The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

September - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature

Indian Americans: Realizing the American Dream

Umang Gupta
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Umang Gupta
I began my career in the sales division of IBM, one of many Indian Americans of my generation that applied our expertise in engineering, sales and product services. While many of my colleagues returned to India after gaining knowledge in their specialization and integrated themselves into Indian companies or built their own, a number of us stayed in Silicon Valley and forged a new path.

Because of my decision to stay, I have witnessed the changing trends of immigration to Silicon Valley over the past few decades and recognize the shifting dynamic of the social and professional outlook of Indian Americans. While our contributions to the growth of Silicon Valley and our entrepreneurial acumen are well appreciated, we are now at a crossroads where we have to choose the right path for our journey ahead, especially the younger generation of Indian Americans who are working to realize their own version of the “American Dream.”

In order to make the right decisions, however, we must examine the past, present and future of Indians immigrants to America, how we have changed Silicon Valley and the Valley has, in turn, changed us.

The Evolution of Indian Americans in Silicon Valley
The first generation immigrants from India were mostly engineers and doctors who came here looking to obtain a higher education and decided to stay on after they got their advanced degrees. Personally, I came to Ohio’s Kent State University in 1971, at the height of the Vietnam War, to earn my M.B.A and I was easily accepted; I had no feelings of being discriminated against as an outsider. Academic institutions are always open, they’re incredibly laissez-faire, and there’s a great acceptance of folks coming from overseas.

As is the case in all immigrant groups, some of us remained apart from the influences of society around us and others quickly integrated ourselves into the new cultural environment. While our approaches to and interest in American society often differed, we all benefited from the opportunities afforded to us. Due to our strong tradition of excellence in the hard sciences, and because the timing corresponded with a boom in information technology, many Indian immigrants found themselves in Silicon Valley at a time where we could make a significant impact to the pace of innovations coming out of the area. Regardless of the extent to which we integrated with the local cultural environment, we all were offered access to the famed promise of America: through hard work, intelligence and a bit of luck, one could succeed despite factors such as class, race and sex.

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