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Ajit Pai confirmed by Senate for second term at FCC

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Ajit Pai

Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the second five-year term.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the second five-year term.

The 44-year-old was confirmed with a 52-41 vote to remain the Federal Communications Commission chair. Pai’s confirmation did not come without backlash form some legislators.

Ina  statement from the FCC, Pai says: “I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate.  Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent.  With today’s vote, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance these critical priorities in the time to come.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer alleged that during his tenure as acting FCC Chairman, Pai established a clear record of favoring big corporations at the expense of consumers, innovators and small businesses. He alleges Pai supported Congressional attempts to reverse the FCC’s 2016 broadband privacy rule, which would have prevented big cable and internet companies from profiting off of personal internet data.

 “Most disturbingly, Pai is currently attempting to dismantle the Open Internet Order, the net neutrality rules under which millions of consumers currently have access to a free and open internet,” Schumer said.

“Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent,” Pai responded. Republican Senator Roger Wicker defended Pai, saying he is “working to establish the light-touch regulatory framework that allowed the internet to become the marvel of the modern age, keeping it free and open for consumers, innovators and providers. Internet technology will continue to thrive if we keep the heavy hand of government away from the controls.”

Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said, “In recent weeks, Pai has worked tirelessly to help ensure communications services are restored to the communities affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.”

“Pai understands communications policy from just about every angle – no wonder, given his deep and impressive resume,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

President Trump named Pai acting Chairman of Federal Communications shortly after taking office.

Pai was previously Commissioner at FCC. Appointed by President Barack Obama, Pai was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in May 2012.

Before joining FCC, Pai was a Partner at Jenner & Block, LLP and Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel at the FCC.

Pai grew up in Kansas.His educational background includes honors from Harvard University (1994) and University of Chicago Law School 1997) where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R Mulroy Prize.

The FCC is an independent agency created by Congressional statute to regulate interstate communications in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

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Third Phase of Indian Election concludes | Diya TV News

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Indian Election Third Phase

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — The third and largest phase of Indian election is now over and campaigning for the fourth phase of the election is now underway. Phase 3 encompassed 117 seats across 13 states and two union territories. More than 63% of voters turned out in phase three.

The United States Embassy says FBI agents are on the ground in Sri Lanka to assist the investigation in Easter bombing attack, where the death toll is now up to 359 people, with more than 500 others injured.

Sri Lanka’s State Defense Minister said those responsible for the attacks were well educated, from upper-middle class families, and financially independent.

Geopolitical and economic talks are on the docket between the U.S. and India and the US and Pakistan, as America’s Principal Deputy Secretary of State Alice Wells will be in New Delhi and Islamabad this week.

The U.S. is working on a solution for India in light of America’s decision not to extend waivers from sanctions on purchases of Iranian oil.

According to the United States Elections Project, midterm turnout among Asian American and Pacific Islander voters increased by 14 points from 2014 to 2018, from 27% to 41%.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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An immigrant community’s gratitude, “serve where we live”

Founder of HC4A wanted to give back to where he lives: Austin. Hundreds of Indian Americans joined to open chapters across the US and raise over a million dollars for the cause.

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AUSTIN, Texas (Diya TV) — Indian Americans are the most educated and most affluent immigrant community in the United States. A recent survey conducted by Dalberg & Indiaspora shows that Indian Americans have the potential to give over 3 billion dollars annually. Harish Kotecha, founder of HC4A (Hindu Charities for America), came here with his family in 1972 when the dictator of Uganda gave all Indians a notice of 90 days to leave the country. His many successes in this country motivated him to build an organization that encourages philanthropy in the Indian American community with the motto ‘serve where we live.’

Organizations such as Akshaya Patra, Pratham USA, have raised millions of dollars over years within the US to to support causes in India and make a real difference. Stretching the dollar and making an enormous impact in the lives of millions of children in India. And even though Kotecha is well aware that a dollar remitted to India can create a big difference to a developing economy versus the US, he believes its importat to give back to the community we live in.

There is poverty here too. I thought it would be so great if the Indian community worked as one to serve those in need in the US,” says Kotecha. Hundreds of Indian Americans have been inspired to raise over a million dollars since the inception of HC4A in 2010. This is a small amount compared to nearly a half million raised in one night at the annual gala for the organizations funding education in India.

The HC4A mission is to ‘bridge income disparities through education.’ Two salient events raise funds for these endeavors: the HC4A Gala and Bollywood Meets Borscht Belt (BMBB). The Jewish community helps organize the BMBB event; leading Bollywood dance schools in Austin like Monsoon Dance and Agni lend the glitz and glamor to a high spirited night.

