Key Powers Snub Joint Communique at Swiss Summit Aimed at Ending Ukraine War

A two-day summit in Switzerland focused on finding a resolution to the Ukraine war concluded with key nations refusing to endorse a joint communique accepted by over 80 countries and international organizations.

India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which maintain significant trade relations with Russia as part of the BRICS economic group, participated in the weekend summit but declined to sign the joint statement.

The communique reaffirmed the signatories’ commitment to “refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, within their internationally recognized borders.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized at a press conference alongside leaders from the European Union, Ghana, Canada, Chile, and Switzerland that it was “important that all participants of this summit support Ukraine’s territorial integrity because there will be no lasting peace without territorial integrity.”

More than 100 countries and organizations assembled at a picturesque lakeside resort near Lucerne to rally support for the 10-point peace plan Zelensky introduced in late 2022.

The plan includes calls for a cessation of hostilities, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian soil, and the reestablishment of Ukraine’s pre-war borders with Russia—terms that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to ever accept.

Notable dignitaries in attendance included leaders from Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

US Vice President Kamala Harris attended the summit and announced a $1.5 billion aid package intended for humanitarian efforts and to help Kyiv rebuild its damaged infrastructure.

“This high-level attendance shows one thing: the world cares deeply about the war provoked by Russia’s aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Despite the strong presence of Western democracies, there were questions prior to the event regarding the potential outcomes, especially since neither Russia nor China, which has bolstered the Kremlin’s resistance to Western sanctions through close trade relations, were present.

The communique issued on Sunday indicated that signatories had reached several other agreements. These included allowing Ukraine to operate its nuclear power plants, including the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and ensuring the Kremlin refrains from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. Additionally, the sides agreed that all children and civilians unlawfully displaced must be returned to Ukraine.

On Friday, the day before the summit commenced, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated the Kremlin’s peace plan, which calls for Ukrainian troops to withdraw from four southern and eastern regions that Moscow claims to have annexed in violation of international law, and for Kyiv to abandon its NATO membership ambitions.

While Russian forces have made modest advances in two of these regions—Donetsk and Luhansk—in recent months, they do not fully occupy all four, which also include Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who accompanied Harris to Switzerland, criticized Putin’s framework, stating it “defies basic morality.”

“He (Putin) said, not only does Ukraine have to give up the territory Russia currently occupies, but Ukraine has to leave additional sovereign Ukrainian territory before Russia will negotiate. And Ukraine must disarm so that it is vulnerable to future Russian aggression down the road. No responsible nation could say that is a reasonable basis for peace,” Sullivan said.

5 Million Indian Americans Live in the US

The number of Indians living in the US has grown to 5 million in 2023, representing a 50 percent increase since 2010, a new report by Indiaspora, a California-based non-profit highlighted.

The report titled, Indiaspora Impact Report: Small Community, Big Contributions, compiled by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the first in a series examining the impact of the Indian diaspora in the United States, focusing on public service, business, culture, and innovation. The report not only presents compelling statistics but also profiles inspiring individuals who exemplify the diaspora’s contributions across various sectors.

As the second-largest migrant group in the US, Indian-Americans, with their young and highly educated demographic, have significantly influenced American life. At a time when immigration is a contentious issue, Indian-Americans have become one of the most influential immigrant groups in the country.

Philanthropy

Indian American households contribute $1.5 to $2 billion annually to various causes, the report found. “Since 2008, individuals of Indian origin have donated $3 billion to US universities, including 65+ donations of $1M+ to 40+ universities,” it states. “Notable donations include: $2 billion by Amar Bose to MIT and $140 million by Rajan Kilachand to Boston University.”

“Indian Americans account for only 1.5 percent of the US population, yet they continue to have an outsized and positive impact across different aspects of US society,” said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization of global Indian diaspora leaders. “Indian American-driven innovation flows to the country’s bottom line and is laying the groundwork for the next phase of economic growth.”

US economy

16 Fortune 500 companies are led by CEOs of Indian origin. “Ranging from Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, who traveled on a plane for the very first time when he came to the US to attend Stanford, to Reshma Kewalramani, the CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, who migrated at the age of 12 and went on to study medicine at Boston University,” the report states.

Another key finding in the report is that Indian-Americans have co-founded 11 percent unicorns (72 out of 648) in the US in 2023. These have a combined valuation of $195 billion, employing over 55,000 individuals.

“These startups are solving a diverse range of problems. For instance, Hari Balakrishnan’s Cambridge Mobile Telematics aims to make America’s roads safer, while Gaurab Chakrabarti’s Solugen is decarbonizing industrial processes,” the report highlights.

In addition to this, Indian-Americans pay 6 percent of all US taxes.

Science and innovation

Members of the diaspora represent more than 10 percent of the National Institute of Health (NIH) grants and US patents, as well as hold significant positions in academia.

“In 2023, Indian-origin scientists were part of research groups at the forefront of innovation,” it says. “The share of US patents with a co-inventor of Indian origin also grew fivefold from about 2 percent in 1975 to 10 percent in 2019.”

Some Indian-origin researchers achieved great feat. While Navin Varadarajan’s work in immunotherapy offers hope to cancer patients, Subra Suresh, former director of the National Science Foundation, has patented crucial biomedical devices that transform healthcare practices worldwide.

Some individuals are even contributing to shaping tomorrow’s global leaders.

“Approximately 22,000 faculty members of Indian origin each at US higher education institutions — 2.6 percent of all full-time faculty. Figures like: Neeli Bendapudi, the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Penn State’s President; and Arun Majumdar, the inaugural dean of Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, whose pioneering work in energy research is equipping students to tackle climate change, embodying the academic influence of the diaspora.”

Government and Public Policy

Over 150 Indian Americans are currently in serving in senior administration positions accounting for 6.2 percent of the total positions. Kamala Harris, whose mother hails from India, created history as the first woman to be sworn in as Vice President in 2021 and is the highest ranking Indian American in the United States.

“Indian-origin persons account for 3 percent of leadership in government agencies like the NSF, CDC, EPA. Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan serves as the 15th director of the US National Science Foundation since 2020,” the report says.

Public Health

Indian American physicians are highly sought after in the United States, with every one in seven Americans being treated by them. They make up 10 percent of all physicians in the US but serve approximately 30 percent of patients, the report highlighted.

Dr Vivek Murthy, the 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the US, is the first Surgeon General of Indian descent

Food and culture

Interestingly, about 3 percent of Michelin Guide USA restaurants feature Indian cuisine. “There is a rising popularity of drinks like turmeric latte and chai, as well as the celebration of festivals such as Diwali and Holi,” the report says.

From 2015 to 2023, 96 Indian movies grossed over $1 million in North America, and $340 million collectively. Additionally, Indian-origin artists have won 10 prestigious awards since 2015 across the prestigious and sought-after Oscars, Golden Globes, and Grammy Awards.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami, said, “Indian Americans account for only 1.5 percent of the US population, yet they continue to have an outsized and positive impact across different aspects of US society. Indian American-driven innovation flows to the country’s bottom line and is laying the groundwork for the next phase of economic growth.”

Ashwin Ramaswami Wants To Talk About Religion More, Not Less

(RNS) — Whether studying computer science at Stanford or technology law at Georgetown, working for the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or, as now, running for Georgia’s state Senate, Ashwin Ramaswami has always made sure to prioritize four things every day: morning hatha yoga practice and three daily meditations — morning, noon and evening.

Ashwin Ramaswami’s state Senate campaign carries with it broader national themes of election protection and Hindus’ emerging presence in American politics.

The 24-year-old Hindu Indian American and Democrat is running against Republican incumbent Shawn Still for the 48th District in the Georgia Senate. While local in the sense of the issues the candidates are running on, the race has broader national themes of election protection — not least because Still, who was indicted along with former President Donald Trump on allegations of interfering in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia — and Hindus’ emergence as a presence in American politics.

“Because my opponent was one of the folks whose actions led to what happened on Jan. 6,” said Ramaswami, “there’s this broader idea that we want to protect democracy, and we need people who can speak truth to power.”

It was while he was working for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to protect elections that Ramaswami learned his own state senator had been indicted. “I was among a small team working to protect elections,” said Ramaswami. “And here was this person, representing my area, doing the opposite.”

Born to South Indian immigrants in Johns Creek, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta, Ramaswami grew up with the juxtaposition of computers and faith, with parents who worked in information technology and belonged to the local Hindu community. While learning to code in high school, he also taught Sunday school, and at Stanford, while earning a computer science degree, he learned Sanskrit, the language of many Hindu sacred texts. At Georgetown, he helped raise $100,000 to establish an endowment for the university’s dharmic programs.

Ramaswami’s meditation and yoga habits began in high school, when he started his practice every morning at 4 a.m. “That really changed my life,” he said. “It showed me the value of discipline, but it also gave me my own purpose in life, which was to better understand my own tradition and who I am.”

Seva, the Hindu concept of service, helped inspire him to run for office, and he thinks faith has much to add to politics, which he thinks of as a way to change hearts and minds. Religion should not be overlooked as a means to achieve that, he said, pointing to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as role models.

Interfaith dialogue and religious literacy, too, are critical for healthy communities. “Too often our communities are isolated,” said Ramaswami. “People from different countries or religions mostly keep to themselves and don’t talk to each other as much. Through interfaith work, we realize people share a lot of the same values and face the same challenges.”

One of Ramaswami’s priorities is well-being, physical, mental and spiritual. He hopes to dedicate resources for the community’s spiritual and emotional well-being and find ways for the public school system to create community.

“I think everyone, regardless of what religion they are, is always thinking about ‘what’s my purpose in life,’” said Ramaswami. “A society which doesn’t provide avenues for investigating those questions is not going to be a successful society.”

He wants to bring this missing element to politics. “When role models are openly talking about values, religion and what matters to them, that will help the next generation and everyone to make sure that they’re spiritually fulfilled as well,” he said.

Indian Americans, the largest group of South Asian Americans in the country, historically have had little representation in American politics, but their numbers are on the rise in Congress, beginning with the 2013 election of Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu House member, and on the executive level with Kamala Harris’ vice presidency and Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley’s 2024 presidential campaigns. Organizations like Indian American Impact have been established in recent years to elevate the voices of Indian Americans.

“Since Impact was founded in 2016, representation of our communities has increased from approximately 50 elected officials to more than 300 nationwide,” said an Impact spokesperson.

The increase is driven by several converging factors, according to Impact. The children of the first large wave of South Asian immigrants from the 1960s and 1970s are now awakening to their political power, reaching an age where they can leverage resources and opportunities necessary to run for office. As more and more leaders step up to run for office, they inspire others to follow suit.

“The growth of our communities as a voting bloc and their influence on American politics have also motivated many to run,” the spokesperson added, “as they’re driven by a desire to serve their community and supported by its collective strength.”

Hindus only make up about 1% of Georgia’s population, according to Pew Research Center, but 30% of the voting population of Ramaswami’s state Senate District 48 is described as Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander, half of them South Asian. Last year, Georgia’s General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Hinduphobia, and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp established Hindu Heritage Month.

District 48’s recent history reflects this increasing diversity. In 2018, Iranian American Zahra Karinshak won the seat, and in 2020, the district elected Chinese American Michelle Au. Both are Democrats. But after the 2020 redistricting cycle, District 48 was redrawn and Still was elected in 2022. Local political observers said Ramaswami nonetheless has a chance come November.

“This is potentially now a swing district,” said Georgia state Rep. Sam Park, who has endorsed Ramaswami. “Someone of Ashwin’s caliber has a fighting chance of beating this fake elector.”

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said District 48 appeals to ethnically diverse, younger newcomers with its good schools, green space and Atlanta’s strong job market. He predicts the district will become more Democratic over the next decade due to the changing demographics.

If Ramaswami doesn’t win this year, he might have a much better chance in 2026. “He might be able to flip this district back,” said Bullock. “There’s a chance.”

Vice President Harris Honors Her Mother and Denounces Division at White House AANHPI Celebration

On May 13, 2024, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a White House Rose Garden reception celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month, where she highlighted her mother Shyamala Gopalan’s profound impact on her life. Gopalan, born in Chennai, India, immigrated to the U.S. alone at 19, aiming to raise her daughters and combat breast cancer as a researcher. Harris attributed her success to her mother’s unwavering determination, stating, “My mother never asked anyone’s permission to pursue her dreams. And it is because of her character, strength, and determination that within one generation, I stand before you as Vice President.”

Harris also warned about current extremist efforts to foster division in the country, using positions of influence to incite “xenophobia and hate, including anti-Asian hate.” She emphasized the importance of strength in uplifting others and condemned attacks on fundamental freedoms such as voting rights, safety from gun violence, freedom from hate and bigotry, and women’s rights over their own bodies. “We see a full-on assault, state by state on our most fundamental freedoms and rights,” she said.

President Joe Biden humorously introduced himself, “My name is Joe Biden. I work for Kamala Harris,” and highlighted the nation’s identity as a land of immigrants and dreamers. He emphasized the progress made together and promoted his comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and an expansion of green cards. Biden urged Congress to act, stressing the need for unity against the divisive rhetoric of former President Donald Trump. Biden criticized Trump’s derogatory statements about immigrants, saying, “He [Trump] calls immigrants’ rapists and murderers… He says immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country.” Biden stressed his vision of a country inclusive of all people.

The reception featured patriotic songs and Indian cuisine, such as Paani puri and Khoya. Additionally, a special celebration, ‘Lasting Legacies,’ was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to mark the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on AANHPI.

At the event, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discussed the importance of disaggregating data for the AANHPI community and addressed rising hate crimes. He remarked, “We always have known that there is always hate out there and that sometimes it translates to criminal conduct… This commission has taken with a vengeance to address [it].”

Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, acknowledged AANHPI leaders in the Biden administration, including Vice President Harris and others, while recalling pioneers like Representatives Dalip Singh Saund and Patsy Mink, and Secretary Norman Mineta, the first Asian American in a President’s Cabinet. Tai emphasized, “Our administration is fighting against anti AANHPI hate and violence… We are empowering members of our community… to succeed.”

Neera Tanden, Chair of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, emphasized her commitment to representing all Americans, ensuring AANHPI voices are heard in government policies on education, health care, crime, and immigration. She stated, “A priority for us is to make sure the government really represents the needs and views of all Americans.”

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy shared his parents’ story of overcoming hardships to immigrate to the U.S., illustrating the promise of America. Reflecting on his grandfather, a poor farmer in South India, he said, “My grandfather… could never have dreamed that one day his grandson, would be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation.”

Ajay Bhutoria, AANHPI Commissioner, highlighted the commission’s advocacy on economic equality, data disaggregation, language access, and immigration issues, praising the efforts of key figures like Krystal Ka‘ai and Erika Moritsugu. Bhutoria told News India Times, “The Commission has been advocating for issues important to the community around advancing economic equality, data disaggregation, language access, Green Card backlog, H1B visa stamping.”

Kamala Harris Encourages Indian American Political Participation at “Desis Decide” Summit

Speaking at “Desis Decide”—an annual summit organized by a Democratic Party think tank—Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the increasing involvement of Indian Americans in the political process. “Over the years, we’ve had so much more participation by Indian Americans in the electoral process running for office. But the numbers are still not reflective of the size of the growing population,” she stated.

Currently, there are five Indian American members in Congress: Dr. Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, and Shri Thanedar. Despite this progress, Harris believes the representation still falls short relative to the population size.

Highlighting the efforts of Impact, an organization dedicated to empowering Indian Americans in politics, Harris remarked, “It really is extraordinary. I wanted to stop by to thank of course the organization for everything and for all that it represents, but also to say especially to those who have run for office or aspire to run for office, that you must run.”

Harris also reminisced about her mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from India at 19 and actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement in Berkeley. Reflecting on her childhood visits to India, she shared that she would visit every two years, recalling morning walks with her grandfather. “And I remember as a young girl… hearing them discuss the importance of standing for what is right and fairness,” she added.

Trump’s Vice Presidential Pick: A Golden Ticket to GOP’s 2028 Presidential Race

Former President Trump’s choice for his running mate in the upcoming November election holds immense significance, potentially serving as a gateway to the GOP’s presidential candidacy in 2028. Unlike traditional scenarios where a vice president would typically wait eight years before pursuing the presidential nomination, Trump’s selection could instantly elevate the chosen candidate as a frontrunner for the GOP nomination in just four years. This unique circumstance underscores the exceptional weight of Trump’s decision this year.

Alex Conant, a figure from Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign, emphasizes the significance, stating, “To the extent that whoever he picks as vice president could be the presumptive front-runner four years from now, it’s a bigger deal than normal.” This potential nominee not only carries the prospect of assuming the presidency but also inheriting the mantle of the MAGA movement that has reshaped the Republican Party under Trump’s leadership.

While loyalty remains a paramount criterion for Trump in selecting his running mate, the contenders vying for his favor are acutely aware of the extraordinary opportunity this decision presents. Younger Republicans, in particular, perceive this as a chance not just for the vice presidency but as a strategic move towards positioning themselves for the 2028 presidential race.

Among those under consideration is Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who, despite being 58 years old, is viewed favorably due to his strong fundraising abilities and compelling personal narrative as the sole Black Republican in the Senate. Senator JD Vance, another potential contender at 39, has also garnered attention as a staunch Trump ally, although he hasn’t directly discussed the possibility with Trump himself.

Other names circulating as potential future faces of the party include Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, aged 45; Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, aged 39; Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aged 41; and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, aged 51.

While speculation about the impact on the 2028 race looms large, insiders caution against overestimating its influence on Trump’s decision-making process. Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor, underscores Trump’s prioritization of loyalty over electoral considerations, suggesting that Trump’s choice will primarily reflect on his own image rather than future electoral strategies.

The details of Trump’s vice presidential search remain largely undisclosed, with periodic mentions of candidates on his “short list.” Similar to his approach in 2016, Trump is likely to delay the announcement until closer to the Republican National Convention in July, utilizing the suspense to his advantage for fundraising and media attention.

The anticipation surrounding Trump’s pick echoes the strategic maneuvering seen in the 2020 Democratic cycle, where then-candidate Joe Biden positioned himself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders. However, while Biden’s eventual vice presidential pick, Kamala Harris, was initially seen as a potential frontrunner for 2024, uncertainties have since arisen regarding her presidential prospects.

For Republicans vying for Trump’s endorsement, the stakes are high, offering a potential fast track to the presidential nomination if Trump secures victory in November. However, there’s also a cautionary tale in the fate of former Vice President Mike Pence, whose fallout with Trump over the election results damaged his standing within the party.

As the Republican contenders jockey for position on this year’s ticket, they tread a delicate balance between ambition and loyalty, hoping to avoid the pitfalls that befell Pence in his post-Trump political journey.

Nikki Haley Assumes Leadership Role at Hudson Institute Amid Presidential Speculation

Nikki Haley Joins Hudson Institute as Chair, Eyes Presidential Run

The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., revealed on April 15th that Nikki Haley, former GOP presidential contender, will be taking on the Walter P. Stern chair. This move sees the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor become the fourth member of Trump’s cabinet to do so, as reported by The Guardian.

Expressing her thoughts on the significance of robust partnerships and the necessity of identifying adversaries, Haley underscored the crucial role of Hudson’s mission. She stated, “They believe that to secure a safe, free, and prosperous future for all Americans, citizens must be informed, and policymakers must be equipped with solutions. I am thrilled to collaborate with them in safeguarding the values that have distinguished the United States as the premier nation on Earth.”

