016,[134] while Fair Lawn in Bergen County has celebrated an internationally prominent annual Holi celebration since 2022.[135][136][137] Diwali/Deepavali is also recognized by Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Efforts have been undertaken in Millburn,[127] Monroe Township, West Windsor-Plainsboro, Bernards Township, and North Brunswick, New Jersey,[128] Long Island, as well as in New York City (ultimately successfully),[138][139] among other school districts in the metropolitan region, to make Diwali a holiday on the school calendar. According to the Star-Ledger, Edison, New Jersey councilman Sudhanshu Prasad has noted parents' engagement in making Deepavali a holiday there; while in Jersey City, the four schools with major Asian Indian populations mark the holiday by inviting parents to the school buildings for festivities.[128] Mahatma Gandhi Elementary School is located in Passaic, New Jersey.[140] Efforts are also progressing toward making Diwali and Eid official holidays at all 24 school districts in Middlesex County.[141] At least 12 school districts on Long Island closed for Diwali in 2022,[142] and over 20 in New Jersey.[143]

In March 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio officially declared the Muslim holy days Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays on the school calendar.[138] School districts in Paterson and South Brunswick, New Jersey observe Ramadan.[128]


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.[144]

Linguistic affiliation[edit]

Kiran Desai, winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize

The United States is home to various associations that promote Indian languages and cultures. Some major organizations include:


Davuluri speaking, wearing her Miss America tiara, large earrings, and a long necklace of red flowers
Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014
Political Commentator Dinesh D'Souza


Indra Nooyi, former chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo
Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft
Sundar Pichai CEO of Google
Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of U.S.; former Vice Admiral of U.S. Health Corps
Ajit Pai, Former Chairman of the FCC; Currently serves as a partner at Searchlight Capital


A man giving a speech. He wears a white blouse with a dark label pin. In front of him, there are two microphones.
Kal Penn speaking at a rally for President Barack Obama at the University of Maryland's Nyumburu Cultural Center.

According to 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 was automatically classified as an Asian Indian became classified as part of the Asian race at the 2000 Census.[173] 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.

In previous decades, Indian Americans were also variously classified as White American, the "Hindu race," and "other."[174] Even today, where individual Indian Americans do not racially self-identify, and instead report Muslim, Jewish, and Zoroastrian as their "race" in the "some other race" section without noting their country of origin, they are automatically tallied as white.[175] 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.

Current issues[edit]


In the 1980s, a gang known as the Dotbusters specifically targeted Indian Americans in Jersey City, New Jersey with violence and harassment.[176] Studies of racial discrimination, as well as stereotyping and scapegoating of Indian Americans have been conducted in recent years.[177] In particular, racial discrimination against Indian Americans in the workplace has been correlated with Indophobia due to the rise in outsourcing/offshoring, whereby Indian Americans are blamed for U.S. companies offshoring white-collar labor to India.[178][179] 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.[179] Due to various socio-cultural reasons, implicit racial discrimination against Indian Americans largely go unreported by the Indian American community.[177]

Numerous cases of religious stereotyping of American Hindus (mainly of Indian origin) have also been documented.[180]

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.[181] 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 a Hindu.[182] In December 2012, an Indian American in New York City was pushed from behind onto the tracks at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside and killed.[183] The police arrested a woman, Erika Menendez, who admitted to the act and justified it, stating that she shoved him onto the tracks because she believed he was "a Hindu or a Muslim" and she wanted to retaliate for the attacks of September 11, 2001.[184]

In 2004, New York Senator Hillary Clinton joked at a fundraising event with South Asians for Nancy Farmer that Mahatma Gandhi owned a gas station in downtown St. Louis, fueling the stereotype that gas stations are owned by Indians and other South Asians. She clarified in the speech later that she was just joking, but still received some criticism for the statement later on for which she apologized again.[185]

On April 5, 2006, the Hindu Mandir of Minnesota was vandalized allegedly on the basis of religious discrimination.[186] The vandals damaged temple property leading to $200,000 worth of damage.[187][188][189]

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, to the real world of Virginia." 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.[190]

