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Anuj Bidve

Fifth arrest in UK over Indian’s killing Details on page 6

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Community celebrates Vajpayee b-day Details on page 12

China to deport 12 Indian traders Details on page 6

INDIA POST SURVEY survey@indiapost.com This week’s question

Will fast fiasco deflate Anna agitation? Last week’s result

Americans’ fear of outsourcing is mistaken? YES 81%

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VOL 17, No. 903

January 6, 2012

50¢

Periodical Postage

ANNA ENDS FAST, TO FOCUS ON POLLS

MUMBAI: Indisposed Anna Hazare called off his three-day fast ahead of schedule but threatened to launch a campaign against the UPA coalition during the forthcoming elections in five states. "It is saddening to see what happened in Parliament (when the Lokpal Bill was passed). I am calling off my fast today. Now we have to start a campaign in five states which go to the polls and awaken the people there. I will tell them not to vote for the traitors," Hazare told his supporters who had gathered at the MMRDA grounds here. The activist who was suffering from ill health even before the fast suffered a serious decline as his temperature soared to 102°F. Details on page 5

N. Parthasarathi

New Consul Gen. to reach out to community Details on page 16

BSP slams Rahul during debate on Lokpal Details on page 6

Pak judicial commission will visit India in Jan Details on page 7

Arizona sheriff faces new setback Details on page 41

INEFFECTIVE FAST: A girl offers a glass of juice to anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to break his fast on the second day of his agitation for stronger Lokpal Bill at MMRDA grounds in Mumbai

CONTENTS Bollywood ---------------------- 38-39 Classifieds ------------------------- 47

LS passes Lokpal but no constitutional status NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha gave its assent to the historic Lokpal bill after the government agreed to bring official amendments at the end of marathon 10-hour debate which saw the opposition tearing into the legislation. However, the government suffered a major embarrassment as it could not pass the bill to give constitutional status to the Lokpal. The day saw hectic deliberations within the government as some United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies

Community Post -------------- 12-21 Date Book -------------------------- 28 Edit Page --------------------------- 49

of the Congress joined the opposition in slamming some provisions of the draft legislation. The Congress core group met in the evening to finalise amendments which were spelled out by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his reply to the debate in his capacity as Leader of Hosue in the Lok Sabha. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party staged a walk out before voting on the Lokpal bill.

HealthScience Post --------- 34-37

Details on page 5

TechBiz Post ------------------- 44-45

Certified by “CIRCULATION VERIFICATION COUNCIL Readership 117,765”

Horoscope ------------------------- 46 Immigration Post ------------- 40-43 India ---------------------------------- 11 Life Style ----------------------- 26-27 Philosophy ------------------------- 48 Publisherís Diary ------------------ 4 Real Estate -------------------- 22-25

Travel & Hospitality Post ---- 29-31


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January 6, 2012

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IndiaNewsweekly Post Mission Statement To empower the Indian Diaspora and make their voice strong and effective in countries of their adoption. RJ Media conglomerate offers a credible, professional and complete package of news, opinion, entertainment, networking and information.

Publisher’s Diary

L

et me first wish everyone a very Happy New Year. If you had been partying, I am sure you are back on the terra firma of reality by now. It's good to find reason for some hope filled celebration in the name of the coming of a New Year - it sure cushions the harshness of existential hazards like bad politics. I can't harp enough on how partisan politics by corrupt lawmakers and inept government policies are ruining the futures of democracies like the US and India. I do not know if it is that contemporary issues are too big for ordinary leadership to handle, or money power is too overwhelming a factor leading to their ineptitude. Just look at how dysfunctional the Indian Parliament and the US Congress have become. Congress reached the peak of rhetoric in the weeks leading up to Christmas and managed, in a last minute high stakes drama, to pass the payroll tax cut extension bill. Commendable, one would think. But no. What they managed was to kick the can down by a mere two months. Yes, just a two month extension, after all that bickering and wasteful debating at the expense of the tax payers. And in India, esteemed parliamentarians, after almost 43 years since it was first introduced in parliament, nine subsequent versions of it over the decades, and intense national debate over it in the last six months, are yet to pass an acceptable Lokpal Bill. Over the past several months, common people of both countries inspired or not by the Arab Spring, came out in spirited protests - call it the India Against Corruption movement or the Occupy Wall Street movement. But in what can only be called tragic, they are giving up the fight. It would seem that the might of the millions in a democracy is no match to take on a handful of lawmakers and the government. With all the technology, education, information and perceived freedoms a democracy underscores, we are no better than people in contemporary communist regimes or for that matter the ignorant and oppressed, under medieval Romesh K Japra kings.

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HIGHLIGHTS Bollywood: Chikni item Katrina Kaif’s recent item number 'Chikni Chameli' has won a lot of praise and appreciation from the audiences.

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Cover Story: Failed fast Indisposed Anna Hazare called off his threeday fast but threatened to launch a campaign against the UPA during elections.

Community: Vajpayee birthday The Overseas Friends of BJP - USA celebrated the birthday of former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

India: Chicagoens in Hyderabad Two of Chicago’s prominent community activists attended the Aradana TV Awards gala ceremony in Hyderabad.

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Anna ends fast, to focus on polls MUMBAI: Indisposed Anna Hazare called off his three-day fast ahead of schedule but threatened to launch a campaign against the UPA coalition during the forthcoming elections in five states. "It is saddening to see what happened in Parliament (when the Lokpal Bill was passed). I am calling off my fast today. Now we have to start a campaign in five states which go to the polls and awaken the people there. I will tell them not to vote for the traitors," Hazare told his supporters who had gathered at the MMRDA grounds here. The activist who was suffering from ill health even before the fast suffered a serious decline as his temperature soared to 102°F. According to an update put out by doctors from the JJ Hospital who examined him, Hazare's blood pressure fell sharply when he stood up, indicating severe health problems. Unlike during his fast in Delhi earlier this year, Hazare was not able to stand up properly and addressed the gathering and the media lying down. He said not been eating for the past four days, that is even before beginning his fast. However, Hazare's voice remained firm and he told reporters that he would kick off a campaign that would last till the next general elections. "In the next two years till the general elections, I will travel across the country and carry out my campaign," Hazare said. The activist also added that the jail bharo agitation too has been called off for the moment.

Supporters of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare wave tri-colors on the second day of his fast for stronger Lokpal Bill at MMRDA grounds in Mumbai

He admitted that the turnout at his fast in Mumbai was lower than the expectations of Team Anna. "I have no money, power... nothing. Still many people turned up. See how people come together during the elections," Hazare said. Team Anna later admitted that his fast did not create the desired pressure on government and said there was no point in passing this "completely useless" bill. The Core Committee of Team Anna will be meeting in Ralegan Siddhi on January 2 and 3 to decide on the future course of action as Hazare abruptly an-

On whether by targeting Congress alone, Team Anna was playing into the hands of BJP, she said Congress is the party in power. ‘Hence it is Congress alone which can take appropriate initiatives and respond to people's demands’

nounced the scrapping of the jail bharo agitation and other protest plans. "The fast was meant to create pressure. Now that on the first day itself they passed an ineffective and useless bill, there was no value of that pressure. "So it was decided that it would not do any benefit and Anna's health was not well, so it was called off," Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan told reporters here after a meeting of some of the Core Committee members. On the Lokpal bill, which is before the Rajya Sabha, he said,

"There is no point in passing this bill. This is completely useless bill. If it is passed or not, it does not make any difference." Kiran Bedi said government bill was "flawed to fail. It is so designed. Its proposed architecture protects the corrupt and weakens investigation processes." Asked what went wrong for Team Anna with the Mumbai protest, Bedi told PTI, "Anna's viral fever, short notice to the city, choice of a venue which was not well connected for easy access and Parliament in session." She also claimed that the government "bulldozing" in passing a weak bill in Lok Sabha also affected their protest. On whether by targeting Congress alone, Team Anna was playing into the hands of BJP, she said Congress is the party in power. "Hence it is Congress alone which can take appropriate initiatives and respond to people's demands. Had it been BJP we would have done the same. We remain apolitical. We are not playing into anyone's hands. But we are certainly explaining our rationale to parties whoever is willing to listen for clauses we want amended," she said. To a question on how Team Anna defends itself for not campaigning against SP or BSP, she said all campaigning depends on Hazare's health. "However it shall be against all those parties who allow a weak bill to be passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha," she said.-PTI

Lok Sabha passes Lokpal bill but no constitutional status NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha gave its assent to the historic Lokpal bill after the government agreed to bring official amendments at the end of marathon 10-hour debate which saw the opposition tearing into the legislation. However, the government suffered a major embarrassment as it could not pass the bill to give constitutional status to the Lokpal. The day saw hectic deliberations within the government as some United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies of the Congress joined the opposition in slamming some provisions of the draft legislation. The Congress core group met in the evening to finalise amendments which were spelled out by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his reply to the

debate in his capacity as Leader of Hosue in the Lok Sabha. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party staged a walk out before voting on the Lokpal bill. Amendments pressed by the opposition to the Lokpal bill were negated either by voice vote or by division. Speaker Meira Kumar said that the first division had been negatived by 247-69. Pranab, in his reply to the debate, sought cross-party support and reminded members that the discussion had been taking place on the crucial legislation for over six months. "Let us pass this bill because people are waiting... We are determined to curb the menace of corruption. We shall convey this message by passing the bills unanimously," Pranab said. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs V Narayanasamy had

in the morning moved the Lokpal bill for consideration and passage. He also moved the bill to give constitutional status to Lokpal and

Amendments pressed by the opposition to the Lokpal bill were negated either by voice vote or by division. Speaker Meira Kumar said that the first division had been negatived by 247-69 the whistleblowers protection bill. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who intervened in the discussion, urged MPs to rise above

party politics and pass the new laws. Earlier, opposition members demanded withdrawal of the Lokpal bill introduced in the house last week citing "deficiencies", but the government asserted it should be passed as it reflected the sense of the house passed in the form of a resolution in August. "I urge my colleagues in parliament to rise to the occasion and look beyond politics to pass this law," said Manmohan Singh. Opposition parties proposed many amendments to the Lokpal bill which include giving the Lokpal an investigative wing, setting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) free from the government's administrative and financial control, and making it optional for states to set up their own anti-graft Lokayuktas.

Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, punched holes in the Lokpal bill, saying it was anything but a strong and effective law to deal with corruption in the country. "It is patently unconstitutional (bill)... deeply flawed and tampers with the basic structure of our constitution," she said. Communication minister Kapil Sibal led the government's counter-charge. He lashed out at the BJP for indulging in grandstanding but not wanting the bill to be passed. "Their politics is not to allow Lokpal, but just to criticise the government. They have not given a single positive suggestion on it." Left parties also opposed the bill, saying it was too weak to fight corruption in the country.


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Lokpal Bill can lead to constitutional BSP slams Rahul during havoc, says Jaitley debate on Lokpal NEW DELHI: The Opposition has slammed the Lokpal Bill saying it would lead to "constitutional havoc" as the Centre would be encouraged to "usurp" rights of states through the provision of setting up of Lokayuktas. Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Oppo-

Referring to the provision on the setting up of Lokayuktas in the state, the BJP leader and noted lawyer said it would lead to creating "a grey area" by which the Centre can usurp powers of states. "Why are you creating a constitutional havoc? The government is trying to make consti-

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley speaks during the debate on Lokpal Bill in the House in New Delhi on December 29

sition Arun Jaitley also opposed minority quota in the Lokpal bench, inclusion of NGOs and keeping CBI out of the purview of the ombudsman. "If you are creating history, let us not create bad history. We will be leaving a lot of task for the next generation to do," he said. He made it clear the BJP would not support the Bill in the present form. "Please accept amendments that the colleagues have moved," he said. Going clause-by-clause in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, Jaitley said the ombudsman was "designed to be vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Let us create an institution which is constitutionally possible."

tutional cocktail," he said. Jaitley said the government wants to subvert an institution even before its creation. "You want to kill it in the womb," he alleged. "You wanted to create a phoney Lokpal and create a smokescreen that you are giving a constitutional status," he said taking a jibe at the proposal that was included at the instance of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Jaitley said his party objected to three "absurd and unworkable" provisions of the bill. With regard to CBI, Jaitely wanted it to be under the purview of Lokpal with a directorate of prosecution. "An effective Lokpal

needs an effective investigating agency like the CBI. You are creating a Lokpal so that it becomes a rudderless institution," he charged. He also opposed inclusion of NGOs and trusts within the purview of Lokpal, saying it was "revenge provision" and would create a system which would be intrusive in the private life. "I don't think members of this House will support you on this," the BJP leader said. On the provision for quota of "at least" 50 per cent for minorities in the 9-member Lokpal bench, he said it was to designed to make the law "vulnerable to constitutional challenge", as somebody could move court. The government has majority in the 5-member panel that would appoint the Lokpal. And then the power to remove is vested with the Supreme Court, which can be approached by only the government. "If Lokpal is biased in favor of the government, the beneficiary of the bias will decide if an appeal can be filed against the appointment," he said. Jaitley said his party was for a strong and independent Lokpal but opposed a "weak and phoney" anti-graft ombudsman. Contending that the government has brought a weak Lokpal, Jaitley said the House should pass a Lokpal bill only after accepting the amendments brought by the opposition for strengthening of the institution. "When passing this law, we have to decide if we will collide with history or write new history," he said. "I regret to say this is a halfhearted legislation," he said adding the legal architecture was not enough to fight corruption.-PTI

12 Indian traders held in China to be deported soon BEIJING: Twelve of the 22 Indian diamond traders, detained in China on charges of smuggling, will be deported following a Chinese court's order. "The 12 will be sent back home in about a week's time depending on the availability of seats on the flights," Indramani Pandey, head of the Indian Consulate in Guangzhou, told PTI over phone in reply to a question. Pandey said most of the legal formalities concerning their release and deportation were completed and they would be deported

soon. Earlier on December 7, the Shenzen Intermediate People's Court, which heard the traders' case, ordered their deportation while sentencing others for varied prison terms. Another detained Indian trader was released on bail with orders that he should stay in China as he was wanted in connection with the appeal petition filed by a Chinese citizen arrested in connection with the case. The other nine persons were sentenced to varied prison terms

ranging from six years to three and half years. The 22 traders hailing from Gujarat were arrested in southern China's Shenzhen city and were charged with smuggling diamonds worth 50 million yuan (USD 7.3 million). They were accused of sourcing diamonds illegally from Hong Kong, for sale in the Chinese market through their "henchmen". The court's verdict brought about a sigh of relief as majority of the detained merchants were let off with deportation orders.-PTI

NEW DELHI: The BSP made a whereas in the last four years only, veiled attack on Congress General the BSP government has managed Secretary Rahul Gandhi for his to add 7,000 MW power through criticism of Mayawati government its own resources. in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Mishra said the Congress in the where Congress is working hard last 40 years, "did not gain masto revive its fortune. tery in anything other than corBlaming the Congress leader- ruption. You defamed the counship for the state's plight, Satish Chandra Mishra said, "Your ‘Let me tell you Delhi is not leader says in five years I will change UP. When your property. Delhi's you could not do any- money is not your 'jaagir' thing in forty years, what great will you do (property). It's not your in five years?" Referring to the money, it is our money Rahul's statements in which is used for the develUP, the BSP leader said, "Your leader goes to UP opment of the country with and says we have given money from the Centre which you are running 150 for the development of projects in the name of your the state." "Let me tell you ancestors,’ he said Delhi is not your property. Delhi's money is not your 'jaagir' (property). It's not try in the whole world in the Comyour money, it is our money which monwealth Games. You are scared is used for the development of the only of the elephant. You see the country with which you are run- elephant in dream." ning 150 projects in the name of He said the Congress sees only your ancestors," he said. Amethi and Rae Bareli in UP and Mishra said Central ministers there also one after the other, cenfrequently come to the state and tral projects have been shut and "look into the projects that how people left unemployed. these bridges are made. Federal Mishra took a dig at Rahul structure of the country is being Gandhi saying that Congress destroyed." should not make laws under The BSP leader claimed that in anybody's orders as the consti40 years of Congress rule, only tutional amendment bill was de3,500 MW power was added in UP feated in the Lok Sabha. -PTI

Fifth arrest made in UK over Indian student's murder LONDON: Another youth has been arrested by the British police in connection with the killing of Indian student Anuj Bidve, taking to five the total number of suspects being held in the case. A 20-year-old man was the fifth person arrested by police which has already rounded up four people, including two teenagers. The man is being questioned on suspicion of murdering Bidve, who was shot in the head at close range in an "unprovoked" attack on December 26 in Salford. Bidve, from Pune, was with nine Indian students when they were approached by two men in Salford. He was shot at close range after a "very short" conversation. Bidve died as a result of "gun trauma" to the head, post-mortem revealed.

23-year-old Bidve was a student of Microelectronics at Lancaster University. The police have not ruled out racism as a motive for the killing. The two men who approached the group of students at Salford were described as white men. Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in the UK assured all possible help in expediting the process of repatriation of Bidve's body to India. The consulate General of India in Birmingham and the Indian High Commission said that they were "deeply" saddened at the "unfortunate" and tragic killing. "The concerned authorities have also been suitably sensitized about the family's wish to have the dead body repatriated to India at the earliest," the High Commission said in a statement. -PTI


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Japanese PM's visit gives IDCA meet in Jaipur from January 11 leg up to nuke deal India Post News Service

JAIPUR: The India Development Coalition of America (IDCA) will hold its eighth international conference here on January 11-12, 2012. This would follow the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas being held here on January 7-9. The conference will explore innovations in Rural Development, Healthcare, Education, Water, Livelihoods, Good Governance, and Climate change Mitigation (Renewable Energy) areas to help eradicate poverty and promote prosperity while mitigating climate change. According to an IDCA statement, it believes by learning from each other and "working together we can achieve our goals more holistically and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Yoshihiko Noda after signing an agreement at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on December 28

NEW DELHI: Nine months after Fukushima tragedy had stalled negotiations for bilateral civil nuclear deal, India and Japan have announced resumption of negotiations for the same and also decided to enhance their earlier bilateral currency swap arrangement from $ 3 billion to $ 10 billion. As expected visiting Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh focussed considerably during their annual summit on reviving the civil nuclear cooperation.

"The two Prime Ministers welcomed the progress made to date in negotiations between India and Japan on an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, and directed their negotiators to exert further efforts towards conclusion of the Agreement, having due regard to each side's relevant interests, including nuclear safety. In this regard, Prime Minister Noda explained Japan's position," said a joint statement issued after the talks. Resumption of dialogue on the

nuclear deal is a big ticket item of Noda's visit. In his remarks to media, Singh said, "As part of our energy cooperation, we reviewed the ongoing discussions on furthering civil nuclear cooperation between our countries. These are moving in the right direction." Recognising the importance of rare earths and rare metals in industries of both countries, both the ministers decided to enhance bilateral cooperation in this area by enterprises of their nations.

Pak judicial commission will visit India in Jan NEW DELHI: Pakistan has formally conveyed to India that its nine-member judicial commission will visit here next month to interview key persons linked to the probe into the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. New Delhi was informed that the Pakistan judicial commission will visit India in January 2012 and the mutually convenient dates of

Doctor who exposed extra-judicial killing shot dead in Pak ISLAMABAD: A police surgeon who played a key role in exposing the extra-judicial killing of five foreigners was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, police said. Baqir Shah was in his car when motorcycle-borne gunmen fired at him on Sabzal Road in Quetta. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, police officials said adding that the attackers had managed to escape. Shah had been attacked in the past too but was not provided any security, his colleagues said. The doctor had conducted the autopsy of five foreigners, including Russians and Tajiks, who were gunned down by Pakistani security forces in Quetta on May 17. The autopsy of the three women and two men revealed that they died from "multiple bullet

wounds", contradicting claims by officials that they died because of an explosion. Reports said Shah had faced pressure from security forces as the findings of the autopsies had gone against then Quetta police chief Daud Junejo's claim that the foreigners had not died due to shooting by law enforcement personnel. Several police officers were removed from their positions due to the extra-judicial killing but authorities are yet to take action against personnel from the paramilitary Frontier Corps who were involved in the incident. One of the dead women, in her late twenties, was seven months pregnant and was hit by about eight to 10 bullets. Five bullets were extracted from the body of another woman while the body of the third woman bore eight bullet wounds, Shah had told reporters in May.-PTI

quickly. The purpose of the conference is to promote networking, collaboration, learning, giving, sharing, and volunteering to achieve our goals individually and collectively in shortest possible time to help eradicate poverty and mitigate climate change in India." The Conference Theme is "Working Together to Eradicate Poverty > and Mitigate Climate Change in India." The venue of the conference is International School of Informatics and Management, Mansarovar, Jaipur, Rajasthan. The time from 9 am to 9 pm on January 11 and 9 am to 4 pm on January 12. IDCA's India partners are Institute of Rural Research and Development, Gurgaon and International School for Informatics and Management, Jaipur.

PAKIS FOR PEACE: Pakistani delegates arrive through Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar to attend the 8th Joint Convention of IndiaPakistan People's Forum for Peace and Democracy in Allahabad

the tour will be finalized soon, official sources said. The commission will take the statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R V Sawant Waghule and Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who have recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the 26/11 attacks, to pursue the case in Pakistan. It also wanted to take the statements of the two doctors who carried out the post mortem of the terrorists killed. "We have conveyed the Pakistan's communication to Bombay High Court for information and necessary action," a source said. Government has to inform the High Court about the visit of the judicial commission as the terror incident and the trial of the case had taken place under its area of jurisdiction. Pakistan has already issued a gazette notification on the formation of the judicial commission and has listed the members who will represent Pakistan government. The delegation will include Khalid Qureshi, the head of the Federal Investigation Agency's Special Investigation Group, and Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry and Chaudhry Zulifqar, the two main prosecutors. The notification further said that representatives of the defense lawyers too would be part of the commission. -PTI


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Cup of Joy for MSD in an otherwise mixed year CRICKET IN 2011

NEW DELHI: Cricket is indeed a game of 'Glorious Uncertainties' and no one knows it better than India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. If Dhoni's finest hour as captain was guiding his team to World Cup victory after 28 years, the disastrous tour of England and slipping from No 1 rank in Tests, made all and sundry realize what a great leveler the game is. It was indeed a year of contrasts in Indian cricket. There were some memorable

highs interspersed by some forgettable lows. But April 2, 2011 will certainly be etched in the memory of millions of cricket crazy Indians. For a generation which has only watched the highlights of Kapil's Devils taming the formidable West Indies, watching Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir tame the Lankan Lions at the Wankhede was indeed a special feeling. In the biggest platform like World Cup, it was about playing well in the three crunch games at the knock-out stage. India did just that as they knocked defending champions Australia out in the quarter-finals, a match that was won by 'Player of The Tournament' Yuvraj Singh. Rarely had any match created the buzz and hype like India's World Cup semi-final against Pakistan at Mohali did. And the aftermatch scenes were comparable to even what one saw in Mumbai and across the country after the finals. The tag of 'Captain Cool' seemed more befitting on Dhoni than any other time after his composed 91 saw India cross the finishing line with ease. The manner in which he sent a N u w a n Kulasekara delivVirender Sehwag ery soaring into

the stands was big-match temperament personified. Sachin Tendulkar was in his element during the matches against England and South Africa - his 98th and 99th international centuries. Since then it has been an agonizing wait for millions as to when the maestro would complete his 100th international ton. Dhoni's 'Midas Touch' continued as Chennai Super Kings successfully defended the IPL crown and the skipper got a much needed rest. But as they say "What goes up comes down" and it proved to be apt for Dhoni and his men as they were soundly thrashed in Old Blighty. Even the staunch England supporters wouldn't have thought that India would be blanked 0-4 in the Test series. Worse, India lost the coveted No 1 ranking in Test matches -- and the bragging rights of possessing the best team in longer format. It was one man responding to the name of Rahul Dravid, who stood tall amidst the ruins, scoring three centuries in four Test matches. Each and every century was a testimony to the fact that there is no substitute for class and experience in pressure situations. Dravid's performance was the only silver lining in the dark clouds that hovered throughout the 75day tour. The England tour also proved to be an eye opener for the Board of Control for Cricket in India about how lackadaisical was the injury management process of the Indian team. Zaheer Khan broke down with a hamstring injury on the first day of the opening Test at the Lord's and India never recovered from there. The bowling lacked teeth and India suffered badly. Such was the plight that an out-of-form Rudra

Pratap Singh was flown on an SOS basis from Miami - Kris Srikkanth and Co. drew a lot of flak for this flawed choice. Ajinkya Rahane's impressive performances in the ODIs showed that when it comes to batting, the

First it's the pressure from the central government which wants the world's richest cricket board to be affiliated as an National Sports Federation and also come under the RTI. The impasse still continues.

