Two South Asians named 2018 MacArthur Fellows

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Vijay Gupta (Courtesy: MacArthur Foundation)

Vijay Gupta and Raj Jayadev have been named as 2018 MacArthur Fellows among 25.

Gupta is a violinist and a social justice advocate, who provides musical enrichment and valuable human connection to the homeless and other under-resourced communities in Los Angeles, according to MacArthur Foundation’s website.

Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 and began to teach violin to Nathaniel Ayers, a Juilliard-trained musician whose mental illness led to homelessness, and this motivated him to play for the homeless and mentally ill living on Skid Row, an area of concentrated poverty and homelessness in downtown Los Angeles.

His experience in dealing with the homeless then led him to co-found Street Symphony in 2011, a not-for-profit organization that harnesses the power of the arts to foster social connection and support, the website adds.

Every month, Street Symphony holds live musical performances at shelters, county jails, and treatment and transitional housing facilities along with offering educational workshops in music.

Gupta received his B.S. from Marist College and his M.M. from Yale University.

He is currently the Mark Houston Dalzell and James Dao-Dalzell First Violin Chair at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Raj Jayadev (Courtesy: MacArthur Foundation)

Jayadev is a community organizer who creates a model of grassroots collective action, which gives individuals facing incarceration, their families and their communities, an active role in their defense.

His work in criminal justice reform grew from his work as a social activist with Silicon Valley De-Bug (De-Bug), an organization he co-founded in 2001.

The organization also has a magazine that highlights the issues affecting low-wage manufacturing, temporary workers, according to MacArthur Foundation’s website.

Since then, De-Bug’s magazine has evolved into a multidimensional platform for community organizing, social justice advocacy and multimedia storytelling by low-income, minority, incarcerated and other disenfranchised communities.

Jayadev received his B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles and has contributed to the San Jose Mercury News as well as the Huffington Post.

According to their website, the MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual and professional inclinations.

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