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Five reasons why you should give during this Covid-19 crisis

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Rajiv Satyal Chalo Give 2020

“If you get to decide what to do with your days, you are lucky.”

Similarly, we may even have the same flexibility with our money.
Times are tight. Money is tight. And so with all due sensitivity, here are five reasons to consider giving to the causes of your choice, during this crazy coronavirus era:

1. Needs continue. In fact, if anything, Covid-19 has exposed the fissures in our society. Precisely because there’s a class of people that can make it through this with minor (OK, some major) inconveniences, there’s a whole ‘nother class that can’t. People are still starving and contracting disease. So, if all you have is unease and not disease, you’re doing OK. Think of those less fortunate.

2. It helps helplessness. Covid-19 is so powerful that many of us feel powerless in its wake. We may not all have become doctors… I got into a six-year medical program out of high school and didn’t go. I think my parents finally got over it last week. It’d only been a quarter of a century. But just because we aren’t on the front lines doesn’t make us useless. By contributing, we can ourselves feel better that we’re doing our part.

3. Its not charity. It isn’t only about money. Those who are now juggling even more at home (e.g., rugrats in the house all day) may find themselves with even less time. But some of us have even more. Take some for yourself. No doubt. Recharge. Learn a new skill. But I’ve found, over and over again, that when I’m feeling down, directing some of my time to helping others makes me feel better. So, see if you can get others involved in giving. That takes time — and it’s appreciated.

4. Energy. My friend, Raman, has a rule: he will make a trip only if he can spend twice the travel time at the destination. So, if traveling to San Francisco and back takes two days, then he needs to spend four days to make it worth it. Same thing to come have lunch with me… if it’s a 30-min trek, he needs me to commit two hours to sitting down with him. OK, fine… to each their own. Well, I often have to decide whether to drive or fly from LA to SF. We all think of money and time. But we often forget the third resource: energy. Energy is an all-emcompassing one for emotion, gut, feelings, patience, etc. Expend that energy by getting involved. Record a funny video. Write something inspiring. Call a friend and maybe record the Zoom call and post it. This is the moment to share your talents with the world. We need it.

5. Karma is the cosmic what-goes-around-comes-around. As Indians, we are certainly familiar with it. In hard economic terms, GDP is quite literally the sum total of the transactions happening in the country. It’s the measure of the flow of money. The more the money circulates, the better we’re all doing, as it’s an indicator of how willing we are to part with our funds. If we’re feeling good about it, we must be confident it’s coming back to us in some way. Well, the more we all hold on, the worse it gets. Ironically, the less that returns. (That’s why it’s called a “return” on investment.) So, be part of the solution: put it out there and the Universe shall bring it back to you. And yes, I just tied spirituality to economics. My college Arts & Sciences department would be proud.


Kindly consider giving to ChaloGive.org.

Much Love!

– Rajiv

Human Rights

Dharma demands us to fight for racial justice

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Dharma

An open letter from Suhag Shukla, the Executive Director of Hindu American Foundation 

My Fellow Hindu Americans,

As I write to you, the National Guard and local police are just 50 feet away from my home arresting young protestors who blocked a highway. 

On Saturday, our family joined peaceful protests in downtown Philadelphia, where people of all shades and ages marched together in solidarity, chanting for racial justice, opposing oppressive policing, and insisting upon the equal worth of Black lives. 

Then on Sunday, we joined city denizens to help clean up the aftermath of riots carried out by a small subset of people in our downtown shopping district, as local business owners looked on with disbelief at a situation that they couldn’t have imagined getting any worse after two and a half months of the COVID-19 shutdown. 

Our nation is dealing with a deadly global pandemic that has stolen over 100,000 lives in America in a matter of months. But the murder of George Floyd has brought into stark reality that we can no longer ignore our duty to cure the chronic disease of racism and police brutality —  not just George Floyd, but so too Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, and the countless innocent lives stolen before them.

Reflecting on all the violence — from the systemic to the organic and from that which emerges from understandable frustration to that which is fueled by ulterior motives — I am reminded that the ideals of ahimsa (compassion and non-harming), satya (truth),  viveka (discernment), and dharma (selflessness and righteousness) are more urgent than ever before.  Violent reaction to police brutality will only continue a cycle of destruction that will leave all of us blind and postpone the very change that is being demanded today.   

