Doctors, It’s Time for Us to Get Off the Side-lines

     The mighty United States is established and acknowledged as a country of immigrants, a melting pot and a flawless medley of many elements, ingredients. This is the one place on earth that distinguishes itself as the most chosen by humans from all over to arrive with hope and scope for improving their lives and that of their future generations.
     Indians originally landed as indentured farm laborers in the early 1900s but our real exodus occurred during the latter part of the twentieth century. Today, we are the second largest immigrant group after Mexicans, being highly qualified, proficient in English and contributing as doctors, engineers, computer specialists, research scientists, and excelling in a variety of technological fields and considered to be the “model minority”, and probably the most socioeconomically successful minority ethnic group in the USA. We have an undeniable role in the phenomenal progress of this country in the last half-century.Independent India focused heavily on medical education, creating several medical colleges to serve t the health needs of its people. Consequently, most of us received medical training almost free of cost, the expenses being heavily subsidized by the state. Many of us migrated to America, in search of advanced training and stayed on. As we filled the shortage of health care providers here, the irony of our diverting the investment by our mother country for selfish purpose often remains ignored. Some of us also remain guilty of deriding the primitive ways and means of the Third World that we ‘left behind for good’.
     Our generation boasts in our wisdom of choice and exalts watching our next generations excel in their vocations. But alarmingly, there seems to be a shift, the land of immigrants accusing the ‘inferior’ immigrants to be its ‘nemesis’, and responsible for the many damages and atrocities around. In spite of all the race crimes, mass shootings, and blatant prejudicial exhibitions, the ‘elite wasps’ are excluded for their atrocities and related discussions as if the natives adopted them as their worthy successors. To the xenophobes, shaded skin and turbaned heads remain substandard, out of place and polluting the purity of the stock, and being screamed at, ‘go back to your country’. We Indians are not as holy as we think.
     The significant role of us Indians in enhancing life in America is indisputable, whether we are teaching, keeping technology efficient or computers running, businesses thriving, protecting health, nursing the sick or saving lives. Hardly a whisper of appreciation is heard about such huge contributions. The bigoted don’t know or seem to care; to them, we will remain the ‘undesirable’.
     We can remain oblivious. The successful in our community are comfortable with an assumption that we are safe and would remain so forever. But it is our ‘Dharma’ to protect our own kind and ensure their safety, and that of our future. Organized establishments like AAPI must leverage our clout and protect our community, our status, our privileges, our future, and that of our descendants. The commoner must be informed about the substantial contributions of Indian professionals in today’s America, to be accepted and appreciated on the merits of our legitimate roles. We deserve it, but we need to demand it.
     For any machinery to be operational, all its parts have to be functional. Individual accomplishments may satisfy our personal ambitions, but unless our community is thus recognized, our job is not done. It is no more an option, but a dire, historical need, a mandatory duty.
(December 31, 2017)

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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