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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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Missing Hindu woman found mutilated in Pakistan

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The mutilated body of a Hindu woman was found in a field in southeastern Pakistan. Police say 40 year old Daya Bheel was murdered in the latest suspected attack against minorities in the Muslim-majority country. Authorities say they have arrested some suspects but have not determined a motive.

The Khosla family has donated nearly 2 million dollars to the Nudge Institute to help fight poverty. The philanthropists have donated millions of dollars for many other causes.

And disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-fried pleaded not guilty to eight different counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy before a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York. U.S. prosecutors allege that under Bankman-Fried’s direction, FTX, once considered one of the largest and most-trusted cryptocurrency exchanges, transferred billions in customer assets to his trading firm, Alameda Research. If convicted of these charges, Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Christmas crash kills Indian American toddler

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Tragic news out of Nevada. Authorities say an Indian American toddler has died in a devastating Christmas day car crash and his mother is in critical condition fighting for her life. Authorities say the accident happened on a busy Las Vegas boulevard and they were returning home from a trip in California.

Anil Beephan is now the first Indian American Republican ever to be elected to the New York State Assembly in Albany. So far only Indian American Democrats have been elected to the state legislature. Beephan will also become the first minority to represent Dutchess County and at 29 years old, he’s the youngest GOP rep in the state legislature. He’s currently in the tech industry and has also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Vice President Kamala Harris has named Indian American Rajeev Badyal to a key national advisory group, responsible for strategy and recommendations to improve and maintain space policy. Badyal already works for Amazon, helping launch satellites into orbit. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Warriors host first-ever Bhangra Night

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The Golden State Warriors first-ever Bhangra Night made its debut during the Warriors-Jazz game at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors say it’s a chance for the team to connect with the Bay Area’s rapidly growing South Asian community and fan base. Only Diya TV was on hand to capture the festivities. This change from the annual Bollywood night was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.

A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted Sivannarayana Barama of insider trading. Authorities say he used the quarterly financial performance of Palo Alto Networks before that information was released to the public and then traded in that company’s stock while that information was still confidential. Barama worked in IT for several Silicon Valley companies.

U.S. Border Patrol caught more than 4000 Indians illegally crossing the Mexico border in October and November. That’s more than double compared to the same time frame last year. An Indian man recently died climbing a border wall in Texas. The Biden administration is struggling to contain a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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