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New $36M South Asian satellite launch by India does not include Pakistan

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Indian Satellite

An Indian rocket carrying the South Asia Satellite prepares for launch.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — In a first in the nation’s history, India’s space agency is set to launch a satellite Friday to provide communications services to its neighboring countries.

But not all of them.

The South Asia satellite, funded entirely by India, was announced several years ago with the intention of serving all eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). According to Uday Bhaskar, director of Delhi-based think tank the Society for Policy Studies, the satellite represents a “new form of regional cooperation,” and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called it a “gift to the SAARC region.”

The project does not, however, involve Pakistan, which removed itself in involvement of the development.

The satellite project comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries. This week, India accused Pakistan of mutilating the bodies of two of its soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Last year, militants from Pakistan killed 18 Indian soldiers in an attack on an Indian army base.

Some have suggested Pakistan may have pulled out due to espionage concerns. N. Sathiya Moorthy, a regional director at the Observer Research Foundation, said India should “do everything to ensure that policy makers (in Pakistan) remain convinced that it is nothing more than what India says it is.”

Lele hailed Pakistan’s backing out as a missed opportunity for Islamabad. Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the country was initially “keen to participate in the project.”

“However, as India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis, it was not possible for Pakistan to support it as a regional project under the umbrella of SAARC,” he added.

He dismissed speculation over espionage concerns as “unfounded.”

The satellite will provide communications and disaster management services across South Asia.

Experts say the move is also designed to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. In 2011, Beijing launched a communications satellite for long-time ally Pakistan, followed by the launch of another for Sri Lanka in 2012.

The South Asia satellite weighs 2,230 kilograms and is carrying 12 top-of-the-line communication transponders, making it India’s most significant space project since February’s record-breaking launch of 104 satellites with a single rocket.

Since the 2013 launch of India’s Mars orbiter, the country’s space agency has established itself as a reliable, low-cost global player. Friday’s launch will enable the new satellite to provide telecommunications, disaster management and weather forecasting services, among others.

India’s space program is increasing in sophistication.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on diversifying TV station ownership

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) —    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he’s aware the incentive auction nearly wiped out TV stations owned by women & minorities. How he’s addressing the issue, plus the on-going battle over net neutrality, robocalls & his evolution from staffer to Commissioner to Chair on an all-new The Public Interest with Ravi Kapur, Sunday at 9 am & 5pm exclusively on DiyaTV!

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Elon Musk says Tesla plans to be in India by 2020

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —   India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, just helped his brother Anil out of a major jam, despite their past differences. Anil’s Reliance Communications owed $77 million to Ericsson and he faced jail for non-payment. But in a statement, the company announced the debt was addressed, implying older brother Mukesh had taken care of the bill.

India’s second-richest man, Azim Premji, is making news of own by giving billions to charity in what is thought to be largest donation ever seen in India.

The tech tycoon has now allocated a total of $21 billion to the Azim Premji Foundation.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted he wants to bring their electric cars to India this year or by 2020. He has blamed tough policies for delaying the carmaker’s entry into India in the past. India is the world’s fourth largest automobile market.

Adding to the pacts they’ve struck over the last three years, India and the United States are close to finalizing a new deal to deepen defense industry collaboration.

And representatives from six social media platforms met with Indian election officials, holding discussions on ways to tackle fake news and authenticate political ads in advance of elections there next month.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announces 2020 Presidential run

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —   Days after two mosques in New Zealand were targeted in racially motivated shooting, New Zealand’s prime minister vowed to change gun laws within one week. 50 people died and 50 were wounded in the livestreamed attack by a 28-year-old Australian man, and self-proclaimed racist, who is being held on murder charges.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand officially announced her campaign for the White House, making the rounds in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the other Democratic presidential hopefuls made their way around the nation to meet with voters.

Iowa played host to Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar

Bernie Sanders hit the trail in Nevada.

And Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard made the rounds in the Bay Area.

Instagram comedian Jess Hilarious caused a furor online after posting a set of racially-insensitive videos saying four Sikhs on her flight made her feel “threatened.”

Those Sikh passengers were removed from the aircraft for reasons that are still unknown.

And Vancouver businessman David Sidoo pleaded not guilty to felony fraud charges in a U.S. federal court for allegedly paying $200,000 to have someone help his sons pass the SAT, one of whom attended U.C. Berkeley. He was released on $1.5 million bond.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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