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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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Images show China building a development on Indian border

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Images show China developing border area by Bhutan, India | Diya TV News

CHINA-BHUTAN border (Diya TV) — New satellite images appear to show China built a development in the Himalayas along the border with India and Bhutan that was the site of a standoff in 2017.

Satellite images last month from US-based Maxar Technologies show there’s been construction all year long, including new military storage bunkers.

Chinese officials say the buildup was within the scope of their sovereignty. China and Bhutan, who do not have diplomatic relations, both lay claim to that Doklam region.

Vice President-Elect Joe Biden officially introduced his nominee for Secretary of State Tony Blinken, a veteran of the Obama Administration. Blinken during an Indian Independence Day event held by the Biden-Harris campaign said strengthening ties with India is a high-priority of the new administration. We’ll profile his career and what US-India ties will look like with him at the helm.

Watch what Blinken had to say during that campaign event here: https://youtu.be/8VjMkEZLiP0?t=960

A stone statue of Hindu goddess Maa Annapoorna stolen more than a century ago and found in Canada will be returned to India. The statue is believed to be originally from Varanasi.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise | Diya TV News

MALABAR ISLANDS, India (Diya TV) — Maritime forces from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia completed Phase II of the exercises dubbed Malabar in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. State Department thanked India in a tweet for hosting the effort by “The Quad” that promotes a free and open Indo-Pacific against a growing Chinese presence in the region.

The state of Michigan officially certified its election, formally granting President-Elect Biden its 16 electoral votes. And while President Trump continues to litigate in the hopes of overturning the outcome of the election, to date, he’s lost more than 30 cases. And now the General Services Administration informed the President-Elect he will be able to get the funding and documents needed  to start the formal transition in government.

Indian American Mala Adiga was appointed by President-Elect Joe Biden to be the Policy Director for his wife Jill, who will be the First Lady. Adiga is an alum of the Obama administration, as well as the Biden Foundation.

Pakistani American Dr. Umair Shah was appointed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to be Washington State’s Secretary of Health. Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot | Diya TV News

JAMMU and KASHMIR, India (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Modi thanked security forces for unraveling a terrorist plot by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. Four men suspected of plotting a new attack on the anniversary of the 26/11 attacks were killed during a gunfight with Indian armed forces at a checkpoint in Jammu. Their truck was loaded with a cache of weapons and explosives. Modi is now reviewing the security apparatus along the international border and the Line of Control with Pakistan amid this infiltration.

Terrorism was a major theme of the annual BRICS summit featuring Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was hosted by Russia virtually. Prime Minister Modi said terrorism is the biggest challenge world is facing today, adding “countries that support the terrorists are held accountable.” Russian President Vladmir Putin said India and China may start producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, tested positive for coronavirus. His father and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and many others in the Trump inner circle have had the virus over the last few months. A spokesman said Trump Jr. learned his diagnosis earlier this week, but has no symptoms and is quarantining in his cabin.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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