The White House announced that US President Barack Obama is forming a council which focuses on steps the government should take to reduce poverty and inequality and create opportunities for all. This list consisting of 17 names have three Indian Americans in the advisory council, which is faith- based and based on neighbourhood partnerships. The council also brings together different religious and secular leaders as well as scholars and experts from different fields.
The three Indian-American names are Preeta Bansal, Nipun Mehta and Jasjit Singh.
In an official statement the US President said:
“I (Obama) am confident that these outstanding men and women will serve the American people well, and I look forward to working with them.”
Bansal is a lecturer at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and is also a Senior Advisor at MIT’s Laboratory for Social Machines.
Besides teaching at MIT, Bansal is also the President of the Social Emergence Corporation which is a not-for-profit organisation founded in May 2015 and focuses on empowering human networks and community relationships.
Bansal has served as a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom for many years.
She was an active member of the group from 2003 to 2009 and even chaired the commission from 2004 to 2005. Before that she was the Solicitor General of New York from the year 1999 till 2001. Early in her career, she also served as law clerk to US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard-Radcliffe College and JD from Harvard Law School and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, besides being a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations there.
Nipun Mehta, was a software engineer at Sun Microsystems from the year 1998 till 2001, and founded the Service Space, which is a non-profit organization in year 1999.
He is also part of the Advisory Circle of the Seva Foundation, besides being on the International Advisory Council of the Dalai Lama Foundation, and the Advisory Board of the Greater Good Science Centre. Mehta has received numerous awards for his community work.
His list of honours includes the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Wavy Gravy’s Humanitarian Award.
Mehta graduated from California University, where he received a BA degree.
Jasjit is a known name in the American Sikh community as he is the Executive Director of the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SALDEF).
He had joined the group back in 2009 at the position of Associate Executive Director and then went on to become Executive Director in 2012, a position he has held since. Prior to joining SALDEF, he was part of the Deloitte & Touche corporations. Singh founded the Sikh Student Association at the University of Illinois back in the year 2000 and served as its President of the student’s group for two years. Singh was studying Bachelors of Science at the time from the Illinois University.