Tag Archives: Media

IC Wins 10 at the 2020 SF Press Club Awards!

This past year was challenging for us – adapting to changes with our medium of storytelling, turnover of the editorial staff, and limited resources for our nonprofit media company. This is not unheard of in our industry – and yet we push forth!

Because we must. Because of the desire to tell our stories. Because of our many willing collaborators. Because of our readers. Because our voices MUST be heard!

As I reviewed the articles we had curated in 2019 I realized that, despite the challenges, we were able to produce insightful and meaningful stories. My work and the work of countless others was validated as I saw the results of the San Francisco Press Club Awards 2020.

Jaya Padmanabhan, former IC Editor, wrote this on social media:

And my favorite magazine India Currents and dear friends Vandana Kumar, Meera Kymal and Nirupama Vaidhyanathan among a whole host of other writers (Sarita Sarvate) have walked off once again with well-deserved awards this year.

 

Vandana Kumar once told me years ago, “we’re like the little engine that could” at these award ceremonies, competing against Goliaths like Bloomberg, the Chronicle, and Examiner. Every year, every single year, IC and its little engine does us proud! So happy!

A huge shout out to the writers who choose to share their voices on our platform. Thank you!! 

The San Francisco Press Club’s Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards ceremony and dinner honor the outstanding work of Bay Area print, TV, radio, and digital media journalists, graphic designers, and photographers, as well as the work of documentary filmmakers and PR materials from nonprofits and corporations. The annual event is usually held in November but was hosted online this year. Find the video below!

India Currents Wins 10 Awards:

Digital Media: Overall Excellence

First Place: Vandana Kumar, “Can Public Charge Deny Your Green Card”  “Making of a Jihadi”, India Currents

Digital Media: Columns-News/Political

First Place: Meera Kymal, “Growing Political Power”, India Currents

Digital Media: Business/Technology Story

Second Place: Vandana Kumar, Sarita Sarvate, Rajesh Oza, Nirupama Vaidhyanathan, “This American Life of Mine”, India Currents

Digital Media: Feature Story / Light Nature

Third Place: Ranjani Rao, Nandini Patwardhan, Vandana Kumar, Nirupama Vaidhyanathan, “Desi Root’s Global Wings”, India Currents


Vandana Kumar has been the Editor for India Currents and is serving as the Publisher. 

Adopting Impermanence as a COVID Response

“All conditioned things are impermanent – when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.”

-Gautama Buddha

In times of chaos and tribulation, it seems wise to refer to the teachings of those who sought to understand suffering. Impermanence is the word that comes to mind, yet humanity finds comfort in permanence. 

At the August 14th Ethnic Media Services briefing on the science behind COVID-19, doctors on the frontlines reaffirmed the motif I had been seeing – a contradictory society seeks change, yet is resistant to it.

This moment of truth in American history requires quick and consistent change. I wonder, can we rise up to the challenge?

Dr. Ashish Jha, Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute remarked “America may have the worst response of any country in the world, to this pandemic” and added that we were in the same position, if not worse condition than Brazil, Russia, and Turkey. Further, he stresses that success with outbreak control has nothing to do with imposing government structures, the culture of the country, or the wealth of a nation. 

Government: Russia’s authoritarian government is struggling with containment.

Culture: East Asian and European countries are dissimilar in their cultural practices but both have managed to lower their COVID rates. 

Wealth: Vietnam, a developing nation, until recently, had avoided COVID-related deaths.

“It’s tempting to look for explanations for why other countries are doing better”, cautions Dr. Jha. He logically builds to the conclusion that where we have failed is in deploying ONE action effectively across all states. That is all that is required. With one-third of the U.S. population on the brink of succumbing to the pandemic, one third already fully at risk, and one-third managing to keep the pandemic at bay, mismatched messaging is wreaking havoc. Without a coordinated response from strong federal leadership, the COVID death numbers will not plateau. 

The onus of information dissemination and access to resources lies heavily on those in positions of power but behavioral change can come from the top-down and the bottom-up. 

Impermanence. The ability to adopt thought that lasts for an undetermined period of time. 

No one wants to be in lockdown. No one wants to wear a mask outside. No one wants to continuously get tested.

Just one of these, fully implemented and enforced, could be the key to end suffering. 

Dr. Nirav Shah, Senior Scholar at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, informs his research from the positive COVID control he has seen in Asian countries where schools remain open. He notes, “Right now there is a false choice between lives and livelihood.” That choice drives contention and spreads misinformation.

What is needed to re-open safely?

Early warning systems, broad & efficient testing, effective quarantine/isolation, adequate treatment capacity, actionable data collection, and vaccines. 

