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Indian-American student Pranay Varada wins prestigious $50,000 National Geographic Bee competition

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Indian-American student Pranay Varada, Twitter

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2017: Pranay Varada, the 14-year-old Indian-American student, has won the prestigious $50,000 National Geographic Bee competition, maintaining the dominance of the community in the contest.

“I was absolutely sure I could win that challenge,” Varada said soon after bagging the coveted competition, which for the past one decade has been dominated by Indian-Americans.”

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“Having done this for such a long time and winning it now, it’s just a feeling of satisfaction,” Varada, an eighth grader from Texas, said.

A runner up last year, Varada this time did not want to give any chance.

He was declared the winner as he won the first tie breaker question when he correctly identified the Kunlun Mountains as the 1,200 mile range that separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau.

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As a result, he gets $50,000 in scholarship and other prizes.

Veda Bhattaram another Indian-American from New Jersey finished third at the finals held here last night, while Thomas Wright from Wisconsin was declared the runner up.

 Wright received $25,000 and Bhattaram got $10,000 in scholarships.
 This year, six of the 10 finalists were Indian-Americans.

Indian-Americans have won the National Geographic Bee competition for the last six consecutive.

Last year, Rishi Nair, a sixth grader from Florida, had won the contest. (PTI)
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Indian-American Lawmakers Slam US President Donald Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

They are accusing him of bigotry

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Trump's transgender military ban is being slammed by India-American lawmakers
Trump's transgender military ban is being slammed by India-American lawmakers. Wikimedia
  • Ami Bera is the longest-serving Indian-American currently in the Congress
  • Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are going against every American value they swear to defend
  • Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect

Washington (US), August 27, 2017: Prominent Indian-American lawmakers have criticised US President Donald Trump after he signed a memo instructing the Defence Department to stop accepting transgender people into the armed forces.

The presidential memorandum signed on Friday officially requested the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan for the ban by February 21, 2018, to be put in place on March 23, 2018.

Slamming the move, Democratic US Representative Ami Bera said, “If you wear an American military uniform, you deserve the respect and support of the Commander-in-Chief… Unfortunately, Donald Trump is more comfortable peddling in discrimination and bigotry, and he’s shown that he is unable to support our troops.”

“Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are going against every American value they swear to defend,” said Bera, who is the longest-serving Indian-American currently in the Congress, in a press release.

ALSO READ: US Senate Confirms Three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump to Key Governmental Posts

The directive, signed on Friday, bars transgender people from enlisting, but instructs Secretary of Defence James Mattis and the Homeland Security “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant”, according to a White House official.

It ordered the Pentagon to stop paying for gender reassignment surgeries, except in cases that were already in progress to “protect the health of an individual”.

California Democrat Ro Khanna tweeted, “Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect. This military ban is anti-trans discrimination and must not be tolerated.”

In a tweet, Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi said that he hoped that Trump would reconsider the ban.

“I hope the President immediately reconsiders this ban. There is no place for discrimination in our armed forces.”

In another tweet, Krishnamoorthi said, “We must never abandon those who have sacrificed so much for their nation. #ProtectTransTroops”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, termed the ban “downright shameful”.

“I stand shoulder to shoulder with the transgender community. This is downright shameful. #TransRightsAreHumanRights,” she tweeted. (IANS)

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Eight-year-old Indian-American Transgender Girl Nikki Brar sues School over Gender Identity

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Nikki and her parents are suing a private school for preventing her from expressing her gender identity. From left to right: Priya Shah, Nikki, Nikki’s sister and Jaspret Brar. Twitter (Shah-Brar family)

Washington, August 9, 2017: An eight-year-old Indian-American transgender girl and her family are suing a private school in California for forcing her to dress as a boy and preventing the child from expressing her preferred gender identity.

Nikki Brar, who was designated male at birth, was a student at Heritage Oak Private Education in Yorba Linda. The lawsuit alleges that the school violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

The school didn’t allow Nikki Brar to wear the school’s girls’ uniform, use the girls’ bathroom, or be called a “she”. It said that the move would “create an imbalance in our environment”, the report said.

The lawsuit alleged that Nikki Brar experienced social isolation. The girls would not play with her because she had to dress like a boy, and she found the boys’ games too rough. Boys would bully the youngster, calling her “a loser”, it said. Nikki left the school in February 2017.

The suit is noteworthy because it is “the first (transgender rights) case to use a state anti-discrimination law as one of the grounds for relief,” said Mark Rosenbaum, Director of the pro bono Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law.

“In light of the Trump administration’s inaction on taking a stand against discrimination against trans individuals… this is a terribly important case,” he told the the Los Angeles Times.

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Nikki Brar’s parents filed the suit against the school, its Executive Director Phyllis Cygan and the school’s parent group, Nobel Learning Communities. They seek damages for “emotional distress and discrimination” as well as more than $10,000 for school tuition and fees.

They also asked Heritage Oak school to write a non-discrimination policy specifically for transgender students, and demanded that the school teach lessons on transgender identity in the classroom.

The child’s mother, Priya Shah, said the family thought long and hard before filing the lawsuit. “It honours our child’s commitment to being who she is despite adversity,” she said.

“It is our small contribution towards ensuring that other transgender and gender expansive children do not go through the same hardship and trauma.”

The school’s parent group Nobel Learning Communities released a statement following the lawsuit, saying: “We believed it was extremely important to respond… to decide when and how to inform and educate our entire elementary school community… about the mid-year change of gender identity expression of a young child… Unfortunately, these accommodations were rejected and the parents withdrew their child.”

Nikki is expected to join a public school in Orange County later this year, the report said. (IANS)

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Indian American Animator Wins the Prestigious Award from Accolade Global Film Competition

The animator had also won ILDA 2007 Artistic Award in Laser Photography

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Indian American
Accolade Global Film Festival is a prestigious award for filmmakers and animators. Wikimedia
  • Manick Sorcar is an Indian American living in Denver
  • The exceptional laserist and animator has won the Accolade Global Film Competition Award
  • Manick is the son of the popular and legendary magician P.C Sorcar

Denver. August 2, 2017: Denver-based, Indian-American laserist and animator Manick Sorcar has won the prestigious Award of Merit from The Accolade Global Film Competition for his animation “Beautiful Mess”.

Also Read: Indian American Lawyer Neomi Rao to lead White House Regulatory Affairs Office

The Accolade recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change.

This is not the first laser animation of Sorcar that got international recognition. He won the ILDA 2015 Artistic Award for ‘Light Art in Shower Ocean’ in Innovative Application of Laser category from the International Laser Display Association.

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Sorcar had also won the ILDA 2007 Artistic Award in Laser Photography category for his laser art “Reflection” and the ILDA Artistic Award for Best Use of Lasers in Live Stage Performance for his “Enlightenment of Buddha”.

According to the Accolade, in winning this award, Sorcar joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award, including the Oscar winning production of “The Lady in Number Six” by Malcolm Clarke, the talented Dave Bossert of Disney for his short documentary, and “The Tunes Behind The Toons”.

(IANS)