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Senator Elizabeth Warren’s family ties with India: Meet Sushil Tyagi, Amelia Warren’s husband and father of three

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Senator Elizabeth Warren’s family ties with India: Meet Sushil Tyagi, Amelia Warren’s husband and father of three

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Long living life as a private citizen, Sushil Tyagi is stepping into the public arena to assist his American family in changing the status quo of political life in America and perhaps overturning the Trumpian model of America.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s family ties with India: Meet Sushil Tyagi, Amelia Warren’s husband and father of three
With the constant increase of Indian immigrants to America, Indian success stories in academia and the corporate world and the rise of multicultural unions, it was bound to happen: The Indian connection has exploded in mainstream America.
Everyone seems to have an Indian doctor or friend but now there are so many mixed families too, celebrating the best of different cultures. So while Senator Kamala Harris had an Indian mother, Senator Elizabeth Warren has an Indian-American son-in-law! Yes, many readers may not know this, but Warren’s daughter Amelia is married to Indian immigrant Sushil Tyagi and through them, Warren is the proud grandmother of three Indian-American grandchildren, has travelled to India for several family occasions and met the relatives in Uttar Pradesh.
Tyagi has the story of the immigrant struggle behind him and how he transformed his life through the power of education. He is a graduate of IIT Delhi, UC Berkeley and has an MBA from Wharton MBA and a postgraduate degree in Ocean Engineering from UC Berkeley. He has a home in Dehra Dun where his mother lives, and whom the grandchildren visit.
Currently, he is the President of Berkeley Marine Robotics in CA. He says. “My latest venture stems from my prior engineering work on marine structures at UC Berkeley. Our goal is to build robotic systems for ocean exploration and conservation.”
Tyagi grew up in many different towns in Uttar Pradesh since his father became a police constable to augment the meager family income from farming. He recalls, “Like most children of smallholder farmers, I grew up taking the cattle to the ponds and taking the sugarcane carts to the crushers. My mother never went to school and could not even read or write in Hindi.”
It was a tough battle for Tyagi growing up in small towns in UP. He says, “As no one in my extended family had gone to any college, and no one around me even knew of IIT back then, it was quite a lonely path for a Hindi medium kid to embark on JEE preparation. Once selected for IIT, I was grateful for a UP police scholarship that helped ease the cost burden for my parents.”
Tyagi met Amelia Warren during business school at Wharton, where they were both first-year MBA students together: “Soon I got to know that her parents were teachers and she also had to move with them to their various university appointments — and just like me, she had also gone to nearly 10 schools before college. So we started off on the shared stories of being the new kid in town every year and then having to do well in each new school right away.”
Sushil and Amelia Tyagi.
Education was the common denominator: “
At that time, about 20 years ago, I had married the daughter of two college professors and we all had an instant common bond in the value of education. Her parents grew up on the edges of middle-class and had found higher education as their path forward in life. Even though I came from a totally different part of the world, I identified with their life story, and I think they identified with mine in some way.”
As Tyagi points out, his two daughters and a son have one grandmother from India who never had a chance to go to school or to learn to read; the other is a Harvard Law professor, a US Senator and a presidential candidate. “However, they are both quite similar in their hardscrabble upbringing, in their love for the grandchildren, and in their focus on the family above all.”
Like many multicultural families in America, they draw strength from their diverse faiths and traditions. Says Tyagi: "We are an American family and as much as I like to teach my kids about mythological Hindu epics, I too have much to learn from our local Church’s hymn books.”
He does believe that Elizabeth Warren would make the best president because she would fight for all Americans. Having grown up in the heartland, she knows what families go through every day. Her brothers were in the military and she knows their aspirations.
“She has also studied family economics at the highest levels and has worked for decades to advocate for policies to help protect middle-class families,” says Tyagi, pointing to her work against predatory banks which hurt all Americans but particularly people of colour.
“With a multicultural family ourselves, she has respect for the global communities and need for thoughtful moderation and respect in our dialogue with all nations.” As he says, the key to the India-US community is to not get taken in by the easy pandering or divisive rhetoric coming from partisan voices which does not have the best interest of this community at heart despite their opportunistic and selective sloganeering during the election time.
Sushil Tyagi reveals some engaging details of Elizabeth Warren as grandmother which tell a lot about her character on the whole; with some superpower skills which most grandchildren would love:
“Elizabeth Warren is an amazing grandmother (“Gammy” to the kids). She is the only one who knows how to operate the little sewing machine and whenever she visits us, the kids put all their new clothes out that need to be hemmed or new buttons to be sewed. My daughters like to craft the emoji avatars for their Gammy’s Snapchat and giggle together.”
This is all part of her life and not alien to her busy life as senator: “And then Gammy gets up and takes serious calls from the senators, and teachers, and her team. On any given day, she can move through many states in multiple town meetings and after a 2-hour rally still has the energy to stand for 4 more hours to meet thousands in person — and then comes over to hang with the grandkids and discuss their school homework while heating up some leftover snacks for them.”
Sushil Tyagi's children with their grandmother in Dehra Dun.
Long living life as a private citizen, Sushil Tyagi is stepping into the public arena to assist his American family in changing the status quo of political life in America and perhaps overturning the Trumpian model of America.
“Our South Asian community is really special and a big part of her family, and she has a personal understanding of various cultures, family and multicultural connections,” says Tyagi. “Although this does not get brought up very much I just want to say that she really, really appreciates the support from this community as from her own family.”
Why does he think it's so important for South Asians to get involved in the voting process? He says South Asian older generations have been usually less active in organising and having their voices heard in the electoral process - and it is so much more important now. The younger generation is getting more engaged and there are many young volunteers and leaders of South Asia origin in the EW campaign.  In fact, over 100Asians including South Asians are involved in all aspects of the Warren campaign from high-level policy to grassroots organising including longtime advisor Ganesh Sitaramanand campaign manager Roger Lau — marking the first cycle in which a major presidential campaign has hired an Asian American campaign manager. According to the campaign, about40 percent of their full-time employees are people of colour.
 Prominent lawyer Navneet Chugh says, “What we like about Senator Warren the most is that her values are the values of a traditional Indian family. Family, education, spirituality, and serving humanity are the values that Senator Warren lives by and so do our Indian families.”
Chugh says they have launched WIN – Warren India Network – in 20 cities in the US.  Both Chugh and Tyagi support and connect regional leaders as needed with campaign groups such as Warren-India-Network or South-Asians-for-Warren (or AAPI sub-community groups.)
Just on January 22, over 150-plus prominent Asian American and Asian Pacific Leaders announced a major endorsement for Elizabeth Warren for President. One of the issues they mentioned was immigration: “She has a comprehensive plan that includes reinstating and expanding DACA, lowering barriers to naturalization, and not just reversing Trump’s refugee cuts, but committing to increase refugee admissions.”
Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who blogs at Lassi with Lavina.
Read Lavina Melwani's columns here.
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