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VOL 20 NO. 49 • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 • P.O. BOX 623 • SUGAR LAND, TX 77487 • PERIODICAL PERMIT USPS 017-699 25 C

Diwali Food Bank Drive: Collective effort by the Hindus of Greater Houston

The Baba Sheikh, spiritual leader of the ancient Yezidi religious community of northern Iraq, at the Murugan Temple of North America on October 29, during the climax of Skanda Sashti when Skanda vanquishes demonic forces threatening humanity. Skanda Murugan is the Hindu god of war.

Yezidis, Hindus make common cause under ‘Peacock Angel’ By Dr Venugopal Menon The several temples and organizations of Houston under the banner of the Hindus of Greater Houston donated about 2000 pounds of food and $8000 in cash to the Houston Food Bank, thus collectively joining hands and showing a combined presence of Hindus in the city. Arya Samaj took the leadership as they have done during the past several years by gathering the major share of the contribution. Sri Meenakshi Temple, Mahatma Gandhi Library, JVB Preksha Meditation Center, VPSS, Chinmaya Mission and Ashtalakshmi temple were the other main participants. Each organization requested its members to donate, kept boxes for them to drop off food items and offer monetary contributions. The collected food and cash were delivered through Arya Samaj or directly to the Food Bank.



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Children at JVB Preksha Meditation Center help pack food items.

Anshuman Desai was the coordinator, who organized the details of operation and guided the various units through their respective volunteers. It was decided that instead of acting separately, the Hindus of Houston should organize the efforts and help the noble cause as a uniďŹ ed body. And there is no better time to feed the hungry and help the needy than Diwali. With more enhanced and organized efforts we can gradually and substantially improve our contributions in the coming years. It is important that Hindus stay organized and be recognized as one group for our belief and the profound principles that we believe in. As the third largest practiced faith group, such efforts will help establish our presence in the community and bring in more awareness and understanding of us.

By Patrick Harrigan WASHINGTON DC: A delegation of top Yezidi spiritual and political leaders visited Washington DC October 24-31 seeking support for their threatened minority and sacred sites in northern Iraq that are currently surrounded by ISIS ďŹ ghters, who aim to ‘cleanse the Islamic State’ of any trace of the ‘pagan’ ancient religious minority who worship Melek Ta’us, the ‘Peacock Angel’. In a deeply symbolic act, the Baba Sheikh, spiritual leader of the Yez-

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COMMUNITY NEWS House panel okays Mehta for US District Court judge WASHINGTON: A key Congressional committee has confirmed the nomination of an Indian-American counsel to the key post of US district court judge for Washington, DC. India-born Amit Privardhan Mehta had been nominated to the post by President Barack Obama in August. His nomination was confirmed on Friday, Nov 21, by the Senate Judiciary Committee. A graduate of Georgetown University and University of Virginia School of Law, Mehta is currently a partner in the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, where he has been recognized for his exemplary work by several legal publications, including Super Lawyers, The National Law Journal and Benchmark Litigation. “I will work hard to get Amit Mehta confirmed as district court judge during the lame-duck session,” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement after Mehta was confirmed by the committee. “Given Amit Mehta’s exceptional qualifications, only the clock can stop us now,” she added. Mehta would become the first Asian-Pacific-American to serve as a federal district court judge in Washington, DC if his nomination is confirmed by the US Senate. President Obama had nominat-

the Senate to act quickly to confirm Amit,” Gabbard said. Mehta currently is a partner at the office of Zuckerman Spader, a Washington DC-based firm, where he represents clients in civil and criminal matters before state and federal courts. He rejoined the firm as counsel in 2007, after

serving as a staff attorney for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia from 2002 to 2007. Mehta worked as an associate at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP from 1999 to 2002, as a law clerk for Judge Susan P. Graber of the United States Court of Appeals

for the Ninth Circuit from 1998 to 1999, and as an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP from 1997 to 1998. He received his JD in 1997 from the University of Virginia School of Law and his B A in 1993 from Georgetown University.

ed Mehta, to the key post in August. Announcing Mehta’s nominations along with other judiciary posts, Obama said, “I am pleased to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench.” “I am confident they will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice,” he added. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, in a statement, applauded the nomination of Amit Mehta to serve on the US District Court for the District of Columbia. “I congratulate Amit Mehta on his nomination to the US District Court for the District of Columbia, a privilege only our best and brightest earn,” said Gabbard. “Amit has led a distinguished legal career and brings successful trial and litigation experience. His diverse perspective will be welcome on the court, and I urge

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VOICES Boundary Accord with Dhaka After three years of intransigence on the land boundary agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh, the BJP has executed a welcome u-turn. During UPA 2, it had resisted the constitutional amendment required to ratify the LBA signed in 2011, taking a nationalistic hard line on the loss of territory the deal seemed to imply. If passed, the LBA would rationalise the international enclaves that dot the Indo-Bangladesh border, and which are territorial anomalies inherited from Partition. As things stand, the enclaves are pockets of land trapped in alien territory that the state cannot reach. For the approximately 51,000 people who live there, the LBA could bring the basic rights and securities of citizenship. Ratifying the deal would also mean keeping faith with a neighbour who is turning into a valuable ally — India’s failure to deliver on the LBA and the Teesta water-sharing pact have turned into an embarrassing stumbling block in ties with Bangladesh. Yet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated reasons for pressing forward with the land swap seem to replace one form of hardline posturing with another. Rationalising the border would not only ensure security in Assam, Modi said in Guwahati on Sunday, but it would also keep out “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. Waves of Bangladeshi migrants have settled in West Bengal and the Northeast over the decades, seeking refuge from war, religious persecution or poverty. As pressures on land and economic resources grew, so did simmering tensions in the region, occasionally erupting in violence. In this terrain of violence and suspicion, the BJP’s own discourse on Bangladeshi migrants has been far from responsible. In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Modi drew a distinction between Hindu and Muslim migrants, reinforcing a communal hue in an already fraught issue. The BJP has also participated in the popular spectre-making around Muslim migrants from across the border — that they are terrorists and smugglers, that their presence threatens the very cultural fabric of the region. Speaking at a rally in Kolkata on Sunday, BJP president Amit Shah drew a sinister arc of collusion, linking the funds funnelled away in the Saradha scam, the Trinamool Congress, the Burdwan blasts and terror outfits in Bangladesh. The problem, said Shah, stemmed from the Mamata Banerjee government’s protection of “illegal immigrants”. The BJP betrays an inability to comprehend the complex historical roots of a long-running migration. Modi might have made a successful local pitch for an international deal, but across the border, Bangladesh is listening. Will it take kindly to Bangladeshis being the bogey that drives the land swap deal? — Indian Express

Rohtak Bravehearts The sheer everydayness of sexual harassment in public transport can lend it a grotesque normativity. Women are expected to just take it en route to work or education or healthcare – as if silence was the cost they were paying for these strides. But last week two braveheart sisters broke the silence, powerfully. To the men passing obscene remarks and making lewd gestures at them in a Rohtak bus, college students Arti and Pooja said enough is enough. The molesters have been arrested. A mobile phone video of the episode has gone viral. Haryana government has announced awards for the sisters. Their father feels proud and hopes other girls will follow in his daughters’ footsteps – breaking the silence. To appreciate the radical quality of this contestation, consider why Nikita and her friend Madhu committed suicide in the same place just a few months back – the everyday journey to and fro their Rohtak coaching institute had turned nightmarish because of sexual harassment. They were good students, wanted to go to a good college, even dreamt of working in the US. Their suicide note spoke of fear and shame, because “people” said they were “encouraging” their persecutors. Or consider the man who slapped Gauhar Khan this Sunday on the Mumbai sets of a reality show, denouncing her dress as somehow at odds with being a Muslim. A sense of male entitlement, sometimes to grope and sometimes to execute moral policing, has silenced many women for many years. But the Rohtak bravehearts are just two of many who are now saying, enough is enough. They will speak up and act out. They will insist on the right to go to work or movies or malls or schools – without being sexually harassed. — The Times of India

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TOPIC OF THE WEEK Nitish Kumar’s masterstroke or major blunder? By Amarnath Tewary In May, when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar handpicked one of his cabinet colleagues Jitan Ram Manjhi from the Maha Dalit community to succeed him, he did not realise that his “masterstroke” would soon prove to be a political disaster for his party and a nightmare for him. Little did Kumar know that Manjhi would become a political liability and a calculated game plan would go horribly wrong. On becoming the third Dalit Chief Minister of the State after Bhola Paswan Shastri and Ram Sundar Das, Manjhi realised his socio-political strength and refused to become a remote-controlled or puppet Chief Minister of his predecessor, as many had believed he would be. Instead, he began nursing his own constituency in Bihar’s casteridden political firmament. Manjhi made headlines with controversial statements and slowly nudged Kumar into the inside pages of newspapers. Acknowledging the fact that he was not elected but was made Chief Minister, Manjhi keenly observed the nuances of governance for a month, but started acting on his own thereafter. He also knew that he had been anointed as a stop-gap Chief Minister only for a limited period of time as Kumar was re-elected as the leader of the Janata Dal (United) Legislature Party. Under Kumar, the party will contest the State Assembly elections due in October or November next year. In the game of political peeka-boo, Manjhi also realised that by making him his successor, Kumar has, in fact, been making steady moves to seize the Dalit vote bank (16 per cent of the electorate) which, with the support of votes from the Extremely Backward Caste (who comprise 30 per cent of the electorate), will most likely make him politically invincible, despite the Bharatiya Janata Party’s surge in the State. It was a deft move by Kumar to carve out a political space for himself in the changing political scenario of the State. But being a seasoned politician who began his political career with the Congress party, moving later to the Rashtriya Janata Dal and then the JD(U), Manjhi knew how to nurse his political ambitions. He knew that to remain relevant he would have to carve out his own place. This is where the real nightmare began to unfold for Kumar and his party — when the Chief Minister began shooting a barrage of controversial statements. However, though the Chief Minister’s statements have been embarrassing for the party, they have managed to strike a chord with the Dalit community. It also appears as though Manjhi has been making these statements to prevent leaders such as Kumar and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan from carrying the tag of Dalit leaders.

Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi (left) with JDU supremo Nitish Kumar

“With some struggle I’ve become the Chief Minister of the State. Who knows, one day I may become the Prime Minister,” he declared at a function. He also stated on his home turf in Gaya that the next Chief Minister of the State must come from his area. But Manjhi has also become a man of many gaffes. He said he would “chop off the hands of doctors if they neglected treatment of the poor,” stated that he paid a bribe to bring down the power bill, said upper caste people are foreigners, said “Maha Dalits are not able to look after their children properly or improve their lifestyle,” and that if they “have to drink alcohol, [they] should take a little of it in the form of medicine.” His statement on upper castes was met with scathing criticism from upper caste MLAs who called the Chief Minister “mentally unstable.” However, as political observer Professor N.K. Chaudhury said, all these were ways of “humiliating” the Chief Minister and forcing him to resign on his own. But, as he pointed out, Manjhi moved on while setting his eyes fixed on his constituency. And to defy opinion that he is a “rubber stamp Chief Minister,” Manjhi took some tough administrative decisions. He overhauled the top bureaucracy of Patna district after the Dussehra festival stampede and punished erring doctors while promising to hit hard on those slacking in their duties. But all these measures set alarm bells for Kumar who was ready to embark on his 17-day

Sampark Yatra, a party cadre contact tour. Kumar reportedly sent an SOS to party President Sharad Yadav and some other senior party leaders to rein in Manjhi. Has Manjhi now become a political compulsion and liability for Kumar, at least till the Assembly polls next year? The answer is yes. The Chief Minister knows that Kumar cannot take a shot at him unless he takes RJD president Lalu Prasad into confidence. And for the beleaguered Prasad, no one is better suited as Chief Minister than Manjhi. Second, Manjhi also knows that by removing him, Kumar would lose Dalit votes and there would be a conspicuous rift between lower and backward castes and upper caste leaders within the party. Third, Kumar also doesn’t have any other candidate to replace Manjhi. There are many aspirants for the post and they come from different castes but any replacement would trigger an instant rebellion among the party legislators — something Kumar can hardly afford at this juncture. And above all, the opposition BJP which has been watching hawk-eyed all the developments could also turn Manjhi’s replacement into an election issue. Manjhi has definitely become a political problem for Kumar. How long will this last? Nobody knows for politics is always a game of possibilities. But the situation is not doing Kumar or his party any good. — The Hindu


INDIA-U.S. 6 Indian authors’ works on New York Times list of notables books of 2014 WASHINGTON: Indian-origin American surgeon and author, Atul Gawande as well as historian Ramachandra Guha are among five authors with an Indian connection who figure in the New York Times Book Review's list of 100 Notable Books of 2014. Boston-based Gawande's "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" which questions the role of modern medicine is listed number two among the non-ficion books. "It is a meditation on living better with age-related frailty, serious illness and approaching death," says the newspaper. The book, reported to have been picked up by US President Barack Obama during his Thanksgiving shopping recently, also figures in Washington Post's top 10 books of 2014. Historian and author Ramachandra's "Gandhi before India" also finds mention in the NYT book list, which was released today. "It was as a young lawyer in South Africa that Gandhi forged the philosophy and strategies later put to such effect in India," says the Times. Delhi-born Akhil Sharma's semi-autobiographical novel "Family Life", which the Times describes as "deeply unnerving and tender at the core" finds place in the Fiction & Poetry section. The novel, describes the newspaper, "charts a young man's struggles to grow within a family shattered by tragedy and disori-







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ented by its move from India." Indian-American writer Vikram Chandra, a recipient of the 1996 Commonwealth Writers' Prize book "Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty" is included in the list. "With great subtlety and depth, Chandra, who is both a novelist and a programmer, traces the connections between art and technology," describes the Times. "No Good Men Among The Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes" by Anand Gopal, writer and jour-

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nalist who has reported on the Middle East and South Asia figures in the NYT list. The book is "a devastating look at how we got Afghanistan wrong." Another book in the list "The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas" is by American author and columnist Anand Giridharadas. "Competing visions of the American dream collide in this account of a post-9/11 hate crime and its unlikely reverberations," says the newspaper.

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FEEDBACK India’s godman syndrome Dr. Sulekh C. Jain, Houston During the last 2 weeks nearly all media in India and some in US carried the news of the arrest of the self-Styled godman Rampal of Satlok Ashram in Haryana. Here is a sampling of some of the Headlines that I came across: • Operation to arrest godman Rampal cost over Rs. 26 crore. • Godman’ Rampal’s lavish lifestyle inside Satlok ashram. • Haryana and Punjab High Court sent godman Rampal in judicial custody till November 28. • ‘Godman’ Rampal arrested, 15,000 followers freed, 492 held for violence. • Special Investigating Team seizes arms, ammunition from Rampal’s ashram • Pregnancy kit, petrol bombs in Rampal ashram. 63-year-old Rampal, 63, was arrested on November 19 after a two-week tense standoff between his supporters and the police. One newspaper commented that “godmen do extraordinarily well in our country than in most others, and that is where the puzzle lies. Is our society more vulnerable?” It is hardly surprising then that some of the godmen behave like magicians and their followers like that. Many followers who visit them are miracle seekers. People everywhere are prone to mystics, but what makes our godmen seem so powerful is that our politicians use them as baits to catch votes.

Modern gurus gain mass following through technologies such as the Internet, satellite television and social media... Rampal, a charismatic orator started out with an anti-Arya Samaj treatise and then added on miracle powers to woo the gullible. Like other godmen, he was flush with funds too. Like Satlok Asharm of Rampal, there are nearly 100 deras (ashrams, cults) that dot rural Haryana and Punjab. The dera leaders hold their supporters in thrall, mostly confine them to fortified ashrams and like most cults have deviant sexual practices (incest, polygamy, orgies), miracles and a religious mumbo-jumbo which is often a variation of known religious texts. These half-baked philosophies are then sold to the gullible. In all such deras, the magnetism and healing powers of the leader are basic to its success. But violence is a cult characteristic. Every deviant cult leader displays a streak of violence. Rampal is no exception. He had an army of highly-trained commandos at his beck and call. And he used them to the hilt when the police laid his ashram under siege. The “commandos” used bullets, stones, acid and petrol to send the police scurrying. Over a 100 policemen were injured. In every country and society there are always many such people like TV Evangelists in US, Jim Jones of Jonestown Camp cassacre in 1978 in Guyana

comesto mind; and recently in the news Asaram, Nithyanand, Ram Rahim of Sachcha Sauda and so many more. Some of the godmen own a vast empire of lavishly furnished ashrams, thousands of followers, bullet-proof enclosures and a large contingent of armed commandos to protect them. With the ever increasing affluence of people in India, the number and the pomp and show of godmen too is significantly increasing not just in direct proportion but may be in geometric proportion too. It is not that people are gullible only in India. The aura and attack of some of the godmen from India has reached here in US too. Last year I was told that one such godman, with his oratory and charisma charmed one person in the US who wrote a check of $1 million after listening to the godman just for 20 minutes. Later, the donor found out that the godman was absolutely a fraud and fake and sued him. This victim donor himself told me the story of how he was mesmerized and fooled by the fast talking godman. In another case this year, the former leader of the now defunct Hindu Temple of Georgia, Swamiji Sri Selvam Siddhar, was sent to prison after a jury convicted him of defrauding his followers. He charged his followers fees in exchange for spiritual and related services, but then would run-up unapproved charges, on their credit cards. “The money he made through fraudulent charges was used to finance his and his family’s

lifestyle, which prosecutors said included luxury vehicles, control of multiple homes and foreign bank accounts in India. Swami ji once owned a million-dollar home in Sugarloaf Country Club in Duluth, GA. While it is not entirely possible to completely wipe out fraud and deception by so called godmen, it is a fact that as long as greed, a desire to get something for nothing, the increasing affluence of the people coupled with the effective use and power of the media, internet and social sites like

Facebook, this disease and menace will spread even more. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Govt. has started a campaign of Swachchh Bharat by 2019. These self-styled godmen and their exploitation are a filth and disease too. I hope by 2019 , when India will celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi Ji, India will be cleaned to some extent of this filth and disease in the society as well. Let us all be vigilant, rational and do our best in this regard.

Vanita Gupta to lead Ferguson probe WASHINGTON: Indian-American lawyer and civil rights activist Vanita Gupta is leading a Federal probe into the events in Ferguson, Missouri, in which a Grand Jury chose not to indict a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager. The Obama administration last month appointed Vanita Gupta to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which is continuing its probe even after the Grand Jury decision. Gupta was also previously associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which is now leading the agitation to bring justice to the family of Michael Brown, the slain teenager. Gupta, who was born in Philadelphia, has a sterling track record of civil rights activism in support of colored people, particularly their high rate of incarceration. When she was barely into her mid-20s and just couple years out of law school (NYU), she represented 46 African-Americans who had been convicted by an all-white jury in Texas in 2003 on drug dealing charges. In that unheralded case from Tulia, a small desert town in West Texas, the young Indian-American lawyer won their release after showing that the undercover white agent who filed the charges was, to put it bluntly, a delinquent racist. The prosecution was forced to admit it had made a terrible mistake, and the 46 accused were not only released after four years of incarceration, but Gupta also won them a $5 million settlement by which time the case was being reported nationwide. She celebrated her win by putting up a sticker on her door from the town's chamber of commerce that read, "Hallelujah, I'm from Tulia."

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FEEDBACK Understanding India: Armchair analysis often misses the mark By Riju Agrawal Many young Indian-Americans want absolutely nothing to do with India. We are not so naĂŻve as to still consider it a land of snakecharmers and swamis, but our understanding is tainted by childhood memories of mosquitoes, blackouts, and food poisoning. Every challenge that India faces is another reason to stay on the other side of the globe. We decry the lack of air conditioning, western toilets, and our favorite fast food chains. We speak not of emigrating from India, but of “escapingâ€?. We are not enamored with everything India has, but frustrated with everything it lacks. Safely ensconced in our Western bubbles, we carefully curate our exposure so that India touches our lives only through Bollywood, Chicken Tikka Masala, and the I.T. helpdesk in our offices (which is too often a target for ridicule). After all, India’s problems are somebody else’s problems. On the other hand, some of us are too quick to see India through the lens of a young consultant. With our newly minted college degrees and “analytical skillsâ€?, we see it as a case to be cracked, a problem to be solved. We see a rapidly growing market and an increasingly- demanding consumer base, and we can rattle off statistics about its GDP growth, inflation, urbanization, and demographic dividend. We use grants and fellowships to visit India for a few weeks, return with a superficial understanding of its social, political, and economic fabric, and pitch solutions in social entrepreneurship competitions. And as a result of all this, our goal is too often to impose change. Our inclination is to be the benefactor who knows better and can fix it all. But neither view is complete, and both views are insulting to our Indian brethren. As an IndianAmerican, the first view is all too easy to adopt. Surrounded by the conveniences of life in a developed country, embarrassed by the news of rapes, riots, and corruption, we compartmentalize and forget. India becomes a part of our lives that used to be, but no longer is, unless we want it to be. The second view, as a modern manifestation of imperialism, is hardly less insulting. India is no longer plagued by the British, but by the omniscient and newly- returned NRI who is so eager to share his enlightened ways with his family and friends. Every sentence starts with “In America, we‌â€? Relatives have no choice but to indulge our pedantic ways until somebody has the sense to push us off our pedestals. With this realization, I admit that I have fallen victim to both views. Even though I spent three months in India during every summer break, it was in the coddled care of my grandparents. I was the privileged child whose

glimpses of India were often limited to those through the window of an air-conditioned car. Excursions into the “real world� were protected via chaperones in the form of Indian friends or the family’s chauffeur, and continuous purchases of “Bisleri� bottled water. That which could not be controlled – power outages, mosquitoes, and illness – I experienced (complaining and crying excessively), and quickly forgot after returning to America. And now, with my college education and newfound wisdom, I have maybe grown out of the first view, only to fall victim to the second: maybe I can help “solve� India. It would not be fair to serve both views with an equal dose of criticism. The first view of India is escapist and results in self-serving detachment, and is often accompanied by the sentiment that “In-

dia is the way it is, and it will never change.� The second view, on the other hand, can be a catalyst for action. NRIs have contributed to India’s growth in myriad ways. We have indeed started businesses and nonprofits that have helped our Indian compatriots. Remittances by NRIs exceeded $70 billion in 2013, more than remittances to any other country. However, both views are a result of looking at India from the outside-in, and an incomplete understanding of its ways. Heavyhanded and generalized criticism of India ignores the progress that has been made in the last couple of decades and the contributions of those who have enabled change in the face of the most challenging odds. Similarly, the imposition of solutions from abroad ignores the

vibrancy of India’s enduring democracy, the resilience of its homegrown entrepreneurs, and the resourcefulness of its engineers. We can no longer assume that “videshi� is better than “swadeshi�. It is important for us to remember that what works in the West may not necessarily work in India. Half-baked solutions imposed by those with even the noblest of intentions will result in half-baked results. This is not to say that we should stop seeking solutions and striving for change where change is needed. Rather, as ambassadors of our homeland and leaders in our adopted lands, we are uniquely positioned to understand the intersection between India and the rest of the world. Therefore, our challenge is to truly understand both, without being dismissive or imperialistic, and

develop solutions that build upon the strengths of both. Only then will we be able to contribute to India’s progress. Riju graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 2013. He was co-founder and co- president of the Harvard Global Energy Initiative and co-founder of the Harvard U.S.-India Initiative. His previous experiences include an internship at the White House, where he worked on energy and climate change policy, and multiple internships with oil & gas engineering firms. At Harvard he was a threetime John Harvard Scholar and was elected Phi Beta Kappa.

TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN I welcome the opportunity to learn about your unique goals and needs. Together we can create a strategy designed to help guide you along the path to ďŹ nancial well-being. Call to schedule a consultation today.

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COMMUNITY CALENDAR Express Children’s Theatre - Little Scrooge An adolescent boy strikes it rich by inventing a popular phone app but loses sight of what really matters in life. Based on the Dickens classic. Showing Saturdays at 2 p.m. on November 29 and December 6, 13, 20, 2014 at Express Children's Theatre at Northwest Mall. To reserve a private weekday performance at the theater for your group (30 persons minimum) call 713-682-5044.

Vishwa Shanti Yagna Dec 6, sat @ 9 a.m. On the occasion of Pratishtha Divas Houston Durgabari Society will hold Vishwa Shanti Maha Yagna under the guidance of HDBS head priest Dr. Bishnupada Goswami. Event includes puja, lunch, cultural program. At 13944 Schiller Road. Limited seating available. Call Dr Goswami 832-367-6646 or Nirmalya Roy 832-971-8659.

Lecture by Rajiv Malhotra Sat., Dec 13; 4 to 7 p.m. Lecture by Rajiv Malhotra on Western dichotomy towards Dharma: Appropriate and assimilate, reject and vilify. Also a debate on Hindu-Christian Interface between Rajiv Malhotra and

Christian Eberhart. Sponsored by Indian History Research and Awareness of Arsha Vidya Satsanga. At India House, 8888 West Bellfort. Admission is free. Q&A followed by refreshments. For info, call Prasad 281-818-7824 or Subroto 713-302-2516.

Lecture on Yoga Sat., Dec 13 @ 5 p.m. Yoga: The Art of Stress-free Life by Swami Mahesh at Shri Radha Krishna Temple, 11625 Beechnut. Swami Mahesh will discuss Asana, Pranayama, relaxation and meditation. All are welcome. For further info call temple at 281-933-8100 or visit www.SRKT.Org.

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.

Chinmaya Mission Sunday satsangs for adults, youth, and children. A unique Bala Vihar program for each grade, from PreK to Grade 12. Satsangs

Open Forum Radio Program

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. 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

KGOL 1480 AM • Saturdays 4 to 6 p.m.

Informative programs with doctors, lawyers, politicians and other newsmakers. Call 713-784-1480 Hosts: Dinkar Chheda, Jagat Kamdar & Subodh Bhuchar

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Classes now ongoing Visit

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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.

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in two sessions between 8:35 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. 1p.m. Bala Vihar students can take shloka, bhajan and orchestra classes or language classes for Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, and Gujarati. Located at Chinmaya Prabha, 10353 Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX 77498. New members may visit the welcome desk between 8 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. or 10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Visit www.chin or call Bharati Sutaria 281.933.0233.

Classes in Houston, Mission Bend, & Sugar Land

‘The Universe Within’ Sahaj Marg is a natural and simple system of heart-centered meditation and spiritual practice that helps one realize the utimate potential within oneself. The meditation is available to anyone who wishes to practice. Weekly meditation sessions held throughout the Houston area. Web: www. Email: meditate_

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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. Register at or Sri Ravula 281-995-0930.

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; call 281-433-1635 or harekrishnadham

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 Bharti Sutaria 281-5681690 or Jay Deshmukh 832-541-0059 or visit www.saum

Veerashaiva Samaja VSNA Houston is a group of families who believe in Veera-shaiva dharma (Basava dharma). Monthly Mahamane program for prayer and discussion on Vachana Sahitya followed by Prasada. Contact: or Jagadeesh Halyal 832-744-4166.

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.

Houston Namadwaar A prayer house where the Hare Rama Hare Krishna Maha-mantra is continuously chanted. Weekends: 8-11 AM & 4-7 PM, Weekdays: 7-8 AM & 6-7 PM. Weekly “Gopa Kuteeram” children’s heritage classes and Srimad Bhagavatam classes. Call 281-402-6585; visit (Global Organization for Divinity).

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 281-261-4603.

Sri 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@

Arsha Vidya Bharati Sanskrit classes and special worship sessions for all ages. At 2918 Renoir, Sugar Land (77479).Call 281-606-5607 or AVB.Houston Web:

Preksha Meditation New facilities of JVB Preksha Meditation Center. Classes for Yoga and Meditation under guidance by Samani jis and discourses. At 14102 Schiller Road (off Hwy 6 bet Bellaire and Westpark - 77082). Tel 281-596-9642.

Patanjali Yogpeeth Free Yoga Classes every Sat/Sun at Arya Samaj from 8 am to 9:30 a.m. Call Anil 281-579-9433. For other free classes, call Indra 281537-0018. For Yoga/Herbal products, call Shekhar 281-242-5000. Web: and

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

Sathya Sai centers Sunday program held at two locations (North Houston: 12127 Louetta Rd, Houston; South Houston: 246 Fluor Daniel Dr, Sugarland, TX, 77479) from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Sai Spiritual Education classes for children; study circle for adults. Service programs - food distribution & food drives; nursing home visits, tutoring at schools etc. Contact Sanjay Gupta (North) 832-687-6766 or Sondip Mathur (South) 832-215-8675


INDIA Delhi traffic halted by protesters after church fire NEW DELHI: More than a 1,000 of Delhi’s Christians and their supporters blocked the main access to the police headquarters during rush hour on Tuesday morning, Dec 2, demanding action against the alleged culprits behind Monday’s church fire. The burning of the St Sebastian Catholic Church in Dilshad Garden on Monday morning has rattled the city’s Catholic community, right up to the Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, who has called it “arson”. The police, however, have not confirmed it as a wilful act and all angles, including a short-circuit, are being probed. Protesters from Delhi and NCR converged on the police headquarters at ITO following a message spread through mobile phones and community meetings held in different parishes on Monday. The protest was peaceful. By 10 a.m., about a 1,000 people had completely taken over the stretch outside the police building. Holding placards, they chanted slogans and sang songs. “Church Burning = Nation Burning” read one placard. “We know we are a minority but don’t treat

us like one,” read another. “There has been a spate of attacks on our places of worship and on us in different parts of the country. However, the burning of our parish’s church is a big blow. We had to come out and protest or else atrocities against us minorities is never going to stop,” Ayushi Minj, 20, a protester from Dilshad Garden, said. Police kept the gates of its headquarters tightly barricaded against the protesters. Archbishop Couto and some high priests were allowed in to meet police chief B. S. Bassi. Father Mathew Koyickal, Chancellor (Archdiocese of Delhi), said, “The fire broke out around 6 am on Monday, but local police reached three hours later. Secondly, police were saying it was an accident. “But the strong stench of kerosene at the church points to arson. Thirdly, the forensics teams reached the church around 5 pm. This is why we are so angry.” A delegation led by the Delhi Archbishop met the commissioner on Tuesday. Earlier, the delegation had forwarded a memorandum listing a set of demands — includ-

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ing a judicial probe into the fire — to the Home Minister and the Prime Minister. Addressing protesters at ITO , Dr John Dayal, former national president of All India Catholic Union, said, “Police have promised us that they will write to the L-G about notifying the Public Works Department for the reconstruction of St Sebastian Church.” Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deepak Mishra said, “Police will be keeping extra vigil over churches across the city, especially till Christmas.”

Putin to address Parliament NEW DELHI: Vladimir Putin may be the reigning bad guy in much of the western world, but next week India will signal to him that he remains a friend. Coming to India on his annual sojourn, Putin has been invited to address a joint session of Parliament, an honour last given to US President Barack Obama in 2010. Coming a month before Obama is scheduled to travel here as chief guest for Republic Day, the government is keen to give the Putin visit top billing. During his first meeting with Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to visit Kudankulam in south India, where a Russia-made nuclear reactor has finally gone online. But Putin is unlikely to make that trip. Instead, on his single-day summit here, Putin is planning to pack in a rash of appointments and sign a predictable number of agreements with India. India will be particularly keen to tie up energy and other economic deals with Russia because New Delhi does not want Moscow to be isolated in the world so that it is driven to Beijing's sphere of influence.


2nd phase of poll in J&K, Jharkhand In a rerun of record polling in the first phase, a 71 per cent voter turnout was registered in the second phase of incident-free Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday as the electorate in the 18 seats again ignored boycott call by separatist groups. And A total of 65.46 per cent votes were cast in 20 of the 81 assembly seats in second phase of the five-phased state elections today. Election commission officials said the figure in J&K could go up by one to two per cent once the final tally is available. Dealing a serious blow to separatist politics, enthusiastic voters stood in serpentine queues at several polling stations waiting for their turn. The first phase of the five-phase polls for 15 seats on November 25 had witnessed a record 71.28 per cent polling. “The latest figures that we have for the second phase of polls in Jammu and Kashmir is 71 per cent. We expect these numbers to go up by 1-2 per cent further,” Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi told reporters in Delhi. Zutshi said that during the entire phase today, where 18 assembly seats in five districts went to polls, “no untoward incident” took place and the entire event was peaceful. Of the five districts, two were in the Valley and three in Jammu. While in Jharkhand, the polling also concluded peacefully in all the constituencies, Chief Electoral Officer P K Jajoria said.

NIA probe of shadowy cult in Thane The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has begun questioning members of the shadowy Mumbai-based religious cult, Islamic Guidance Society, whose members are suspected to have funded and facilitated the travel of four men from the city’s suburbs to fight with the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East. The widening investigation comes days after the arrest of Thane student turned IS jihadist Areeb Majeed, who returned home with bullet injuries. NIA sources said the agency on Tuesday questioned IGS activists Anil Dolare, Atif Inamdar and Sufian Sheikh, the last a lecturer who taught at Anjuman-i-Islam Kalsekar Technical Campus, where Areeb Majeed was a final-year engineering college student. The NIA’s investigation seeks to determine how Majeed and the three men he travelled with to Iraq obtained the Rs 60,000 each of them paid for their tickets. Majeed, the sources said, has told investigators he saved Rs 25,000 for the trip over six months, but has said nothing on how the group raised the remaining money, which they paid in cash to local tour operator Shaheen Travels. Majeed, along with Shaheem Tanki, Fahad Sheikh and Aman Tandel flew to Iraq on May 23 as part of a pilgrims’ group. The four men then caught a taxi to Mosul, travelling through Fallujah. The IGS, which has an estimated membership of 50-60, has held regular meetings in and around Mumbai for the past two years. Police sources say the group preaches an end-of-times theology, urging members to embrace its concept of Islamic orthodoxy in preparation for the coming apocalypse.

Former Maharashtra CM Antulay dies

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MUMBAI: Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and a veteran Congressman, Abdul Rahman Antulay, widely known as A. R. Antulay, passed away on Tuesday morning, Dec 2. He was 85. He also served as the Union Minister for Minority Affairs in the UPA-I government. The funeral took place at his native Ambet village in Raigad district. Antulay was admitted to Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital last month for a severe kidney ailment. He was a heart patient

and had also undergone bypass surgery in the past. Antulay was a barrister from Lincoln’s Inn, London. Antulay was the first and only Muslim Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 1980 to 1982. He had to resign following allegations of corruption. He was convicted in an extrotion case by the Bombay High Court. Later, he worked as party MLA and MP, representing the Congress in Raigad district. He fought his last election in 2009, which he lost to the Shiv Sena. After the terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008, Antulay stirred a controversy by alleging the hand of Hindu fundamentalist groups in the attacks. He rebelled against the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and backed the candidate of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) because Congress gave the Raigad constituency to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).


COMMUNITY NEWS Yazidi-Hindu confluence From Page 1 idis, visited the Washington temple of the pan-Indian war god Skanda-Murugan on October 29 to witness Soora Samhāram, the ritual conclusion of Skanda Sashti, ‘Skanda’s Six-Day War’ against demonic forces threatening the earth. It was the first time ever that the Yezidi spiritual leadership visited a temple of the peacock-mounted war god of India, whom Yezidis identify with Melek Ta’us, the ‘Peacock Angel’ whom they consider to be God’s regent on earth. In the Yezidi faith, Melek Ta’us is regarded as the foremost among archangels and an emanation of God Himself. Yezidi religion is centered upon Melek Ta’us, who is depicted as a peacock. Peacocks, however, are not native to the lands where Melek Ta’us is worshipped, but to the Indian subcontinent. According to their own oral traditions, Yezidis once lived in India thousands of years ago. Yezidis, moreover, still preserve a system of four castes that do not intermarry. And they also believe in karma and rebirth, which are core tenets of Hindu Dharma. According to the Yezidi calendar, it is currently the year 6,764. Scholars of religion concede that the Yezidi faith has absorbed and preserved many elements from ancient faiths including Sanatana Dharma, Mithraism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as the influence of Sufis or Islamic mystics—all targets of hardline ISIS fundamentalism. “The Yezidis are a very special religious community because they’re one of the only remaining religions in the Middle East with non-Abrahamic origins,” says Matthew Barber, a scholar at the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. “The Yezidi religion has absorbed elements from many religious traditions in the Near East, but within their religious framework are preserved some very ancient beliefs that no longer survive in any other religion.

In a remarkable event that went unnoticed by mainstream Western media, recently two of the world’s most ancient religions--Hinduism and the Yezidi faith of northern Iraq--symbolically reunited after several thousand years of separation. Yezidis have always believed that they came to the Middle East long ago from India. The reason that ISIS attacks the Yezidi community in this way is because they view them as pagan and polytheistic because they’re outside of the Abrahamic religions that have a written scripture.” The Baba Sheikh and his entourage evinced a keen interest in the Hindu war god’s associations with the peacock. They were astonished to see tall standing brass oil lamps surmounted by peacocks, identical to the sanjaks or brass peacock lamps that play a central role in one of the most important events of the Yezidi New Year—the ‘Parade of the Sanjaks’ or ‘Parade of the Peacock’. The war god Skanda Kumara was among North India’s most popular deities during the Classical Age in the first millennium of the Common Era. He remains extremely popular in South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and worldwide among the Tamil Hindu diaspora where he is known as Murugan, the ‘tender youth’ associated with poetry, love, and war. The Baba Sheikh blessed Hindus who were observing the Skanda Sashti Soora Samhāram at the Washington temple, He remarked to them that this startling confluence of Yezidi and Hindu worship was also happening on a Wednesday, which is the Sabbath day of the Yezidis. The Baba Sheikh urged listeners to strive for peace worldwide and not to descend into bigotry and intolerance that are the hallmarks of religious fundamentalism.

The sanjak or brass peacock lamp plays a central role in Yezidi tradition. The Baba Sheikh and his entourage were astonished to see such large sanjaks in the Murugan temple. The Yezidis witnessed Soora Samhāram, the ritual conclusion of ‘Skanda’s Six-Day War’, after which gurukkals poured milk libation over Lord Murugan to cool His wrath.

Hindus and Yezidis alike marveled at the uncanny convergence of two ancient faiths on Skanda Sashti, and all prayed that their Lord of the Peacock would answer the fervent prayers of Yezidis in Iraq and worldwide. — Photos by Patrick Harrigan Patrick Harrigan is an American Indologist specializing since 1972 in the Sri Lankan shrine Kataragama, regarded as sacred by the island’s Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and indigenous communities.

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YLDP students visit Lighthouse for the Blind By Smriti Ashok For our third session of the Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP) on November 15, we paid a visit to the Lighthouse for the Blind on the basis of Philanthropy and Charity. There, we heard Gibson DuTerroil, President of the Lighthouse for the Blind, and Sandhya Rao, a frequent visitor of the organization, speak about the establishment and give insight about its purpose and its impact on the community. DuTerroil gave us a brief summary of the establishmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s purpose and goals and showed us around while pointing out how the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s features were designed to help the blind. Sandhya Rao told us her life story; she gave us details about her condition and how she overcame obstacles to become the successful law clerk she is today. My group was very inspired by the two individuals. We were blown away by DuTerroilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s compassion for these individuals; he felt so eager to help them that he centered his job and lifestyle to help these people. Raoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story was also insightful as it gave us a perspective that we do not get to see daily.

around him/her. Compassion is crucial as well because a little kindness can go a long way, and being warm and welcoming to another helps that individual feel comfortable and grow as well.

In short, DuTerroil and Rao have taught me that judging people at ďŹ rst glance should be avoided and that understanding a person as well as showing them compassion is an important step in becoming a leader.

YLDP students with Gibson DuTerroil, President of the Lighthouse for the Blind, and Sandhya Rao.

Srinivas Rao, MD Ĺ˝Ä&#x201A;Ć&#x152;Ä&#x161;Ä&#x17E;Ć&#x152;Ć&#x;ÄŽÄ&#x17E;Ä&#x161;sÄ&#x201A;Ć?Ä?ƾůÄ&#x201A;Ć&#x152;Î&#x2DC;/ĹśĆ&#x161;Ä&#x17E;Ć&#x152;Ç&#x20AC;Ä&#x17E;ĹśĆ&#x;ŽŜÄ&#x201A;ĹŻZÄ&#x201A;Ä&#x161;Ĺ?ŽůŽĹ?Ĺ?Ć?Ć&#x161; Sandhya Rao She told us of her struggles, the discrimination that she felt, and her journey to become the person who she is today. Her story made us learn that everyone has struggles and problems and we should not judge people on appearance since appearances are just the outer aspects of our character. The two adults taught me as well as my group that compassion and understanding are essential in order to further oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s development. Understanding a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s character and his/her surroundings are vital for a leader because the leader needs to be able to connect with the people


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Nritya School of Dance: Annual Day Recital The Annual Day Recital of the Nritya School of Dance, Guru Padmini Chari, was a dazzling exposition of the skills of the students and the teaching discipline of the guru. Starting with the adavus, the basic steps of Bharatanatyam done confidently by the beginners, six year olds for the most part, to the older students with more years of training, the perfect symmetry and precision of the dances was admirable. The younger students performed the introductory dances of mallari, pushpanjali and alarippu expertly. They went on to depict Krishna’s antics in Madura Nagarilo and Gokula Nilaya and Adinaye Kanna with great charm and vivacity. The traditional padams on Siva, Ananda Nadam Aduvar and Swarajathi with an ensemble of 16 students, was followed by the senior dancers with elaborate patterns of movements in Ananda Natana Prakasam and the complex rhythms of Kedaragowlam thillana. The piece de resistance of the evening was the Ardhanareeswara Ashtakam with its composite dance patterns in groups capped by meaningful lyrics and music. This was indeed a tribute to the care and attention to detail insisted upon by Smt Padmini Chari, the guru, besides the sincerity and interest of the students. The brilliant evening concluded with the difficult and elaborate Pancha Raga Pancha Priya Thillana with an ensemble of eight students. Altogether 83 students participated in the recital. Dr.Padmini Ranganathan, Houston community leader and eminent supporter of very many non-profits in the city, gave away the trophies and the certificates to the students of Nritya. She said that she has known Guru Padmini Chari and the Nritya School of Dance for all its 30 years and knew the quality training that students received at the school. She also commended the support that the parents gave their young wards in their pursuit of a great Indian art form. The packed auditorium was an acknowledgment to the tremendous faith and interest of the parents in Nritya and Guru Padmini Chari. The recital was held at the JCC auditorium on November 22, 2014.