Even the staunch England supporters wouldn't have thought that India would be blanked 0-4 in the Test series. Worse, India lost the coveted No 1 ranking in Test matches -- and the bragging rights of possessing the best team in longer format Men in Blue have a good bench strength. The likes of Rahane, Manoj Tiwary who scored a century against West Indies on a difficult Chennai track have done well in the limited opportunities they have got. Virender Sehwag too made up for a lackluster year as he slammed a maiden double century in ODIs, becoming only second batsman after Tendulkar to reach the landmark when he hit 219 against West Indies at Indore. . The Test series against West Indies w i t n e s s e d Ravichandran Ashwin showing his prowess in the longer version as he snared 22 wickets in three matches and also scored a century. Ashwin's emergence meant curtains for the time being for senior pro Harbhajan Singh who has been India's premier tweaker for more than a decade. Off the field, BCCI did have a torrid time.

BCCI's rigid stand on nonimplementation of DRS has also not gone down well among the cricketing nations such as Australia, England and South Africa. The board also terminated new IPL team Kochi Tuskers Kerala for breach of agreement. Even the contract with Nimbus which had broadcasting rights for India's matches at home as well as domestic cricket, was terminated as they were defaulters.-PTI

Ravichandran Ashwin


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A year of two halves for Bollywood CINEMA IN 2011

A

low-budget film inspired by the life and death of a racy 1980s B-movie actress was the surprise Bollywood hit of 2011, in a year that started slowly but finished well. A packed, back-to-back schedule of World Cup one-day cricket and the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament ensured

The mystery "Ragini MMS", action crime drama "Murder 2" and the Hrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif road movie "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" (You Only Live Once) all did well also. But none captured the public imagination more than "The Dirty Picture", which is loosely based on south Indian sex symbol Silk

The last 12 months were also a disappointment for action hero Akshay Kumar, who brought out three poorly-received films -- the cricket-themed ‘Patiala House’, ‘Thank You’ and ‘Desi Boyz’ -- during the year that cinema audiences were down in the first half of the year. Business picked up later in the year, with Salman Khan's action comedy "Ready" the first of a string of hits that included Sanjay Dutt's slapstick "Double Dhamaal" and Aamir Khan's screwball comedy "Delhi Belly".

Smitha and has packed cinemas since its release earlier this month. Sex and Shah Rukh Khan were once famously said to be the only things that sell in Bollywood. This year, a number of successful films have provided the sex but "King Khan" failed to deliver, despite the hype surrounding his

Singham

Diwali release "Ra.One". The $20 million science-fiction superhero film won rave reviews for its stunning special effects but many reviewers were disappointed at its weak script. The film broke even, thanks to a relentless marketing drive that broke new ground in Indian film promotion but it was not the blockbuster many had been expecting. The last 12 months were also a disappointment for action hero Akshay Kumar, who brought out three poorly-received films -- the cricket-themed "Patiala House", "Thank You" and "Desi Boyz" -during the year. Rising star Ranbir Kapoor, though, continued to show his great promise by delivering the hit "Rockstar". Ajay Devgn also had a successful year alongside Salman Khan in "Ready" and as a no-nonsense cop in "Singham". Leading actress Priyanka Chopra broke new ground, becoming the first Bollywood star to sign a global pop album deal. She will be managed by the man behind Lady Gaga. Even though offbeat films with lesser-known stars and strong scripts proved popular with audiences, some analysts detected a noticeable return to an earlier, more star-driven format. "This year, wholesome, entertaining films have worked very well and that has been the trend," said critic Vinod Mirani. "The success formula of 80s cinema is back and now working very well. All entertaining films of that era that had worked are back in new format this year and they

have clicked big time." As 2011 draws to a close, Shah Rukh Khan is hoping for better success with the release of "Don 2" -- the follow-up to "Don", which came out in 2006 and which itself was a remake of the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan hit.

Next year will see Aamir Khan release "Dhoom 3" -- the third part of the successful franchise -- as well as "Talaash" (Search). Bachchan, who is a new grandfather after the birth of his son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai's first child in No-

Ready

Roshan is also revisiting the Big B's back catalogue with a remake of his 1990 hit "Agneepath" (Path of Fire).

vember, is due to appear in his first Hollywood movie: a Baz Luhrmann adaptation of "The Great Gatsby".

Rockstar


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Age controversy, court martial issues stung defense ministry DEFENSE IN 2011 NEW DELHI: The age controversy involving Army Chief Gen V K Singh, court martial of three Lt Gen-rank officers in different scams, eviction of US companies from air force's combat aircraft deal and face-off between Indian and Pakistan navies in high seas marked the year 2011 for the Defense Ministry. The successful launch of Agni4 missile, dismissal of a senior navy officer in a honey-trap case and Islamabad's prompt return of an army chopper also made headlines. The issuing of Initial Operational Clearance to the indigenous LCA Tejas in January turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the year and the IAF chief later said this was not the final clearance and the aircraft would have to undergo more tests to reach the milestone. The raging controversy over Gen Singh's age started when the army on basis of an RTI application changed his date of birth from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951, which would have given him an extra 10 months in office. Later, the Defense Ministry stepped in and on basis of two opinions from the Attorney Gen-

the first chief of the 1.2 millionstrong army to do so. A few weeks later, Antony said Singh's date of birth is May 10, 1950 and he will have to retire on May 31 next year. T h e Sukna land scam continued to remain in limelight as former MiliArmy Chief Gen V K Singh tary Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash and strayed into Pakistan in Novemformer 33 Corps Commander Lt ber along the Ladakh region but Gen P K Rath, indicted by a court their prompt return by Islamabad of inquiry (CoI), were punished by in less than eight hours turned respective court martials. into a CBM between the two counWhile Prakash was recom- tries. mended to be dismissed by the On modernization front, the army court, Rath was given a sen- Army despite its Chief's committence for loss of 15 years of ser- ment failed to induct any artillery vice along with loss of two years gun as all proposals in this regard of seniority. remained stuck due to one reason The case had come to light in or the other. The IAF got a new head in Air Chief Marshal N A K The issuing of Initial Operational Clearance to Browne in August. The year began on a the indigenous LCA Tejas in January turned out good note for the service with the induction of its first to be the biggest disappointment of the year C-130J Super Hercules airand the IAF chief later said this was not the final craft from the US but the last quarter saw a number of vinclearance and the aircraft would have to tage MiG 21s along with other frontline aircraft crashundergo more tests to reach the milestone ing. The biggest worry for the eral, on July 21 decided that May late 2009 after a CoI was ordered IAF came in form of crash 10, 1950 will only be considered to look into the issuing of a no- of a Su-30MKI over Pune on Deas Gen Singh's date of birth as he objection certificate (NOC) to pri- cember 13 after which the fleet of had agreed on it in written under- vate builders for constructing an 130 such aircraft was temporarilytakings. educational institution. grounded. Soon after the ministry order, Lt Gen S K Sahni was also orResuming its operations, ACM Gen Singh filed a statutory com- dered to be cashiered from service Browne undertook a one-hour plaint with Defense Minister A K by a court martial in Jalandhar for sortie in the aircraft in Pune to Antony against the government his role in the ration scam. assure the nation and the IAF decision to treat May 10, 1950 as Tensions rose high when an about the immense capabilities of his date of birth, thus becoming army chopper with four crew the Russian-origin air superiority aircraft. The eviction of two US aircraft firms -- Boeing and Lockheed Martin -- from last lap of air force's multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal also hogged headlines. The Defense Ministry excluded them along with Russian MiG and Swedish Saab from the multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal in April and shortlisted European EADS Cassidian and French Dassault Aviation for procuring the warplanes. Commercial bids of the two companies were opened on NoLt Gen Avadesh Prakash Lt Gen P K Rath vember 4.

The IAF also signed a deal worth USD 2.1 billion to upgrade its fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft with French companies. First two aircraft have already reached France for the purpose. DRDO tasted success in its efforts to develop long-range weapon systems for the Armed Forces after with the successful test-firing of nuclear-capable Agni-4 early this month. The premier defense research agency is now working to launch the country into elite club of nations with Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and is expected to test fire the over 5,000 km-range Agni-5 early next year. The DRDO also for the first time launched the tactical 150 kmrange Prahaar missile. Several successful test-firings of the Prithvi, Agni-2 and Shourya missiles were also carried out during the year by the Service. The navy continued to do well in the filed of anti-piracy operations through out the year and foiled several piracy attempts in both Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In February, the Defense Minister issued orders for the dismissal of Commodore Sukhjinder

Singh, who was found guilty of having relations with a Russian woman during his posting in Moscow to look after Admiral Gorshkov program. On the India-Pakistan front, a face-off between warships of the two navies in high seas raised tensions followed by series of complaints by the two sides. The videos of the face-off showing the PNS Babur brushing the Indian Naval Ship Godavari and damaging it during an antipiracy mission in the Gulf of Aden were a hit on the Internet. Defense ties with China saw a slight improvement with both sides exchanging high-level military delegations and the resumption of Annual Defense Dialogue this year. The Armed Forces were busy strengthening their positions along the Chinese boundary with the deployment of aircraft such as the Su-30MKI and the reactivation of airfields in that region. -PTI

The successful launch of Agni-4 missile, dismissal of a senior navy officer in a honey-trap case and Islamabad's prompt return of an army chopper also made headlines


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Chicagoans attend TV awards gala in Hyderabad FRANK FERNANDES

HYDERABAD: A far away city of Chicago made its presence in Hyderabad recently when two of its prominent community activists attended the Aradana TV

Aradana Television awards were organized to recognize, reward and render honors to the nominees who exemplified the best in the field of community service in the state of Andhra Pradesh and beyond Awards gala ceremony held at Ravindra Bharathi theatre here amidst the gathering of the legion of church leaders, priests, business, community, civic leaders and elected officials.

Oscar Fernandes, MP and AICC General Secretary along with his wife (L to R) with Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Iftekhar Shareef and Vasanth Charles who were joined by Tollywood actor A. Raja

Aradana TV is India's leading Christian satellite television channel established to reach out to the Telugu-speaking audiences around many countries. Prominent among the attendees from Chicago were Iftekhar Shareef, Keerthi Kumar Ravoori,

Vasanth Charles and Ravi Pulikuri. Chief Guest Mr Oscar Fernandes, Member of Parliament and AICC General Secretary and a leading national Christian representative, served as the Chief Guest. He inaugurated the function and gave away awards to thirty awardees

CLC tips for developing self & others ROSY LOHANI

NEW DELHI: On Friday, December 23, Coach Leadership Centre (CLC) celebrated Marathon 2011, the 8th National Leadership Convention held at Hindi Bhawan in New Delhi. The nomenclature of "coach" and "marathon" brings to mind a sports-related event. It is not so. Coach here denotes a person devoted to self-development who is in a position to guide others also in this field. CLC is a community of like-minded people with positive attitude and drive to evolve on regular basis. And Marathon is the biennial conference where the alumni gather to exchange notes. Membership is given to those who complete a powerful life transforming Training Program Be Your Best - Leader. This eligibility criterion has been kept with a view that all the members, known as Coach Members, are in synch with each other and aligned to the vision of CLC without any politics. The core philosophy of Coach Leadership Centre is 'Self Development'. It came into existence is 1995 and today has around 4000 members spread across three chapters namely Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai. The chapters include Hoshiarpur and Gurgaon. The 8th Marathon program

started with a prayer and pledge for five minutes followed by melodious bhajans by Madhuri Sharma, whose singing enchanted the audience. Mr. Govind Prakash Sharma, Chairperson of Marathon Committee, in an impactful address said "Live happy, Stay happy.' You must lead your society in the happiest way." He explained about kinds of people: those who live by the conscious mind and

ship Centre means 'Dream big as much as you can'. He talked about the CLC work which is divided into three levels: Conscious mind, subconscious mind and image. He said "It is important to be correct, it is important to be kind, without violating another person. This is success". In his inaugural address, Chief Guest Captain Krishan Sharma, President Vision of India, talked about how China has become a

The core philosophy of Coach Leadership Centre is 'Self Development'. It came into existence is 1995 and today has around 4000 members spread across three chapters namely Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai. The chapters include Hoshiarpur and Gurgaon those who live by the deeper unconscious mind. He also explained the difference between hell and the heaven. He talked about the present and future of life that we live. Mr. OP Bhatia, National President, CLC, explained about the occasion of 8th Marathon - "a leadership convention which provides us an opportunity to think ahead and surge ahead by reflecting on our present level of growth." Collectively all of us contribute to the society in which we live. Progress means to accept our own selves. Coach Leader-

developed country. He gave an account of how he has worked to develop and upgrade villages in the country. He worked with the people related to development activities so as to uplift the society. He discussed 10 points required to develop and improve the skills of a child at its age of learning. The Alumni meetings provides a platform for coach members to re-enforce their learning, relate their experiences and to further internalize the principle and core values of Coach Leadership Centre.

representing wide range of fields and areas of excellence and demonstrated competence. Aradana Television awards were organized to recognize, reward and render honors to the nominees who exemplified the best in the field of community ser-

vice in the state of Andhra Pradesh and beyond. Among other attendees were Dr. H.T.Sangliana, Vice Chairperson National Commission for Minorities, J.D.Seelam, Member of Parliament, Tollywood actor A. Raja and a host of bishops from all major denominations.

Black money in polls: EC deploys 204 IRS officials NEW DELHI: To curb instances of black money use during the polls in five states, 204 Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) officials have been deployed as 'expenditure observers' by the Election Commission. A total of 204 IRS officers, in the ranks of Additional Commissioners of Income Tax, largely drawn from various investigation wings of the department from across the country will head specially created 'flying squads' to check and take action against illegal movement of cash and transactions in the pollbound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The officials have been called to the national capital on January 2 by the EC for a pre-deployment briefing and they will also be allocated their regions. "The I-T officials will soon be briefed about their mandate and duties during the polls. They will have a 24X7 connect with the EC expenditure control office and the Chief Electoral Officer of the states. These IRS officials will have to report all instances of cash movement in their areas irrespective of the amount being legal or illegal," a senior I-T official said citing EC directives.

In order to check illegal money power in the polls, the EC has asked candidates to open separate bank accounts for their election expenses and to make all expenses through them. The Commission recently has also issued fresh directions to the chiefs of Income Tax (Investigation) department in all these

The officials have been called to the national capital on January 2 by the EC for a pre-deployment briefing and they will also be allocated their regions states to "keep vigil over" financial brokers and hawala agents including keeping track on illegal movement of cash at airports and through other transit locations. In order to check illegal use of money power during the assembly polls, the Election Commission has recently written to all political parties asking them to avoid cash transactions and instruct their cadres not to carry huge cash during elections. -PTI


Desi News A grand Ayyappa Mandala Pooja ASHWIN PATEL

ST LOUIS: The Hindu Temple of St. Louis celebrated Sri Ayyappa Mandala Festival with fervor and devotion on December 5. Over 2000 devotees and guests participated in both morning and evening sessions. This grand function was the culmination of Mandala Kalam that denotes 41 days starting from November 16 and ending with a grand festival on Dec 25. The stage for the function was designed in the shape of a sailboat with Ayyappa seated on top.

COMMUNITY ACROSS AMERICA

New Consul General plans to reach out to the community Details on page 16

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January 6, 2012

Community celebrates former PM Vajpayee's birthday

Details on page 14

AI announces holiday sale fares India Post News Service

NEW YORK: Air India is ringing in the New Year with Economy class sale fares from its New York area gateways (JFK and Newark Liberty International airports) to Delhi, Mumbai, and other tourism and commercial centers in India. The roundtrip fare from JFK and Newark to Delhi or Mumbai is $635. And the fare from JFK and Newark to nearly 50 other major cities in India is $743, roundtrip. The sale fares are good for transatlantic travel Sunday to Thursday eastbound and Monday to Friday westbound, and the travel period is from January 3 to May 17 from JFK and January 16 to May 17 from Newark. Details on page 14

Capt K. H. Singh golf tournament makes a mark India Post News Service

CHINO HILLS, CA: On December 10, over 44 golfers were invited to participate in the first annual Captain K.H. Singh Memorial Golf Tournament held at the Los Serranos Country Club which was organized by International Institute of Gurmat Studies, Inc. in memory of its founder. The mountains as the back drop and the weather in the high 60s to low 70s made it a perfect time for golf. The day started early with the volunteers Jasdeep Singh, Puneet Kaur, Prabhneet Kaur, Sukhmani Kaur, Harji Anup Singh and Sahib Singh arriving at 7 am to help set up the registration and refreshments counters for the golfers. Details on page 19

India Post News Service

NEW YORK: The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) - USA celebrated the birthday of former prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee as "Good Governance Day", at an event on Dec 25, at Royal Albert Palace hotel in New Jersey. More than 400 people representing about 110 ethnic Indian organizations attended the event where Purushottam Rupala, National Vice President of BJP was the chief guest and Jayantibhai Barot, Chairman of Gujarat Housing Board was the guest of honor. Welcoming the guests, Dr. Adapa Prasad, OFBJP President, gave a brief narration of the achievements of BJP government during the tenure of Vajpayee that provided "clean and good governance for the welfare of the people" and contrasted that with the present government that is "indulged in the largest corruption ever in the history of India." Organizing secretary of the organization Chandrakant Patel talked of Vajpayee's concern for overseas Indians, evidence of which was in three of his major contributions while in office: 1. Simplification of Visa process; 2. Sanctioning PIO status and Dual

citizenship; and 3. Commencement of annual Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas. In his eloquent speech eulogizing the former prime minister, Rupala said Vajpayee has been an artist in poetry, oratory, and cooking. Rupala said that the great patriot that he was, Vajapyee ad-

inspired the party and the nation. He reminded all about the outstanding achievements of BJP government under the leadership of Vajpayee, when India became a recognized power after its nuclear tests; laid golden quadrilateral road crisscrossing the country;

ruled by BJP. He pointed out that the Gujarat government under the able and visionary leadership of Chief Minister Narendra Modi achieved global recognition in good governance and illustrated how Gujarat has surpassed even the national

provided gas, electricity and telephone connections on demand without long waits; stabilized the prices; accelerated economic growth; and established clean and good governance. He continued saying that majority of the big states in India are

growth rate in all spheres. Jayantibhai Barot spoke about his association with Vajpayee and narrated the journey of the former prime minister from the inception of Jan Sangh through BJP and to the position of Prime Minister.

Dr. Adapa Prasad, OFBJP President, gave a brief narration of the achievements of BJP government during the tenure of Vajpayee that provided "clean and good governance for the welfare of the people" dressed the United Nations as foreign minister for the first time in Hindi since then, Hindi became one of the official languages of the UN. Rupala further talked about the work ethics of the duo - Vajpayee and L.K. Advani - and how they

Cont’d on page 13


January 6, 2012

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MAFS Seniors celebrate Christmas HIMALI BHARUCHA

From left Ann Schmidt, the singer, Pankaj Patel, ADS Coordinator, MAFS

From left, Mrs. Santosh Kumar, Mrs. Pankaj Patel and Bhavna Vora.

CHICAGO: "It's the most wonderful time of the year," hundreds of thousands of people across the world sing happily and wait for that special day of Christmas when the baby Jesus was born as a savior of the mankind, in the battle of Good over Evil in 4BC. People the word over celebrate Christmas holiday decorating Christmas trees with Christmas ornaments, Christmas lights, Christmas stocking, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive, preparing special food and beverages, singing and dancing and giving to the friends, family and to the less fortunate, doing a little extra for someone for needy are traditional trademarks of this magical day. DS members with staff and friends

Community celebrates Vajpayee birthday

Cont’d on page 15

Mortgage rates are still historically low — act now

Cont’d from page 12

He said Vajpayee was first a poet and that he had inherited that from his father who was also a poet in his own right. Barot then recited some of Vajpayee's poems. A fifteen minute video depicting the life of Vajpayee was screened for the audience and later a large cake was cut by Rupala to commemorate the veteran leader's birthday. Vajpayee's book released At a separate community event organized to celebrate Vajpayee's birthday at the TV Asia studio, on Dec 28, Rupala and Barot were present to release Atal Diary, a calendar diary for the year 2012 that also carries rare photographs, poems and writings of the former prime minister. The diary, designed by the BJP and Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, was launched late December by the Lok Sabha Speaker in India.

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A grand Ayyappa Mandala Pooja ASHWIN PATEL

ST LOUIS: The Hindu Temple of St. Louis celebrated Sri Ayyappa Mandala Festival with fervor and devotion on December 5. Over 2000 devotees and guests participated in both morning and evening sessions. This grand function was the culmination of Mandala Kalam that denotes 41 days starting from November 16 and ending with a grand festival on Dec 25. The stage for the function was designed in the shape of a sailboat with Ayyappa seated on top. It was set up in such a way that Lord Ayyappa was top of the eighteen holy steps with the eighteen steps docking against the sailboat with Lord Ganesha on the right and Lord Muruga on the left. There were quite a few devotees including kids as young as three and men who had taken vratham for 41 days and pre-

Lord Ayyappa in St Louis

heads, all 31 swamis took a procession around the outer bound-

Lord Ayyappa Puja in progress

the Swamis broke one coconut at the place where Bhoomi Pooja

The chanting of sailboat, peace song and inviting Swami to devotees' hearts followed by Harivarasanam (song to put Lord Ayyappa to sleep) marked the conclusion of the Mandala festival Lord Ayyappa devotees going to Temple chanting

pared the Irumudi under the guidance of the Guru Swami. Carrying the Irumdis on their

ary of temple for three times singing the praise of Lord Ayyappa. During the third and last round,

was conducted for the proposed Ayyappa temple in May 2011. The breaking of the coconut was

to denote the wish of all Ayyappa devotees for the construction to begin quickly at the same place and for the temple to be in place for the mandala season in 2012. The Irumudi was then offered to Lord Ayyappa and Abhisekham was conducted. The highlight of the morning function was the singing of Bhajans by more than 30 kids with utmost devotion. This was followed by the padi pooja and the Raja Alankaram for Lord Ayyappa at the end of the Abhisekham. The energy of more than 1000 people chanting the praise of Lord Ayyappa was evident in the vibrations in the premise. The evening function started with the singing of Bhajans and included the Seeveli (Light Festival) and Ayyappa Urchava Murthi Procession around the inner praharam of the temple.

Ladies carry the lamp behind the Urchava Murthi of Lord Ayyappa around the temple and this has become a very popular event over the past few years. The highlight of the evening function was the Vibuthi Alankaram for Lord Ayyappa. The chanting of sailboat, peace song and inviting Swami to devotees' hearts followed by Harivarasanam (song to put Lord Ayyappa to sleep) marked the conclusion of the Mandala festival. This year, the St. Louis Ayyappa Group worked with the local St. Louis area food bank to raise five barrels of food for the needy. All the kids in the group participated and took the lead in the effort. It was so popular that now the plan is to work with the St. Louis area food bank through out the year with the kids in the group taking responsibility to fill one barrel each month.

FIA to host R-Day gala & annual elections KEERTHI RAVOORI

CHICAGO: The Federation of Indian Associations - Chicago will host a Republic Day gala banquet on Friday, January 27, 2012 - a decision made collectively by the executive board and the trustees at their year-end board meeting held at North Shore Banquet Hall on Devon Ave, December 26, 2011. The members of the executive board and the trustees deliberated over the program initiatives for 2012 and top on the agenda was to host a grand India Republic Day Gala complete with cultural dance presentations and dinner to honor the sovereign republic of India and to show case India's rich heritage and the cultural excellence. In the meeting, FIA Trustees reiterated their resolve to defend FIA's brand name from being fraudulently used by two disgruntled individuals who have wantonly registered the

same name by adding an alphabet suffix - thus causing confusion in the community. In addition, the FIA trustees are cautioning the community that they are fraudulently collecting funds in the name of FIA.

a formal complaint has been registered with the Illinois Attorney General. In addition, Federation of Indian Associations has decided to hold its annual general body meeting on Sunday, January 29,

The members of the executive board and the trustees deliberated over the program initiatives for 2012 and top on the agenda was to host a grand India Republic Day Gala complete with cultural dance presentations and dinner FIA President Satish 'Sunny' Gabhawala said that a law suit has already been filed in the circuit court of Cook County to ensure they 'cease & desist' from using FIA's brand name and collecting funds through deceit. Gabhawala also reminded the trustees that

2012 to hold the elections of its executive board for the year 2012-2013. The board has decided to entrust the responsibility of conducting the elections with the trustees who have the experience and depth of the knowledge of the bye-laws.

