Home > Magazine > Desi World > Briefs/ Indians on Cargo Ships and Cruise Liners/ Tool to Access Data on Asian Americans/ Book Matters.


Briefs/ Indians on Cargo Ships and Cruise Liners/ Tool to Access Data on Asian Americans/ Book Matters.

Compiled/ Written by Murali Kamma Email Compiled/ Written by Murali Kamma
July 2024
Briefs/ Indians on Cargo Ships and Cruise Liners/ Tool to Access Data on Asian Americans/ Book Matters.


Bruhat Soma of Florida is only 12, but he handily defeated seven other finalists to win the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee. In a rapid-fire spell-off, he spelled 29 words (Nachschlage, anyone?) without a mistake, while the runner-up—Faizan Zaki, who is from Texas and also 12—spelled 20 of those words correctly. Bruhat, who got a $50,000 cash prize, was speechless when he lifted the trophy. There were 240 contestants.



Yogesh Raut, who has been a contestant on ABC’s popular Jeopardy! quiz show, is this year’s winner of the Tournament of Champions. After going through six rounds, he emerged as the champion and received $250,000. Raut, who grew up in central Illinois, competed successfully on this program last year as well. In a post on Jeopardy.com, he wrote: “Negotiating exclusion is fundamentally intertwined with my drive for learning.”


Sunita Williams, along with Barry “Butch” Wilmore, took part in NASA’s first crewed launch of the Starliner capsule to the International Space Station. In two previous space missions, Williams did seven space walks and spent a total of 322 days away from the earth. And now, Williams, born to a Slovenian mother and a Gujarati father, has become the first female astronaut to pilot a new crewed spacecraft on its inaugural mission.




Padma Lakshmi, one of the Asian Americans honored this year at the third annual Gold Gala, was also a recipient of Boston University’s 2024 ICON award. Besides being a food expert and a bestselling food writer, Lakshmi is an Emmy-nominated producer, television host, model, and children’s book author. The BU School of Hospitality Administration recognizes innovators who create new and transformative paradigms.


Salim Ramji is the new CEO of the Vanguard Group, a $9 trillion investment fund that manages the retirement assets of tens of millions of U.S. residents. Ramji, who was previously the global head of iShares & Index Investing, is the son of Indian immigrants who moved from Tanzania to Canada. After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, Ramji received an MA in law from the University of Cambridge.



Shruti Gandhi, founder of Array Ventures, is the sole woman among seven Indian Americans included in Business Insider’s “The Seed 100.” It’s the fourth edition of the list. These investors have been recognized as “kingmakers who provide the vital first push startups need to become industry titans.” Gandhi is also the general partner at her San Francisco-based fund, which helps technology founders with sales and strategy.


Svanika Balasubramaniam, who cofounded repurpose Global, has been tackling global plastic pollution since 2017. She has worked with 100 companies to reduce their plastic footprint—and her Miami-based company, having already helped to recover 20 million pounds of plastic every year, aims to increase that target to 100 million pounds per year by 2026. She is a recipient of the $50,000 Engagement Prize from UPenn.



Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity company, was ranked second (after Broadcom’s Hock Tan) by The Wall Street Journal on its list of last year’s highest-paid CEOs in the U.S. His equity-heavy pay package was $151.43 million. While 17 other Indian-origin CEOs were also listed, only Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, at 11, had a comparably high rank. Alaphabet’s Sundar Pichai was ranked 364.


 ​​>> >> >> >>   


Desiworld_8_07_24.jpgThe Dali has moved, but the crew remains. In March, when the 106,000-ton ship brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, it caused major disruption. For almost two months, the container ship, which had struck the iconic bridge after losing power, was stuck—and so were the 20 Indian nationals and one Sri Lankan who formed the crew. Finally, on May 20, the disabled Dali was moved back to the terminal from which it had departed on its short journey. But nobody is allowed to leave the ship, raising concerns about the crew’s well-being. Their visas have expired. “Crew members are working with their union to get passes for shore leave but there is a lot of red tape,” according to CBS News in Baltimore. Meanwhile, they stay busy with their daily tasks, and they have new cellphones to stay in touch with their families.

India accounts for 10% of sailors on cargo ships, with only two nations—China and the Philippines—providing more seafarers. China accounts for 33% of the world’s seafarers, but there’s a difference. “Most Chinese sailors work on Chinese vessels,” The Times of India points out, “while India’s seafarers work on national as well as foreign ships.” Filippino sailors are also more global than Chinese sailors. The Dali crew is unlikely to face any repercussions. In fact, they’ve been praised for acting professionally (their prompt mayday call averted a bigger tragedy). A quarter million seafarers are Indian nationals, going by recent estimates, with about two-thirds of them working on cargo ships. The rest work on cruise liners. Given the high turnover, the demand for Indian seafarers will only grow.