The HC4A Gala night
Attendees at HC4A Gala night in Austin

Schoolsupplies, backpack programs, and scholarships form the pillars of education-based giving for the volunteers at HC4A.

According to Dalberg, Education ranked at 61% as a passion cause for Indian American donors, followed by healthcare & Gender equality. “The Indian community is very successful, and we all came for one purpose, education, that was our driving factor. We know the struggle, so we are ready to support the cause for education,” says Vaishali Tendolkar, Secretary of HC4A.

Courtesy: Indiaspora & Dalberg Survey. Respondents were Indian American donors

Kotecha says that several Muslims and Jews fundraise and help organize events for HC4A. For him, the success of HC4A is the fact that people from all faiths and backgrounds come together to help the community they live in.

In 2017, Harish Kotecha was honored with the President’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.” As this model worked in Austin, Kotecha and his team worked on expanding HC4A’s presence to Southern California, Houston, and Dallas.

Nidhi Trehan, a sociologist, and a chapter leader for HC4A in Houston says, “If we reduce inequality here in the US, we will be working to reduce it globally.”

HC4A is asking us, that is Indian Americans, to reach out to other communities and give them a helping hand. We actually owe it to the pioneers that fought for civil rights in this country, to be in the position of privilege we are in today,” she added. Led by Sashi Konidena, President of the Houston chapter raised over $12,000 this past year.

The Southern California chapter began in late 2019 and has already presented $5000 to the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). Close to 50% of the students enrolled in the LACCD fall below the poverty line.

School supplies: More than 10,000 backpacks have been assembled adn given to local ISDs

Giving back is a metric of success for any individual or community, and it’s a great reinforcement of an immigrant population’s gratitude.

Karthik Pichai, a serial entrepreneur, helped start the Dallas chapter in 2019 and has already raised $10,000 for Dallas Community College. He is rallying successful entrepreneurs not just to give, but also potentially train the students in their tech companies. “I want to bring together affluent entrepreneurs with shared values. Along with our Indian American kids, we can set an example saying that we care about our local community and want to give back,” he says.

Teri Benge, who was pursuing a degree in hospitality management at ACC, while keeping a full-time job, writes in her thank you note to HC4A that, “I will always remember this gesture of kindness and will one day, pay this forward by helping students achieve their goals, just as you have helped me.”

Harish Kotecha, founder, HC4A

As HC4A volunteers celebrate 10 years of relentless hard work, at the Asian American Resource Center, Austin, none are ready to just sit on their laurels. They laugh and cheer on as they see a 2030 vision board of Shahrukh Khan and Jennifer Lopez coming for the Gala night celebrations and a fundraising goal of a 100 million dollars.

2019 was the biggest year for HC4A as they were successful in establishing an irrevocable endowment fund for scholarships. This year about $150,000 in fellowships will go to students of various ethnic communities. To Kotecha its important that the work continue beyond him, “If us go away, the charity goes away, the fund will still be there. Legacy of the charity and donors will remain,

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Why ‘Howdy, Modi!’ could deliver 2020 to Trump

Culture, camaraderie, and campaigning–the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event had it all. The event was designed to successfully focus on “We the People.”

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HOUSTON (Diya TV) —  ‘Howdy, Modi!’, the historic event that the Indian American community held its breath for, is over. If you are wondering why Houston, it might have to do more with American politics than Indian. There is a reason, the leader of the largest democracy decided to join the leader of the oldest.

In signature style, both leaders talked about everything the crowds wanted to hear and ended with a spontaneous victory lap around the massive NRG stadium, not leaving each other’s hands for a moment.

Celebrating friendships and cultural ties between the two countries holds the promise of better economic and diplomatic relationships. So in that way, this was a unique event to boost relations between the U.S. and India.

In a two-part production, equal importance was given to cultural events as well as the political razzmatazz.

Less ‘optics’, more culture

“This is a cultural, social, and political event. Coming from a nonprofit background, I wish people get together more like this,” said Sattie Persaud, founder of World Heritage Cultural Center, whose Global Ambassador, Alyssa Raghu, sang the US national anthem to kick off the festivities.

“There are generations after generations of cultures that get lost in the sea of all the different cultures in the United States,” Persaud said.

In fact, exploring these generational routes was the theme of a skit that 19-year-old Tejal from UT Austin was a part of. She said that practicing Bollywood fusion dance with her troupe was “a matter of self-identity—trying to balance two cultures, and benefit from both.”

American gospel and Indian spiritual singing: a soulful moment honoring Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. at “Howdy, Modi!”

There were no pyrotechnics and calisthenics to surprise the audiences, rather a pride of the familiar. Students from universities across the U.S. presented classical, folk, and fusion dance and music pieces. It started with a Gurbani, then the show meandered from classical dances of India to acapellas, from country music and guitars to dhol-tasha.

