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Asia Society exhibition depicts Indian gods and goddesses
Manjari Sharma’s Lord Vishnu, from the Darshan series, 2013, Chromogenic print, 60 x 48 in, Edition 1/2, Courtesy of Richard Levy Gallery and the artist. HOUSTON — Asia Society at the Texas Center and is Texas Center will present a funded in part by a grant from series of vibrant photographs the City of Houston through by Brooklyn-based Indian Houston Arts Alliance. “Transcendent Deities of contemporary artist Manjari Sharma and modern India features Hindu gods chromolithographs produced and goddesses depicted in by the Raja Ravi Varma the less familiar formats photography and Press in an exhibition entitled of which Transcendent Deities of India: chromolithography The Everyday Occurrence of demonstrates their ongoing the Divine, on view May 2 relevance to more recent artists who utilized the technology of through September 14, 2014. This is the ﬁrst time these their eras,” said Bridget Bray, artists’ works have been director of exhibitions, Asia Society Texas Center. presented together in Texas. “These modern and The exhibition of nearly 60 images will be on view in the contemporary representations Louisa Stude Saroﬁm Gallery See ASIA, Page 7
Austin-based Hindu Temple gets Nelson Mandela Peace Award JKP Education, a non-proﬁt organization supported by Radha Madhav Dham Hindu Temple in Austin, has won the Nelson Mandela Peace Award for its contribution to the education of underprivileged girls in rural India. Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) Education, located in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India, provides 100% free education, from kindergarten to postgraduate studies, to more than 5,000 girls living in impoverished rural areas. With 430 million children in India, every 6th child in the world originates from India. Unfortunately, girls in India are robbed of an education on account of poverty even today. School dropout rate among adolescent girls is as high as 63.5 percent. Through its initiatives, JKP Education attempts to correct this situation and give back the birthright of education to girls living in poor rural areas of UP, India. JKP Education’s President, Vishaka Tripathi, accepted the prestigious award in Delhi on April 19, 2014 from a member of Indian Parliament and former Minister of State of Home Affairs, Shripad Yesso Naik. G.S. Sachdeva, General
Secretary of the Economic Growth Society of India, commented, “These awards have been instituted with the goal of honoring individuals and organizations that have made selﬂess contribution towards the growth of India”. In addition to free education, students are provided transportation, uniforms, school bags, and other school-related items at no cost. “Our aim is to remove any obstacle to the girl’s education that is likely to be induced by poverty,” said Vishaka Tripathi. Swami Nikhilanand, a US based preacher of Radha Madhav Dham in speaking to supporters about the award remarked “Leading a spiritual life and helping the less fortunate go hand in hand. We are very happy about this recognition. These awards inspire us to strive ever more
Vishaka Tripathi diligently towards helping our fellow human beings and expand our future charitable works.” The efforts of JKP Education have been recognized in the past as well. It has received Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award (May, 2013), Naari Today Award of Jagran group (May, 2013), and Mother Teresa Excellence Award (September, 2013).
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PAGE 2 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
O N V I EW
in the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery at Asia Society Texas Center 1370 Southmore Boulevard in Houston’s Museum District O PE N IN G R E CE P T IO N
FRIDAY, MAY 2 6 – 8 PM Enjoy food trucks; cash bar available.
More information at asiasociety.org/texas or 713.496.9901 THE EXHIBITION IS FUNDED IN PART BY A GRANT FROM THE CITY OF HOUSTON THROUGH HOUSTON ARTS ALLIANCE.
Vishnu-Garud Wahan, Ravi Varma Press, Karla-Lonavla, Paper, ink, fabric, metallic thread, Courtesy of Ramchander Nath Foundation, New Delhi
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 3
PAGE 4 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
TOPIC OF THE WEEK Is India about to elect its Ronald Reagan? By David Cohen I recently offered my perspective on India’s elections to an American audience. Writing in The Daily Caller, a popular online newspaper run by conservative television journalist Tucker Carlson, I compared Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. My piece quickly made its way throughout the Indian diaspora and all the way back to India. It has clearly struck a nerve: Indian readers were amazed to see a western media perspective on Modi that was not reflexively negative. To make my biases clear from the outset, I am a great admirer of President Reagan. I am also a great admirer of India. Where my piece offers some criticisms of certain segments of Indian society, please don’t take that as an American looking down on India.
These are the observations of a pro-India American who looks for commonalities — both good and bad — between his own society and yours. And I see several commonalities between Gujarat’s Chief Minister and America’s 40th President. Here is an adaptation of what I told my readers: Both Modi and Reagan rose from humble origins. Both were popular and successful State leaders: Reagan was “chief minister” (governor) of my home state of California. Modi, like Reagan, is an unabashed proponent of free market economics. THEELITEDETRACTORS
A major common denominator between the two men is the nature of their detractors. Like the U.S., India has cultural elitists who seem to desperately crave the approval of their former colonial masters in Europe. The Indian
India Herald India Herald (USPS 017-699) is published every Wednesday (for a subscription rate of $25 per year) by India Herald Inc, 13643 La Concha Lane, Houston TX 77083-3438. Tel: 281-980-6746. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to India Herald, P.O. Box 623, Sugar Land, TX 77487. India Herald welcomes articles, letters for publication. Website: www.india-herald.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher: Seshadri Kumar. Executive Editor: Rajeev V. Gadgil. c India Herald. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any material herein, without permission, is prohibited. India Herald assumes no liability resulting from action taken based on the information included herein.
cultural elite despises Modi every bit as much as the American cultural elite despised Reagan. They look down their noses at Modi, cringing at the thought of being led by a common chai wallah who can barely speak English. (I could never imagine Chinese or Russian citizens, proud of their own heritage, being ashamed that their leaders don’t speak English.) The American elites believed that Reagan was an unsophisticated simpleton who was too extreme to be President. Prior to his election, they issued dire warnings about the calamities that would ensue if Reagan came to power. The rest, as they say, is history, and the collapse of the Soviet empire left Reagan’s critics on the wrong side of it. The cultural elites labelled Reagan as a racist. That’s a term they use for anyone who believes that a robust and growing market economy, rather than massive government bureaucracy, is the best way to promote upward mobility for the poor and the minorities. American elites frequently resort to name-calling when facts and reason fail them. Modi, of course, is also labelled by his critics as a “communalist,” roughly equivalent to the “racist” epithet that Americans hurl at one another. As with Reagan, the charge lacks merit and is stoked by political opponents seeking to sow fear in minority communities. Modi’s critics, of course, still con-
Narendra Modi stantly blame him for the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Those riots, and the train burning that preceded them, were indeed great tragedies. But I suspect the motives of Modi’s political opponents who ignore the results of the Supreme Court of India’s special investigation of the incident. They have no incentive to acknowledge that Modi has been cleared of any wrongdoing. They continue to profit politically by smearing Modi with India’s version of American “racecard” politics. As an outside observer, I often find the terms of debate in India’s mainstream media to be confusing. As I understand it, if you favor allowing citizens to be treated differently on the basis of their religious beliefs, then you are an open-minded “secularist.” If, on the other hand, you favor treating all citizens equally under the law, without regard to their religion, then you are a “religious extrem-
ist.” It is comforting to learn that my country is not the only one with a mainstream media that uses Orwellian doublespeak to support its left-leaning agenda. (And I say that with all apologies and due respect to The Hindu, which has kindly offered me a forum!) It is a testament to the tolerance of India’s Hindu-majority society that it hosts several flourishing communities of other faiths. Neighboring Pakistan, by contrast, is a highly inhospitable environment for those who don’t subscribe to the majority religion. The religious minority communities that have managed to survive there are tiny and constantly under siege. Bangladesh has similar problems. When critics lob the accusation that Modi is “intolerant” of religious minorities, they are certainly not applying the standards that prevail in the region. Modi, of course, promises to take a tough stand against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. In this regard, I reminded my American readers that Islamic extremists are not fighting against the “West.” Islamist extremists are fighting against all non-Islamic societies, including Buddhists in Thailand; Christians in Nigeria, the Philippines, Chechnya, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Timor-Leste; Jews in Israel; minority communities throughout the Muslim world — and, quite prominently, Hindus in India. India is very much on the front lines of what we Americans used to call See Page 8
Indian Music Society of Houston Presents A Concert of Late Morning and Afternoon Ragaas By
Ashwini Bhide Deshpande With Sanjay Deshpande on Tabla Tanmay Deocheke on Harmonium Born in Mumbai into a family with strong musical traditions, Dr. Ashwini BhideDeshpande started her early classical training under the guidance of Narayanrao Datar. She then completed her Sangeet Visharad from the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. She was under the tutelage of her mother, Smt. Manik Bhide, who instilled in her the intricacies and traditions of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. Dr. Bhide-Deshpande also received guidance from one of the stalwarts of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana, Pt. Ratnakar Pai until his death in 2009. She holds a Masters degree in Microbiology and a doctorate in Biochemistry from the University of Bombay. It was not until she completed her doctorate, when Dr. Bhide-Deshpande even considered a professional career in music. Since the late 1980s, she has been on concert tours to every continent and frequently performs at prestigious music conferences around the world, including the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav in Pune. Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande has created her own musical style that respects the vocal culture and presentation aesthetics of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana. She holds a strong command over the three primary saptaks. Dr. Bhide-Deshpande has an intimate understanding of Bandish and bandishcomposition and has created many of her own bandishes, which she has published in her book, Raag Rachananjali (2004). A sequel titled "Ragarachananjali 2", containing 98 more bandishes (compositions) was published in 2010.
For tickets: Govind 713-922-2501 Suresh 281-935-4653 or www.tickets2 events.com
Sat, April 26 @ 3 p.m. Jones Hall, Univ of St. Thomas
3901 Yoakum Blvd
Programs are subject to change for reasons beyond the control of Indian Music Society of Houston. IMS Programs are partially funded by a grant from Houston Arts Alliance.
INDIA-US Kejriwal, Modi lead Time 100 poll Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal leads Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for Prime Minister, but entertainment figures like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Laverne Cox were jostling for top spots before voting closed at 11:59 p.m. ET on April 22. As the TIME 100 readers’ poll neared its close, Indian politicians Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi maintained their lead in a heated race for the winner. As of Tuesday afternoon, Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal led Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for prime minister Modi in terms of percentage of “yes” votes, while Modi also had a significantly higher share of “no” votes against him. Singer Katy Perry sits in third, followed by Justin Bieber, who has managed to edge out transgender actress Laverne Cox for fourth. Following close behind Cox are Benedict Cumberbatch, Beyonce Knowles, and Rihanna. Aside from the Indian political race at the top, which mirrors the actual elections taking place currently in the country, entertainment figures appear to be dominating the top spots. Though the final TIME 100 list of the most influential people of the year worldwide is finally chosen by the editors, TIME seeks input of readers in an online poll.
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 5
TIME poll rigged, says IAMC Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC, http://iamc.com), a group dedicated to safeguarding India's pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called on TIME magazine to disqualify Indian politicians from the 2014 TIME 100 online poll. Millions of fake online votes were cast using automated systems for Indian politicians Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, sometimes running into 1,000 votes every 5 seconds. In the two hours between 1:15-3:15PM April 22 (past midnight in India), over 1.4 million votes were cast for candidate Narendra Modi. Since 6 PM last evening (April 21, 2014), over 4 million votes were cast for Modi and 2 million for Kejriwal. This polling fraud has implications on the ongoing Indian elections where perceptions on the outcome of the TIME poll have impact on the masses. Over 300 parliamentary seats go to polls in India between now and May 12. While the TIME Magazine poll is known to have been rigged for the last several years, the Magazine has done little to address the issue. Although a detailed account of how Katy Perry was pushed to the top spot in last year's TIME poll through automated polling has been published by hackers, TIME continues to use the same polling service. In order to demonstrate how easy it is to crack the TIME poll, IAMC has listed below step-wise technical details on how fake voting can be automated on the TIME Magazine poll: 1. Open a Facebook account 2. Using a browser recording tool such as Selenium, record a session for the following: a) Go to TIME Magazine poll, click on the person to vote. b) It will give the option to login to Facebook or Twitter. Login into Facebook. c) This will result in the poll service accepting the vote. 3. Write a script that does the following: d) Clear all cookies and other private data from the browser e) Play the Selenium recording 4. Write an auto initialization script that continuously runs the above. 5. Save the virtual image of the machine. 6. Use the virtual image to launch hundreds or thousands of machines on a cloud service or data center to cast their millions of votes for the person of your choice. This loophole can easily be plugged by TIME through the introduction of industry standard techniques such as Captchas, but TIME has ignored poll fraud on its site for the last several years, IAMC says. "TIME Magazine should reflect on its willing complicity in allowing itself be used as a PR tool, especially when it has the potential to impact elections in the world's largest democracy," said IAMC President Ahsan Khan. IAMC also urged the Election Commission of India to ensure that the results of TIME 100 poll are not used as a publicity tool by the Indian political parties during the course of these elections. Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy group of Indian Muslims in the U.S. with 15 chapters.
