Kumar P Barve, the first Indian- American to be elected to a US state legislature, has decided to run for the US Congress in the 2016 elections

WASHINGTON: Kumar P Barve, the first Indian- American to be elected to a US state legislature, has decided to run for the US Congress in the 2016 elections.

Kumar BarveThe 56-year-old Democrat plans to be in fray for the US House of Representatives seat being vacated by Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

“I am announcing today that I’m running for the open 8th Congressional District of Maryland to help rebuild our middle class, restore hope in the American dream, and grow our economy so that everyone has an opportunity to thrive and the freedom to live as they wish,” he said.

Born in Schenectady in New York, Barve in 1990 made history at the age of 32, when he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and became the first Indian-American ever to serve in a state legislature.

The legislator, who is currently chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, said his vision was restoring the American dream, which beckoned Indian to the land of opportunity.

“Now, that dream is in jeopardy for millions of American families. There is no longer confidence that working hard and playing by the rules means being able to provide for your family,” he claimed.

If elected he would join fellow Democrat Ami Bera from California, currently the only Indian-American in the US Congress, and would be the fourth from the community to be elected to the House of Representatives.

“My family, like so many others, came to America for freedom and opportunity. As they left India and travelled across the Atlantic they knew they would face hardships but they were hopeful that they would succeed,” he said.

Barve said, for 25 years as a legislator, “I have worked to earn your trust.”

“As a Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates, I helped lead the effort to build the best public school system in America. I worked to foster economic growth through investments in biotechnology and information technology. I also fought to raise the minimum wage, expand health care to working families and keep college tuitions low,” he said.

Swati Dandekar May Run for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District

Former Iowa state legislator Swati Dandekar is mulling a bid for Congress in 2016 in Iowa’s District 1, which includes Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.

If she decides to run, she would be the second Indian American joining what is expected to be a crowded field in the Democratic primary vying to unseat first-term Republican Rod Blum.

Ravi Patel, president of Burlington, Iowa-based Hawkeye Hotels, announced his candidacy for the 1st District seat in February (I-W, Feb. 27).

Swati DandekarIt would be Dandekar’s second try for the seat. She resigned her post as a member of the Iowa State Utilities Commission to run for Congress in the Democratic primary in 2014.

In a five-candidate race, she received 18.3% of the votes, trailing the eventual Democratic nominee Pat Murphy and Cedar Rapids Councilwoman Monica Vernon, who received 36.7% and 23.6% of the ballots, respectively.

Murphy lost to Blum in the general election in 2014 by the narrow margin of 51.18% to 48.7%.

Blum voted against John A. Boehner for speaker on his first day in office, so he may get lukewarm support from the Republican leadership in his reelection bid.

Vernon has announced her candidacy again to run in the June 2016 primary and former Iowa governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, is also considering running for the seat, the Des Moines Register reported.

Dandekar told India-West, “I am doing my homework, talking to my friends and I feel very positive on what I am hearing.”

She pointed out that the district has a five percent registration edge for the Democrats. In 2012, President Barack Obama won the district with 56%.

“I am talking to people about my agenda, which includes education — which has been my passion — creating manufacturing jobs and immigration.” She said she supported the immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate last summer and is preparing position papers on jobs creation, education and other issues of concern to Iowans.

Dandekar served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 2003-2009 and in the Iowa state Senate from 2009-2011.

She has been talking with the Democratic leadership and will make her decision by this summer, she said. What she has been hearing so far is all positive, she added.

Source: India West

USINPAC Congratulates Arun Kumar Singh for getting appointed as India’s new ambassador to US

Arun Kumar SinghArun Kumar Singh, India’s ambassador to France, has been appointed as the new Indian ambassador to the US.

“He is expected to take up his assignment shortly,” a foreign ministry press release said on Sunday.

Singh, 59, will succeed S Jaishankar, who was named the foreign secretary in January.

It is believed that Singh, a 1979-batch IFS officer, will take up his new job after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to France next month. Modi is likely to travel to Canada in April on a bilateral visit and is expected to make a stop-over in Germany while visiting Paris on his return.

Singh has been the joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan division in MEA. He has also served as deputy chief of mission in Washington for nearly five years and is seen as an expert on Indo-US strategic ties.

