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Record Number Of Indian-American Women Running for Office in 2016

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 02: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley addresses a Newsmaker Luncheon at the National Press Club September 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. Governor Haley spoke on

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 02: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley addresses a Newsmaker Luncheon at the National Press Club September 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. Governor Haley spoke on “Lessons from the New South.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) – With this year’s election captivating the nation on nightly TV, Indian-American women from both the Democratic and Republican parties are seeking election in record numbers. The boom is being felt in nearly every region of the country.

Despite a small sample size, Indian-American women have already established themselves as a successful electorate in the U.S., with an equally impressive track record. Nikki Haley was elected in 2010, becoming the first female Indian-American governor in U.S. history. She has since established her presence and regarded as a rising star in the GOP by those both inside and outside of the Republican Party. Additionally, her name has been floated as a possible VP candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

Aruna Miller, a Democrat, has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011. After her re-election in 2014, she was appointed to serve on the Appropriations Committee, where she is Chair of the Oversight of Personnel Subcommittee and Vice-Chair of the Transportation & Environment Subcommittee.

Out west, Kshama Sawant was elected to Seattle’s City Council in 2013. A native of India, Sawant earned her PhD from North Carolina State University, and ran a successful campaign as a member of the Socialist Alternative Party. The win saw Sawant become the first socialist to win city-wide election in Seattle since Anna Louise Strong was elected to the School Board in 1916.

In the Midwest, Democrat Swati Dandekar served as a member of the Iowa state legislature for a number of years until she was appointed by governor Terry Branstad to the Iowa Utilities Board. Her public service career began two decades ago when she worked as a member of the local school board.

In the Bay Area, Anu Natarajan served on the Fremont City Council for more than a decade before becoming the city’s vice-mayor. Finally, Reshma Saujani served as New York City’s Deputy Public Advocate before founding the popular technology non-profit Girls Who Code.

And perhaps the biggest story of them all, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, whom few public servants are currently more popular than. The daughter of a Jamaican-American father and Indian-American mother, Harris has spent more than 20 years of her life working in public service. Currently in the midst of a Senate campaign – the seat which Barbara Boxer is vacating – nearly every straw poll taken since the campaign began indicates to her sure victory.

Now that we’ve seen the numbers, how exactly do you explain them?

According to Vishakha Desai, Senior Adviser to Columbia University and President Emerita of the Asia Society:

“Although is exciting to see the rising number of Indian American women on the American political stage, it is not surprising. Most of them are daughters of first generation of Indian immigrants who came to seek higher education degrees in professional fields, ranging from medicine and engineering to finance and science. These rising political stars are raised to succeed in whatever endeavor they pursue.

With the nation fully-versed in election fever, Indian-American women are well-positioned to take even more positions throughout the country in state and federal offices. Here is a look at some of the most promising candidates from elections throughout the U.S.

Jenifer Rajkumar (D-NY) – Running for New York State Assembly

In Lower Manhattans’ 65th Assembly District, Jennifer Rajkumar is campaigning to fill a seat being vacated by Sheldon Silver, one of New York’s most powerful and feared politicians. Silver served as the Speaker of the Assembly, and was frequently referred to as one of the “three men in the room,” who along with the Governor, controlled some of the most important state decisions for two decades. His fall from grace was swift and put on display with as much attention as his success – Silver was convicted of federal bribery, as well as corruption and for taking kickbacks.

Jenifer Rajkumar at a press conference last year being endorsed for District Leader Re-election by Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and NYC Public Advocate Letitia James for District Leader.

Jenifer Rajkumar at a press conference last year being endorsed for District Leader Re-election by Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and NYC Public Advocate Letitia James for District Leader.

At age 33, Rajkumar works as a human rights attorney, and is running on an all-too-familiar platform of combatting Albany’s notorious corruption. Named a “rising star” by New York’s City & State news outlet, Rajkumar would be the first Indian-American elected to the New York State Legislature.

She is a Stanford Law School graduate, and specializes in representing the poor and the disenfranchised, including low-income families, and workers and women who experience discrimination in the workplace. She currently works for the civil rights firm Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP, and has played an instrumental role in winning several whistleblower cases, as well as the largest gender discrimination case to ever go to trial. The case was ultimately named by the United Nations as one of the top ten cases in the world for advancing women’s rights. In 2015, she was selected by Super Lawyers to the New York Metro Rising Stars List, an honor no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in New York receive. This is an incredible accomplishment, and her gender discrimination cases have paved the way for more women to speak out about any kind of harassment that they have experienced in the workplace. You can click here to learn more about discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and the steps people take to obtain justice.

Kesha Ram (D-VT) – Running for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont

Kesha Ram was originally elected in 2009 to the Vermont House of Representatives at the ripe age of 22, making history by becoming the youngest female member of the state legislature. Since that time, Ram has established herself with an eight-year track record of forging bi-partisanship on a series of issues affecting the state. Though it hasn’t yet been a decade, she’s prepared to trail blaze more, hoping to make history once again by being elected Lieutenant Governor.

Throughout her legislative tenure, Ram has spearheaded a laundry list of progressive priorities: expanded tax incentives for statewide economic growth, green job creation, paid family leave, access to early learning and higher education opportunities, affordable housing and civil rights.