In 2006, then Delaware Senator and current U.S President Joe Biden was caught on microphone saying: "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."[191]

On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page shot eight people and killed six at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

On February 22, 2017, recent immigrants Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot at a bar in Olathe, Kansas by Adam Purinton, a white American who mistook them for persons of Middle Eastern descent, yelling "get out of my country" and "terrorist." Kuchibhotla died instantly while Madasani was injured, but later recovered.[192]

Punjabi Sikh Americans in Indianapolis suffered many losses in their community on April 15, 2021, during the Indianapolis FedEx shooting in which gunman Brandon Scott Hole, with a currently unknown motive, entered a FedEx warehouse and killed eight people, half of whom were Sikh. The Sikh victims were Jaswinder Singh, Jasvinder Kaur, Amarjit Sekhon, and Amarjeet Johal. 90% of the workers at the facility were Sikh according to some accounts.[193] Another Sikh, Taptejdeep Singh, was one of the nine people killed in the San Jose shooting on May 26, 2021.[194]


Indians are among the largest ethnic groups legally immigrating to the United States. The immigration of Indians has taken place in several waves since the first Indian moved 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.

As of 2012, over 330,000 Indians were on the visa wait list, third only to Mexico and The Philippines.[195]

In December, 2015, over 30 Indian students seeking admission in two U.S. universities—Silicon Valley University and the Northwestern Polytechnic University—were denied entry by Customs and Border Protection and were deported to India. Conflicting reports suggested that the students were deported because of the controversies surrounding the above-mentioned two universities. However, another report suggested that the students were deported as they had provided conflicting information at the time of their arrival in the U.S. to what was mentioned in their visa application. "According to the U.S. Government, the deported persons had presented information to the border patrol agent which was inconsistent with their visa status," read an advisory published by Ministry of External Affairs (India) which was published in the Hindustan Times.[196]

Following the incident, the Indian government asked the U.S. government to honour the visas given by its embassies and consulates. In response, the United States embassy advised the students considering studying in the U.S. to seek assistance from Education USA.[196][197]


Unlike many countries, India does not allow dual citizenship.[198] Consequently, many Indian citizens residing in U.S., who do not want to lose their Indian nationality, do not apply for American citizenship (ex. Raghuram Rajan[199]). However, many Indian Americans obtain Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status, which allows them to live and work in India indefinitely.


Arranged marriages and relationships have been a common cultural tradition in many South Asian cultures, particularly among Indian communities. Arranged marriages and relationships can take many different forms, and that the experiences of those involved can vary greatly depending on a variety of circumstances, including cultural background, familial values, and individual preferences. Although many individuals marry each other out of love for one another, long-term compatibility—rather than love—is frequently prioritized in these arranged marriages. A number of variables could be important in the selecting process, including caste, education, financial standing, and family values. The public's perception of arranged marriages is changing, particularly among younger people. In an effort to strike a balance between family participation and personal preference, some people may decide to combine aspects of both love and planned marriages.[200]

Income disparities[edit]

Although Indian Americans have the highest average and median household income of any demographic group in America, there exist significant and severe income disparities among various communities of Indian Americans. In Long Island, the average family income of Indian Americans was roughly $273,000, while in Fresno, the average family income of Indian Americans was only $24,000, an eleven-fold difference.[201]

Illegal immigration[edit]

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that there were 200,000 Indian unauthorized immigrants; they are the sixth largest nationality (tied with Koreans) of illegal immigrants behind Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Philippines.[202] Indian Americans have had an increase in illegal immigration of 25% since 2000.[203] In 2014, Pew Research Center estimated that there are 450,000 undocumented Indians in the United States.[204]



Several groups have tried to create a voice for Indian Americans in political affairs, including the United States India Political Action Committee[when?] and the Indian American Leadership Initiative,[when?] as well as panethnic groups such as South Asian Americans Leading Together and Desis Rising Up and Moving.[205][206][207][208] Additionally, there are industry groups such as the Asian American Hotel Owners Association and the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.