Sources said Indian ambassador to Bahrain G Mohan Kumar is slated to replace Singh in Paris as he was deputy chief of mission in the same embassy in the past. His place will be taken over by Alok Sinha, a joint secretary now at South Block.

Source: Hindustan Times

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says there is a “great opportunity” for strengthening Indo-US relationship in the field of bilateral trade and war against terrorism

Emerging out of the White House immediately after a meeting with President Barack Obama, along with other members of the National Governors Association, Jindal said India-US relationship is one area on the foreign policy front where there is a bipartisan support and the two countries would benefit both economically and politically — from strengthening of this ties. ”I think, it is a great opportunity for both countries (India and the US),” Jindal, who is the first Indian American Governor of an US State told PTI on Monday.

Bobby Jindal“One of the things that the President did talk about (during the meeting) for example was the potential trade deal with the Pacific region and I think, this is one example whether countries like India or other nations in Asia that are friend to America. India is one of them,” Jindal. ”We have traditional allies like South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, but also other countries including Vietnam. They are friendly to America and want a strong relationship,” said the Louisiana Governor, who became the governor in 2008.

“I think this (India-US bilateral relationship) is good for India. It is good for America. I think, both economically as well as politically there are great opportunities. And there is a bipartisan support to do that. That is something that the President could work with thisCongress to get done. I think this would benefit both countries,” Jindal said. A Republican presidential aspirant, this is for the first time that Jindal has expressed his view on India US relationship.

Highly critical of Obama’s foreign policy, Jindal appeared to be supportive of the president’s efforts to strengthen ties with India, which he noted is in America’s interest. Responding to questions, Jindal supported joint effort between India and the US in the fight against terrorism, in particular Islamic extremism.

“Two things have to happen. One is to call on leaders of the Muslim community to not just denounce acts of violence, but also individuals by name who commit these violence, to make clear that such individuals are not going to enjoy or reward after life, but are rather going straight to hell,” he said. ”Secondly, one of the things which is also very important is that we got to insist on simulation on integration of our societies. That is something that America has a great history of being a melting pot, welcoming folks from all over the world,” he said.

“The bottom line is we do welcome people as long as they respect freedoms of others to live their lives, to have religious liberty, have freedom of speech, self-determination,” he added. Referring to his recent visit to Europe, Jindal said one of the concerns that people there have there are people who have come to those countries are non-assimilating. “That is not healthy for those immigrants. That is not healthy for those countries,” he said.

“So two things that both (India and the US) of our countries can do is one to call on Muslim leaders to denounce these individuals and insist to those come in our countries to assimilate and integrate. We have a pride history in doing that in America,” Jindal said, adding that he currently has no plans to travel to India. When asked about his potential presidential bid, Jindal said: “We are still thinking and would be making decision in next couple of months.”

Source:  DNA

USINPAC Congratulates Indian-American Rashad Hussain for getting appointed as a Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism

Indian-American Rashad Hussain has been appointed Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications to expand global engagement and partnerships of the US to counter violent extremism, the state department has said.

Rashad Hussain37-year-old Hussain is currently the Special Envoy of the US to Organisation for Islamic Countries (OIC).

He will also serve as Coordinator of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, established at the direction of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide strategic communications focused on violent extremists and terrorist organisations.

Before his role in OIC, Hussain was Deputy Associate Counsel to US President Barack Obama, focusing on national security, new media, and science and technology issues, it said yesterday.

He has also served as Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council (NSC) and as a Special Assistant US Attorney in Washington, where he prosecuted criminal cases.

In 2009, Hussain worked with the NSC in developing and pursuing the New Beginning that Obama outlined in Egypt. Before joining the White House, he was a member of the legal staff for the Presidential Transition Team.

He previously served as a Trial Attorney at the US Department of Justice. Earlier in his career, he was a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he focused on national security-related issues.

Hussain received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Upon graduation, he served as a Law Clerk to Damon J Keith on the US Court of Appeals.

He also earned his Master’s degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University.

His academic writings have focused on national security, constitutional law, and civil liberties.

In January 2013, Hussain received the Distinguished Honor Award which was given for exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the US Government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance.

Hussain, son of Indian immigrants from Bihar, is a Hafiz of the holy Quran. Hafiz is a term used for someone who has completely memorised the Quran.

Source: Business Standard