Anil Pillai, Sitaram Patel and Sohan Joshi have been appointed to serve on the election committee to review the process including screening nomination of applications membership status, its current standing with the State of Illinois and more importantly, to conduct elections consistent with the bylaws enshrined in the FIA constitution. To avoid any potential casting of aspersions, FIA trustees have assured they would undertake most deliberate and painstaking efforts to conduct an election that is free, fair and that which strictly adheres to the bye-laws. FIA-Chicago is inviting applications for membership from different Indian-American Non-For-Profit Associations on or before Sunday January 22nd, 2012 and also for the nomination of the officials for the year 2012-2013.


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AI announces holiday sale fares India Post News Service

NEW YORK: Air India is ringing in the New Year with Economy class sale fares from its New York area gateways (JFK and Newark Liberty International airports) to Delhi, Mumbai, and other tourism and commercial centers in India. The roundtrip fare from JFK and Newark to Delhi or Mumbai is $635. And the fare from JFK and Newark to nearly 50 other major cities in India is $743, roundtrip. The sale fares are good for transatlantic travel Sunday to Thursday eastbound and Monday to Friday westbound, and the travel period is from January 3 to May

17 from JFK and January 16 to May 17 from Newark. Tickets must be purchased by January 9, 2012. Among the many popular destinations for which the $743 sale fare applies are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, and Trivandrum. The minimum stay for all sale fare tickets is past the first Sunday, and the maximum stay is up to three months. Fuel surcharges, departure taxes, airport and other fees, including the 9/11 Security Fee ranging from approximately $533 to $580, depending on the destination - are not included.

Niles Indian community to celebrate R-Day SURENDRA ULLAL

CHICAGO: Keeping up its tradition, the Indian Community of Niles Township has announced hosting Indian Republic Day celebrations on Saturday January 21, 2012 at Fairview School Auditorium from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. According to Usha Kamaria, a spokesperson of the community, one of the highlights of nearly three hours celebrations would be the singing of patriotic songs (melodies of Lata, Rafi, Kishore

Kumar, Jagjit Singh and others) and presentation of classical Indian dances The admission fee is $10 per person that includes delicious take home snack. Kamaria said tickets need to be purchased in advance but children under age 5 are admitted fee. Those buying tickets will get them in mail provided checks are received by January 10,201. She added that no tickets would be sold at the auditorium.

MAFS Seniors celebrate Christmas Cont’d from page 13

With the same spirit of Christmas in mind, seniors at Metropolitan Asian Family Services (MAFS) celebrated this holiday with great enthusiasm and pomp at their facilities in Chicagoland, including one on Western Ave. Christmas trees were decorated with lights and colorful Christmas ornaments at each of the site, namely, in Chicago, Niles, Carol Stream, Roselle, Naperville, Algonquin and Vernon Hills. Ann Schmidt, a traditional Christmas carol singer, enchanted the seniors with carols like "Jingle Bells... Dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh, oh, what fun it is.....," and "we wish you a Merry Christmas.....and a Happy New Year..." Decorations, ornaments and Christmas drawings were also hung around the walls of the Adult Day Care halls. In the meanwhile, Santa Claus Pankaj Patel of MAFS acted as if coming out from North side, dancing in tune with carols

sung and surprised everyone. Santa made everyone happy by giving gifts and bells. There were about fifty enticing food items, beverages and sweets in a buffet

Santa Claus Pankaj Patel of MAFS acted as if coming out from North side, dancing in tune with carols sung and surprised everyone lunch to choose from. The MAFS Executive Director Santosh Kumar participated happily with others. The magical atmosphere of this great Christmas Party put a smile on every one's faces. Indeed, it was a day to rejoice.

Bible Fellowship celebrates Christmas with joy Asian Media USA

CHICAGO: The Chicago Bible Fellowship celebrated Christmas at Rob Roy Club House in Prospect Heights, a north west Chicago suburb, with lot of enthusiasm and joy. Lot of Indian food, fun and celebration, Sunday School kids enacted the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph, shepherds, and angels. Little hearts and voices celebrated the birth of the savior through singing. The youth skillfully played a skit about a man in jail and addicted to alcohol and drugs and how Christmas can de-

Children who particiapted in the celebratiaon

The function was well attended by the parents, well-wishers, friends and families. More than 200 Indian Americans showed up at the Christmas celebration marked with fun, joy and peace

A section of parishoners at the Church

liver him from addiction. The function was well attended by the parents, well-wishers, friends and families. More than 200 Indian Americans showed up at the Christmas celebration marked with fun, joy and peace. Ravi Narasimhan an IT professional, shared his testimony Christmas message, of how Jesus came to him and changed his life. Coming from a devout Brahmin family. Raghu shared his life story. People realized that Love came down in Christmas and there is need to show love to others.

Swami Tejomayananda to visit US in May there will be a camp at Piercy which is optional. The suggested donation is $5,000 per devotee, which includes boarding, lodging, and transportation, including airfare and ground transportation, Apparao pointed out. Swamiji has agreed to spend two weeks by participating in the Yatra. The total number of pilgrims will be limited to 50.

India Post News Service

CHICAGO: Swami Tejomayananda will be conducting Paschim Chinmaya Dham Yatra of the Chinmaya Mission centers in the US from May 19, 2012 through June 1, 2012, according to AppaRao Mukkamala, President, Chinmaya Mission West. After the completion of Yatra,

Swami Tejomayananda


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New Consul General plans to reach out to the community JASREEN GUPTA

FREMONT: On Wednesday December 21, guests and city members gathered to welcome the new Consul General of India, Mr N. Parthasarathi. There are several issues regarding the functioning of the consulate related to the problems the Diaspora Indians face. The new Consul General promised to try and bring about the necessary changes in the system. Mr Parthasarathi arrived in San Francisco on October 13, 2011 to begin his new tenure. He is a qualified Mechanical Engineer with a Masters in Business Administration and a Post Graduate Diploma. Earlier to this posting, he was Ambassador of India to the Republic of South Korea from 2005 till 2008. He continued to serve as Ambassador of India to Senegal till 2011, and was also accredited as Ambassador of India to Mali, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde islands, as well as

(Pics: Mohan Sabnanai & Prafull Lande)

do what is best so both America as well as India benefit and prosper." In addition to emphasizing the important fact that the Consulate is working with the communities rather than against them,

Mr Parthasarathi suggested two simple and viable ways in changing this. "We are trying to revamp the website…we are not trying to give the information of what we have, but rather give the information that you need. That

raised concerns regarding how other people view India. Mr Parthasarthi said, "We don't have to worry about what others perceive or what others feel. Be confident. We keep doing what we need to do. We keep growing."

Bi Dan Hwang Hoo is a story about an Indian princess marrying a Korean king and shares the history of India and Korea. Mr Parthasarathi conveys the reason behind writing as a form of expressing his creativity and hap-

Aside from working to remedy issues and helping the community, Mr Parthasarathi enjoys writing. He has two published books; the first, The Reluctant Assassin, is a thriller based on what he saw happening in Pakistan. The second,

piness. "It helped me in my work and diplomacy. So when things help me in doing my job and I also feel happy, that's it."

Parthasarathi believes that there must be change implemented in the consulate services that are provided for the people. People dislike the excessive waiting time and lack of service at the consulate office

High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Gambia. Mr Parthasarathi joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1981 and has served as a diplomat in countries throughout the world, including Belgium, Senegal, Pakistan, United Kingdom and Syria. During his welcome gathering on December 21, Mr Parthasarathi was asked about his main goal during the period he is likely to serve as Consul General. He said, "My main goal is basically to reach out to the community and try to do the best that is possible so that they feel the consulate is theirs. We are not trying to work at cross purposes. We are not trying to contradict each other. We want to

Parthasarathi believes that there must be change implemented in the consulate services that are provided for the people. People dislike the excessive waiting time and lack of service at the consulate office.

solves more than half the problem. Secondly, we are soon going to introduce a person who will be there physically for three hours a day who will answer questions and emails." On a larger scale some people

More pics on page 17


January 6, 2012

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India Post 17

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New Consul General plans to reach out to the community


18 India Post

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January 6, 2012

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Celebrating Darbar-E-Khalsa after IIGS' Papa DR. JASWANT SINGH SACHDEV

S

ince a little more than a quarter century, International Institute of Gurmat Studies (IIGS) under the guidance of Captain Kanwar Harbhajan Singh Ji (lovingly called Papa Ji) has been celebrating Prakash Utsav of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Sarbans Daani, the Tenth Master of the Sikhs under the auspices of Darbar-EKhalsa. It has been holding a huge gathering of the Sikhs in thousands on Christmas day in Southern California year after year. But as per the divine Will of Akaal Purakh, Papa Ji the great visionary and the founder of this one of a kind of event left for heavenly abode last January. It raised a question mark as to whether the young team of IIGS would be able to handle such a grand but complex task of the celebration of Darbar-E-Khalsa as successfully and as efficiently as Captain Sahib did but without his presence. The way the event was handled this Sunday, December of 25th, it left no doubt in the minds of the Sikh community that indeed the Captain Sahib, though himself was not present in physical body, his spirit was felt all around. Papaji the founder had prepared the ground so well that continuation of plantation of the Sikhi Daa Boota by those who were trained under him would definitely continue as before. A lifelong constant and hard toil by this selfless humble Sevadar of Sikh Panth, also an able and firm administrator proved it on this Christmas day beyond doubt that the team he prepared with his sweat and blood will stand the test of time and pass all the exams in future with flying colors. The members of IIGS Jatha and his close associates did not leave any stone unturned on this Sunday in making sure that the Sikh Sangat in thousands would be fully taken care of. Thousands and thousands of Sikhs much more than any previous celebration of Darbar-E-Khalsa arrived with their families and friends to attend this

one of the best organized religious Sikh functions arranged in a giant hall of LA County Fairgrounds in Pomona California. While several Raagi Jathas from local Gurdwaras and children Jathas did wonderful melodious Kirtan as always, the latter as well as women Jathas were given fairly predominant role to the much appreciation of the Sangat. Raagi Jatha of Bhai Gurmukh Singh Ji, the ex-Hazoori Raagi from Gurdwara Sees Ganj Sahib, Delhi with their melodious voice performed a wonderful Seva of Aasaa Di Vaar in the morning starting at

Ardas by Sardar Ranjit Singh Ji and Hukam Seva by Sardarni Manjit Kaur as always were beautifully completed. The role of Master of ceremonies was shared by different IIGS Sevadaars including Sardarnis Maninder Kaur, Payal Kaur and Jaskiran Kaur and Sardars Gurdayal Singh, Sarabdayal Singh, Sardar Daljit Singh and other young IIGS members (Sardarnis Puneet Kaur, Prabhneet Kaur, Mehar Kaur and Sardar Jasdeep Singh) all of whom handled it very professionally and efficiently.

undertaken first as founder of young Sikh missionaries in 1955 in Lucknow, India. Decorations of Gurudwaras on various events, taking care of the shoe Seva and making Sikh youth aware about Sikh way of life was his passion during his youth and otherwise. He then developed this organization first into IGS and then turned into an international organization that came to be known as IIGS. Other activities undertaken by Papa Ji such as Gurmat Camps for Sikh children and families, turban tying events, writing books, discussing

An additional component this year was the rich tribute paid to Late Papaji, Captain Kanwar Harbhajan Singh Ji by two speakers and a movie segment specifically prepared for the memory of the man whose farsightedness had brought many young Sikhs back to the fold of Sikhi

7 am sharp and then also Shabad Kiratan later in the day. A talk in the form of Katha by Bhai Harnam Singh Ji, Head Granthi from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib was fairly impressive. Both the morning Jatha and Bhai Harnam Singh were then honored on stage by Sardar Mohinder Singh ji (the chief editor of India Journal) for their extra ordinary service throughout their lives to the Sikh Panth. Young Sardarni Nimrata Kaur spoke about Sahib-E-Kamaal Guru Gobind Singh in such a way that the audience was truly mesmerized. The other duties such as

An additional component this year was the rich tribute paid to Late Papaji, Captain Kanwar Harbhajan Singh Ji by two speakers and a movie segment specifically prepared for the memory of the man whose farsightedness had brought many young Sikhs back to the fold of Sikhi. The movie had been prepared and broadcasted earlier by PTC Punjabi Channel. It detailed Papa Ji's achievements through a multitude of the Seva. Sardarni Gurpreet Kaur, the soul of IIGS, did a wonderful job in describing the work that Captain Sahib had

Gurbani and guiding Sikh children to true Sikh way of life were highlighted in details by her. The author of this write up was then asked to pay a humble tribute to Captain Sahib which he did after remembering Sahib-EKamaal, Sarbans Daani, Guru Gobind Singh Ji whose Prakash Utsav Sangat had come to celebrate. This concept of celebrating Prakash Utsav of our Guru on Christmas day was indeed a brainchild of Captain Sahib, so stated this author. The founder of IIGS, Captain Kanwar Harbhajan Singh Ji, popularly known as Papa Ji of

IIGS, specifically chose this day to engage the community constructively that otherwise wouldn't have much to do given that this is a universal Holiday. Honoring successful Sikhs including religious persons such as Raagis and Kathavachik of repute and celebrating this day in a royal and regal manner of which it was truly deserving of, were the ideas popularized by Papa Ji, sangat was thus reminded by the author. Bringing the concept of Chardi Kala in day to day life, addressing Sardar and Sardarni before the first name of a Sikh boy and girl respectively were the concepts that Captain Sahib always highlighted. Papa Ji's emphasis on maintaining Saabat Soorat during IIGS camps training, the results of which were so evident in this gathering, was also drawn to the attention by the author as a speaker. Papa Ji always stimulated his pupil to climb higher in their academic careers so as to become successful professionals besides following the Sikh faith in its true essence, was what Captain Sahib's entire aim had been, as per the author. His talk ended with a humble and passionate appeal to the Sikh community to keep on helping the hard working team of IIGS with their Tan, Man and Dhan, so that the work initiated by Captain Sahib for uplifting the Sikh youth to a true Sikh way of life could continue for ever after him. While the religious program was being held indoors, an equal number of the Sangat was treated to best of the snacks, including hot fresh Chhole Bhathuray, Pakoras, Gol Guppe, sweets hot Jalebis in cool wintery Sun outside. Guru Ka Langar again was served in a beautiful setting with Sangat members sitting on stools all around while high pitched loud speakers kept on delivering all what was happening inside in a very clear and crisp transmission. Cont’d on page 17


January 6, 2012

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Capt K. H. Singh golf tournament makes a mark

(Pics: Jag Reyatt Photography) India Post News Service

CHINO HILLS, CA: On December 10, over 44 golfers were invited to participate in the first annual Captain K.H. Singh Memorial Golf Tournament held at the Los Serranos Country Club which was organized by International Institute of Gurmat Studies, Inc. in memory of its founder. The mountains as the back drop and the weather in the high 60s to low 70s made it a perfect time for golf. The day started early with the volunteers Jasdeep Singh, Puneet Kaur, Prabhneet Kaur, Sukhmani Kaur, Harji Anup Singh and Sahib Singh arriving at 7 am to help set up the registration and refreshments counters for the golfers. As the players arrived, they were greeted with coffee, tea, donuts, and goody bags which included a complimentary sleeve of balls and Polo Shirt among other things. Prior to tee off, Golfers competed in a putting contest organized by the infamous Eric Tracy,

aka The Mulligan Man. At 11 am, 12 groups competed for the lowest score and other competitions organized throughout the tournament. All age groups and skills levels participated in this tournament. The youngest golfer was 6 years old, Kanika Bains. Teens Tavleen Kochar and Simran K. Singh who play on their respective college and high school teams, also participated. David Kramer, the owner of the golf course joined the tournament to show his support for the event. During the day, warm samosas were delivered to all golfers while they enjoyed their game. Throughout the day, the official tournament photographer, Jag Reyatt, covered the event with his creative photography. The event ended with an awards dinner banquet where more than 125 people attended. The program began with a memorial speech about Captain Kanwar Harbhajan Singh, Papa, which was beautifully delivered by Ms. Payal Kaur. Two IIGS scholarships were introduced and

Celebrating Darbar-E-Khalsa after IIGS' Papa Cont’d from page 16

A final formal send off of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in a helicopter with entire Sangat looking up in the sky after it had walked in a profession behind the beat of a Nagaara and Panj Pyaras as well as team of Gatka players, was a scene to watch. In fact it was a beautiful Christmas day in Sunny Southern California where a sea of turbans in the campus of LA County Fairground became evident every inch of space making one believe that Sikh Panth of Khalsa as envisioned by Kalgidhar Pita is alive and well. The humble but a hard working

true Sevadar of Sikh Panth, Captain Kanwar Harbhajan Singh who touched the lives of many young Sikhs and directed them to a suc-

A sea of turbans in the campus of LA County Fairground became evident every inch of space cessful Sikh living though not present in body was felt everywhere in spirit. One will hope and pray that such will continue till eternity.

the details for these scholarships were announced by Ms. Jaskiran Kaur. Excellent Mexican buffet was enjoyed by the attendees as raffle

television. As delicious dessert and coffee were served, the DJ, 3 Turbans, played the latest music for everyone to enjoy. Gurpreet Singh who came from

day! Mulligan Man was wonderful. To top it all, the awards banquet was nicely done! Congratulations!" Guninder Kaur, one of the or-

Redlands to participate in the daylong event summed it up best, "Great Job Team IIGS!! The golf tournament was very well organized. It was very nice to see so many Sikhs on the golf course to-

ganizers of the tournament gave special thanks to all the sponsors, golfers, dinner guests and volunteers without whom this event wouldn't have been this memorable.

Prior to tee off, Golfers competed in a putting contest organized by the infamous Eric Tracy, aka The Mulligan Man. At 11 am, 12 groups competed for the lowest score and other competitions organized throughout the tournament prizes were announced. Raffle winners received putters, drivers, gift baskets, free rounds of golf, and tickets to the Anaheim Ducks game, just to name a few. The grand prize was a 32" flat screen


Community/California

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1,200 Ahmadi Muslims gather in Chino for 26th West Coast convention

Muslim Sunrise editor Falahuddin Shams

Humanity First Dir Munun Naeem presiding over afternoon session.

This past Christmas weekend heralded more than just the traditional church services, turkey dinners, holiday sales and gift-giving. At the Baitul Hameed Mosque on Ramona Ave. in Chino, an overflow crowd of 1,261 Ahmadi Muslims and guests filled the prayers halls and lecture auditoriums for three days of invigorating spiritual fellowship beginning on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 23rd and ending past noon on Sunday, Dec. 25th. Ahmadi Muslims from 36 chapters across America convened for their 26th annual West Coast convention. Most of the participants came from chapters stretching from San Diego to British Columbia, but a decent number hailed from chapters on or near the East Coast such as Philadelphia, New York and the Islamic Community's U.S. headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. Several dozen more came from as far away as Canada, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Many of these conventioneers were national office-holders of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is now established in 200 countries with membership in the tens of millions. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, began holding these conventions in 1891, several years after the

Community was established in 1889. Ahmad started the Islamic reformation movement at the behest of God, who Ahmad claimed appointed him as the Reformer of

Abdur Rahim Hubbs on Benevolence of Holy Prophet

the Age and Imam Mahdi (the guided spiritual leader) for the Muslims, as well as the awaited manifestation of the Messiah expected in Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. With the exception of most Jews, who believe their messiah is still yet to come, the followers of all the other major faiths are waiting for the Second Coming of their messiah or prophet. Ahmadi Muslims believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad came not only as the Imam Mahdi for the Muslims,

Marriage Seminar (L to R) Training Sec Nasir Malik, Ansar Pres Wajeeh Bajwa and Imam Shamshad.

but also as the fulfillment of all awaited Second Comings, including that of Jesus (peace be upon him). Christians and most Muslims believe Jesus was taken up bodily

With the exception of most Jews, who believe their messiah is still yet to come, the followers of all the other major faiths are waiting for the Second Coming of their messiah or prophet alive to Heaven 2,000 years ago and will, in the latter days, descend bodily alive from Heaven. Ahmadi Muslims believe as Jesus taught - that Second Comings are not literal, but metaphorical, occurring through another prophet appointed by God in the "power and spirit" of the earlier prophet - just as (according to Jesus) John the Baptist was the "second coming" of Elijah. The purposes of the Ahmadiyya Muslim conventions are to foster mutual love and brotherhood among the members, offer new converts a chance to meet other members, increase the righteousness of members, and offer those not already members the opportunity to meet and interact with Ahmadi Muslims directly and hopefully experience a renewed zeal for spiritual knowledge and nearness to God. Satisfying one's hunger for nearness to God is accomplished in Islam through the five-time daily prayers that all Muslims traditionally perform, preferably in congre-

gation. At the convention, the sheer volume of parishioners adds a deeply-affecting emotionalism to the prayer ritual that heightens one's sense of community and to-

American convert Israh Siddique speaking speech on ĂŤIslam as a Way of Life'.

getherness while at the same time intensifying the experience of individual connection to God during the prayer itself. A person's thirst for spiritual knowledge is regularly sated during the three-day convention by

many heartfelt devotional poems and thought-provoking and inspirational speeches delivered on topics related to Islam, the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the Holy Quran, the examples of great Muslims past and present, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, its founder Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and his Khalifas or spiritual leaders. (The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is currently blessed with its fifth Khalifa, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who directs the worldwide affairs of the Community from London. He was elected in April of 2003.) To see video coverage for all three days of the 26th annual West Coast Ahmadiyya Muslim convention, go on-line to: www.Ahmadiyya.us then look under "Updates From Alislam.org" and click on the link that says: "26th Jalsa Salana USA West Coast 2011 (23 to 25 Dec)." Clicking on this link will open a YouTube window showing all the video coverage of the three-day convention in the order it was delivered. Cont’d on page 21

Audience members at 26th West Coast convention.


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Schoolboy raises funds to save Belize Zoo India Post News Service

On December 2 Yuvraj Duggal, a Junior at Lyons Township High School , was honored for his wonderful fundraising efforts to help save the Belize Zoo's endangered species. Yuvraj presented the Belize Zoo with a check for 22,000

had nothing but praise for Yuvraj. Also present was the director of the Belize Zoo, Sharon Matola. Ms. Matola expressed her gratitude by stating, "All I want to say is that we are head over heels over this donation." In appreciation, a group of tumblers then performed an acrobatic routine. An observer

Mr. Ramos expressed that the exhibits will be rebuilt and the endangered species will be taken care of because of Yuvraj's hard work and dedication! Belize dollars raised in the United States through very focused efforts to help the Zoo! Many people gathered at the Belize Zoo for a ceremony, including the Ambassador of the United States, to Belize, Vinai Thrunallapally and his wife, who

at the presentation also stated that "If every kid could learn from Yuvraj about giving and helping like this, it would make a big difference in the world!" The event was covered by several local Belize media outlets including Channel 5 TV, local radio

Yuvraj Duggal raised over twenty two thousend Belize dollars for the Belize Zoo

stations, newspapers, and National Geographic who filmed the event for an episode to be telecast at a later date. Later that day, Jasmine Ramos, a representative of the Belize For-

est Department honored Yuvraj with a reception. Mr. Ramos expressed that the exhibits will be rebuilt and the endangered species will be taken care of because of Yuvraj's hard work and dedication!

Yuvraj, was sincerely humbled by the overall experience and said, ""Everyone can follow their dreams and visions if they believe in the cause and keep focused. I love the people of Belize."

