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'Socialist' IndianAmerican joins Seattle City Details on page 7
Two Oz teens charged for assaulting Indian
VOL 19, No. 1007
January 3, 2014
U.S. WON'T WITHDRAW KHOBRAGADE CASE
NEW YORK: The US is proceeding with the prosecution of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade and has no intention to withdraw the case of visa fraud against her. US sources here said that more evidence was being gathered against the 39-year-old diplomat before the indictment is filed. The deadline for indictment is January 13. There is no question of apology to India over the arrest of Khobragade, the then Deputy Consul General of India, in New York on December 12 which has led to strong protests by the Indian government and widepread indignation in India.
They said that everything with regard to the Indian diplomat had been done by the book and that there was no nefarious motive. The sources replied in the negative when asked if Khobragade, who has been transferred from the Indian Consulate to the country's mission to the UN subsequent to her arrest, enjoyed full diplomatic immunity at present. They conceded, though, that if she gets UN immunity the diplomat cannot be prosecuted or brought to court for the period of the immunity. The case will be in "suspension" but will not be dismissed, they said. Details on page 5
Details on page 7
US envoy regrets circumstances of arrest Details on page 6
Record Indian Americans in Obama admn Details on page 8
12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from Jan 7 Details on page 8
Indian-origin UK boy makes Mensa cut
PM to address press meet on January 3
Details on page 8
Details on page 9
Arup Raha takes over as IAF chief
CONTENTS Bollywood ---------------------- 28-29 Classifieds ------------------------- 52 Community Post -------------- 16-23
Details on page 9
Date Book -------------------------- 48 Edit Page --------------------------- 54
INDIA POST SURVEY
HealthScience Post --------- 32-35
Horoscope --------------------- 50-51
This week’s question
Immigration Post ------------- 44-46
Will Indo-US relations revive in 2014?
Life Style ----------------------- 24-27 Philosophy ------------------------- 53
Last week’s result
Publisher’s Diary ------------------ 4 Do US diplomats deserve extra privileges? YES 23%
ORDINARY MAN IN POWER: AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal taking charge as Delhi Chief Minister at Delhi Secretariat on December 28. (Details on page 11)
Real Estate -------------------- 38-39 TechBiz Post ------------------- 12-15 Travel & Hospitality Post ---- 40-43
Certified by “CIRCULATION VERIFICATION COUNCIL Readership 117,765”
January 3, 2014
January 3, 2014
January 3, 2014
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Publisher’s Diary 2
013 for Indian Americans may be characterized by the record number of appointments - more than 50, by one count - by President Barack Obama to various Administrative posts, the most for any Administration since the first Indian American was appointed to a White House position by President Ronald Reagan almost three decades ago. I am not as kicked about talk on the possibility of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal throwing in his hat in the ring for a Presidential run in 2016 - at least not yet, because of his ultra-conservative ideas - but hey, you can never say… anything is possible. So, I think the Indian American community can proudly dedicate 2013 to its smooth and steady inroads into the corridors of power. That said, I think the name "Indian" created ripples in the American press and social media, for two reasons this year: Nina Davuluri and Devyani Khobragade. These two Indian origin women - albeit for entirely different reasons - captured the imagination of the American people and became cause for much debate. No one quite expected the backlash against Davuluri as the first ever Indian American to be crowned Miss America. It's interesting really, how on the one hand America becomes the epitome of diversity in the eyes of the world for breaking convention in choosing an Indian American as representative of American beauty, and on the other still harbors racist sentiments. But, it's okay - at least it showed it's a society in transition and not stagnation. And then we have this bizarre incident that seemed to dwarf every other happening during the entire year, where a young Indian female diplomat is arrested in public and later strip searched by the New York police, on charges of visa fraud. The Indian American community was perhaps never more torn between its loyalties to its adoptive nation and the country of its origin. And interestingly again, all the key players in this drama were of Indian origin - the accused, the accuser and the prosecutor. Whatever be the case, the point is India, Indians and Indian Americans are never short of news makers. Here's to more in 2014.
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HIGHLIGHTS Bollywood: New Year wish Deepika Padukone’s New Year wish is to work with superstars Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan.
Cover Story: Case to continue The US has no intention to withdraw the case of visa fraud against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
Community: Afghan gesture The Afghanistan National Assembly House of Elders has decided to reserve one seat for Hindus and Sikhs
28 1 16
Immigration: Fear of migrants There are fears that lifting of work restrictions across EU will unleash migrants into UK from Romania and Bulgaria
Life Style: Hottest Jodi The fans have voted Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh as the Hottest Onscreen Jodi of the Year 2013
Techbiz: 3rd largest economy India will beat Japan to grab the position of the world's third largest economy in 2028, according to CEBR
Travel: Imagica Imagica is India's International standard Theme Park, offering fun, action, entertainment and shopping at single location.
44 24 12 40
January 3, 2014
US won't withdraw Khobragade case NEW YORK: The US is proceeding with the prosecution of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade and has no intention to withdraw the case of visa fraud against her. US sources here said that more evidence was being gathered against the 39-year-old diplomat before the indictment is filed. The deadline for indictment is January 13. There is no question of apology to India over the arrest of Khobragade, the then Deputy Consul General of India, in New York on December 12 which has led to strong protests by the Indian government and widepread indignation in India. They said that everything with regard to the Indian diplomat had been done by the book and that there was no nefarious motive. The sources replied in the negative when asked if Khobragade, who has been transferred from the Indian Consulate to the country's mission to the UN subsequent to her arrest, enjoyed full diplomatic immunity at present.
No Goof Up They conceded, though, that if she gets UN immunity the diplomat cannot be prosecuted or brought to court for the period of
not understand the form correctly. "No federal agent goofed up in reading the form," sources said, rubbishing allegations made by Khobragade's lawyer Dan Arshack. "It is clear that the salary details required on the visa application form are that of the employee and not the employer," they said. Sources also added that Khobragade's domestic help Sangeeta's family was evacuated to the US because the Justice Department was compelled to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families were safe and secure while cases were pending. If Khobragade had immunity in the case, what was the need to transfer her from the Indian Consulate to the Indian mission to the UN, the sources contended. India has also informed the US that Khobragade was accredited to the UN as a member of the country's delegation to the General Assembly before her arrest in a visa fraud case. Since the diplomat was part of the Indian delegation to the UN beginning September and enjoyed full diplomatic immunity, her arrest would be considered a violation of the Vienna Convention. Sources have stressed that it is better that the case is resolved since even if Khobragade avoids prosecution due to her immunity
Sources added that Khobragade's domestic help Sangeeta's family was evacuated to the US because the Justice Department was compelled to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families were safe and secure while cases were pending the immunity. The case will be in "suspension" but will not be dismissed, they said. After getting the UN immunity if she went back to India and then again comes on a visit to the US, she could face arrest since the charges would stand, the sources added. The US has also rejected India's contention that it has misconstrued salary details in the visa application of Khobragade's domestic help, asserting there is "no goof up" and that the case against her is on a firm footing. The sources here said, "The strength of the fraud in the case is very strong." On the allegation made by Khobargade's lawyer that the USD 4,500 amount written in the visa application was Khobragade's salary and not the amount promised to be paid to the domestic worker Sangeeta Richard, sources have said that Khobragade did
status, the case will always be there against her in the US federal court. However, Khobragade would not be considered a fugitive who can be arrested in another country.
Privileges Withdrawn Following her arrest, India has withdrawn extra privileges enjoyed by American Ambassador Nancy Powell and other diplomats such as special access at Indian airports. India also initiated a slew of other measures like stopping import clearances for the US embassy and asked all US Consulate personnel and their families to turn in their ID cards. Given the furor and diplomatic row the case has caused in India, US India-born Attorney Preet Bharara made an unusual move to issue a lengthy statement in which
he defended the arrest and charges against Khobragade. Meanwhile, the sources in the
fraudulent document to be presented, and materially false and fraudulent statements to be made,
be a part of her scheme to lie to US government officials," he had said. "So it is alleged not merely that she sought to evade the law, but that she affirmatively created false documents and went ahead with lying to the US government about what she was doing," he added. Sangeeta had made a complaint and went to an NGO, which then brought the case to the attention of the Justice Department and the State Department.
State Department did it
US said Khobragade's lawyer can certainly ask the court to dismiss the case but that request can be challenged by the prosecutors. Amid all the furor created by the case, the fact that Khobragade misrepresented and made false statements to the US authorities is being lost, they said.
Second Contract The complaint against Khobragade alleges that after an employment contract was submitted to the US State Department, Khobragade told her domestic worker Sangeeta that she needed to sign another employment contract, which provided that her maximum salary per month including overtime allowance will not exceed 30,000 rupees per month. The second employment contract does not contain any provision about the normal number of working hours per week or month. Sources have questioned as to why a second employment contract was signed between Khobragade and Sangeeta when the first employment contract was submitted to the US authorities that said the diplomat would pay her maid the prevailing or minimum wage, whichever is greater, resulting in an hourly salary of USD 9.75. "Why was there a contract about the Rs 30000 salary, (this implies) that Khobragade intended to pay Richard less" than the hourly salary of USD 9.75. "People are talking about everything other than the crux of the case" which is that Khobragade caused a materially false and
to the US State Department in support of Sangeeta's visa application. In the second contract, Khobragade "omits" many of the things that were agreed upon in the first contract, including the 9.75 dollar per hour rate that was decided upon. "The maid was paid about 1-2 dollars an hour. That is the fraud," sources have said adding that changing the first contract and creating a false contract, shows disrespect for US laws. Sources also added that it is regretful that the case has taken such a turn as it could have been handled in a better way. On whether Khobragade could have been summoned instead of being arrested to answer the charges against her, sources said that she could have claimed im-
Sources pointed out that the State Department built the case, investigated it, collected evidence in the case and made the determination about the immunity of the diplomat and not the Manhattan US Attorney's office. The salary paid to the domestic worker excludes medical and health and lodging benefits. It is also required by the State Department that all amount should be paid directly to the domestic worker in a bank account in the US. It is also required that all records be kept of the payment made to the domestic worker. The sources further stressed that there was no cavity search conducted on Khobragade. They added that the US Marshall service determines that every single person has to be strip-searched and the Manhattan Attorney's office does not determine that a person will be subjected to strip search. "It happens to everybody, no matter who you are. It is not pre-meditated," sources said adding that Khobragade was treated with courtesy as she was being arrested. Sources have maintained that she was not handcuffed. The cell in
The US Marshall service determines that every single person has to be strip-searched and the Manhattan Attorney's office does not determine that a person will be subjected to strip search munity or made attempts to flee. Attorney Preet Bharara has maintained that Khobragade was charged based on conduct and as is alleged in the complaint she clearly tried to evade US law designed to protect from exploitation the domestic employees of diplomats and consular officers. "Not only did she try to evade the law, but as further alleged, she caused the victim and her spouse to attest to false documents and
the courthouse where she was kept "for a short period" of time is very "clean" and she was handled in a very professional environment. Sources said that the people working on the ground in federal agencies like the US Marshall service were simply following the rules when Khobragade was stripsearched, a requirement that every defendant has to go through irrespective of whether they are diplomats.-PTI
January 3, 2014
Don't want Khobragade issue to impact ties: US WASHINGTON: The US does not want the arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade to negatively impact its important relationship with India, a top official has said. "We don't want this to negatively impact our relationship, that we work on a broad range of issues together, our bilateral relationship is too important. And we've said repeatedly that we don't want it," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters. "We had some good conversations with our Indian counterparts. And that's why what we're doing right now is letting that process play itself out and focusing from our end on moving the relationship forward, on the ground and here as well," Harf said. She was responding to questions about the impact on IndiaUS relationship after the arrest of
Khobragade. Harf said the State Department is still reviewing the application for her transfer and issue the necessary documents for full diplomatic immunity.
"We had some good conversations with our Indian counterparts. And that's why what we're doing right now is letting that process play itself outâ€? "We have received the paperwork from the United Nations. It is currently under review, and I don't have anything further for you on that except that we're tak-
ing a look at it, and when we have something more, we're happy to share it," she said. The State Department spokesperson, refuted report that the US Embassy is paying less wages or violating any local law in India. "Our standard practice - and I have no reason to believe that's not the case here - is to pay folks that work for us in countries around the world in conjunction with local law, with local practice," she said. "I'm happy to look into those specific reports...It's my understanding that at a minimum, it comports with local law and local practice. But that doesn't mean that it's not beyond that. So I'm happy to check and see what our practice is across the board," she added. "I have no reason to believe that our folks have done anything wrong on that," Harf added.-PTI
US launches 'inter-agency review of lapses' WASHINGTON: India's unusually tough stand on the arrest of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade has forced the US to initiate an "inter-agency review" to look into the lapses that happened in the high-profile case that triggered an uproar in India and strained bilateral ties. The US departments involved in the review include the National Security Council of the White House, the State Department and the Justice Department. "An inter-agency review is going on right now to look into the lapses that happened in the case," sources told PTI. In a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that there was a "judgmental error" in handling this case, sources said the interagency team led by the State Department is "working 24X7" to get it resolved as quickly as possible. Now that the matter has landed up in the judiciary, a lot depends on the judges too - for which the Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York is being actively engaged. It is believed that the Department of Defense has expressed its displeasure over the manner in which the entire issue was handled. At a time, when the Pentagon is busy reviewing its policy towards Asia Pacific region wherein
India fits as a major player in its scheme of things and is eyeing to have a large pie in the modernization program of the Indian armed forces, the last thing it would like to see is any strain in its ties with New Delhi, officials said. The strong Indian reaction came as a "shock and disbelief" here, especially to those who have anything to do with the country's foreign policy, as they had never expected such a strong retaliatory measure from New Delhi. Top officials of the Obama Ad-
ministration - in particular those in the State Department, Department of Justice and White House - took it simply a matter of "enforcing" law of the land, which was exploited by Sangeeta to immigrate to the US. Those who matter in the IndiaUS relationships including the government and the lawmakers have now started murmuring that the "pros and cons" of such an arrest was not given a serious thoughtful consideration before giving a go ahead. Contâ€™d on page 7
Indo-US military ties on good track: Pentagon WASHINGTON: The military-to-military ties between India and the US are on a good track, the Pentagon has said. "We have been working on our military to military relationship with the government of India for some time. We believe that our military-to-military relationship is on a good track," Pentagon spokesperson Steve Warren told reporters during an off-camera news conference. US Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter has made sev-
eral trips to India, he said, referring to what is now being called as the 'Carter-Menon' initiative, which resulted in the US going out of its way to provide India access to technologies that are being given to only to its closest allies. However, Warren refused to make any comment on the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, in New York on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and misrepresentation. PTI
US envoy regrets circumstances of arrest NEW DELHI: US Ambassador Nancy Powell has used a New Year message to express regrets for "the circumstances" of the arrest of Indian Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade even as the two countries continued to stick to their positions on the issue. Powell, who along with other US diplomats have lost extra privileges enjoyed by them, hitherto in India's retaliatory action, said she joins "Secretary Kerry in expressing our regret for the circumstances of the consular officer's arrest, but we believe that we can look forward to continuing to expand our bilateral relations." Referring to various "impressive developments" between India and the US in a widerange of areas, she said, this "forward movement has been jolted by very different reactions to issues involving one of your consular officers and her domestic worker". Talking about since she arrived here as the American Ambassador, Powell said, "during the subsequent months, the US Mission has been engaged in not only looking forward but in joining our Indian partners in moving forward. We have joined together on behalf of the children of the world in A Global Call to Action on Child Survival. "We have neared the USD 100
billion mark in two-way trade in goods and services; police chiefs from both of our countries sat together to share their experiences and to look to greater cooperation; we have had deep and fruitful consultations at the highest levels on resolving some of the world's crises; and via your Mars Orbiter Mission, whose launch I was privileged to watch, we boosted our relationship to a
whole new world." Powell also said she looks forward to increasing trade and investment that creates jobs in both countries, including civilian nuclear cooperation; to continuing consultations on Afghanistan and other key international issues to protect both of our interests in the region. And also to expanding counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation and encouraging more travel in both directions by students, business representatives and citizens, she added.-PTI
Indians in US missions grossly underpaid NEW DELHI: Indian employees of the US Embassy and consulates in India are being grossly underpaid in comparison to their American counterparts working in these missions, according to information made available to the government. Even as the External Affairs Ministry is awaiting details of Indian staff employed by the American diplomatic missions, some such current and former employees have come forward with details of their emoluments which are way below the wages being paid to American staff in similar positions. In fact, in the case of some semi-skilled Indian staff, the wages may be below those prescribed under India's Minimum
Wages Act. Information available to the government shows that an Indian Visa Officer gets a salary of around Rs 17,000 per month as against about Rs 1.10 Lakh for an American holding similar position. One security guard gets Rs eight thousand per month for an eight-hour duty daily, which is way below the Act. The government had set a deadline of December 23 for the US Embassy to furnish details of Indian staff employed along with the salaries in each case. It is understood that the US Embassy has cited Christmas and New Year holidays as the reason for the delay. Contâ€™d on page 7
January 3, 2014
'Socialist' Indian-American joins Seattle City Council NEW YORK: A 41-year-old Indian-American woman has emerged as a rising star on Seattle's political landscape, having been elected to the City Council and becoming one of the few elected socialists in the nation. An economics teacher and immigrant from India, Kshama Sawant took on her new role in Seattle's nine-member City Council on January 1, representing the Socialist Alternative Party. A report in the New York Times titled 'A Rare Elected Voice for Socialism Pledges to Be Heard in Seattle' said Sawant "heartily embraces" the label of a socialist, a political brand most politicians run from. "Ask her about almost any problem facing America today, and her answer will probably include the "S" word as the best and most reasonable response," the report said, adding that according to her, socialism is the path to real democracy. Sawant won her seat to the Council by defeating a veteran Democrat by a margin of 3,100 votes of about 184,000 cast in a citywide contest. "If you ask me as a socialist what workers deserve, they deserve the value of what they produce," she told the Times. An idea that was central to Sawant's campaign was a USD 15 minimum wage in the city, match-
ing the highest in the nation. The report said the spotlight on Sawant, as one of only a handful of "self-avowed" socialists to be elected to a city council in a major American city in decades could be intense. "If she remains only an activist, she'll be a one-shot wonder," said
She said she was shocked and radicalized seeing sharp income inequality in America when she immigrated here in her 20s. Sawant left software engineering and began studying economics and now teaches the subject at Seattle Central Community College.
