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Diaspora International Latest News

Indian-Americans hold rallies against post-poll violence in West Bengal

Non-resident Indians, including the Bengali diaspora, have staged protests in more than 30 American cities, condemning the post-poll result violence in West Bengal. 

Several incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal after the announcement of assembly poll results on May 2. The BJP has alleged that its several workers were killed and many were injured by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the aftermath of the elections. TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led the party to a massive victory in the state assembly polls last week. 
Protestors carried placards reading “Hindu Lives Matter”, “Protest Against Hindu Genocide” to draw attention to the killings that followed soon after the poll results. 
Judhajit Senmazumdar, a technology entrepreneur from Silicon Valley who frequently travels to Bengal, said the anguish felt by the diaspora was palpable. “After the results were announced, my friends and I got frantic calls for help from people facing targeted attacks; shops were being looted and bombs were being thrown inside houses,” he said. 

The anguish coalesced into a spontaneous protest in the major cities of the US, the UK and many other locations. 
“The systematic annihilation of BJP workers and supporters in Bengal under the patronage of the West Bengal administration has the Bengali diaspora up in arms against Mamata Banerjee. Widespread protests across US, Canada, UK, Nigeria, Thailand, etc demanding #MamataStopViolence,” BJP’s West Bengal in-charge Amit Malviya tweeted on Sunday. 
The protestors demanded “justice and a probe” into the widespread violence in West Bengal. 

“My mind recoils at the manner in which Hindu women have been dragged by the hair, flung on the floor, battered and raped,” said Houston-based author Sahana Singh. 

“I grew up in Kolkata and soaked in the culture of the Divine Feminine. So, I cannot fathom how a state with a woman at the helm of affairs can sanction such cruelty and vendetta against women simply due to differences of political opinion,” Singh said. (PTI)

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Diaspora India Latest News

Pact signed to give skilled Indian workers access to jobs in Japan

New Delhi: India and Japan on Monday signed an agreement to boost the mobility of skilled Indian workers in 14 fields, including nursing, industrial machinery, shipbuilding, aviation, agriculture and the food services industry.

The two countries have stepped up trade and economic cooperation across areas, ranging from the steel industry and investments to creating alternative and more resilient supply chains, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Japan’s ambassador Satoshi Suzuki signed the memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on a framework for partnership for specified skilled workers (SSWs), whereby Indian workers in 14 categories who meet skill requirements and pass Japanese language tests will be eligible for employment on a contractual basis.

The two sides will set up a joint working group of officials to work out operational details and smooth implementation of the program.

“Japan would grant these workers the status of ‘specified skilled worker’. It is also expected that Indian skilled workers who go to Japan under this MoC will acquire new skills while working in Japan,” the external affairs ministry said.

More than 38,000 Indians currently live in Japan. In recent years, the composition of the Indian community has changed with the arrival of more professionals, including in IT, engineering, management, finance, and scientific research.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Shringla said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attached “high priority” to the quick operationalization of the agreement. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, during his tenure as the chief cabinet secretary, was one of the main movers of the SSW program to address the needs of Japan’s skilled labor market, he added.

Suzuki said the agreement will open the door for talented and skilled Indians to get jobs in Japan. “I’m confident it takes our friendship further with more Indian people coming to Japan,” he said on Twitter.

The 14 fields covered by the agreement include nursing care, material processing, industrial machinery manufacturing, electric and electronic information, construction, shipbuilding and ship-related industries, aviation, agriculture, fisheries, food and beverage manufacturing, food services industry, lodging, automobile maintenance and building cleaning.

Shringla noted the agreement is in line with other steps taken by India and Japan to bolster cooperation in skills development. In 2016, the two sides signed the “Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Programme” agreement for training 30,000 people over 10 years with Japanese-style manufacturing skills through the Japan-India Institutes for Manufacturing (JIM) and Japanese Endowed Courses (JECs) in Indian colleges.

A total of 13 JIMs and five JECs are already operational.

In 2017, the two countries signed the “Technical Intern Training Programme” agreement to allow Indian youth to avail of internships in Japan in manufacturing, healthcare, construction, textiles and agriculture.

Japan’s trade with India was worth $17.63 billion in 2018-19. Exports from Japan were worth $12.77 billion and imports were $4.86 billion.

