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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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Sonal shah
President-Elect Obama has just announced the members of the team of advisers who will be making recommendations on the appointment of officials in the new Administration. One of those advisers will be Sonal Shah, an Indian-born economist who is on Google's global development team. She also heads up Google's philanthropic activities. Prior to this, she was the vice president of Goldman Sachs.

Ms.Shah is the co-founder of Indicorps, a US-based non-profit organization offering one-year fellowships for Americans of Indian origi to work on development projects in India. She's also served as the Associate Director for Economic and National Security Policy at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington. At CAP she focused on trade, outsourcing and national security policy. And she spent eight years working at the US Department of the Treasury.

Given these accomplishments, it is no surprise the 40 year old Ms. Shah was named in 2003 as India Abroad's Person of the Year. What will be a surprise is if we don't continue to see the very able Ms. Shah playing an important role in the Obama Administration.

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  1. Indian's Avatar
    And she has links to fascist Hindu organizations from India. You can read it yourself here.
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    Most likely she will get a slot where no senate confirmation is needed...ED to an international organization.
  3. American's Avatar
    "And she has links to fascist Hindu organizations from India. "

    Ho hum considering we have lived through 8 years of fascist Christian rule.

    Read all about it here -
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I can't claim to be an expert on Indian politics, but the article you sent had only one direct connection - helping in earthquake relief. If anything, it seems like she's avoided being involved in politics at home and no one had anything bad to say about the non-profit she created to promote development in the country. Frankly, the guilt by association gotcha politics that we saw in this year's US campaign was a lot to stomach. If you have evidence that Ms. Shah holds extremist beliefs, present them. But it sounds like you're engaged in character assassination. Judge the woman by her deeds which from all accounts seem admirable.
  5. USC's Avatar
    "I can't claim to be an expert on Indian politics"

    The BJP likes to mix religion with politics. Call them the Indian Republicans, if you will. Personally, I don't care for the BJP and find their propensity to divide people based on religion deplorable. However, being a BJPite doesn't necesarily mean that you are a religious bigot. There are many who vote BJP because of their free market idealogy.
  6. Ashwin Desai's Avatar
    Please read more about Sonal Shah at the following link

    She has done great humanitarian work during her short life, while working at her very illustrative career. I wish we had more people like her all over the world.
  7. goog guy's Avatar
    According to hindustantimes (one of the widely read newspapers in India .. a la NYT or WP in the USA ), this woman is connected with RSS a militant right wing organisation. Her selection is ridiculous and she should be immediately asked to leave the transition team without delay. RSS is notorious for its militant activities against minorities in India. This is very shameful. We need CHANGE we can BELIEVE in. Fire this woman immediately !!!
  8. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    That article was posted before and it did not point to any activities she's taken that are objectionable. See my comment from earlier. This reminds me of the Reverend Wright story about Obama. Just because someone knows someone with objectionable views or is even related to a person who has objectionable views does not mean the person shares the views. It is unfair to attribute the views of the parents to the child. I thought the article was very irresponsible.
  9. goog guy's Avatar
    hello dear siskind, it appears you dont have any background about rss parivar, bajran dal or vhp. according to you "guilt by association theory" does not hold water in this case which means to me that if I ask you to jump from the top of a 50 storied building you will do without a thought knowing very well what lies beneath. just that you know the folks who shot MK Gandhi also came from the RSS ranks. You should already kow that RSS people have been denied entry to the US several times...

    Google for RSS, VHP, Bajran Dal and you know what I am talking about.

  10. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    As you trash this woman, show me something that says she's ever done anything dishonorable. I don't care about her family. I judge a person by their own deeds. Sending me 1000 links about the activities of others does not change the basic truth that a person should be judged by their own behavior and not their relatives. Show me credible evidence that Ms. Shah has ever engaged in anything objectionable and you would have more of a point. If not, then this is just character assassination.
  11. goog guy's Avatar
    no offense mr siskind i have a lot of respect for you.

    as for the dishonorable thing she has done ... whats more dishonorable that having any connections to RSS ( folks who have comiited attocities and members banned by the US govt)..

    this woman is no big deal .. even BO had to through RW under the bus when things became to hot handle..