Rich Lang, the pastor of University Temple United Methodist Church in Seattle and a Sawant supporter. But if she moves too far towards the centre, "she'll be shot down from the left as a compromiser. "There's tremendous pressure on her," he said.
She had run for the public office two years ago but lost when she challenged a Democrat for a state legislative seat. But she said she learned a valuable lesson in targeting voters and this year, she aggressively and successfully courted transgenders and other groups. -PTI
Oz teens charged for assault on Indian student MELBOURNE: Two teenagers have been charged with brutally attacking and robbing a 20-yearold Indian student in Australia who suffered serious head injuries in the incident. Manrajwinder Singh from Reservoir remained in an induced coma in a hospital here after being bashed up by thugs early on Sunday. Singh, in Australia to study accounts, was sitting with two other friends near the footpath east of Princess Bridge when they were approached by eight men, according to a police statement. The offenders, perceived to be of African appearance, assaulted Singh by kicking him on the head and hitting him with a stick. A 17-year-old Sydenham boy has been charged with intentionally causing serious injury, robbery and theft, the Victoria police said in a statement.
He faced an out of sessions court hearing and has been remanded in custody to appear at a children's court. Earlier, a 16 year-old St Albans boy was charged with serious assault and remanded in custody.
The incident was described as a cowardly attack by Detective Senior Constable Adam Foley. "It was just an opportunistic target from the offendersâ€? The teen was recognized by Protective Services Officers (PSO) from media coverage of the incident, the statement said, adding the PSOs arrested the boy just before midnight at Sunshine Rail-
way Station. The third arrest in the case, a 15-year-old Ascot Vale boy has been released and is expected to be charged on summons. A search is on for five others believed to be involved in the incident. The police have appealed to the public for any information to contact them. The incident was described as a cowardly attack by Detective Senior Constable Adam Foley. "It was just an opportunistic target from the offenders, they've just seen them there and approached them and done what they've done," Foley said. Singh's brother Yadwinder Singh, meanwhile, pleaded for justice. "They hit him on the head and he is in coma. I couldn't just believe it. My brother should get justice because he is fighting for his life," he said.-PTI
Indians in US missions grossly underpaid Contâ€™d from page 6
to US diplomats from third countries but to non-diplomatic personnel as well. "This is a misuse of diplomatic privilege that is not extended by the US to others in their country," sources said. There is a view in the government that the US diplomats at the Embassy in New Delhi and in their consulates in other cities in India have always enjoyed a high de-
Meanwhile, the special group, set up by the Foreign Secretary, met here for the first time to scrutinize the available information regarding the wages being paid to their Indian staff amid indications that these may be violative of the laws. The Group will now hold regular meetings. The special group comprises inter-divisional experts, including from legal, financial and human re- The US diplomats at the sources departments of Embassy in New Delhi and MEA, to assess and in their consulates in other monitor the inputs sought by the govern- cities in India have always ment. enjoyed a high degree of With India deciding to enforce strict reci- non-reciprocal privileges procity about the privi- and facilitation leges enjoyed by American diplomats posted in the gree of non-reciprocal privileges country, the government has with- and facilitation. drawn extra privileges enjoyed by These include tax-free treatAmerican Ambassador Nancy ment of their nationals working in Powell and other diplomats such the American Embassy School in as special access at Indian air- New Delhi, extra privileges and ports. immunities for their consulate ofThere are also reports that the ficials at their consulates in commercial facilities run by Ameri- Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai and can Community Support Associa- Hyderabad, approvals for extra tion (ACSA), including a beauty staffing, including the deputation salon and other full-scale commer- of short-term 'extra staff' for decial facilities hosted by the US ployment in the Embassy which Embassy within its compound are usually extended repeatedly which include the sale and service and become regular one to two establishment, were open not only year postings effectively. -PTI
US launches 'inter-agency review of lapses' Contâ€™d from page 6
"We have taken a hit. We will have to face the consequences," an administration source told PTI. India has asserted that such an arrest was not only in violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular immunity given that she was a member of the Indian delegation to the UN, but also against the letter and spirit of the India-US relationship, which President Barack Obama has been trying hard for the last five years. Officials here concede that given New Delhi's past track record, it was never conceived by the American foreign policy makers that India would react to the arrest of its diplomat the manner it did after the December 12 incident. After all, there had been precedent of Indian envoys and top past and present officials being
subject to humiliating and disrespectful treatment during their US visits, mostly at the airports, and there was hardly any protest, they said. But as India said "enough is enough" and raced to withdraw privileges of American diplomats in India, officials here have been "forced to rethink" over their "treatment" and "relationship" with India, which Obama has described as the defining partnership of 21st century. India's unusual tough stand is being seen here as a reflection of the emergence of a strong and powerful country, officials said even as they continue to defend the decision taken by them to arrest Khobragade. The Indian assertiveness was visible in the first 100 hours of the arrival of new envoy S Jaishankar who has a pro- US image because of his key role in the historic nuclear deal.-PTI
January 3, 2014
Obama appointed record number of Indian-Americans WASHINGTON: Indian-Americans never had it so good in the US, as a record number of members from the over three millionstrong community were ap-
record figure so far. Five Indian-Americans are holding key positions in the Obama Administration, which have been confirmed by the
tive appointment of the year was that of Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. Azita Raji, Member,
Department of Commerce, are the three others confirmed as administration officials by the Senate. If confirmed by the Senate,
sistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service. Puneet Talwar, who played a key role in the Iranian nuclear
pointed to key positions in the White House in 2013. Reflecting his special affection, President Barack Obama appointed a record number of Indian-Americans in the first year of his second innings at the White House, which experts say recognizes the inherent talent of this ethnic community. Possibly for the first time ever, more than a dozen Indian-Americans have been given key positions in the White House, while there is hardly any important department where Indian-Americans do not occupy key posts. There is no official list of Indian-Americans in the Obama Administration, but according to a list compiled by the PTI, the number easily crosses 50 - a
United States Senate. While Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID, continues to be
President's Commission on White House Fellowship; Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Ne-
Vivek Murthy, would be the firstever Indian-American Surgeon General.
the highest ranking IndianAmerican in the administration; the most important administra-
gotiator, US Trade Representative, and Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, Select USA,
Two other Indian-Americans awaiting confirmation from the Senate include Arun Kumar, As-
deal, recently testified before the Senate for the key position of the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. If confirmed, for the first time ever two Assistant Secretary of State positions at the State Department would be held by Indian-Americans. Obama himself praised Indian-Americans when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House on September 27. "Indian-Americans make extraordinary contributions to the United States every single day businessmen, scientists, academics, now Miss America is of Indian-American descent, and I think it's a signal of how close our countries are," Obama said. -PTI
Indian-origin UK boy makes Mensa cut LONDON: A 13-year-old Indian-origin schoolboy, whose brain is said to rival that of Albert Einstein and Bill Gates, has been classified among the top one per cent of Britain's brightest after he
average adult's score is 100. "I was really happy when I found out I had been accepted. It is a great honor," Kumar told 'Birmingham Mail'. "I enjoy school and my favor-
scored 160 points in an IQ test. Niraj Kumar from Birmingham was to be welcomed into the high IQ society Mensa. According to Mensa, those topping 140 are considered to be geniuses as an
ite lesson is maths. I want to go to Oxford University but I haven't decided what to study yet. There are so many options," he said. His father Sandeep and mother Sejal Kumar, who run the
Lichfield Road News shop in the city, described their son as "special". "He has always been very bright since he was very young. I always thought he was special but I didn't know just how much. He had two IQ tests and they said it put him on a par with Albert Einstein and Bill Gates," said his mother. The Year 9 pupil of King Edward VI School in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham also enjoys playing chess. He has entered countless tournaments as a member of the English Chess Federation and even received a certificate of excellence at Gold Level for his performance. "I can confirm Niraj Kumar scored 160 on the Cattell III B IQ test, which makes him eligible to join Mensa," a spokesperson for Mensa said. -PTI
12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from January 7 India Post News Service
NEW DELHI: The 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be held from January 7-9, 2014 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, India. The theme of PBD2014 is "Engaging Diaspora: Connecting Across Generations". PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003 to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India's freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever. These conventions provide
a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields. During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honored with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India's growth. The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora. GOPIO delegates get 50% discount in PBD registration fee.
January 3, 2014
Arup Raha takes over as IAF chief NEW DELHI: Arup Raha, a veteran fighter pilot, has taken over as the 24th chief of the Indian Air Force succeeding Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne. In a brief ceremony, Raha, 59, assumed the charge of the air force from Browne in presence of senior officers, including new Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal R K Sharma and Deputy Chief Air Marshal S Sukumar. Born on December 26, 1954, he will remain the IAF chief for three years. Soon after taking over, Air Chief Marshal Raha, in his message to the 1.75 lakhstrong force, said the IAF is on a trajectory of modernization and is transforming into a strategic aerospace power with full spectrum capability. "In this strategic transformation process, I expect sustained efforts and special attention from all air warriors to maintain high operational status of the legacy equipment, while operationalising the new inductions in a time-bound manner," he said. Raha said the force will continue to support the maintenance of security forces deployed for counter-insurgency operations. "Sustained efforts in air maintenance in the northern and eastern sectors are being appreciated by the military, para- military, central agencies and state authorities," he said. Commissioned on December 14, 1974 in the fighter stream of the IAF, Raha has held various command, staff and instructional appointments in his 39-year-old career. He has also served as Air Attache at the Embassy of India in Ukraine. Besides various technical courses, Raha has done Strategic Nuclear Orientation Course and Junior Commanders' course.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha with his predecessor Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, in New Delhi on December 31
The IAF chief, who is an alumni of the Sainik School, Tillaiyya, said, "Accretion through new acquisitions, replacement of obsolete equipment with state-of-the-art inductions and upgrade of the vintage weapon platforms would bolster our capabilities. In-depth knowledge, proficiency and professional competence to harness the potential of new equipment would provide the necessary cutting edge in discharging our onerous tasks," Raha said. "This would obviously be achieved through exemplary leadership at all levels of the IAF," he said. The IAF Chief said the air warriors displayed exceptional dedication and commitment during 'Op Rahat' in flood-hit Uttarakhand rescuing thousands of people
PMO junks media speculation on resignation NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan larly after the reverses suffered by the party Singh has no intention of stepping down in the state assembly polls. ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, his ofSenior leader and Finance Minister P fice has said rejecting the speculation in Chidambaram had recently said the Conthis regard. gress should project its The speculation was Prime Ministerial candiA media report had triggered by the Prime date for the general elecMinister's decision to hold speculated that Singh tions next year. a rare press conference may step down "...in my view, the here on January three, party (Congress) should which will only be the third ahead of the Lok project a person as the of his current tenure. Sabha polls to make leader of the party who "The Prime Minister will become prime minisway for Rahul will complete his tenure," ter if the party forms the the PMO said, Gandhi.There has government. That is my rubbishing a report of his been a growing view, but it is for the stepping down before party to decide." clamor within the the polls. Shedding his retiA media report had Congress party to cence in recent days, speculated that Singh Rahul Gandhi has been name Rahul Gandhi may step down ahead of pro-active and has spothe Lok Sabha polls to as the Prime Ministeken on a number of ismake way for Rahul rial candidate sues such as Lokpal Bill Gandhi. and the Adarsh Housing There has been a growing clamor within scam in Mumbai, two issues on which he the Congress party to name Rahul Gandhi has made decisive interventions. as the Prime Ministerial candidate, particuContâ€™d on page 11
and saving precious lives. "A record 3702 sorties were flown while 24,260 people were airlifted to safety, despite the challenges imposed by inclement weather, difficult terrain, high altitude and unprepared helipads," he said. "Our professionalism and grit has earned accolades from all quarters, not only in India but from abroad as well," he said. Raha said the people of the force were its "most valuable assets. A strong, motivated and cohesive team is the key to our success. I exhort all air warriors to follow the fine traditions of this great service and ensure that we 'Touch the Sky with Glory'." He has commanded Central Air Command and Western Air Command. Raha has also served as Directing Staff at Flying Instructors School, Tambaram (Tamil Nadu) as well as at the Gwalior-based Tactics and Combat Development Establishment of the IAF.-PTI
PM to address press conference on Jan 3 NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan gan in May 2009 even though he has met Singh will address a press conference on five Editors and a group of TV Editors once Friday, his second and possibly the last each. during UPA-II. It will be the third Singh, who is critifull-fledged press concized by some for not ference in the entire 10 meeting the media, has years that he has been decided to address the the Prime Minister. press conference at a The UPA governtime when his government has been facing ment is under severe atcriticism on account of tack on alleged policy "policy paralysis", corparalysis and other isruption and price rise sues and Congress is in and some other issues. distress. Congress has sufThe press conferfered a setback after the Manmohan Singh ence, just months ahead drubbing in recent Asof the Lok Sabha polls, sembly elections. Singh will only be the second during Singh's sec- is expected to field questions on all these ond term as the Prime Minister which be- issues at the press meet.-PTI
10 India Post
January 3, 2014
A challenging time for India-US relationship WASHINGTON: The year 2013 will be remembered for the challenges it threw up for the ties between the world's two largest democracies, including a row triggered by the arrest and stripsearch of an Indian diplomat in the US. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a successful meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House and Vice President Joe Biden made a rare trip to India, but the strain in bilateral relations was evident throughout 2013 especially over India's nuclear liability act. Also, over 200 American lawmakers made an unprecedented move to vent their ire against India's economic policies. However, the events of the year were capped by the arrest of senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul
General in New York, on visa fraud charges. While the US asserted that by arresting her, it was enforcing the law of the land, India fought back by taking a series of reciprocal measures like withdrawing special privileges of US Embassy personnel in New Delhi. Following the arrest, one of the rare occasions when an Indian diplomat was detained overseas, the India-US ties came to a standstill. Even earlier, many experts had said that it has plateaued. This was mainly because both the Congress and the influential American industry - the main drivers of India-US ties in the past decade - openly expressed their anger and anguish over India's economic policies. Through a series of letters, more than 240 Congressmen and Senators and Corporate America sought Obama's help to address
what they described as policy paralysis in India. But when Prime Minister Singh held his highly successful meeting with Obama in September, which was preceded by India visits by Vice President Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, it
with India, which he considers central to re-balancing his policy for the Asia-Pacific region, the White House meet resulted in a US-India Joint Declaration on defense cooperation. The joint declaration, a product of what is being called the
India and Indian companies were upset over the comprehensive immigration bill, which they argued would be harmful to the Indian economy and badly hit Indian companies in the US. Despite repeated efforts, the US did not offer any concrete promise on the issue looked like the two countries were working together to address their differences and take steps to strengthen bilateral ties. With Obama himself showing personal interest in deepening ties
"Clinton-Menon" initiative, put India at par with the closest American allies and paved the way for joint defense co-development and co-production. The year also saw for the first time visits by the heads of all the three wings of India's armed forces to the US. The US Army Chief Raymond Odierno too made
a rare visit to India. While defense cooperation grew by leap and bounds, sharp differences between the two sides on key economic issues gradually came out in the open. The US raised the issue of foreign direct investment, intellectual property rights and taxation, and sought reforms in key sectors like insurance. India and Indian companies were upset over the comprehensive immigration bill, which they argued would be harmful to the Indian economy and badly hit Indian companies in the US. Despite repeated efforts, the US did not offer any concrete promise on the issue. Also, the US lawmakers expressed their concerns over nuclear liability act. The act, passed by both houses of Indian parliament, aims to provide a civil liability for nuclear damage and prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident through a no fault liability to the operator. -PTI
IDCA conference on poverty eradication in Gurgaon India Post News service
NEW DELHI: The Gopio Foundation has joined hands with India Development Coalition of America (IDCA) for the 10th International Conference 'Finding Solutions for Poverty Eradication' to be held in Gurgaon on January 10 and 11. The goal of the conference is to promote networking, learning and collaboration to eradicate poverty and mitigate climate change in India. It also seeks to inform and inspire citizens at large to support these efforts or start
a project in their village/town in one of the needs of the community The Chief Guest is Mr. Kiran K. Kapila, Chairman, International Road Federation, Geneva, Switzerland, and Chairman/MD, Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi The Keynote Speaker will be Mr. Ravi Chaudhry, Author, International Consultant and former Tata Group Executive, New Delhi The venue is Institute of Rural Research and Development, Plot No. 34, Sector 44, Institutional Area, Gurgaon, Haryana.
