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South Asian legal minds gather to celebrate 15th annual SABA conference in New York City

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NEW YORK (Diya TV) — The conference and perhaps the largest gathering of South Asian legal minds in America aka the 15th annual SABA (South Asian Bar Association) of North America kicked off in the heart of the New York city. The immediate past president, Rishi Bagga noted the importance of hosting this conference in the Big Apple. “We now live in a time when legal protections for immigrants are under attack; when nativist sentiments and rhetoric have sought to divide those who were born here from those who were not; at a time when our community’s lawyers must ‘Carry the Torch’ for the South Asian immigrant community and other immigrant communities,” he said. “And a time when SABA must continue to work to ensure greater diversity and inclusion with the legal profession at large.”

 Outgoing President of SABA Rishi Bagga, Rep. Grace Meng and the incoming President of Sundeep Sandhu at the opening night reception

Outgoing President of SABA Rishi Bagga, Rep. Grace Meng and the incoming President of Sundeep Sandhu at the opening night reception

With all the recent events of immigrant families being separated, this year’s conference didn’t skip a beat jumping right into all the issues that matter to this organization. This year’s panels featured personal insights from some of the brightest minds in the South Asian American legal community including judges, law firm leaders, in-house counsel, and lawyers making waves inside and outside the profession. This year we were fortunate to welcome a large number of South Asian judges including the Hon. Cathy Bissoon, Hon. Sanket Bulsara, Hon. Raj Chatterjee, Hon. Raja Rajeswari and Hon. Sri Srinivasan.

The programming focused on ways South Asian attorneys could break the current boundaries within the legal profession. For example, VP and US General Counsel for McDonald’s Corporation, Mahrukh Hussain joined a panel of women general counsels to discuss the paths they chose and challenges they faced in their careers. In addition, a plenary panel focused on the pros, cons and consequences of choosing a life in the public eye featured Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken; Sudha Setty, Dean, Western New England School of Law; Amit Agarwal, Solicitor General, State of Florida; Sayu Bhojwani, President, New American Leaders Project; and Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney Southern District of New York

The Conference closed with a gala featuring keynote speaker Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) who reminded SABA members that one continually has the choice “to accept things as they are or take responsibility for changing them.” Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and longtime SABA member was also a featured speaker and echoed the comments of Sen. Booker, encouraging SABA members to continue “joining together in solidarity … by taking the effort to speak, march, vote or do other things necessary to fight for what they believe in.”

The SABA Foundation, the charitable arm of SABA, also held its Annual Benefit during the Conference. The SABA Foundation identifies and supports organizations that provide critical services to the most vulnerable members of the South Asian Community and awarded grants to Manavi, South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI), Kiran, Inc., Narika and the Innovation Law Lab. SABA Foundation also honored comedian and activist, Hari Kondabolu, with its first ‘Hero Award’ for his work raising awareness and improving the lives of South Asians in North America.

As always this conference also marked the change in leadership, with a swearing in ceremony for a new President and Executive Committee. SABA’s new President, Sundeep Sandhu, emphasized the role the organization will continue to play in improving the general welfare of the South Asian community in North America. “Issues with respect to diversity and inclusion, civil rights and access to justice have never been more prevalent than they are today and SABA members have been unwavering in their dedication to addressing these issues,” Sandhu stated. “We see this not only with the leadership of our 26 chapters but through the individual actions of our 8,000 strong membership, like our members who attended the nationwide protests held against the current administration’s policy on separating migrant families – a policy that SABA has firmly stood against.”

Arts & Culture

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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