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From marginalized to margin of victory: The Indian American voter in Georgia

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Georgia State Senate Runoff

ATLANTA (Diya TV) — The Georgia Senate runoff has become the nation’s most important race as the balance of power in the U.S. Senate is in the hands of the Georgia voters. And while political pundits continue to speculate on national TV, one aspect that hasn’t received much attention is the impact of the Asian American voter.

“You can’t tell the suburban vote story without telling the Asian American vote story,”

IMPACT Executive Director Neil Makhija

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in Georgia (and nationally), and Indian Americans are the largest Asian American group in Georgia. There are an estimated 238,000 eligible AAPI voters in Georgia, a voting block that is coming into its own according to Neil Makhija, the Executive Director for IMPACT, an Indian American advocacy and political action committee.

“The Democratic Party couldn’t win the Presidency or the Senate without Asian Americans,” said Makhija. “In November, South Asian and Asian American voters were the critical difference between victory and defeat in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. The numbers are striking: Asian Americans increased turnout more than any other demographic, nearly doubling in Georgia. Asian Americans are becoming a core constituency of the Democratic Party, but they can’t be taken for granted.”

A recent poll conducted by IMPACT, shows the general eligible voting population in Georgia grew 9% between 2012 and 2018, however the Indian American voting population grew by 231%.

This year, Georgia saw a 91 percent increase in AAPI voter turnout over 2016, according to an analysis done by the Democratic firm Target­Smart, and exit polls showed Asian American voters preferred Vice President Joe Biden to President Trump by a 2 to 1 margin. 

An additional 42,000 AAPI voters voted in 2020 over 2016 and more than 30,000 AAPI voters voted for the first time ever. Biden won Georgia by just over 14,000 votes. Gwinnett County, located outside of Atlanta, was once a conservative stronghold. It’s now home to the state’s largest AAPI population and more than 30,000 AAPI voters cast their ballots early there this year compared with 9,500 in 2016.

Jennifer Baik, Communications & Policy Associate at APIA Vote says, “The AAPI vote will definitely be a deciding factor in the Georgia runoff races. According to new data from Pew Research Center, roughly 76,000 new voters have registered between October 5th and December 7th, and by the October 5th deadline in 2020, there were a total of 1,88,000 newly registered voters this year.”

IMPACT has launched a historic $2.5 million campaign to turnout AAPI voters in Georgia ahead of the January Senate runoffs.

“We are poised to play a critical role in January for the Georgia Senate runoff races,” Makhija continued. “IMPACT’s historic investment over the remaining weeks of the campaign will harness this emerging power of South Asian and Asian American voters to help deliver Georgia and control of the U.S. Senate for Democrats. This election can play a transformative role for the Biden-Harris Administration and for our country, and Asian Americans realize that — which is why they’re already turning in their ballots in record numbers.”

IMPACT’s new Georgia campaign follows its $10 million campaign in November focused on targeting Asian American voters in Pennsylvania and Arizona, the largest-ever effort to target South Asian voters. 

APIA Vote, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta and the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) have been working closely on the ground to activate AAPI voters and get out the vote.  Their efforts to reach Asian American voters include mailers in English, Korean, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese

Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, Director at the Asian American Advocacy Fund, and a Gwinnett County native says their group is doing all it can to mobilize the AAPI voters, by knocking on doors, connecting on local issues and doing in-language outreach.

The outreach is coming from both sides. In 2016, Trump became the first Presidential candidate in U.S. history to do TV ad campaigns targeting Indian Americans & Hindu Americans. In this election cycle, we’ve seen the both Republicans & the Democrats make outreach to the Indian American community via digital & TV ad campaigns, in addition to grassroots efforts.

Leoffler’s campaign has launched TV ad campaigns, targeting Indian Americans & the GOP has recruited fromer U.S Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who is a key surrogate courting voters to vote for Senators Leoffler & Purdue.

APIA Vote says there was 310% increase in 2020 early voting compared to 2016. Baik adds, “if anything, the November elections have solidified AAPI voters as the margin of victory.”

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Indian American couple dead in apparent murder-suicide

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Indian American Couple Dead In Apparent Murder-suicide | Diya TV News

 North Arlington, NEW JERSEY (Diya TV) — Authorities in New Jersey are investigating a possible murder-suicide, saying Balaji Rudrawar stabbed his wife Aarti to death. Both were found dead in their home with multiple stab wounds. Their young daughter was found unharmed inside. The motive remains unclear. The man’s father told an India-based media outlet his daughter in law was 7 months pregnant.

In Indian waters, a US war ship sailed through India’s Exclusive Economic Zone without asking for permission, a violation of that country’s law. Both countries remain partners in the region. Sources with the Indian Navy say the move was more about sending a message to China.

As Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry wraps up his India trip,  he’s taking to social media and personally thanking some of the leaders of that region including Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen of Bangladesh, saying all the countries involved are committed to address global warming and climate change. Kerry is raising awareness about this issue heading into a climate conference with world leaders later this month. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Muslim advocates sue Facebook over not removing anti-Muslim hate speech

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Muslim Advocates Sue Facebook | Diya TV News

MENLO PARK, Calif. (Diya TV) — Frustrated with what it sees as a lack of progress, a group called Muslim advocates, along with law firm Gupta Wessler, is suing Facebook, claiming the social media giant does not consistently remove all hate speech, especially language that targets followers of Islam.  The group is calling out top executives like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, demanding the social network start taking anti-Muslim activity more seriously. A Facebook spokesperson says it regularly uses artificial intelligence to remove posts that violate its policies.

“Hugs are back.” That’s what US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is saying after seeing an increase in Covid-19 vaccinations all across the nation. Murthy says more and more Americans are becoming comfortable getting vaccinated. And by April 19th, all adults will be eligible for the vaccine. The Indian American doctor says this trend is encouraging, but also says there is still lots of work that needs to be done about battling disinformation.

And a big blow to Indian filmmakers.  The Federal government is cutting the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which allowed filmmakers to appeal decisions made by the censors, which has the power and authority to ban certain movies for inappropriate content.  Instead, they will now have to go to lawyer up and go straight to court and fight if they disagree.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Hate crime charges demanded against Oxford professor

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Hate Crime Demanded Against Oxford Professor | Diya TV News

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — More than 100 Hindu and Indian organizations are calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to crack down on hate speech at the University of Oxford. Professor Abhijit Sarkar is accused of targeting a female Indian student because of her Hindu beliefs and forcing her to leave the school. The coalition is demanding Sarkar’s firing and also wants him to be charged with a hate crime.

In Seattle Washington, tenants facing eviction will now have free access to lawyers if they cannot afford to pay for services on their own.  Controversial Indian American City council member Kshama Sawant is behind this new legislation.  She says without this law, tenants would face a tsunami of evictions once the rent moratorium expires.

And Amazon delivery drivers in India are going on a 24 hour nationwide strike. after the company slashed how much they can earn per package. Organizers say demonstrations will take place in a number of cities across the country, including Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Delhi, making it the first nationwide protest against the e-commerce giant in India.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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