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Indian Music Society of Houston Presents A 501 ©(3) Organization Promoting Hindustani Classical Music
Hindustani Vocal Concert Smt. Gauri Pathare (Disciple of Smt Padma Talwalkar) Accompanied By: Harshad Kanetkar on Tabla; Uday Kulkarni on Harmonium Smt. Gauri Pathare has been delivering solo recitals all over India as well as abroad since the age of 12 years. Gauri’s interest in Hindustani classical vocal music came from her mother, Dr. Vidya Damle, herself a disciple of Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki. She later on followed in her mother’s footsteps by receiving extensive taalim for several years – initially from late Padmashree Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki and thereafter from Pandita Padma Talwalkar till date. This training blended in her the gayaki of Jaipur, Gwalior and Kirana gharanas. Her voice is her forte - she was trained in various voice culture techniques by Ustaad Syeeduddin Daagar (noted dhrupad dhamar gaayak). Gauri Pathare holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Pune and a Diploma in IT from NIIT. The most prestigious Swara Baskar Puraskaar, instituted in memory of late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi for the year 2012-13 was awarded to Smt. Gauri Pathare by the Surashri Pratisthan, Pune. Gauri was also awarded the equally prestigious Aditya V. Birla "Kala kiran" national award for the year 2013.
SAT, MAY 24 @ 7:00 p.m. Jones Hall, Univ of St. Thomas 3901 YOAKUM Blvd Ticket: $25 For tickets: Govind 713-922-2501 Suresh 281-935-4653 or www.tickets2events.com Programs are subject to change for reasons beyond the control of Indian Music Society of Houston. IMS Programs are partially funded by a grant from Houston Arts Alliance.
PAGE 6 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
INDIANS ABROAD Bangla Sammelan 2015 Houston recently hosted a big extravaganza – kickoff for a prestigious mega-event in 2015. Since 1980 North American Bengali Conference (NABC or Banga Sammelan) has promoted the Bengali culture richness in USA and Canada. Tagore Society of Houston (TSH) will host its 35th version on July 10-12, 2015. TSH already erected a statue of Tagore in the heart of Texas and Houston’s energy corridor as the emblem of that vision. The conference will celebrate the diversity and spread the rich heritage of Tagore’s borderless culture. The kickoff event was well-attended and showed real passion to have a sparking event next year and also, leave a legacy for the future. It left the audience motivated by the message of respect for tradition and giving back and also, absolutely dazzled by the perfection of the execution of the event. 35th NABC 2015 was kicked off on Saturday, April 19, at Houston Durga Bari Society Sur Auditorium. Dr. Bishnupada Goswami, head priest, HDBS Inaugurated the event and lighted the lamp. TSH President Dr. Ruma Acharya gave the welcome speech and signed the contract with Cultural Association of Bengal, President, Purna Bhattacharya. Partha Sarathi Chatterjee, the General Secretary, explained the relevance of the theme and our mission “Celebrate your heritage; Embrace the change” and
launched the theme song and video to thunderous applause. Highlight of the day was Swami Ishatmananda Minister incharge, Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago, who addressed the gathering on Bengali - Past, Present & Future culture. In an awe-inspiring speech, he made us aware of so many nuances of our rich heritage but more importantly, called on us to truly make a difference – help humanity as our mission. His speech was a call to action similar to Swami Vivekananda’s “Arise and Awake – stop not till the goal is reached”. He extolled everyone to not only celebrate the culture in the few days of the conference but seriously contemplate building a strong foundation to help humanity. In his words, a country can progress only when everyone does it together and not a handful making tremendous wealth. Swamiji asked for wealth with conscience and not waste money and resources on materialistic pleasures of life. Let’s utilize all of them to make a difference in people’s lives. The audience was spell-bound, gave a standing ovation but more importantly, was inspired to make a difference. NABC 2015 organizers are committed to have a long-lasting outcome on the lives of the underprivileged – through education, entrepreneurship and welfare. The fruits of the conference must show in those results. The conference kicked off the “Go
Green” initiative for Earth Day with enthusiastic participation of the youths. It will be a consistent effort throughout the conference. Dr. Sanku Bose, Co-President of NABC 2015, introduced the guests from all over USA. He was followed by Tapan Das, Co-President of NABC 2015 shared the vision statement, organization governance, high level plan. Mr. Das in his address shared that the NABC 2015 team is excited to host the prestigious 35th NABC – which will be designed around the theme “Celebrate your heritage; Embrace the change”, dedicated to celebrating our glorious Bengali culture and tradition while welcoming the exciting future. He welcomed all individuals from USA and abroad to attend and support the incredible 35th NABC 2015 to be held in The George R Brown Convention Center, covering 1.8 million Sqft,
Swami Ishatmananda of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago, lights a lamp to commence the kick-off event. At left is Ruma Acharya, president of Tagore Society of Houston, Dr Bishnupada Goswami, Durga Bari priest, and Partha Sarathi Chatterjee, general secretary NABC Committee.
of meeting rooms, exhibit area, and registration space will be the venue for event from 10th to 12th July 2015. All the different NABC committees went through their plans – the depth of the presentation and the passion of the committee members to execute the plans flawlessly impressed all. Representatives of other organizations were very complimentary of the efforts and pledged to help NABC 2015 achieve its success. Jayanta Bandyopadhyay and Pradip Talukdar, VP’s focused on fund-raising, raised pledges of about $250K for the day. From culture to couture, from business to books, from entertainment to execution, NABC 2015 will deliver a dazzling experience in cultural Extravaganza, literary summit, breathtaking performances, business forum, and trade fair. NABC 2015 is also in discussion with Pratham in developing a Read Bengal program. In short, the potential is endless and the experience will be memorable – NABC kickoff augurs well for a tremendous conference. Finally, NABC 2015 will deliver long-lasting results for the under-privileged – it is a commitment to make meaningful and sustainable contribution for future. In short, NABC will sparkle during the conference and the luster will remain long after! — Sanchali Basu
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INDIA HERALD â€˘ WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 â€˘ PAGE 7
COMMUNITY NEWS the City of Houston through Asia Houston Arts Alliance. From Page 1 of the deities preserve the tangible connection between worshippers and the objects of their reverence, which has an important religious function as well as making the works visually compelling to a broader audience.â€? Bray notes that religious pilgrims frequently make arduous journeys to see important depictions of deities in place at temples and other settings. â€œWe are thrilled to bring this fascinating exhibition of Indian art to Houston,â€? said Bonna Kol, executive director, Asia Society Texas Center. â€œThis is a unique opportunity to promote understanding between cultures by viewing aspects of religious art and practice in South Asia through a modern and contemporary lens.â€? Some of the Sharma works coming to the Texas Center most recently appeared as part of the artistâ€™s Darshan exhibition at the Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque, NM, from March 8 to April 18, 2014. Associated with Hindu worship, darshan is a Sanskrit word meaning vision or view and refers to the experience of connection between deity and viewer. Historically, Hindu deities have been depicted predominantly through sculpture rather than Sharmaâ€™s chosen mode of photography. Multiple trips to Mumbai and collaborations with a sizable team of local artisans, sculptors, and painters resulted in lavish sets, ornate costumes, and models styled to render each of the nine elaborately-staged archetypal representations. Varmaâ€™s Prints Popularize Subjects Raja Ravi Varma (1848â€“ 1906) was an Indian artist whose paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art. Varmaâ€™s paintings became an important motif of the time, but Varma also pursued advances in the chromolithography of the era. He founded several presses to make his images more widely available, resulting in reproductions being found in homes and businesses. These works with their colors and shading were markedly different from earlier prints. In addition, they were frequently embellished with fabric and materials that further dorned the deities depicted. The works in this exhibition are loaned courtesy of the Ramchander Nath Foundation, New Delhi, India, and Manjari Sharma and the Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque, NM. The exhibition is supported by
Manjari Sharma Born in Mumbai and raised in India, Sharma was immersed in her Hindu culture as a child. In her early 20â€™s, she moved to the U.S. to pursue photography. Visits to Hindu temples were gradually replaced by sojourns to museums and art galleries with the same dedication. The Darshan series bridges the gap of these two separate worlds. Among her recent awards and honors, in 2013 Sharma was selected for the New York Times Portfolio Review; took honorable mention for Santa Fe Prize in 2011 PDN 30; and was a 2010 Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist Review Santa Fe 2010. Sharma received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art & Design,
Columbus, OH, and also studied at S.V.T. College in Mumbai. Raja Ravi Varma Raja Ravi Varma (1848â€“ 1906) was an Indian artist from the princely state of Travancore in southern India who achieved recognition for his depiction of scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Primarily a self-taught artist, he chose oil as his primary medium but explored other methods of production. He founded several presses to make his images more widely available, resulting in reproductions being found in almost every middle-class home. His exposure in the west grew when he won the ďŹ rst prize in the Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873 and is sometimes referred to as the â€œFather of Modern
Indian Painting.â€? Asia Society Texas Center Asia Society Texas Center is part of a leading global educational organization that promotes mutual understanding and strengthens partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States. Across the ďŹ elds of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, Asia Society Texas Center provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to connect Americans and Asians for a shared future. Asia Society Texas Center ofďŹ cially opened its headquarters, which was designed by famed Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, in April 2012. Part of the international Asia Society, which has ofďŹ ces in 11 of the worldâ€™s leading cities, the
Texas Center works to promote mutual understanding and strengthen partnerships among people, leaders and institutions both here and in Asia. More information about the exhibitions, opening events, and ongoing programs can be found at AsiaSociety.org/ Texas.
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PAGE 8 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
COMMUNITY CALENDAR Gita Havan Sun., April 27 @4-8 p.m. Swami Giteshwari (Guruma) from Gita Ashram of Delhi is visiting Houston and will perform Gita Havan at Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple, 10098 Synott Road, Sugar Land (77498),followed by aarti and dinner. Guruma has been performing this havan every year in Houston since 2002. Join the chanting and bring your copy of the Gita. For info, call Pradeep Seernani at 832-692-4040 or the temple at 281-498-2344.
Hasya Kavi Sammelan Sat., May 3 @ 4 p.m. India Culture Center and International Hindi Association bring the annual Hasya Kavi Sammelan at India House between 4 to 8 p.m. Featured poets from India are Pradeep Choubey, Aalok Srivastava and Sarvesh Asthana. For information & tickets call 281-3820348 or 832-755-9365.
ASIE May meeting Thurs., May 8 @ 11:30 a.m. American Society of Indian Engineers’ May luncheon meeting. At the Hess Club, 5430 Westheimer. Daniel W. Krueger, PE, director of public works and engineering is the speaker. Proceeds from the event will help fund ASIE’s scholarship program. Tickets $35 for members and govt. employees. non-members $50. For details, call Shekhar Ambadapudi 281-235-9202 or Showri Nandagiri 713-294-3944.
Chinmaya Mission Sunday satsangs for adults, youth and children. Unique Bala Vihar program for each grade, from PreK to Grade 12. Satsangs in two sessions between 8:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. 1p.m. Bala Vihar students can take shloka, bhajan and orchestra classes or classes for Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, and Gujarati. At 10353 Synott Road, Sugar Land (77498) New members visit welcome desk bet. 8 to 8:45 a.m. or 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Visit www.chin mayahouston.org or contact Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233.
Arya Samaj Satsang Weekly Havan Satsang every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. DAV Sanskriti School Sundays 10 a.m. to 12 noon. - Havan, Hindi and Naitik Shiksha classes. DAV
Montessori School for ages 2 to 7 years. Call Arti Khanna 281-7593286. Free Yoga classes on Sat. Sanskrit & Upanishad classes Tue. 6-8 p.m. At 14375 Schiller Rd. (bet Westpark & Bellaire off Hwy 6). 281-752-0100.
Vedanta Society Vedanta Society of Greater Houston, 14809 Lindita Drive (77083) has classes every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 1st & 3rd Sunday; Bhagavad Gita, 2nd Sunday; on works of Swami Vivekananda, 4th Sunday; Holy Mother Sarada’s Gospel, 5th Sunday. Swamis of Ramakrishna Order visit to conduct retreats and talks. www.houstonvedanta.org or 281-584-0488.
Durga Bari Temple Durga Bari temple is open from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Mon. thru Sat. Sandhya aarti at 6:30 p.m. Temple closes at 7 p.m. Sunday special from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Puja services - Priest Bishnupada Goswami 281-597-8100 Temple is located at 13944 Schiller Rd (off Hwy 6 bet. Bellaire & Westpark). Call Ganesh Mandal at 713-7979057 / 832-423-8541.
