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Editor’s Desk Typically, this would be considered Diaspora Season in India. Overseas Indians from different corners usually keep their tryst with India during the months of December and January. The majority of the older diaspora that comes from erstwhile British, French and Dutch colonies are descendants of Indians who went to work on indenture—or a time bound contract—following the abolition of slavery. The last group of indentured workers moved out of India in the second decade of the 20th century before the 80year-old practice was brought to a halt by the colonial entities. They are also called the plantation diaspora given that they mostly worked in sugar, tea, rubber and coffee plantations around the world whose produce helped power these European nations into positions of great economic strength. In some cases they are fifth or sixth generation persons of Indian origin. They are settled across these former colonies in Africa, South Asia, the northern fringes of mainland South America, the Caribbean, islands in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The newer diaspora, on the other hand, is made up of people who left India relatively recently—mostly post 1960s to find greener pastures in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, parts of the Asia Pacific and the Gulf. Their immigration story, of course, is an ongoing one. Both the old and new diaspora have significantly different expectations from their engagement with India. Even though there are quite a few in the older diaspora that have risen to positions of eminence in public and social life in their adopted countries, the majority are still seeking to re-establish and strengthen their connections with their roots provided they are able to trace them in the first place. After all during colonial times they were cut off from India for large passages in time and were not familiar with the changes that were taking place in their country of origin. Visits back to India were few and far between, often discouraged and disallowed by the colonial agents and plantation owners who recruited them. Spiritually, culturally and linguistically it is hugely important for this diaspora to keep its connections with India alive. Since the bulk of the older diaspora travelled from northern and southern India, their descendants often come on pilgrimage to these parts, preserve the language of their ancestors, and practice music, dance and customs the way their forbears once did. Of course in some of these nations there has been a mixing of cultures, and hence it is not always easy to find pure Indian traditions being practiced. But nevertheless the quest to remain Indian in their ways remains everlastingly in their hearts. The newer diaspora which still has parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives in India, is looking to engage differently. Many from this diaspora have made significant economic gains and are in a position to contribute by way of investments and transfer of knowledge and skills to India. They are looking for a transparent India free of bottlenecks and red tape and are quite willing to give back plentifully to their mother country. That is why it becomes highly important that at events such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas there is an exchange of ideas and knowledge among stakeholders in India and the Indian diaspora which leads to clarity on what can benefit the nation in its march forward and what is the ground reality the pravasis can expect. In this issue we have articles on how Indians are making philanthropic contributions in the land of their domicile. To learn more on this please access indicated website links where greater details can be found. An article on impressions of an NRI—in this case a renowned California-based cardiologist who carried out India’s first angioplasty procedure in January 1990 at Chandigarh’s PGIMER—is indicative of a new, progressive India. Also diplomatic engagement remains ever so vital, and we’ve an interview with Finland’s ambassador to India, and much more. Do visit our website and go through different sections to get a broader idea on what I’ve just discussed. Here’s hoping you enjoy navigating our pages here, and on our site. Happy New Year.

Sayantan Chakravarty

India-Diaspora, Diplomatic, Political and Business Connectivity


empire Volume 14 No. 8 January 2019 RNI No.: DELENG/2005/16693

GLOBAL ADVISORY BOARD Mr Inder Singh, Dr Rami Ranger, Dr Kamalanathan Sappani, Mr Mridul Pathak, Ms Priya Tandon Editor Sayantan Chakravarty Consulting Editor Yogesh Sood (Business and Commerce) Sipra Das (Photography) Kul Bhushan Jayant Borkar (Mumbai Affairs) Sanjay Sharma (BJP Affairs) Paras Ramoutar (Caribbean Affairs) Vishnu Bisram (New York) Premchand Ramlochun (Mauritius) Liladhar J. Bharadia (Kenya) Jay Banerjei (Toronto) Head—Art and Print Jaydev Bisht Additional Contributions From Amit Dasgupta, Inder Singh, Sugandha Rawal, Narinder Wadhwa, Avdesh Sharma, Yogi Ashwini, A. Didar Singh Registered Office: N-126, II Floor, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi - 110 048. Contact: +91.11.2923.3647, +91.11.2923.1515. Our Associate Offices: Hyderabad: Abhijit Bhattacharjee, Tel: +91.9848033874. Mauritius: 28, Cnr. Jasmins and Lataniers Avenue Résidence Sunsetville, La Caverne, Vacoas 73310 Republic of Mauritius Trinidad and Tobago: 61 Main Road, Caparo, Trinidad, W.I. Canada: Suite 209 885 Progess Ave, Toronto, ON M1H G3G Canada New York: 260, Madison Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10016 ADVERTISEMENT AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Email: M: +91.9899117477, +91.98116.27971 Printed, published, owned by Sayantan Chakravarty. Editor is Sayantan Chakravarty. Published from N -126, II Floor, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi 110 048, INDIA. Printed at Archana Advertising Pvt. Ltd., C-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Ph-1, New Delhi 110020. All rights reserved throughout the world. Any kind of reproduction in any media is prohibited. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of courts in Delhi.

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Sayantan Chakravarty is in a select group of 12 writers chosen by Scholastic Education to promote advanced English literature for schools worldwide. Included in the group are Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats, R K Narayan (Padma Vibushan and Sahitya Award winner), journalist and poet Walt Whitman, writer Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), poet Nissim Ezekiel (Sahitya Akademi Awardee), writer Jerome K Jerome (author of Three Men in a Boat), poet Edward Lear, Roald Dahl (16th on Time Magazine’s list of greatest British writers). Sayantan Chakravarty’s stories featured in Best of Indian Express of 25 years and among select stories in Best of India Today’s 25 years.


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Interview with H.E. Ms Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland to India

“There is momentum in Finland-India relations” From growing interest among Finnish businesses in India to greater tourism flow from India to Finland, plenty of bilateral action is happening on either side. Besides, trade flow is improving and with a few more likely agreements in place soon, volumes are expected to go up significantly. Ambassador Nina Vaskunlahti who has completed two years in India spoke to Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty on a range of subjects highlighting India-Finland relations

According to the Global Happiness Index 2018, Finland is the happiest nation in the world. It is also among the most peaceful nations in the world. What factors would you say contribute to the happiness quotient of Finland? To be honest, when I heard that Finland had been declared the happiest country in the world, it took me a bit by surprise. The Finns are generally considered silent and inward looking, so it set me thinking about the happiness factors. This is how I can size it up for you—our relatively small nation of 5.5 million people can boast of a fairly high quality of life where things actually work and get delivered on the ground. We have the infrastructure and a robust health and education system. Our social service is second to none. The ambient air quality is very good. There is constant access to a green ecosystem and nature in its purest form. Noise levels are very low, as a result people do find a lot of silence to reflect, take decisions and contemplate. Privacy is well respected. All this perhaps raises the happiness quotient by several notches. Let me also mention that if on rare occasions things do not work out, we have the confidence that help and solution is not too far away. People are, therefore, able to stay pretty relaxed. It is also a very safe country to be in. Children can go to schools, parks and other places unaccompanied and

