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NRI, Madhu Yaskhi, New York attorney elected MP in India
October 2004

NRI's success in Indian politics

After Indian immigrants success in American politics, it is now the turn of NRIs to make their presence felt in Indian politics. Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a New York-based lawyer, contested parliamentary election this year from Nizamabad constituency, Andhra Pradesh, as a Congress Party nominee. He won with an impressive margin, and became the only NRI parliamentarian in the 14th Lok Sabha.

Yaskhi immigrated to United States in the late 1980s to pursue postdoctoral course in law, but the prohibitive cost of education and family circumstances forced him to take up a part-time job at the Indian Consulate in New York. He also had a brief stint as a journalist with News India-times, a widely circulated tabloid among immigrant Indians. In 1995, Yaskhi founded a partnership firm, the International Legal and Trade Consultants in New York, which handles business immigration issues.

Born in a middle class family in 1960 in Hayatnagar in suburban Hyderabad, Yaskhi graduated from Nizam College, Hyderabad, received a law degree from Delhi University and did his masters in law from Osmania University, Hyderabad. He started the Madhu Yaskhi Foundation in New York, which receives 25 percent of Yaskhi's earnings in donation. The foundation helps poor farmers in Nizamabad district.

SPAN: How did your journey to politics begin? Did you ever aspire to become a member of the Indian Parliament?

MADHU GOUD YASKHI: I am a novice to Indian politics. After seeing my social work among poor farmers since 2002, Congress Party offered me membership. I joined the party in March, a couple of months before the parliamentary election. I was nominated by the party to fight from Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency with only 18 days left for campaigning.

But my real journey to my homeland began two years ago after I read a newspaper report about the plight of farmers in Machareddy mandal of Nizamabad district. There has been a lot of talk about the state making good strides economically, especially in the IT sector, and the liberalization policies impacting people's lives. But to my surprise, I read the reports of farmers committing suicide. So I thought I should go and see to myself what's happening. When I saw the reality I was appalled; more than 50 farmers took their lives and their families were on the brink of starvation. How to provide immediate succor to the bereaved families was on top of my mind. I gave a small donation of Rs. 10,000 each to the 42 affected families. My help restored in them confidence, which enabled them to stand on their feet.

What qualities did Congress see in you when it nominated you as party candidate especially, when many senior leaders were in the race ?

First, the party is keen to give opportunities to youth. Secondly, my work among Nizamabad farmers was acknowledged and that

made the party think about my candidature. Thirdly, the district and the state committees of the party unanimously supported my nomination. They argued that they need a person with my educational qualifications and social back- ground since the assembly elections were also simultaneously being held. By hind- sight, their assessment proved right—both my party and our coalition partner, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, swept the election in the entire region.

This new responsibility as member of Parliament demands full time attention. How are you going to apportion your time between New York, New Delhi and Nizamabad?

It is a privilege as well as a responsibility being a member of Parliament. I have made a conscious decision to continue with my business in New York. My partner at my New York firm will look after the day-to-day functioning of my company. The job as a parliamentarian is social commitment, responsibility and accountability to the constituents. I would like to stay in Delhi when the Parliament is in session.

That will perhaps give me enough time to interact with ministers and senior officials with whom I can discuss several developmental issues. Very soon I will open a full-fledged office in Nizamabad, which will be a nodal point with my people.

As a member of Lok Sabha, what do you plan to achieve?

As a parliamentarian, I have a bigger role to play, representing not only my constituency but representing the entire country. The rules that are made in the Parliament reflect the views not only of my constituents but also the entire country. As a parliamentarian, I want to become a role model for the younger generation. I will also devote time for the party, and work for well being of the economically deprived people and strengthen the social fabric of the country.

I want to become an interface with the 20-million-strong Indian diaspora and be their voice in the Parliament. NRIs have been playing an important role in economic development of the country. But in some

countries they have no rights and no insurance facilities. I will focus NRIs' issues in a big way both within the Parliament and outside, primarily NRIs in the Gulf region.

What are the services your consultancy company provide ?

I have about 25 employees in my firm which provides consultancy services on international trade, business management and immigration issues. It is a partnership firm which is serving not only the Indian immigrant community but also American businesses that want to set up offices in India. We concentrate on trade, business and immigration issues relating to businesses only. We basically deal in business immigration, and do not help asylum seekers or visa seekers. More than 400 companies, especially in the IT sector, are on our client list.

How do you look at the bilateral relations between the United States and India?

If more Indian Americans participate in the American political process that would

help to strengthen bilateral relations, fight international terrorism and bring peace to the world. Both are democratic countries and the need of the hour is to create closer, stronger and mature relationships between both countries.

India is the world's largest democracy and America the world's oldest democracy. How do the twain meet?

Both have their strong distinctive features. If you look at democratic norms in India, you will see a minority Muslim elected the President, a minority Sikh heading the government, and a minority Christian leading the largest party in the coalition government. This reflects the true democratic nature and the strength of our great country. In case of America, individual dignity is of utmost importance. No other country in the world grants such unfettered freedom and dignity to an individual. That is why the whole world is looking at America and wants to come and live there. So both the democracies have their own strengths. I believe both need to have a closer relationship so that they can bring peace and prosperity to the entire world.



NRI, Madhu Yaskhi, New York attorney and his Dr. Wife returned to India to serve children and the poor people of India and elected MP