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Under President Donald Trump, US-India ties expected to conquer new Frontiers

An Indian American talks about how he believes US India ties will improve under Trump's administration and how it will be beneficial for India in the long run

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Washington, Mar 9, 2017: Under Trump’s administration, US-India ties are expected to conquer new frontiers, the two countries being “natural partners” with common interests, an Indian-American entrepreneur who is considered to be close to Vice President Mike Pence said.

“With Indian-Americans playing the role of an umbilical cord between the two countries, India and the United States have common interests in balancing the increasing economic and military influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region and fighting together the menace of terrorism in South and Central Asia,” said Indiana-based Gurinder Singh Khalsa told PTI in an interview.

Khalsa, the Chairman and Founder of Sikhs Political Action Committee, the SikhsPAC has emerged as a vocal leader of the Indian-American Sikhs.

“India and the United States are natural partners at this time. Both have an interest in balancing growing Chinese economic and military influence in southeast Asia. Both have an interest in fighting terrorism originating in central Asian areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Khalsa told PTI.

Khalsa said that improving relations with the US would be of long-term benefit to India. The countries also have shared priorities in business, especially in IT and tech industries.China has been assertive in the disputed South China Sea region, building artificial islands which could potentially be used for military purposes. It is also building a number of ports in South Asian countries.

Khalsa has been a friend of Pence from the days when the present US Vice President wasn’t even elected as the Governor of Indiana.

Khalsa wishes to strengthen US-India relations and be the voice of the Indian-Americans and other similar ethnic communities in the US.

“(Pence) has been very outspoken about the need for more economic cooperation between India and Indiana. Prior to his selection as Vice President, he spoke to us about his intention to travel to India after the election. He wanted to be the first Indiana Governor to visit India after the election,” Khalsa said recollecting his meetings with Pence.

Khalsa, who was born in 1973, shifted to the US in 1996. Before moving to the US, he wrote four papers, including topics like India-Pakistan boundary disputes and extensive deforestation leading to environmental degradation in the Himalayas.

He spent five years in the insurance, finance and real estate sectors in California before moving to Indiana in 2008.Since 2003, he has developed a chain of businesses throughout California, Nevada and Indiana.

He first met Pence in 2012 in the gubernatorial camp, when they agreed on a meeting to discuss tax issues which involved some Indian gas station workers.

In 2007, a TSA agent refused to allow Khalsa on an airplane unless he removed his Turban. He argues that it would be a clear violation of Sikh religious practice, refusing to take off his turban and took forward this issue before the Congress and was successful in changing the headwear regulation of TSA.

The Turban is Considered to be a sign of respect by the Sikh Community; Source: Pixabay

“Because of this effort, Sikhs are now allowed to wear their turbans through airport security,” he said.

Now that Indian-Americans have proven their great skill as entrepreneurs and businessmen, Khalsa asserts that it is time for the community to step-up and serve in public office and the military.

“I mean, look, we have a rich history as soldiers and administrators in India,” he said.

“At this time, Indians account for about 1 per cent of the US population and the United States is overall more diverse than it has ever been.”

“This is an opportunity for both Indians and Americans. At the end of the day, Indians have done very well in the US in terms of business opportunities. SikhsPAC is a model for ensuring Indians have the resources they need to give back through service to their country. We’re already seeing great examples of this with the US military removing restrictions on soldiers wearing the turban and beard. That is progress on which we need to build,” Khalsa said.

– prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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Indiana, The New Mini Tech Capital of America

In the past, CEO Steve Hershberger hired from big universities near Silicon Valley. Now, he needs coders to work on the connection between beer kegs to his iKeg app, and he is choosing interns from Kenzie because of the quality he sees in the candidates.

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Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of
representational image, pixabay

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA —

Kavitha Kamalbabu needed a break. She had raised her two children and the youngest was now in kindergarten. It was time to turn attention to her career. The 36-year-old wanted to code. The mecca of high tech — Silicon Valley — wasn’t an option because she needed to stay close to home and family in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“I chose Kenzie Academy because of its life project-based learning,” she said.

Kamalbabu is now at the top of her class, getting a two-year degree as a software developer. Kenzie, based in Indianapolis, was established to keep talent in Middle America and to create a mini tech capital.

“Our point is to bring people from Indianapolis to stay in Indianapolis,” said founder Courtney Spence. To do that, they place students in local companies as quickly as possible after their enrollment.

For one class, Kamalbabu, originally from India, found herself asking questions about measuring beer and learning how data increases profit. The class was taking a tour of Steady Serve — a local beer management system that invented a device to measure the content of kegs to reduce waste and fraud.

“It’s on the cusp of what we are seeing as being a tech boom,” Spence said.
Students tour Steady Serve, VOA

In the past, CEO Steve Hershberger hired from big universities near Silicon Valley. Now, he needs coders to work on the connection between beer kegs to his iKeg app, and he is choosing interns from Kenzie because of the quality he sees in the candidates.

“It’s like they folded the country and brought San Jose [the heart of Silicon Valley] into Indianapolis.”

By the numbers

Indianapolis is Middle America. Located in the Corn Belt, Indiana is known for its farms — the state’s model is “The Crossroads of America.” City leaders said that perception is changing. Indianapolis deputy mayor of economic development Angela Smith Jones calls Indianapolis “Western Silicon Valley” with a “great startup culture.”

Last year, technology companies in Indianapolis contributed $7.7 billion into the city’s economy and employed 75,000 people.

Job postings for emerging tech are up 40 percent over last year, and the city’s unemployment rate is currently 3 percent, which is lower than the national average.

The average tech industry wage in Indiana is $76,860.

“It’s on the cusp of what we are seeing as being a tech boom,” Spence said.

Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of "California or New York, not Indianapolis."
Kenzie Student, VOA

Not so fast

But students majoring in tech at Stanford University — a research school located in the heart of Silicon Valley — were unimpressed. Freshman Max Comolli said he wouldn’t be enticed to leave California for Indianapolis because of the opportunities and “such a great tech scene already established.”

Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of “California or New York, not Indianapolis.” But freshman Alexa White from Detroit, Michigan, thinks a tech capital in the Midwest would “benefit the field” and create diversity.

The gender diversity hasn’t reached Kenzie, although school officials said they actively recruit females. The next class of 18 students starting later this year will have three women. Of the current class, only Kamalbabu and an African American are female.

Also Read: Lenovo Launches V-Series Laptop in India 

Statistically, women — and especially women of color — make up a small percentage of the tech field. But 24-year-old Mya Williams called it a “pleasant surprise” when she saw Kamalbabu on the first day of class because she thought she would be the only female. Williams said young girls aren’t encouraged to concentrate in math and science. “They get looked over when it comes to software,” she said.

To Asia and beyond

Kenzie officials plan to duplicate the academy model, starting in Malaysia. Spence goes a step further. “We have a commitment to replicate it around the world,” she said. (VOA)