/|\  /| \  /|\  /| \




The Asian American electorate has experienced the biggest growth among major groups. So it’s fitting that AAPI Data has launched a tool called the Community AANHPI Explorer. It enables us to access data-driven insights on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities across the nation. For instance, to display information about local Indian Americans, we can pick the State (Georgia), Race group (Asian alone), and Ethnicity group (Asian Indian). For education, we’ll see that 78% of Indian residents 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher (for Asians overall, it’s 58.4%). Next, if we click on Citizenship and then Apply Changes, we’ll see that, as of 2022, 63.7% of Indian residents here were U.S. citizens (for Asians overall, it was 68.2%). How many Indians in Georgia were born in the U.S.? Only 29.6% (for Asians overall, it’s 29%). The data can be displayed in three ways: Bar chart, map, or line chart.

In the median household income category, the figure for Indians in Georgia is $136,605 (for Asians overall, it’s $99,118). What about homes owned or being bought on loan? For Indians in Georgia, it’s 66% (for Asians overall, it’s 68.6%). The rest are renters. For facility with language, 83.7% of Indians in Georgia speak only English or speak English very well (for Asians overall, it’s 72.3%). There’s poverty as well. As of 2022, 7.3% of Indians in Georgia were eligible for Medicaid (for Asians overall, it was 12.6%). One can check the data in all categories at the following levels: nationwide, state, county, congressional district, and metropolitan region. The IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series) data is drawn from American Community Surveys.

& & & & & & & & & &



 Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy (St. Martin’s Press), by Ali Velshi. Fascinating nuggets of information emerge from this memoir by the host of Velshi on MSNBC, where he’s also the chief correspondent. While Velshi was covering an antiracist protest in Minneapolis, the police shot him with a rubber bullet. Velshi’s grandfather, at seven, became Gandhi’s student on Tolstoy Farm in South Africa. Although the Velshis turned to entrepreneurship (they founded the Africa Baking Company), the importance of civic engagement and social justice was instilled at a young age. They fought against apartheid, and Velshi’s father was one of the first immigrants to successfully run for office in Canada. In tracing 125 years of this history (from Gujarat to Kenya and South Africa, and from Canada to the U.S.), he “offers a different sort of defense of democracy, grounded in one family’s lived experience on three continents, and informed by the lesson that freedom and responsibility work together,” says historian Timothy Snyder.


Habitations (Simon & Schuster), by Sheila Sundar. This debut novel, driven largely by interiority, shows how the untimely death of a family member can mark the survivors for life. The focus here is on Vega Gopalan, who was a teen in southern India when a devastating illness claimed the life of her younger sister. Can Vega’s escape to the U.S. for postgraduate studies provide deliverance from the sadness that has enveloped her family? The novel—set in the 1990s and early 2000s in Tamil Nadu, New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana—is also an exploration of the ups and downs in the lives of foreign students and scholars. “Through Vega, Sundar zeroes in on what it takes for a woman to create her path, while telling the story of an Indian immigrant jostling with caste, a human exploring her sexuality, and a student managing sociology coursework as her view of the world starts to blossom,” notes Vanity Fair. Sundar teaches at the University of Mississippi.



Lion of the Sky (Balzer + Bray), by Ritu Hemnani. A journalist, teacher, and voice actor based in Hong Kong, Hemnani draws on her family history for a tale set in the aftermath of Partition. Unusually, this middle-grade novel (8-12 years) is told entirely in verse. But it’s not intimidating, and readers will find the playfully arranged stanzas, with their short lines, accessible and visually pleasing. The story centers on 12-year-old Raj, who is painfully wrenched from his homeland and from his best friend, Iqbal. Hemnani explains that, unlike Punjab and Bengal, Sindh wasn’t divided. “Overnight they lost their homes, their community, and their sense of belonging,” she writes, referring to the Sindhis who left Pakistan. She writes about a great-aunt who saved a boy by hiding him under her sari, and about a Hindu boy who wore a Muslim friend’s topi to escape detection.


India Is Broken: A People Betrayed, Independence to Today (Stanford University Press), by Ashoka Mody. This scathing economic and political history of post-independence India is unlikely to please the stakeholders and relentless cheerleaders of present-day India. Mody spares no leader, starting with Nehru and ending with Modi, and he writes about mismanagement and corruption, inequality, neoliberal overreach, polarization, crony capitalism, joblessness, etc. The section headings—Fake Socialism, Violence, the Promise, Hubris—give a hint, reminding one of Kapil Komireddi’s Malevolent Republic. Mody, who worked at the World Bank and IMF, uses statistical charts to, as he notes, “clear the fog of false narratives and discipline the analysis . . .” He is an economic historian at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. “While you may not agree with the relentless criticism, and while the book is light on prescription, it is a must read for anyone who wants to understand India’s challenges today and their roots in the past,” says Raghuram Rajan, UChicago economist and the former Governor of India’s Reserve Bank.


Enjoyed reading Khabar magazine? Subscribe to Khabar and get a full digital copy of this Indian-American community magazine.

  • Add to Twitter
  • Add to Facebook
  • Add to Technorati
  • Add to Slashdot
  • Add to Stumbleupon
  • Add to Furl
  • Add to Blinklist
  • Add to Delicious
  • Add to Newsvine
  • Add to Reddit
  • Add to Digg
  • Add to Fark
blog comments powered by Disqus

Back to articles






OrangeLeaf_Website Banner Ad_One month.jpeg

Trophy Point webads small.jpg


Krishnan Co WebBanner.jpg


Embassy Bank_gif.gif