He brings forth antigen testing as the cheaper, faster method to detect COVID. Cost-effective and almost instantaneous results, I am feeling more optimistic as he continues to speak.

Source: U-T reporter Jonathan Wosen

Early warning systems and actionable data collection rely on the immediate transfer of information to an online database to make it accessible. Temperature monitoring using a thermometer linked to the internet would increase the efficiency of detecting COVID hotspots and roll out timely mandates required to limit spread. Dr. Shah’s blend of technology and the pandemic is the obvious way to move forward. Daily reporting is the necessary next step.

Source: Covid Act Now

So why haven’t we already been using this technology?

“We really need to start to think about a fundamentally different approach that protects privacy and lets public health [professionals] do their job”, Dr. Shah frustratedly shakes his head.

He is moving fast and hits a wall with effective quarantine/isolation and vaccines. The U.S. has expended no energy to strategize or provided resources for isolation and most vaccines are a year out still. 

“We are not anywhere close to doing well”, ends Dr. Shah. 

It seems Dr. Shah and Dr. Jha come to similar conclusions – the United States has the resources and the intelligence to rewrite the course we have taken with regards to the pandemic.

A grim message but I leave with positive outcomes. Testing is changing and so is data collection. Mitigation and prevention of COVID is plausible.

Can we adapt? Can we change? Can we make space for impermanence in our lives to end suffering?


Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Congressman Khanna Informs Local Media on What Keeps Congress Awake at Night

Congressman Ro Khanna spoke with the journalists from ethnic media on 12th November 2019. The teleconference, organized by Vandana Kumar, Publisher India Currents, came at a timely juncture when the nation and community is gearing up for the 2020 Presidential elections and it is time to take stock of what the nation has gained and lost in the last few years. Cyber security and Healthcare emerged as two issues that impact the community and are close to the heart of the Congress.

Cyber security, with routine data mining in the face of the fast changing social media landscape, was raised as a special concern. As Internet becomes a large part of our daily lives what is Congress doing in terms of legislation to address the issue of cyber crime? The Congressman addressed the press’ concerns and spoke of his request for the Internet Bill of Rights.

Congressman Ro Khanna (California’s 17th district) has introduced the Internet Bill of Rights, a proposal that includes the right to know about “all collection and uses of personal data by companies,” and to be notified “in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered.” He aims to strengthen people’s ability to correct or delete personal data in a company’s control, and require companies to obtain consumer consent before collecting or sharing data with third parties. In the Congressman’s words the bill would require people to give their consent making it harder for the companies to collect data, a situation better than the one in China where people have very little protection.

The Congressman also felt blatant falsity should not be allowed. There is an obligation on the part of companies like Google and Facebook to check for an obvious disregard of the truth. If copyright violation can be checked then surely they can remove false information by following the same procedure. Perhaps, he said, we need an independent depoliticized government agency that can define the rules and draw the boundary of truth.

Though there is a desire to regulate social media before the 2020 election, what really keeps the Congress awake at night is the question of healthcare. Khanna is hoping the social media corporations will hopefully voluntarily self regulate if no legislation can be passed in time for the 2020 elections. However, Congress must and has been working hard on providing affordable healthcare.

It is the Congressman’s view that “more than almost anything else, our health has a tremendous impact on our day-to-day activities, state of mind, and overall well-being. Good health is foundational to everything else we do – our ability to take care of our families, be productive at work, and pursue our passions and hobbies”.

“We need basic care and low premiums,” said the Congressman.

Congressman Khanna would like the creation of a single-payer health care system, or Medicare for All and supports legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for more reasonable drug prices. This type of legislation will allow Americans below the age of 65 to buy into Medicare. A result of this would be that community members could save money through reduced fees and premiums.

Congressman Khanna also supports legislation to allow for the importation of drugs from nations that we trust. He was an original co-sponsor of legislation to allow for the importation of Canadian drugs.

“We must increase coverage, support small businesses, expand primary care, and provide lower premiums. Medicare for All is the next step toward addressing the high costs and inequalities in the current health care system,” said Congressman Ro Khanna. The congressman feels the states should be empowered to create their own solution if the federal government is unable to establish a single-payer system. We must guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege.

The telebriefing on “The Role of Silicon Valley in the 2020 Elections”, moderated by Vandana Kumar (Publisher, India Currents), gave Congressman Ro Khanna (California’s 17th district) an opportunity to share his perspectives as a key lawmaker representing the Silicon Valley. Sponsored by India Currents in partnership with Ethnic Media Services, it is part of the ‘Conversations with Candidates’ series initiated by India Currents to expand ethnic media news access to elected officials and presidential candidates.

