India empire may 2018

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India-Diplomatic, Business, Diaspora and Political Connectivity

Editor’s Desk


ne of India’s foremost global citizens—Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore—has brought India and Bangladesh closer once more. Admired and eulogized on either side of the Indo-Bangla border, Tagore wrote the song Amar Sonar Bangla in 1905 during the first partition of Bengal. Its first ten lines currently constitute the national anthem of Bangladesh. The partition happened when the Bengal Presidency, thanks to an age-old British policy of divide and rule, split into two along communal lines. At that point it turned out to be a body blow to united Indian residence against British rule. The rest, of course, is history. It was at the Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan that Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sheika Hasina met while attending the convocation. They jointly inaugurated Bangladesh Bhavan, built with financial assistance from the Bangladesh Government. Mr Modi described it as a symbol of long-lasting cultural ties between India and Bangladesh. Both leaders paid homage to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, also the author of India’s national anthem Jana Gana Mana. PM Modi said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore belongs as much to Bangladesh as he does to India. He was quick to point out that the shared resolve of India and Bangladesh against cruelty and terrorism will continue to inspire future generations through the Bangladesh Bhavan. He didn’t fail to mention that the last few years have marked a golden period in relations between the two countries. Indeed, in that direction, the Bhavan sets a landmark in relations. It will house a museum and other installations to showcase Rabindranath Tagore’s association with Bangladesh. It will feature the inspiring life and leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation in Bangladesh, and also father of PM Hasina. The Bhavan will also focus on the Liberation War, an epic event that led to the birth of Bangladesh and shaped its destiny. H.E. Mr Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner of Bangladesh, wrote an article just prior to PM Hasina’s arrival for the May 25 programme at Visva Bharati which we have carried as part of the cover story. He also talks about Kazi Nazrul Islam, the rebel poet, who is a national poet of Bangladesh. PM Hasina was conferred an honorary doctorate of literature by the Kazi Nazrul University at Asansol. Elsewhere in the magazine we have a section on business, diaspora and places to see. Do enjoy the read.

Sayantan Chakravarty (


empire Volume 13 No. 12 May 2018 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 Syed Muazzem Ali, Rajendra Shende, Frank F. Islam, Inder Singh, 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: 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.

Business and


business and governance


RInfra bags huge project

Q4 profit of Rs 272 crore Ambuja Cements, a part of the LafargeHolcim Group, reported a 10 per cent growth in May in its standalone net profit to Rs 272 crore for the JanuaryMarch quarter of 2018, as compared to Rs 247 crore in the corresponding period last year. Its net sales, in the quarter under review, stood at Rs 2,763 crore, up by nine per cent from Rs 2,530 crore in the same period last year.

The Reliance Infrastructure Limited and Astaldi S.p.A (Italy) joint venture has bagged the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the prestigious Versova-Bandra Sea Link Project in Mumbai. The letter of award (LoA) for the much-anticipated project has been issued by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), an official statement in May said. The Reliance Infrastructure Limited-Astaldi S.p.A JV had emerged the most competitive bidder with their bid of Rs 6,993.99 crore for the mega infrastructure project which will link with the existing Bandra-Worli Sea Link, which opened in June 2009. The other bidders in the fray for the Versova-Bandra Sea Link were L&T-Samsung JV and Hyundai Development Company-ITD JV. The tender for the construction of the second sea link in Mumbai on EPC-basis was floated by MSRDC. With a length of 17.17 km, the Versova-Bandra Sea Link will be three times the length of the existing Bandra-Worli Sea Link, which is 5.6 km. “Our JV with Astaldi S.p.A, the third biggest construction player in the world in bridges with an order backlog of over Rs 2 lakh crore, will help us create a truly world class mega infrastructure project for Mumbai,” said Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. EPC CEO Arun Gupta.

Annual profit of Rs 46.72 crore Financial technology major Intellect Design Arena Ltd in May said it had posted a net profit of Rs 46.72 crore last fiscal. In a statement the company said it clocked a net profit of Rs 46.72 crore for the year ended March 31, 2018 as against a loss of Rs 22.38 crore posted for the year ended March 31, 2017. The company earned a total revenue of Rs 1,087.29 crore last fiscal, up from Rs 913.57 crore earned during the year ended March 31, 2017.

Q4 profit of Rs 219.2 crore Housing finance company PNB Housing Finance in May reported a rise of 44 per cent in its net profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. According to the company, the net profit during the quarter under review increased to Rs 219.2 crore from Rs 152.4 crore reported for the corresponding period of previous year. Besides, the housing finance firm's ‘Net Interest Income’ registered a growth of 36 per cent to Rs 451.8 crore from Rs 332.7 crore.


india empire | may 2018

M&M positive on tractor sales Mahindra & Mahindra’s (M&M) Farm Equipment Sector remains bullish on the ‘emerging” four wheel drive segment, an official said in Kolkata in May. The tractor maker has close to 43 per cent market share in India. The tractor maker sold over 3 lakh tractors in India in 2017-18. “Last year, the tractor industry size was 7.09 lakh units and pan India industry grew by around 22 per cent. On conservative estimates, people are suggesting the tractor industry growth in India will be in the range of 810 per cent in 2018-19 (FY18),” the company’s Farm Division’s Chief of Operations Shubhabrata Saha said. According to him, farming in India is diverse in nature with a variety of crops being produced in different climatic zones while the nature of soil also differs across regions. The company has diverse products to cater to different farming needs. “We have a wide portfolio of products ranging from 15 HP to 75 HP tractors which can be used for multiple applications. We have five models in four wheel drive segment and we see it as a big emerging market,” he said on the sidelines of the launch of the tractor range most suitable for paddy, potato and horticulture. In India, the company sold 29,884 units of tractors in April 2018, up by 19 per cent from 25,208 units sold during a year-ago month. Its total tractor sales including domestic and exports during April 2018 were at 30,925 units. He said penetration of tractors was high in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, parts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The tractor market in West Bengal has been growing significantly and the company has about a 53 per cent market share in the state.

Government will have 100 per cent stake in GSTN The Government will take complete ownership of the GST Network (GSTN) by acquiring the 51 per cent equity of Rs 5.1 crore held by non-government institutions, the GST Council decided in May. The 51 per cent equity will be acquired collectively by both Central and state governments following which they will hold 50-50 share in the private limited, not-for-profit company created to provide shared IT infrastructure and services for implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the collective share of the states will be pro-rata divided among them according to their contribution to the GST revenue. A majority of the GST processes including registration, filing of returns, payment of taxes, processing of refunds is IT driven and GSTN is handling large-scale invoice level data of lakhs of business entities including data relating to exports and imports. “Considering the nature of ‘state’ function performed by GSTN, the Council felt that GSTN be converted into be a fully-owned government company,” an official statement said. Following the acquisition, however, the GSTN Board would continue to hire people on contractual basis on the terms and conditions similar to those used by GSTN till now, Jaitley announced after the 27th meeting of the GST Council. The GSTN Board would also be allowed to continue the existing staff at ex-

Mr Arun Jaitley

isting terms and conditions for a period up to five years. “The existing financial commitments given by the Centre and states to GSTN to share the capital and operation and maintenance cost of the IT Systems shall continue,” it added. Presently, the Central government holds 24.5 per cent equity shares while the state governments collectively hold another 24.5 per cent. The remaining 51 per cent are held by non-government institutions. But through various mechanisms, GSTN is under strategic control of the Government.