1,200 Ahmadi Muslims gather in Chino for 26th West Coast convention Cont’d from page 20

The speeches on Friday dealt with subjects as diverse as: the Holy Quran as a Divine Sign from God; the Benevolence of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); and the meaning of the term "throne" in relation to God and His seat of absolute authority and majesty as opposed to the belief by some that it's a physical chair for God to sit down on when He's tired. The speeches on Saturday featured separate sessions in the morning -- one for ladies, where they delivered their own discourses to their fellow Ahmadi sisters, and a simultaneous session for men. The speech line-up for the ladies featured these topics: Power of Prayer: Complete Trust in Allah. Patience is a Virtue: Examples from the Life of Muhammad (pbuh). A Woman's Role in Raising Children. A Wife's Responsibility towards her Husband. Ahmadi Youth Identity in Western Society. On the men's side, the scheduled topics included: Life of Uthman, the Third Khalifa in Islam. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's Love for the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Islam is a Way of Life. A Husband's Responsibility towards his Wife & Family. Both sessions ran from 10am until 1:30pm, the traditional time for the first afternoon prayer, Zuhr, which was combined due to the convention program with Asr, the

A section of the audience

late-afternoon prayer. After these two congregational prayers were completed, the main session continued in the men's lec-

Prophecies about the Advent of the Imam Mahdi. Directives and Advice by the Khalifa regarding Moral Training.

The speeches on Friday dealt with subjects as diverse as: the Holy Quran as a Divine Sign from God; the Benevolence of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); and the meaning of Sat African American Ahmadi convert Omar Rajon listens to convention speech.

ture hall, where the speeches covered these topics: Worship of God and Service to Humanity.

the term "throne" This last speech was delivered by Shamshad A. Nasir, Imam of the Chino Mosque where the convention was held. He related the di-

African American convert Rahman Abdul Aleem mans the Book tables.

rections from the Khalifa given to Ahmadi women on such things as increasing one's piety and humbleness, maintaining one's chastity and righteousness, keeping away from harmful and un-Islamic habits and customs which are accepted in the West such as unrestricted socializing with members of the opposite gender, wearing inappropriate clothing, and using Facebook and other social media. Advice to men followed along similar lines, because being modest and righteous applied equally to both men and women. Following the completion of Saturday's afternoon program around sunset, the two remaining daily prayers (Maghrib and Ishaa) were performed consecutively be-

cause of additional evening programs, including a seminar for parents and their unmarried children on how to find suitable and righteous spouses. The concluding Sunday session began at 10am and ended around 12:30pm and featured these speeches: "Prayers are the Key to Bliss and Fortune" and "Remembering the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi." The concluding address was given by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's national vice-president, Dr. Naseem Rehmatullah. This was followed by collective silent prayer, then the two afternoon congregational prayers (Zuhr and Asr) were performed in the prayer halls, and then lunch was served.


Realty Tidbits ย„ Mumbai property registrations down 20%

Real Estate

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egistration of property deals in Mumbai, the country's most expensive realty market, continued to decline, hitting a 31month low in November. During the month, registration realty deals slipped 20% from a year ago to 4,060, said a report from brokerage Prabhudas Lilladher. On a monthly basis, realty registration remained weak with 12% decline in the backdrop of no significant price correction and high interest rates. The data reinstates the fact that the festival season of Diwali has also failed to drive up sales or gather momentum even after offers and freebies offered by developers. According to brokers, some project and developer-specific discounts to the tune of nearly 5-8% have already started, but most consumers are deferring their decision on assets purchases anticipating a sharp correction. Bookings momentum, barring few projects, continues to be on downtrend in most pockets of the market, and sales are expected to remain low until property rates decline or home loan rates start easing, they said. Registration of lease transactions for November, however, continued to show an uptrend with 58% year-on-year growth at 8,580.

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yderabad-based IVRCL Infra is planning to sell as much as 1,600 acres out its land bank that it had secured for its real estate development. The land spans across five cities: Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. The 1987-founded IVRCL, which operates in the core sectors of water & environment, transportation, buildings and power, also has four land blocks in Noida. These properties, east of Delhi, are ones it plans to sell off in the current financial year itself, reports Business Standard.

Real estate attracted $1,700 million in PE investments in 2011

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eal estate emerged as the popular parking place for private equity funds who invested $1,700 million in the sector during 2011. Power sector that topped the PE charts during the first six months of the year finished third with $892-million investments behind automotive sector that could attract $1006 million private equity funding. Overall PE investments during the year rose to $7.7 billion through 347 deals, up from $6.2 billion and 253 deals in 2010. However, the country's total investment in the private sector was a tad lower than last year. In 2011, PE players signed 29 deals in real estate at a time when the sector found it tough to receive bank funding, a report by consulting firm Grant Thornton

says. "Banks have become too cautious to lend to the sector and PE players found a new opportunity. They expect high returns within a year or so," says Raja Lahiri, partner, transaction advi-

project has state-of-the-art infrastructure while the design is environmentally sustainable. Marvel Edge's unique curvilinear faรงade will provide a distinctive signature to Pune's skyline. "Its faรงade with perforated envelopes will reduce heat exposure and minimize power consumption," said Makhija.

The project is coming up on a sprawling 14 acre green campus with a total of 1.1 million sq ft built up area "This will be the first of a kind project, designed with an international taste and style in Pune, offering innovative design, technology, luxury and quality execution," said Jhavar. According to him, the commercial and office spaces ranging between 1,500 sq ft and 1,800 sq ft have been sold out. At present, only areas measuring 2,300 sq ft up to 50,000 sq ft are available for sale.

25% returns from real estate deals. Foreign investors are optimistic about India. All they want is prompt action and friendly policies," he says. Automotive, power & energy,

The year saw $50.9 billion invested through various forms of private investments like mergers & acquisitions, PE deals and qualified institutional placement (QIP) sory services, Grant Thornton India. Of the 100 transactions handled by the firm, more than half are into real estate. Private equity in real estate projects will fetch considerable returns by next year-end or early 2013, says Vikram Hosangady, partner, KPMG. "Limited partners (who write cheque for funds) expect 15-

Marvel launches luxury project in Pune une-based real estate devel oper, Marvel Realtors, has launched a 1.1 million square feet luxury commercial space project, Marvel Edge at Viman Nagar in Pune. The company has tied up with Och-Ziff, US-based Nasdaq-listed hedge funds, and has also invested Rs 760 crore in the project. According to Vishwajeet Jhavar, managing director and CEO of Marvel Realtors, the project is coming up on a sprawling 14 acre green campus with a total of 1.1 million sq ft built up area of which 0.9 million is dedicated for business space. "The total sales revenue of Marvel Edge is Rs 1,200 crore. Och-Ziff has invested over Rs 140 crore and owns 75 per cent of the project," says Vinod Makhija, director of Marvel Realtors. He said the project will be completed within 20 months. "We have already sold onethird of the project at Rs 7,500 per sq ft," said Makhija. According to him, HDFC PMS had already purchased 1,00,000 sq ft area in the project. He said the nine-storeyed

January 6, 2012

IVRCL puts land assets on the block

banking & financial services and IT & ITes received PE investments of $1006 mn, $892 mn, $816 mn and $783 mn respectively. The sectors were ahead of telecom, metals & mining, pharma & healthcare, hospitality who saw a declining interest from private equity firms. Bain Capital and Govt of Singapore clinched the top deal of

the year of $849 million when they together took 30% stake in Hero Investment. Macquarie SBI Infrastructure Investments, Blackstone and a consortium of Standard Chartered PE (Mauritius), JM Financial and NYLIM Jacob Ballas have invested $200 mn each in separate deals. "Though the outbound deals have seen lesser activity due to weak global conditions, PE firms continue to attract better deals," adds Lahiri. The year saw $50.9 billion invested through various forms of private investments like mergers & acquisitions, PE deals and qualified institutional placement (QIP). The invested amount in 2011 was however, lower than $62.2 billion investments in 2010 and so were the number of deals that fell to 961 deals from 971 deals last year.

As Rupee falls, NRIs 'home' in on realty in Mumbai

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he record decline in the value of the Indian rupee and the sluggish realty market have proved to be a double delight for overseas Indians investing in property here. Sunil Sequira, a resident of Kuwait, has zeroed in on a property in Thane at a rate nearly 30% lower than usual. "This is the right time to buy property," he said. "Many of my friends have also decided to buy property in India. We are expecting an annual 10% to 15% appreciation." Sandeep Reddy, co-founder of Groff.com, a real estate brokerage firm, said it has been getting a good response from overseas buyers. At the recent property exhibition in Dubai, many people booked flats on the spot, and several showed interest in flying to Mumbai to check out property and finalize their decisions. "NRIs are mainly interested in Navi Mumbai and Bangalore properties. This time, there was a slightly lower demand for the Delhi market. Going by this response, we have decided to organize and participate in exhibitions in Singapore and other international places that have a large

Indian population," said Reddy. Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director of the Hiranandani Group, said, "The decline in the rupee value against the dollar/ dinar in the international market has helped to attract more and more NRI buyers. If the cost of the flat is Rs1 crore as per the Indian

"We were unhappy with the poor response from domestic buyers," said Manohar Shroff market, the NRI has to pay only Rs85 lakh- 15% less, thanks to the record decline in the rupee value." Commercial opportunities in the West are on a downturn. So, people are looking at the Indian market for investment and business purposes, he added. "Once the RBI brings down its high interest rate, the city property market will surge again. There is a

huge demand for houses, but the high costs and interest rates have discouraged buyers temporarily. People are awaiting the low interest rate loan." Sukhraj Nahar, managing director of the Nahar Group concurred. "Many NRIs have shown interest in buying property. They will come to India around the end of December and in January 2012 to see and finalize the properties. Our city developer body is also organizing a property exhibition in Dubai to attract more NRI buyers," he said. "We were unhappy with the poor response from domestic buyers," said Manohar Shroff, general secretary of the Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry, Navi Mumbai. "Now this void has been filled by overseas buyers. During this crunch period, it's a blessing for developers, who were reeling under the immense pressure of high interest rates, low property sales and high construction and labor costs. NRIs will help us sustain the market. Once the slump is over, our local buyers will turn up in greater numbers to rejuvenate the market."


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Realty firms shun expansion, push sales

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fter a year that saw borrowing and inputs costs soar, crimping profit margins, property developers may have little choice but to put the brakes on expansion and try hard to push sales of existing projects in 2012 to generate cash flows as sales slow and inventories pile up. The Delhi-National Capital region (NCR) had the maximum number of unsold residences-102,758 units-as of end-September, followed by Mumbai with 90,512 and Bangalore with 46,596 units, according to PropEquity, a real estate data provider. Chennai and Bangalore piled up the most inventory of unsold residences over the previous year. In the coming year, the realty market will likely see a consolidation of developer portfolios, with firms opting to dispose longterm assets and land to focus on what can be delivered in the short-term to generate cash flows, said Sanjay Dutt, chief executive, business, Jones Lang La Salle, a property advisory. A consolidation will likely tame the overheated industry by slowing unwarranted construction and weeding out firms that have only added to the competition. Real estate firms such as Bangalore's Salarpuria Sattva Group and Ajmera Realty and Infrastructure Ltd as well as private equity investors are already scouting for buying opportunities in unfinished projects that need a bailout. "Developers will put forward their lastresort plan of action in the coming year,"

Dutt said. "That includes measures such as selling cheap, offering more flexible terms to private equity firms and NBFCs (nonbanking financial companies) for raising debt, and also to consumers for making payments. Dutt also predicted "a lot of trading between developers of so-called distressed asset deals". In 2012, analysts foresee a 10-15% correction in prices in projects launched this

(Credai). Sales in Mumbai dropped by 20% in November from a year earlier and by 12% from the preceding month, according to a December report by brokerage Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt. Ltd. Yet, prices have steadily increased in Mumbai and NCR, the top markets. In the past year, Gurgaon saw the maximum price appreciation, followed by Mumbai and Pune, said analysts. Another

The Delhi-National Capital region (NCR) had the maximum number of unsold residences-102,758 units-as of end-September, followed by Mumbai with 90,512 and Bangalore with 46,596 units, according to PropEquity year, and the overall anxiety of a slowdown in construction activity and project execution to continue. Developers continue to be under pressure with construction costs rising by 40% and labor costs rising by 60% over the past year and a half, said Lalit Kumar Jain, chairman and managing director of Kumar Urban Development Ltd. "Hopefully, post June, the situation should improve because in cities such as Mumbai, buyers can hold on as long as 1214 months," said Jain, also the national president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India

aspect that has industry watchers worried going into the next year is the debt pile-up in the sector. Most developers over the past year have been trying to bring down their debt-equity ratios. India's largest real estate firm DLF Ltd has a debt of Rs.22,519 crore and is trying to sell assets across cities. Mumbai-based Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), which has a debt of Rs.5,800 crore, too is trying to keep its debt under control and repay on schedule. "The focus would be on execution. One would consolidate and not be leveraged, and expansion plans can wait till 2013," said

Hari Pandey, vice-president of finance at HDIL. Amit Goenka, national director, capital transactions, Knight Frank India, a property advisory, said "repayments may be an issue for highly leveraged players." The other worry is the ability to raise capital. The Reserve Bank of India has warned banks to be cautious about the sector, though according to a December report by IDFC Securities Ltd, lending by banks and NBFCs to developers between October 2010 and September grew 14% to Rs.1.6 trillion. Developers that weren't able to tap banks and NBFCs turned to PE funds and private lenders. This year, PE funds have invested $1.08 billion across 30 transactions in both projects and companies, according to VCCEdge, which tracks investments. In 2010, PE funds invested $1.1 billion in 35 deals. S. Sriniwasan, chief executive, Kotak Realty Fund, said now is a good time to take equity in real estate companies. "As a longterm player, if we get assets in a profit-sharing basis with the developer, we would put in equity instead of just lending," he said. The year 2010-11 saw the emergence of debt-structured deals, where returns are guaranteed and adequate protection is built in against risks. Jones Lang La Salle said in its India Capital Markets report that realty fund sizes will be smaller in 2012 so the investment cycles end quickly, and that there will be more niche funds with focused investment strategies.

DLF and Hubtown sell Pune SEZ Draft real estate Bill discriminatory: FICCI to Blackstone

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eal estate developers DLF Ltd and Hubtown Ltd have sold an IT SEZ that they co-own in Pune to private equity fund Blackstone for Rs 810 crore. DLF has a 67% shareholding in the joint venture company that owns the 1.8 million sq ft SEZ in Pune's Hinjewadi area. In an announcement to the Bombay Stock Exchange, DLF has said that "the company along with its joint venture partner Hubtown Limited, have sold 100% of their respective shareholding in DLF Ackruti Info Parks (Pune) Limited, for an aggregate consideration of Rs 810 crore to an entity controlled by real estate fund affiliated with The Blackstone Group, BRE/ Mauritius Investments II, after obtaining all necessary approvals." The Board of Approvals for SEZs had earlier objected to the sale of equity in SEZs to foreign investors after the revenue department raised an objection. Earlier this year, DLF had sought approval from the board to sell the IT SEZ in Pune to a foreign investor. In September, the board had fi-

nally given its nod to the proposal of DLF Ackruti Info Parks (Pune) Ltd for sale to the foreign investor, after the law ministry pointed out that the sale of equity in an SEZ should not be treated as sale of land.

DLF said that its debt reduction target in this financial year is Rs 3,000 crore, which will be mobilized through the sale of its "Noida IT Park, Pune IT SEZ, some select land transactions and the hospitality assets" "The above transaction is in line with the DLF's objective of divesting its non-strategic assets," DLF said in the announcement. To reduce its mounting debt,

DLF has decided to sell its noncore assets, which include both land, SEZs and some office buildings. The company's debt stood at Rs 22,519 crore at the end of September 2011, up nearly Rs 1,000 crore from Rs 21,524 crore as of June 30. It recently concluded the sale of an IT Park in Noida in which it had 71% stake to IDFC and has already got Rs 200 crore payment in the first tranche. In a recent analyst presentation, DLF said that its debt reduction target in this financial year is Rs 3,000 crore, which will be mobilized through the sale of its "Noida IT Park, Pune IT SEZ, some select land transactions and the hospitality assets." It is also in the process of selling its luxury hotel chain Aman Resorts. DLF has got five bids recently for the property from Kingdom Holdings, Chinese investor HNA, French luxury house Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, Malaysian fund Khazanah and Qatar Investment Authority. According to sources, DLF is expecting sell the hotel chain for at least $450 million.

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ndustry chamber FICCI has said the draft Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill, 2011, does not provide equal treatment to all stakeholders and asked the government to make amendments for the benefit of builders. "If a project gets delayed because of approval issues, then why penalize the developer? There should be accountability on the part of machinery also and the regulator should consider this aspect," Ficci Real Estate Committee Co-Chair

Pranay Vakil told reporters. Equal treatment should be meted out to other stakeholders in real estate projects, such as government agencies and authorities at the Centre, State and municipal levels, financing agencies and brokers, he added. According to the draft bill, Vakil said a developer will not be allowed to collect any advance from the customer before he gets all approvals and this process may lead to inflow of black money into the sector.


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Jittery investors selling flats below market rate

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nvestors who spoiled the real estate mar ket for the buyer by blindly buying new homes are now spoiling the builder's prospects by selling apartments at values lower than what the builder is selling them for. If you are a buyer, look out for the investor, who is desperate to get out of a sluggish market. Manisha had been looking for an apartment in Noida for almost a year and was worried about the pace at which developers were raising property prices. She had also read about the stress real estate developers have been under for the last few quarters. So, when a broker told her about an apartment on resale in Noida, which came at a 30% discount from what the developer, 3C, was offering for a similar flat in the same project, she jumped at it. The investor who was selling had bought the flat in 3C's Lotus Panache in 2010 at a significantly lower price of around Rs 3,000 per sq ft. Manisha got it for Rs 4,300 per sq ft, while the basic selling price offered by the developer is Rs 5,500 per sq ft. In a market full of uncer-

tainties, both investors and buyers are jittery. "The apartment complex is already half way through and the risk is lower for us," says Manisha, who will now get the flat in two years compared to at least 3-4 years if she had bought it from the primary market. "Buyers today are concerned about de-

gone up. Delivery timelines for a number of projects have been pushed back because developers are finding it difficult to fund projects. According to property research firm PropEquity, nearly half of the 930,000 under-construction residential units in the country, scheduled for deliv-

"Some investors had gone overboard in 2009-10 and had bought multiple apartments. They have paid over 50% of the price but some of them are now feeling the pinch" livery timelines and of course high prices," says Sumit Joshi, director of Noida-based Real Credit Consultancy. The steep hike in home loan rates in the last one-year hasn't helped either. The concerns of buyers are not unfounded. The debt level of real estate companies has risen considerably in the last few years and input costs have

ery between 2011 and 2013, are likely to be delayed by up to 18 months. In recent months, secondary market property sales have been higher than primary sales by developers. "This is especially true for projects where a considerable portion of construction work is already complete," says

Prashant Kaura, director, GenReal Property Advisers. There has been a rise in secondary sales because many investors are looking at cashing out of projects. The reasons for wanting to exit might differ- while some are facing a cash crunch themselves, others are unsure about the developer they are invested with. Some others want to exit to invest in other projects. "Some investors had gone overboard in 2009-10 and had bought multiple apartments. They have paid over 50% of the price but some of them are now feeling the pinch," says Abhay Khemka of Khemka Investments and Properties in Gurgaon. A Mumbai-based wealth manager with a multinational bank had bought an apartment in Unitech's Vistas project in late 2009 for around Rs 3,000 per sq ft. This was around the time real estate prices were looking up and jobs were secure. She is looking at exiting the project now and is getting offers for a price of around Rs 4,500 per sq ft, while the developer is selling at Rs 5,600 per sq ft.

Green Tree Homes unveils 'Green 201' GMR sells 30% stake in Singapore arm

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reen Tree Homes and Ventures, a new property development company launched by a group of architects and designers, has unveiled its first project - Green 201, a residential apartment project at Pudupakkam. The location of the project is close to Siruseri, which is the IT hub on OMR, Chennai's IT corridor. According to the builders, the project is built according to international standards in Chennai with eco-friendly features juxtaposed with contemporary designs. The 15-storeyed building comes with a garden on each floor. The project offers great view of the surroundings, optimum space utility, no wall sharing between apartments for better privacy and a roof top clubhouse. "With growing urbanization and ever increasing pollution, it is becoming hard to find a house, where you can find some green-

ery. Green 201 is a holistically planned and aesthetically designed micro township that promises to offer a wholesome living experience to community living," said Pon Ravichandran, director of Green Tree Homes and Ventures. "Every home comes with a window garden - with French windows

of the blocks in June. The entire project will be ready for possession in 36 months," added Ravichandran. The company has offered a launch price of Rs 3,000 per sq ft and it is not charging any additional "floor rise price", which is the norm with most other build-

According to the builders, the project is built according to international standards in Chennai with eco-friendly features juxtaposed with contemporary designs - giving maximum accessibility to air circulation and light," said Dinesh, another director of the company. The project offers 585 apartments, including two BHK of approximately 1,030 sq ft and three BHK units 1,330 sq ft. "Construction work for two blocks will start in January next year and the rest

ers. There would also be a leaf shaped amphitheatre located at the centre of the five residential towers. Other features of the project include, fully landscaped terrace, rooftop swimming pool, a well equipped gym, tennis and table tennis courts, a senior citizen lounge, meditation zone, ATM and pharmacy.

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MR Infrastructure had completed sale of 30 per cent stake in its Singapore-based subsidiary GMR Energy to Malaysian oil and gas major Petronas for about SGD 50 million. "The transfer of [30 per cent] shares [in GMR Energy] to Petronas Power Sdn Bhd [PPSB] a power subsidiary of Petronas International, was completed on December 27 for a consideration of SGD 50 million," GMR Infrastructure said in a statement. It added that the stake sale, announced in September this year, was done after getting approval from the lenders of GMR Energy. The company is developing an 800 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power plant on Jurong Island in Singapore. The statement further said that

Petronas has also paid SGD 19 million equivalent towards the 30 per cent shareholder loan contributed by GMR to date. Besides this, the Malaysian oil and gas major would also be "contributing to future equity requirements of the project prorated to its 30 per cent stake. In addition, Petronas International has become a joint sponsor of the project," the statement added. The power generating facility of GMR Energy is being constructed by a consortium of Siemens and Samsung. It will be fuelled by re-gassified LNG and is scheduled for commercial operations in 2013. The acquisition of 30 per cent stake in GMR Energy marks Petronas group's maiden foray into the international power market.

Puravankara to sell three properties for Rs 250 crore

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uravankara Projects will sell three commercial properties in Bangalore and Chennai for Rs 250 crore to partly pay off its mounting debt. "There is pressure on margin, with cost of construction going up every month. We are in talks with information technology firms to sell 15 lakh sq ft built-to-suit plots and some people have shown interest," said Jackbastian K Nazareth, chief executive officer of the Bangalorebased company. He, however, did not reveal the names of the poten-

tial buyers. Puravankara's outstanding debt from banks and financial institutions is Rs 1,160 crore. Its net debt for the second quarter of fiscal year 2011 was at Rs 933 crore. The company's net sales for the quarter ended September 2011 stood at Rs 198 crore compared to Rs 154 crore in the fiscal year 2011. Its net profit for the second quarter of fiscal year 2012 was at Rs 26.5 crore, down 34 per cent over the last year. "We will not use the funds raised to finance our ongo-

‘We are in talks with information technology firms to sell 15 lakh sq ft built-to-suit plots and some people have shown interest’

ing projects, but our main objective is to bring down the debt equity ratio to below 0.5 from the current 0.7 levels," Nazareth said. The company is trying to improve its operational cash flows and strengthening its balance sheet. For the September quarter of fiscal year 2012, sales volume decreased by 47 per cent to 396 units compared to the same period last year. However, average realization grew 27 per cent quarter on quarter. "We are targeting cash inflows of Rs 1,400 crore from sales

of apartments in the coming fiscal year through our real estate businesses in the next 18 months. But if anything goes wrong, we may look at a structure deal to raise $250 million from private equity fund to reduce debt," Nazareth said. The group has an extensive and considerable land bank of 125.17 million sq ft across India. Currently, Puravankara's has around 20 projects, totaling to 27 million sq ft at different stages of development in the south and in Kolkata.


FREDDA SACHAROW

NEW JERSEY: With their lush scores and lavish dance sequences, Hindi-language films draw an audience of millions worldwide. But the phenomenon known as Bollywood does more than entertain, a Rutgers academic believes. The billiondollar industry introduces Indians living in dozens of countries abroad to their heritage and gives them a much-desired link to their culture. "A lot of how Diasporic citizens understand themselves comes through these films," says Meheli Sen, assistant professor of cinema studies and African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) in Rutgers' School of Arts and Sciences. "The movies help them answer the question: How do I hang on to traditional Indian culture while I'm here?" Sen, who grew up in the eastern region of India, several hours from Calcutta, has devoted her research to post-independence commercial cinema, particularly as it pertains to genre, gender, postcoloniality and globalization. Since coming to Rutgers from the Uni-

versity of Oklahoma in September, she has been introducing a wide range of students - those of Indian descent, general film lovers, and the merely curious - to the collective body of films she calls "a central access point to Indian culture." "Bollywood's connection to any kind of reality - Indian or otherwise - is tenuous at best. But the very spectacular excesses of this cinema strike a chord with global audiences and fans," she says. The English-language press in India coined the term "Bollywood" to refer to movies produced in Bombay (now Mumbai) roughly since the 1990s, Sen says. Although the designation encompasses many film genres, all feature a strong reliance on stars; a running time of three hours or more; and the inclusion of at least six to eight songs which may or may not be integrated into the narrative. "Hindi cinema has something for ev-

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eryone," the professor says. "The films tend to operate more on an emotional sense than a linear one, and they try to speak to a maximum number of people across all divides: language, gender, age, social status." Mumbai produces between 300 and 450 Bollywood films every year, targeted as much to Indian-born residents scattered around the world as to its own population, Sen notes. Many of these are exported to Dubai, England, and other countries with large concentrations of Indian ex-patriots. "New Jersey has the largest Indian Diaspora in

the world - that's one of the things that brought me to Rutgers," says Sen, who is co-editing an anthology titled Figurations in Indian Film and working on a book-length manuscript on post-colonial Hindi cinema.

"These movies tend to operate on more of an emotional plane than some of them are used to," she says. "There's not always continuity in the storytelling. What I try to get across is that Bollywood is not only one type of film, and that this is a constantly evolving type of cinema� The educator received her PhD from Emory University after earning a bachelor's in comparative literature and a master's degree in film studies, both from Jadavpur University in Kolkata,

Meheli Sen

India. She says her tendency to "think through images" drove her into her field of research - that and a love for films in general. In addition to Hindi films, she counts among her favorites the French classic Mon Oncle, and the American perennial The Postman Always Rings Twice. Through a series of Friday-night screenings on campus - 15 or 16 of them over the course of the semester - Sen conveys her zeal to students, many new to the tropes of Bollywood.

"These movies tend to operate on more of an emotional plane than some of them are used to," she says. "There's not always continuity in the storytelling. What I try to get across is that Bollywood is not only one type of film, and that this is a constantly evolving type of cinema." Off-campus, New Jersey residents can get a taste of these productions at selected movie houses, including several in Edison and Iselin, Sen notes. Many are also available online. Cont’d on page 27


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Emperor Asoka revisited

India Post News Service

NEW YORK: "Asoka: A Love Story", a historical novel by Harish Singhal, tells the story of the title character, the famed conqueror and reformer of ancient India, and his tormented romance with the beautiful Anga.

The novel, a fictionalized account based on historical research, traces Asoka's development from brutal ruthlessness into one of the world's first philosopher kings, the ruler that H.G. Wells described as the greatest of all rulers. War-loving and violent as a

Bollywood & Diaspora Cont’d from page 26

For the uninitiated eager for their first exposure, she recommends Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness), a 2001 release and one of India's highest grossing films. With its running time of 210 minutes, the movie incorporates 11 elaborate song-anddance numbers and features Amitabh Bachchan, a megastar in the Indian pantheon. Now nearing the end of her first semester in New Brunswick, Sen

says she'd like to bring the glories of Bollywood to a broader audience, both on and off campus. She envisions a film series, open to the public, which would include not only movies but also a question-and-answer session and a lively discussion. "I would love to have that sort of connection with the community," the professor says. "These films are such a vital part of our cultural consciousness, and it would be wonderful to watch them with as many people as possible." {Courtesy: Rutgers Focus}

young man, Asoka relinquished his religion after a conquest, and came to embrace Buddhism's values and put them into practice by promoting equality, social justice, free medical care and religious tolerance. Readers will learn of the crucial events that shaped Asoka, including his quest for the woman he loved and the fleeting happiness he shared with her. "The novel is one of love, war and transformation as Asoka changes from blood-thirsty king into an icon of non-violence," says Singhal. "His solutions to the problems raised by intolerance in religion are more relevant today than ever before." First published in India, "Asoka" has earned high praise from various literary reviews, having been called "a magical story

of love" and "an epic [that] reclaims the grandeur of storytelling" by international publications The Asian Age and The

‘The novel is one of love, war and transformation as Asoka changes from blood-thirsty king into an icon of non-violence’ Hindu. Written to engage, educate and entertain, "Asoka" seeks to introduce a generation of readers to a hidden chapter of history and the life of a man far ahead of his time.

"Asoka: A Love Story" is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels. Singhal earned his master's degree in English from Allahabad University in India and then taught as an assistant professor of English at the same institution. He was later selected to work at the Indian Revenue Service, eventually leaving the IRS to earn his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Singhal was also invited to spend a year at Harvard and was published in the Harvard International Law Journal. He then worked as a tax lawyer for Fortune 500 companies before leaving the field of law in 1999 to pursue writing full time. "Asoka" is his first novel. Singhal is married with two daughters and resides in California.


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NEW YORK

ILLINOIS

Upcoming

Upcoming

Sat Jan 14

Wed March 7

• Musik Waves Presents A tribute to the Legend

• Loves Got a hold on me Venue: Freedom Hall, 410 Lakewood Boulevard, Park Forest, IL Time: 7pm Contact: 312-572-9373

NEW JERSEY

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Upcoming

Upcoming

Sat Jan 14

Sat Jan 07

• Lohri Party

• Kalinga Nartanam

Venue: Akbar Restaurant 21, Corlandt Street, Edison, New Jersey Time: 7:30 pm Contact: 732-501-4201

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Upcoming Fri Jan 6 • Art of Living Course 2012 Venue: Art of Living Center Los Angeles, 948 W. Adams Blvd. LA Time: 7pm Contact: 310-820-9429

Sat Jan 21

• Tufaan 2012

Sat Jan 14

• Desiliciouse Starlust partyBollywood

Venue: Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL Time: 6pm Contact: 617-827-5581

• Thriller in Atlantic City! Venue: Dante Hall Thearter of the Arts 10 North Mississippi Avenue, Atlantic City Time: 8pm

Sat March 10

Fri Jan 20

Venue: 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA Time: 4pm Highlights: Jayendra Kalakendra is celebrating its 20th year in the Bay Area with a thematic performance on the Dark Lord. A few talented students from each level have been selected to showcase various items. Senior student of the Dhananjayans, Anita Shanmuganathan choreographed a few items that the students of Jayendra Kalakendra will be presenting as part of the Kalinga Nartanam production

• Musik Waves Presents A tribute Concert to Jagjit Singh

Sun Jan 8

Sat Jan 21

• Best of the Best 2012

• FAM Entertainment Theater Company Presents ìChicagoís 2012 Breaking the Cycle Da

Venue: Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers Street, New York Time: 6:30pm

Venue: Ford City Mall, 7601 S. Cicero, Chicago Time: 8:30am Contact: 312-572-9373

• Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal Examinations

• HTHF Annual Dance & Dinner Gala Event 2012

Venue: Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal’s USA Center 7844 McClellan Road, Cupertino, CA Time: 9am

Venue: Arcadia Community Center Hall, 365 Campus Drive, Arcadia, CA 91006 Time: 7pm Contact: 626-991-4789

Tues Jan 10

Sat Jan 28

• Rhythms of Punjab-Monthly Dance Workshop in SF

• Garba with Attitude

Venue: Hindu Temple Auditorium, 143-09 Holly Ave, Flushing, New York Time: 8pm Contact: 732-277-6687

Venue: Pacha NYC 618 W. 46 Street, New York Time: 10pm Highlights: Bolly Dance Music by Ashu Rai Bolly Visuals by Neeraj from London.

Sat April 7

Sat March 17

Venue: Edison Hotel, 3050 Woodbridge Ave, Edison, New Jersey Time: 8pm Contact: 732-277-6687

WASHINGTON DC

Upcoming Sat Jan 7 • Pongal-Republic Day Celebration 2012 Venue: Canton High School, 900 Washington Street, Canton, MA Time: 11am Contact: 781-962-7399

Venue: Abada Art Center 3221, 22nd St. San Francisco, CA 94102 Time: 8pm Contact: 510-402-4633

Thurs Jan 19

Sat Jan 14 • I Just Wanna Dance 2012 Venue: Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA Time: 6pm Contact: 310-937-6607

Venue: Segerstrom Center of the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, 92626 Time: 1pm Contact: http://www.garbawithattitude.com/

Sun Feb 05 • South Asian Wedding Expo 2012 Information

Sat April 21

• Classical Indian Vocal Music & Dance

• Yamandu Costa, Classical Guitarist

Venue: Samsung Hall 200 Larkin St. San Francisco, CA 94102 Time: 7pm Contact: 415-581-3500

Venue: Pacific Palms Hotel & Conference Center, 1 Industry Hills Parkway, CA Time: 11am Contact: 714-493-7900

Sat Jan 21

Sun Feb 11

• Kasturi Media Presents Swara Sanjeevini

• Passage Meditation Retreat in Encino

Venue: Spangenberg Theatre, Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Rd, Palo Alto, CA Time: 4pm Contact: 510-402-4633

Venue: Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Road, Encino, CA Time: 9am Contact: 800-475-2369

Venue: 8000 York Road, Towson MD, Baltimore, WDC Time: 8pm Contact: 443-296-2247

Sat Jan 21 • IAGB Republic Day Celebration Venue: Burlington High School, 123 Cambridge Street, Burlington, MA Time: 4pm Contact: 781-325-8171


29 India

Manas derives its name from the Goddess Manasa. The forest stretches beyond Indian territory to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, with the crystal waters of the Manas River demarcating the international border

M

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anas Tiger Reserve, situated amidst the gentle slopes at the foothills of the Himalayas in India's northeastern state of Assam, is the only tiger reserve of its kind in the entire northeast. Apart from the rising population of tigers, Manas is also the home of the rare golden langur, the hispid hare, the pigmy hog, the onehorned rhinoceros and at least twenty other species of animals and birds that are listed as highly endangered. Manas derives its name from the Goddess Manasa. The forest stretches beyond Indian territory to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, with the crystal waters of the Manas River demarcating the international border. Some areas that adjoin the river path are often flooded, but only for a brief period; the water level subsides as soon as the rainfall stops because of the sloping. Mixed deciduous type of vegetation is found in the park. The dense forest cover often prevents the sunrays from the forest. This beautiful park was previously known as North

January 6, 2012

Kamrup and was declared a sanctuary on October 1, 1928, with parts of it having been notified as reserved forests as early as 1907 and 1927. It was established as the core of the Manas Tiger Reserve from April 1973 and consecutively inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1985 and elevated to the position of a National Park status on September 7, 1990. Best time to visit: The climate of Manas Tiger Reserve is tropical. The temperature during summer does not rise above 37°C and during the winter it stays at around 11°C. Monsoon season (May-September) brings heavy to very heavy rainfall to the tune of 160 cm, because of which the park often gets flooded. Cont’d on page 30


Travel & Hospitality Post

30 India Post

January 6, 2012

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HP to construct nine ropeways to promote tourism DHARAMSALA: To encourage tourism, Himachal Pradesh Government has given priority to set up nine ropeways and maintain important highways. This was stated by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal while presiding over the fifth meeting of Tourism Development Board at Dharamsala. He said the state government was working towards completing all formalities for construction of nine ropeways to connect Naina Devi (Himachal) with Anandpur Sahib (Punjab), Shahtalai with Deothsidh, Jia (Dharamsala) with Himani Chamunda, Bhuntar (Kullu) with Bijli Mahadev, Palchan (Manali) with Rohtang Pass (13050 feet), Khaniyara (Dharamsala) with Triund and Shimla with Jhaku temple. Besides this, steps were also being taken to develop Neugal in Palampur from tourism point of view. He said with the completion of these projects not only religious tourism would get boost but various inaccessible areas would be opened to tourists. Chief Minister said that State Govern-

ment had taken the improvement and maintenance works of roads on priority which includes Shimla-Ghaghas, Shimla-KufriNarkanda- Chail, Kumarhatti-Nahan ChakkiChamba, Kangra-Mandi and SwarghatManali roads. In addition to this, other roads were also

He said with the completion of these projects not only religious tourism would get boost but various inaccessible areas would be opened to tourists being improved to facilitate the commuters. He directed the officials to highlight the important temples and tourist destinations on the milestones along the road sides. He also stressed on highlighting and promoting the brand 'Unforgettable Himachal' on all bus stands, buses and gift hampers of HPMC so that proper publicity could be ensured.

Pandas from China at Edinburgh Zoo LONDON: The arrival of two giant pandas from China to Edinburgh Zoo was received with fanfare here, as 600 animal lovers welcomed them on the first day of their public display. Zoo officials said that people pre-booked tickets to get the first glimpse of Yang Guang (Sunshine) and Tian Tian (Sweetie), which will go up in view of Christmas weekend. The endangered bears arrived from China on December 4 but were given a few days to recover from jet lag. Bringing the pandas to Edinburgh has involved a five-year effort by the zoo. "It was absolutely fantastic. I'm ecstatic. I can't believe I was the first one. As soon as I knew the pandas were coming to Scotland, I kept coming into the zoo every time I was through in Edinburgh, asking: are they here yet? said Denise Stronach, 46, from East Kilbride, who was the first one through the gates. "It's a big thing for Scotland. It will bring so much tourism here," she added. Looking at the visitors' initial reaction, Zoo chief executive Hugh Roberts said, "It

was a wonderful moment that we've been working for so, so long." The pandas will stay here for 10 years at their new home worth 250,000 pounds which has two separate enclosures with a specially built "tunnel of love" between their separate enclosures.

The pandas will stay here for 10 years at their new home worth 250,000 pounds which has two separate enclosures with a specially built "tunnel of love" between their separate enclosures It is hoped that the pandas will take advantage of it and breed new cubs that will help preserve the endangered species. However, animal welfare campaigners have criticized the zoo for accepting the pandas, saying it was a "primarily commercial deal". -PTI

Manas Tiger Reserve: Greatest wildlife-protected area in India Cont’d from page 29

Tourist attractions Manas Tiger Reserve provides shelter to a variety of wildlife, including 55 mammalian species, 36 reptilian species and three amphibian species, thus making it the greatest protected area in India in terms of numbers. The tiger population at Manas Reserve is approximately 80 in number. Apart from the ones named above, capped langurs, hoolock gibbons, Assamese macaques, slow lorises, leopards, panthers, golden cat, fishing cat, marbled cat, binturongs, sloth bears, wild dogs, Ganges dolphins, hog deer, Indian muntjacs, water buffaloes, gaurs (Indian bison), giant squirrels, hispid hare, otters, Indian pangolins, and some 2,000 elephants are also

unique species of waterfowls. Reptiles include different species of snakes and the monitor lizards. The Assam roofed turtle was spotted at the Reserve as recently as 1989. Manas forest is possibly as di-

which comprises a variety of different grasses and shrubbery. There is also a considerable variety of aquatic flora along the Manas River. One can hire a jeep to go

historical city formerly known as Pragjyotishpur. Situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, it is famous for the temple of Goddess Kamakhya, the shrine of Shakti worship

The nearby town Barpeta is notable for the monastery and shrine dedicated to the Vaishnavite saint, Sankardeva found here. The rare and attractive red panda has been spotted occasionally in the higher elevated portions of the forest. Over 450 species of birds have been recorded, including the Bengal florican, great pied hornbill, wreathed hornbill and few

verse as a natural biosphere can be. Its vegetation ranges from tropical semi-evergreen forests in the northern parts to tropical moist and dry deciduous forests of the other regions. There are extensive alluvial grasslands in the western region of the park,

around the park. The Assam State Tourist Department conducts tours, including boat trips and elephant rides. These trips are both convenient and cost effective. Places around The state capital Guwahati is barely 176 km from Manas. It is a

built by the Koch king Naranarayan. Orang and Pabitora are two wildlife sanctuaries worth visiting. The one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) and various species of deer abound here. The town of Hajo (25 km west

of Guwahati) is a sacred place for Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. The town also boasts of the Hayagriba Madhava Temple, accessible via a long stone stairway. Hajo and the adjacent Sarthebari village are renowned for their bell metal work. The nearby town Barpeta is notable for the monastery and shrine dedicated to the Vaishnavite saint, Sankardeva. How to reach: Manas Tiger reserve is 176 km from Guwahati, from where one can drive down to the park. The journey lasts approximately five and a half hours. The nearest rail junction is at Barpeta Road, 136 km from Guwahati. Guwahati in turn is a well-connected rail junction as well as an airport. The regular bus services to the park by the state transport as well as the private operators is yet another option.


January 6, 2012

Travel & Hospitality Post

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Indians march for world peace in Jesus' birthplace JERUSALEM/BETHLEHEM: Hundreds of Christian pilgrims from India took out a procession in Jesus Christ's birthplace of Bethlehem praying for world peace on the eve of Christmas. Around 500 Indians who took part in the procession were Christian tourists from various parts of the country. "The scenes from various parts of the Middle East during the last few months have been very worrisome, so we decided to gather in this Holy city to pray to God to bring peace in the region on Christmas," Father Sleeba Katpumangappu from Kerala said as he led the march last night. "There was a very enthusiastic response to the idea of holding such a peace march among the Indian pilgrims and they responded to the call on a very short notice," Jose Liba of the Scopus World Travel, which helped bring the Indian pilgrims to Bethlehem, told PTI. "It is my first visit to this blessed land. The fact that I have been able to participate in a worthy cause during pilgrimage is a very good feeling," said Abraham, an Indian tourist from Kerala. Undeterred by political chaos surrounding the region, the economic downslide and an inclement weather, record number of tourists have thronged the West Bank city of Bethlehem this year.

Extreme cold in plains makes people flock to hills KOTDWAR (GARHWAL): With mercury dipping and bone chilling cold making it impossible to venture out of home in plains, hills are the new travel destination for travel enthusiasts. The fine sunny weather in the hills is attracting people from the plains to hill stations like Nainital, Dharmshala, Pauri and Gopershwar. "It is the new trend since the last two-three years. Even small hotels are receiving guests," says Rajendra Singh, a hotel owner in Deriakhal near Lansdwone in Uttarakhand. The hill stations are enjoying sunshine and are comfortably warmer than plains.-PTI

Palestinian officials said the overall turnout for the celebrations in Bethlehem this year is around 120,000, about 30 per cent higher than last year. Israel eased movement of pilgrims to enable them to participate in the celebrations and even allowed a few dozen Christians from Gaza to cross-

Israel's Tourism Ministry spokesperson, Lydia Weitzman, described the inflow of tourists as "very impressive" given the turmoil in the Arab world and economic recession over to join the festivities. Israel's Tourism Ministry spokesperson, Lydia Weitzman, described the inflow of tourists as "very impressive" given the turmoil in the Arab world and economic recession. The Israeli army, which controls movement in and out of Bethlehem, said some 100,000 visitors, including foreigners and Arab

Christians from Israel, had reached the town by 11pm (local time), up from 70,000 the previous year. Fireworks ignited the sky as tourists and locals jostled for space at the Manger square, the centre of activities. Hotels in Bethlehem were full to their capacity this year as many tourists chose to stay in the town instead of shuttling from Jerusalem. After nightfall, a packed Manger Square, along with a 50-ft-tall Christmas tree, was awash in Christmas lights. Political calls also reverberated in the area along with celebrations as Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh expressed hopes that this year's Christmas will hopefully bring Palestinians closer to their dream of statehood. "We are celebrating this Christmas hoping that in the near future we'll get our right to self-determination our right to establish our own democratic, secular Palestinian state on the Palestinian land. That is why this Christmas is unique," Batarseh said. Many Palestinian residents of the city complained of the Israeli Wall surrounding it from three sides, crippling the economy and reducing Bethlehem into a ghost town with tourists normally choosing to stay away from it due to security procedures. -PTI

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„ Health

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Mosquito-suppres plan raises questions KEY WEST, Fla.: Environmental groups in the Florida Keys are questioning a plan to introduce genetically modified mosquitoes in the island chain to fight the spread of dengue fever. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is working with England-based Oxitec on the project. The mosquitoes would be introduced sometime in 2012. The district's executive director, Michael Doyle, tells The Key West Citizen (http://bit.ly/st9Qze ) that officials are waiting for federal and state approval to test the program. It would be the first such project in the U.S. The mosquitoes would be bred in a lab and then released into the wild. Their offspring would die early in their life cycles, suppressing the mosquito population. -AP

„ State estimates 68,000 Texans living with HIV VICTORIA, Texas: An estimated 68,000 Texans have the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, about an 8 percent increase over the past two years. That's according to numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Victoria Advocate reports about 4,200 people tested positive for HIV over the past few years. The health department says about a third of those diagnosed with HIV in Texas between 2003 and 2009 had a late diagnosis, meaning they got an AIDS diagnosis within a year of their first positive HIV test. -AP

„ Increased cases of whooping cough recorded in NYC NEW YORK: Health officials say they have detected an increase in whooping cough cases in New York City over the past few months. The Department of Health says 126 confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough have been recorded since August 2011. There were 45 cases for the same period in 2010. Health officials alerted physicians of the recorded increase of the highly contagious bacterial infection known formally as pertussis. Those sickened with the infection often ``whoop'' when they cough. The cough can last for weeks if not treated. -AP

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January 6, 2012

Researchers put farmed fish on vegetarian diet BALTIMORE: Researchers say they may have overcome a roadblock in efforts to satisfy the world's growing demand for seafood through fish-farming. Details on page 36

State cuts to Medicaid affect patients, providers ATLANTA: Just as Medicaid prepares for a vast expansion under the federal health care overhaul, the 47-year-old entitlement program for the poor is under increasing pressure as deficit-burdened states chip away at benefits and cut payments to doctors. Nearly every state has proposed or implemented a plan in its current budget to rein in costs, and many are considering additional cuts in the year ahead. For the tens of millions of poor and disabled who rely on the program approaching nearly one in five Americans the cuts translate into longer waits for doctors, restrictions on prescription drugs, a halt to vision and dental care, staff cuts at nursing homes and dwindling access to home health care. Ruth Wohlforth, 70, is among those feeling the effects. Her $700 monthly income qualifies her for both Medicare and Medicaid, but she says her benefits have been reduced, she's being forced her to make co-pays for

the first time on prescription drugs, and she now has to drive about 30 minutes from her home near the southern tip of New Jersey to see a doctor. Some of her friends have been assigned to doctors in Philadelphia. She said she feels lawmakers are not aware of the real-world consequences of their spending cuts.

has grown along with joblessness during the recession. The $427 billion-a-year program, a combination of state and federal funding, also had been targeted for additional cuts at the federal level this year as members of Congress sparred over how to reduce the nation's debt. But funding seems safe for now after a special committee failed last month to

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pushing a plan under which only the poorest would qualify. A parent of two making more than $103 per week would no longer be eligible for coverage ``I've seen so many people in tears, and they don't know what to do,'' Wohlforth said. ``People that are older than I am, and are in worse shape, they get befuddled by the whole thing. They don't know where to go for help; they just feel they're not being listened to.'' States are reshaping the Medicaid landscape even as the need

reach an agreement on how to cut overall spending. Already, many changes at the state level have been dramatic and are testing the legal bounds of what Medicaid must provide: Arizona, for a time, eliminated life-saving transplants for Medicaid patients, and hospital officials in the state blame at least one

death on the halt in coverage. Gov. Jan Brewer restored transplants but is prohibiting thousands of low-income, childless adults from entering the program and has added fees on those who smoke and the obese. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pushing a plan under which only the poorest would qualify. A parent of two making more than $103 per week would no longer be eligible for coverage. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether California has the right to continue cutting payments to physicians and other Medicaid providers to help close the state's ongoing budget deficit. Cuts to provider fees, as in California, have been the most frequently used tactic by states to save Medicaid costs. A recent survey by the National Association of State Budget Officers found that 33 states wanted to reduce provider rates and another 16 sought to freeze them. Cont’d on page 37

New fee coming for medical effectiveness research WASHINGTON: Starting in 2012, the government will charge a new fee to your health insurance plan for research to find out which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best. But what will Americans do with the answers? The goal of the research, part of a little-known provision of President Barack Obama's health care law, is to answer such basic questions as whether that new prescription drug advertised on TV really works better than an old generic costing much less. But in the politically charged environment surrounding health care, the idea of medical effectiveness research is eyed with suspicion. The insurance fee could be branded a tax and drawn into the vortex of election-year politics. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute a quasigovernmental agency created by Congress to carry out the re-

search has yet to commission a single head-to-head comparison, although its director is anxious to begin. The government is already providing the institute with some funding: The $1-per-person insurance fee goes into effect in 2012. But the Treasury Department says it's not likely to be col-

eas,'' said Kathryn Nix, a policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. ``Will they be used to make coverage determinations?'' The institute's director, Dr. Joe Selby, said patients and doctors will make the decisions, not his organization. ``We are not a policy-making

Major insurers already are carrying out their own effectiveness research, but it lacks the credibility of government-sponsored studies lected for another year, though insurers would still owe the money. The fee doubles to $2 per covered person in its second year and thereafter rises with inflation. The IRS is expected to issue guidance to insurers within the next six months. ``The more concerning thing is not the institute itself, but how the findings will be used in other ar-

body; our role is to make the evidence available,'' said Selby, a primary care physician and medical researcher, But insurance industry representatives say they expect to use the research and work with employers to fine-tune workplace health plans. Employees and family members could be steered to hospitals and doctors who follow

the most effective treatment methods. Patients going elsewhere could face higher co-payments, similar to added charges they now pay for ``non-preferred'' drugs on their insurance plans. Major insurers already are carrying out their own effectiveness research, but it lacks the credibility of government-sponsored studies. Not long ago, so-called ``comparative effectiveness'' research enjoyed support from lawmakers in both parties. After all, much of the medical research that doctors and consumers rely on now is financed by drug companies and medical device manufacturers, who have a built-in interest in the findings. And a drug maker only has to show that a new medicine is more effective than a sugar pill not a competing medication to win government approval for marketing. Cont’d on page 36


Health Science Post

January 6, 2012

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Coloradans can make money by losing weight DENVER: Insurance company Kaiser Permanente Colorado is offering cash to Coloradans to lose weight and keep it off. Companies have been making similar offers to their employees for years as a way to reduce obesity in the workplace and lower health costs, but Kaiser is taking it one step further and making the offer to any adult in Colorado. It's one of the first programs in the nation to make such an offer to all adults. Participants in the ``Weigh and Win'' program earn anywhere from $15 to $150 every three months to lose weight and keep it off. Twelve kiosks with scales and a video camera to record progress are located in medical facilities, recreation centers, libraries and even a furniture store throughout the state. The insurer is spending $500,000 to help jump start the program, which it hopes will eventually be funded by the cities and other health care groups that it's working with. Kaiser hopes to expand Weigh and Win by adding 10 kiosks next year as part of its community out-

reach programs. ``Weight loss is as effective as mammograms, or colon cancer screenings or blood pressure control when you speak about the amount of dollars you spend for the life years you gain from the program,'' said Dr. Eric France, who's in charge of developing the program at the insurer.

