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Indian American voters forum host a welcome reception for Counsel General in New York, Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das

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Seated left to right: Dr. Sudha Parikh, NY Supreme Court Justice Ruth Balkins, Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, Justice Denise Sher and Mary Cozzens. Standing L to R: Dr. Yashpal Arya, Dr. Vaijinath Chakote, Justice Bruce Cozzens, Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori, Deputy Consul General of India in New York Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Justice Steven Bucaria, former County Executive Tom Suozzi, District Court Judge Anthony Paradiso, Varinder Bhalla, Dr. Sunil Mehra, Dr. Ajay Lodha, Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Animesh Goenka.

Seated left to right: Dr. Sudha Parikh, NY Supreme Court Justice Ruth Balkins, Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, Justice Denise Sher and Mary Cozzens. Standing L to R: Dr. Yashpal Arya, Dr. Vaijinath Chakote, Justice Bruce Cozzens, Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori, Deputy Consul General of India in New York Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, Justice Steven Bucaria, former County Executive Tom Suozzi, District Court Judge Anthony Paradiso, Varinder Bhalla, Dr. Sunil Mehra, Dr. Ajay Lodha, Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Animesh Goenka.

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Judges from the New York State Supreme Court and Long Island public officials, in coordination with the Indian American Voters Forum convened to host a welcoming reception this week for Consul General of India, Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das.

Supreme Court Justices Steven Bucaria, Bruce Cozzens, Ruth Balkins, Denise Sher and district court judge Anthony Paradiso attended the event. They were joined by New York assemblyman Thomas McKevitt and former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. In total, nearly 85 prominent members of the community were in attendance, including Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori.

Das met in private with the assembled judges and organizing members of the Indian forum to discuss the possibilities of inviting a delegation of American judges to visit India.

“I am very welcoming of the idea of an exchange program of the judiciary and I hope that soon one day it will come true,” said Justice Bucaria.

Indian Forum chairman Varinder Bhalla informed the Consul General of the group’s recent initiative of recruiting members of Congress into the Congressional Caucus on India. Recently, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice joined the caucus. The aforementioned Parikh was a key player in the formation of the caucus in 1993, and spoke about its role in “furthering the relationship between our two democracies, our nations’ shared interests from global security to trade and international prosperity.”

Suozzi is currently in the heat of a congressional race, and stressed his longstanding relationship with the Indian-American community in New York, pledging his support of the caucus and saying he would certainly become a member.

“I will certainly join the India Caucus if I am elected in November,” he said, adding, “and work to strengthen the bond between the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy.”

The event also found time to pay tribute to the late Dr. Banad Viswanath, who was a relentless community advocate in the area. The Consul General and assemblyman McKevitt presented his son, Dev Viswanath, with a citation on behalf of the New York State Assembly. Viswanath founded Vision of Asia, the first Indian-American TV show, in 1976. It expanded in 1986 to ITV Gold, the first 24/7 cable TV station in the U.S., delivering countless hours of news and culture from India to American television screens.

Arts & Culture

IFFLA celebrates 20 years with a focus to mentor the next generation

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IFFLA celebrates 20 years with a trip down memory lane

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — IFFLA celebrated their 20th anniversary with familiar faces, overwhelming excitement and new additions to Southern California’s largest Indian and South Asian focused film festival.

Pan Nalin opened the festival with his film Last Film Show, a love letter to cinema and loosely based on his childhood.

“I think IFFLA over the years, it has been like a home in Hollywood. So I was always able to come here and invite people from the industry to see these movies,” said Nalin. “There are producers who usually don’t go to see Indian cinema. So I feel that it’s really important.”

Director Anurag Kashyap returned to host a MasterClass — a way to give back to the festival and fellow filmmakers.

“It is always good to be back here because for me this is where it all started from. And it’s amazing to see that this festival has grown so much and has been sustaining for so long,” said Kashyap.

New filmmakers were honored to be part of the lineup this year, especially after no in-person IFFLA for the last two years.

Hena Asraf, Director of The Return, shares “it feels a little unreal. It feels great! I think especially to be at a festival in person, after over two years.” 

“The community is amazing. The welcome is very warm. It feels just so honoring to be a part of this festival and amongst these filmmakers. I can’t wait to see all the other films,” said The Return Editor Esther Shubinski.

It’s that family feeling that makes IFFLA special and keeps filmmakers, attendees, and staff keep coming back.

