Indians in the New York City metropolitan area

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Indians in the New York City metropolitan region
India Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, is home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere, [1] and one of at least 24 Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged within the New York City Metropolitan Area, with the largest metropolitan Indian population outside Asia, as large-scale immigration from India continues into New York City. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Indians in the New York City metropolitan area constitute one of the largest and fastest-growing ethnicities in the New York City metropolitan area of the United States. The New York City region is home to the largest and most prominent Indian American population among metropolitan areas by a significant margin, enumerating 711,174 uniracial individuals by the 2013–2017 U.S. Census American Community Survey estimates. [6] The Asian Indian population also represents the second-largest metropolitan Asian national diaspora both outside of Asia and within the New York City metropolitan area, following the also rapidly growing and hemisphere-leading population of the estimated 893,697 uniracial Chinese in the New York City metropolitan area in 2017. [7] The U.S. state of New Jersey, most of whose population is situated within the New York City metropolitan region, has by a significant margin the highest proportional Indian population concentration of any U.S. state, with a Census-estimated 4.1% of New Jersey's population being an individual of Indian origin in 2017. [8]

History

New India House, the home of the Indian Consulate-General in New York, on East 64th Street, in the Upper East Side Historic District of Manhattan

The first Indian to become a naturalized U.S. citizen was Bhicaji Balsara, a resident of New York. [9] However, this was after the Luce–Celler Act of 1946 that restored naturalization rights to Indian Americans in the United States. [10] A number of Indian Americans came to the U.S. via Indian communities from other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, Suriname, Guyana, [11] Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Jamaica. The quota on Indian immigration was removed in the 1960s, leading to exponential growth in the number of Indian immigrants to the United States. [12] While Indians prior to this time were primarily involved in agricultural endeavors or constructing railroads in the western United States, [12] the largest number hereafter came to New York City and its affluent suburban environs, consisting largely of professionals, including physicians, engineers, financiers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and lawyers, as well as businesspeople. [12] By 1974, there was a notable Indian population in the greater New York area, with particular concentrations in Hoboken, New Jersey and Flushing, Queens, though neither was strongly identified as a Little India at this point and there was already a push to move out to the suburbs, especially to Nassau County on Long Island. [13] with houses of worship for Indian religions starting to be built around the larger Indian suburban communities throughout the 1980s and 1990s. [14]

A small Little India did already exist in Manhattan on Lexington Avenue, between 27th and 30th streets around the former Little Armenia spice shop of Kalustyan's, which had becoming popular among Indian and other South Asian immigrants in the 1960s [15] becoming notable enough to be featured in the New York Daily News as a prime spot for Indian food and groceries by 1976. [16] However, by the 1980s, it was eroding due to increased competition from other Indian districts in Queens which were closer to where the Indian population lived. Hicksville in Nassau County would become the center of the Indian community on Long Island, with Indian stores concentrating on South Broadway around Route 103 by the 2000s. As the 20th century came to a close, this started to change however, with growing concentrations of Indians in areas such as Middlesex County, New Jersey, where 55,000 Indians lived by 2000 and in Jersey City. [17] During the 1990s, these two areas would see their main centers of Indian commerce - Oak Tree Road in Edison, New Jersey, and Newark Avenue in the Journal Square neighborhood in Jersey City become primarily Indian, compared to the 1970s and 1980s, where there was a more of a mixture of businesses. [17] By 1994, there were already over 100 Indian businesses on Oak Tree Road. [18]