Musharraf regrets Kayani didn't help in case ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has expressed regret that Pakistan's recently retired army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani did not support him in the face of treason charges. Musharraf also ruled out making a request for clemency if he is convicted by the special court formed for the high treason trial the first time a military ruler has faced criminal charges in Pakistan's history. The 70-year-old former President expressed regret that
Kayani, who was appointed by Musharraf and retired last month, did not support him when he was charged with treason, the Express Tribune reported. "I will not request pardon (if convicted)...I will not opt for any solution which creates an impression that I acted out of fear," he said in an interview aired by Express News channel last night. Musharraf has been charged with treason for imposing emergency in 2007. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment or the death penalty.-PTI
January 3, 2014
Kejriwal delivers on power promise: tariffs slashed by 50% NEW DELHI: Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government cleared a 50% cut in electricity tariffs, delivering on yet another poll promise a day after it announced metered consumers will get 20 kilolitres water every month free of cost. The government was also on course to ordering an audit by the national auditor into the finances of three power distribution companies, another key poll promise. The decision to subsidies power tariff, which will involve a cash outgo of Rs. 61 crore in the next three months, was announced by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after a meeting of the cabinet. The subsidy would be applicable to those households that consumed up to 400 units. And those who use electricity above this limit will have to pay full amount for the entire consumption. The decision is expected to benefit 28 lakh of 34 lakh households. Questioned about the subsidy that will be available only for three months, Kejriwal said further de-
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shakes hands with Comptroller and Auditor General of India Shashi Kant Sharma during a meeting in New Delhi on December 31
cision on this would be available only after the audit report. He said the cabinet would meet after the three companies submit to the government their views on
Pak envoy wants open mind on issues KOLKATA: Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir said here some of the subjects of IndoPak relations should be revisited as sincere desire for better relations were expressed in statements, "but sometimes the ground reality appears to be contrary." "It is important that we start revisiting some of the subjects of Indo-Pak relations with an open
mind," he said. "I acknowledge that in our statements, we express most sincere and profound desire of better relations, but sometimes the ground reality appears to be contrary. And that is where the media comes in, as it has to play a great role in changing the narrative," Bashir told a meet-the-press program at the Press Club here. -PTI
PMO junks media speculation on resignation Contâ€™d from page 9
The Prime Minister has more than once said that Rahul Gandhi should lead the party and that he was willing to work under the Congress vice president "I have always maintained that Rahul Gandhi would be an ideal choice for the PM post after 2014 elections. I will be happy to work in the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi," he had told reporters on his way back from the G-20 Summit in Russia in September. During the press meet, the Prime Minister is likely to dispel the impression about policy pa-
ralysis and reply to critics of his government. Union Minister Manish Tewari also rubbished the report about the Prime Minister's resignation, saying it was "absurd and baseless". "It (the report) is absurd and baseless," Tewari said while responding to a question about speculation about PM's resignation at a function to mark release of DAVP calendar. He said the question did not merit any response and it was improper for a section of media to run such stories when the Prime Minister was going to address the media on January 3.-PTI
the proposal for audit of their finances. "Only after studying their replies we will take a decision whether to audit or not," he said.
To a question whether the government has the right to decide on slashing power tariff when a regulator was there, the CM shot back the government can provide
subsidy. Earlier, defying doctor's advice, an unwell Kejriwal met comptroller and auditor general Shashi Kant Sharma to discuss the issue before going into a cabinet meeting. After the meeting with the CAG, Kejriwal said the national auditor is ready for the job. He said the cabinet will go through the representations to be made by the power companies and take a decision. "Then there will be an order by the Lt Governor," he said, denying that a decision has been taken and only formalities are being completed. He said the CAG told him it all depends on how much work is involved and how fast the companies would provide documents. The BJP and AAP have been demanding CAG audit of finances of the discoms, alleging huge irregularities by them. However, all the three companies - BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd - have been opposing it.-PTI
Tech News Wells Fargo sets $591 mn settlement with Fannie Mae WASHINGTON: US bank Wells Fargo has reached a USD 591 million settlement to resolve mortgage claims with state-controlled lender Fannie Mae, the two companies announced. Fannie Mae said Wells Fargo will pay USD 541 million in the fourth quarter to resolve repurchase requests on certain loans originated prior to 2009, and was credited for prior repurchases. Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest US bank by assets, said it had accrued the cost of the agreement on September 30. The settlement resolves Fannie Mae's claim that Wells Fargo overstated the quality of mortgage securities it sold the quasi-public mortgage finance giant in the runup to the 2008 financial crash. "We have closed out our legacy repurchase reviews with this agreement with Wells Fargo," said Timothy Mayopoulos, president and chief executive of Fannie Mae. "This agreement represents a fitting conclusion to our year of hard work to put legacy issues in the rear view mirror and begin 2014 focused on improving the future of housing finance." Shares in Wells Fargo dipped 0.1 per cent to USD 45.46 in early trade. -AFP
New banks will need fresh models to succeed NEW DELHI: New banks will have to develop a fresh business model to succeed, including making profits in rural areas and tackling risks associated with technology and cash management, as per leading rating agency India Ratings. "If money was to be made in rural banking within the existing framework, people would have rushed there," India Ratings CEO Atul Joshi said, adding that the banking business is set to go through interesting times with the entry of new players in coming months. RBI is currently in the process of shortlisting applicants for new banking licenses, for which 25 entities including those belonging to large corporate houses like Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group, Aditya Birla Group, Bajaj, L&T and Religare groups are in the fray. The licenses are being issued after a gap of about a decade and those to have applied in the current round also include India Post, LIC Housing, IDFC, Shriram group, Indiabulls, JM Financial, India Infoline and Edelweiss. -PTI
TechBiz 12 India Post
Vice President (Sales) of Isuzu Motors India Kishimoto at the launch of companyâ€™s new sports car in Coimbatore
January 3, 2014
India to be world's 3rd largest economy by 2028 LONDON: India will beat Japan to grab the position of the world's third largest economy in 2028, according to an influential British think-tank, that also forecast China to overtake the US for the top position. London-based economic consultancy Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in its annual 'World Economic League Table' indicated that by 2028, the league table will be re-ordered. "India overtakes Japan in 2028 to become the world's third largest economy. Abenomics means that Japan is likely to follow a weak currency policy for the foreseeable future which means that its GDP in dollar terms gets overtaken by India earlier than we had previously expected," the CEBR said in reference to India's march up the economic ladder as a result of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive policies. In 2013, Canada has overtaken India as a result of the collapse of
the rupee to retake its position as the second largest economy in the Commonwealth and the 10th largest economy in the world. However, India's fortunes will
to No. 1; India to No. 3; Mexico is in the top 10 at No.9; Korea and Turkey are 11th and 12th and have overtaken France. As symbols of the new world order, Nigeria,
start reviving by 2018 when it will be at the ninth position, followed by fourth in 2023, before grabbing the third spot in 2028. "By 2028, the league table is being reordered. China has moved
Egypt, Iraq and the Philippines break into the top 30," CEBR said in its report, which gives an end of year analysis on GDP in the 30 largest economies in the world. It also forecast the countries
that will be in the 'Top Thirty' for the next five, 10 and 15 years. This year's research is updated to take account of the likely surplus of energy and falling oil and gas prices in the 2020s, weaker commodity prices than had previously been expected and the selloff of some emerging market currencies in mid-2013. "Our latest forecasts now show China overtaking the US in 2028 to become the world's largest economy. This is later than some analysts have suggested and reflects the continuing performance of the US as the West's strongest economy and the slowing down of the Chinese economy," it added. There is also some good news for the UK, which will emerge as the West's second best performing economy. By 2028, the UK economy is forecast to be only 3 per cent smaller than the German economy and is likely to overtake Germany to become the largest Western European economy around 2030. -PTI
IT, banking, agri-biz to be key job creators NEW DELHI: Information technology, banking and agriculture-related businesses are going to be among the key job creating sectors in 2014, according to a study by industry body Assocham. "Information Technology (IT), pharmaceuticals, banking and agri-related industries such as farm equipment, fertilizers and seeds, will remain the largest employment generation sectors in 2014," the chamber said in its study. All these sectors will stand out despite the present state of the economy where net employment is being lost and not created in a large majority of sectors. IT will remain the net aggregator of jobs in 2014 due to recovery in the US economy,
it said. "The US economy is showing signs of improvement... A large number of American firms are ex-
of IT companies and they will keep hiring, it pointed out. "Since our economy still remains a good mix of organized and
pected to increase their IT spend as consumer sales pick up there," it added. Continuous pressure on rupee will help increase the net income
unorganized, large corporate and small enterprises, a large number of people in rural India are dependent on agriculture and tertiary industries; there are inherent and
inbuilt strengths which come handy when the chips are down," Assocham President Rana Kapoor said. Pharma sector will continue to hire in 2014. But because of some setbacks and tightening of regulations in the US and some other markets, the companies will have to invest more in improving their manufacturing and Research & Development. Further, the study said that agri-based industries are expected to do better in 2014 on the back of a good rabi crop. "The positive spin off would be evident in a whole lot of industries which are directly linked such as tractor and farm equipment manufacturers, irrigation firms and those involved in developing and selling seeds and fertilizers", it said. -PTI
January 3, 2014
Good monsoon led to record grain production NEW DELHI: The agriculture sector bounced back in 2013 after a drought year as the country is set to harvest record foodgrain production of 260 million tonnes because of good monsoons and achieve 5 per cent growth. Passage of the landmark food security law in Parliament and the decontrol of sugar sector were two major highlights of the year. However, the recommendation of the Supreme Court appointed committee to put a moratorium on the field trials of GM food crops was seen as a big setback. The year began on a good note with government announcing in Budget a Rs 1.25 lakh crore increase in farm credit target to Rs 7 lakh crore - 22 per cent hike in the Agriculture Ministry's fund allocation for this fiscal. A sum of Rs 500 crore was provided for crop diversification in states like Punjab and Haryana, which are facing stagnation in crop yield. Then came a slight disappointment when government released the production data of last year showing decline in foodgrains output because of drought in several states. Silver lining was that the foodgrains production fell by just 1.5 per cent to 255.36 million tonnes in 2012-13 crop year ended June from previous year's record 259.29 million tonne. However, good monsoon this year turned things around for the farm sector, providing relief to the government which is banking on
farm sector for revival of overall economic growth. Foodgrains output in Kharif (summer sown) season is higher than last year and the bountiful rains have raised hopes that production of rabi (winter sown) crops too would be better. "Thanks to very good mon-
Though rates have eased now, skyrocketing prices did have a bearing on consumers as well as the Congress Party which lost assembly elections in four states. Enthused by sowing data, soil moisture condition and full reservoirs, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar recently said: "This year, in
With overflowing grain in FCI godowns and estimates of a bumper production in the current 2013-14 crop year, the UPA government fulfilled its election promise of giving a legal right over highly subsidized foodgrains when in September the Parliament passed the National Food Security Law. soon, we are likely to have record fruits and vegetables production at 268 million tonne this year (201314) higher than foodgrains production of 260 million tonne. For the first time, fruits and veggies output is going to cross grain output," Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) Chairman Ashok Gulati said. Gulati noted that agriculture growth is likely to be over 5 per cent in 2013-14 from mere 1.9 per cent last year. Despite estimates of record horticulture production, the prices of vegetables like onions, potatoes and tomatoes went through the roof as excess and prolonged rains damaged crops, delayed harvesting and disrupted supply chain.
fact, we will break the last times record. I am confident if nature continues to be cooperative, we will break last time's record". With overflowing grain in FCI godowns and estimates of a bumper production in the current 2013-14 crop year, the UPA government fulfilled its election promise of giving a legal right over highly subsidized foodgrains when in September the Parliament passed the National Food Security Law. Under the law, 82 crore people would get 5kg of foodgrains per month at Rs 1-3 per kg costing the central exchequer about Rs 1,25,000 crore annually as food subsidy, which was even questioned by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Domestic IT mkt to grow 9.7% to Rs 1.51 lakh cr NEW DELHIL: IT spending in the country is expected to grow at 9.7 per cent and touch Rs 1,51,728 crore in 2014 as companies invest in technology to control costs, drive efficiency and ensure organic business growth, a study by research firm Coeus Age said. According to the report titled 'Enterprise Business Priorities and IT Plans, India, 2014', the domestic IT spending in India grew 8.1 per cent in 2013 to Rs 1.38 lakh crore. This is estimated to grow at 9.7 per cent in 2014 and reach a size of Rs 1,51,728 crore, it added. Based on inputs from 130 CIOs/ IT heads of large and mediumsized Indian enterprises, the report gauges the perception of the companies regarding business scenario, priorities and plans regarding IT for the year 2014. "After a very sluggish growth
in 2013 - the lowest since 2002 the year 2014 is expected to see the beginning of a new growth trajectory," Coeus Age Founder Kapil Dev Singh said.
