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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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Democrats meet for the third time to debate

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10 Democrats debate in Houston | Diya TV News

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — Democrats met for the third time to debate, this time in Houston. With the field on stage featuring just 10 candidates, it was more rancorous than the first two clashes.

California Senator Kamala Harris launched ‘South Asians for the People‘ in a video tweet to build support for her presidential bid from Indian Americans and other South Asians. Harris is the daughter of the late Indian American cancer researcher Shymala Gopalan.

Another Democratic contender, former Vice President Joe Biden, announced Indian American Amit Jani will serve as Asian American Pacific Islander national vote director. He’s currently serving in New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s administration.

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is levying criticism at the current officeholder, Narendra Modi and his government for focusing on ”headline management” rather than acting to improve a slowing Indian economy.

And actress Felicity Huffman received 14 days in prison, a $30,000 fine and community service for paying to rig her daughter’s SAT scores.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India may offer to cut import duties, for U.S. goods

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India

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India has a road map in place to spend $130 billion over the next 5-7 years to modernize their armed forces and bolster their combat capabilities over their neighbors. The plan includes procurement of a slew of weapons, missiles, air defense systems, fighter jets, submarines and developing infrastructure for use of AI.

Meanwhile, India and Russia are increasing industrial cooperation and will create new technological and investment partnerships, especially in high-tech, with the goal to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025.

And to help Indian’s space agency ISRO establish a communication link with Vikram, the moon lander lying motionless on the lunar surface, NASA is sending hello messages. NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab beamed a radio frequency to Vikram to establish contact, but no luck so far.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Human Rights

India and Pakistan clash over Kashmir at UN

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India & Pakistan clash over Kashmir at UN | Diya TV News

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — India and Pakistan shared their respective narratives over Kashmir before the United Nations. India said its Constitution “guaranteed fundamental rights to all our citizens without any distinction,” while dismissing Pakistan as the “the epicentre of global terrorism.” Pakistan urged the UN to set up a commission of inquiry into human rights violations, claiming India arrested more than 6,000 people without due process in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal issued her second letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Kashmir, expressing deep concern about reports of a humanitarian crisis in Jammu & Kashmir.

A NPR producer based in India, Furkan Khan, resigned after major social media backlash from an anti-Hindu tweet that stated “if Indians give up on Hinduism, they will also be solving most of their problems. What with all the piss drinking and dung worshipping.” Khan has since apologized and deleted the tweet.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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