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Exclusive: Rep. Ami Bera on protecting Indian Americans who have legally immigrated

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Rep. Ami Bera

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — More than 200 Indian American candidates, elected officials, among those gathered including California Rep. Ami Bera in Washington DC 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 Representative Ami Bera for our public affairs program “The Public Interest,” edited for clarity.

Q: You are the senior member of the so-called ‘Samosa Caucus,’ as dubbed by your colleague Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, now that you have been elected three times to Congress, not to mention your recent primary victory. Thus, we’ve seen first-hand scores of political aspirants asking you for advice of how to get involved politically. What are you telling them?

A: My obligation is to help people that are coming into the United States. Our legacy is not what we do by ourselves but by those folks that help. I learned a lot running, and the first step is not to be afraid to put yourself out there, put your name on that ballot, and what we are talking about today is how this broader Indian American community can support candidates. That’s what impact is all about. And you’ve got great candidates that are running all across this country. I think over 60 running for federal office but also at state and local levels. So, it’s pretty remarkable. And if we want to have a seat at the table, if we want to talk about issues that are important to our community, you have to have that representation.

Q: When you first were in Congress, you had a Democratic administration, Barack Obama was President. Now President Trump has a different philosophy, I imagine, from the way you like to govern. What has it been like these past couple of years under the Trump Administration? What has your life been life, day to day?

A: Yeah, it’s been busier than ever, Representing my constituents for the Sacramento Community but also trying to help my Indian American community. I will tell you that we’re fighting them on some of these immigration measures. Let’s take DACA for an example. We’re all going to fight for the dreamers, but we also understand that there are a lot of Indian American kids that are going to be 19 and who are here with parents who came here legally. Those folks are also potentially going to get kicked out of the United States. We have to fight for them as well, and that’s why it is important to have representation at the table.

Q: We just had a primary election in the state of California, and to be honest, the turnout was pathetic, under 25%, something like 21%. Now, it’s tough to have a primary election in the middle of the summer- school’s out, people are having fun. I did vote. I think you probably voted too. (Ami Bera: I did). But, what, if anything, can we do to get more people to vote, not just the Indian American community, but overall. The voter turnout was really sad.

A: Well, so, democracy, your vote is your voice. And if you don’t vote, you lose your voice. I think we have to focus on 2018. So you want representation, and that first happens by casting your ballot. Now, in our district, we’ve historically been able to turn votes out. I think, our turnout will end up being around 50%, which is again pretty remarkable compared to where it was in southern California and in other places. And again a lot of that is just telling people to vote. I’ve been able to get elected and re-elected. We’ve never won on an election, but I think it is about voters getting out there and casting their ballot.

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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Bollywood sweethearts Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Italy

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Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Konkani' Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com
Bollywood superstars Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Lake Como, Italy

LAKE CUOMO, Italy — Bollywood sweetheart couple, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh have officially tied the knot at a private villa against the scenic Lake Como backdrop, in Italy. The two-day ceremony included a ‘Konkani‘ style ceremony as well as ‘Sindhi‘ ceremony to bring these two Bollywood stars into matrimony.

The couple released two pictures on twitter, with a simple heart emoji

The newlyweds began their love story on screen, sharing intimate moments in films like ‘Ramleela’,’Bajirao Mastani‘ and Padmavat.

According to the Huffington Post, film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali said ‘cut’ during their kiss toward the end, but they continued their sizzling moment as over 50 crew members mesmerizingly watched. It was the start of a blossoming relationship, forging together a Bollywood power couple with chemistry on and off set.

The much awaited wedding ceremony left no stone unturned to celebrate this star couple in grand style with an intensely private and synchronized affair set against at Italy’s scenic Lake Como backdrop, at Villa del Balbianello.

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Sindhi' Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there ‘Sindhi’ Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com

An Indian Bollywood wedding without a celeb designer? I think not. The duo opted to go with veteran designer Sabyasachi Mukherji. ‘Sabya‘ as fans often call him, drew inspiration from the wedding ceremony theme and designed decadent outfits in shades of red, pink and all things ‘shaadi‘ for both the ‘Konkani‘ & ‘Sindhi‘ ceremonies. Deepika wore a veil with the words,”Sada Saubhyagyavati Bhava” embroidered along the hem draped over her head. This mantra translates to “be forever fortunate” is often a blessing given to newly weds, wishing them a ‘happily ever after’ life ahead.

Ofcourse no Bollywood wedding is complete without all the ‘Badhaai‘ or well wishes from fellow co-stars, most of who took to twitter to shower the newly minted couple.

