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India-Diaspora, Political, Diplomatic and Business Connectivity

iNDiA

empire Volume 13 No. 2 July 2017 www.indiaempire.com RNI No.: DELENG/2005/16693

Editor’s Desk

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he Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) came into effect on May 1, 2017. RERA covers all residential and commercial projects across India, and aims to protect the interest of millions of homebuyers, and commercial clients. There are inbuilt provisions in the Act to ensure fair play in real estate transactions, and for monitoring execution of projects so that time-lines announced by builders are maintained. As an Act of Parliament, RERA became necessary since builders failed to regulate themselves. At this point, numerous builders, including some of the biggest names in the country, are under the cosh for having failed to deliver high-profile projects on time. Thousands of buyers are suffering in India. Amidst all this chaos we have focused on Central Park on the cover. Its CMD Mr Amarjit Bakshi, an alumnus of IIT-Delhi, has managed to create a valuefor-money brand that has come up with several high-end projects in Gurgaon. The brand is focused on building credibility by what Mr Bakshi describes as “exceeding expectations always.” Inside, we have an interview with Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Mr Vijay Goel, and another one with NDMC Member Dr Anita Arya. We have a fairly large segment on country coverage. The diaspora section carries stories from the recently published book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications (pages 28-34). Happy reading.

Sayantan Chakravarty (sayantanc@gmail.com)

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 Yogi Ashwini 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: contactindiaempire@gmail.com info@indiaempire.com sales@indiaempire.com M: +91.9899117477, +91.98116.27971, +91.9953824095 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.


CONTENTS

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12

July 2017

42

REDEFINING LUXURY ........................................ 06 The rise of Central Park

COUNTRY COVERAGE ....................................... 17 Focus on Peru, Israel

DIPLOMATS’ CORNER ....................................... 10 What diplomats say about Smart Cities

DIASPORA CORNER .......................................... 27 Indian stories from world over

POLITICAL INTERVIEW ..................................... 12 Encounter with Union Minister Vijay Goel

BEAUTIFUL SPOTS ............................................. 42 Exciting pictures from across the globe

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COVER STORY: BUSINESS PROFILE AND INTERVIEW

TOP GURGAON DESTINATION

CENTRAL PARK

REDEFINING LUXURY Mr. Amarjit Bakshi is the Founder and Managing Director of Central Park, part of a billion dollar plus conglomerate with interests in Real Estate, Hospitality, Auto Components, and Infrastructure By Yogesh Sood

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r. Bakshi has been the key driving force in corporatizing and promoting Central Park. He is credited for establishing brand Central Park and spearheading the business from the front. Under his leadership, unflinching commitment to values continues to remain at the core. His visionary efforts were crowned with the overwhelming success of Central Park Golf Course Road, the first luxury condominium of the famed Golf Course Road in Gurgaon. Central Park Resorts, the flagship project of Central Park, offering Resort Residences with key differentiators of Zero Vehicles on ground surface, over 20 acres of verdant greens and water bodies, an International tunnel experience and hospitality services so that one has everything in vicinity and one needs to step out of resort home only for work. Additionally, The Room at Sector 48 Gurgaon has been an innovation and one of the most successful concepts that offers fully-serviced luxury studios and one bedroom units for today’s GenY. Highly popular with the expats community, Mr. Bakshi’s vision of making world class homes infused with hospitality approach has been very well received owing to its quality of life and value additions. An alumnus of Indian Institute of TechnologyDelhi, Mr. Bakshi has over four decades of 6

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professional experience in civil, mechanical and metallurgical engineering. He is also associated with institutions like The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Bhiwadi Manufacturers Association (BMA) and has a proven track record of being an industrialist with a futuristic vision. Central Park has been recipient of numerous awards and honours. The most prestigious of which are the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award as Best Corporate in Realty Sector, World’s Greatest Brand Asia & GCC by URS, Best Luxury Project of the Year (North) by Realty Plus Excellence Awards, Asia’s Best & Fastest Growing Real Estate Brand by WRCS Leaders, CNBC Awaaz Award being some of the prominent one besides a bevy of others. Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, he is a strong believer in the principle of Seva or Selfless Service. Mr. Bakshi actively contributes his time in supporting Jagrati Sewa Trust, an institution that supports privileged youth to complete formal school, gain vocational skill training, and other life skills so as to contribute positively to their families and the society at large. Apart from work, he is a keen fitness enthusiast and enjoys swimming, yoga, and exercising at the gym. He also has an avid interest in art and has collected various art works over the years of celebrated artists. He resides in New Delhi along with his wife and is blessed with two daughters and a son. ❐


Mr Amarjit Bakshi Founder & Managing Director, Central Park

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COVER STORY: BUSINESS PROFILE AND INTERVIEW

Interview with Mr Amarjit Bakshi Founder and Managing Director, Central Park

“Our philosophy is Exceeding Expectations Always” What does brand Central Park stand for? In the minds of many, a brand is all about the perception it creates in consumers’ minds. But for me, brand is about behavior. If a brand falls short in delivering on its promise, it would not survive in the long run. Central Park aspires to be a major player in the industry by establishing benchmarks at every point of real estate development with a widespread presence across India. We want to be recognized as an innovative organization that brings paradigm shifts in real estate products and practices through application of superior technologies, stylish aesthetics and enduring quality. We strive towards building a successful base of happy customers, content employees and secured stakeholders. How important is the customer for Central Park? In the words of Seth Godin, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” Central Park is the most apt reflection of this statement. Buying a home is one of the biggest investments made by an individual for his/her family in their life. Over the years, we have developed an astute understanding of customers’ desires and needs to craft an inimitable living experience which exudes luxury and tranquility at Central Park properties. We strongly believe in exceeding customer expectations at every level with the help of thorough planning, both in terms of infrastructure and services offered. In my opinion, the real task for a real estate developer starts once the possession of a property is handed over to its owner. Customer centricity is central to all the actions taken at Central Park with a common aim to enable quality living for its customers. What does a modern customer looks for in his dream home today? The living space speaks a lot about individual taste and preferences. Noting can match the mental satisfaction of having a space of your own called home. Today’s consumer is more evolved than before and is not easily lured by the location proposition marketed by majority of the developers. We have seen a significant shift among consumers towards ‘Quality of Life’ as the top criteria while choosing a home. The consumer is more interested in knowing how much green area is there in the apartment, how far one needs to 8

