Contribution of Indian Americans to the US, Now in Exhibition in San Francisco

Contribution of Indian Americans to the US, Now in Exhibition in San Francisco

The exhibition is aimed at breaking stereotypes by highlighting the contributions of Indian Americans.

San Francisco:  An exhibition titled 'Beyond Bollywood - Indian Americans Shape the Nation' is travelling across the USA, celebrating the achievements and legacy of Indian Americans. The exhibition will be at Fremont, in San Francisco's Bay area, when Prime Minister Modi addresses the Indian diaspora later this month.

Twenty-four wall-hung panels and photographs document the 3.3 million-strong community's contributions to various spheres of "American life and history" through the generations.

"One in every hundred Americans is estimated to have roots in India. More than one in every Indian American is either a doctor, a dentist, nurse or a Physical Therapist", reads a poster.

The aim of the exhibition, organisers say, is to break stereotypes by highlighting the contributions of Indian Americans in the form of cuisine, films, music or culture alone.

"First, I want visitors to walk away with an understanding of the vast and deep contributions of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in shaping USA's history. Second, I want visitors to walk away questioning who is American and who is a foreigner? What is American history? Whose stories should be told as part of the history of the United States?" says Dr Masum Momaya, curator of The Smithsonian Institution, which hosts the show.

The pictures speak stories. There is one from 1906, that shows Indian immigrants on railway construction work. Another showcases Hargobind Khorana, the first Indian American Nobel laureate. An image of a cab tells the story of the Sikh cab drivers in the US, many of whom had fled India following the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

A display at the exhibition on Indian-origin cab drivers in the US.

Preston Merchant, a photographer based in the Bay Area, whose 'Indiaworld' project chronicles the global Indian diaspora has contributed to the exhibition. He says, "As the show attests, the Indian American community has made important contributions to the United States, in the arts, business, government, medicine, sports, media and other fields. It's great that the story of these contributions is reaching a wider audience."

The exhibition has also struck a chord with Indians. Karthik Chidambaram, CEO of DCKAP an IT company in the Bay Area, who has chosen to not give up his Indian citizenship status, says, "I would take my kids to learn about Indian American contributions, be inspired and give back. It would be a great event to learn more about our roots and make even better contributions."

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