(Source: HT)

More than 38,000 Indians currently live in Japan. In recent years, the composition of the Indian community has changed with the arrival of more professionals, including in IT, engineering, management, finance, and scientific research.

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coronavirus Diaspora International Latest News,Sports

COVID-19: Miss England Bhasha Mukherjee hangs up her crown, returns to work as doctor

London: A beauty queen who was crowned Miss England in 2019 has returned to the United Kingdom from overseas charity work to continue her career as a doctor amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bhasha Mukherjee took a career break as a junior doctor after competing in the Miss World pageant in December 2019. Mukherjee represented England at the pageant after winning Miss England.

Invited to be an ambassador for several charities, Mukherjee had planned to hang up her stethoscope and focus on humanitarian work until August this year.

“I was invited to Africa, to Turkey, then to India, Pakistan and several other Asian countries to be an ambassador for various charity work,” she told CNN.

At the beginning of March, the 24-year-old had been in India for four weeks on behalf of Coventry Mercia Lions Club, a development and community charity for which she was ambassador. They visited schools with donations of stationery, and also gave money to a home for abandoned girls.

But as the coronavirus situation worsened back home in the UK, Mukherjee was getting messages from former colleagues at her old hospital, the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, eastern England, telling her how hard the situation was for them.

Mukherjee contacted the hospital’s management team to let them know that she wanted to return to work.

She told CNN that it felt wrong to be wearing her Miss England crown, even for humanitarian work, while people around the world were dying from coronavirus and her colleagues were working so hard.

And so Mukherjee returned to the UK on Wednesday after working with the British High Commission in Kolkata to find a flight from India to Frankfurt, then to London.

“There’s no better time for me to be Miss England and helping England at a time of need,” she said.

Mukherjee is self-isolating for one to two weeks until she can return to work as a doctor at the Pilgrim Hospital. She specializes in respiratory medicine but said doctors are currently being rotated to wherever they are needed.

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Diaspora New York

Aditya Vashistha receives the Google Faculty Research awards

Indian-American Aditya Vashistha has received the Google Faculty Research awards. Vashistha is an assistant professor of Information Science at Cornell University. 

Among the five projects which were selected for the awards included, Boost the performance and predictability of cloud computing services, improving the computer models used to predict disease and online harassment of women.  

Vashistha, designs and builds computing systems which helps and empowers people who are in low-resource environments. His team will use AI which will be human-centered to help women who face online harassment. 

Vashistha’s team will create voice-forums to help people who do not have much resources at their disposal. The voice-based platforms will help people who are low-literate, are poor and live in the remote parts of the world. 

Aditya Vashishtha earned his Phd in computer science and engineering from the University of Washington. 

The Google Faculty Research program aims at recognizing cutting-edge research in mutual areas of interest which will impact the future generations as to how they use technology.

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Articles Diaspora New York trump-visit

Trump’s India visit aimed at diaspora vote

By Frank F Islam

By all accounts, the India visit of President Donald Trump was a grand success, if one were to judge it as a pure spectacle. But it is much too early to judge the historical significance of Trump’s trip. It will take months and years to know its real impact. However, one can safely say that it is far less consequential for bilateral relations than the visits of some of the president’s predecessors, most notably the 2000 visit of President Bill Clinton. That visit, coming less than two years after the US imposed sanctions on India for conducting nuclear tests in 1998, was a defining moment in India-US relations.

Other historically notable visits include Dwight Eisenhower’s trip — the first time a US president set foot in India — and the 2005 visit of President George W Bush, which paved the way for the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, which ended India’s global nuclear isolation.

Significantly, the Trump visit was different in that it was essentially a campaign stop as well. If the tens of thousands of white hats audience in Motera reminded one of a MAGA rally, it was not coincidental. That’s because the short-term impact Trump is seeking is to sway more Indian-American voters to his side in  the November election.

In 2016, Trump became the first presidential nominee of a major party to publicly court Indian-Americans, when he attended a rally hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition in New Jersey. He continued to woo the community in his joint appearance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the massive Howdy Modi event in Houston last September.

Most Indian-American voters live in the large states such as California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Texas, all states that are not in play in presidential elections because they are either deep red or deep blue. However, the community also has a significant presence in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, the battleground states that are likely to decide the presidency in the event of a close election.

