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Raja Rajeswari: The first Indian-American woman Judge in New York

Chennai-born Raja Rajeswari, who had migrated to the U.S as a teenager, has become the first person of Indian origin to be named as a criminal court judge in New York City

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Raja Rajeswari waving hands in the swearing-in ceremony, Reuters
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Chennai-born Raja Rajeswari, who had migrated to the U.S as a teenager, has become the first person of Indian origin to be named as a criminal court judge in New York City. She was nominated by New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and was sworn in on April 14, 2016. The judges in the New York City Criminal Court and the Family Court within the city are appointed for a term of 10 years by the Mayor. Presently, there are two male judges of Indian origin in civil court settings – Jaya Madhavan on the New York City Housing Court in Bronx County, and Anil C. Singh of New York County Supreme Court, 1st District, according to ethnic New India Times.

On May 2, she took the oath of office at a ceremony in New York City along with 27 other judges appointed earlier this month to the Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court, which are part of the New York State Unified Court System. She joined her new office on Tuesday.

43-year-old Rajeswari had previously worked with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for past 16 years in several bureaus including Criminal Court, Narcotics, Supreme Court, and the Sex Crimes Special Victims Bureau, where she last served as Deputy Chief for more than four years.

She has mostly worked on cases involving women and children asserting that they are the ones that touched her the most. Apart from her legal intelligence, she is a well-known Bharathanatyam and Kucchipudi dancer and continues to perform at Indian events and temples with her troupe from the Padmalaya Dance Academy, named after her mother, Padma Ramanathan.

Raja Rajeswari in her swearing-in ceremony in New York, Deccan Chronicle
Raja Rajeswari in her swearing-in ceremony in New York, Deccan Chronicle

Rajeswari said that she hopes to use her new position to improve the judicial system by encouraging interpreters to have more access to aid immigrants. “I’m honoured to sit on a city bench and make Staten Island proud,” she said.

Mayor praised her for utilizing her ability to speak in different languages to work. Besides Indian languages, she can also speak Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian languages.

“To ensure New Yorkers have access to a fair, equitable justice system, we need judges who are qualified, honest and reflective of the people of this city,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Related Article: Indian-American native son being a Supreme Court nominee

“With their wealth of legal experience, these appointees represent all five boroughs and all walks of life. From the first female South Asian-American judge in New York City to a former NYPD First Deputy Commissioner, these talented leaders truly reflect the diverse range of communities that make up our great city,” he said.

“For someone like me, an immigrant who comes from India, I’m beyond grateful,” she had said. “I told the mayor this is not only my American Dream, but it shows another girl from a faraway country that this is possible.”

Written by Pashchiema with inputs from The Hindu

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

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Gandhi
Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean