Ashwin Ramaswami becomes first Gen Z Indian-American running for Georgia Senate seat

Mr. Ramaswami is a Democrat and he is hoping to replace incumbent Republican Shawn Still

February 19, 2024 12:02 pm | Updated 01:02 pm IST - Washington

Ashwin Ramaswami, a first Gen Z Indian American running for Georgia Senate seat.

Ashwin Ramaswami, a first Gen Z Indian American running for Georgia Senate seat. | Photo Credit: PTI

Ashwin Ramaswami has become the first Indian-American from Gen Z to run for a State or federal legislature in the U.S., indicative of a new breed of young politicians emerging from the community.

Mr. Ramaswami's parents immigrated to the U.S. from Tamil Nadu in 1990. Generation Z (also known as Zoomers) encompasses those born between 1997 and 2012.

“I'm running for (Georgia) State Senate to give back to my community. I want to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities I had growing up," Mr. Ramaswami, 24, told PTI in a recent interview.

"I want to make sure we have a new voice, people who are young, who come from unconventional backgrounds in politics because it's really important that we have people who represent us, not just people who can afford to do it,” he said.

A second-generation Indian-American who has built a career in software engineering, election security, and technology law and policy research, is running in the Democratic party for State Senate in District 48 of Georgia.

Mr. Ramaswami is a Democrat and he is hoping to replace incumbent Republican Shawn Still, who was indicted with former President Donald Trump for the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

If elected, he would be the first Gen Z State Senator in Georgia and the only Georgia State legislator with both a computer science and a law degree. By doing so, he would also break barriers as the first Indian American in the Georgia State legislature.

“Everyone should make sure they have access to a quality education. We want to make sure people have access to jobs and the economy, entrepreneurship and also access to healthcare, reproductive rights and all these issues that matter to us. That's why I've been running,” Mr. Ramaswami said in response to a question.

His parents are both from the IT sector.

“My parents both came to the US in the 1990s. They both came from Tamil Nadu. My mom is from Chennai, my dad is from Coimbatore. I've always grown up with Indian culture and also American culture growing up as well. I'm a Hindu. I've been very interested in Indian culture philosophy my whole life,” he said.

While growing up, he went to Chinmaya Mission Balavihar where he learned about epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita.

“When I was in college, I actually learned Sanskrit and ended up reading a lot of ancient texts and got very interested in reading Upanishads, ..and my whole life I've been very involved in yoga and meditation and now also teaching Baal Vihara to younger students," Mr. Ramaswami said.

Mr. Ramaswami said for him, a very important part of my heritage is thinking about where his family comes from and "those values that we're bringing to the table as well." A native of Georgia, Mr. Ramaswami has worked with nonprofits, startups, and small businesses to use technology for the public interest and create jobs.

As a civil servant, he worked at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on cybersecurity and election security, working with state and local election offices to secure the 2020 and 2022 elections. He also worked as a legal fellow in the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

“I did my undergraduate at Stanford in computer science. I worked a lot on startups at work, but I soon realised that we need more tech people in the federal government, which is why I joined the federal government and started working on election security and cybersecurity starting in 2020,” he said.

If elected, he would be the first person in the Georgia State legislature who has this kind of background: a computer science and a law background.

Responding to a question, he said that his Gen Z generation is “very aware politically” of what's going on.

“We very much see the news, we see all these things happening, and we want to ensure a good future for ourselves. But I think one problem we face is we don't have the resources or ability to actually go and make a difference in the sense that it's really hard for people my age to get elected because the election process skews towards people who are wealthier and older.

"So that's one big problem. I hope to show by being successful at this age that we can have that kind of a voice and we can work for everyone regardless of background,” he asserted.

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