A South Asian shopping center in Hicksville, New York, on Long Island

An Indian enclave also emerged in Jackson Heights during the late 20th century, with a strip of Indian stores on 74th Street, though many Indians actually lived in the adjacent, cheaper neighborhood of Elmhurst. [19] Starting in the 1990s, following the path of past generations of New Yorkers, many Indian immigrants starting moving from Queens to Long Island in the 1990s into towns such as Hicksville, Elmont, East Meadow and North New Hyde Park seeking bigger homes, better schools and more space. During the 1990s, Indians were the fastest growing group on Long Island. [20] Hicksville would become the center of the Indian community on Long Island, with Indian stores concentrating on South Broadway around Route 103 by the 2000s. [21] The Indian American population would also surge in the further reaches of Central New Jersey in the 2000s in towns such as West Windsor, Plainsboro and Montgomery. The Indian influence in this area manifested itself with the creation of an annual Indian-American fair in Mercer County Park and the creation of cricket fields and leagues in the area. [22] By the 2010s, there were pushes to teach Hindi [23] and have Diwali off at school districts in Central New Jersey. [24] Around this time, there were also a series of home invasions apparently targeting Indians and South Asians in New Jersey, [25] which started to prompt questions about a lack of Indian and more broadly Asian representation in New Jersey's local police forces. [26]

Demographics

All except the pink/lavender-illustrated counties compose the New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island NY–NJ–PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, the most populous in the US:
  New York–Jersey City–White Plains, NY–NJ Metropolitan Division
Dutchess County–Putnam County, NY Metropolitan Division
Nassau County–Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division
Newark, NJ–PA Metropolitan Division
  Remainder of the New York-Newark, NY–NJ–CT–PA Combined Statistical Area

The New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, consisting of New York City, Long Island, and adjacent areas within New York State, as well as nearby areas within the states of New Jersey (extending to Trenton), Connecticut (extending to Bridgeport), and including Pike County, Pennsylvania, was home to an estimated 711,174 Indian Americans as of the 2013–2017 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, [6] comprising by far the largest Indian American population of any metropolitan area in the United States; [27] New York City itself also contains by far the highest Indian American population of any individual city in North America, estimated at 246,454 as of 2017. [28] At least twenty four Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India have emerged in the New York City metropolitan area. As of December 2019, Indian airline carrier Air India as well as United States airline carrier United Airlines were offering direct flights from the New York City Metropolitan Area to and from Delhi and Mumbai. Delta Air Lines inaugurated non-stop flight service from JFK International Airport to Mumbai in December 2019.

The Indian American population in the New York City metropolitan region was second in its population as an Asian ethnicity only to the approximately 893,697 uniracial Chinese New Yorkers as of 2017. [6] [7] However, while the presence and growth of the Chinese population is focused on New York City and Long Island in New York State, the gravitas of the Indian population is roughly evenly split between New Jersey and New York State. [29] [30]

Central New Jersey, at the geographic heart of the Northeast Megalopolis, has emerged as the largest hub for Indian immigrants to the U.S., followed closely by Queens and Nassau County on Long Island. Oak Tree Road in Edison and Iselin is known as an Indian dining and shopping destination.

Jersey City in New Jersey has the highest proportion of Asian Indians of any major U.S. city, comprising 10.9% of the overall population of Jersey City in 2010, [31] increasing to 11.4% by 2013. [32] Bergen County, New Jersey and Rockland County, New York are home to the highest concentrations of Malayalis outside of India. [33] Carteret, Middlesex County's Punjabi Sikh community, variously estimated at upwards of 3,000, is the largest concentration of Sikhs in New Jersey. [34] Smaller populations of Asian Indians reside in the Connecticut and Pennsylvania portions of the New York City metropolitan region. Monroe Township, Middlesex County, in central New Jersey, the geographic heart of the Northeast megalopolis and ranked one of the ten safest cities in the United States, [35] has displayed one of the fastest growth rates of its Indian population in the Western Hemisphere, increasing from 256 (0.9%) as of the 2000 Census [36] to an estimated 5,943 (13.6%) as of 2017, [37] representing a 2,221.5% (a multiple of 23) numerical increase over that period, including many affluent professionals and senior citizens as well as charitable benefactors to the Covid-19 relief efforts in India in official coordination with Monroe Township, in addition to Bollywood actors with second homes. By 2022, the Indian population was approaching one-third of Monroe Township’s population, and the nickname Edison-South had developed, in reference to the Little India stature of both townships. [38] A community named Raajipo has emerged within nearby Robbinsville, in Mercer County, New Jersey, home of Swaminarayan Akshardham ( Devnagari: स्वामिनारायण अक्षरधाम), inaugurated in 2014 as the world's largest Hindu temple. [39] Sikhs have established significant concentrations in Queens and Nassau County in New York and in Middlesex, Bergen, and Hudson counties in New Jersey.

