I have heard a number of statements and claims since I have come to the US regarding how ‘big’ the Indian community here is or how ‘we are everywhere’. I hear how Silicon Valley companies are full of Indians or how Texas and New Jersey makes you feel as if you are in India.
But is this really true? With my sense of history, it just doesn’t feel right.
America is mostly White and Caucasian filled by centuries of migration from Europe and then by Blacks who were brought in as slaves and indentured laborers and Latinos who spread or ran from the south American Spanish colonies. And then came the Chinese laborers during the gold rush and 19th century industrialization and countless other minorities from Asia, Africa & the Pacific. Indians would have been a trickle up until the 1990s mainly because Indians weren’t mass persecuted like the Jews or weren’t running from famines like the Irish. Indians didn’t probably feel the need to travel or couldn’t travel such a distance for doing hard labor like the Chinese who again were escaping persecution. Why Indian’s didn’t migrate is not my point. The point is they didn’t migrate in great numbers to America up until the tech revolution got white collared technology workers on US shores in droves – which brings us back to the hypothesis that ‘Indians are everywhere’.
Let’s see what the US Census has to say. The US uses a catchall term ‘Asians’ to refer to anybody coming from the Asian continent and doesn’t distinguish Indians from Chinese from Koreans. Nevertheless, non-Hispanic Asians makes up only 4.7% of the population. Considering that Chinese have been coming from a far longer periods and it continues to this day, they should be making up a major share of this 4.7%. How much Indians do you think could be here? 1-2%? Maybe.
See US demography
In states where it ‘feels like’ Indians are everywhere, the Asian population is a little higher. California (13%), New Jersey (8.3%), New York (7.3%) with NYC as high as 11.8%. Some other states in which you may feel there are a lot of Indians only have clusters of Asian population density like Austin, TX is at around 6% but overall Texas is only 3.8% Asian
And mind you, all these numbers are for ‘Asians’. The California demographic page on Wikipedia says only 10% of Asians are Indians in California
All the numbers above taken at 10% look pretty small, don’t they?
Right, let’s get down to the ‘feel’ of Indians dominating the tech workforce. Luckily, some of the tech companies released reports giving diversity data for reporting to the equal opportunity commission.
Google – 30% “Asian” for the US workforce. Whatever the Indian population among this 30%, we can’t sure go around shouting that Google has a ‘majority’ of Indians
Linkedin – they combined data for their California, Brazil and Bangalore offices giving Asians 38% but a high of 60% in tech. Including Bangalore doesn’t answer our question though L
Yahoo – doesn’t matter any more as its sold! But it said 57% if US tech employees were Asian
Ebay – their own website says 55% of tech employees are Asian. That falls to 24% overall
Then why is there this ‘feel’?
I have a theory to this ‘feel’ which is 2 fold.
One, humans tend to live and socialize with people from their own background. So Indians tend to make Indian friends, tend to live in localities were there are some other Indians to socialize. We visit Indian grocery stores, frequent theatres which show Hindi movies and then eat at the Indian restaurant nearby. Not to say Indians don’t make non-Indian friends, they surely do. But there is definitely a bias. Ask a non-Indian where one can see Hindi movies. The blank of the face would tell you we aren’t everywhere
And two, our mind just registers and remembers people like ourselves more than it registers other people. I probably remember seeing an Indian on a train rather than a Polish or Japanese. I probably register that there are 3-4 Indian guys sitting around my office floor. I have no idea how many Latinos there are, never bothered to care
So now I know why we are everywhere and why actually we aren’t!