Haley’s new position allows her to maintain a prominent presence while contemplating a potential second bid for the presidency in 2028, according to The Hill.

John P. Walters, President and CEO of Hudson, lauded Haley as “a proven, capable leader in both domestic and foreign affairs.” He commended her for remaining resolute in defending freedom and advocating for American security and prosperity amid global political turbulence.

Despite securing victories in Vermont and the District of Columbia, Haley opted to suspend her presidential campaign in March following a substantial defeat in the Super Tuesday primaries. Throughout her campaign, she positioned herself as the prime candidate to steer away from the policies of the previous administration. Haley’s campaign strategy in its final weeks involved intense criticism of both Trump and Biden, highlighting their age and urging the emergence of a new generation of leaders. Notably, polls suggested that in hypothetical matchups against Biden, she outperformed other leading Republican contenders.

Haley directed sharp criticism towards Vice President Kamala Harris, asserting to the people of South Carolina that one of them—either herself or Harris—would soon occupy the presidency. She consistently targeted Trump during her campaign, particularly criticizing his foreign policy stances and the escalating national debt, stressing that “Chaos follows Trump” on two occasions.

Nevertheless, as noted by NPR, Haley encountered challenges in maintaining a coherent message, balancing the need to appeal to the Republican base while also attracting independents, moderate Republicans, and disenchanted Trump voters. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, she stumbled by not explicitly mentioning slavery as the cause of the Civil War, though she promptly corrected her error.

Similarly, Haley faced scrutiny over her response to a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that threatened access to in vitro fertilization (IVF). She asserted that “Embryos are babies,” in an interview with Ali Vitali of NBC, but later clarified her stance, emphasizing the importance of preserving fertility treatments for women during an interview with Newsman.

Although Haley gained momentum towards the end of last year, surpassing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in several polls, she ultimately fell short of overtaking the former president, who remains the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency.

Solar New Year celebrations unite religious groups across the South Asian diaspora

(RNS) — For the past week, between April 9 and 15, South Asians celebrated the beginning of a new year with friends and family. Although originating in the Hindu luni-solar calendar — the Vedic auspicious month of Chaitra marks the beginning of a joyous new spring season and harvest — New Year celebrations have been adopted and adapted by religions and cultures across the Indian subcontinent.

Indians from all backgrounds celebrate according to their community’s socio-religious customs and unique calendars, from Ugadi for Telegus and Kannadigas in the southern states to the Gudi Padwa festival of western Maharashtra to the northern Assamese New Year celebration of Bohag Bihu, just to name a few.

And for those who immigrated to the United States from India, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka, these New Year celebrations emphasize an important aspect of South Asian diasporic identity: the cultural heritage they share, rather than religious differences.

“It’s not just about crops,” said Sahej Preet Singh, a Sikh man from the northwestern state of Punjab, who moved to the United States in his 20s. “It’s not just about religion. It’s a lot more than that. It’s the culture, it’s the food, it’s that sense of belonging in the rest of the community, and all the communities coming together. It’s really about brotherhood.”

Singh, who now works as a community engagement manager for the Sikh Coalition, said that when he first immigrated, the loss of community was palpable. It was common for doors in his small town to be unlocked so friends could come and go without asking, but in an apartment in Queens, New York, he didn’t even know his neighbors. Holiday celebrations, like Vaisakhi, the New Year holiday in his Punjabi culture, have helped build a new diaspora community that is much more diverse.

“Here, you might be able to see South Indians and Marathis and Punjabis and Gujaratis all celebrating Gudi Padwa or Vaisakhi,” said Singh, who fondly remembers his mother feeding him a dessert so the New Year would start off with some sweetness.

Vaisakhi, with its colorful processions, large langar meal at the gurdwara and melodious “kirtans,” or group devotional singing, marks the start of a plentiful harvest season for the farm-heavy land of Punjab and the establishment of the Sikh faith by Guru Gobind Singh, though it was a festival time for Punjabis of all faiths.

Moving here, said Singh, who is now in upstate New York, has allowed him to better understand the commonalities between Indians and South Asians as a whole, giving him a piece of home to hold onto. The new community he has formed in the United States, he says, is a reflection of the diversity that only a place like the U.S. can bring.

“I might see somebody on the street who might not be Punjabi but they might be South Indian or Marathi or Gujurati, and I will still probably make it a point to at least nod and say hi to them,” he said. “You know, even shared iftar dinners are becoming a big deal here now.”

Naznin Seamon, a Bengali poet who moved to Queens, New York, in 1997, wants to keep religion and culture separate.

“We have so many problems, so many issues, but these cultural events, these cultural things, they actually make us open our mind,” said Seamon, a Muslim from Bangladesh. “They help us flourish, help our creativity. And it is a source of joy.”

The New Year celebration of Pohela Boishakh, celebrated by ethnic Bengali people from India and Bangladesh, has its roots in the Mughal empire, when Muslim leadership decided to switch from the Arabic lunar calendar to the Hindu solar agricultural calendar to better reflect the harvesting of crops, thus marking a new tax cycle and accounting year.

Some of Seamon’s fondest memories from Bangladesh, she says, were made during her town’s Pohela Boishakh festivities. She would look forward every year to donning a typical white and red sari, with bindi and flowers in her hair, to attend a colorful fair where she got to ride a Ferris wheel and look at photographs in a ViewMaster. Bengali Muslims and Hindus would sell their goods, including homemade animal masks that would be worn at a parade.

Though some would pray to Hindu gods for a bountiful and prosperous harvest, Pohela Boishakh is for all, Seamon says, despite a growing charge by some Muslim religious fundamentalists to discourage the sharing of a holiday they say is rooted in Hinduism.

“To celebrate any culture. I don’t have to follow that religion,” said Seamon, who is also a high school teacher. In Queens, she says the Bengali population is ever-growing, so much that she now teaches Bangla and is in charge of the Bangla Student Association at her school. The idea of celebrating Pohela Boishakh with her students, she says, is not only for them to “get off their phones,” but to appreciate the diversity of their parents’ homelands.

“Just because we came to a different country and we have so many opportunities doesn’t mean that I have to forget my own roots,” she said. “Coming to a new country is adapting and accepting, not changing my own identity, because every culture is beautiful in its own way.”

Kathirvel Kumararaja, a Hindu from Tamil Nadu in the south of India, is also seeking to help diaspora children take pride in their origins. He is the president of the more than 50-year-old New York Tamil Sangam — the first community organization for the ethnic and linguistic group in North America. The platform is for the “global Tamil community,” which stretches from India to Southeast Asia, to “share pride in belonging.”

“Starting from Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, to the vice president of America, Kamala Harris — they’re all Tamils and come from the same tradition,” said Kumararaja, who is also the chair for the International Tamil Entrepreneur Network. “Starbucks CEO, FedEx CEO, you name it, they’re all Tamils. These kids have so many role models in society.”

Puthandu, the New Year holiday marking the beginning of the Tamil calendar and month of Chitterai, is a time for family, according to Kumararaja, who is married to a Tamil Christian. Kids and parents arise at the same time, laying eyes on a mirror in which they can see an abundant tray of fruits, flowers and coins, as well as a dish of raw mango, tamarind, jaggery and neem leaf, which they eat “just to show that life is sweet and sour.” Everyone prays together, seeks blessing from their elders and eats typical Tamil delicacies to bring in a prosperous beginning.

And importantly, the holiday is a public observance back home for all Tamil people, whether they are of Hindu, Christian or Muslim background. Like other ethnic New Years, including Chinese New Year, he says, many people don’t necessarily look at the Scriptures to find a reason to celebrate. It is a joyous time for all, reflected in his New York organization’s celebration with musical performances from popular Tamil singers.

“Typically, acculturation happens in American society in the name of freedom,” he said. The community festivals, he said, are one way to “show our kids what our culture is about and what are the values that we as Tamils represent. We don’t have to be shy about our culture or identity.”

Appen Menon, a board of trustees member for the Kerala Center of New York, understands this multi-religiosity. Hailing from the southern state of Kerala, where Christianity and Islam are widely practiced, Menon’s organization is no stranger to hosting combined cultural and religious events, like Easter and Vishu celebration.

“It’s a great feeling that we have people from diverse backgrounds from Kerala here, and we all celebrate all the celebrations including religious holidays together,” said Menon. “Although we are away from home, we found a home here.”

Vishu, the New Year holiday of Malayali Hindus marking the defeat of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna, begins before dawn, when devotees make sure to lay their eyes on an idol of Krishna and a plate of abundance first thing after they wake up. Families then bathe, eat a sweet dish, go to the temple and finish the celebration with a sumptuous lunch feast.

While the scale of celebration cannot be the same in the U.S. as it is in Kerala, Menon, an attorney, says there are still benefits from forming new traditions. He and his family never celebrated Diwali, the well-known Hindu festival of light, in the same festive way of North Indians, but here, they are able to join in.

“While you’re in India, you know, you don’t see too many people from other states,” he said. “You see mostly people from Kerala and you are not exposed to those kinds of celebrations. Here, we are. And in a big way or small way, we also participate.”

After a delicious feast made by his wife, which he says he “can claim he helped with,” Menon says it’s time for a nap and a reflection on the new year.

“Back in India, when I was growing up, I didn’t know too much Hindi,” he said. “But I heard this phrase: ‘Alag bhasha, alag vesh, phir bhi apna ek desh.’”

Different language, different dress, still a country of our own.

Indian American Women’s Inspiring Leadership

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s tenacious battle for the presidency of the US is a symbol of Indian American women’s emergence as a powerhouse in politics and society even though she dropped her Sisyphean quest two days before International Women’s Day.

On the other side of the political divide, US Vice President Kamala Harris is set for another run for the vice presidency alongside President Joe Biden, having notched the record of the first woman elected to the position that is just a heartbeat away from the world’s most powerful job.

While the two women have the highest profiles in politics, many Indian American women shine across the spectrum of politics, government, business and beyond.

They have soared into space, headed multinational corporations, led universities, and showing their versatility, served undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and even took the Miss America crown.

Although overrun by former President Donald Trump, Nikki Haley made her mark by standing up to him while other competitors folded and she struck out a line of Republican politics that could have a wider appeal.

She put her stamp on politics by getting a significant chunk of votes – estimated at about 25 per cent of those cast in the Republican primaries till she quit – winning in one state, Vermont, and in Washington, the federal District of Columbia.

She also has the distinction of being elected twice as the governor of South Carolina, the first woman and the first non-White person to head the state, and the first Indian American to be a member of the US cabinet when she was the permanent representative to the United Nations, a post with cabinet rank.

Kamala Harris made her mark as California’s attorney general lofting her to the Senate where her work got her national recognition, paving the way to the second most powerful job in the US, the vice president.

She is the first woman to become vice president and she was also the first person of Indian descent elected to the US Senate.

Pramila Jayapal, who heads the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, is the other politically powerful Indian American woman.

What helps them shatter glass ceilings despite their being women and, on top of that, women of color with immigrant backgrounds is a society that values merit as it steadily tries to bring down barriers to women’s advancement.

And they are not dynasts or nepobabies, either, and they got to where they are through their own merit.

As Nikki Haley said on Wednesday while announcing she was ending her race, “Just last week, my mother, a first-generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for president – only in America”.

In business, Indra Nooyi created a legend of her own as the CEO of Pepsico, a multinational corporation with over 300,000 employees operating in over 200 countries having a revenue of $62 billion in her final year heading it.

By the time she left in 2018 after 12 years as CEO, she boosted its annual profits from $2.5 billion to $6.7 billion as she chartered a new, more diversified course for the company.

Revathi Advaithi is the CEO of Flex, a global diversified company that is the third-largest globally in electronics manufacturing services.

She also serves on the US government’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Padmasree Warrior, who blazed a trail as chief technology officer for marquee technology companies Motorola and Cisco and as the US CEO of the Chinese electric vehicle company Nio, is now the CEO of a startup Fable.

In academia, there are scores of Indian American Women heading departments and schools.

Among them are heads of large universities, Neeli Bendapudi, the president of Pennsylvania State University and Renu Khator, the chancellor of the University of Houston System.

Asha Rangappa, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent-turned-academic, has served as an associate dean of Yale University Law School.

Indian American women have soared into space as astronauts.

Kalpana Chawla, a mission specialist and robotic arms operator, was killed on her second mission when the space shuttle Columbia broke up as it reentered the earth’s atmosphere in 2003.

Sunita Williams has done a stint as the commander of the International Space Station (ISS), on one of her four missions at the multinational orbiting research facility.

The Bhagwad Gita and the Upanishad went to space with Williams, who said that for inspiration she took them along to the ISS, from where she conducted spacewalks.

On Earth as a Navy officer, Sunita Williams was deployed during the first Gulf War and later she became a test pilot.

While the other two were on NASA space missions, aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla went up on a spacecraft of the private venture by Virgin Galactic, where she is a vice president.

Geeta Gopinath is the first managing director of the International Monetary Fund, having made her mark as an economist in the Ivy League and as the organization’s chief economist.

In the US judiciary, there are several Indian American women, among them Neomi Rao, a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considered the most influential court below the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration has deployed Indian American Women in senior positions across government.

The most visible of them on media after Kamala Harris is Defense Department’s Deputy Spokesperson Sabrina Singh who often conducts the Pentagon’s media briefings laying out the administration’s strategic positions.

Also at that department, Radha Iyengar Plumb is the deputy under-secretary of defense.

At the White House, Neera Tanden, a veteran of Democratic Party campaigns, is an assistant to the president and domestic policy advisor.

Arati Prabhakar is the assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Science Advisor while heading the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to the President.

Shanthi Kalathil is a deputy assistant to the President and the National Security Council’s coordinator for democracy and human rights.

At the State Department, Uzra Zeya is the under-secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, and Rao Gupta is the ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

And, in the other party, Harmeet Dhillon is a member Republican National Committee who ran an unsuccessful insurgent campaign to replace the chair, Ronna McDaniel. She is a co-chair of Women for Trump and Lawyers for Trump, groups that advocate for Trump.

In an unusual occupation was Sabrina De Souza who had served in a senior role as an undercover Central Intelligence Agency agent.

Unfortunately, her cover was blown while she was on an anti-terrorism mission in Italy and that country has tried to prosecute her for capturing a terrorist who was taken to the US.

On the other side, showing the diversity of political views, Gitanjali S. Gutierrez worked as a lawyer defending an alleged terrorist held by the US detention center on Guantanamo Bay.

On the trade unions front, Bhairavi Desai is the executive director of the Taxi Drivers’ Alliance, and Saru Jayaraman has organized restaurant workers in New York City.

In entertainment, Vera Mindy Chokalingam, better known as Mindy Kaling, made her mark with the sitcom, The Mindy Kaling Project, which she created, produced and starred in.

Biden awarded her the National Medal of the Arts in 2022. And, further into the unexpected venues, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2014. (IANS)

Growing Doubts Over Biden’s Mental Fitness Set Stage for State of the Union Showdown

A recent poll indicates a growing skepticism among U.S. adults regarding President Joe Biden’s cognitive abilities, with many considering his upcoming State of the Union address to be a live evaluation for a potential second term. The survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that approximately 6 out of 10 individuals express little to no confidence in Biden’s mental aptitude to effectively fulfill his presidential duties, marking a slight uptick from January 2022 when roughly half of the respondents shared similar concerns. Concurrently, nearly 60% also harbor doubts about the mental capacity of former President Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate at 77 years old.

The looming 2024 election presents a scenario where voters perceive a contest for the demanding role of the presidency between two individuals well beyond conventional retirement age. The next president will confront the daunting tasks of navigating global conflicts, resolving domestic crises, and managing a gridlocked Congress.

Biden is anticipated to address these challenges and more in his forthcoming State of the Union speech on Thursday, aiming to persuade Americans of his suitability for another term. However, the president enters this critical juncture with only 38% of U.S. adults approving of his performance, while a majority of 61% disapprove. Notably, Democrats exhibit a significantly higher approval rate at 74%, in stark contrast to independents at 20% and Republicans at a mere 6%. Nevertheless, dissatisfaction spans across various domains including the economy, immigration, and foreign policy.

While approximately 40% of Americans endorse Biden’s handling of healthcare, climate change, abortion policy, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, fewer express satisfaction with his management of immigration (29%), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (31%), and the economy (34%). These issues are poised to feature prominently in his address before Congress.

A prevailing sentiment among 57% of Americans is that the national economy has worsened under Biden’s tenure compared to before he assumed office in 2021. Merely 30% believe the economy has improved under his leadership, although 54% express optimism regarding their personal finances.

The survey respondents evince deep-seated pessimism about their electoral choices in November, citing concerns over age and the potential for cognitive decline. One respondent, 84-year-old Paul Miller, asserts that both Biden and Trump are too old for the presidency, expressing disillusionment with his previous vote for Trump and an aversion to supporting either candidate in the upcoming election.

The president’s age becomes a focal point of scrutiny following unflattering portrayals of his mental state in a special counsel’s report. Despite Biden’s attempts to alleviate concerns through humor and deflecting attention to Trump’s own verbal missteps, his age remains a liability that overshadows his policy achievements.

A notable shift is observed within the Democratic camp, with one-third of Democrats expressing doubts about Biden’s mental acuity, compared to just 14% in January 2022. Independents pose a significant risk for Biden, with 80% expressing lack of confidence in his mental abilities, surpassing the 56% who doubt Trump’s capabilities.

Republicans generally exhibit greater confidence in Trump’s mental fitness, with 59% expressing high confidence in his abilities, while a notable portion, 20%, harbor doubts. Notably, irrespective of party affiliation, a consensus emerges regarding the perceived inadequacy of the opposing party’s nominee.

Biden’s policy agenda struggles to resonate with everyday Americans amidst the cacophony of daily life. For instance, Sharon Gallagher, a 66-year-old from Sarasota, Florida, who voted for Biden in 2020, voices concerns about inflation and perceives insufficient action from the administration to address economic challenges. Similarly, Justin Tjernlund, a 40-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, expresses lukewarm confidence in Biden’s mental state but is drawn to Trump’s personality, finding him “interesting” and “refreshing.”

In light of the candidates’ advanced ages, some voters like 62-year-old Greg Olivo from Valley City, Ohio, prioritize scrutinizing Vice President Kamala Harris and Trump’s potential running mate, acknowledging the possibility of their ascension to the presidency within the next term.

Ultimately, the upcoming State of the Union address serves as a pivotal moment for Biden to confront doubts regarding his mental capabilities and rally support for a potential second term. However, with widespread skepticism persisting across party lines, the road ahead remains fraught with uncertainty.

Debate Ignites Over Biden’s Fitness for Office Amid Handling of Classified Documents and Age Concerns

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden faced a challenging day, starting with the release of a report by special counsel Robert Hur regarding Biden’s handling of classified documents after leaving the vice presidency. While the report did not recommend criminal charges, it highlighted Biden’s retention of classified materials in his garage and unlocked drawers. Additionally, the report emphasized concerns about Biden’s advanced age, noting instances where he appeared forgetful in interviews.

Biden responded to the report at a press conference, vehemently denying any memory issues and defending his fitness for office. However, he also made errors during the press conference, including misidentifying Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the president of Mexico. These events sparked debate about Biden’s suitability for a second term as president and raised questions about his handling of classified documents.

Political analysts weighed in on the potential impact of the report on Biden’s political future. Some suggested that while Biden’s mishandling of documents could be damaging, it might not outweigh other concerns voters have. Others argued that Biden’s age and memory lapses could be significant factors in the 2024 campaign, especially considering existing public perceptions of his capabilities.

