The Economic Times: February 02, 2006
Washington: Entrepreneur Kamil Hasan, the first Indian American to be appointed as Member-at-Large of the Democratic Party, hopes to use his position to jockey greater influence for the community in policymaking. Hasan, founder of the Silicon Valley-based Hitek Venture Partners, was appointed by Howard Dean, who heads the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
"Basically this appointment gives us a seat at the table with top leaders of the Democratic Party," Hasan told the media.
"I expect to be involved in policymaking and development of the platform for the party, helping the presidential candidate."
He hoped the position would eventually lead to increased appointments of Indian Americans in policymaking if Democrats returned to power in the White House.
His own appointment, Hasan said, could not have come at a better time. "This is perfect timing. India-US relations are improving, the Indian community has the intellectual power to guide the American government and it has more influence in decision-making."
Born in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, Hasan got his Bachelors in Engineering from Aligarh Muslim University and taught there before leaving for MIT to get his Masters in the late 1960s. He received his PhD in engineering from the University of California.
"The Indian community has been making a lot of contributions to the Democratic Party and we thought it was time we sat at the table," Hasan said.
"Now we feel we have a seat at the table and I should be able to get involved with the platform of the party and be able to organise and mobilise the Indian community to participate in the party, to raise money in a more organised manner and to reflect issues important to the Indian Americans in the Democratic platform," he emphasised.
His wife, Talat Hasan, is the daughter of India's former education minister Nurul Hasan. She is chairperson and CEO of Sensys Instruments, a company she founded in 1996 to market products for the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The couple has a family foundation in the US and the Nurul Hasan Education Foundation in India.
After a successful entrepreneurial career, the Hasans decided to diversify into "social entrepreneurship," he said.
Apart from the family foundations, they have been active in the high profile American India Foundation. In 2000, they endowed a chair in Indian Classical Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and helped establish the first Indian community centre in California.
After all that, Hasan said, "we thought it was time to get the Indian community to the next level and get into politics and be able to start influencing the direction of this country and have an effect on policies.
"So we have been involved in Democratic Party politics at national, state and local level for many years. We raised a lot of money for the (2004 presidential candidate John) Kerry campaign and helped establish the first Indo-American Council in DNC."
In recognition of their work, the Hasans were appointed trustees of the Democratic Party in 2004.
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