"Though the enterprises have coped by increasing the product prices, cutting unwanted costs and becoming more efficient, the pressure is expected to continue through 2014" 2014 is the year of general elections at the Centre and with the new government formation being just six months away, the hope of
revival is a natural outcome, he added. However, businesses are also cautious on account of pressures of moderate revenue growth across industries as well as high inflation. "Though the enterprises have coped by increasing the product prices, cutting unwanted costs and becoming more efficient, the pressure is expected to continue through 2014," the former country manager of IDC India said. According to the report, 76 per cent of the CIOs interviewed said their top priority is operational in nature, focused on cost control, efficiency drive, striving for a healthy cash flow and ensuring an organic business growth. About 51 per cent of the respondents said their IT focus is to bring efficiency and optimization in IT management. -PTI
But India managed to convince global leaders at WTO meet about the importance of this food law. After hard negotiation, WTO agreed to allow countries to provide subsidy on staple food crops without any threat of punitive action. Notwithstanding the success at WTO, the government would have to focus on raising farm production and productivity for successful implementation of food law as emphasized by Pawar. He warned that the world's largest social welfare scheme should be 'enshrined' on strong domestic production and not on imported grains. Given this context, Pawar consistently pitched for adoption of
genetically modified (GM) crops in India, even as the Supreme Court-appointed panel had in July recommended moratorium on field trials for GM food crops in the country. However, one member of the committee - R S Paroda, former DG of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, submitted a separate report opposing the moratorium. A final decision on this issue is expected only next year. Although there are concerns for sustaining crop production, CACP chief Gulati feels that India's agriculture is on a "safe wicket" for next five years as terms of trade have changed in favor of agriculture with private investment in the sector rising. -PTI
January 3, 2014
Some improvement expected in economy NEW DELHI: Slowing growth and rising inflation marked 2013 which the country's economic managers would like to forget quickly in the hope that the New Year will bring in new government and some good news. The growth rate continued to slide throughout the year despite desperate attempts by the government to stem the tide with a host of traditional and innovative measures. Pangs of inflation, driven mainly by rising prices of essential food items, added to the overall despondency in a year that saw the rupee dipping to its life time low level against the US dollar and the Current Account Deficit (CAD) soaring to historic highs. Everything began well with the Finance Ministry's Economic Survey in February asserting that the growth rate during 2013-14 would improve to 6.1-6.7 per cent, from decade's low of 5 per cent recorded in the previous fiscal. The euphoria was short-lived as the government efforts to boost growth have come a cropper with the economy slipping further into the quagmire and key parameters showing no signs of bottoming out. Growth rate during April-Sep-
tember slipped to 4.6 per cent from 5.3 per cent in the same period last fiscal, and it is doubtful that the full financial year would show an uptrend. Finance Minister P Chidambaram as well as Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan
Pangs of inflation, driven mainly by rising prices of essential food items, added to the overall despondency in a year that saw the rupee dipping to its life time low level against the US dollar and the Current Account Deficit (CAD) soaring to historic highs. tirelessly, yet unconvincingly, tried to assure the industry and the people that the growth rate in 2013-14 would be above 5 per cent or would not fall below the decade's lowest level witnessed last fiscal. On the other hand, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and
the Asian Development came out with estimates of the country's growth, but none projected over 5 per cent expansion rate during the current fiscal. In a recent forecast, IMF lowered the growth projection to 3.75 per cent in 2013 from 5.7 per cent estimated earlier. It, however, forecast about 5 per cent in 2014. Similarly, ADB lowered India's growth forecast for 2013-14 to 4.7 per cent from 6 per cent earlier. Like IMF, it too expects some improvement in the next fiscal and has projected a growth of 5.7 per cent. Other organizations have forecast a similar trend. Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) had lowered the growth forecast to 5.3 per cent from 6.4 per cent. RBI had lowered the growth projection for 2013-14 to 5.5 per cent from its earlier estimate of 5.7 per cent. Besides trying to prop up growth, the economic managers struggled hard to tame inflation but failed despite best intentions and persistent efforts. Inflation remained above the comfort level of the RBI and also the government, mainly on account of rising prices of essential food items, causing hardship to
the common man. Repeated assurances that inflation would come down provided cold comfort to people who continued to reel under high prices. As per the latest data, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI)based inflation soared to 14-month
The domestic currency started depreciating after the US Federal Reserve announced in June that it could gradually cut down the bond purchases with the improvement in the outlook.currency markets in a tizzy. high of 7.52 per cent in November, pushed mainly by rising prices of vegetables, particularly potato and onion. The retail inflation, measured by movement in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped to 11.24 per cent during the month. There was a time when onion in certain market was sold at an exorbitant price of Rs 100 a kg.
The palpable resentment against Congress-led UPA government for its failure to check rising prices found its reflection in the recently concluded assembly elections, which had been dubbed as semi-finals before the general elections early next year. The Congress lost power in Rajasthan and Delhi and did badly in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The declining value of the rupee and widening CAD were the other challenges the country faced this year. The domestic currency started depreciating after the US Federal Reserve announced in June that it could gradually cut down the bond purchases with the improvement in the outlook. The announcement sent the global stock and currency markets in a tizzy. India was not left untouched. The rupee dipped to a historic low of 68.85 to a dollar in August. The BSE Sensex too bore the brunt. However, the efforts of the Finance Ministry as well as RBI, especially the new Governor Rajan, bore fruits and the rupee stabilized. The domestic currency has improved to around 62 to a dollar, while the BSE Sensex is trading above 21,000-mark. -PTI
DoT defers spectrum auction Inflation a hurdle for easy money policy: RBI to February 3 NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecom has postponed the next spectrum auction to February 3 from January 23 amid pending issues, including spectrum usage charges, and a demand from op-
erators seeking more time. The DoT also deferred the issue of clarifications to queries raised by potential bidders at the pre-bid conference held on December 20. "The clarifications to the Notice Inviting Applications will now
be issued on January 2. Industry has demanded more time to prepare for the auction. The auction will start from February 3," a DoT official told PTI. There are issues related to
spectrum usage charges, along with other matters that have been raised by potential bidders, another DoT official said. The Telecom Commission, an inter-ministerial panel, is scheduled to meet on December 31 to discuss the matter of spectrum
usage charges (SUC). Industry has demanded lowering of SUC as recommended by the TRAI, while a section of players have opposed it. SUC is levied annually by the government as a percentage of revenue earned by mobile operators and varies from 3-8 per cent. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended a uniform SUC of 3 per cent from April 1, with an upper limit of 5 per cent. DoT also extended the last date for applying for the spectrum auction to January 15 from January 4. About 403 megahertz of 2G spectrum in the 1800 MHz band and about 45 MHz of spectrum in the premium 900 MHz band is being put up for auction. The government is expecting a minimum of Rs 11,300 crore from the upcoming spectrum auction. It has set a revenue target of Rs 40,874.50 crore this fiscal year from spectrum, including auction amount, one-time spectrum charge and annual regular license fee. PTI
MUMBAI: Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan has said high inflation is limiting the central bank's ability to boost growth with an accommodative monetary policy. "The outlook for the economy has improved, with export growth regaining momentum, but growth is still weak. The challenges of containing inflationary pressures limit what the monetary policy can do," Rajan said in his foreword to the half yearly Financial Stability Report 2013. The report said a modest improvement in growth is envisaged in the second half of the current fiscal on the back of good monsoon which has boosted the prospects of summer crops and higher exports. "To maintain the momentum gained by the respite, it is imperative that long-delayed legislative reforms are pushed through, stalled infrastructure project clearances continue and fiscal consolidation remains on track," Rajan stressed.
It can be noted that the RBI has increased its key rates twice in the last three monetary policy reviews citing concerns emanating from high inflation while Rajan stayed away from increasing it for the
third time earlier this month and chose to wait for clarity on data. The headline inflation by wholesale prices stood at 7.52 per cent in November, a 14-month high, while the same by consumer prices rose to a nine-month high of 11.24 per cent. -PTI
January 3, 2014
Ambanis, Mittal, Tata, Sahara faced 2013 in courts NEW DELHI: Corporate czars like Anil Ambani, Sunil Bharti Mittal and business houses including Tatas came under intense judicial scanner for scam-related cases in 2013 with Subrata Roy Sahara facing the toughest time in Supreme Court which restrained him from leaving India. Be it the witness box in trial courts or
apex court dismissing the plea of Novartis for patent of a cancer drug Glivec, paving the way for Indian companies to manufacture cheap generic drugs. So was the case in the high court where US-pharma major Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) failed to get any relief against Indian Pharma Glenmark which has come up
corridors of the Delhi High Court and the apex court, names of business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Naveen Jindal and Ravi Ruia cropped up in controversial matters and cases which are under scrutiny in different judicial forums. The year also saw several multinational giants like Finish mobile maker Nokia rushing to the high court in a high stake tax dispute while UK-based Vedanta Group, Korean steel major Posco and Swiss pharma firm Novartis were engaged in Supreme Court on issues ranging from industrial pollution, licenses and patent. The patent battle saw domestic pharmaceutical firms getting a major boost with the
with generic anti- diabetic medicines. An intra-court appeal against the order is pending before a larger bench. However, the year was tough for Sahara India Parivar as Roy was not only restrained from leaving India but he and his group firms were accused of taking the apex court "for ride" and "playing hide and seek" in the case relating to refund of Rs 20,000 crore to investors in which they are facing contempt proceedings. More trouble came when the apex court said that contempt proceedings can go ahead against Roy and his two employees for interfering with the investigation into the 2G spectrum case. The 2G spectrum scam also forced Bharti
India Abu Dhabi's top overseas source market DUBAI: Over 1.5 lakh Indians checked into hotels in Abu Dhabi, making India the top overseas source market for the UAE's capital in 2013. According to figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority,
157,594 Indians checked into Abu Dhabi's hotels this year, a 26 per cent increase on 2012. They spent 620,641 room nights - up by a quarter year-on-year, and stayed, on average, 3.94 nights, the TCA said in a statement. Visitors from the United Kingdom spent 147,852 guest arrivals for the year to take second place with a 14 per cent increase as
compared to last year. Germany came in third place in the overseas guest rankings with 107,264 arrivals, a rise of 25 per cent. Figures suggest that Abu Dhabi's hospitality industry has hit its 2013 "hotel guest target" a month early with a notable November performance taking total arrivals to date over the 2.5 million mark. "This is great news which we were cautiously optimistic about, given that November was packed with events including the headline Grand Prix, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the FIFA Under 17's World Cup and Abu Dhabi Art," said Jasem Al Darmaki, Deputy Director-General, TCA Abu Dhabi. November's performance means that in the first nine months of this year, some 2,530,810 guests have stayed in Abu Dhabi's accommodation - which is a rise of 17 per cent on the same period last year. Year-to-date, guest nights jumped 26 per cent to over 7.9 million and average-lengthof-stay has edged up 8 per cent to 3.14 nights. Occupancy rate for the year to date is 70 per cent - up 9 per cent on 2012.-PTI
Cellular CMD Sunil Mittal, Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia and Reliance ADAG chief Anil Ambani to rush to the apex court in the wake of special CBI court issuing them summonses to appear as accused and witnesses respectively. While Mittal and Ruia got a temporary relief from the apex court which stayed the
Kumar Mangalam Birla
in the Patiala house court and recorded her statement which was described as "better than her husband" in answering questions by special judge O P Saini. Government's controversial decision to hike the price of natural gas reached the Supreme Court which agreed to examine the issue raised by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta
proceedings against them in additional spectrum scam in which they have been summoned as an accused, Ambani failed to convince the court to give an order against the trial court directing him to appear as a witness in the 2G case involving former Telecom Minister A Raja and others, including three top executives of his group. A day after ADAG chief's testimony, his wife Tina Ambani also made her appearance
Subrata Roy Sahara
who filed a PIL accusing Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily of allegedly favoring Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), which have been refuted by them. If 2012 was the year of 2G scam, then 2013 would be recorded in the history of the apex court for Coalgate case and CBI's clamor to attain autonomy and free itself from its political masters to investigate top bureaucrats.-PTI
Desi News FIA Chicago elects new team for 2014 RAMESH SOPARAWALA & HARISH RAO
CHICAGO: The Federation of Indian Associations Chicago-IL (FIA), a group of Indian Americans headed by Sunil Shah, set up three years ago, has now elected a new executive team for the year 20142015 during a meet at India House Banquet Hall in Schaumburg on December 21. Sunil Shah, the founder president of the organization, said the elections were conducted observing all the rules. The results were unanimous and approved by all the FIA members present, he said. The 2014-2015 team will be headed by Onkar Sangha who was the president two years ago. The founder and a Past President of FIA, Chicago, congratulated the new board and introduced them individually. He extended his fullest support to the new team and assured that the FIA mission and aim would be constantly kept in mind while organizing activities in the coming year. Details on page 18
Hindus welcomed at Xmas celebrations India Post News Service
NEVADA: In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, was invited and welcomed by Living Stones Church in Reno and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Sparks over their Christmas celebrations. At Living Stones Church, Rajan, was welcomed by Harvey Turner, Founding & Preaching Pastor, who introduced Zed on the stage during the service. At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rajan Zed met with Sparks Stake President Joseph E. Johnson and Bishop Matt Lee and was introduced to other Church leaders. Details on page 20
Travel tips for Umrah pilgrims A.Q. SIDDIQUI India Post News Service
mrah season has started re cently and many pilgrims who could not make for Umrah last year have 'low season' opportunity to avail this year, according to informed travel industry sources here. Details on page 20
COMMUNITY ACROSS AMERICA
Half of Muslim students face bias-based bullying Details on page 21
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Afghan Parliament to have Hindu-Sikh seat SURENDRA ULLAL
CHICAGO: From strife torn land of Afghanistan, more known to Indians as Gandhar Desh, there comes report that the Afghanistan National Assembly House of Elders (Meshrano Jirga) has decided to reserve one seat for Hindus and Sikhs in the House of People (Wolesi Jirga) in the 2015 elections. The news is gladdening though its practical implication is difficult to judge largely because of expanding Taliban influence in the area. "But as the saying goes," explained Madhu Patel of NRI Press Club Chicago, "something is better than nothing, as it acknowledges the presence of a substantial Hindu Sikh population in the country." Balwinder Singh, a Sikh community leader and principal founder of Gurudwara Sahiba of Chicago, described it as "a step, though a small one but in the right direction. Let us hope for the best." Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, observed that the Lower House of People of Afghanistan National Assembly need also to support this measure as it has to affix its seal of approval. He urged it to pass this measure as early as possible. Rajan also urged Hindu and
Afghanistan, Sikhs and Hindus
Sikh nationals of Afghanistan to wholeheartedly work for the development of Afghanistan. Zed
urged Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to seriously listen to other issues of minority Hindu
and Sikh communities of Afghanistan and work for speedy resolution of those.
UAE-Moneydart set for more firsts in New Year RAMESH SOPARAWALA
CHICAGO: With many firsts under its belt Moneydart-UAE Exchange is set to add a couple of more laurels to its growing list of achievements. Plans are afoot for a full fledged banking facility in India and expanding its global network into Latin American and Caribbean countries in a big way in the course of next two years. Gopakumar Bhargvan, Chief Marketing Officer, told India Post that his company is short listed with a few others for starting full fledged banking operations in India and stands a good
CMO Bhargvan (center) with Prabhakar Patel and Sumit Parbhakar
chance getting the government approval in the near future because of its excellent track record in money transfer business. The company already has heavy presence in India with 860 facilities offering money transfer services even to remote areas accounting for a large chunk of its global business. "We stand a good chance of getting Indian government approval and this would be for the first time that my company would branch out as a full fledged bank in any part of the world.
Contâ€™d on page 19
January 3, 2014
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Rajan Zed listed as 'Global Person of Year'
ace2News", a tri-lingual (English, Hindi and Punjabi) Internet newspaper from Chandigarh (India), has selected religious statesman Rajan Zed as "Global Person of the Year" for 2013. "Face2News", which aims at "stimulating the public discourse in right direction", says that its team headed by Chief Editor Dharam Loona and Editor Roshan Lal Goyal and experts from various fields, picked USA based Zed out of a lengthy list of wonderful achievers after a long and passionate discussion. It was a difficult task, it adds. Rajan Zed has been selected as "Global Person of the Year" for his efforts at building bridges among various religious communities of the world and helping the helpless, Face2News notes. Face2News has listed Zed's achievements as follows: During 2013, Zed, who is President of
Universal Society of Hinduism, took up issues in various parts of Europe raising voice against apartheid conditions faced by about 15-million Roma (Gypsies); including Sweden, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Norway and Ireland; his being the only prominent religious voice on this issue. Rajan Zed engaged in dialogue with Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Baha'i, Jain and Zoroastrian leaders. He took up Hindu issues in Australia, Cook Islands, USA and other parts of the world. He led Faith Forum, an interfaith dialogue on religion at a Gannett publication, now in its third year. Zed opened few dozen California City Councils with Hindu invocation, many of those for the first time. He was warmly welcomed by Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian and Mormon leaders during his September Southern California visit. Rajan Zed raised the issue of racism and discrimination in football with FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Associa-
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Zed opened few dozen California City Councils with Hindu invocation, many of those for the first time. He was warmly welcomed by Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian and Mormon leaders during his September Southern California visit
tion); helped organize multi-faith blessing of new Jewish synagogue; joined Muslims in Eid celebrations; addressed a Pentecostal convocation; had intimate dialogue with His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos, head of worldwide Syro-Malankara Catholic Church and youngest Roman Catholic Cardinal; organized one-of-its-kind-in-the-world Hindu Baccalaureate Service at University of Nevada-Reno for the sixth continuous year; etc. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval recognized Zed on his "remarkable achievements". City of Santee near San Diego in California became ninth city to declare Oc-
tober 25 as "Rajan Zed Day". Center for Spiritual Living Reno honored him for interfaith work. He was also honored by Green Business Chamber in Nevada, Northern Nevada Muslim Community, Reno Police Chief, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Reno Buddhist Center. He received recognition from Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian K. Krolicki and United States Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller; besides commendation by City of Sparks for his commitment to interfaith community. Northern Nevada clergy belonging to various religions and denominations organized a reception in Rajan Zed's honor.
