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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Gurdwara Avenue’ proposal riles up San Jose

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San Jose Gurdwara
San Jose Sikh Gurdwara

San Jose Sikh Gurdwara

SAN JOSE (Diya TV) — Hearing the kind of applause, screams and general passion at the Evergreen Library in San Jose normally would require earbuds. But a festive atmosphere was allowed in this case, with the library playing host to a rancorous community debate.

The issue that brought an overflow crowd to the library was a proposal to change the name of Murillo Avenue between Quimby and Aborn to Gurdwara Avenue, site of North America’s largest Sikh temple.

The name change involves just one city block, but that didn’t stop scores of vociferous community members from speaking out against change of any kind. Efforts to establish ‘Gurdwara Avenue’ began a couple of years ago, but the outcry against it was fierce and the proposal was shelved. Now Gurdwara leaders, supported by the increasingly important Indian-American community, are efforting to bring this proposal to life.

The Evergreen neighborhood, where the Gurdwara is situated, is part of the 17th Congressional District, the only mainland U.S. district to be majority Asian-American.

San Jose resident KP Singh says the name change is important to the Sikh community as a matter of respect and inclusion. “It’s an emotional issue. The Gurdwara is not a place of worship for Sikhs only. It has four doors that signifies you can come from any direction,” said Singh.

Sikhs have been in California for more than 100 years and the first Asian-American member of Congress was Sikh, the late Dilip Singh Saund. While Gurdwaras are at the center of Sikh life, they are open to all members of society.Yet for many in this immigrant-laden community, the religious ties of the Gurdwara and the Sikh faith are too prominent and would, in their eyes, infringe on their worldview and religious beliefs.

“The name change emphasizes an exclusive street and area in favor of a specific religion, although the same street is accessed by the Sikhs and the Christians. This is an insult and an attack on other religions and non-believers,” said Chinese-American Seh-Yi Wu of San Jose.

Ash Kalra, the only Indian-American on the San Jose City Council, attended the meeting, as did his colleague Cindy Chavez. Neither councilmember can express their opinion until a formal vote is conducted for fear of undue influence on the planning commission, where the proposal currently resides.

Kalra, the attorney turned lawmaker, terms out of the city council at the end of year. So he would like to put his stamp on this decision, adding “everyone that’s here is lucky that all we are arguing about is the name of a road.”

A simple majority of the city council will make the final call on the matter. City officials expect a hearing to take place by the end of the calendar year.

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Puneet Talwar named US Ambassador to Morocco

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) – The US State Department announced that diplomat Puneet Talwar is its new ambassador to Morocco. President Biden proposed Talwar as the new nominee last March. The new ambassador to Morocco has a rich portfolio in diplomacy. The diplomat is currently a senior adviser to the State Department.

Six men have been arrested for the gang rape and murder of two girls. Police say one of them is a neighbor and the remaining five are Muslims from a nearby village – although it’s not believed to be a religious crime.

As Pakistan continues to deal with historic flooding a new report published in Vice says the country collected $40 million for a mega dam on the Indus river, but spent $63 million on advertising it. The crowdsourced campaign was  launched by a Supreme Court judge and endorsed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. It’s now at the center of a massive controversy. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian & Hindu American groups hold DC summit

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WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) – A group of Indian American and Hindu American organizations joined forces to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day and advocate for the diaspora on Capitol Hill, in what is being called an inaugural summit for political engagement. The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the Hindu American Foundation, the Coalition of Hindus of North America and Americans4Hindus, were among the more than one dozen organizations, hosting legislators from both sides of the aisle in a non-partisan effort to discuss issues of concern in the community. 
 
Indian American economist Aaron “Ronnie” Chatterji has been named White House Coordinator for the implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act’s historic $50 billion investment in the semiconductor industry at the National Economic Council. 
 
Fans of Indian comedian and actor Raju Srivastava are mourning his death. He passed away at the age of 58 after suffering a heart attack last month while running on a treadmill. He had a history of heart problems. 
 
Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.
 
 

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Sukhpal Singh arrested in Tusli Mandir hate crime case

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NEW YORK (Diya TV) – New York police arrested a man for allegedly sledgehammering a statue of Gandhi outside a Queens Hindu Shri Tusli Mandir. Twenty seven year old Sukhpal Singh is charged with criminal mischief and a hate crime for allegedly destroying the statue and defacing it with spray paint outside Tulsi Mandir in Richmond Hill last month. 

India and France agreed to set up an Indo-Pacific partnership to roll out development projects, expand strategic cooperation, and work closer to deal with pressing global challenges such as a food crisis triggered by the Ukraine invasion. 

More than a million customers in Puerto Rico are waiting for electricity to come back on after Hurricane Fiona hammers the region. The Dominican Republic is under a hurricane warning as well. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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