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travel for day-to-day requirements, are there ample provisions for kids to go out and indulge freely in outdoor activities, places to unwind after a long week of work, adequate safety and security measures are in place or not. If all these are met to the satisfaction of customers, they do not mind stretching their budget to own such places as they


know that it is a profitable investment being made towards living a quality life. While the consumer looks for quality of construction, proper layout, quality of interiors etc., one of the biggest factors which influences purchase decision is the reputation or trust factor of the developer in the market. These are hallmark for all Central Park Projects and we feel very proud that we have been instrumental in creating a beautiful abode for our residents. With RERA coming into effect, how do you see the market changing?? What is your take on this development? For many years, the real estate sector was largely unregulated in India. The absence of standardization and poor consumer protection measures had constrained the healthy growth of the industry. RERA is a key reform measure taken by the government towards bringing more clarity and to ensure fair practices which will protect buyer interests. It will provide more teeth to consumers as it

imposes strict regulations on the promoter and ensure that construction is completed on time. With the new regulation, a developer has to set aside 70 per cent of the deposits collected from a buyer in a separate account to meet the construction cost of the project. What is your success mantra in life? I strongly believe that every individual has the potential of achieving extraordinary things in life. All it takes is a few ounces of courage to take bold decisions coupled with hard work to taste success. I have taken great efforts to create a world class organization and have invested time and effort in aligning teams to our business philosophy i.e. Exceeding Expectations Always. I believe that the sum is always more than its parts and therefore developing talented teams and inspiring leaders is a testament to your legacy. I am privileged to have worked with some of the brightest minds in the industry today and I am sure they will continue to build on the work that we have embarked upon long after I’m gone. ❐

A glimpse into Central Park World

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ince its commencement in 2001, Central Park under the aegis of its visionary MD, Mr. Amarjit Bakshi, has positioned itself as a niche and innovative lifestyle real estate developer that is driven by enthusiasm, passion, and commitment to quality and consumer delight. All this stems from its well thought out philosophy which is tried and tested almost on a daily basis. Concepts of living that make addresses iconic, a customer-first approach that centers all focus around making his/her experience eclectic and delightful, convenience and amenities that are not only world class but thoughtful and personalized, and collaboration with the world’s best, be it architects, landscapers, service providers, professionals and internal and external stake holders. Central Park Assets When Central Park launched its first residential condominium- Central Park in 2001 on the Golf Course Road, Gurgaon, it opened the gateway for other players to follow suit. Spread across a 14.5 acre area, the 407 grandly-designed apartments and penthouses are home to many ‘corner office’ leaders and likewise community, the address has become

the most central to its famed location. Central Park Bellevue is just a five-minute drive from the heart of the city centre, IFFCO Chowk, 10 minutes from the metro station and 20 minutes from the International airport. Residents here enjoy their morning coffee with terrific views and enjoy their leisure time either swimming in the Olympic-sized swimming pool, sweating it out in the badminton, basketball or tennis courts, and more! Central Park Resorts is another industry first. Master planned by one of the most innovative and influential architectural and design services firm, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) International Limited. Central Park’s focus on concept lifestyle brought in yet another asset class, The Room, fully maintained Studio Apartments. The new concept on the horizon is the Central Park Flower Valley. A complete township replete with myriad choices of homes, world class physical, spiritual and social amenities and to top it all, a main road location in South of Gurgaon, just minutes away from Golf Course Extension Road and other landmark destinations. Positioned to be the cynosure of living of the ‘upper crest’, Central Park’s Flower Valley befits the urban lifestyle with amenities, facilities and a township that’s truly at par with the world’s best. ❐

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POLITICAL INTERVIEW

Mr VIjAy Goel MInIster oF stAte (IC) For youth AFFAIrs AnD sPorts GoVernMent oF InDIA

“We want to make India a real sporting nation” Minister of State (IC) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Mr Vijay Goel, took time out to share his vision for Indian sports during an interview with Editor and Publisher Sayantan Chakravarty at his official residence in New Delhi

In the last few years India has become more of a sporting nation. We have Indian Soccer League, Indian Tennis League, Indian Badminton League, Kabbadi League, not to forget the IPL. The standard of sports is going up. What role do you as a Ministry play in all this? We are promoting everyone. We are promoting private academies. We are promoting these leagues that you mentioned. We are promoting federations. Let me tell you that we respect their autonomy. At the same time we would want them to demonstrate complete transparency and show accountability. We are geared towards solving the problems of players and coaches. Anybody can meet me 24 hours a day. Nowadays in the Government, you don’t find anyone who says that I have a problem and that nobody is there to help me. Things have changed. As a Ministry, how do you promote private associations and leagues? We are basically promoting the players that are associated with the numerous associations. Take all the top sportspersons, whether they are from athletics, badminton, wrestling, or so many other disciplines, we are very much interested in their progress. We have the Sports Authority of India that provides the infrastructure to shape excellence. Who else but the Ministry can provide the kind of infrastructure that is necessary to give our sports movement a momentum? Soon we are going to launch our sports portal. We want to encourage people from the remotest parts of India to upload their bios and videos so that we can zero in on talent, back that talent, provide them training and scholarships. This way our sporting standards are bound to go up. 12 india empire | july 2017

We have a very vast vision for India as a true sporting nation. World over the most popular sporting events are privately run. And yet when it comes to infrastructure, all sporting bodies depend on the Government to create stadiums, cycling velodromes, tracks for athletes, hockey turfs, badminton courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, and so on. What role is your Ministry playing in creating the infrastructure that you just spoke about? Going forward, we’d only like to create that infrastructure which we can maintain in a proper way. We do not want to create infrastructure simply for the sake of adding it, they must be maintained and utilized gainfully. Creating sporting infrastructure is expensive, and we’re exploring the possibility of going in for Public Private Partnership models. What kind of International Cooperation is being undertaken to boost sports and youth initiatives in India? We have signed many MoUs with different countries. We are carrying out many exchange programs. We have also tied up for transfer of sports technology. India has never been able to host an Olympics Game. Do you think in the future we will be able to? It is not easy for any country to host an Olympic Games. It is an extremely costly affair, and the monetary returns against the expenditure are not at all commensurate. Many countries have faced this issue, leading to resentment among the tax-paying public. So, therefore, just for the sake of trying to host an event of the scale of the Olympic Games we wouldn’t like to go in for a bid. We will first try to build


pictures Š sipra das

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

july 2017 | india empire 13


POLITICAL INTERVIEW

upon our existing infrastructure, add to it in a meaningful manner, ensure that we have some solid revenue models in place, before looking to bid for the Olympic Games. It is important that we are able to effectively utilize the infrastructure once the Games get over in two or three weeks time. And also when we look to host an Olympic Games, we should be in a position to win many more medals than is the case at present. Is there a lesson from the Commonwealth Games experience? Yes, definitely. So much money was spent during the Commonwealth Games. So much of infrastructure was created. But we find that most of that is lying empty or grossly

â—?

