Category Archives: Indian Americans

The Alabama teen who won $100,000 in top US quiz show!

Indian-American Sharath Narayan defeated two other finalists to bag ‘Jeopardy! Teen tournament’, the most coveted quiz show of the country

sharath

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An Indian-American teenage boy has won $100,000 in a top US quiz show, reports PTI. Sharath Narayan, a sophomore from Madison, Alabama, won Jeopardy! Teen tournament, the most coveted quiz show of the country by defeating two other finalists Alex Fischthal and Michael Borecki, who came second and third, respectively.

Hosted by long-time host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! attracts 23 million viewers each week and is in its 33rd season. Sharath won the game by the slimmest of margins: one dollar, a media release said.

“I’d still like to go on a trip to Europe with my family (maybe Italy or Germany), but the majority of it will probably go towards taxes and college tuition,” he was quoted as saying after winning the award.

“I’m definitely more confident since I won the tournament, and it has showed me that I can surprise myself and accomplish things that I never would have thought of,” he added.

The final of the show was taped earlier this year, but broadcast on Monday and Tuesday.

Pic courtesy: Twitter

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The ‘other’ Indian who bagged a silver at Rio Olympics

Rajeev Ram, a first-generation of American of Indian origin, was Venus Williams’ partner in the mixed doubles tennis category but lost the finals to fellow US mates Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock

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When Rajeev Ram won the quarter-final match to enter the mixed doubles tennis final at the Rio Olympics along with partner Venus Williams, he was in a poignant mood amidst all the celebration by US fans in the stands.

The feeling was palpable, after all he’s a first-generation American of Indian origin, and had just beaten India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. He said after the match on August 14: “I will be the most hated person in India today. I am a first generation American having been born in the US in 1984.”

In the finals, however, Ram and Williams lost to fellow Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock 7-6 (3), 6-1, 10-7, denying Williams a chance to become the first five-time champion in Olympic tennis history in the process.

Interestingly, the 32-year-old Carmel, Indiana resident – son of Raghav and Sushma Ram, who had migrated to the US from Bangalore – was supposed to be watching the Olympics on TV. But when defending men’s doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan pulled out, Ram was rushed to Rio a few days before the opening ceremony.

He was paired with Brian Baker in the doubles competition, losing in the second round.

Ram has claimed eight ATP doubles titles in his career, with several different partners. His career-high singles ranking is world no. 56, achieved in April 2016. He reached as high as world no. 20 in doubles in August 2016.

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These four Indian-origin persons are among America’s top wealth advisors

They have been named on a list of 200 members who collectively manage $675 billion

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Four Indian-origin persons have been named among America’s top wealth advisors by Forbes on a list of 200 members who collectively manage $675 billion. These four Indians are Raj Sharma, Ash Chopra, Sonny Kothari, and Raj Pathak.

While Sharma and Chopra have been ranked 17th and 129th, respectively, on the 2016 Forbes ‘America’s Top Wealth Advisors’ list, Kothari has been ranked 176th. The trio work for private banking & investment group, Merrill Lynch.

Pathak, who works for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, is placed at the 184th rank.

Forbes said the 200 members on the list serves clients that range from Silicon Valley billionaires and Wall Street titans to small business owners and family fortunes.

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For this man, sky is not the limit

Moon Express, co-founded by Indian-American Naveen Jain, will be the first private company to land spacecraft on moon

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In a first, the Federal Aviation Administration has given license to a private US company, co-founded by an Indian American, to launch a spacecraft and land on moon in 2017.

This breakthrough US policy decision provides authorisation to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon’s surface, the company said in a media release. There have been no private space missions so far beyond Earth’s orbit and only state agencies have performed outer space missions.

“The sky is not the limit for Moon Express, it is the launch pad. Space travel is our only path forward to ensure our survival and create a limitless future for our children,” Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, told PTI. “In the immediate future, we envision bringing precious resources, metals, and moon rocks back to earth,” he added.

The company was co-founded in 2010 by space visionary Bob Richards, Jain and serial entrepreneur and artificial intelligence and space technology guru Barney Pell with the common vision to be at the forefront of commercial space exploration and innovation. “The Moon Express 2017 mission approval is a landmark decision by the US government and a pathfinder for private sector commercial missions beyond the Earth’s orbit,” Richards told PTI.