In 2014, 12,350 Indians legally immigrated to the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA core based statistical area; [40] in 2013, this number was 10,818; [41] in 2012, 10,550; [42] 11,256 in 2011; [43] and 11,388 in 2010. [44] These numbers do not include the remainder of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. New Jersey is the only U.S. state in which immigrants born in India comprised the largest foreign-born nationality, representing approximately 10% of all foreign-born residents in the state. [45]

New York City boroughs

As the city proper with the largest Asian Indian population in the United States by a wide margin, with an estimated 227,994 individuals as of the 2014 American Community Survey, [46] and as the primary destination for new Indian immigrants, [47] New York City is subdivided into official municipal boroughs, which themselves are home to significant Asian Indian and other South Asian populations. Note that this list includes neither the large Desi populations of Pakistani Americans, Bangladeshi Americans, and Sri Lankan Americans, nor Indo-Caribbean Americans, Afghan Americans, and others of South Asian origin who make their home in New York City. Punjab Avenue (ਪੰਜਾਬ ਐਵੇਨਿਊ), or Little Punjab, has emerged in Richmond Hill, Queens.

Rank Borough Indian Americans Density of Indian Americans per square mile Percentage of Indian Americans in municipality's population
1 Queens (2014) [48] 144,896 1,326.5 6.2
2 Brooklyn (2012) 25,270 357.9 1.0
3 Manhattan (2012) 24,359 1,060.9 1.5
4 The Bronx (2012) 16,748 398.6 1.2
5 Staten Island (2012) 6,646 113.6 1.4
Total (2014) [46] 227,994 753.4 2.7

Medium and small-sized cities, as of 2012 American Community Survey

New Jersey

Aerial view of exurban Monroe Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey housing tracts in 2010. Since then, significant new housing construction is rendering an increasingly affluent and suburban environment to Monroe Township.

New Jersey, and Middlesex County in Central New Jersey), are home to by far the highest per capita Indian American populations of any U.S. state and U.S. county, respectively, at 3.9% [29] and 14.1%, [49] by 2013 U.S. Census estimates. [50]

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New York

List of Little Indias

One of the most popular overseas branches of Saravanaa Bhavan, the world's largest Indian vegetarian restaurant chain, is located in Edison, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

In New Jersey

Bombay, Jersey City

Bombay, [57] in Jersey City, New Jersey, is home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere, [1] containing the rapidly growing Indian ethnic enclave of India Square. The neighborhood is centered on Newark Avenue, between Tonnele Avenue and JFK Boulevard, and is considered to be part of the larger Journal Square District. It has had a large concentration of Indian businesses since the 1970s, with about 15,000 Indians living in Jersey City by 1986. [58] This area has been home to the largest outdoor Navratri festivities in New Jersey as well as several Hindu temples. [59] This portion of Newark Avenue is lined with grocery stores, [60] electronics vendors, video stores, import/export businesses, clothing stores, and restaurants, and is one of the busier pedestrian areas of this part of the city, often stopping traffic for hours. According to the 2000 census, there were nearly 13,000 Indians living in this two-block stretch of Jersey City, up from 3,000 in 1980, increasing commensurately between 2000 and 2010. [61] An annual, color-filled spring Holi festival has taken place in Jersey City since 1992, centered upon India Square and attracting significant participation and international media attention. [62] [63] Although India Square continues to represent the heart of Little India in Jersey City, situated between Tonnele Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Little India itself has been expanding further eastward along Newark Avenue, through Jersey City's Little Manila, to Summit Avenue and the Five Corners neighborhood. After dark, the businesses light flashing signs, and the street crowds continue.

