Haryana boy selected for NASA programme

A Haryana student has been selected for a three-year astronaut training programme of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S.

Ashish Kumar, from Dhaulera village of Mahendergarh district, was on Wednesday honoured with the ‘Pratibha Samman’ by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for his achievement. Mr. Hooda also presented a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh and a certificate to the student.

Mr. Hooda expressed hope that by taking inspiration from Ashish, other students of the state will also excel in the field of education at international level.

Ashish has also cleared Indian Institute of Space Aeronautics and Technology (IISAT) competition organised by ISRO, as well as the IIT entrance test.

Ten candidates, including three Indians, have been selected by NASA from across the globe for the programme, the entire expense of which will be borne by the agency.

Racist backlash over crowning of new Miss America Nina Davuluri

Just minutes after the dark-skinned Indian-American beauty Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America on Sunday night, bigoted nitwits took to Twitter to rant about the decision.

“Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote,” griped Elizabeth@EJR Buckeye.

“This is Miss America…Not Miss Foreign Country,” tweeted Meredith Talley@meredithRoanell

“The sad thing is, Miss Kansas didn’t make it because America isn’t ready to crown someone who represents AMERICA,” added Aly Walansky ?@alywalansky.

“She’s like not even american and she won miss america,” added Kat@kathrynRyan50.

Others rushed to her defence – including Questlove, drummer for The Roots.

“i think its amazing that @NinaDavuluri was crowned Miss America. THIS is the american story,” he tweeted

For the record, Davuluri is American, and she is not a Muslim.

She is, however, the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss America, and the second New Yorker in as many
years to win the coveted tiara.

Davuluri took the a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the return of the pageant to Atlantic City.

“I’m so honored to be the new spokesperson for Atlantic City,” she said.

Davuluri herself had a classy response when asked about the uproar moments after she was crowned.
“I have to rise above that,” said Davuluri. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

She started the day with an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America and was set to make the TV rounds throughout the day with a visit to Fox and Friends.

She will also meet with former Miss America Vanessa Williams, a New York resident who was crowned 30 years ago in Atlantic City.

The Syracuse resident, 24, competed on a theme of “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency.”
And her high-energy dance -a combination of classical Indian steps and Bollywood dramatics – wowed the judges in Atlantic City Sunday night.

Davuluri – who wants to be a physician like her doctor dad – later cancelled a planned appearance Monday afternoon at Seaside Heights, NJ, the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire last week.

The visit was canceled after pageant officials learned that Gov. Chris Christie was making cabinet members available to business owners affected by the fire at the same time Davuluri planned to visit.

The University of Michigan grad will go sometime in the future.

First Indian-origin woman (Nina Davuluri ) crowned Miss America

The Miss America pageant has crowned its first winner of Indian heritage.

Moments after winning the 2014 crown, 24 year-old Nina Davuluri described how delighted she is that the nearly century-old pageant sees beauty and talent of all kinds.

“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” she said in her first press conference after winning the crown in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Boardwalk Hall. “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”
The 24 year-old Miss New York’s talent routine was a Bollywood fusion dance.
The native of Syracuse, New York wants to be a doctor, and is applying to medical school, with the help of a $50,000 (38,000) scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.

She is the second consecutive Miss New York to win the Miss America crown, succeeding Mallory Hagan, who was selected in January when the pageant was still held in Las Vegas. The Miss America Organization will compensate Hagan for her shortened reign.

Racist tweets greet Davuluri

But soon after being crowned she was attacked with racist taunts.
“Is Miss America even American?,” said one tweet.
“MissAmerica’s name does not sounds very American … just saying,” said another.
“This is Miss America… Not Miss Foreign Country,” another person tweeted.
But Ms. Davuluri appeared unfazed by the comments.
“I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

Ms. Davuluri had planned to go to the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire in the New Jersey communities of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights Monday afternoon. But pageant officials cancelled that visit after learning that Governor Chris Christie was making cabinet officials available at that same time to business owners victimized by the fire.
Ms. Davuluri will visit at an unscheduled future date, pageant officials said early on Monday.
She will still make the traditional frolic in the Atlantic City surf Monday morning.

In the run-up to the pageant, much attention was given to Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, the Army sergeant who was believed to have been the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos. She has the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage, and a smaller military insignia on the back of one shoulder.

