Indian-American group voices support for Sonal Shah

December 17th, 2008 - 10:03 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 17 (IANS) The US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), a bipartisan organisation of Indian Americans, has come out in support of Sonal Shah, a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team in the eye of a controversy.”A highly accomplished member of your team, Sonal Shah, has been targeted in a smear campaign in which she is falsely accused of supporting groups that condone violence against Christians and Muslims,” USINPAC noted in a letter to Obama.

In this context a former Republican senator Rick Santorum had even accused Obama of “condoning an organisation that supports terrorism aimed at Muslims and Christians,” USINPAC Chairman Sanjay Puri wrote.

“While some members of the Indian-American community may have objected to her appointment, I want to assure you that the majority of Indian-Americans - of different religious background support her and what she represents for America,” he wrote.

“We believe she is highly deserving of the position she has been given in the Presidential Transition Team and look forward to watching her continued success,” Puri added.

Shah, a former Google executive who has been tapped by Obama to be part of a three-person team to develop his administration’s technology policy, has herself renounced her former connection to the US wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), accused of fomenting violence against Muslims and Christians in India.

“Organizations like USINPAC work to increase the presence of Indian-Americans like Sonal in the public sector, because we believe that they can bring the same work ethic, innovation, and success to our government as they have to the fields of medicine, technology, and engineering,” Puri wrote.

“We hope that you will continue to support Sonal Shah for and her commitment to public service and to her country,” he added.

Noting that VHP had organised many fundraisers and charity drives in Hindu temples across the US following the tragic 2001 earthquakes in Gujarat, Puri said: “Shah, in an effort to give back to her community, participated in these drives.”

“But Ms. Shah, in her actions even more than her words, has proven that she is a dedicated, civil servant, not a radical extremist.”

“After observing the 2001 earthquake tragedy, Shah co-founded Indicorps, a non-religious, non-political organization that sends young Indian-Americans to volunteer in poor, remote villages in India,” Puri noted.

During her work at Google Inc., she supported small and medium sized enterprise development in the developing world, he wrote.

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