  12. Another Indian's Avatar
    I don't know about other Indians here but in my view the biggest genocidal criminals in recent Indian history are Mountbatten, Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress. These august worthies presided over the genocidal murder of a million people in 1947 during the partition of India. Further the last two political parties brought India and Pakistan to a state of penury following independence. Nothing else comes close to the crimes these people have committed.
  13. True Indian's Avatar
    excellent reply Another Indian. This congress party is still presiding over the genocide of ordinary Indians today by playing vote bank politics. Congrats Sonal. And ignore this Indian guy who seems to me from the pampered community in India.
  14. 's Avatar
    Weekend Edition
    November 7 / 9, 2008
    The Many Faces of Sonal Shah
    Obama's Indian


    Barack Obama has appointed John Podesta to run his transition. During the lean years of the Bush administration, Podesta, native of Chicago, ran a shadow cabinet for the Democrats. Since 2003, the home of this government-in-exile has been the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank set-up to rival the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. The money, about $10 million per year, came from George Soros, Peter Lewis, Marion Sandler and Herb Sandler - the main liberal financiers. CAP has its set of fellows. Many of them worked in some capacity within the Clinton administration (where Podesta was Chief of Staff). There are hard-nosed people like Rudy deLeon (who went through every Defense secretariat in the Clinton years) and Jeanne Lambrew (who served as a health analyst in the National Economic Council during the waning years of the Clinton administration). But there are also the fresh faces, young people who came to Washington with glowing references from the Ivy League. Others marched over from the Hill, after serving various terms as staff members for the Democratic warhorses. They have been groomed to be part of the next Democratic administration. Their hibernation is over. Obama has called.

    The likely suspects have picked up the phone and moved to the transition headquarters. Among them is a former CAP fellow and now Google employee, Sonal Shah. Shah is well known in the South Asian American community, and is a fixture in the Washington liberal circuit. The latter know her for her Democratic credentials, most of which seem to lie somewhere between neo-liberalism and welfare liberalism. The bleeding heart pauses, but then ticks again to the tune of pragmatism. This is perfect material for the CAP, which is hardly enthusiastic about the Democratic Leadership Council's total commitment to triangulation (which means capitulation to conservatism), but it is not averse to a little political calculus itself. Shah, a product of the University of Chicago, shined her corporate shoes at Anderson Consulting (who was Enron's accountant), which probably made it easier for her to go into Clinton's Treasury Department, where she helped Robert Rubin put a U. S. stamp on the post-1997 Asian economic recovery. The corporate side was balanced with an interest in the ideology of "giving back." When Bush took office, Shah went to the Center for Global Development, and while there joined her brother Anand in forming Indicorps. Knowing full well the desire among many South Asian Americans to give back to their homeland, the Shahs created an organization to help them go and volunteer in India, to do for them what the Peacecorps did for young liberals in the 1960s. Shah left the CAP to work for Goldman Sachs, and then went to Google. Shah's story is not unlike that of most of the CAP fellows, many of whom honed their dexterity at trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, capital and freedom, private accumulation and human needs.

    But there is a less typical side to the Shah story. Born in Gujarat, India, Shah came to the United States as a two-year old. Her father, a chemical engineer, first worked in New York before moving to Houston, and then moving away from his education toward the stock market. The Shahs remain active in Houston's Indian community, not only in the ecumenical Gujarati Samaj (a society for people from Gujarat), but also in the far more cruel organizations of the Hindu Right, such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Overseas Friends of the BJP (the main political party of the Hindu Right) and the Ekal Vidyalaya. Shah's parents, Ramesh and Kokila, not only work as volunteers for these outfits, but they also held positions of authority in them. Their daughter was not far behind. She was an active member of the VHPA, the U. S. branch of the most virulently fascistic outfit within India. The VHP's head, Ashok Singhal, believes that his organization should "inculcate a fear psychosis among [India's] Muslim community." This was Shah's boss. Till 2001, Shah was the National Coordinator of the VHPA.

