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New York mayor taps three Indian-Americans for key jobs

Meera Joshi

New York, March 21 (IANS) New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped three Indian-Americans for key positions with Meera Joshi named to serve as chairperson and CEO of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).

Nisha Agarwal, a leading advocate for the city’simmigrant communities, has been named as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Udai Tambar, the executive director of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), the new Director of Children and Youth Services.

On confirmation by the City Council, Joshi, 45, former general counsel of TLC would become the first Indian-American and second woman to lead the organization serving the Big Apple’s iconic yellow cabs and other commercial autos.

“Joshi will bring a wealth of experience to the agency, having worked in city government for more than a decade,” said de Blasio announcing her nomination earlier this month.

“Meera Joshi is a dedicated public servant with the experience and energy to move our Taxi and Limousine Commission in a progressive direction, ensuring we prioritise New Yorkers’ safety,” he said.

“I am committed to the de Blasio administration’s agenda of providing equitable taxi and for-hire transportation services and safe streets for all New Yorkers,” said Joshi.

“Meera Joshi’s sense of justice was evident in everything the TLC did to protect drivers from financial predators,” said New York Taxi Workers Alliance Organizer Bhairavi Desai.

“She’s tough, she’s fair, and she truly understands that drivers are the heart of the taxi industry.”

Daughter of Indian immigrant parents from Pune, Joshi previously served as the First Deputy Executive Director of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) and Inspector General at the Correctional Services Unit at the New York City Department of Investigation Joshi received her BA and JD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Announcing Agarwal’s appointment, de Blasio noted: “She is the daughter of Indian immigrants who came to this country seeking a better life.

“This is a family with a true passion for social justice. She grew up hearing stories of her grandfather’s role in the non-violent struggle for Indian independence, led by Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.

“So it’s fair to say that Nisha had extraordinary inspiration from early in her life. And she carried it through.”

An alumnus of Harvard and Oxford universities, Agarwal, “most recently played a leading role in establishing the Immigrant Justice Corps, a new non-profit that recruits recent law school graduates and partners them with non-profit legal services providers to offer legal representation to undocumented immigrants,” the Mayor noted.

Agarwal called her new job as “really the culmination of so many parts of my life. And the lessons that I’ve learned in the course of that life – that the fire in the belly for better opportunities to speak up for progressive values, is universal.”

“And that it’s a fire that burned in my grandfather as he marched for freedom alongside Mahatma Gandhi in India,” she said.

“And it’s a fire that crossed borders with my parents when they emigrated to the United States.”

Udai Tambar, according to SAYA!, “will report to Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, and will work to help accomplish the Mayor’s agenda to address inequality.”

Tambar, who went to Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Cornell University, was a member of the mayor’s 60-person transition committee.

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