“We are now free to set sail as explorers to Earth’s eighth continent, the Moon, seeking new knowledge and resources to expand Earth’s economic sphere for the benefit of all humanity,” he added.

The federal interagency approval of the Moon Express 2017 lunar mission establishes an important precedent for the private sector to engage in peaceful space exploration, bringing with it monumental implications for the advancement of technology, science, research, and development, as well as commercial ventures that expand Earth’s economic sphere, the company said.

The company submitted its historic application for a 2017 commercial lunar mission to the FAA on April 8, 2016. While the licensing of ‘SpaceShip Two’ was an anticipated event, the authorisation of the Moon Express flight to the lunar surface was hailed by the Space Foundation as a significant commercial space breakthrough.

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The White Hat hacker who bagged $10,080 from Twitter

Microblogging website awards Indian-origin Avinash Singh for discovering security loophole in its Vine video-sharing service

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Microblogging website Twitter awarded Avinash Singh, an Indian-origin White Hat hacker, $10,080 for discovering a security loophole in its Vine video-sharing service. The flaw enabled Singh to access the entire cache of Vine’s online code.witter in March and was awarded with $10,080, through a bug bounty startup called HackerOne, reports The Times of India.

According to a report by Hacker News website, the hacker discovered a Docker image for Vine while looking for vulnerabilities using censys.io. For those unaware, Docker is an open digital platform for developers and system administrators. From code to libraries, it includes everything required to build and run applications.

The complete code for Vine was stored as part of a Docker image, used to host the site. The server was on Amazon Web Services and ideally should have been private. But, it was public and using Censys, Singh was able to discover the Docker image.

In a blog-post, Avinash Singh explained that he was able to see the entire source code of Vine, its third party keys, API keys and other information. He further added: “Even running the image without any parameters was letting me host a replica of Vine locally.”

He reported his findings to Twitter on March 31, and they fixed the issue within 5 minutes.

Recently, a Bengaluru-based hacker, Anand Prakash, claimed he received $15,000 (approximately Rs 10 lakh) from Facebook for reporting a bug that could have put the social network’s 1.6 billion users at risk.

In a blog post, Prakash wrote that on February 22, he had found a simple vulnerability that could have been used to hack into any user’s Facebook account and get access to their credit or debit card details, personal pictures and messages.

The 22-year-old, who works at Flipkart as a security engineer, describes himself as a ‘bug bounty’ hunter, and says he has earned around Rs 1.2 crore just by reporting bugs to Facebook, Twitter and a host of other US-based big technology companies.

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This Indian-American teen was the centre of attraction at Democratic National Convention

18-year-old Harvard University student Sruthi Palaniappan is a big supporter of Hillary Clinton

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An 18-year-old Indian-American girl became the youngest delegate at the recently concluded Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which nominated Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential candidate, reports PTI.

Sruthi Palaniappan from Cedar Rapids and a student of the Harvard University is a big supporter of Clinton, the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate by a major political party. Her father Palaniappan Andiappan also attended the convention as a member of the credentials committee.

Palaniappan was the centre of attraction among the media and the delegates along with Jerry Emmett, a 102-year-old delegate from Arizona who was the oldest delegate at the convention. In addition to being the youngest delegate, Palaniappan made history when she was given an opportunity to represent Iowa during roll call votes.

“I am extremely thankful for the surreal opportunity to have represented the Iowa delegation as a roll call speaker and to have been a part of the historic nomination process of our next president,” she told PTI. “Together, we have made history by electing the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party- Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Palaniappan wrote on her Facebook post.

Palaniappan said being elected as the party’s delegate was a long process. “But I’m extremely glad that I have been able to immerse myself at every step along the way and witness the political process first-hand,” she said.

Highly impressed by the electrifying speech given by President Barack Obama, Palaniappan said the American Dream is something no wall will ever contain. “President Barack Obama, thank you for gracing us with your beautifully moving words. It was simply an honour to be in your presence and witness the pure emotion that emanated from your voice.

“Obama’s legacy and efforts will live on when Clinton and her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine become the new President and Vice President of the United States,” she said.

“We really do need to unite together in order to defeat the Republican nominee (Donald Trump). If we let Donald Trump take over the presidency, really terrible things will take our county several steps back,” Palaniappan was quoted as saying by the local KCRG TV.

