Asian American Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (April 28, 2016) — Reflecting the increasing diversity of a nation that is now 38 percent minority and 1 percent Indian American, the Smithsonian launched an exhibit entitled “Beyond Bollywood” to honor the contributions of Indian Americans to the nation’s history. The nation’s national museum showcased pioneering Indian Americans, including Rachel Paulose, Neel Kashkari, and Gopal Khanna of the Twin Cities.
Paulose was the first Indian American nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate when she served as Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney from 2006-2008. She initiated new prosecution priorities to fight human trafficking, child pornography, and mortgage fraud. She is now a partner at the global firm of DLA Piper LLP after having served 15 years in federal law enforcement. Paulose’s family immigrated from Kerala, India to Minnesota in the 1960s.
Kashkari is the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. A former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Kashkari is generating international headlines for his proposals to break up big banks to avert another potential economic crisis. Kashkari’s parents immigrated from Kashmir, India to Ohio in the 1960s.
Khanna was Minnesota’s first Chief Information Officer, serving in Governor Tim Pawlenty’s cabinet from 2005-2010. Khanna previously worked as the Peace Corps CIO and CFO. Khanna’s family is from Rajasthan, India.
In addition, the exhibit related the immigration stories of Minnesota’s Indian American community leaders including retired Pillsbury engineer Godan Nambudiripad, retired Gada & Associates President Ram Gada, and India Association of Minnesota President Babu Chimata.
The Smithsonian unveiled a special preview of the Minnesota opening on April 27, 2016 at the Minnesota History Center. An overflow crowd packed the 3M Auditorium for a 90 minute program. The program featured talks from curator Masum Momaya and Minnesota Historical Society leaders. Artists also presented classical Indian dance and music.
Nambudiripad was involved in the inception of the Minnesota arm of the exhibit and described its origin. Nambudiripad worked in conjunction with his then-employer, Pillsbury Company, to begin an oral history project of Indian Americans. Nambudiripad and Gada then established a relationship with the Minnesota Historical Society. Gada spearheaded a drive to bring the “Beyond Bollywood exhibit” to Minnesota. Nambudiripad said, “The Smithsonian exhibit shows how Americans of Indian origin are shaping the nation. We now have a Minnesota component which highlights the contributions of Minnesotans of Indian origin to this state and their stories.”
Nambudiripad also described the cultural significance of the exhibit during a time of significant social change. “They need to understand us, and we need to understand them to make this country a better place.”
“Beyond Bollywood” is now a traveling exhibit touring the nation. The exhibit is open to the public and will remain on display in St. Paul at the Minnesota History Center until July 10, 2016.