Zed Plus: The satire works

HARDIK VYAS Youngest Astrologer in North America Vaastu & Gem Stone Consultant; Hindu Priest for all Pujas & Marriages Languages spoken: English, Hindi, Gujarati & Marathi Cast: Adil Hussain, Mona Singh, Mukesh Tiwari. Chandra Prakash Dwivedi The film begins with a Sufi song featuring an over-enthusiastic Sukhwinder Singh (he really ought to stick to singing) and Hrishitta Bhatt doing Bollywood type folk dance. From then on, it gets better. We’re in Faridabad, and we meet Aslam (Adil Hussain), he of the day-and-night puncture shop. He is harried because of his neighbor, a delusional poet, basking in inherited wealth. Their juvenile fights are often thwarted by their more sensible wives. That they’re both in love with the same woman, a local bangle seller, remains a secret. And that the three stand symbolically for India, Pakistan and Kashmir is a clever trick. Trouble arrives in the form of the Prime Minister’s visit Faridabad. It’s on the very day of his arrival, that it is Aslam’s turn to be incharge of the local durgah. The PM (Kulbhushan Kharbanda, hilarious) who insists on speaking only in English, tries conversing with Aslam who knows only Hindi. Their conversations are translated by the PM’s trusted aide. But in this mess, the PM mistakes Aslam’s complaint of a threat to his life by his neighbor, as a threat from across the border. You see, a threatening neighbor means only one thing to India’s PM. He immediately orders Z security for the humble man. Now Aslam arrives home to his gobsmacked wife (Mona Singh, superb) with armed men in tow. They follow him everywhere, even to the open air loo. His trip to the local chai adda becomes a scene. His mistress is furious with him for not meeting her. Aslam is dazed and requests the security be removed as it was just a misunderstanding. But with the news all over political circles and media, the PM’s assistant asks him to play along. Aslam is now caught in an impossible web that catapults him into the choppy waters of politics. The film drives home several pertinent points with dollops of humour, the way a satire should. The premise is equal parts tragic and funny. But the film really picks up in the second half. Sanjay Mishra arrives as a clueless Pakistani terrorist who wants to cash in on Aslam’s controversy. Meanwhile Aslam’s bored security folk make themselves comfortable, calling Aslam’s wife “didi” and helping around in the house. Aslam’s jealous neighbour is now furious. But the fun actually starts when Aslam really faces a life threatening attack. The film takes digs at everyone - politicians, media, even terrorists. There’s plenty that’ll make you laugh. The film’s atmospherics are breathtaking. You can feel the laidback air of Faridabad - the dusty roads, local buses, small shops contrasting with the unnerving quietness of the politicians’ plush offices. The characters are hugely interesting, especially the supporting roles. Note the too-smooth PM’s assistant or the paanwala aptly named BBC, who loves broadcasting everyone’s private lives. Aslam is a hugely interesting character but we are not convinced of his actions at times. For example, his request to remove the security again seems incongruous as he had just started enjoying the perks of his stardom. We also don’t understand the film’s take on infidelity as all married men in the film seem to want to flounder, and that is portrayed as a normal thing, a small mischief. Actor Adil Hussain, however makes us root for Aslam. He brings in the right amount of humor and pathos to this real, flawed and likeable character. The rest of the cast matches step and this is one those rare films where every performance is very good. Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi (Pinjar) gives us a film that gets it mostly right. With less repetition, this would have been a truly memorable film. Still, it’s worth a watch for the intent, the unique story, powerhouse performances and bits of genuine humor. After all, who doesn’t like a biting parody, even if you wish it were sharper. — Sonia Chopra in

Astrologer Hardik Vyas, a famous young face in Vedic Astrology from India is in Houston. Call for guidance on Health, Wealth, Education, Career, Business, Property, Love & Passion, Marriage & Compatibility, Horoscope-Making, Child Problem, Luck & Fortune, Peace & Prosperity, Karma & Economic success. Vaastu Shastra is an ancient science. Fix an appointment for personal visit to your home, plot, business/office, shop, factory, or hotel. Gain peace of mind and prosperity by doing little changes as per Vaastu Shastra. Simple, Easy, Scientific & Affordable solutions/remedies to overcome problems in your Horoscope and Vaastu.

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Should the bouncer be banned? Should the bouncer be banned following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes? Or should the number of such deliveries be cut down from a maximum of two to one per over? Former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad, a brave batsman, was struck a nasty blow on his left ear by a Michael Holding lifter on a juicy Sabina Park pitch during the tour of the Caribbean in 1976. He spent two days in ICU, was

New South Wales batsman Phil Hughes died Nov 27 after being hit by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney.

operated twice in India since his ear drum was shattered and still has some hearing problems. “We did not wear helmet those days, and an inch here or there, I would not be talking to you now,” he told The Hindu. Despite his ‘near-death’ experience, Gaekwad believes bouncers should remain a part of the game. “That is among the greatest challenges of batting. There is an element of risk involved in every sport. What happened to Hughes was very sad and we all mourn his death but we must realise it was a freak accident. Do not limit the bouncers further or ban it. Period.” He added, “Sunil Gavaskar played the quickest of pacemen and the nastiest of bouncers without a helmet and even the skull cap he wore later in his career was little more than an eyewash. It offered him virtually no protection. It’s a lot about technique, how you cope with the rising balls.” Gaekwad elaborated, “There was no limit on bouncers then and we

Sindhu: Chinese can be beaten The 19-year-old shuttler P.V. Sindhu, who retained the Macau Grand Prix Gold women’s singles title last week-end, feels that for many of the players from outside China, there is some sort of a comfort zone now when playing the formidable Chinese players. “Yes, even as the women’s singles competition continues to be tough, it is a fact that the Chinese players are no more unbeatable. I must say players like the Japanese Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara are really playing well and are potential champions,” says Sindhu in an interaction at the Gopi Chand Badminton Academy on Tuesday. “The best example is the way Saina and Srikanth have won the titles in the recent China Open,” she added. “Why? May be, the training methods and the intensity in preparations have changed for the good. For instance, Gopi Sir is so wellequipped with all sorts of information and strategies that he ensures that there is a feel-good thing about the prospect of facing these Chinese players. They are always dangerous opponents but the chances of beating them have certainly increased,” said Sindhu. “I have no regrets when I look back at the year 2014. It was a very satisfying one having won the bronze each in the World Championship, the Commonwealth Games and a historic one in the Uber Cup women’s team event,” said Sindhu. “It all boils down to how well you play consistently. This is one area where I will be focusing more as I prepare for the next year which starts off with the Syed Modi Grand Prix. You can’t play the same way in every match. “Sometimes you win from losing situations as it happened to me in the pre-quarterfinal of the Macau event and sometimes you lose from winning positions. Definitely, I will be keen to increase the rate of winning henceforth,” added Sindhu, who has just a day’s break before flying to Bengaluru for the PSPB Championship. “Realistically, the first target is to break into the top 10 and stay in the elite group with improved performances. Yes, there are quite a few areas to work on and I am sure Gopi Sir will be guiding me to be a much better player next time around,” Sindhu said.

played that series in the West Indies without the chest or the arm-guard. And the thigh-guard was very flimsy. Conquering fear is a vital attribute of sport. “It’s a lot about technique and sound back-foot play when it comes to taking on short-pitched stuff from the quicks. Gavaskar will tell you that,” he added. Javagal Srinath, among the quickest bowlers the country has produced, said, “Removing the bouncer or limiting it to one per over will create great imbalance in the game. It will be a skewed way of looking at the game.” He noted, “Come to think of it, there can be no guarantee against death on the field of play. A batsman can smash a ball straight and it can hit the bowler in the head to kill him. Do you then want all bowlers to be wearing helmets? “Intimidation is part of a paceman’s strategy, though strategy is not just about intimidation. That is the distinction we have to make. The bouncer does test the guts and technique of a batsman. If you think about it, there is danger in every walk of life. People have lost their lives after tripping down the stairs.” Should the helmet offer greater protection to the batsmen? “The focus will be on the protective gear after a moment such as this. “My heart goes out to Hughes but then freak injuries, very occasionally, do occur in the game.” Former India allrounder Robin Singh said, “To put an end to bouncers or to curtail it further will create great imbalance in game. “Already the pacemen are suffering because of flat tracks, better bats and shorter boundaries. If you take out the bouncer as well, everything will be in batsmen’s favour.” He asked, “Will the Australians themselves be in favour of ending the bouncer? “I am sure they will not. They believe in hard, aggressive cricket. I feel sorry for Hughes but doing away with bouncers is not the answer. There will be less of a contest between the bat and the ball.” Should batsmen be compulsorily be made to wear helmets that protect their head and neck completely? “It should be left to the individual choice of the batsman. Covering the neck fully will make it very difficult for him to move his head. And there could always be a part that could be exposed,” said Robin. While the cricketing world has been shocked by Hughes’s death, the bouncer is here to stay.

Sour Cream Banana Bread Ingredients: 1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup mashed, ripe banana, 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional) 1/2 cup sour cream. Method: Grease 1 large loaf pan. Cream margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, then bananas, nuts and sour cream. Mix well. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.

Pineapple-Zucchini bread Ingredients: 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 cups shredded zucchini (squeezed dry in paper towel), 8 ounces crushed pineapple (drained), 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 cup raisins, 1 cup chopped nuts (optional). Method: Beat the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in zucchini and pineapple. Combine dry ingredients and add to batter. Pour in nuts and raisins and stir. Pour batter into 2 well-greased loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until firm. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Freezes beautifully.

Pumpin curry with Lentils and Apple Ingredients: 1 cup red lentils, 1 cup brown lentils, 8 cups water, 1/ 2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 1 large onion, diced; 2 tomatoes, cored and chopped; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder, or to taste; 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 2 cups peeled, cubed (1-inch), seeded pumpkin, 2 potatoes, unpeeled and chopped, 2 carrots, peeled and diced; 2 cups packed fresh spinach, chopped; 1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored and diced. Method: Place the red and brown lentils in a pan with the water and turmeric. Cook over medium-low heat until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender and transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Mix in the curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cloves. Add the cooked lentils, reserved cooking liquid, pumpkin, potatoes, and carrots. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Stir in the spinach and apple. Cook until the pumpkin can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes more. Adjust seasonings to taste. Note: Be sure to use small sugar pumpkins for this recipe. Halloween-type pumpkins ARE stringy. Also, any winter squash such as butternut, acorn squash, or buttercup can be substituted for pumpkin.

Roasted Bell Pepper Relish Ingredients: 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 green tomato or 2 tomatillos, chopped; 1 ripe tomato, chopped; 1 red onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces; 2 tbsp olive oil; 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, fistful of chopped cilantro, 1/4 tsp salt; Method: Heat oven to 450F. Prick bell peppers in several places with fork. Place on baking sheet or in shallow roasting pan. Roast peppers 30 minutes or until skin is blackened, turning occasionally. Transfer peppers to paper bag; close bag. Let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine green and red tomatoes and onion in medium bowl. Stir in oil, vinegar, cilantro, and salt. Remove peppers from bag; peel off and discard skin. Cut peppers into 1/2 inch pieces; discard seeds. Stir into tomato mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Yields 3 cups.

