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Harvard India Conference – A Concert of New Ideas

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Attendees gather for the Harvard India Conference at the Kennedy School of Government.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Diya TV) — Two days, 90 speakers and over a thousand attendees at one of the largest student-led conferences about India in the U.S. For the last 15 years, every February, eminent personalities of India from political, entertainment, business and science milieus descend on the Harvard campus to share their stories, visions, challenges and missions to infect the young Indian diaspora in the US with an idea of a better India in the global context.

India Conference 2017 was aptly themed, ‘India – The Global Growth Engine.’ A United Nations report forecasted India to be growing at 7.7% in 2017 besides a global recession (just 2.2% in 2016). However, most speakers cautioned the audience from undue fervor as the country continues to reel in poverty—23.6% of the total population lives under $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity. Multitude of the panels like those discussing agriculture, entrepreneurship, urbanization and women’s rights, kept the focus firmly on the challenges with a smattering of success stories.

The euphoria of being Indian was then rested on the celebrity presence, especially well known Indian journalist Rajat Sharma, actor and activist R. Madhavan and politico and Telugu Pawan Kalyan. People from across the subcontinent travelled to listen to their idols. “Please excuse me, but I am going to scream when Pawan Sir arrives,” said a young man to the lady sitting beside him—he belonged to the same Indian state as Mr. Kalyan. Out of nowhere a fortress of security personnel ranging from Harvard University police, private security and bodyguards appeared to control the crowd frenzy.

Each speaker seeked to inspire the audience with their stories of converting life’s challenges to success. They implored the youth to participate in the growth story of India in every way they could.

Keynote addresses were delivered by politicians and diplomats. In the fully packed Burden Hall auditorium at Harvard Business School, politician and author, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, delivered an almost alphanumerical speech, quoting numbers from past and present and setting context for India in the ‘post-globalization world.’ As a paradox to all those socio-economic parameters he also stated, “Anything I say about India, the opposite is also is true. And these opposites coexist quite cheerfully.”

No growth story is complete without the discussion of women’s emancipation—a truism that is acutely felt in India after several high profile sexual assault cases have put pressure on the government by a rapidly modernizing society. The conference panels reflected the urgency of such issues via topics like ‘Leadership Challenges For Women In a VUCA World’ and ‘Interventions To Address Gender Based Violence In India.’ A particularly evocative moment was when Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor to Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, had all men in the room stand up to take the ‘HeForShe’ pledge at a workshop. Kalki Subramaniam, an Indian transgender activist, artist and author spoke between several clapping interventions and a standing ovation at the ‘Inspire Series.’

Dr. Gururaj Deshpande, entrepreneur and philanthropist delivered the final keynote. He said, “There are three kinds of people in the world: first, who are oblivious to problems, second, who see a problem and complain, third, who find a problem and get excited about it. We need more of the third kind.”

After a full weekend conference there may be many such problem solvers thinking about their next big idea for India and the globe.

David Barclay contributed to this article. 

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87 | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at 87. She was the oldest sitting member of the court. Justice Ginsburg was only the second woman named to the Supreme Court. A cultural and feminist icon, Ginsburg was appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton, and her passing will set off a showdown in the coming weeks before the November election. In a message left this week as her health waned, Ginsburg said “my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced said the Senate will conduct a vote to replace her and President Trump is expected to put forth a nominee to fill the seat in the coming days.

An Indian American doctor filed a federal lawsuit against the Aurora, Colorado police department after one of their police officers pointed a gun at him on his own property while he was trying to park his car. The incident was captured on video. The officer, Justin Henderson, has been suspended for 40 hours without pay and will be required to attend de-escalation training. 45 year old Dr. Paramjit Parmar, who is known in Aurora for his aid to refugees, believes race affected how he was treated and said Henderson’s punishment is “terribly inadequate.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Recall efforts against Kshama Sawant moves forward

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Recall efforts against Kshama Sawant moves forward | Diya TV News

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — The recall effort against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant can move forward after a ruling by a King County judge. Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers said four of the six accusations against Sawant are legitimate. They include misuse of city resources, misuse of her position by letting protesters into City Hall, relinquishing her duties of office to an outside political organization and leading a protest to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house despite her address being protected due to threats from her time as a U.S. Attorney. 

Now, the group of residents leading the recall must get about 11,000 valid signatures before the recall gets on the ballot. Sawant in response said this battle is just the latest attempt by corporate interests and Mayor Durkan to derail her efforts to reform the city and announced she will lead a grassroots campaign to fight the charges.

Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is facing heat as well from U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who suggested prosecutors consider filing charges against her over the mass protests this summer that led some protesters to establish a police-free zone in downtown Seattle. In a tweet, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara offered his help to Durkan pro-bono.

Indian Prime Minister Modi turned 70 years old and received birthday wishes from around the globe, including from President Trump, who called Modi “a great leader and loyal friend.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indiaspora & AAPI data survey Indian American voters

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Indiaspora & AAPI data survey Indian American voters| Diya TV News

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — At a virtual event featuring the former CEO of the Democratic National Committee, Seema Nanda, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Republican Ohio State Representative Niraj Antani, non-profit Indiaspora teamed up with AAPI Data to reveal the growing political power of the Indian American diaspora. The joint report says 66% of Indian Americans currently favor Vice President Biden, and 28% favor President Trump. The study shows an enormous rise in political engagement from the community. There are 1.8 million Indian Americans in the U.S. who are eligible voters and both sides of the aisle recognize the need to further engage Indian Americans, who AAPI Data notes is now the largest part of the Asian American community, surpassing Chinese Americans.

Eric Trump, President Trump’s son, took part in an Indian Voices for Trump event in suburban Atlanta. It was an indoor rally with appropriate social distancing measures in place. Trump was on hand to win support from the community in a vital state that will be tightly contested this fall. Georgia, like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Texas are considered in play and have growing Indian American populations.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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