Sant Chatwal, Chairman , Indian American Democrats & Friends of Hillary appeals for collective vote at a press conference held at The Chatwal Hotel in Manhattan on 2nd November, 2016. Seen from L to R:Mike Patel, hotelier and former commissioner in President Clinton's White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Dr Bhupi Patel, former chief of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Queens, and Sant Chatwal
Sant Chatwal, Chairman , Indian American Democrats & Friends of Hillary appeals for collective vote at a press conference held at The Chatwal Hotel in Manhattan on 2nd November, 2016. Seen from L to R:Mike Patel, hotelier and former commissioner in President Clinton's White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Dr Bhupi Patel, former chief of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Queens, and Sant Chatwal

NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Indian American supporters of Hillary Clinton strongly feel that the community should vote for her as only she can take the Indo-US relationship to a new level because she truly understands India and its culture.

Hillary Clinton and Sant Chatwal- a firm handshake
Hillary Clinton and Sant Chatwal- a firm handshake

Indian Americans for Democrats and Friends of Hillary for President, an advocacy group supporting Hillary Clinton for President made a passionate plea to the Indian American community to vote for Hillary. Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, chairman of Indian-Americans for Democrats and Friends of Hillary for President, hosted a well-attended press conference on November 2 at the Chatwal hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York City. He was joined by former chief of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital and community leader, Dr. Bhupi Patel, and Founder of Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and former commissioner in President Bill Clinton’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Mike Patel.

The Chatwal family with Hillary
The Chatwal family with Hillary

Chatwal, who has been a longtime friend of the Clintons, described how he convinced Bill Clinton for his India trip that ‘opened the doors for improving India-US relations.’Bill Clinton undertook a visit in March, 2000, 22 yearsafter a US President had visited India. It was in 1978 when a Democratic President Jimmy Carter had last visited India. Sant took a jibe at the Republicans for touting their love of India now but where were they earlier. He also highlighted how Bill and Hillary Clinton relentlessly worked for betterment of ties between the two countries. “She (Hillary) visited India quite a few times since 95- in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012. She understands India, Indian culture. Indian-Americans should vote for her as she can boost India-US relations.”

Hillary joins Daman Chatwal in a Punjabi jig
Hillary joins Daman Chatwal in a Punjabi jig

Getting nostalgic about his and wife, Daman’s 25 year old relationship with Clintons, Sant Chatwal described that he felt immediate positive vibes on his first ever meeting with Clintons.

“I had good vibes when I first met the Clintons in 1991. They are good people; very fair and emotionally connected,” Chatwal recalled, adding, “Hillary’s experience as a politician; her love for India and Indian Americans and her conscious effort to do good for America, made her an ideal candidate to receive our vote.”

Hillary poses with Sant and Daman Chatwal at a public gathering
Hillary poses with Sant and Daman Chatwal at a public gathering

Chatwal dwelt a length the long and distinguished career of Hillary. It began with Hillary as the First Lady of Arkansas where her husband Bill Clinton was Governor for more than a decade. It was then that she came in close contact with politics and politicians and started learning the nitty gritty of the statecraft. As First Lady of The US from 1993-2001, she got ample opportunity to meet with world leaders and leaders from the country and got to have an intimate knowledge of working of politics and diplomacy. In the White House, Hillary assumed a serious policy role and took the lead on Bill’s failed efforts to reform the American healthcare system.

Chatwal recounted her services as Senator from New York and later as Secretary of State of the US. Over four years that she was Secretary of State she visited 112 countries and wracked up nearly 1 million miles in the air, as she carried Obama’s message of multilateralism and cautious use of American power around the world. In Washington, she became one of the President’s closest advisors working closely with the White House as the Arab Spring flared and the US moved to kill Osama bin Laden.

If Chatwal spoke highly of Hillary Clinton, he did not hold his comments on Trump, too. He questioned Donald Trump’s ability “to run a country”.

“Running a government is very different from running a business. One needs knowledge and experience. It’s not easy to run a country.”

He feared that if Trump became Presidenthe will be disastrous for the country and wipe out trillions of dollars from US economy.

“As a businessman I want to protect our economy. If Trump becomes President, the market will drop by 25 per cent, four-five trillion dollars will be lost.”

Chatwal also slammed Trump for his remark that he is a “big fan of Hindus” and of India at an event in New Jersey last month. “India is not only for Hindus; India has Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and many more. Trump has to understand that. India has a large Muslim population. Muslim population is more in India than in Pakistan. Trump does not know that. Talk is cheap but it is difficult to deliver.”

Dr Bhupi Patel highlighted how Hillary has stood with India and the Indian-American community on vital issues like immigration, education and health care. He said the community should vote for her as Clinton has strong policies in these areas that will benefit the community and future generations.

“It’s time to reciprocate. We need somebody in White House who knows India. Trump does not know India.”

Dr Patel said Clinton is an “inclusive” leader who has worked for the community for the last few decades while Trump is in “exclusive’ person who talks about isolating the US. “How can you have a leader who damages global relations? America cannot afford to get isolated. You cannot discriminate against minorities. It is very important for the minority communities to be involved in the political process. We have to make our presence felt.”

Hillary addressing a convention of International Punjabi Society in New York. Sant Chatwal is seen to her right
Hillary addressing a convention of International Punjabi Society in New York. Sant Chatwal is seen to her right

Mike Patel recounted his experience as commissioner in President Bill Clinton’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “President Clinton did what he did because he cared about new immigrants, who worked hard and paid taxes but never received full benefits. It shows the party cares for us. We have to decide what kind of America we want for our kids. Who will be inclusive of your children? That should give you the answer who should you vote for.”

HR Shah, CEO of TV Asia and a long time supporter of Indian Americans for Democrats gave a hard-hitting note. “In 240 years America does not have a Woman president. Even India had a woman prime minister 30 years ago, who ruled for 10 years, but it’s unfortunate that America is so backward in realizing the strength of women power. We want to see the change. Make noise for the fundamental change,” he said.

The speakers also reminded that Indian community’s voting numbers may be small but in close elections, small numbers matter more. The key states are those that are traditionally Republican and are called Red States, and the swing states where the two parties are almost evenly poised and could go either way.

Chatwal pointed to the 2000 elections, which Democrat Al Gore lost by less than 400 votes in Florida and said, that in states like Florida votes of Indian Americans carry more weight as a deciding factor. Urging the Indian-American community to exercise their electoral right, he said each vote would count on November 8.

Over three-million-strong Indian-American community has traditionally supported the Democratic Party and Trump has been trying to pursue the community to make a dent in its vote bank. According to a poll, over 70% of Indian Americans are Democratic supporters with only 13% backing Republicans and 14% Independents. About 67% of them support Clinton compared to only 7% for Trump.

The panelists -Sant Chatwal, Bhupi Patel and Mike Patel-made a unanimous and passionate appeal to Indian Americans to “Get out and vote for Hillary”.