Reaching for the Star, Always
Bobby Jindal was appointed Assistant Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services under the George W. Bush administration. He is the first Indian-American to be elected Governor in the United States.
“We should help developing nations like China and India curb their exponentially increasing consumption of oil and natural gas, which is driving world prices higher.”— Bobby Jindal
Born in 1971, Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal started out in politics while attending Brown University from where he graduated with honours. He then worked as an intern for Congressman Jim McCrery. In 1991, Jindal went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar to study health-care systems. In 1996, he landed his first job in public service, becoming the secretary of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals while the department was in deep financial trouble. During his tenure, he unearthed numerous cases of fraud and waste, and turned the health-care system around financially.
In 1998, Jindal received the Samuel S. Beard Award for greatest public service by an individual 35 years old or under. At 28, in 1999, Jindal was appointed (the youngest-ever) President of the University of Louisiana System, the nation’s 16th largest system of higher education.
In 2001, Jindal became the Assistant Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services for President George W. Bush.
He resigned from that post two years later, returning to Louisiana for his first election bid. A virtual unknown, Jindal sought to win Louisiana’s highest office in 2003. The conservative Catholic politician ran on a pro-life, anti-gun control platform, but could not win over enough of the state to secure the governorship. He, however, entered the US House of Representatives the following year. While in the House, Jindal served on several committees, including the House Committee on Education and Workforce. He also worked hard to pass legislation to support Louisiana’s recovery after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During this natural disaster, Jindal appeared on national television several times to speak about the crisis. His family had been forced to leave their home in Kenner, Louisiana, during the hurricane.
In 2007, Jindal once again ran for Governor of Louisiana. This time he won, and started to tackle ethics and business-related issues. Not long after taking office, Jindal helped Louisiana through another natural disaster—Hurricane Gustav, overseeing the evacuation of roughly 1.9 million people before the storm hit the region. He also guided his state through the devastating BP oil spill of 2010.
He was the first Indian-American elected Governor in the United States. In June 2015, Jindal clearly had his eyes set on the national office and announced he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination on Twitter, but withdrew later.
Piyush Jindal was raised in a Hindu household, but became a Christian while at Baton Rouge Magnet High School from where he graduated in 1988 at the top of his class. During his first year at Brown University, he joined the Roman Catholic Church. His family attends weekly Mass at Saint Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge.
“In 2007, Jindal once again ran for Governor of Louisiana. This time he won, and started to tackle ethics and business-related issues”
Before Piyush was born, his father Amar Jindal, was an assistant professor of engineering at Punjab University in Chandigarh. The Jindals are originally from Malerkotla in Punjab. Jindal’s father and mother, Raj, left India in January 1971. His mother was carrying Piyush then. Jindal’s paternal grandfather was a Khanpur merchant, and his maternal grandfather was a Ferozepur banker. After settling down in Louisiana, Piyush’s father went on to work with a Louisiana railroad company. Piyush has a younger brother, Nikesh, who is a registered Republican and supported his brother’s campaign for Governor. Nikesh went to Dartmouth College and graduated with honours, and then attended Yale Law School. He is now a lawyer in Washington DC.
Piyush Jindal was a great fan of Bobby Brady, an ABC sitcom character. “After school I’d come home and watch The Brady Bunch. And I identified with Bobby, you know? He was about my age, and ‘Bobby’ stuck.” He has been known by his nickname ever since, though his legal name remains Piyush Jindal.
In 1997, Jindal married Supriya Jolly, who was born in New Delhi and moved to Baton Rouge with her parents when she was four years old. The two attended the same high school, but Supriya’s family moved from Baton Rouge to New Orleans after her freshman year. They did not begin dating until much later when Jindal invited her to a Mardi Gras party.
Supriya earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and an MBA from Tulane University. She created the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children, a non-profit organization aimed at improving math and science education in grade schools. They have three children: Selia Elizabeth, Shaan Robert and Slade Ryan.
Shaan was born with a congenital heart defect and had surgery as an infant. The Jindals have been outspoken advocates for children with congenital defects, particularly those without insurance. In 2006, Jindal and his wife delivered their third child at home, with him receiving medical coaching by phone to deliver their boy.