Courtesy of Kesha Ram for Lieutenant Governor.

Courtesy of Kesha Ram for Lieutenant Governor.

Ram was also the most vocal of the state’s politicians in the implementation of a first-time homebuyer assistance program, protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence and ensuring the state’s residents do not have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of a sick child. She’s established herself as the candidate focused on revitalizing an economy sustainable for all Vermonters and finding further ways to bring them out of poverty.

“Throughout my time in the Vermont legislature, I have remained true to my roots. I have worked to support the immigrant and refugee community, including creating immigrant driver’s licenses, advancing community policing and working to erect Vermont’s first Hindu temple. Now, on the campaign trail, I can tell my truly American story of bussing tables in my Indian immigrant father and Jewish American mother’s Irish pub. Vermont is at a pivotal time in its history, when new voices are needed at table to chart out our future. I hope to be one of those voices as Vermont’s next Lieutenant Governor.”

Mary Thomas (R-FL) – Running for Congress in Florida

Lathika Mary Thomas, a self-described “strong conservative Republican,” is challenging Congresswoman Gwen Graham for the seat in the Second Congressional District in Florida. If elected, Thomas would make some history of her own, becoming the first Indian-American ever elected to Congress in the state.

Courtesy of Mary Thomas for Congress.

Courtesy of Mary Thomas for Congress.

Originally born in Charleston, South Carolina, her immigrant parents arrived stateside from India in 1972 with their educations and their hopes of living out the American dream. At the time, thousands of families chose the same path, and many still do. It’s not only those from third world regions who chase the dream either; lots of people are applying for a US credit card in Canada now, for example. The family eventually settled in Florida and started a family medical practice and a successful biotechnology company. During her campaign, Thomas has acknowledged, “My family’s story is a shining example of the American dream come true. Today that American dream is threatened by an out of touch Congress and a federal government that simply doesn’t care about the well-being of the American people. I want the American dream to be available to my young son Luke like it was available to me and my parents. That is why I am running for Congress, to save the American dream for the next generation.”

She has resided in Tallahassee for more than a decade and has been a member of Governor Rick Scott’s Administration since he was sworn into office in January 2011. Currently, she serves as the General Counsel at the Department of Elder Affairs where she manages and oversees the legal department of an agency that administers an approximately $900 million budget.

She’s broadcast herself to the public by saying, “I’m the only candidate in this race that has substantial experience working on issues that directly impact the people of the Second District. My experience includes: serving as the Governor’s representative in negotiations with the Department of Justice and various states to secure our state and local interests after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; developing strategies to protect the Apalachicola Bay from Georgia’s unchecked consumption of water, strategies that ultimately resulted in the filing of a lawsuit against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court; and helping to solve military base encroachment issues around the Panhandle’s military installations.”

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U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hits 600,000

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U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hits 600,000 | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — The U.S. has reached a grim milestone. More than 600,000 people have died from Covid-19 as officials race to vaccinate more people. But deaths have also been slowing for months because of an aggressive campaign to vaccinate the nation’s elderly and medically vulnerable people.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson just replaced an Indian American administrative law judge who ruled against the state health department in a significant abortion case. Last year, Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi turned aside Missouri’s effort to close the state’s last abortion provider, a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. Dandamudi also ruled against the state in a medical marijuana case.

And Pakistani Brit actor Riz Ahmed is forming a new coalition, pushing for more Muslim representation in media and Hollywood.  He’s partnering with several influential institutions like USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to give out financial grants and offer mentoring.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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20 dead, many injured in Pakistan bus crash

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20 dead, many injured in Pakistan bus crash | Diya TV News

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) — A bus crammed with pilgrims coming back from a Muslim religious festival crashed in southwest Pakistan, killing at least 20 people and leaving dozens of others injured. Officials say the bus was overloaded and passengers were even traveling on the roof of the bus. The death toll is expected to increase. 

Police say man accused of killing four members of a Pakistani Canadian Muslim family targeted them for their Islamic faith. 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman is facing several murder charges for allegedly running them over in his pickup truck. Investigators say there is evidence this was premeditated and motived by hate.

Vice President Kamala Harris walked in the Capital Pride Walk and Rally in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, making history as the first sitting vice president to march in a Pride event.
The Biden-Harris administration has brought LGBTQ issues to the forefront of its agenda. One of the president’s first executive orders called for an end to discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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One in two Indian Americans have encountered racism

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Study: 1 in 2 Indian Americans report facing discrimination | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — According to a new study, Fifty percent of Indian Americans say they have encountered racism in the U.S. in the past year. Discrimination against darker-skinned people is the most common form of bias encountered and the main perpetrators are non-Indians. The study also shows Indian Americans are the second largest immigrant group in the US with more than 4 million living in the country.

Judge Zahid Quraishi has been confirmed by the US Senate, becoming the first Muslim American federal judge. Quraishi, who is of Pakistani descent, was serving as a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.

Former Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara’s dinner with an author who once despised Indian food is getting a lot of likes on the internet. On twitter, Tom Nichols is finally admitting his palate is expanding and he wants more Lamb Biryani. Bharara responded on social media by saying Nichols is still getting used to the butter chicken. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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