US President-elect Joe Biden
US President-elect Joe Biden
AFP

A 30-year-old Indian-American youth from New Jersey has played a key role in organising the Indian-American and the diverse Asian American community for the Biden campaign ahead of the November 3 US presidential election.

Amit Jani, who served as the campaign's National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Director for the Biden Campaign, was responsible for direct community outreach, political engagement, helping to craft policy for the community, media relations and more with the AAPI community.

The AAPI community represents over 50 ethnicities, hundreds of languages spoken and a diverse array of issue areas and priorities amongst each ethnic group.

Jani joined the Biden campaign early in the primary season, when there were over a dozen competitors and candidates running for president.

In the months after joining the Biden campaign, Jani built a national infrastructure far unprecedented in any modern political campaign, with over 14 ethnic affinity groups, state leadership councils in most key battleground states, paid media and digital advertising in seven figures, campaigning in over 20 AAPI languages, including over six Indian languages, managed a team of over a dozen national and state directors, and built a volunteer organisation of over 300 active members.

Jani helped to craft policy platforms for both the AAPI and Indian American community, held hundreds of events and engagements, pushed to have campaign materials translated in language, and helped to create South Asians For Biden, which has since served as the umbrella organisation for groups such as Indian Americans For Biden, Hindu Americans For Biden, Sikh Americans For Biden, Jain Americans For Biden, and several others.

During the Indian Independence Day on August 15, he helped to organise a widely viewed virtual programme and celebration that included prominent Indian Americans throughout the country and top campaign staff to address the community. He was also able to secure greetings from Joe Biden himself, as well as Kamala Harris, a first for the Indian Americans.

"I think we're going to have record turnout, and it is because of the incredible effort that (Amit) and (his) team have put in, and the way (they) have mobilised and inspired the community across the United States," Nisha Biswal, president of the US-India Business Council and former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, had said before the election in a video posted on social media, recognising Jani's role in the election.

At the young age of 30, Jani has been working in Democractic politics and government for over a decade. Prior to joining the Biden Campaign, he worked for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's administration, where he was specialising in transportation issues for the state. He also served as the AAPI Director for Governor Murphy's campaign and the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

Those who know Jani describe him as a tireless and hardworking man, and a fierce advocate for the AAPI and South Asian community.

"[Amit] has been a tireless advocate for the AAPI community and a wonderful representative for Vice President Biden and Senator Harris. We have made great strides as a community and [he] deserves so much credit for that," said Chris Lu, former White House Cabinet Secretary for President Barack Obama.

Jani, who refrains from media appearances, was not available for this story.

"All too often, our parents push us to become doctors, lawyers, engineers and even enter business. However, if we want our community to truly have a voice in this country, and to have an impact in its policies and direction of America, then we need to start encouraging our children to enter public service through government and politics," he told TV Asia in an interview several years ago Born in Rajkot, Gujarat and arriving in the US at the age of one with his mother, Jani has spent nearly his entire life in New Jersey, a state with one of the largest Indian American populations in the US. His late father, Suresh Jani, was a community organiser in New Jersey and throughout America, often advocating for new immigrants and helping Indians who recently arrived in the country.

Jani's mother, Deepti Jani, is a businesswoman in New Jersey and New York, owning a deli and several convenience stores.

In 2015, Jani founded the New Jersey Leadership Programme (NJLP), a nonprofit organisation that helps South Asian high school and college students learn and get direct experience working with local, state and federal governments and elected officials.

According to the NJLP website, Jani founded the organisation to give voice to the South Asian American community, as well as to allow youth from this community to explore potential careers in commonly non-traditional career paths in American government and politics.

Jani has made an indelible impact for Joe Biden, clearing the way for him to gain substantial and widespread support from the AAPI community across the country to help elect him the Democratic candidate during the primary elections, and most recently president-elect in the general elections.

According to recent data from TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier, the AAPI community supported Joe Biden with over 71 per cent of their vote. Bonier said nationally, 5 per cent more AAPI voters cast a ballot than voted in the entirety of the 2016 election. In every single battleground state, AAPI voters saw a bigger per cent increase in votes cast, relative to 2016, than any other group.

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