    In 2004, I ran into Shah at the South Asian Awareness Network conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At an earlier panel I questioned her links to the Hindu Right, and so asked people to be wary about her organization, Indicorps. She was furious, and we had a bitter exchange in the Green Room. But at no point did she deny her active connections to the Hindu Right. Her brother, Anand, wrote to me not long after, concerned that Indicorps, which he runs full-time from India, would be tainted by our tussle. "I was curious about Sonal's own personal relationship with the VHPA," I wrote back, "That sparked some concern for me. Of course we are free to have our multiple associations, and there is no expectation that all our affiliations necessarily influence each other. That necessity is granted, although it is my understanding that the VHPA is a very disciplined organization that demands a lot from its members - notably congruence in all the work that they do. Which is why I raised the question."

    And so I raise the question again.

    For more, please go to
  15. HinduIndian's Avatar
    If "she was an active member of the VHPA" as claimed then its a serious problem. The activities of RSS/BJP/VHP/Sangh Parivar in the recent Gujarat riot (thousands killed) is well known. Pregnant muslim women were cut open and their unborn thrown into fire according to news report. Gujarat CM was rightly denied US visa for condoning genocide. Indian PM Vajpayee should also be held accountable for not putting a stop to the violence. The Gujarat riots are only one example of atrocities on Muslims by Hindu nut jobs in Gujarat in recent times.

    It is one thing to support a right wing political party for free market but quite another to support a right wing political party that indulge in wide spread physical violence. I don't understand why RSS and its political wing BJP are not banned in India. You can't participate in democracy if violence is your method of choice (RSS). These are the same group of people that actually went and destroyed a medieval mosque (Babri Majid) out of hatred.

    VHPA is Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America
    VHP is Vishwa (world) Hindu Parishad (council)
  16. Another Indian's Avatar
    "I don't understand why RSS and its political wing BJP are not banned in India."

    That's because much of what you read in the media about the RSS and BJP is a politically motivated smear campaign. The problem with translating smear campaigns into a ban is that you need evidence that will stand up in court for such actions.

    Also contrary to your claims, there is only one Indian Prime Minister and political party which is known to have condoned genocide, and it is not anyone associated with the RSS or BJP.

  17. True Indian's Avatar
    This guy HinduIndian says about Gujarat riots. Riots of any kind is bad, inhuman. But this guy did not give reason about why this riot occurred. It occurred because 59 Hindu pilgrims were burnt to death unnecessarily by some Muslim nutjobs.

    Both action and reaction were wrong, but what gets me angry is these selectively blaming Hindus forgetting about other communities.
  18. True Indian's Avatar
    Those who do not know about train burning, here is the link.
  19. HinduIndian's Avatar
    "It occurred because 59 Hindu pilgrims were burnt to death unnecessarily by some Muslim nutjobs."

    You are justifying the killing in Gujarat based on an incident elsewhere? Are these the same group of people? You believe in collective punishment? Would it be okay if now Hindus are targeted in Indonesia?

    This is besides the minor point that it has not been established that the Hindu pilgrims were deliberately set on fire. There has been other claims as to the cause.

    The fact of the matter is Hindu groups under CM Norendra Modi and PM Vajpayee indulged in killing for days out of hatred. And the govt just let it be. Shouldn't the govt of that time instead have tried to punish those responsible for the death of the 59 Hindu pilgrims.

    Irrespective of your claim, you support targeting Muslims just because of their religion as you rush to justify the killings. I only wish the DHS would do a better job of keeping Mr. Modi and his supporters out of this country.

    As to why not banning BJP? Rule of law is not consistently applied in India. Involvement of BJP top leaders Adwani and Uma Bharati in Babri Majid demolition is an established fact from TV reports ...'Give one more Push". Why laws get selectively enforced in India, take a wild guess. How often do you have to worry about speeding on Indian highways? Do you worry about ticketing as in US?

    The Congress govt killing Sikh in Delhi or Muslims in Kashmir doesn't give RSS a free hand to do that either. The only issue here: is/was Sonal Shah an active member of a hate group?
  20. Another Indian's Avatar
    Frankly the theory that the Gujarat riots were planned by the RSS or BJP is ridiculous when seen in the full context. At the time of the riots the BJP government ruling India was poised to declare war on Pakistan due to the terrorist attack on Parliament. It is hard to believe that the BJP or RSS would act to undermine such an objective by causing a riot in Gujarat.
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