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Air India undergoes makeover, looks to reinvent itself in the Americas

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Air India’s first flight from New Delhi arrived at SFO before dawn. (Image: Peter Biaggi)

Air India’s first flight from New Delhi arrived at SFO before dawn. (Image: Peter Biaggi)

 

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Once recognized for its lavish amenities, meticulously kept aircrafts, and five-star service, Air India suffered a fall from grace. Now, the once proclaimed “great king of the international skies,” is poising for a second run at the throne.

Air India, the Republic’s national carrier, which has recently been maligned for lackluster amenities, service, and a lack of routes, has undertaken a reinvigoration, and has its sights set on the United States. The airline has ordered new planes, and cleared the path for more and newer routes, a program which has been forged by Prime Minister Modi.

Speaking at an event in Sept. 2015, the Prime Minister made clear the San Francisco was the airline’s primary target for its new hub in the Americas—solidifying his wish to bring Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley, and beyond, closer to India itself. At the same time, he’s presented a serious challenge to the Air India team to bring this initiative back to life—one on a time-sensitive schedule, which they delivered on.

Pankaj Srivasta, Air India’s Commercial Director, spoke to Diya TV on just how quickly the Prime Minister wanted the turnaround to be on this project when he approached the airline. “Two months ago when the Prime Minister visited San Francisco, he made an announcement that Air India would soon be flying, and he left us with less than two months time to put everything together,” he said.

Consul General Venkatesan Ashok, who played a key role in facilitating the new marriage with his San Francisco base, described his surprised reaction to Diya TV.

“It is a remarkable fact that we have managed to do this in such a short time,” Ashok said. “It’s probably a record of some sort.” He further opined that the relationships between the United States and India—in business, education and politically—are strengthening daily, and this marriage represents how strong the bond is between the two countries.

The flight, even in direct form, between the two countries, remains one of the longest in commercial aviation. Even while flying non-stop, the total trip time is 17 hours.

Perhaps the availability of direct flights has already had an immediate positive impact on the airline—in January of this year, India Airlines reported they would be inducting 30 new Airbus A320 aircrafts, taking its total fleet size to 150 over the next three financial years.

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Indian national dies in ICE custody in Arizona

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Indian Man dies ICE

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) — An Indian national died in Arizona near the California border while being held in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the second person in a month to die at that location.

ICE officials said 21 year old Simratpal Singh was found unresponsive and not breathing while he awaited transfer to an ICE facility. ICE said earlier that day, Singh posted bond on charges of assault and sexual assault.

The Wadhwani Institute, led by Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani, won a $2M Google grant for an AI project which aims to help farmers control crop pests.

In Washington DC, Gita Gopinath, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla.

And Facebook co-founder and Mark Zuckerberg’s former roommate Chris Hughes, in an op-ed, called for the breakup of the social network.

Zoom Founder & CEO Eric Yuan, among other prominent tech scions, flocked to TiECON over the weekend. We have full coverage including our exclusive one on ones with some of the prominent leaders in Silicon Valley.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Blasts near major Sufi shrine in Lahore kills 10, wounds many

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Sufi Shrine bomb

LAHORE, Pakistan (Diya TV) — Pakistani police say a bomb targeting their forces guarding a Sufi shrine in Lahore killed at least ten people, with many more wounded. Among the dead are civilians, police officers and a security guard. Hundreds of people were nearby to mark Ramadan at the time of the explosion. The Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack.

After the New York Times released details how President Trump lost roughly $1 billion in the 1980s and 1990s, more than nearly any other American, Trump took to Twitter to defend his approach, saying his use of tax shelters was a “sport.”

As the world celebrates his 150th birth anniversary, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney expects Mahatma Gandhi to be honored this year posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian award.

And global digital payment network Mastercard says they will invest $1 billion in India over the next 5 years, roughly one-third of which will be spent to set up a local payment processing center.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Colorado Muslim restaurateurs win $675K in discrimination suit

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Colorado Muslim restaurateurs

DENVER (Diya TV) — A Colorado court ruled in favor of father and son restaurateurs Zuned & Rashad Khan to the tune of $675,000 after a landlord refused to sublease a restaurant space to them because they are Muslim.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Indian Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu met in New Delhi to talk trade and commerce. Bilateral ties between the nations grew more than 12% from 2017 to 2018.

In Sacramento, ten names of officers killed in the line of duty were added to the California Peace Officers’ memorial, including Corporal Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department.

And investing icon Warren Buffett said Gregory Able and Ajit Jain, who are both on the Berkshire Hathaway board of directors, would join him and business partner Charlie Munger on the stage to answer shareholder questions in the near future.

Jain is credited with being a driving force behind Berkshire Hathaway’s success in insurance.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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