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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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Impact commits $10M to supporting Indian American candidates

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Impact

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Indian American IMPACT, a political organization working to put Indian Americans in public office, announced a new $10 million commitment to support Indian American candidates nationwide. They also announced public interest lawyer Neil Makhija will be IMPACT’s new Executive Director. The number of Indian Americans in Congress has grown five-fold in just the past eight years.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr faced questioning by the House Judiciary Committee about the use of force against Black Lives Matter protesters in recent weeks and the Trump administration’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll show the clash between Congressmember Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Barr that’s making headlines.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged YouPlus, a Silicon Valley startup, and its CEO Shaukat Shamim with defrauding investors by making false and misleading statements about the company’s finances. The complaint states Shamim told investors YouPlus earned millions of dollars in annual revenue and had more than 100 customers, including Fortune 500 companies. But the scheme dissolved when Shamim is said to have told certain investors YouPlus had earned less than $500,000 and obtained only four paying customers since the company’s 2013 inception.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Feds arrest entrepreneur Mukund Mohan for PPP fraud

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Mukund Mohan

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — U.S. attorneys arrested serial Indian American entrepreneur Mukund Mohan on charges of allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program with fake and altered documents and embezzling more than $5.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds through six shell companies. Mukund Mohan was a former Microsoft and Amazon executive and is currently the CTO of BuildDirect.

Shahid Buttar, who is running for Congress in San Francisco against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is being accused of sexual harassment by comedienne Elizabeth Croydon. Buttar said Croydon’s charges are false.

Apple manufacturer Foxconn has started building iPhone 11 units in a facility near Chennai in India. It’s the first time Apple has made one of its top-tier phones in India. India is the second-biggest smartphone market in the world, second only to China.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India & China slowly move towards disengagement

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India

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India and China held virtual talks and agreed on a complete disengagement of troops along the line of control. But there remains sticking points in multiple areas along the border. India insists bilateral relations will not improve until “full peace and tranquility” are restored.

Police in Schenectady, New York are facing major scrutiny after footage was released of one of their officers applying a neck hold to 31 year old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud. He was treated and released, but he continues to face two charges of running away and resisting arrest. He’s accused of slashing his neighbors tire, causing $200 of damage. His attorneys are fighting to get prosecutors to drop the charges.

The UK Parliamentary Group, which visited Pakistan Administered Kashmir, and heavily criticized the Indian government for their recent constitutional change applying to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, acknowledged they received nearly $18,000 from the Pakistan Government to make the trip.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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