Our system is broken.  And we can fix it only by coming together as engaged and thoughtful Americans, lending our voices to those suffering, offering our helping hands to those communities hardest hit, and pushing elected officials to enact  lasting solutions.

Now more than ever, we need to bring our Hinduness to the forefront of our advocacy and our every interaction with friends, neighbors, and communities as agents of change and ambassadors of peace and pluralism to help ensure that the promise of America — of equality, freedom, and dignity for all – is fulfilled for all Americans.

Hindu teachings remind us that we are united by a shared divinity; that compassion and truth must be the foundation of our moral compasses; and that the exercise of discernment and selflessness in our interactions with the world is the only path that can bring about universal well-being.  These are powerful principles for us to practice through service aimed towards justice and the betterment of all people.

Dharma calls upon us to listen, to bear witness, and to stand as allies; and to listen more and speak less so as to not supplant the voices most impacted and to not appropriate this moment for partisan ends.

What can we as Hindu Americans do? Here are a few, simple ideas that we can all put into practice in our daily lives:

  • Acknowledge that racism is real, and that it exists in our communities in spite of our diversity.  We must be mindful of our implicit biases and work through them, constantly reminding ourselves of what our sacred teachings tell us — that we are all embodied spirits.  If you come to realize that you don’t have a diverse group of friends in your orbit, get to know people of all walks of life and backgrounds and embrace them for who they are as individuals, rather than remaining strangers due to assumptions based on any group identities. 
  • Bridge the age divide, or any other divides, through conversation to work towards constructive and viable solutions to eradicate the pressing challenge of institutionalized racism. There is much for older generations to understand from those young people who have lost faith in the systems’ ability to self-correct as there is for young people to learn from the experiences of elders who have witnessed historic systemic change.
  • Donate or volunteer time, skills, and resources to local charities, clinics, and programs working to mentor, strengthen, and empower the most vulnerable amongst African American and other communities in need.
  • Reach out to local law enforcement to cultivate relationships so that they recognize the diversity of the communities they are obligated to serve and protect, and to better hold them accountable if and when they fall short. 
  • Call upon your elected leadership at every level of government and demand institutional change.  Change starts from the bottom up.

Indeed, we as a people face many challenges, both historic and current. However, this is not the time or place to seek equivalencies. People from Africa were forcefully brought to this country and bought and sold as property for over 200 years. Even after winning their freedom, they faced bigotry and subjugation through systems and institutions built on racist ideas for racist ends. We can grow from acknowledging that the experience of Black people in America is unique, and educating our brothers and sisters around the world of their history. Standing up for the rights, dignity, and well-being of African Americans today is not an “or” proposition. It is an “and” proposition because advocacy for one paves the way for the rights, dignity, and well-being of all.

We can draw inspiration from past examples of African American and Hindu-Indian friendship, where a fierce commitment to shared principles paved the way for both communities to tackle their respective struggles. Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha (Soul/Truth Force) and its demonstrated success in India’s independence had a profound influence on Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement. Satyagraha, while deeply informed by the Bhagavad Gita’s wisdom, was also influenced by American intellectuals Henry David Thoreau’s and Booker T. Washington’s ideas on civil disobedience and self-empowerment. Washington’s works also compelled Gandhi to evolve his own prejudices against Africans. American civil rights leader W.E.B. Dubois cultivated a deep friendship built upon a cooperative exchange of ideas with Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, as my friend and former colleague Murali Balaji has written about extensively, to oppose what they deemed as the major obstacle of global white European hegemony to civil rights in America and sovereignty of India.  

There are many such stories of African American and Hindu-Indian friendship, philosophical exchange, and cooperation. So as Hindu Americans, we need only look back at the last century to know that where Hindu and American ideas have intersected and manifested as action, historic and transformational change for the better has come about.  

Let us honor this legacy and once again rise to the occasion for the sake of future generations

Yours in dharma, Suhag

This open letter from Suhag Shukla, Executive Director of Hindu American Foundation, was originally published here:  https://www.hinduamerican.org/blog/dharma-demands-us-to-fight-for-racial-justice

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Third Phase of Indian Election concludes | Diya TV News

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Indian Election Third Phase

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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Arts & Culture

OPINION: 11 things you might have missed about this years OSCARS

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Asian Americans winners at the 92nd Academy Awards.