â—?

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underutilized. We need to first efficiently utilize the existing facilities to the optimum capacity, before creating new ones at great cost. That is the lesson. In earlier times small nations like East Germany (now part of Germany) used to be in the top end of the Olympics medal list. One of the reasons was that they were state-funded sporting schools throughout the country where students could join at a very young age, and pass out in Sports. It made them a powerhouse in sports. Are there any such initiatives in India? Let us not compare ourselves with other nations. No two countries are in the same situation. We need to look at our current culture. Are we sports-minded like some of the West-

I have two major areas of focus. One is to broad-base sports. The other is to move towards excellence in sports. It is not easy for any country to host an Olympic Games. It is an extremely costly affair, and the monetary returns against the expenditure are not at all commensurate.


ern countries? The answer is no. We have so much poverty, and our priority is to lift millions out of poverty. We do not have enough space for basic sporting activities. Even in major metropolitan cities, both children and cars are fighting for the same space. When a car comes, children move away, and after it has passed, they start playing again. Our effort is to make India a sports-minded nation by first introducing sports in the school curriculum. Either sport is introduced as a separate subject, or we fix a certain number of compulsory classes in sports. Marks obtained in sports subjects should be considered while promoting children to the next higher class. We want to give access to millions of children who have absolutely no opportunity, at present, so that they can take up sports. Then we can think of sporting schools. What is your long term vision for the Ministry in order to make India an Olympic nation? I have two major areas of focus. One is to broad-base sports. The other is to move towards excellence in sports. Broad-basing has to be done at the level of State Governments since Sports is a state subject. Now we are going to bring sports in the concurrent list. For attaining excellence, we’ve set up a Task Force with a Top Committee. The committee will be responsible for searching and selecting talent in different areas of sports, and for training them as well. Those selected will be provided full scholarship from the age of eight or higher for a period of eight years. The training will be done under the overall aegis of the Sports â?? Authority of India. july 2017 | india empire 15


POLITICAL INTERVIEW

Dr AnItA AryA MeMBer, neW DelhI MunICIPAl CounCIl

IMPROVING

CIVIC

SENSE They say that the NDMC is among the richest civic bodies in the world. It caters to an exclusive 43.7 sq km of Delhi’s total 1,484 sq km and houses, among others, the President and Prime Minister of India, ministers, judges, top Government officials, and some of India’s biggest names in business. Even though Delhi’s population has doubled in the last 25 years, the NDMC area’s resident population has remained more or less static at around 300,000 because hardly any new houses have been added in what is primarily known as the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone. The day-time population of the NDMC area is, however, very high, given that it also holds the central business district that attracts businessmen and workers from far and wide. Dr Anita Arya, Member, NDMC and a former Member of Indian Parliament, speaks on a few issues. On cleanliness… We were ranked the cleanest municipality in North India based on our management of solid waste, sanitation, cleanliness according to the Swachh Survey of 2017. Overall, we ranked seventh among 434 cities nationally. Our aim is to become number one in the country and we have drawn up a strategy to work towards that goal. We have begun by focusing on our numerous parks, which are being kept beautiful, and very clean. Recently we had sent a team of about 15 people to the USA to understand how their parks are kept beautiful and attractive. We are going to apply best practices here in NDMC. A team of gardeners were in China along with some managerial staff. They learnt how China manages its gardens efficiently and keeps them in top condition so that people are attracted to visit them. The Council has recently rented new machines to clean roads, started door-to-door garbage collection, and is constructing more public toilets. On e-governance… E-transactions have become the norm. There is trans16 india empire | july 2017

parency in everything that the Council is doing. We have also developed many software applications (apps) for the benefit of citizens. One can use a smart phone to pay utility bills, house tax, procure birth and death certificates and get to know about job vacancies, all electronically. We are going paperless. On management of parking lots… NDMC area has a number of parking lots with heavy pressure of vehicles. NDMC employees have been tasked to manage parking. It is fetching the Council handsome revenues. On NDMC-run schools… Our schools are getting more modern. The quality of education has gone up. Special attention is being given to extracurricular activities in NDMC schools. Girl students are being given practical lessons in self-defence. Significantly, all schools are now equipped with CCTV cameras, which means parents can keep an eye on children sitting at home, and management can keep an eye on teachers. ❐


pictures © sipra das

POLITICAL PHOTOSCAPE

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DIASPORA NEWS


ABDULgANI (gANIBhAI) ShAIkh

The Greater Hurdler The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. —Moliere, French playwright and actor

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ome to think of it, Abdulgani (Ganibhai) Shaikh could have made a living by happily selling buffalo milk all his life in Kapadwanj in Gujarat. With his high level of intelligence, he could perhaps have become a milk magnate. That career option would have been like a walk in the park. But Abdulgani always wanted to learn and was determined to educate himself. He also wanted to see the world. Somehow he never lost sight of this vision. He wanted to pursue higher studies overseas, and he didn’t let that song die out in his heart. If he saw hurdles in his journey, he knew deep within that he simply had to find a way to go past them. And he has done so, many times over. Today at age 76, he’s seen it all. From being a crooning milk boy who loved imitating his favorite film hero Dilip Kumar in his spare time to becoming an aerospace engineer in the West Coast of the USA that ended up rubbing shoulders with the best in the business, Abdulgani has played his part. Even in the dignified autumn of his life, there’s a new spring in his step, a youthful and infectious charm to his character that endears him greatly to his community. Fondly he is called Ganibhai, in continuation of a tradition of referring to adult men as bhai in his native Gujarat. Ganibhai was born in Kapadwanj in Gujarat in 1940. He was the eldest of ten siblings, and even though his father, Umarbhai, a tailor, worked extremely hard, the family income always seem to disappear halfway into the month. His paternal grandfather Muhammadbhai sold oil extracted from peanuts and sesame seeds using a bullock-aided oil peeler. Ganibhai’s mother, Rabia, had received buffalos from her father, Afzal Daud, and she supplemented the family income by selling milk. So becoming a milk boy that would knock on doors with his can in tow came easy and naturally to the young Abdulgani. He would sing his way to sell milk in his town, and his charming smile won him friends and customers with the same ease with which his family milked its buffaloes. But he never let his attachment for books go away. He knew that studies would eventually be his passport to higher education in a foreign land. At every stage, during his school career, Abdulgani remained way ahead of his classmates insofar as his grades and marks were concerned. He graduated from high school in 1958, securing second rank among all school children in town. He was advised by a teacher to take up engineering. But Ganibhai’s family did not have the