Discussions also revolved around comparisons between Biden’s case and former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. While Trump faced similar accusations, his approach to the issue differed, leading to speculation about how each case might influence public opinion.

The report’s characterization of Biden as an elderly man with memory issues resonated with existing concerns about his age and fitness for office. Surveys indicated that a majority of Americans had significant doubts about Biden’s ability to serve a second term as president, with many citing concerns about his age and competence.

Analysts debated the potential consequences of Biden dropping out of the presidential race, with some suggesting Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential replacement. However, others expressed skepticism about the party’s ability to navigate such a significant change, given existing divisions and concerns within the Democratic Party.

Biden’s handling of classified documents and concerns about his age and memory have ignited debates about his fitness for office and his prospects in the 2024 presidential race. While the report’s findings have raised questions about Biden’s leadership, the ultimate impact on his political future remains uncertain, with analysts offering differing perspectives on the potential outcomes.

The Coming-of-Age of Indian Americans

“Despite constituting less than 1% of the U.S. population, Indian Americans are 3% of the nation’s engineers, 7% of its IT workers and 8% of its physicians and surgeons,” wrote the popular Forbes magazine in 2008. “The overrepresentation of Indians in these fields is striking–in practical terms, your doctor is nine times more likely to be an Indian American than is a random passerby on the street.”

Sixteen years later, in 2024, the Indian American community has grown even stronger; their successes encompassing almost all areas of American life – living  the American Dream.  The less than four million Indian Americans appear to be gaining prominence and have come to be recognized as a model community, and a force to reckon with in this land of opportunities that they have come to call as their adopted homeland.

In 1960, there were only 12,000 Indian immigrants living in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Today, the number of Indian Americans or Indian immigrants has climbed to more than 4 million, census data shows. Historically, Indians in the US worked in medicine, science & technology, engineering and mathematics-related jobs. Some, like the Patel community from Gujarat, took to the hotel industry and grew to dominate it. Others were entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley after the digital revolution of the 1980s.

In 1997, Ramani Ayer became the CEO of the Fortune 500 financial firm The Hartford, becoming the first in the list of Indian leaders heading American businesses. At present, 2% of the Fortune 500 companies of American origin — including Microsoft, Alphabet, Adobe, IBM, and Micron Technologies — are led by Indian American CEOs. One in every seven doctors in America is of Indian descent.

Among all these fields, if there is one area, where the influential Indian Americans have come to be recognized more than any other is the political arena, where they are seeking to win elections at the national, state and local levels, vying to occupy top jobs across the nation.

The Coming of Age of Indian Americans 3Ever since Gov. Bobby Jindal the first ever major Indian American presidential candidate who had sought to occupy the White House, there have been many others who have followed in his footsteps. Indian Americans have expressed keen interest in carving out their political space at the national table for decades, and now, the fruits of their labor are paying off, with more successes now than ever before.

Four years ago, it was then-California Sen. Kamala Harris, who made headlines and then elected as the vice president, becoming the highest-ranking person of Indian descent in the US government. The rise of Kamala Harris, daughter of an Indian mother, as the Vice President represented a coming-of-age of the Indian American community in the United States. Harris was born to civil rights activist parents a year before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed; this Act relaxed the quota regime that restricted foreigners. At that time, there was one Indian American lawmaker in the US House of Representatives — the Punjab-born Dalip Singh Saund, also from California.

It’s still a relatively small number, compared with the country’s total population of more than 333 million. But Devesh Kapur, co-author of “The Other One Percent: Indians in America,” said he was not surprised to see three Indian Americans in the political spotlight in the 2024 race. “Indian Americans have been selected to be the outliers — they have been selected for success,” Kapur wrote in his book with Sanjoy Chakravorty and Nirvikar Singh.

The 2024 election season in the United States (US) kicked off and now with less than 10 months to go until Election Day and a week before the next Republican primary, one group that has emerged on the national political stage in a way they never have before in U.S. history: Indian Americans.

The current election cycle is shaping up to be historic for the Indian American community at every level, from local to the presidential. After months of campaigning, only a handful of GOP hopefuls were qualified for the last Republican Party Presdetial Debate; two of them were former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and commentator whose White House bid has skyrocketed his profile.

While insurgent candidate Vivek Ramaswamy bowed out after finishing fourth in the Iowa Caucus, former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, emerged with a strong showing and is now poised to give former President Donald Trump a run for his money in South Carolina primary on Tuesday, February 13.

“You have to sit and wonder, we have these two folks who are showing these all-star abilities — will we end up with an Indian American on this ticket?” said Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College and co-author of the Indian American Election Survey.

Harris, Haley, and Ramaswamy have many notable political differences. In a way, each is competing against the other in the 2024 election. But together, they represent a remarkable moment in American politics, experts say: Indian Americans account for about 1.3% of the country’s population, according to census data — and three Indian American politicians have risen close to the top of both major parties. “Mathematically, you would not have expected this,” said University of California, Riverside, public policy professor Karthick Ramakrishnan.

Haley had made history as the first female governor of South Carolina and the first Indian American to be appointed to a cabinet-level position, serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations in 2016. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every single day how blessed we were to live in this country,” said Haley, as she announced her presidential campaign last February.

In addition to the leading Presidential aspirants, there are five Indian American members in the current US Congress —Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Shri Thanedar (D-MI) who are seeking re-elections this year. Each of them is expected to be reelected in 2024 due to the advantages of incumbency and their substantial campaign funding.

According to Indian American Impact, an organization dedicated to strengthening the political influence of the community, there are already more than 200 Indian Americans who are elected to positions ranging from school boards and city councils to state assemblies and senates across the country.

However, what is promising as the nation goes into another round of elections is the prospect of several candidates from a wide range of congressional districts across the country from New York to California, and from Illinois to Alabama, are aiming to join the ranks of the “Samosa Caucus.”

Kevin Thomas, a New York state senator vying to win the fourth congressional district, is a prominent Democratic contender to become the sixth Indian American member of the 119th Congress. The district, currently represented by first-term GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, has historically leaned towards the Democratic party, consistently supporting their presidential nominees in the past eight elections. This favorable trend significantly boosts Thomas’ prospects of winning the primary and securing a seat in Congress.

Ohio state senator Niraj Antani is seeking the GOP nomination from the state’s second congressional district. The 32-year-old, who has been in the state legislature since 2014, is expected to get elected to Congress if he wins the Republican primary, as the district is heavily Republican. “In Congress, I will have a steel-spine in standing for life, our 2nd Amendment rights, and for pro-growth economic policies. As a fiercely pro-Trump Republican, I will work hard every day for our community in Congress to ensure every Ohioan has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Arizona State Rep. Amish Shah, the first Indian American elected to the Arizona legislature, is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for Arizona’s first congressional district. Shah, an emergency physician, has raised more than $1 million for his campaign and will have a fair shot in November if he wins the primary in this seat, currently represented by Republican David Schweikert and leans slightly Republican.

Ashwani Jain, a former Gubernatorial candidate of Maryland, is running for Congress from Maryland’s 6th District. He says, “I am running for Congress in the district I live in and call home – not just to be Maryland’s first Millennial, first Asian-American and first Indian-American ever elected – but because I have specific policy solutions that will open the doors of opportunity for our community.” Jain, a cancer survivor, is focused on issues including immigrant rights, climate change, labor rights and raising teachers’ pay, reproductive justice, and gun violence.

Hoboken Mayor in the state of New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla is running for Congress from the 8th District. At Congress, Bhalla says, he “will be an advocate for New Jersey’s working families as he fights to make healthcare a right for everyone, tackle climate change, protect a woman’s right to choose, and build an economy that works for all New Jerseyans.”

Suhas Subramanyam and Krystle Kaul: Two Indian Americans are vying for the Democratic Party nomination in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. Krystle Kaul Kaul, much like Subramanyam, is focusing on issues such as national security, women’s rights, economy & jobs, healthcare, education, and energy & the environment. Subramanyam, a Virginia state senator has been serving in the state legislature for the past four years. Kaul, a veteran of the defence and intelligence community, is running on her national security experience. If either of them wins the primary, they would be formidable candidates to represent this Democratic-leaning district.

Susheela Jayapal, a candidate for Oregon’s third congressional district, and Rishi Kumar, who is running for California’s 16th congressional district are other Indian Americans, who are “strong candidates who have run for office before and have name recognition.” Jayapal had served as the commissioner of Oregon’s most populous county, Multnomah County. In 2020, Kumar secured nearly 37% of the votes against the incumbent and fellow Democrat Anna Eshoo, who is now retiring, boosting his chances of victory in 2024.

Vimal Patel from Alabama’s 2nd district abd Nikhil Bhatia from Illinois’ 7th District are others who are in the fray to enter the Congress this Fall. Another Republican seeking to win on a Republican ticket is Dr. Prashanth Reddy from Kansas’ 3rd district is a physician, who is focused on defending the nation and standing up for parents and students in addition to securing the border, supporting law enforcement, standing up to China, and protecting taxpayers.

In addition, dozens of highly qualified and experienced Indian American candidates are also vying for statewide offices in this election cycle. Among those who have announced their candidacies for statewide offices, include: Minita Sanghvi, a Democrat currently serving as the Saratoga Springs finance commissioner, vying for the 44th state senate district in New York; Tara Sreekrishnan, a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, running for the California state assembly from district 26; Ashwin Ramaswami seeking election to the Georgia state senate from senate district 48; and Seema Singh, a member of the Knoxville City Council, running for district 90 of the Tennessee house of representatives.

Irrespective of political differences, the Indian American community is happy about the sharp increase in their political participation, especially over the last three election cycles, and is proud of the rise of another of their own. As Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and United States Ambassador to China, had said: “In the last half-century, Americans of Indian descent epitomize how new waves of immigrants have been renewing our communities and our economy. ”

Shekar Narasimhan, founder and chairman of the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Victory Fund, sums it all, saying that while he is happy to see more Asian-Americans gain prominence in politics,  “A beautiful thing is happening: Indian-Americans are coming to the forefront. If our children see Americans with a name like Ramaswamy run, and a Khanna or Krishnamoorthi can win, that’s a good thing.”

Biden’s Critical Speech at Valley Forge: Defending Democracy Against the Threat of Trump’s Return

In his inaugural major campaign event of 2024, President Joe Biden is set to deliver a significant speech near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on the eve of the third anniversary of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The president, deeply involved in crafting the speech, aims to convey that democracy and essential freedoms face a perilous threat if former President Donald Trump were to return to the White House. This assertion follows a series of consultations with historians and scholars at the White House, echoing themes from the 2020 campaign, which Biden characterized as “a battle for the soul of the nation.”

Biden’s speech, scheduled at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, will feature attendees motivated by the Jan. 6 attack, including young individuals inspired to engage in politics, “voter protection volunteers” from the 2020 election, and elected officials directly affected by the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The campaign strategically positions the location in the election battleground state as a “stone’s throw” from where Gen. George Washington transformed colonial militias into a unified force during the Revolutionary War nearly 250 years ago.

Campaign manager Julie-Chavez Rodriguez emphasized the historical significance, stating, “This Saturday will mark the three-year anniversary of when, with encouragement from Donald Trump, a violent mob breached our nation’s Capitol.” She added, “It was the first time in our nation’s history that a president tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

As the Iowa Republican primary approaches and Biden faces persistent polling challenges, there is an anticipation that he will adopt a more assertive stance against Trump. However, some Democratic strategists question the effectiveness of the “threat to democracy” message, considering the passage of three years since Jan. 6 and Trump’s tenure in the White House.

Democratic strategist James Carville emphasized the impact of daily life on public perception, stating, “People live in the economy and experience it many times a day. They don’t live on January 6th.” Meanwhile, Tim Hogan, who worked on presidential campaigns for Democratic figures, urged the Biden campaign to highlight the contrast with Trump, emphasizing the various threats posed by the former president.

Hogan referred to a recent poll indicating that 55% of Americans view Jan. 6, 2021, as an “attack on democracy that should never be forgotten,” with a majority believing Trump is likely guilty of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election. However, he noted the growing partisan divide in views about the attack, with misinformation influencing opinions.

The poll highlighted that 25% of Americans falsely believe the FBI was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack, and partisan differences emerge regarding the nature of the pro-Trump mob’s actions. Despite these challenges, Hogan emphasized the importance of addressing the multifaceted threats posed by Trump during the campaign.

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll from this week revealed that while Americans agree on the risk to democracy in 2024, they differ in their reasons. Democrats and independents express concern about a second Trump term, while Republicans believe democracy would weaken under another Biden term.

The speech, initially scheduled for Saturday, was rescheduled to Friday due to anticipated bad weather in Valley Forge. The campaign strategically leverages the symbolic setting to underscore Biden’s commitment to voluntarily leaving office, contrasting with Trump’s tenure. Deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks emphasized George Washington’s relinquishing of power as a crucial precedent for American democracy.

In closed-door campaign fundraisers, Biden has often referred to Trump as his “predecessor,” but Friday’s speech could see more public and robust condemnations. Biden may specifically address Trump’s anti-immigrant comments, which he characterizes as “Nazi rhetoric,” and criticize Trump’s vision of leadership involving “revenge and retribution.”

Trump, a consistent frontrunner for the Republican nomination, faces 91 criminal charges in four felony cases, one of which relates to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election loss to Biden. Despite the legal challenges, Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing.

The campaign’s choice of locations, including the speech near Valley Forge and a recent visit to Charleston, South Carolina, emphasizes the stakes of the upcoming election. The campaign aims to highlight the ideals of freedom and democracy on which the nation was founded 250 years ago, showcasing a commitment to stand against political violence and extremism.

The Biden campaign, in its first television ad of 2024, frames the preservation of democracy as the central issue of his presidency. Although not mentioning Trump by name, the ad warns against an “extremist movement” that contradicts the basic beliefs in democracy, showcasing images of the Capitol attack and the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

To prepare for the speech, the White House disclosed that Biden had lunch with historians and scholars to discuss “ongoing threats to democracy and democratic institutions both here in America and around the world.” Concurrently, Vice President Kamala Harris is embarking on a series of visits to South Carolina, where she will launch a “reproductive freedoms tour” on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

As Trump conducts “commit to caucus” rallies in Iowa, the Biden campaign positions itself to address the overarching theme of preserving democracy, emphasizing the critical choice faced by Americans in the upcoming election.

Kamala Harris, Bela Bajaria On Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women In The World List

Two Indian Americans have been named to Forbes’ 100 most powerful women in the world 2023 list namely US Vice President Kamala Harris and Netflix’s chief content officer Bela Bajaria. This year’s honorees represented a wide range of industries, including technology, banking, media, entertainment, politics, and philanthropy.

The Vice President of the United States has maintained her position at number three for the second year in a row. She had received recognition in the category of politics and policy. The 59-year-old created history as the first woman, the first Black person, and the first South Asian-American to become US Vice President in January 20, 2021.

Harris was also the first Indian American woman to be elected to the US Senate in 2016 and the first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General in 2010. Born to a biologist and civil rights activist from Chennai, India, Harris grew up in Oakland, California and graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Bajaria was ranked at the 67th position under the media and entertainment category on the Forbes list. Born in London, she had spent her earliest years in Britain and Zambia, and then moved to Los Angeles when she was 8.

Having held the role of head of Global TV since 2020, Bajaria was appointed as Netflix’s chief content officer in January 2023. She oversees all of the streaming service’s globally distributed scripted and unscripted series, including Lupin, Bridgerton, The Queen’s Gambit, and Cobra Kai.

Before joining Netflix in 2016, Bajaria was president of Universal Television, where she was the first woman of color to oversee a studio. The 52-year-old has also featured in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2022.

Kamala Harris Bela Bajaria On Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women In The World List 2Forbes also included four Indian women in their list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. The country’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, came in at number 32 in the politics and policy category. HCL Technologies chairperson and industrialist Roshni Nadar Malhotra ranked number 60 in the technology category. Soma Mondal, CEO of the Steel Authority of India, was number 70 in the business category. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, an entrepreneur, was number 76 in the business category.

The Indian American activist Reshma Saujani was included in Forbes’ list of women who are rising to prominence but are not quite among the 100 most powerful people in the world. The Forbes Women To Watch In 2024 list also includes Mira Murati, Fei-Fei Li, Michele Bullock and Hafize Gaye Erkan.

Founder and CEO of the non- profit Girls Who Code, Saujani’s work focuses on female empowerment.

The organization works to empower women in the field of computer science, and end gender discrimination in the field. Forbes observed that over the last 11 years, the organization has educated more than 500,000 girls, women and non-binary participants.

Post Covid, Saujani has shifted her energy towards advocating for better family leave and childcare policies in the US. She founded the Marshall Plan for Moms, which has become Moms First. In an interview with Forbes Women editor Maggie McGrath, Saujani emphasized that “childcare is an economic issue, not a social issue.” Her movement has ignited a national conversation about how to support moms and is backed by A-list celebrities, activists, and business leaders. In September 2015, Saujani was named in the Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 list. She has authored books including: Women Who Don’t Wait in Line: Break the Mold, Lead the Way, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013, and Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, published by Viking in August 2017, and Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder in 2018.

Illinois-born Saujani hails from a Gujarati Indian family settled in Chicago. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and speech communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997, a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1999, and a juris doctorate from Yale Law School in 2002.

Critical Decisions Await as COP28 Gathers Momentum in Dubai

Tens of thousands are converging on Dubai this December for COP28, the annual United Nations-led international climate summit. With the urgency to avert irreversible damage from fossil fuel pollution, global leaders, negotiators, climate advocates, and industry representatives are focusing on adapting to increasingly lethal heatwaves, more powerful storms, and catastrophic sea-level rise.

In a bid to understand the nuances of the world’s most crucial climate change conference, it’s imperative to delve into the roots of COP. Over 30 years ago, a UN treaty was signed by over 150 nations to curb the alarming rise of planet-warming pollution. The inaugural Conference of the Parties (COP) convened in Berlin in 1995. In 2015, COP21 saw over 190 countries endorsing the Paris Agreement, aiming to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees. Despite its landmark status, the agreement lacked specificity on implementation strategies.

As COP28 unfolds, controversy surrounds its host, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major oil-producing nation. Critics argue that appointing Sultan Al Jaber, head of the UAE’s national oil company, as COP president, creates a conflict of interest. Responding to concerns, the UAE initiated a campaign to enhance its green credentials ahead of the summit. The controversy led over 100 US Congress and European Parliament members to call for Al Jaber’s resignation, citing potential undermining of negotiations. However, some, including US climate envoy John Kerry, praised Al Jaber’s appointment, emphasizing the UAE’s commitment to emissions reduction targets.

The roster of attendees at COP28 is illustrious, with over 160 nations, including major players like the UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Notably, King Charles III will address the opening ceremony, and while Pope Francis had planned to attend, his cancellation due to health reasons has been a setback. Notably absent from the speaker list are US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping, leaders of the world’s top polluting countries. In their stead, US Vice President Kamala Harris will attend, marking a response to criticism over Biden’s absence.

A notable presence at COP28 is expected from major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, and Iran. Despite concerns that the Israel-Hamas conflict could overshadow climate action, representatives from both Israel and the Palestinian territories are slated to speak. Additionally, the UAE has extended invitations to fossil fuel executives, anticipating new commitments to decarbonize. Wall Street heavyweights, led by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, are also expected, bringing financial perspectives to the climate talks.