Make in India—Phillips Carbon Black

Mr Sanjiv Goenka

Phillips Carbon Black Ltd, an RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group Company, is planning to invest Rs 900 crore to set up a green field plant in Chennai and also to expand its two existing facilities at Mundra and Palej in Gujarat, a company official has said. “The 50,000 tonne capacity expansion at Mundra made steady progress during the year

and is expected to be complete by third quarter of FY19 (2018-19). The 30,000 tonne capacity expansion at Palej is also under execution and is expected to be completed by first quarter of FY20 (2019-20). Combined estimated investment is Rs 400 crore,” the statement said. The carbon black maker also said it had started working on further expansion of capacity by setting up a green field plant of 150,000 tonnes per annum in Chennai and it is expected to be operational in September 2020. “Total investments for the greenfield project along with capacity expansions at existing plants would be to the tune of Rs 900 crore,” Group's Chairman Sanjiv Goenka told reporters in Kolkata. The company, having four plants, currently has a total capacity of 4.7 lakh tonnes and the same is expected to be 7 lakh tonnes after these expansions. The company posted a 228 per cent growth in its standalone net profit to Rs 230 crore in the last fiscal on the back of demand growth in domestic and international markets. During the fourth quarter of the last fiscal, its net profit stood at Rs 74 crore. According to Mr Goenka, higher sales, increase in market shares, increased efficiency, higher focus on specialty black category and reduction in debt resulted in better performance.

may 2018 | india empire


business and governance


Q4 profit of Rs 189.56 crore Battery maker Exide Industries in May reported a 15.4 per cent rise in its standalone net profit for the fourth quarter of 2017-18. The company reported a standalone net profit of Rs 189.56 crore for the quarter-ended March 31, 2018 compared to Rs 164.26 crore reported during the corresponding period of 201617. Further, its total standalone income during the period under review rose by 10.94 per cent to Rs 2,479.69 crore from 2,235.21 crore earned in the same period of the previous financial year. However, for the last financial year, the company reported a fall of 3.65 per cent in its net profit to Rs 668.35 crore from Rs 693.64 crore reported in the previous fiscal.

South Africa—Indian firms create 18,000 jobs Indian companies have invested over USD 4 billion in South Africa and created 18,000 direct jobs in the continent's biggest economy, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has said. According to a new CII report “Indian Industry’s Inclusive Footprint in South Africa-Doing business, doing good”, prepared jointly with British advisory multinational Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), there are Mr Chandrajit Banerjee 140 Indian companies operating in South Africa whose contributions go beyond foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, and include key CSR and skill development initiatives. “Indian companies operating in South Africa are not just investing funds and creating jobs, but are actively contributing to the upliftment of the communities in which they operate,” a CII release said here. In a statement, CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said: “The report highlights the journey of the historic and economic relationship between India and South Africa, looking at the key sectors where Indian companies are thriving.” it said.

India 11th in A.T. Kearney FDI Index Q4 profit of Rs 181.8 crore In May, Castrol India reported a marginal rise of 2 per cent in its net profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. According to the company, the net profit during the quarter under review increased to Rs 181.8 crore from Rs 179 crore reported for the corresponding period of previous year. Commenting on the results, Mr Omer Dormen, Managing Director, Castrol India Limited, said, “We continue to build momentum on our strong performance and we have been delivering consistent growth over the last two years. Despite the sharp rise in input costs during the quarter under review, we were able to deliver a good set of numbers which shows our strategy of profitable volume growth is well on track. Whilst we continue our focus and investment primarily in the personal mobility segment, we are also providing greater thrust on the commercial segment by broadening our participation in select mass market segments.”


india empire | may 2018

Though India has slipped three places to the 11th position in the latest A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index, the country remains among the top investment destinations due to its market size and rapid economic growth, according to the annual survey for 2018. A.T. Kearney FDI Confidence Index, which tracks the impact of likely political, economic and regulatory changes on the foreign investment preferences of CEOs and CFOs, placed the US in the top position for investment intentions with Canada rising to second place, while Germany fell to the third. India fell out of the top 10 for the first time since 2015. It was ranked eighth last year. The report said a possible factor for the fall could be the coming elections in India, as investors are likely to be monitoring political risks. It also said the International Monetary Fund projects India's economy to grow at 7.4 per cent in 2018-19, the fastest by any major economy, while inward FDI flows have increased to a record high of around $45 billion in 2017. A.T. Kearney India MD and Country Head Vikas Kaushal said in a statement. “Notable reforms that have had a positive impact on India's attractiveness.”

New AMCHAM India chief

Qatar’s Mumbai tourism office Mr Rashed AlQurese

Mr Krish Iyer

The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in India named Walmart India President and CEO Krish Iyer as the Chairperson of its national executive board in May. The election took place at the national executive board meeting on April 26, 2018, a statement from AMCHAM India said here. "Krish Iyer succeeds Pratyush Kumar, President, Boeing India, who served as AMCHAM (India) Chairperson from April 2016 to April 2018," it said. Iyer joined Walmart International in 2012, prior to which, he was among the senior leadership with A.S. Watson Group, a health, beauty and lifestyle retailer and Piramyd Retail, a Piramal Enterprises unit, the statement said.

Eyeing a chunk of tourists from India, the world’s second largest outbound tourists market, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) opened an office in Mumbai in May. QTA’s Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer Rashed AlQurese said the decision was taken in view of the rapid growth of India’s outbound tourism market in recent years, coupled with QTA’s intensified efforts to diversify and grow visitor source. After Qatar waived entry visas for Indians last year, it has become an increasingly accessible destination for Indian travellers, with more than 110,000 visitors in the first quarter of 2018. The Qatar Airways has 100 weekly direct flights connecting the capital Doha to thirteen major cities across India and 67 flights from India to Qatar by major airlines like Air India Express, Indigo Airlines and Jet Airways. “The steps taken to make accessing Qatar easier are particularly targeted at visitors seeking to experience our country’s luxury hospitality and unique cultural offerings, all while benefiting from the convenience of relatively short flights,” AlQurese told media persons.

Surge in digital advertising The digital advertising market in India is likely to grow 30 per cent on a year-on-year basis to 12,046 crore in 2018, a report in May has said. In 2017, the market rose to Rs 9,266 crore, 27 per cent higher than in 2016, according to the “Digital Advertising in India 2017” report. It was jointly published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB. “The growth in spends on digital advertising is expected to continue at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 30 per cent to touch Rs 12,046 crore by December 2018,” the report said. It further said expenditure on digital advertising is about 16 per cent of the total expenditure in the advertising market in the country. Sector-wise, the banking and financial services institutions lead in terms digital advertising with an expenditure of around Rs 2,022 crore followed by ecommerce, telecom and travel. According to the survey, brands and organisations spend most on online searches for digital advertising.

may 2018 | india empire


photo gallery pictures Š sipra das


GRAND FEAT: On May 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 135 km Eastern Peripheral Expressway at a function in Baghpat attended by top BJP leaders including Cabinet Minister Nitin Gadkari and UP CM Yogi Adityanath. It has been built in 500 days against a target of 910 days. Commercial traffic entering Delhi will be reduced by 30 per cent—i.e. 2 lakh vehicles per day, and pollution by 27 per cent. It has 100 per cent solar lighting, all weather concrete roads, 7 interchanges, 430 bridges, flyovers, RoBs, underpasses. There is a 2.5 m long cycle track all along on either side, 2.5 lakh trees alongside, 28 fountains, vertical gardens with drip irrigation, rest areas with washrooms, motels, petrol pumps, shops, restaurants, repair service points. It is a six-lane green and smart corridor, part of a larger one connecting east with west. It cost Rs 11,000 crore, the same amount both Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya have borrowed from Indian banks and are yet to return. One can see what India can achieve if money is used wisely

