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First Indian American woman in congress Pramila Jayapal’s first 100 days in U.S. Congress



Pramila Jayapal
Pramila Jayapal

While Rep. Pramila Jayapal ranks 407th in House seniority, she’s getting more media attention than usual in her first 100 days.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Seattle’s Rep. Pramila Jayapal made history by becoming the first Indian American woman to ever get elected to U.S Congress and now she’s getting all kinds of attention just within her first 100 days. Congressional newcomers rarely receive much press and media attention, but this hasn’t been the case with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a freshman Democrat from Washington who will conclude her first 100 days on Thursday.

Just three days after her official swearing-in on Jan. 3, Jayapal made national headlines when she objected to the Electoral College results that officially certified President Donald Trump’s election. Vice President Joe Biden prompted cheers when he cut her off, telling Jayapal: “It is over.”

“I knew I was going to be shut down,”Jayapal told the Miami Herald. “I heard the whole chamber laughing. I heard the Republicans. … It didn’t phase me. There was a point to be made. It energized and mobilized progressives across the country who desperately wanted people in Congress to speak out.”

Two weeks after that, she got a bit more attention when she skipped the inauguration of President Donald Trump, saying she couldn’t bear to watch after he had “vilified” immigrants, including herself. And when Trump’s travel ban went into effect on Jan. 28, she traveled to Sea-Tac International Airport and demanded to meet with customs and border protection officials, banging on the door until someone came out to talk.

In December, the Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, named Jayapal as one of the 10 freshmen to watch in the new Congress.

Jayapal yields no real power in Congress with Republican control, and she ranks 407th in Congressional seniority. There are 435 members. And her backers said she has delivered, thus far.

“When Democrats in the House have few official levers to use, she’s used the megaphone and organizing potential in an exceptionally effective way, to rally the troops, rally her colleagues, get to demonstrations, get in the media,” said Deepak Bhargava, head of the Center for Community Change, a group that works on immigration and other issues affecting low-income people and minorities.

Republicans have been unimpressed, comparing her to the congressman she replaced, Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott.

“It doesn’t seem that Congresswoman Jayapal has done very much to distinguish herself from the divisive politics of her predecessor,” said Lori Sotelo, chairman of the King County Republican Party.

Jayapal has taken to calling herself “the anti-Trump” after Crosscut, a digital news site, first described her in November as “an antidote to Trump.”

“Some people have called me the anti-Trump, and I’m so proud,” she said at a town hall meeting in Seattle last month.

Jayapal said she represents “the exact people that Trump is gunning for,” including immigrants, minorities and women. She said Trump “just can’t stop lying” and wants to divide Americans with “xenophobic policies.” She called one of the president’s top advisers, Stephen Bannon, a “white supremacist.” The vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee, she called the White House spending plan “the billionaire’s budget.”

Information from the Miami Herald contributed to this report.

Arts & Culture

Miss India Manushi Chillar brings home the Miss World crown after 17 years



NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — Manushi Chhillar, a medicine student from Haryana, India won the crown for Miss World 2017, topping her competition to take home the coveted title.

20-year-old Chhillar, stunned by her own victory,tweeted:

It’s been 17 years since the country has won the title, according to the Miss India twitter account, and the sixth time an Indian woman has been crowned the winner. The last winner was none other than Bollywood actress turned American Network TV Star, Priyanka Chopra who tweeted:

Manushi couldn’t believe her win (Image: AFP)

Contestants from all over the world took part in the 67th Miss World beauty pageant, which was held in China.
Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza came in 2nd & Miss England, Stephanie Hill came in 3rd.

Miss India Manushi Chhilar (C) smiles as she wins the 67th Miss World contest final next to second place, Miss Mexico Alma Andrea Meza Carmona (L), and 3rd place, Miss England Stephanie Jayne Hill (Image: AFP)

Miss India Manushi Chhilar (C) smiles as she wins the 67th Miss World contest final next to second place, Miss Mexico Alma Andrea Meza Carmona (L), and 3rd place, Miss England Stephanie Jayne Hill (Image: AFP)

Congratulatory tweets soon followed:

Manushi beat her competition from 108 women representing their countries. Former Miss World Stephanie Del Valle, from Puerto Rico crowned, Manushi as per tradition.

ormer Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle crowns Miss India Manushi Chillar as the new Miss World (Image: AFP)

ormer Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle crowns Miss India Manushi Chillar as the new Miss World (Image: AFP)

The 20-year-old, whose parents are both doctors, said in an interview that mothers around the world deserve the highest salary of every profession. She added, “My mother has been my biggest inspiration, so I have to say, a mother’s job. It is not always about cash, but love and respect as well. A mother deserves that the most.”