Eight years post-Paris Agreement, the global stocktake at COP28 reveals minimal progress in slashing climate pollution. The first scorecard, published in September, highlights the urgent need for action. Melanie Robinson, the global climate program director for the World Resources Institute, acknowledges the wake-up call provided by the stocktake, urging a roadmap for effective climate goal achievement.

Central to COP28 are carryovers from COP27, namely finalizing a “loss and damage” fund and navigating the transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels. A crucial debate centers on whether to “phase out” or “phase down” fossil fuels. At COP27, nations like China and Saudi Arabia obstructed a proposal to phase out all fossil fuels, emphasizing the importance of unequivocal language covering all fossil fuels.

The loss and damage fund, a pivotal issue from the previous agreement, aims to channel funds from wealthy countries responsible for the majority of climate crisis impacts to poorer nations. The goal is to operationalize the fund by 2024, with a special committee recommending the World Bank as its temporary trustee. Nate Warszawski, a research associate with WRI’s International Climate Action team, underscores the delicate nature of the loss and damage fund, identifying it as a key determinant of COP28’s success or failure.

As COP28 unfolds, the world watches with anticipation, hoping for resolutions that propel global efforts toward mitigating climate change. The dynamics of this conference underscore the urgency and complexity of addressing the climate crisis on a global scale.

Nikki Haley Dismisses Donald Trump’s Lead In Presidential Polls: Says, GOP Has To “Pay The Price” For The Former President’s Presence In The Party

Indian American presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley attached little importance to her opponent Donald Trump’s lead among voters in the upcoming elections. In an interview with Fox News on November 12, Haley admitted that Trump has “strong support” but he is followed by “drama and negativity” and that Republicans will fail to win if he wins the GOP nomination.

Former President Trump has emerged as the GOP frontrunner, and polls have found him to be ahead of reigning President Joe Biden, but Haley believes the party will not benefit from his victory in the primary. “I think certainly Trump has some strong support. I’ve always said he was the right president at the right time and I agree with a lot of his policies,” she told Fox News. “The problem is, drama and chaos follow him, whether fairly or not, it is constantly following him and Americans feel it,” she added.

Haley further blamed Trump for the losses faced by GOP candidates recently and the party’s negatively impacted performance. Haley said the GOP has to “pay the price” for the former president’s presence in the party, as per a report. Haley said the Republican party should brace itself for more losses on the ballot races if Trump becomes the nominee for the Presidential elections, and endorsed herself as the better candidate.

“We need to make sure we have a new conservative leader. Republicans have lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president. The way you do that is you send someone in there that doesn’t just beat Biden by two or three points like Trump does, you get somebody that beats Biden between nine and 13 points,” she said. Haley’s campaign had received a significant boost after the initial debates and polls suggested she could defeat President Biden by a wider margin than her primary rivals.

Haley also said she could be the candidate to lead the GOP to “win up and down the ticket, governor’s races, congressional seats, all of those seats.” She added, “It’s not just the presidential. We’re trying to win across the board. I can do that.”

Lack of Support Among South Asian Americans

Despite being prominently known as Indian American candidates in the race to the Oval Office in 2024, Republicans Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley are not as popular among or known to Asian Americans, a new poll conducted by AAPI Data and the Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago revealed.

According to the results, while more AAPI adults have unfavorable views than favorable views of Haley and Ramaswamy, a large proportion of them said they did not know enough about the two candidates to form an opinion.

The study found that only 18 percent and 23 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander adults had favorable views of Ramaswamy and Haley, respectively, and 36 percent viewed both candidates as unfavorable. 40 percent of the respondents said they were not familiar with Haley, while Ramaswamy is unfamiliar to 46 percent of them.

“This is the first nationally representative survey that includes the views of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about the major presidential candidates,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of AAPI Data. “Rather than speculate about where AAPIs stand on candidates like Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, we have timely and reliable data that we will continue to follow through the rest of the presidential primary season.

The survey also dug into the political inclination of AAPI communities, with about half identifying as Democrats, over a quarter identifying as Republican, and about one in five identifying as independent or having no attachment to any party.

The current President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are viewed more favorably among the AAPI communities, while former President and current contender for the Republican nomination for the upcoming presidential elections, Donald Trump, is viewed unfavorably, as is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ten Indians in TIME’s AI 2023 List

From 18-year-old Sneha Revanaur- Founder of Encode Justice working towards AI regulation in the US to veteran business leaders like Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani- co founders of non-profit Wadhwani AI– ten stellar Indian and Indian American men and women, social and business entrepreneurs, researchers and academics are in Time’s AI (artificial intelligence) 2023 list.

From running an ethical business using AI to uplift underserved communities to use of AI in medicine and bioscience and from the need for involvement of the younger demographics in AI regulation to an AI non-profit working towards solving persistent global developmental challenges-the spectrum of initiatives being run by these men and women are vast and varied in impact and scale.

Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani

Indiaspora members and billionaire brother duo Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani joined hands to channel AI towards solving global development challenges, especially in nations where people live on less than $5 a day.

They have set up Wadhwani AI-  an independent nonprofit institute developing AI-based solutions for underserved communities in developing countries. A total sum of $60 million has been committed to date towards the varied initiatives of the Mumbai-based non-profit.

Wadhwani AI devotes its AI development efforts to pioneering an ecosystem of scalable solutions in health care, education, and agriculture sectors for underserved communities by partnering with governments and nonprofits across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The initiative also includes a new $5 million program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“We thought that in the U.S., China, and Europe, AI is being leveraged to help people who are already well-off,” says Sunil Wadhwani in the Time interview, “but maybe we can make India the global leader in applying AI for social good.”

The institute partners with Indian State and Central governments to identify use cases, collect data, conduct pilots and deploy solutions. Some of the strategic programs of the institute include enabling frontline healthcare workers to feel digitally confident to engage with AI-based technology solutions, irrespective of their education, skills, and environment and developing multiple interventions across the TB care cascade and helping India’s National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP) become AI-ready.

The Wadhwani brothers said in the Time interview that India, with a diverse population of 1.4 billion, perfectly suits the Wadhwani Institute’s mission of altruistic research. “Other countries simply don’t have the combination of capabilities or opportunities that India has,” says Romesh Wadhwani.

Sneha Revanaur

Encode Justice is a youth-led, AI-focused civil-society group. It was founded by Revanaur (from San Jose, California) in 2020 to mobilize younger generations in the golden state against Proposition 25, a ballot measure that aimed to replace cash bail with a risk-based algorithm.

After the initiative was defeated, the group focused on educating and galvanizing peers around AI policy advocacy. The group now has 800 young members in 30 countries around the world and is compared to the preceding youth-led climate and gun-control movements.

At the urging of many in the AI industry, Washington appears to be moving fast on AI regulation.

This summer, Revanur helped organize an open letter urging congressional leaders and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to include more young people on AI oversight and advisory boards. Soon after, she was invited to attend a roundtable discussion on AI hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Manu Chopra

Friend of Indiaspora, Manu Chopra, co-founded Karya with Vivek Seshadri with an ambitious vision of setting up a network of ethical data usage where data can both financially and technologically empower traditionally underserved communities.

The USD $100 billion data generation industry offers the opportunity to create this ecosystem and impact the lives of millions of people.

Currently, most dataset generation work goes to urban communities or are outsourced to Kenya or the Philippines- where workers are often exploited; offered sub-minimum wages and are often overworked. Median hourly wages are estimated at $0.1-0.5 per hour, while datasets sell for over 200x this price. “With AI, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move millions of rural Indians out of poverty, sustainably.  At Karya, we are reimagining how AI models are trained. In an industry where for-profit companies pay data workers an average of 10 – 20 cents per hour, we pay our workers 50 times the industry standard, a minimum wage of USD 5/ hour,” tells Chopra.

Karya strives to be an ethical and high-quality AI/ML data company in the world, creating a win-win solution for both technology companies and data workers. Their ambitious goal is to use digital work to economically impact 100 million rural Indians by 2030. Currently Karya employs 30,000 workers.

“We work with over 200 of India’s top non-profits, self help groups and FPOs (farmer collectives) across 22 states in India to identify worker communities who would benefit the most from Karya’s work opportunities, tells Chopra. Karya has multiple on-going and up-coming projects across several states in rural India.

Tushita Gupta

Tushita Gupta co-founded Refiberd with Sarika Bajaj in 2020 with the goal of bringing the cutting-edge of AI research to the fashion industry to help solve the global textile waste crisis.

From their deep research backgrounds in artificial intelligence and textile engineering, the founders believe in the power of technology to unlock a 100% circular economy.

Gupta is the CTO at Refibred and  is a patent-pending AI scientist. She previously worked on drug discovery. She has a Bachelors and Masters from Carnegie Mellon.

The amount of textiles trashed in the U.S. has almost doubled in recent years, going from nearly 9,500 tons in 2000 to just over 17,000 tons in 2018, according to the latest government data. And the vast majority of this—about 85%—goes to landfill or is incinerated rather than being recycled or donated.

The California-based company aims to provide the most accurate summary of what types of materials are in any given textile item. Successful recycling depends on knowing what something is made of, so that items can be precisely sorted into like materials. This is particularly true for chemical recycling—which breaks down synthetic materials like nylon and polyester that were once impossible to recycle. Once the materials are recycled, they can be remade into fabric for new textiles—cutting waste and encouraging circularity in the fashion industry.

In January, Refiberd raised over $3.4 million in seed funding, and it’s now running a series of pilot projects in the U.S. and Europe. Four companies are sending Refiberd a couple hundred pounds of textile waste to sort.

Neal Khosla

Another Indian American with a checkered legacy working to utilize AI in the healthcare space is Neal Khosla-CEO and co-founder of Curai Health, the AI-assisted telehealth startup that the 30-year-old Khosla co-founded in 2017.

Curai is beyond your standard subscription-based virtual care service.

The company charges $15 a month (if the cost isn’t covered by their employer) for users to text 24/7 with health care professionals who can answer questions, create care plans, write prescriptions, and, if necessary, refer users to specialists.

Curai’s AI essentially functions as an assistant for doctors, handling straightforward tasks to free up their time for more complex work. For example, collecting the information patients provide during their intake questionnaires or sending a follow-up message after the conversation to see how a patient is doing.

Utilizing the power of AI in this way allows the  clinicians working with Curai to see many more patients.

So far, the startup has received more than $50 million in funding from General Catalyst, Morningside Ventures, and Khosla Ventures, the firm founded by Khosla’s father, the billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.

Pushmeet Kohli

Pushmeet Kohli is the Vice President of Research at Google DeepMind. He leads both Google DeepMind’s AI for Science project that uses AI to solve scientific grand challenges, and its Responsible and Reliable AI team, which monitors and regulates  DeepMind’s AI systems.

Kohli joined DeepMind in 2017 and soon set up the Safe and Reliable AI team, which later changed its name. (DeepMind merged with a division of Google in April to become Google DeepMind.)

Some of the projects of the two teams he leads, includes AlphaFold, used by over 1 million researchers. It can predict the structures of proteins from their amino-acid structure in seconds- a previously time intensive task that took months or years. Better understanding of protein structures will accelerate drug discovery and may pave the way for further scientific breakthroughs.

Recently, Kohli’s AI for Science team also announced AlphaTensor, an AI system that builds on AlphaZero, which shows extraordinary performance across a range of games including Go, and can discover new algorithms.

He thinks that AI, by improving our understanding of the world, will ultimately solve more problems than it creates. He views the complex challenges he hopes AI will help address, such as climate change and pandemics.

Kalika Bali

Kalika Bali is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in Bangalore working in the areas of Machine Learning, Natural Language Systems and Applications, and Technology for Emerging Markets. Her research interests are Speech and Language Technology  especially in the use of linguistic models for building technology that offers a more natural Human-Computer and Computer-Mediated interactions.

She is currently working on Project Mélange  to understand, process and generate Code-mixed language data for both text and speech. Code-mixing or use of multiple languages in a single conversation  is a phenomenon that is observed in all multilingual societies. Though Code-mixing has been studied in the past as a feature of conversational speech, the rapid rise of social-media and other online forums has made it a common phenomenon for text as well. Conversational speech applications, like personal assistants and speech-to-speech translations, make it vital to model this in speech also.

“Recently, I have become interested in how social and pragmatic functions affect language use, in code-mixed as well as monolingual conversations, and how to build effective computational models of sociolinguistics and pragmatics that can lead to more aware Artificial Intelligence,” reads Bali’s bio on the Microsoft site.

“I am also very passionate about NLP and Speech technology for Indian Languages. I believe that local language technology, especially with speech interfaces, can help millions of people gain entry into a world that is till now almost inaccessible to them. I have served, and continue to serve, on several government and other committees that work on Indian Language Technologies and Linguistic Resources and Standards for NLP/Speech.”

Arvind Narayanan and Sayash Kapoor

Arvind Narayanan is a professor of computer science at Princeton University and the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy.

He co-authored a textbook on fairness and machine learning and is currently co-authoring a book on AI Snake Oil with Sayash Kapoor, one of his Ph.D. students.

The book that will be published next year was inspired after a talk that he gave in 2019 titled “How to recognize AI snake oil” went viral and the slides were downloaded tens of thousands of times and his tweets were viewed by millions.

Narayanan has led the Princeton Web Transparency and Accountability Project to uncover how companies collect and use our personal information. His work was among the first to show how machine learning reflects cultural stereotypes, and his doctoral research showed the fundamental limits of de-identification. Narayanan is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), twice a recipient of the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Award, and thrice a recipient of the Privacy Papers for Policy Makers Award.
Narayanan and Kapoor have been sharing their ideas as they develop and comment on recent developments in AI on their Substack, AI Snake Oil. (Courtesy: Indiaspora.com)

ZEE5 Global announces the much-awaited sequel of the successful romantic thriller series Duranga

~ Directed by Rohan Sippy, the second season will witness a face-off between Amit Sadh and Gulshan Devaiah’s characters ~

Global, 21st September 2023: ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, announces the second season of the much-awaited series, ‘Duranga’. The official adaptation of the Korean show, ‘Flower of Evil’, Duranga S1 went on to become a much-loved romantic thriller series. It kept the audiences hooked to their screens with the constant twists and turns. Now the second season will see the return of Gulshan Devaiah, Drashti Dhami, Barkha Sen Gupta, Rajesh Khattar reprising their respective roles and it will see Amit Sadh play a critical lead role.

Produced by Goldie Behl’s Rose Audio Visuals and directed by Rohan Sippy, Duranga S2 will witness the real Sammit Patel [Played by Amit Sadh] wake up from coma and go after Abhishek Banne [played by Gulshan Devaiah] who has been living as Sammit Patel. Amit Sadh will be seen portraying a critical role, challenging Gulshan Devaiah to put everything at stake to protect his family. These three central characters’ aims will collide during this season and keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global said, “The success of the first season of Duranga served as a testament to the increasing appetite for thrillers on the platform. We are happy to now announce the much-awaited second season of the series for our viewers. We are confident that this season will raise the bar for romantic thrillers for viewers across the globe.”

Producer Goldie Behlsaid, “I am grateful for the overwhelming reaction to season 1 of Duranga. I am even more excited for season 2 which is sharper, stronger and has far more twists and turns. Season 1 ended on a cliffhanger where we saw the character of Amit Sadh coming out of a coma. Season 2 takes off from there but in a far more complex and entertaining manner. It’s been a pleasure collaborating with Rohan Sippy, Drashti Dhami, Gulshan Devaiah and Amit Sadh; all brilliant at their craft. A heartfelt thank you to ZEE5 Global and Nimisha Pandey who have been excellent to work with. I cannot wait for the audience to savour this season”.

Director Rohan Sippysaid, “I’m very thankful that I got an opportunity to work once again with Rose & ZEE5 Global, this time to take a successful franchise like Duranga forward. The cast and crew have worked very hard in all departments to add even more excitement and emotional engagement this time around, and we can’t wait to share it with the audience very soon!”.

Watch the romantic thriller series ‘Duranga 2 coming soon on ZEE5 Global

Viewers can catch ZEE5 Global’s unmissable slate and stock up on their yearlong entertainment by subscribing to the Annual pack and grabbing the limited-time special offer price.

Users can download the ZEE5 Global app from Google Play Store / iOS App Store. It is available on Roku devices, Apple TVs, Android TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs and on www.ZEE5.com

About ZEE5 Global

ZEE5 Global is the digital entertainment destination launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a global Media and Entertainment powerhouse. The platform launched across 190+ countries in October 2018 and has content across 18 languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, including six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic. ZEE5 Global is home to 200,000+ hours of on-demand content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Health and Lifestyle content in one destination. In addition, ZEE5 Global offers features like 15 navigational languages, content download options, seamless video playback and Voice Search.

ZEE5 Global Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZEE5GlobalCorp

ZEE5 Global LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ZEE5 Global/

ZEE5 Global announces the World Digital Premiere of hit Kannada campus comedy ‘Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare’

Medical bills

The Biden administration has unveiled new proposals to remove medical bills from credit reports. White House officials on Thursday said they are pursuing the effort to lessen Americans’
medical debt burden as millions of people contend with the higher cost of living and historic inflation. Medical debt has lowered people’s credit scores, which affects their ability to buy a
home, get a mortgage or own a small business, Vice President Kamala Harris said in a call with reporters announcing the initiative. If the rule is finalized, consumer credit companies would be
barred from including medical debt and collection information on reports that creditors use to make underwriting decisions.

How China Influenced US-India Ties In The Last 76 Years

As the US tries to break the stranglehold of China on its supply chains, especially in hi-tech, India is emerging as a venue for what is now called ‘friendshoring’ – developing manufacturing in friendly countries that can be reliable partners. From being a recipient of food aid from the US seven decades ago, India has emerged as a partner in defence, space, health and technology.

China, intriguingly, has been a constant factor in the trajectory of India-United States relations, putting them at odds in the first years after Independence but now propelling them to the apex.

In the years after Independence, India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru backed Beijing while the US supported Taiwan laying the foundation for the many differences between them that would continue in many forms. Now it is China with its aggressive postures from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and beyond that helping strengthen bonds between India and US that share worries about it.

Eurasia Review

Yet, even as the two largest democracies draw closer, a shadow of ambiguity persists in their ties.

India still will not back the US unambiguously, is still dangerously reliant on Russia for defence, and is wary of going too far in provoking China while appearing with them on international forums. And it is the China factor that makes Washington so forgiving of India’s neutrality ignoring calls, especially in the US media tinged with hostility to India, especially under the BJP.

Those in the administration with an unblinkered view of geopolitics know that were India to break with Russia, its defences would be degraded making it vulnerable to China and thus reduce its value as a strategic partner.

Leaving geopolitics aside, perhaps the most momentous development is a person of Indian heritage, Kamala Harris, holding the second highest office in the US – something Franklin D Roosevelt, the US president who laid the groundwork for India becoming free of the colonial yoke, might not have dreamt of.

How initial warmth turned to fissures

Modern India’s ties to the US can be traced to Roosevelt forcing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the archetypical racist colonialist, into signing the 1941 Atlantic Charter promising independence for colonies with a clause about self-determination.

“America won’t help England in this war simply so that she will be able to continue to ride roughshod over colonial peoples”, Roosevelt is said to have warned the imperialist.