Telugu Fellowship Telugu Christian Fellowship meets every third Saturday of the month at Triumph Church, 10555 W. Airport Blvd., Stafford TX 77477 at 6:30 p.m. Join us for a time of praise, worship and fellowship. Worship is in English. Call Chris Gantela 281-344-0707, or Rev. V. Gurrala 281-997-0757.
Sahaj Marg Meditation Sahaj Marg (Natural Path) Meditation and Spirituality (www. sahajmarg.org) A natural, simple system of Raja Yoga meditation and spiritual practice. Weekly satsangs held in the Houston area. Email Radheshyam Miryala, MD at meditate_ houston@yahoo. com or meditate.galveston @gmail. com.
Hare Krishna Dham Houston’s original Vedic temple, ISKCON of Houston. At 1320 W 34th St. (77018). Daily Darshan & Arati Times: 4.30am, 7am, 8.30am, 12noon, 4.30pm, 7pm, 9pm. Sunday Festival: 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm. Weekly Gita classes for adults; 281-433-1635 or harekrishna email@example.com
SALES HELP WANTED Well-known Houston jewelry store is looking for saleswomen availabe to start immediately. Must be able to speak English and Hindi well. Call 713-789-7575
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Heritage Classes Ashirwad’s Heritage Classes in Katy, Cypress and Sugar Land for kids 4 to 18 yrs - meditation, Yoga, slokas, stories from scriptures, Vishnu Sahasranam, bhajans, competitions and fun activities. Adult meditation classes by appointment only. Register at www.ashirwad ablessing.org or Sri Ravula 281995-0930.
Gandhi Library Mahatma Gandhi Library Book Club: Meets 2nd Sunday of each month; 12:30 PM at Arya Samaj Greater Houston, 13475 Schiller Rd. Join the discussion of the great man’s autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Call Manish Wani 713-829-6979.
Saumyakasi Sivalaya Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya is located at Chinmaya Prabha, 10353 Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX 77478. Temple timings: Monday to Friday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon and 5:00 - 8:00 PM Saturday and Sunday: 8:30-2:00 PM and 5:00 - 8:00 PM. Contact 281-568-1690 or Jay Deshmukh at 832-541-0059 or visit www.saumyakasi.org.
Veerashaiva Samaja VSNA Houston is a group of families who believe in Veerashaiva dharma (Basava dharma). Monthly Mahamane program for prayer and discussion on Vachana Sahitya followed by Prasada. Contact: vsnahouston@gmail. com 832-545-1185 (Jyoti Biradar).
Shiv Shakti Mandir Sanatan Shiv Shakti Mandir, 6640 Harwin. Open daily 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All major festivals, as well as birthdays, naam karan, engagement and other ceremonies. Call Pandit Virat Mehta 713-278-9099 or Hardik Raval 361-243-6539 for puja or other ceremonies.
FEEDBACK Vedanta scholar favors Modi for PM Swami Dayananda Saraswati is a world-renowned teacher of Vedanta. Under his guidance, numerous centers for Vedic teaching have been founded around the world. The two main centers in India are the Arsha Vidya Ashram in Rishikesh and the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Coimbatore. In the U.S., the main center is the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam at Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. At present, there are at least sixty centers in India and abroad that carry on the same tradition of Vedantic teaching. As a humanitarian and visionary, Swami Dayananda Saraswati founded the All India Movement for Seva, which has improved the lives of millions of indigent citizens. He founded the Acharya Sabha, a Hindu Apex body of ancient Mathas of India. After having been diagnosed with a severe pulmonary disorder, Sri Swamiji had been hospitalized for more than two months in Intensive Care in Coimbatore. Swami returned to Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. He is slowly regaining my voice. He practices Physical Therapy daily to make his walking steadier and regain strength. His devotees all over the world have been praying for his speedy recovery. In a recent conversation, Swamiji spoke about the on-going elections and his conversation with Narendra Modi. “Many months ago, I visited Narendra Modi and told him that he must be a PM candidate. Modi was hesitant and said that there were many qualified people. I told him that he should create a ‘Modi wave’.” Swamiji recalled campaign work in the 1950s whe he was in
Swami Dayanand Saraswati
his twenties. “I was a journalist. Besides reporting, I used to get news from London and consolidate. The candidate for the T. Nagar [Chennai] constituency was impressed with my capacity to write. She offered me an office in a huge building. I served as her agent. I ran her campaign well. She lost to Congress as the Congress was very powerful.” Swamiji reminded us that even in those days working for elections was not an ordinary game. “There were no rules. Middlemen offered to sell votes in exchange for favors.” “I left the job at the news agency because there was not much income there. Indian Express offered me a job but they asked me to wait for one year!” It is truly inspiring that the most revered and foremost teacher of Vedanta of today was a journalist and involved in national elections. Today’s citizens aspire for an honest and capable leader. “Another term of Congress will ruin the country. The country needs Modi. I wish everybody all the best”, concluded Swamiji. Jayakumar Ammangudi, Houston, TX
Mar Thoma Church Trinity Mar Thoma Church every Sunday at 5810 Almeda Genoa Rd. Sunday School at 9:15 a.m. Malayalam service at 9:30 a.m. on 1st & 3rd Sunday. Adult Bible class at 9:30 a.m. English service at 10:30 a.m. on 2nd & 4th Sunday. Call 713-991-1557 or 281261-4603.
Sadhu Vaswani Center Sadhu Vaswani Center of Houston holds regular Satsang on 3rd Thursday of the month and daily Arti at 7.30 p.m. Call 281 463 0379 or e.mail ramolaj@ aol.com
Guruvayurappan Temple Hours: Mon to Fri 6 a.m. -8 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Weekends & Holidays: 6 a.m. to noon and 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Bhajans Saturdays 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Special poojas (weekends and holidays) Choroon (Annaprasam) for kids, Thulabharam, Vahana Pooja, Nirapara. Temple is located at 11620 Ormandy St (77035) Tel: 713-729-8994 email: temple@ guruvayur.us
Modi From Page 4 the War on Terror, before our leaders lost the nerve to name it. Modi — his assertive posture against Pakistan reminiscent of Reagan’s stance against the Soviet Union — should be a valuable natural ally for the U.S. I believe that Modinomics can be the perfect antidote to the kleptocratic crony socialism that has kept India from realizing her vast economic potential. If India’s natural entrepreneurial dynamism is ever fully unleashed, the sky will be the limit. I am persuaded by the evidence that shows that economic growth in Gujarat under Modi has been a boon to all segments of society, especially the poor. I am just sharing my view as an observer, and of course respect that it is for the people of India to decide what is best for them. In the U.S., Modi is an undesirable in the same circles that made Reagan an undesirable. The U.S. State Department, whose career bureaucracy has long been dominated by the left-leaning cultural elite, has denied Modi a visa to visit my country. We routinely grant visas to the leaders of countries that virtually outlaw minority religions, and teach hatred of other religions as national policy. That we would single out Modi to be shunned, especially after the Supreme Court investigation, is shameful. In his fierce opposition to government interference in the economy, to cronyism, and to corruption, the “tea seller” has much in common with the Tea Party, an American conservative movement that the elites detest. India, indeed, may have found its Reagan. And as America continues to struggle under misguided policies that have shackled our own natural entrepreneurial dynamism, when will we find our Modi? — The Hindu (David B. Cohen served under President George W. Bush as U.S. Representative to the Pacific Community, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.)
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 9
INDIA In Mathura, “dream girl” becomes nightmare for RLD MATHURA: Yesteryear dream girl Hema Malini, the BJP candidate here for the Lok Sabha election, has become today’s nightmare, metaphorically and literally, for the sitting Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) MP Jayant Chaudhary, grandson of the legendary Charan Singh and son of Union Minister Ajit Singh. In the 2009 general elections, Hema Malini was one of the star campaigners for Chaudhary, as the RLD and the BJP were on the same side. This time, the RLD is in alliance with the Congress, which, as the campaign progressed, has become more of a burden for Chaudhary. Anti-Congress sentiment, though the party has long ceased to count as a force in this part of political atlas, coupled with the proModi frenzy assiduously whipped by the BJP in the last few months, has undoubtedly made it a very tough election for the member of the Charan Singh clan with a Master’s from the prestigious London School of Economics. With less than 48 hours for the polling, both sides are leaving no door un-knocked in their bid to attract voters. On Monday, the
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, addressed a mammoth rally of a responsive crowd that stayed on braving the scorching sun. Strangely he did not bother to mention even once about the sitting candidate and his party as Modi trained his guns entirely on the Gandhis in New Delhi and Yadavs in Lucknow. On Tuesday, April 22, the RLD succeeded in holding an equally impressive rally addressed among others by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. It was a show of strength of the Lok Dal which has held sway over this Jat-dominated constituency.
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The last-minute inclusion of Jats in the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) category should have boosted the prospects of the RLD candidate at least among the voters from his community. But the shadow of the Muzaffarnagar riots, which created a wedge among the Jats and the Muslims, has hobbled the community. Presence of the Bahujan Samaj Party and to a small extent the Aam Aadmi Party is also adding to the woes of Chaudhary. The BSP voters are steadfast in their support even if the chances of the party candidate are zilch. A passionate AAP candidate Kapil Mishra, 33, is well known for his campaign to create awareness of corruption in the name of Yamuna River preservation. Chaudhary has made outsider vs. local a main issue and it does find an echo among the voters. Hema Malini, who has had a stint in the Rajya Sabha and is fighting her maiden Lok Sabha election, is seeking to counter it by invoking her ‘spiritual connect’ to Lord Krishna. At age 66, she has retained her charm and stamina. “Brajwasiyon,, I was here five years ago to seek votes for Jayantji and I must thank you that you had listened to me and helped him win. But his party has changed sides. He is not with the BJP. Now, I am fighting elections from the BJP and you must vote for me,” is her campaign refrain. At a news conference on Sunday, she dismissed that she would leave ‘Braj Bhoomi’ after elections and claimed that she was close to “buying a house” in the constituency. “I am a devotee of Lord Krishna. I want to stay here and work for the Braj Bhoomi ... A deal to buy a house in Mathura is almost in the final stage,” Hema Malini told reporters.
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Encouraged by Modi’s remarks, says Pakistan envoy NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Wednesday said it was "encouraged" after BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's remarks regarding ties with foreign countries and asserted that it was looking forward to a stable government here to engage "quickly, comprehensively and meaningfully". Making a strong pitch for resumption of dialogue process, Pakistan high commissioner Abul Basit said talks were the only way to resolve outstanding issues and no one nation does any "favour" by talking, indicating that stopping of talks by India was not good for bilateral ties. Interacting with women journalists here, Basit also said his government was committed to change the bilateral narrative of conflict into one by cooperation and mutual trust. Asked about BJP's view that all those who do not support Modi should go to Pakistan, the high commissioner said, "I have seen all the statements and remarks (by his party and him) but the best statement came on Tuesday night from Mr. Modi and I feel much more encouraged. "His (Modi) response when a question was asked about Pakistan was very positive and that
gives us hope that positive things will come. I am indeed encouraged." In an interview on Tuesday, Modi had asserted that he would take forward former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's principles on foreign policy and said, "I believe mutual respect and cooperation should be the basis for relationships with foreign nations." Basit also downplayed BJP leader Giriraj Singh's remarks that all those who don't respect Modi should go to Pakistan, saying these were "rhetorics" used during electioneering. He also said that his government was "keenly looking forward to a government with which Pakistan (can engage) quickly, comprehensively and meaningfully... and move from conflicting relations."
Muslim, lower caste pupils made to clean toilets by teachers, rights group alleges NEW DELHI: Some Indian teachers force children from lower castes and minority religions to clean toilets and sit separately from their classmates as part of "persistent" discrimination in classrooms, a rights group said on Tuesday, April 22. Human Rights Watch said pupils from marginalised communities often dropped out of school and started working as labourers rather than face continued humiliation at the hands of teachers and principals, a report by AFP news agency said. The 77-page study on schools was compiled through interviews with more than 160 teachers, principals, parents and students in four states which have large populations of low-caste poor, indigenous tribals and Muslims. “India's immense project to educate all its children risks falling victim to deeply rooted discrimination by teachers and other school staff against the poor and margina-lized,” said the report's author Jayshree Bajoria. "Instead of encouraging children from at-risk communities who are often the first in their families to ever step inside a classroom, teachers often neglect or even mistreat them," she said. Muslim children were among those often made to sit at the back of classrooms or in separate rooms. They were called derogatory names, were denied leadership roles and were served food last, the report said. Some children said they were segregated and neglected because they were considered dirty, while Muslim students said they were called "mullahs", instead of by their names. India's Parliament passed landmark legislation in 2009 that guarantees state schooling for children aged six to 14 and enrolments have reached more than 90 percent nationally. But HRW said the law does not contain punishments for those who discriminate in the classroom. Most education authorities have failed to establish proper mechanisms to monitor children who were at risk of dropping out, and acting to ensure they were able to remain in school, the report said.
