Page 55 - IACC Newsletter March 2013 Issue no. 9

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According to Twining the "best way to elevate Indo-US relations above feuding bureaucracies is for top political leaders
to set out a compelling aspirational goal and empower government institutions to deliver on it."
"Strengthening Indo-US trade ties makes abundant economic sense," he said citing the US National Intelligence Council
forecasts that India will become the world's biggest driver of middle-class growth by 2030.
"India needs to grow very fast for a very long time to underwrite its security in a tough neighborhood, and to uplift more
poor people than exist in all of Sub-Saharan Africa," Twining said suggesting, "The US can help by incentivizing India to
open up its economy."
Immigrant America and Patel tales: US has more than 1, 45,000 Patel’s and
72,642 Singhs
When word emerged last week that there was a single winning ticket for the $338 million Powerball lottery that had
rolled over without a winner for several weeks, it seemed a no-brainer that the ticket would have been sold by a Patel.
They appear to own every other convenience store in America, and since the winning ticket was sold in New Jersey, a
desi haven, chances were even greater that the seller would be a Patel. For the lucky sale, the Patel store would get a
wee slice of the money and few seconds of fame that would propel the place as lottery manna for a few months. It had
happened before.
A quick search of Patel and $338 million disproved the speculation. It turned out a Patel had indeed sold a winning
ticket, but it was for one of the many second prizes of $1 million each — this one sold by Bob Patel, manager of a 7-
Eleven in Mahwah, New Jersey. No big deal. Last year, a $61 million Mega-Million ticket that was won by two people
(who each claimed $30.5 million) was sold by Chetan Patel of AM-PM Convenience Store in Hyannis, Massachusetts. And
in a happy coincidence for desis, one of the winners of $30.5 million was a fellow desi immigrant — Sandeep "Sunny"
Singh, who worked two jobs as a bank teller and a store clerk in Hyannis.
Now, before you write off the desi lottery connection as a one-off, here's what unfolded next. It turned out that our
search terms for the $338 million lottery were slightly off-mark. Last week's winning ticket was indeed sold by a desi
store, but it was owned by a Sethi, not a Patel, in what must be a rare Punjabi triumph over Gujarati dominance in
retailing. And true to form, the winning ticket was sold at a liquor store, more likely to be owned by a Punjabi than a
Gujarati — Sunil Sethi's Eagle Liquors in Passaic, New Jersey. Remarkably, the winner of the $338 million ($221 million
after taxes), the fourth largest prize in Powerball history, was a Dominican immigrant named Pedro Quezada.
But come to think of it, it is not really all that surprising. Asian-Indians and Hispanics are among the fastest growing
population segments in the United States. Patel was listed 172nd among the most frequently occurring last names in the
US in the 2000 census, up from 591st in 1990. The 2000 census counted 1, 45,066 Patel’s, up from 49,470 in 1990.
Considering that the Indian-American population in the US was only around 1.6 million in the 2000 census, it would
seem that nearly one of every ten people of Indian-origin in the US is a Patel. Of course, many Patel’s have come to the
US from East Africa, United Kingdom and other places, but their ethnicity is undoubtedly Indian.
Patel’s incidentally outrank Singh’s in the 2000 US Census last names list, and outnumber them two to one. Singh, with
72,642 of them, is listed as the 396th most common last name in US. This could be because many Sikhs use their family
name or village name as last name. But then, not all Singh’s are Sikhs. And Like Patel’s, Singh’s too home in on America
from all over the world, not just from India. The only other sub-continental sounding last names in the Top1000: Khan
(46,713) ranked 665, Shah (37,833) ranked 831, and Ali (36,079) at 876, although all three could be from regions beyond
the subcontinent.
Patel’s though are outranked by several other oriental-sounding Asian-American last names, attesting to the earlier
immigration to the US from East Asia and South East Asia. Lee takes the lead, at 22nd place. There are 60, 6860 last-
named Lees in the US. They are followed by the Vietnamese Nguyen (57th place with 3, 10,125) and the Korean Kim