means to pay for college fees. At this juncture in his life, with the Divine Grace of God, he was blessed with 100-rupees-per-month scholarship from the Federal Government. He began his engineering education at M.S. University of Baroda and stayed at the Nagarwada Muslim Boarding in the middle of the city. It was inexpensive, all he paid for sharing a room with four other students was Rs 25 every month. That amount included the cost of meals. To further cut down on costs, he walked to college every day. With his frugal lifestyle, he managed to save half his scholarship money and send it back to his parents, such was his noble value system even at a young age. Two years into his college life he was married. His wife, Halima, proved to be an able ally and companion in his journey. Abdulgani’s grades never suffered, and when he cleared his final examinations he had, unbelievably enough, secured a gold medal. The milk-boy of yesteryears had received a first class, and he was ranked first as well. Besides, he had received distinction. This way he completed his Bachelor’s in Engineering (Mechanical) from the M.S. University in Baroda. The year was 1963. One more interesting fact about his college days is that in his first year he was lucky to be classmate and friend of Sam Pitroda, the great Indian visionary who is the father of telecommunications in India. Also, Abdulgani was the first to become an engineer in his commu-

From the book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications 28 india empire | july 2017


nity and inspired other good students to follow after him. Even though not too many jobs were to be found in the India of the 1960s, engineers did not have it that tough. Within two weeks of passing out, Abdulgani was hired by the Gujarat State Electricity Board. He was to receive a princely amount of Rs 250/month. From the Rs 50 that he would save for his family from his scholarship money, the amount he could now send home would go up considerably and improve the condition of his loved ones. He became his family’s pride and the toast of his town. When he handed over his first salary in its entirety to his mother, there were tears all over the household. They were tears of joy. The money was used to buy a ceiling fan. And then for the very first time Umarbhai’s household could install a tap that would give them running water. Six months down the line he joined the ACC Ltd, a premier cement company in India. He worked at their factories in Sevalia in Gujarat and Lakheri in Rajasthan before moving to the headquarters in Mumbai. At this point in life, his classmate and friend Hemendra Teli, who had moved to the USA, encouraged and sponsored him to apply for higher studies at a university in this North American nation. With his intelligence and aptitude, Abdulgani secured admission at the University of California in Berkeley. He got a student visa easily, but then cropped up another hurdle—there was no money for the considerable airfare that was required to fly to the USA. But his stars were on the ascendant, he obtained a rupees 5,000 scholarship from the Tata Education Trust which was enough to pay for the airfare. He borrowed another 10,000 rupees from the Sethna Trust run by the Parsi community, and that would help him pay for his tuition. He remembers the day clearly when he landed in the USA. It was September 15, 1967. Laborious as he was, he completed his MS in just nine months. In 1969 a major aerospace company in Southern California offered him a job. For the next 30 years Abdulgani was to work in various capacities there, first as an Industrial Engineer, then as a Senior Technology Specialist Engineer and subsequently as Senior Manager. His undying loyalty to the firm for three decades earned him several accolades and brought him many honors, ones that line his cupboards at home. By 1976 he was well entrenched in the job, and decided to take evening classes to pursue an MBA degree. By skilling him-

self further, he was able to work his way up in the firm and became a management consultant in the aerospace field. Ganibhai is a loved and respected member of the Indian American community. He had become an active member in community organizations while at Berkeley. After moving to Southern California, he got involved with the Society for Rapid Advancement of India, a non-profit that helped put up wells in Indian villages. He joined the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) in 1982, and has helped organize a number of Independence and Republic Day celebrations ever since. He has also worked with the Indian Muslims Association (Southern California) as a Vice President, and in other leadership roles. He is one of the founding members of the Southern California Federation of Indian Associations, the first FIA in Los Angeles. He has also been involved with the American Federation of Muslims from India (AFMI), and with Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC). He and his wife have three children. Son Munir is married to Shabnam and they have three children. Daughter Shahida is married to Mobin and the couple has two children. The youngest child, Mehjabeen is married to Altaf. Ganibhai is quite impressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for Swachh Bharat, a cleanliness drive to free India of immense roadside filth and garbage. There are other moves made by the Prime Minister in which he sees plenty of hope for his native country. It won’t be easy to transform India overnight, though. But he knows from personal experience that greater the obstacle, more the glory in overcoming it. The least we can say is that Ganibhai has led his life in a manner that is exemplary, one that is certainly worthy of emulation by generations to come. ❐

From the book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications july 2017 | india empire 29


BAPS SWAmINARAYAN mANDIR

Hindu Temple in Chino Hills In the joy of others lies our own. —His Supreme Holiness P. Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj, President, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

F

ew things illustrate better a man’s contribution to society than what his contemporaries say of him, especially in writing. In this case it is a letter written by BAPS devotee and leader Govind Vaghashia in November 2016 that talks about Paul Singh Husson’s selfless and far-reaching contribution for the Swaminarayan community. Back in 1993, Govind Vaghashia was President of the Federation of the Indian American Association when he first came across Paul Singh Husson. Six years later he made a phone call to Paul, one that was to prove that faith and love will conquer everything else in the world. When Husson received the phone call in 1999, he had just become the Chief, Environmental Health in the Los Angeles County. The position hadn’t come easy though—Paul had to fight a 14-year legal battle to end discrimination against Indians to get where he was. His historic case was to open the doors for Equal Employment Opportunity for all Indians across the USA. Govind and other BAPS members who were truly inspired by His Supreme Holiness P. Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj were looking for 20 to 30 acres of land in the City of Chino Hills to build a Mandir. Chino Hills crossed their mind since it was located centrally and was easily accessible from areas that fell in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside. Govind Vaghashia said in his November 1, 2016 letter, “I am writing this letter to a man who was instrumental in creating history in the BAPS Temple....He (Husson) invited me, Zala and other members of BAPS and Chino Hills Mayor, Gary Larson, to his home in Chino Hills for a meeting. The BAPS team made a slide presentation on the proposed project. Paul himself told the mayor that he personally wanted the BAPS Temple in the City of Chino Hills. This was the beginning of the First Stepping Stone for BAPS.” Vaghashia continues in his letter, “In the year 2000, Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited the site and it was love at first sight for him. Swami Bapa approved the purchase of the land. Paul helped us in every way possible, with his leadership in

