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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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Democrats target new front runner Warren in Ohio debate

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Warren

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (Diya TV)  — In Ohio, Democratic Presidential candidates took to the stage for the fourth time in this 2020 cycle, with the new target of interest being Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has surged in recent polls. Sen. Bernie Sanders, coming off a recent heart attack, looked reinvigorated, especially after it was revealed he received endorsements from progressive Congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib. Sen. Kamala Harris, in her appeal to voters, referenced her mom’s journey from India to the U.S.

In the first television ad bought in Tennessee’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, Republican candidate Dr. Manny Sethi focused on illegal immigration, using his own family story to explain. A Nashville trauma surgeon in his first bid for office, Sethi says in the ad “let ‘em try to call me a racist,” when his mom Dr. Chander Sethi shared the story of how she and her husband fulfilled all legal requirements to immigrate to the United States.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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U.S. and India continue to debate trade policy

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Goyal

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — As India and the U.S. continue to debate trade policy, India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said India does not have any trade disputes with the U.S., and that there is huge bilateral trade potential.

Democrats are back it in Ohio, debating to see who will represent the party against President Trump in 2020. It’ll mark the first debate since Sen. Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, the first debate for businessman Tom Steyer and the return of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to the debate stage.

The 2019 Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans is out and it includes seven Indian Americans and one Pakistani American. Among the group are Indian American entrepreneurs Rakesh Gangwal, Jay Chaudhry, Romesh Wadhwani, Ram Shriram, Brian Sheth, Aneel Bhusri, and Vinod Khosla, as well as Pakistani American Shahid Khan.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, are in Pakistan to do some sightseeing, visiting the Pakistan National Monument, and spending time to highlight the UK-Pakistan relationship.

And engineer turned Miss Oregon, Shivali Kadam, is up for Miss America, trying to become the second Indian American to win the coveted pageant.

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MIT professor, Abhijit Banerjee wins Nobel Prize in Economics

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Abhijit Banerjee

BOSTON (Diya TV)  — Abhijit Banerjee, an economics professor at MIT, won the Nobel Prize in Economics, sharing the honor with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”

A bipartisan effort is underway, led by the Sikh Coalition, asking members of Congress to honor the late Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal through a congressional resolution.

Pakistani officials arrested four aides of Hafiz Saeed on terrorism financing charges. Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai in 2008, is also in custody on the same charges.

Veteran Pixar director and animator Sanjay Patel got the greenlight to create “Ghee Happy” for Netflix, an animated reimagining of Hindu deities as little kids discovering their powers. Patel, you may recall, was nominated for an Oscar a couple of years ago for his animated short, “Sanjay’s Super Team.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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