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Indian Americans React to Bobby Jindal Presidential Announcement

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /

When Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced that he was running for President of the United States, Indian Americans and Asian Americans reacted with jokes, embarrassment, critique, and for a few, pride. With his announcement, America’s first Indian-American governor became the first Indian American to run for President of the United States (the first Asian American to run for President was Republican Hiram Fong in 1964). But within much of the community, some say, the historic moment won't really resonate.

“On issue after issue, Bobby Jindal has shown that his opinions are very different from Asian American public opinion,” University of California Riverside Public Policy Professor Karthick Ramakrishnan told NBC News. “And the way he’s running doesn’t seem like he’s going after the Indian American vote, he’s going after social conservatives. Most Indian Americans are socially and fiscally liberal.”

Related: Bobby Jindal Pledges to 'Rock the Boat' in 2016 Presidential Announcement

According to research by the Center for American Progress and AAPI Data, 84 percent of Indian Americans and 68 percent of Asian Americans voted for Obama in the last election. Although 47 percent of Asian Americans do not identify with any political party, Asian American voters tend to vote according to issues, and the issues important to them include jobs and the economy, national security, gun control, and health care.

In addition to differences on policy, many in the community feel ambivalent towards Jindal because of the way he's distanced of himself from his Indian heritage. Jindal has insisted several times that he is not a hyphenated "Indian-American," he is just an American, and that if his parents had wanted to raise Indians or Indian Americans, they would have stayed in India.

Identity differences aside, the significance of the first South Asian Presidential candidate, at the same time another Republican Indian-American politician - South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley - has risen in prominence, is difficult to ignore.

Lakhpreet Kaur, a Sikh American of Punjabi descent from Texas told NBC News, "South Asians have a long history in this country and it will mean so much to young children to see that someone of their heritage can run for president."

Still, Jindal could not escape the wrath of South Asian comedians like Hari Kondabolu and Aasif Mandvi on Twitter, who sent the hashtags #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite and #Jindian trending in the community.