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the parents know that they’ll be safe. We are also a democratic, open and peaceful society. We tolerate different attitudes and cultures, it is easy to be one’s own self while living in Finland. You could say we are a pressure-free society. When you combine all this with the overall feeling of safety and security, it naturally makes for happy minds. But do remember, we have had to work very hard to get where we are today—to become the world’s happiest nation. During the last decade trade between India and Finland has increased significantly. Please throw light on the volume of bilateral trade, and where do you see it going in the foreseeable future… Indeed in the last few years trade between the two countries has increased. Presently the volume of bilateral trade is about 1.5. billion Euros, not very unimpressive given the size of our nation. Our exports to India include mainly logistics and telecommunication equipment, machinery, pulp and paper. The machinery relates mostly to the chemical and binding industries. The volume of services—whether in tourism, IT or IT-enabled services is increasing quite rapidly. The balance of trade is 70:30 in favor of Finland. Going forward we would, of course, like to see more trade between our two nations. Negotiations for free trade agree-

H.E. Ms Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland to India

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We are encouraging India to become an active observer in the Arctic Council of which Finland has chairmanship till next spring (two-year term). So what I’m basically telling you is that what happens 7,000 km away in Finland and the Arctic region impacts what happens in India, and vice versa

ments between India and the EU should be recommended. What kind of promotional activities have been undertaken by Team Finland in the year 2018 in India? They involve organizing high-level visits between Finland and India including those by ministers, senior officials and businesses. We’ve worked closely with business chambers and local-level politicians on either side. I have been part of the promotional activity and have recently been to Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Pune, and Bengaluru. As a follow up of these activities, we are in close touch with interested companies on both sides. Besides, we are trying to identify the right partners in India. We’ve also invited Indian businesses and influencers to Finland—they can see how things work on the ground. Seeing is believing. The areas where we are likely to see much progress soon are clean technology, waste-toenergy conversion, IT-based health solutions, solar energy, and charging of electrical vehicles. Also, advanced biofuels for transportation and smart grids for electricity transmission are some of the priorities for Finnish energy companies and technology providers. Could you throw some light on the cooperation between the two countries on Arctic issues? In the spring of 2018 we organized a think-tank event on Arctic issues. It may appear to most that India is very far away from the Arctic, but the truth is that what happens in our part of the world does affect India. Both countries will feel the effects of melting Arctic ice due to black carbon and overall climate change. It will affect the environment and climate in the Himalayas and have an impact on flows and flooding. There will be a rise in the levels of sea water, which means the vast Indian population living along your very large coastline stands to be affected adversely. Also India’s carbon emissions remain a worry for us in the Arctic region. We need to find solutions on reducing the carbon footprint. Finland is currently chair-

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ing the Arctic Council (its two-year term ends in spring of 2019). So we are encouraging India to play the role of an active observer in this Council. Both nations have a joint interest in making the world a better place. What are the major opportunities for investment by Indian businesses in Finland? So far there have been investments in holiday and tourism businesses. Holiday Club Finland is owned by an Indian company—they run holiday resorts where you buy a share for a week or a month. Indian investments include those in the IT sector, and data centres—Finland provides a good environment to keep data safe and cool. There’s one new field I’d like to take up in particular, that is Finnish consumer goods, especially in the food and beverages sector. There’s no doubt that the Indian market is tough to enter, but I think there is increasing interest from Finnish companies. We tell them not to be overwhelmed by the large expanse of India, its diversity and its considerable market size. We encourage them to look at smaller chunks, foray into targeted regions, or states, before venturing out nationally. Finland on the other hand is relatively much more homogenous as a market and, therefore far easier to understand for investors. Is Finland participating in some of the Mission Mode projects in India such as Make in India, Clean Ganga, Clean India, Digital India, Smart Cities, Startup India? Yes we are contributing to most of these programmes. For instance Smart Cities is a joint Nordic effort called Nordic Sustainable Cities—all five Nordic countries are working together to familiarize Indian counterparts with Nordic ideas and solutions. The areas we focus on majorly are waste management, IT-based solutions, traffic solutions, and overall how to make your city smart. We are cooperating with two cities in Uttar Pradesh and one in Goa. And we have had representatives from these cities visiting all five

Nordic capitals. Once again seeing is believing, in Helsinki the Indian visitors familiarized themselves with Smart City Planning, we were able to show our Indian delegates how to build houses that are environmentally and ecologically friendly, energy passive, and, of course, smart. They were shown how these houses can be operated from a distance. Besides, demonstrations were given on how traffic can be organized to improve safety. Insofar as Make in India is concerned, there are Finnish companies that have been working in India for years. They have been producing in India, not only for the Indian market, but are also using India as a hub to export to nearby nations. In Digital India, Nokia was one of the leading network operating companies. As far as StartUp India goes, we’ve a famous Finnish event called Slush. Forty Indian StartUps were in Helsinki in early December to participate at Slush. The event brings together startup companies and investors. It is a place where a startup makes a pitch and if an investor is interested, then it gets the funding. As a matter of fact one of the leading Indian companies had its annual meeting

in Finland where they organized a kind of a Shark Tank (popular TV programme) in Finland. There were a handful of Finnish contestants, and the winner got a hefty amount of money. There is great potential in Finland for receiving tourists from India? Has there been a growth on that front? Yes there is potential. One-third of Finland is above the Arctic Circle. There is Lapland which is a beautiful part of the country. Even though scarcely populated, it makes for a highly popular holiday destination, especially during winter time when there is snow all around, plenty of opportunity for winter sports and, of course, one can see the Northern Lights. Finland is also worthwhile visiting during summer months. It is a land where one can meet with nature, see the boundless skies and nearly 200000 lakes. There has been an increase of 25-30 per cent in issuance of tourist visas to Indians annually. Thus far in 2018, 76,000 overnights have been spent by Indian tourists in Finland. It is one-third more than last year. â??

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ndian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is a specialized public sector financial institution dedicated for financing renewable energy (RE) projects in India and has been playing pivotal role in developing renewable energy. IREDA has been maintaining its leadership position in Renewable Energy space for more than 31 years and developing several innovative financial schemes/solutions for meeting the market requirement from time to time. IREDA has an excellent track record of financing more than 2500 renewable energy projects in the country with cumulative loan sanctions of more than Rs. 67,000 Crores (USD 9.50 billion), supporting green power capacity addition of more than 13,000 MW. IREDA is an IS/ISO 9001:2015 certified company and has also been awarded ISO 27001: 2013 Based Information Security Management System. Performance Highlights During the last three decades, IREDA has evolved & recognized as one of the most important player in financing and development of renewable energy sector in India. The highlights of loan sanctions and disbursements are given in the charts. Sectors being financed Over the years, IREDA has introduced several Innovative financing schemes/mechanisms like structured / flexible repayments linking with seasonal generation, longer door-todoor repayment periods of upto 20 years and higher Debt Equity ratio for Solar and Wind Projects, short term loan for implementation of projects, Scheme for discounting of Energy Bills” – to address the issue of delay of payments by DISCOMs and Bridge loan assistance against capital subsidies / VGF, etc. IREDA has been offering most competitive rate of interest for financing RE projects and acting as a trend setter for other FIs and banks.