Ms. Vail won a nationwide “America’s Choice” vote to advance as a semi-finalist, but failed to make it into the Top 10.

In a Twitter message on Sunday before the finals began, Ms. Vail wrote: “Win or not tonight, I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have empowered women. I have opened eyes.”
Ms. Jones made it into the top 5 wearing a bedazzled knee brace. She tore knee ligaments on Thursday while rehearsing her baton-twirling routine, which she executed flawlessly on Sunday night.

The pageant had pitted 53 contestants one from each state, plus District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions.

Assange’s WikiLeaks Party has three Indian-origin men; two to contest for Australian Senate seats

Julian Assange announced via a videolink from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been holed up for more than a year, that he would enter mainstream politics. The founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks is one among seven candidates of the WikiLeaks Party that is hoping to win a seat in the Australian Senate.
Two of the other six in the fray are of Indian origin. While Assange will attempt to get elected out of the Ecuador embassy in London where he has been granted asylum while rape and molestation charges hover over him in Sweden Binoy Kampmark and Suresh Rajan will contest from Victoria and Western Australia, respectively, as Senate candidates for the WikiLeaks Party.

“I want to protect the values I have fought for: transparency, accountability and justice, with every weapon I have. I believe I can change how politics is done by bringing WikiLeaks’ investigative techniques and our reputation for incorruptibility into parliament,” Assange told ET Magazine in reply to emailed questions.

Members of Assange’s party in Australia hope that if elected the Australian government would be forced to think hard about bringing him home or face the bizarre situation where the people of Victoria who elected him to the Senate would not have their representative sitting in it. “Australia should involve itself in negotiations with Washington, London and Stockholm to bring Assange home,” Greg Barns, Assange’s campaign manager in Australia, told ET Magazine.

The candidates that the WikiLeaks Party has fielded for the forthcoming Australian Senate elections have been drawn from diverse walks of life; none of them has any active political background. Both Kampmark and Rajan are from academia and from the non-governmental agency space. While Kampmark is a professor specialising in foreign policy and international law at RMIT University in Melbourne, Rajan has been an advocate for disadvantaged groups for many years in the state of Western Australia.
Capable and Committed

“My good friend NirajLal, a physicist at the Australian National University who sits on our [WikiLeaks Party] national council, is also involved. It is interesting that the party has so many high-profile people of Indian origin. I just picked the most capable and the most committed, but it accords with my experiences over many years,” adds Assange. “India loves WikiLeaks and believes in what we do, more than any other culture. I don’t know why. It is a pleasing mystery.” Assange also told ET Magazine that his ambition was not to create just another political party.
 “I want to change the real constraints on politics the interplay between knowledge and political will. We cannot be better than what we believe. What we know defines our political possibilities.” Kampmark, who is making a foray into politics as an electoral candidate, has studied about politics and written about it throughout his academic career in Australia, the UK and the US.

“My interest in it is based on the idea of countering the surveillance state with legal remedies, and bringing an alternative view on how policy is made without the need for police solutions,” says Kampmark

As an expert on international legal issues Kampmark believes that Assange is entitled to contest the Senate position from Victoria, as he is planning to do, though there are legal impediments. “His ideas and his platforms remain legitimate matters of electoral contest and, should he have problems taking up a Senate seat, there will be others to fill his position,” said Kampmark, whose Bengali mother was educated in Malaysia, Australia and Japan.

His grandparents were born in Bengal and settled in Malaysia before the Japanese occupation during World War II. He himself was born in Malaysia and went to school in Denmark and Australia before heading to university in the UK.
Kampmark believes that WikiLeaks is a very unusual party that will force the Australian government to rethink on various important policy matters. These include transparency in policy; secret deals between countries and companies; legal provisions for whistleblowers in face of prosecution and those who question state authority; and accountability of officials both private and public. However, he is somewhat unsure about the prospects of the party in the upcoming elections.
“Our chances in Victoria and New South Wales are rather good, but politics is a vicious and fickle business,” he says. The freshness of WikiLeaks, he believes, will be an advantage with the party making an impact in the Twittersphere and on social networks with the youth, which is otherwise considered a politically disengaged segment.