In the 2000s, a majority of Indian Americans have tended to identify as moderates, and have often leaned Democratic in several recent elections. In the 2012 presidential election, a poll from the National Asian American Survey reported that 68% of Indian Americans planned to vote for Barack Obama.[209] Polls before the 2004 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.[210]

By 2004, the Republican party endeavored to target this community for political support,[211] and in 2007, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal became the first United States Governor of Indian descent when he was elected Governor of Louisiana.[212] In 2010, Nikki Haley, also of Indian descent and a fellow Republican, became Governor of South Carolina in 2010. Republican Neel Kashkari is also of Indian descent and ran for Governor of California in 2014. Raja Krishnamoorthi who is a lawyer, engineer and community leader from Schaumburg, Illinois has been the Congressman representing Illinois's 8th congressional district since 2017.[213]Swati Dandekar was first elected to Iowa state assembly in 2003.[214][215]Jenifer Rajkumar is a Lower Manhattan district leader and the first Indian American woman elected to the state legislature in New York history.[216] In 2016, Kamala Harris (the daughter of a Tamil Indian American mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, and an Afro-Jamaican American father, Donald Harris[217][218][219]) became the first Indian American[220] and second African American female to serve in the U.S. Senate.[221]

In 2020, Harris briefly ran for President of the United States and was later chosen as the Democratic Party's vice-presidential nominee, running alongside Joe Biden.[222]

In the 2024 United States presidential election, Vivek Ramaswamy ran as a candidate for the Republican Party. Ramaswamy would then leave the race to endorse Donald Trump.[223]

Indian Americans have played a significant role in promoting better India–United States relations, turning the cold attitude of American legislators to a positive perception of India in the post-Cold War era.[224]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Atkinson, David C. The burden of white supremacy: Containing Asian migration in the British empire and the United States (U North Carolina Press, 2016).
  • Bacon, Jean. Life Lines: Community, Family, and Assimilation among Asian Indian Immigrants (Oxford UP, 1996).
  • Bhalla, Vibha. "'Couch potatoes and super-women' Gender, migration, and the emerging discourse on housework among Asian Indian immigrants." Journal of American Ethnic History 27.4 (2008): 71–99. online Archived April 11, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
  • Chakravorty, Sanjoy; Kapur, Devesh; Singh, Nirvikar (2017). The Other One Percent: Indians in America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190648749.
  • Joshi, Khyati Y. New Roots in America's Sacred Ground: Religion, Race and Ethnicity in Indian America (Rutgers UP, 2006).
  • Khandelwal, Madhulika S. Becoming American, Being Indian: An Immigrant Community in New York City (Cornell UP, 2002).
  • Maira, Sunaina Marr. Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in NYC (Temple UP, 2002).
  • Min, Pyong Gap, and Young Oak Kim. "Ethnic and sub-ethnic attachments among Chinese, Korean, and Indian immigrants in New York City." Ethnic and Racial Studies 32.5 (2009): 758–780.
  • Pavri, Tinaz. "Asian Indian Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2014), pp. 165–178. online Archived March 26, 2021, at the Wayback Machine
  • Rangaswamy, Padma (2000). Namasté America: Indian Immigrants in an American Metropolis. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-01981-6.
  • Rudrappa, Sharmila. Ethnic Routes to Becoming American: Indian Immigrants and the Cultures of Citizenship (Rutgers UP, 2004).
  • Schlund-Vials, Cathy J., Linda Trinh Võ, and K. Scott Wong, eds. Keywords for Asian American Studies (NYU Press, 2015).
  • Shukla, Sandhya. India Abroad: Diasporic Cultures of Postwar America and England (Princeton UP, 2003).
  • Sohi, Seema. Echoes of Mutiny: Race, Surveillance, and Indian Anticolonialism in North America (2014) excerpt Archived February 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  • Takaki, Ronald (1998) [1989]. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (Revised and updated ed.). New York: Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-316-83130-7. OCLC 80125499.
  • Thernstrom, Stephan; Orlov, Ann; Handlin, Oscar, eds. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674375122, (1980), pp 296–301. available to borrow online

External links[edit]