Leading Indian-American entrepreneur and activist Swadesh Chatterjee in his book 'Building Bridges: How Indian-Americans Brought the United States and India Closer Together', provides a first-hand account of the involvement of the influential community in getting the deal through the  US Congress.
"The Indian government hired high-powered and high-priced lobbyists to press their case, but it was really the Indian-American community that took the lead in the campaign for civil nuclear agreement," writes Chatterjee.
The book hit the stores in US this week while its Indian edition is expected to be released later this year.
"Swadesh, you are wasting your time," the then powerful Congressman, Gary Ackerman, a leading lawmaker of the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans told him, when he went and met him and sought his support.
"This deal is dead on arrival," Ackerman told Chatterjee, according to the book.
"There were few takers for the bill," Chatterjee said.
"But we were determined to get the bill through the Congress. This we strongly felt was in the best interest of both India and the US. We believed that this was the golden opportunity for the two countries to come together,"
Chatterjee added.
Chatterjee, who had received the prestigious 'Padma Bhushan' award in 2001 for his role in lifting of American sanctions after Indian nuclear tests, was the one who received the first call from the then Indian Ambassador to US,
Ronen Sen, after the then US President, George W Bush, announced the outline of the civil nuclear deal during his trip to India in March 2006.
"Swadesh, I need your help getting this accord through Congress," Sen was quoted as saying in the book.
"How can we get this done? Who should U reach out to? What organizations should I work with?" the Ambassador asked.     

And thereafter Chatterjee, a resident of North Carolina and a successful entrepreneur, made it a mission to get the deal through the Congress.
"The task was not that easy. It was like moving a mountain. But we finally did it," he said.
When a small group of some 20 top Indian Americans met Sen at a club near the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, Chatterjee told the job was not that easy.
"We need to unite Indian Americans and work together, but as you all know, we are two million Indian Americans, but we have 10 million egoes. We need to keep those egos in the deep freezer for a few years," Chatterjee told the group.

Chatterjee said there was a very negative response from the lawmakers.
"I am not sure that I can be the guy to sponsor the bill. My colleagues will never support it. I just do not think it has a chance," Congressman David Rice told him.
Response, from a majority of other lawmakers were the same.
"I returned home terribly disappointed. With my usual  venues for building support blocked, I knew we would have to devise an alternate plan of attack...It was time to broaden our approach, to draw on the strength of the entire Indian American community across the country," writes Chatterjee, who led US-India Friendship Council, a group of eminent Indian-Americans.
"We decided to compose a letter making our case, and then we would flood the email account, jam the fax machines and fill the appointment books of every single US Senator and Congressman. To this we employed both high-tech and low-tech approaches," Chatterjee writes.
Chatterjee sought the help of an IT company in Kolkata for a software that would allow any Indian-American to insert his or name and zip code and, with just a few clicks, send a form letter by email arguing the merits of the accord to that persons specific congressman and senators.
"We set up a website to direct people to, and we advertised the programme in all the Indian-American ethnic newspapers," he said.
"At the other end of the spectrum, we did some good old-fashioned petitioning. At temples and gurdwaras across the country, at parties -- Diwali and Holi, we gathered signatures and faxed them to lawmakers," he added.
"With this multi-platform approach, we managed to tap a broad swath of the nation's Indian-Americans - everyone from the whiz kids of Silicone Valley to the pious elderly ladies wearing their finest saris to temple,” he further said.
"We focused on the states with the highest concentrations of Indian Americans - New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan - as well as on my home state of North Carolina," Chatterjee said.
"This was the first time in our community's history that we mounted such a concerted grassroots effort. Traditionally, we focused on fundraising, which is a necessary strategy, of course, but not enough in itself,” he added.
"Ultimately, the rewards of fundraising are limited – and a community like ours could never fundraise our way to winning over lawmakers. This was the first time we mastered the grassroots game – and in America, where all politics is really grassroots politics, the importance of this achievement cannot be over-emphasised," he writes.
"We had no way of counting exactly how many letters were sent, but we know it was in the thousands. Several congressional staffers told me their offices were bombarded,” Chatterjee said.

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