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Cyclone Winston rolls through Fiji, flattens villages

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(DIYA TV) — The most powerful cyclone to hit the Pacific made its way through Fiji over the weekend, leaving residents with the grimly task of assessing the damages and begin cleaning up. At least 20 people have been reported dead in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston.

Officials said Sunday current efforts are being focused on reestablishing communications and road access to the hardest-hit areas of the islands — power, water and communication services must be restored for close to 900,000 residents. The full extent of damages and injuries won’t be known until that process is complete. A 30-day state of natural disaster was declared on the same day, curfews were extended and police were granted permission to make arrests without a warrant.

A beachside villa and trees lay destroyed following high winds caused by Cyclone Winston [Sarah Bingham/Reuters]

A beachside villa and trees lay destroyed following high winds caused by Cyclone Winston [Sarah Bingham/Reuters]

The cyclone rolled through the Fiji islands on Saturday with wind speeds estimated at up to 285km/h, or 177 mph. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, as well as many of the villagers crops. Of the hardest-hit areas was the northern coast of the main island, Viti Levu. In a separate village, Koro Island, 50 homes were reportedly destroyed.

An elderly man was killed during the cyclone after the roof of the house he was in collapsed. The Red Cross said there were unconfirmed reports of at least three more fatalities, and the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation has pegged the total death count so far at five. Several have speculated that the death count will increase when information is retrieved from the outlying islands and from so-called “squatter areas.” In these areas, hut-like structure house many residents, structures that would have unlikely withstood the impacts of the category 5 storm.

Alice Clements, of UNICEF Pacific, was in Fiji’s capital city, Suva, when the storm hit.

“We certainly felt the impact of…Winston in Suva with destructive, howling winds and the sound of rivets lifting from roofs a constant throughout the night,” she said.

“It is likely that smaller villages across Fiji will have suffered the most, given their infrastructures would be too weak to withstand the power of a category 5 cyclone.”

Early relief efforts have been hampered because of trees and power lines blocking the roads, and by power failures. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it had a response team on standby. The Bainimarama has not yet asked for help, the UN said.

Virgin and JetStar airlines have suspended all flights into and out of Fiji’s international airport, the international carrier has suspended all flights as well.

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India to play central role in revitalizing the global economy

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India

SANTA CLARA, Ca. (Diya TV) — Nearly 250 guests around the globe joined together to listen to the latest entry in the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) “India and the World” discussion series, aptly titled, “India and the Re-emerging Global Order: Thought Leadership on COVID-19 Geopolitical Implications. The panel featured notable speakers from business and political fields alike including TATA’s Chair for Strategic Affairs Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, and McLarty Associates President and Co Founder Nelson Cunningham; additional remarks were made by CII’s Director General Chandrajit Banerjee, and the discussion was moderated by CII’s past President Dr. Naushad Forbes. 

The event kicked off with Dr. Forbes casting a light on the lack of international collaboration in response to the global threat that the COVID-19 virus poses to the world. Forbes pushed further by highlighting that countries have a tendency to value domestic solutions and supply chains in order to secure national security despite the benefits that global trade relations, efforts, and organizations can provide. 

While Dr. Tellis found herself in agreement with Forbes’ statement in regards to a short term solution, she also put forth the belief that while countries may initially shirk away from the efficiency and comparative benefits of international interdependent supply chains, that the disadvantages of resiliency are vastly unsustainable in the post COVID world and would consequentially result in moving away from such practices. 

Cunningham posits that the pandemic has merely exacerbated changes in pre existing conditions, such as the strengthening of borders, rise of nationalism, and governments becoming increasingly insular. 

Ambassador Burns put forth his voice to insist upon that that the need for international collaboration is has reached an all time high, as its’ propogation is necessary for the development and distribution for a vaccine as well as the recovery of the global economy at large. 

The panelists ultimately came to the conclusion that trade within the upcoming years will continue to become increasingly difficult, albeit nations like India will hold advantages over their neighbors and global competitors that benefit from its long term recovery. 

India has become an enthusiastic focal point for companies seeking a reliable partner for global businesses, particularly those seeking to distance themselves from China’s response to the pandemic. Dr. Tellis echoed her earlier sentiment by stating that while globalism will face a short term decline, India will play a vital role in grappling with the rise of regional trade networks that will begin to develop. The panelists concurred that India’s position in the resurgence of a global trade economy has earned the country numerous allies in the United States, but that the investments will take time to nurture, thus necessitating that India must perpetuate engagements with the US in the government, corporate, and civil sectors in order to cement trade and strategic ties. 

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H1B Visa holders in limbo, stranded by lockdowns

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H1B

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — While the U.S. and India continue to loosen up movement restrictions put in place because of COVID-19, there are still thousands of H1B and other visa holders stranded in India because American consulates there are closed. Now job losses, money issues and family separations are taking their toll alongside these H1B woes.

There’s more than 112,000 cases of COVID-19 in India after a recent spike, with the death toll now over 3,400. India is now the epicenter in Asia for the virus, but the government is easing lockdown measures in some of the most heavily populated parts of the country. There are now more than 5 million people infected with COVID-19 globally.

Another 2.4 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total to more than 38 million people around the U.S. The unprecedented rate of job losses comes at a time many states are trying to reopen in an environment where the previous economic demand is just not there.

And we’ll show you the latest innovation in social distancing, courtesy of Parks & Recs folks in San Francisco.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report. 

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Controversial St. Paul, Minnesota India resolution approved

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Controversial St. Paul, Minnesota India resolution approved | Diya TV News

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Diya TV) — It’s just a symbolic resolution, but it caused so much controversy, the St. Paul, Minnesota city council postponed their vote for two weeks. But in a 5-0 decision, with two abstentions, the council declared they oppose India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, a potential National Registry of Citizens, while stating India’s ruling party, the BJP, is “Islamophobic.” The resolution was advocated for by the Council on Islamic Relations Minnesota, whose leadership celebrated the condemnation of “Islamophobic ideology and standing in solidarity with all the minorities of India!” Meanwhile, Hindu American Foundation leaders, who coordinated 12,000 letters opposing the resolution, said “St. Paul’s resources are better spent on building community, not dividing it,” adding the “hypocrisy is breathtaking.”

And to celebrate the legacy of the late Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man slain in a hate crime, the non-profit Act To Change, co-founded by actor Maulik Pancholy, held the second annual AAPI Day Against Bullying + Hate, featuring a score of stars committed to ending bullying.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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