Shalini Gupta, who has lived in Chicago for the past 33 years and is now working full time in India as an organizational development advisor for the Aam Aadmi Party says, “I find that the energy for [the AAP movement] amongst NRIs is even stronger than in those people in India, which is a really interesting conundrum because they are less impacted by it. They are a little bit more removed but they are able to see from a distance what is happening in India systemically much more clearly than the people who are immersed here.”

Indian immigrants are also bringing their appreciation for American political organizing to India. Shalini, who was a volunteer for the Obama campaign, says, “When we started with the Aam Aadmi Party organization, we were really studying in a lot of detail what were the elements that made [the Obama campaign] successful, and how we could adapt it into the Aam Aadmi Party organization.”

Tactics they have borrowed from President Obama’s playbook include the mobilization of a large number of grassroots volunteers rather than paid workers, the use of data analytics and the leveraging of social media and technology platforms to attract volunteers and funding. Shalini estimates that one-third of the funds raised for AAP come from NRIs.

Like the Obama campaign, this year’s Indian elections have raised immigrants’ hope for transformative change. It’s this hope that has some of them rethinking their own future in India.

“It’s also an investment for me,“ says Sharma, who has lived in the US for 15 years. “Now it’s a global civilization, so my job might want me to be there for some time. Even my kids might have to work there. So it’s in the interest of everybody that we help the process of democracy.”

Pradeep Sundriyal echoes these sentiments. Sundriyal quit his job with a technology company in Silicon Valley after living in the US for 10 years. He now works as a campaign manager for an AAP candidate in India and says of his plans for the future, “It’s more of a global dream than an American dream.”

Regardless of the election results, Vishwakarma has already decided she wants to stay in India and work on good governance. “After seeing this scenario, I won’t think of going back to the US I want to work here. That’s for sure.”

This post originally appeared in the Redefining the American Dream issue of Feet in 2 Worlds on Apr, 28, 2014. 

Read more on our Indian elections obsession:

Priyanka Gandhi is campaigning now for the 2017 general election

There’s an underground movement in Gujarat to defeat Narendra Modi

How to rig the Indian elections


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