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What happened at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Aug 5th was a horrible tragedy. “Fear of otherness” culminated in a gunman killing six innocent people, and seriously wounding two others in a place of worship. India Currents is spearheading a panel discussion as a community response to the persistence presence of violence in our society and against members of our ethnic communities.

This discussion is an attempt to figure out the lessons from this tragedy by bringing together leaders in our community to lend their unique perspectives and to initiate a longer-term vision for a just and healthy community. It gives citizens a chance to talk about how violence against our ethnic communities affects us and give insight into how people feel on the subject, ideas on what we can do to combat it, and a chance to let people who share similar concerns network with each other.

There are four aspects we would like to cover: Descriptive: What happened? How is it similar/different to other recent acts of violence? Diagnostic: What are the factors leading up to the event, in the general context of the diaspora? Prescriptive: What needs to be done to prevent such an act of violence in the future? Both from a law-enforcement perspective, and from a community development/outreach perspective? Predictive: How to educate our communities for look for the tell-tale signs of an impending act of violence/ hate-crime, and act proactively.
Our panelists include: Dennis Akizuki—Online Editor, San Jose Mercury News, Ash Kalra—San Jose City Councilmember; District 2, Harmeet Dhillon—Chairwoman, San Francisco Republican Party; Simran Kaur—Sikh Coalition; Raj Jaydev —Executive Director, Silicon Valley De-Bug. The discussion will be moderated by Ajit Singh, Partner, Artiman Ventures and consulting professor, School of Medicine, Stanford.

Councilmember Ash Kalra earned his seat on the San José City Council in the November 2008 election. He sits on San José’s Community and Economic Development Committee. As Vice-Chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) Board, he serves on four committees.

Dennis Akizuki is a breaking news editor for the San Jose Mercury News. A SanJose native, he has been a newspaper journalist for 33 years. He began work at the Mercury News in 1989 and was part of the staff that won a Pulitzer Prize for the coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Akizuki grew up in San Jose’s Japantown, attending the Buddhist Church there.

Harmeet Kaur Dhillon is the Republican nominee for the California State Senate District 11 and Chairwoman of the San Francisco Republican Party. Dhillon is an experienced business trial lawyer, trusted boardroom advisor, and passionate advocate for individual, corporate and institutional clients across numerous industries and walks of life.
Simran Kaur joined The Sikh Coalition as Advocacy Manager in September 2011 and leads the organization’s outreach and advocacy efforts in California as they relate to the national agenda.

Raj Jayadev is the Executive Director of Silicon Valley De-Bug. Through the production of a bi-lingual magazine, a weekly television show, a weekly radio show, and a multimedia website, De-Bug serves as a platform for the Valley’s least heard voices—youth, immigrant communities, those formerly incarcerated and more. Jayadev is also the editor of San Jose Beez—a hyperlocal ethnic news collaboration between eight different ethnic news outlets.

The discussion will be an hour in length followed by a half hour Q&A. The audience will comprise of students and faculty at SJSU, members of the general public as well as various members of the media.

After being a voice of the Indian community for 25 years, India Currents magazine is making proactive effort in reaching out the mainstream communities and educating about our culture and our faiths. This is the first in a series of such discussions.

The Indian Diaspora Project (IDP) at San Jose State University conducts research on globally settled Indians. Their present work relates to documentation of Oral Histories of the early immigrants to San Francisco from India, as well as on the Needs of the Ageing Indian population in the Bay Area.

October 10, 10 a.m. MLK Library, San Jose State University, 150 East San Fernando Street, San Jose. Free. (408) 313-5348, sharvari.dixit@sjsu.edu. (408) 324-0488 ext 225; info@indiacurrents.com. Snacks will be served.

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