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TIRUCHIRAPALLI: Election officials raided the house of DMK leader and former Tamil Nadu Minister K.N. Nehru in Tiruchi in the wee hours on Wednesday following a ‘tip-off’ that money was being distributed from there to woo voters, but it turned out to be a hoax. Officials had gone to his house at 11 pm on Tuesday but were disallowed entry by the DMK leader’s Personal Assistant Muthukumaran who said Nehru was fast asleep. They then waited till 4 a.m. and conducted the search after Nehru woke up, but did not find any currency during the three-hour long operations, police said. DMK alleged the raid was conducted only to restrict the movement of Nehru and other party members from carrying out election works and alleged that AIADMK men were distributing money during the time. Police said they have arrested five AIADMK men for allegedly distributing money to voters in Karur constituency where former union minister M. Tambidurai is a candidate.
PAGE 10 â€˘ INDIA HERALD â€˘ WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
COMMUNITY NEWS Ashirwad A Blessing celebrates graduation day
Ashirwad A Blessing Temple celebrated Happy Day on Saturday April 19, in Cinco Ranch High School, Katy. Happy Day is Ashirwadâ€™s end of the year graduation & appreciation dinner. Highlights of the evening were Chief Teacherâ€™s Commitment Award, Sloka-Thon & $loka-Bet, Vedic Fair 3 Appreciation, â€œKarmaâ€?, Play by Ashirwad Students, Annual Sloka Recital & student graduPriya Muralidharan, left, Divena Donthi, Rithika Ravishankar, Rhea Bhat, Saanika Halapeti (Winner), Srinidhi Srikalyani, and Geetha Ravula.
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ation ceremony. Ashirwadâ€™s chief teacher Geetha Ravula, every year recognizes one Ashirwad Family by awarding Chief Teacherâ€™s commitment award for their consistent commitment to heritage. For 2014 it was awarded to Halapeti family. Saanika Halpeti along with her mother Manisha Halapeti, father Mahesh Halapeti, sister Siya Halapeti. Sloka-Thon was the prime time live on stage signature event of the evening. In Sloka-Thon, the top three ďŹ nalists compete live on stage to recite precisely as many Vishnu Saharanamam slokas possible in three minutes. Saanika Halapeti won the Sloka-Thon 2014 by reciting 48 slokas in three minutes. First runner up was Rhea Bhat who was the winner in 2013 and second runner up was Srinidhi Srikalyani. This year Ashirwad introduced Bhagwad Githa $lokaBet for their senior students (Ashirwad 9s). Divena Donthi and Rithika Ravishankar the joint winners recited ďŹ‚awlessly the sloka and explained the meaning of the sloka randomly drawn by the judges. Ashirwad recognized Vedic Fair 3 Supporters Radha Sharma, Sachin Sharma, Sukhi Kohli of IACHF, How 2 Workshop experts Sangita Bhutada, Ravi Sethuraman, Praveena Kadakia, India Exhibit Presentation Competition below 10 winner Ruthvik Jonna, runner up Vishnu Nataraja, above 10 winner Divena Donthi, runner up Anika Ravishankar and cooking competition winner Manjari Guturu & runner up Renu Ahuja. Ashirwad students put together the highlight of the evening â€œKarmaâ€? a play under the guidance of Geetha Ravula ji & Ashirwad team. Students not only acted, but they were very enthusiastic to be involved in the play script, props, back stage logistics & DJ. The audience gave a double thumbs up for the play. Happy Day concluded on a happy note, for every kid present received their graduation trophy which they will cherish for a long time to come. Geetha and Sri Ravula of Ashirwad A Blessing temple want to thank Ashirwad Team comprising of Sivapriya Ravishankar, Priya Muralidharan, Deepika Maharaj, Srimathi Kumar, Laxmi Hegde, Shagun Ahuja, Mahima Bhat, Manisha Halapeti, Mahesh Halapeti, Vivek Bhonsley, Bindu Rao, Sailesh Kaparaju, Suresh Arumilli, Vinod Conikee, Ashutosh Sapru, Sonali Sapru, Hari Nemmara & Ravi Sethuraman.
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 11
PAGE 12 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
INDIANS ABROAD AAPI’s 32nd Annual Convention To Be Held in San Antonio Over 2,000 physicians and families of Indian origin are expected to gather at the 32nd Annual Convention to be held from June 25 through June 29, 2014 at the Hyatt
Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Jayesh Sha, President of AAPI said, “Nina Davuluri, the ﬁrst ever Indian American to be crowned Miss USA will speak at AAPI Women’s Forum
Session, while the live demonstration by world famous Chef Sanjay Thumma will quench your hunger thirst with tasty and healthy food. Aimed at continuing with the theme of “Be
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Fit and Be Cool,” the convention will have a unique Health walk from the Sunset Station.” In addition, the convention will have an AAPI Bone Marrow Drive, latest MSRF/ YPS exclusive programs, outstanding Plenary sessions and lively Bollywood entertainment by stars all the way from India, he added. Among the dignitaries who are expected to attend and address the delegates include Michelle Obama, the First Lady of USA, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, prominent US Congress men, Dr, Vivek Murthy, Nominee, US Surgeon General, and Narendra Modithe main Opposition candidate in the upcoming Indian elections, who will address the delegates via satellite. The CME program will provide updates in Diabetes, Lipids, Cardiology, Women’s Health, Psychiatry, Oncology, Pulmonary Medicine, Pain Management, and Maternal Fetal Medicine. Plenary Sessions will address select topics of common interest. The annual convention this year is being organized by AAPI’s Texas Chapter, headed by Dr, Vijay Koli. Dr. Koli, chairman of AAPI 2014 Annual Convention, said, “We have been working for more than a year in putting together an attractive
program for our annual get together, educational activity and family enjoyment. I and the Co-Chairs, Drs. Anupama Gotimukula, Rajam Ramamurthy, Hormazd Sanjana and Aruna Venkatesh are fortunate to have a dedicated team of convention committee members from San Antonio and surrounding areas helping us. We are expecting a record turnout and hence I would encourage early registration to avoid later disappointment.” “AAPI members represent a variety of important medical specialties. Sponsors will be able to take advantage of the many sponsorship packages at the 31st annual convention, creating high-powered exposure to the highly coveted demographic of AAPI’s membership,” Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, president-elect of AAPI noted. “Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospital staff. The AAPI Convention offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their ﬁelds and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” Dr. Seema Jain, Vice President of AAPI, said.
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INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 13
COMMUNTIY NEWS Chitram performance set for April 26 EYS - Education Youth Service - an initiative of The Hindus Temple of The Woodlands - is honored to present, Chitram, a presentation showcasing India’s culture and history with a large cast of talented dancers and singers. Multi-talented Kanniks, brings CHITRAM, a powerful visual and musical multimedia production to the University of Houston’s Cullen Performance Hall on Saturday, April 26, 2014. The hall is located on the University Campus at 4800 Calhouon Road, Houston TX 77004. It will a delightful evening to enjoy with your family and friends. Kanniks is known for the concert “Shanti - A Journey of Peace” which was presented to two sold-out audiences in Houston three years ago. As he did for that production, Kanniks has conceived, composed, and will direct the multimedia concert. Chitram has been performed by local groups throughout the US and Canada to audiences who have strongly praised the production. Scores of singers, dancers and narrators will participate in the high-energy program. Chitram tells the story of Indian culture through several styles of traditional dance and various other art forms, including Kanniks’ mesmerizing choral compositions. It will capture the interest of Americans and Indian-Americans alike, creating lasting memories which will continue to delight audience members. The performance will help to ﬁnance the new educational wing for Hindu Temple of The Woodlands. For tickets, contact Kiran Emi at kiran.emi@gmail. com or Prabharkar Centala at ckprabharkar@yahoo. com. Mention where you heard about this performance for a discounted price.
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PAGE 14 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
Asia Society presents Yashodhara, Sarpa Sutra
Mythili Prakash as Yashodhara On May 3 and May 4, Asia Society Texas Center will present Yashodhara and Sarpa Sutra. The productions, created by Indian playwright Gowri Ramnarayan, fuse theater, dance, and music for “an exquisite portrayal of classical intricacy and elegance.” Yashodhara illuminates the plight of Gautama Buddha’s wife, while Sarpa Sutra is an allegorical revenge cycle that mirrors our lives and times. The performances complement the opening of Asia Society Texas Center’s upcoming exhibit, Transcendent Deities of India. Gautama Buddha, the Sakya prince, became a world leader. Yashodhara, his wife, remains in the shadows. Yashodhara, the dance theatre production by JustUs Repertory, illuminates the plight of a woman, a single mother, deserted by her husband. Grief impels Yashodhara to search for answers that she cannot ﬁnd within the palace walls. Her inner evolution, from a state of unknowing to ultimate resolution, becomes a poignant, powerful story, a universal myth of human loss, sorrow and transcendence.. Using three languages (Hindi, Pali, English narration) this experimental, multi-genre production based on the poems of eminent Hindi poet Maithilisharan Gupt, fuses the classical and contemporary to showcase the diversity of India’s living traditions and cultures. Retelling brings out the contemporary signiﬁcance of this myth. The cast and crew include Mythili Prakash - dancr, Amritha Murali - vocalis, Akhila Ramnarayan - sound, Sheejith Krishna - stage management and Gowri Ramnarayan - director, storyteller.
Arjuna’s grandson. Arjuna’s great grandson Janamejaya performs a colossal sacriﬁce to wipe out the entire race of snakes, the native tribal community. As she awaits death, snake woman Jaratkaru urges her son
Astika, born of an Aryan father and tribal mother, to stop the genocide. Can he save the planet? This is a story from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata (400 BCE-300 AD),retold by sardonic contemporary Indian poet Arun Kolatkar (1932-2004). Sarpa Sutra (SerpentSpeak) brings together dance, music and theatre, in this allegorical revenge cycle, to mirror our turbulent lives and brutal times. One of the ﬁnest poets of our age, Arun Kolatkar (1932-2004) won the Commonwealth Prize with Jejuri, declared a world classic by the New York Review of Books. His Sarpa Satra (Snake Sacriﬁce) reveals a dry-eyed empathy for the oppressed, and deep reverence for all life forms. The author of the Mahabharata, Vyasa, needs no other introduction. Credits: Direction, Music, Choreographic Design, Storytelling: Gowri Ramnarayan Actor, Dancer, Dance Choreographer: Sheejith Krishna; Live Vocal: Amritha Murali; Audio Projection: Akhila Ramnarayan; Stage Management: Mythili Prakash. Visit AsiaSociety. org for more information.
