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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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Pastor challenges yoga, Hinduism for having ‘demonic’ roots

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Diya TV) — A Missouri pastor criticized yoga for its ‘demonic intent’ because of Hinduism influences. John Lindell of the James River Church in Ozark, Mo., which serves over 10,000 people in its congregation, warned Christians to not partake in the activity.

“They were designed, they were created with demonic intent, to open you up to demonic power because Hinduism is demonic,” Lindell said during a sermon on Oct. 28 according to the Springfield News-Leader.

While yoga is a longstanding practice originating from India, there is no indication that it is based off religious values. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, it is stated yoga doesn’t adhere to any particular religion or belief system.

Yoga translates to “union” in Sanskrit, an ancient language of India. Given its broad meaning, the practice has varied locally and abroad. In addition, there are variations in certain disciplines — which can have a Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism influence — but it is dependent on the type of schools, practices and goals one is pursuing.

In the U.S., it’s become popular for various outcomes. Whether it be for physical, mental or spiritual pleasure, yoga has served as a peaceful outlet for many without it impacting their religious beliefs. While Lindell claimed it’s “spiritually dangerous,” many in the area have responded.

Heather Worthy, a Christian and yoga instructor in Springfield, only had four people attend her class following the sermon.

“It’s so frustrating,” Worthy told the Springfield News-Leader. “The whole thing is quite ludicrous to me.”

Worthy felt attacked, and she wasn’t alone.

With about a dozen yoga classes in the Springfield area, Amanda Davis has spent her last 12 years as an instructor.

“Yoga doesn’t prescribe to any religion, and I don’t think people understand that so they get false ideas about it,” Davis said, one week after a Florida gunman killed two people and injured five at a yoga studio.

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Donald Trump takes subtle jab at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during Diwali ceremony

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Donald Trump took time to appreciate and honor fellow South Asian members in his administration during a Diwali celebration, but he did also manage to throw a jab at Ajit Pai.

Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, was criticized by Trump earlier this year during the Sinclair-Tribune merger which halted the conservative local news giants.

The decision made by Pai, a conservative, infuriated Trump:

Fast forward to the Diwali celebration at the White House, the president managed to bring it up again. After raving about how “grateful” he was to have numerous Americans of Indian and Southeast Asian heritage in critical roles and who’ve done an “incredible job,” the remark was unfitting.

After singling out Pai, he reflected on some of that “incredible” and said the following:

“”I just didn’t like one decision he made, but that’s alright,” he joked, then he subtracted some of that “alright,” adding: “not even a little bit, but he’s independent.”

Pai, who is of Indian American descent, was designated by Trump in January 2017 — becoming the first Indian American to hold the office.

The Harvard and Chicago Law School graduate previously served as commissioner of the FCC after being appointed by former president Barack Obama.

Though Trump didn’t elaborate much after pointing him out, it has been noted that Pai carries a heavy load in how media is presented.

Pai’s decision to reverse Sinclair’s merger was based on his stance of the people’s interest and keeping media diverse throughout the country.

Along with first amendment best practices, Pai is focusing on issues relating to broadband, public safety and fiscal responsibility.

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Bollywood sweethearts Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Italy

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Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Konkani' Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com
Bollywood superstars Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Lake Como, Italy

LAKE CUOMO, Italy — Bollywood sweetheart couple, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh have officially tied the knot at a private villa against the scenic Lake Como backdrop, in Italy. The two-day ceremony included a ‘Konkani‘ style ceremony as well as ‘Sindhi‘ ceremony to bring these two Bollywood stars into matrimony.

The couple released two pictures on twitter, with a simple heart emoji

The newlyweds began their love story on screen, sharing intimate moments in films like ‘Ramleela’,’Bajirao Mastani‘ and Padmavat.

According to the Huffington Post, film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali said ‘cut’ during their kiss toward the end, but they continued their sizzling moment as over 50 crew members mesmerizingly watched. It was the start of a blossoming relationship, forging together a Bollywood power couple with chemistry on and off set.

The much awaited wedding ceremony left no stone unturned to celebrate this star couple in grand style with an intensely private and synchronized affair set against at Italy’s scenic Lake Como backdrop, at Villa del Balbianello.

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Sindhi' Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there ‘Sindhi’ Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com

An Indian Bollywood wedding without a celeb designer? I think not. The duo opted to go with veteran designer Sabyasachi Mukherji. ‘Sabya‘ as fans often call him, drew inspiration from the wedding ceremony theme and designed decadent outfits in shades of red, pink and all things ‘shaadi‘ for both the ‘Konkani‘ & ‘Sindhi‘ ceremonies. Deepika wore a veil with the words,”Sada Saubhyagyavati Bhava” embroidered along the hem draped over her head. This mantra translates to “be forever fortunate” is often a blessing given to newly weds, wishing them a ‘happily ever after’ life ahead.

Ofcourse no Bollywood wedding is complete without all the ‘Badhaai‘ or well wishes from fellow co-stars, most of who took to twitter to shower the newly minted couple.

A Bollywood wedding, without some ‘filmy’ elements is nearly impossible. According to Filmfare, Singh made his grand entry on Govinda’s hit song ‘Meri Pant Bhi Sexy’, continuing with ‘Chunari Chunari’ and ‘One Two Ka Four‘ as he reached the wedding venue with his family and relatives.

With heavy security for this intensely private ceremony, the couple remained sensitive to the plight of hundreds of fans & paparazzi gathered to capture a glimpse of their special event. They sent gift packs of sweets to the media, thanking them for their wishes.

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