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Exclusive: Sen. Kamala Harris sees increased political engagement

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Kamala Harris

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Earlier this month, more than 200 Indian American candidates, elected officials, including California Sen. Kamala Harris gathered in Washington for the inaugural Impact Summit, an effort to build a long term political network for the diaspora. All five Indian American members of Congress spoke at this event that was sponsored in part by Diya TV. Below is a transcript of an interview conducted on site by Ravi Kapur with Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris for our public affairs program “The Public Interest,” edited for clarity.

Q: We just had the California primary and turnout was really low. Given the political environment that you see here in Washington, now in your role as a senator, do you feel that folks are just uninspired to come out to vote, no matter who the candidate is?

A: Actually, I don’t. I’ve been seeing a level of activeness and participation that actually gives me a lot of optimism about our future. I’ve been seeing young people, teenagers, middle school students who are coming out, who are thinking about issues, who are speaking about issues. You look at those kids from Parkland, Florida, high school students, and what that has excited around high school students around the country to speak up about issues like gun violence. You look at the dreamers and the DACA kids who are coming by thousands to the United States Capitol, walking the halls of Congress to speak about immigration policy. If you look at all the young people, in particular, who are coming out to talk about issues linked to disparities around race or economic disparities and inequalities.

I actually am very excited about what I have been seeing — a record number of women who are running for office, many whom have never run for office before. So I think there is something about this very difficult moment of time, which is where we are right now, where we have powerful voices that are sowing hate and division. The other side of that is activating a lot of people to say, ‘I’m not going to stand for it. I’m going to get out. I’m going to stand up. I’m going to stand up. I’m going to speak out.’ So I think it’s very exciting and the only thing I would ask everyone, and all of your viewers, is stay involved. Stay involved because your issues will not be heard if you don’t stay involved, if you don’t speak out. You can speak through your vote, you can speak through your voice, but get involved in elections, campaigns. Look up candidates, whoever speaks up to your values and your issues, but stay involved. That’s how democracy works. And we won’t be seen if we’re not heard.

Q: Speaking of involvement, you’re the first Indian American woman ever to hold a Senate seat. A lot of folks look to you for inspiration. What message do you impart to all these young folks who aspire to be where you are today?

A: That they just keep in their role of leadership, keep speaking about truths, speaking about truths, even if they are difficult to speak, even if they are difficult for people to hear because that’s how we cultivate trust. That’s how we actually forge ahead in terms of the kind of leadership we need. We need to speak difficult truths, whether it be about race, whether it be about income equality, whether it be about gender equality. Let’s speak the truth about the things we want to see happen, around the topic of immigration reform and to stay involved. It’s really important.

Q: It appears many Democrats and Republicans are not necessarily talking to each other, but rather over each other. How do we get more folks involved and engaged in politics so they are not talking over each other? Also, do you have a game plan for 2020? President Trump said he is running again and Democrats are still looking for that national leader fill the void.

A: Part of what we have to do is focus on 2018. That’s where I’m focused at the moment. I think we have to focus on 2018. The re-elections are coming soon, 152 days, I think, from today (June 7). And the decisions we make about who will be in these positions of progress, whether it be in the Senate or the House of Representatives, will be very important and pivotal to issues like what we are going to do around immigration for this country. So I really urge people to stay focused on 2018.

Watch all of the interviews from the Impact Summit on The Public Interest with Ravi Kapur, Sunday at 9 am & 5 pm local time, exclusively on Diya TV.

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EXCLUSIVE: Fremont PD and FOG confirm Independence Day Parade cancelled over security, permitting

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FREMONT, Calif. (Diya TV) — Fremont Police Department and FOG organizers confirm the annual Indian Independence Day parade, scheduled for this Sunday, is cancelled due to permitting and security concerns. FOG will still take place this weekend, minus the parade. Here’s our initial report on FOG security from earlier this week.

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Rep. Suozzi apologizes over Kashmir letter to Pompeo

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Kashmir apology

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi represents New York’s 3rd Congressional District, a diverse region with a large contingent of Pakistani and Indian Americans. After meeting with a group of Pakistani constituents upset about India’s change in approach towards Kashmir, he wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prioritize Kashmir. 

Now he’s backtracked from those remarks, issuing a new statement to apologize after meeting with Indian American constituents, saying he should have “framed [his] concerns differently.”

A Pakistani-American audience member at BeautyCon got the attention she was seeking for Kashmir when she publicly accused Indian actress Priyanka Chopra during a question and answer session of “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan.” Ayesha Malik says she did not intend to challenge Chopra at the event, but wanted know why Priyanka tweeted ‘Jai Hind’ after tensions flared up in Kashmir when terrorists from Pakistan killed 40 Indian soldiers. Chopra, who is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, dismissed Malik’s accusation, but is being criticized for being hypocritical and the tone and manner of the denial.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Gandhi celebrations take place in Atlanta, Bay Area

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Gandhi celebrations

ATLANTA (Diya TV) — The Indian Consulate in Atlanta, along with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the many celebrations that will mark his 150th birth anniversary this year. 

In the Bay Area, a full day symposium on Gandhi was put together, highlighted by civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers along with Cesar Chavez.

Sonia Gandhi is back to lead the Congress Party as interim president, almost two years after she resigned. Her son Rahul resigned as party president recently after Prime Minister Modi was re-elected decisively. 

The federal budget deficit grew to $868 billion in the first 10 months of the new fiscal year. Not only is that a 27% increase from the same period one year ago, it’s the largest deficit since 2012. The annual deficit is expected to hit $1 trillion annually in 2022.

And while the debate over Kashmir rages on, Discovery in India premiered an Indian wilderness special featuring Prime Minister Modi. While the goal was to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change, critics remark Modi’s environmental record is leaves much to be desired.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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