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FIA Chicago elects new team for 2014 RAMESH SOPARAWALA & HARISH RAO
CHICAGO: The Federation of Indian Associations Chicago-IL (FIA), a group of Indian Americans headed by Sunil Shah, set up three years ago, has now elected a new executive team for the year 20142015 during a meet at India House Banquet Hall in Schaumburg on December 21. Sunil Shah, the founder president of the organization, said the elections were conducted observing all the rules. The results were unanimous and approved by all the FIA members present, he said. The 2014-2015 team will be headed by Onkar Sangha who was the president two years ago. The founder and a Past President of FIA, Chicago, congratulated the new board and introduced them individually. He extended his fullest support to the new team and assured that the FIA mission and aim would be constantly kept in mind while organizing activities in the coming year. He announced the new executive team which consists of President : Onkar Singh Sangha, Executive Vice President : Dhitu Bhagwakar, Vice Presidents: Mukesh Shah, Rita Shah, Surinder
From left in front row (sitting) Mukesh Shah (Vice President) Onkar Singh Sangha (President) Sunil Shah (Founder President) Ravi Kapoor (Vice President), Neil Khot (General Secretary) Standing from left Sam Azeemuddin (Joint Secretary) Surinder Singh Palia (Treasurer) Surinder Kalra (Vice President), Raju Shah (Joint Treasurer), Jasbir Singh (Member)
Kalra, Ravi Kapoor, Bharti Sheth, General Secretary : Neil Khot, Jt Secretary: Sam Azeemuddin, Treasurer: Surinder Palia, Jt Treasurer: Raju Shah, Directors: Shital Daftari, Amit Desai,.
Sunil Shah pointed out that the new team is extremely competent and is excitedly looking forward to organizing several beautiful events in the New Year. Onkar Sangha invited everyone to join
in celebration of 65th Republic Day of India to be held at Meadows Club, Rolling Meadows, on January 25 at 6.30 pm. The Gala Banquet Dinner would comprise a beautiful Hindi
play "Dastak," live musical orchestra and colorful cultural entertainment programs. General Secretary Neil Khot proposed a vote of thanks. Contâ€™d on page 20
January 3, 2014
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UAE-Moneydart set for more firsts in New Year money transfer business established in Abu Dhabi 32 years ago. But it has blossomed to be the third most sought after agency in this line reflecting its burgeoning customer base and customer confidence. Sumit Parbhakar, a UAE official, said that his company is also aggressively involved in community give back program and cited examples of its help to victims of natural disasters like tsunami, earthquake etc. It also helps so-
UAE Chief Marketing Officer Gopakumar Bhargvan
India Post at Moneydart office on Devon Avenue. He said that his In fact, UAE will be the first company has many firsts and is agency of its type to enter into one of the highly sought after serbanking operations anywhere in vices in Pre Paid multi currency the world. And we will live up to cards. "We offer Pre Paid cards in the expectations and confidence six currencies to travelers going reposed in us," he said with great abroad that have exchange rates assurance. fixed at the time of issue and would In another big push for global remain the same till expiration. presence, UAE plans the Latin The holders would have the unAmerican - Mexico and Brazil - and used balance refunded in no time. Caribbean countries in a big way "We have tie up with Mastercard in the course of the next two years. and this itself is a big assurance to Added to this will be its fresh push the holder. In many ways this has for African markets too, eased problems that tourists face Bhargavan said. It already oper- and hence, is highly popular with ates in 32 countries across the them," he said. world and has more than covered Yet another great service that UAE-Money Dart provides relates to Flash Bhargvan said that his Remit to India. "We have tied up with six company offers most banks in India - Axis, competitive exchange rates ICIC, Federal Punjab National and SBI. The that normally work in favor fund remitted bank to of the customers bank money because of this facility reaches half the number of States in United customer-recipients in less than States. two minutes, which otherwise Prabhakar Patel, Asst. Vice might take 24 to 48 hours," President, Head of Project Bhargavan said. UAE has doorAmerica, said "the company has to-door delivery too but it might licenses to operate in three States take a longer time. but between 2012 and now it has Bhargvan said that his comacquired 25 licenses taking the pany offers most competitive extally to 28 licenses and by the end change rates that normally work of 2014 Monyedart will be licensed in favor of the customers. And in all 50 States in USA to offer quote-wise too the fees are most Money Transfer Services." reasonable. "On line transfer costs He said that Moneydart has $5 only for any amount but the two facilities in Chicagoland - one remittance should be from bank to on Devon Ave and the other in bank account," he said. Prabhakar northwest Chicago suburb Patel clarified that if there is a relaHoffman Estate. Both are highly tively huge amount from person patronized by the locals as they to person, even if it is a bank transmeet the "needs of the community. fer, the company might ask for Patel pointed out that they would some documents that would enshortly be having facilities in sure that no money laundering is Michigan and Texas. involved. The cash transfer thru Gopakumar Bhargvan was in any facility is limited to maximum Chicago recently and had an ex- of $5000, he said tensive exclusive interview with UAE has a recent entry in the
Contâ€™d from page 16
cial causes and funds cultural events whenever it can. Holding a Masters in Business Administration (Marketing) degree, Gopakumar Bhargvan has marketing experience of over 25 years. He is the CMO of UAE Exchange, a leading global remittance and foreign exchange brand, with operations spanning over 30 countries across five continents with over 700 direct offices. He leads the Integrated Marketing and Business Development
initiatives aimed at optimizing market presence and accessibility of the brand, worldwide. Known for his strong marketing and analytical skills, Gopakumar drives efforts of the organization, globally, including retail and corporate marketing, business development, strategic alliances, brand strategy, brand management, product positioning, marketing promotions, corporate communications, marketing research and marketing strategy.
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Hindus welcomed at Xmas celebrations India Post News Service
NEVADA: In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, was invited and welcomed by Living Stones Church in Reno and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Sparks over their Christmas celebrations. At Living Stones Church, Rajan, was welcomed by Harvey Turner, Founding & Preaching Pastor, who introduced Zed on the stage during the service. At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rajan Zed met with Sparks Stake President Joseph E. Johnson and Bishop Matt Lee and was introduced to other Church leaders. Zed has expressed warmest greetings to the Christian communities on the Christmas, wishing that it brought joy, happiness, blessings and cheer to all He stressed that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, he adds.
Rajan Zed welcomed at Jesus Christ Church in Sparks and Living Stones Church in Reno
Living Stones Churches, whose tagline is "disciples making disciples", has five locations
in Nevada and adjoining California. Launched by Joseph Smith in upstate New York in 1830, the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints with Thomas S. Monson as President is cur-
rently headquartered in Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) and claims 15 million members.
Travel tips for Umrah pilgrims A.Q. SIDDIQUI India Post News Service
mrah season has started recently and many pilgrims who could not make for Umrah last year have 'low sea-
son' opportunity to avail this year, according to informed travel industry sources here. A front ranking travel firm with an approval for Umrah tour offers few important tips for the travelers going for Umrah. However, for business rea-
sons he preferred to remain anonymous. Performing Umrah is a direct Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and he did it either praying for favor from God or thanking him. Every year the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issues Umrah visa for intending pilgrims all over the world. The Umrah visa is issued through Ministry of Hajj approved travel agents. The Umrah approved travel agents, well aware of Islamic faith and related matters comply with strict regulations for Umrah travel. Many airlines offer 'special Umrah' fares in low season through approved agents. It is a misconception that internet fares are cheaper. In past many travel-
ers bought tickets for Umrah travel via Riyadh on internet and got stuck. The Saudi Arabian Airlines website under, "Hajj and Umrah travel conditions" tab advises, "Hajj and Umrah travelers are kindly required to contact the nearest SAUDIA office or travel agent approved by KSA Ministry of Hajj." It further states, "Umrah Visa Holders should Enter or Depart from Jeddah or Madinah airports only." For Umrah travel it is better you enter Medina first if traveling from USA. This helps you take rest after a long journey from USA and enter into Ihram condition from Medina after visiting the mosque of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Contâ€™d on page 22
FIA Chicago elects new team for 2014 Contâ€™d from page 18
Another election for New FIA Team held on Dec 15! A fly in ointment was a separate announcement from erstwhile General Secretary Shahid Razvi that the FIA elections were held on December 15. A release asserted that the new FIA Board Members were elected for the year 2014 through a formal election process on December 15, 2013. "The election was conducted democratically under the supervision of an Attorney-at-Law. After screening the membership and nomination John A. Runion, Attorney at Law declared the new Executive Committee and Board of directors for 2014." According to Razvi, the new team is headed by Eraj S. Ahmed.
The release adds that FIA (Schaumburg) will be forming a "Disciplinary Action Committee" to ensure no one should misuse FIA name for their personal benefits, holding unauthorized website, Facebook accounts for self publicity and hold any unauthorized checking accounts. The newly elected executive board will be sworn-in at the 65th India Republic Day Banquet, it said. Ms Rita Singh, the outgoing president, in a talk to this newspaper expressed distress at the dissents within the organization and hoped that the matter would be sorted out to the satisfaction of all. She said that she was with the FIA that was founded by the group headed by Sunil Shah and others.
January 3, 2014
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Half of Muslim students face bias-based bullying India Post News Service
LOS ANGELES: The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) has released a first-of-its-kind report documenting bias-based bullying of American Muslim students in California schools. The new report, "Growing in Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying, Harassment and Religious Accommodation in Schools," reveals that nearly half of Muslim students say they have been subjected to some
form of bias-based bullying. The findings are based on a statewide survey of almost 500 Muslim students, ages 11 to 18. They were asked questions about their relationships with peers and teachers, as well as their comfort levels participating in discussions about Islam and Muslims. The report was released at a press conference held at all four CAIR-CA offices in Anaheim, San Diego, Santa Clara and Sacramento. The report garnered positive media attention from about 20 California news outlets and reached more than 1.2 million people through radio and television coverage. The report found that approximately one in five young women reported being bullied because they wore an Islamic headscarf (hijab) to school. Additionally, one in five youth reported they were unsure of participating in classroom discussions in which Islam or Muslims are discussed and were unsure of whether teachers respected their religion. More than one-third of bullying victims surveyed indicated that reporting ha-
rassment incidents to school administrators was not helpful. "Being called 'terrorist' or 'Bin laden' is still a reality for many American Muslim students," said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Manager Fatima Dadabhoy. "Throughout the course of this study, we were alarmed to find that many Muslim students didn't even deem this as a form of bullying. Through this report, we hope to show that a decision to dismiss mistreatment as a natural consequence of being Muslim in America, or simply part of growing up, is unacceptable and normalizes a toxic school environment." "Too often we find that parents and teachers don't know how to adequately address bias-based bullying of American Muslim students," said Rachel Roberts, civil rights coordinator for CAIR's Northern California offices. "We
hope this report will shed light on the resources available to parents, teachers, and students in order to effectively and proactively address school bullying." The report also shares anecdotes from CAIR-CA's case files to highlight the problems reported to the civil rights organization's offices and includes information
about recent changes to the law because of high-profile cases of extreme school bullying. Additionally, the report provides information for parents about how to request religious accommodation for their child and a list of resources that parents can use to learn more about the issues children face at school.
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Unpleasant experience while traveling to India
ajiv and I landed in Mumbai on Oct 3 at 2:40 am. As we were wheeling our baggage out we were thinking how good the journey had been so far, little did we know that was about to change. We were taken aback at the extremely long lines and complete chaos in the green channel lines, but putting it down to Indian business as usual, we calmly assumed our spot in the line till finally Rajiv loaded our luggage for the x-ray screening in the green channel line. They wanted us to open our hand luggage to examine Rajiv's laptop and camera and my hand bag to look at the jewelry I was bringing to wear at our niece's wedding. They casually asked "are you carrying any rupees?" Rajiv and I both travel to India several times a year (this was Rajiv's 5th trip this year) and have our Indian wallets which have the rupees left over from the last trip. We leafed through our wallets, and said "We think we have about 30 to 40 thousand rupees between both of us". We did not know this was an issue, but we were in for a rude shock. This is the purpose of this write-up: Here are some of customs rules in effect since May 2013: - Women can take in jewelry only worth Rs. 1 lakh (Rs. 100,000 ~ USD 1600) and men only worth Rs. 50,000. It does not matter if this is your own to wear and bring back out of India. If you have an old receipt to show it was purchased for very little way back when, then take it with you. Import of Indian currency is prohibited. If you are not a resident of India (whether you have an Indian passport, or if you are a PIO or OCI card holder- does not matter) you cannot bring in any rupees. ZERO. (However residents of India who are returning from a visit abroad are allowed to bring 7,500 rupees each). You can bring in 5000 USD cash and 5000 USD in other forms (traveler's checks etc.) Indian authorities have done little to make these regulations widely known to travelers (for
example, none of this is noted or mentioned in the embarkation/disembarkation cards). This leaves us subject to harassment and selective enforcement by customs officials So Mr. Arora and his supervisor Mr. A. K. Singh (custom duty officer) said we had to turn in the rupees we had. After expressing horror at having our money taken away, we realized that since this was the rule, we had no other choice but to turn the money in. We asked for a receipt. When we dumped out our wallets on their counter 5 feet away and which Mr. Hooda counted, there was only
They would not let us go. They wanted 40,000 rupees. They insisted. They said, do what you want, you have to turn in 40,000 rupees. You said you had 40,000. We said we had not counted, we had estimated 30-40 in front of them, with our wallets open, IN FRONT OF THEM Rs. 18,500 in there. Mr. Arora and then Mr. A. K. Singh yelled at us and told us we had to produce the rest of the money. We pointed out that we had miss estimated the amount, that the counter was next to where we had been standing and we had emptied out our wallets in front of the customs officers. When I offered to empty out my handbag to show him there were no additional rupees in there, Mr. A. K. Singh threw us out of his office, not wanting to recount or look at our empty wallets and ordered another customs lady to search ALL our luggage. We pointed out that we had not touched our checked in luggage, which had already been screened. Plus Mr. A.K. Singh's office had several CCTV screens covering the area where our luggage was, which could prove that we had not tucked any of the rupees away. In
any case, they would not listen and one by one they opened ALL our luggage - suitcases and hand luggage. Another 10,000 rupees was found in an envelope, which had been a very generous and kind gift from a dear cousin - still in the envelope that she had given, forgotten in my usual "India hand bag". So now we were up to 28,500 rupees. The search left the searcher lady embarrassed, since all she found was chocolates, cheese, cookies, and old clothes. They would not let us go. They wanted 40,000 rupees. They insisted. They said, do what you want, you have to turn in 40,000 rupees. You said you had 40,000. We said we had not counted, we had estimated 3040 in front of them, with our wallets open, IN FRONT OF THEM. But no one would listen. They said we had to produce the total 40K even if we had to convert our dollars. So Rajiv was escorted to the bank counter by the lady officer and he converted our dollars at the lousy and pathetic airport rate and said OK, here are the rupees, we want an official receipt. It took an entire slew of Indian customs officers almost five hours to find ledgers, get signatures and fill forms to produce a receipt for us. We left the airport around 8 am long after every other passenger who had been detained was gone. Don't know how all the other receipts got made so promptly, don't know how the over 1000 passengers who came through in that time did not have any thing that kept them detained in customs for so long as us, but I do know that there was no India Shining moment when we finally emerged. We follow the rules. We were willing to give whatever rupees we had, since we did not know about this rule that emerged in May, 2013. We were not happy about this, but we gave them what we had. They wanted more. They made us convert dollars to rupees and took that. Then we asked for an official receipt. Which took five hours. India Shining? What! A recent visitor to India
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Travel tips for Umrah pilgrims Many travelers have a wrong notion that they must enter into Ihram before landing at Jeddah airport. You need to enter Ihram before landing Jeddah if are proceeding to Makkah first for performing Umrah. But if you intend to visit Medina first then you may choose
their arrival to Jeddah or Medinah airport so that the agent in Saudi Arabia meet and assist the pilgrim. The agent is also required to make safe transfer of travelers from airport to Hotels in Makkah or Medina. So let your travel agent book your airline tickets and hotels so that he has the information ready in his own system for on-
to travel from Jeddah airport to Medina in your regular garments. You will intend for Umrah from Medina and wear Ihram from Medina. The travel agent who shared useful tips with this reporter also pointed that many travelers purchase tickets on internet and contact agents for visa only. It is better, he said, surf the internet and find the best airline and lowest fares that suite your budget and ask your travel agent to book the same for you. You will still save little more through travel agent and enjoy the care of agent. At the same time you will be satisfied that you are buying tickets little cheaper through the agent you know rather than paying more and buying from unknown source. Many airlines distribute Special Umrah fares for India and Pakistan travelers to perform Umrah on way and continue journey. Such special fares are distributed through travel agents only. For Umrah travel, the travel agent is required to submit travelers' arrival information at least 48 hours before
ward transfer to agent in Saudi Arabia. Again your Umrah approved agent will offer you 5 star hotels at the same rate as you will find on various websites. So it is better you short list the choice and rates of available hotels on internet and ask your agent to book the same for you in his own system. This way you will believe your agent is not charging you more and same time it will help smoother your Umrah travel and also help agent to serve you better. For Umrah, let your travel agent offer you a complete package of airline ticket, hotels and transfers in Saudi Arabia. And again, he said, it is a myth that internet fares are cheaper than travel agents. Even for your regular travel, you save $30 or more each ticket purchased through travel agent. First check internet, short list your choice and ask your agent to book it for you. Many smart travelers also copy paste from internet to their travel agents. You save his time and he saves your money and you still enjoy the personal care of a travel agent, he remarked.