From the medical perspective, losing about 5 percent body weight is considered valuable and helpful ``And from the medical perspective, losing about 5 percent body weight is considered valuable and helpful,'' said France, Kaiser's chief of population care and prevention services. About 8,900 Coloradans have signed up since the program began in April. The average weight loss has been about 12 pounds.

Tanya Amaro, a pediatrics nurse practitioner at Denver Health Medical Center, checks in every week at the kiosk in the hospital's cafeteria. She began her quest to lose weight last November, losing about 27 pounds on her own, and found that she couldn't lose any more. She has lost an additional 37 pounds through the program, earning her $75 since May. ``It's pretty cool,'' she said. She found the grocery store shopping lists; recipes for low-fat, healthy meals; and a workout regime from a personal trainer assigned to her through the program helpful in breaking through the plateau she had reached. ``Not just that I need to walk or I need to run. I knew that stuff, you know, that's commonsense stuff,'' she said. ``It actually tells you how to do it, when to do it. You get text messages on your phone.'' France said it's difficult to put a dollar amount on the benefits the program may bring. ``It's not really a medical solution to obesity problems, the obesity epidemic,'' France said. -AP

Health officials OK medical projects JACKSON, Miss.: The Mississippi Department of Health has approved a $4.18 million project in Tupelo for providing positron emission tomography services. Image Center at BridgePoint LLC sought approval to provide PET services in Tupelo. PET scans work with a radioactive injection to trace blood flow throughout the body. Some medical groups believe the scans can provide a more accurate Alzheimer's/dementia diagnosis.

Health officials also approved a $2.67 million project for St. DominicJackson Memorial Hospital to renovate space for what is known as a ``hybrid'' operating room. In a hybrid operating room, doctors are able to use imaging technology while surgery is being done. Also approved was a $808,367 project to locate a 10-station satellite End Stage Renal Disease facility in Clay County. RGA-West Point will lease and renovate space for the facility. -AP

Stomach ailment reported in 5 Iowa counties DES MOINES, Iowa: The Iowa Department of Public Health has received reports of eight medium to large outbreaks of probable norovirus in at least five counties. Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. The illness usually begins 24 to 48 hours after exposure and lasts one to two days. The IDPH says three groups of people became ill after eating

at a restaurant where several food handlers had also been sick. Outbreaks were also associated with events like holiday parties and holiday potlucks. Medical director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says if a person has had any stomach illness, he or she should not prepare food of any kind for others until 48 hours have passed since his or her recovery. -AP


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Researchers put farmed fish on vegetarian diet BALTIMORE: Researchers say they may have overcome a roadblock in efforts to satisfy the world's growing demand for seafood through fish-farming. While more fish are being farmed, taking pressure off wild stocks, environmentalists and fisheries experts are concerned that expanding current fish-farming methods will not be sustainable for many species because that would require more smaller fish to be caught for feed. And that can affect stocks of larger wild fish higher on the food chain. Researchers at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology say they have developed a plant-based diet for three popular saltwater fish - striped bass, cobia and Mediterranean Sea bream. Taste-testers can't tell the difference between fish raised on the plant-based diet and those raised on fish meal, they say. The two diets both contain fish oil, so neither was totally fishfree, but the researchers also raised fish on a vegetarian diet using wheat, corn, soy and algae meal to replace the oil. That raises the possibility of fish-free aquaculture for saltwater, carnivorous fish, said Aaron Watson, a gradu-

ate student at the institute. ``If we want to get aquaculture to expand, we need to find alternatives,'' Watson said. Aquaculture for the first time this year accounted for more than half of global seafood consumption and is being looked at to keep up with increasing demand, said Tom Pickerell, senior science manager at Seafood Watch, a program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium that provides evidence-based recommendations on seafood consumption. ``It's really future planning. If we want to double or triple the amount of aquaculture production, we're going to have to look for alternative ways'' to feed farmed fish, Pickerell said. More than a quarter of all fish caught in 2008 were used for nonfood products, mainly fish meal and fish oil for farmed animals, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. And much of the fish meal and fish oil currently fed to farmed fish is made from small fish such as menhaden, a filter-feeder that eats algae and plays an important ecological role in the health of waterways such as the Chesapeake

Bay. It not only helps clean the water but provides food for larger species. Fisheries regulators voted this year to cut the menhaden harvest on the East Coast by more than a third to protect the population.

The algae meal is already used as an additive for feeding brine shrimp and other smaller organisms that are then fed to farmed fish when they are young Menhaden are also processed into fish oil capsules high in omega-3 fatty acids that are popular among consumers for their health benefits. Watson said the algae meal in the vegetarian diet also provides those healthy oils to fish. A number of groups worldwide are working on the problem, and algae is one of the main areas being researched as a feed alterna-

tive, Pickerell said. In addition to finding substitute feeds, others are studying socalled polyculture, raising multiple species together to reduce waste and increase production, said Anamarija Frankic, the director of the Green Boston Harbor Project at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a professor of coastal ecosystem management. While tests show fish raised on the plant and algae diet have the same levels of heart-healthy fats as wild fish, the vegetarian diet also could help in marketing to consumers because the fish are grown in isolated systems and have much lower levels of contaminants such as mercury than wild fish, Watson said. The algae meal is already used as an additive for feeding brine shrimp and other smaller organisms that are then fed to farmed fish when they are young. The only drawback is the algae meal is a little more expensive, adding

New fee coming for medical effectiveness research Cont’d from page 34

ASHA recognized for innovative health care FRANK FERNANDES

A Child patient that gets treatment

MUMBAI: The Operation ASHA that has been serving under-served members of the community suffering from contagious Tuberculosis for the past many years, had singular honor being recognized as one of the 44 out 1000 NGOs in India as a leader in innovator in the healthcare field in the country. The Center for Health Market Innovations released a report on innovations in healthcare and the Operation ASHA is highlighted along with 44 others out of over 1000 NGOs that have been pro-

Harris View, alumni magazine of Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago carried a cover story on Operation ASHA filed by Center for Health Market Innovations in the last few years. Not only that, Harris View, alumni magazine of Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago carried a cover story on Operation ASHA. The cover page had a picture of a slum that ASHA

serves and mentioned its innovative methodology. This not for profit NGO has established more than 200 treatment centers across 2000 disadvantaged communities in India and Cambodia that reach out to 4.9 million individuals.

about 50 cents a kilogram to the cost of the feed, which cost between $1.40 and $3.20 a kilogram depending on supplier and mix, Watson said. Fish grown on the fish meal and the plant and fish oil diets were tested at the Center for Food Science and Technology at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, where they were baked and put before panels of tasters. ``The first question we want to answer is whether people can discern the difference, whether it's appearance, odor flavor, texture or mouth feel, and so far it appears they can't,'' said Thomas Rippen, a UMES seafood technology specialist. Watson said he is now working on his doctoral dissertation and there are no immediate plans to taste-test fish grown on the totally vegetarian diet. But he hopes that more taste tests will be conducted in the future. -AP

The 2009 economic stimulus bill included $1.1 billion for medical effectiveness research, mainly through the National Institutes of Health. It was not considered particularly controversial. But things changed during the congressional health care debate, after former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made the claim, now widely debunked, that Obama and the Democrats were setting up ``death panels'' to ration care. As a result, lawmakers hedged the new institute with caveats. It was set up as an independent nonprofit organization, with a .org Internet address instead of .gov. The government cannot dictate Selby's research agenda. And there are limitations on how the Health and Human Services department can use the research findings in decisions that affect Medicare and Medicaid. Selby says the institute is taking seriously the term ``patientcentered'' in its name. Patients will not be merely subjects of research; they and their representatives will be involved in setting the agenda and overseeing the process. ``We are talking about patients as partners in the research,'' said Selby. Findings will be presented in clear language _ a kind of Consumer Reports approach _ so that patients and doctors can easily draw on them to make decisions. ``Our goal, our hope, is that

over time, by involving patients in research, two things will happen,'' said Selby. ``One is that we will start asking questions in a more practical fashion, so the results would speak more consistently to questions that patients want to know the answers to. And two is that, by our example of involving patients in the research, trust will rise.'' He expects to unveil the institute's proposed research agenda in the next few weeks.

Patients will not be merely subjects of research; they and their representatives will be involved in setting the agenda and overseeing the process Former Medicare administrator Gail Wilensky says that agenda should focus on high-cost procedures and drugs on which the medical community has not developed a consensus, and which have widely different patterns of use around the country. A Republican, Wilensky believes opposition to the institute's work is shortsighted. ``This just strikes me as a component of finding ways to treat better and spend smarter,'' she said. -AP


January 6, 2012

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State cuts to Medicaid affect patients, providers Cont’d from page 34

California was granted permission by federal officials to make broad cuts to reimbursement rates to its Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, in October. The cuts include a 10 percent reduction to payments for outpatient services for doctors, clinics, optometrists, dental services, medical equipment and pharmacy. They are intended to save the state an estimated $623 million. A coalition of trade associations representing doctors, pharmacists and chain drug stores has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the cuts. Doctors who care for MediCal patients say they already have been subjected to multiple pay cuts, and some say they no longer will be able to serve the state's neediest patients. About 70 percent of Dr. Douglas Tolley's practice in Yuba County is covered by Medi-Cal. The 64-year-old obstetrician, who practices in a largely agricultural region about 40 minutes north of the state capital, said he is the oldschool sort of doctor who ``was brought up in a time when doctors took care of all comers.'' Yet he has seen his income steadily drop over the last 18 years down one-third from what it was

when he started. ``Everybody understands that doctors are basically small business people, and we have to meet our cost plus make a living.'' Tolley said. ``Just meeting our cost doesn't mean staying in business.'' Even more state cuts could be on the horizon. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage recently proposed removing 65,000 residents from the program, citing a state Medicaid shortfall estimated to reach $221 million through mid-2013. The Republican governor says he will not consider tax increases to make up the difference. State officials, who are required to balance their budgets, argue they have no choice but to cut into Medicaid after four straight years of budget deficits. With state and federal funds combined, Medicaid makes up 22 percent of total state spending, the largest single portion of most state budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. Critics say the moves are shortsighted. Joan Alker, co-executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said slashing Medicaid will not stop the sick from seeking care, sending them to emergency rooms

and ultimately inflating private medical insurance premiums. ``At the end of the day, for the children, the individuals with disabilities, the seniors in nursing homes, their health care needs are not going to go away just because someone cuts the Medicaid program,'' Alker said.

"It's really scary," she said. "If they can't get their medicine, what's going to happen? They're going to die" Jerry Kemmer, a former Democratic state assemblyman in New York, said Medicaid has long been an issue lawmakers did not want to touch. Now, they simply have no choice. ``It's ballooned to the extent that it's just become a budgetbuster,'' he said. Six million people have joined the Medicaid rolls since the recession began in late 2007. Enrollment nationally topped 50 million for the

first time in June 2010, a number that is projected to keep rising, especially as the nation's unemployment rate remains high. Billions of dollars from the federal stimulus program helped avoid deep Medicaid cuts through the worst of the recession, but the last of that money dried up this year. In Florida, Medicaid reimbursement rates were reduced this year by 12 percent for most hospitals, although rural and children's hospitals were cut just 3 percent, and rates for nursing homes were cut 6.5 percent. But the start of the next legislative session in January already has some people worried about additional cuts. Debra St. Fleur, 25, of Miami, is covered by Medicaid, along with her 1-year-old son. Many of her neighbors in the city's Little Haiti section are on Medicaid, too, and she worries what would happen if services continue to be eroded. ``It's really scary,'' she said. ``If they can't get their medicine, what's going to happen? They're going to die.'' The Obama administration is concerned enough about the widespread Medicaid provider cuts that it has introduced a rule that would make it harder for states

to slash the rates. The move is designed to ensure that those eligible for Medicaid are not denied access due to a shortage of health care resources. Medicaid reimbursement rates already trail those physicians receive for treating Medicare patients and those with private insurance. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change found that on, average, Medicaid would reimburse a doctor $39 for 45 minutes for a new patient hospital visit, compared to $63 for Medicare. Physician groups say that has left more and more doctors declining to see Medicaid clients. Some providers are trying to find other ways to make up for the cuts. In Columbia, S.C., Julie Ann Avin, executive director of the private, nonprofit Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc., has decided not to fill staff vacancies and also cut back on some rehab services because of Medicaid's new authorization process. The center serves about 650 people annually, close to 60 percent of whom are on Medicaid. "We accept folks regardless,'' Avin said. "Everything that we do is not based just on a reimbursement.'' -AP


TOP TEN HINDI FILM SONGS

1 Ooh La La: The Dirty Picture 2 Saddaa Haq: Rockstar 3 Ishq Sufiyana: The Dirty Picture 4 Kun Faya Kun: Rockstar 5 Subha Hone Na De: Desi Boyz 38

India Post

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January 6, 2012

6 Jazba: Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl 7 Dil Ke Liye: Ghost 8

Hai Yeh Maya: Don 2

9 Jhoom Jhoomta Hun Main : Players 10 Dil Yeh Bekarar Kyu Hai : Players

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Lootera chemistry

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ll the apprehension about Sonakshi Sinha being suspect of Ranveer Singh's overfriendly ways turned unfounded when the girl took no time in getting into the groove with her Lootera co-star. An off-the-cuff compliment by Sonakshi Sinha on a chat show (she called Ranveer Singh 'hot) is all it took for the gossip mills to hook the two up together as the next item. And there were hints of a few sparks between the two as they shot for a magazine, but then came the reports that Sonakashi was put off by Ranveer's over-friendly ways. These reports were surely not music to the ears of the crew of the film Lootera, featuring Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh. The chill between the leading pair meant no chemistry and therefore a deadpan onscreen romance. But surprise...surprise! On the first day of the rehearsal, Sonakshi turned out more mischievous, more talkative, and friendlier than Ranveer Singh. According to director Vikramaditya Motwane, it didn't take any effort or encouragement for Sonakshi and Ranveer to get into the groove.

atrina Kaif recent item number 'Chikni Chameli' has won a lot of praise and appreciation from the audiences. Here is what the actress has to say about her latest item number. Kats says, 'lavni' style dancing was not a cakewalk for her. "The response to 'Chikni Chameli' has been fun so far. It was hard work. It was very fast and it was not a style I was used to, but I took it as a challenge‌I think we all went for it as a team and did the best we could. I am happy people are liking it," said the 27 year old. Kats's ex-lover Salman Khan is totally in love with the song and Katrina is happy about this. "He has not told that to me but I think that's a great thing. He has a great taste in music and songs. So, if he likes it then it's great," said Katrina Talking about how her career has shaped in the year 2011, Kats says, "2011 has been a really great year for me. All the goals I had in hand, I think everything turned out really well. I am very grateful for that‌The best I could have wanted to come out of every project has come true this year."

Too busy to enjoy

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on 2: The King Is Back opened to a positive response but Priyanka Chopra, who plays 'jungli billi' in it, rues that actors' busy schedules do not allow them to enjoy the success of their films. "As actors, we really don't get time to sit and enjoy the appreciation we get. You have to move on. Now my next film 'Agneepath' is releasing. I am shooting for 'Barfee' and Kunal Kohli's next. So, it's a never ending cycle. I am happy that I have a never ending cycle," the 29-yearold actress said here at the Mega Platinum Ceremony of the Bramhakumaris. In "Don 2" Priyanka has teamed up with Shah Rukh Khan again and plays a police officer who is trying to nab the don. "I am the kind of actor who prepares a lot for roles. It's very important for me to make sure that my characters are really real so, I do a lot of preparation," said the actress who has done varied roles in eight years.


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uess what is Bipasha Basu's New Year resolution. Well, the sultry siren of Bollywood wants to be a harmless liar in 2012. "I am going to lie a bit because sometimes it helps. I tried in 2011 but failed, so this time I am going to try to perfect it," said the Bong beauty while promoting her upcoming release

Player. "I want to be a harmless liar," said Bipasa as she interacted with the media at Cinemax, one of Kolkata's multiplexes. Bipasa is enthusiastic with Player, an official remake of the Hollywood blockbuster The Italian Job, for more than one reason. The dusky diva said: "The biggest USP of the film is, it's an Abbas-Mustan film. They make entertainment films and it's a movie you can enjoy and have a blast." "Abbas got me into films; I did my first movie (Ajnabee) with them, so we share a very special bonding," added Basu. The film also stars Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Sikander Kher, Omi Vaidya, Vinod Khanna and Johnny Lever. "The movie is not exactly Italian Job. In Players, the action is bigger, the characters are more dynamic and there are more twists and turns, "said Bipasha. Basu, who will share screen space with Sonam in the film, praised her saying: "She is a wonderful girl, we like to hangout with each other."

All-out

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love

e may be single in real life, but actor Neil Nitin Mukesh is upbeat about his "first ever all-out love story" on big screen - "Shortcut Romeo". He is also excited about two new projects he recently signed. "Ok, update on 'Shortcut Romeo' is that Mumbai schedule one is over. We will start post the release of 'Players' and go to Kenya for the final schedule! This is my first ever all out love story and I simply love the script. It's truly well-written," Neil posted on microblogging site Twitter. These days, the actor is busy promoting "Players", releasing Jan 6 next year. That apart, Neil is looking forward to promising films in the New Year. "Have recently signed two awesome films. One is a love story and the other a sequel to a super film by a great director. Excited about both! Can't reveal details on those films now. But hopefully soon," wrote the actor, who has so far been seen in movies like "New York", "Lafangey Parindey", "Tera Kya Hoga Johnny", and "7 Khoon Maaf".

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bhishek Bachchan, who spent his weekend at tending a horse-racing competition, says he learnt the biggest lesson of his life while taking riding sessions. "When I was a kid, I used to go to Juhu beach along with five-six other children to learn riding. The first time I sat on a horse, the horse threw me off... My trainer asked me to immediately go and sit again on the horse and said that if you don't go and sit now, the fear will reside inside you and you will never be able to ride a horse. That was one of the greatest life lessons you can ever have," the 35-year-old actor said here at the Mid-

Day Trophy horse-racing event. "If you fall down or something you don't achieve, get back and keep riding because that is the only thing that will give you the confidence," she added. Abhishek admits the lesson helped him while he was trying to get a foothold in the industry. "Sometimes your films don't work, the first thing you do is to get back in front of the camera to keep the confidence going and to have the belief," said Abhishek who debuted with "Refugee" in 2000 but had to wait for four years to taste success with "Yuva" and "Dhoom" in 2004 - both the films wowed critics and moviegoers.