Prime Minister Modi addresses the Buddhist community at the IGI Stadium on the occasion of Buddha Purnima

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Golden Sun kissed beaches, picturesque locations, lush greenery, an island compact with all the gifts of nature and an ancient culture and heritage going back to 2500 years, amazing and an exotic wildlife to experience your adventurous side, spicy cuisine to liven up your taste buds, what more could you want? If one needs to have all these experiences within one day, Sri Lanka is the ideal destination for you. With its easy accessibility to reach one destination from another and the warmth and the hospitality which you get from its inhabitants, makes you want to explore this island even more. With its romantic locations and story book sceneries, Sri Lanka is sought after as a preferred destination for holding wedding ceremonies

Colombo Harbor at night

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or tourists who want to have their special day in a totally different way according to the Sri Lankan tradition, the friendly staff in boutique hotels of the area will give their maximum support to you with their unforgettable smile, which makes Sri Lanka unique as the ‘’Land of Smiles’’. If you want to have a perfect beach holiday it’s all there for you down the Southern and northern coasts, where you can relax in the palm fringed beaches while sipping a king coconut, do some surfing at Arugmbay , and open your hotel room window to enjoy the soft, cool breeze spreading through the picturesque surroundings around you in Nuwara Eliya, while refreshing yourself with a cup of world renowned Ceylon tea. Experience the exotic wild life with rare species which are identical to Sri Lanka, in wild life parks such Yala, Kumana and Udawalawa. Watch the elephants gathering as the’’ gentle giants’’ move along with their adorable little ones. Complete with 8 UNESCO Heritage sites, this is a land which has so much to offer, and give you an experience worth cherishing!! While on your trip down south, you can also have a “whale of a time” by watching Whale and Dolphin watching in Mirissa , and this activity can also be experienced in Kalpitiya. The largest Mammal on the Sea, and the largest mammal on earth can be seen within one day, which is an experience of a life time. Sri Lanka is a safe multi-cultural and a multi ethnic country, with all races and religions living in peace and harmony. Due to the prevailing peace process Sri Lanka has been recommended as a safe country for tourists. Colombo is the commercial Capital where one can enjoy all the 5 star hotels and apartments, shopping malls and recreation centers, and one can get a panoramic view of the Colombo Harbor and the ocean, from iconic hotels. Tour operators and travel agents play a major role in promoting the tourism sector, and helping to generate a higher income. There is direct air connectivity from Colombo via all the international airlines, to all the major destinations across Asia and Europe. Sri Lanka is a country which holds a large number of cultural festivals such as the Kandy Esala perahera , vesak festival , Sinhala –Hindu New year, where one nation does every cultural ritual at the same auspicious time. During the month of August, Kandy becomes a busy city with preparations for the Kandy Esala Perahera, one of the most glamorous and colorful cultural pageants held in Sri Lanka. The temple of the sacred tooth relic is the most historic and important place in Kandy, alongside the historic Kandy Lake. Being a Theravada Buddhist nation, the Vesak Festival is celebrated on a grand scale by all Buddhists which marks the day Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and Parinirvana. This is commemorated by decorating the streets with beautiful Vesak lanterns, giant Vesak pandals, and ‘’ dansal ‘’ by various organizations and individuals, who provide food and drink for free for devotees and passersby. This also highlights the Buddhist practice of ‘’Daana ‘’ which means ‘’giving and sharing ‘’. At this time of the year, the streets become crowded with people who come from dif-

Getting ready for the Kandy Esala Perahera

Kalpitiya Dolphin Watching

Rolling tea estates

Galle Fort

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Elephants gathering in Minneriya

ferent parts of the country to witness the beauty of the paradise nation. Up in the Hill country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and among tea plantations which spread across for miles, and enjoy a cup of refreshing Ceylon tea which delights your senses. Horton plains is a popular area for those who like a bit of adventure by trekking and hiking and cycling, and Nuwara Eliya , known as ‘’Little England ‘’ becomes a busy city during the peak season . One should not miss the ‘’Nuwara Eliya Super Cross’’ which is a famous motor racing activity in the city. The Royal Turf Club which is famous for horse racing, and the Nuwara Eliya Golf course are also must see attractions for anyone who visits this famous city which is surrounded by lush greenery and the misty mountains. On your visit to Sri Lanka, the majestic looking Galle fort overlooking the Southern coast is a must see attraction which you should not miss. The iconic UNESCO heritage stands like a lone sentinel, depicting the past glamour and grandeur of the colonial era. The Dutch influence made a huge impact on Sri Lanka- with its cuisine as well as architecture and religion. Up to this date, their descendants still follow their cultural traditions, known as Dutch burghers. Lanka is rapidly developing in some niche segments such as Film tourism, cruise tourism and culinary tourism. With its vivid diversity in different parts of the country, Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations to visit and explore what it has to offer within one day. Surrounded by the Crystal Blue waters of the Indian ocean, it’s a magical wonderland which is a dream come true for any tourist who wants to have the perfect holiday of their choice and take back home a memory to remember. ❐ 16 india empire | may 2018

Vice Roy train – Rolling tea estates

Victoria Golf Club – Nuwaraeliya

Surfing at Arugam Bay

cover story: pms inaugurate bangladesh bhavan

GoLDEn pERioD in inDo-BAnGLA TiEs —pM Modi


n May 25, Prime Minister Modi received the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, at Santiniketan. Paying homage to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the two leaders signed the visitors’ book. The two leaders then attended the Convocation of the Visva Bharati University. Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister described India’s democratic system of governance as a great teacher, which inspires over 125 crore people. He said it was his good fortune to be among the learned people on this sacred land of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. He congratulated the students who received degrees today. He said that all those who studied at this University have not just received a degree, but have also become inheritors of a great legacy. The Prime Minister said that the teachings of the Vedas, which describe the entire world as one nest, or one home, are reflected in the values of Visva Bharati University. Welcoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, he said that India and Bangladesh are two nations, whose interests are linked to mutual cooperation and coordination among each other. The Prime Minister said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore is respected widely across the world. He recalled that he had the opportunity to unveil a statue of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in Tajikistan three years ago. He said Tagore is a subject of study in Universities across the world even today. He described Gurudev as a global citizen. The Prime Minister said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore always wanted Indian students to keep abreast of developments across the world, even as they kept their Indianness intact. He

appreciated Visva Bharati University for its efforts at skill development and education in nearby villages. He encouraged the University to expand this effort to 100 villages by its centenary year in 2021. He also called upon the University to work towards overall development of these 100 villages. The Prime Minister said that institutions such as Visva Bharati University have a key role to play in the creation of a New India by 2022. Speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan, the Prime Minister described it as a symbol of the cultural ties between India and Bangladesh. He said that this University and this sacred land have a history that has seen the freedom struggles of both India and Bangladesh. He said that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman is respected equally in both India and Bangladesh. Similarly, he added that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi are respected in Bangladesh as much as in India. In the same vein, he said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore belongs to Bangladesh, as much as to India. He said that the shared resolve of India and Bangladesh, against cruelty and terrorism, will continue to inspire future generations through the Bangladesh Bhavan. He recalled the felicitation of Indian soldiers by Bangladesh in New Delhi last year. The Prime Minister said that the last few years have marked a golden period in relations between the two countries. He mentioned the resolution of the land boundary issue, and various connectivity projects. He asserted that the two countries have similar goals, and are taking similar paths to achieve those goals. ❐ may 2018 | india empire 17

cover story: special article

Bound together By poetry Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina is an admirer of both Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Her visit to Santiniketan, Asansol bears testimony By Syed Muazzem Ali


