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Politics and Spice Podcast
49 minutes | Aug 19, 2018
Ep. 26 – President Obama’s Associate Director of Public Engagement Gautam Raghavan
Today we have Gautam Raghavan, the former Associate Director of Public Engagement for President Barack Obama, in which he served as the liaison for the LGBT and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Prior to his role at the White House, Gautam started off as the Asian American Finance Director for the Obama Campaign in 2008, as well as a stint as the Midwest Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee. He then went on to serve as the White House Liaison and Deputy White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense. Following his time at the White House, he went on to serve as the Vice President of Policy at The Gill Foundation. He now runs his own consulting firm, consulting for organizations such as the Indian American Impact Project. Gautam is releasing a book later in September called “West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House.”
65 minutes | Aug 5, 2018
Ep. 25 – Center for American Progress Senior Organizing Director Anisha Singh
Today we have Anisha Singh with us, who is the Senior Organizing Director for Generation Progress, the youth engagement arm for the Center for American Progress. In this role, she develops national organizing strategies to bring the experiences of 18- to 35-year-olds to on-the-ground actions in target states. Prior to this role, Anisha served as the Campaign Manager for Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress, shaping the conversation around the nation’s judicial process. A cool fact about Anisha is that she was chosen for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Law and Policy in 2016. She previously served as a Policy Attorney and Project Manager for United Sikhs, where she focused on human and civil rights advocacy on behalf of minority communities internationally.
42 minutes | Jul 23, 2018
Ep. 24 – Mayoral Aide to Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, Intashan Chowdhury
Today, in honor of the recent primary win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional District and youth empowerment sweeping the country, we are trying something different today with the Politics and Spice Podcast! We have a special guest host in Anika Madhusudhan. Anika is a New Jersey Leadership Program 2017 Summer Fellowship Alum who interned with State Senator Linda Greenstein and is a rising Senior at the West Windsor Plainsboro High School North. She will be interviewing a young and rising political rockstar in Prospect Park who recently just graduated from Rutgers University, Instashan Chowdhury. Instashan is the Mayoral Aide to Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, with whom he has been active with for some time now. A native of New Jersey, he is dedicated to continually improving his Township of Prospect Park, as well as a leader in advocating for the South Asian community in local government.
57 minutes | Jul 9, 2018
Ep. 23 – NJDSC South Asian American Caucus Co-Chair Satish Poondi
Satish Poondi is the Co-chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s South Asian American Caucus (SAAC). In conjunction with NJDSC Chairman John Currie, he helped to found SAAC in 2013 to create a statewide platform to discuss issues important to the South Asian community and to support and elevate members of the community interested in pursuing elected office. SAAC was the first caucus of its kind within the state Democratic party, serving as a template to other caucuses such as the LGBTQ Caucus, Progressive Caucus, and many more. He is also active in the community, serving as the Legal Advisor for the Indian Business Association, an Advisory Board Member for the New Leaders Council and a guest lecturer at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. Satish also previously served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Community Relations for the Township of Edison. Satish currently serves as a Partner for the Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer Law Firm based in Woodbridge, New Jersey. In 2018, he was named a New Leader of the Bar by the New Jersey Law Journal and “Attorney of the Year” by Senator Vin Gopal.
51 minutes | Jun 11, 2018
Ep. 22 – South Asian American Digital Archive Executive Director Samip Mallick
Samip Mallick is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). He founded SAADA in 2008 to give voice to South Asian Americans through documenting, preserving and sharing stories that represent South Asian Americans’ unique and diverse experiences. SAADA encompasses various themes and projects such as the Road Trips Project, First Days Project and Basement Bhangra. We spoke to Samip about the South Asian American diaspora, challenges faced by first and second generation South Asians in America, the changing media landscape in the United States and more. Samip was formerly the Director of the Ranganathan Center for Digital Information at the University of Chicago Library. He has been interviewed as an expert on South Asian American history by The New York Times, NBC News, CityLab and more. You won’t want to miss this episode as we go back in time to the history of South Asians coming to America to the point where we are today as a diaspora.
