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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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Deaths of Indian American family in Iowa ruled murder-suicide

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Iowa murder suicide

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (Diya TV) — Iowa police say the shooting deaths of an Indian American family in West Des Moines, Iowa was a murder-suicide. Police said autopsies determined 44-year-old Chandrasekhar Sunkara’s death was a suicide. And the deaths of his wife, 41-year-old Lavanya Sunkara, and their two boys, aged 15 and 10, were homicides.

Top diplomats from the U.S. and India are meeting later this month to continue trade negotiations.

India said this week they will increase tariffs on US exports effective immediately, impacting items like apples, almonds, lentils and several chemical products.

The tax has raised the ire of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who blamed the situation on President Trump. California almond exports to India are worth more than $650 million a year.

21-year-old Bishwajeet Kumar Jha, who authorities say was the head of a group of Indian college students who cheated more than 20 people out of nearly $1 million in a tech support telemarketing fraud scheme, received a five year sentence to prison in Rhode Island.

And we’ll introduce you to the pioneering broadcasters who called the NBA Finals in Punjabi for the very first time.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Indian American family of four killed at home in Iowa

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Iowa Family killed

DES MOINES (Diya TV) — Investigators in Des Moines, Iowa say the Sunkara family, an Indian American family of four, were found dead in their home over the weekend. All four had gunshot wounds. There is no suspect in custody.

The 5th International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated around the world this weekend. Thousands flocked to the Washington Monument in Washington DC, where yoga enthusiasts of all ages took part in the event, including representatives from the White House, US Department of State and the Ambassadors of Nepal, Mauritius and Myanmar.

The alums of the Indian Institutes of Technology gathered in Silicon Valley for their annual conference, featuring talks by Microsoft Chairman John Thompson and Bhavish Aggarwal, the CEO of Ola Cabs.

India is now 7-0 against Pakistan in Cricket World Cup games, after winning by 89 runs in a match interrupted by rain.

And we spoke to Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia after his team won their first NBA title. Nav told our Ravi Kapur exclusively he will part of the championship parade and even received a ring from the owner.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Raptors win first ever NBA championship over the Golden State Warriors

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Toronto Raptors win 2019 NBA Finals

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) —  The first Canadian team ever to win the NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors fought earnestly and took down the NBA’s newest dynasty: the Warriors. The Raptors faced many hurdles in the playoffs, trailing 1-0 against the Magic and 2-0 against the Bucks. They put all of that behind and surged towards a 3-1 start in the Finals, which became increasingly difficult for the Warriors to overcome as they were tackled with injuries.

Kawhi Leonard, the Finals MVP, joined an elite group of players which have won a Finals MVP on two different teams. Among these players are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James, and now Leonard with a Finals MVP with San Antonio and Toronto.

Toronto was filled with star-power, with Fred VanVleet stepping up in the fourth quarter with three-pointers, and Pascal Siakam taking crucial layups in the paint. Kyle Lowry contributed throughout the series, whether rebounds, points, or simply aggression was needed. This lineup, together, took down NBA’s lastest dynasty.

The Warriors, however, put up a worthy fight, staying inches away from winning even with their best player Kevin Durant out and then the sudden loss of Klay Thompson in Game 6. Both teams fought with fervor and passion, with the Raptors inching closer to the Larry O’Brian Trophy as every second on the clock.

Looking Ahead

With the offseason looming, many questions are yet to be answered. Will this Raptors team maintain its core and stay together? If so, will they be able to storm into next season with skillful play? Most likely, yes. After what they have put together, the intention would be to establish themselves as the new NBA dynasty and completely overthrow the Warriors. Nick Nurse won his first championship in his first season coaching the Raptors. With the coach not likely to move, it seems as if the core will stay in place.

The Warriors’ offseason is uncertain, as this aging team has its contracts expiring. Kevin Durant is invariably out for next season after suffering a devastating achilles injury. Will he stay with the Warriors, or will he sign with another team? His injury may influence which team picks him up, as he will be out of commission for the upcoming season. Klay Thompson will become a free agent, but will he stick with the Warriors and his fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry, or lead another team? In addition, players like Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston are aging and may not be able to play as much. The Warriors will need to cultivate the young players, like Alfonzo McKinnie, to be successful.

This was the Warriors’ last game in Oracle Arena, as next season, they will be moving to Chase Center in San Francisco. Will they be able to make a championship run there, or will the Raptors emerge victorious again? It all remains unanswered, but for now, the Raptor roars.

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