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Reports from HPR's political reporter Wayne Yoshioka

Asia Minute: India’s Coverage of Bobby Jindal’s Campaign

Derek Bridges / Flickr
Derek Bridges / Flickr
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Many presidential candidates used the July 4th weekend for campaigning. That includes Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who spent part of the weekend in Iowa.  While Jindal’s campaign is getting some coverage in the United States, in India, it’s front page news, but not in the way you might think. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

Bobby Jindal is the first person of Indian descent to run for president….or to be the governor of an American state.  That alone makes him newsworthy in India.  Jindal’s parents moved from Punjab to Louisiana shortly before he was born.  But what’s really making headlines in India is the Louisiana governor’s discussion of his own heritage.

Jindal frequently says he doesn’t like identifying Americans by ethnicity—including himself.  He told one campaign crowd “we are not Indian-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans…We are all Americans.”  He says “he’s not ashamed of his background; he just doesn’t like referring to people as what he calls ‘hyphenated Americans.’”

That’s sparked a lot of discussion in India.

A former Indian ambassador wrote disapprovingly of what he called Jindal’s “disavowal of his Indian origin.”  Others are more supportive, while still others are focused on the campaign itself.  The Times of India and other publications give regular polling updates.  A recent piece in the Hindustan Times dealt not so much with ethnicity as with raw politics.  It quoted strategist Toby Chaudhuri as saying “Bobby is a right-wing conservative Republican, and most ‘Indian Americans’ aren’t, so there are a lot of mixed feelings about him.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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