27 minutes | May 29, 2018
Ep. 21 – Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla
Today, we spoke with the recently newly elected Mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla. He ran for mayor last year and beat out a crowded field of six candidates, including his fellow members of council and a freeholder. Prior to that he served on the Hoboken Council since 2009, first running for an At-large seat on incumbent Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s ticket. He also served as the Chairman of the Hoboken Democratic Party in 2010 and President of City Council in 2011. We spoke to Mayor Bhalla about his journey being raised in Woodland Park and his ultimate journey to Hoboken. We chatted about the symbolism behind his being the first elected mayor in the United States of Sikh faith who wears his articles of faith, his initial involvement in local politics as a Committeeman for Hoboken, the lessons he learned from his failed bids for Assembly, and his involvement in the County Democratic election for chairman and county executive. Check out Politics and Spice on any major podcast hosting service, including iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.
42 minutes | May 14, 2018
Ep. 20 – BAPS Temple Spokesperson Ronak Patel
Today, we sat down with the BAPS Temple Organization’s Spokesperson and Volunteer, Ronak Patel. Originally founded in Gujarat, India in 1907, the BAPS organization follows the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism. It has over 1,300 temples and 3,300 centers all across the world in five continents, with over a million followers and 55,000 volunteers. It has built and is continuing to expand the largest Hindu temple in the world, located in Robbinsville, New Jersey. We spoke to Ronak about his journey and the faith that BAPS provides for him and the organization’s followers. We also spoke about the role of BAPS in helping in younger generations get in touch with religion, bridging the divide between first and second generation Indian-Americans, and the importance of its government relations and public affairs divisions. Lastly, we chatted about the place of religious institutions in American politics and impact on the 2016 Presidential Elections. Check out Politics and Spice on any major podcast hosting service, including iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.
58 minutes | May 1, 2018
Ep. 19 – ROI Managing Editor Anjalee Khemlani
The Managing Editor of ROI New Jersey Anjalee Khemlani goes on the record with us today. ROI-New Jersey is a media company that delivers real time news that provide New Jersey’s business community with a Return on Information, hence the name ROI. Prior to this role, Anjalee was the Deputy Managing Editor for NJBIZ. She has also reported for The Press of Atlantic City, RT America and 8K Radio, as well as being a guest on CNN-IBN, NJTV and TV Asia. We spoke to Anjalee about her journey from Jamaica to Miami and to her current stomping grounds in New Jersey. We chatted about the changing landscape of media in the Trump presidency, how being a South Asian and woman impacted her experience in journalism and more. Check out Politics and Spice on any major podcast hosting service, including: – iTunes – Google Play – Stitcher
50 minutes | Apr 16, 2018
Ep. 18 – Sakhi Executive Director Kavita Mehra
Sakhi Executive Director Kavita Mehra joins us today on the Politics and Spice podcast. Kavita and Sakhi for South Asian Women’s mission is to help to end violence against women. She’s been committed to advocating for justice and building equity for minority communities for most of her career, most recently serving as the Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Newark. She has also written powerful and moving experiences for the White House Initiative Act to Change and the Huffington Post. We talked about some of these stories highlighting Kavita’s own background growing up in Carteret, New Jersey in which her family was one of the first South Asian families to settle there, the traumatic experiences that survivors of Domestic Violence or DV that she has helped, and the need for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have to do a better job of helping women on the grassroots level. If you know any women who have experienced domestic violence and are seeking help, you can find out more information about Sakhi for South Asian Women by going to their website or by calling (212) 868-6741.