Oak Tree Road (Edison/Iselin)

Oak Tree Road is a rapidly growing South Asian-focused commercial strip in Middlesex County, New Jersey, the U.S. county with highest concentration of Asian Indians (nearly 20% in 2020) and the geographic heart of the Northeast megalopolis. [64] [65] The Oak Tree Road strip runs for about one-and-a-half miles through Edison and neighboring Iselin, New Jersey, near the area's sprawling Chinatown and Koreatown. [66] Little India in Edison and Iselin is the largest and most diverse South Asian cultural hub in the United States. [67] [68] The zone is home to over 400 South Asian establishments and businesses, including dining, apparel and electronics retailing, and entertainment. [69] [70] [71] [72] Over 60 Indian and Pakistani restaurants alone are found in the area. [73] [74] In Middlesex County, election ballots are printed in Gujarati, Hindi, and Punjabi as well. [75] Edison was, per 2010 American Community Survey census data, 28.3% ethnic Asian Indian population, the highest percentage for any municipality in the United States. [76] According to the 2017 American Community Survey, 42.6% of Iselin residents identified themselves as being Indian American, the highest percentage for any census-designated place in the United States. [77]

In New York

Little India on 74th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens

Culture

New York City's annual India Day Parade, the world's largest Indian Independence Day parade outside India, [84] marches down Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The parade addresses controversial themes, including racism, sexism, corruption, and Bollywood.
The Hindu Temple Society of North America, representing Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam is the oldest Hindu temple in the Western Hemisphere, in Flushing, Queens, above. Further east on Long Island, in Melville, one of the world's largest BAPS temples opened in October 2016; [85]
Swaminarayan Akshardham ( Devnagari: स्वामिनारायण अक्षरधाम) in Robbinsville, Mercer County, New Jersey, inaugurated in 2014 as the world's largest Hindu temple, [39] above.
Sikh Center in Flushing, Queens

Commerce

Patel Brothers is the world’s large supermarket chain serving the Indian diaspora, with 57 locations in 19 U.S. states—primarily located in the New Jersey/New York Metropolitan Area, due to its large Indian population, and with the East Windsor/Monroe Township, New Jersey location representing the world’s largest and busiest Indian grocery store outside India.

Indian Independence Day Parade

The annual New York City India Day Parade, held on or approximately every August 15 since 1981, is the world's largest Indian Independence Day parade outside of India [84] and is hosted by The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA). According to the website of Baruch College of the City University of New York, "The FIA, which came into being in 1970 is an umbrella organization meant to represent the diverse Indian population of NYC. Its mission is to promote and further the interests of its 500,000 members and to collaborate with other Indian cultural organization. The FIA acts as a mouth piece for the diverse Indian-Asian population in United States, and is focused on furthering the interests of this diverse community. The parade begins on East 38th Street and continues down Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan until it reaches 28th Street. At the review stand on 28th Street, the grand marshal and various celebrities greet onlookers. Throughout the parade, participants find themselves surrounded by the saffron, white and green colors of the Indian flag. They can enjoy Indian food, merchandise booths, live dancing and music present at the Parade. After the parade is over, various cultural organizations and dance schools participate in program on 23rd Street and Madison Avenue until 6PM." [86] The New York/New Jersey metropolitan region's second-largest India Independence Day parade takes place in Little India, Edison/Iselin in Middlesex County, New Jersey, annually in August. Governor of New York Kathy Hochul officially declared August 15, 2022 to be India Independence Day in New York; the governor lauded the accomplishments of Indian Americans in a speech that began with "Namaste" and concluded with "Jai Hind". [87]

Sikh Day Visakhi Parade

The world's largest Sikh Day Parade outside India celebrating Vaisakhi and the season of renewal is held in Manhattan annually in April. The parade is widely regarded as being one of the most colourful parades. [88]