rime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s forthcoming two-day official visit to West Bengal, May 2526, would further cement the enduring cultural links between the two countries. During the visit, she will attend the convocations of two renowned universities in West Bengal, the Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan and Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol. The two universities are named after, and greatly inspired by, the life and works of the two most celebrated poets in India and Bangladesh, Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. While Nobel Laureate Tagore is the composer of the national anthem of both countries, a unique instance in the world, Nazrul, the rebel poet, is the national poet of Bangladesh. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the convocation of the Visva-Bharati as the chancellor of the university. Together the two prime ministers will inaugurate the “Bangladesh Bhavan” inside the premises of Santiniketan, funded by the Bangladesh Government, on May 25. The Bangladesh Bhavan will house a museum and other installations to showcase Rabindranath Tagore’s association with Bangladesh, its Liberation War and IndoBangla relations. The following day, Prime Minister Hasina will be conferred an honorary Doctor of Literature degree 18 india empire | may 2018

by Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, during its third convocation. Apart from these, the two prime ministers will also hold a bilateral meeting at Bangladesh Bhavan, on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Bhavan at VisvaBharati. Prime Minister Hasina is also expected to visit Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Tagore, which has been turned into a museum dedicated to the life and works of the Nobel laureate, and also the Netaji Bhawan in Kolkata, the ancestral home of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a great patriot of the freedom movement in India. Given the best of relations between the two countries, it is indeed most befitting that both countries are now trying to nurture the age-old connection of culture between them. We share a common history, a common tradition and common cultural, language and ethnic links. Bangla, as a common language, has been the connecting link between us. We share between us Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore and the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Tagore, indeed, stands as a bridge between India and Bangladesh. The Tagore family had a long association with Bangladesh and Tagore’s ideas and creations are part of the ethos of both countries. Tagore’s prolonged stay in Shelidah and Shahzadpur, in present-day Bangladesh, had



Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the nation of independent Bangladesh, shared Tagore’s liberal and humanist view of life. His choice of Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi (My golden Bengal, I love you) as the national anthem of Bangladesh reflects his profound love and respect for Kabiguru Tagore

exposed him to the majestic beauty of rural Bengal and its impact on the people, which in turn, shaped his views on the philosophy of life. On his return from East Bengal, Tagore had established Visva Bharati, which has been acting as a cultural link between our two countries. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation of independent Bangladesh, shared Tagore’s liberal and humanist view of life. His choice of Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi (My golden Bengal, I love you) as the national anthem of Bangladesh reflects his profound love and respect for Kabiguru Tagore. Bangabandhu was equally inspired by the great poet, popularly known as the “rebel poet” or bidrohi kabi, Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also the national poet of Bangladesh. Kazi Nazrul Islam, through his writings, fought against all odds and injustice. The same spirit was upheld by Bangabandhu throughout his political life. In fact, the name of Independent “Bangladesh” was taken from a poem of Nazrul, where he used it. His songs and writings had greatly inspired us during our Liberation War. If Tagore’s Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi had inspired us to liberate the country, Kazi Nazrul Islam’s Karar oi louho kopat, venge fel korre lopat (Destroy those iron gates of prison) had inspired us tremendously to fight for our liberation. Bangabandhu’s able daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has inherited the same adulation from her father and has been a great admirer of the life and works of both Kabiguru Tagore and Bidrohi Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam and this visit is a testimony to that end. For the construction of Bangladesh Bhavan, Visva Bharati allocated 11,112 square meter land adjacent to the Indira Gandhi Centre at Santiniketan, and it is being funded by the Bangladesh Government. The aim of the Bangladesh Bhavan is to contribute in the field of language, culture, art, economy, history with emphasis on cultural exchange between the two countries. It will be a centre of exchange of academicians, performers, students, and will facilitate people to people exchange between the two countries with research in inter-cultural exchange. The influence of Tagore in Bangladesh shall be a core area of study and exhibition. A special picture gallery on the

theme “The Tagores and Bangladesh” will include the history of the interaction of the Tagore family with Bangladesh. Scholarships will be provided to under-graduate and post-graduate students from Bangladesh as part of the activities of Bangladesh Bhavan. Modern Bangladesh and its history will also be represented through a museum, art gallery, library and such other installations. The Bhavan will also have a centre for research on the Liberation War of Bangladesh, apart from the history, culture and art of Bangladesh. The museum will have four elements, namely, History of Bangladesh, Liberation War of Bangladesh with special focus on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Tagores and Bangladesh and modern Bangladesh. In the art gallery, there will be a special permanent gallery on the Liberation War of Bangladesh and the role of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the creation of independent Bangladesh. The emotional and cultural bond continues to remain a dominant factor in our overall relations. Taking advantage of the historical symmetry of our tradition, culture and heritage, we should reflect on our relations to cultivate the “spirit” of culture and translate the same spirit in other areas of our cooperation for a mutual and shared vision of development of our two countries. The developments in recent years have already taken our bilateral relations as well as our cultural cooperation to a new multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and comprehensive platform. It is expected that Prime Minister Hasina’s visit and her meeting with the PM Modi would add a new dimension to our ever increasing bilateral ties. Long live Bangladesh-India ❐ friendship. —The writer is the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India. He wrote the article just prior to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s most recent visit to India may 2018 | india empire 19

diplomacy comment


By RajendRa Shende

For the first time, the world is experiencing ice-breaking events that are not attributable to global warming. But they are definitely related to warming of another kind. There has been a sudden surge of warming of bilateral and one-to-one interactions among nations. Multilateralism is on the backburner, at least for now. The United Nations is resigned to the position of a passive bystander. Regional groupings are curious ringside onlookers

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he Moon-Kim summit in the demilitarised border of South and North Korea, the Marcon-Trump bromance in the White House and the Modi-Xi riverside dialogue in Wuhan are cases in point. All this warmth coming soon after the high tension between the US and China reminds us of what Otto von Bismarck, a former German Chancellor, once said: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable--the art of the next best.” That was at the end of 19th century. Now, in the 21st century, not only are smart technologies disrupting the way the world lives but even the new-found smart diplomacy is disrupting the way resolutions are sought for long-standing conflicts. The neoteric approaches, “start-ups” in terms of today’s technology, espoused by these leaders, almost instinctively, are setting the agenda of “no-agenda talks” and communicating with “no-communique methods”. The last such out-of-box diplomacy of recent times was seen almost 35 years back. In 1971, the so-called “pingpong-diplomacy” triggered by table tennis players from the US was seized by Chairman Mao and responded to by Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State--and gave both countries the confidence to thaw their icy relations. The initial moves were shrouded in secrecy and intrigue. In July 1971, Kissinger faked “illness” to avoid the paparazzi closely following him while on a visit to Pakistan and did not appear in public for a day. He was actually on a top-secret mission to Beijing to negotiate with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai about a visit by President Nixon to China, which eventually did take place soon after. The subsequent “shuttle-diplomacy” for the PalestineIsrael peace deal by Kissinger was effective to a certain extent. The final peace deal was clinched, however, through intimate bilateral interaction facilitated by the passive but positive role by Norway. The informal dialogue with the “Chai-Diplomacy” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the banks of the Yangtze river in Wuhan in April was indeed a unique event in more senses than one. Firstly, it was initiated by China after an eyeball-toeyeball military stand-off between the second and third largest economies of the world. Second, the two leaders spent more quality time together than scheduled--for two days, away from their capitals, without aides who often display classical hawkish diplomacy--to give a strong, positive message to the world. That meeting also pointed to a new hope for a positive and constructive approach in facilitating solutions for global challenges, including climate change, sustainable development, food security, combating diseases, natural disasters and cyber security. The responsive cooperation ‘to pull together their expertise and resources in these areas and create a global network dedicated to these challenges for the larger benefit of humanity” was the surprise message from the leaders of two giants that were logjammed