39 minutes | Apr 1, 2018
Ep. 17 – Silicon Valley’s MR Rangaswami
Today we’re joined by one of Silicon Valley’s earliest angel investors and serial entrepreneur, MR Rangaswami. MR is widely known for his tech know-how and launching the Sand Hill Group, which provides strategic management, investment and marketing services to emerging market leaders. He was also profiled for the Wall Street Journal and has been named on the Forbes’ Midas 100 List as one of the most influential investors in technology. Most recently, he founded Indiaspora, which helped to host the first ever South Asian Presidential Ball in 2013 and seeks to help more Indian-Americans get elected to public office and to increase the visibility of the Indian diaspora in the United States. We spoke to MR about his journey immigrating from Chennai, India to the United States with only eight dollars in his pocket to how he he found a mentor in Oracle Co-founder Larry Ellison. We also spoke about his recent achievements including the creation of a U.S. Postal Service Diwali stamp and his recent trilateral meeting with the leaders of India, Israel and the United States.
34 minutes | Mar 20, 2018
Ep. 16 – Cherry Hill Councilwoman Sangeeta Doshi
Welcome to the first episode of Season Two! Today we’re joined by Cherry Hill Councilwoman Sangeeta Doshi. Councilwoman Doshi was just recently elected to serve on the Cherry Hill Council in November. She has a background in engineering, and previous experience serving on the Cherry Hill Township Planning and Zoning Boards, as well as the township’s Domestic Violence Response Team prior to being elected. We spoke about her start in politics with her family supporting U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts through her journey to New Jersey. We also spoke about gun control following the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, protests and walkouts in Cherry Hill schools, and how the Cherry Hill primaries mirrored those of the Hillary and Bernie factions.
2 minutes | Mar 18, 2018
Season Two Releasing Soon
Did you miss us? Well, the wait for bigger and better Season Two of the Politics and Spice Podcast is almost over! Tomorrow on Monday, March 19, we will be releasing our first episode of Season Two. Join us as we sit down and really dig in with national, state and local leaders in politics, business, media, entertainment and more. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher or where ever you enjoy your podcasts. If you have been enjoying our podcast so far, please leave us a review and email us with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
53 minutes | Sep 18, 2017
Ep. 15 – BONUS: Law Panel – Genova Burns Partner Rajiv Parikh, Murphy for Governor Senior Policy Advisor Parimal Garg, Vinay Limbachia
We have a special episode this week, which is actually a panel discussion for those interested in pursuing a legal career. We have an amazing panel of accomplished leaders in their field who have a background in the law, including our very own New Jersey Leadership Program Director of Programming, Vinay Limbachia. Vinay has served as a Legal Extern in the White House Counsel’s Office, worked as a Litigation Associate for Akin Gump and most recently served as a Judicial Law Clerk for the U.S. District Court in Connecticut. The panel also includes Rajiv Parikh, a litigation Partner at the Genova Burns law firm. Rajiv also serves as general counsel to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, as well as the campaigns of Senator Cory Booker and others. Last but not least, we have Parimal Garg, a Senior Policy Advisory for the Phil Murphy for Governor campaign, focusing on a variety of issues involving the state government. He previously served as a clerk for Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court and worked as a litigation associate at Washington, D.C. office of Paul, Weiss.
31 minutes | Sep 4, 2017
Ep. 14 – Brown Girl Magazine Founder Aditi Mehta
Many of you have probably heard of Brown Girl Magazine, the online publication that focuses on the South Asian youth diaspora in the United States. The all volunteer staff write about everything from Culture to Beauty and Style to Entertainment, and now even have a “Brown Boy” section. They feature articles such as “Bollywood’s Unfair and Ugly Obsession with Dark Skin Color,” to “Challenging Taboos: Muslim and Tattooed.” All of this is thanks to our guest today, Aditi Mehta. She is the Founder and CEO of Brown Girl Magazine, and she talks to us about how her idea of starting the site came to her during a business class in college at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Since then, her small idea in class has transformed to have a huge impact on hundreds and thousands of young South Asian girls across the country. Check out Brown Girl Magazine here.