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New Stafford Center 10505 Cash Road, Stafford, TX Sunday MAY 4th - 4: 00 PM Sharp Dinner after the program
Sarpa Sutra (SerpentSpeak) brings together theatre, dance, and music in an allegorical revenge cycle that mirrors our lives and times. Urged by Fire God Agni, Aryan superhero Arjuna destroys a huge primeval forest. Losing his wife, clan, and forest kingdom, King Takshaka of the snake tribe, assassinates
Sheejith Krishna in Sarpa Sutra
For tickets contact: Naren Chavda - 832.605.3436 Nikhil Mehta - 832.660.8008 Narendra Ved - 832.274.1722 Prakash Shah - 281.974.0805 Ashok Danda - 713.376.0535 Meera Kapur - 281.796.8455 Urmi Desai - 832.498.7759 Pravin Vyas - 281.380.5585 Rupali Maheshwari - 281.598.2608
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 15
IACAN raises $85K in fund-raiser The Indian American Cancer Network (IACAN), a support group of cancer survivors and their caregivers, is going from strength to strength as was evidenced by the attendance at its second fund-raising gala on Saturday, April 19. Over 300 people attended and it was noted by the keynote speaker, Gabe Canales, who said he was delighted to be associated with groups like IACAN that raise awareness of the dreaded disease. IACAN, which is barely five years old, raised a little over $85,000, according to its president, Kanchan Kabad. After lighting the lamp ceremony by cancer survivors and a song by Kumud S Nilekani and the survivors group, the evening’s emcee Dr. Latha Ramchand spoke of IACAN’s mission of cancer education and awareness, cancer prevention and cancer support through outreach programs, seminars, talks by experts and psychological counseling for patient and caregivers. Event chair Ash Shah described the theme of the gala, Celebrating Life, as very appropriate as it fosters a positive attitude. He said he was Jayant Kabad (right) and IACAN president Kanchan Kabad (3rd from right) with a group from HEB, a pleased with his association with IACAN whose dedicated volunteers major sponsor of the event. Photo: Bijay Dixit work hard to further the organization’s mission of helping the cancer stricken and their families. Kanchan Kabad said her father Sadanand Nilekani’s death from cancer motivated her to be a part of IACAN. The confusion and uncertainty after cancer hits a family member deeply affected her. Kabad decided to learn more about the disease and find ways to minimize the risk through lifestyle changes. IACAN, she said, had strong growth in 2012 and 2013 during which they got calls from 37 people for guidance and direction to the proper resources — second opinion, counseling, outreach, financial help, insurance, etc. IACAN also initiated the South Asian Health Needs Assessment (SAHNA) survey involving 1500 Indian Americans in a four county area around Houston. The survey was given out at several places -community events, temples. About 400 responses have been tabulated and it showed that nearly 88 percent of the respondents said they knew of a friend or family member who had cancer. IACAN had also taken up bone marrow registration drives at several temples, gurdwaras, churches and registered over 2000 people as there is a good chance that a match can be found among South Asians for a patient from South Asia. Dr. Hardeep Singh, chief guest, said there was a high chance of the physician misdiagnosing or missing signs of cancer and urged the audience to ask questions of their physicians. The doctors could skip alerts due to information overload, he said. “If you are lucky enough to get more than five minutes with your doctor, ask him/her what could be causing my problem; what else could it be and when can I get my test results,” he said. Hardeep Singh is chief of health policy, quality and informatics program at the Houston Veterans Affairs Center for innovation in quality. For his ground-breaking multidisciplinary research, he was awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Gayatri Rao, a bone marrow donor, spoke of her experience on behalf of five other donors — Abhilash Katta, Riddhi Patel, Harsh Kapoor and A Jayakumar. She said donating marrow to save someone’s life has been the most satisfying experience of her life. She urged the audience to not back out or make excuses. “If you find out that you are a match and can save someone’s life, everything else can wait. You will not regret your gift of life,” she said. Gabe Canales, the keynote speaker, is the founder and president of Blue Cure, a non profit lifestyle movement educating men of all ages about prostate cancer. He is a frequent contributor to the Houston Chronicle and the Huffington Post on cancer related issues. Canales said he found out about his prostate cancer sheerly by accident. He said he became educated about the Speaker: anticancer lifestyle and learned that Director, Public Works & Engineering, City of Houston his own cancer, currently under active surveillance, could have been pre- Time & Venue: Thursday, May 8th, 2014, 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM vented. He said more than half almost The HESS Club, 5430 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 70 percent of cancers are preventable - nine of ten cancers are environmentally triggered and only one of ten is The Prroceeds from this event will help fund the ASIE Scholarship Program from your genetic makeup. He urged the audience to think of and eliminate or minimize the chemicals that were Sponsorship Levels:: $1000 [Seating for 8 @ Reserved Table] have in our food, water and air. Blue Platinum : $500 [Seating for 5] Cure, he said, is on Facebook and has Gold: over 100,000 engaged followers. Men Silver: $300 [Seating for 3] are reluctant to talk about their health All Sponsors will be recognized at the event, on the ASIE Website and ASIE Newsletters issues and it is no surprise that 75% of Individual Tickets: his followers on Facebook are women - wives, sisters, mothers - who are Members and Government employees : $35 concerned about the health of the men Non-members : $50 in their lives. For Registration & Payment, please CLICK HERE Event Payment Padmini Chari’s students presented “Dancing Feat,” a beautiful and cre- For More Details Contact: ative adaptation of classical dance Sekhar Ambadapudi 281.235.9202 email@example.com to the theme of the evening, about a Showri Nandagiri 713.294.3944 firstname.lastname@example.org young girl who is stricken by cancer and who learns to overcome it with the ASIE is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of engineers, architects, designers, and engineering help of her support system. -- R.G. technicians of Indian origin in the Greater Houston area. Please visit www.asiehouston.org for more details
American Society of Indian Engineers Invites You To Its May Luncheon Meeting Mr. Daniel W. Krueger,, P.E.
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INDIA HERALD Extra BOLL YW OOD • SPOR TS • HUMOR • RELIGION • RECIPES BOLLYW YWOOD SPORTS
Priyanka as Parveen Babi?
Bengali director Agnidev Chatterjee is keen on making the a film on the professional life of late actress Parveen Babi, in Hindi as well as Bengali. “Her personal life has been discussed before, but she was a star, and her stardom hasn’t been spoken of that much by her contemporaries, in the media or in books. That aspect was no less exciting, so I want to make a film from that perspective,” says Chatterjee, whose past work includes critically acclaimed Bengali films: Probhu Nosh Hoye Jai, Charulata 2011 and Teen Kanya. The filmmaker adds, “It’s not a biopic as such, because it doesn’t speak about every aspect of her life. I’m only concentrating on her professional life.” Ask him how he did his research, and if he knows anyone from Babi’s family, and he says, “I did my research on the Internet and from books about her. I don’t know anyone from her family. So, whom should I take permission from?” Will Priyanka Chopra step into the shoes of Parveen Babi? For the Hindi version of the film, Chatterjee has actress Priyanka Chopra in mind. “I think that in today’s time, she is as successful
as Parveen Babi was back then. I’m keen to have her on board, but if she doesn’t agree, as she’s quite busy with prior commitments, then I’ll make the Bengali version first and approach her later,” he explains. And who will star in the Bengali version? Chatterjee says, “I don’t think any of the Bengali actresses would be convincing (in the role), so I’d do it with a fresh face.”
Actress Jacqueline Fernandez is likely to team up with Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh and Abhishek Bachchan for the third installment of hit film Housefull. The three male leads are confirmed for the film. Talks with Jacqueline and two top actresses are on but nothing is confirmed yet, a source said. Sajid and Farhad Samji, after tasting success as writers, have taken to film direction with their first directorial venture titled as It's Entertainment with Akshay Kumar and Tamannaah in the lead. This film is scheduled to release on August 8.
Stars fight proxy wars thru fans Till about three years ago, Bollywood fan wars on the internet were mostly restricted to the followers of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. Accusations, abuse, they stopped at nothing when defending their favorite star. At the same time, other smaller battles were being fought as well — Salman vs Aamir Khan, SRK vs Aamir, Salman vs Akshay Kumar, SRK vs Akshay, Aamir vs Hrithik Roshan, and Ajay Devgn vs Akshay, to name a few. While Salman-SRK fans are continuing to wage a raging war, attention has shifted to the younger brigade, most of these rivalries seem to have died down. But now you have Shahid Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor’s fans taking off at the mere mention of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and R...Rajkumar. The success of Main Tera Hero has given Varun Dhawan’s supporters the confidence to proclaim him as the next Govinda. They claim he is a far better actor than Student Of The Year co-actor, Sidharth Malhotra. Sid’s fans argue that his Hasee Toh Phasee was a 'much classier film' than Main Tera Hero. While the names may have changed, the strategy of these fan wars remains the same — sing paeans of your favorite star, throw some box office data to substantiate it, and then attack the rival star in every way possible.
Rishi Kapoor is sorry for Besharam
Ranbir Kapoor has been keeping the press at bay, and now Rishi Kapoor is getting fed up of answering queries about his son's relationships, marriage and career. "Don't ask me anything about Ranbir," snaps Rishi, 61, who has just started shooting for Umesh Shukla's All Is Well. Its second schedule has been delayed by a month because Abhishek Bachchan was busy with Happy New Year. “Ranbir and I are two distinct individuals, so don’t bombard me with questions about him.” The duo was seen together in Abhinav Kashyap’s Besharam, with Neetu Kapoor. The film got terrible reviews and tanked. And since then, the trio haven’t been approached for another film. “Neetu, Ranbir and I are all sorry we did that film. When Abhinav approached us, I thought it would be an entertaining film, but it went terribly wrong. He was over confident, still high on the success of Dabangg. But if he comes up with a better script, may be I'll work with him again,” he says. Rishi has also been busy with a political satire, Aayi Bala Ko Taal Tu, which revolves around a toilet scam in Haryana and Punjab. He plays a corrupt politician, who doesn’t use the money he gets from the Centre to build the much-needed toilets. "It's not a toilet film," he says pointing out, "But the fact is that there's a scarcity of public toilets in villages and maximum rapes happen there between 5.30-6 a.m. because women have to go out into the open. We are dealing with a serious issue but our narrative is witty!”
Four Way Travels
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National Film Awards Anand Gandhi's Ship Of Theseus has been adjudged the best feature film for the 61st National Film Awards, while Hansal Mehta has been named for best direction for the movie Shahid. The best actor award was shared by Rajkumar Rao for Shahid and Suraj Venjaramoodu for Perariyathavar. Geetanjali Thapa has won best actress for Hindi film Liar's Dice. Actor Saurabh Shukla grabbed the award for best supporting actor for Jolly LLB while the award for best supporting actress was shared by Amruta Subhash for Astu and Alia El Kashif for Ship Of Theseus. Pranjal Dua's Chidiya Ud won him the best director award for short film. Ship Of Theseus is the story of a photographer, an erudite Jain monk and a young stock broker told through different segments which finally unite them through a strange circumstance. The jury said the film "depicts issues of intuitive brilliance, metaphysical belief and intricate morality in a world full of contradictions". Rajkummar Rao essayed the role of real life slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi in the backdrop of communal violence unleashed in Mumbai. As per the jury, Rajkummar's portrayal of the intriguing journey of a Muslim young man who is persecuted, and who rebels and ultimately comes back to fight the injustice as a committed law abiding lawyer, brings to life the soul of Shahid Azmi. On the other hand, Suraj's "dignified and quiet" portrayal of a man on the lower margins of the society, has been applauded as the actor "soulfully brought out (the character) with subtle body language and eyes which transcend words". Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directed biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was named as the best film in the wholesome entertainment category. Bollywood film Jolly LLB was named the best Hindi film, while director Nishtha Jain's Gulabi Gang was adjudged the best film on social issues. It was recognized for its powerful depiction of a crusader taking viewers deeper into the continuing struggles of rural Indian women. Gulabi Gang received National Award for best film on social issues while Rangbhoomi bagged the National Award for best non-feature film. John Abraham-Nargis Fakhri-starrer Madras Cafe won the National Award for best sound design. The Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration went to Tamil film Thalaimuraigal. Ritiesh Deshmukh's Marathi film Yellow and Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Miss Lovely won the special jury award.
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INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 17
REVIEW/PREVIEW 2 States: Measured melodrama and naach-gaana Damaal Dumeel: A shot in the dark
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amrita Singh, Revathi, Ronit Roy. Direction: Abhishek Varman. Punjabi boy and Tamilian girl discover love on their college campus. However, their diverse cultures make its culmination a challenge. For an audience that has been around from the '80s, debutant Abhishek Varman's 2 States may seem like they are revisiting K Balachander's mega hit 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye' (1981), where the Tamil boy had to cross endless hurdles to patao the Punjabi girl. However, that movie had too much angst and a tragic end. 2 States is a happy film (with measured anguish). Romance in
cross-cultural or even cross-border situations isn't new to Bollywood. What makes 2 States work is the simple narrative told humorously. Adapted as it is from one of author Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling works, the film, just like the book before it, is light-hearted. Bhagat’s funny one-liners and lifeview are studiously borrowed by the director for his screen outing. And though there is a sense of deja-vu, for those who have read the book, the movie still manages to charm and surprise. Krish Malhotra (Arjun Kapoor) and Ananya Swaminathan (Alia Bhat) meet on the IIM Ahmedabad campus. Sparks fly between economic coaching and
Dekh Tamasha Dekh
It's one of those films you wanted to like. But Dekh Tamasha Dekh is let down by poor execution, though it has the right intention. Take the premise, set in '90s Mumbai, for instance. A dead man leads to two extremist religious groups fighting over whether he was Hindu or Muslim. Both groups want the dead person, so they lay the body to rest as per their customs. Incendiary leaders on both sides rake this up as a major issue. Of course, the fact that the person died as he was crushed under a politician’s billboard, is symbolic. Within the courtroom, a scene that could have been funny goes on and on, as the judge keeps asking for "saboot" (proof) about the dead man. The Hindu group insists he was Kishan; the Muslim group calls him Hamid. They argue about his childhood, whether a lake that has dried can be referred to as a lake, and so on. This portion could have made a biting comment on our legal proceedings. This brawl, that has reached the courtroom, is happening in a Mumbai locality that is prone to riots every few years. The police should stay out of it, advises the constable to his newly-appointed efficient boss (Vinay Jain). The political leaders try milking this situation with a party leader organizing a “Vijay yatra” to celebrate the court’s orders. The political party leader decides to route the yatra right through a mostly Muslim area. The new cop tries stopping this attempt to create riots, but seems helpless. On the other hand, a Muslim leader is giving inflammatory speeches, taking advantage of the court’s orders. Scenes continue without editing. Like the inflammatory speech scene by a religious leader. The finale is bizarre and takes place abruptly, without any justification. The performances are earnest and heartfelt but let down by the film’s execution. Technically, the film has a dated look and feel. Director Feroz Abbas Khan (Gandhi, My Father), is a theatre veteran having directed plays like Tumhari Amrita and Salesman Ramlal. It was a real-life incident that inspired him to make Dekh Tamasha Dekh. Surprising how such a prolific storyteller got lost. Neither biting enough political satire, nor moving drama — Dekh Tamasha Dekh hangs precariously in-between. A dismal film, overall. Avoidable.
