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Indian Americans headline DNC Convention Nominations

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Four of the Indian-American’s best and brightest—including two women—have received nomination’s to the Democratic Party’s 2016 Convention Standing Committees, the group charged with formally announcing its candidate for President of the United States.

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Smita Shah

The four-day convention to determine the party’s nomination for president for the upcoming Nov. 8 election will be held in Philadelphia on July 25. Three candidates—Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley—will wage battle for the nomination while primaries take place in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina next month.

The highest honor has been reserved for Smita Shah, who serves as president and CEO of the Chicago-based Spaan Tech. Shah has been nominated to the position of vice chair of the Rules

Shefali Razdan Duggal

Shefali Razdan Duggal

Committee. A former White House aide, she was the youngest delegate to ever come from Illinois in 1996, and has previously served on the DNC’s Rules Committee for the 2000 and 2004 elections. During the last general election of 2012, Shah became the first Indian American to serve as Democratic National Convention parliamentarian.

Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu

Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu

One of the highest fundraisers for president Barack Obama, and now presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Shefali Razdan Duggal has also been nominated to the Rules Committee, to serve as a member. She previously served on the Credentials Committee for the 2012 convention, and currently serves the National Finance Committee for the Clinton campaign. Duggal has received the “HillBlazer” designation, a title reserved for those whom have raised at least $100,000 for Clinton’s presidential bid. Duggal is also the first and only Asian American on the National Board of Directors for Emily’s List, a PAC which helps elect pro-choice female Democratic candidates to office.

Renowned ophthalmologist and entrepreneur, Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu, founder of VitalSprings Technologies, has been nominated to fill Duggal’s vacated seat on the Credentials Committee.

Saif Khan

Saif Khan

Saif Khan, who has received a nomination to the Rules Committee, could have the most interesting background and story of the bunch—a graduate of The George Washington School of law, and current Washington D.C. resident, Khan served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Combat Engineer beginning in 2004. He is currently studying for the bar exam, and said his combat desires now lie in ending the notorious backlogs in veterans’ benefits, with more caseworkers to manage appeals.

Khan commented that Clinton has “built the most diverse campaign in history. I look forward to helping her become the 45thpresident.” He is the founder of Khanections, which helps veterans returning from war to seek out prospective employment opportunities.

DNC policy allows the Chair to appoint 75 Party Leader and Elected Official Members to the three Convention Standing Committees for the Philadelphia event.

 

Business

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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