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NJ wakes up, woos Gujarati votebank

February 5, 2008, 4:53 PM IST India India
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New Jersy: Home to the largest concentration of Gujaratis in America, New Jersy has recognised the significance of the community for the first time. It has come out with voter registration forms in Gujarati, apart from Spanish, Korean and Chinese. Members of the community feel this will boost voter participation in the primaries. “This will be very helpful, especially for our Indian community who are citizens and want to vote. In my experience, I have had so many Indian patients who are Gujarati and it is very difficult for them to understand English. Even if they pass the exam of citizenship, it's very difficult for them to read and write English. And if it is in Gujarati, it's the best thing,” says Jersey City Physician, Vijaya Desai. This is particularly true of the older Gujaratis, many of whom are American citizens but struggle with the English language. Says Woodbridge resident, Madhusudan Butala, “Main samajhta hoon ke baraiya kam huya hain kyonki hamare jo Indian citizens hote hain unko English ka tank bahut kum hota hain, little bit hota hain. Isliye agar Gujarati main hain to bahut kaam main aa jayega, (I think good work has been done because a lot of us Gujaratis have trouble with the language. The forms being in Gujarati will help,.) Gujaratis in New Jersey certainly hold symbols of their home state close to them, like their language and this huge statue of Sardar Patel. This form reminds them of Gujarat and serves to underscore that they have arrived in America as a politically viable group. Now Gujaratis are hopeful for a similar move in another state where they have a substantial presence - New York.