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Retired life isn't so bad, Tendulkar to Kallis NEW DELHI: Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar has paid tribute to just-retired South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, calling him a "true champion" who always played the game in the right spirit. "@jacqueskallis75 Congratulations on a fabulous career. You have played the game in the right spirit....It's been a joy to have played against you. Jacques you are a true Champion. Retired life isn't so bad :-))," Tendulkar, who called time on his own career in international cricket last month, tweeted. Kallis, one of the greatest allrounders of the game, bid adieu to Test cricket after an illustrious 18-year career in a fairytale script
Jacques Kallis is carried around Kingsmead by his team-mates, South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day, December 29, 2013
as he hit a century in his swansong match in South Africa's 10-wicket thrashing of India in Durban. The script for Kallis' Test retirement could not have been better as he ended his career as the third highest run-getter in the longest format of the game, besides also bowing out with a win by his side. The 38-year-old 'King' Kallis ended his Test career on 13,289 runs from 166 Tests, only behind Tendulkar (15,921) and Ricky Ponting (13,378) in the all-time list. His batting average stood at an outstanding 55.37. He also took 292 wickets and 200 catches. His 45 tons in Test cricket is only second to Tendulkar's 51. Kallis will continue to play in the One-Dayers and he has so far scored 11,574 runs from 325 ODI matches and has taken 273 wickets at an average of 31.79. The burly South African made his Test debut against England here in December 1995. -PTI
SPORTS 23 India Post
Yuvraj dropped; Ishwar, Binny in for New Zealand tour
January 3, 2014
MUMBAI: All-rounder Yuvraj Singh has been axed from India's ODI squad owing to his poor performance in South Africa even as rookies such as Ishwar Pandey and Stuart Binny got their maiden call-ups for India's tour of New Zealand starting with a one-day series from January 19. ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Amit Mishra. -PTI
Sachin's retirement, Vishy's loss, IOA mess in eventful 2013 NEW DELHI: Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar's teary-eyed farewell to the game left a nation overwhelmed, while chess wizard Viswanathan Anand broke many a heart by surrendering the world title on home turf even as the brazen chicanery of administrators embarrassed the country in more ways than one in a roller-coaster year for Indian sports. For lovers of sports, year 2013 was nothing short of an emotional roller-coaster with a liberal dose of frustration thrown in courtesy India's continued suspension from the Olympic fold. Adding to the embarrassment was the IPL spot-fixing scandal which led to the arrest of cricket-
few success stories to talk of this year. One among them was rising shuttler P V Sindhu. The 18-year-old from Hyderabad took the spotlight off Saina Nehwal by becoming the first woman shuttler to clinch a medal at the World Championships - a bronze. In contrast, Saina battled poor form and injury issues through the year to end up without a title. Not to forget the junior women's hockey team, which also clinched a bronze in the World Cup. Led by Sushila Chanu, the girls won their first-ever World Cup medal by beating England in the third-place playoff via penalty shoot-out. In wrestling, youngsters Amit Kumar, P V Sindhu, The 18-year-old Bajrang and Sandeep Yadav scripted India's from Hyderabad, took the best ever show in the spotlight off Saina Nehwal World Championship in the absence of Olymby becoming the first pic stars in a year, durwoman shuttler to clinch a ing which the ancient medal at the World Champi- sport successfully fought off its Olympic onships - a bronze. exclusion. Twenty-year-old ers, including former Test pacer S Amit, the youngest Indian wrestler Sreesanth. to compete at London Olympics, The shameful episode's al- fetched silver in the 55kg division. ready disastrous impact on the On the other hand, 60kg game was worsened by the way it freestyle grappler Bajrang, who was handled by its administrators, got the opportunity to represent who tried to brush things under India at world championships in the carpet with an internal inquiry place of his mentor Yogeshwar before the Supreme Court of In- Dutt, did the country proud by dia intervened. securing a bronze medal. A 25-year-old Sandeep then surprised many when he claimed Success Stories bronze in the 66kg category of the In fact, Indian sports had very traditional format of wrestling, the
Magnus Carlsen of Norway addressing a press conference after he won the sixth match against Viswanathan Anand of India at FIDE World Chess Championship in Chennai on November 16, 2013
Sachin Tendulkar is carried on a lap of honour around the Wankhede, India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai on November 16, 2013
Greco Roman style. The ground for this stellar performance by the Indian men was set up during the Senior Asian Championship where the hosts claimed the coveted freestyle team title ahead of heavyweights Iran and South Korea. Off the field, one of the biggest achievements for Indian sports was bagging the hosting rights of the 2017 Under 17 football World Cup after months of speculation and one rejection by the world governing body FIFA. It was a rare instance of administrators getting it right given the mess that they mostly found themselves in through the year. Elsewhere, the Indian archers were also quite on the mark as the women's trio stunned reigning Olympic champion Korean team by a four-point margin in the
World Cup Stage 4 final in Wroclaw, Poland in a historic feat. It was the Indian women team's second World Cup gold medal this year after a similar achievement at Stage 3 in Medellin, Colombia where they had beaten China in the gold medal clash. The unassuming cueists also gave the country few moments of pride with Aditya Mehta clinching a gold medal in the World Games in Cali, Columbia and finishing runner-up in the USD 3,00,000 Indian Open in October. But in boxing, the continuing administrative logjam worsened into a full-fledged factional tugof-war while Indian boxing's poster boy, Vijender Singh, found himself at the center of a devastating drug scandal in what was a thoroughly tumultuous year for the country's pugilists.-PTI
24 India Post
January 3, 2014
f the buzz doing the rounds in Jaipur and Jodhpur is to be believed, Aditya Chopra and Rani Mukerji have not only
Ambani's birthday celebrations, she'd done a recce of the palace. The confirmation came just a few days ago. The wedding celebra-
tions will take place in the first two weeks of February, and the wedding might be on February 10. Since they wanted to keep it private, they have said that everyone should respect their request for total secrecy around the wed-
they asked the readers to choose their favorite onscreen Jodi of the year. Of the 1073 votes, a majority of 26 percent picked Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh as the hottest jodi. The two did scorch the silver screen with their torrid passion play in 'Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela'. In fact, Ranveer Singh advertised his kiss with Deepika Padukone in the film as the best in Hindi cinema ever.
superficial, kisses and hugs mere formalities for the camera. More than the physical intimacy, it's the body language, the expressions, the reactions, the eye-to-eye contacts, the invisible pull between the two actors that get the chemistry going. It's this kind of chemistry they had in mind when they picked the stars for their yearend ApunKaChoice poll in which
cent ayes for their love-hate chemistry in the blockbuster Chennai Express. The duo's banter and raillery was the film's USP. Katrina Kaif may have had a small role in Dhoom 3 but one romantic scene and the kiss with Aamir Khan in the second half was sure a treat for the fans. The duo came third with 17 percent votes.
Number Two Shahrukh Khan and Deepika came a close second with 24 per-
ding." For a while now, there have been speculations about Aditya having proposed to
Feb 10 is the wedding finalized a date for their wedding, they have also chosen the venue. It is the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, and the date is February 10, 2014. According to a source, "When Rani had come for Nita
ery rarely does one get to see the kind of chemistry that Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh created in 'Goliyon Ki Raasleela RamLeela'. No wonder, the fans have voted the duo as the Hottest Onscreen Jodi of the Year 2013 in the latest ApunKaChoice poll. What's a love story without a real spark of passion between the actors playing the parts? The best written roles can fall flat, the best possible direction come to naught if the actors have no vibe going on between them. Their sweet nothings may sound
Rani and the duo having gotten engaged, all of which was fuelled by the huge rock Rani has been spotted wearing on her finger. But looks like finally, 2014 will end all speculations on that front.
January 3, 2014
India Post 25 www.indiapost.com
Farooq Sheikh used to flirt with me, says Sai Paranjpye Mumbai: The inimitable Sai Paranjpye, who now lives a secluded life, remembers her 'Chashme Buddoor' actor Farooq Sheikh as a sweet wonderful person who wouldn't even mind flirting with her. "Farooq was an angel. He was god's child. One always says nice things about the departed. But honestly, even if Farooq were alive, I wouldn't have a single bad thing to say about him," said the 75-year-old. "I'd say, 'Farooque, kuch toh sharam kijiye. You are flirting with me and you're flirting with my daughter, just because your mother is not here to see what you are up to.' He was so sweet, so wonderful." Farooque died of a sudden cardiac arrest in Dubai late Friday. He was 65. "What a way to end the year!
The news of Farooq's death in the (Saturday) morning was devastating. This was no time for him to go. Farooq was such a sportsman.
And this was most unsportsmanlike exit. His death has taken us all by shock. It's terrible," she said. Paranjpye recalls her associa-
tion with Farooq with much pleasure. "I was very fortunate to have worked in two films 'Chashme Buddoor' and 'Katha' with Farooq. And I cannot tell you how wonderful he was to work with," she said. Paranjpye recalls how Naseeruddin Shah and Farooq played a mock game of oneupmanship throughout 'Katha'. "During 'Katha' the banter and the playful one-upmanship between the two of them, the teasing and ribbing between these two stalwarts was so precious. Farouque would say, 'If Naseer and I are in a shot, then it would be Naseer's back to the camera.' "To this Naseer would retort, 'Yes, of course, because my back is more expressive than your face.' And they would go on like
this. It was such a pleasure to see them together." Farooque and Naseer also clashed playfully on their religious beliefs. Said Paranjpye: "Farooque was very religious. Every Friday we'd have to relieve him of his work so he could go and pray. But Naseer was not at all religious. Yet he took his mother on a Haj pilgrimage. Farooque would tease Naseer about this." Sai feels a more generous and kind hearted human being than Farooque would be hard to find. "During the shooting of Chashme Buddoor in Delhi one of our light boys fell from the roof. He had to be hospitalized. Farooque would quietly visit the injured lightman and pay for his treatment. He said nothing about his generosity to any of us. He was a silent doer."
Most talked about Bollywood celebs of 2013 Salman hugged Shah Rukh! At a Mumbai MLA's Iftar party, the paparazzi feasted on more than just kebabs! The warring Khans - Shah Rukh and Salman both of whom were present to break bread with the city's most powerful, stole the limelight. Sallu
beach. Kat wrote a letter to the media asking that her private space be respected. Her boyfriend kept mum. Sooraj's jail term for Jiah's suicide Jiah Khan's untimely, sad and mysterious death put the spotlight on her ex-beau Sooraj Pancholi. The young star son was arrested in connection with Jiah's suicide. With their re-
hugged SRK and then Salim Khan sat with SRK at his dinner table. Ranbir-Katrina snapped at Ibiza Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif continue to be evasive about their relationship status. But some peeping Tom in Ibiza leaked out holiday photos of them on a
spective families playing the blame game, this was undoubtedly the most controversial and longplayed-out case of 2013. A r m a a n Tanishaa's love antics Bollywood has-beens Armaan Kohli and Tanishaa came to the forefront, thanks to
While Hrithik said it was Sussanne's decision, she asked for
their togetherness on a reality show. While Armaan has been eliminated from it, everyone is keen to see whether Tanishaa and he will continue to be a couple after the show. Hrithik R o s h a n Sussanne announced their separation Hrithik Roshan's personal life hit rock bottom. Speculation had been rife over the tension brewing in his marriage, but it was recently made official by the two, who ended their 17-year relationship.
privacy in what is a trying time in their personal lives.
Dhoom 3 on record breaking spree W
ith its silver run at the box office in less than a week, 'Dhoom 3' has beaten the year's highest grossers behind. The Aamir Khan starrer has amassed moolah worth Rs 313 crores and with it broken box office records. According to Koimoi, on day six, the film's total worldwide collections are Rs 313 crores. While the domestic box office reports stand as tall as Rs 173 crores, on the overseas front 'Dhoom 3' managed to gross Rs 84 crores. The film not only has got overwhelming footfalls in India but in Pakistan 'Dhoom 3' is living up to
its name. It has broken box office records in Pakistan with multiplexes running five consecutive shows of the film. In Karachi alone the film earned Rs 20 million and broke the record of 'Waar' that was released last month. The Christmas holiday falling in the middle of the week (Wednesday) resulted in good business for the makers as they earned approximately Rs 23.75 crores that day according to Koimoi. The top grossing films so far have been 'Chennai Express', ' 3 Idiots', 'Krrish 3' and 'Ek Tha Tiger'.
26 India Post
January 3, 2014 www.indiapost.com
Will Bollywood rise above star system?
ndian movies are all about stars - be it Hindi or Tamil or Telugu. Nowhere else in the world does the star system rule the industry the way it does in India. Very few films and directors could take on the glamour and star power of actors to earn their own stripes.
