(Trenton) -– The New Jersey Democratic State Committee (NJDSC) joined with leaders from the South Asian community to officially kickoff the South Asian American Caucus last night in Edison, New Jersey.
The inaugural event represented the culmination of the party committee’s commitment to this growing and vibrant community -- one that has long supported democratic values in the state.
New Jersey has the third largest South Asian population after California and New York. According to the latest census data, there are more than 350,000 South Asians residing in New Jersey. The South Asian community is very diverse, and it includes people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan descent.
The kickoff was attended by the highest ranking South Asian American elected to office in New Jersey, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-LD17), the Chairman of the NJDSC, John Currie, gubernatorial candidate Senator Barbara Buono, and members of the South Asian American community.
"Over the years, I have worked very closely with members of the South Asian community, who are not only my colleagues, but also my friends," said John Currie, Chairman, New Jersey Democratic State Committee. "The South Asian community is diligent, dedicated, and passionate about moving the Garden State forward. Operating under the New Jersey Democratic State Committee umbrella, the South Asian American Caucus will be a place to organize and motivate an increasingly influential constituency."
"With the growth of our communities over the past four decades, South Asian Americans have an important place on New Jersey's commercial and cultural scene," said Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi, Co-chair, New Jersey State Democratic Committee South Asian American Caucus. "This caucus will create opportunities for South Asian Americans to take on roles of political prominence that reflect our communities' achievements."
Gubernatorial candidate, Barbara Buono, who actively engaged with the New Jersey's South Asian community on the Anti-Bullying legislation, reaffirmed her commitment to continue working closely with the South Asian American community.
"I am delighted at the endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Senator Barbara Buono by our state's first-ever South Asian American Caucus. The caucus will provide a real and lasting platform to empower our community to participate in New Jersey's political process and to address issues and concerns that matter greatly to South Asian Americans, including racial equality, immigration reform, economic justice, minority rights and equal opportunity," said Assembly Deputy Speaker Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Somerset\Middlesex), the first and only South Asian American in the 120-member state Legislature and the highest ranking South Asian elected to office in New Jersey.
“Members of our community, in preparation for November 5th were engaged in voter registration drives across the state. The Caucus will build upon that work and mobilize our community to support Democratic leaders, such as Senator Buono, who have demonstrated their commitment to New Jersey’s South Asian community,” stated Satish Poondi, Co-Chair of the South Asian American Caucus.
The South Asian American Caucus creates a statewide platform within New Jersey's Democratic State Committee to discuss issues important to the South Asian community and to support and elevate members of our community interested in pursuing elected office. The leadership of the South Asian American Caucus believes in the core democratic values of equal opportunity and economic justice, as well as the rights of women, minorities and immigrants to participate fully and equally in the promise of the United States.
About Dr. Khyati Joshi, Co-Chair, NJDSC South Asian American Caucus
Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is the author of New Roots in America's Sacred Ground: Religion, Race and Ethnicity in Indian America and numerous other publications. Dr. Joshi provides consultation and professional development for educational institutions throughout the United States on topics related to immigrants in schools, race in education, and religion and public schools. Dr. Joshi has been invited to present her research at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna and the White House.
About Satish Poondi, Co-Chair, NJDSC South Asian American Caucus
Satish Poondi, Esq. is an associate at the law firm of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A. and a member of its Mass Tort / Class Action Team. Mr. Poondi is also a registered pharmacist, completing the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Rutgers University. He is active in the field of pharmacy academia. He is an advisor to multiple pharmacy organizations and a guest lecturer at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University. Mr. Poondi regularly presents continuing education seminars relating to important pharmaceutical legal issues for programs sponsored by academic institutions, professional organizations, and retail chains.