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Indian-Americans clash with cowboy town over proposed center

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A view of Norco College.

NORCO, Calif. (Diya TV) — A Southern California city has rejected proposed plans for building a cultural Hindu center partly because officials say the large, domed building doesn’t fit in with its Old West-style motif.

The decision, made last month by the city of Norco, has not sit well with some of the local Indian-American population, who have gone as far to label the move as discrimination.

Norco city officials say the town has branded itself as “Horsetown USA” to preserve its rural feel and draw much-needed investments in equestrian facilities. The proposed cultural center is just too big for the small lot it was to be built on, and doesn’t match the rest of the city’s architecture, they added.

Dr. Krupali Tejura, a radiation oncologist who grew up in nearby Corona and works at an area hospital, got involved in the debate because she was offended by those who argued the center didn’t fit.

“How does a community or a city decide it doesn’t fit in with their lifestyle? How far does this go?” she asked.

Mayor Kevin Bash rejected that notion.

“We turn down a lot of businesses. If they don’t want to have a Western theme, guess what? They don’t get built,” he said, adding there were drainage concerns with the design.

A town of 26,000, its residents are tucked along the suburbs south and east of Los Angeles — while still modest, a growing Indian-American population in the area, at the moment, it accounts for just one percent of the four-county area. However, census data reflects the community has grown in Riverside County — where Norco is located — and there is a Sikh temple in Norco inside a grange hall-turned-church and a Hindu temple in the neighboring county, and Indian movies are shown at a Corona theater.

Manu Patolia, the man who proposed the project, said he is willing to scrap the domes and revamp the design of the 25,000-square-foot Swaminarayan Gurukul center, which would host Indian language classes for children and yoga for the community at large.

“I went around and took some pictures in Norco, and I showed them: Please tell us which one is the Western one that we can follow,” Patolia said.

Bonnie Slager, president of the Norco Horsemen’s Association, has nine horses and a rooster on the lot where she lives. The retired accounting professor said the Hindu community is welcome but a big domed building with potential drainage problems is not.

“Not that things have to look like a Western fort,” Slager said. “We just really don’t want things that are all glass and metal and look kind of like something from Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.”

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Indian citizens found dead along US-Canada border

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4 Indian Nationals found dead along US-Canada border | Diya TV News

TORONTO (Diya TV) — In a heartbreaking tragedy, a family of four Indians, including a baby, has died from exposure to extreme cold weather on the Canadian side of the border with the US in an apparent human smuggling operation.  The Indian government says it’s ambassadors in the US and Canada are responding to this situation. 

Federal authorities are investigating a couple who cashed in on the COVID testing boom. Akbar Ali Syed and his wife Aleya Siyaj are being accused of fraud by many customers at the Center for Covid Control testing sites,  who say they never received results or got negative test results via email before they had even taken the test. Several attorney generals have already filed lawsuits against the couple. 

According to the latest Benevity survey on causes and giving,  Nonprofits supporting India’s COVID-19 crisis received a groundswell of support, including Sewa International ranked 10th overall. The crisis in India also drove additional giving to UNICEF 

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CSU adds caste to anti-discrimination policy

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CSU adds caste to anti-discrimination policy | Diya TV News

SACRAMENTO (Diya TV) — California now has the first university system in the country to add caste to its anti-discrimination policy. On the system’s 23 campuses across California, caste-oppressed students will now be able to report anti-Dalit bias, which some students say they experience at school on a regular basis.  

US President Joe Biden just nominated eight new judges including Nusrat Choudhury. If confirmed she would be the first Bangladeshi American and Muslim woman and to serve as a federal judge.

Entrepreneur, scientist and author Dr. Ken Kapur died after a short illness. He was 82 years old.. Kapur was part of the first crop of top Indian students in STEM recruited by the U.S. government during the Cold War. After completing a PhD in 6 months from the University of Washington, Kapur helped set federal standards for nuclear reactors that are still in place today. He also went on to build multiple Silicon Valley tech startups.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits mark 31st exodus day globally

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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits mark 31st exodus day globally | Diya TV News

KASHMIR (Diya TV) — It’s the 31st anniversary of Kashmir Exodus Day. Hindus across the world are marking this day with candlelight vigils to remember the ethnic cleansing of Jammu & Kashmir’s indigenous Hindu population began. Ultimately some 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes and hundreds were killed in the weeks and months following January 19, 1990 at the hands of Pakistan-sponsored Islamic militants that lasted many years. 

The Indian American CEO, best known for firing 900 employees over zoom just before Christmas, is coming back to work. Vishal Garg is returning to his “full-time duties” at better.com. The company says Garg used a leave of absence to “reflect on his leadership and worked with an executive coach.

The White House will make 400 million N95 masks for free at thousands of locations across the country as health experts stress the importance of high quality face coverings to protect against the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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