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Five Indian American Members of Congress feted at Indiaspora Gala

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Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal, Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera at the Indiaspora Gala 2017 in Washington DC.

Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal, Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera at the Indiaspora Gala 2017 in Washington DC.

(L-R) Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal, Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera at the Indiaspora Gala 2017 in Washington DC.

WASHINGTON, DC (Diya TV) — Were it not for Donald Trump’s stunning win in November, the political story of Election 2016 could arguably be the ascent of the Indian-American community, who surprisingly now have five members in the United States Congress.

Kamala Harris of California, long rumored as a potential Presidential candidate, is now the first-ever Indian-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Chicago-area businessman endorsed by President Barack Obama, won a House seat in his second try.

Seattle’s Pramila Jayapal, a disciple of Bernie Sanders, became the first Indian-American woman to serve in the House after capturing Washington’s 7th district.

Silicon Valley’s Ro Khanna, in his second attempt in California’s 17th district (and third overall), upset eight term Congressman Mike Honda.

Despite a campaign fundraising scandal involving his father, Dr. Ami Bera secured his third term in California’s 7th district south of Sacramento.

In addition, Tulsi Gabbard, the nation’s first Hindu in Congress, overwhelmingly won her third term representing Hawaii’s 2nd district.

All of them are Democrats and all were honored at the Indiaspora Gala, an Indian-American centered inaugural ball.

“Our legacy is nothing that we’re going to do. Our legacy is built on what the next-generation does,” said Rep. Bera before the crowd of 500 that came to the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC.

It was the second time M.R. Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, organized a gala of this nature. Four years ago, it was pegged around President Obama’s reelection. But given the historic nature of this election to the Indian-American community, the date was moved up to coincide with Congress’ swearing-in date.

“We’re 1% of the population and we’re finally 1% of Congress itself,” said Rangaswami.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal added “that we, Indian Americans, have a presence and have power in this country that matches now politically everything else that we do.”

The bipartisan gala brought scores of members of Congress to attend, including many heavily involved in the US-India relationship like Republican Senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan.

“It’s an incredible community in terms of the rising political influence, but also in terms of what the Indian-American community is doing throughout the country,” said Sullivan.

Houston Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee believes this new crop of colleagues will “make a real mark on the United States Congress primarily because they bring to this nation a recognition that we are a nation of many. And out of many, comes one. And comes unity.”

Former Democratic Vice Presidential hopeful and current Virginia Senator Tim Kaine once oversaw the US-India relationship as the chair of the subcommittee in foreign relations. He appointed a number of Indian-Americans to cabinet posts when he served as governor of Virginia and believes strongly despite the upcoming change in administrations, “the ties are so natural” that the bond between the US and India will continue to grow.

It’s a viewpoint shared by Democratic member of Congress Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who told Diya TV, “when people come from India to the United States, with their entrepreneurship, with their family values, with their commitment to community, they make America, more American.”

“No matter which way the political winds blow,” said Rep. Gabbard, “the commitment is there on behalf of the leaders of this country to strengthen the US-India friendship.”

Other dignitaries in attendance included United States Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun Kumar, potential U.S. Ambassador to India in the Trump administration, Ashley J. Tellis, DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sri Srinivasan, New York Democratic Congressmembers Joe Crowley and Carolyn Maloney, Indiana Republican Congressman Todd Rokita, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna, Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress and Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014.

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Suspects in Hyderabad gang rape murder killed by police

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Suspects in Hyderabad gang rape murder killed by police | Diya TV News

Hyderabad, India (Diya TV)  — Four suspects in the rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad were killed by police, who claim the four men were shot in self-defense. The action is drawing praise from the family of the victim but criticism from some lawmakers and civil rights groups.

Protests erupted in India this week seeking justice for this latest victim of sexual assault. Earlier in the week, a 23-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh heading to testify against a man who allegedly raped her multiple times was set on fire by a group of five men she says included her rapist, who was free on bail. She remains in critical condition.

In a terse letter denouncing impeachment proceedings, The White House signaled it does not intend to mount a defense of President Trump or otherwise participate in the House impeachment hearings. The decision by the administration likely accelerates the pace of impeachment. Hearings continue Monday.

Texas Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher introduced legislation to honor Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal’s memory by renaming a post office in Houston in his honor.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian rape survivor set on fire before trial testimony

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Rape

UNNAO, India (Diya TV)  — A 23-year-old woman in India heading to testify against a man who allegedly raped her multiple times was set on fire by a group of five men she says included her rapist, who was free on bail. Doctors at the Lucknow hospital she was brought to say she is in very serious condition, with burn injuries to 90% of her body. Local police say all five suspects are in custody. India’s National Commission for Women are seeking a detailed report regarding the number of reported heinous crimes committed against women and bail granted in such cases.

Nithyananda, a popular guru that faces charges of abduction and rape in India, announced he was establishing the Republic of Kailaasa on an island off the coast of Ecuador, which he claims will be the “world’s greatest and purest Hindu nation,” with promises of free education, free healthcare, free food and the revival of the temple based lifestyle, In addition to facing charges in Gujarat over multiple allegations, French authorities are investigating Nithyananda after one of his French devotees complained the guru had cheated him out of $400,000.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Demolition of Alhambra Sikh temple stopped

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Sikh Gurdwara

ALHAMBRA, Calif. (Diya TV)  — A condo project that would have razed a long-standing Sikh Gurdwara in Alhambra, California was halted by that city’s planning commission after hours of public testimony. A building permit for the 28 unit condo project was initially approved, but a 5 to 4 vote stayed the development. Now Gurdwara leaders aim to purchase the land from the current owner.

Professor & political analyst Peter Mathews announced his candidacy for California’s 47th District Congressional seat. Mathews is running as a Progressive Democrat and aims to serve western Orange County cities like Garden Grove and Westminster.

A new NASSCOM report says India added 1,300 startups in 2019 alone, a factor in driving the country’s economic growth. US-India Partnership Forum Chairman & former Cisco CEO John Chambers believes this report demonstrates Digital India initiatives are working.

And US-based private equity fund Advent International acquired a majority stake in Bharat Serums and Vaccines, a leading biopharmaceutical company in India, valuing the company at $500 million.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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