just ten months back. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s diplomatic overture, almost coinciding with the Modi-Xi informal summit, has reversed the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula from brinkmanship towards diplomacy. From threatening nuclear missiles to the hopes of peace missions was a warm and welcoming transition. Starting with joint winter Olympic Games participation by the two Koreas, both Kim and Moon have taken a bilateral diplomatic gamble. The “Olympic diplomacy” has worked so far and it is anybody’s guess how Kim will play when it comes to specifics in implementing the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula. But the body language and humour of the two leaders during the crossing of the 38th parallel that divides North and South Korea were a clear indication that the future now will be driven by bilateral interests in an “amicable atmosphere overflowing with feelings of blood relatives”, as stated in their joint statement. The world also witnessed, again at around the same time, another scene of witty and comic body language of yet another duo. The media called it “dandruff diplomacy”. Emmanuel Macron, French President, and Donald Trump, US President, almost displayed disruptive diplomacy. Trump’s trait of firing anyone who disagrees with him was seen to turn into a language of “love thy disagreement”. He jokingly brushed dandruff off Macron’s suit, in front of reporters, but it showed Trump’s appreciation of Macron’s steadfast and positive criticism--and probably suggested a willingness to listen. A definite disruption in Trumpian tactics. On trade-tariffs, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, Macron has definite and strong disagreements with Trump. By inviting Macron to address the joint meeting of the Congress, Trump was taking the risk of allowing a foreign leader to openly disagree on the floor of the highest political chamber of his country. But that showed the selective open-minded dimension of his diplomacy. Modi-Xi, Kim-Moon and Macron-Trump have given strong messages through their distinctive diplomacy. First, that neighbours can resolve their conflicts bilaterally. Second, that global threats like terrorism, climate change and nuclearisation have to be addressed through open dialogue and disruptive diplomacy. Third, leader-to-leader informal contacts have the power to resolve conflicts. Lastly, in a rapidly changing century of degradation of ecosystems, global dialogue also needs bilateral ❐ initiatives. —Rajendra Shende is Chairman, TERRE Policy Centre. He can be contacted at may 2018 | india empire 21



The Indian-American diaspora: A vital resource for India By Frank F. Islam


ver 31 million people of Indian birth or descent are part of the Indian diaspora spread around the world. Of them, 3.1 million, or 10 per cent, are Indian-Americans living in the US. The Indian-American diaspora has proven to be a vital resource contributing to the economic, political and social development of India. Devesh Kapur highlighted the importance of the Indian

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diaspora in his classic 2010 book, “Diaspora, Democracy and Development: The Domestic Impact of International Migration from India�. Kapur's analysis focused primarily on the period from the late 1960s until the end of the 20th century. Indian-American influence, impact, and contributions were significant then and have grown even more so as we move forward into the 21st century. Part of the reason for

this is that the Indian-American population on average stands head and shoulders economically and educationally above those in other Asian American subgroups and the US population in general. A Pew Research study released in 2013 disclosed that the median annual household income for Indian Americans was USD 88,000 compared to USD 66,000 for all Asians and USD 49,800 for the US population. The study also revealed that 38 per cent of Indian-Americans held advanced degrees compared to 30 per cent for all Asian Americans and 10 per cent for the entire population. Indian-Americans excel as high tech entrepreneurs. A study by Vivek Wadwha for the period from 2006 to 2012 showed that overall immigrant entrepreneurship “stagnated” compared to the period from 1995 to 2005. But start-ups by Indian immigrants increased seven per cent over the prior period and a full 33.2 per cent of all start-up companies were founded by Indian Americans. It’s not just that Indian Americans are doing well. They are also inclined to stay connected with India through investments, philanthropy and personal involvement. The Indian Diaspora can bring broad economic benefits to India. They can make substantial contributions in the areas of Innovation and entrepreneurship; health care; education; and skills development. They can help in creating jobs and in creating new companies across India. They can create a platform by sharing best practices and technology with small and medium enterprises and helping them to access financing. In its 2014 paper, “The Indian Diaspora in the United States”, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) reports that “The Indian diaspora community is noted for being very well organised and having a deep and multifaceted engagement with the homeland. Many consider giving back an obligation and a welcome responsibility.” I am one of those who feel that responsibility. Through the foundation my wife Debbie and I have established, we have underwritten the building of a new management complex, Frank and Debbie Islam Management Complex, which was opened last year at my alma mater Aligarh Muslim University. We have also pledged to provide considerable financial support to develop a technical training school for women in India so that they can be empowered through higher education. Indian-Americans who want to share their success philanthropically with those in India can do so easily because of American-based groups such as AIF, Pratham U.S.A. and Ekal which provide a structured and organised approach for giving across a wide range of areas. Thanks to the work of these organisations and others, a number of high-impact initiatives have been launched in India in fields such as education, poverty alleviation and job training. Indian-Americans can reach out to have an impact in India through a wide variety of organisations. As the MPI notes in its study: “The Indian diaspora has established countless highly organised, well-funded, and professionally

managed groups. These organisations address a broad range of issues and take on many different forms, including philanthropic projects to improve health and education in India, advocacy organisations, business and professional networks, media outlets, and societies for the promotion of Indian culture, language and religion.” The Narendra Modi administration recognised the pivotal importance of the US-India relationship and that is why it established a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue during President Obama's Republic Day visit to India in 2015. After Donald Trump became President, it scheduled an India-U.S. two-plus-two dialogue. That dialogue was to revolve around India External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It was tentatively scheduled to take place on April 18-19 but was postponed due to Tillerson’s firing by President Trump. Now that Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as the new Secretary of State it appears that the two-plus-two dialogue will be set up for some time in May or June. This meeting is important to the future of India-US relations. But it is also important to note that two-plus-two only adds up to four. India has grand ambitions and the success of its Make in India National Manufacturing Policy depends on the US being one of its key partners. This requires much more than ambition. It demands multiplication and exponential assistance in order to achieve its India's lofty goals. Indian-Americans have been a vital resource in the growth and development of India to date and they have the wherewithal to be even more so. Because of their accomplishments in the US and understanding of India they are uniquely positioned to help India address pressing issues and priorities in order to achieve its full potential. India needs to reach out to Indian-Americans and their organisations and make them central to its growth and development process. They will make the difference by being the vital resource and ally that India needs to convert dia❐ logue and talk into action and results. may 2018 | india empire 25