And then in an ecstatic moment for the crowds, PM Modi came on stage. He met a congressional delegation from across the country. Soon enough Trump joined in.

The bonhomie of an electoral base

Houston was no accident. The traditionally ‘red’ state of Texas has most recently seen some bursts of blue. It boasts a whopping 38 electoral college votes out of 538.

For the first ten minutes PM Modi enthralled crowds just by speaking of the great achievements of President Trump. Crowds chanted “Modi”, “India”, and “USA”.  “You (President Trump) had introduced me to your family in 2017, and today I have the honor to introduce you to my family,” said PM Modi, pointing to a cheering crowd. President Trump returned all the adulation back. He commended the “hardworking” Indian American community while drawing parallels between the conservative core values of the two countries.

“This historic Modi-Trump mega show may help Trump get a majority of the 4 million Indo-American votes,” said Dr Randeep Suneja, a prominent cardiologist and humanitarian based in Houston.

President Trump looks on as PM Modi appreciates his “strong resolve to make America great again.”

Once Modi was done donning praise for the President, Donald Trump took the stage to address the capitvated 50,000 Indian Americans and wento on to acknowledge the contributions of the community, saying “we are proud to have you as Americans”. The Indian American vote bank for Trump was certainly ticking upwards.

PM Modi and the audience gave President Trump a standing ovation as he called out “radical, Islamic terrorism.” He went on to oddly correlate India’s efforts to protect its borders with his own efforts to stop immigration from America’s southern borders.

“We want to promote excellence, self-determination, and enterprise, as opposed to a culture of victimhood and entitlement,” explains native Texan and attorney Sanjay Narayan. He is also a board member of the Texas Asian Republican Assembly of North Texas. “Illegal immigration is deeply unfair to millions of wonderful legal immigrants, who work hard, pay their taxes, follow our rules, and obey our laws,” he said.

The Trump administrations, increasingly administrative strictures and requirements for visa and citizenship granting processes have disappointed the foreign workers of the Indian community. Despite Indian diplomacy and lobbying by major corporates, no breakthrough results have been achieved.

“I am firmly against illegal immigration, but I want a welcoming legal immigration policy,” says Narayan. This is largely the position of Republican party leaders across the U.S.

Welfare and farewell

Modi came back up on stage, this time for an almost hour-long speech in Hindi. His talk was broadly organized around two points: welfare and farewell.

He spoke of the many successes of his government over the last few years—some substantiated by numbers, rest by rhetoric. That was the welfare part.

Finally, in his farewell to redundant policies and practices, PM Modi talked mostly about his government’s measures to reduce corruption. Then, what really roused the crowds, was his assertive farewell to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that ended the temporary special status of Kashmir in India. This was the zenith of an uproarious audience at “Howdy, Modi!”

Crowds cheering to PM Modi’s farewell to Article 370

“Article 370 has truly made him the most decisive, fearless, and greatest PM that India has ever seen,” said Dr. Suneja.

The crowd was enthralled. Modi walked up to Trump and hand-in-hand, Trump and Modi went around the stadium, waving at the cheering crowd. The walk, seldom witnessed in international diplomacy, was a sign for Indian American voters. Northern California head of the Overseas Friends of BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) Chandru Bhambra, noted “Just only by standing with a Most Powerful Leader of the world Prime Minister Modi, Trump will transform most of the Indian Voters into his fold.” 

Anti India Protests

Less than a mile outside the venue, a significant assembly of protestors stacked their placards and rolled up flags of Khalistan and Azad Kashmir. Chanting “Azadi” (freedom), the protestors held placards that read “Free Kashmir” and “Modi is Hitler”. Claiming the ‘majority muslim’ region of Kashmir needed to be “Free” from India’s Hindu nationalist regime.

Protestors shouting “Azadi!” (“Freedom!”) about a mile away from the event.

15 percent of the Indian population is Muslim, and 19 districts in India have a Muslim majority. To many Indians, this is an internal matter and the issue of Article 370 is one that grossly misunderstood.

Earlier in the year, in an exclusive interview with Diya TV, Consul General of India in San Francisco, Ambassador Sanjay Pandya, explains the Indian governments prespective.

“I find it difficult to fathom, how is this interpreted as an India-Pakistan issue. It is an administrative decision, for administrative efficiency, and reorganization of the state,” CGI SFO Sanjay Panda

“We the people,” are the first three words in the Constitutions of India and the USA. Those words were the binding theme of the summit as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, President Trump, and PM Modi brought it up at different times to emphasize the importance of Indo-U.S. relations.

“We the people” will continue cultural exchanges, and trade and continue to vote in these two vibrant democracies

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