food poaching. Their tender love, compulsive copulation and kissing chemistry (adeptly portrayed by the young screen lovers) make this couple reason that they could spend a lifetime together. But in India, where tradition and parents are nurtured, couples have to literally marry each other's families. The equation between the protagonists with their prospective inlaws has some interesting insights. The slight nuances like Krish's mother (Amrita Singh) freaking out because he helps Ananya's parent with their luggage is a sad reality in our country, where, oddly, a section of parents of boys still consider themselves entitled to extra privileges. Krish's mother dreams of keeping her daughter-in-law on a talwar ki dhaar (the edge of a sword) and what she gets is a free-minded, independent girl. Krish faces the dilemma faced by several young men of walking the tight-rope between their conservative mothers and contemporary life-partners. It's no easy task, as we see in the film. Debut director Abhishek Varman lets the story simmer without cramming it with developments. He has an understanding of both characterization and visual flair. He falters in using repetition to make a point. Another grouse is that the film takes a very poignant premise and just scrapes the surface. Varman takes liberties and exaggerates the obvious cultural oddities of both communities, without delving into the more significant aspects. So the Punjabis are loud and obnoxious, while the Tamil home is so gloomy and sparse, it looks like a 'Punjabi home that has just been robbed'. Incidentally, for those in an inter-region / inter-caste marriage, this movie could resonate like your own tale. The playful digs at each other's cultures, the self-deprecating remarks about one's family and community are all laugh-out-loud moments. Amrita-Ronit, Revathi-Shiv Subramaniam infuse life into their roles of the Punjabi and Tamil parents. The spitfire Alia and a sober Arjun are also lovable. If you are in a mood for a Bollywood family saga with measured melodrama and the right amount of naach-gaana, visit 2 States. The stellar cast that makes up Krish and Ananya's parents (Ronit Roy-Amrita Singh; Revathi-Shiv Subramaniyam) are fabulous. Cinematographer Binod Pradhan makes the '2 states' of Delhi and Chennai come alive with stunning visuals. Shankar-EhsaanLoy's music is another plus. The film targets a young audience, and they have to be prepared to appreciate the story at a slower pace than they are used to in commercial Bollywood cinema. It is worth the patience, because you get a well-cooked meal where all the flavours get a change to integrate with the dish. Worth sampling!
Cast: Vaibhav, Remya Nambeesan, Sayaji Shinde. In an early scene in Shree’s Damaal Dumeel, a lawyer on television goes on an anti-IT rant. He wails that his salary of Rs. 15000 is ridiculously insufficient given how expensive everything is — rather, how expensive everything has become thanks to these kids employed in software firms who earn more, spend more, and drive prices up. He could be talking about Moneykandan (Vaibhav). The spelling of that name is no accident. Everything around him is touched by money. His mother calls him to announce that they’re going to have to give tons of gold jewellery, plus a bike, as dowry for his sister’s upcoming wedding. His friend is dumped by a girlfriend because he doesn’t make enough money. The security guard (Charlie) at his building expects small cash handouts every time they meet. And the story revolves around a box of cash — some five crores of it. That’s a lot of money. This is one of those pitch-black comedy-thrillers where an amoral protagonist gets sucked into a dangerous game. Soon, the corpses are piling up. This is also one of those films that you need to keep watching keeping this caveat in mind: “For a first-time filmmaker...” (Something the average audience member doesn’t care a whit about.) Shree has some clever ideas. I wondered why Moneykandan had as his ringtone the sound of bullets being fired (I expected a kaching ringtone) — but there’s a fun payoff. With more along these lines, this could have been a solid black comedy. The problem, as with a lot of Tamil cinema, is the distance between intent and execution. On the face of it — if we look at just the plot summaries — we seem to be doing wonderfully fresh and exciting work. But the ideas in the filmmakers’ heads lose steam when put on paper and, thereon, are translated to screen. To pull something like this off, there needed to be better actors — though Kota Srinivasa Rao acquits himself nicely as a harried gang lord. First, though, there needed to be better-written characters. You cannot have a scene where the heroine (Remya Nambeesan) is “betrayed” by the hero, and have her rush into his arms soon after. Where’s the hurt, the pride, the guilt in this scenario? Dark comic thrillers are as much about the people in them, whose crises assume almost existential dimensions, as the plot. The lack of finesse you can overlook — refer caveat above — though we have been seeing quite a few well-made films by newcomers. It’s tougher to ignore the lack of atmosphere, menace, the sense of the noose tightening. There’s no flavour in the dialogues, and people, when alone, actually end up saying what they’re thinking, so that we’re not left in the dark. The narrative holds few surprises. We know a character who’s headed to the police station is not going to end up confessing — then why this rather drawn-out scene? And do the friends who end up putting ideas in the hero’s head have to make such obvious suggestions? The ending is a copout. Why take an inherently feel-bad genre if you’re going to insist on souls being salvaged? The audience should feel the blisters, not the balm.
Ranbir chooses Alia over Deepika Highly impressed with young Alia Bhatt’s Highway performance, heartthrob of Bollywood Ranbir Kapoor suggested Alia Bhatt’s name to director Imtiaz Ali for his next titled, Window Seat but Imtiaz thinks Alia would be too young to cast opposite Ranbir. "Ranbir insisted that I should meet Alia once — not for any particular project but generally," Imtiaz had said in an earlier interview. Later, it was learnt that he wanted Alia Bhat her in a different film. Imtiaz confirmed the report and said, "Ranbir has always believed that Alia has a lot of potential as an actor. So he had suggested her name, and asked if she fits the role. But she is too young for the part.” The actress too adores Ranbir a lot. During the promotions of her debut film, Student of the Year, she had said "I have loved Ranbir… He is my biggest crush and will always remain my biggest crush.” Window Seat will go on floor later this year and it stars Deepika Padukone opposite Ranbir Kapoor.
PAGE 18 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
RELIGION / SPIRITUALITY What Hindus can learn from Batra vs Doniger - 4 By Jayakumar Ammangudi Hindus cannot seek comfort in thinking that they are not being compared to the likes of Hitler. New York Times recently called them “Taliban-like” forces. The New York Times, known for its penchant for India-bashing, Hindu-baiting and Modi-bashing (see my recent article), as expected, covered this episode. Notice how Ellen Barry once again resorts to quoting nobodies. She quotes “one writer” (whom she doesn’t name) referring to Dinanath Batra’s organization as “an unknown Hindu fanatic outfit” and given to “Taliban-like forces“. The word Taliban readily conjures vivid mental images of flying airplanes into skyscrapers, shooting blindfolded citizens, lashing men and women publicly, and chopping off the hands of innocent men. Why would a journalist of the New York Times find it right to use such threatening labels to describe a Hindu who voices a concern peacefully, using constitutionally-enabled legal means, and within the provisions of law? What burden does the nonHindu American journalist, serving as Moscow Bureau Chief writing about Hindus of India, have? She cleverly uses a picture of Batra alongside RSS stalwarts – enough to send deracinated Indians into a tailspin. Dinanath Batra and his group had meticulously prepared their case after studying Doniger’s book thoroughly. They did not burn buses, loot shops, issue threats or a fatwa against Wendy Doniger. Their use of English may not be as sophisticated as that of Arundhati Roy‘s, but they followed the law for four years after which Penguin decided to voluntarily withdraw. Sandeep Balakrishna explains why this is not a free speech issue and Aravindan Neelakantan traces intellectualism and openness in historical Hindu responses to opposing worldviews and threats to Hinduism. A few months ago, the store chain Costco apologized for labeling The Bible as “Fiction”. The media didn’t brand the protesting people as Christian Fundamentalists, just Christians. There was no media-led hue and cry about suppression of Freedom of Speech. Fourteen years ago, many will recall Doniger stating in a public lecture in 2000 that the “Bhagavad Gita is a dishonest Book”. When Hindus demanded an apology, they were promptly labeled as fundamentalists! Prof. Doniger knows full well that Hindus followed the law by the book. So she blames Indian law. Immediately after her statement, Indian Sepoys – like faithful followers of the colonial masters – joined in the thousands to sign petitions to reform the Indian Constitution. I am reminded of General Dyer and tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh of 1919. One wonders where these free speech pontificators were when Harvard University chose to terminate the
honorary professorship of Dr. Subramanian Swamy for his forthright talk on wiping out Islamic Terrorism. Or when the majority-discriminatory Communal Violence (Prevention) Bill was introduced by the Indian Parliament. On the contrary, the Catholic Church in Mumbai filed blasphemy charges under the same section 295A against Sanal Edamaruku, who attributed the miraculous water dripping at the crucifix to a leaking drainage. (He has since fled to Finland to escape a life sentence.) Let us see if these selfstyled liberals offer a whimper of a protest to the recent news that Google was asked to pull out a Youtube video of an allegedly antiIslam movie “Innocence of Muslims”. “DONIGERATION” The Hindu is indeed tired of being attacked within and outside her homeland but yet has no penchant for a Homeland security bill or a Patriot act. Would Prof Doniger joke at Chicago Airport that she has a bomb and test her first amendment rights? Would she write a History text about the violence, slavery, plunder, and rape of conquered women that the Holy Bible alludes to and be awarded academic Honors in the West or Israel? Has the US demanded action against Churches for pedophilia and money laundering, and arrested Cardinals and Popes, and why is there no publicity of these criminal acts? Only in India do we find that blatant denigration of Hindu deities by M. F. Hussain through his paintings or by Doniger’s writings gets applauded as an expressions of free speech. Lascivious depictions of Jesus in the US would never be condoned. The muted reaction to the fatwa against the Danish cartoonist for just one objectionable cartoon of Prophet Mohammad shows the blind-spots of all freespeech advocates. In the 1940s and 1950s in the US when Communism was seen as a threat, John McCarthy’s speeches on alleged communist infiltration lead to a witch-hunt of anybody who was not anti-communist. Even though McCarthy was proved wrong and censured, it marked one of the most repressive times in American Politics of the 1900?s. The term ‘McCarthyism’ was born. I feel the need for another new term in the English Lexicon: don·i·ger·ate Transitive verb \?do-ni-?g?r-at\ don·i·ger·ated, don·i·ger·ating 1: to attack the religious sanctity of: denigrate <donigerate Hindu deities> 2: to make a denigrating interpretation of anthing held sacred: <donigerate modes of worship> 3: to defame in the cloak of scholarship; to use the academic pulpit to denigrate a native tradition 4: to make an institution out of victimizing ancient traditions 5: to invoke fake victimhood when criticized.
