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Hindu American Foundation kicks off inaugural policy conference on Capitol Hill

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 L-R: Bharath Gopalaswamy, Rukhsana Hasib, Farahnaz Ispahani, and Samir Kalra (moderator)

L-R: Bharath Gopalaswamy, Rukhsana Hasib, Farahnaz Ispahani, and Samir Kalra (moderator)

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The Hindu American Foundation last week hosted a three-day summit in the nation’s capital, its first-ever policy conference was merged with the 13th annual D.C. Advocacy Day, and celebrations were held for the second annual International Day of Yoga.

The events brought together Washington power players such as Vanita Gupta, the U.S. Department of Justice’s top civil rights prosecutor, Ambassador-at-Large Rabbi David Saperstein, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

On June 20, the first day of the event, the HAF hosted a panel of 15 experts at the Reserve Officers Association, where discussions surrounding the Hindu American community’s most pressing foreign and domestic policy concerns took place. Samir Kalra, the HAF’s senior director, hosted discussions in the morning about U.S.-Bangladesh foreign relations and the alarming growth of intolerance toward minority communities in Bangladesh.

Farahnaz Ispahani was on hand to discuss the challenges non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan face as well.

“Officially mandated textbooks reject pluralism and represent minorities, especially Hindus, in an extremely negative light,” Ispahani said of the situation. “In recent years Pakistan has witnessed some of the worst organized violence against religious minorities since Partition. From January 2012 until now, at least 450 incidents of sectarian violence have been reported. These incidents led to 3755 casualties, including 1551 deaths.”

Rukhsana Hasib offered her suggestions on how the nation can bring a stop to the targeted killings of religious minorities, atheists and members of the LGBT community.

“The solution has to come from within Bangladesh, with pressure from the United States,” she said. “The United States should immediately insist that the Government of Bangladesh provide non-partisan security throughout the country. Effective reforms should be put in place and enforced, with pressure from the United States.”

Vanita Gupta, U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney, delivered the day's keynote address.

Vanita Gupta, U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney, delivered the day’s keynote address.

Vanita Gupta delivered the day’s keynote address, “I want to commend all of you for organizing, launching and participating in this inaugural policy conference as we discuss some of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time,” she said. “The Hindu American Foundation’s motto – ‘promoting dignity, mutual respect and pluralism’ – represents the very best traditions of people from many different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds around the country.”

The afternoon’s session, moderated by HAF’s Executive Director, Suhag Shukla, Esq., focused on U.S. civil rights concerns and the Do No Harm Act, bringing together Caroline Darmody, legislative assistant for Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Maggie Garrett from Americans United for Separation of Church & State, the Anti-Defamation League’s Michael Lieberman, and the Acting Director of the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Community Relations Service, Paul Monteiro. The Act’s intention is to amend the original Religious Freedom Restoration Act and promote a diverse and pluralistic society in which individual religious freedoms are preserved while avoiding infringement on the lives of others.

A diplomatic reception was held in the evening, with the ceremonies being christened by the aforementioned Rabbi David Saperstein, who characterized the gathering as “historic,” and was “deeply appreciative” of the HAF’s “collective efforts to advocate for the promotion of dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism. Not only to the benefit of more than one billion Hindus across the globe, but also for members of other religious and ethnic communities.” Among the honorees were the Bhumi Project’s Gopal Patel, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and the State Department’s Nisha Desai Biswal.

This year’s events were also underscored by the celebration of the second International Day of Yoga, a milestone for the Hindu American community. HAF Senior Director Sheetal Shah told the audience, “We’d like to bring light a lesser known face of yoga, one not rooted in physical postures, but one rooted in selfless service. Karma yoga is the practice of selflessly performing our righteous duty, or dharma, without expectation of a reward. Expounded upon in the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most well known Hindu texts, karma yoga can and should be practiced throughout our day as we become more conscious not only of our actions, but also the motivations behind them, and the impact they have on our surroundings.”

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Rev. Jesse Jackson pushes for India COVID relief

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Rev. Jesse Jackson pushes for India COVID relief | Diya TV News

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — The Reverend Jesse Jackson is standing in solidarity with Indian Americans in California who are rallying the community to send more Covid-19 relief to India.  Reverend Jackson is also voicing solidarity for other communities of color as African Americans celebrate Juneteenth, the new Federal holiday marking the end of slavery in the U.S.

And Satya Nadella is now even more powerful at Microsoft. The tech giant’s CEO was named chairman of the board elevating his current role atop one of the world’s most valuable companies. The Indian American has served as chief executive since 2014, has helped transform the PC maker into a leader in cloud computing in recent years, resulting in  a market cap of close to $2 trillion.

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has given away another massive chunk of her fortune. This time nearly 3  billion dollars to a variety of charities. Several Indian organizations like Goonj, Antara Foundation, and GiveIndia have also benefited from this generosity.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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US – India trade hits record $9 billion

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U.S.-India trade hits record $9 billion | Diya TV News

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) — For the second month in a row, the U.S.-India bilateral goods trade crossed $9 billion dollars.  It had never happened once before that. This is a comprehensive document covering trade in goods and services, and shows India and the U.S. remain strong strategic partners.

the U.S. Senate confirmed Radhika Fox as the first Indian American and woman of color to lead the office of water at the Environmental Protection Agency. Her supporters say she will focus on making sure everyone’s point of view is heard and taken into account.

And British Pakistani rapper Frenzo Harami is being criticized for his anti Hindu post on Instagram. Harami uses vulgar language to describe Hindu minorities living in Kashmir. He apparently went on this tirade after claiming youtube banned one of his videos.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India’s COVID rate drops dramatically

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India’s COVID rate drops dramatically | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India’ s Covid-19 infection rates are starting to consistently drop each day.  The ministry of health reported a little more than 60,000 cases in the past 24 hours. That’s a dramatic decrease from the peak of more than 400,000 cases in one day just a few months ago. 

India has also decided to partially open the Taj Mahal to visitors. And as restrictions ease, several shops, malls, and restaurants have started to reopen in multiple cities this week. but Authorities continue to advise mask wearing and social distancing.

Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a dinner party for a bipartisan group of female senators at her official Washington, DC residence. 16 Democrats and eight Republicans. Vice President Harris is doing this against the backdrop of intense negotiations over President Biden’s agenda in Congress and a border crisis raging on her watch.

And one of the fiercest critics of Big Tech companies like Apple and Amazon is now leading the Federal Trade Commission.  Lina Khan will be tasked with voting on enforcement matters in areas of both competition and consumer protection. the 32 year old South Asian will be the youngest person to ever lead the agency.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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