Arts, entertainment, and media

In September 2014, approximately 19,000 Indian Americans attended a speech delivered onstage by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan. [89] [90] This appearance was televised live worldwide and was estimated to have been watched by a billion-strong global audience of Indians in India and overseas. The annual Miss India USA pageant is headquartered in New York City and is often held in Middlesex County, New Jersey or on Long Island. [91] In February 2022, an electronic billboard in Times Square sponsored by the Binder Indian Cultural Center featured a tribute to the late singer Lata Mangeshkar, known as "The Nightingale of India". [92]

News publications in English

Languages

Indians in New York and New Jersey, as in the United States as a whole, are highly fluent in English. However, Hindi (हिन्दी), Gujarati (ગુજરાતી), Marathi (मराठी), [93] Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ), Bengali (বাাংলা), Tamil (தமிழ்), Telugu (తెలుగు), Malayalam (മലയാളം), Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ), and Maithili (मैथिली) languages are spoken at home and with local media incorporating these languages available for viewership. [94] In Middlesex County, New Jersey, election ballots are printed in English, Spanish, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, and Punjabi. [75]

Cuisine

Indian cuisine is very popular in the New York City metropolitan region, bolstered by the growth of the Asian Indian populace and accompanied by growth in the number of Indian restaurants, located both within and outside of traditional Indian enclaves; such that within New York City proper alone, there are hundreds of Indian restaurants. [95] According to David Shaftel of The New York Times in December 2014, the food at New York City's many Indian chain restaurants is worthy of their flagships in India; the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood south of Murray Hill, namely Rose Hill, has been nicknamed Curry Hill, and provides an abundance of multinational India-based chains specializing in South Indian cuisine. [95] In 2020, CNN Travel claimed that the best Indian food in the United States could be found in Jersey City's India Square. [96]

In 1968, a family of Bengali brothers inaugurated the restaurant Shah Bag at 320 East 6th Street in the East Village of Lower Manhattan, followed by others, with the intention of "making an Indian street". [83] In time, this stretch of East 6th Street between First and Second Avenues evolved the nickname Curry Row, with a dense collection of North Indian restaurants.

By 2000, Indian food food had become ubiquitous in the New York metropolitan area, both inside and outside of Little Indias, with dhabas popping up around the metro area. These dhabas would serve a quickly growing niche of Indian quick-service food, with a particular appeal to Indians working in professions such as a trucking, taxi-driving, importing, and garment dealers. Indian was also getting more attention from the mainstream American press, with some of these dhabas getting reviews from outlets such as The New York Times. [97]

Religion

Das Lakshana (Paryushana) celebrations at the Jain Center of America in Elmhurst, Queens, the oldest Jain temple in the Western hemisphere [98]

Parallelling India's religious constituency, most Indians in the New York City metropolitan region practice Hinduism, followed by Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and irreligion. The Hindu Temple Society of North America in Flushing, Queens, is the oldest Hindu temple in the Western Hemisphere, and its canteen feeds 4,000 people a week, with as many as 10,000 during the Diwali (Deepavali) holiday. [99] Further east on Long Island, in Melville, one of the world's largest BAPS temples opened in October 2016. [85] Central New Jersey has large temples of Venkateswara and Guruvayurappan in Bridgewater and Morganville, respectively, and Sai Baba mandirs abound throughout the metropolitan area. BAPS also built the world's largest Hindu temple in Robbinsville, Mercer County, in Central New Jersey. [100] The Robbinsville temple was notably raided by the FBI in 2021 for engaging in forced labor to build the temple. [101] Numerous mosques, churches (geared significantly toward a Keralite membership), Sikh gurudwaras, and Jain temples are also situated in the New York City metropolitan area. The Jain Center of America in Elmhurst, Queens is the oldest Jain temple in the Western hemisphere [98] Many retailers now market Diwali fireworks in the New York City metropolitan region and especially in New Jersey. In September 2021, the State of New Jersey aligned with the World Hindu Council to declare October as Hindu Heritage Month.

Education

Indians have been attaining school board membership positions on various boards of education in New Jersey and on Long Island.

