Coalition Holds Community Debate on Hindu Indian American Issues for Presidential Election


A coalition of Hindu Indian American organizations Oct. 18 joined hands to conduct a first of its kind debate to discuss issues relevant to the Hindu American community in the upcoming presidential election.

Six Hindu Americans, split evenly between the two presidential candidates, met virtually to debate topics as they related to the Hindu American community over domestic policy, foreign policy and overall party stance, a news release said.

The debaters, all of whom had demonstrated a commitment to the Hindu American community through their activism or spirit, were vocal supporters of the candidate they were representing, it said.

The debaters for President Donald Trump’s side were Jay Kansara, Srilekha Reddy Palle and Utsav Chakrabarti; while Nish Acharya, Tushar Dhayagude and Niki Shah debated on the side of Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

In an active and, at times, very passionate debate, the debaters discussed, among many others, sub-topics such as the interactions and commitment of each candidate to the Hindu American community; Trump’s presence at the “Howdy Modi” event last September; the Hilal-i-Pakistan award presented to Biden by the Pakistani government; and the commitment of each candidate to helping Hindu and Sikh persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, the release noted.

Kansara, who served for nine years as director of Government Relations at the Hindu American Foundation, spoke in depth about his experience of working with the Trump administration to foster a closer working relationship between the Trump administration and the Hindu American community.

The other two debaters to represent the Trump side were Palle, the political director for the American Hindu Coalition and an active leader in the Trump campaign and in the Republican party; and Chakrabarti, an active contributor to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and to representatives of the Human Rights Commission at the United Nation.

Acharya, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to be a senior adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and currently a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, spoke about the similarities between the Democratic Party in the U.S. and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s platform in India.

The other two debaters for the Biden side were Shah, a member of Hindu Americans for Biden and a national co-chair for South Asians for Biden, and Dhayagude, an active contributor to the political process by writing opinions and rebuttals.

The debate was moderated by Rakhi Israni, an entrepreneur living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The event was sponsored by the Hindu American Foundation, the Hindu American Political Action Committee, HinduPACT, HinduVote and the Coalition of Hindus in North America.