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California Senate celebrates Republic Day

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Photo courtesy of Sen. Mendoza's office

Photo courtesy of Sen. Mendoza’s office

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Joined by the Republic of India Consul General and several Asian Indian American dignitaries from throughout the state, California state Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) stood before the floor of the legislature to present a Senate Concurrent Resolution, declaring Jan. 26 as “Indian Republic Day” in the state of California.

It becomes just the second time in California’s 166 year history that such a resolution has been adopted.

“Today, the California Legislature joins the people of India and Asian Indians throughout the world to celebrate Republic Day and pay tribute to India’s constitution, its thriving democracy and vitality,” Sen. Mendoza said. “It is important to recognize the significance of this day as well as the contributions of the Asian Indian American community to the diverse fabric of California.”

The resolution pays homage to the history of Republic Day—a day in which Indian Nationalists unfurled a new flag in December of 1929, opining that every January 26 in Indian would be forever celebrated as Republic Day. Eighteen years later, in 1947, India achieved its independence, and declared their allegiance to a new constitution, which went into effect in January, 1950.

Sen. Mendoza meets with delegates on the House floor to celebrate Republic Day 2016

Sen. Mendoza meets with delegates on the House floor to celebrate Republic Day 2016

In the present day, Republic Day remains to serve as the most popular of Indian national holidays—to remind the world that the foundation of any nation is in its people, and their spirit and courage to sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom and liberty. While India serves as the world’s largest democracy with an estimated 1.2 billion people, and the globe’s third-largest economy, the connection to the Golden State is direct—in 2013, the United States exported more than $21.8 billion in goods to India, of which California was the largest single state contributing more than $5.26 billion to this total.

Mendoza’s intention is education, not a far cry from where he made his career, serving for over a decade as an elementary school teacher in the state’s notorious East Los Angeles neighborhoods. His desire is that the resolution will serve to educate others about these events, and reflect on the endless achievements of the Indian community in the state. More than a half-million Indian Americans reside in California, and have been major proponents in the growth of the state’s food, medicine, business and technology sectors.

“I thank the Indian Consul General and the Asian Indian American community of California for sharing the joy of this wonderful day with us, for reminding us of its significance, and for their dedication to core community values of family, service, knowledge and peace,” Mendoza said.

“We thank the California State Senate and Senator Tony Mendoza for joining in celebrating the 67th Republic Day of India. We are confident that the already strong ties in technology, trade, culture and education, as well as people-to-people contacts, will be further enriched and enhanced in the future,” said Republic of India Consul General, Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok.

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Stock surge continues as Dow hits 20,000 for the first time

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Dow hits 20000

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — After weeks of close calls, the Dow Jones made history on Wednesday blowing past a key level for the first time in its history. The Dow climbed 156 points to 20,069, and was joined in the record territory by the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

Dow hits 20000

Dow hits 20000

 

The stock market milestone leaves the Dow up more than 1,700 points since the election of President Donald Trump last November, and speaks towards the enthusiasm investors have about the prospects for the U.S. economy.

Wall Street is clearly betting that Trump’s plans to slash taxes, ramp up infrastructure spending and cut regulation will make the American economy grow faster. If that happens, without any disruptions to global trade, it could propel corporate profits, the lifeblood of stock prices. However, the jump in stocks is also a reflection of the solid economy Trump inherited from former President Obama. The U.S. has added jobs for a record 75 straight months and the country’s unemployment rate is sitting near a 10-year low.

The milestone shows how much has changed in the U.S. economy over the past eight years. The index crashed to a low of 6,440 in March 2009 as Wall Street was gripping from the feared complete collapse of the American financial system.

While the economic rebound from the Great Recession has been slower than many hoped, the unemployment rate is now at the lowest level since 2007 and corporate profits have climbed to record highs.

Few expected the Dow to rise so much, especially after a Trump victory. In fact, many feared a market crash if Trump upset Hillary Clinton.

Instead, Wall Street embarked on a post-election rally that carried the Dow above both the 19,000 and 20,000 levels. The Trump rally cooled off in recent months and Wall Street hit a bit of a psychological roadblock leading up to the 20,000 level. On January 6, the Dow got incredibly close, rising to 19,999.63 before backing off. Traders on Wall Street had fun with it, with some creating hats that said: “Dow Almost 20,000.”

One reason for the pause: investors want more details on the timing and effectiveness of the stimulus plans rolled out by the new administration.

Bank stocks have been among the biggest winners since the election on Wall Street. JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have soared more than 20 percent, while Goldman Sachs is up nearly 30%, as investors bet on higher interest rates and less regulation under Trump.

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Berklee Indian Ensemble presents “Arz-E-Niyaz” to honor Mughal Era poetry

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BOSTON (Diya TV) — The Berklee Indian Ensemble, paying homage to Ghalib Sahab, who would have turned 219 years old Tuesday, presented its project, a poem titled “Arz-E-Niyaz” in collaboration with award winning vocal virtuoso, Vijay Prakash. The production also included Kathak dance elements from Meera Seshadri.