energy and energy efficiency sectors for more than 31 years. Taking a cue from the successful business model created by IREDA, other financial institutions / banks have been increasingly coming forward to finance the RE sector. IREDA is amongst the largest ‘Green Energy Financier’ in India & this has greatly supported the shaping of renewable energy sector in India. IREDA has been a focal point of attracting international finance in the Indian RE sector; many multilateral/ bilateral lending agencies such as the World Bank, JICA, ADB, KFW, AFD & EIB prefer to IREDA’s role–Development of Indian route their funds through IREDA for supRE Sector porting the Indian RE sector. IREDA now Renewable energy is a key tool for prohas many international lines of credit, viding sustainable Energy security and which are on a non-sovereign basis. growth simultaneously, fostering the clean Mr K S Popli, CMD, IREDA Besides fulfilling its role as a financial inenergy in the environment. Renewable Energy power is environmentally sustainable and contributes to- stitution, IREDA has been pro-actively disseminating inforwards ‘Energy Access’ under decentralized mode. Setting up mation to stakeholders on various facets of the Renewable of projects in remote/ rural regions develops local infra- technologies by way of Awareness Programs, Best Practices structure and creates employment opportunities, leading to Manuals, Compendiums etc. IREDA shall continue in its endeavor to provide ethical and useful financial instruments to holistic growth in an ethical manner. ❐ IREDA has successfully been financing its core renewable accelerate the growth of RE sector in India.

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iNdia aNd australia

Need to re-craft aN old relatioNship India-Australia relations are a classic example of unrealised potential and a tragic tale of consistently missing opportunities, despite multiple areas of strategic convergence and shared interests. It is almost as if apathy holds back both countries from trying to break new ground in a significant manner. This has been frustrating and disappointing By Amit Dasgupta


nderstanding this is as much a dilemma as trying to explain it. In the early years, the relationship was at best prickly. Canberra viewed New Delhi with suspicion after India’s embrace of non-alignment and strategic distancing and, thereafter, its nuclear tests. However, this changed, especially after India dramatically re-crafted its relationship with Washington and other major Western powers. Many argue that the neglect of New Delhi had been so acute that the sudden coziness between the US and India surprised and confused Canberra to such an extent that it was unsure as to how it should reimagine its relationship with New Delhi. The lack of a strategic policy was such that, at one stage, the prestigious Sydney-based Lowy Institute even argued that if Canberra did not act with utmost urgency in recrafting the manner in which it viewed and engaged with New Delhi, it might not find a place among India’s friends and allies. In their view, in a world that was dramatically redrawing strategic relationships, Australia needed India more than the other way around. This was, most certainly, not a one-sided distancing. For India, geography and history became gate-keepers. Foreign and security policymakers recalled history as the great stumbling block and argued that New Delhi could craft its destiny without Australia’s help or support. Business and industry, similarly, repeatedly found excuses not to engage

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Australia with the vigour with which it engaged the US or Europe. Even people-to-people contact was limited. Misperceptions and history dragged the relationship into some black hole that it refused to extricate itself from. Both countries, tragically, blind-sighted themselves into believing that a more substantive and engaged relationship would not impact their futures. The cricket-curryCommonwealth (3Cs) diplomacy that many Australians spoke of demonstrated how palpably the relationship was lacking in depth and substance but, more importantly, how neither country saw any pressing strategic interest in taking it to the next level. This perception was dramatically disrupted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through his four-city visit to Australia in November 2014 and the bold joint statement that outlined the vision of a vastly expanded bilateral and strategic engagement. It was India reaching out as never before to a very surprised Canberra that had not anticipated the extent with which Modi reached out to the government and the people of Australia. All of a sudden, there was hope that the relationship would reach new frontiers and that the years of neglect would slip away quickly. There was, in fact, clear strategic focus and logic to reshaping the bilateral relations, especially in the face of a changing world order, an openly hegemonic China and strategic uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific that led

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind unveiling the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Jubilee Park, Sydney on November 22, 2018. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on extreme right

many to believe that the Pacific would, in fact, be the staging ground for the next Cold War. There was genuine and credible optimism that Modi’s visit would allow the hesitations of history to be overcome and that the stage was set for a new and inspired chapter in bilateral relations. Unfortunately, in the four years since Modi’s visit, while there have been some positive developments, a transformative change in the relationship has not yet happened. Both sides continue to remain hostage to the past, Canberra more so than New Delhi. Outstanding Australian diplomats like John McCarthy; Peter Varghese, former Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and High Commissioner to India; and present High Commissioner Harinder Sidhu can only do so much. They have championed a more robust and substantively upgraded relationship but are hindered by a lack political support from Canberra. Take the case of Varghese’s comprehensive, indeed outstanding, India Economic Strategy Report that was commissioned by the Liberal government, for instance. The report has not yet found favour with Canberra, despite

President Kovind delivers an address at a lunch hosted by Victoria Governor Linda Dessau at Government House, Melbourne, on November 23, 2018

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian PM Scott Morrison meet on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Singapore on November 14, 2018

the strong public endorsement it has received. Many believe it would be buried because Beijing found it offensive. Even Labour has been hesitant about a bold transformation of its bilateral relationship. As recently as October 2018, Bill Shorten, in a policy speech on what might be expected if the Labour government comes to power in the forthcoming elections, managed only a one-line reference to India, South Korea and Japan, while endorsing the importance that Australia attaches to the Indo-Pacific. This can be seriously disappointing. The elephant in the room that Canberra grapples with is that it sees India through the lens of Washington and China. This is understandable because both are strong relationships that Australia has invested in over decades. Few might know, for instance, that Mandarin is the second most widely spoken language in Australia. Both Liberal and Labour recognise that Australian foreign policy must reflect the compulsions of a rapidly changing present and an unpredictable future, but are unable to see beyond the past.

For decades and even after Modi’s historic visit, Canberra is navigating a difficult terrain by trying to seek a relationship with India to counterbalance Beijing, while simultaneously being mindful of not annoying Beijing. This is hardly likely to work. As Indian President Ram Nath Kovind makes a state visit to Australia from November 21, it should be remembered that no relationship can be crafted if it does not matter in its own right. Till Canberra recognises this, we would remain trapped in the cauldron that the 3Cs represent. It is time to change the vocabulary. Only time will tell if Canberra is willing to see India as a strategic partner in the rapidly changing global scenario and particularly in the Indo-Pacific. It is also time that New Delhi recognises that it is very much in her interest to reach out to Canberra and carry forward the vision that was enunciated four years ago. ❐ —The author, a former diplomat who has served as Indian Consul General in Sydney, is the Inaugural Director of the UNSW Sydney’s India Centre. The article is in special arrangement with South Asia Monitor

All of a sudden, there was hope that the relationship would reach new frontiers and that the years of neglect would slip away quickly

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Mr Nitin Gadkari Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and Shipping

Mr Dharmendra Pradhan When Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

Mr Ananth Kumar Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers

Mr Anant Gangaram Geete Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises

Mr Chaudhary Birender Singh Minister for Steel

Ms Smriti Irani When Minister for Human Resource Development

Mr Radha Mohan Singh Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

Mr Narendra Singh Tomar When Minister for Steel and Mines

Mr Ram Vilas Paswan Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

Ms Uma Bharti When Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

Mr Thawar Chand Gehlot Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment

Mrs Sushma Swaraj Minister for External Affairs and Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs

Mr Shripad Y Naik Minister of State (IC), AYUSH

Mr VIjay Goel When Minister of State (IC) for Youth Affairs and Sports

Mr Babul Supriyo Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Ex) Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (IC)

Pictures by: siPra Das

(May 2014 onwards)


Interview with Dr. Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, Secretary (CPV & OIA), Ministry of External Affairs

“PM’s interactions have increased diaspora confidence” Dr D.N. Mulay who has overseen the preparations of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in Varanasi spoke to India Empire Magazine’s Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty on a range of issues concerning overseas Indians. This is the second PBD in a row under his charge as Secretary in the MEA

The PBD is coming after two years. This time it is the Prime Minister’s constituency. How significant does this become in an election year? Well I would say that the fact that it is in the Prime Minister’s constituency goes to show how much importance the Hon’ble PM is giving to this event. You have seen that Prime Ministers have been interacting with the diaspora on a regular basis over the years. Our current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has, however, really upgraded the engagement with the diaspora. There has been no visit of his abroad where he has not engaged with the diaspora. Whether it is in the Gulf countries, Far East, North America, Latin America—wherever he has gone he’s always made it a point to take part in a high level and high profile event involving the Indian diaspora. What happens in such cases is that it also attracts the attention of the local Government. The confidence of the Indian diaspora goes up. Even their stature in the eyes of the local Government is raised. Coming back to Varanasi, this particular PBD is very significant not only because it is in PM’s constituency but also because this is a three-in-one event attached to the PBD. You have the PBD in Varanasi—the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world. That being the case, the PM’s constituency has also become an important place to

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showcase the development that has taken place. So, it will be a kind of a presentation of heritage alongside modernity. For Hindus, Varanasi has been a great pilgrimage place but it is also so for Muslims, Buddhists and Jains which is not so well known outside. Varanasi also typically represents theSarva Dharma Sama Bhava which is a core Indian value. Also alongside the PBD we are also organizing a visit to the Kumbh. Those who wish to see and feel the Kumbh, have a snan, all of that will be facilitated. And thereafter all those who will be going to Kumbh will be brought by special Pravasi trains to participate and witness the Republic Day Parade. So these are the three elements, and I think it is a unique thing among all the PBDs so far. Republic Day is very important because that is where India showcases its development, its strategic power, socio-economic and cultural development. For us it is a very prestigious event. So, all in all this will be very, very unique. It is also the first time it is being held outside the Metros. Yes, PBDs have also been held at Kochi and Jaipur, but those are bigger cities. You are overseeing preparations for the second PBD, following the one in January 2017. In between what has been the engagement process with the dias-

Dr. Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay Secretary (CPV & OIA) Ministry of External Affairs

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pora like? Have you had interactions with the diaspora on an ongoing basis? Indeed, yes. We’ve interacted at different levels. As I mentioned, Prime Minister is addressing the diaspora wherever he goes. External Affairs Minister Shrimati Sushma Swaraj has also been meeting with communities wherever she goes and has been holding her own interactions. We have also been celebrating International Yoga Day, big time. On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary we’ve brought out a musical on Vaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye in several languages of the world. The singers are all local people, in one case it is the President of a country who has sung. It’s gone viral on YouTube and is worth watching. In addition to that we have held regular bimonthly/quarterly conferences. At these conferences we have invited members of the Indian diaspora and experts from India to discuss the specific subjects such as waste management, artificial intelligence (AI), youth and their contribution to India. They have proved to be very useful and productive. All recommendations have been sent to the concerned ministries and action taken reports (ATRs) submitted. These recommendations and ATRs will be presented by the same panelists at PBD 2019 and put forward for discussions where everybody can participate. The maximum time will be given for interaction. Then the final recommendations

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will be sent back to the relevant ministries. We have created new mechanisms and frameworks for students going abroad, workers in the Gulf, academicians, recruitment agents for workers who will be going overseas, helping out women who have been suffering particularly because of abandonment by the partner. We have taken up various issues with the ministries concerned such as Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, HRD, Skill Development. So our engagement is not just restricted to the diaspora but has been going on with central ministries, state Governments, NGOs, academicians, universities. It is a very different engagement that has taken place. We understand that the IDF has played a significant part in this engagement process with the diaspora. Can you please talk us through it? Rather than go for one kind of philanthropy, we now try to see that more experts and expertise in technology is brought back. For instance one of our bimonthly conferences was on solar energy. There experts who came also offered the technology at a very reasonable rate with state of the art technology. This is not available to anyone else, it is only offered to India. So this is also giving back by the Indian diaspora. Artificial Intelligence experts had come, they met with Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. They also

met the Niti Ayog people and are now contributing or making suggestions for policy making. So this type of giving back is transformational in nature. People who come to us, we are helping them to connect with the state Governments who we want to take up a more proactive role in terms of helping identifying land for projects offered, providing concessions required to build schools, and granting permissions in an expeditious manner. All this is being done through our Department in the Ministry. In the last four years, the Prime Minister has had vast interactions with the Indian diaspora, starting with the one at the Madison Square Garden. He has had significant interactions in San Jose, Wembley, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Tokyo, Germany and also several countries. What have been the primary gains from this type of engagement? One of primary gains I’d say is that the confidence level of our diaspora has increased. It has also improved trust and helped gain the respect of the host nations in Indian communities. These, of course, cannot be quantified but are reflected in the image that India now has in these countries. Our view is that the more you empower the diaspora, the more the diaspora empowers India, and vice versa. We’ve seen that after 1992 when economic reforms were introduced, the first wave of philanthropy happened with Indians started contributing to research by way of announcing grants. Later they started bringing in investments and gradually the interest levels in India went up. When Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee became PM, he introduced another booster dose, both in terms of economic reforms as well as diaspora interactions. Today what you see is the cumulative impact of all the efforts put in by various PMs. Thanks to the Foreign Minister, Indians in distress in various parts of the world have found quick attention and relief. Your views… Absolutely, now we say that help is just a tweet away. For the most vulnerable segments, i.e. women and workers, we’ve taken special measures. Besides there are two slogans adopted that aptly describe our engagement with the diaspora—pardesh mein naukri paao, suarkshit jaao, prateekshit jaao (when you go abroad, go trained, go safe). We have created an ecosystem to support this slogan by interacting with