In 2016, according to opinion polls, Trump received only a sixth of the Indian-American votes, despite making a big effort to reach out. One reason could have been the popularity of his opponent. Hillary Clinton had a longer history with Indian-Americans and India, having visited the country multiple times, as the US First Lady and as Secretary of State. In fact, during the 2008 Democratic primary contested between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, a campaign staffer for Obama in a memo mockingly referred to Clinton as a senator from Punjab, because of her close relationship with the Indian-American community.

This time around, Trump is likely to improve his performance among Indian-Americans for a number of reasons including the following: None of the Democrats running for president has the kind of relationship with India that Clinton had. The president has continued to reach out to the Indian-American community while in office. The joint appearance with Modi strengthens his ties with India.

Trump recognizes that Modi remains hugely popular among Indian-Americans, especially within the influential and huge Gujarati American community. According to the 2010 Census, the Indian-American population in Florida was over 128,000; in Pennsylvania, 103,000; and, in Michigan it was more than 77,000. Trump won Florida by about 113,000. His margin in Pennsylvania was a little over 44,000. Similarly, in Michigan, he won by fewer than 10,800 votes.

It is very likely that Trump’s India visit moved the needle, and has consolidated his position with Indian-American voters in battleground states. And, they could help him secure the margin he needs to carry those states.

It is worth pointing out that, while in India, for once, Trump abandoned his mercurial personality, and acted like a gracious guest in deference to Modi. Known for expressing his opinion freely, solicited and unsolicited, he quite uncharacteristically chose not to comment on the controversial citizenship law. He also endorsed Modi’s record on religious freedom, which remains under scrutiny in the US.

In the end, the absence of a trade deal did not prevent the president from terming the visit “unforgettable” and “extraordinary.” Probably electoral calculations in the swing states in which Indian-American voters could make a meaningful difference were as much in the president’s mind as the adulation he received in Gujarat.

So, should Trump get re-elected in November with narrow margins in states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, he will be thankful to Modi for helping him gain those decisive, extra few votes in the swing states. That just might be the most consequential outcome of Namaste Trump for him, and the ongoing relations between the two largest democracies in the world.

Frank Islam is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, civic leader and thought leader.

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Diaspora International Latest News

Hindu Council of Australia seeks apology from ‘Hinduphobic’ Treasurer

Canberra: Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has been accused of making “racist” comments about Hinduism and other Indian religions in Parliament.

Frydenberg made several references to the Indian religions in Parliament on February 28 while responding to the Opposition Labor Party’s proposal to pursue a “wellbeing budget” reports Xinhua news agency

“They (Labor) are inspired by their spiritual leader, the member for Rankin,” he said, referring to the party’s treasury spokesperson Jim Chalmers.

“I was thinking yesterday, as the member for Rankin was coming into the chamber fresh from his Ashram deep in the mountains of the Himalayas barefoot in the chamber, robes flowing, incense burning, beads in one hand, wellbeing budget in the other, I thought to myself: ‘What yoga position the member for Rankin would assume … to deliver the first wellbeing budget?'”

In a statement issued on February 29, the Hindu Council of Australia described the comments as “brazen, racist and Hindu-phobic” calling for an apology.

“The comments made by Frydenberg are derisive and very offensive to the Hindu community,” the statement said.

It also criticized Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other senior members of the government for laughing at Frydenberg’s statement.

“What is more unsettling to the Hindu community is that the floor of the house, the shrine of democracy, was used as the stage to disrespect the Hindu community,” the council said.

“This behavior shows a lack of respect to the Hindu community and undermines deep faith in multiculturalism that we all, as Australians, are so proud about.”

Hinduism is a minority religion in Australia, making up 1.9 percent of the population as of the 2016 census. (IANS)

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Diaspora Latest News USA

Indian-American store clerk shot dead in Los Angeles

Los Angeles: An Indian-American clerk was shot dead during an attempted robbery in a convenience store at a Los Angeles suburb, it was reported.

Local news reports said that the victim, Maninder Singh Sahi, who was a clerk at a 7-Eleven store at the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier, was reportedly shot on Friday with a semi-automatic handgun by a man who entered the store with the intent to commit a robbery, the India Abroad newspaper.