Hindus do not need a lecture on free speech, rather we need to speak freely. It is alright to get upset when Hinduism is defamed. It is alright to protest peacefully, contest and file lawsuits, and write – none of which makes fundamentalists of Hindus. The West has not figured out a way to accept ancient traditions that consider the world or nature as sacred, whose spiritual vision dissolves perceived differences between the individual, the world and God. It requires a paradigmshift to appreciate that it is possible to sublimate one’s passions without suppressing them. America should focus on its past and address the guilt born of decimating the Native Indian traditions before obsessing over and developing crackpot theories of cultures they understand very little about. The western penchant to exoticize, sensualize and debase such traditions in the cloak of free speech or scholarship is a disease that will likely continue for a while. Utilizing their Indian Sepoys, entrenched establishments will threaten Hindus with words like fanatics, fundamentalists, rightwingers, fascists, Hindutva, saffron brigade. Hindus will learn not to take such sham threats seriously and in turn label the labellers. Islam and Christianity have powerful hierarchical institutions that are also politically active. Unlike them, while Hindus have institutions called Mathas and Pithas some of which are millennia-old, none of them expected such vicious treatment and are not geared even for institutional protests, leave alone exercising political clout. The Acharya Sabha, the Apex body for Hindus, was formed precisely for giving Hindus a voice, but it is very much in its infancy. Until then, it is individuals and organizations that take up the cause for Hindus. Hence, Hindus should be proud of Dinanath Batra, SBAC and Monika Arora. It is no wonder that Hindus are fighting back. Four years ago, Doniger’s book was shortlisted for an award by the National Book Critics Club in 2010. After dozens of intelligent letters like the one from Subroto Gangopadhyay (this page, columns 4&5) and thousands of petition signatures, the award was blocked. These represent a refreshing rise in crisp scholarship by Hindus who challenge Western Universalism. Such Hindu responses shouldn’t surprise Doniger. After all, Hindus are studying the Bhagavad Gita more than ever before. Was it not Prof. Doniger
A protest letter to NBCC Barbara Hoffert NBCC, VP/Awards 360 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10010 Dear Ms. Hoffert, I was appalled to learn that the NBCC is considering Wendy Doniger as a potential honoree for her book entitled "The Hindus - An Alternative History". Since people like me are the subject matter of the book, you might accept that at the very least, as a Hindu, I am entitled to offer my views. The Great Buddha, once referring to the rules of speech had advised to “Speak only what is true, what is kind and what is necessary.” Dr. Doniger's failure to satisfy any of these preliminary maxims and your intent to disregard this fundamental edict can only be ascribed to a single possibility - that by pedigree, learning, ethos, faith or sensitivity most of you are not Hindus. Therefore,one must reach the inescapable conclusion that you happen to like what the author stands for, or represents in her viewpoints, despite not being ideally positioned to judge its veracity or quality. The famed Wendy Doniger deserves yet another award because her work resonates with your impression of the Hindus. Thus, by honoring her, you shall reveal yourselves as well. The issue at hand is of some importance because the work is not a Dan Brown novel - the author purports to present the history of a billion people and you assume the mantle of deciding the quality of this historical work. The history of Hindus is a continuing saga that began through an oral tradition and continued into a vast Sanskritic (and regional) literary tradition whose corpus includes, both the sacred and philosophical (theistic, non theistic and atheistic/agnostic) along with the scientific and secular (grammar and language, logic and art, astronomy and mathematics, life sciences and earth sciences). It is only either the very ignorant or the very mischievous, who would dare encapsulate Hindu history under a brazen title such as “The Hindus - An Allternative History”- creating an impression that the author has mastered the original history and felt compelled to offer a more adequate alternative. This masterly alternative seems to convey, to the uninitiated or casual, that the Hindu history is nothing more than a tale of heathens who worship sexually deviant mythic characters, deleting in one Machiavellian stroke, a vast portion of the creative output of a timeless civilization. The Hindus are to the world civilization, what grammar is to Language, numbers to Mathematics or strings to Music - their tradition is undoubtedly, a world heritage. In brief, when you talk of Hindu history, you talk of all that the term Hindu encompasses - a monumental creation of rare breath, diversity and quality accrued through the collective striving of countless visionary geniuses from the beginnings of time.The Hindu history stretches well beyond a multiplicity of diverse spiritual and philosophical streams to include the sciences and arts. Ignorance of the above is not to be begrudged but deliberate reduction, trivialization and selective distortion is a malefic act - to support it through awards, an institutional crime. The Hindu ethos was deep and dynamic enough to survive the slaughter of the Islamic invaders and rapacious plunder of the West. Unfortunately, the violence that Wendy Doniger re-inflicts on Hindus, to your approving applause, is as pernicious -being an assault on Hindu ideals. Does it occur to any of you, that the Hindu, heathen or not, is free to choose his ideal and worship whatever symbols he holds sacred - that, his right to pursue his faith without public or private ridicule or persecution is no less sacrosanct than the rights of a Jew, a Christian or a Moslem. The rights to free speech do not include the freedom to indulge in cultural violence or desecration of symbols- just because they are alien. The Hindus are capable of a befitting reply - it is just that their philosophical worldview does not include crusades, evangelism, conversions, Jihad, sanctions, fatwas, racism or imperialism - as they See Page 19 who said that “The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think… Throughout the Mahabharata … Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviors such as war?” — Concluded Dr. Jayakumar S. Ammangudi is founder of Indian History Awareness and Research, an initiative of Arsha Vidya Satsanga. IHAR is a forum to research, understand and disseminate awareness of Indian History as experienced by the people of India.
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INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 19
INDIA Modi slams anti-Muslim remark by Sena MLC MUMBAI: With members and allies of the Sangh Parivar making a series of controversial statements targeting Muslims and resorting to hate-mongering, the BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi Tuesday, April 22, said he disapproved of what he termed were “petty” and “irresponsible” remarks and urged supporters to restrain themselves. Modi took to Twitter to voice his disapproval of the controversial remarks but did not name those who made them. “Petty statements by those claiming to be BJP’s well wishers are deviating the campaign from the issues of development & good governance” Modi tweeted. “I disapprove any such irresponsible statement & appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so.” Modi’s caution came a day after he shared the stage with Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam at a rally in Mumbai where Kadam called Muslims “deshdrohis” (traitors) and said they will be taught a lesson once Modi comes to power. It also came a day after the BJP sought to sidestep queries on VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s alleged hate speech attacking Muslims. Modi, who had not called for such caution after his confidant Amit Shah was accused of stoking passions in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, also rejected contentious comments by Giriraj Singh, the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Nawada (Bihar), that those who do not vote for Modi will have to move to Pakistan. Addressing the rally as Modi took his seat at the MMRDA Grounds in Bandra-Kurla Complex Monday evening, Kadam said: “Modi will destroy Pakistan within six months of coming to power.” “Five lakh Muslims gathered at Azad Maidan. These Muslims attacked policemen, burned their vehicles, burnt the memorial of our martyrs. These Muslims are mo-
Court asks Mudgal to probe of IPL affairs NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 22, asked the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee whether it would be in a position to conduct further probe into the allegations contained in the sealed cover against N. Srinivasan and 12 others, including some prominent cricketers, in the IPL spot-fixing and betting scam. A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Ibrahim Kalifulla came out with this suggestion after going through the probe panel proposed by the BCCI. The cricket board had proposed former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice J.N. Patel, former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan and former cricketer Ravi Shastri for the panel. The Bench assured Justice Mudgal assistance by probe agencies to conduct the investigation. “We have given consent for being in the probe panel subject to approval by the apex court,” Justice Mudgal told The Hindu.
lesting our women policemen. In Shivaji’s Maharashtra, if some one is going to outrage the modesty of our mothers and sisters, then I am confident that Narendra Modi will find a permanent solution for these people,” Kadam, an MLC, said. He was referring to a rally organised by Muslim groups on August 11, 2012, in Azad Maidan in South Mumbai and the violence that followed. The present government was “tickling the beards of unpatriotic Muslims” in a bid to get votes from the community, Kadam said. He also said that with Modi coming to power, Pakistan would be destroyed in six months. Kadam has since said that he did not want the destruction of Pakistan. “I only said that Pakistan will be taught a lesson and not destroyed,” he said. The Shiv Sena said these were Kadam’s personal views and did not echo the sentiments of the Thackeray family.
Shazia Ilmi courts controversy NEW DELHI: In a fresh controversy, a video has surfaced showing AAP candidate from Ghaziabad Shazia Ilmi sitting amongst a group of Muslims and saying that “Muslims would have to be communal”. While where and when this video was taken is not clear, the AAP reacted quickly, seeking to distance itself from Ilmi’s comments in the video. A party statement said, “Regarding Shazia Ilmi’s clip, AAP does not believe in this kind of politics nor does it endorse it. All our representatives should be careful in their choice of words so that there is no scope for misinterpretation.” In the video, Ilmi says that instead of Muslims being secular, they should be more “communal”. “Muslims don’t vote for their own community. Arvind Kejriwal is one of your own. You all should not be so secular, look after your own home. Other parties have fixed votes. Look after your own interests. This is controversial but necessary),” she says. Ilmi, however, told ANI that she was not inciting hatred, but “telling them to think of themselves”. “The comment wasn’t to incite hatred, was telling them to think of themselves. I said it half sarcastically that don’t be so secular, you need to be communal, think of yourselves. I was telling them that you don’t need to be a slave to any party. Told them you people are very very secular, you need to think of your betterment, why do you live in fear?” she said. Senior AAP leaders said the comments should not have been made. Manish Sisodia said, “I have seen the video, believe that Shazia should not have said that. We do not believe in this kind of politics. Our politics is to unite all Indians.
Protest letter to NBCC From Page 17 view all creation as one. Might I suggest greater introspection in your thinking so that you stop supporting cultural and religious imperialism just because you have the temporal ability and a cultural inclination towards it. The Wendy Donigers of academia put to shame the egalitarian vision of the founding fathers of this great nation. On your part, you need only to ask yourself whether you have the qualifications to decide on the merits of the book in question - do you know Sanskrit and have access to authentic indigenous literary resources? Do you have the experience of being born in a Hindu family to experience the living faith? Have you lived in India and been in the company of great Acharyas and masters to know the oral tradition? Have you even reviewed any of the translated literature of the Hindu philosophical tradition that is available outside India – in Chinese, Russian, Romanian, Greek, Arabic, Mongolian, Lithuanian, Celtic or even in English (when that language became somewhat adequate in the last four centuries). Does Wendy Doniger have a scholarship based on such experience? If not, then why does she need to offer an alternate history? Isn't history of any race, the chronicle of its own people - in its own language, through its own symbolism and through its own eyes? Need I offer more pointers to the obvious? One wonders why there is so much gut wrenching over a politician’s use of "retarded" or "negro" self-righteous institutions trip over each other in offering condemnation! When a billion people and their faith are trashed, their religion desecrated, the same self-righteous institutions actually consider granting awards -is racism more acceptable when one doesn't have to worry about voter backlash? As a Hindu, I seek divinity all around me, even in the profane - Dr. Doniger, your potential honoree, seeks the profane all around her - even in the divine. I hope you shall have the courage to accept that the essential difference in our individual propensities and choices are rooted in our individual civilizations - let us now, as citizens of one nation, decide together - what we wish our America to be. Regretfully, Subroto Gangopadhyay, MD FACC - Sugar Land, TX
Priyanka stands by her man RAE BARELI: Speaking for the first time on the allegations against her husband, Priyanka Vadra said on Tuesday that she was “saddened” by the continued attempts to “humiliate” her family but the “truth” would come out. “They humiliate my family, they humiliate my husband. I feel sad… I have learnt from Indiraji… The more they insult, more is my determination to fight back… The truth will come out,” she said in Hindi. Priyanka, who was campaigning for her mother Sonia Gandhi, was addressing a gathering in Soron Gangaganj village of Rae Bareli. She said she explains to her children that the truth will come out one day. “I tell them… if there is truth in your heart it creates a shield inside you which makes you strong, and ultimately the truth comes out,” she said. Though she did not name anybody, she was clearly referring to the BJP, which has targeted her husband Robert Vadra over his alleged land deals. Last week BJP leader Subramanian Swamy described Priyanka as an “alcoholic.” Priyanka also criticised the opposition for raising the issue of Sonia’s “foreign origin”. “Generosity is the identity of this country. My mother was not born here, but you accepted her and gave her all the love. This is the kind of politics that this country is known for because this is the country of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi,” she said. Asking people to exercise caution while voting, Priyanka said, “Their politics is of abusing others, ridiculing others… centered around one person, promoting selected persons… Their thinking is communal, they spread hatred, they spread poison, they divide people.”
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PAGE 20 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
INDIA Apex court wants names of foreign Taking on Modi — Independents with quirks VARANASI: Political pundits bank account holders revealed NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 22, said the Centre had committed "gross contempt of court" by not complying with its three-year-old judgment directing disclosure of names of Indian account holders in a Liechtenstein bank given to it by Germany. A bench of Justice H L Dattu, Justice Ranjana P Desai and Justice Madan B Lokur told solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, "We gave the judgment on July 4, 2011. Almost three years later, we find you have not complied with the orders to divulge the details of Liechtenstein bank account holders' names to the petitioner. This is nothing but gross contempt of this court's directions." It gave the government time till April 29 to spell its stand on the issue. Parasaran argued that the court had directed setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Justice BP Jeevan Reddy with Justice M B Shah, both retired judges of the apex court, as his deputy. Since Reddy had expressed inability to head the committee, the SIT had not been set up, he said. Without the SIT going into the details received from Germany about Indians stashing their ill-gotten money in the Liechtenstein bank, their names could not have been divulged, Parasaran said. Appearing for petitioner Ram Jethmalani, senior advocate Anil Divan said the direction for supplying the information on foreign bank account holders to the petitioner was not linked to further investigation by the SIT, which comprised top investigating officers of different agencies like RAW, IB and revenue intelligence. The bench said, "SG please try to understand. Divan is justified in his submissions. The direction to share the information forthwith cannot be understood as after completion of investigation by the SIT. The court had said forthwith disclose. The SIT will come at a later stage. The language of the court is clear. The directions are crystal clear when it said disclose forthwith." Parasaran said he would take instructions and report back to the court. Giving him time till Tuesday to do the needful, the bench said, "From July 4, 2011 till now, the revenue secretary and the joint secretary in the ministry of finance had kept our orders in cold storage. The Centre appears to have been carried away by Justice Reddy's letter expressing inability to head SIT." The court had rejected the Centre's petition seeking review of the July 4, 2011 judgment, which had slammed the Centre for lacking in vigour to probe black money and took over investigations into it by setting up a multi-discipline SIT to investigate the crime in India and abroad as well as accused Hasan Ali Khan. Khan, who once was the prime focus of investigation by revenue intelligence agencies as well as Enforcement Directorate (ED), got an unexpected reprieve from the Centre. Parasaran told the Centre that there were no billions of dollars deposited by Khan's alleged associate Kashinath Tapuria in Swiss banks. The SG cited a Swiss government report saying most of the documents relied upon by the agencies were forged and that in reality, the deposits did not exceed $60,000. To this, Jethmalani responded, "The documents were forged? But these were seized from Tapuria's residence and were relied upon by the government's investigating agencies in charge-sheeting Khan and Tapuria." In the July 4, 2011 judgment, the court had directed the Centre to reveal names of Indians who stashed unaccounted money illegally in foreign banks provided they had been issued show cause notices by tax authorities after completing proceedings against them. It also dismissed the government's plea that the double taxation avoidance treaty between India and Germany prohibited revealing names of the 26 Indians who held accounts in the Liechtenstein bank. It had questioned the government's wisdom in allowing UBS, allegedly the most favored among Swiss banks for Indians to stash black money, to open retail banking outlet in India.