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Neera Tanden makes a strong case for Hillary as POTUS

45-year-old Indian-American makes political debut on national stage at recently-concluded Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

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For presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, politics is all about fighting for people, not when the cameras are on but when they are off, Indian- American Neera Tanden said in her political debut on the national stage at the Democratic party convention in Philadelphia recently.

Tanden, 45, was invited by the Democratic leadership and the Clinton Campaign to address the recently concluded Democratic National Convention.

Tanden, who is currently president of the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy organisation based in Washington DC, narrated her personal story to make a strong case for Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.

“It’s truly an honour for me to address this convention.  Because frankly, I would not be here without the policies of the democratic party,” said Tanden, a close confidant of Clinton. “My parents got divorced when I was five years old. My father left for a time, and my mother had to be on welfare,” she added.

She worked hard to support me and my brother…We used lunch of vouchers at school and food stamps at the supermarket. “After we moved out of our house, a federal subsidy let us to get an apartment and stay in a town with good public schools,” she said recollecting her childhood days.

“It wasn’t easy, but we eventually got back on our feet because of the investment democrats have made in struggling families like mine,” she said amidst applause from the audience that had several thousand Democratic party delegates and party leaders in attendance.

Born in Bedford, Massachusetts to immigrant parents from India, Tanden graduated from UCLA in 1992 and received her degree from Yale Law School in 1996. She is married to Ben Edwards, an artist she met while working on the Michael Dukakis campaign.

Tanden, who is speculated as a potential cabinet appointee in Hillary’s administration, said she knows first-hand that the decisions leaders make, makes all the difference in people’s lives.

“That is why I direct public policy, and that is why I am so very proud to support Hillary Clinton. For decades, Hillary has campaigned on issues that matter to working families. Childcare, paid leave, equal pay,” the Indian-American leader said.

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The India-born Muslim cop who keeps US Hindu temple safe

An eight-degree black-belt in Taekwondo and a kick-boxing champion, Lt Javed Khan is director of security at the Hindu temple in Indianapolis

A Mumbai-born Muslim police officer is the security in-charge of the largest Hindu temple in the Indianapolis city of US, setting an example of inter-faith cooperation and social harmony at a time when religious intolerance rhetoric is on the rise due to the election cycle, reports PTI.

An eight-degree black-belt in Taekwondo and a kick boxing champion, Lt Javed Khan from the local police department is director of security at the Hindu temple in Indianapolis.

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For hundreds of visitors thronging the temple daily, in particularly over the weekend, Mr Khan, who was born in Mumbai and raised in Lonavla, Pune, is now considered a part and parcel of the Hindu temple. “My message is this; we are all one. We are all the children of God. There is only one God and then there are different forms and names, we choose to worship,” Khan told PTI in a phone interview from Indianapolis. “We are Indians. Half my family is Hindu. I do not believe in Hindu-Muslim thing,” he said.

“I am just doing my duty. I am not doing anything special or extraordinary,” Khan said when asked for an interview.

Khan settled in Indiana in 2001, a year after he migrated to the United States. He had been coming to the US since 1986 for participating in various martial arts championship.

Khan said it all started a few years ago, when he married his daughter to a Telugu boy at this Hindu temple, after which he started knowing people at the temple.

Soon, he said, “I felt there is need over there for protection. Then I offered my services. I am director of security for the temple now. While the temple has been in existence for the past several years, its formal opening ceremony — Kumbhabhishekam — was held last year, which was attended by top state leaders.”

“Your place of worship adds another significant landmark to the city of Indianapolis and I am certain that it will play a key role in enriching the cultural heritage of our state, as well as, the learning and spiritual growth of its devotees and visitors,” Indiana Governor Mike Pence had said in a message in June last year at the time of the formal opening of the temple built at an estimated cost of $10 million. Pence is now the vice presidential candidate of the Republican party.

Pics courtesy: http://www.javed-khan.com

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‘Master of None’ Aziz Ansari makes history

33-year-old becomes first Indian-American actor to land a lead comedy-acting Emmy nomination

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Aziz Ansari has made history as he has become the first Indian-American actor to land a lead comedy-acting Emmy nomination for his seriesMaster of None. Ansari is also just the fifth person of South Asian descent to be nominated in an acting category.

“I am very happy but it is a very specific accomplishment,” Ansari told USA Today after the nominations were announced on Thursday. Ansari, who is also nominated for writing and directing Master of None, co-created the Netflix comedy with Alan Yang.

