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'I am so excited about my new role at White House': New Indian-American domestic policy advisor Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden is the first Asian-American to be appointed as the top policy advisor to US president Joe Biden
Indian-American public policy expert Neera Tanden, who would soon succeed Susan Rice as the White House domestic policy advisor, has said that she is "excited" about her new role in the administration.
Tanden, 52, is the first Asian-American to have been named to hold this powerful position in the White House. She is currently the senior advisor and staff secretary to President Joe Biden. "I am so excited for my new role at the White House, and I am thrilled to be part of an administration that has so many AANHPI (Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders) leaders, so many AANHPI women leaders, so many leaders who represent the great diversity of our community," Tanden said in her address to the AANHPI Women's Celebration organised by the AAPI Victory Fund on Wednesday.
Addressing a packed Kennedy Center auditorium, composed of eminent AANHPI leaders, including Indian Americans, Tanden, a Democrat, said when she worked at the White House during the Clinton Administration there were only a handful of AANHPI people.
Twenty-five years later under the Biden Administration, there is hardly any branch of the government where there are no AANHPI at eminent positions, she said.
"We have leaders in every agency. And I am incredibly proud that we have three AANHPI leaders leading policy councils in the White House. And that is a historic accomplishment for our community," Tanden said.
Tanden has served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as well as presidential campaigns and think tanks. Most recently, she was the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
In her address, Tanden also hinted at current times when a lot of undiscussed matters are being taken up.
"But it is also a bit of a paradox because at this moment when our voices are heard at every table in Washington, it is also the case that our politics have grown uglier. And that in many ways our country is debating issues that we haven't really debated. We weren't debating this 25 years ago," she said.
"Right now, we are having ugly conversations about who our country is really for; whether it is for all of us or just a few of us. What does it really mean to be an American? Who is American? I see this as a paradox because I see, as we have grown stronger in our representation, there is also a real backlash against a vision of the country that is for all of us," Tanden said.
"That is really why I am so incredibly proud to be part of an administration where our voices are everywhere. I was at a … two weeks ago with the president and, in the room just for a briefing on an issue, half the people in the room were Asian-Americans. The president turned to us and said, you know, this is what America is,” she said.
At the same time, Tanden told the audience that they should be really aware that their representation and voices are not uncontested.
"There is a debate in this country, a real debate as to whether our politics should really include all of us. …And what I'm so proud of is to be part of an administration and to serve a president and vice president who recognise that this is a fight for the soul of the country. At the heart of that fight is a fight about ensuring America represents all of us; that we have the right to be leaders in every field, and that our politics and our policies have to address all of our needs," she said.