Ritu Marwah is a citizen who would like to pay closer attention to the political issues that are bound to impact her life. She understands that an informed citizen is a safer citizen.

Andrew Yang Brings Presidential Campaign to Ethnic Media

On Tuesday, July 23, Andrew Yang became the first presidential candidate to participate in a teleconference with ethnic media reporters, organized by Ethnic Media Services and India Currents magazine.

Pleased to be offered a bubble tea as he sat down at a dais, Yang greeted about four dozen ethnic media representatives by noting how his own parents, after immigrating to the United States, had relied on Chinese newspapers for news and loved watching Chinese television as they raised their two sons.

“I’m an entrepreneur, not a politician,” he said as he introduced himself. Before deciding to run for president, he spent the past seven years, “creating thousands of jobs in Ohio, Michigan and Alabama … but it was like pouring water into a hole in the bathtub,” he said

“Technology is transforming our way of life,” he remarked, and “our political system in America is way behind the times in understanding technology.”

Yang was queried repeatedly about his position on immigration issues. Emphasizing the contributions immigrants, including his own family, make to the U.S. economy, he cited his own father’s 65 patents for General Motors and IBM and the proliferation of immigrant and second-generation leaders in upper corporate echelons in Silicon Valley as examples of how immigrants make the country “stronger and more dynamic.”

“My immigration policy,” he said, “has a number of facets.” Among them would be to “greatly expand” the H1-B visa program, which he said, “has zero crowding-out effect on American workers.”

If companies couldn’t hire the people who obtain those visas in the United States, he said, they would hire them in another country.” 

For those who come to the United States to get an education, “we should staple a green card to their diplomas. We should get them to stay,” he added

Immigrants don’t cost U.S. citizens jobs. It’s automation and technology that are driving the transformation, he explained, and Washington politicians who aren’t up to the challenges of changing with the times, he maintained.

Looking ahead to the next Democratic candidate debate, July 30 and 31 in Detroit, he described that city, where he worked for nine years, as an archetypal example of the transformations buffeting U.S. society, and the government’s inability to navigate a changing world.

Detroit, he said, has gone from a city of 1.7 million people to 680,000 as it’s lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs due to automation. Current retraining programs, are ineffective with a success rate of 15-20%, leaving us instead with record levels of disability, suicide and overdose rates that for the first time have overtaken vehicular accidents as the country’s leading cause of death. 

He also advocated for “securing the southern border,” to “put resources in place so there’s a humane policy” and to “create a new path forward” for 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the country – too many to be deported without crashing the economy. In response to another question, he added that the U.S. should “of course” do what it can to ease the pressures in nearby countries that force people to take their chances on emigrating to the U.S.

Yang’s campaign is perhaps best known for his “Freedom Dividend” proposal to guarantee U.S. adults a monthly $1,000 stipend per month. In response to a reporter who questioned the possibility that the concept might seem too “communist” for American voters, Yang responded that the money would be funded through a tax on corporations such as Amazon that currently do not pay taxes despite being ”a trillion dollar company.” 

“If Americans get our fair share, there’s lots to go around,” he said. Furthermore, he argued that $1,000 per month would hardly be a disincentive to work, but would allow new mothers to tend to their children, teenagers to stay in school and boost the economy and create jobs by putting more disposable income into circulation.

The GOP-dominated state of Alaska, he said, already has such a program, passed by a Republican governor in a very pro-market, pro-business political climate. He also cited JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimond’s recent advocacy for “something similar,” a negative income tax, Yang said, commenting with a chuckle that Dimond is “not very communist, or socialist.”

Asked about climate change, he described it as “an existential threat” and said the government “needs to do much more.” Too often, he said, the government acts merely “after the fact” of a disaster and instead “needs to be engaged in making communities more resilient.” As an example, he said that the National Parks System invests about 5% of what experts believe should be dedicated to tending its lands, leading to wildfires quickly burning out of control.

“The federal government is the natural leader,” he said, and disasters such as the Pasadena Fire could be prevented “if we provided better resources.”  

Yang cited an interview he’d done that has been viewed or listened to a combined 10 million times in various social media platforms as a transformative moment in his campaign so far, although he said at the outset of the conference call that he acknowledges only ranking “seventh or eighth” among the candidates so far. That interview can be seen here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTsEzmFamZ8).

Yang said politics is an unusual career path for his culture, but he’s proud to be the first Asian American to run for president as a Democrat and suggested that his campaign will counter fears generated by the rise of racism and hate in the United States.