The Other One Percent

The Other One Percent

Indians in America

Book - 2017
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Oxford University Press
People of subcontinental Indian origin--whether they are born in India, the U.S., or somewhere else--make up about one percent of the American population. Because the Indian-American community has been so successful in pursuing the "American Dream," it is typically grouped together with other Asian-American populations as a "model minority." Indeed, a higher-than-average percentage of Indian-Americans have careers in high-skill occupations and entrepreneurship. Ironically, Indian-Americans have roots in one of the world's poorest countries, one with linguistic and religious traditions that are radically different from America's dominant traditions. How was it possible for them to emerge as one of the richest and best-educated populations in the richest and most powerful country in the world--and in little more than a single generation?

In The Other One Percent, Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur, and Nirvikar Singh provide the first authoritative and systematic overview of this distinctive and growing population. Interestingly, the community has attracted relatively little attention in the burgeoning literature on immigration. This is likely the result of the perception that Indian-Americans are not a "problem"--they are not as poor or marginalized as other immigrant populations, and nor do they cluster in immigrant enclaves like other ethnic groups. Consequently, few appeals for social justice are made on their behalf and their presence is not a flashpoint for anti-immigration activists. Of course, their relative success does not mean they are a less important group. The authors highlight the selectivity of Indian immigration, focusing both on who was able to leave and who the US allowed to let in. it is important to remember that India is very far away--farther, practically (if not literally) speaking, than even East Asia. And unlike, say Central Americans, poorer Indians did not have the wherewithal to make the long journey. Almost all Indian immigrants came after the 1965 reforms, and the percentage of highly skilled immigrants relative to the total number is remarkably high. In the immediate period after 1965, 45 percent were highly skilled. The authors take a social scientific approach rather than a cultural one (they explicitly state that this approach is better left in the hands of humanities scholars), focusing primarily on socioeconomic issues: demographics, income, social mobility, skills, educational levels, politics, and geography. Throughout, they pay close attention to stratification and diversity within the Indian-American community, stressing that it is far from monolithic. In sum, this will not only be an essential work for anyone interested in how the Indian-American community has taken shape. It also offers a unique window into how immigration has utterly transformed America since 1965.

Publisher: New York, NY :, Oxford University Press,, [2017]
ISBN: 9780190648749
Characteristics: xxvi, 355 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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