In Brief Slain ICE agent's mom cheers suspect's extradition BROWNSVILLE, Texas: A man accused in the fatal shooting of a U.S. immigration agent in February has been extradited to the U.S. from Mexico, drawing praise from the slain agent's mother who feared that her son had been forgotten. Julian Zapata Espinoza pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and attempted murder during an arraignment hearing and he was ordered jailed without bail, according to a spokesman for U.S. District Court in Washington. The charges stem from a midday attack Feb. 15 along a Mexican highway that killed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata and wounded his colleague Victor Avila. -AP

Former UNH president was immigrant BEDFORD, N.H.: University officials are remembering Evelyn Handler, the first female president at the University of New Hampshire and the only woman to hold that post at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, as a strong, successful leader. Handler, 78, of Bow was killed when she was walking across a Bedford street and was struck by a car. No charges were filed over the weekend, and police said alcohol does not appear to be a factor. Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence said Handler was president when the school was just over 40 years old. “Brandeis is now nationally ranked in neuroscience and biochemistry, and her leadership played a major role in that,'' he said in a statement. -AP

UK-Ireland sign pact on illegal immigration LONDON: The UK and Irish governments have signed an agreement to preserve the Common Travel Area and help crack down on illegal immigration. The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone that comprises Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Irelands and can be crossed by Irish and British citizens with only minimal identity documents, a Home Office release said. The agreement outlines work being taken on by both countries to prevent abuses of the Common Travel Area, while protecting its long-established benefits of trade and tourism. -PTI

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January 6, 2012

Years in detention takes toll on immigrant family TACOMA, Wash.: Many days, it seems Tara Ammons Cohen no longer knows what to make of her life. Details on page 43

US court blocks key terms of S. Carolina immigration law WASHINGTON: A court has blocked key provisions of a controversial new immigration law by the southeastern US state of South Carolina, less than two weeks before it was to take effect. Judge Richard Gergel of the South Carolina circuit ruled that some terms of the law locally known as Act 69, conflict with US federal immigration authority, and as such struck them down. The law was to take effect January 1. Among the terms the judge rejected were making it a crime to be in the state without proper legal immigration documentation, and allowing local police to check the immigration status of anyone they have detained and suspect may be undocumented migrants. "The Court hereby grants the

motions for preliminary injunction regarding Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Act 69," Gergel's ruling says. Another section the government opposed was not blocked; it makes it a crime locally to produce

state of South Carolina to adopt its own immigration policy to supplant the policy of the national government." The law in South Carolina was signed in June by Governor Nikki

Opposing flexibility on immigration politically can be very thorny in the United States, where most people are either descended from immigrants or are immigrants themselves or sell false identification documents. Gergel explained in his ruling that South Carolina's concerns about federal government implementation of US immigration laws nonetheless do "not entitle the

Haley - the daughter of immigrants from India. President Barack Obama's government has taken on local immigration-related laws in four US states. Many in the United States be-

lieves that the country, with some 11 million undocumented migrants, sorely needs national immigration reform, which Obama has said he will try to pursue if he is re-elected. Opposing flexibility on immigration politically can be very thorny in the United States, where most people are either descended from immigrants or are immigrants themselves. But with the economy sputtering and unemployment high, many conservatives argue immigrants take jobs away from American workers. Opponents however maintain US workers simply will not do the toughest of jobs - like farm work and meat processing commonly taken by migrants in the country illegally. -AFP

BALCA speaks on recruitment, wage validity CORA-ANN V. PESTAINA

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here has been so much confusion surrounding the interpretation of the regulation found in 20 C.F.R. §656.40(c) governing when precisely an employer must begin to conduct specific recruitment steps toward the filing of a labor certification application. As a background, the Department of Labor (DOL) has promulgated complex regulations at 20 C.F.R. §656 setting forth the criteria for employers to successfully file labor certification applications under its Permanent Electronic Review Management (PERM) process. The labor certification is generally the first step before an employer can sponsor a foreign national worker for a green card. An employer must conduct specific recruitment steps, and they must be completed within 180 days of filing the PERM application. The employer must attest that it recruited for the position with its actual minimum requirements, at the prevailing wage, and was unable to find a qualified US worker. The confusion over 20 C.F.R. §656.40(c) has intensified over the years as practitioners have seen

the regulation interpreted in different ways by both the DOL and the Board of Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA). To further confuse matters, there are different versions of the regulation. The 2008 version of the regulation states, in pertinent part: To use a SWA [State Workforce Agency] PWD [Prevailing Wage Determination], employers must

The main cause of the confusion has been the words "begin the recruitment" and "begin the recruitment period." Simply, the issue is, under this regulation, if an employer is to properly file a labor certification application after the PWD has expired, must the employer have begun the very first recruitment step within the PWD validity period or is it suffi-

The main cause of the confusion has been the words "begin the recruitment"and "begin the recruitment period” file their applications or begin the recruitment required by §§656.17(d) or 656.21 within the validity period specified by the SWA. The 2009 version of the same regulation states, in pertinent part: To use a prevailing wage rate provided by the NPC [National Processing Center] employers must file their applications or begin the recruitment period required by §§ 656.17(e) or 656.21 of this part within the validity period specified by the NPC.

cient that the employer conducted some recruitment within the PWD validity period? I first wrote on this issue in August 2009 in my article entitled "How the Definition of the Word "Begin" Could Affect Your PERM A p p l i c a t i o n , " (www.cyrusmehta.com). DOL has consistently denied PERM applications where the employer commenced recruitment before the PWD's validity period and filed the PERM application after the PWD had expired. In my article, I

argued that the DOL's interpretation was overly narrow and contrary to the plain meaning of the regulation. In June 2011, I excitedly blogged about BALCA's decision in Matter of Horizon Computer Services, Inc., 2010PER-00746 (May 25, 2011) where it appeared that reason had finally prevailed. In that case, BALCA vacated the DOL's denial of the labor certification and held that where the employer had conducted most of its recruitment within the PWD validity period, fundamental fairness precluded the DOL's interpretation of the regulation. My elation was short-lived as I again blogged on this issue and discussed BALCA's decision, only 21 days later, in Matter of Ecosecurities, 2010-PER-00330 (June 15, 2011). In that case, where the employer had again commenced recruitment prior to the PWD validity period (although there was no evidence of any recruitment being conducted during the PWD validity period) and filed the labor certification after the PWD had expired, BALCA Cont’d on page 42


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Arizona sheriff faces new setback over immigration PHOENIX: America's self-proclaimed ``toughest sheriff'' has been dealt another setback to his immigration enforcement efforts by a federal judge's ruling that bars deputies from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're in the country illegally. The ruling sets the stage for a possible trial in a lawsuit that alleges racial profiling in the patrols in Arizona's Maricopa County, and would further limit Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration authority after Washington yanked his federal powers earlier this month. Lawyers pushing the lawsuit on behalf of five Latino clients also won class-action status that lets other Hispanics join the case if they have been detained and questioned by Arpaio's deputies as either a driver or passenger in a vehicle since January 2007. US District Judge Murray Snow hasn't yet ruled on the ultimate question of racial profiling, but notes the case's evidence could lead a judge or jury to conclude that Arpaio's office racially profiles Latinos.

``Sheriff Arpaio has made public statements that a fact-finder could interpret as endorsing racial profiling,'' Snow said. The judge noted that the sheriff has said that even without authority to enforce federal immigration laws, his officers can detain people based upon their speech or they appear to be from another country. The 40-page ruling marked a qualified victory for the lawyers who pushed the lawsuit. They didn't get the case decided without going to trial, as they had hoped, but it came closer to the result they were looking for. ``We are encouraged by the Court's recognition of the strong evidence showing the (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office's) pattern and practice of racial profiling and its conducting of operations for reasons that are racially biased,'' Stan Young, lead attorney for those who filed the lawsuit, said in a written statement. Arpaio won a small victory when the judge dismissed part of a claim by a Hispanic couple who

are among the five people who filed the lawsuit. Snow ruled that one of Arpaio's deputies had probable cause to pull over the couple on a closed roadway. The couple's illegal search claim was thrown out, but the judge didn't dismiss their racial profiling claim.

During the patrols known as “sweeps,” deputies flood an area of a city in some cases, heavily Latino areas over several days to seek out traffic violators The lawsuit alleges that Maricopa County officers made some traffic stops solely because Hispanics were driving. The plaintiffs say authorities had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops only to question their immigration status. Arpaio has denied the racial

profiling allegations, saying people pulled over in the patrols were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes and that it was only afterward that deputies found many were illegal immigrants. During the patrols known as ``sweeps,'' deputies flood an area of a city in some cases, heavily Latino areas over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the roughly 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office in earnest since January 2008. Separate from the lawsuit, the US Department of Justice issued a Dec. 15 report that accused Arpaio's office of having a pattern of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration enforcement on racially-charged citizen complaints and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish. Arpaio faces a Jan. 4 deadline for saying whether he wants to

work out an agreement to settle the civil rights allegations. The Justice Department has said it's prepared to sue Arpaio and let a judge decide the matter if no agreement can be worked out. The Justice Department report prompted US Department of Homeland Security to strip Arpaio's office of its federal powers to verify the immigration status of jail inmates. The severing of those ties came after an October 2009 decision by Homeland Security to take away the federal immigration arrest powers from 100 of Arpaio's deputies. Arpaio is left with only state immigration laws to carry out his patrols and those powers were limited by the judge. Apart from the lawsuit and civil rights report against the sheriff's office, a federal grand jury also has been investigating Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009. Grand jurors are examining the investigative work of the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad. -AP

Immigration remains hot topic in US politics

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n the 2012 presidential elec tions in the United States, His panics could play a larger role than ever in determining who will occupy the White House. They are the fastest growing voting group in the nation. Many Latinos are watching closely how the presidential candidates view the issue of immigration in the U.S. In California, legislators recently passed a law providing financial aid for students who are illegal immigrants. "I was born in Mexico, Jalisco. I came to the U.S. at the age of two," said Nancy Meza, whose story is not uncommon. Her mother brought her to the U.S. to get an education. "Me and my mom came undocumented through the desert. I consider myself an American and all I'm missing is a piece of paper," she said. Meza just graduated from the university and is considering either graduate or law school. Her plans just got a little easier a few months ago, when California passed the Dream Act, a law that makes students who are not in the U.S. legally eligible for financial aid at public universities within the state. "Definitely the passage of the California Dream act opens up those doors for us to be able to compete. That's what we've always wanted," Meza said. An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the

U.S., of which two million are youth and students says Kent Wong, director of the University of California Los Angeles Labor Center. Only three states in the U.S. allow illegal immigrants to qualify for financial aid in state universities. "These children broke no laws. They've done everything our society have asked them to do. They worked hard. They've studied

‘All you need to do is go to LA county hospitals emergency room and find out who is actually utilizing those services. There it's a reality that there is a burden placed upon society because this issue has not been resolved’ hard. They've stayed in school. They're entering college. and so we're punishing them for something they have absolutely no control," Wong said. A Federal Dream Act failed in the Senate last year. It would have created a pathway to citizenship for qualifying illegal immigrants. Again, Kent Wong: "The reality is that because the majority are from Latin

America and Asia there is a strong reaction from older conservative white members of Congress who fear the integration of students of color within our society," Wong said. But Republican strategist, Luis Alvarado says the views of many Democrats and Republicans are not that different. He says many Republicans and Latinos prefer immigration reform to be on the national level because states such as California cannot afford to have their own immigration policy. "All you need to do is go to LA county hospitals emergency room and find out who is actually utilizing those services. There it's a reality that there is a burden placed upon society because this issue has not been resolved. A solution is very complex; the reality is we're not going to have a solution until we actually find out who the next president of the United States is," Alvarado said. Even among the Republican candidates, who want to run against President Obama in 2012, there are differences of opinion. Some say the solution is to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border while others want to find a way to give legal status to the illegal immigrants who are already in the U.S. Luis Alvarado says Republicans and Democrats need to work together and not delay any longer in finding a solution for immigration.

PRADEEP ROY-SINGH B.A. LL.B. M.B.A. J.D. Attorney-at-Law

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Court won't delay GA, AL BALCA speaks on recruitment, immigration law hearings wage validity ATLANTA: A federal appeals court has denied requests by Georgia and Alabama to delay action on legal challenges to their tough new laws targeting illegal immigration pending the outcome of a US Supreme Court decision on a similar challenge to Arizona's immigration law. The 11th US Circuit of Appeals issued orders denying motions filed last week by the attorneys general of the two states. ``We look forward to the oral argument and the future decision by the Court,'' said Lauren Kane, spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had no immediate comment on the court order, his office said. Both Olens and Strange had said that the Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona would be relevant to the consideration of the appeals in their cases. The Supreme Court said Dec. 12 that it would review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked parts of the Arizona law. One part requires that police, while enforcing other laws, question a person's immigration status if officers suspect he or she is in the country illegally. The Obama administration challenged the Arizona law, arguing that regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not

states. The Department of Justice also challenged similar laws in Alabama, South Carolina and Utah. Civil liberties and immigrant rights groups also sued over measures in those states, as well as in Georgia and Indiana. Karen Tumlin, a lawyer for the National Immigration Law Center, which is arguing the cases in both Alabama and Georgia, said she was pleased.

“We look forward to the oral argument and the future decision by the Court,'' said Lauren Kane, spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens ``We're happy that those cases will move forward,'' she said. The groups challenging the laws had not opposed Georgia's request for delayed action, because they were satisfied with the lower court's ruling temporarily blocking parts of the law. But the groups had filed a motion opposing Alabama's request for a stay. Parts of that state's law challenged by the group have already taken effect after a federal judge declined to block them. -AP

US labor secretary criticizes Ala. immigration law MONTGOMERY, Ala.: The US Secretary of Labor is criticizing Alabama's new immigration law and reminding workers in the state they have the right to be paid the federal minimum wage, regardless of their immigration status. Secretary Hilda Solis is also encouraging anyone denied the federal minimum wage or overtime pay to contact the Department of Labor at (205) 397-7114 or http:// www.dol.gov. ``Our federal government - under both Republican and Democratic presidents - has long held that all people working in this country have the right to the federal minimum wage, regardless of immigration status,'' Solis wrote in a post on the department's blog. She said Alabama's immigration law invalidates employment contracts for illegal immigrants who are guaranteed the federal minimum wage under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

In response, the sponsor of Alabama's immigration law, Republican Rep. Micky Hammon of Decatur, said, ``The truth is that illegal immigration brings its own set of human rights abuses ranging from human trafficking to poverty level wages to the victimization that comes with living under the radar.'' Solis criticized Alabama's law for making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to enter into a business transaction, such as signing an apartment lease or getting utility service. ``Imprisoning those who seek shelter and basic sustenance runs counter to the universal rights of all free people. It's beneath the dignity of this great nation,'' she wrote. Solis is the latest member of the Democratic president's administration to speak out against the law, which Alabama's Republican-controlled Legislature enacted in June. -AP

Cont’d from page 40

upheld the DOL's denial of the labor certification stating that while it may appear to elevate form over substance, as an appellate body it did not have the discretion to waive the clearly stated regulatory requirements. After all the confusion, we finally have a definitive statement from the BALCA en banc on the issue of the PWD and recruitment. Unfortunately, it is not a favorable one. In Karl Storz EndoscopyAmerica, 2011-PER-00040 (Dec. 1, 2011), the DOL denied the employer's labor certification application on the ground that neither the earliest date listed for a recruitment step nor the date the labor certification application was filed fell within the PWD validity period. The employer filed a request for BALCA en banc review. The employer argued that the 2008 version of the regulation was not applicable because the employer was not seeking to re-file its application under 656.17(d) and neither was its application selected for supervised recruitment under 656.21. The employer argued that the regulation likely contained an error and that the true meaning behind the regulation could be found in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) supplemental remarks and regulatory text which provided that in order to rely on a PWD, employers must initiate at least one of the recruitment steps required for professional or nonprofessional occupations within the validity period of the PWD. The employer argued that all of its recruitment took place within 180 days immediately preceding the filing of its application and none of its advertisements listed a wage. BALCA granted en banc review in order to resolve the conflict between its decisions in Quadrille Wallpapers & Fabrics, Inc., 2010-PER-68 (Dec. 15, 2010) and Manhattan Jewish Experience, 2009-PER-424 (Dec. 15, 2010) where it affirmed the DOL's denials of the labor certifications and its decision in Horizon Computer Services to vacate the DOL's denial. BALCA invited the American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA") and the American Immigration Council to participate as amici curiae. In its amicus brief, AILA presented several arguments in including (1) that the clear intent of the rule's drafters is evident in the NPRM; (2) that Horizon Computer Services is the only decision that has interpreted the meaning of "begin the recruitment"

because the previous decisions referred to the original version of the regulation and accordingly the decisions are not in conflict; (3) that only the 2009 version of the regulation applied to the employer's case because the employer filed its labor certification in 2009; (4) that initiating recruitment prior to receiving a PWD does not undermine the recruitment process or harm U.S. workers; and (5) that BALCA ought to review the case under the "fundamental fairness" analysis. In its decision, BALCA held that despite the fact that the employer filed its labor certification application in 2009, the 2008 version of the regulation applied to the employer because the 2009 version of the regulation applies only to PWD's issued by the NPC and the NPC only began issuing PWDs after January 1, 2010. BALCA held that since all parties (DOL, AILA, etc.) agree that any reference in the regulation to

BALCA also conceded that it could not reconcile the language in the NPRM with the language in the final version of the regulation because it does not have the authority 656.17(d) instead of 656.17(e) was a typographical error (since there is no recruitment conducted in connection with 656.17(d)), that even under the 2008 version of the regulation, an employer had to either begin the recruitment or file its labor certification application within the PWD validity period. Then, BALCA discussed the meaning of "begin the recruitment." BALCA held that "begin the recruitment" refers to beginning the entire recruitment process and that employers can only "begin the recruitment" once. BALCA highlighted the word "the" combined with the singular word "recruitment" and argued that since there are multiple recruitment steps required under 656.17(e) that the use of the singular noun "recruitment" can only refer to the recruitment process as a whole. BALCA argued that if "begin the recruitment" referred to beginning a recruitment step, then employers would essentially "begin the recruitment" multiple times under 656.17(e). BALCA further held that the DOL FAQ response cited in Horizon Computer Services and cited

by AILA and the employer in the instant case, which stated that an employer does not need to wait until it receives a PWD before beginning recruitment, does not undermine its holding because employers are still free to commence recruitment prior to receiving the PWD but the employer who has done this must file its labor certification application within the PWD validity period. BALCA also conceded that it could not reconcile the language in the NPRM with the language in the final version of the regulation because it does not have the authority to rule on the validity of a regulation or to invalidate a regulation as written. Finally, BALCA held that even if the 2009 version of the regulation were to apply to the employer's case, as AILA argued that it did, that "begin the recruitment period" also means to begin the recruitment process. Accordingly, BALCA went on to affirm the denial of the employer's labor certification. There is not much that one can say by way of commentary on this holding. This might be a case of "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it." Practitioners have long wished for a definitive statement from BALCA on the issue of the PWD and recruitment, and now we have it. Unfortunately, unless a federal court interprets the regulation more expansively, this means that pending motions for reconsideration and review of labor certifications denied for failure to commence the earliest recruitment within the PWD will ultimately be denied. In such cases, it would behoove employers who have not already done so to immediately recommence the recruitment process and file a new labor certification application. The pending motion may ultimately have to be withdrawn. As we approach July 1, 2012 when the DOL will update its prevailing wage databases, the PWD validity periods will become shorter providing a shorter window for employers to file the labor certification if they commenced recruitment prior to obtaining the PWD. If an employer simply must begin recruitment prior to receiving the PWD (e.g. foreign national's 6th year in H-1B status is fast approaching) then that employer should be careful to organize the recruitment in such a way that the PWD remains valid at the time of filing. * Cyrus D Mehta, may be contacted at 212-425-0555 or info@cyrusmehta.com


Immigration Post

January 6, 2012

www.indiapost.com

Years in detention takes toll on immigrant family TACOMA, Wash.: Many days, it seems Tara Ammons Cohen no longer knows what to make of her life. Once, she had a husband who lay beside her at night and two little boys who mostly followed her rules. She worked as a teacher's assistant and bus driver and had cash and friends. Then she got arrested and spent nearly three years locked up at the federal immigration detention center in Tacoma, 250 miles from her home in Omak. The 39-year-old woman was conditionally released in August, but home isn't the same refuge it once was. She sometimes feels like an outsider. ``I'm still not adjusted,'' Ammons Cohen said recently. ``Everything is unsure right now.'' These days, her marriage to Jay Cohen is shaky at best. They love each other, but they've drifted apart and aren't ready to reconcile. Her boys aren't so little now, and they've developed their own routines in her absence. They have sports, friends and lives outside the home. She can't apply for a job or education without U.S. citizenship, and authorities still are reviewing her case. The woman who's lived in the United States since she was an infant still could be deported to her native Mexico because her adopted parents never got her naturalized and she didn't bother to do so once she became an adult. She was arrested in October 2008 on a drug charge. Under immigration law, she was detained and has been fighting deportation ever since. Ammons Cohen has never been to Mexico. She doesn't speak Spanish. She knows no one down there. She says her place is in Omak, with her family. She's working to stay in the United States, but until her case is resolved, she waits in fear and tries to rebuild her life, bit by bit. The distance between Ammons Cohen and her husband is obvious. They no longer wear wedding bands. They sit at opposite sides of the table and exchange few words. They both forgot their anniversary. The emotional hurt caused by the time Ammons Cohen slapped Jay, which eventually led to a domestic-violence conviction for her, has yet to heal. Yet, warmth and longing fill their voices when they reminisce about the past. They've been together for 16 years and are on their

second marriage to each other. Jay, 41, chuckles as he recounts stories from when they first started dating. Ammons Cohen smiles as she flips through their wedding album. They say they want to find their way back to a happier time but need to get to know each other again after being apart so long. ``It's been tough on us as a married couple because I've been focusing on the boys and neglecting him,'' Ammons Cohen said. ``And I've been working, trying to squeeze a dollar out of a dime and

Cussing is no longer allowed. The house is cleaner. Dinners are more varied and tasty. The boys are inundated with hugs and requests to pick up their stuff neglecting her,'' Jay said. ``I'm miles and miles away from her.'' Their eyes lock for an instant - it's the first spoken acknowledgement that their marriage is in trouble. Then they look away. Someone changes the subject. They first met nearly two decades ago when a friend introduced them. They immediately hit it off. They walked down the aisle in 1999 when their firstborn was 3. It wasn't long before Ammons Cohen began abusing drugs and alcohol. Six years later, they were divorced. They missed each other and wanted to be a family, so she sobered up and they got hitched a second time in 2007. Barely a year later Ammons Cohen landed behind bars and launched her battle to remain in the United States. ``If I can keep her around, that'd be pretty cool,'' Jay said. ``It's pretty tough right now. We just got to keep working at it.'' Jay is a logger who leaves for work at 2:45 a.m. and gets home after dinner. Within an hour of walking in the door, he's snoozing on the couch. His spare time is spent watching his sons' sports games, hunting and chopping wood to sell for extra cash. Ammons Cohen wishes he would spend more time with her. She spends her days and nights cleaning the house, visiting with friends and catching up with her boys. She's afraid to get close to her husband again.

``Why should we make things work when we don't know if I'm going to be here tomorrow?'' she asked. ``That's why I want to spend every second with the kids.'' Ammons Cohen was released from the Northwest Detention Center in August, her family greeted her in the parking lot. Her sons Troy, 14, and Gavin, 11 rushed to hug their mother, eager to have their family whole again. Their first request was for Ammons Cohen to cook their favorite foods: deviled eggs, spaghetti with cheese, chili dogs. She spent the next day cleaning their mobile home, breaking down in tears halfway through because it was so messy. ``When she wasn't here, it was more of a bachelor pad,'' Troy said. ``It was good for her to come back, but, with her back, it's different.'' Gavin said he missed his mom a lot, but it is ``different'' now that she's home. Not better or worse, just different. Cussing is no longer allowed. The house is cleaner. Dinners are more varied and tasty. The boys are inundated with hugs and requests to pick up their stuff. Their dad has more help, but their parents argue often. Life changes daily as the family readjusts to living under the same roof, but the bond between the brothers remains the same. Gavin looks up to Troy, and Troy enjoys caring for his younger brother, taking him along to a friend's house or a sports game. Gavin has become Troy's ``chick magnet,'' more effective than a puppy. Ammons Cohen still struggles with how much of her sons' childhoods she missed. Troy is taller than her now. Gavin is nearly eye to eye. She's missed championship games, girlfriends and report cards. When Jay mailed a formal photograph of the boys to the detention center on May 2, Ammons Cohen nearly squealed in shock and excitement and picked up her tattered blue journal. -AP

India Post

43


Tech News PAC asks FinMin not to divert funds for USO NEW DELHI: The Public Account Committee of Parliament has pulled up the Ministry of Finance for diverting funds meant exclusively for Universal Service Obligation (USO) to other programs. "The Committee does not approve of the Ministry of Finance diverting the funds exclusively meant for USO activities to other programs," says Public Account Committee's (PAC's) latest report on Administration of USO Fund tabled in the Lok Sabha. The committee, therefore, urged the DoT to once again "take up the matter with the Ministry of Finance so that proceeds from the USO Fund are made available for USO activities in general and for provision and expansion of rural telephony in particular," it added. The panel also expressed dissatisfaction with DoT's casual and non-serious attitude when dealing with the recommendations of the committee. “The committee is highly dissatisfied with the indifferent reply of the DoT," the report said.-PTI

Industry role stressed in uplift economy NEW DELHI: Heads of the leading Indian business chambers - Ficci and Assocham have said the industry has "equal responsibility" along with the government to pull the economy out of slowdown without always "cribbing about policy paralysis." Asked to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing disappointment over the negative comments from industry about the government, Ficci President Harsh Mariwala said, "We need to take equal responsibility...we need to work together in 2012. We cannot go on blaming each other." Assocham President Dilip Modi struck a similar reconciliatory chord. "He (Prime Minister) has his own compulsions...". Modi said that instead of "flagging the issue and cribbing about," the industry should tweak and explore the business possibilities which still exist. In the meeting of the PM's Council of Trade and Industry on December 22, Singh had expressed disappointment over some of the recent statements from corporate honchos about policy paralysis in the government.-PTI

TechBiz 44 India Post

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Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata along with his successor Cyrus Mistry meeting Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi at his residence in Gandhinagar on December 29

January 6, 2012

India to borrow $9.5 billion pledging assets to fund budget deficit India plans to borrow as much as 500 billion rupees ($9.5 billion) using land and shares as collateral in an effort to narrow a budget deficit, two government officials with direct knowledge of the matter said. The South Asian nation will set up a fund manager by Jan. 15 that will pledge stocks it holds in nonstate companies including ITC Ltd. (ITC), Axis Bank Ltd. (AXSB) and Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (LT), the officials said declining to be identified before a public announcement. The company will use the proceeds to buy the government's stakes in state-run firms, the officials said. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is exploring options to bridge a widening budget deficit after raising just 3 percent of a 400

billion rupee asset-sale target for the year ending March 31. The decision may help the government utilize assets the officials said are valued at 1 trillion rupees and narrow the gap that's fanned inflation and driven the rupee to a record low.