I’ve watched darned near every one of The Academy Awards since the early 1980s. Here goes.

1. BROADCAST: Compared to most Oscars broadcasts this millennium, this one was “pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.” Of course, it runs long. By the time Billie Eilish finished singing “Yesterday,” it was practically yesterday when the ceremony began. Her rendition of the world’s most covered song ever was decent. It’s hard for that song not to sound good. And by reaching back to 1965, she more than made up for not knowing who Van Halen is… something far more understandable than it seems at first glance. (Subject of a future post.) Pretty cool that Tom Hanks announced the new Academy Museum at Fairfax and Wilshire, though that intersection rings ominously to us hip-hop heads. #RestInPeaceToMyMFBiggieSmalls

Billie Eilish reminded me of that Guinness Book of World Records Indian dude. #NailedIt

2. DIVERSITY: Perhaps it cannot be stated enough that when society swings too far one way, the response to the shift isn’t great, either. Not to kick things off with politics (since movie stars never include that in their speeches) but one of the most insightful lines I read in the last year is that Donald J. Trump has made everything worse. The Republican Party is in bad shape, but so are the Democrats, since they’ve collectively chosen to veer so far left to counterbalance the swing to the right. Similarly, when the Academy nominates almost all white people, Oscar Night itself feels it must overcompensate by giving people non-award stage time. It’s good that there’s diversity up there, but then you end up with weird, inane choices like Janelle Monáe’s opening number. I’ve long enjoyed her acting and her singing; I’ve heard first-hand that she’s incredible live and I can hardly take my eyes off of her because she’s so beautiful. But showcasing a relatively obscure film… dressing people up like Jokers and as soldiers… awkwardly putting (mostly white) people on the spot to sing along… this was just strange. Let’s showcase women of color for their talents onscreen so we don’t have to put us all in this uncomfortable position, including the anxiety I’ll now feel for critiquing (not even criticizing) a WoC.

J. Mo.

3. GLUE: Bring back a host. Even if one host did the first half and another the second or two people co-host, having that anchor is key. Sure, they largely disappear after their opening monologues, but they’re the through-line. This procession of one person’s introducing the next who sometimes even introduces a NEXT made for a weird chain of events. Beyond the functional value, there’s a strong case to be made for jokes. We can evaluate them immediately. I think a lot of us had no idea what to make of Monáe’s opening. Most people just go, “OK, I guess that was good.” But with comedy, at least you know where you stand.

4. NOSTALGIA: The longevity of stars who made their debuts as far back as the ’80s is incredible. Brad Pitt’s speech was a nice romp down Memory Lane to remind us of how lucky we are to have these people in our lives. Or at least on our screens. I don’t feel the same about most actors who’ve debuted post-2000. Although I loved Marilyn Manson as lead actor in Marriage Story.

5. SINGING, PART I: I looked up whether this was the worst year for Best Original Song. Maybe there was an exception in there, but collectively, they were atrocious. Even Elton John’s was so boring. And don’t get me started on Randy Newman. Once upon a time, he served a purpose. His voice is etched into my memory from many eighties movies but this man did not need to continue lulling us to sleep in yet another decade.

6. SINGING, PART II: The Oscars and Emmys face a unique challenge: they’re rewarding recorded acting, whereas the Tonys and the Grammys reward live performance. You can’t exactly make actors go up and act out a scene… though actually, I would like to see that. So, Elton and Randy notwithstanding, keep the live performances AND keep at least two montages: In Memoriam and some kind of themed glance-back. We movie-goers are suckers for nostalgia and investing a few minutes in this provides a substantial emotional ROI. (Remember when I talked about nostalgia…?)

I Thought It Was Over.

