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Indian Americans’ complex relationship with politics in Trump America

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Rep. Gabbard presents a copy of the Bhagvad Gita to Indian Prime Minister Modi (2014)

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — Indian Americans constitute a tiny 1.5 percent of the U.S. population. The presence of Donald Trump, over 60 prominent lawmakers, and leaders of the corporate world, at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event speaks to the many economic successes of this community in addition to the trade ties between the two countries.

Indian Americans are not just a rapidly rising population in the U.S.—from close to 2 million in 2010, to about 4 million in 2015— but are also the highest earning ethnic group in the US. 

At a median age of 34 years, 70 percent Indian Americans are foreign born. For them, forming allegiances with a political party in Trump America, can be daunting.

Howdy, Democrats: Indian Americans need to know

Two Democratic leaders not attending the event have become symbolic of the way some Indian Americans are conflicted in forming a clear political identity: Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard.

Democratic Congressman from California, Ro Khanna, recently tweeted that, “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians.” This was opposed immediately by those who thought that this was guilt shaming Hindu Americans.

While Hinduism is a religion based on myriad traditions and philosophies, Hindutva is a political ideology primarily based on a pluralistic Hindu identity. In an exclusive interview to Diya TV, he defended his stand saying, “We got a standing ovation when we said that in the district.”

He had previously joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and was urged by 230 Indian American organizations in the United States to withdraw from the caucus. Caucuses in the U.S. political system make decisions based on shared viewpoints to influence state legislatures.

Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, made history by becoming the first Hindu to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. An Army veteran she was deployed as a medical administrator in Iraq. She kept her childhood copy of Bhagwad Gita for comfort during those days and gifted that copy to PM Modi on her first visit to India in 2014. However, she would be unable to share stage with PM Modi due to “prior engagements.”  Or perhaps Trump’s presence had something to do with her absence? She sent in a video with greetings and apologies to PM Modi for not being able to make it.

There was another stage Gabbard missed addressing in Houston last week: the presidential primary debate. She is one of the lower-polling Democratic presidential contenders and was passed up by the Democratic National Committee. Their reason being that she could not make the 2 percent threshold in polls although she had enough donors—very akin to the Indian American diaspora.

Gabbard’s political rise is attributed to funding from many Hindu organizations.

Both, Khanna and Gabbard, are scathing critics of American foreign military adventurism—that’s a viewpoint all Indian Americans could get on board with.

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Sikh community center in Seattle area burglarized & vandalized

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Seattle-area Sikh center burglarized, vandalized | Diya TV News

FEDERAL WAY (Diya TV) — Authorities including the FBI in Washington State are looking for the vandal who trashed a Sikh community center and it’s being investigated as a possible hate crime. Police say surveillance video shows a man breaking into the Khalsa Gurmat Center in Federal Way.  The main prayer area was destroyed and several tv’s and computers were also stolen.

The US will reopen in November to air travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, easing tough pandemic-related restrictions that started early last year.  The U.S. restrictions have barred travelers from most of the world including tens of thousands of foreign nationals with relatives or business links in the United States.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is denying he made a secret deal to ban fact checking President Trump on the social media platform to avoid government regulations. A new biography on venture capitalist Peter Thiel says Zuckerberg worked with Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner on this quid pro quo.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Modi to face protests on visit to DC, NY

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Modi to face protests on visit to DC, NY | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India’s Ministry of External Affairs called out Pakistan backed groups threatening to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi “sleepless nights” during his visit to the U.S. next week. The group Sikhs for Justice has planned protests from Washington to New York as the PM visits the U.S. for the first time under the Biden administration.

18 year old Nidhi Rana and 21 year old  Ayush Rana were together when their car began floating toward a spot where the water flows underground toward the river. A massive search was soon launched for the pair and continued for several days.

Vibhav Mittal is now the first Indian American judge on the Superior Court of  Orange County California.  During his ten years as a federal prosecutor, Judge Mittal tried 13 criminal trials to verdict.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Hudson: 55 Kashmiri & Khalistani groups operate in the US

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Hudson: 55 Kashmiri & Khalistani groups operate in the US | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — The Hudson Institute assembled experts to evaluate fifty-five Kashmiri and Khalistani groups operating within the US. The institute is now recommending a deep dive into the possibility that these groups received funding, support and military training from Pakistan along with terrorist groups in India.

Top American lawmakers paid tributes as they remembered Sikh American Balbir Singh Sodhi,  who was the first victim of a hate crime following the 9/11 terror attacks.  He was murdered outside the Arizona gas station he owned, by a man who said he wanted to “go out and shoot some towel-heads. ”

Compass Digital Acquisition filed for a $200 million IPO. The technology-focused SPAC is targeting software and services companies. Compass is led by Chairman and CEO Abid Neemuchwala, former CEO of IT services firm Wipro.

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