Chino Hills, with countless of his precious time to connect with city officials, getting various approvals of Mandir’s construction from initiation to completion.” The biggest task was to get a variance from the city to increase the height of the spires. One city council member was against the project and height, but Paul was instrumental to provide that council member with reasoning regarding the importance of height for maintaining the symmetry of the temple, and ultimately the temple was granted the height. Paul did help every step of the way, helping the project despite he being a Sikh. He feels very blessed as a Sikh to have helped the temple project. Vaghashia says in his letter, “Paul has set a stone in the history for Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sansatha known as BAPS and as my friend he did his Seva staying behind the scenes and helped us. He never asked for any preferential treatment while doing so. Just like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel always stayed behind the scene and made Jawarharlal Nehru Prime Minister of India, it is in the same way that Paul Singh Husson never asked for anything, stayed behind, worked with the city officials and community, and helped make history in Chino Hills. People love the blessings and take pride in this monument.” Paul Singh Husson became the “First Sikh” in the history of the BAPS Swaminarayan faith worldwide whose name is engraved in the history as a founding stone of the BAPS Mandir in the City of Chino Hills. True to the words of His Supreme Holiness P. Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Paul Singh Husson was to prove that in the joy of others, lay his own. ■

From the book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications 30 india empire | july 2017


COLAIAPA

New Indian Identity In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity. —Erik Erikson, American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst

T

he man who gave to the world the expression identity crisis, Erik Erikson knew that a sense of identity is critical to human existence, especially in the social jungle of our large cities. Immigrants in particular face this crisis more than others, and hence the formation of the County of Los Angeles Indian American Professional Association (COLAIAPA) came as no real surprise. It is a nonprofit that represents Indian American presence in public service in the County of Los Angeles. Barely six years old, the outfit has already made its presence felt in the Los Angeles area. COLAIAPA was formed in 2010. Immediately the Association announced its arrival in Los Angeles with a cultural event on the occasion of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, at the Little India Village in the City of Artesia. It turned out to be an impressive and glittering program complete with Bollywood songs and dances, classical Indian dance performances, and group shows by kids. Since there was a sizeable presence of non-Indians, the meaning of Diwali was explained elaborately. Among those who attended were representatives from the County Board of Supervisors, State Government, Mayors of the City of Artesia and the City of Cypress. There was, of course, a significance attendance of Indian American employees from different departments in the Los Angeles County. Most members of COLAIAPA know each other from having worked in the L.A. County for years, having met at inter-departmental meetings or socially. Some of them were also members of another outfit, the Los Angeles County Asian American Employees Association. The idea of forming COLAIAPA exclusively for Indian Americans germinated during interactions at the Asian American association. COLAIAPA’s main agenda is to increase cultural awareness and maintain strong diversity in the County’s workforce. The association has fostered a sense of friendship and camaraderie with other similar organizations in the L.A. County. They promote the County as a place to work efficiently, and bridge gaps between cultures, races, religions and communities. The Association is committed to bringing a high level of professionalism, ethical conduct, efficiency and diversity at different levels in the County. The executive committee

members have been officially sworn in by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky of the Third District at the Hall of Administration at his office. The association has a new team in place. Most recently Ramesh Ramnani has been unanimously elected the President of COLAIPA. Ramnani is a senior software engineer in the County and is actively involved in a range of social work. He is a past president of the Sindhi Association of Southern California and vice president of the local Lions Club. In addition to Ramnani, the organizing executive committee comprises Sanmay Mukhopadhyay as past president, Ashok Madan and Aban Kapadia as executive vice presidents, Venkat Peddi as secretary-corresponding, Ritu Sehgal as vice president-events, Rajesh Prabhu as secretary-recording, Rickey Manbahal as treasurer, and Raju Kariavandan as vice president-operations. In the social jungle of human existence, there is no doubt that over a short period of time, it has created an identity of its own. ■

From the book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications july 2017 | india empire 31


DhARmA CIVILIzATION FOUNDATION

Preserving Indian Heritage I like to think that someone will trace how the deepest thinking of India made its way to Greece and from there to the philosophy of our times. —John Archibald Wheeler, American theoretical physicist

T

he role of ancient Indian civilization in shaping the world order has been a subject that has fascinated Western thinkers for centuries. Also its study has become a necessity for future generations of Indians in America, in a larger sense it is important for them to know where they come from. In order to promote deep thinking on the subject, the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) was founded in 2012. It is a non-profit based out of Chatsworth, California. Its objectives are noble: it wishes to promote academic philanthropy and create an infrastructure for accurate and authentic representation of Dharma traditions and Indian civilization. The members who number over 1,000 are drawn mainly from the Indian American community and are known to follow the ideals of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj, and Swami Vivekananda, founder of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The DCF has tirelessly raised funds from the Indian American community to sponsor academic chairs at universities across the United States. There are key figures that are part of this ennobling mission. The DCF is chaired by Dr Ushakant Thakker, nephrologist and recipient of the Spirit of Award 2009 from the National Kidney Foundation. The Board of Governors includes Dr Manohar Shinde, a renowned psychiatrist who also sits on the Board of Trustees of DCF. Other trustees include Dr Shiva G Bajpai who retired as Professor Emeritus from California State University at Northridge, Dr Vindo Ambasta, internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care specialist at Kaiser Permanente, Sunil Aggarwal, IT consultant and Founder President of Cyberoid Inc., Professor Ved P Nanda who has taught at John Evans University and Sturm College of Law, University of Denver, Prof Yashwant Pathak who teaches Pharmacy at the University of Southern Florida, Tampa, Shaila Rao Mistry, Founder President of

