NEW DEHLI, India — New Jersey’s only two South Asian state lawmakers are among the three-dozen members of Gov. Phil Murphy’s entourage to join him on his week-long trade mission in India.
Sen. Vin Gopal and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji say it’s a big opportunity to generate Jersey jobs — and recognize a significant and growing community in the Garden State.
New Jersey has the third-largest Indian population in U.S. and the number of new Indian residents who move here is booming.
“We’re a rapidly growing immigrant community,” Mukherji, D-Hudson, said. “Considering the growing population in our state and the trade relationship between New Jersey and India, I think it’s long overdue that the governor of New Jersey undertakes an initiative such as this.”
The state’s growing Indian population can’t be understated.
There are nearly 300,000 Indian-Americans in New Jersey, according to the latest U.S. Census data. The Garden State trails only California (530,000) and New York (314,000) in its number of Indian residents.
But the growth here is expanding rapidly.
Between 2000 and 2010, there was a nearly 73 percent increase in the number of Indians who moved to New Jersey, compared to the nearly 47 percent increase in California and only 6 percent bump in New York.
“The India-American population is booming in New Jersey,” Gopal, D-Long Branch, said. “We are seeing areas where they are making up a larger portion of the population.”
The state’s Indian-American population accounts for more than 40 percent of the total Asian population here, according to census data. The four counties with the largest populations are Middlesex, Hudson, Bergen and Somerset — which are home to 65 percent of the state’s Asian Indians.
More than 4 percent of the Garden State are South Asian Americans. That means there would be five South Asian legislators in Trenton if the representation in the Statehouse mirrored the state population, according to an NJ Advance Media analysis published in May.
But both Gopal and Mukherji don’t see the lack of representation in the Trenton as an obstacle to attract new overseas business to the state.
“The opportunity to expand the already vibrant bi-lateral trade and commerce relationship between New Jersey and India is starring us in the face,” Mukherji said. “While a visit from a sitting governor is long overdue, the time is right.”
Gopal echoed his remarks: “I think it sends a good message. The governor going … is positive and there’s a lot that we can do together.”
Both lawmakers have made multiple trips to India.
Gopal makes annual visits to his grandparents, who are in their 90s, living in Trivandrum, located in the southern part of the country.
This is Mukherji’s third trade mission to the country.