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U.S. Sikhs tap Clinton Strategist in Rebranding Effort

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(Diya TV) — Sandy Dhaliwal grew up in the rural Midwest, and as a Sikh living in Wisconsin, she remembers first-hand accounts of how her closest friends would play with her long hair, dress up and borrow her elaborate garments from annual trips to India, and the vivid images of airline passengers yanking off her fathers turban while calling him a terrorist.

It was quite the contrast.

“People embraced me,” Dhaliwal, 24, said, “Then, on the other side, my brother and dad — all the men in my family — wore a turban. They weren’t really treated as being unique the same way I was.”

According to a 2012 report from the Pew Research Center, there were 200,000 Sikhs, or six percent of the American population, living in the country. That report was conducted shortly after an attack during the same year on a Wisconsin Sikh temple, which killed six, and injured four.

Leaders of the U.S. Sikh community say these types of events, involving verbal and physical attacks, are all too common in their daily lives, and are entirely fueled by the misconceptions Americans’ minds are filled with about those who follow the faith. In an effort to combat misinterpretations, Dhaliwal and other Sikhs launched the National Sikh Campaign in March. Last month, the campaign tapped the services of ex-Hillary Clinton political strategist Geoffrey Garin.

Garin served on Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and Priorities USA, the Super PAC which backed President Obama’s 2012 successful reelection bid. With Garin now at the helm, the group plans to employ a grassroots strategical social media campaign, with the ultimate goal of highlighting Sikhs’ contributions to society and counter negative perceptions.

“The purpose of the campaign is to give other Americans a better understanding of who Sikh Americans are and what makes them valued members of the American community,” Garin said. “Most importantly, what are the insights about Sikh Americans that are most important to communicate?”

Gurwin Ahuja, executive director for the National Sikh Campaign, spoke at its launch party on March 1. (Photo courtesy of the National Sikh Campaign)

Gurwin Ahuja, executive director for the National Sikh Campaign, spoke at its launch party on March 1. (Photo courtesy of the National Sikh Campaign)

Garin has already undertaken research of his own on the subject, which he says is a “work in progress,” delves into what Americans actually understand about the Sikh community, and how they react to seeing a man on the street with a beard and wearing a turban. Garin currently serves as president of Hart Research in Washington D.C., and said his team will compile a series of facts, stories, and images about Sikhs to relay a comprehensive message to the American public.

Of the most important, Garin seeks to identify common interests between American and Sikh communities; values such as community, service, and diversity are all messages which can be sent to the populous in an effort to dissolve the faith’s “image and message problem,” said National Sikh Campaign executive director Gurwin Ahuja. For now, organizers like Dhaliwal are relying on word of mouth to get the message out.

“What Sikhs actually believe and what people attack are two different things,” Ahuja said.

The issue became mainstream news during last year’s holiday season—in December, a Gap fashion ad in a New York City subway station featuring an Indian American was vandalized with hate speech. Similar movements of religious right have occurred in the recent past—in 2011, the “I’m a Mormon” campaign was launched in New York, and has caught wind throughout the world. Through a series of online images and videos, Mormons showcased believers from diverse backgrounds to contradict societal stereotypes.

Sikhism, a monotheistic religion, was founded in the late 15th century by Hindu-born Guru Nanak in Punjab, a region now split between India and Pakistan. Most prominent in India, Sikhism is often identified globally as the fifth largest religion, behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

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Trump Speaks to Modi, Aims to Reduce Kashmir Tensions

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Modi Kashmir Tensions Trump

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Trump spoke to Indian Prime Minister Modi by phone to get India’s perspective on Kashmir. Modi told Trump the anti-India rhetoric from Pakistani leaders was not conducive to peace. Later, President Trump in a tweet called Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan “good friends,” of his and that he’s working “towards reducing tensions in Kashmir.”

Kabul, Afghanistan was the site of a horrific suicide bombing that took place at a wedding, killing 63 people. The bride and groom survived. Afghan officials blame the attack on the United States and their prolonged presence in the region.

A 35-year-old man from India on a hunger strike at a Texas ICE facility was force fed, according to his attorney, becoming the latest detainee seeking asylum in the U.S. fed in such a manner. The man stopped eating tko protest his confinement. ICE says they will do what it takes to “preserving the lives of those in its custody.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Upcoming filmmaker Divyansh Sharma aims to reinvent cinema

From Street Play performer in remote rural India to turning heads in Los Angeles Divyansh Sharma has come a long way in a short time and hes only getting started.

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LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — “Reinventing the cinematic standard” one story at a time might sound like a ambitious undertaking for some but for Divyansh Sharma it’s only the beginning.

Sharma’s roots stem from New Delhi where he discovered his fascination for storytelling. At 16, he began performing street plays in remote rural India, educating people on social issues such as equal rights, education for all, and child marriage. He finished High School and went on to take a scholarship offered by the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where upon he graduated from their BFA Program which focused on acting and directing.

Studded from the AMDA degree in Acting for Film, Theatre and Telvision, Divyansh Sharma went on to shoot award-winning commercials from Apple and Google each amassing thousands to millions of views globally. Still feeling the urge to create more he decided he wanted to “re-invent the cinematic standard one film at a time” and began writing his own short film that would use techniques unseen in short-film storytelling such as Breaking fourth wall, plot jumps, interconnecting plot-lines.

The result was “Graffiti” which made a world premiere at the Chinese Theaters in March 2019 for the Golden State Film Festival. The story revolves around Michael Dawson, played by Divyansh Sharma, a grieving spoken word artist trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. The 30-minute short which Sharma wrote, directed, acted, and edited went on to amass more than 30 awards across the world at film festivals like New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Delhi International Film Festival and more.

Without skipping a beat, Sharma wrote, co-directed, starred and edited his next project “Cigarettes in December”. In this upcoming film Divyansh Sharma portrays Russ, a sexual assault survivor who attends court ordered support group therapy and enters a graduation isolation from the world. Sharma is currently in the final stages of Post Production and will be the first project to be completely done in-house by his own Production Company “Origins Productions”. Sharma is looking forward to a successful run in the festival circuit for Cigarettes in December as he begins to shift his gaze on Pre-Production for next his project he co-wrote called “a Dream in Frames” whose script has already gone to win a Screenwriting award at Los Angeles Film Festival.

From performing Street Plays in rural India to turning heads with his debut in Los Angeles Divyansh Sharma is on a path that continues to deliver. From starring in Award- winning commercials to creating his own Award- winning features his footprint is firm and felt and his message is clear: “Re-invent the cinematic standard one film at a time”.

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Tulsi, Kamala tussle on night 2 of Detroit Democratic debate

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Tulsi Kamala Dem Debate

DETROIT (Diya TV) — In another otherwise straightforward affair, night two of the Democratic debate in Detroit, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Kamala Harris took jabs at one another, as they both aim to capture attention and move up in the polls.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to tout the U.S.-India relationship, saying on a tour to the Indo-Pacific region that America is “working hard with the Indian government to provide them with opportunities to grow their economy.”

A 60-year-old Sikh priest was attacked at his home near a Sikh gurdwara in Hughson, California. Amarjit Singh says the suspect broke several windows, punched him in the back of his neck, and then yelled ‘go back to your country,’ before fleeing.

Indian rapper Badshah broke the record for most views of a YouTube video within 24 hours of its premiere. His new video “Paagal” received a staggering 75 million views, topping a mark set by Korean boy band BTS.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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