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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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Impact commits $10M to supporting Indian American candidates

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Impact

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Indian American IMPACT, a political organization working to put Indian Americans in public office, announced a new $10 million commitment to support Indian American candidates nationwide. They also announced public interest lawyer Neil Makhija will be IMPACT’s new Executive Director. The number of Indian Americans in Congress has grown five-fold in just the past eight years.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr faced questioning by the House Judiciary Committee about the use of force against Black Lives Matter protesters in recent weeks and the Trump administration’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll show the clash between Congressmember Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Barr that’s making headlines.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged YouPlus, a Silicon Valley startup, and its CEO Shaukat Shamim with defrauding investors by making false and misleading statements about the company’s finances. The complaint states Shamim told investors YouPlus earned millions of dollars in annual revenue and had more than 100 customers, including Fortune 500 companies. But the scheme dissolved when Shamim is said to have told certain investors YouPlus had earned less than $500,000 and obtained only four paying customers since the company’s 2013 inception.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Feds arrest entrepreneur Mukund Mohan for PPP fraud

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Mukund Mohan

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — U.S. attorneys arrested serial Indian American entrepreneur Mukund Mohan on charges of allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program with fake and altered documents and embezzling more than $5.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds through six shell companies. Mukund Mohan was a former Microsoft and Amazon executive and is currently the CTO of BuildDirect.

Shahid Buttar, who is running for Congress in San Francisco against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is being accused of sexual harassment by comedienne Elizabeth Croydon. Buttar said Croydon’s charges are false.

Apple manufacturer Foxconn has started building iPhone 11 units in a facility near Chennai in India. It’s the first time Apple has made one of its top-tier phones in India. India is the second-biggest smartphone market in the world, second only to China.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India & China slowly move towards disengagement

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India

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India and China held virtual talks and agreed on a complete disengagement of troops along the line of control. But there remains sticking points in multiple areas along the border. India insists bilateral relations will not improve until “full peace and tranquility” are restored.

Police in Schenectady, New York are facing major scrutiny after footage was released of one of their officers applying a neck hold to 31 year old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud. He was treated and released, but he continues to face two charges of running away and resisting arrest. He’s accused of slashing his neighbors tire, causing $200 of damage. His attorneys are fighting to get prosecutors to drop the charges.

The UK Parliamentary Group, which visited Pakistan Administered Kashmir, and heavily criticized the Indian government for their recent constitutional change applying to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, acknowledged they received nearly $18,000 from the Pakistan Government to make the trip.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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