America’s Other One Percent

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

By Jacquie Posey

The Other One Percent is a follow-up to Kapur’s prior book, Diaspora, Democracy and Development: The Impact of International Migration From India, for which he earned a 2012 ENMISA Distinguished Book Award of the International Studies Association.

A new book examines members of the Indian diaspora, both Indian- and American-born, and offers reasons for their successes in the United States. 

The Other One Percent: Indians in America is a collaborative book written by Devesh Kapur, Director of the Center for Advanced Study of India and a professor of political science. 

It is the first comprehensive account of the nation’s Indian community, which make up about one percent of the American population and, according to the book, is “the most well-educated and highest-earning income group among all immigrants in the country.” 

“Its impact is only now beginning to be felt, since the majority of the population migrated from India after 2000,” says Kapur, who is also the Madan Lal Sobti Professor for the Study of Contemporary India.

Today there are more than twice as many Indians in the U.S. than at the turn of the millennium. The book explains that the group’s rapid rise is directly tied to the information technology boom, immigration policies in the U.S., and higher education policies in both India and the U.S. 

Kapur and his co-authors focus on reasons why the population chose America as a destination for international immigration, the multi-generational community’s gradual assimilation, and the decision by many group members to become entrepreneurs. The book documents the immigrants’ geographic movement within the U.S. and reflects on the social, linguistic, political, and class structure of their native land, and the resulting challenges of integration.

“The earlier book examined the impact of emigration of Indians from India,” Kapur says. “The new book is in a sense a mirror image. It examines the impact of immigration of Indians to the United States.”

The Other One Percent is data-driven and demonstrates the impact that people of Indian origin have had in various fields, most notably IT, higher education (especially engineering), and the health sector. The book further examines Indian entrepreneurship in industries ranging from high-tech startups and medicine to hospitality and retail.

The authors also show how selection, or determining who comes from India to the U.S.; global changes in technology and trade; and policy changes in both India and the U.S. have shaped the economic success of this group of immigrants.

Kapur co-authored the book with Sanjoy Chakravorty, a professor of geography and urban studies at Temple University, and Nirvikar Singh, a professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.