Deepavali/Diwali, Eid/Ramadan as school holidays

Momentum has been growing to recognize the Hindu holy day Deepavali (Diwali) as a holiday on school district calendars in the New York City metropolitan region. [102] [103] New York City announced in October 2022 that Diwali would be an official school holiday commencing in 2023. [104]

Passaic, New Jersey established Diwali as a school holiday in 2005. [102] [103] South Brunswick, New Jersey in 2010 became the first of the many school districts with large Indian student populations in Middlesex County in New Jersey to add Diwali to the school calendar. [103] Glen Rock, New Jersey in February 2015 became the first municipality in Bergen County, with its own burgeoning Indian population post-2010, [53] [105] to recognize Diwali as an annual school holiday, [106] [107] while thousands in Bergen County celebrated the first U.S. county-wide Diwali Mela festival under a unified sponsorship banner in 2016, [108] while Fair Lawn in Bergen County celebrates Holi. [109] Diwali/Deepavali is also recognized by Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Efforts have been undertaken in Millburn, [102] Monroe Township, West Windsor-Plainsboro, Bernards Township, and North Brunswick, New Jersey, [103] Long Island, as well as in New York City, [110] [111] among other school districts in the metropolitan region, to make Diwali a holiday on the school calendar. According to the Star-Ledger, Edison, New Jersey councilman Sudhanshu Prasad has noted parents' engagement in making Deepavali a holiday there; while in Jersey City, the four schools with major Asian Indian populations mark the holiday by inviting parents to the school buildings for festivities. [103] Mahatma Gandhi Elementary School is located in Passaic, New Jersey. [112] Efforts are also progressing toward making Diwali and Eid official holidays at all 24 school districts in Middlesex County. [113] At least 12 school districts on Long Island closed for Diwali in 2022, [114] and over 20 in New Jersey. [115]

In March 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio officially declared the Muslim holy days Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays on the school calendar. [110] School districts in Paterson and South Brunswick, New Jersey observe Ramadan. [103]

Cricket

Cricket is one of the fastest-growing sports in the New York City metropolitan region. In 2016, a public park was expanded in Monroe Township, Middlesex County in central New Jersey to accommodate a designated cricket pitch, among other recreational facilities. [116] There are similar facilities available in Mercer County Park in West Windsor. [117]

Economic developments

Indian pharmaceutical companies are coming to New Jersey to gain a foothold in the United States. [118] Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, based in Hyderabad, set up its U.S. headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. [119] Kitex Garments, based in Kerala and India's largest children's clothing manufacturer, opened its first U.S. office in Montvale, New Jersey in October 2015. [120] Pharmaceutical company Aurobindo, also headquartered in Hyderabad, has established its U.S. headquarters in the Dayton section of South Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey, and has implemented a multimillion-dollar expansion of these Central New Jersey operations. [121]

Airline connections with India and the Indian diaspora

A majority of Indian Americans in the New York region are recent immigrants or children of such from India. In that context, travel between the United States and India has developed strong cultural connections, and, in more recent years, business traffic for expatriates. Air India operates nonstop flights from New York JFK to Delhi and Newark Liberty International Airport to Mumbai. United Airlines also operates a nonstop flight from Newark to Mumbai. [122] Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines flies to Changi International Airport in Singapore, where Tamil is one of the official state languages, both from Newark (with one of the longest non-stop flights in the world [123] [124]) and from New York JFK. In May 2019, Delta Air Lines announced non-stop flight service between JFK and Mumbai, to begin on December 22, 2019. [125] American Airlines started operating nonstop service from JFK to Delhi in November 2021. [126]

American Airlines' non-stop flight service codeshared with IndiGo between New York JFK and Delhi began in October 2021. In October 2021, Vistara secured aircraft landing slots at Newark. [127]

Notable people

Arts and culture

Business

Education

Indian New Yorkers and New Jerseyans - Education

Entrepreneurship and technology

Indian New Yorkers and New Jerseyans - Entrepreneurship and technology

Health

Indian New Yorkers and New Jerseyans - Health

Law, politics, and diplomacy

Media

See also

References

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