india diaspora in us west coast



IndIa HerItage

ScHolarSHIp awardS


wenty two India Heritage award winners displayed plentiful talents with their stage performances and academic excellence at the 32nd India Heritage Awards event held on Sunday, April 1, 2018 at Cerritos Sheraton Hotel, Cerritos. Eight of the high and middle school scholarship winners showed their excellence in dance or music by solo performances. The spell-bound audience gave repeated thunderous and sustained applause to encourage the young performers. The very entertaining cultural program was emceed by Vasu Pawar and well known community leader Dilip Butani. Versha Nair of Rancho Santa Margarita won the top award of $2500 and revolving trophy in the high school category. The scholarship award has been instituted by Sanjiv & Rajesh Chopra in memory of their parents Sarla and Kishan Gopal Chopra. Ashok Madan and his wife Manju presented the revolving trophy “Profiles in Excellence” instituted in memory of Ashok’s parents, Thakar Singh and Shanti Rani Madan. The second-place winner was Titash Biswas while the third-place winner was Bala Thenappan. The next seven winners were Suraj Srivats, Soumya Ravichandran, Sumedha Attanti, Amogha Koka, Sriram Kotta, Siddartha Sen, and Anvitha Soordelu. Interestingly, most of the winners were females. Rhea Jethvani won the top award in the Middle school category. The award and revolving trophy has been instituted in memory of long time event sponsor Dr. Awtar Singh by his niece, Sonia Batra of Beverly Hills. The second-place winner was Debdeep Bandyopadhyay while the third-place winner was Abheerava Koka. The next five winners were Saachi Pavani, Deeksha Kasula, Komal Kaur, Monica Pal, and Saadhvi Narayanan. Harshini Mohan and Monica Pal won the Visual and Performing Arts awards instituted in honor of “Teachers, parents and family.” Titash Biswas, second place winner in high school category, also won Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Visual & Performing Arts funded by Uka Solanki in memory of his mother Kadviben. Fourth place winner Suraj Srivats shared Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in sports with Karishma Muthukumar. The award and trophy are funded by Jagdish Khangura in memory of his wife Rajinder Khangura. Fifth place winner Soumya Ravichandran shared Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in community service with Madhulika Shastry. The award and trophy is funded by Satpal Jandial in memory of his parents, Mani Ram and Gian Dai. Nitya Parthasarathy won Outstanding Achievement Award and revolving trophy in Math, Science and Technology in-

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stituted by Dr. Mani Bhaumik in recognition of the “most important numeral ZERO invented in India.” The keynote speech was delivered by Deepi Singh, who, in India, was head, Foods and Nutrition department in Home Science College, Chandigarh, and in USA had held the position of director Food services in Kaiser hospital, Panorama city. In her speech she emphasized that one must have courage and determination to succeed in life. If someone has a handicap, he/she can conquer it with hard work, sincerity and will power. She did not let her handicap stand in her getting higher education or attaining other goals. She advised, “Make your handicap your strength.” The Indian American Heritage Foundation has been recognizing the achievements of Indian Youth, graduating from High and Middle Schools in Southern California for the past 32 years. The Foundation is the leading Indian American organization to publicly recognize, reward and celebrate excellence of the community’s best and brightest graduating students in Southern California. The Foundation started with eight scholarship awards in 1987, now gives twenty-four scholarships annually. The annual event has been made possible with the support of some well-meaning people from the community including Bhupinder Mac, Sanjiv & Renu Chopra, Dr. M.L. Bhaumik, BU Patel, Sonia Batra, Ashok & Manju Madan, Satpal Jandial, Bhupesh Parikh, Bob (Harbans) Bawa, Jagdish Khangura, VJ & Simi Singh, Dr. Satinder and Ranjit Bhatia, Dr. Asmath Noor, UmaAvadesh Agarwal, Dr. M.C Gupta, Commerca Bank (Sangita Chauhan), Harbhajan Samra and Arun Bhumitra. Some of the sponsors present at the event included, Uka Solanki, V. J Singh, Bhupesh Parikh, Dr. M.C Gupta, Dr. Asmath Noor, and Harbhajan Samra. One by one, the sponsors were called upon to present the award check to the young winners. Inder Singh, in welcoming the attendees, appreciated the support by the sponsors who provided necessary funding for the continuity of the awards program. He also thanked the judges who undertook the grueling task of evaluating the applicants, and praised his “working crew” -- team of volunteers -- who worked hard to make the event a success. He said, “An individual, howsoever brilliant, intelligent and smart, would find it difficult, if not impossible to match the collaborative efforts of an effective team and he is blessed with a team which has been providing selfless service for the cause of our youth.” His team included Ashok Madan, Kewal Kanda, Aparna Hande, Amrit Bhandari, Dilip Butani, Deepi Singh, Prof Keshav Patel, Manju Madan, Navin Gupta, Ra❐ jinder Dhunna, Simi Singh, Vasu Pawer, and V.J Singh.

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Kalpana Chawla hailed by president trump


nited States President Donald Trump has hailed the late Indian American astronaut Kalpana Chawla as an inspiration for millions of American girls. “Chawla’s courage and passion continue to serve as an inspiration for millions of American girls who dream of one day becoming astronauts,” Trump said on May 1 in a proclamation honouring Americans of Asian and Pacific Islands descent. The month of May is celebrated in the US as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Trump said that during this month “we recognize their tremendous contributions, which have helped strengthen our communities, industries, Armed Forces, national security, and institutions of governance”. Praising the contributions of Asian Americans, he said: “Through their industriousness and love of country, our Nation has enjoyed the privileges and enrichments of multiple innovations and societal advancements.” Chawla, who was born in Karnal and emigrated to the US with an aeronautical engineering degree from Punjab Engineering College, died in 2003 on her second mission when space shuttle Columbia disintegrated while returning to earth. “Indian American Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian descent to fly in space, and became an American hero for her devotion to the Space Shuttle program and its various missions transporting cargo and crew to and from the International Space Station,” Trump said in his proclamation. ❐

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$100K for Dhruv Gaur

n April, Indian-American teenager, Dhruv Gaur, won the $100,000 Jeopardy college quiz championship. The first-year student at Ivy League Brown University emerged the champion in a two-day final round of the college edition of America's most popular quiz show televised nation-wide. He faced another Indian-American, Rishab Jain, in the semi-final round on Wednesday before getting to the finals. Gaur had scored a perfect score of 1,600 in the national-wide college entrance exam, Scholastic Aptitude Test. About his plans for the winnings, a Jeopardy news release quoted him as saying, "I'm just going to save it until I need it for grad school or to pursue an opportunity I might really want in the future. My little brother is really interested in investing, so I'll give him some so he can give the stock market a go," he added. Vinita Kailasanath is the only other Indian-American, who won the college championship, which was in 2001. In the teen championships for high-schoolers, Sharath Narayan won the $100,000 prize in 2016. Two other IndianAmericans had earlier won the teen championship.

PWM enters Indian market Indian-American publishing group Parikh Worldwide Media (PWM) has acquired ITV Gold cable TV channel with plans to enter the Indian media market. Announcing the acquisition in New York in April, PWM Chairman Sudhir Parikh, said: "We will have tie-ups with digital platforms in India to launch ITV Gold before we penetrate the cable markets there with informative news shows and programs that will give insight into the Indian diaspora and their issues in the US.” With the acquisition of ITV Gold, PWM now has a presence in print, online and electronic media making it a premier IndianAmerican media house, a company statement said. Launched in 1985, New Yorkbased ITV Gold (International Television Broadcasting) is the first 24A-7 cable TV channel in the US to deliver news about India, Indian-Americans and South Asians, according to the PWM news release. ITV Gold portfolio includes Vision of Asia that was started in 1976 and is the longest-running Indian-American TV programme in the US. New York-headquartered PWM publishes four weekly newspapers--the national publication, News India Times; two regional publications from New York and Chicago,

Desi Talk, and the Gujarati language Gujarat Times--and an online magazine, Indian American. It also publishes an indepth opinion and policy journal, India Global Review, in association with the Parikh Foundation for India's Global Development. Parikh is a physician who has received the Padma Shri award and led major Indian-American organisations, including the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the Indian American Forum for Public Education (IAFPE). “ITV Gold has solid brand value and a massive following in the Indian-American, South Asian, and Indo-Caribbean market and we plan to give more community news and local events coverage with the combination of print and television connecting viewers to matters that affect them here in the US and in India,” Parikh said. Deepak Viswanath, son of ITV Gold's late founder, Banad Viswanath, said: “This partnership combines the strength of two well established and respected Indian American Media. It is a launching pad to expand the channel on new platforms across the US.”