Arz-E-Niyaz was composed by Sashank Navaladi, a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where the Ensemble are located. The production is set to couplets by Mirza Ghalib, the last great poet of the Mughal Era, and one of the most influential Urdu poets of all time.

Prakash, the collaborator on this project, hails from Karnataka and is one of the world’s most sought-after Indian playback singers. He has multiple hits that have been recorded in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. The poem is written by the preeminent Urdu and Persian Sufi poet of the 19th century, Mirza Ghalib. Written in the form of eight couplets, ‘arz-e-niyāz-e-ishq’ literally translates to the ‘supplication for the blessings of love.’

The Ensemble have a history of rich and celebrated collaborations with other artists, including A. R. Rahman, Armeen Musa and Shankar Mahadevan.

Launched in 2013, the Berklee India Exchange is an on-campus initiative establishing a platform for cultural conversation about Indian music through artist residencies, musical collaborations and performances, according to the school’s website. Have a look at the new video below:

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Indian-American vote hardly a sure thing for Ro Khanna

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Ro Khanna

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Fremont attorney and congressional candidate Ro Khanna is relying heavily on strong support from his fellow Indo-Americans to catapult him to victory, but the community is notoriously splintered. 

Ro Khanna

Ro Khanna receiving support from the Indian-American community isn’t a sure thing.

Indian-Americans have a saying about themselves that should make Ro Khanna a little nervous as he tries for a second time to unseat San Jose Congressman Mike Honda:

“Two Indians, three opinions.”

The U.S.-born son of Indian immigrants, Khanna is counting on the Indian-American community to come out in force on Nov. 8 to help catapult him into Congress to represent a swath of Silicon Valley stretching from Fremont to Cupertino. But when it comes to politics, Indian-Americans have been far more successful at bankrolling candidates of Indian heritage than galvanizing behind them.

As Khanna learned from his loss two years ago, it’s hard to weave together a cohesive voting bloc out of a constituency whose members trace their roots back to a country with 22 official languages and nine major religions. That task is even more difficult as a challenger running against Honda, a Japanese-American who attended high school in San Jose, has been elected to four different offices, and has had decades to build relationships with Indian-Americans of all stripes.

“It would be presumptuous for anyone to think they can get such a diverse community to rally completely around them,” said Khanna.

Many members of Silicon Valley’s Indian-American community have had enormous success launching startups and now run gold standard companies like Google and Adobe, but Indian-Americans are largely absent from the corridors of political power — even in the 17th congressional district, where they account for 1 in 10 voters.

The numbers are even more sparse in Khanna’s hometown of Fremont. Indian- and Chinese-American residents each make up about 20 percent of the city’s 224,000 residents.

“In Silicon Valley, there is a sense among Chinese-Americans that Indo-Americans are doing better when it comes to business leadership and rising up quickly to positions of corporate power,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a UC Riverside political science professor who directs the National Asian American Survey. When it comes to politics, though, Indians marvel at the success of their Chinese-American neighbors.

“It’s sad that we haven’t achieved the same success in politics as we have in other endeavors,” said Raj Salwan, a veterinarian Democratic Party donor who is trying for the second time to win election to the Fremont City Council.

“It’s democracy at its best and messiest,” said former Fremont Councilwoman Anu Natarajan, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor four years ago. Or as Salwan, who campaigned for Natarajan’s white opponent in that mayor’s race, put it: “We don’t fall into line, so to speak.”

Khanna, who said his favorite book is “The Argumentative Indian” by Nobel Prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen, has been working for nearly a decade to paper over divisions and offer himself as a unifying force in his community.

He cites his grandfather’s personal struggle in the battle for India’s independence, while presenting himself as a second-generation secular Hindu who has moved beyond the divisions of the old country.

Khanna also has reached out to Sikhs, a minority religious group in India that still nurses wounds of violence against them — most notably in 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were killed in the majority Hindu nation after two Sikh bodyguards assigned to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, assassinated her in retaliation for ordering Operation Blue Star.

Appearing with Honda at the Fremont Sikh temple two years ago, Khanna called the mass killings “a genocide,” a position not held by the U.S. State Department. When pressed by his hosts, Honda wouldn’t use the term “genocide.”

“That is what made me support Ro,” said Amrit Sra, a Silicon Valley executive who attended the event.

Indian-American leaders say they sense stronger support for Khanna this time around, and last June’s primary election results seem to support their case. After losing to Honda by 20 percentage points in the 2014 primary, Khanna won this year’s contest by two percentage points, running strongest in heavily Indian-American precincts in South Fremont and Cupertino.

“I think the community will converge around Ro,” said Saratoga Councilman Rishi Kumar. “And he might become the big uniter who can work across political and religious lines and help us collaborate for the common good.”

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