STEM Institute, Dr Suresh Jain who is a biotech professional, Ajay Shingal and his wife Mira who have created a Center for Dharma Studies at the University of Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union (GTU). Kalyan Vishwanathan, an IT expert, is the Executive Vice President of DCF. After an initial funding of USD 430,000, the DCF facilitated an USD 4.4 million endowment to set up the Mira and Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies at the University of Berkeley. The Center accepted its first batch of six PhD students in Hindu studies in the fall of 2016. Besides, the DCF has funded the Swami Vivekananda Visiting Professorship in Hindu Studies for two years to the tune of USD 240,000 at the University of Southern California. The Foundation has established the Swami Vivekananda Endowment Fund with about half a million dollars to sponsor Masters, Doctorate and Post-Doctoral students in the USA engaged in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Its specific objective is to create a world class community of Indic Civilization scholars. The plan is to disburse USD 100,000 each year for the next five years. DCF also has plans to build a multimillion dollar endowment to support in perpetuity the aims of the Foundation. Further, the DCF has also funded Masters level classes in Hindu Studies at GTU, Berkeley—one of the largest schools of Divinity Studies in the United States that offers specialized courses in the study of world religions. When John Archibald Wheeler, the American theoretical physicist, points out that the deepest thinking of India made its way into the philosophy of our times, he is, in fact, echoing the views of many Western and Eastern thought leaders across the world. In that sense, the DCF’s mission and endowments are noble, far-reaching and intended to shape the thinking of generations to come. ❐

From the book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications 32 india empire | july 2017


FIA—SC

Federation of Indian Associations—SC By Rajen Anand

O

n a hot summer afternoon in May, 1981, Inder Singh called a handful of people together at the India Tourist office in Los Angeles to explore the possibility of celebrating India’s Independence Day, with the cooperation of all existing organizations of Indians in greater Los Angeles area. This was followed by several weekly sessions attended by representatives from different groups. A team of diehard individuals emerged, who were determined to celebrate the event on a scale larger than it was ever done before. This group, headed by Inder Singh, approached the Los Angeles County and successfully obtained assistance in terms of the county facilities to organize the function. Independence Day Celebrations The hard work of this team culminated in a gigantic allday festival on 15 th of August, 1981. An estimated 5 thousand Indians settled in Los Angeles area, turned out to attend the event, which continued up to midnight. The festivities provided something for everyone. Throughout the day, there were Sari-wrapping and turban tying demonstrations, live music, and a fabulous variety entertainment program, presented first by children and then by adults. Several celebrities such as Kabir Bedi, Zubin Mehta and Ashoke Amritraj could be seen mixing freely with the crowd, which represented people from almost every part of India. Never before did so many Indians from different regions got together at the same site. The entire program turned out to be a great success – greater than anticipated by the organizers. This historic event demonstrated a sincere willingness on the part of various associations to cooperate and work together for a common cause. During the process of preparation for that day, many new friendships were established, new contacts were made, and a new sense of togetherness emerged. After the tremendous success of the Independence Day celebration, several people expressed the need that this new wave of cooperation among different organizations should not be allowed to wane. People felt a need for continuous coordination of activities through an umbrella organization.

A number of meetings were held to discuss the purpose and structure of such an organization. Birth of F.I.A. These efforts resulted in the establishment of an organization entitled Federation of Indian Associations of Southern California (FIA). An interim executive committee composed of Inder Singh, Anand Chopra, Rajen Anand, Padma Upadhyayula and Syed Alvi was elected. It was emphasized that the purpose of the organization was not to act as a big “Daddy” to other associations and to dictate them what to do, but rather act as subservient to these associations in order to create coordination and cooperation among them. In the following year, 1982, the newly organized Federation again celebrated India’s Independence Day. This time around, the event turned out to be even bigger, more colorful, better organized, and attended by a larger number of people than the year before. By this time, 22 Indians associations had joined this group. The county Supervior Mike Antonovich was again the chief guest for the evening. Several other political figures, including George Deukmejiam, Attorney General of California also graced the occasion. On December 5, 1982, the term of the interim committee ended, and an election was held to pick new officers. The newly elected members were Inder Singh (President), Anand Chopra (Executive Vice President), Parvin Syal (V.P. Community Affairs), Mahesh Parekh (V.P. Planning), Rajen S. Anand (Secretary), C.B. Bhakta (Joint Secret racy), and Syed Alvi (Treasurer). Dr. Raghuvendrea Prasad was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. ❐ —First published in India Times, August 30, 1986

From the book Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area by India Empire Publications 34 india empire | july 2017


DIASPORA

INDIAN AMERICAN DOCTOR GETS TOP AWARD Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani a professor of public health at Ball State University, USA was honored with the Open Society Award in April 2017. The Dorothy Nyswander Open Society Award is given each year by the US Society for Public Health Education to honor an individual who promotes an open society and human rights through research, practice, and/or teaching. The award was established in the name of famous public health practitioner Dr. Dorothy Nyswander who pioneered public health education, mentored many public health leaders, and had an illustrious career spanning more than six decades at international, national, regional, and community levels. Dr. Khubchandani received the award in Denver, USA at the annual Society for Public Health Education conference. A physician by initial training from India, Dr. Khubchandani is a public health specialist with interests in preventing violence against women, social justice, and human rights. “Dr. Khubchandani actively engages in initiatives that promote equality and justice for all and advocates for the health of most marginalized populations across the world. His research and teaching have profound impact on the profession of public health”, said Dr. Michael Wiblishauser of Texas who nominated Dr. Khubchandani for the Open Society Award. For his community service endeavors, earlier in 2012, Dr. Khubchan-

dani was awarded the Indiana Governor’s Service Award, one of the highest civilian honors in Indiana, USA.

INDIAN WINS GEOGRAPHIC BEE A 14-year-old Indian American student has won the prestigious $50,000 National Geographic Bee contest here, becoming the sixth consecutive Indian American to win the championship. Pranay Varada, who is Dewitt Perry Middle School's eighth grader from Texas, won a medal and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expediton to the Galapagos Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour II. Varada beat runner-up Thomas Wright, 14, in the event hosted by journalist and humorist Mo Rocca at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, DC in May 2017. Varada was also presented a lifetime membership to the National Geographic Society. He also competed in the last year's finals. He was declared the winner after he won the first tiebreaker question correctly identifying the Kunlun Mountains as the 1,200-mile range that separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau. Before the finals, Varada told National Geographic that winning the bee was a fiveyear effort of his. "It would be the greatest experience of my life," he said. Another Indian American Veda Bhattaram from New 36 india empire | july 2017

L to R: Pranay Varada, Veda Bhattaram, Gary E. Knell, National Geographic Society President and CEO, and Thomas Wright

Jersey finished third at the finals, the American Bazaar Online reported. Six of the 10 finalists were Indian-Americans. Second and third prize winners received scholarships of $25,000 and $10,000, respectively.