Roosevelt, who tried unsuccessfully to have an emissary mediate between the British and India’s Independence movement leaders, could not force Churchill to implement it as long as World War II was raging. But ultimately, Roosevelt’s idea prevailed and India became free under both their successors, US President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Clement Atlee.

Truman had high expectations of a democratic India and sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru his own plane to bring him from London and went out of his way to greet him on arrival and feted him in 1949.

But China intervened. With Cold War both leaders were hung up on China – Truman was backing Taiwan, then officially recognised as China at the UN and was set against a Communist Beijing, and wanted Nehru, who was behind Mao Zedong, to switch sides.

That was the first overt sign of the fissures between the two countries, yet about three-quarters of a century later, it is China that is drawing them closer.

Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared Nehru “one of the most difficult persons”. Shortly after the visit, Nehru declared more firmly the policy of not aligning with blocs, which would later become the concept of non-alignment.

In the Korean War that broke out a year later when the US and Beijing’s forces clashed, India stood neutral, much to the chagrin of Washington.

But the US continued with economic assistance for India and in 1951 Truman pushed through the India Emergency Food Assistance Act when India faced severe food shortage.

The 1962 China war and aftermatch

Engulfed in an ideological fog, Nehru ramped up his rhetoric of nonalignment,  which in effect was perceived as critical of the West. The tenuous relationship with Washington continued with a slight warming of ties between Nehru and the wartime general President Dwight Eisenhower, who expressed respect for Nehru in his memoir. In 1959, Eisenhower became the first US president to visit India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had grown closer to the US, joining the two now-defunct defence collectives, SEATO and CENTO, and benefitted militarily from the US.

India Today

The China war in 1962 shocked Nehru into reality and temporarily abandoning his veneer of nonalignment sought US military aid from President John F Kennedy, which he received.

The Soviet Union, which had broken up with China, began supplying arms to India, notably the MIG21 fighter jets, although the supply began after the war.

The Kennedy administration initially supported Nehru’s request for setting up a massive state-owned steel plant at Bokaro, viewed as a socialist project it faced political opposition. Moscow stepped in to help India set up the steel plant further deepening ties between the two countries.

That was further strengthened at the cost of Washington during the 1965 Pakistan War when Islamabad flung advanced US weaponry at India, which was using mostly British and Soviet arms.

Yet, when the danger of famine loomed over India, President Lyndon Johnson rushed food aid to India in 1966, while also extracting promises to reform agriculture and to tone down criticism of the US internationally. India and the US had already been collaborating in agriculture development and what was probably the greatest achievement in India-US cooperation followed, helping India achieve food self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution in a few short years and making it one of the nations that can extend food aid to others.

The 1971 Bangladesh and dip in ties

The 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence is the nadir in New Delhi-Washington relations. A month before the War, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Washington and met with President Richard Nixon, asking for help to temper the Pakistani military crackdown on what was then East Pakistan and to deal with the crisis of refugees fleeing army terror.

His vulgar personal comments about Indira Gandhi and about Indians emerged from White House tapes that were made public decades later.

Given the deep ties with Pakistan and Islamabad acting as the broker for the US to establish relations with China, Nixon made the infamous “tilt” to Pakistan and tried to intimidate India by sending the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal.

Under Presidents Jimmy Carter, who visited India, Ronald Reagan, who warmly received both Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv who succeeded her, and George Bush, the senior, the two countries plodded on with no breakthroughs in their relations.

India’s nuclear test brought sanctions against it from President Bill Clinton, marking another diplomacy dip between the two nations.

Although relations with India had had a rocky start at the start of his administration due to Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s perceived hostility, Clinton came through when Pakistan sent its forces into Kargil in Kashmir in 1999.

A war seeming likely when India began to root out Islamabad’s forces, Clinton called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington and read him the riot act, forcing him and then-military chief Pervez Musharraf to withdraw their troops.

The beginning of the embrace

With the emergence of the Indian American community and the onset of India’s economic liberalisation, Clinton started the steps that have led to the embrace of the two countries now.

His visit to India the next year, was the first visit by a US president in 22 years, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to Washington the same year.

A bipartisan consensus on cooperation with India was becoming entrenched and President George W Bush in 2001 ended all the sanctions against India, that were already beginning to be relaxed.

The 2001 terrorist attack on the US that was orchestrated by Pakistan’s allies in Afghanistan brought a sense of urgency to New Delhi’s and Washington’s war on terror, even as Islamabad took advantage of its geography in the US invasion of Afghanistan.

India and the US began joint military exercises in 2002 and in 2005 signed an agreement on the framework for defence cooperation.

That year the two countries also signed the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement that allowed them to resume cooperation in the area, while having an impact beyond their borders facilitating trade in nuclear equipment and materials.

The agreement became the centre-piece of the era of Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh visited Washington in 2005 to discuss it, and in 2008 after it was ok’d by Congress, while Bush went to India in 2006 to finalise it, and during that trip the two countries agreed to increase trade and loosen restrictions.

Singh returned to Washington the next year on a state visit at the invitation of President Barack Obama, and made another visit in 2013. The cerebral Indian leader bonded with the intellectual American and the relations in economy and defence took off.

China has again taken the centre in the relations between the US and India, but this time with a convergence – India jolted from the Nehruvian illusion and the US waking up to the looming threats in the economy, trade and, more importantly, security.

The Quad, the group of India, the US, Australia and Japan, that was to play a greater role later on was launched in 2007, but collapsed quickly when Canberra cooled towards Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without ideological baggage and with a fresh outlook on the world, opened up the avenues for ties that bind closer. Once shunned by the US, his election made Washington realise the new realities of India and Obama quickly invited him to visit in 2014.

He arrived like a rock star feted by tens of thousands of Indian Americans. Besides vowing to boost trade, the two leaders turned their focus to climate change and agree on programmes on green energy.

Obama was the guest at India’s Republic  Day celebration the next year.

In 2016, Modi addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time and the US gave India the status of Major Defence Partner, which led to an agreement on an agreement to deepen military cooperation

At President Donald Trump’s invitation, Modi visited Washington in 2017 and in 2019 the two of them went together to Houston and paraded at an event billed as “Howdy Modi” that drew about 50,000 people.

Trump went to India in 2020 for his last foreign trip as president and was greeted by a roaring crowd of about 100,000 in Ahmedabad.

During the Covid pandemic, India sent some medicines at the request of Trump, as well as some medical supplies, while the US sent medical equipment.

While New Delhi was already sending vaccines to many countries, the Quad which was revived in 2017 devised a joint programme to provide developing countries with vaccines made by India.

On the trade front, Modi’s “Make in India” clashed with Trump’s “America First” resulting in a mini-trade-war. Trump ended preferential trade status for some Indian products under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences programme asserting that New Delhi does not give “equitable” access to Indian markets for some US products – among them whisky and motorcycles.

India retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 products, among them almonds, and the US hit back with more duties on Indian aluminium and steel imports.

But they went ahead on the defence and security front, signing a slew of pacts including the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that gives New Delhi access to advanced technologies and realtime military data and the  Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for intelligence-sharing.

What Next for U.S.-India Military Ties?

A new agreement between top U.S. and Indian officials will deepen military cooperation and bolster strategic tie…

The unthinkable happens

When President Joe Biden came into office and the full impact of China on security, trade and the economy hit him, he revved up cooperation with India.

The Quad meetings were raised to summit status and Modi attended it in Washington in 2021.

Ignoring opposition from the vociferous left in the Democratic Party and the ideologically liberal mainstream media, Biden invited Modi for a state visit last month.

Not only was the US selling India advanced military equipment worth several billions of dollars, but it was also authorising the production of military jet engines jointly in India while promoting cooperation in defence production, something unthinkable some years ago.

(The writer is Nonresident Fellow, Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi, Views are personal)   Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/spotlight/how-china-factor-influenced-us-india-ties-last-76-years

US Congressional Delegation Meets PM Modi, Strengthening Indo-US Ties

A Bipartisan US Congressional delegation in India for the nation’s 77th Independence Day met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 in New Delhi. During the meeting, Modi praised the bipartisan support as key to strengthening the bilateral strategic relationship between the two democracies.

The delegation included US Representative Ro Khanna of California, Democratic co-chair of the India Caucus, Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, Republican co-chair of the India Caucus, as well as Representatives Ed Case, D-Hawaii, Kat Cammack, R-Florida, Deborah Ross, D-North Carolina, Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, Rich McCormick, R-Georgia, and Shri Thanedar, D-Michigan.

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, PM Modi said, “Glad to receive a Congressional delegation from US, including co-chairs of India Caucus in the House of Representatives, Rep. @RoKhanna and Rep. @michaelgwaltz. Strong bipartisan support from the US Congress is instrumental in further elevating India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.”

Picture : New India Abroad

Welcoming the delegation to India, PM Modi conveyed his appreciation for the “consistent and bipartisan support” of the US Congress and highlighted his recent visit. “Prime Minister fondly recalled his historic State Visit to the US in June at the invitation of President Biden during which he had an opportunity to address a Joint Session of the US Congress for a second time,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Prime Minister and the US delegation highlighted that the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is based on shared democratic values, respect for rule of law and strong people-to-people ties,” the PMO said.

During his June visit to US, PM Modi also attended various events, apart from the address to Congress. He was hosted by Biden as well as First Lady Jill Biden for a state dinner at the White House as well as a State Luncheon by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US Vice President Kamala Harris.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also met US Congressional delegation on August 16, and discussed the transformation underway in India. The two sides exchanged views on advancing the bilateral partnership between India and US. They discussed the global situation and collaboration between India and US on multilateral, regional and global issues.

“A good interaction with US Congressional delegation today. Glad they could join as we celebrated #IndependenceDay. Discussed the transformation underway in India, especially its outcomes of better governance. Shared our aspirations and expectations for Amritkaal. Also exchanged views on our advancing bilateral partnership. Shared perspectives on the global situation and our collaboration on multilateral, regional and global issues,” Minister Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.

“Representatives Khanna, Thanedar, Waltz and others are doing a great service to the bilateral relationship in undertaking this visit. The Indian Embassy in Washington, DC and several other stakeholders have been working closely with them to create an impactful itinerary,” says Sanjeev Joshipura, the Washington DC based executive director of Indiaspora.

This historic visit holds symbolic significance, marking the first time Indian American lawmakers are part of a US House delegation to India, highlighting the growing influence of Indian Americans in US politics and their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations.

For Rep. Khanna, this is history coming full circle. His grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar was an Indian freedom fighter who spent four years in jail alongside Gandhi and later was part of India’s first parliament.

“As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, we are proud to lead a bipartisan delegation to India. We will be there to discuss how to strengthen economic and defense ties between our two counties, the oldest and largest democracies,” Khanna said prior ro his visit to India.

“Both of us believe that the U.S. India relationship will be a defining one of the 21st century. India is a key partner in ensuring multipolarity in Asia and the denial of China as a hegemon. We must continue to strive to make progress and build our partnership based on our shared founding values of democracy, freedom of the press and assembly, and human rights. This delegation is a historic opportunity to drive further collaboration and advance shared aims,” Khanna said

Earlier this year, Khanna and Waltz hosted a historic US-India Summit on the Hill featuring panels and remarks from government leaders, experts, and Indian American leaders from across the country.

“His grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar was an Indian freedom fighter who spent four years in jail alongside Gandhi and later was part of India’s first parliament,” the US government said in its press release referring to the history Ro Khanna and his family share with respect to the Indian Freedom struggle.

On his visit to India, Khanna said, “As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, we are proud to lead a bipartisan delegation to India. We will be there to discuss how to strengthen economic and defense ties between our two counties, the oldest and largest democracies.”

Rise of Indian Americans

The rapid rise of Indian Americans from politics to administration, entrepreneurship to technology, medicine to hospitality, science to academia has put the global spotlight like never before on the high-achieving four million-plus strong diaspora.

The community happens to be the most educated with the highest median income in the US, with an average household earning of $123,700 — making them the top earners in the US among other Asians in the country.

As the profile of the Indian American community — now the second-largest immigrant group in the US — has grown, so too has its economic, political, and social influence, according to a recent Carnegie Endowment study.

In 2010, only 18 per cent of Americans saw India as “very important” to the United States, according to The Chicago Council survey.

Now, India is perceived by Americans as their seventh favourite nation in the world, with 70 per cent of people viewing India favourably in 2023, says a Gallup survey.

Picture : TheUNN

Much of how America views India today can be attributed to the success of this community, which according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has played a significant role in the all-round development of the nation they live in and also strengthened the India-US relationship.

The fifth largest economy of the world, India today is seen in the US as a strong bilateral partner sharing common democratic values with broad-based and multi-sectoral cooperation in sectors like trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, etc.

American businesses heavily rely on highly-skilled workers from India to fill the gaps in IT and engineering sectors via the H-1B visa programme. These visa holders create prospects for US citizens, by enabling companies to invest in domestic operations instead of sending jobs abroad.

As US Ambassador Eric Garcetti recently said: “India is a place where dreams become reality every day. Our counties have so much in common. Indian dreams and American dreams are two sides of the same coin.”

Addressing the 2019 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, then Foreign Minister late Sushma Swaraj had noted that while the Indian diaspora started migrating centuries ago, it was the migration of the educated, highly-skilled and dynamic young Indians that brought laurels to India.

The dominance of Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, and Parag Agarwal in the IT sector has strengthened the image of India in the US as a technology powerhouse and a source of quality human resources.

With US Vice President Kamala Harris sitting atop the political ladder, the US House of Representatives has five Indian Americans — Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal and Shri Thanedar.

There are close to 60 Indian-American CEOs in Fortune 500. Even though Indians are just 1 per cent of the American population, they are more than 10 per cent of the Fortune 500 CEOs with the likes of Laxman Narasimhan (Starbucks) and Raj Subramaniam (FedEx).

The US now has 20,000 Indian-American professors and at least a third of companies in the Silicon Valley that come for funding, and have an Indian American co-founder, according to Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami.

According to foreign policy experts, it is the success of this community, which has dramatically changed the US perception of Indians and India, with its ability to spread Indian soft power, lobby for India’s national interests, and contribute economically to their mother country’s rise.

As part of “soft diplomacy”, Indian-Americans played a pivotal role in the fructification of the historic Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005.

The community also urged the political establishment — right from the Oval Office down to statehouses — to send aid worth at least half-a-billion dollars to India during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kamala Harris Swears in Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues

Vice President Kamala Harris officiated at a July 10, 2023, swearing-in ceremony for Geeta Rao Gupta, PhD, the Biden Administration’s choice for Global Women’s Issues Ambassador.

The ceremony was held at the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., where Gupta was accompanied by her husband, Arvind and daughter Nayna, sister-in-law Manjuli Maheshwari, and friend Carolina Rojas.

Following the brief oath-taking, Vice President Harris tweeted, “Congratulations to Geeta Rao Gupta, our next Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department. A lifelong advocate, Ambassador Gupta will continue the fight to lift up women and girls everywhere and to secure their basic freedoms and rights.”

The Bombay-born Gupta was cleared by the US Senate on May 12, and soon after her swearing-in, she was off on a diplomatic mission to several countries.

A graduate of Delhi University with a PhD from Bangalore University, Gupta has been a well-known women’s issues leader, and is the fourth Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, and the first woman of color to hold that position.

Among those credited for pushing her candidature are Senators Charles Schumer, D-NY, Democratic Majority Leader; Jeanne Shaheen, Tim Kaine, and Robert Menendez.

Gupta was most recently at the United Nations Foundation as Executive Director of the 3D Program for Girls and Women .

Prior to that she was Deputy Executive Director at UN International Chiildren’s Education Fund for five years; was a Senior Fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

She served her longest at the International Center for Research on Women, ICRW, where she rose to become President of the organization, starting as a Project Manager in 1989.

Biden leads 2020 Democrats by 5 points, followed by Warren, Harris

Joe Biden leads the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, according to the first NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of the contest.

The former vice president draws the support of 26% of voters nationally who plan to vote in 2020 Democratic nominating contests, the survey released Thursday found. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., trails him at 19%.

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., each get 13% of support, according to the poll. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounds out the top five contenders at 7%. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and entrepreneur Andrew Yang both garner 2% of support, and no other candidate in the field of about two dozen draws more than 1%.

The survey largely squares with what recent polls have found about the contenders in the race to challenge President Donald Trump next year. While Biden jumped out to a more substantial lead in early polls, surveys suggest a tighter contest after the first Democratic debate last month introduced more voters to the field.

Much can change before Democratic voters start choosing their nominee. The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus sits about seven months away.

Only 12% of respondents to the NBC/WSJ poll say they definitely made up their minds about who they will support next year. Asked about their second choices for president, 14% of respondents chose Harris. She was followed by Warren at 13% and Sanders at 12%. Meanwhile, 10% of respondents picked Biden as their second choice, and 8% chose Buttigieg.

The former vice president comfortably leads the field among African-American Democratic primary voters, according to the NBC/WSJ poll. He garners 46% of support, trailed distantly by Harris at 17%. Among non-white primary voters, Biden draws 33% of support, followed by Harris at 16%, Sanders at 15% and Warren at 14%.

Biden leads among primary voters who consider themselves moderate or conservative. Warren has an edge over Sanders among liberal respondents.

Do voters want big or small changes?

One core issue that will define the Democratic primary is whether voters want sweeping overhauls or incremental change. For example, Sanders and Warren have backed a single-payer “Medicare for All” system and massive student debt forgiveness. Biden and others have cautioned against Medicare for All or widespread debt cancellation, calling the plans too expensive.

More than half, or 54%, of Democratic primary voters said they want a candidate who “proposes larger scale policies that cost more and might be harder to pass into law, but could bring major change” on issues such as health care, climate change, college affordability and economic opportunity. Meanwhile, 41% responded that they prefer a candidate who “proposes smaller scale policies that cost less a Among all registered voters, 44% support a single-payer health care system, versus 49% who oppose it.

Harris, one of three black candidates in the field, created the debate’s most discussed moment when she targeted Biden’s record on race and his stance on school busing policy. She told a story about getting bused to school in a newly integrated California school as a child.

The poll also questioned voters about whether they back a candidate based more on ideology or their ability to deny Trump a second term in the White House. Among Democrats primary voters, 51% said they want a candidate who comes close to their views on issues. Meanwhile, 45% responded that they want a candidate with the best chance to defeat the president.

Out of those who consider beating Trump most important, 34% choose Biden, followed by Warren at 21% and Harris at 16%. Among respondents who say they prefer to agree on issues, Biden and Warren are tied at 18%, while Harris garners 17% of support.

The survey was taken after the first Democratic debate in Miami, which appeared to reflect well on Harris and Warren. Nearly half — 47% — of Democratic primary voters who watched at least some of the debates or paid close attention to news coverage of them said Harris most impressed them. About a third responded that Warren impressed them most.

Kamala Harris invokes Indian heritage to Trump’s immigration plan

In response to US President Donald Trump announced his “merit based” immigration proposal, Democrat Senator Kamala Harris invoked her unique background as a presidential candidate — being the daughter of an Indian immigrant.

“I found the announcement today to be shortsighted,” CNN quoted Harris as saying on Thursday before an Asian American audience in Las Vegas.

On the plan’s intention to award immigrants certain points based on education or skills, Harris said: “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants.

“The beauty of the tradition of our country has been to say, when you walk through the door, you are equal. We spoke those words in 1776, ‘we are all equal’ and should be treated that way. Not, oh well, if you come from this place, you might only have a certain number of points, and if you come from that place you might have a different number of points.”

