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Biden says Indian-Americans ‘taking over’ US on call with Nasa project chief

Indian-American scientist, Dr Swati Mohan, was the guidance and controls operations lead on the mission which successfully landed the newest rover, Perseverance

Mayank Aggarwal
Friday 05 March 2021 15:43 GMT
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Joe Biden on Thursday said that Indian-Americans are “taking over” the US during a call with the Nasa team involved in a Mars exploration programme.

President Biden made the remark while speaking to Nasa officials including Dr Mike Watkins, director of the jet propulsion laboratory, and the Indian-American scientist, Dr Swati Mohan, to congratulate them on the recent successful landing of a rover on the surface of Mars.

Dr Mohan was the guidance and controls operations lead on Nasa’s Mars mission which successfully landed the newest rover, Perseverance, on February 18.

As Dr Mohan thanked Mr Biden, the president said: “Are you kidding me?  What an honour this is. This is an incredible honour.  And it’s amazing.”

“Indian — of descent — Americans are taking over the country: you; my vice president; my speechwriter, Vinay. I tell you what.  But thank you. You guys are incredible.”

Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman and first person of African-American and South Asian origin to occupy the post in US history. 

Dr Mohan, who had immigrated to the US when she was a year old, explained how she felt on landing day and the path which brought her to Nasa’s lab.

"My path actually started way back when I was a child, watching my first episode of Star Trek. In addition to those fantastical scenes of space, what really captured my attention was this really close-knit team who was working together, manipulating this technological marvel with the sole purpose of exploring space and understanding new things and seeking new life,” she said.

Dr Mohan said that it was a privilege to work with an “incredibly diverse, talented team that has become like a family.”

“To be able to call ‘touchdown’ safely, to see those first images come back from Mars, to see the place where we have never been able to go to on Mars before and go there — reach there for the express purpose of seeking out new life just made it feel like I was living in a dream,” the scientist said.

Indian-Americans are the second-largest immigrant group in the US but collectively make up less than 1 per cent of all registered voters. An Indian American Attitudes Survey ahead of the 2020 election found that the group were likely to vote for the Democratic party.

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