Actor and director Ravi Kapoor is “just so grateful for this festival. It has been such a supporter of me. And they’ve helped bring the South Asian diasporic community here in LA together as well. Thank god they’ve lasted 20 years.”

Actor & musician Monica Dogra points out “what’s wonderful about IFFLA [is] it’s super niche, South Asians in LA of all places. [And] it’s small enough so you actually see people anyway.”

Actor Pooja Batra added, “I think they’ve always been eclectic with their mix of selection that they bring around here — smaller budget, smaller sort of productions also need a shout out.”

One of the new additions this year is the Spotlight on South Asia.

Festival founder Christina Marouda added this vertical to present films from different countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. “We’re putting a spotlight on projects we want to support,” said Marouda.

The other major new change this year was a live table read of IFFLA alum Kahlil Maskati’s feature script, Alim Uncle, rather than a closing night film. Fawzia Mirza directed the piece.

These changes reflect IFFLA’s commitment to supporting filmmakers while giving audiences more than a viewing experience. In fact, they are able to be part of the filmmaking process.

Marouda says after 20 years, this is IFFLA’s direction moving forward — a full effort to mentor budding filmmakers, while showcasing new films.

Ravi Kapur and Deepti Dawar contributed to this report.

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Garcetti’s ambassadorship to India in limbo

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Garcetti's ambassadorship to India in limbo | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has lifted the “hold” on the Senate confirmation of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has been nominated by US President Joe Biden as the country’s next ambassador to India. Initially, Grassley planned to object to the nomination, saying Garcetti failed to properly investigate sexual assault allegations and harassment by a close advisor.

Protesters in Sri Lanka have burned down homes belonging to 38 politicians as the crisis-hit country plunged further into chaos, with the government ordering troops to shoot anyone caught destroying property. Even the former Prime Minister had to be evacuated from his home. Angry Sri Lankans continue to defy a nationwide curfew to protest against what they say is the government’s mishandling of the country’s worst economic crisis since 1948.

Internationally recognized Indian American energy expert Arun Majumdar will head the new Stanford University Doerr School of Sustainability, which aims to tackle urgent climate and sustainability challenges,

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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LA Kings host first Indian cultural night

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LA Kings host first ever Indian Cultural Night

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — The Los Angeles Kings hosted their first Indian Cultural Night at the Crypto.com Arena, a new initiative intended to broaden their appeal to a growing demographic. Many of the guests in attendance and the special invitees on hand talked about what the representation of the evening means to them.

Robin Bawa, the first South Asian NHL Player, said “this is great. This is a good idea that the Kings are doing. The first Indian Cultural Night here in the US, and they did a good job – coming down here to be part of this was also a great honor. You know it is all about spreading the word and getting the Indian community involved in these types of things and bringing them out to games.”

“We are here to grow the game, and this allows other people to understand the game and really get embraced by it,” said Dampy Brar, APNA Hockey Co-Founder. “So there’s a lot of South Asian families and population here. When they have nights like this, more will come, more will get introduced to hockey, educate themselves. So to be part of this night and to be able to do what I did today was special.”

Amrit Gill, host of Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition, concurred. “If you can see it, you can be it, as cliche as it sounds. It is one of the most powerful tools in helping create more inclusion not only in sports, but in society as well. So I am over the moon to be here, but this is just the beginning.”

Indian American TikTok stars Kiran and Nivi sang the National Anthem. Kiran explained that this is their “first time attending a game and performing the national anthem.” Nivi added she was “just so grateful to be part of this.”

Indian American actress Sway Bhatia says representation matters in sports and media. Bhatia portrays a hockey player on Disney’s brand new Mighty Ducks TV show.

“Seeing so many people with faces of color, and to be one of those people, is just so empowering,” said Bhatia. And you know, other people in the stadium are able to see who we are and see what we do. I mean we had two amazing brown people of color sing the national anthem, which was so beautiful.”

Organizers are calling the evening a success after a larger than expected turnout and hope this continues to expand the popularity of the game.

Randip Janda, Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition Host, points out that “this is a moment where not only hockey fans are able to celebrate what’s going on tonight but this is a community coming together and celebrating those common bonds whether you’re Indian, whether South Asian or not. A celebration like this, it shows you something. That the rink, where you go and you might be having a bad day but you’re going to celebrate. Win, lose or draw, it should be a party every single time. I think this helps us understand people around us and our communities and hockey can be a vessel of that.”

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