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Ash Kalra becomes the first-ever Indian American in California Legislature

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SAN JOSE (Diya TV) — San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra appeared on Wednesday to pull ahead of opponent Madison Nguyen in their race for state assembly.

An upset win for Kalra over Nguyen, who was considered the heavy favorite headed into Election Day for California’s 27th Assembly District. Kalra won 52.4 % against Nguyen.

For Karla, it means he becomes the first Indian American ever elected to the California State Legislature.

“Its an incredible honor…when you look at the state of California, we should be proud of our diversity,” he said in response to that fact.

“It’s truly humbling, it’s hard to grasp even.”

Nguyen defeated Kalra during the June primary by more than 15 points, however, early returns Tuesday suggested the duo were in a much more tightly contested matchup. As more results rolled in late Tuesday, Kalra not only narrowed Nguyen’s initial lead of 130 votes, but took a suffocating lead of his own Wednesday by nearly 4,000 votes.

With tens of thousands of ballots remaining to be counted still, Nguyen Wednesday was not yet ready to concede the race, though she said she called Kalra to congratulate him “on a race well run” and acknowledged she faces long odds.

“It will be very difficult for us to make up the difference,” Nguyen said in a statement. “But out of the respect for the nearly forty thousand votes that have yet to be counted, I am not going to make any announcements at this time.”

The two were running for the seat of termed-out Assemblywoman Nora Campos.

Some political scientists in the Bay Area never saw Kalra’s victory coming.

“I was surprised,” Terry Christensen, a political science professor emeritus at San Jose State, told the Mercury News. “Given the margins she had in the primary election and the depths of her financial support through independent expenditures, I thought she’d win.”

Christensen hypothesized that Nguyen likely lost the support from her core constituency — Vietnamese voters —following a scandal involving naming an East San Jose shopping center. That political blunder led to a distrust from one faction of the Vietnamese community and a lawsuit against San Jose.

Kalra was up against several odds, given that there are 10 Vietnamese Channels that broadcast in San Jose and only one Indian local broadcaster (Diya TV), not to mention the predominantly a Vietnamese American district and a Vietnamese American opponent. When asked how he overcame those odds Kalra said to Diya TV,

“Regardless of our ethnic background, I think the Vietnamese community voted for me because of my policies and because I have always been there and I will always continue to be there.”

Kalra also benefited from a higher voter turnout in Tuesday’s election which also drew a large population of Latino voters and younger voters. But the 44-year-old credits his success to a strong ground game — he says volunteers knocked on “tens of thousands” of doors.

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“We worked harder than anyone could possibly imagine,” Kalra said Wednesday. “We really made an effort to reach out to folks who normally don’t vote and we convinced them it was an important enough election for them to show up to vote.”

Speaking with Diya TV about his goals as Assemblymember, Kalra said his new administration’s first order of business will be to provide the necessary protection for those who might be at risk from the results of the presidential election.

“Given the result of the Presidential election, my first priority is going to be to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our community,” he told Diya TV. “I think its really important that we protect and fight any harm to California residents.”

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Google launches mobile payment App Tez tailored to Indian users

Google launches mobile payment App Tez tailored to Indian users

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Following vast speculation, Google officially launched a mobile payment platform for the Indian market, called Tez.
Available for Android and iOS users in India, Tez initiates Google’s entry into the mobile payment industry in India.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Diya TV) — Following vast speculation, Google officially launched a mobile payment platform for the Indian market, called Tez.

Available for Android and iOS users in India, Tez initiates Google’s entry into the mobile payment industry in India. The app allow users to link their smartphones with their bank accounts and pay for goods and services online and at traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Users can also make person-to-person instant money transfers, similar to PayPal.

With Tez, users pay directly from their bank account, using a Unified Payments Interface. Currently, the app works with all major banks, including Google partners Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI and State Bank of India.

Tez is not a mobile wallet like PayTM and MobiKwik. Rather, instead of users storing money, it works more like Apple Wallet, linking the bank account, allowing payments to be deducted from the account.

According to Tez, it’s Tez Shield built-in security “helps to detect fraud, prevent hacking, and verify your identity.” Each transaction is secured with the user’s UPI PIN. Additionally, the app is secured with a Google PIN or a screen lock method such as fingerprint.

Tez says the app has partnered with a myriad of apps and vendors, including RedBus, PVR, Domino’s, Dish TV and Jet Airways. The app supports multiple languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.

Business owners can use the Tez with their current account to start accepting digital payments. Payments will go directly to their bank accounts “without any additional cost incurred for the transaction.”

During a launch event in Delhi, Caesar Sengupta, the head of Google’s Next Billion program said the app “works with the vast majority of Android smartphones in the country.”