Before her win, she said: “”The only thing I believe is certain in life is uncertainty, and this is what is amazing about the pageant.”

Manushi takes the coveted blue crown (Image: AFP)

Manushi takes the coveted blue crown (Image: AFP)

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Ravi Bhalla becomes the first turbaned Sikh American Mayor of Hoboken New Jersey



Ravi Bhalla elected the new Mayor of Hoboken, N.J.

HOBOKEN, NJ (Diya TV) — Two term Hoboken City council member Ravi Bhalla became the first turbaned Sikh to be elected mayor of the city of Hoboken, New Jersey. Tuesday night, Bhalla was all smiles, thrusting his arm in the air to celebrate his victory becoming one of the first Sikh mayors of a U.S. city. Sikh-American lawyer with a record of fighting discrimination, Bhalla says, “I’m everything that Trump hates. A brown man wearing a turban, and a proud American with the know-how to stop his assaults on our country’s values.”

A victory that didn’t come easy. Bhalla ran against five other candidates in Hoboken, a city of 50,000. The Saturday before election, Bhalla tweeted that the fliers about terrorism were “troubling, but we won’t let hate win.” CBS News reported that the fliers did not name the group that paid for them, a violation of state election law.

The community celebrated in part disbelief and part joy.

Simran Jeet Singh, a friend and support of Bhalla and a fellow turbaned Sikh tweeted in disbelief

“Given how much we’ve endured in this country, and frankly the fact that we have been here for more than a century now in the U.S. and have felt largely ignored and neglected as a minority community, this is for us a signal shift, where we feel like we’re getting on the map. This is a major development for us,” Simran Jeet Singh, a religion fellow at the Sikh Coalition, said. “And it comes in a context where, like many minority groups, we’re facing xenophobia.”

Gurwin Ahuja, executive director of the National Sikh Campaign, said Bhalla is one of the first Sikh people to become mayor of a U.S. city. Satyendra Huja served as mayor of the city of Charlottesville, and some small towns have had Sikh mayors.

Ahuja said that whoever made the fliers implying that “turban” meant “terrorist” interpreted the turban completely wrong. “Sikhs are instructed to be actively involved in their communities…. In fact, the reason why Sikhs wear a turban is because it represents our value of equality and to stand up against injustice wherever we see it,” he said. “The turban represents our commitment to those values of equality — gender equality, racial equality and religious tolerance — and our duty to stand up for those rights. In India, back in the day, when people would see a Sikh, they knew that was someone they could go to for safety.”

Bhalla, finished first among six candidates in the winner take all race, with 4,781 votes with around 34% of votes. DeFusco totaled 4,116 votes, or approximately 29 percent, according to Hudson County Clerk election results, which do no include mail-in and provisional ballots.

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Abhijit Das planning to run for Massachusetts Congress



Tyngsborough, Mass. (Diya TV) — Abhijit Das, the president and CEO of Troca Hotels announced he is running for the 3dr District Congress in Massachusetts.

The Democrat candidate made the official announcement on his birthday amidst friends, family and community members at the Stonehedge Hotel and Spa in Tyngsborough. The seat ib being vacated by Niki Tsongas in November, 2018.

“As most of you know, I’m not a fan of [President] Donald Trump,” Das said, adding that the unequivocal denunciation of hatred, bigotry and racism should be a prerequisite to running for president. “That notwithstanding, we should not demonize those who voted for him nor can we simply ignore their voices. It is by engaging other viewpoints that we ultimately achieve understanding, compromise and progress,” he said.

Das attended the Brooks School in North Andover and earned a BA in political science from Middlebury College in Vermont.

He later earned a law degree at the University of Michigan’s law school, focusing on constitutional law and the American political sector.

“It was there (at the University of Michigan) that I learned the power of democracy,” he said.

Early in his career, Das served as law clerk to U.S. District of Maryland Judge Benson Legg. There, Das said he was witness to the power of the federal government, its compassion and its injustice.

Before starting Troca Hotels in 2011, Das was senior director of development for Hilton Hotels in South Asia, resurrecting 28 hotels in India from none.

 With Troca Hotels, Das’ mission is to revitalize communities.

“Our state of the economy is troubling,” Das noted. “Something is not working and we need to fix that. We must work diligently to turn this place to one of opportunity and innovation.”

Das says his platform includes the economy, innovation, education and the mental health crisis, among other issues.

“Washington is broken. I entered the possibility of this race because I saw friends (on both sides) shouting at each other,” Das said. “True dialogue is what we need. We need someone who is going to cross over that line and say, ‘let’s talk.’”


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