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RELIGION/ SPIRITUALITY A loving heart is a spiritual heart By Ravie Sharma Everywhere I see people pursuing the elusive path of spirituality but finding nothing in return. My quest too has been quite similar. Spirituality just seems an arm length away. I take a step forward and it eludes me with an arm’s length. I take another, and the same situation repeats. It is almost like I will never get it and that my quest is destined to be futile. Until one morning, when I had this insight. In my heart there is hardness for some people who have hurt me. I wish ill of them, despite my spiritual upbringing. Even though I know it is wrong, the ill-wishing keeps returning. Until I realized that morning that hate is festering in my heart for these people. For others it is anger: The guy who is driving his car badly. The person who is spitting on the road. The man who is kicking a dog without care. The corrupt person I meet at a government office. Anger, anger all the time. I was brushing my teeth that morning. It was then that I saw all the people I didn’t like, in my mind. All the people I hated. All the people I didn’t get along with. One of them had a newborn child. And I saw the person smiling with Love, despite being badly behaved with the world. To the child this person was and would be special. The perspective went higher. That these people were living and working showed that God loved them, despite their shortcomings. He had hope they would change. And me? I had no forgiveness for these people. And the hatred sitting in my heart, or the dislike in my heart seemed to have replaced the love that should be in my heart. The same love that God has for his creation, should be flowing in my heart for his creation. Because he made the creation for me. To enjoy, contribute, improve. If he had hope and if he had love for everyone, what right I had to hate people? I knew that instant why spirituality eluded me. I knew why despite spending years in its pursuit I could not grasp it. My heart had little love. Love was a shriveled flower inside my heart. Yes, I had moments of spiritual ecstacy. In those I felt oneness with the creator. In those I felt the depleted reservoir of love being replenished with his love for me. But that love evaporated as soon as I interacted with the world. Once again my heart would become one of stone. Meditation would melt my heart through oneness with the divine

but the rate at which my heart melted and filled with love was smaller than the rate at which it evaporated. Which left me a human being sizzling with unrest and discontentment. And then came the realization that yes, spirituality changed people. Made them conscious of morality, made them disciplined, sensitive to others, responsible. But the benefits I derived from these carried me away from the essentially spiritual foundation of life – which is love. I realized I had substituted love with work ethics, responsibility, being correct, on the right side of things. And because I was on the right side, I developed disdain for those who weren’t. I too had flaws before I started my journey and still have many. Likewise the ignorant people whom I didn’t like, they too had the same flaws that I had before I commenced my journey. I should be thankful that the light of truth made me see my blemishes. Instead I was watching theirs critically! I hated others for their imperfections. I let dislike replace the love of god that had found place in my heart and is still trying to reach me. Our righteousness makes us retaliate against people and circumstances but the entire situa-

tion eventually ends up in a state of spiritual degradation. After sometime, the one fortunate to be still aligned with the divine, realizes his folly or ignorance or helplessness in dealing with the matter. Followed by the inevitable surrender to the divine, which should have happened in the first place instead of retaliating. It is not easy to let love to remain kindled in your heart when people are trying to blow storms in your life. But that is the only way to win. And the grace of God to flow into your heart. The proof of this? Just look at an infant. It knows and responds to only love. And with its infinite capacity to love, it wins over the supposedly the worst kind of people. Everyone without exception loves this child. That is the power of love. When this child grows, it learns all the wrong things from its elders. They help him ‘evaporate’ the divine love from his heart. And he becomes a being who starts a journey away from god and not towards god. Never extinguish the flame of love in your heart. It has to burn to drive away evil. It has to burn to remove darkness from every corner of your being. Wish you a happy journey through spirituality!

His countless calculations By Benazir Patil “How does god decide how many people should be living in this world?” One of the children asked me. “Perhaps after making the first set of human beings, God kept replacing those who died with birth of new children and may be that is how we all were born. His calculations must have been influenced by his belief that there should be sufficient souls to take care of everything that he had created,” I responded with a smile. “Does God have time to listen to what we are saying?” asked another child. “Is it not impossible for Him to listen to so many of us, how does he manage to listen to our prayers?” the child sitting next to him added. My experience had taught me that it was difficult for the small minds to fathom the meaning of natural decrees established by the Supreme. Evolution of mind is a natural process for humankind. I was also evolving, trying to reach somewhere in my understanding. Reaching the final stage of evolution would take years, I contemplated, but was man capable of understanding what that final stage was? Whether or not I believed in God and understood His various names, every new incident exploded a question into my senses. I began to realize that there prevailed some ‘design’, some arrangement for mankind, with some direction for human evolution to proceed with. This was no secret design as many Gnostics talked about it and displayed it as some mysterious knowledge. Whatever mankind was doing in the universe either had a good or a harmful effect on it, so either they followed the directions and evolved or retreated back to stages where they were ages ago. I was intrigued by what the dervishes spoke about ‘real self ’ and ‘false self.’ It was complicated. The Ketaab-e-Hayaat was teaching me that we all possessed intellect, but we were rarely governed by it, because continuous thoughts, distinct emotions and instincts made us do what we would not do if we followed our intellect alone. I very much wanted to understand what this ‘true self’ really was? I was incessantly interacting with different faiths burgeoning around

Sanatan Shiv Shakti Mandir Rudrabhishek every Monday followed by Aarti and mahaprasad. Everyone is invited to join the puja. Our prayer hall is large enough to accommodate up to 125 guests for your celebrations — birthdays, babyshowers, engagement or any other ceremony. Plenty of free parking

Change your outlook, be positive By Pushpa Chaturvedi “Last year, I had surgery to remove my gall bladder and I had to stay stuck to the bed for a long time,” a woman wrote. “The same year I reached the age of 60 years and had to give up my favorite job of 30 years of my life in a publishing company. The same year I experienced the sorrow of the death of my father. And in the same year my son failed in his medical exam because he had a car accident and was in hospital for long. The destruction of the car was another loss. At the end he wrote: Alas! It was such bad year!” The woman also wrote, “Last year I finally got rid of my gall bladder with which I had spent years in pain. I turned 60 with sound health and retired from my job. Now I can utilize my time to write something better with more focus and peace. The same year my father, at the age of 95, without depending on anyone without any critical illness met his Creator. The same year, God blessed my son with a new life. My car was destroyed but my son is alive without any disability. This year was an immense blessing of God and it passed well!” On reading these notes, her husband cheered up. The same incidents the same year but different viewpoints. If we ponder on what could have happened worse, we would truly become thankful to God. Setbacks are inherent to every human life but viewing them with optimism is psychologically and physiologically healthier. So change how you look at the glass see your glass half full rather then half empty and be thankful that it is half full. Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time as per your thought and imagination but it is accepting what ever happens and what you have got at that moment is the best for that moment to be happy with. You may have visualized the best to happen but the result you see is different. Accept that result and create the right thoughts irrespective of the result. By doing this you become stable in mind and attract more blessings. Whatever happens ,happens according to our Sanskaras and our past karmic account Accepting the outcome of the situation keeps us balanced at that moment. Worry never pays as it will not change the situation but it will only spoil our present moment and the coming moment “Chintaa chita samaan (worry is like fire).” By being more resilient it means positive thinking increases our capacity to cope up with change in life and problems in a better way. Instead of falling apart during stress, we have the ability to carry on and eventually overcome the adversity. Rather then giving up hope, we gather resources and courage to tackle the problem. Nurturing positive emotions, lessens depression and increases our mental ability to build coping skills to restore internal joy and peace. If we think that we will have the best always we are sadly mistaken. But if we think that what we have got is the best in the current situation we will feel blessed. it is important to note that positive thinking is not about thinking that good things will always happen. In fact excessive optimism might not serve well as such people might overestimate their own abilities and take on more challenges far above their potentials that they can handle, ultimately leading to more stress ,anxiety and unhappiness. Believe in your abilities and a positive approach to challenges. learn to make the most of bad situations. Sometimes you are disappointed or hurt by the actions of others. A changed perspective will help you to look at the problem realistically. Search for ways to improve the situation ,learn from experience. Pray to God not for fulfilling your desires but pray for strength to accept the situation. me. The philosophies disseminated by each of those were not the real worry. The interpretations, its followers forced upon their fellow beings, indeed were. Faiths were no more being practiced and followed; they were being distributed, spoken about and becoming the basis for mayhem. I was living in a century where people searched for justifications for their acts in the name of god; the aspects of goodness and holiness were being maneuvered to suit each one’s life. Though every faith just focused on serving humanity, its analysis merely meant that humanity had its own fences. Living by any faith required serving god on earth in order to live with Him forever in heaven but what did it mean by serving god was pathetically literal. The god either stood on the pedestal, in temples and churches or was a formless entity that everyone was paying obeisance to. ‘Reaching out to fellow beings was a means to reach the almighty’ was rarely a concern.

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INDIA Sena to join Maharashtra cabinet Chennai startup tastes success on Apple’s app store

Shiv Sena chief Uddhave Thackeray talks to reporters. (File photo)

The stage is set for cabinet expansion in Maharashtra on Friday, Dec 5, after Shiv Sena agreed to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra. The BJP has offered Shiv Sena 12 cabinet posts, including five cabinet rank and seven minister of state rank. The four important portfolios offered to the Sena are industry, public works department, energy, water resources. The Shiv Sena also agreed to give up its claim for home minister and deputy chief minister posts thus paving the way for the saffron partnership to provide a stable government in Maharashtra. On Tuesday, Shiv Sena (MP), Anil Desai said, “The Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has received a formal proposal from the BJP. The Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Thackeray are directly talking on the matter.” He indicated that the formal decision would be pronounced in a couple of days. Insiders in the Sena revealed to Indian Express,

“The Sena-BJP deal is almost done. The announcement will take place when chief minister returns to Mumbai.” Fadnavis left for Nagpur on Tuesday morning after the meeting which went on till early hours. Apart from the cabinet power share, Sena and BJP leaders have also drawn a road map for the coming local body elections beginning from March next year. Highly placed sources said, “Fadnavis will discuss the matter with BJP president Amit Shah today.” The Sena and BJP leaders on Monday held meetings which went on till Tuesday 2.45 am to thrash out the differences related to portfolios and total number of cabinet berths in the government. At present Fadnavis government has nine council of ministers. The total cabinet strength is likely to be of 36 ministers of which 12 will represent Sena and 24 BJP. Both the sides have begun the process of shortlisting the names of their candidates.

Actor Deven Varma passes away Veteran actor-filmmaker Deven Verma, 78, best know for his comic performance in 'Khatta Meetha' and 'Angoor', passed away Dec 2 at his home in Pune following a heart attack, family sources said. Verma started his acting career as a stage artist and eventually made his Bollywood debut with a supporting role in Yash Chopra's 'Dharmputra' in 1961, which did not do well. He shot to fame with his performance in 1975 film 'Chori Mera Kaam', which bagged him his first Filmfare Award for Best Comedian. Verma went on to star in memorable films like 'Chor Ke Ghar Chor', Sanjeev Kapoor-starrer 'Angoor', 'Gol Maal', 'Khatta Meetha', 'Naastik', 'Rang Birangi', 'Dil', 'Judaai', 'Andaz Apna Apna' and 'Dil Toh Pagal Hai'. He also acted in Marathi and Bhojpuri films. He consistently refused roles that demanded poking fun at the handicapped. He retired from films after working in 'Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai' and 'Calcutta Mail'.