The reports said the robber, with a partially covered face, shot Sahi even though police said that he appeared to be cooperating with the suspect in surveillance video.

Sahi, a father of two, came to the US to provide financial support to his family in India, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his relatives in America.

He is survived by his parents, his wife and two children who all live in India.

The fundraising page was set up to raise money for Sahi’s funeral expenses and for sending his body back to India.

The page created on Saturday had raised more than $18,000 by the evening.

Rupinder Kaur, the wife of Sahi’s cousin told the Los Angeles-based KTLA5 news that Sahi’s family in India will be left homeless since he was the sole breadwinner of the household.

“In the short time he was in California, he never argued with anyone and never raised his voice. He quietly did all the work his boss told him and he never complained,” the fundraising page says.

Meanwhile, KTLA5 reported that authorities were still seeking the robber, who got away on foot with an unknown amount of cash.

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Sikh-American couple’s food truck feeds LA’s homeless

Los Angeles: A Los Angeles-based Sikh-American couple run a food truck service, which dishes out 200 burritos on a daily basis, to feed the city’s homeless, it was reported.

Ravi Singh and his wife Jacquie’s food trucks, called “Share A Meal”, run across various locations around Los Angeles to serve vegetarian burritos and water to the poor and needy in the area for free, The American Bazaar report said on Thursday.

Every evening, a group of volunteers belonging to different races and cultures come to “Share A Meal’s” central community kitchen to roll rice and beans into burritos, Singh said.

“Our mobile kitchens are food trucks that arrive on a regular schedule at different locations on different nights around the city where the homeless populations are concentrated.”

Volunteers meet at these locations and help roll burritos in the first hour of service. In the second hour, they not only serve the hot meals, but also offer water, and other assistance in the form of socks, blankets, and toiletries.

The “Share A Meal” truck meets at a different location each weekday to cater to the homeless.

“In order to support our volunteer service nights and maintain the quality of foods and services, the mobile kitchen also hosts occasional food truck fundraisers around the Los Angeles area,” The American Bazaar quoted Singh as saying.

In the fundraisers, guests are served a range of vegan Indian snacks such as baked samosa chaat platter and mango smoothie. (IANS)

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Diaspora USA

Usha Reddi in the fray for US Senate seat from Kansas

Raises $100,000 in campaign donations

Washington, DC: Usha Reddi, Indian-American Manhattan city mayor who is running to enter the Senate from the state of Kansas, has raised over $100,000 in campaign donation.

Usha Reddi, 54, who is seeking nomination from the Democratic party, migrated to the US along with her parents in 1973 from Andhra Pradesh when she was eight.

She was sworn in as the Mayor of Manhattan city in Kansas last month.

The current Republican incumbent Senator Pat Roberts has announced not to seek re-election, making it an open seat this November.

Kansas, a Republican stronghold, has never elected a Democrat since 1932.

Four candidates including her are running for the Democratic party primaries to be held on August 4. Seven Republicans are vying for the Republican primary.

By vocation, a teacher and education union leader, Reddi has twice been elected to four-year terms on Manhattan’s City Commission. On January 7, she began her second term as a mayor.

In July 2019, 40 years after her father Venkata Yeleti, 77, assaulted her, he was convicted of felony rape and was sentenced in Virginia. Reddi strongly feels that it is important to embrace her past and take control of her destiny.

“If I can put my dad away after 40 years, everything else seems OK,” Reddi recently told Kansas City in an interview. Running for the US Senate from a Republican bastion is considered to be an uphill task. I understand it’s an uphill battle, but everything in my life has been an uphill battle,” she said.

The first Indian-American to serve as a mayor in Kansas, Reddi is the first Kansas mayor to simultaneously run for the US Senate. She is also the first woman of color to run for an office representing the entire state.

According to a statement issued by her campaign, Reddi has so far raised more than $100,000 in her Federal Election Commission. “It’s an honor to engage with Kansans on the important issues we face. I believe their support is based on the trust built through these contacts,” she said in the statement.

Last month, she received the Elected Women of Excellence Award from the National Foundation of Women Legislators.

Reddi was first elected to the Manhattan City Commission for a four-year term in April 2013 and re-elected in 2017. She first served as the Mayor in 2016-2017 and now again in 2020. (PTI)

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