HOUSTON (Diya TV) — ‘Howdy, Modi!’, the historic event that the Indian American community held its breath for, is over. If you are wondering why Houston, it might have to do more with American politics than Indian. There is a reason, the leader of the largest democracy decided to join the leader of the oldest.
In signature style, both leaders talked about everything the crowds wanted to hear and ended with a spontaneous victory lap around the massive NRG stadium, not leaving each other’s hands for a moment.
Celebrating friendships and cultural ties between the two countries holds the promise of better economic and diplomatic relationships. So in that way, this was a unique event to boost relations between the U.S. and India.
In a two-part production, equal importance was given to cultural events as well as the political razzmatazz.
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“This is a cultural, social, and political event. Coming from a nonprofit background, I wish people get together more like this,” said Sattie Persaud, founder of World Heritage Cultural Center, whose Global Ambassador, Alyssa Raghu, sang the US national anthem to kick off the festivities.
“There are generations after generations of cultures that get lost in the sea of all the different cultures in the United States,” Persaud said.
In fact, exploring these generational routes was the theme of a skit that 19-year-old Tejal from UT Austin was a part of. She said that practicing Bollywood fusion dance with her troupe was “a matter of self-identity—trying to balance two cultures, and benefit from both.”
There were no pyrotechnics and calisthenics to surprise the audiences, rather a pride of the familiar. Students from universities across the U.S. presented classical, folk, and fusion dance and music pieces. It started with a Gurbani, then the show meandered from classical dances of India to acapellas, from country music and guitars to dhol-tasha.
And then in an ecstatic moment for the crowds, PM Modi came on stage. He met a congressional delegation from across the country. Soon enough Trump joined in.
The bonhomie of an electoral base
Houston was no accident. The traditionally ‘red’ state of Texas has most recently seen some bursts of blue. It boasts a whopping 38 electoral college votes out of 538.
For the first ten minutes PM Modi enthralled crowds just by speaking of the great achievements of President Trump. Crowds chanted “Modi”, “India”, and “USA”. “You (President Trump) had introduced me to your family in 2017, and today I have the honor to introduce you to my family,” said PM Modi, pointing to a cheering crowd. President Trump returned all the adulation back. He commended the “hardworking” Indian American community while drawing parallels between the conservative core values of the two countries.
“This historic Modi-Trump mega show may help Trump get a majority of the 4 million Indo-American votes,” said Dr Randeep Suneja, a prominent cardiologist and humanitarian based in Houston.
Once Modi was done donning praise for the President, Donald Trump took the stage to address the capitvated 50,000 Indian Americans and wento on to acknowledge the contributions of the community, saying “we are proud to have you as Americans”. The Indian American vote bank for Trump was certainly ticking upwards.
PM Modi and the audience gave President Trump a standing ovation as he called out “radical, Islamic terrorism.” He went on to oddly correlate India’s efforts to protect its borders with his own efforts to stop immigration from America’s southern borders.
“We want to promote excellence, self-determination, and enterprise, as opposed to a culture of victimhood and entitlement,” explains native Texan and attorney Sanjay Narayan. He is also a board member of the Texas Asian Republican Assembly of North Texas. “Illegal immigration is deeply unfair to millions of wonderful legal immigrants, who work hard, pay their taxes, follow our rules, and obey our laws,” he said.
The Trump administrations, increasingly administrative strictures and requirements for visa and citizenship granting processes have disappointed the foreign workers of the Indian community. Despite Indian diplomacy and lobbying by major corporates, no breakthrough results have been achieved.
“I am firmly against illegal immigration, but I want a welcoming legal immigration policy,” says Narayan. This is largely the position of Republican party leaders across the U.S.
Welfare and farewell
Modi came back up on stage, this time for an almost hour-long speech in Hindi. His talk was broadly organized around two points: welfare and farewell.
He spoke of the many successes of his government over the last few years—some substantiated by numbers, rest by rhetoric. That was the welfare part.
Finally, in his farewell to redundant policies and practices, PM Modi talked mostly about his government’s measures to reduce corruption. Then, what really roused the crowds, was his assertive farewell to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that ended the temporary special status of Kashmir in India. This was the zenith of an uproarious audience at “Howdy, Modi!”
“Article 370 has truly made him the most decisive, fearless, and greatest PM that India has ever seen,” said Dr. Suneja.
The crowd was enthralled. Modi walked up to Trump and hand-in-hand, Trump and Modi went around the stadium, waving at the cheering crowd. The walk, seldom witnessed in international diplomacy, was a sign for Indian American voters. Northern California head of the Overseas Friends of BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) Chandru Bhambra, noted “Just only by standing with a Most Powerful Leader of the world Prime Minister Modi, Trump will transform most of the Indian Voters into his fold.”
Anti India Protests
Less than a mile outside the venue, a significant assembly of protestors stacked their placards and rolled up flags of Khalistan and Azad Kashmir. Chanting “Azadi” (freedom), the protestors held placards that read “Free Kashmir” and “Modi is Hitler”. Claiming the ‘majority muslim’ region of Kashmir needed to be “Free” from India’s Hindu nationalist regime.
15 percent of the Indian population is Muslim, and 19 districts in India have a Muslim majority. To many Indians, this is an internal matter and the issue of Article 370 is one that grossly misunderstood.
Earlier in the year, in an exclusive interview with Diya TV, Consul General of India in San Francisco, Ambassador Sanjay Pandya, explains the Indian governments prespective.
“We the people,” are the first three words in the Constitutions of India and the USA. Those words were the binding theme of the summit as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, President Trump, and PM Modi brought it up at different times to emphasize the importance of Indo-U.S. relations.
“We the people” will continue cultural exchanges, and trade and continue to vote in these two vibrant democracies
HC4A Founder, Harish Kotecha receives Lifetime Achievement award from NAEHCY
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.
Dive into the IFFLA’s virtual fest as you celebrate the 4th
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 Malegaon; “Stories 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.
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.
Third Phase of Indian Election concludes | Diya TV News
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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