Obama ignores ‘secular’ group complaints, promotes Sonal Shah


Obama ignores ‘secular’ group complaints, promotes Sonal Shah
21 Nov 2008, 0329 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Obama_ignores_secularists_protests_promotes_Shah/articleshow/3738975.cms
WASHINGTON: US President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday named Indian – American policy wonk
 
  Sonal Shah as a leader of a key policy working group, ignoring charges from the so-called leftist-secular Indian groups in the U.S about her alleged links with radical Hindu groups.

Shah is one of nine leaders who will head seven Policy Working Groups tasked with ”developing priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration,” the transition team announced on Wednesday.

Shah will co-chair the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform panel along with Julius Genachowski and
Blair Levin.

Other panels, all of which will be headed by a single person, are as follows: Economic: Daniel K. Tarullo,
Education: Linda Darling-Hammond, Energy and Environment: Carol M. Browner, Health Care: Senator Tom Daschle, Immigration: T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar National Security: James B. Steinberg, Dr. Susan E. Rice.

Some of these positions could conceivably lead to appointments in the administration. For instance, Daschle is now strongly tipped to be the health secretary. On Wednesday, the Obama transition team also formally announced several other White House positions, including David Axelrod as Senior Advisor to the President, Lisa Brown as Staff Secretary, Greg Craig as White House Counsel, and Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary.

In naming Shah to head a policy group, the President-elect has seemingly snubbed Leftist activists in the U.S who loudly protested her inclusion in the Obama transition team last week, ostensibly because of her family’s connections in India to the RSS and the VHP.

Shah responded with a statement that her ”personal politics
 
have nothing in common with the views espoused by VHP, RSS, or any such organization,” and she has always ”condemned any politics of division, of ethnic or religious hatred, of violence and intimidation as a political tool.”

In its press release about the new policy planning panels, the transition team referred to Shah’s work as the co-founder of Indicorps, a U.S.-based non-profit organization offering one-year fellowships Indian-Americans to work on development projects in India, which Leftist groups had viewed suspiciously.

The transition team also cited her work at the Center for American Progress on trade, outsourcing and post conflict issues and the Center for Global Development on development policy issues.

Sonal Shah currently heads Google.org’s global development efforts and is on temporary on leave from that job to help with the transition. Prior to joining Google, she was Vice President at Goldman, Sachs and Co. developing and implementing the firm’s environmental policy.

She also worked at the Department of Treasury from 1995-2002 on various economic issues and regions of the world, including Bosnia, Kosovo, the Asian crisis and sub-Saharan Africa, and at the National Security Council
from 1998-1999.

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