The app launch took place on Sept. 18 with India Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying, “Tez by Google is perhaps the simplest form of monetary transactions.”

Since launching on Google Play and iTunes store, the app has received positive reviews by users. On the Android platform, of nearly 15,000 reviews and over 100,000 users, the app has a 3.8 star rating, with over half of the reviews being 5-star. On the Apple platform, Tez has a 4.5-star rating with 15 reviews.

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Mahindra and Ford Announce Strategic Cooperation

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Designed at leveraging the benefits of Ford’s global reach and Mahindra’s scale in India and successful operating model, Mahindra Group and Ford Motor Company announced a strategic alliance.

DEARBORN, Mich. (Diya TV) — Designed at leveraging the benefits of Ford and Mahindra’s strengths, Mahindra Group and Ford Motor Company announced a strategic alliance.

A Sept. 18 announcement by Ford says the “agreement between the two companies will allow each to leverage their mutual strengths during a period of unprecedented transformation in the global automotive industry.”

Areas of cooperation include:mobility programs; connected vehicle projects; electrification; product development; sourcing and commercial efficiencies; distribution within India; improving Ford’s reach within India; and improving Mahindra’s reach beyond India.

“Ford is committed to India and this alliance can help us deliver the best vehicles and services to customers while profitably growing in the world’s fifth largest vehicle market,” stated Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president of Global Markets.

Ford and Mahindra will work together for a period of up to three years. Following that the period may be extended.

“The changes facing the automotive industry globally are triggered by the accelerated rise of new technologies, sustainability policies and new models of urban shared mobility. Given these changes we see the need to anticipate new market trends, explore alternatives and look for ways to collaborate even as we compete and build powerful synergies that will allow rapid exploitation of the exciting new opportunities …,” said Dr. Pawan Goenka, managing director, Mahindra and Mahindra.

Mahindra is one of the leading utility vehicle manufacturers in India for over 70 years.

Mahindra owns a majority stake in Ssangyong Motor Company in Korea and is developing products like the GenZe – the world’s first electric connected scooter.

Ford is one of the largest exporters of cars from the U.S., manufacturing and exporting vehicles and engines from its manufacturing facilities in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Sanand, Gujarat. India is also the second-largest Ford employee base globally, with more than 14,000 people working across the Ford India and Global Business Services operations in New Delhi, Chennai, and Coimbatore.

The Mahindra Group is a $19 billion federation of companies focused on “innovative mobility solutions, driving rural prosperity, enhancing urban living, nurturing new businesses and fostering communities.”

It is the world’s largest tractor company, by volume. It also enjoys a strong presence in agribusiness, components, commercial vehicles, consulting services, energy, industrial equipment, logistics, real estate, steel, aerospace, defense and motorcycles. Mahindra employs over 200,000 people across 100 countries.

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide.

The two companies had a brief 1995 partnership for manufacturing the Ford Escort. However, after three years, the partnership ceased.

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Duke University Opens India office in Bengaluru

Duke University Opens India office in Bengaluru

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North Carolina-based private research university Duke University recently opened an India office in Bengaluru to foster its collaborations with Indian universities and organizations.

DURHAM, N.C. (Diya TV) — North Carolina-based private research university Duke University recently opened an India office in Bengaluru to foster its collaborations with Indian universities and organizations.

Duke University India “aims to expand the existing Duke-India partnerships, which include academic exchange programs and research collaborations,” Duke Today reported.

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According to the report, the University’s current partners in India include NITI-Aayog, the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology University in Ahmedabad, Narayana Health City, IIM – Udaipur, IIM – Ahmedabad, and IIT- Gandhinagar.

Duke hosted a launch event on Sept. 18, celebrating the commencement of operations, featuring a conversation between Dr. Michael Merson, vice president and vice provost for global affairs at Duke and Dr. Devi Shetty, chairman and founder of Narayana Health.

“I think we cannot think of education if we don’t think of global education,” Namrata Jha, executive director of Duke University India said in a video posted by Duke Global. “Duke University has opened a new office in India, based in Bangalore to create more partnerships – research collaborations, university partnerships, more student exchange, faculty exchange, going to India and understanding about Indian culture, more student exchange, faculty exchange, going to India and understanding about Indian culture, learning from the community, giving back to the community. And my team at Duke University’s office in India will be working with faculty at Duke to make that happen.”

“India is unique. While it has lots of challenges, it is also a hub of intellect, of forward-looking thinking, young minds. It’s a fertile ground for doing something groundbreaking in this world. If the technological innovation and great minds of Duke University could tap into the young minds of India, I think we can create wonders,” she added.

Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina.  More than 430 Indian students are currently enrolled there and nearly 700 Duke Alumni live in India.

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