As Indian cinema celebrates its centenary, the big thing it has to deal with, besides digitization, is the 'star system'. Yesteryear superstars were just busy being stars, paying scant attention to commerce - an attitude that drove some into penury and others into debt. In the past decade, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. A star now knows how to monetize and leverage his or her glamour - be it for movies or endorsements, or even for supporting a cause. He plans for the longterm and is some one who can cut a deal sitting across the CEO of any company, corporate or studio. While it may just be a short list of predictable names, their movies comprise 70% of the annual collective box office collection. How does such a system influence the dynamics of the trade? "Star power is here to stay. But the caveat here is that the share comes only for those whose films are performing. These stars are demanding not only a high price, but also a share in the profits as well a share in the IPR, which shows how astute they have become financially. Going forward, this trend will continue, for the actors who are drawing the big ticket collections at the box office. For the ones whose perfor-
mances have not been able to match prices, there will be a realignment of fees and no share in the profits, as economics and recovery are open for all to see, know, understand and decipher," says CEO, Dharma Productions, Apoorva Mehta. Some of the changes are beginning to happen, albeit slowly. Indeed, there are instances where stars have gone ahead and cut their fees. Confirming this, Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, says, "There are only three to four stars really who command such terms because of their box office records," adds Singh. As for the studios and producers, Singh feels they will have to concentrate on making the content really the king of filmdom and ensure a balance between risk and reward. And this could be the most significant change to take place. A year ago, Salman Khan struck an exclusive Rs 450-500crore deal (over and above the profit-sharing) with Star network, signing the satellite rights of all his forthcoming films. The transaction rattled producers who depend on satellite rights
to recover roughly 35% of their production cost. A similar deal was signed by Ajay Devgn but for less. Of course, only a handful has the clout to cut such direct deals. Till studios build a pipeline of content or break out from the star system with franchise content like Spiderman, Batman or Superman, they have little choice but to make partnership with stars work. Kamal Jain, CFO of Eros International, feels that the game will be evenly balanced among the top stars and large studios, while Amrita Pandey, VP and head of theatrical, Disney UTV, says that all actors realise, more than ever before, that movies need to be profitable. But both understand that they are not yet in a position to dictate terms to a powerful club of these three to six superstars. "We have the marketing and distribution muscle and they have star power, making the balance equal," says Jain while Pandey drives in the point that some of the most profitable movies of 2013 have A-list stars and emerging talents. Most movies with A-listers are co-productions which imply a share in profits and IP, she adds. "What is fair to all the stakeholders, is for everyone to recover their investment and make a decent profit margin commensurate with their risk. Most top stars do realize this and, therefore, movie models and commercials are structured accordingly," adds Pandey. Take a film like Jagga Jasoos
that Disney UTV is said to have picked up from producers Ranbir Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap, for Rs 100 crore with the actor also starring in the film. Yet, after Disney UTV makes its profits and takes out its commission, profits will once again be shared with the
Chillies and UTV Movies. All the other big films have been led by studios: YRF with Dhoom 3, Viacom18 Motion Pictures with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dharma's Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani, Filmkraft's Krrish3 and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Ram Leela.
actor/producer depending on the deal. The blockbusters of 2013 were in a way an exception - a trend that has emboldened some to think that Bollywood can look beyond 'star system'. Chennai Express was
All of then collectively added almost Rs 1,300 crore to the box office. Pandey strongly feels that "emerging talents" will show the way forward. This means more movies like Aashiqui 2, starring a debutante Shraddha Kapoor and a two-movie old Aditya Roy Kapoor which collected over Rs 70 crore or a complete trio of debutantes in Student of the Year which also made over Rs 60 crore. These stars come at a cost which lowers risks and improves producers' return. It's a story that may unfold slowly and could forever change the way Bollywood runs. It could begin with 2014.
the only big-grosser where the leading man was also a co-producer. The movie was jointly produced by Shah Rukh Khan, Red
January 3, 2014
Action-packed year for literature NEW DELHI: It was an actionpacked 2013 for literature in India with some exciting titles, controversies and new faces grabbing their own slice of attention. Indian authors continued to win prestigious awards and get shortlisted for them. Festivals were galore with Jaipur Literature festival leading the way. A number of high-profile authors like Jeffrey Archer, Mohsin Hamid and Aminatta Forna visited India. The year saw publishers coming out with numerous autobiographies and biographies, and books on titles on business, commercial and mass market fiction, literary fiction, self help, chik-lit and culinary. There were a number of works by new and littleknown authors. According to upcoming author Rahul Saini, whose fourth novel "Paperback Dreams" was published this year, "Everyone is an aspiring author these days. People write and they want to get published quite desperately for their own reasons." "It was a year of innovation and discovery, with the launch of Harper XXI, our ebook imprint, and several titles that caught the attention of readers, starting with Anuja Chauhan's 'Those Pricey Girls', through Reza Aslan's controversial biography of Jesus, titled 'Zealot', and ending with Amitabha Bagchi's wonderful new novel 'This Place', about South Asians in an American neighborhood," says Karthika V.K, Publisher & Chief Editor of Harper Collins Publishers India.
S&S India as we consolidated and improved our market share in Indian market within two years of operations. In 2013, we managed to publish best-sellers like 'Accidental Apprentice', 'Reimagining India', 'Hero', 'Guide to your best body', 'Perks of being a wallflower' and 'Dork Dairies'. Indian book industry continues to be in a state of flux but we managed to achieve our targets in terms of sales and
profits and are poised to grow the business in 2014. "We also launched our complete range of eBooks in India through Flipkart." Books by former Army chief Gen V K Singh and BJP leader Jaswant Singh were in the news for making new claims. Singh, whose last days in office was marred by a legal battle with the government in the Supreme Court, sought to drag the
V.K. Singh, whose last days in office ware marred by a legal battle with the government in the Supreme Court, sought to drag the Prime Minister's Office over his age row and the Tatra truck scandal saying a senior bureaucrat there was "orchestrating" the issues. According to Hemali Sodhi, vice president (Marketing and Corporate Communications) of Penguin Group India, "2013 has been an incredibly exciting and rewarding year on all fronts. We've recorded excellent growth, have won awards - both literary and industry (digital marketing), have acquired and published some fantastic authors, and in a rapidly changing marketplace have continued to retain our Number one position. We have also seen tremendous success in both the commercial and young readers segment." Rahul Srivastava, Managing Director, Simon & Schuster India, says, "2013 was a good year for
assembling Tatra trucks in India. He also attacked his predecessor General J J Singh, claiming that he initiated a "look down policy" through which he, along with a few other officers, were "fixed" to clear the way for "an officer of his choice" to take over as the Chief of Army Staff in 2012. In his new book "India At Risk", former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh contradicted L K
Prime Minister's Office over his age row and the Tatra truck scandal saying a senior bureaucrat there was "orchestrating" the issues. He claimed in his autobiography "Courage and Convictions" that media appeared to be wanting him out of office after the second hearing in the age case that came as a "big blow". But he continued as army chief after he met the then President Pratibha Patil who told him to "carry on with the work you are doing". Referring to the controversy relating to the Tatra truck deal, he said the name of a PMO official was "cropping up regularly" and his relatives had been given plots in the BEML complex - the PSU
Advani, saying the then Home Minister was aware of the controversial decision about his traveling to Kandahar along with three terrorists released in exchange for the hostages of hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999. Singh, however, said Advani along with Arun Shourie were the two ministers who had opposed the decision which he had taken on his own and informed the Cabinet. Advani had claimed that he was not aware of the decision that Singh was going with the terrorists. In the book, he writes that the decision to release three terrorists was the "most demanding and emotionally the most draining period of my life". Jeet Thayil became the first Indian author to win the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2013 for his debut novel "Narcopolis". Now in its third edition, the USD 50,000 prize along with a unique trophy was given away at the Jaipur Literature festival. He was chosen from a shortlist of six that had India's Amitav Ghosh and Uday Prakash; Jamil Ahmad and Mohammed Hanif (both from Pakistan) and Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh). Ten finalists for the 60,000pound Man Booker International Prize 2013 were also announced during the festival that included U R Ananthamurthy of India. Lydia Davis of the US won the award. Pulitzer Prize winning IndianAmerican author Jhumpa Lahiri's
new novel "The Lowland", a tale of two brothers set in Kolkata of the 1960s, made it to the short lists of both the Booker Prize and the 2013 US National Book Award in fiction but lost out on both. New Zealander Eleanor Catton became the youngest writer to win the prestigious Booker at 28 for her 832-page novel "The Luminaries", a murder mystery set during a 19th-century gold rush. The US National Book Award was won by James McBride for "The Good Lord Bird", about the journey of a young slave in the 1850s. At home, the Crossword Book Awards 2013 were given for the best in Indian writing. "Em and The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto (Aleph)" and "Boats on Land by Janice Pariat (Random House)" jointly won in the Indian Fiction category while "Righteous Republic by Ananya Vajpeyi (Harvard Business Press)" and "From the Ruins of Empire by Pankaj Mishra (Penguin)" jointly won the award for Indian Non-Fiction. "A Life in Words" by Ismat Chughtai, translated by M Asaduddin (Penguin) was the winner in the Indian language translation category. "On The Kabab Trail" by restaurateur Manish Gujaral won the Gourmand Cook Books Award for the best foreign cuisine cookbook in India. Indian-born author Manil Suri bagged this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award, a dubious distinction given annually by Britain's Literary Review. A cosmic-themed threesome in his latest novel, "The City of Devi", won him the award, whose past winners include illustrious authors such as Tom Wolfe and Sebastian Faulks. The prize, which is bestowed by the magazine every year since 1993, aims to draw attention to "crude, badly written, or perfunctory use of passages of sexual description in contemporary novels, and to discourage it". The US-based mathematician-novelist Suri won over the judges with the climax of an extended sex scene involving three characters in the book set in Mumbai under the threat of a nuclear bomb. The sixth edition of Jaipur Literature Festival, one of the most prestigious literary carnivals of Asia-Pacific, saw nearly 300 authors addressing 175 sessions in five days with approximately 2,00,000 people participating in the sprawling venue Diggi Palace. Keynote speaker Mahashweta Devi led the list of authors including Commonwealth Prize winner Aminatta Forna from Sierra Leone, Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, two Orange Prize winners Linda Grant and Madeline
Miller, Ahdaf Soueif, Tahar Ben Jalloun, Sebastian Faulks, Deborah Moggach and Zoe Heller. The festival this year played host to subjects as diverse as the history of miniature painting and war reporting, Sharia law and gay and lesbian literature, the Jewish novel, the 18th century sexual revolution, detective fiction and literature of 9/11. It focused on new writing from Latin America and Iran, examined the economic prospects of India and looked at the mixed legacy of the British Empire, the decline of America and the rise of China. Bollywood and cricket were other topics of discussion. There were controversies as well. The Salman Rushdie issue continued to haunt the festival though he did not attend it. Even before the festival began this year, there were protests from Muslim groups against the inclusion of poet-novelist Thayil as a speaker as he and three other authors had read portions from "The Satanic Verses" last year. But better sense prevailed and the issue ended when the protesters softened their stand and asked the author not to repeat his act. Then there were the rightwingers who demanded the exclu-
sion of authors from Pakistan in the wake of brutal killing of two Indian soldiers along the LoC. Though Pakistani author Mohammad Hanif could not make it to the festival due to personal reasons, Jamil Ahmad and M A Farooqui attended and participated in their designated sessions.Noted sociologist Ashis Nandy kicked up a storm with his comments on OBCs, SCs and STs. Though he apologized later, he said the comments were taken out of context by the media. On July 1, publishing giants Penguin and Random House formally merged and Gaurav Shrinagesh was named the head of India operations. Shrinagesh, previously Managing Director of Random House India, will be CEO of Penguin Random House India. -PTI
TOP TEN HINDI FILM SONGS
1 Dhoom Machale Dhoom: Dhoom 3 2 Ram Chahe Leela: Ram-Leela 3 Gandi Baat: R..Rajkumar 4 Nagada Sang Dhol: Ram-Leela 5 Tattad Tattad: Ram-Leela 28 India Post
fter acting with popular actors like Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone now wants to work with other superstars - Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan. "Every year I am asked this question (which Bollywood actor I would like to work with now), but I hope in the next one or two years I will get to work with Hrithik, Salman and Aamir," Deepika, who has given four back-to-back hits this year, told reporters at her success party. It's not just Deepika who is eager to work with Salman. In fact, the Bigg Boss host has also expressed his desire to work with the actress and has been seen praising her on many occasions. Deepika said it feels great. "Definitely it feels great when Salman says such good things about me because if you all know he was the one who first noticed me," said Deepika. "I was doing an ad with his friends in Rajasthan. So, he noticed me first of all and he was the one who offered me my first film," she recalled. However, the actress denied Salman's offer as she felt she was not ready to face the camera.
January 3, 2014
6 Tamnche Pe Disco: Bullet Raja 7 Part All Night: Boss 8 Too : Gori Tere Pyaar Mein 9 Raghupti Raghav: Krrish 3 10 Main Rang Sharbato Ka: Phata Poster Nikhla Hero
n Tigmanshu Dhulia's The Killing of a Porn Filmmaker, Irrfan will star as a porn director, a real lowdown sleaze ball who indulges in the lowliest of porn filmmaking. Reveals Tigmanshu, "We are talking about a guy who plants secret cameras in toilets, shoots honeymooning couples with hidden cameras...Irrfan plays the supreme of sleaze." But there is a redemptive graph to the character. Says Tigmanshu, "Irrfan's character redeems himself. He rises from the depths of sleaze and emerges a hero...why and how, I can't reveal. But after our collaboration in Paan Singh Tomar, this would be a completely new world." The film in English and Hindi would star a major international actor alongside Irrfan. It would also touch on the theme of racism. Says Tigmanshu, "Irrfan and I actually started working on The Killing of a Porn Filmmaker right after Charas in 2004. We shot for a week and then the producer played truant. We are all set to revive the project in 2014."
â€œWe are talking about a guy who plants secret cameras in toilets, shoots honeymooning couples with hidden cameras...Irrfan plays the supreme of sleazeâ€?
January 3, 2014
India Post 29
The ad in Bangkok for a cell phone brand was shot with hotshot Pakistani director Farooq Mannan, regarded as the Imtiaz Ali of Pakistani's ad world
he gorgeous Kareena Kapoor flew to Bangkok to shoot an ad for a Pakistani product. The ad in Bangkok for a cell phone brand was shot with hotshot Pakistani director Farooq Mannan, regarded as the Imtiaz Ali of Pakistani's ad world. Says Kareena's friend, "She hadn't heard of F a r o o q Mannan...none of us had. Then she saw his last ad for the same
cell phone company featuring Iman Ali (the actress from the highly-acclaimed Khuda Kay Liye) and Kareena was bowled over." For the ad that was shot in Bangkok, Farooq Mannan invited a Director of Photography from New York. Says the source, "Kareena has been paid the kind of money that the Pakistani entertainment industry can't dream of doling out to their own models and actresses. Everything in the ad has been done with world-class technicians. This is the most expensive ad ever produced in Pakistan."
fter having played the corrupt villain in films like Dabangg and R...Rajkumar, Sonu Sood is now on a different arena altogether. He will now be dubbing for the character 'Hercules' in a Hollywood film. Talking about the same, Sonu said that for the first time ever, he will be dubbing for a Hollywood film. He added that besides undergoing the regular voice exercises; he will try to give it his best shot. There was a strong buzz about the same 'role' being offered to Akshay Kumar, which he declined. To which, Sonu sportingly said that whether Akshay dubs for the film or he does, as long as Punjabi boys do it, its fine with him!
onam Kapoor's doting dad, actor Anil Kapoor, has often openly admired his daughter's acting skills. Now the 57year-old wants to share the screen space with Sonam, however, not as her father. "We keep getting a lot of offers but nothing great has come our way. We really want to work together in a film but I don't want to play her dad... I mean, won't that be really boring?" asks the actor, adding, that he's looking for something more interesting. "It should be something very dramatic. If I end up playing the obvious role (of her dad), then what new are we offering to the audience?" he says. The actor is also coproducing the remake of the 1980 Hrishikesh Mukherjee h i t , Khoobsoorat, with Sonam in the lead. "I think Sonam would do a great job with that role. I am really looking forward to seeing her in that role. She is a brilliant actor," says Anil.