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A mobile application, Screeny, developed by citybased start-up Effectworks for Apple’s mobile iOS platform is enjoying a reasonably good run. It has featured in the ‘top 10 charts’ in over 30 countries since it made its debut on the iTunes App Store last week. Buoyed by good reviews from respected technology websites The Verge ( and MacStories (, the app addresses a simple problem — of helping users identify and delete screenshots on their iPhones. The team at Effectworks, which published the app through its subsidiary NFN Labs, are overjoyed. One of the directors of the company, Narayanan Hariharan, posted on his Facebook page: “Top ten in the App store. That’s one off the bucket list.” The development of Screeny happened out of the startup’s two-storeyed rented office on Sripuram Lane in Royapettah. The small team is a mix of IT professionals, a few of whom quit cosy jobs with major IT service companies and a few fresh out of college, who are recent recruits. In true hacking culture mentality, the team has designated themselves fancy names — from the person in charge of ‘tactical weaponry’ to ‘hackountant’. “The Screeny app was our first attempt at creating an application using Apple’s new coding language, Swift,” says Gokul Visweswaran. “We see a future where Apple will dominate the enterprise market and for us to be able to develop an app in The geeks of Effectworks: The app, Screeny, has Swift was a step forward in the right direction.” figured in ‘top 10’ lists since its debut. The app attempts to solve a buttons together) often end up clogging the phone’s space. “It is an simple problem often overlooked everyday problem that most people struggle with and there was no by smartphone users. Screenshots easy solution available,” says Alvin Verghese, who developed the app that are easy to capture (in iPhone for the team. by pressing the power and home Effectworks is a design-driven development company that primarily offers third-party app development services. Their product development subsidiary NFN Labs has been putting out apps on both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms since 2011. The success at an international level, with acclaim from top technolNEW DELHI: Prime Minis- ogy blogs, is rare for a company from the country, though several have ter Narendra Modi on Tuesday, started to manage getting it more regularly in recent times. Another Dec 2, disapproved of the contro- Chennai-based company, Nextwave Multimedia, has had reasonable versial remarks by Union Minis- success with its app Comics Head, which helps users create comics. ter Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, saying Compensation for Sukma encounter victims such comments were “not acceptable” and asked party MPs to reRAIPUR: The next of kin of the 14 CRPF personnel killed by frain from those that gave a bad Naxals in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, will be paid Rs. 38 lakh each name to the government and the and every injured security man will be given Rs. 65,000, Home Minisparty. ter Rajnath Singh announced on Tuesday, Dec 2. Sources said the Prime MinisThe Home Minister, who visited the CRPF jawans a day after a ter, while addressing the BJP Par- contingent was attacked by Naxals, said CPI (Maoist) has posed a big liamentary Party, told the MPs to challenge and the entire nation has to be united to fight this menace. be cautious while making public “We have more casualty from proxy war than actual war. This comments and asked them not to incident will not deter our security forces and they will continue to give any “address to the nation”. march ahead in the ongoing operations,” he said. Sources said the Prime MinisU.S. official meets Telangana minister ter did not name anyone but later conveyed to the Minister conHYDERABAD: Puneet Talwar, the U.S. Assistant Secretary headcerned to regret the remarks made ing the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the Department of State, by her at a public rally in the na- met Telangana Minister for Information Technology K.T. Rama Rao tional capital. in Hyderabad on Tuesday, Dec 2. The remarks triggered a major The two discussed political and other issues during their meeting controversy with the opposition spread over about half an hour. Rama Rao requested Talwar to exforcing her to apologize. The is- plore the possibility of U.S. investments in the aerospace hub in sue also rocked Parliament, paral- Hyderabad as the FDI in Indian defence sector provided them huge ysing the functioning of the Rajya opportunities. Talwar also met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Sabha. Chandrababu Naidu earlier. During the meeting, Naidu requested the Speaking to reporters after U.S. official to set up the American Consulate at Vijayawada and apologizing in Parliament, the min- discussed political and economic issues. ister refused to respond to oppoEnglish to be taught at Islamic seminary sition demand for her resignation HYDERABAD: The English language has become part of the and said, "I have said sorry over my remarks and I will speak no syllabus in Hyderabad-based Jamia Nizamia, south India’s biggest further on the issue. What else can seminary. For the first time in its 140-year history, this Islamic seminary has taken the path-breaking decision to embrace English lanI do?" she asked. At an election rally in Delhi guage wholeheartedly. Jamia Nizamia basically offers religious instructions and its decision Niranjan Jyoti had said, "People of Delhi have to decide if they to introduce English has surprised many. The decision follows careful want a government of Ram- deliberations among the religious scholars and Muftis of the varsity. zaadon (followers of Ram) or a “We have taken the decision to go for English after much thought to government of those who are ille- keep our students abreast with the times”, said Jamia vice chancellor, gitimate." She went on to say that Mufti Khaleel Ahmed. Islam encouraged even those engaged in purMuslims, Christians were all chil- suing religious education to equip themselves with the latest skills to dren of Ram. The Rajya Sabha better their prospects. “Today English has become necessary and we was adjourned thrice on Tuesday don’t want our students to lag behind”, the Mufti said. Jamia Nizamia will approach the Osmania University seeking recas opposition refused to accept her ognition of the courses offered by it. apology.

Modi says minister’s remark“unacceptable”


INDIA 27 percent of Indians say they practice untouchability

Sixty-four years after caste untouchability was abolished by the Constitution, more than a fourth of Indians say they continue to practise it in some form in their homes, the biggest ever survey of its kind has revealed. Those who admit to practising untouchability belong to virtually every religious and caste group, including Muslims, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Going by respondents’ admissions, untouchability is the most widespread among Brahmins, followed by OBCs. Among religious communities, it is the most widespread among Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, shows the survey, which was conducted in over 42,000 households across India by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland, US. Source: The India Human Development Survey (IHDS-2) Source: The India Human Development Survey (IHDS-2) NCAER, established in 1956, is India’s oldest and largest independent, non-profit economic policy research institute. The results are part of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS-2) — the largest pan-Indian non-government household survey — carried out in 2011-12 for economic and social variables across multiple categories. The full results of the survey will be available in 2015. Surveyors asked respondents, “Does anyone in your family practise untouchability?” and, in case the answer was “No”, asked a second question: “Would it be okay for a Scheduled Caste person to enter your kitchen or use your utensils?” Across India, 27 per cent respondents agreed that they did practised untouchability in some form. The practice was most prevalent among Brahmin respondents (52 per cent); 24 per cent of non-Brahmin forward caste respondents admitted to it — lower, interestingly, than OBC respondents, 33 per cent of whom confirmed its prevalence in their homes. 15 per cent of Scheduled Caste and 22 per cent of Scheduled Tribe respondents admitted to the practice. Broken up by religious groups, data from the survey shows almost every third Hindu (30 per cent) admitted to the practice, followed by Sikhs (23 per cent), Muslims (18 per cent) and Christians (5 per cent). Jains topped the list, with 35 per cent respondents accepting that they practised untouchability. The survey has, however, warned that the result for Jains is “not conclusive” because of the small size of the sample. Lead researcher Dr Amit Thorat, an associate fellow at NCAER, said, “These findings indicate that conversion has not led to a change in mindsets. Caste identity is sticky baggage, difficult to dislodge in social settings.” Currently, as per a government order of 1950, the SC quota in government jobs applies only to Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits, not Christian and Muslim Dalit caste groups. Spatially, untouchability is most widespread in the Hindi heartland, according to the survey. Madhya Pradesh is on top (53 per cent), followed by Himachal Pradesh (50 per cent), Chhattisgarh (48 per cent), Rajasthan and Bihar (47 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (43 per cent), and Uttarakhand (40 per cent). West Bengal appears to be the most ‘progressive’ — with only 1 per cent of respondents confirming they practised untouchability. Kerala comes next in the survey, with 2 per cent, followed by Maharashtra (4 per cent), the Northeast (7 per cent), and Andhra Pradesh (10 per cent). Survey results suggest that high incomes do not dent the practice, but education, especially among Brahmins and OBCs, makes a difference.

Restrictions on import of gold eased India has announced it has eased controls on imports of the yellow metal after its current account deficit narrowed sharply. India, the world's second-biggest gold buyer after China, placed the restrictions last year to avert a trade deficit crisis that pushed the rupee to record lows. "Restrictions placed on import of gold... stand withdrawn with immediate effect," India's central bank said in a statement on its website. The so-called 80:20 import rule meant 20 percent of all imported gold had to be exported before any new shipments could be brought in. But import duty on gold imposed by the government remains at a record 10 percent. India imports around 90 percent of its gold needs and its 1.2-billion population is believed to have one of the world's biggest private gold hoards of up to 20,000 metric tons.

Singapore to plan, Japan to build Andhra capital HYDERABAD: Japan is ready to join hands in building the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, the designing of which will be done by Singapore, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said on Monday, Dec 1. Terming his five-day visit to Japan a success, Naidu told reporters here that several Japanese companies and government organizations expressed their willingness to be partners in building the state capital. Naidu, who went to Singapore last month, said Singapore will prepare the master plan for the capital. He hopes to finalize this when Singapore’s trade and commerce minister S Iswaran visits India this month. “The Japanese companies are ready to associate in construction, environment and other requirements of the city,” he said. “It will be a deadly combination.” The government plans to build the capital on 30,000 acres in Guntur-Vijayawada region in five years. It is estimated to cost Rs 1 lakh crore. Naidu said he had fruitful discussions with Japanese government organizations, industry bodies and companies and exuded the hope that this will result in attracting investment to the state. Stating that Softbank Corp is keen to fund 10,000 MW solar power generation in India over next three years, Naidu said he invited the company to partner with Andhra Pradesh in its ongoing plan for the development of 2,500 MW solar power. The chief minister said Softbank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son was interested in solar power

Mass wedding for fatherless girls AHMEDABAD: An Indian diamond trader has thrown a mass wedding ceremony for 111 fatherless women and given each one gifts worth thousands of dollars, saying giving a bride away was “sacred”. Mahesh Savani said the women, whose families were all too poor to finance their weddings, saw him as their foster father. The 44-year-old Savani said he had given each one gifts of gold and other items worth 450,000 rupees ($7,250) to start their married lives, as well as paying for the wedding. “Material gifts are not important, but I have given my name to them and will fulfill all my responsibilities as a father of the bride for the rest of my life,” he said before the ceremony was held at a school in Gujarat state on Sunday, Nov 30. Savani, who has now organised the weddings of 251 women, said he began his charitable campaign in 2008 when one of his own staff members died. “I was very shocked when one of my employees died just 12 days before he could marry off his two daughters. It was difficult for the family to arrange for marriage,” he said. “So I decided that I would become their foster father and marry them off. This is how it began.”

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on November 28.

generation in India and also in research to bring down the cost of generation. “The cost of solar power has come down from Rs 14 to around Rs 6 per unit and if we can further bring it down to Rs 4, then it will be a revolution meeting the energy requirements,” he said. Naidu said Softbank plan to invest $10 billion in India. He also invited the company to invest in the IT sector in the state. The company is expected to come out with a project report in two months. The Softbank chairman confirmed that he will visit India and Andhra Pradesh soon. Naidu announced that a separate cell for Japanese firms will be opened in the industries department for speedy clearances and to extend all help to those keen to invest. The proposed cell will have a few escort executives who speak Japanese. Claiming that he was successful in building the trust and with the Japanese investors, Naidu said he aimed to make Andhra Pradesh as the top Indian investment destination for Japanese firms from the present third position.




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BANGLADESH / SRI LANKA Access to Bangladesh sea and land routes sought Sri Lanka poll campaign begins AGARTALA: Tripura has urged the prime minister to pursue Bangladesh so that it allows access to its water and land routes that could be used to transport material to the northeartern states, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said. After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Monday night, Sarkar told reporters that access to Chittagong international port and Ashuganj river port in Bangladesh is crucial for ferrying men and material from the other parts of India and abroad to the northeastern states. "A multi-modal transportation system using Bangladeshi ports is crucial for the northeastern states as the region is mountainous and having rough terrain," he said. "If necessary, after talking with the Bangladesh government, India can invest in developing the infrastructure of the two ports," he said. "India must pursue the Bangladesh government for regular use of Chittagong and Ashuganj ports to carry food grains, essentials, heavy machineries and other goods for northeastern states." Chittagong sea port is around 70 km from Tripura and Ashuganj port over the Meghna river in eastern Bangladesh is around 40 km from Tripura. Sarkar said besides the ports, India's access to land and air routes and connectivity between India and Bangladesh are vital for the region's development.