The 33-year-old actor plays Dev, an actor trying to make it in New York. Master of None, which is up for best comedy, crystallised diversity challenges in Hollywood in the show’s fourth episode, titled Indians on TV.

“I think every minority actor runs into that. You hear people say things like, ‘Oh, they already got the black guy.’ Or, ‘Oh, they already got their Asian lady.’ It kind of feels like, to minority actors that I’ve spoken with, once they have one (minority actor cast) they’re like, OK, we’ve placated the ‘diversity issue.’ That was coming from a real place,” Ansari said.

Casual racism has also been also addressed in the show.

“If you’re a minority, you’re experiencing all sorts of casual racism all the time. And at a certain point, you just get numb to a lot of it, and you’re like, whatever.” Ansari said he he and Yang are currently busy writing season 2 of Master of None, which will debut on Netflix next.

Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to a Tamil Muslim family from Tamil Nadu. His mother, Fatima, works in a medical office, and his father, Shoukath, is a gastroenterologist. Ansari grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where he attended Marlboro Academy as well as the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. He graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business with a major in marketing.

Besides Dev Shah in Master of None, Ansari is known for his roles as Tom Haverford on the NBC series Parks and Recreation (2009–2015).

Ansari began his career performing stand-up comedy in New York City during the summer of 2000 while attending New York University. In 2007, he created and starred in the MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, which ran for two seasons. This led to acting roles in feature films, including Funny People; I Love You, Man; Observe and Report; and 30 Minutes or Less.

In addition to his acting work, Ansari has continued to work as a stand-up comedian. He released his debut CD/DVD, entitled Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records, and still tours nationally between acting commitments. In 2010 and 2011, he performed his Dangerously Delicious tour. This tour was self-released for download on his website in March 2012 and debuted on Comedy Central in May 2012. He completed his third major tour of new material, Buried Alive, in the summer of 2013. His fourth major comedy special, Live at Madison Square Garden, was released on Netflix in 2015.

His first book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, was released in June last year.

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This Indian American teen is the rising star of American table tennis

At 16, California native Kanak Jha is the youngest male to represent the sport in the forthcoming Rio Olympics

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He can easily pass off as just another American teen going to school and playing sports. But 16-year-old Kanak Jha is also the first US athlete born in 2000 to qualify for the Olympics, and in Rio de Janeiro this summer, he will be the youngest male player in the world ever to compete in table tennis at the Games.

Having spent nine months playing professional table tennis in Europe, California native Jha threw out the first pitch at a New York Mets game on his birthday and qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “I’m happy that I’m the youngest, but I don’t think about it so much,” Jha was quoted as saying by AP, who in April, when he was still 15, became the youngest male to qualify for table tennis in Olympic history. “In the end, it’s just men.”

Originally from suburban San Jose, Jha was a toddler when he started watching his older sister, US national team member Prachi Jha, now 19, play table tennis at a local recreational centre. Although his hands could barely reach above the table — he began playing at 5. He said he always felt natural with the paddle in his hand, instinctively hitting the ball.

By the time he was 12, Jha was playing in international tournaments and quickly realised he had the potential to compete among the best. After several national championships, he became the youngest World Cup participant in 2014.

However, as his game improved, he needed to find a more advanced environment. So in August, he moved to Sweden to train at Halmstad Bordtennisklubb, working with some of the world’s top coaches and players, along with his sister Prachi.

“Our club has a very strong level of players, and the environment is much more competitive when you’re playing in a group where everyone is trying to win,” Jha told USA Today. “There are a lot more styles in Sweden, and you see a lot of these people and what their strengths are and how they play the game, and you can improve just from being there in that environment.”

The teenager, whose mother Karuna is from Mumbai and father Arun grew up in Allahabad and Kolkata, is the flag-bearer of the table tennis team. His father came to America to study business and works at Oracle. His mother worked at Sun Microsystems before starting her own hypnotherapy and reiki business.

The Indian connect does not end there. The India Community Centre (ICC) in California, which began as a modest four-table club in 2005, is now home to USA’s Olympic team, which is coached by Italian Massimo Costantini. Costantini, who was India’s national coach till 2012, is also the head coach at the ICC. It is here that Jha got his big break.

Pics courtesy: AP

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