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Grenada Appointment The Indian Diaspora Council International (IDC) and its global chapters and affiliates congratulate Shadel Nyack Compton, the IDC Coordinator in Grenada, on her appointment as Honorary Consul General of India to Grenada. Shadel Nyack Compton, Grenadian attorney and Managing Director of Belmont Estate, has been appointed as the first Honorary Consul of India to Grenada this afternoon. High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, accredited to Dominica, Montserrat and Grenada, His Excellency Bishwadip Dey, was present as Ms. Nyack Compton presented her Letters of Instrument to From left Hon. Peter David, Shadel Nyack Compton, HE Amb. Bishwadip Dey Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, will further enhance the shared heritage and interests among Hon. Peter David. IDC Statement: “We take immense pride in the continu- persons of Indian origin in Grenada and elsewhere. We also ing commitment and efforts of Shadel Nyack Compton to extend our continued best wishes to all the descendants of preserve and promote the history and heritage of Indians in those early pioneers for continued peaceful and prosperous Grenada. We are confident that Shadel Nyack Compton’s ap- co-existence among other ethnic groups both in Grenada pointment as Honorary Consul General of India to Grenada and other lands where they have subsequently settled”.

USD 69 Billion Remittances to India India topped as the highest recipient of remittances globally in 2017, with its diaspora sending back USD 69 billion, a World Bank statement in April has said. “Remittance inflows improved in all regions and the top remittance recipients were India with USD 69 billion, followed by China (USD 64 billion), the Philippines (USD 33 billion), Mexico (USD 31 billion), Nigeria (USD 22 billion), and Egypt (USD 20 billion),” the statement said. Remittances to India rose sharply by 9.9 percent in 2017, reversing the previous year’s sharp decline, the report added. Global remittances are expected grow 4.6 percent to USD 642 billion in 2018, the statement said. Remittances to low and middle-income countries rebounded to a record level in 2017 after two consecutive years of decline, says the World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief. “The overall recovery in remittances is better than we expected. It is driven by stronger growth in the European Union, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The rebound in remittances, when valued in US dollars, was helped by higher oil prices and a strengthening of the euro and ruble,” said Dilip Ratha, lead economist at the World Bank in his blog. “The global average cost of sending USD 200 was 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2018. The cost ranges from the most expensive average cost of 9.4 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, to the lowest average cost of 5.2 percent in South Asia. The average cost is higher than the Sustainable

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Development Goal target of 3 percent in all regions,” he said. “While remittances are growing, countries, institutions, and development agencies must continue to chip away at high costs of remitting so that families receive more of the money. Eliminating exclusivity contracts to improve market competition and introducing more efficient technology are high-priority issues,” Ratha added. The Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to low and middle-income countries reached USD 466 billion in 2017, an increase of 8.5 percent over USD 429 billion in 2016.

photo section pictures © sipra das


Film producer Boney Kapoor receives his wife Ms Sridevi’s posthumous Best Actress honour at the National Film Awards from President of India Mr Ram Nath Kovind. Also seen at the special moment are daughters Janhvi and Khushi

Prime Minister Modi greets visiting Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte before addressing the media

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the first biannual IAF Commanders’ Conference at Air Headquarters

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indian influence in united states

Surge in Yoga Culture in ameriCa By inder singh


or the last several years, yoga and meditation are becoming more acceptable in America. Yoga has surged in popularity and its impact is everywhere: in movies, television, advertising, and schools. Americans have witnessed an increase in yoga studios, meditation centers and vegetarian restaurants, all of which have roots in India. Meditation was originally a huge part of yoga. Now, yoga is marketed as a series of asanas (postures) that makes one fit and helps in weight loss. Many Americans have incorporated yoga routines as an essential part of their work out regime. The number of US yoga practitioners has increased exponentially to more than 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012, as per a 2016 study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance. In 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’. The resolution introduced by India’s ambassador to the UN was a follow up of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call during his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014, asking world leaders to adopt an international Yoga day, as “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.” The first International Day of Yoga was observed all over the world on June 21, 2015. In New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi, a large number of dignitaries from 84

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nations, and a record number of 35,985 people performed 21 yoga asanas (postures) on Rajpath for 35 minutes. At the UN Headquarters, Secretary General Ban Kimoon and India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke at the inaugural function which also featured a yoga demonstration. The UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa attended the event along with more than one hundred people, including diplomats and UN staff. The event was webcast to thousands who took part in an all-day yoga event at Times Square. The Indian Embassy in Washington D.C. organized many curtain-raiser yoga events featuring Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, among others, during the months of May-June 2015. Indian ambassador Arun K Singh attended the event on June 21, along with several dignitaries. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii delivered a congressional resolution commemorating the day. Now, the Indian Embassy is organizing a celebration of the 4th International Day of Yoga on June 16, 2018. All Indian consulates in USA are also organizing similar events and inviting members of the Indian community to participate. Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to Americans. He came to the USA in 1893 to address the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. During his stay of about four years in America, he lectured at major universities and retreats. He started the Vedantic centre in New York in 1896 and taught

Swami Vivekananda

Paramahansa Yogananda

Raja Yoga classes. In 1920, Paramahansa Yogananda came as India’s delegate to the International Congress of Religious Leaders in Boston. He established The Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles. Today, there are seven SRF centers in California where Yogananda’s meditation and Kriya yoga techniques are taught on regular basis. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation (TM ) to Americans in 1959. The TM technique involves the use of mantra and regular practice offers reduction of stress and fatigue. Yoga continued to proliferate in a limited way as the focus has been on the religious aspect of yoga, which dealt with how to use meditation to come closer to God. Indra Devi was the first to teach and propagate nonreligious yoga for the American mainstream, with an emphasis on its physical benefits. She opened a yoga studio in Hollywood in 1947 with emphasis on the physical benefits of yoga. She was born Eugenie Peterson in Latvia on May 12, 1899 and went to India in 1927 for three months. She was not happy coming back and returned to India where she became a rising star as a dancer and actress in Indian films. In 1930, she married Jan Strakaty, the commercial attaché to the Czechoslovak Consulate in Bombay. She started learning yoga in 1937 from Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. She became the first Western woman and the first woman chela (pupil) of an Indian yoga teacher. In 1938, her husband was transferred to China. At the urging of her teacher Krishnamacharya, Indra opened a yoga school in Shanghai in 1939. Many Americans and Russians joined the school to learn yoga. There, she became known as Mata Ji, which means mother. She wrote her first book “Yoga, the Art of Reaching Health and Happiness.” It was believed to be the first book on yoga written by a Westerner to be published in India. In 1947, a year after her husband passed away, she moved to California. In an effort to publicize and spread yoga for health and wellness, she cultivated movie stars like Gloria Swanson and other famous people like Yehudi Menuhin to come to her Hollywood yoga studio. She promoted yoga to Americans as

