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.
India’s mega blockbuster ‘RRR’ vies for the Oscars
LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — Legendary Indian director S.S. Rajamouli, of the Baahubali fame is back with yet another box office mega hit. ‘RRR’ (Rise,Roar, Revolt), the Telugu language epic, is set in 1920’s colonial India and has already broken many box-office records internationally. With nearly 300 days of shooting, thousands of hours in post production and an international team of VFX team, RRR is now making the waves among film critics in the United States.
Grossing over $175m worldwide, with nearly $2.5m from Japan alone, this film has garnered global appeal with its Bollywood style dance numbers, epic action sequences and high-end visual effects.
As the film is gaining momentum in the film critics society, after winning the Atlanta & New York Film Critics Circle awards, ahead of the Oscars, we sat down with the key team members behind the scenes. Check out what they had to say:
With an astounding level of commitment and an inherent pride, the team worked tirelessly to bring the director’s vision to life.
While many expected this to be India’s official entry into the Oscars, that didn’t happen, but RRR will likely compete with films such as Avatar 2 and Top Gun Maverick in the VFX category. If it were to win, it would be the first ever film made in India to win that category at the Oscars.
We, at Diya TV will be paying close attention, so like, follow & subscribe to get all your diaspora news as it happens.
UPDATE 12/12/22 : RRR has been nominated for Best Picture: Non-English Language & Best Original Song ‘Naatu Naatu’ for the Golden Globes.
IFFLA celebrates 20 years with a focus to mentor the next generation
LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — IFFLA celebrated their 20th anniversary with familiar faces, overwhelming excitement and new additions to Southern California’s largest Indian and South Asian focused film festival.
Pan Nalin opened the festival with his film Last Film Show, a love letter to cinema and loosely based on his childhood.
“I think IFFLA over the years, it has been like a home in Hollywood. So I was always able to come here and invite people from the industry to see these movies,” said Nalin. “There are producers who usually don’t go to see Indian cinema. So I feel that it’s really important.”
Director Anurag Kashyap returned to host a MasterClass — a way to give back to the festival and fellow filmmakers.
“It is always good to be back here because for me this is where it all started from. And it’s amazing to see that this festival has grown so much and has been sustaining for so long,” said Kashyap.
New filmmakers were honored to be part of the lineup this year, especially after no in-person IFFLA for the last two years.
Hena Asraf, Director of The Return, shares “it feels a little unreal. It feels great! I think especially to be at a festival in person, after over two years.”
“The community is amazing. The welcome is very warm. It feels just so honoring to be a part of this festival and amongst these filmmakers. I can’t wait to see all the other films,” said The Return Editor Esther Shubinski.
It’s that family feeling that makes IFFLA special and keeps filmmakers, attendees, and staff keep coming back.
Actor and director Ravi Kapoor is “just so grateful for this festival. It has been such a supporter of me. And they’ve helped bring the South Asian diasporic community here in LA together as well. Thank god they’ve lasted 20 years.”
Actor & musician Monica Dogra points out “what’s wonderful about IFFLA [is] it’s super niche, South Asians in LA of all places. [And] it’s small enough so you actually see people anyway.”
Actor Pooja Batra added, “I think they’ve always been eclectic with their mix of selection that they bring around here — smaller budget, smaller sort of productions also need a shout out.”
One of the new additions this year is the Spotlight on South Asia.
Festival founder Christina Marouda added this vertical to present films from different countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. “We’re putting a spotlight on projects we want to support,” said Marouda.
The other major new change this year was a live table read of IFFLA alum Kahlil Maskati’s feature script, Alim Uncle, rather than a closing night film. Fawzia Mirza directed the piece.
These changes reflect IFFLA’s commitment to supporting filmmakers while giving audiences more than a viewing experience. In fact, they are able to be part of the filmmaking process.
Marouda says after 20 years, this is IFFLA’s direction moving forward — a full effort to mentor budding filmmakers, while showcasing new films.
Ravi Kapur and Deepti Dawar contributed to this report.
Garcetti’s ambassadorship to India in limbo￼
WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has lifted the “hold” on the Senate confirmation of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has been nominated by US President Joe Biden as the country’s next ambassador to India. Initially, Grassley planned to object to the nomination, saying Garcetti failed to properly investigate sexual assault allegations and harassment by a close advisor.
Protesters in Sri Lanka have burned down homes belonging to 38 politicians as the crisis-hit country plunged further into chaos, with the government ordering troops to shoot anyone caught destroying property. Even the former Prime Minister had to be evacuated from his home. Angry Sri Lankans continue to defy a nationwide curfew to protest against what they say is the government’s mishandling of the country’s worst economic crisis since 1948.
Internationally recognized Indian American energy expert Arun Majumdar will head the new Stanford University Doerr School of Sustainability, which aims to tackle urgent climate and sustainability challenges,
Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.
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