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.
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.
An immigrant community’s gratitude, “serve where we live”
Founder of HC4A wanted to give back to where he lives: Austin. Hundreds of Indian Americans joined to open chapters across the US and raise over a million dollars for the cause.
AUSTIN, Texas (Diya TV) — Indian Americans are the most educated and most affluent immigrant community in the United States. A recent survey conducted by Dalberg & Indiaspora shows that Indian Americans have the potential to give over 3 billion dollars annually. Harish Kotecha, founder of HC4A (Hindu Charities for America), came here with his family in 1972 when the dictator of Uganda gave all Indians a notice of 90 days to leave the country. His many successes in this country motivated him to build an organization that encourages philanthropy in the Indian American community with the motto ‘serve where we live.’
Organizations such as Akshaya Patra, Pratham USA, have raised millions of dollars over years within the US to to support causes in India and make a real difference. Stretching the dollar and making an enormous impact in the lives of millions of children in India. And even though Kotecha is well aware that a dollar remitted to India can create a big difference to a developing economy versus the US, he believes its importat to give back to the community we live in.
“There is poverty here too. I thought it would be so great if the Indian community worked as one to serve those in need in the US,” says Kotecha. Hundreds of Indian Americans have been inspired to raise over a million dollars since the inception of HC4A in 2010. This is a small amount compared to nearly a half million raised in one night at the annual gala for the organizations funding education in India.
The HC4A mission is to ‘bridge income disparities through education.’ Two salient events raise funds for these endeavors: the HC4A Gala and Bollywood Meets Borscht Belt (BMBB). The Jewish community helps organize the BMBB event; leading Bollywood dance schools in Austin like Monsoon Dance and Agni lend the glitz and glamor to a high spirited night.
Schoolsupplies, backpack programs, and scholarships form the pillars of education-based giving for the volunteers at HC4A.
According to Dalberg, Education ranked at 61% as a passion cause for Indian American donors, followed by healthcare & Gender equality. “The Indian community is very successful, and we all came for one purpose, education, that was our driving factor. We know the struggle, so we are ready to support the cause for education,” says Vaishali Tendolkar, Secretary of HC4A.
Kotecha says that several Muslims and Jews fundraise and help organize events for HC4A. For him, the success of HC4A is the fact that people from all faiths and backgrounds come together to help the community they live in.
In 2017, Harish Kotecha was honored with the President’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.” As this model worked in Austin, Kotecha and his team worked on expanding HC4A’s presence to Southern California, Houston, and Dallas.
Nidhi Trehan, a sociologist, and a chapter leader for HC4A in Houston says, “If we reduce inequality here in the US, we will be working to reduce it globally.”
“HC4A is asking us, that is Indian Americans, to reach out to other communities and give them a helping hand. We actually owe it to the pioneers that fought for civil rights in this country, to be in the position of privilege we are in today,” she added. Led by Sashi Konidena, President of the Houston chapter raised over $12,000 this past year.
The Southern California chapter began in late 2019 and has already presented $5000 to the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). Close to 50% of the students enrolled in the LACCD fall below the poverty line.
Giving back is a metric of success for any individual or community, and it’s a great reinforcement of an immigrant population’s gratitude.
Karthik Pichai, a serial entrepreneur, helped start the Dallas chapter in 2019 and has already raised $10,000 for Dallas Community College. He is rallying successful entrepreneurs not just to give, but also potentially train the students in their tech companies. “I want to bring together affluent entrepreneurs with shared values. Along with our Indian American kids, we can set an example saying that we care about our local community and want to give back,” he says.
Teri Benge, who was pursuing a degree in hospitality management at ACC, while keeping a full-time job, writes in her thank you note to HC4A that, “I will always remember this gesture of kindness and will one day, pay this forward by helping students achieve their goals, just as you have helped me.”
As HC4A volunteers celebrate 10 years of relentless hard work, at the Asian American Resource Center, Austin, none are ready to just sit on their laurels. They laugh and cheer on as they see a 2030 vision board of Shahrukh Khan and Jennifer Lopez coming for the Gala night celebrations and a fundraising goal of a 100 million dollars.
2019 was the biggest year for HC4A as they were successful in establishing an irrevocable endowment fund for scholarships. This year about $150,000 in fellowships will go to students of various ethnic communities. To Kotecha its important that the work continue beyond him, “If us go away, the charity goes away, the fund will still be there. Legacy of the charity and donors will remain,”
Why ‘Howdy, Modi!’ could deliver 2020 to Trump
Culture, camaraderie, and campaigning–the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event had it all. The event was designed to successfully focus on “We the People.”
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.
Less ‘optics’, more culture
“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
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