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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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Several killed in Kashmir border clash

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Kashmir

KASHMIR, India (Diya TV)  — New military clashes between Pakistan and India along the Kashmir border left several casualties on both sides. The Pakistani army confirmed the killing of two of its soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir. The Indian military confirmed the death of one of its officers and a civilian. Both sides allege the conflict was started by the other.

Raag Singhal, an Indian American circuit court judge in Broward County, Florida, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will officially become a U.S. District Court judge in South Florida. It’s a lifetime appointment for Singhal, who will act as a trial judge in federal criminal and civil cases.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced Dr. Monisha Ghosh will become the FCC’s Chief Technology Officer, the first woman to serve in that role. Ghosh joins the FCC from the National Science Foundation where she was a program director and the University of Chicago, where she was a research professor.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Historic Sikh temple in Pakistan vandalized, destruction threatened

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Sikh Temple

NANKANA SAHIB, Pakistan (Diya TV)  — Communal tensions are high in Pakistan’s Punjab state after a fiery Muslim mob hurled stones and threatened to destroy the historic Sikh Temple Nankana Sahib Gurdwara, birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Pakistani officials say the situation is under control, and a large police presence is on site. But the men behind the demonstration say their goal is to eradicate Sikhs from the area.

On the order of President Trump, the American military killed Iran’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a missile strike at Baghdad airport. It’s a dramatic move by the Trump Administration who has been threatening action against Iran for their efforts to impede American operations in the Middle East. Iran’s President Rouhani said in reaction ‘we will take revenge’ and their foreign minister said “America’s action without any doubt is an act of state terrorism.” Democrats are up in arms at the move by Trump without Congressional approval. Trump responded by saying “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India’s new army chief reserves right to ‘preemptively strike’

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India’s new army chief reserves right to ‘preemptively strike’ | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV)  — The war of words over Kashmir heated up when India’s new Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said India reserves the right to “preemptively strike” at sources of terror along the Line of Control. Pakistan rejected the statement, saying they would thwart any Indian move.

The only Latino in the Democratic field, Julian Castro, is dropping out of the Presidential race suffering from poor support and a lack of funds to continue in earnest.

Manu Asthana begins the New Year as PJM Interconnection’s President and CEO, a nearly 100 year old power infrastructure business that serves 65 million Americans. But his hiring is not without criticism from consumer watchdogs over Asthana’s previous role as President of Direct Energy Home, accusing him of mismanagement. PJM defended their new hire saying those charges are “misleading” and “unfair.”

Pakistan announced their first batch of fighter jets manufactured with China is ready, celebrating with a group of Pakistani and Chinese officials on hand. The two nations also have a deal for commercial aircraft as well.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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