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In United States, Bollywood Trumps at the Republican Hindu Coalition

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed thousands of Hindus. But, in a country where many people are following Trump's every move, the New York businessman was not quite the spotlight of the show Saturday night

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Attendees of the "humanity united against terror" event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition scramble to take photos of presidential candidate Donald Trump. (E. Sarai/VOA)
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October 17, 2016: In an understated neighborhood in northern New Jersey, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed thousands of Hindus. But, in a country where many people are following Trump’s every move, the New York businessman was not quite the spotlight of the show Saturday night.

Women dressed in their best saris asked each other if anyone had confirmed which Bollywood stars would be in attendance. Children chased each other, screaming across the auditorium. Men ate Indian snacks provided at the venue and caught up with friends.

“I just came for the Bollywood show,” said Nilesh Patel. The evening, a charity event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition to give to refugees from Kashmir, had a star-studded list of dance performances.

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Nilesh, a New Jersey resident, can’t vote, but said he was interested to at least hear Trump speak. “Donald Trump is an attraction…. I can’t vote, so I don’t really have a strong opinion. But I do enjoy… well, both of them are characters.”

And Nilesh was far from the only person who couldn’t vote. Between those visiting family from out of the country, those awaiting citizenship, and teenagers, many of the attendees weren’t voters.

Bollywood dancers perform during a charity event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition, Oct. 15, 2016, in Edison, New Jersey. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke during the event.
Bollywood dancers perform during a charity event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition, Oct. 15, 2016, in Edison, New Jersey. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke during the event.

Signature, a dancing duo made famous on the reality show “Britain’s got Talent,” and Malaika Arora Khan, a Bollywood dancer and actress, were among the stars who got the audience up on its feet. Choreographer Prabhu Deva performed just before Donald Trump spoke, and was met with much more applause than the presidential candidate.

Other than a brief and puzzling performance that involved dancers dressed as Navy Seals fighting “terrorists” before stopping to sing the U.S. national anthem, no reference to politics in the U.S. was made in the two hours of performances.

Loving ‘Hindu’

When Trump took the stage, introduced by Shallabh Kumar, head of the Republican Hindu Coalition, the atmosphere of the room changed immediately. The handful of white Americans wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and shirts moved closer to the stage and those who had been dancing fell quiet.

Trump started by exclaiming that he loved “Hindu,” and spoke out against terrorism, emphasizing that Indians feel the immediate threat of terrorism, especially remembering attacks in Mumbai that left more than 100 dead in 2008.

Crowds form outside the Convention Center in Edison, New Jersey, to see both Bollywood performances and a speech by Donald Trump. (E. Sarai/VOA)
Crowds form outside the Convention Center in Edison, New Jersey, to see both Bollywood performances and a speech by Donald Trump. (E. Sarai/VOA)

But the rest of the rhetoric was familiar: crooked Hillary, I’m going to build the wall, Mexico will pay for it.

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His commitment to combat terrorism was not lost, however, on many in attendance. Of the Hindus who wholeheartedly supported Donald Trump, terrorism is their main concern.

“I’m a strong supporter of Trump. I’m mainly supporting Trump for his stance against terrorism,” Rogi Reddy, a New Jersey resident, said. When asked if he is worried about Trump’s harsh comments against minorities and other social policies, Reddy said, “Those are all secondary for me.”

His son, Ghumi, remained unconvinced ahead of his speech. “I align with him fiscally but not socially, so… I’m not sure if anything he will say today will convince me, but I’m hoping to find out,” he said.

Anti-Trump rally

A third group of South Asians, those too staunchly against Trump to support an event at which he was speaking, protested outside the convention center earlier that day.

A small rally of local south Asian Democrats protesting outside the convention center calls for unity among minorities. (E. Sarai/VOA)
A small rally of local south Asian Democrats protesting outside the convention center calls for unity among minorities. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Mohamed Asker, a New Jersey native and college student at Rutgers University, worked with a handful of local politicians, including Congressman Frank Pallone and South Asian members of Edison’s city council, to organize a rally outside the hall.

“There’s no divide between Hindus and Muslims – we’re all one minority and an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us,” Asker said. “That’s why we’re here today…. I’m a college student, just among other college students who don’t believe a candidate who spews hate should be elected.”

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The divide between Hindus and Muslims, although unspoken, was clear inside the convention center. The Republican Hindu Coalition, clear enough in its name, does not exactly draw other religious minorities in India to its events.

And a few of the Hindus supporting Trump made it clear they wanted to distinguish themselves from the radical Muslims against whom he so vehemently speaks out.

After Donald Trump exited the stage to a cover of “You can’t always get what you want,” about half of the audience slowly left, having seen what they came for.

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But the other half, many of whom were filling up on snacks while the political intermission took place, rushed back to watch the next dance.

Signs provided by organizers rest on chairs in the hall ahead of Donald Trump’s speech to Hindu Americans. (E. Sarai/VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google's new tool can help you make our planet healthy. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?