Asians have historically immigrated as family units, Harris added.

“It is, and has always been, about family. And that was completely overlooked, and I would suggest, denied, in the way the policy was outlined today.”

At the event hosted by an Asian American group, One APIA Nevada, Harris dove into her barrier-breaking election to the US Senate as the first South Asian to serve in the body’s history. She acknowledged her presidential run as a biracial woman helping to shatter notions about being black, Asian and a woman.

In her campaign stump speech, Harris always includes stories about how her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, impacted every aspect of her life. And while she has spoken about visits to India during her book tour, Harris on the trail has leaned far more into the African American identity her mother raised her to embrace.

An audience member asked Harris if she would consider wearing a traditional Indian saree to her inauguration.

“Let’s first win,” Harris responded. “My mother raised us with a very strong appreciation for our cultural background and pride. Celebrations that we all participate in regardless of how our last name is spelled. It’s the beauty of who we are as a nation.” (IANS)

Indian-American PAC endorses Harris for president Tulsi Gabbard outraises Kamala Harris among Indian-American donors

An Indian-American political action committee (PAC) has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris of Indian and Jamaican descent for the 2020 presidential race.

“In such a critically important election, one that will shape policy and politics for generations to come, Indian Americans can’t afford to stay on the sidelines,” the Indian American Impact Fund’s co-founder Raj Goyle said in a statement last week. Goyle, also a former Kansas state lawmaker, said it was for that reason that the organization chose to be “the first Indian-American or Asian-American political organization to endorse” Harris, whose mother was from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, media reports say.

“In the coming months, we look forward to mobilizing our network of resources to ensure Senator Harris secures the Democratic nomination and is elected the next president of the U.S.,” Goyle said.

Harris thanked the Impact Fund for the endorsement. “This endorsement and the support of the Indian American Impact Fund and its members means so much to me,” she said in a statement. “Together, we will fight for an America that restores the values of truth and justice and works for working people, from raising incomes to expanding health care.”

The Impact Fund Executive Director and former Maryland state delegate Aruna Miller said her group was “proud to endorse” Harris. “She is a tested leader who has demonstrated, throughout her career, a strong commitment to our community’s progressive and pluralistic values,” Miller said.

Harris, one of the first Democrats to launch the presidential campaign in this election cycle, is also one of the front-runners at the moment. If elected, she will become the first woman, the first Indian-American, the first Asian American, and the first African American woman to serve as president.

Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris released 15 years of her tax returns las week, showing that she and her husband earned almost $1.9 million in 2018. Most of the adjusted gross income of $1,884,319 in 2018 reported by Harris, D-Calif., came from her husband Doug Emhoff’s earnings as a lawyer. Harris reported $157,352 in Senate salary and $320,125 in net profit from the memoir she released before announcing her campaign.

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu US Congresswoman and Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, has vastly outraised Senator Kamala Harris of Indian and Jamaican descent among Indian-American donors in the 2020 presidential fundraising derby so far.

Gabbard, who is a Hindu American but not Indian-American, has raised more than $237,000, from the community. In comparison, Harris, daughter of an Indian American mother and Jamaican American father, has so far raised only $72,606 from the community, according to AAPI Data, which publishes data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

In a clear sign that Harris, one of the strongest contenders in the crowded 2020 Democratic field, has not been fully embraced by the community, the Senator even trails New Jersey’s Corey Booker among Indian-Americans, the American Bazaar reported on Saturday.

Booker has raised more than $131,000 from Indian Americans. A big reason for that is New Jersey is home to nearly 370,000 Indian Americans. But Harris’ home state of California has the largest Indian American population in the country – more than 712,000. Yet, her campaign hasn’t received traction among Indian American campaign donors, the AAPI Data research reveals.

Historically, Indian Americans have donated huge amounts to congressional and gubernatorial candidates from the community. However, their track record in bankrolling candidates from the community so far is spotty. In the last presidential election cycle, the campaign of former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal attracted only lukewarm support of the community.

Kamala Harris’ campaign raises $12m for 2020 bid

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, has announced that her campaign raised $12 million in the first quarter of 2019 from more than 218,000 individual contributions.

Harris, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, became the second major candidate to announce her first-quarter fundraising total after South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he raised over $7 million in the first quarter, according to CNN.

“A nationwide network of hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters has stepped up to lay the foundation for a winning campaign,” Harris’ campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a statement on Monday cited by the Hill magazine.

“This is a campaign powered by the people, focused on making healthcare a right, putting $500 a month in the pockets of working Americans, and giving every public school teacher in America a raise. We’re excited by the support we’re already seeing.”

The campaign’s announcement came after Sunday’s Federal Election Commission quarterly fundraising deadline.

In a news release, Harris said she had received 218,000 individual contributions during the first quarter and 98 per cent of those contributions came in amounts smaller than $100.

Harris’ aides said that more than 99 per cent of her current donors can contribute again without hitting the limit.

Harris did not disclose how much she has spent during the first three months of the year, nor how much cash she has remaining in the bank for the long primary fight. (IANS)

Goodbye, special treatment to the rich

The Wyden plan “would transform how the U.S. taxes the wealthiest people,” The Wall Street Journal’s Gabriel Rubin and Richard Rubin writes.
Under current law, investors pay taxes on the increased value of the stocks and bonds they own — known as capital gains — only when they sell them. They also pay a lower tax rate than that on most forms of income. Wyden’s plan would remove both of those advantages.
Investors would have to pay the ordinary income-tax rate on their capital gains. And they would have to do so each year, based on the assets’ value at the time. In accounting terms, this practice of updating the value of an asset is known as “mark to market.”
The “mark-to-market” idea is similar in principle to the reassessment of home values for property-tax calculations. As I’ve noted before, the property tax is an annual tax on the largest asset for most middle-class families. But the very rich don’t face an annual tax on their largest holdings.
Their largest holdings often include stocks. Which means that the lower tax rate on capital gains, combined with the deferral of taxing them, has enormous financial consequences, as Steve Wamhoff, of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, explains on JustTaxes.org. “Wealthy households, who already own the most in assets, can defer paying tax and grow their wealth much more rapidly, while income most of us earn from work is taxed annually,” Wamhoff writes. “This is a massive tax break for the wealthy, and mark-to-market taxation would bring it to an end.”
Lily Batchelder and David Kamin, both N.Y.U. professors and former Obama administration officials, noted that the Wyden plan would also raise significant amounts of revenue for the federal government. That money could be used to reduce the deficit or pay for programs such as preschool or middle-class tax cuts.
Critics of the Wyden idea (as you can see here) claim that revaluing assets each year is too complicated to be feasible and that the plan will harm economic growth. I don’t buy either claim.
On the economic effects: It’s not as if the American economy has been performing well in recent years. As wealth inequality has risen, economic growth has repeatedly missed forecasters’ expectations.
On the complexity: All taxes have some complexity. But it’s certainly feasible for the government to become more aggressive about taxing top incomes and wealth.
I don’t know whether the Wyden plan will ultimately make more sense than Warren’s more sweeping proposal to tax large fortunes each year or the proposals from Harris and Sanders to increase the inheritance tax. But this is the right time for the debate.
The next time the country has a president who’s worried about inequality and middle-class living standards, it will be time to increase taxes on extreme wealth.
The average wealth of the poorer half of American households has dropped below zero in the years since the financial crisis, according to the World Inequality Database. What does that mean? It means that fully half of Americans hold more combined debt than assets.
The average wealth of the richest 1 percent of households, meanwhile, has more than recovered its losses from the crisis. They’re now richer than ever.
This situation isn’t healthy. And the most obvious solution is to change the tax code — specifically, to increase taxes on wealth to undo some of the radical increases in inequality over the last few decades.
Fortunately, some policymakers are starting to come forward with proposals to address the wealth imbalance. The latest is Ron Wyden, the Democratic senator from Oregon. He joins a few presidential candidates — Kamala HarrisBernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — who have also proposed higher taxes on wealth.

Bill to end per country quota gives hope to hope for Green Card applicants

Two Bills introduced on February 7th simultaneously in the US Senate and the House proposing to end per-country limits on employment-based green cards, a long-standing demand of advocacy groups of high-tech workers from India, has given rise to hope among hundreds of thousands green card applicants.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act Bill also increases the per-country caps for family-sponsored green cards from 7 percent to 15 percent. Without adding any new green cards, S. 386 creates a “first-come, first-served” system that alleviates the backlogs and allows green cards to be awarded more efficiently, the senators said in a press statement.

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who has announced candidacy for 2020 presidential election and Mike Lee (R-UT), introduced the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act that would also adjust per-country limits for family-based green cards.

An identical bill was tabled in the House of Representatives by Congressmaen Zoe Lofgren and Ken Buck, Chair and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, with co-sponsorship of a bipartisan group of 112 members of Congress.

“Ours is a nation of immigrants, and our strength has always come from our diversity and our unity,” Sen. Harris said in a statement. “We must do more to eliminate discriminatory backlogs and facilitate family unity so that high-skilled immigrants are not vulnerable to exploitation and can stay in the U.S. and continue to contribute to the economy. I’m proud to join with Sen. Lee on this bipartisan legislation to ensure that our country remains vibrant and dynamic,” she said.

News reports said the bill has broad bipartisan support and is additionally cosponsored by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jim Moran (R-KS) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), among others.

The bill has also been endorsed by Immigration Voice, Compete America Coalition, the Information Technology Industry Council, Google, Microsoft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Heritage Foundation, La Raza, and many others.

“There is consensus that reforms to fix the nation’s immigration laws for high-skilled workers are long overdue,” said Andy Halataei, ITI Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.

“The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would allow U.S. employers to attract and retain the world’s best and highly-educated employees, enabling highly-skilled workers who are committed to the United States to propel American innovation, grow the economy, and help create jobs in America. This bill will help maintain U.S. competitiveness as a nation,” it said.

Trump sees Kamala Harris as most credible opponent for US President “Kamala Harris, Call-Out Star: The toughest progressive we’ve seen in a long time,” David Brooks

President Trump has called Indian-American Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic Senator from California, the most credible candidate for President among the slew of Democrats rearing to face off against him in 2020. Asked in a New York Times interview on Feb. 1, who he thought was the “toughest” Democratic candidate so far, the President responded, “I would say, the best opening so far would be Kamala Harris. I would say, in terms of the opening act, I would say, would be her.”

What stood out about her, he indicated, was the announcement she made in Oakland, California Jan. 27, where a estimated crowd of more than 20,000 people came to cheer on her candidacy. “A better crowd — better crowd, better enthusiasm. Some of the others were very flat,” the  President said, about that “opening act.” He criticized Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who he contended, had “been hurt very badly with the Pocahontas trap.” Over the year, President Trump has referred to Sen. Warren as Pocahontas, based on her claims she had some Native American ancestry.

Meanwhile, David Brooks, the Right Leaning NY Times Columnist, has described Kamala Harris as: “The more you learn about Kamala Harris, the more formidable she appears. She is an amazing amalgam of different elements — highly educated elite meritocrat, Oakland street fighter, crusading, rough-elbow prosecutor, canny machine pol and telegenic rhetorical brawler. She is also probably the toughest and most hard-nosed progressive on the scene right now.”

“Democratic primary voters may decide that if they are going to take on Donald Trump, they’re going to want the roughest, most confrontational gladiator they can get. After they see how, well, direct she can be, they may decide that person is Kamala Harris,” Brooks opined.

In her memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” she describes her political campaigns as a series of hard-fought battles against tough foes. She ran for San Francisco district attorney against her former boss, whose nickname was Kayo (pronounced “K.O.”), for all the people he knocked out. But she beat him.

Some Republicans see Harris as the more moderate candidate in what they claim is a increasingly left-leaning Democratic Party. Harris record as a District Attorney and then Attorney General in California, has opened her criminal justice record for examination.

Harris’ website also uses similar terminology – “Tough Principled Fearless” to describe her. On her website kamalaharris.org, she dwells on her African American  ancestry, noting that she was the second African American in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate and the first African Amerivan and first woman to serve as Attorney General of the state of California. Though her mother was Indian, there is no mention of the fact, that she is the first Indian-American to be a District Attorney in California, the first to be AG of that state, and later the first Indian-American ever to be elected to the Senate.

“To beat Trump, I suspect Democrats will want unity,” David Brooks wrote in his column in the NYT. “They won’t want somebody who essentially runs against the Democratic establishment (Bernie Sanders); they’ll want somebody who embodies it (Harris). They’ll want somebody who seems able to pulverize Trump in a debate (Harris).”

Suspicious package sent to Sen. Kamala Harris discovered

A suspicious package addressed to California Senator Kamala Harris was intercepted Friday morning in Sacramento, Senator Harris’s office confirmed to CBS13. The package is similar to 13 others addressed to other elected officials and political figures this week.

Sen. Kamala Harris’ office said Oct. 26 that authorities in Sacramento, California, are investigating a suspicious package mailed to her.  The office of the Indian American U.S. senator says the package was similar to those that have been sent to other prominent Democrats.

The senator’s office says it was informed that the package was identified at a Sacramento mail facility. The FBI responded to the facility in a South Sacramento neighborhood that’s been blocked off by caution tape.

News of the package comes as authorities arrested a Florida man suspected of sending more than 10 mail bombs in recent days. Harris is a Democrat serving her first term in the U.S. Senate.

“Our understanding is a trained postal employee identified the package at a Sacramento mail facility and reported it to the authorities,” a statement from Sen. Harris’ office read. A heavy law enforcement presence, including FBI, US Postal Inspector, postal police, and the sheriff’s department personnel was visible at the facility throughout the morning. Firefighters from Sacramento Metro Fire Department also responded to the report. CNN first reported the incident.

FBI special agents have arrested Cesar Altieri Sayoc, 56, in connection with the packages. Federal officials say these were “improvised explosive devices” made with PVC pipe, clocks, batteries, wiring, and explosive material. None of the bombs detonated.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s office says the package addressed to Harris resembled the other suspicious packages sent this week. A postal employee at a Sacramento mail facility identified the package and reported it to authorities. No one was injured.

Justice Department officials revealed that a latent fingerprint found on one package helped them identify their suspect as Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. The criminal complaint charges Sayoc with illegally mailing explosives, illegally transporting explosives across state lines, making threats against former presidents, assaulting federal officers and threatening interstate commerce.

Court records show Sayoc, an amateur body builder with social media accounts that denigrate Democrats and praise Trump, has a history of arrests for theft, illegal steroids possession and a 2002 charge of making a bomb threat.

The development came amid a nationwide manhunt for the person responsible for at least 13 explosive devices addressed to prominent Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. The case continued widening Oct. 26 even as Sayoc was detained.

In Washington, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cautioned that Sayoc had only been charged, not convicted. But he said, “Let this be a lesson to anyone regardless of their political beliefs that we will bring the full force of law against anyone who attempts to use threats, intimidation and outright violence to further an agenda. We will find you, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

In Florida, law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, outside the Plantation auto parts store. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

The stickers included images of Trump, American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.

Trump, while calling to take strict actions against political violence, complained that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and said critics were wrongly blaming him and his heated rhetoric.

Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country. None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety.

Earlier in the day, authorities said suspicious packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper — both similar to those containing pipe bombs sent to other prominent critics of Trump— had been intercepted.

Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Online court records show that Sayoc in 2002 was arrested and served a year of probation for a felony charge of threatening to throw or place a bomb. No further details were available about the case.

Most of those targeted were past or present U.S. officials, but one was sent to actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country – from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Rep. Maxine Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.

Sen. Kamala Harris’ Book to Be Published Next Year: Penguin Press

Sen. Kamala Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party who is sometimes cited as a possible presidential contender in 2020, has a book deal.

Penguin Press announced that Harris’ “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey” will come out Jan. 8, 2019. According to Penguin, Harris will write about “the core truths” in American life and how to learn what they are.

The 53-year-old Harris was formerly California’s attorney general. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016.

For politicians, books have long been a standard part of developing a national profile, from John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage” to Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope.”

Scott Moyers, vice president and publisher of Penguin Press, according to the Times praised Harris’s “authentic” voice, and said her back story was especially compelling, including her “fascinating and formidable” mother.

The memoir and current-events primer, in a mixture well-known to campaign books, will include sketches of both Ms. Harris’s upbringing and her governing principles.

It’s the second book by Harris. The first, “Smart on Crime,” was published in 2009 — the year before she was elected California attorney general. Harris won her Senate seat in 2016.

Publishing books is a rite of passage for presidential prospects. Harris is the latest possible Democratic contender to publish a book since the 2016 presidential election. She joins former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro’s book is expected this fall, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who published a book last year, has another one — titled “Where We Go From Here” — due after November’s midterm elections.

Penguin said that in the book Harris is “reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her.”

“Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values,” Penguin said. “In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.”

Sen. Kamala Harris not ruling out 2020 White House run

Indian-origin American senator Kamala Harris has not ruled out the prospects of running for the US President in 2020, according to media reports. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., says she isn’t ruling out a 2020 run for president in her most direct comments yet about her political future.

In an interview that aired Sunday on MSNBC’s “KasieDC,” Harris said she’s focused on the 2018 midterm elections. “I’m focused on a lot of other things as a higher priority” than running for president, she said. Pressed on whether she was ruling out a 2020 bid, Harris said: “I’m not ruling it out, no.”

Harris, 53, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, is viewed as a rising star in Democratic politics. Her likely presidential ambitions are the subject of wide speculation, and she’s often included on the not-so-short lists of potential Democratic 2020 hopefuls. According to the media outlet, it is her most direct comments yet about her political future.

Harris, a former prosecutor, was California’s attorney general before she was elected to the Senate in 2016. She has started to carve out a reputation as a defender of immigrants in the Trump era, a move that could give her an edge with those voters in 2020, the outlet said. Earlier this year, she bucked her party’s leadership to vote against an immigration compromise that she said made too many compromises with Republicans, angering some of her colleagues.

Other possible Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate — including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey — voted “yes.”

In the interview, Harris also said the United States should consider abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The hashtag #AbolishICE has become a rallying cry for immigration activists.

“We’ve got to critically re-examine ICE and its role and the way that it is being administered and the work it is doing,” she said. “We probably need to think about starting from scratch.”

Is Kamala Harris, a Presidential candidate for 2020

There are several hopefuls who want to beat Trump in the next presidential elections, but one of the leading candidates is none other than, a first-term U.S. Senator from California, considered a rising star, hoping to lead the party in the 2020 presidential race. The newly-minted California senator is avoiding any talk about her future ambitions. But her history-making Senate bid — she’s the first Indian American and first black senator from California — and the state’s size and massive Democratic dominance makes her appealing, CNN commented last month.

She is Kamala Harris who, according to her Senate bio, “was the first African-American and first woman to serve as Attorney General of California and the second African-American woman to be elected to the United States Senate in history.”

And in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s failure to become the first female president, the Huffington Post has suggested Harris could be “the next best hope for shattering that glass ceiling.” Both outlets compared her rise to that of former President Obama who also ran with just one Senate term under his belt.

Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American to be elected to the US Senate, is a potential Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 elections, Washington Post, a leading American newspaper stated last week. Harris, 51, whose mother was from Chennai and father from Jamaica, is one among the six Democratic leaders, whom The Washington Post said are the top contenders to bag the party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential elections.

Interestingly four of these are women. The other three being outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York. Other two potential Democratic presidential candidates according to the US daily are Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey and Governor John Hickenlooper from Colorado.

