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Indian American students headline Intel science talent search

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Maya Varma, right, with fellow first-place winners Amol Punjabi of Marlborough, Mass., and Paige Brown of Bangor, Maine (Intel Science Talent Search)

Maya Varma, right, with fellow first-place winners Amol Punjabi of Marlborough, Mass., and Paige Brown of Bangor, Maine (Intel Science Talent Search)

WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) — More than a handful of Indian-American students paced the table, including two of whom took home top spots in two separate categories, at the recent Intel Science Talent Search contest. A prestigious competition for young innovators, $1 million in prizes were handed out to the winners.

Indian-Americans Amol Punjabi and Maya Varma captured two of the three first-place awards — Punjabi for basic research and Varma for innovation. Paige Brown, of Maine, won the first place medal for the distinction of global good.

“They and the rest of the top winners of Intel STS 2016 are using science and technology to help address the problems they see in the world and will be at the forefront of creating the solutions we need for the future,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and alumna of the Science Talent Search.

Punjabi, 17, developed software that can assist drugmakers develop new therapies for cancer and disease. He also served as the lead author for a paper on nano particles published in ACS Nano, and co-authored another paper the related topic of nanoscale.

Varma, also just 17 years old, and from San Jose, turned $35 worth of miscellaneous electronics and free computer-aided design tools to create a low-cost, smartphone-based lung function analyzer that diagnoses lung disease as accurately as expensive devices currently used in medical laboratories. She was among 1,750 high school students who applied to be a part of the competition, which for the first time in its history saw female finalists outnumber the male finalists 21 to 19.

The field of second and third place of all three categories was dominated by Indian Americans as well.

Meena Jagadeesan, 17, took second place in the field of basic research, alongside Punjabi. Milind Jagota, 18, joined Varma in the innovation category, taking home the second place prize. Finally, Kunal Shroff, 17, rounded out the trifecta in the basic research category, taking home the third place medal.

First place paid prize money of $150,000; three second-place winners received $75,000 in prize money; and three third-place winners received $35,000. The winners were announced during a black-tie gala on Tuesday night at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.

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Lewandowski spars with Rep. Jayapal in impeachment probe

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Lewandowski

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski sparred with Rep. Jayapal among others, before a House Judiciary committee, taking on a barrage of questions from members of Congress who are trying to build a case towards the impeachment of President Trump.

100,000 petitions were delivered to the Gates Foundation in Seattle, asking them to rescind the award they plan on giving to Indian Prime Minister Modi for his clean India initiative because of his stance on Kashmir.

Federal investigators, including the FBI, are looking into potential misconduct by Mithril Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan. Royan has a 20 year relationship with Thiel and has raised in excess of $1 billion, $300 million of which came from Thiel. Some investors are frustrated Mithril is sitting on their money rather than investing in startups, while raking in as much as $30 million per year in management fees.

Hundreds of alums from the Indian Institute of Technology gathered in Southern California for their annual convention, featuring some of the brightest minds in technology.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Over 200 Indian American organizations express concerns over Rep. Ro Khanna’s Pakistan caucus membership

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Ro Khanna

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Diya TV) — 230 Hindu and Indian American organizations led by the Hindu American Foundation expressed concern in a letter to Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna about his recent membership to the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and a recent tweet which they say “in effect endorsed the views of “a fringe and extremist anti-Hindu activist, Pieter Friedrich.” Khanna, who is also a member of the Indian caucus, says he joined the Pakistan caucus to have a seat at the table to bring peace to the region.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy is leading a delegation around India, one of four state leaders making plans to visit this year. The governor and his wife visited the Taj Mahal & later met with Prime Minister Modi. 

Sri Lankan American Raj Rajaratnam, a central figure in one the largest hedge fund insider-trading rings in American history, is now out of prison two years early. He is mostly confined to his apartment for the remainder of his sentence, but he can work outside his home during the day.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Howdy, Modi! How come Texas?

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak in Houston

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — For world leaders, shaking hands with President Donald Trump has become a practice akin to the elaborate military drill on Wagah border. Not so much for Prime Minster Narendra Modi. The Trump-Modi camaraderie of banters, hugs, and viral hand-slapping is one more reason that the 50,000 strong crowd is excited to witness the historic ‘Howdy Modi’ community summit on September 22.

A community summit is just that: leaders of the community, politicians, corporates and all supporters of a common cause coming together to collaborate and celebrate. With the tagline ‘Shared Dreams, Bright Futures,’ the event will promote relations that go beyond the ‘America First’ and ‘Make in India’ policies that have often strained diplomatic encounters between the two countries. There couldn’t have been a better venue than Houston, Texas, for all purposes of this event

Slick for Oil

As the second largest state in the U.S., by population and GDP, Texas has significant trade relations with India. India is Houston’s 4th largest trading partner—just behind Brazil, China, and Mexico. The biggest exports from Texas are chemicals, petroleum, and coal. With constantly rising all prices, energy security is a major concern for the Prime Minister. Tellurian, natural gas company headquartered in Houston, is one of the major sponsors of the event.

Indian Diaspora’s ‘Shared Dreams’

The greater Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas have a thriving Indian American community with influential presence across various sectors of the economy. It is a significant voting bank for the Republican governed state to influence for the 2020 elections.

“At a time in the world where there is so much disunity, I think promoting unity between people and cultures in the world is a great thing,” says Robert Adams, a cross cultural training consultant and YouTuber (Chai & Coaching)  Over 150,000 Indian Americans live in the Houston metro area alone. Socio-cultural ties are a dominant way in which the community preserves its heritage while away from India. The cultural events preceding Modi’s address will showcase performances executed entirely by the Indian American community.

Indian Students, the ‘Bright Future’

Several Indian student associations in the US have partnered with the organizers, Texas India Forum, for the event. “The atmosphere in UT Dallas is pretty electric at this point. 6 to 8 buses will be leaving Sunday morning.” says Anirudh Ashok, a student at UT Dallas.

Regardless of political outcomes, this community summit is historic in the ways it will determine a new narrative that emerges about the world’s largest democracy on a platform offered by the world’s oldest democracy.

“Today’s youth is very aware of all the politics. My friends who were not involved in politics have started reading more and realize that Mr. Modi is doing great things for the country,” says Ashok.

Many individuals and groups have chosen to ignore or protest the event. But for those who will be a part of this momentous event, and for Trump and Modi, the show must go on, literally.

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