We finally achieved our
goal: South Asians for Obama
Lalit K. Jha
York, Nov 5 (IANS) When a bunch of young Indian Americans
huddled together at an Indian restaurant in downtown Manhattan
one fine February evening in 2007 to establish South Asians
for Obama (SAFO) to get Barack Obama elected as the next US
president, well established community leaders were quick to
dismiss it as a day dream.
were the days when most of the entire Indian American community
was supporting Hillary Clinton for presidency.
months later, during which SAFO evolved from a small group
of Indian American youths to one of the largest nationwide
grassroots movements of South Asians, Tuesday was the day
when they realised their dream.
have finally achieved our goal! Tonight, America elected Barack
Obama - the son of a Kenyan father and a Kansan mother - the
44th president of the United States," SAFO said in an
e-mail sent to thousands of its supporters minutes past midnight.
we started SAFO, our twin goals were to mobilise the South
Asian community to support Barack Obama for president, and
to change the nature of our community's participation in the
political process," said Dave Kumar, SAFO co-founder.
wanted to get beyond the old model of simply giving candidates
money in search of a photo-op and actually build a grassroots
network of volunteers nationwide," Kumar said, reflecting
on the 21 months of hard work done by SAFO members, during
which they fanned out to the length and breadth of the country
canvassing for Obama.
this period, the SAFO leadership not only expanded its base
throughout the country, but also raised more than $250,000
from 1,750 donors. Its most important role was that of canvassing
by its volunteers at the grassroots level.
a result of our grassroots efforts throughout the primary
campaign, we were well-equipped to support the efforts of
the campaign's Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)
Vote Team in conducting outreach to the community," said
Hrishi Karthikeyan, SAFO co-founder and national coordinator.
assembling a national team of organisers and volunteers, we
employed the very principles of community organising that
Senator Obama has been espousing for the past 25 years,"
Karthikeyan said in a statement after the results were declared
late Tuesday night.
Senator Obama, we Indian American youths saw an opportunity
to change not just the face of our policies, but the character
of our politics. We thought it was critical for our community
to participate actively in effecting such change," Karthikeyan
said, explaining the reasons for his support to Obama.
has been a truly amazing journey," said Anhoni Patel,
another young SAFO leader. For the last year or so, hundreds
of SAFO organisers worked tirelessly on Obama's campaign.
have not only forged lasting friendships and contributed to
this historic moment, but we hope that the organisation that
we have built across this country will have a lasting effect
on our community and how it engages in the political process
for years to come," Patel said.