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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.”

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Lewandowski spars with Rep. Jayapal in impeachment probe

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Lewandowski

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski sparred with Rep. Jayapal among others, before a House Judiciary committee, taking on a barrage of questions from members of Congress who are trying to build a case towards the impeachment of President Trump.

100,000 petitions were delivered to the Gates Foundation in Seattle, asking them to rescind the award they plan on giving to Indian Prime Minister Modi for his clean India initiative because of his stance on Kashmir.

Federal investigators, including the FBI, are looking into potential misconduct by Mithril Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan. Royan has a 20 year relationship with Thiel and has raised in excess of $1 billion, $300 million of which came from Thiel. Some investors are frustrated Mithril is sitting on their money rather than investing in startups, while raking in as much as $30 million per year in management fees.

Hundreds of alums from the Indian Institute of Technology gathered in Southern California for their annual convention, featuring some of the brightest minds in technology.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Media

Over 200 Indian American organizations express concerns over Rep. Ro Khanna’s Pakistan caucus membership

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Ro Khanna

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Diya TV) — 230 Hindu and Indian American organizations led by the Hindu American Foundation expressed concern in a letter to Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna about his recent membership to the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and a recent tweet which they say “in effect endorsed the views of “a fringe and extremist anti-Hindu activist, Pieter Friedrich.” Khanna, who is also a member of the Indian caucus, says he joined the Pakistan caucus to have a seat at the table to bring peace to the region.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy is leading a delegation around India, one of four state leaders making plans to visit this year. The governor and his wife visited the Taj Mahal & later met with Prime Minister Modi. 

Sri Lankan American Raj Rajaratnam, a central figure in one the largest hedge fund insider-trading rings in American history, is now out of prison two years early. He is mostly confined to his apartment for the remainder of his sentence, but he can work outside his home during the day.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Howdy, Modi! How come Texas?

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak in Houston

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — For world leaders, shaking hands with President Donald Trump has become a practice akin to the elaborate military drill on Wagah border. Not so much for Prime Minster Narendra Modi. The Trump-Modi camaraderie of banters, hugs, and viral hand-slapping is one more reason that the 50,000 strong crowd is excited to witness the historic ‘Howdy Modi’ community summit on September 22.

A community summit is just that: leaders of the community, politicians, corporates and all supporters of a common cause coming together to collaborate and celebrate. With the tagline ‘Shared Dreams, Bright Futures,’ the event will promote relations that go beyond the ‘America First’ and ‘Make in India’ policies that have often strained diplomatic encounters between the two countries. There couldn’t have been a better venue than Houston, Texas, for all purposes of this event

Slick for Oil

As the second largest state in the U.S., by population and GDP, Texas has significant trade relations with India. India is Houston’s 4th largest trading partner—just behind Brazil, China, and Mexico. The biggest exports from Texas are chemicals, petroleum, and coal. With constantly rising all prices, energy security is a major concern for the Prime Minister. Tellurian, natural gas company headquartered in Houston, is one of the major sponsors of the event.

Indian Diaspora’s ‘Shared Dreams’

The greater Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas have a thriving Indian American community with influential presence across various sectors of the economy. It is a significant voting bank for the Republican governed state to influence for the 2020 elections.

“At a time in the world where there is so much disunity, I think promoting unity between people and cultures in the world is a great thing,” says Robert Adams, a cross cultural training consultant and YouTuber (Chai & Coaching)  Over 150,000 Indian Americans live in the Houston metro area alone. Socio-cultural ties are a dominant way in which the community preserves its heritage while away from India. The cultural events preceding Modi’s address will showcase performances executed entirely by the Indian American community.

Indian Students, the ‘Bright Future’

Several Indian student associations in the US have partnered with the organizers, Texas India Forum, for the event. “The atmosphere in UT Dallas is pretty electric at this point. 6 to 8 buses will be leaving Sunday morning.” says Anirudh Ashok, a student at UT Dallas.

Regardless of political outcomes, this community summit is historic in the ways it will determine a new narrative that emerges about the world’s largest democracy on a platform offered by the world’s oldest democracy.

“Today’s youth is very aware of all the politics. My friends who were not involved in politics have started reading more and realize that Mr. Modi is doing great things for the country,” says Ashok.

Many individuals and groups have chosen to ignore or protest the event. But for those who will be a part of this momentous event, and for Trump and Modi, the show must go on, literally.

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