The issue of a postage stamp in the United States to mark Diwali is perhaps second only to the call for an Indo-US nuclear deal by Indian American community leaders. While the latter was accomplished under the Bush administration, there is fresh hope for the stamp too to become reality.
Ami Bera, the newly-minted Congressman from California, who was earlier this month named to the high-profile House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as to the committee to deal with Science, Space and Technology affairs, has risen to the community's cause: along with two other US House of Representatives, he have co-sponsored a resolution for the issue of a postage stamp to mark Diwali.
The resolution has Democrats Carolyn Maloney and Grace Meng as co-sponors. It urges the United States Postal Service to create a stamp to commemorate Diwali, and marks the first initiative by Bera to give more recognition for the Indian American community.
"One of the world's oldest religious holidays, Diwali symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance and it deserves to be honored with a postage stamp of its own," says the resolution.
The Kansas City Star last week profiled Bera, and found that he has an innate sense of humor.
Of his office number, 48, on Capitol Hill, which doesn't have great views, Bera found plenty of consolation: "I like it because it's close to the elevators," said Bera, sitting behind his new desk in a room with blank walls. "What folks were saying when we had our open house was how easy it was to find. It's very accessible to the public."
Lawmakers' busy schedules sometimes don't allow time to grab a bite, much less relax over one, said the report.
Bera quipped: "What I'm realizing is in the few days that I've been here is to make sure I eat breakfast, because I don't know when the next meal is going to come," Bera said. "You're just racing from one thing to the next."
Bera's years of practicing medicine and roaming hospital hallways prepared him for his new job: "Certainly wear comfortable shoes, especially when we're in session."
There are other practical considerations, such as where to live. Bera said he might look into getting a condo, but home is still Sacramento, where his wife, Janine, is also a physician, said the Star.
"My wife's got her practice in the district and our daughter is in high school, so I'll be flying back whenever I can," he said. "Almost on a weekly basis."
Bera, a physician by training, has made new friends, some from the campaign trail and others from his committee assignments.
"It's at committee level that you get to know folks," he said in the interview to the Star. "And you're really working on things."
He's gotten to know fellow Democrats Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer of Washington state, and fellow Californians Scott Peters and Raul Ruiz. Ruiz is also a physician, and Bera said they've discussed creating a bipartisan doctors caucus. Republicans have a 21-member doctors caucus.
Bera's new friendships reach across the aisle, including Republican Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky, who like Bera lost to an incumbent in 2010, but won a rematch, and Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois.
"The more time we spend together, the more our families get to know one another," Bera said. "It makes it that much easier to work together. You have those relationships." (GIN - AmericanBazaarOnline.com)