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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 Ambassador, Shringla speaks to U.S. Congress about Kashmir

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AMB. Shringla speaks to congress about Kashmir | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Shringla met with members of Congress at a private roundtable briefing, hosted by Southern California Congressman Brad Sherman. Sherman, who has been a supporter of India, took to Twitter recently to share his concerns about Kashmir and said serious questions about Kashmir were asked at the briefing.

President Trump is being urged to fix the H1-B visa process and do away with country-specific limits, with the latest effort for reform being spearheaded by 60 U.S. business school deans and CEO’s.

In an earthquake, seconds matter. So on the anniversary of the deadly 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked Northern California, state officials announced the launch of America’s first statewide earthquake early warning system.

Tabla Maestro Zakir Hussain will be coming to Boston next month to perform at the Berklee India Exchange, where he will also be conferred with an honorary doctorate by the esteemed music school. A Zakir Hussain Scholarship at Berklee is also being established.

And we have incredible video of three kids from India rescuing their dog from a snake that’s equal parts courageous and nuts.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Federal Court rules Trump must turn over tax returns | Diya TV News

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Trump Tax Returns

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — A federal judge ruled President Trump must turn over eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, striking down the President’s argument that a sitting president cannot be criminally investigated. The ruling was quickly appealed and this case could end up in the Supreme Court to answer the constitutional question of whether presidents can be charged with a crime.

Meanwhile, the President celebrated a victory by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, as a federal appellate court upheld most of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. It also ruled the FCC cannot preempt state net neutrality laws, meaning the rules of the road in states like California remain in place.

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee announced their Asia-Pacific and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee will be holding a hearing asking State Department officials and human rights activists to chime in on Human Rights in Kashmir, the Tamils of Sri Lanka, Muslims in Assam and the human rights situation in Pakistan, which includes the Sindh Province.

Lockheed Martin announced they will build F-16 wings exclusively in India, helping in integrating Indian industry into the $165 billion fighter aircraft market.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Tech CEO Pradyumna Samal convicted of large scale H1B fraud

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Pradyumna Samal

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — Tech CEO Pradyumna Samal was convicted of large scale H1B fraud. The CEO of two companies that supplied workers to companies like Microsoft and Amazon plead guilty to using fake documents to get H1-B visas. The Indian national Samal was sentenced to seven years in prison for what federal authorities say “was the largest and most sophisticated H-1B visa fraud scheme we have prosecuted in Western Washington.” 

Inder Singh, a Los Angeles-based Indian American community leader, has died. He was 86 years old. Singh was involved in the inception of a number of Indian American non-profit organizations in the effort to build a stronger relationship between the U.S. and India. Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Shringla said on Twitter that Singh’s contributions have been “significant and his leadership will be greatly missed.”

Indiaspora launched ChaloGive.org, their first online giving campaign that runs October 2nd to the 8th. The goal is to increase levels of giving by the Indian diaspora, inspired in part by the success of Giving Tuesday in the U.S. and Daan Utsav in India.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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