the state Governments, by creating training facilities, by initiating awareness campaigns, and by empowering our missions. The second slogan pertains to the part when the workers have reached the host countries. Then our slogan is pardesh mein aapka dost Bharatiya dootavaas (Indian embassy/consulate is a home away from home). What it also means is that embassies are no more the places which were aloof towards overseas Indians. Now they are at the centre of our attention. During natural calamities of any kind, in case of accident, death or any kind of exploitation, the Indian embassy’s presence is felt in every corner of the world. We have an institutional framework like Community Welfare Fund which provides help to distressed overseas Indians. We have the Madad portal which covers all grievances. We have e-migrate for overseas Indian workers. All these institutional mechanisms have combined to create a very powerful machinery that looks after the welfare, protection and security of overseas Indians, which I’d say is unprecedented. In recent years we’ve helped evacuate over 90,000 Indians from overseas. Our Community Welfare Fund has helped more than 130,000 people by way of providing food, shelter, medical assistance, repatriation of mortal remains, initiating legal assistance to bring relief to women and prisoners in foreign jails in particular. We’ve adopted a holistic approach. We understand that there will be a strong engagement with the Youth Diaspora. You’ve already strengthened that engagement through the various KIPs and SIPs. Please elaborate… Yes we will have a Youth PBD on January 21. It is going to be a kind of a curtain-raiser for the main PBD…it’ll have participants from the Know India Programme. This year we’ll have a golden jubilee batch of KIP participants. Essentially this batch will have a candidate from each of the previous 49 batches. In addition, the 51st and 52ndbatches will attend. For senior citizens from across religions we will have a Darshan / Teerth Yatra. Between 350-400 youth are expected to be present at an interaction at the Banaras Hindu University. Among those who will be interacting with them will be Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Uttar Pradesh Minister Chetan Chauhan will be interacting with them. There will be a cultural programme and a Know India quiz programme. ❐

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Metro GuiDe for Pravasis in Delhi - ncr



IMPRESSIONS OF AN NRI Dr Harvinder Sahota, world renowned cardiologist from Laguna Beach, California, shares his impression with Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty after his visit to Punjab in December 2018, seven years since the time he’d last visited India. Mr Chakravarty has authored and published Dr Sahota’s biography—Straight from the Heart—a 180-page coffee table book in 2016-2017. He was the first doctor to carry out angioplasty in India in January 1990 for which he flew down to Chandigarh with a team of specialists from the USA


y journey with my wife, Dr Asha Sahota, from Los Angeles commenced on December 4. I reached Mumbai with a layover in London. We took another flight to Amritsar and then reached Jalandhar by road. I must admit that I thoroughly combed most of Punjab between December 6 and 15, 2018, as I was coming here after a long time. Weather-wise it was a period when things were quite similar to the one back in California. On December 8, I was Chief Guest at my alma mater, DAV College Jalandhar which was celebrating its 100th anniversary and alumni from different batches had got together. The ambience was very friendly and welcoming. We were very well taken care of by DAV Principal Dr S K Arora and by the main organizer Dr P K Sharma. I met pass outs from earlier times and felt nostalgic about my student days at the College where I did by F.Sc in 1959 before moving to the Patiala Medical College. A dear friend, Dr Harbhajan Singh Girgla, a classmate from my Patiala Medical College days, and his family were kind enough to come from Delhi and spend time with us. The next day, December 9, we set out for the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Temple is to the Sikhs what Vatican is to the Christians. I was overwhelmed by the very large number of worshippers who were paying their respect to Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book. On December 10 we visited Fatehgarh Sahib, the place where the two young sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were buried alive by the Mughals because they refused to convert themselves and become Muslim. That night was spent at the Marriot Hotel in Chandigarh and I must confess that it rivaled any top five-star hotel in the West. The hotel staff, the

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The Sahota family ancestral house in Garhdiwala

LEFT: Dr Sahota being felicitated at the DAV College, Jalandhar, where he was chief guest. RIGHT: Dr Sahota at the Khalsa Elementary School, Mohalla Gobind Garh, Jalandhar City, where he attended grades 1 to 4

LEFT: The house at Ferozepur Tankawali where Dr Sahota was born. It was at the yard of this house sometime in 1941 that he was declared dead as an infant before he took a life-saving breath after several minutes had passed by. To the left is the present principal of the Government High School in Ferozepur. Also seen are the present occupants (father and daughter) on either side of Dr Sahota. RIGHT: At the Government High School in Ferozepur Cantonment whose opening ceremony was carried out on February 24, 1925 in the presence of the then Director of Public Instruction, Punjab, Sir George Anderson. Standing from left are Mr Malkit Singh Kular and Mrs Jitender Sahota Kular (Dr Sahota’s brother-in-law and sister), Principal of Government High School in Ferozpur Cantonment, Dr Asha Sahota, Dr Sahota and the P.T. teacher at the same school

LEFT: Dr Sahota presents his biography to Dr Navjot Kaur (centre), Principal, Lyallpur Khalsa College for Women in Jalandhar, at a function he was invited. RIGHT: Dr Sahota’s biography being presented to the principal of the Government School for Boys (second from right) and his counterpart at the Government School for Girls (second from left) in Ferozepur Cantonment january 2019 | india empire 29


Dr Sahota, Chief Guest at the DAV College Jalandhar centenary function, alongside other distinguished guests

receptionist, the managers greeted us by saying Sat Sri Akal— a respectful Punjabi greeting. The food was delightful and the rooms were excellent. In my mind, India had progressed! On December 11 we went to my medical college in Patiala, the princely town of Rajas and Maharajahs. Our contact was Col. Karaminder Singh. He along with College Principal Dr B.S. Sidhu, Medical Superintendent Dr Rajan Singla, Deputy MS Dr M S Dangwal and Dr B S Sohal showed us around the college and hospital. Lots of improvements and constructions were on. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and sincerity of the hospital superintendent, the principal and the doctors. That night we were back to Jalandhar which acted as our headquarters. On December 12 we went to Gurudwara Nanaksar near Ludhiana, the other main town in Punjab. On December 13 we were off to Ferozepur, a border town with Pakistan, where I was born. I was able to see the very house where I was born. Also I visited the Government High School that I’d attended between grades five and eight here. The principal and teachers were very happy to see us. We used to live at the railway bungalow on 3, Burton Road in the Ferozepur Cantonment, not too far from the school. On December 14, the day before starting our return journey, I visited my ancestral home in Garhdiwala. Without the help of one Faqir Singh I’d probably not found it. I was amazed at the progress Garhdiwala had made. The same day we went to the Khalsa College for Women in Jalandhar where the principal Dr Navjot Kaur and teachers showed us around. The high point was the Punjab Heritage Place. It showcased Punjabi culture and life down the ages. It was indeed very informative and educative. The following day, December 15, the principal of Khalsa College Garhdiwala Dr Satwinder Singh Dhillon came to meet us and briefed us on the activities and progress in his institution. Soon we were back at the Amritsar airport, this time for our departure back home. Like in Mumbai, services at the

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The 3 Burton Road railway bungalow in Ferozepur Cantonment where Dr Sahota lived during his high school days (5th to 8th grade)

Amritsar airport were highly efficient and we found a large number of choices in terms of the airlines one could opt for. The facilities at the airport were impressive. The staff overall was very courteous. The Amritsar airport is getting busier by the day which in itself is a sign of progress. Domestic and international flights are frequent. Yes, and there was no loss of luggage. At this point I’d like to recognize the life-long friendship with Daya Singh and his family, especially his son Jatinder Pal Arora (Rinku) who keeps me updated about news from India and the Amritsar airport. I thank him for this. There were stark changes since I came to India last in 2011. I found people genuinely friendly and welcoming. The roads in Punjab were impressive. I did not see any homeless or starving people. Unlike other times, I kept my health and did not fall sick. With the overall significant progress I saw, I can say that my stay was very enjoyable and I’m ready to ❐ return to India again! —To read more get a copy of the book by visiting and clicking on Our Publications



