Describing India as “incredibly important”, Pramila Jayapal, the first ever Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives feels there is a lot to be done to make sure the US continues to support India on everything from poverty to clean energy.
Jayapal, 51, was elected to the US House of Representatives from the Seventh Congressional District of Washington State. She is the first Indian-American woman to be ever elected to the House.
“I think India is not only incredibly important to me not only because I was actually born in India. Iam very deeply tied with India. My parents still live in India. They live in Bangalore. My son was born in India. For me the relationship between the US and India is not only a political relationship, but also a personal relationship. It is actually what I live every day,” Jayapal said. Born in Chennai, she left India at the age of five for Indonesia, Singapore and then came to the US at the age of 16.
Currently in Washington DC to attend reorientation for the new elected members of the Congress, Jayapal said she believes there is still work to be done to make sure the US continues to support the forward movement of India on everything from poverty to clean energy.
“That is going to require that we put resources to it. It is going to require that we strengthen our diplomatic relationship. And it is going to mean that we continue to advocate for democracy in the bigger sense of the word that includes religious freedom and tolerance in both India and the US,” Jayapal said.
“I come from the land of Gandhi. Believe that war should be our last option and not our first. Both the US and India have some work to do where we go on that front,” she said.
She also said it would be difficult for any kind of bipartisan support the agenda of the Republicans, who control both the House and the Senate, if the president-elect tries to implement some of his campaign rhetoric including those against religious minorities and undocumented immigrants.
“The priorities that I ran on and that I remain deeply committed to includes free college, really making college affordable, raising the minimum wage and providing economic opportunities to working people,” she said, adding that, it includes working on climate, environment and expanding social security.
“But all of those feel a little bit distant at this time because of the (incoming) Trump Administration. We are waiting to see what happens,” Jayapal said.
“We have to be absolutely ready to take on any behaviour, rhetoric or legislation that attacks our constitution and civil rights that is against Muslim Americans, whether it is against undocumented immigrants or whether it is against the LGBTQ movement. I feel my first priority is to make sure I never back down from a necessary fight,” she said.