“Harris will not officially become a US senator from California for more than a month, but she is already regarded as national-candidate material in four years,” Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza had written in his article last year.

“It is not hard to see why. She is the first African American woman elected to the Senate since Carol Moseley Braun in 1992. Harris also represents the largest and most Democratic state in the country, a huge financial launchpad to a presidential bid,” he said, noting that through mid-October, she had raised more than $13 million for her Senate candidacy.

“Her law-and-order background – she was elected and reelected attorney general in California – also will appeal to many Democrats. Whether Harris wants to – or will be ready to run for national office so soon after being elected to the Senate remains to be seen,” Cillizza said.

Harris is a two-term popular Attorney General of California. She was elected to the United States Senate from California in a landslide. She was endorsed by outgoing US President Barack Obama, in her Senate race.

“No matter how many people said I couldn’t do it, I won my races for District Attorney and Attorney General,” Harris said. “I’m a fighter – I’ve fought for the people of California, especially those most in need. This campaign for Senate has ended, but the work is just beginning. And now I’m ready to take that fight to Washington.” For now, Senator-elect Kamala Harris will take the oath of office as the US Senator representing California on January 3, 2017.

There are over two years and the 2020 presidential election. But, with Donald Trump in the White House, Democratic politicians are already eagerly jockeying for position with the expectation that the party’s nominee will have a very good chance of ousting the incumbent — if his poll numbers stay anywhere as low as they are at the moment.

While she has denied interest in running in 2020, she appears to making the moves that a potential candidate would, including speaking to key groups and on high-profile panels, fundraising for fellow Democrats, and connecting with journalists.

As Democratic political adviser Bob Shrum told the news outlet, “From everything I’ve seen of her she’d be an attractive candidate, she could be a compelling candidate, and I think she’d have a lot of appeal for primary voters.” Others have agreed, with the Washington Post calling her “formidable” due to her “California fundraising and activist base coupled with her historic status in the party…”

Even if she decides to join the race in 2020, she may have some tough competition for the Democratic nomination in the form of former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Andrew Cuomo, a two-term governor of New York with a record of liberal accomplishments and a famous last name.

However, when the Los Angeles Times‘ Patt Morrison asked her about running for the top job a few months ago, Harris deflected the question, saying, “I don’t know why my name is in that context. I’m focused on being the junior senator from California and very proud to be representing our beautiful state.”

Congressman Ro Khanna is 4th richest Californian in Congress

With a minimum net worth of $27 million, freshman lawmaker Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) is the fourth-richest Californian in Congress. That’s according to a new list compiled by Roll Call, which analyzed federal financial disclosure forms to determine that the total net worth of the Golden State’s 55-member delegation came to $439 million in 2016—a 14 percent drop from the year before—while Congress as a whole got richer.
In all, the Capitol Hill newspaper found in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, there are 20 millionaires in Congress from California with fortunes from real estate holdings, investment portfolios and their spouses. The state is home to both the richest and the poorest members of Congress, both of them SoCal Republicans: Darrell Issa tops the list with a net worth of $283.3 million while dairy farmer David Valadao comes dead last from a negative net worth of $17 million in business credit lines.
Khanna, an economist and intellectual property lawyer, reported that his wife Ritu Khanna—the multimillionaire daughter of Monte Ahuja, an executive of investment firm Mura Holdings and car parts company Transtar—holds 99 percent of his assets.
The first-term congressman, who proposed a $1 trillion tax credit and other policies to benefit the working class, spent none of his family’s money on his last race, according to Roll Call. His wealth includes more than 500 different investments and a few trusts. He also reported more than $500,000 in tech stocks and $50,000 in student loans.
Elsewhere in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Menlo Park) lands 12th on the list for California, citing a $2 million net worth in 2016, while Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) a district away comes in 17th place with $1.6 million.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) is the second-richest member of the state delegation and the wealthiest woman in Congress with a reported worth of $61.5 million. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, another San Francisco Democrat, comes No. 5 on the ranking with stocks from Apple and Facebook and a net worth of $16 million, even after she and her husband reported losing $11 million in assets since the year prior.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Oakland), is No. 29 with a reported net worth of $391,100. Fellow Oakland Democrat Barbara Lee comes in at No. 45 in the state due to a $225,000 negative net worth from two mortgages.
Roll Call and the LA Times noted that the accuracy of the financial disclosure forms is a little iffy. Some are penned by hand and hard to decipher, and mistakes earn only warning letters from an ethics panel.

Harry Arora to run for Congress in Connecticut

With his base in wealthy Fairfield County in the state of Connecticut, Rep. Jim Himes is a top campaign fundraiser, but the Democrat has a new Republican challenger who says he plans to rival the incumbent in raising political money. With his announcement, Harry Arora, 48, an Indian American investment firm founder is looking to make waves in public service, running for Congress in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District.

Arora of Greenwich, Conn., filed his paperwork to run for the seat in late December, seeking the Republican Party nomination. With no other opponent filing for the race, he will bypass the Aug. 14 primary and head directly to the Nov. 6 general against Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Himes.

The candidate, who fought and survived cancer, has also helped with other campaigns in the past. It was his battle with cancer that led him to shift his focus from business to public service, Arora said. With his background in investing, and as an analyst and investment manager, he believes he is well suited to utilize his skill set in public office.

“Connecticut has never recovered fully from the great recession. Businesses and talent are fleeing the state because of the hostile policy environment – we are in a vicious cycle and our elected officials are oblivious to it,” he said.

“I am running for the U.S. Congress to propose and advocate policies which will help my state get back on track. I want to bring back honest discussion in our national debate,” the candidate added.

A release from Arora’s campaign said, “Like Himes, Arora is also from the investment industry and has the ability to raise money to match Himes.”

“He is the first investment manager in Fairfield County to run for Congress, which gives him access to capable donors,” the release said. “It is the combination of intellect, passion and genuine desire to serve, which people see and feel when they meet me. That is what is going to win this race for me,” he asserted to India-West.

Arora, if elected, would likely join a growing group of Indian American members of Congress — Ro Khanna and Ami Bera of California, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois — but would be the first hailing from the East Coast.

“A large number of Indian Americans are first generation and have become American citizens in recent years. They have been busy in their personal fights – to raise their families, to do well at their jobs, build businesses and careers. Indian Americans are highly educated, hardworking and entrepreneurial,” he said.

“I am glad to see that so many other Indians are running for office. It is not easy. Perhaps the time has come. Indian Americans are well represented in banking, legal, technology and so many other professions. It is now time they step up to the challenge of public office.”

The candidate added that if 2 percent of the country is of Indian ethnicity, the government should have nine Indian origin representatives and two senators. By those standards, the community is halfway there, with four representatives in the House and one — Kamala Harris of California — in the Senate.

Sen. Kamala Harris appointed to important Judiciary Committee

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., was appointed to the US Senate Judiciary Committee on January 9th. Harris, who already serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on the Budget, was joined by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., on the committee, according to a news release. The Judiciary Committee oversees the U.S. Department of Justice, including the FBI, as well as the Department of Homeland Security.

“I look forward to the chance to continue to provide a voice for our most vulnerable communities, work on issues I’ve handled since my earliest days in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, and defend California in the face of this administration’s repeated attacks on our values,” Harris said in a statement.

In taking the new assignment, Harris has left the Committee on Environment and Public Works. “While I will no longer serve on the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will continue to be a champion for California, which has an outsized stake in all issues relating to the protection of our environment,” the first-term senator said. “My commitment to fight for everyone’s right to drink clean water and breathe clean air is unwavering.”

As the former District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California, Harris worked extensively on issues that fall directly under the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction including criminal justice reform, federal criminal law, immigration law, human rights, consumer protection and internet privacy, according to her website.

Both Harris and Booker have been persistent critics of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Congress. Harris gained notoriety and national attention for her prosecutorial style of grilling Sessions during intelligence hearings in June.

“I can’t help but think that it’s time we replace division with a new way of thinking,” Harris said on Facebook. “I’ve come up with a little equation which is this: diversity, because we are a diverse country, plus commonality, seeing what we all have in common, equals unity. Let’s agree that our diversity is our strength, and our strength is out (sic) unity,” Harris said. Unity in diversity would build “the muscle that will power our movement,” Harris concluded.

Nikki Haley, Kamala Harris, & Hasan Minhaj among “Global re-Thinkers Of The World”

Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, and Hasan Minhaj, who made national headlines with his scathing stand-up delivery against President Donald Trump, are among those made it to the list of leading thinkers from around the world, according to the Foreign Policy magazine’s annual reckoning.

Kamala Harris topped the list and was recognized “For giving the Democratic Party hope in the Trump era”; Haley was included “For trying to preserve America’s traditional vision of international affairs”; Minhaj was named to the 2017 list for defining the narrative of a “New Brown America.”

This year the magazine named it’s list the “Global re-Thinkers of the World” contending that 2017 was the year when leaders had to re-calibrate their ideas and strategies after “reactionary populism swept the world” in 2016.

The list includes “legislators, technocrats, comedians, advocates, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, presidents, provocateurs, political prisoners, researchers, strategists, and visionaries — who together found amazing ways not just to rethink our strange new world but also to reshape it,” the magazine said.

“Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj gave the keynote roast at the White House Correspondents Dinner 2017 in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Photo by The Washington Post by Marvin Joseph

What skyrocketed Harris to the national scene was a June hearing where she flayed former Sen. Jeff Sessions, in prosecutorial style, drawing flak from Republican Senators. “Suddenly, California’s 53-year-old junior senator has become an early favorite to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election,” the magazine noted.

As for Minhaj, the magazine notes it was no coincidence he was chosen for the White House Correspondents Dinner. “After all, just when the U.S. president was desperately trying to ban more Muslims from entering the United States, Minhaj — the son of Muslim immigrants from Aligarh, India — was making a name for himself as the right comedian for the wrong time,” the magazine said.

“In a cabinet stacked with decorated generals and multimillionaire moguls, the daughter of Indian immigrants whose only major political experience was serving as governor of South Carolina seemed an unlikely pick,” said the magazine. But, even before she became the U.N. Ambassador, Haley “appeared to have little in common, foreign policy-wise, with her would-be boss, President Donald Trump,” according to the magazine.

“After she assumed her new role, their differences have been thrown into stark relief,” it adds. Haley’s push to keep sanctions against Russia, championing human rights, and advocating renewed commitment to NATO, over the last 10 months, “smacks more of traditional Republican (and, arguably, traditional U.S.) policies more closely in line with Ronald Reagan than with the current president.”

US Senate passes resolution condemning hate crimes

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on April 6th introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning hate crimes, discrimination, and other forms of animus targeting individuals and communities across the United States. The Senate passed the resolution unanimously last night.
The resolution cites violent incidents targeting Jewish, Muslim, African-American, Hindu, and Sikh communities. It also mentions the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, bomb threats against Jewish community centers, and burning of mosques and Islamic centers.
The resolution calls on federal law enforcement, working with state and local officials, to investigate all credible reports of these occurrences in the United States, hold perpetrators accountable, and bring them to justice.
“In America, no one should live in fear due to their religion, race, or ethnicity,” said Harris. “I am proud to lead this bipartisan group of senators with one voice to condemn the rise of hate crimes that target minority communities, as well as any form of religious or ethnic bias, racism, discrimination, or other forms of hate. Many of our constituents have been directly impacted by the unconscionable rise of hate crimes and hate-motivated violence in the United States, and law enforcement must do more to ensure minority communities are secure. Today, we stand united in our condemnation and rejection of hate-motivated crimes as an attack on the fabric of American society and the ideals of pluralism and respect.”
“Embracing diversity of thought and people from different backgrounds has made America a more perfect union,” said Rubio. “Unfortunately, there are still some individuals who seek to tear our social fabric apart with violent acts and threats fueled by hatred. With many in our country and around the world feeling discouraged by this divisiveness and animosity, it’s important to make it clear that we stand united in condemning the targeting of anyone simply because they are different.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an April 5 memo announced a new subcommittee within a task force in the Department of Justice that will specifically combat hate crimes. Sessions, in the memo, provided an update to 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice component heads on the Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which he created Feb. 27.
The Hate Crimes Subcommittee will specifically address hate crimes in the nation. Other subcommittees announced included developing violent crime reduction strategies, supporting prevention and re-entry efforts, updating charging and sentencing policies, reviewing asset forfeiture guidance, reducing illegal immigration and human trafficking, and evaluating marijuana enforcement policy.
The announcement of the subcommittee targeting hate crimes came just days after more than a dozen U.S. senators called for President Donald Trump’s administration to launch a new task force to prevent hate crimes.

Kamala Harris, Satya Nadella, Modi are contenders for Time’s ‘Most Influential People’ list

This years’s contenders for Time’s ‘Most Influential People’ list include Senator  Kamala Harris, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The global list includes leading artists, politicians, lawmakers, scientists and tech and business leaders, and will be announced in mid-April. Although the magazine’s editors will determine this year’s final list, readers are also asked to vote from the probable contenders.

Modi was named among the probable contenders in 2016 and was among the most influential people in the world in 2015. As part of the 2015 list, former President Barack Obama wrote a profile for him. In 2016, a number of Indian American and Indian origin leaders were named to the list, including then Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, tennis star Sania Mirza, actress Priyanka Chopra, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Flipkart founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal.

This year’s probable contenders include President Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, actor Riz Ahmed, Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Pope Francis and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among others.

Indiaspora Gala to honor “Fab Five” Indian American Lawmakers

The coming of age of the Indian American community is evident all over with the tiny less than 1% of the US population leading in several areas of American life. With the record number of Indian Americans holding high jobs in the Obama administration, many more are even trying to take an active role in the politics of the country by trying to get elected to public offices across the nation. They are the most affluent and best educated of any immigrant group in the country, according to Pew. They include doctors, engineers, tech entrepreneurs and educators, and form a rich donor base.

Now, many more Indian Americans are entering politics and seeking elected offices, cementing their place at the table of decision makers. The elections held on November 8th this year has sent One US Senator and four Indian Americans to the US Congress.

The Indian American community will honor the successful US Indian American lawmakers at a gala on January 3 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC, according to organizers. The annual Indiaspora Gala, which has in the past celebrated the presidential inauguration, has been changed this year to feature an “Indiaspora 2017 Leadership Conference and Gala.”

The Gala, which coincides with the swearing-in of the 115th Congress, will honor the “Fab Five,” five Indian Americans recently elected or re-elected to the U.S. Congress — Sen.-elect Kamala Harris, Rep. Ami Bera, and Reps.-elect Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — as well as two Indian Americans named to senior positions in the incoming presidential administration: Gov. Nikki Haley and Seema Verma. The Gala is meant to showcase and celebrate the Indian American community’s progress with the theme, “From Success to Significance.”

Nearly a thousand leading Indian-Americans from all walks of life, and eminent people from India, are expected to attend the Conference and Gala. Among them will be about 200 senior political officials (Senators, Congressmen/women, Governors, Ambassadors and Mayors) from various parts of the country.

Michelin Star chef-inspired Indian cuisine, music and dancing will be part of the Gala festivities, according to a press release. Indiaspora will also invite members of the new presidential administration and members of Congress from both parties. In addition, the 2017 Leadership Conference & Gala will showcase elements of Indian culture.

Indiaspora Board member Shekar Narasimhan said, “The Indian American community has come of age as it is an active participant in American civic life, and our ‘Leadership Conference and Gala’ will personify our move from success to significance.”

The daytime session of the event is planned as an intellectually stimulating conference including high-level keynote speakers and panelists discussing events of importance to the Indian American community, such as the future of U.S.-India relations, Indian American success stories that break stereotypes, the increasing popularity of elements of Indian culture in the United States, and the political maturation of the Indian American community.

Five Indian Americans sworn into US Congress/Senate

By Ajay Ghosh

A record five Indian Americans were sworn into office in Washington, D.C., om January 3rd. making it a truly a memorable year for people of Indian origin in the United States. The election of these six is a historic symbol of the rightly recognizable Indian American community’s growing political influence in the mainstream American politics.

Kamala Harris, D-Calif, a former state attorney general who had won the U.S. Senate election on November 8 in a landslide became the first Indian American U.S. senator. Harris, 52, joined by friends and family in the Capitol Building, was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., looking on. “I am humbled and honored to serve you and the people of California. Let’s get to work,” Harris tweeted following her swearing-in ceremony. The new senator, one of seven new senators sworn in, replaces Barbara Boxer, who retired after 24 years in office.

Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., representing the state’s 7th Congressional District; Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., representing the 8th Congressional District; Ro Khanna, D-Calif., representing the 17th Congressional District; and Ami Bera, D-Calif., representing the 7th Congressional District, were the Congressmen of Indian origin who were sworn into office last week.

Krishnamoorthi won in the November election in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, which includes some Chicago suburbs. The Indian American entrepreneur — president of Sivananthan Labs & Episolar Inc. — served as a policy adviser to President Barack Obama in 1999 when the community organizer ran for Congress. The relationship continued as Obama ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Krishnamoorthi was endorsed by the president leading up to the election.

“I will continue to focus on the middle class and our commitment to ensure that hard work is rewarded. I am ready to join and lead the efforts to make sure that working families who play by the rules are not left off the agenda in Washington,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement. “I am humbled by the trust the people of our district have placed in me to fight for them in Congress.”

Jayapal, the first Indian American woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first person of color in the state’s Democratic delegation and the first woman to represent the seventh Congressional District, said this position is all about the community, not just her.

“Today is not about me. It’s about we,” said Jayapal in a statement. “It’s about the movement of hundreds of thousands of people in Washington’s 7th Congressional District, a diverse coalition of people from all walks of life, who want to ensure we continue to provide opportunity for all. Jayapal, who takes over for Jim McDermott, is one of only 23 members of Congress born in another country.

Ami Bera has been voted to Congress in California’s 7th Congressional District since 2013. “Today I’m honored to be sworn in to the 115th Congress — grateful to serve and ready for the work ahead,” Bera, the only 3rd term Indian American ever to be in the US Congress, tweeted moments after being sworn in.

Ro Khanna won in California’s 17th Congressional District after a very bitter fight against longtime Rep. Mike Honda. The Indian American lawyer won by more than 20 points in the 2016 election. “Even as the nation continues to heal from the political divisiveness of the past year, I am proud to begin 2017 by representing Silicon Valley in Congress,” Khanna said in a statement. “We need bold ideas and sound policies that provide opportunities to those our changing economy and technological revolution has left behind, and invest in policies that support working families to better prepare all children for the future.

“As a son of immigrants and grandson to a freedom fighter during India’s independence movement,” Khanna added, “the protection of civil rights no matter a person’s gender, race, or sexual orientation, will always be side-by-side with my commitment of economic fairness for all.”

Hindu Americans deeply concerned about post-election violence & bias crime spike

Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) are deeply concerned about recent incidents of bias-motivated violence and harassment, as well as violence at protests, following the Presidential election.

Over the past several days, the Southern Poverty Law Center noted a “big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election.”

Nazi symbols have been spray-painted in dorms, on walls, and the ground in attempts to intimidate non-whites. There have been numerous incidents of verbal abuse of non-whites across the country, as well as incidents of Muslim women having their hijab pulled, while being verbally harassed. And though the vast majority of anti-Trump protests have been peaceful, there have been incidents of destruction of property, as well as assaults on Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators alike. A student at Woodside High School in California was also violently attacked by another student for a pro-Trump social media post.

Here at HAF, US-born friends of a Board member were recently told, “Go back to your country.” And a member of HAF’s National Leadership Council was spat at and chased down a street by a person making obscene gestures.

