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Exclusive: Rep. Pramila Jayapal on speaking up for the underrepresented

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Rep. Pramila Jayapal on speaking up for the underrepresented

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — More than 200 Indian-American candidates, elected officials, among those gathered included Washingtons’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal in D.C. 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 Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal for our public affairs program “The Public Interest,” edited for clarity.

Q: You have been very outspoken as a freshman member of Congress. Tell me what it’s been like to be on the frontlines navigating this new world that we live in. I live in California. I see rhetoric everywhere from North Dakota to California. What are you seeing here in Washington?

A: Well, what I see here in Washington is unfortunately a lot of politicking that isn’t in the best interest of the country. We have a president that is using the White House in ways that really diminishes the opportunity and the right for people to live in this country and feel like it’s theirs. So we see a lot of Indian Americans, a lot of immigrants, a lot of folks with color who really wonder, ‘is this a country that will still welcome them that where they have a home?’

Many of them are U.S. citizens, and so the hate crimes, the criminalization has been tough. It’s been really tough because I see people heartbroken about whether they have a place to be or not. That said, I think I love this job. I wake up every morning and I think about the fact that I get to fight for the things that I believe in. And I wake up knowing what my responsibilities is. It’s not just a privilege, it’s a responsibility. As the only Indian-American woman in the U.S. House, and the first one in the House, I see it as even more of a responsibility to really speak up for the voices that aren’t here.

Q: The expectations of the voters that put you here are probably a little bit different than what you have to deal with in Washington DC on a daily basis? How do you navigate that?

A: I go back every week. So we have votes usually during the week, and then I fly back home on Thursday or Friday and come back to D.C. on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the schedule. And I hold town halls all over my district. I’ve held 15 town halls, and we’ve talked to over 15,000 people since I got into office. And I really believe in constituent services, so I have a fantastic team in district. Our folks work really hard on making sure that government is really responsive to the people. That is everything from helping people with social security claims, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans issues.

There is a lot that people just are struggling to make sure that somebody in government responds to them. So it’s not that hard to just be responsive to your constituents. But unfortunately, I think that some Congressmembers take it incredibly seriously and others don’t. I’m one of the ones that really takes it seriously. So we are navigating situations at home all the time. Families, particularly, caught up it the immigration systems; families caught up being kicked out of their homes. Some of those as state issues, some of them are local, some of them are federal. So we try to do everything we can to respond.

Q: We have five elected Indian Americans in Congress, and additionally a whole slew of folks from all over the country running at the state level and the federal level. What does it mean to have so many people look up to you, especially young women who are inspired by your and Senator Harris’ run? What message do you have for all these folks who aspire to be like you?

A: What I say to people is, “Don’t allow yourself to be minimized or patronized. Bring everything you have, work hard and know that your dreams are achievable. They might take work, they might take one or two times, but we have a right to assert ourselves and to make sure our voices are heard.” And the other thing I say to people all the time is, “Don’t think about who you want to be, think about what you want to do.” Because this isn’t just about being in a position of power. It’s about what you can do when you get that position of power.

Q: What do for the rest of 2018? Obviously, there are battlegrounds all over the country. As it pertains to 2020, a lot of folks are looking ahead towards the presidential election. What kind of role will you be playing?

A: Well, I have already been playing a big role in trying to bring back the House for the Democrats, particularly helping to support, mentor, train, put out there people of color and immigrants who are running and women of color. So I have a number of candidates across the country that I have been working with. I’ve also been trying to help build a leadership pipeline within the state for lower level offices because we don’t typically go straight to Congress. I’m really helping to do that. And then finally, helping to build an organizing platform that helps us to win on some of these issues. So I have a legislative agenda and then I have a organizing agenda, and both things are critical for the rest of 2018.

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HC4A Founder, Harish Kotecha receives Lifetime Achievement award from NAEHCY

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AUSTIN (Diya TV) — Harish Kotecha, founder and president of Hindu Charities for America (HC4A) received the Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) at the 32nd Annual Conference.

He is the first Indian American to receive this national recognition.
Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to honor individuals who have tirelessly worked to ensure that all children may have what most take for granted: safety, shelter, and a future; and that young people without shelter may find the promise of tomorrow.

NAEHCY’s Board of Directors were impressed with “your [Kotecha’s] ability to transform a singular movement into a replicable program that now is established in 4 major cities.”

In her award letter to Kotecha, Jimiyu Evans, President, NAEHCY wrote that, “We are glad to have an advocate like you in the field to meet the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness – supporting and encouraging academic success – while implementing program
coordination and community collaboration.”

Kotecha, while beaming at the live video presentation at the virtual conference, mentioned that, “This award recognizes the impact of HC4A, all the volunteers, donors, sponsors and well-wishers of HC4A!”
Kotecha’s family was ousted from Uganda by its brutal dictator in 1971.

When he sought refuge in the US, there was not much by means of finances and housing. However, having a good education and determination to succeed, turned his life around. He turned all setbacks into a successful career in technology. Gratitude came full circle in his life when he resolved to serve the underprivileged through education.

He took an early retirement from IBM in 2001 and ever since has unwaveringly worked towards supporting children and youth of homeless families in their educational journey.