After visiting Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, Modi was in the Leftruled state Monday. He inaugurated the second unit (363 MW) of the 726 MW capacity power plant in southern Tripura's palatana, 60 km south of here. The gas-based power project was commissioned by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at a cost of Rs.10,000 crore. Sarkar said that to improve the telecommunications network of the northeastern region, an alternate telecom routing through Bangladesh is vital and urged Modi to pursue the matter with Dhaka. "Following our demand, the FCI (Food Corporation of India) has taken steps to ferry another 35,000 tonnes of rice for Tripura via Bangladesh as train services in the northeastern states have been stopped till March 2016 due to gauge conversion," Sarkar added. The FCI recently ferried 10,000 tonnes of rice for Tripura in two phases from Visakhapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh via Bangladesh. Transportation via Bangladesh is much easier as road connectivity is a big factor for the mountainous northeastern states which share boundaries with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China.

UK journalist guilty of contempt DHAKA: A special tribunal in Bangladesh dealing with war crimes committed during the country's independence war found a British journalist guilty of contempt Tuesday for questioning the official death toll of the 1971 conflict. The court ruled that a 2011 blog post and two other articles by David Bergman offended the nation and ordered him to pay a fine of 5,000 Takas ($65) or go to jail for a week. Bangladeshi officials say 3 million people were killed and 200,000 women raped during the country's war of independence against Pakistan. Bergman said there was no evidence supporting that number. The issue is hugely sensitive in Bangladesh. Head judge Obaidul Hassan said in his ruling that "freedom of expression can be exercised in good faith and public interest." But he added that Bergman was not acting in good faith or in the public's interest. Bergman works for New Age, a Dhaka-based English-language daily, and contributes to the British newspaper The Telegraph. Abul Kalam Azad, a lawyer who filed the petition against Bergman, said the judgment was "fair." But Bergman's lawyers told reporters that his posts and articles were within the "permitted limits of fair criticism."

Give The N

POLONNARUWA: Sri Lanka’s opposition parties formally launched their bid Sunday to topple long-serving President Mahinda Rajapakse at January elections, with prayers and public meetings in the island’s old capital of Polonnaruwa. Main opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena, 63, who quit as health minister last week from Rajapakse’s government, was expected to address a rally later Sunday in Polonnaruwa, in the heart of the country’s “rice bowl.” “Maithripala Sirisena represents the boiling resentment within the government of the Rajapakse family rule,” said former fisheries minister Rajitha Senaratne, one of 11 members of Rajapakse’s government to quit and support Sirisena in recent weeks. Sirisena and other opposition figures were receiving Buddhist blessings at a temple and holding public meetings ahead of the rally in Polonnaruwa. Presidential elections are set for January 8, with Rajapakse seeking a record third term — a move that was only made possible after he pushed through changes to the constitution. Sirisena, who defected to the main United National Party (UNP), has secured the support of key, smaller opposition parties, representing a major challenge to Rajapakse, the region’s longest-serving leader.The defections — including that of another cabinet minister, Naveen Dissanayake, on Sunday — have also dealt Rajapakse and his Sri Lanka Freedom Party a severe blow.

Plea not to politicize Pope’s visit COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's Catholic Church has urged the government not to use a forthcoming visit by Pope Francis to help its reelection campaign after media reported posters had appeared depicting the pontiff blessing President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ravaya, a local Sinhala paper, published over the weekend a photograph of a campaign poster that had superimposed photos of the president and the pope to depict them smiling at one other with the caption: "Blessings of the Holy Father; You are our president, victory for you." "It has been brought to our notice that the political posters and cutouts with the picture of the Holy Father have appeared in some places in the country," the committee of the Sri Lankan Catholic Church that is preparing for the papal visit said in a statement. "We earnestly request respective authorities and persons to remove those political posters and cut-outs immediately and urge all the political groups to refrain from using either the Holy Father or His visit to Sri Lanka for the political campaign of the presidential election."

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PAKISTAN Sharif ready for meaningful talks with PTI

Nawaz Sharif talks to media upon his arrival in London

LONDON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that his government is prepared for meaningful dialogue with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its chairman Imran Khan, DawnNews reported. He said that calls to shut down the country would not only be inappropriate but disastrous and that Pakistan is being played with in an unfortunate manner. He said that his government strongly believed in settling issues through talks. “We are the democratic people. The negotiations should be constructive. If they want to talk, we would have no objection,” he added. The prime minister made the remarks after arriving in the United Kingdom to attend the London Conference on Afghanistan. When speaking of investigating alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections, the PM stated that the issue should have been raised earlier on. He also took aim at the govt in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) saying that education institutes are in a terrible shape and that jails are broken in the province. “First make a new KP, then think about making a new Pakistan,” the PM said. The prime minister was received by a representative of the British government and Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Syed Ibne Abbas, at Heathrow Airport when he arrived.

The London Conference on Afghanistan, is being held on December 3-4. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah will also attend the conference. On the sidelines of the conference, the prime minister will also hold meetings with David Cameron and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Earlier, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in a statement that during the visit, the premier would also hold a meeting with World Bank officials. The British PM is also scheduled to host a breakfast meeting, which will be attended by PM Nawaz and the Afghan leadership. "A bilateral meeting with the US Secretary of State John Kerry is also scheduled," said Aslam. Commenting on the premier's participation in the London Conference, Aslam said it is a reflection of the importance that Pakistan attaches to international efforts for peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan. Pakistan has consistently underscored the importance of deeper engagement of the international community with Afghanistan on the economic plane to reinforce efforts for peace and stability.

Indigenous jet fighters added to PAF KARACHI: The head of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) said on Tuesday, Dec 2, that 50 home-assembled multi-role JF-17 Thunder fighter jets had been introduced into the Pakistan airforce. Air Marshal Javed Ahmed, chief of the PAC, said the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had already received 50 of the home-made aircraft and that the supply of the second block would start this month. “The five aircraft of the next block would be inducted (into PAF) this year,” Air Marshal Javed Ahmed, told AFP on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition And Seminars (Ideas) in Karachi, an arms fair that brings together dealers from all over the world. Pakistan has been manufacturing the JF-17 aircraft since 2009 with the help of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation of China. PESHAWAR: At least 30 suspected militants were killed on Tuesday, Dec 2 in airstrikes conducted by military fighter jets in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan tribal Agency. Security sources said that 30 militants, including two key commanders and several foreign fighters, were killed in the blitz carried out in a jungle situated in Dattakhel. Two vehicles were also destroyed. The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed the deaths of at least 17 suspected militants — many of whom were alleged to be foreign fighters. At least five suspected militants were killed and six others were wounded in a clash with security forces in the Akkakhel area of Khyber tribal region's Tirah Valley early on Tuesday. Security sources said both sides used heavy weapons during the exchange of fire. At least twelve militants were killed as security forces repulsed an attack on a checkpost situated on the border with Tirah Valley in Orakzai Agency’s Shirin Dara area.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif at his office on Sunday night, will meet PM Nawaz in London later this week. At a news briefing in Washington, the State Department had named only two world leaders that Mr Kerry would meet during the London conference on Afghanistan — PM Nawaz and Afghan President Ghani. Kerry recognized the “tremendous sacrifices the Pakistani military has made in its efforts to improve the security situation in Pakistan and acknowledged Pakistan’s commitment to counter all extremist elements,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki had told a briefing in Washington on Monday.

Zardari: Imran lacks political wisdom LAHORE: Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday said Pakistan Tehreeki-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan lacked political wisdom, adding that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has proved patience was a key virtue in politics. Zardari made these remarks while addressing party workers in Lahore. "Was [Imran Khan] unaware of the Dhaka tragedy," the PPP co-chairman said questioning the motives of Imran Khan on giving calls to paralyse the entire country by Dec 16. He said that his party cared for the generations to come and "cannot paralyse the country", adding that his party could not attack the federal capital. "Islamabad is not Somnath's temple that you try repeated attempts to win it," Zardari said. "Democracy resides there, it's Parliament is democratic." Zardari’s reaction comes against the backdrop of Imran Khan's Nov 30 speech, where he had called for paralysing cities to increase pressure on the PML-N government. Imran's said he would start with paralysing major cities in the first phase and eventually shutting down the entire country by Dec 16. “On Thursday (Dec 4), I will go to Lahore and shut it down. On Dec 8 I will shut down Faisalabad; on Dec 12, I will go to Karachi and shut it down. By Dec 16, I will close down all of Pakistan,” Imran had said.

Special trains for Saeed’s rally LAHORE: In a sign of official patronage to Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led JuD, Pakistan government is running two special trains to transport people to Lahore for the terror group's two-day congregation here. The chief of Jamaat-udDawah, a front for terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Saeed told reporters here on Tuesday that thousands of people would participate in the congregation Hafiz Saeed ... 26/11 mastermind? starting on December 4 at the ground of Minar-i-Pakistan monument. Pakistan Railways is operating the first train from today from Hyderabad, Sindh province, that will arrive in Lahore on Wednesday night.Another train will leave from Karachi and arrive here on December 4. The two special trains will also take the people back to their hometowns on the conclusion of the congregation. The JuD leadership had spoken to railways minister Saad Rafique for his permission to run special trains for its congregation, official sources told PTI. The US has put a bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed's head for his terror-related activities. Spokesman for the country's railways Rauf Tahir said there had been a "uniform policy" to run special trains on the request of political and religious parties. "The railways has a uniform policy for everyone. Pay and hire a train. Two special trains will be run for JuD congregation but not free of cost," he said. In a related development, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has also postponed its call to block Lahore on December 4 on the "request" of the JuD leadership. "Yes we have changed Lahore's plan on the request of JuD. The JuD told us that thousands of people are coming to Lahore on December 4 and it cannot afford any hurdle in it," a senior PTI leader said on condition of anonymity. Tightening its noose around Lashkar-e-Taiba, the US in June added its affiliates, including the JuD, to its list of designated terror organizations. India has maintained that Saeed is the mastermind behind Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, conspiracy for which was hatched, planned and executed out of Pakistan. The attacks claimed 166 lives.

Altaf bristles at Bilawal’s remark KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has demanded an explanation from PPP Chairman Bilalwal Bhutto-Zardari over his remarks of Oct 6, calling for the reigning in of na-maloom afraad (unknown persons), the MQM website said. The MQM chief has also asked the chiefs of law enforcement agencies (LEAs), former president Asif Ali Zardari, former interior minister Rehman Malik, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad Khan to answer his query within 15 days after holding an inquiry into Bilawal's statements. Addressing a gathering of family members of people killed in the 2007 Karsaz blast, the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman on the first day of Eidul Azha had called upon the MQM chief to ask his ‘unknown persons' to take caution. Bilawal had warned that if any PPP workers were hurt, he would, like the London Metropolitan Police, make the MQM chief's life miserable. In his statement, Hussain asked on what basis did Bilawal level such allegations and issued a threat against him. Hussain further said that if the PPP Chairman, Co-chairman and the party's Central Executive Committee failed to address his query, then he would be left with no option but to take legal action against Bilawal for using threatening language against him.


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