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The fading history of Punjabi-Mexicans

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The onset of the 1990s saw a generation of working Punjabi men heading to the West in search for a better life in the fertile lands of Southern California’s Imperial Valley.

The gangs of migrant workers of Punjab were often called “Hindu crews”, although they were a mix of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, working effortlessly to earn enough so that their wives and children back home could join them in this land of opportunity.

They soon found themselves stranded in a country which passed a series of legislative Acts resulting in closed doors for foreigners and making travels between India and the US near to impossible.

Following the bloodshed of the Mexican Civil War of 1910, California witnessed the arrival of thousands of widowed Mexican women on its land. The women, along with their children and some possessions saw the opportunity to work in the cotton fields which were majorly supervised by the Indian men during that time.

“The Punjabi men wanted housekeepers, children and sex,” says anthropologist at the University of California, Karen Leonard. But this merging of ethnicities was regarded as “Punjabi bosses ripping the pretty women away.” Angry Latino men fought with their wannabe brothers-in-law and sometimes took women back by force. Moreover, unless the men and women listed their ethnicities as “brown,” the laws forbidding interracial marriage made acquirement of marriage certificates an impossible task.

The Punjabi men appreciated the similar appearances of Mexican brides, with women back home, who cooked similar dishes and were familiar with rural life. Meanwhile, the women saw their social stature rising by marrying men who were, at least, middle class and spoke fluent English. The country recorded at least 378 marriages between Punjabi-Mexican couples in California alone, according to a study of genealogies in Leonard’s book Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi Mexican Americans, in the 20th century.

One such example and among the last of the first-generation Punjabi-Mexicans was Mary Singh Rai, a native of Yuba City, California. A daughter of immigrants, the then 89-year old was the result of an unlikely coupling of a Mexican mother and Punjabi father in the Golden State. Her Punjabi-Mexican children had grown up eating chicken curry enchiladas, attending Catholic Mass and making pilgrimages to Sikh gurdwaras.

However, with each passing year, the bigoted sentiment made it difficult for such love to find societal acceptance in that era. The Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924 which made travel between India and the US an implausible task further opened doors for many such rulings with the Supreme Court’s 1923 ruling being one of them, which made Indian men racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship.

The Luce-Celler Act in 1946 ultimately loosened the US immigration laws and ended The California Alien Land Act of 1913, which prohibited most immigrants from owning land. The long-settled immigrants could finally send for their Punjabi sons and daughters residing back home.

At present, the fate of Punjabi-Mexicans dwindles as their present generation can be seen opting out of this culture and marrying out of the caste. Being a part of a legacy of such unlikely marriages which is primarily found and cherished in oral family histories, Mary Singh Rai passed away in 2013.  (Inputs from ozy.com) (picture courtesy: wordpress.com)

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California Becomes the first US State to allow Gender-neutral Birth Certificates

The so-called "nonbinary" gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more "genders."

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The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents. Pixabay

California, October 17, 2017 : California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a state senate bill, allowing a gender-neutral marker on birth certificates and driver’s licenses starting from 2019.

California thus became the first state in the US to allow a “nonbinary” gender to be marked on birth certificates, Xinhua news agency reported.

The so-called “nonbinary” gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more “genders.”

According to the Gender Recognition Act approved on Sunday, California will offer a gender-neutral option on state documents for those who are transgender, intersex and others who are not identified as male or female.

ALSO READ Finding their place in the world; Oxford Dictionary to include honorific Mx for transgenders

The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents.

“Existing law authorises a person who was born in this state and who has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition to obtain a new birth certificate from the State Registrar,” the bill read.

The Golden State is now also the second state in the US to allow residents to be identified by a gender marker other than “F” or “M” on their driver’s license.

Oregon and the District of Columbia had earlier issued the gender-neutral option on their driver’s licenses.

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Apple Has Shut Down Iranian Mobile Apps: Iran Media Report

Apple is not officially in Iran or any other Persian Gulf countries, but many Iranians purchase its products from stores inside Iran

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An Iranian woman tries out an iPhone in an electronics shop selling Apple products in Tehran, Iran. VOA
  • Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store
  • Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers
  • Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed

Tehran, August 26, 2017: Iranian media is reporting that Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store.

In reaction to the decision, Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers. He also sent out this tweet:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also Read: How Iran protects itself from the Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Attacks? Read it here!

Jahromi tweeted: “11 percent of Iran’s mobile phone market share is owned by Apple. Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed. We will follow up the cutting of the apps legally.”

Apple is not officially in Iran or any other Persian Gulf countries, but many Iranians purchase its products from stores inside Iran. (VOA)

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Cambodian Girls compete in a Mobile App Competition, Pushes Boundaries for Women in Technology

Cambodian girl coders achieve recognition at a Global Competition

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The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters
The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters. VOA
  • We want to increase employment for Cambodians
  • In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women

A group of Cambodian girls who recently traveled to California to compete in a mobile app competition offered inspiration for other girls worldwide to consider careers in technology.

Their pitch in Silicon Valley wasn’t a bid to be the next billion-dollar company. Instead, they want to help their country with a mobile phone application to address poverty.

“Let’s fight poverty by using our app. Don’t find customers for your product, find products for your customers,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng, 12, who led the team that created the app, Cambodian Identity Product.

“We want to increase employment for Cambodians, so there will be a reduction of Cambodian migrants to work in other countries, reducing poverty through making income and providing charity to local Cambodians,” Chea Sopheata, 11, told the judges at Google’s headquarters. Google was one of the program’s sponsors.

To participate in the Aug. 7-11 Technovation global competition, girls around the world had to build a mobile app — and a business plan — that addressed a U.N. development goal. The Cambodian girls picked poverty.

While globalization has boosted the economic growth of Cambodia, especially its tourism industry, it has also created greater economic inequality and competition. The girls think their app can help.

“We want to promote our culture to people from all over the world,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng.

At their young age, no one expects these girls to be able to solve their country’s most pressing issues quite yet. But their presence here highlighted another issue: girls in tech fields.

In the U.S. and worldwide, the number of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) remains low and has even dropped.

In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women as of 2010. It’s a situation some attribute to a lack of equal access to education and a lack of female role models.

It’s hoped that programs like Technovation can reverse that trend.

“For the first time in history, technology can really help girls have a strong voice and help us have a society that has equality,” said Tara Chklovski, founder, and CEO of Iridescent, the nonprofit organization behind Technovation.

These young Cambodian girls have proved how far they can go with technology. Most come from underprivileged backgrounds but had support from teachers, mentors, and family.

Cambodian American Pauline Seng, a program manager at Google, said the young coders have become role models for many other Cambodians, including herself. She didn’t get into technology until she was 23.

“There’s going to be so many people who aspire to reach this stage and also inspire other people to get involved in technology,” she said.

Although the Cambodian girls did not win the grand prize, which went to a team from Hong Kong, they were proud to have made it to Google and Silicon Valley.

After watching the male CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, speaking at the closing ceremony, the girls said they believed the tech giant would one day have a female leader.

“Yes!” they said, in unison.

Whether that will come true or not, they have themselves already become the youngest role models to inspire others, one girl at a time. (VOA)