7. SHADY AFTERMATH: Eminem killed it. I found all of the snarky online dialogue infuriating. Indeed, the fast news cycle has ruined things. You used to read Oscars reviews all week, but if you don’t put out your thoughts within 24 hours, the world has moved on. There may be some upsides to that (though the lack of mentions of Australia show another downside), but one clear negative is that people go for the quick kill instead of even a shred of circumspection. It took me a long time to get into Eminem — I loathed him when he first debuted in 1999 — but then he quickly became one of my favorite all-time musicians. I’d still say JAY-Z is the greatest (even if the best is a Biggie/2Pac tossup) but Eminem is a close second. #TossItUp So, given that the man has more fame and success than most of the actors in that hall, yes, I think he’s the kind of evergreen personality we’re lucky to see anywhere, anytime… even if it is random. But it’s not random. He dropped a new album last week and became the sixth artist in history to debut 10 albums at #1. Dude’s a legend — and his performance was arguably the highlight of the evening. If you read the reviews, the Fake News would have you believe he bombed. In fact, most people of all ages, races, and genders were bobbing their heads and many were singing along to “Lose Yourself,” arguably the song of the 2000s. Again, it seems easy to throw shade at a straight white man… why is HE here? Well, why the hell was Blac Chyna there? Sure, she was on the Red Carpet and not onstage, but all she did was marry and divorce a Kardashian. The reaction to that? “You go, girl. Get it.” No. Divorcees of any gender shouldn’t be punished but that doesn’t mean we need to reward it, either. Sure, Eminem used the Other F-Word far too much early in his career, but he reconciled with Elton John (whose song from last night I do NOT want to hear 18 years from now). Joaquin Phoenix hit the nail on the head when he said that we’re at our best not when we cancel each other but when we help each other grow. Like how Janelle Monáe makes me grow.

A River Runs Through It.

8. PAIR: “I’m seeing Red.” — Rudolph. Give it up for Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. Not sure why Wiig’s comedy career hasn’t continued to skyrocket. Bridesmaids is arguably the last great comedic movie; she and Rudolph both killed it in that as well as last night. Granted, they’ve worked together much more than Rock & Martin, but they had comedic chemistry in all the ways the men didn’t.

9. LAMESAUCE: Shame on whoever’s decision it was to include the line, “All women are superheroes!” I turned to Harsha, winced, and said, “Dude, that is SO patronizing.” Lo and behold, I read this online: “… immediately after making Brie Larson, Sigourney Weaver, and Gal Gadot stand onstage and say things like, ‘All women are superheroes!’ All women should not be forced to participate in pandering, infantilizing bullish!t!” I don’t know who forced whom and don’t know if it’s infantilizing, but it’s pandering… and patronizing… and demeaning. And it’s not true. No group of people is a bunch of superheroes. Not women, not men, not straight, not gay, not trans, not cis, not whites, not Indians, not Eskimos. Well, except the Justice League. And the people next to me on the plane who sit for six hours without getting up to go to the bathroom. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? They’re superheroes. Offer up something empowering like, “All women who go out there everyday and work and try to make this world a better place — whether you’re a bus driver or a Hollywood actor — even when you’re not being recognized and you have to work twice as hard as a man… you’re superheroes and we see you.” Maybe I didn’t nail the wording, and in typical Rajiv fashion, it’s longer, but at least make sure what you’re saying is true.

Kelly Marie Tran endured horrendous harassment at the hands of racist Star Wars fans. Just to mock them, she should start a site for Women of Color online and name it EWOC.

10. BROWN TOWN: South Asians performances weren’t featured onscreen, either, but it was dope to see Utkarsh Ambudkar’s freestyling. Dude once took a dump at my house. For more on that and more of his freestyling (including cutting me up pretty well), check out WatchRajiv.com. Fitting coincidence that Mindy Kaling handed out the award for Hair Love. Moments earlier, Chris Rock had appeared to “not-host”; it was his documentary, Good Hair, that told the world most black women’s extensions come from India. Dope to see some Ohio representation, too, with American Factory. OH-!

An appropriate arrow up from Priya Rai.

11. ENDING: Congratulations to Parasite! Loved 1917 (thought it would win) but Bong Joon-ho is this year’s Roberto Benigni. And that Asian auntie… my wife: “This is like having your Mom onstage.” What a way for the Oscars to remain relevant, address #OscarsSoWhite, and surprise us all… 92 years in. I heard Koreatown was going off last night… I can’t even imagine the parking situation. (No, that’s not an Asian joke… it’s a local LA joke.) In conclusion, we had no host but we did have a Parasite. A little biology humor for you.

“A very little humor.” — Spamboy on my FB Page.

And… just as I was about to hit Post, a news notification told me this year’s ratings fell to a record low. “That’s Life.” — Joker

#Oscars

Rajiv Satyal is a comedian and claims to be the world’s best movie quoter. He resides in Los Angeles.

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