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US sends aid, and bans travel from India

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US ends aid, bans travel from India | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — The Covid-19 crisis continues to spiral out of control in India. And now the U.S. is instituting a travel ban.  It goes into effect on May 4 but won’t apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents and their spouses. Meanwhile foreign aid is flowing into India from places like Israel, America, and Germany.

Sikh’s in Indianapolis held a memorial service to remember the victims of the Fed Ex facility shooting last month. Four of the people who died were from the Sikh community.  Police have not identified a motive for the shooting, yet. It’s unclear if the shooter, a former employee at the facility, was targeting Sikhs. There are a high number of Sikhs, immigrants and refugees who work in the facility.

And mega stars from the Indian diaspora raised more than 3 million dollars for Covid-19 relief in India.  Jay Shetty, Lilly Singh, Deepak Chopra, and Jay Sean. The virtual event was called help India Breathe and aired on Diya TV. The funds are going to three major areas of relief on the ground including food, direct cash transfers to families, and makeshift hospitals.

You can watch the fundraiser and still continue to donate:

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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American Coronavirus aid arrives in India

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American Covid-19 aid arrives in India | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — American aid is finally starting to arrive in Covid-19 battered India as vaccination sites run out of shots and thousands of people gasp for air. A U.S. military transport plane delivered more than 400 oxygen cylinders, nearly one million rapid coronavirus test kits, and other supplies. The country has been reporting an average of more than 350,000 new cases of Covid infections every day for the past week.

After seven hours of public comment and testimony from hundreds of people on whether caste should be added to the county’s non-discrimination policy, the Santa Clara Human Rights Commission deferred their vote pending futher testimony and likely another public hearing. Equality Labs and the Hindu American Foundation each made presentations for and against this potential new category at the hearing, that was broadcast exclusively on Diya TV.
Watch the full event here:

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history during President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress just by taking their seats — marking the first time two women would be sitting behind the President.  Biden’s Indian American chief speech writer Vinay Reddy wrote the president’s address, adding to the historic evening.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Death toll rises as Covid supplies head to India

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Death toll rises as Covid supplies head to India | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — No end in sight to India’s deepening Covid-19 crisis as the number of new virus cases in the country shatter records. India added nearly 400 thousand new cases on Thursday, breaking the record set a day earlier, boosting the country’s death toll to more than 200 thousand. US officials have urged Americans to leave the country because of the deteriorating conditions.

Several members of the Dalit community and their supporters are addressing the Santa Clara Human Rights Commission to discuss their experiences with caste discrimination. They want the commission to recommend that the Board of Supervisors make caste a legally protected category against discrimination like race, age, gender and sexual orientation. Equality Labs is pushing this agenda but critics say it is anti-Indian and anti-Hindu.

And the Senate overwhelmingly passed an Asian Hate crimes bill and created a new position at the Justice Department to fast track reviews of potential Covid-19 related hate crimes. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Exclusive: Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission to hold hearing on caste

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Human Rights Commission Hearing Santa Clara County

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Diya TV) — The Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on whether caste should be listed as a separate factor in their discrimination policy on Thursday, April 29, 2021. At least 200,000 South Asian residents live in the county that features some of the most prominent technology companies in the world. Following the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit against San Jose based Cisco Systems, the Cal State University Student Association’s resolution on caste discrimination, and similar efforts at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and the Claremont Colleges, the county represents the latest California institution motivated by a 2018 report authored by activist group Equality Labs. 

Santa Clara Human Rights Commission Chair and San Jose Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor Reverend Dr. Bryan Franzen confirmed the commission has been in talks with multiple organizations about caste, including Equality Labs. Following a November 2020 meeting with Equality Labs founder Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the commission unanimously approved establishing an ad hoc committee consisting of commissioners Robert Chaykin, Dylah Ray, Hyon Chu Yi-Baker, and Saigal Shanahwaz. 

While the official meeting agenda only mentions caste discrimination, a source familiar with committee deliberations disclosed part of the ad hoc committee’s efforts center on a proposed effort to collect caste demographic data called “Know Your Caste.” Such data collection would be consistent with formally defining caste as a protected category, as advocated by various Dalit, Ambedkarite, and other South Asian-focused progressive activist groups

Equality Labs has generated extensive coverage in the United StatesIndia, and even China. In addition, the group partnered with Indian American members of Congress Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to commemorate Bhimrao Ambedkar, the late Dalit intellectual and chief architect of the Indian constitution, and discuss caste discrimination in Congress. Despite support and financial backing from progressive organizations, perceptions within the South Asian and Hindu communities vary widely. 

“Equality Labs has prominently and even proudly displayed a track record of anti-Hindu bigotry. It repeatedly says that Hinduism is not a safe space for Dalits, when the fact is, Equality Labs is not a safe space for Hindus, let alone Hindu Dalits and Bahujans,” stated the Ambedkar-Phule Network of American Dalits and Bahujans in a letter sent to the Santa Clara HRC. 

Apart from the group’s ideology, the report methodology itself has raised eyebrows, including the elimination of about 20% of responses for being “extreme or illogical,” lack of statistical testing, and reliance on self-disclosed (and not verified) caste affiliation – all disclosed by Equality Labs in the report appendix.  

The reliance of American government entities on activist group findings does differ greatly from the British government’s approach. When considering similar legislation on caste, the government commissioned their own report that concluded, “uncovering the extent of caste discrimination in the UK would require a representative survey…something particularly challenging given the lack of pre-existing British population data segmented by caste.” 

Some Hindus also question the fairness of public proceedings based on prior experience. “I was shocked by the clear anti-Hindu and xenophobic agenda,” said an American Hindu that attended the Cal Poly Student Association’s public hearing on caste discrimination. Members of the public had just thirty seconds each to speak to respond to the unanimously passed resolution stated to be “in compliance with the recommendations of Equality Labs.” “As a California taxpayer, I am appalled by the complete lack of ethics that the CSU committee showed in not consulting objective parties from both camps or consulting the public before making their decision.

At the same time, the Hindu American Foundation and other South Asian groups also publicly condemned casteism, whether in diaspora or origin countries. “Nobody should face workplace discrimination based on South Asian caste,” said Guha Krishnamurthi, Assistant Professor at the South Texas College of Law. “Drafting the legislation appropriately can be difficult…the [SC] Human Rights Commission and other deliberative bodies are there to help do that. To that end, we should support such deliberative bodies.” 

The prospect of such policies in the United States has stoked concerns “the addition of ‘caste’ as a specific protected category, however, would single out and wrongly target only one community.” In a letter to the Santa Clara Human Rights Commission, the Hindu American Foundation said “[Hindu] employees fear accusations in the midst of general ignorance about Hinduism, widespread stereotypes and misinformation about caste in India, and the lack of cultural context of HR professionals, are endangering their jobs and impacting their mental well-being.”

The Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission hearing will be held virtually at 5:30 PM PST on 4/29 and is open to members of the public. You can watch it live here:

EDITOR’S NOTE: No decision was made during this marathon session and there will likely be additional public forums to discuss this topic in the near future.

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