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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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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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