“Vision counts more than dollars”

 Haridwar to California: Dream Run

We received tragic news of shootout at Wisconsin Gurudwara where six people belonging to Sikh community got killed and several others injured. Your views on this act of violence…
It was a tragic and sad event that highlights some of the extremism and ignorance that unfortunately remains on the fringes of society in the United States. Fortunately, the vast majority of the population does not share in these extreme views, which is highlighted by the outpouring of support towards the Sikh community from across the political spectrum.

Do you see any pattern or involvement of a group behind this act?
Based on what we know now, there does not appear to be any pattern or specific group involved, though there are reports that the shooter was involved in some white supremacist organizations.
Shefali Razdan Duggal
Showing much enterprise
Duggal with President Obama

The suspect killer Wade Michael Page had a tattoo of 9 / 11 and apparently went on shooting out of revenge. We received news of attacks on Sikhs in US after 2001 terror attack confusing them with Taliban owing to their appearance. Why does not the US establishment and social groups launch an awareness campaign saying that turban wearing Sikhs are not Islamic fundamentalists? According to you who should get this awareness campaign launched?
There have been attempts, both politically and in the media, to raise awareness of the beliefs and background of Sikhs to help avert these types of tragedies. This animosity directed towards any community is reprehensible and not to be tolerated.

Coming to your role as key fund raiser for Barak Obama’s second term in White House – Romney and Republicans are leading in fund raising with July figures of 101 million dollars against 75 million dollars for Democrats. Looks like you are facing a challenging time. How will you overcome this gap?
The Obama campaign has built the most extensive grass roots campaign in U.S. history which I’m confident will deliver the votes and resources necessary for an Obama victory. Ultimately, it is not solely about dollars, but rather about the candidate with the vision and experience to guide the United States. There is no doubt in my mind that President Barack Obama is that candidate.

Though Obama is marginally ahead of Romney in opinion polls – does fund raising have any bearing on electoral turnout? If so, how?
President Barack Obama has been and continues to be consistently ahead of Governor Romney in all polls, especially in the swing states. It is clear that President Obama’s message of fairness and equity is resonating with the electorate. At some point, message and vision mean more than pure dollars in electoral turnout and I believe that is why we continue to see President Obama leading in the polls.

What are the no go areas of political funding in US? What are broad guidelines of fund raising for a political party?
There are clear and very defined rules and limits around the fundraising for the Presidential campaign.

In India political funding is being debated widely. How transparent is the entire process of political fund raising in US?
Although it is not perfect, political fundraising has been very transparent in the United States. However, the rise of Super PACs, particularly how they have been used by Republicans, has created much less transparency in the most recent election cycle.

South Asian community has a strong and influential presence in US. Indian professionals have contributed hugely in business, medicine, technology, academics and in other key areas including in politics with people like you playing an important role. How does it help in protecting the interest of South Asian community?
Though the South Asian community has shown great success in so many fields within the United States, we have been under-represented in our political clout in relation to this success, both in terms of political engagement and also in terms of those elected from our community. I have been passionately focused on supporting South Asian candidates and in engaging the South Asian community in the political process to help alleviate this underrepresentation to achieve the influence we justify.

What are the challenges before US Indians?
The challenges and opportunities for all minority groups in the United States are quite similar. The key is to mobilize the community to address these challenges while also embracing the opportunities that we are blessed to have in the United States.

Regarding your political career – how and when this political journey started?
Although I had a deep interest in politics since my youth, my political activist journey truly commenced during the 2000 Al Gore Presidential campaign where I first became actively involved with community outreach, political grassroots work and ultimately as an At-Large delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles that year.

You hold important position in Obama’s campaign for second term and are a leading South Asian face. What role you play and how were you selected for this role?
I am a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee and a Co-Chair for the Obama Victory Trustees. Both of these organizations are responsible for raising money for the President’s reelection effort. I was also recently appointed to the Credentials Committee as a “Party Leader” for the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte North Carolina.

Besides your political and social engagements you are a wife and mother of two growing children. How you manage two lives?
I’ve always prioritized my children and their needs first, while also realizing that the time and passion I give to politics is ultimately for their benefit. It can be challenging at times to find the proper balance, although having a deep comprehension of what is most important in my life, my children’s well-being and happiness, allows for me to manage my time effectively. 

—Courtesy Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism

August 2012

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