AMERICAN COMMUNITY Giving Back to India and America by inder singh

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” —Winston Churchill


hilanthropy is an act of contributing personal wealth, goods, time, talent, and expertise for charitable or similar causes to promote human welfare. Giving back to society is an admirable and noble trait. People donate with altruistic interests for a variety of reasons—to promote a worthy or favorite cause, reduce income and estate taxes, or simply share with the society that has given them the opportunity to achieve fortune. There are several examples of Americans who have given back to the community for worthy causes. Andrew Carnegie, the Ford family, the Rockefeller family, and many more gave substantial amounts and also took advantage of deductions that reduced the high tax rates on their income. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Warren Buffett have given several billions for charity. In 2006, investor Warren Buffett pledged $31 billion in company stocks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. By 2010, the Foundation had disbursed over $26 billion, most of it to global health. In June 2010, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates started the “Giving Pledge” campaign encouraging billionaires to pledge a majority of their wealth during their lifetime or in their wills for philanthropy. Warren Buffett pledged to give 99% of his fortune in philanthropy. As of May, 2018, 183 wealthy people have committed to giving at least half of their fortunes to charity during their lifetimes or in their wills. A few Indian American billionaires have also joined the Giving Pledge. Forbes’ 2018 list shows the United States to be the home of the greatest number of billionaires, with 585. Jeff Bezos ($112 B), Bill gates ($90 B), and Warren Buffet ($84 B) are among the top three wealthiest Americans. Ten Indian American billionaires are also in the Forbes list. Miami-based Rakesh Gangwal, Co-founder of IndiGo, a low-cost domestic airline in India, is the richest Indian American with a net worth of $3.3 billion. He was chairman of US Airways before starting IndiGo. Romesh Wadhwani of Silicon Valley is the second richest Indian American with a net worth of $ 3.1 billion. Vinod Khosla with a net worth of $2.3 billion is the third-richest among

Indian Americans. None of the Indian Americans are in the top 200 list of wealthy Americans. Some Indian Americans are equally passionate about giving back to the society. A few with philanthropic instinct, magnanimous heart, social consciousness or passion for human care, have donated large amounts of their personal wealth to support a range of causes including education, poverty alleviation, medical and healthcare research, economic development, and entrepreneurship.

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DIASPORA—PHILANTHROPY In 1912, when Indians in America were barely six or seven thousand and a large majority were unskilled laborers, Jawala Singh started Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Educational Scholarships for higher studies at an American university. Singh started as an unskilled farm laborer in America in 1908 and worked his way up to becoming a wealthy potato farmer in the San Joaquin Valley of California. He was motivated to fund the scholarships for students through a competition held in India. He also contributed towards the purchase of a hostel in Berkley, California by the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society, where Indian students could stay rent-free. Singh’s scholarships helped some Indian students, including Gobind Behari Lal who came for graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 1912. Gobind Behari Lal later became the science editor of the San Francisco Examiner from 1925 to 1982 and in 1937 was the first Indian to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize. Jawala Singh who was vice president of the Gadar Movement in America, could not continue the scholarships as he went to India to fight for India’s independence. He was arrested there and given life imprisonment. MAJOR DONORS Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur RomeshWadhwani, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist, founded the Wadhwani Foundation in 2000 to which he committed to donate most of his wealth. He became a member of the Gates Buffet Giving Pledge in September 2012. As of April 27, 2018, his net worth as per Forbes was $3.1 billion. In an interview published by Economic Times on May 8, 2012, he said, “I set up the foundation early so that I could give it my best years and I plan to give away 80% of my net worth in my own lifetime.” Wadhwani Foundation, as per India West of January 8, 2014, had assets of more than $100 million and had spent around $25 million on its different initiatives in India. On 15th July 2015, Romesh announced a commitment of $ 1 billion to Wadhwani Foundation.i Nova Southeastern University for Two Medical Colleges Dr. Kiran C Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel, pledged $200 million in September 2017 to Nova Southeastern University (NSU) to create two medical colleges - one in Florida, and another in India. The Patel donation is the largest philanthropic gift in the history of Nova Southeastern Uni-

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versity. Fifty million dollars of the gift is a direct monetary contribution to NSU. Another $150 million will be in the form of real estate and facility investments for a future 325,000 square-foot medical education complex that will be part of NSU’s new Tampa Bay Regional Campus, in Clearwater, Florida. New York University Tandon School of Engineering New York University President John Sexton and Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, dean of the School of Engineering, announced on October 5, 2015, a $100 million gift from Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon to NYU’s School of Engineering which will be re-named the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in recognition of the Tandons’ generosity and their belief in the school’s mission and promise. The Tandons’ donation to NYU is believed to be the largest philanthropic gift by a member of the Indian American community. Dr. Amar Bose, Bose Corporation Founder Dr. Amar Bose, Bose Corporation’s Founder, Chairman and Technical Director, on April 29, 2011, gave Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) a majority of the stock of Bose Corporation in the form of non-voting shares. His net worth in 2011, as per Forbes 400, was $1.0 billion. MIT will receive annual cash dividends on those shares to sustain and advance MIT’s education and research mission. Shriram Center for Bioengineering & Chemical Engineering Stanford University trustee Kavitark “Ram” Shriramand his wife, Vidjealatchoumy “Vijay” Shriram, have donated $ 57 million for the Shriram Center for Bioengineering & Chemical Engineer-

ing. The couple endowed the Shriram Family Professorship in Science Education in the Department of Bioengineering, bringing their total philanthropic support to $ 61 million. Ahuja Medical Center Monte Ahuja, like most of the students who came in the 1950s and 1960s, brought barely enough money from India to buy food for a day. Monte founded Transtar Industries and built it into the most successful after-market transmission parts distributor in the world. He donated $30 million to University Hospital in Cleveland for the Ahuja Medical Center in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood. The dedication ceremony of the first phase of this 53-acre health care campus on November 13, 2010 included ribbon cutting featuring Monte Ahuja, his wife Usha, daughters Ritu and Manisha, and son-in-law Neil Sethix. Monte and Usha Ahuja’s donation was the largest single donation in the 140-year history of that university. In June 2011, Ahuja donated $10 million to CSU to fund scholarships and an endowed professorship in business. The CSU’s College of Business was renamed the Monte Ahuja College of Business. In January 2013, Ahuja, donated $ 3.5 million to Ohio State University to create the Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean’s Chair in the College of Engineering.xi Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria donated funds for medical school in Virgin Islands Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, president and chairman of Chicago-based New Generation Power, donated $ 30 million on behalf of his company to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) to help launch a territorywide medical school. The gift was announced by David Hall president of University of Virgin Islands in May 2014. The medical school will be developed in partnership with the Virgin Island’s two hospitals — Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas and Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix. The Boston University School of Medicine has been instrumental in helping UVI plan for the school. Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics Dr. Mani Bhaumik, an Indian American physicist and philanthropist, donated $11 million for the establishment of the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics. The gift is considered the largest in the history of department of physics and astronomy, as per UCLA

