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Ami Bera, Tulsi Gabbard create history in US Congress

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   4 Jan 2013 5:27 AM GMT
Ami Bera, an Indian-American physician from California and Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever elected to the US House of Representatives, created history as they were sworn in as members of the 113th Congress.

Raised by a Hindu mother and a Catholic father in "a multiracial, multicultural, multifaith family," Gabbard, 31, the first American Samoan and one of the first female combat veterans in US Congress, took her oath of office Thursday on the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture.

Democrat Gabbard, who represents Hawaii in the Congress previously served on the Honolulu City Council and as a Hawaii state representative. She was the youngest woman in the United States to be elected to a state legislature.

She is currently a Company Commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, and has served on two deployments to the Middle East.

"I believe strongly in embracing diversity," Gabbard, who was exposed as a child to both the New Testament and the Bhagavad Gita told Stephen Prothero, a professor in Boston University's religion department, in an interview published in USA Today.

Gabbard, who embraced a Hindu identity as a teenager and took the Gita as her guide, said Gita teaches her to try "to maintain my equilibrium in either success or failure."

She then turned to Mahatma Gandhi: "The world's most famous Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi ... worked tirelessly for the welfare of his country and all of humanity without any thought of personal gain, leaving his ultimate success or failure in God's hands."

Amerish B. "Ami" Bera, 47, also Democrat, became the third Indian-American member of the US House after Amritsar-born Dalip Singh Saund, who represented a California district from 1957 to 1963 and Louisiana's current governor Bobby Jindal who was a member from his state from 2005 to 2008.

Bera, the son of immigrants from India, took the oath in the presence of his his wife, daughter, brothers, and his father.

Raised in La Palma, California, Bera defeated three-term Republican incumbent Dan Lungren by a narrow margin. He has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of California at Irvine, earning his MD there in 1991.

The newly sworn-in 113th Congress is the most diverse group of representatives in history. 98 women, 43 African-Americans, 31 Latinos, 12 Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, and seven gay and bisexual members are now new members of the House and Senate.