HC4A was founded by him in 2010 with the mission to ‘Bridge Income Disparities through Education.’ Ever since, the nonreligious and nonpolitical nonprofit has raised over $1 million to provide school supplies for elementary school children and vocational scholarships to nontraditional students. In response to the pandemic, HC4A also helped homeless students get internet connectivity for a year.

“He identified a huge social problem to solve that many assumed it to be government agencies’ or administration’s work. He and his volunteers have consistently delivered on the promises made to multiple school district administrations. More importantly, he has developed broader communities in his organization efforts,” says Alok Singh, Director, Global Strategy &; Transformation at Dell Technologies.

In addition to liaising with partner nonprofits to reach out to those in need, HC4A also brings the Indian American community together to volunteer and donate towards their cause with the motto of ‘Serve Where you Live.’ It now has chapters in four major cities: Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

Rosie Coleman, Coordinator &; District Homeless/Foster Care Liaison, Austin ISD said, “This is so great! No one deserves this more than Harish and Hindu Charities. Thank you for everything you do for our Austin ISD students!”

Coming in an especially hard year, this award sends a wave of joy in the HC4A community. Kotecha has woven an intricate fabric of community members—from high net worth donors who have achieved their American Dream to below poverty line students who have often doubled their incomes soon after being able to complete their education. They now prepare for the next big event: a virtual gala in November to raise funds for vocational scholarships for low-income youth and adults. 

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Dive into the IFFLA’s virtual fest as you celebrate the 4th

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IFFLA Over the Years

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — In the digital age of streaming services where you can play every movie ever made, festivals too are changing. While in person festivals are going to be a while away, Virtual Film Festivals are booming.  IFFLA Over the Years is the festival’s response to the ongoing uncertainty in the film festival world. To that end, the previously announced 2020 lineup will be moved to 2021 so that filmmakers and audiences can join together and share the festival experience in person.

This year’s showcase is a special one, IFFLA Over The Years: 17 days celebrating 17 years of Indian cinema, is way of looking back all of those that have passed through the hallowed grounds. IFFLA brings you the best of yesteryear, with gems like Anurag Kashyap’s legendary godfather-esque Gangs of Wasseypur, the late Irrfan Khans shakespearean classic Maqbool, Lena Khan’s fresh immigrant tale The Tiger Hunter. The bulking roster ranges from narrative features, documentaries, to short films like Neha RT’s hilarious satire The Shailas, the oscar-nominated KUSH, the infuriating Bebaak.  With 17 days to fly through the virtual festival will span form June 19th to July 5th leaving you just enough time to experience every joy, ache, bellowing laugh, and uncle-inducing cringe.

 “We are beyond thrilled to be presenting this online showcase of alumni films,” said Christina Marouda, IFFLA’s founder. “Traveling through 17 years of programming has allowed us to reconnect with so many of our alumni with whom we share fond memories. We are excited with this opportunity to collaborate with them to offer new audiences worldwide the chance to discover some of the most visionary voices of Indian independent cinema in recent years. We also hope recent IFFLA attendees have a chance to catch up with films from our first decade, and early attendees who could not join us in recent years are able to discover some of the newer gems we’ve presented. There is literally a film for everyone’s appetite.”

A Female Lens features films made by and/or centering on women such as Karishma Dev Dube’s Devi (Goddess), starring Priyanka Bose (Lion); “This Is Not Fiction presents  award-winning documentaries including Faiza Ahmad Khan‘s hilarious Supermen of MalegaonStories of Youth” highlights children and adolescence in films such as Rima Das’ festival favorite Village Rockstars, which was India’s Oscar entry for 2019, and Shubhashish Bhutiani‘s Oscar-shortlisted short film Kush. “Diaspora Windows” shares stories of Indian characters living outside of India with highlights including Lena Khan’s The Tiger Hunter and Ruthy Pribar’s The Caregiver.

Over 70 short films are included in “Keeping it Short” with Neha RT‘s uproarious satire The Shaila(s) and Jennifer Rosen‘s piercing Laksh, making their online premiere with this virtual showcase.

Finally, Richie Mehta‘s India In A Day, Shonali Bose‘s Amu, Devashish Makhija‘s Taandav, Tanuj Chopra’s Pia, and Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya’s The Hour of Lynching are new additions to IFFLA’s programming by alumni.

Legedary fests such as Sundance and Cannes, set the trend for the virtual streaming fest and now we are seeing many Indian film festivals follow suit, IFFLA, NYSAFF & DYWSAFF.

Beat edging towards insanity by filling your days with more stories of hardship, of bliss, more tales of life just beyond the door, of lives just next door, and if they can get through it, so can you.

With 2020 being such an unprecedented year it’s easy to get caught up in the turbulence and feel overwhelmed. But we’ll get through this like we always have.  We’ve been through worse, our ancestors used to huddle together in the dark over bonfires in a fang and spear infested world speaking the first stories ever told. Wondrous adventures filled with heroes, villians, grim horrors, stunning beauty and everything in-between. These stories that brought us together, to feel safe around one another, these stories around the bonfire have transformed to become the projector and screens of today. A good story is what gets us through, inspiring us, enchanting us with dreams for tomorrow. So, feeling cooped up edging towards cabin fever?

We’re all right there with you so cancel your next Netflix binge there’s a long weekend of new movies ahead.

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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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