DIASPORA

BOOK PRESENTATION

Editor Sayantan Chakravarty with Secretary Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay

Sayantan Chakravarty, Publisher of Indian Americans in Greater Los Angeles Area, presented a copy of this 228-page coffee table book to Mr Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, Secretary— Overseas Indian Affairs and CPV at the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday, June 29, 2017, at his office. Mr Mulay led the team of officers who organized the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 in Bengaluru. He was Indian Consul General in New York prior to the present posting. Mr Mulay who is an award-winning writer himself appreciated the book. A copy of the book will be sent to the library of the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra. The book, earlier launched in Los Angeles in April 2017, was produced as a result of solid team effort led by Project Chair Inder Singh and others. It contains well-researched articles on Indian Americans in Southern California and chronicles the rise of Indians in America as well. Chapters are dedicated to businesses, organizations and individuals from the Greater Los Angeles Area.

PBSA RECIPIENT FROM ISRAEL

H.E. Mr Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador to Israel, hands over the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2017 to Dr Lael Anson Best in Haifa on April 19, 2017. The President of India conferred the awards on Pravasi Bharatiya Day in January 2017, but Dr Best could not attend due to ill-health. He received the award for accomplishments in the field of cardiothoracic surgery

INDIA EMPIRE Magazine had recognized Dr Best’s accomplishments back in 2011 at an Awards Night. He had received the award from the then Union Minister Mr Salman Khurshid, and (above) with family

july 2017 | india empire 37


COLUmN: YOgI AShWINI

mIND AND BODY

POWER OF

YAGYA

Yogi ashwini

A

yagya is a means of direct interaction with the positive forces in creation. Vedas abound with descriptions of yagyas performed the rishis and munis to energise the manifested creation. Devs and devis would come to be a part of such yagyas. Asurs and daityas would also come…to disturb them, creation being a balance of the two forces, positive and negative. Even in the times when Rishi Agastya and Vishvamitra were in the body, there existed negativity, asurs tried to disrupt the yagyas and havans performed by these rishis. Ram and Lakshman went with Rishi Vishvamitra to protect one such yagya. Asurs are known to disrupt havans and create obstruction in invocation of devic forces. That is the nature of an asur. The nature of a human being is to aid the positive forces, the devs and devis, by protecting the havans for the peace and prosperity of one’s home, surroundings and creation at large. If someone is preventing you from doing a havan then that person’s asuric side is predominant - a good way to check someone else’s and your own nature. There exists positive and negative in every aspect of creation. There is no body or place or time period, that can be called all positive or all negative. Some have more positive, some more negative. A glowing and radiant body indicates dominance of positive, an ageing and diseased body is a symptom of increased negativity. Similarly a pollution free environment is an indicator of positivity while deteriorating surroundings point towards a higher proportion of negativity. Satyug was the time when devs and devis and rishis and munis would roam about freely on earth, since the positivity was at its peak. The present times, the times of kaliyug, are times of heightened negativity and so, subtler energies like yogis and gurus are rare to find in the body, and devs and devis can only be accessed in their subtle forms by invoking positive aspect of creation through certain yogic practices and acts of charity and service. Sanatan Kriya details the amazing science of yagyas as given by the vedic rishis to induce positivity in the body as well as surroundings. The practice involves making oblations to fire alongwith specific chants. The fire having the ability of transformation can transform the physical into the subtle and the mantras have the ability to manifest the ability and power of devas in the physical world and also

38 india empire | july 2017

By Yogi Ashwini

have the power and ability to control nature and normal human physical lives. At the beginning of a yagya, a sankalp is made which indicates the purpose for which the yagya is conducted. Then the ahvahan (invocation) of specific devs and devis is done requesting them to bless the yagya. A yagya performed under the sanidhya of a Guru, with purity thought, ingredients and the correct chants, has the effect of completely changing the environment – the weather changes, air becomes fragrant, birds perch on the trees around, there is peace and stillness within and outside and diseases disappear – these are all indicators of warding off negativity and manifestation of positive forces in creation. Sadhaks at Dhyan Ashram routinely conduct such yagyas for purity of homes, environment and body, the manifestations are witnessed and recorded and their effects felt by one and all. To quote a recent example, at the end of five day yagya performed by the sadhaks of Dhyan Ashram, a 71 year old man who had been advised to be put on the ventilator by the doctors, reported regaining health without even visiting a hospital. The yagya invoked the specific energy of maha-mrityunjai ji, which along with gayatri mantra, forms a part of the Sanjeevani Vidya as possessed by Shukracharya. The gyan of the complete vidya is lost in the kaliyug. Another special kind of yagya is the agnihotra, which is performed at the time of sunrise and sunset, the prime chant being “idan na mam” (all this is not mine, indicating detachment). Exactly at the time of sunset and sunrise, a specific shade of the sun’s prana is awaited and as it appears the yagya starts. The entire yagya is normally completed in a minute or two. It is essential for everyone to perform agnihotra as it gives you fearlessness, longevity and ability to control the elements. If you want to know whether the yagya was performed properly or not, just watch the yagya-agni at the time of purna-ahuti. You will able to see the form of dev/devi if the invocations were successful. However, one needs to be careful of not getting attached to manifestations, focus should be on the yagya. For performing yagyas to purify your environment and for healthy atmosphere in house and ❐ office, you may contact Dhyan Foundation. —Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and can be reached at www.dhyanfoundation.com


BUSINESS AND GOVERNANCE


BUSINESS

recorD ProFit For otPc State-owned ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC), which operates a 726 MW gas-based combinedcycle power plant in Tripura, posted a record profit of 906 per cent in 2016-17 compared to the previous fiscal. "The OTPC registered a net profit after tax of Rs 130.45 crore during 2016-17, up by 906 per cent as compared to Rs 12.96 crore in the previous year," an ONGC release has said. "During its board meeting held earlier this week in New Delhi, OTPC has declared maiden dividend of 7.5 per cent of paid-up equity share capital of Rs 1,120 crore amounting to Rs 84 crore for 2016-17 fiscal. The dividend was declared, within two years of commencement of full operation of its power project. With this, OTPC becomes the first dividend paying standalone gas based power generation Company in the Country," ONGC said. The OTPC, a joint venture company of ONGC, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd, IDFC bank and Tripura Government, set up the 726 MW project at Palatana in southern Tripura in June 2013. The Rs 10,000 crore Palatana power plant, which supplies 100 MW power to Bangladesh, is a hallmark of the cooperation between New Delhi and Dhaka, which ensured the smooth passage of heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana in southern Tripura (65 km south of Agartala) through Bangladesh territory by road and waterways from Haldia port in West Bengal.

