For Indians, Donald Trump's America is a land of lost opportunity

Indian-Americans and others attend a peace vigil the  Indian engineer killed at a bar Olathe, Kansas, in Bellevue, Washington on March 5, 2017.
Indian-Americans and others attend a peace vigil the Indian engineer killed at a bar Olathe, Kansas, in Bellevue, Washington on March 5, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (NYTIMES) - Generations of Indians have admired the United States for almost everything. But many are infuriated and unnerved by what they see as a wave of racist violence under President Donald Trump, souring the United States' allure.

The reaction is not just anger and anxiety. Now, young Indians who have aspired to study, live and work in the United States are looking elsewhere.

"We don't know what might happen to us while walking on the street there," said Kanika Arora, a 20-year-old student in Mumbai who is reconsidering her plan to study in the United States. "They might just think that we're terrorists."

Recent attacks on people of Indian descent in the United States are explosive news in India. A country once viewed as the Promised Land now seems for many to be dangerously inhospitable.

Further alienating Indians, especially among their highly educated class, is the Trump administration's reassessment of H1-B visas given mostly for information technology jobs. More than 85,000 are granted a year, the majority to Indians.

This year, undergraduate applications from India fell at 26 per cent of US educational institutions, and 15 percent of graduate programs, according to a survey of 250 US universities by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

The number of applications for H1-B visas also fell to 199,000, a nearly 20 per cent decline, according to data kept by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Like many others, Indians were offended by Trump's promises to block the Mexico border with a wall and bar people from six predominantly Muslim countries. Some took solace that India was not targeted.

But they soon saw that anti-immigrant rage in the United States did not discriminate.

In February, two Indian immigrants were shot, one fatally, at a bar in Kansas by a man who witnesses said had shouted ethnic slurs and told them they did not belong in the United States.

About 3.2 million people of Indian descent live in the United States, slightly more than 1 percent of the population, a Pew Research Center report found.

Most hold green cards and H1-B visas, and are far more affluent and educated than the average American.

Indian-Americans play an outsize role in Silicon Valley, where some, including Google Inc.'s chief executive, Sunder Pichai, have founded or run some of the most successful companies.