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Prime Minister Modi hopes U.S. marriage will foster intelligence in home cities

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(DIYA TV) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been labeled a “proactive” and “progressive” leader since assuming office in India — now, he hopes to modernize some of the country’s most chaotic cities by implementing a firmer marriage of help from the United States.

Modi’s plan? To build 100 “smart cities” nationwide, with the goals of using technology from the U.S. and around the world to improve the quality of life and environmental sustainability in India’s dramatically underdeveloped urban areas.

After visiting India a year ago, President Obama pledged his support of Modi’s plan, and this week a group of U.S. officials and businessmen traveled through the country promoting American products and expertise to further the growth of the Prime Minister’s multi-billion dollar proposal. Currently, all eyes are fixated on creating a master plan for the port of Visakhapatnam, and providing technical support for two others.

Critics of Modi’s smart cities program have opined there remains a lack of clarity in what exactly the government believes makes a city “smart,” and whether India will be able to step away from its traditional bureaucratic and infrastructure challenges that have long stirred away foreign investors. Bruce Andrews, deputy commerce secretary, spoke on the issue while addressing a news conference at the country’s financial hub in Mumbai.

“Greater U.S. private sector investment will depend on addressing the persistent business challenges,” Andrews said. “U.S. companies and investors around the world need markets with clear [public-private partnership] structures, predictable environmental regulations and strong intellectual property protections. Progress has been made … but more can be done.”

India began liberalizing its economy nearly a generation ago, but the aforementioned has remained a similar narrative heard by American and other foreign investors during the same time. Foreign investments have remained low, particularly in major infrastructure projects — something which is central to Modi’s program. In certain sectors, India requires foreign investors to partner with domestic companies and use local goods.

As a direct result of these policies, India has seen several potential business relationships and money leave the country — several hundred major infrastructure projects have been delayed or abandoned completely. Aside from some crown jewel airport projects, and an improved transnational highway system, India remains flooded with an influx of people occupying an underdeveloped infrastructure.

Just how many people exactly?

A McKinsey Global Institute report projected that India’s urban population would soar from 340 million just eight years ago in 2008 to 590 million by the year 2030. The suffering from a lack of urban planning in the country became exploited this month when a massive and unmonitored trash landfill outside of Mumbai—home to nearly 15 million people—caught fire, blanketing the city with a cloud of smoke for several days.

Modi took office two years ago in 2014, and brought with him a clear mandate of economic growth and development, and has since recently added the idea of easing obstacles to further growth to his administrations goals. In December, a panel of government-appointed experts recommended sweeping changes in how public-private partnerships are regulated in the country. Modi’s administration has earmarked $7 billion for his smart cities program, calling on India’s cities to bid for grants by developing proposals centric to providing 24-hour water and electrical supplies, emphasizing solar energy, and developing state-of-the-art transportation and education systems.

But again, Modi’s critics fear his plan is too vague and is designed to benefit corporations, allowing them to develop more gentrified communities in the middle of the country’s tremendous poverty.

“They run the risk of becoming enclaves of privilege, with private sector representatives already advocating the exclusion of the poor and marginalized through high prices and policing,” Ayona Datta, a lecturer at the University of Leeds in Britain recently wrote.

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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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