announcement on June 21, 2016. “I thank Mani Bhaumik for his philanthropic leadership and for believing in UCLA,” said UCLA chancellor Gene Block in a statement. The new institute will host visiting scholars, organize seminars and conferences for the academic community, and begin a public outreach program to teach the community about scientific advances made by UCLA physicists. With previous donations to UCLA, Bhaumik established the Mani L. Bhaumik Presidential Chair in Theoretical Physics. Bibi Dhan Kaur Sahota Chair in Sikh Studies Dr. Harvinder Sahota donated $ 1.5 million to the University of Irvine, California for a chair in Sikh studies. The chair will be named after Sahota’s mother, Bibi Dhan Kaur Sahota. The university and Sahota signed the agreement August 12, 2015 which includes teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Sikhism, starting in September 2016. Dr. Sahota is a graduate of Patiala Medical College in Punjab. He is the creator of the perfusion angioplasty balloon. He is affiliated with four universities in Southern California; Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont School of Theology, Loyola Mary❐ mount University and U.C. Irvine. —Excerpted from the journal ‘Philanthropy in the Indian American Community’. —The author regularly writes and speaks on Indian Diaspora. He coauthored The Gadar Heroics – life sketches of over 50 Gadar heroes, published in 2013, the centenary of the Gadar Movement that was started in the USA to free India from the British slavery. The author also chaired two prestigious international A4-size hard cover book projects each running over 200 pages—Global Indian Diaspora: GOPIO Making an Impact (2012) and Indians in Greater Los Angeles Area (2017). To download or buy, please visit,

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opportuNities uNlimited by narinder Wadhwa


e all know India is called the land of opportunities. There are opportunities in the form of setting up business, higher education, investments, etc. for the people in India as well as people outside India. When we specifically look at investments opportunities in India, there are varieties of investment avenues for various kinds of investors across different asset classes whether it is Equity, Debt, Commodity, Real Estate etc. Out of these different asset classes, historically Equity TEMPhas performed extremely well. In the last 3 0 years me. since 1981, the 10 years moving average return of Sensex TEMPhas been 16.04% p.a., whereas Gold TEMPhas given 9.47%, PPF TEMPhas been 8.31%, Residential Real Estate SKI provides a whole range of products and services to fulfill the needs and requirements of a diverse client portfolio: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Investment banking & financial advisory Providing efficient Stock Broking Services Registrar & share transfer Agents Providing stock market-related consultancy Funds Management & Portfolio Management Depository Services Multi Commodity Trading Corporate advisory services Insurance life & non-life Bonds, mutual funds, debt market instruments

India has a large-sized middle class, which is further expanding substantially, offering a big fat market for foreign products and services. In fact, if India continues its recent growth trend, average household incomes will triple over teh next two decades and it will become teh world's fifth largest consumer economy by teh year 2025, according to a McKinsey report. India provides great avenues for investments in various sectors like IT, Pharma, Automobile Components, Biotechnology, Construction, Defense Manufacturing, Education, Electrical Machinery, Electronic Systems, Food Processing, Gems & Jewellery, Healthcare, IT & BPM. NRI & Foreigners can directly invest in India either on their own or as a joint venture, with a few exceptions with regard to investment limits and sectors. No government approval is required for FDI in virtually all sectors except a

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Mr Narinder Wadhwa

small negative list formulated by the government. Indian Capital Markets are open to NRI, FII’s to reap the benefit of India Growth story in all above-mentioned sectors. Everyone is optimistic wif the Modified Government at the Centre, which has brought the change in the industry by introducing new regulations for different regulatory bodies as well as different sectors, for bringing in transparency and protecting investor’s interest, if these aspirations are fulfilled, investment in the equity sector would increase by leaps and bounds as me firmly believe that Equity was and will be one of the most wealth generating investment tool and we have a live example of India’s Warren Buffet - Mr. Rakesh Jhunjunwala. It is also teh next big wealth generating opportunity for those who have never invested in equities. Though it’s said, “Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results”; but it is also said, “history repeats itself ”, and equity TEMPhas been delivering similar returns what it TEMPhas given in teh past! ❐ —The author is Managing Director of SKI CAPITAL SERVICES LTD




would like to congratulate India Empire, specially the Editor Mr. Sayantan Chakravarty for being a partner of the section on ‘Religion/Spirituality & Psychiatry’ of the World Psychiatric Association. The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) is a global body of mental health professionals, specially psychiatrists, in about 130 countries representing their professional organizations consisting of more than 200,000 psychiatrists from all continents. WPA section on ‘Religion/Spirituality & Psychiatry’ as well as International Congress in Spirituality & Psychiatry 4th Global Meeting in Spirituality & Mental Health 1st-4th December, 2019, Jerusalem, Israel and India Empire would focus on Mental Health & Well Being Issues specially in the context of Religion and Spirituality in each publication of India Empire 2019 on various aspects by eminent personalities from the field across the world. Mind is the fulcrum on which life hinges as we experience the world through our minds. Thoughts, emotions, actions and relationships of human beings with themselves, others in society and the environment defines not only the health, wealth, happiness and peace in the world but the very existence of the world itself. While there have been strides in development on economic front; human potential and social justice should not get neglected. We know that one in four persons will develop a mental health issue at least once in their life time. The burden of disease for mental illnesses has been steadily increasing and depression is emerging as the number one disease worldwide in terms of mortality and morbidity. Anxiety, Depression, Panic attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Childhood mental disorders, Dementia, Culture specific syndromes, Addictions etc. are some of the mental illnesses which commonly afflict humanity. Similarly many subclinical syndromes, stresses and problems of living or relationships have a huge impact on the overall economic and happiness indexes. Spirituality and Religion form an important part of each cultures and actually focuses on how our values and consciousness give meaning to life in health and disease. The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) have worked hard to assure that comprehensive mental health promotion and care are scientifically based and, at the same time, compassionate and culturally sensitive. In recent decades, there has been increasing public and academic awareness of the relevance of spirituality and religion to health

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Dr Avdesh Sharma

issues. Systematic reviews of the academic literature have identified more than 3,000 empirical studies investigating the relationship between religion/spirituality (R/S) and health. In the field of mental disorders, it has been shown that R/S havesignificant implications for prevalence (especially depressive and substance use disorders), diagnosis (e.g. differentiation between spiritual experiences and mental disorders), treatment (e.g. help seeking behavior, compliance, mindfulness, complementary therapies), outcomes (e.g. recovering and suicide) and prevention, as well as to quality of life and wellbeing. WHO has now included R/S as a dimension of quality of life.Although there is evidence to show that R/S are usually associated with better health outcomes, they may also cause harm (e.g. treatment refusal, intolerance, negative religious coping etc.). Definitions of Spirituality usually refer to a dimension of human experience related to the transcendent, the sacred, or to ultimate reality. Spirituality is closely related to values, meaning and purpose in life. Spirituality may develop individually or in communities and traditions. Religion is often seen as the institutional aspect of spirituality, usually defined more in terms of systems of beliefs and practices related to the sacred or divine, as held by a community or social group. The position statement which looks at integration of religions/spiritual principles in mental health and illnesses is available on The section on Spirituality/Religion and Psychiatry of World Psychiatric Association is a vibrant body, chaired by Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida (Brazil) and co-chaired by Dr. Avdesh Sharma (India). The 4th Global Meeting in Spirituality & Mental Health is going to be held on 1-4th December, 2019 ( in Jerusalem, Israel and would attract luminaries in the field of Religion, Spirituality and Mental Health as well as the interface between these. We feel that community participation is the key to positive Mental Health & Well-Being and invite you to be part of the event which would be inclusive and secular to ensure that ancient wisdom of various cultures, religions and spiritual practices is available to all for a meaningfully productive life full of Health, Happiness, Harmony, Peace and Prosperity. ❐ —Dr. Avdesh Sharma, Chairperson: International Organizing Committee, 4th Global Meeting in Spirituality & Mental Health (World Psychiatric Association) Email: &



