Monthly Archives: November 2016
2016 will always and forever represent a goodbye to the United States of America that we know and love. Not necessarily a literal goodbye in the sense that we will leave the country to go live overseas like the Pilgrims doing a Brexit. No, this goodbye is much more bitter than that. There is no escape, and no ability to flee the pain by hiding in any dark corner of this earth.
America is more than a country. It is an idea. Now, that idea has become unrecognizable. 2016 is my death of innocence. It is the adult equivalent of eagerly waking up on Christmas, only to find out that there is no Santa Claus, and those toys weren’t made by elves, but by little child slaves at a factory in Asia.
Now that’s a rude awakening. Today I bid farewell to the optimism that powered my belief in the United States of America for nearly four decades despite its faults. No matter what happens, I will never fully get that optimism back again. It’s gone. And perhaps this is the silver lining in all of this: I should have been more cynical all along, for my own good.
I’m an American by choice. I raised my arm and took the oath of citizenship inside a judge’s chambers in the Midwest, at age 9. It’s also the day that I proudly swore aloud, “I will fight for my country if called upon to do so.” Indeed, today I would still fight to protect my country if it was needed.
But the most important fight to be joined now is not really against any external threat, such as garden-variety terror cells or tin-pot dictators. It does not require weapons or violence in the literal sense. The real war is now against something far more dangerous, nebulous, and nefarious: the enemy within, this undeniable and accelerating decline of the United States of America right before our eyes.
I will probably mope around until (how appropriately cliche) Thanksgiving about this. Then, I will stand and fight the decay however I can, as I know many patriots will. But for the first time in my life, I’m not sure if the good guys will win. This feeling is the most devastating of all. From whence came the motivation to fight for Rome during its fall?
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Last week, I was able to conduct a Skype interview with M. Balachandra Prabhu, a highly talented Indian classical musician based in Mumbai, and a fellow Konkani. I saw him perform this summer in Atlanta, and was impressed by the range and depth of his voice, which quite obviously had a mesmerizing effect on the entire crowd.
Like many of you, I am not an expert in Indian classical music and saw this as an opportunity to learn more about it. But at its best, such as when it comes from Prabhu’s lungs, it can be nearly trance inducing. Among other topics, we discussed the survival of Indian classical music in the future, its effect on the mind, how Prabhu got his training, his intense practice regimen, who his influences are, and aspects of his personal life. Please click on the audio file below.
Balachandra Prabhu is staying busy this year, recording Western fusion songs, movie songs, and also learning how to produce and arrange music. We are expecting great things from this young musician in the future.
Thanks to K. Rajesh Pai, a seasoned tabla player who often accompanies Prabhu and other top Indian musicians as they tour the United States, for helping me to arrange this interview and provide background information. I hope that you enjoy the interview as much as I did. Below are links to some of his music as well.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
What a year in US politics. The stakes are incredibly high on November 8th, 2016. Who will be the next president? Will Republicans hold on to the Senate? Plenty of drama to watch out for. To that, we can possibly add an exceptionally rare event for the Indian-American community as well.
We might witness history being made on Tuesday in the 17th District of California, where Indian-American candidate Ro Khanna is challenging longtime incumbent Mike Honda for the Congressional seat for the second cycle in a row. The 39 year old Khanna is definitely one to watch. He is an author, taught Econ at Stanford, and also worked as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Commerce during the Obama administration. It’s appropriate that this tech-savvy Democrat would be the champion for science and technology that Silicon Valley- and the nation- need.
We hope you learn some new things about Khanna through an interview he granted to usindiamonitor this weekend. If you are interested in more, visit his campaign page.
1) First of all, thank you for agreeing to conduct an interview with usindiamonitor. I’ve followed your campaign with interest. How would you describe the experience of running for Congress so far and its impact on your life?
It’s been amazing, and the best part has to be meeting the voters in our district. I make it a point to get out and knock on doors of the neighborhoods in our district at least twice a week, and over the course of the last two years, I’ve gotten to know some incredibly dynamic, resilient, and kind-hearted people.
2) What did you learn from running before that is helping you this time around?
I’ve been working with some brilliant community leaders on local initiatives. This includes helping San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on new manufacturing initiatives, fighting with the Santa Clara City Council to ask the 49ers to pay their fair share for parks and soccer fields around Levi’s, and working with Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves on fixing the Newby Landfill odor issue.
And most importantly, I’m married this time! I can’t emphasize how grateful I am to have a backbone that can anchor me through the ups and downs of a race.
3) Congratulations for that. Any advice for other people out there who are interested in running for political office?
Find out problems you care about. Start with the issues and then develop an understanding of how to solve them. Along the way, you’ll meet local leaders and if you’re eager, and driven to do good work, you’ll find the right opportunity to make an impact within the public sector.
4) What would be your priority on Day One in Congress?
Making sure I help provide the background for an economy that works for everyone. I’m determined to provide more economic opportunity and ensure that the benefits of a technology driven economy flow to everyone.
5) What is California District 17 like? Most of us don’t live in a district with such a high percentage of Asian-Americans.
It’s the future of what America will look like — an amalgam of several cultures that blend into a stronger, better whole. You don’t have to think twice about your identity — you’re comfortable in your skin, no matter what creed or ethnicity you come from. As an Indian-American of Hindu origin, this fact is not lost on me.
6) The incumbent Rep. Mike Honda appears to be a liberal Asian-American. What separates you from him as his challenger?
First, it’s a philosophy of what politics should be. I believe in getting rid of PAC and lobbyist influence on our politics; I want to provide a more transparent system that respects the voters that have elected me. Congressman Honda has been a decent man, but he is part of a broken politics; he was indicted by a bipartisan ethics panel on a bipartisan, 6-0, basis for using taxpayer money to fund political activities. This is exactly the kind of politics that gets our voters jaded and cynical.
Second, I believe I’ve got the understanding of how to make a technology driven economy work for everyone. I’ve served under President Obama in the Commerce Department and written a book on how to bring high-tech manufacturing jobs back to America. I’ve got a real passion for this work; I like getting into the details, and I want to work to make this a reality. I think when we evaluate who will be better prepared to build a 21st century economy that works for everyone, my credentials make me uniquely qualified.
7) Your platform is admirable and impressive. Describe how you would plan to implement these reforms after winning the election, such as infrastructure investment and immigration reform, keeping in mind Congressional gridlock.
This is challenging and I’m not naive to the structures that are at play. The reality is that I can’t fight the influence that the NRA or corporate PACs have. But, I can lead by example. By refusing donations from any special interest groups, I’m able to analyze problems that face our country and work on solutions that’ll work for us.
I intend to hold regular town halls with my constituents — several every year, addressing every issue on their minds. I want to bring an energy of transparency and thoughtfulness to this district.
8) Many of us are interested in your thoughts on US-India relations. Is the relationship on the right track? Do you plan to become involved in this area?
9) Finally, please tell us one thing that nobody out there knows about you.
I’m a big movie buff. During the holidays, when I’ve got down time, I go through two to three movies a day!
Thank you and good luck to the Ro Khanna for Congress team on Tuesday. Thanks to Tarun Galagali for helping to set up the interview.