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Local Group Hopes To Share The Stories Of Americans Of South Asian Descent Through New Book

By Syma Chowdhry

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Food, Bollywood and yoga.

Those are what most people think of when it comes to South Asian culture, "but they aren't the only aspects," says Samip Mallick.

He's the executive director of South Asian American Digital Archive, and we met with him at Karma in Old City to discuss why the group wants to publish a history book about Americans of South Asian descent.

"To really fully understand American society today, I think it's really important to acknowledge and to understand the contributions made by immigrant and minority ethnicities in this country," Mallick explains.

Those contributions, according to Mallick, are missing on bookshelves.

"I would go to the public library, I would read books about history or about American culture, but never really saw my own identity or my own story," Mallick says.

A story like Dalip Singh Saund's. He came to this country, became a farmer and worked his way into political office.

"In 1956, Dalip Saund was elected to Congress, becoming not just the first South Asian American, but the first Asian American to be elected to national office.

Did you know that South Asians faced challenges like racism?

"Incredible opposition to South Asians being in the United States in the early 1900s that resulted in a Supreme Court decision in 1923 that barred South Asians from becoming American citizens because they were not white," Mallick explains.

There are pockets of South Asian communities throughout this country, but the organization says it's fitting to be based in Philly – not only was the nation born here, but so were many South Asian stories.

"Fascinating story that many people don't know about is of Anandibai Joshee, who was the first woman of South Asian heritage anywhere in the world to earn a medical degree, and she actually did that here in Philadelphia," Mallick says.

Ultimately, the group wants to raise $30,000 by next month to publish the 150 page book for schools and public libraries.

"Fifty or 100 years from now, how do we make sure that the stories of our community today are preserved for future generations?" Mallick asks.

The group hopes to distribute the book by May of 2016.

To donate and/or purchase the book, log onto:

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