The Deputy Speaker, New Jersey General Assembly, is a regular visitor to India
The political system in the United States was “heavily process-oriented”, but that was essential, said New Jersey General Assembly Deputy Speaker Upendra J. Chivukula, and recommended similar system in India. Bills and budgets should be discussed thoroughly by the house committees before being introduced in the Assembly/Parliament, he opined.
Born in Nellore, Upendra J. Chivukula rose to the high office in the US. He was elected to the lower House of New Jersey, the Garden State, for the first time in 2001 and continues to be a member of the Legislative Assembly even today being elected once very two years.
A member of the Democratic Party (same as U.S. President Barrack Obama) he was elected as Deputy Speaker in 2007 and continues to hold the post even today. The Deputy Speaker chairs sessions of the House in the absence of the Speaker.
Mr. Upendra became the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey General Assembly and the fourth Indian-American in the United States to be elected to state office. His supporters want him to run for the Governor's post (equivalent to our Chief Minister, but directly elected by the voters) in the next elections. If not for the Governor's post he was likely to contest for the Senate, the upper House.
Talking to The Hindu about the trials and tribulations of being a legislator, he said politics in the USA was based on “ideas and innovation”. The party or the candidate that had the best ideas on its electoral agenda usually won.
Speaking from his experience as a member of the Assembly Mr. Upendra said that various House Committees played an important role in preparing bills and budgets. As chairman of the Appropriations (expenditure) and Telecommunication and Utilities (water, piped gas, waste water, etc.) committees Mr Upendra played a very important role in the administration of New Jersey.
Asked if legislators in the U.S. resigned like in Telangana, he said Assembly members resigned on health grounds or for very personal reasons.
He completed his electrical engineering from the Guindy Engineering College, Chennai, and did his post-graduation in the same subject in the New York City College. Even as Assembly member Mr. Upendra visits India at least once a year to see his mother, two sisters and a brother. His son will soon become an engineer like him and his daughter is interested in being a politician.
Keywords: process-oriented system