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Ascend Pinnacle hosts Inaugural Awards Dinner

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Ascend Pinnacle
Ascend Pinnacle

Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman and former Rohm and Haas chairman Rajiv Gupta at last week’s inaugural Ascend Pinnacle awards ceremony.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (Diya TV) — Ascend Pan-Asian, a leadership group comprised of 20,000 members and 28 student chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada, hosted the organization’s inaugural awards dinner on Friday, bringing together the South Asian community’s best and brightest from the technology, manufacturing and industrial sectors.

Since the organization’s founding in 2005, Ascend has sought to enhance the  Asian presence in North America’s leadership and business communities.

S.K. Gupta, one of Ascend’s co-founders and the group’s managing director, said the organization’s presence is important in positioning South Asians at the top of Silicon Valley’s management. A point that is only further amplified when you consider the contributions the community has made to the valley’s growth and development.

“Even those (Silicon Valley companies) powered by them (Indian Americans), when it goes public, we seem to not be at the top of the organizations. Now we want respect, and you get respect by sitting on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.”

S.K. graduated from the University of Michigan with a BSE degree in naval architecture and marine engineering, he promptly began working for Lockheed Martin in 1982. There, he held assignments in engineering, business operations, business development, operations and program management on commercial, military and classified programs, including as the test director of the stealth ship Sea Shadow from 1988-1995.

He also served as the vice president of operations for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company from 2001 until 2011.

It’s not just about equal representation, Gupta said the positioning of more Asian and Indian American on Fortune 500 company boards is based off merit.

“What we’re saying is that there are people of merit, who are Asian American, who just because they look different or talk different, should still be recognized.”

And that’s what Ascend is about, building a pipeline of visible, qualified Asian American executives, ripe for the picking of company boards.

“(Ascend) will continue to build and fill the pipeline so people can’t say that we don’t have qualified candidates. The long-term goal is that we get to a point where we won’t need an Asian American board directors network because they’ll already be a part of the system.”

Raj Gupta, the former chief executive officer and president of Rohm and Haas, attended the event and was presented with an award for his accomplishments.

From India, Gupta graduated in 1967 with a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT, Bombay, eventually earning his master’s from Cornell University and an MBA from Drexel. He joined Rohm and Haas in 1971, working his way from the ground floor to the board of directors, ultimately being elected chairman in 1999. He left Rohm & Haas after its $15.3 billion acquisition in 2009.

He currently serves as the chairman of Delphi Automotive, in addition to his standing on a number of public and private boards. He spoke to Diya TV about the honor of being Ascend’s first-ever honoree at an event.

“When S.K. called me and said ‘Raj, we want you to be the honoree,’ I was blown away,” he said. “The fact that this recognition is coming from the Asian American business community personally means a great deal to me. I am overwhelmed.”

Raj said this drive by Asian Americans to become more visible is no different than any other minority or gender push to close the gap in company management, it’s about finding a voice.

“I’ve been on 10 public boards and five private boards and I’ve never heard one chairman ask the question, ‘should we aspire to get an Asian board member?’. For me, it is important to raise the profile.”

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New Zealand eliminates India in cricket World Cup

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New Zealand wins Cricket

MANCHESTER, England (Diya TV) — After a rain delay stopped play between New Zealand and India, when play resumed, the Kiwis held on to win by 18 runs, knocking India out of the Cricket World Cup. It’s on to the championship round for New Zealand.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided an Indian restaurant in Washington DC, detaining several employees.

Airbnb, the Silicon Valley couchsurfing startup turned hospitality behemoth, says they made a direct economic impact of around $150 million in India in 2018.

Indian Airbnb hosts collectively made almost $28 million and welcomed nearly 800,000 guests last year. 

Chennai-based speech recognition startup, Uniphore Software Systems, raised $38 million as part of its Series C round. They’ve received funding from California venture capital firm March Capital Partners and former Cisco CEO John Chambers. 

And Indo-Australian Priya Serrao was crowned Miss Universe Australia 2019.

The 26-year-old policy advisor from the state of Victoria said she will use her new platform to promote multiculturalism. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump says tariffs by India are ‘No longer acceptable’

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Tariffs no longer acceptable

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — In a tweet, President Trump targeted India once again, saying “India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable.”

Yet earlier this year, the Trump administration stripped India of a preferential status that exempted billions of dollars worth of products from U.S. levies.

One of the most unique characters ever to run for President has died. Billionaire businessman Ross Perot was 89. Many give his independent campaign in 1992 credit for helping Bill Clinton beat incumbent George H.W. Bush.

A day after Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell got out of the race, another billionaire businessman, Tom Steyer, jumped into the Presidential fray.

India’s OlaCabs recently launched its ride-sharing services in London. And now Ola Electric, their electric vehicle spinoff, just raised a $250 million Series B round at a $1 billion valuation. It plans to bring 10,000 vehicles to the road this year.

And the world will have to wait another day to find out who will play for the Cricket World Cup, after a rain delay stopped play between New Zealand and India.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump meets Modi & Abe in Japan

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OSAKA, Japan (Diya TV) — President Donald Trump held a trilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. According to Ivanka Trump, the conversation encompassed 5G technology, working through details on trade and ongoing national security interests for each party.

From Japan, President Trump went to South Korea and entered the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea. He then walked into North Korea to meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un, becoming the first sitting President to ever to enter North Korea.

Silicon Valley startup Fungible announced they’ve raised $200 million from a group of investors including Softbank, taking their total raise to $300 million. A leader in data-centric computing, Fungible is led by CEO Pradeep Sindhu, who previously founded Juniper Networks.

The NBA free agency signing period kicked off with a bombshell: Kevin Durant is leaving behind the team he won two championships with, The Golden State Warriors, for the upstart Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie Irving will join him there. The Warriors traded for the Nets player most impacted by those deals, D’Angelo Russell.

And England beat India by 31 runs in the Cricket World Cup, giving Team India its first loss of the Cup. India will face Bangladesh next.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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