“While feelings surrounding the election may understandably be running high, incidents of hate and violence are unacceptable in a pluralistic, democratic nation operating under the rule of law,” said Suhag Shukla, Esq., the Foundation’s Executive Director.

HAF leaders are encouraged by the words of President-elect Trump in urging his supporters to not harass minorities, but also recognize the unfortunate reality that many such incidents have already occurred and are likely to continue to occur in the days and weeks ahead.

If you or someone you know has been harassed, assaulted or threatened with harm, HAF urges that you not stay silent, and report such acts and threats of violence to law enforcement immediately.

We also ask that that you help us in tracking incidents of identity-based or bias-motivated intimidation, threats, harassment, and violence being experienced in our communities by filling out this form. The more data we have about such incidents, the better we will be able to work with the appropriate authorities, agencies, civil rights advocates, and other stakeholders to identify areas of particular concern and ensure the safety and security of the community. To this end, please share this form widely with your networks.

Also, if you or someone you know believe like you have been or are being discriminated against on religious grounds, HAF’s Know Your Rights provides information about fundamental rights in simple, straightforward terms.

Furthermore, as we have seen numerous incidents of the hateful use of the swastika, presented in an anti-Semitic and Nazi context, HAF encourages everyone to re-acquaint themselves with the multi-thousand year history of this auspicious symbol, sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and many other communities around the world. We encourage you to share the hopeful and uplifting meaning of the swastika with your neighbors, community, and elected officials, so that we may slowly replace the hateful usage with the hopeful.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) congratulates Donald Trump on being elected the 45th President of the United States. We look forward to working with the Trump-Pence administration to address those issues, both within the United States and abroad, that are of deep concern to many in the Hindu American community.

We are encouraged by President-elect Trump’s call to “bind the wounds of division” and “come together as one united people,” which recognizes the need for unity amongst the deep political, social, and religious diversity of the United States.

This commitment, we hope, will extend to issues HAF has long advocated for: ensuring hate crimes are monitored and combatted vigilantly, alongside outreach to affected communities to ensure their safety and security; comprehensive immigration reform, with specific attention to religious worker visas, equitable H-1B policy, and accommodations for Hindu refugees fleeing persecution; and continued engagement on issues of law enforcement and cultural competency, so that all Americans can enjoy equal protection under the law.

In carrying out our nation’s foreign policy, of utmost concern to HAF continues to be: the gross human rights violationsborne by Hindus and other religious minorities around the world, especially in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, where radical Islam is fomenting terror and violence; Pakistan’s proxy war in Indian Kashmir that has led to the ethnic cleansing of over 300,000 Kashmiri Hindu Pandits and ongoing violence against Hindu minorities in Kashmir; and bilateral ties of the United States with nations that sponsor terrorism.

On all these issues we look forward to engaging the incoming Trump-Pence administration to ensure a safe and prosperous future for all Americans.

We also take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Hindu American community. This election has been nothing less than historic. For the first time there are four Hindu members of Congress: incumbent Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is joined by first time winners Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in the House of Representatives. We also offer our heartiest congratulations to Indian American incumbent Ami Bera (D-CA), and the first ever Indian American to be elected to the U.S. Senate, Kamala Harris (D-CA).

Hindu Americans also made significant strides in state-level races. Just a few of these include incumbents Niraj Antani (R-OH) and Prasad Srinivasan (R-CT), along with Jay Chaudhuri (D-NC) and Ash Kalra (D-CA), who were elected as first time winners and the first Hindus to serve in their respective state legislatures. Hindu Americans were also elected to many city-level races around the country, too numerous to mention.

The Hindu American community has arrived politically, and it is now upon us to ensure that our elected representatives at all levels of government hear our concerns and needs, and act upon them for the well-being of all.

Record number of women of Indian origin in race to win elections in November

A record three women of Indian origin are in race for the first time in the US, seeking to enter the US Senate/Congress. Pramila Jayapal is running for House of Representatives from the state of Washington. Kamala Harris is running to enter the Senate from California. While Harris and Jayapal are Democrats, Lathika Mary Thomas is running for the House on a Republican ticket from Florida. This is the first time a woman of Indian origin has come thus far to fight a seat for US Congress from the state of Florida.

Congressman Dalip Singh Saund, a Democrat from California was the first ever Indian American elected in 1956 and the first Asian-American to serve on Capitol Hill. Since then, there have been only two others who made to the US Congress.
Ami Bera from California is the only Indian-American Congressman in the current Congress. He is among the three Indian-Americans elected to the Congress ever. While Ami Bera serves in the Congress, Boby Jindal, who was the second Indian American to be elected to the US Congress, later on became the Governor of the state of Louisiana and had an unsuccessful run to be the Republican nominee for US President.
In 2010, Nikki Haley (R-SC) made history by being elected the first female Indian-American governor in the United States. She is regarded as a rising star by those inside and outside the Republican Party
In the past two decades, several Indian-Americans have been making political inroads, from city councils to state capitols. “We certainly are looking at how to get Indian-Americans more engaged in politics,” said Bera, a Sacramento County physician and currently the sole Indian-American in Congress. “They should think about running for office.”
Harris, the twice-elected state attorney general is widely considered the front-runner in the California Senate race. Harris, whose mother is Indian-American and whose father is Jamaican-American, would be the first Asian or black American elected to the Senate from California.
She’s running in a presidential election year, which means higher voter turnout overall and more Democrats coming to the polls. Her candidacy showcases the diversity within the Asian-American community and has generated a lot of excitement.
If elected, Harris would be the second black woman in Senate after Carul Mosley Braun in 1992 and the first Indian-American in the Senate. Harris, who has been endorsed by US President Barack Obama is currently the California Attorney-General.
Jayapal, who earned an endorsement from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, would be the first Indian-American woman in Congress, if she wins the elections in November. According to latest polls, both Jayapal and Harris are expected to win their respective elections. Jayapal says she is running for Congress because “because our system is rigged for corporations and the wealthy, but we can fight back. The time has come to tackle this inequality: we need to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security and Medicare and ensure debt-free college for young people across America.”
Like Jayapal, Latika Mary Thomas if elected to the US House of Representatives seat from Florida would be the first Indian-American woman in the Congress.
Lathika Mary Thomas is running for US Congress from the Second Congressional District in Florida. If elected, Mary would make history as the first Indian-Malayalee American woman elected to Congress. Mary was born in Charleston, South Carolina to physician parents who arrived in America in 1972. Mary’s dad Dr. Tom Thomas is from Alleppey and mom Dr. Annie Thomas is from Palai, both in Kerala state, India.

Mary is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Law. She also holds a Masters of Law from the University of Miami and a Bachelors degree from the University of South Florida. Mary was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to immigrant parents who arrived in America from India in 1972 with their educations and the hope of living the American dream. The Thomas family eventually settled in Pinellas County, where they started a successful small business.

She introduced herself as the daughter of legal immigrants from India, a wife, mom and Christian. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, who relocated with her family to Florida as a child, is hoping to become the first Indian-American elected to Congress from the state, something she said “would truly be an historic event.”
In addition to these three women, there are several other Indian American women candidates who are in race to win elections in various parts of the country, and create history of sorts. It’s also very much on the cards that more Indian American women will win elections this year than their male counterparts.
There are several incumbent Indian American politicians at present: Aruna Miller (D-MD) has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011. Kshama Sawant was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013. In Iowa, Swati Dandekar (D-IA) was a member of the state legislature for several years before being appointed to the Iowa Utilities Board by Governor Terry Branstad. Anu Natarajan served on the Fremont City Council for more than a decade before becoming the city’s vice-mayor. Reshma Saujani served as New York City’s Deputy Public Advocate before founding the popular technology non-profit Girls Who Code. In Manhatttan’s 65th Assembly District, Jenifer Rajkumar is running for New York State Assembly.
Asian-Americans, which include Indian-Americans, are the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center.Nearly 600,000 of the country’s 3.1 million Indian-Americans live in California, and the state boasts a number of notable elected officials. Besides Bera, who was born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents, they include Californian Attorney General Kamala Harris, who could become the first Indian-American elected to the U.S. Senate.
Though Americans of Indian descent account for only 0.1 percent of the U.S. population, they are the most affluent and best educated of any immigrant group in the country, according to Pew. They lean strongly toward Democrats, yet two Republican governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of South Carolina, are of Indian descent.
A Pew Research Center report last year found that 65 percent of Indian-Americans identified as Democrats or leaned toward the party, the highest level of affiliation among Asian-American groups. Asian-Americans as a whole overwhelmingly voted for President Barack Obama in 2012, even outpacing Latinos.

Kamala Harris endorsed by Obama, Biden in Senate race

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, July 19, announced they are backing California state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a longtime political ally of the president, in the historic Democrat-on-Democrat U.S. Senate race.

The president praised Harris as a “lifelong courtroom prosecutor” who fought international gangs, oil companies and the big banks responsible for the mortgage crisis. “Kamala’s experience has taught her that if you’re going to give everybody a fair shot, you’ve got to take on the special interests that too often stand in the way of progress,” Obama said.

“Kamala Harris fights for us. That’s why I’m so proud to endorse her for United States senator,” the president said in a statement released by the Harris campaign and Democratic National Committee. “And if you send her to the Senate, she’ll be a fearless fighter for the people of California — all the people of California — every single day.”

President Obama is popular in the Democratic-leaning state, and his involvement could provide a boost for Harris in a race that represents a historic first in California — two minority women, both Democrats, in a runoff to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Biden said the Senate “needs people like her — leaders who will always fight to make a difference and who never forget where they come from.” The dual endorsements represent a political coup for the Indian American candidate, who faces fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, a 10-term congresswoman, in November.

The president’s nod caps a string of major endorsements for Harris, the candidate of choice among the Democratic Party’s power barons and some of the left’s most influential interest groups. It also sends a clear signal to Democratic donors, many of whom have stayed on the sidelines this election.

Harris already has won the support of Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Democratic Party, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a favorite of the left.

Sanchez supporters expressed dismay that the administration would attempt to tip the scales in this intra-party contest. “In this historic Democrat versus Democrat race, we have two strong, qualified women of color and it is unfortunate that instead of letting the voters decide, the Democratic party along with President Obama are picking sides,” said Martín Diego Garcia, Director of Campaign for Latino Victory Fund, a political action committee that supports Latino candidates.

Lori Cox Han, a political science professor at Chapman University in Orange, said the endorsements by Obama and Biden just solidified the message that Harris was the Democratic Party’s chosen one from the get-go. “It just kind of says that it’s really not going to be that competitive going forward,” Cox Han said.

The matchup marks the first time since voters started electing senators a century ago that Republicans will be absent from California’s general election ballot for the Senate. Under California election rules, only two candidates — the top vote-getters — advance to the November election, regardless of party affiliation.

If elected this fall, Harris, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, would set historical marks. She would become the first Indian American woman to be elected to the Senate.

Ami Bera, Kamala Harris Endorsed By Democratic Party

Sacramento, CA: Rep. Ami Bera, D-Sacramento, who is seeking reelection to US Congress and California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, have received endorsements from the California Democratic Party, during the state convention on February 27th.

Bera, who has been in an ongoing battle with Sikh Americans and labor groups in his district – CD-7 – handily won his endorsement, gaining nearly 90 percent of the vote. Fifty people voted for the sole Indian American in Congress, while six voted against him. Bera – who is seeking his third term in office – is running unopposed in the primary election June 7. He will face Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones – a Republican – in the general election Nov. 8.

Indian American-Led “Democrats For Truth” Attacks Rep. Ami Bera“I’m proud that local Sacramento County Democrats voted to award me the state party’s endorsement,” Bera said after the vote. “I came to Washington to fix Congress, and to help the working parents, business owners, seniors, and many others in my district get ahead and, today, these fine people recognized this. They know that I went to DC to fix a broken Congress, something I will never stop working to do,” said the physician, who formerly served as the chief medical officer for Sacramento County.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, told party delegates before the endorsement vote was taken that Bera’s position on TPA was different from her position, but that his vote on the issue should not be the sole basis for his re-election. “He is a valued member of the Congress. He has a great base of support at the grassroots level and I think he will win,” said Pelosi.

Kamala Harris also handily won her endorsement from the California Democratic Party, winning more than 78 percent of the vote. Harris is battling Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Orange County, and Republican contender Duf Sundheim, an attorney who formerly served as the state’s Republican Party chairman. California’s open primary allows the top two vote getters from either party to go on to the general election.

In her speech before the endorsement vote, Harris – who served as San Francisco’s District Attorney before ascending to the post of Attorney General in 2012 – chronicled her youth growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, as the daughter of two civil rights activists. She spoke about the hateful rhetoric spewing out of the Republican Party and vowed to protect the fundamental rights of all U.S. residents. “For far too many, liberty and justice for all is a promise we have failed to keep,” said Harris.

After the vote, Harris’s campaign sent out a statement late Feb. 27. “I’m incredibly honored to have the endorsement of the California Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate race, and I’m so proud of the support our campaign has received from every corner of our state,” she said. “We know there is more that unites us than divides us, and I’m grateful to the Californians who joined together to send that message this weekend,” said Harris.

Kamala Harris Files Paperwork Making Her US Senate Bid Official

Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, wants to be a U.S. Senator, and she has already been campaigning for a seat for more than a year. Wednesday, February 24th, she formally and legally declared herself a candidate, filling out the official paperwork at the registrar’s office in Norwalk. The Democratic attorney general is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retires from her post at the end of her term in 2017.

“We got in early, we’ve been running hard, and this makes it official. So I’m very excited,” Harris said. Since announcing, Harris has been the frontrunner, leading in the polls. If Harris wins the seat, she would be the first Indian American to ever serve in the Senate and the second-ever African-American woman. She says her strategy is to truly connect with voters. “Sitting and talking with them and listening, most importantly, and then hopefully, this work will result in a successful bid for the United States Senate,” Harris said.

Harris says there are some key issues she’s focusing on, including education, the economy, the environment and equality. “That’s everything from what we need to do around continuing to fight for the rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters, to what we need to do around immigration reform, to what we need to do around protecting a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body,” Harris said.

Luis Vizcaino, a campaign spokesman for Harris’ Democratic rival Rep. Loretta Sanchez, maintained that Sanchez is the most qualified for the seat. He released the following statement: “California needs an experienced and proven leader to tackle the full range of economic, educational and foreign relation challenges we face today. Our next U.S. Senator must have an extensive legislative and national security background and share the life experiences of working families – and that’s Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who last year was named one of the 25 most influential women in Congress by CQ Roll Call because she knows how to work with members from both sides of the aisle. She is the most qualified candidate for the job of U.S. Senator.”

Republican candidate lawyer Duf Sundheim says he disagrees with Harris’ stances but welcomes her into the race. His campaign released the following statement: “I welcome Ms. Harris into the race. Elections are about choices. The contrast between our candidacy and Ms. Harris’ could not be clearer.”

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, her name surfaced as a potential nominee, but Harris made it clear she did not want to be considered for that position. “I’m not putting my name in for consideration. I do not wish to be considered. I am running for the United States Senate,” Harris told reporters at a recent campaign stop.

Harris is viewed as a rising Democratic star. She campaigned for Obama in both his presidential bids, and he returned the favor by holding a fundraiser for Harris during her successful 2010 campaign to become California’s first female and first minority attorney general. California’s June 7 primary will send the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to the general election in November.

Born of an Indian mother — Shyamala Gopalan, who emigrated from Chennai in the ‘60s — and Jamaican American father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris, she is the first ever Asian American and African American to be elected to this top position in California.

So far, only three Indian Americans have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives — Dalip Singh Saund, Bobby Jindal and Ami Bera, who was re-elected for his second term last November.

The Coming Of Age Of Indian Americans

The less than four million Indian Americans appear to be gaining prominence and have come to be recognized as a force to reckon with in this land of opportunities that they have come to call as their adopted homeland. They are the most educated population in the United States, with more than 80 percent holding college or advanced degrees, as per a report by Pew Research Center. They have the highest income levels, earning $65,000 per year with a median household income of $88,000, far higher than the U.S. household average of 49,000, according to the survey.

Although disparities persist with nearly nine percent of Indian Americans live in poverty, they have made a mark in almost every field in the United States through their hard work, dedication and brilliance.  Notching successes in fields as diverse as poetry and politics, some three million- strong Indian American community packed more power and influence far beyond their numbers in the year gone by.

A whopping 84 per cent Indian-Americans voted for President Barack Obama in the last general election. And they are recognized by the Democratic Party with important jobs in Washington, DC as never been before. “It is very exciting to serve in an Administration that has so many great Indian-Americans serving,” said Raj Shah, Administrator of USIAD, the highest ranking Indian-American in the Obama Administration.

A record 30 Indian Americans fought to win electoral battle with Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Kamala Harris handily winning back their jobs as South Carolina governor and California’s attorney general respectively. Amiresh ‘Ami’ Bera, the lone Indian American in the US House of Representatives, repeated history by winning a tight California House race. Eight Indian Americans scored victories in the states with 23-year- old law student Niraj Antani, a Republican, creating history by winning a House seat in Ohio to become one of America’s youngest lawmakers.

Dr. Vivek Verma won an uphill battle against the powerful Gun Lobby and won the majority support at the US Senate last week. President Barack Obama appointed Richard Rahul Verma as the first envoy from the NRI community to India. Nisha Desai Biswal is heading the State Department’s South Asia bureau. Puneet Talwar took over as assistant secretary for political-military affairs to serve as a bridge between the State and Defense departments, while Arun Madhavan Kumar became assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service.

Satya Nadella is the CEO in place of Steve Ballmer, making him perhaps the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world. Stanford University Professor Thomas Kailath received the Medal of Science from Obama for his “transformative contribution to science and technology”, while Arun Majumdar was chosen to serve as one of four US Science Envoys.

Subra Suresh was inducted into the Institute of Medicine (IOM), making him the only university president to be elected to all three national academies, while Sujit Choudhry, a noted expert in comparative constitutional law, became the first Indian American dean of the University of California-Berkeley, School of Law, a top US law school. Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe won the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest after 52 years and for just the fourth time in the contest’s history. Indira Nooyi, another person of Indian origin has been leading as the CEO of Pepsi, one of the largest corporations.

New York’s US attorney Preet Bharara continues to make history with going after small and big law breakers in the nation. Among many judges of Indian origin, Sri Srinivasan stole the headlines with his unanimous support from the US Senate to the US Federal Court in DC.

The India-US relations are poised for a takeoff after an eventful year and a historic election that transformed India’s new leader Narendra Modi’s visit to India and the return visit by President Obama to preside over the Republic Day celebrations of India in New Delhi later this month. The Indian American community continues to play an important role in shaping the relationship between India, the largest democracy and the US, the greatest democracy in the world.

Indian-Americans are tremendously important and we hope they would be increasingly visible not only in the government, but also in all parts of American life,” said Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng, maternal half-sister of Obama, adding that the President was very proud of the community. “It is certainly a reflection of how important India is and how important Indian-Americans are to the fabric of the nation. I would just like to celebrate all of the contribution artistic, political and so much more of the community,” said Maya.

“It is time we come to recognize fully the contribution of the Indian-American community here,” said Maya, reflecting the views of Obama who has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian-Americans in any presidential administration ever.  Congressman Joe Crowley, Co-Chair of the Congressional India Caucus, agrees, “I think it is wonderful for the Indian-American community. It is coming of age, politically for them.”

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