FDi iNFlow rises to UsD 60.08 billioN As a result of bold policy reforms, the total foreign direct investments (FDI) inflow into India reached a new high of USD 60.08 billion during 2016-17, registering an increase of 8 per cent as compared to the previous fiscal. "The total FDI inflow grew by 8 per cent to $60.08 billion in 2016-17 in comparison to $55.56 billion of the previous year. It is so far the highest for a particular financial year. Prior to this, the highest FDI inflow was reported in 201516," the Commerce Ministry said in a statement. Increased FDI inflows in the country are largely attributed to intense and bold policy reforms the Government undertook to bring pragmatism in the FDI regime, it said. "Initiatives such as introduction of composite caps in the FDI policy and raising the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval limit were also undertaken to promote ease of doing business in the country," the Ministry said. "The scale of reforms can be gauged from the fact that during this period, 21 sectors covering 87 areas of FDI policy have undergone reforms. This has resulted in increased FDI inflows which year after year are setting up new records," the statement said. The FDI equity inflow received during 2016-17 at $43.48 billion was also the highest so far. "It shows an increase of 9 per cent compared to 2015-16. India received an FDI of $40 billion in 2015-16," the statement said. The FDI equity inflow received through approval route during 201617 amounts to $5.90 billion, which is 65 per cent higher than the previous year.

PM reviews ‘NaMaMi GaNGe’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reviewed the 'Namami Gange' programme, one of the flagship projects of his Government. According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, during the meeting senior officials from various Government departments apprised the Prime Minister of action taken so far, and progress made on this programme. The Modi Government launched the programme in 2015 with a five-year budget of Rs 20,000 crore for cleaning the river. "The sewage treatment capacity in towns along the river is being enhanced substantially. Considerable focus is being placed on large cities along the Ganga mainstream, including Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur, Howrah and Kolkata," the state-

40 india empire | july 2017

ment said. "Intensive monitoring and inspection of Grossly Polluting Industries has been taken up," it added. Officials informed Modi that "this has led to considerable improvement in the water quality of some of the tributaries of the River Ganga". They also discussed the progress in rural sanitation in villages along the Ganga. Modi asked officials to increase public awareness and people's participation in the programme. The meeting was attended by officials from NITI Aayog, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, National Mission for Clean Ganga and Central Pollution Control Board. 'Namami Gange' is fully funded by the Central Government.


BANkINg NEWS

SBI net profit up 122.72%

India's largest public sector State Bank of India has reported a 122.72 per cent increase in its net profit to Rs 2,815 crore in the last quarter of 2016-17 fiscal ended March 31. The SBI's net profit was Rs 1,264 crore in the same period in 2016. The bank's total income in the quarter under review was at Rs 57,720.07 crore, up 7.8 per cent from Rs 53,526.97 crore in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, the lender said in a regulatory filing. The bank's net interest income rose by 17.33 per cent to Rs 18,071 crore in the last quarter of the last fiscal from Rs 15,401 crore in the corresponding period of previous

fiscal. Its operating profit increased by 12.93 per cent to Rs 16,026 in three months ended March 31, from Rs 14,192 crore in corresponding period of previous fiscal. Deposits of the bank increased to Rs 20,44,751 crore as on March 17, up by 18.14 per cent year-on year from Rs 17,30,722 crore, SBI said in a statement. Gross advances increased by 7.8 per cent from Rs 15,09,500 crore as on March 16 to Rs 16,27,273 crore as on March 17. Large corporate advances rose 3.59 per cent from Rs 3,30,136 crore as on March of previous fiscal to Rs 3,41,990 crore as on last March.

Net ProFit oF rs 154.72 crore For bob

Ubi Posts Net ProFit oF rs 73.56 crore

State-run Bank of Baroda reported a net profit of Rs 154.72 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, as compared to a net loss of Rs 3,230.14 crore for the same period a year ago. The lender's total income in the quarter under review increased marginally to Rs 12,852.44 crore from Rs 12,789.06 crore in the year-ago period, but its net interest income (NII) during the period grew by 7.57 per cent year-on-year at Rs 3,582 crore. In the three months ended March, the bank's gross non-performing assets (NPAs) in absolute terms rose 5.4 per cent year-on-year to Rs 42,718.70 crore from Rs 40,521.04 crore for the corresponding period previous fiscal. Gross NPA as a percentage of total loans rose to 10.46 per cent in the quarter from 9.99 per cent during the same period previous fiscal. Net NPA ratio stood at 4.72 per cent as against 5.06 per cent for the year-ago period. During the fourth quarter of 2016-17, provisions for non performing assets have been reduced to Rs 2,425.07 crore as compared to Rs 4,880.13 crore in the corresponding quarter of previous fiscal. Under Basel III, the bank's capital adequacy ratio during the quarter stood at 12.24 per cent.

State-run United Bank of India on Thursday reported a net profit of Rs 73.56 crore for the quarter ended March 31, compared with a net loss of Rs 413.04 crore for the same period a year ago. The lender's total income in the quarter under review fell by close to 3 per cent year-onyear to Rs 2,672.88 crore from Rs 2,752.35 crore in the year-ago period, but its net interest income (NII) during the period grew by 23.8 per cent y-o-y at Rs 501.94 crore. The Kolkata-headquartered bank's tax write-back nearly doubled to Rs 1,016.88 crore for the March quarter of the last fiscal from Rs 515.06 crore for the corresponding period previous fiscal, the bank said in a regulatory filing. In the three months ended March, the bank's gross non-performing assets (NPAs) in absolute terms rose 15.64 per cent y-o-y to Rs 10,951.99 crore from Rs 9,471.01 crore for the corresponding period in the previous fiscal. Gross NPA as a percentage of total loans rose to 15.53 per cent in the quarter from 13.26 per cent during the same period previous fiscal. Net NPA ratio stood at 10.02 per cent as against 9.04 per cent for the year-ago period. The lender also said cash recovery from NPA aggregated to Rs 488.37 crore for the year ended March 2017 and reduction of NPAs were to the tune of Rs 2,052.10 crore.

july 2017 | india empire 41


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