A Bollywood wedding, without some ‘filmy’ elements is nearly impossible. According to Filmfare, Singh made his grand entry on Govinda’s hit song ‘Meri Pant Bhi Sexy’, continuing with ‘Chunari Chunari’ and ‘One Two Ka Four‘ as he reached the wedding venue with his family and relatives.

With heavy security for this intensely private ceremony, the couple remained sensitive to the plight of hundreds of fans & paparazzi gathered to capture a glimpse of their special event. They sent gift packs of sweets to the media, thanking them for their wishes.

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Trump celebrates Diwali with diya lighting ceremony in the White House

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White House Diwali Diya Lighting ceremony.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Donald Trump took part in a Diwali celebration Tuesday at the White House where he held a ceremonial lighting of the ‘diya‘. The diya lighting ceremony, Trump used the time to discuss the ties between the U.S. and India which he stated were perhaps closer than ever before. He began by saying how thrilled and special it was to be part of the celebration. Shortly after, Trump gave high praise for the contributions Indian Americans have displayed in the country and in his administration. He began the ceremony by first addressing the victims of fires in California.

He continued to introduce several Indian Americans members of his team and then welcomed Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Navtej Sarna.

With an attendee list of roughly 20 notable Indian Americans within his administration, Trump added onto the growing number during the event as he nominated Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit.

“We were going to announce that tomorrow and I said, ‘Here we are Neomi — we’re never gonna do better than this’ — I thought it was an appropriate place.”

Rao, born to Indian parents, is a graduate of Yale and University of Chicago Law School. She recently spent time as an associate law professor at George Mason and an administrator in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. She responded by saying: “Thank you very much, Mr. President, for the confidence you’ve shown in me. I greatly appreciate it.”

“Our nation is blessed to be home to millions of hardworking citizens of Indian and southeast Asian heritage, who enrich our country in countless ways. Together we are one proud American family. I’m grateful to have numerous Americans of Indian and southeast Asian heritage who fulfill critical roles across my administration, and they’ve done an incredible job.”

However, President Trump failed to mention the largest group of Indian Americans, the ‘Hindus’, which the twitter sphere was quick to point out.

This is the second year in a row President Trump has hosted a Diwali Celebration in the Oval Office. Here’s Diya TV’s coverage from the year before.

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Complete breakdown of how Indian American candidates fared in midterms 2018

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — With a historical presence in this year’s election among the 100 Indian American representatives, the standout performance came from Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State elected its first Indian American state representative, Nima Kulkarni. The Democrat attorney will represent District 40 after defeating Republican Joshua Neubert by 48.3 points. Kulkarni was a University of Louisville business administration graduate who later founded and managed her own law firm in the area.

Right across the border in Ohio and Illinois, two Indian-Americans were re-elected while one fell short. Ohio Republican state Rep. Niraj Antani remains the youngest current serving member of the House, as well as youngest Indian-American elected official in the country.

“I work hard every day to make it achievable for all Ohioans to have the opportunity to make their American Dream a reality,” the 27-year-old said in a statement following the victory. “Growing up as an Indian-American has greatly influenced my life, and I will continue to proudly represent our community.”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi retained his seat after breezing past fellow Indian American Jitendra “JD” Diganvker in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District.

Aftab Pureval (D-OH) fell short to Republican Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st District, 51 percent to 46 percent. Further out east in New York, Indian American Kevin Thomas pulled off an improbable upset over Kemp Hannon for the 6th Senate District, ending his 28-year run as incumbent senator.

The Indian-American incumbents including Krishnamoorthi, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal secured another term. Bera, representing California’s 7th District, was in the tightest race as he edged out Republican Andrew Grant, 52 percent to 48 percent. Next door in Arizona, Democrat Amish Shaw won District 24’s house of representatives race as Anita Malik and Hiral Tiperneni fell to their opponents.

Malik lost to Rep. David Schweikert in the 6th District, 57 percent to 43 percent, while Tiperneni was upended by Republican Debbie Lesko with the same deficit.
On the other hand, Susheela Jayapal, the older sister of Pramila, and Padma Kuppa were two Indian American women who won their respective races at the local and state level. Jayapal won her seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in Portland and Kuppa became Michigan’s newest state representative.

“I cannot wait to continue this journey, and make the 41st House District, and the entire State of Michigan a better place for all our families, for generations to come,” Kuppa said in a statement.

Ultimately no Indian Americans managed to claim new seats at the federal level, however many at the local and state level grabbed new seats.Texas meanwhile managed to get an Indian American and Democratic representative as R.K. Sandhill was elected for Place 4 judge of the Texas Supreme Court.

In 2016, five Indian Americans entered Congress, now in the 2018 midterms we see a small increase in representation in the political space with an upward trend heading toward 2020.

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