56 minutes | Aug 21, 2017
Ep. 13 – Freeholder Shanti Narra
Today we sit down with someone that has had many “firsts” in her electoral career. Shanti Narra is a Freeholder in Middlesex County, in which she was the first freeholder of South Asian descent in New Jersey, as well as being the first female South Asian elected when she was a councilwoman in North Brunswick just eight years ago. We chat with Freeholder Narra about her journey from Hyderabad, India to her experiences in Washington, D.C. working for Senator Ted Kennedy to starting off as a local committeewoman in her hometown in North Brunswick. She also talks about the federal immigration policies and what Middlesex County is doing to fight back against unlawful actions by ICE agents, as well as challenges of being a South Asian woman in public life.
35 minutes | Aug 7, 2017
Ep. 12 – WNYC Reporter Arun Venugopal
We turn the tables and interview Arun Venugopal, a reporter at WNYC. He’s also a host of Micropolis, in which he helps to examine race, sexuality, and identity. Arun is also a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and has previously been published in The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. His commentary on Indian-American issues has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Post, and the Associated Press. We spoke to Arun about the current state of South Asians in the media, evolution of the community in Hollywood with stars such as Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra, and the South Asian community’s place in America.
42 minutes | Jul 24, 2017
Ep. 11 – Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Kalsi
We sat down with a true American hero—Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Singh Kalsi, who made history to become the first Sikh in more than a generation to serve in the United States military with his articles of faith intact, including with his beard and dastar (or turban). He began his active duty in June of 2010 shortly after completing medical school, specializing in emergency and disaster medicine. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal upon his return for his “expert” emergency care of over 750 service members and civilians. Lieutenant Colonel Kalsi paved the way for other Sikhs to serve in the military with their religious articles of faith intact, and ultimately for other communities as well, including that of the Muslim community and others. We spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Kalsi about his experience serving as a Sikh American in the U.S. Army, what is feels like being a Sikh in the United States and what his deployment to Afghanistan was like.
49 minutes | Jul 10, 2017
Ep. 10 – Freeholder Assad Akhter
We traveled to the streets of Paterson, New Jersey to chat with Passaic County’s newest Freeholder, Assad Akhter. He made history as the first Muslim-American Freeholder in the county, and as only the second South Asian American freeholder in the state. Assad spoke about how events such as September 11, 2001 motivated him to enter politics and government, and how he worked his way up from being a lowly intern to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., to his current role as an elected official. We also spoke about the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Trump Campaign and the effects that it has had on the Muslim American community today. Lastly, we touch upon the feature article that the New York Times wrote on Freeholder Akhter’s dating life and how he ultimately met his wife, Saira.
34 minutes | Jun 26, 2017
Ep. 9 – Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg
Today we hit the runway with Miss New Jersey USA and runner-up to the 2017 Miss USA Beauty Pageant, Chhavi Verg. The young Edison native and Rutgers University sophomore became only the second Indian-American Miss New Jersey USA and the first to make runner up. Chhavi talks about her journey moving from India as a toddler and what the American Dream meant for her. We also spoke about what it feels like being on stage competing on prime time television, the physical and mental training she endured a year and a half leading up to the pageant, the trend of more South Asian women competing in beauty pageants, and the issues of cyberbullying that she faced and overcame. Tune in to see who will be crowned the Miss Politics and Spice on this week’s episode.
40 minutes | Jun 12, 2017
Ep. 8 – Councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton (West Windsor)
West Windsor Councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton joined us today on the Politics and Spice podcast. Councilwoman Hamilton began serving on the West Windsor Township Council in 2016 and has been active in this role since then. She also has her own law practice, Hamilton Law Firm, P.C., which specializes in employment and business law. The Councilwoman speaks about her journey traveling from India to the United States for college and then law school in Ohio, to her current hometown of West Windsor. She explains her unexpected entrance into politics and local government, what issues she is most passionate about in serving the residents of West Windsor, and plans for seeking higher office in the future.
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