Report: Indian-Americans make their mark in another field

The Indian-American
community has finally arrived, says a leading sociologist, and it’s not becauseSabhnani
Bobby Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana or Sanjaya was a finalist on
American Idol. Nor is it because Indian-Americans have excelled in fields such
as medicine, engineering and business.

The true sign that the
Indian-American community has arrived is that it’s making a mark in a field that
gets plenty of media exposure: crime. “More Indian-Americans are involved in
criminal activity than ever before,” says Jacob George, sociologist at Harvard
University. “Obviously, it won’t be seen as a positive sign, but it shows that
Indian-Americans are not just sitting back and allowing other communities to
grab all the empty spaces in prison.”

As a result, Americans are now
seeing more Indian names in newspapers, he said. “It’s not just names like Vick
and Peterson in the crime stories,” George said. “It’s also names like
Crookmansingh and Embezzleraman.”

In the ’70s and ’80s, when an
Indian-American was involved in crime, it was often unintentional, George said.
“It was usually a new immigrant who didn’t know the laws of the land,” he said.
“Perhaps it was an office worker who thought it was okay to take the stapler
home. Or maybe it was an office manager who thought it was okay to take the
secretary home.”

These days, Indian-Americans are more deliberate about
their crimes, George said. “They work very hard at planning and executing it,”
he said. “I’m sure no one is surprised to hear this, but when it comes to
criminal activity, Indian-Americans are very ambitious. They don’t bother with
petty crimes like shoplifting and burglary. They commit crimes that will put
them in either financial security or maximum security for the rest of their

He cited the example of Balram Chandiramani, a director in New
York City’s transportation department who’s been charged with soliciting
hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. “It may seem like a terrible crime,”
George said, “but how many Indian-Americans can say they’ve been on the front
page of the New York Post?”

Even leaders of the Indian-American
community are not exempt from committing crimes, George said, noting that
Maryland state legislator Kumar Barve has been charged with driving under the
influence. “Don’t forget that George W. Bush committed the same crime  many
years ago,” he said. “So perhaps Barve is just preparing himself for higher

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  1. Melvin
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