Chhota Rajan very ill in Malaysia MUMBAI: Fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan (59), arch rival of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, is reportedly ill with kidney problems, say sources in intelligence agencies here. Police officers tried to confirm the news by asking one of Rajan's friends in Tilak Nagar to speak to the don. Sources said "things appeared to be normal'' in Rajan's den in Tilak Nagar. Rajan reportedly told the hotelier friend that he would not die before killing Dawood, his sworn enemy since the 1993 blasts. Dawood orchestrated the serial bomb blasts to 'avenge' the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the bloody riots that followed in 1993. On Tuesday, April 22, there were several stories regarding the health of Rajan, whose real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje. Rajan has been admitted to a private hospital in Malaysia. He lost his mother, Laxmibai Nikhalje, two months ago. Sources said that Rajan has a kidney problem due to the infection caused by the bullets fired by the Dawood gang in 2001. "He did not undergo proper treatment as he fled from hospital for fear of being deported to India by the Bangkok authorities and due to which he has a recurring kidney problem. Rajan's wife Sujata Nikhalje had recently taken the Bombay high court's permission to visit Europe where her elder daughter Anita is pursuing higher studies. Rajan's aide Abu Sawant, who is also his manager, is taking care of his treatment as most of his men have been killed, either on his own orders or by rival gangsters.
foresee no favourable outcome for them, for the masses they barely qualify as “leaders” and mainstream parties dismiss them as “spoilers”, but for the independent contestants challenging BJP’s Narendra Modi in Varanasi, this election is their ticket to fame. In a city where the fight is largely considered to be a contest between Mr. Modi and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, these independent candidates are making news for their peculiarities — an Osama look alike, kin of brigand Veerappan, a transgender and a habitual contestant eager to create history for losing the maximum number of times. The first to file nomination as independent candidate, Kamla Kinnar, a transgender, has dared “outsiders” Modi and his archrival Kejriwal. Elated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision to identify the transgenders as the “third gender”, Kamala’s fight is for securing a better life for the community. Meraj Khalid Noor, who resembles the former Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, also wants to test his luck at the hustings. He says his decision to contest from Varanasi is not to seek attention, but to check “communal forces” that he claims are gaining space in the country. A resident of Patna, the Osama-look alike was in the limelight when he campaigned for BJP ally Ramvilas Paswan’s LJP and Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bihar in the last elections. Mr. Noor, who makes a conscious effort to dress like the former Al-Qaeda boss, has floated his own party christened “Rashtriya Awami Movement (RAM) India”. The similarity between him and Osama he says is limited to their looks and does not extend to their principles. P.N. Sriramachandran, nephew of deceased sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, has thrown his hat into the ring too. Bearing a striking resemblance to his “uncle” and sporting a moustache like the brigand, Sriramachandran is challenging Mr. Modi and is also taking on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. His entry into electoral politics is to “fulfill the dream” of his slain uncle who harboured political aspirations. Also in the race is Narendra Nath Dubey, also known as Adig, of the Janshakti Ekta Party. He has contested elections since 1984 and lost every one of them; but Mr. Adig hit the headlines when the signatures of 50 Members of Parliament endorsing his nomination for the 2012 Presidential election were found to be faked. Adig who insists that the signatures were not faked is a lawyer by training and aspires to find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for losing the maximum number of elections. The district election office has so far sold nomination forms to 42 candidates. They include Indira Tiwari of Trinamool Congress,
Meraj Khalid Noor, who dresses like Osama Bin Laden, says his decision to contest is to check “communal forces.”
Ajay Rai of Congress, Kailash Chaurasia of Samajwadi Party, Ananjay Mishra of Apna Dal (Backward), Shyam Bhartiya of Gharib Aadmi Party, Shiv Vir Singh of Nirdhan Samaj Party of India and Rajesh Bhartiya Surya of Rashtriya Ambedkar Dal, among several others.
Questions on temple treasure’s safety
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram
CHENNAI: Striking findings and observations spelt out in a lengthy report by Gopal Subramaniam, amicus curiae to the Supreme Court, have brought the focus back on the vast treasures in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. The report has raised a host of questions, some of them disturbing, about their safekeeping and the affairs of the temple in general. The Supreme Court is to hear the matter on April 23. Subramaniam, in his report, has described that trunks of valuables, antique artefacts and gem-encrusted jewels were found in the temple. These are in addition to what already exists in the six vaults around the sanctum. He has also observed that underground pathways, which have cellars and safe, connect the temple and adjoining palaces. However, contrary to the earlier impressions that the treasures were safe in the temple, the amicus curiae has remarked that several valuable items might have been pilfered at regular intervals. The 575-page report also listed the financial irregularities and inadequate documentation of temple properties. It blamed the executive officer, administrative officer and the member of the royal family who is the trustee for the `financial malfeasance writ large in the Temple. This is the second report on temple administration submitted by Gopal Subramaniam, who served as the Solicitor-General between 2009 and 2011. The earlier one was submitted in 2012. The amicus curiae described in detail how he found gold plates, an ancient silver image, gem studded antique Naaga pendant, and five silver bars each weighing 35 kg in the two rooms known as Muthalpadi rooms, located near the sanctum. Though the temple officials have been using these rooms for many years, they had not disclosed the treasures to either the court or the expert committee, which has been documenting the treasures in the temple. Subramaniam also found a cut bar of gold in these rooms. From the colour of shaving, he has inferred that this gold had been cut recently. What seems to have raised more doubts is the gold sheeting work in three Panippura or workshop rooms. The temple authorities initially claimed that they do not have keys to one of the rooms, but when it was broken open, evidences of goldsmith activities were found. The temple authorities could explain neither the presence of sheeting machine nor its ownership. When Subramaniam interviewed a jeweller who was commissioned to do gold plating work, he too did not claim ownership of the machine. When quizzed, he told that a jeweller from Thanjavur was working in the temple earlier used to take away `gold mixed with sand in lorries.’ The temple claimed that it deposited contributions collected every month in the bank. However, the report found that it was not so, and pointed to the discrepancies between the amount recorded in the temple books and the amount deposited in the bank. Two deposits in particular have come under scrutiny. The temple officials had deposited about Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh in the name of `Supreme Court.'
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 21
PAKISTAN Fresh talks with TTP under way ISLAMABAD: The meeting of the committees representing the government and the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was underway in Islamabad on Wednesday, April 23. The meeting, taking place at Punjab House in Islamabad, has extension of the ceasefire, release of non-combatant Taliban prisoners and establishment of a peace zone high on the agenda. It had been convened by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and is the first joint meeting of the committees after the TTP’s announcement of ending the ceasefire. Progress of the peace process would be reviewed during the meeting. Another official had said that the government expected the TTP not only to extend the ceasefire but also to reciprocate its goodwill gesture of releasing 19 non-combatant Taliban. Speaking to reporters prior to the start of the meeting, chief of the TTP negotiators' committee, Maulana Samiul Haq said no deadlock existed in the dialogue, adding that the talks were happening after a delay only due to unrelated issues. Before the meeting began, Nisar met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and briefed the premier on the latest developments in the dialogue. After the talks formally began, the TTP had announced a onemonth ceasefire on March 1 and then extended it for another 10 days. But last Wednesday, the Taliban said they would not renew the ceasefire, though they would still continue talks with the government.
Musharraf’s ECL plea posted for May 7 KARACHI: Pakistani former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, facing a battery of criminal cases, must wait a fortnight to learn if he will be given permission to go abroad to visit his sick mother. A court in Karachi adjourned a hearing on Musharraf’s application to have a travel ban lifted so he can see his elderly mother in Dubai. Musharraf was indicted for treason last month over his imposition of emergency rule in 2007, in a case seen as a test of civilian authority in a country long dominated by the military. He also faces several murder cases and his name has been added to the official “exit control list” of people barred from leaving Pakistan. The 70-year-old flew to Karachi at the weekend to undergo medical tests. A two-member bench of the Sindh High Court adjourned hearing Musharraf’s application to be removed from the list until May 7, said an AFP reporter present in court. Musharraf is staying with his daughter in Karachi where he is to undergo some diagnostic tests at a navy-run hospital. He has been having medical treatment since January, when he was rushed to hospital after suffering heart problems on his way to court for a hearing.
Election of Sunni hardliner stayed ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday halted the election to the national parliament of the leader of a banned hardline sectarian group, officials said. An election tribunal earlier this month declared Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi, head of a group called Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), the elected member for the town of Jhang in Punjab province. Ludhianvi, whose organisation is listed as a terrorist outfit by the Pakistani government, came second in the seat in the May 2013 general election to Shaikh Mohammad Akram of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party. But he took the matter to an election tribunal and successfully challenged Akram over allegations of vote-rigging and defaulting on a loan. On Tuesday a three-judge Supreme Court panel stayed the tribunal's ruling until Akram has appealed. "The bench today suspended the order of the election tribunal disqualifying Shaikh Mohammad Akram and the notification by Election Commission of Pakistan declaring Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi a returned candidate," a court official told AFP. Akram's lawyer argued that the tribunal could not declare the runner-up as victor because when a candidate was disqualified, a fresh election should be held. The court would hear the appeal in three months time, he added.
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Hamid Mir injured in attack KARACHI: Pakistan's largest private news channel, Geo TV, has called for a robust investigation into the assassination attempt on one of its leading talk show hosts, Hamid Mir. Mir was shot and wounded on Saturday, April 19, in a gun attack his family alleges was orchestrated by Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI. The Pakistani army has denied the charges as misleading. Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has demanded that Geo for making the allegations. In a BBC interview, the President of Geo TV, Imran Aslam, said the alleged role of the ISI in targeting journalists needs to be probed and debated openly. Mir's car was ambushed by attackers, at least some of whom were riding motorcycles, Gunmen in Karachi on April 19 shot and according to local media reports. Details about the attack are still emerging. wounded Hamid Mir, a leading TV presenter Citing police, Mir's broadcast network, Geo in Paksitan. TV, says he arrived at a hospital in critical condition after being shot three times in the leg and torso. Mir's driver reportedly escaped injury; the gunmen remain at large. "Mir is now reported to have regained consciousness and hospital administration say his condition is out of danger," Pakistan's news service says. Mir's brother, Amir, that before the attack, Mir told him that an attempt on his life could come from within part of Pakistan's government — specifically from within its intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. Amir Mir added that his brother "had recorded a video message and dispatched it to the Committee to Protect Journalists." The ISI has denied any involvement, and Pakistan's leaders have condemned the attack. A colleague says he briefly spoke to Mir by phone, as the attack was going on. "Geo News Islamabad bureau chief, Rana Jawad said Hamid Mir spoke to him after being attacked and said that the gunmen were following him and continued to fire on the car.” An attempt was made on Mir's life in 2012, when explosives were found to have been placed under his car. Saying that it is "alarmed by the continuing violence against journalists in Pakistan," the Committee To Protect Journalists said the attack on Hamid Mir shows that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has not been able to reverse the country's appalling record of violence against journalists, despite pledges to do so. Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, said, "Full prosecution of the perpetrators of such crimes is the only answer to reversing this history."
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PAGE 22 • INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
INDIA HERALD • WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 • PAGE 23
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PAGE 24 â€¢ INDIA HERALD â€¢ WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014
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