Indian-Americans have mounted an intensive drive to support President Bush's plan to aid India's civilian nuclear program, spending heavily on lobbying, campaign contributions and public relations to persuade Congress to approve the deal.
Officials in Washington and New Delhi have called the agreement historic, a centerpiece of American-Indian relations. But to many Indian-Americans, the plan is something more personal: a confirmation of India's emergence as a global power. And they see the increasingly contentious battle in Congress as a unique opportunity to demonstrate their budding political influence in their adopted homeland.
Indian-Americans, a small but fast-growing, affluent and well-educated group, are not new to lobbying in Washington. But the proposed nuclear pact has energized them like nothing before. In recent months, Indian-Americans, as well as the Indian government in some cases, have invested heavily in proven political tools that have helped previous immigrant groups break into American politics — hiring lobbyists, organizing fund-raisers and blanketing Capitol Hill with briefings, phone calls and petitions.