On the face of it, Bobby Jindal embodies an extraordinary story that began unfolding as of last week’s official announcement: Jindal is the first Indian-American in history to mount a serious nationwide campaign for President of the United States of America. He is a smart Rhodes Scholar who entered politics at a very young age. Indian-Americans have reached the heights of glory such as national spelling bee championships (over and over again), the Miss America crown, Fortune 500 CEO positions including at Microsoft and Pepsico, State Governorships in South Carolina and Jindal’s own Louisiana, lead roles on television shows such as Quantico, senior administration roles in Washington, and other noteworthy achievements. The presidency looms as the last mountain left for the community to climb, and there is a now a (dark) dark horse contender in that race for 2016.
All of that being said, Jindal presents an exquisite conundrum for Indians and Indian-Americans. Despite critical political and financial support from Indian-Americans including many from outside his state and political party, Jindal has repeatedly run away from his Indian heritage. He changed his name from Piyush, fancying himself as a Bobby after the character he liked to watch on the Brady Bunch as a boy. He renounced his parents’ Hindu religion, in favor of the Catholicism widely practiced in the bayous of Louisiana. Jindal’s brand of Christianity is more extreme than most, including an admiration for the exorcism of demons from people as he wrote about witnessing while studying at Oxford. Read the rest of this entry