Indra Devi

a system of physical exercise, consisting of a series of poses, postures and positions. She reached thousands of people through her books on yoga, two, “Forever Young, Forever Healthy” and “Renew Your Life by Practicing Yoga” were the best sellers. B.K.S. Iyengar, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, was the founder of “Iyengar Yoga”. He learnt yoga from Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, the same teacher who taught Indra Devi. In 1954, Yehudi Menuhin invited Iyengar to Switzerland. From then on, Iyengar visited the west regularly to teach his system of yoga. He made his first visit to the United States in 1956 and gave several lecture-demonstrations. He published his first book, Light on Yoga, which became known as “the bible of yoga” and has been the source book for yoga students. He was the author of many books on yoga practice and was often referred to as “the father of modern yoga”. Iyengar started hundreds of yoga centers, teaching Iyengar yoga which focuses on the correct alignment of the body within each yoga pose, making use of straps, wooden blocks, and other objects as aids in achieving the correct postures. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2014. Yogi Bhajan started teaching “Kundalini Yoga, the Yoga of Awareness” in 1968. His version of Kundalini Yoga has continued to grow in influence and popularity largely in the Americas, Europe, South Africa, Togo, Australia, and East Asia. He was an inspiring teacher and trained thousands of teachers. Many of his followers opened their yoga studios in various parts of the world, popularizing yoga for health and fitness. Bikram Choudhary emigrated to the United States in the 1970s and founded yoga studios in California and Hawaii. He earned fame and fortune by teaching yoga to Americans by opening heated yoga studios. His style of yoga is practiced in a room that has been preheated to a temperature of 105 degree F. Bikram Yoga is the 26 postures sequence selected and developed from Hatha Yoga. In the 1990s, Bikram began offering nine-week

may 2018 | india empire 33

indian influence in united states

BKS Iyengar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

teacher certification courses and trained thousands of certified instructors who opened Bikram Yoga studios all over the world. For the last several years, Bikram has been involved in law suits due to his sexual transgressions. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar established the International Art of Living Foundation in 1981, which is operating in 154 countries. He has been promoting the Sudarshan Kriya, a rhythmic breathing yoga exercise that incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath, harmonizing the body, mind and emotions. It is claimed that regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya “eliminates stress, fatigue and negative emotions.” In 1986, Sri Sri came to California to conduct the first course to be held in North America. Since then, he has been frequenting America to spread his brand of yoga. Swami Ramdev is the most celebrated yoga teacher and has a following which runs into millions. He has revolutionized people’s thinking about yoga exercises. In 2003, India-based Aastha TV began featuring him in its morning yoga slot. Within a few years, he attained immense popularity and developed a huge following. His yoga camps are attended by a large number of people in India and abroad. His Pranayam exercises – a set of breathing exercises – are promoted to bring about balance between the body and mind. Regular practitioners claim numerous benefits. Zee TV in USA gives a one hour program daily featuring Ramdev’s yoga asanas. Ramdev has attained commercial success of his physical fitness yoga, with no parallel in India or the western world. America is now dotted with yoga gyms and studios providing easy access to everyone, including business executives and Hollywood celebrities. There are also many yoga professionals and teachers who have gained prominence in this growing industry and are available for expert guidance. Several studies have shown that yoga reduces blood pressure, back pain, relieves stress and improves overall health. Several doctors recommend yoga to their cancer patients during and after treatment. Many Americans are drawn to yoga for physical fitness, others are

34 india empire | may 2018

Swami Ramdev

attracted as yoga provides relief from stress while many others practice yoga for weight management. Several entrepreneurs are flourishing in this $30 billion industry. They publish yoga magazines, yoga books, produce TV shows, make DVDs, video games and apps, manufacture yoga clothes, yoga artifacts, yoga furniture and furnishings, yoga foods, yoga tea, yoga energy bars, and hundreds of products and services. The proliferation of yoga products, DVDs, and internet has made yoga accessible by one and all. Hundreds of yoga websites have all kind of information about yoga, from health and wellness to spiritual and show simple to complex poses. Several New Age gurus, who travel across the globe, have contributed to yoga popularity. In the United States, bestselling author Deepak Chopra has significantly contributed to Indian meditation philosophy and yoga going mainstream. Yoga has gone through several ups and downs during the last sixty years but now has earned well deserved respect and recognition. At its core, yoga is both a physical and spiritual practice. But for most Americans, yoga is a workout system that consists of a series of stretches, poses, and ❐ postures to tone and shape one’s body. —Inder Singh regularly writes on Indian Diaspora. He is the author of The Gadar Heroics – life sketches of over 50 Gadar heroes. He is Executive Trustee of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Foundation. He was chairman of GOPIO from 2009-2016, president from 2004-2009, president of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and chairman from 1992-96. He was founding president of Federation of Indian Associations in Southern California. He can be reached at

column: yogi ashwini

mind and body

HOw AnGER dESTROYS Yogi ashwini

In Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, krodhaat bhavati sammohah sammohaat smritivibhramah | smritibhramshaat buddhinaasho buddhinaashaat pranashyati ||2-63|| From anger comes delusion, from delusion a lapse of memory, from lapse of memory there is destruction of buddhi, and from destruction of buddhi person is destroyed. Krishna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, gives Arjuna the gyan of detachment (vairagya) from the fruits of war, to stay untouched from the attachments of anger, jealousy, resentment, grief, etc, for the body is perishable, as it is one has to die…attachments only expedite the process of self-destruction. Whenever you do anything with extra passion or attachment, it is equivalent to anger, because body reacts in same way—the metabolic rate shoots up, resulting in faster pulse and rapid breathing. These are also the symptoms of a person who is dying. Says sanatan kriya, that cell which is the basic unit of life, comes with a limited force. Every time the cell divides during metabolism, new cells are born which are weaker than the previous cell. That is our batteries are not rechargeable and the process of ageing or destruction of body cannot be reversed. Anger and other hyper emotions increase the metabolic rate of cell leading to faster ageing. The key to health and longevity is in slowing down. Creation is a sum total of positive (devik) and negative (asurik) - positive that aids creation process, and negative that destroys it, both are necessary for movement of creation. Silence, stillness, stability, shanti are properties of positive forces, hyperactivity, unrest, anger etc of the asuric forces. A hyperactive body is in possession of the asuric forces which instil negative thoughts and tendencies paving way for destruction of the body and spiritual devolution. History abounds with examples of how asuric forces try to disrupt all processes of growth and evolution of an individual and community, asurs were known to cause hindrance in yagyas, kill innocent animals

By Yogi Ashwini

and beings and prevent acts of general good. When asuric forces (like anger) take possession of the body, the person misses his/her spiritual goal and wastes his/her birth and life fast moving towards destruction. Influence of asuric forces cloud the mind and takes it away from spirituality/devik forces. If you notice people who are hyperactive are normally far away from spirituality and acts like yagyas and meditation and create a scene if member of family indulges in all this. The vedic seers were masters of creation, and thousands of years of ago, when according to western historians, world was inhabited by barbarians, gave us the concept of shanti (or peace) and balancing of chakras and various elements. Chakra santulan pranayama is an effective tool to maintain balance and peace, says Sanatan kriya. The vedic masters were well aware of the consequences of emotional arousal and hyperactivity, and also gave us the shanti path to stabilise not just each and every cell in the body but each and every aspect of creation, of which the body is a reflection. Whenever you are angry, just close your eyes and take ten deep breaths, follow this with the chant of shanti path. Om dehi shantih antariksham, shantirprithvi, shantiraapa, shantihi aushadhaya, shantirvanaspatayah, shantivishvavedah shantibrahma, shanti saama, shantirshantiriva dehi shantiredhi shanti sarvagyam shanti sarvagyam shanti sarvagyam om dehi shanti shanti shantih om Let there be peace in the universe, on earth, in waters, in herbs, in trees, in the eternal gyan of creation, in Brahma, Let there be peace in me and in everything. Let peace be everywhere. But be warned concept of shanti will not be understood by people with asuric bent of mind. Practice of Sanatan Kriya ensures this balance comes in the body of even people of asuric ❐ vrittis. —Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and can be reached at

may 2018 | india empire 35

pictures BY: sipra das


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

(May 2014 onwards)

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

Mr Babul Supriyo Mr VIjay Goel Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy Minister of State for Heavy (Ex) Union Minister of State for When Minister of State (IC) for Industries and Public Enterprises Skill Development and Youth Affairs and Sports Entrepreneurship (IC)

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