‘South Asians for America’ Formed to Advance South Asian Political Empowerment
“We are excited to announce the launching of South Asians for America,” said Neha Dewan, national director of South Asians for Biden. The Indian American will helm SAFA as its leader. (southasiansforbiden.org photo)
India-West Staff Reporter
Leaders from South Asians for Biden April 19 announced that, amidst growing recognition of the voting power of the South Asian community, they have launched the nonprofit “South Asians for America” to increase the political power of the South Asian diaspora community.
SAFA’s mission is to educate, advocate, engage, and mobilize the South Asian Democratic community in the United States at the local, state, and federal levels, it said in a news release.
The organization aims to increase the civic engagement, political participation, and network of South Asians. SAFA is the first of its kind organization that is focused on this unique and diverse voting bloc, with diaspora communities drawing their heritage from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, with diverse faith traditions, languages and paths to immigration to the United States, it said.
Leaders from South Asians for Biden formed SAFA after assessing the groundbreaking impact of their organizing efforts during the 2020 General Election and Georgia Senate Election victories, which led to Democrats winning the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, according to the release.
“We are excited to announce the launching of South Asians for America,” Neha Dewan, national director of South Asians for Biden who will helm SAFA as its leader, said in a statement. “The 2020 election cycle demonstrated the need for an organization that is dedicated to empowering South Asians on a continuous basis, and not just in the lead up to an election.”
Harini Krishnan, who previously served as the South Asians for Biden grassroots organizing lead, noted the increased enthusiasm of the South Asian community in civic engagement and politics.
“With the election of President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and countless senior South Asian staff appointees represented in their administration, we expect to see an influx of individuals interested in serving their communities in various capacities,” Krishnan said in a statement. “SAFA will provide resources and training, and will also be engaged in efforts to ensure that South Asians remain a durable voting bloc that Democrats can count on to win.”
SAFA features working committees focused on political engagement and advocacy, community organizing campaigns, candidate recruitment, strategic partnerships, and youth engagement.
SAFA will host a launch event on May 6, featuring Gold Star parent Khizr Khan, venerated attorney Neal Katyal, Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani, actress and singer featured in Broadway’s “Hamilton” Arianna Afsar, Nina Davuluri, Farhan Tahir, Fawzia Mirza, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Virginia state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, former candidate for Pennsylvania Auditor General Nina Ahmad, Vermont state Sen. Kesha Ram, DNC AAPI Caucus chair Bel Leong Hong, founder and chairman of the AAPI Victory Fund Shekar Narasimhan, SAAVE TX founder Chanda Parbhoo, New Jersey Young Democrats South Asian Caucus co-chair Hira Shaikh, and board chair of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta Sonjui Kumar.
For the 2020 election cycle, South Asians for Biden developed original voter education content, organized grassroots voter engagement initiatives such as conducting phonebanks and sending postcards to convince South Asian voters in battleground states to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the release notes.
The organization also spearheaded a program to combat disinformation swirling on social media platforms, and served as the officially recognized affinity group for South Asians as part of the Biden campaign, it said.
Shekar Narasimhan, founder and chairman of the AAPI Victory Fund, also celebrated the launch of SAFA.
“It is heartening to see the increased engagement from the 2020 election cycle of the South Asian community translate into lasting political empowerment through SAFA. SAFA will be pivotal to building the coalition we need for lasting change with the broader AAPI community and communities of color in 2022 and beyond,” Narasimhan said in a statement.
South Asians for Biden was a purely volunteer-based organization, and saw enthusiasm amongst community members soar after Kamala Harris was selected as Joe Biden’s running mate, becoming the first Indian American and Black woman to serve in the role.