Paribas Financial Services Ltd. A 23 percent drop in the benchmark Sensitive Index (SENSEX) this year prompted Mukherjee to delay selling shares of Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) and

Mukherjee said in October that it would be a "challenge" to meet his aim of narrowing the budget gap to a four-year low of 4.6 percent of gross domestic product as slowing growth reduce tax collections "The government is doing this to raise funds as the market isn't conducive for asset sales, while they are hard pressed to meet deficit targets," said Alex Mathews, head of research at Geojit BNP

Indian Oil Corp. (IOCL) He has raised 11.44 billion rupees from asset sales this fiscal year compared with 227.63 billion rupees in the 12 months through March, 2011, according to data provided

by the Department of Disinvestment. Mukherjee said in October that it would be a "challenge" to meet his aim of narrowing the budget gap to a four-year low of 4.6 percent of gross domestic product as slowing growth reduce tax collections. Moody's Investors Service said the deficit will widen to 7.6 percent this year. "There's no doubt that this surprise move by India will help in meeting the deficit target and have a benign impact on sentiments," said Gopal Agrawal, chief investment officer at a local unit of South Korea's Mirae Asset Financial Group in Mumbai. "Everybody will be keenly watching how quickly and effectively the government works out the modalities." - Bloomberg

Japan to step up political, security, eco ties with India NEW DELHI: Strengthening bilateral ties, India and Japan are forging ahead with collaboration on political, security and economic issues, besides regional cooperation, visiting Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said here. "I am convinced that we need to strengthen the partnership. India and Japan are stepping up their cooperation in areas like political, security and economic fields and also regional areas," Noda said here at a luncheon meeting with Indian chambers CII, Ficci and Assocham. The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the two countries that was operationalised in August will further enhance the India-Japan economic relationship, he said. Noda added that about 420 Japanese companies present in India have created over 1.50 lakh jobs in the country. Speaking on the occasion, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India and Japan should work together as the world is facing economic uncertainty. He said there are huge opportunities available in India for Japanese businessmen in sectors like

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (C) with Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, CII immediate Past President Hari S. Bhartia (L), ASSOCHAM President Dalip Modi and FICCI President Harsh Mariwala (R) at a meeting of India-Japan Business Forum in New Delhi on December 28

infrastructure, including ports and airports, and agriculture. "We are setting up about 46 agro-processing zones (in India). This is also one area where Japanese knowledge and experience could be of great help to India," Sharma said. He said "we are very much on course" to achieve the bilateral trade target of USD 25 billion by

2014. Sharma further said the Japanese government has committed USD 4.5 billion for the DelhiMumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. The project is aimed at creating world-class industrial infrastructure along the Delhi-Mumbai Rail Freight Corridor, which is under implementation. .

India-Japan bilateral trade saw a robust increase of 24 per cent to USD 13.2 billion during JanuarySeptember period on the back of the mutual free trade agreement. Under the FTA, officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the two countries have slashed duties on large number of items of trade.-PTI


TechBiz Post

January 6, 2012

India Post

45

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Mukesh, Anil come together for Dhirubhai memorial CHORWAD (GUJ): The Ambani brothers - Mukesh and Anil - came together for the inauguration of a memorial for the legendary industrialist and founder of Reliance Group Dhirubhai Ambani in Chorwad town in Junagarh district, in the presence of the entire family. It was after a long time that the Ambani siblings were seen together in the family reunion. A few years after the death of their father Dhirubhai Ambani in July 2002, both the brothers had parted ways leveling allegations against each other. The memorial was inaugurated at the hands of the Ambanis' family guru Ramesh Oza (Bhaiji), where Kokilaben, her two sons Mukesh and Anil, two daughters - Dipti Salgaonkar and Neena Kothari, were present among others. The family reunion in Chorwad took place after a hiatus of 15 years. The last one was in 1996, when Dhirubhai was present and

Mukesh Ambani with his brother Anil Ambani in their home town of Chorwad in Gujarat for the inauguration of a memorial for their father Dhirubhai on his 80th birth anniversary

a grand feast had been organized for the villagers, sources close to the Ambani family said. Talking to media persons, Group president of Reliance Parimal Nathwani said, "The entire Ambani family got emotional at the inauguration of the memorial, which is nothing less than a Bharat Ratna type of fitting tribute to the patriarch Dhirubhai Ambani." He said it was significant that a memorial in his name came up at a place, from where Dhirubhai began his career as a young entrepreneur. The house in Chorwad, where Dhirubhai lived, till he left for Eden (now Yemen), is transformed into a memorial. A memorial in the name of an industrialist is unheard in this part of country, Nathwani said. "The spiritual guru Ramesh Oza delivered a one hour discourse, which was attended by the Ambani family," he said.

Group president of Reliance Parimal Nathwani said, ‘The entire Ambani family got emotional at the inauguration of the memorial, which is nothing less than a Bharat Ratna type of fitting tribute to the patriarch Dhirubhai Ambani’ Nathwani said, that Ambani family took part in 'havan' (ritual) and the reunion culminated with 'raas-garbha' played at the Chorwadi temple premises. "This was completely a family function and therefore no friends were invited," he added. -PTI

Decision soon on additional equity for Air India NEW DELHI: A decision on additional equity infusion in Air India is likely soon with the Civil Aviation Ministry moving a Cabinet note on the matter, even as the ailing carrier planned to conclude a debt recast package with its bankers by mid-March next year. Confirming the circulation of

the note, official sources said the Union Cabinet may take up the issue within the first fortnight of 2012. Speaking on the national carrier's debt recast plans, they said the bankers have sought an extension of the provisioning norms over a five-year period.

Maintaining that the lenders have requested for extending provisioning norms so that the provision could be spread over extended financial years, Air India officials said the issue "has already been taken up with Reserve Bank of India and the reply is awaited".

Inflation to moderate to 6% by March 2012: Pranab NEW DELHI: With food inflation declining well below one per cent, to the lowest level since April 2006, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the overall inflation would drop to 6 per cent by March end. "If this trend continues then you will have (fiscal) year-end (headline) inflation around 6 per cent... But it can not be lower than 6 per cent because inflationary pressure was higher in weeks before," Mukherjee told reporters here. His comments followed the latest data from the government that showed food inflation at 0.42 per cent as on December 17, the lowest in almost six years. "If you confirm for longer period, the fall is sharp," Mukherjee said, while pointing to the data on rise in prices of food items. Food inflation numbers have moderated every week since early November when it stood at double-digit. The Finance Minister's projec-

tion of 6 per cent inflation by yearend is well below the 7 per cent forecast made by the Reserve Bank.

projected it to fall to 7 per cent by March 2012. RBI has hiked interest rates 13 times since March, 2010, to tame

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee

Headline inflation, which also factors in manufactured items, besides food and fuel, has been above 9 per cent mark since December last year. It stood at 9.11 per cent in December and RBI has

demand and curb inflation. At its Mid Quarter Policy Review earlier this month, RBI stopped further hikes and hinted that the rate may be cut in case inflation moderates. -PTI

The officials also maintained that Air India had the "full support" of its lenders to conclude this arrangement within 120 days of the RBI approval, that is before the middle of March next year. The airline officials said the Finance Ministry has not rejected the debt recast plans, contrary to reports. Air India's debt recast plan as approved by RBI includes conversion of short-term working capital loan of Rs 7,000 crore into cumulative preferential shares and more time to repay the remaining debt amount of approximately Rs 14,000 crore. The airline has total of Rs

21,511.10 crore as short-term working capital loans and it pays an interest of over Rs 2,600 crore annually. After its meeting with lenders in late November, the State Bank of India-led consortium of banks had made fresh representations to the RBI urging it to provide additional exemptions from provisioning on the debt restructuring plan. The RBI, which had given a conditional nod to the recast plan last month, is likely to come out with its views on the issue by the end of this month. The package, once approved by RBI, will go to the Union Cabinet for approval. -PTI


Horoscope

46 India Post

January 6, 2012

www.indiapost.com

Your Weekly Future by Pandit Parashar

JANUARY 6TH - JANUARY 12TH (November 23 to December 22)

(March 21 to April 20)

N

D

ew friendship or partnership will pay off better than anticipated. Some of you may replace an old vehicle with a new and luxurious model. Mind will become very fertile and your ideas will be appreciated by people close. You will gain wisdom may spend little more time for prayers. Some one traveling from overseas will visit you.

o not fall for the bait and do further investigations before you commit. Spouse will be helpful in planning. You may be spending more time with a child. Boss will give you the hint about an interesting assignment and ask few questions. You may be calling a governmnet agency to enquire about an appeal.

(April 21 to May 20)

(December 22 to January 19)

T

hings will start straightening out at work and you will be promised a nice assignment. Mind will be slightly uneasy as you will be concerned about a family members health. You will write and mail out many important letters. You may be seriously exploring an opportunity to start a new venture with an old friend.

D

o not ignore the signs and keep an eye on blood pressure. People around will try to irritate you so stay calm. Little excercises or walking will be helpful. It looks a very promising week for people looking for a job or change. You will be working on a future trip also. A close friend will give some useful advice.

(May 21 to June 20)

(January 20 to February 18)

W

Y

eek favorable for all career related matters. Dream job or as signment within your reach. A child may not keep well and need to rest for a day. You will be successful in cutting corners and bring expenses down. Another favorable week for people connected with finance Industry. You may invite few old friends for dinner.

ou will spend lots of money on children. Initially there will be some conflict in mind but you will ultimately make the right decision involving career. People prone to litigations should not let their guards down for a minute this week. You will be invited to a social event. Property deal will bring in much needed cash.

(February 19 to March 20)

(June 21 to July 22)

D

Y

o not loose confidence and continue working on your plans. Better week for people dealing in hardware or auto related business. New relationship will keep you busy. You will plan a short trip to a nice place. You will study some very useful material to update your knowledge. Children will do better now.

our guess work and calculations will be upto the mark. It will be a very good week for people in retail business. New relationship will be exciting. You will buy some beautiful items for the house. It will be better to do thorough investigation before you make the financial commitment. Health will improve with changes in diet.

Britney Spears will wed boyfriend Jason Trawick

(July 23 to August 22)

Y

our actions will reflect courage and dedication. Goal is just inches away. New clients will place big orders. Soon some of you will be travelling to another state to attend an important meeting for few days. You may invite few friends at your place for dinner this week. Making few phone calls will help save some money. (August 23 to September 22)

I

t will be another expensive week. You will have to look for better deals in order to save some money. Issues will take longer than usual time to get resolved. Some of you will be getting reday to relocate in near future. You may think of getting out of an overseas project not worrking out so well lately. (September 23 to October 22)

Y

ou will not have much time to make up your mind, but the deal will be good in long term. Spouse may feel exhausted and need little rest. People in business will suceed in recovering almost dead money. Money wise you will continue to do well and make money through stocks too. You will visit a holy place.

(October 23 to November 22)

K

eep an eye on people trying to create problem in your personal life. You will have a very good opportunity to spend time with successful people and learn something new. Some one you know for long may give a business proposal. Money wise looks like a promising week. Stocks can get you little extra cash.

B

ritney Spears, celebrated her birthday in style, and our Sagittarius may be engaged! She spent her birthday with long time boyfriend, Jason Trawick. What are Britney's astrology love and psychic predictions for 2012. The couple kept it low key by going ice skating and Britney Spears received several celebrity birthday wishes. Britney One of the hardest working girls in entertainment, Britney Spears was wrapping up her South American tour and was home just in time for Christmas. Mama's gotta be home to celebrate with her baby boys.

Pandit Parashar, CEO & COO Astro Scan USA is also available for individual consultations. He can be reached at: parashar@parashar.com

Astrologicaly speaking, what does the future hold for Britney Spears and her boyfriend Jason. Astrochicks predicts that Britney will announce her engagement soon. Jason has proved to be a dedicated boyfriend and provides the emotional security she's looking for. For the pop star, we think she will take a well deserved break next year to Spears plan her big wedding. We do feel she will have one more child and her other two sons will be continued to be raised by her ex-husband, Kevin Federline. Wishing her lots of love and happiness.

925-833-7170

website: www.parashar.com


January 6, 2012

Classifieds

India Post 47

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48

Philosophy

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January 6, 2012

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he religious fairs held in India since time immemorial are known as Kumbha Melas; they have kept spiritual goals in constant sight of the multitude. Devout Hindus gather by the millions every six years to meet thousands of sadhus, yogis, swamis, and ascetics of all kinds. Many are hermits who never leave their secluded haunts except to attend the melas and bestow their blessings on worldly men and women. "I was not a swami at the time I met Babaji," Sri Yukteswar went on. "But I had already received Kriya initiation from Lahiri Mahasaya. He encouraged me to attend the mela which was convening in January, 1894 at Allahabad. It was my first experience of a kumbha; I felt slightly dazed by the clamor and surge of the crowd. In my searching gazes around I saw no illumined face of a master. Passing a bridge on the bank of the Ganges, I noticed an acquaintance standing near-by, his begging bowl extended. "'Oh, this fair is nothing but a chaos of noise and beggars,' I thought in disillusionment. 'I wonder if Western scientists, patiently enlarging the realms of knowledge for the practical good of mankind, are not more pleasing to God than these idlers who profess religion but concentrate on alms.' "My smouldering reflections on social reform were interrupted RAINER MARIA RILKE

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ainer Maria Rilke was one of the greatest lyric poets of modern Germany. The following are excerpts from letters he wrote to Franz Kappus, a 19year-old student at the Military Academy of Vienna, of which Rilke was an alumnus. Rilke compares the unfolding life of an artist to that of a tree, patiently withstanding hardship: "In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn't matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!" [Letter 3] Moreover, it is Nature who inspires and unleashes within the artist a sense of wonderment and awe: "If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small

by the voice of a tall sannyasi who‌" who took me to a "tree whose branches were sheltering a guru with an attractive group of disciples. The master, a bright unusual figure, with sparkling dark eyes, rose at my approach and embraced me. "'Welcome, Swamiji,' he said affectionately. "'Sir,' I replied emphatically, 'I am not a swami.' "'Those on whom I am divinely

"'Child,' the master said, though apparently I was nearly twice his own age, 'for the faults of the many, judge not the whole. Everything on earth is of mixed character, like a mingling of sand and sugar. Be like the wise ant which seizes only the sugar, and leaves the sand untouched. Though many sadhus here still wander in delusion, yet the mela is blessed by a few men of God-realization.' "In view of my own meeting

ded to rank materialism. Others, famous in science and philosophy, do not recognize the essential unity in religion. Their creeds serve as insurmountable barriers that threaten to separate them from us forever.' "'I saw that you are interested in the West, as well as the East.' Babaji's face beamed with approval. 'I felt the pangs of your heart, broad enough for all men, whether Oriental or Occidental. That is why I summoned you here.

East & West must establish a golden middle path Everything on earth is of mixed character, like a mingling of sand and sugar. Be like the wise ant which seizes only the sugar, and leaves the sand untouched

Paramhansa Yogananda

directed to bestow the title of "swami" never cast it off.' The saint addressed me simply, but deep conviction of truth rang in his words. "Babaji-for it was indeed hemotioned me to a seat near him under the tree. "'What do you think of the Kumbha Mela?' "'I was greatly disappointed, sir.' I added hastily, 'Up until the time I met you. Somehow saints and this commotion don't seem to belong together.'

with this exalted master, I quickly agreed with his observation. "'Sir,' I commented, 'I have been thinking of the scientific men of the West, greater by far in intelligence than most people congregated here, living in distant Europe and America, professing different creeds, and ignorant of the real values of such melas as the present one. They are the men who could benefit greatly by meetings with India's masters. But, although high in intellectual attainments, many Westerners are wed-

"'East and West must establish a golden middle path of activity and spirituality combined,' he continued. 'India has much to learn from the West in material development; in return, India can teach the universal methods by which the West will be able to base its religious beliefs on the unshakable foundations of yogic science. Excerpted from the Autobiography of a Yogi The 119th birth anniversary of Paramhansa Yogananda will be observed on January 2.

things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious

cause love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and unit-

to the theme of mankind's place in the cosmos and that, at the end of the day, we are all ultimately alone. And yet, possessed of such understanding, we can in fact discover infinite possibilities within ourselves and in relationship with others: "We are solitary. We can delude ourselves about this and

Love is high inducement for individual to ripen

Rainer Maria Rilke

mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge." [Letter 4] Rilke also discusses the nature of love; rather than being something co-dependent and stifling, it is to be celebrated as an inspiration to greatness: "It is also good to love: be-

For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task ing with another person... it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances."[Letter 7] In his final letters, Rilke returns

act as if it were not true. That is all. But how much better it is to recognize that we are alone; yes, even to begin from this realization. It will, of course, make us dizzy; for all points that our eyes used to rest on are taken away from us, there is no longer anything near us, and everything far away is infinitely far.

By being content with little and not giving a rap for what the neighbours think, one can attain a very large measure of freedom, shedding care and worry in a trice. -John Blofeld A boy carries out suggestions more wholeheartedly when he understands their aim. -Robert BadenPowell Let us be more simple: simple and true in our minds above all. Let us be ourselves. -Robert Linssen Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. -Buddha When you see for the first time, a great laughter arises in you - the laughter about the whole ridiculousness of your misery. -Osho The essence of practice is always the same: instead of falling prey to a chain reaction of revenge or self-hatred, we gradually learn to catch the emotional reaction and drop the story lines. -Pema ChĂśdrĂśn

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January 6, 2012

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Unrest in Buddha's homeland: the curious case of Lumbini PRADEEPA VISWANATHAN

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umbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha has of late received the attention it deserves but sadly for the wrong reasons. The spiritual significance of the site appears to be in conflict with the 'Greater Lumbini Project' which proposes to commercialize the place. Recent unrests have been witnessed by factions opposing such development. This article attempts to engage with the following questions: what factors have led to the unrest in Lumbini? What does Nepal plan to achieve by marketing Lumbini? Will this become a source of anxiety between Nepal's two largest neighbors - India and China? Lumbini is one of the four major Buddhist pilgrimages renowned in the Indian subcontinent (others include Sarnath (teaching), Bodh Gaya (enlightenment) and Kushinagar (death), all in India). In comparison to the other three sites, Lumbini has for long been in a desolate condition. Given the significance of the site, any effort to develop it should have been welcomed. However, recent plans of developing the site have been met with severe opposition from the Buddhist community in Nepal which resorted to staging of a peace rally and promulgation of the five-point demands. Internal as well as external factors account for this. Internally speaking, the crucial factor behind the protests has been the involvement of former Prime Minister of Nepal - Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as the coordinator of the Lumbini Development National Steering Committee. Given Prachanda's credentials (he is believed to have indulged in a violent killing spree during the civil war period) and his being of Hindu faith, his association with the committee, has irked Buddhists in Nepal. Surprisingly, he is also the cochairman of the Hong Kong based Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF), the primary funding agency in Lumbini. Closely associated with this is the priority given by Prachanda during his premiership and after, to Lumbini's development over Nepal's peace process. Second, is the demand of Buddhists against 'the exploitation of religion for economic progress' and in favor of the appointment of 'stake holders' and not 'non-believers' to manage development at Lumbini. This is given the reli-

gious sentiments attached, which has not permitted any commercialization within three sq kms area around the site till date. However, if the current plan comes into play, Lumbini shall house an international airport, tourist facilities, convention centre and a Buddhist university among others. The external reasons building into the chaos are, first, the surfacing of APECF, a non-governmental organization as the major funder, which has pledged to pool in US$3 billion, into development activities. Doubts have been cast

Lumbini- birthplace of Buddha

over APECF's funding sources and its (un)apparent links to the communist party in Beijing. Second, is the declaration of an agreement signed between the APECF, UNIDO (United National Industrial Development Organization), Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and the Chinese Government, which if UNIDO and Nepal government sources are to be believed, was never signed. Third, the involvement of Beijing, an 'officially atheist state' has also added to the chaos in Lumbini as well. It deserves mention here that the peace rally was taken out by the 'indigenous Buddhists' of Nepal and the unease with Beijing's involvement does not have a political connotation to it. Lumbini happens to be a major tourist destination in Nepal with a record 98,431 visitors (excluding Indians) as of October 2011. The declaration of 2012 as Visit Lumbini Year (VLY), the selection of peace ambassadors and the planning of international conferences in Buddha's nativity reflects the enthusiasm with which Nepal

is trying to market Lumbini. By projecting Lumbini as a 'peace city', Nepal can enhance its national pride, garner international support and at the same time boost government revenues, create jobs and improve infrastructure. No doubt, the kicking off the current plan has the potential to lift Nepal's staggering economy. In this author's opinion then, it all comes down to selling it to the right investors as the required marketing has already been done Lumbini features in UNESCO's World Heritage Site and continues to be addressed as the 'Mecca of Buddhists'. Both India and China, Nepal's largest neighbors, have stakes in Lumbini. Chinese stakes revolve around the percentage of people of Buddhist faith in the country as well as the increase of these Buddhist tourists to Lumbini. For this reason, China has become more tolerant of Buddhism portraying itself as the supreme protector of the religion. Additionally, Chinese involvement in APECF's affairs, the close relationship between Prachanda and Chinese Communist Party and the proposed railway line connecting Kerung Rasuwa with Lumbini, also signals a Chinese interest. Indian stakes in Lumbini are equally appealing. Lumbini is situated at merely eight kilometers from the Indo-Nepal border. There already exists an India-led Buddhist circuit to Lumbini, also covering Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar. The fact of India being the 'karmabhoomi' of Buddha as against the 'janmabhoomi' has also added to India's advantage. As such any intrusion into the area has the potential to generate anxiety in both countries. In sum, Lumbini represents a complex interplay of religious sentiments and vested interests. However, plans to make Lumbini the 'Mecca of the Buddhist world' are far from actual realization given the politicization of the issue. Lumbini's development can certainly be in the long term interest of the country provided there is more transparency and public participation in the project. To quote the Economist', "if the would-be investors handle it better next time, such a huge project may seem irresistible." The writer is Research Officer, IPCS

India Post Overplaying its hand

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here was always the danger of the Anna team overplaying its hand. It came to pass in Mumbai in the closing stages of last year when it failed to muster any crowds in support of the second stage of its agitation. If it was a reality check for the arrogant Anna team, the parliamentarians did not exactly cover themselves with glory in the Lokpal debate although the ruling party managed to have the weakened bill passed with its strategic manipulations of walkouts by some supporting parties who had misgivings about the bill. That Anna called off his fast not completing even his proclaimed three days and put off indefinitely the "jail bharo" and the dharna before Sonia Gandhi's house shows that his team needs to do a rethink and go back to the drawing board to redraw its strategy. It is not that people have lost their anger against corruption. It is the methods of Anna Hazare which they have looked at with some suspicion. The anti-corruption team has rightly drawn the conclusion from the debate in Parliament that the battle for a strong Lokpal has to be taken to the electoral field. If MPs after MPs are reluctant to be under the Lokpal watchdog, then the focus has to be on choosing MPs who are with the anti-corruption mood of the country. For this the first field of battle is the elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other States the dates for which have been announced by the Election Commission. The Anna Team has come out openly against the Congress as the party responsible for perpetuating corruption and would issue a call to defeat the party at election rallies. The Anna Team needs to explain to the electorate what it means when it calls for passing its version of the Lokpal Bill. In fact it should give up its demand that only its version of the Lokpal Bill be passed. It should allow a debate all over the country over the pros and cons of its provisions and the focus should remain on removing corruption. At this moment, to the ordinary voter, it would seem that the Anna Team has given up its crusade against corruption and is only interested in a passing its favorite bill. It is a positive move to have a draft ready for debate and have it presented to Parliament even. But to the ordinary voter it should not talk in terms of the bill but in terms of specific instances of corruption that affect their life and how they propose to remove them. Anna team member Kiran Bedi was right in expressing her fear that the Lokpal Bill might meet the fate of the Women's Reservation Bill, which has been introduced so many times and every time it has been beaten back because of the resistance by male chauvinist MPs. The MPs who enact laws will never allow a legislation which would prevent their amassing of wealth and even haul them up for their misdoings. It is the electoral system which functions by money power which should be the target of the anti-corruption agitators. The problem with the Anna team is that they have become arrogant. They think they are the lone champions against corruption and anybody else who is against corruption does not matter unless he or she joins their movement. It is true the Anna movement has brought us to this point where the MPs have agreed to debate a proposed law which curbs their propensity to corrupt ways. For further success it needs to give up rigidity and be amenable to people's suggestions.

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