the deeper meaNiNG of saNdhYa By Yogi Ashwini yoGi ashWini


n nature you will find that for every aspect there exists an equal and opposite. Darkness is nothing but absence of light. Similarly, silence is nothing but the absence of sound. It is only the duality in nature, the coexistence of positive and negative that gives meaning to the existence of the whole. The ancient scriptures speak of a masculine energy Shiv or the doer and a feminine energy Shakti or the force. In reality, the whole Creation derives its energy from Shakti and without her even the Lord is also just a form, the same applies to all aspects of Creation. At the same time, Shakti without the Lord is just pure energy, which needs a vehicle to carry out desires. The complete evolution thus becomes Lord Ardhanareeshwar. This is the form of the sacred union of Shiv and Mata Parvati as one. Interestingly, a union between a married man and woman also symbolically represents the ‘Ardhanareeshwar’. The Vedic Rishis saw the union between a man and woman not for lust or gratification of sensual desires but a sacred union for the purpose of procreation. Vedic Rishis set yogic techniques and Sanatan Kriya, which when followed can give a child of one’s choice. Parents often wish to decide everything about their child even before conception. They wish to fulfil their unfulfilled dreams through their children but these dreams cannot be fructified without Guru Kripa. However, there are certain basic guidelines that can be followed for children of a particular pravriti. In a day, energy patterns keep changing. Similarly, dayto-day patterns also keep changing. Every object of creation, all lokas (dimensions of existence) and yugas (dimensions of time), as per the revelation of the ancient yogis, exist as energy forms. The movements of earth changes the dimension of time, it lies tilted on its axis, when the axis tilts, yugas change as when it moves on the axis, the seasons change. Every movement from one dimension to

the other brings about a change or transformation as every day comes with its unique energy patterns. To better understand energy changes that occur daily we must first understand the concept of sandhya, that is, when one energy transforms into another. Vedic philosophy describes four types of sandhyas that occur on any given day. The first, Brahma sandhya, occurs an hour before and after sunrise. Positive forces are at their peak. Since this time period is the best time for communion with higher energies, a child that is conceived during this time will be a pure and saintly soul. As the day progresses, energies transform, positive energies go down while negative energy starts to rise, leading to the Tantrik sandhya. This occurs between 10.20 am and 11.30 am, where the positive and negative forces are equal in strength. This sandhya aids material gain, thus a child conceived during this time will have a strong hold over the material. At sunset again energies change giving rise to the third sandhya where negative energies are at their peak. A child conceived during this period can show negative traits. However, practices like the Sanatan kriya are done during this time to protect the child from the negative energies in the environment. The last and fourthsandhya occurs at midnight, when negative energies are going down and positive energies are going up. Interaction with the spirit world is very easy during this time. Children conceived during this time will be level headed and with potentiality to interact with the world of ether. However, if your child has Guru Kripa, no matter the time or day of birth, there is nothing he/she will not be ❐ able to achieve.

—Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Ashram and can be reached at

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PBD, DIASPORA AND MIgRATION By Dr A. Didar Singh Dr a. Didar singh


overnment of India is holding its biennial (every two years) PBD 2019 (Pravasi Bhartiya Divas) this year from 21st to 23rd January at the historic city of Varanasi. This is the 15th PBD convention and will again recognise and promote the strong bond that India has with its diaspora. As always, we will acknowledge and celebrate the tremendous contributions of our diaspora to the many host countries they belong too as also promote their engagement and contribution to mother India. India has always stood for a free and open global system where talent mobility has the opportunity to contribute to personal and societal development. India records over a 31 million diaspora around the globe including some 15 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), i.e.. Indian passport holders living overseas. It is these migrants that contribute to the international economy and whose interests need to be protected. It is towards this end that the UN has finally taken a major step recently in negotiating and agreeing to a Global Compact on Migration. This Global Compact narrative started back in 2016, when 193 members of the UN general assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York declaration for refugees and migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees and migrants. This ‘New York Declaration on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants’ saw the launching of a two-year process to develop a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, or as it is better known, the ‘Global Compact on Migration’. It had come on to the world stage on the back of the refugee crisis in Europe and the realisation of the world community that ‘migration and refugee movements’ needed to be ‘managed’. The issue after all, has been on and off the global table for years and finally there was some ‘movement’ on it. The reality is that the issue of mobility is here to stay. Globalisation demands it. So, do Corporates. It brings the best of human resource from around the world to ensure sustainability and competitiveness for the economy. It’s very much a global requirement and eagerly awaited especially by sending countries. And yet migration continues to be seen through the filter of border control and internal security. This may suit political positions of domestic protectionism but continues to be a short-term response to the larger demands of the 21st century knowledge economy.

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In early December 2017, the US walked out of the negotiations deeming it inconsistent with its policies and projecting immigration as a sovereignty issue. Despite this, in the same month at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico was concluded a three-day global stocktaking conference on the ‘global compact’. This was very well attended by the balance 192 countries (with the US conspicuously absent).After due negotiations under the umbrella of the United Nations, the draft agreement was brought before the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, held from 10–11 December 2018 at Marrakesh, Morocco. The compact was approved by the 164 nations that attended (India included). Several backed out – besides the US, so did Hungary, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Bulgaria, Slovenia, Australia, Switzerland and Israel. The question on everybody’s lips is whether this global compact is in fact ‘global’? Now that several countries have backed out, does it have global consensus? Let us remember that in any case this is a non-binding agreement. It’s more of a signal of a 21st century reality. Migration is and will continue to happen. And, as research shows, it is mostly South to South. So, these 10 or so countries backing-off doesn’t really matter – on the migration stage. They will ultimately be compelled to accept human resource mobility if they too want to remain competitive. The Global Compact for Migration aims to improve how migration is managed via a set of 23 specific objectives, ranging from the collection of adequate data to ensuring that all migrants have proof of legal identity, establishing coordinated efforts on missing migrants, and strengthening the transnational response to the smuggling and trafficking of migrants. There are many national and regional issues that need to be addressed. For example, in the South and South East Asian countries, many are not exclusive sending or receiving countries. For these countries, ethical recruitment and reducing the vulnerabilities in the migration cycle are high on the agenda. Similarly, mutual recognition of skills and harmonisation of standards are also important issues especially for countries like India. It’s good to see that these issues are being addressed by both Government and the private sector and PBD will be another important forum to contend with them. ❐ —The author is former Secretary MOIA and Ex-SG FICCI

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