â€œIt should be something very dramatic. If I end up playing the obvious role (of her dad), then what new are we offering to the audience?" he says
30 India Post
January 3, 2014
India Post 31
January 3, 2014
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Cardiologist says he never filed false claims JACKSON, Tenn.: A Jackson cardiologist who agreed to pay $1.15 million to settle allegations that he overbilled Medicare and Medicaid said through his attorney that he never filed a false claim. The attorney, J. Houston Gordon, said a group of board certified cardiologists reviewed Dr. Elie Korban's patient files and agreed the medical procedures he billed for were necessary. Korban was accused of performing medically unnecessary cardiac stent placements between 2005 and 2008. U.S. Justice Department officials say he violated the False Claims Act. The Justice Department announced the $1.15 million settlement with Korban on Dec. 19. Gordon released a statement to The Jackson Sun that said Korban ``strongly denied and denies now that he performed any unnecessary cardiac stenting,'' and Korban disputes the opinion of federal government experts. Korban owns Delta Clinic, with offices in Jackson and Lexington, and has privileges at JacksonMadison County General Hospital and Regional Hospital of Jackson.Federal prosecutors alleged that from 2005 to 2008, Korban placed cardiac stents in Medicare and Medicaid patients when the stents were not medically necessary. They have also alleged that Korban improperly billed Medicare for work performed by substitute doctors when he was available to perform the services himself. -AP
Pregnant nurse fired over flu shot
LANCASTER, Pa.: A pregnant woman who refused to get a flu shot due to her fear of miscarrying has been fired from her job with a health care company. Dreonna Breton worked as a registered nurse for Horizons Healthcare Services in central Pennsylvania. The company requires all personnel to get the influenza vaccine. Breton contends the immunizations may not be safe enough for pregnant women. She suffered two miscarriages earlier this year, and doesn't want to risk a third. Company spokesman Alan Peterson says it's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized. He also says pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu. Breton offered to wear a mask during flu season. But the 29-yearold was fired Dec. 17. Federal officials say the flu causes about 200,000 hospitalizations annually. -AP
New device to catch early signs of eye disease Details on Page 35
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January 3, 2014
Big test of Obama's beleaguered health care law begins WASHINGTON: The New Year brings the big test of President Barack Obama's beleaguered health care law: Will it work? The heart of the law sprang to life January 1, after nearly four years of political turmoil and three months of enrollment chaos. Patients will begin showing up at hospitals and pharmacies with insurance coverage bought through the nation's new health care marketplaces. The course of 2014 will show whether Obama can get affordable care to millions of people in need, without doing intolerable damage to the 85 percent of U.S. residents who already were insured. Lots of Americans are nervous. Will their new coverage be accepted? It's a concern because insurers have reported problems with the customer information they've gotten from the government, including missing data and duplication. How many more people will see old individual plans that they liked canceled? Will a flood of newly insured patients cause doctor shortages? Will businesses respond to the law by ditching their
group plans or pushing more health costs onto workers? About three-fourths of people who face changes to their jobbased or other private coverage in 2014 blame the health law, a recent AP-GfK poll found. Yet the
trend of employers trimming costly health benefits predates the law that critics dubbed ``Obamacare.'' Many people should benefit immensely.
People previously locked out of individual insurance by high prices or pre-existing health problems can get coverage to stave off the threat of medical bankruptcy. More low-income workers will come under Medicaid, in states
that agreed to expand the safetynet program. Middle-class families without workplace coverage can get tax subsidies to help pay for their insurance. How much patients like the new plans, and
whether they can afford the copays and deductibles, will become clear as they start visiting doctors. Contentious Aspect The New Year also launches the most contentious aspect of the law: the mandate that nearly everyone in the U.S. have health coverage, or pay a fine. All this will unfold during the super-heated politics leading to November's midterm elections. Republicans and Democrats will jostle all year to influence the public's assessment of changes to American health care not matched since Medicare and Medicaid were launched nearly a half-century ago. Some dates - and moving parts - to watch in 2014: JANUARY 1 â€˘ Coverage begins. Many lowincome Americans who didn't qualify for Medicaid in the past can use it now. People who signed up for private insurance in a state or federal marketplace by Dec. 24 (or later in some states) and have paid their first premium are now covered, too. Cont'd on Page 34
Health law to put calorie info on vending machines CONCORD, N.H.: Office workers in search of snacks will be counting calories along with their change under new labeling regulations for vending machines included in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. Requiring calorie information to be displayed on roughly 5 million vending machines nationwide will help consumers make healthier choices, says the Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to release final rules early next year. It estimates the cost to the vending machine industry at $25.8 million initially and $24 million per year after that, but says if just .02 percent of obese adults ate 100 fewer calories a week, the savings to the health care system
would be at least that great. The rules will apply to about 10,800 companies that operate 20 or more machines. Nearly three
$2,400 plus $2,200 in annual costs is a lot of money for a small company that only clears a few thousand dollars a year, said Eric Dell,
quarters of those companies have three or fewer employees, and their profit margin is extremely low, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association. An initial investment of
the group's vice president for government affairs. ``The money that would be spent to comply with this - there's no return on the investment,'' he said.
While the proposed rules would give companies a year to comply, the industry group has suggested a two-year deadline and is urging the government to allow as much flexibility as possible in implementing the rules. Some companies may use electronic displays to post calorie counts while others may opt for signs stuck to the machines. Carol Brennan, who owns Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry, said she doesn't yet know how she will handle the regulations, but she doesn't like them. She has five employees servicing hundreds of machines and says she'll be forced to limit the items offered so her employees don't spend too much time updating the calorie Cont'd on Page 34 counts.
January 3, 2014
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CAMC gives amputee chance to be athlete CHARLESTON, W.Va.: When Danny Riffle lost his leg nine years ago, he didn't think he would become an athlete. In fact, when he first was first approached to join Charleston Area Medical Center's challenged sports program, he said he wasn't interested. However, thanks to a need to get out of his hospital room and a therapist who insisted he join the program, Riffle says he
to use it. His recreational therapist saw him again the day after Riffle initially had expressed no interest in joining the program. The program, sponsored by CAMC's Medical Rehabilitation Center, is the only organized, sanctioned sporting program for the physically challenged in West Virginia, according to the hospital. Riffle said he was skeptical because he had never done javelin or shot put before. ``He said there was a vacant lot two blocks up the street and there were ``I've never been an athlete in my implements in the office life,'' the 64-year-old Summersville and he would teach me resident said. The challenged sports how to throw,'' Riffle said. ``I was in the hospital for program offered the opportunity to nine days. Just the opporbe an athlete. Now, I feel like I am.'' tunity to be outside was enough for me to want to give it a try.'' joined and it changed his life. At first, Riffle said he didn't think he was ``I've never been an athlete in my life,'' catching on but his therapist told him he the 64-year-old Summersville resident said. was doing well. ``When teams chose their ball team for However, it only took a year after receivsandlot, I was the last to be chosen. I wasn't ing his artificial leg before he started comthat athletic but the challenged sports pro- peting. Riffle said he broke three state gram offered the opportunity to be an ath- records and finished second in discus, javlete. Now, I feel like I am.'' elin and shot put competitions. A smoker for 41 years, Riffle said he ``I raced my wheelchair in the 100-meter started having trouble with his leg but he race,'' Riffle said. ``The only chair I had was still couldn't kick the habit, which later the one I was pushed out of the hospital caused him to lose his leg. on. And I finished second. ``It's awful to say but I'm healthier now In addition to these three activities, Riffle than I was 10 years ago,'' he said. ``I did no also participates in shooting competitions physical activity. I worked hard - worked for air rifle and pistols. He said he even long hours. I came home and sat on the captured a state record for pistol shooting. couch. I did what I had to do and that's it. ``It amazes me that I've been able to do Now, I look forward to do what I can physi- some of these things,'' he said. cally.'' Several people have inspired Riffle, esBack in 2004, Riffle had just received his pecially the people he competes against. artificial leg and was in rehab to learn how ``There's this young man - he may be 5
Inquest into death of Indianorigin doc in Syria LONDON: An inquest into the death of The orthopedic surgeon from south a 32-year-old Indian-origin British doctor London was arrested in November last year who died under mysterious circumstances by troops of President Bashar al-Assad in a Syrian prison opened at a UK court. within 48 hours of entering Syria to work in The inquest into Shah Abbas Khan's a field hospital in the rebel-controlled city death began at the Walthamstow Coroners of Aleppo. Court and was adjourned later in the day. Khan died days before he was due to be released, and his family believe he was murdered by the Syrian regime. A Syrian coroner who examined him found no signs of violence. No cause of death has been released following a post mortem conducted in the UK. A British police Detective Chief Inspector who is acting as a liaison between the coroners Shah Abbas Khan, a British doctor of Indian origin court and the British and Syrian imprisoned in Syria for over a year, has died in detention. governments spoke at the short hearing. Khan entered Syria without a visa, and He said the Syrian authorities say prison later told his family he was "accused of treatguards found Khan dead in his cell on De- ing dying civilians (women and children), cember 16, the day when he was due to which has been classed as an act of terrorappear before a terrorism court. ism".-PTI
years old now. ... He's amazing. He's going He said he is not back to 100 percent but to be a tremendous athlete,'' Riffle said. will compete next year, even if he can't do ``We had a guy who came down from Ohio every event. and he did the 10k wheelchair race. It took ``It was one of those things and I didn't him four hours but he did it. He's probably realize it until the morning after I had the 80 years old. There are people I know have stroke that I realized at that point, I may not difficulties. And it's not an easy task some- be able to compete,'' he said. ``It hit me that times, moving around and getting around. hard and I never thought I liked to comThese people I compete with truly under- pete. I like to be around people. I didn't stand the difficulties I go through. I under- realize until that point when I realized I may stand the difficulties they go through every day.'' Riffle said getting This year, Riffle had to undergo surgery where he is today is a con- to remove a blockage in his artery. He stant effort and it takes a said he still was able to compete this lot of determination. ``I practice as much as year but once he got back to the hosI can,'' he said. ``I'm at the pital, he had a stroke and lost the use fitness center nearly every day. It's just something for of his left arm and left leg. me to strive for. If I win another gold medal, that's fine. If I don't, not be able to compete how much it really that's fine. The thing I want to accomplish meant to me.'' next year is to do a little bit better.'' Besides breaking multiple records, beThis year, Riffle had to undergo surgery ing a five-time winner of the Grand Chamto remove a blockage in his artery. He said pion Track and Field award for best allhe still was able to compete this year but around athlete among other awards and once he got back to the hospital, he had a competing in national competitions, Rifle stroke and lost the use of his left arm and added another recognition to his name. left leg. AP
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January 3, 2014
Big test of Obama's health care law begins Cont'd from Page 32
• Coverage begins for workers at companies that have signed up for new small business plans through the marketplaces, also called health care exchanges. • Coverage lapses for people whose existing plans were canceled, if they haven't signed up for a replacement or received an extension. At least 4.7 million people got cancellation notices, despite Obama's promise that Americans with insurance they like could keep their old plans. Obama recently gave insurance companies the option of extending old plans for existing customers for a year, but only where state insurance commissioners give their OK. • The clock starts on the ``individual mandate.'' Nearly all U.S.
time. Those who miss their deadline can get coverage starting Feb. 1. JANUARY 31 • A temporary program for people denied coverage because of poor health ends. Tens of thousands of Americans with serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer were in the special program and needed new coverage for 2014. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, originally set to expire Dec. 31, was extended one month to help sick people whose enrollment was stymied by HealthCare.gov computer crashes. • Some people could lose coverage for a prescription they've been taking. The Obama administration urged insurers to temporarily let customers keep filling
Coverage lapses for people whose existing plans were canceled, if they haven't signed up for a replacement or received an extension. At least 4.7 million people got cancellation notices, despite Obama's promise that Americans with insurance they like could keep their old plans. citizens and legal residents are required to have ``minimum essential coverage'' for most of 2014, or pay a penalty. Most people already are insured through their jobs, Medicare, Medicaid, or military coverage and so don't need to do anything. • Insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn away people in poor health or kick customers out of plans when they get sick. • Women and people with preexisting conditions pay the same rates as healthy men in the new plans. The law also limits how much more insurers can charge older people. • New insurance plans can't put an annual dollar limit on care, or require individuals to pay more than $6,350 in out-of-pocket costs per year. JANUARY 10 Payment due. In most cases, marketplace customers who signed up by Dec. 24 have until now to pay the first month's premium and get coverage for their January medical bills. Major national insurers agreed to accept payments 10 days into the month because of technical troubles plaguing online enrollment at HealthCare.gov. But buyers should check early with their insurance companies - some may not honor the grace period. A few states running their own marketplaces are granting even more
prescriptions covered by a previous plan, but not their new one, through January. LATE MARCH • The patched-up health care website will face a major test if too many people rush to sign up in the final days of open enrollment. Watch for a possible return of rampant crashes and error messages. • On the other hand, low enrollment signals another danger. The law's design relies on younger, healthier enrollees to offset the cost of older and sicker consumers. If the numbers stay low, it's likely that enrollees will be disproportionately people with more expensive medical needs, putting a financial strain on insurers. The White House set a goal of 7 million sign-ups for private coverage. More than 1 million had enrolled by Dec. 20, Obama said. MARCH 31 • Last chance for open enrollment through the federal marketplace or 14 states running their own exchanges. Late March enrollees will be covered beginning May 1. (It's possible the administration could decide to extend open enrollment, if major website problems resurface and interfere with sign-ups.) • This is the deadline for most people to get coverage to avoid a fine. The Obama administration says, however, that those whose existing health insurance was can-
celed because of the Affordable Care Act will be exempt from the penalty. People who lose coverage during the year can go without for three months before facing a penalty. • The enrollment deadline doesn't apply to people signing up for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, based on income. People can apply for those programs at any time and coverage begins at once. • The March 31 deadline also won't stop those who need to sign up later in 2014 because of a ``qualifying life event.'' The events include things like getting married, having a baby, or leaving a job that provided insurance. Qualifying events trigger a special enrollment period lasting 60 days. APRIL 15 No worries yet. Those who go without insurance won't owe penalties until federal taxes are due in 2015 for the previous year's income. Tax returns filed in 2015 will include health insurance information; insurers will send notices to confirm that taxpayers were covered in 2014. People who bought plans in the marketplaces and re-
ceived either too little or too much in premium subsidies during the year also will square things with the IRS in April 2015. NOVEMBER 4 The midterm elections will be yet another referendum on the health care law passed in March 2010 with no Republican support. Obama will still be in the midst of his final term, however. So even if Republicans emerge with control of both chambers of Congress, they will still face two more years with Obama in the White House to veto attempts to undermine his signature law. NOVEMBER 15 Open enrollment for 2015 begins. Americans can sign up for insurance or switch to a different plan. And they'll see what rate increases are in store for the coming year. DECEMBER 31 The extension ends today for people who were able to keep their old individual plans for an extra year, even though the coverage wasn't up to the law's minimum standards.
COMING IN 2015 Jan. 1: Large employers - those with more than 50 employees - that don't offer health plans face a possible tax penalty. The penalties are designed to discourage businesses from dropping their existing health plans, although some have already begun to do so. Jan. 15: Open enrollment for 2015 ends. April 15: Penalties for individuals who weren't insured in 2014 kick in. The penalty is $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. It goes up in later years. The IRS can deduct the penalty from a taxpayer's refund. COMING IN 2018 So-called ``Cadillac health plans'' offered by some employers come under a new tax. It hits plans that spend more than $10,200 per worker or $27,500 for a family. Most job-based coverage isn't that generous, but corporate executives get such plans, and so do some workers in jobs with strong union contracts. Some companies will pass the tax on to workers and others may trim employee benefits to avoid it. -AP
Health law to put calorie info on vending machines Cont'd from Page 32
``It is outrageous for us to have to do this on all our equipment,'' she said. Brennan also doubts that consumers will benefit from the calorie information. ``How many people have not read a label on a candy bar?'' she said. ``If you're concerned about it, you've already read it for years.'' But Kim Gould, 58, of Seattle, said he doesn't read the labels even after his choice pops out of a vending machine, so having access to that information wouldn't change what he buys. ``People have their reasons they eat well or eat poorly,'' Gould said. Standing with his 12-year-old daughter near a vending machine in a medical clinic where he bought some drinks, he said he only makes purchases at the machines when he's hungry and has no other options. ``How do we know people who are buying candy in the vending machines aren't eating healthy 99 percent of the time?'' he added. As for the new labels, Gould said he wasn't sure what the point would be, and that they would just be ``nibbling around the edges of the problem.''
The FDA also is working on final rules for requiring restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to post calories information, something some cities already mandate and some large fast-food operations have begun doing voluntarily. A 2011 study in New York found that only one in six customers looked at the information, but those who did generally ordered about 100 fewer calories. A more
``How do we know people who are buying candy in the vending machines aren't eating healthy 99 percent of the time?'' he added. recent study in Philadelphia found no difference in calories purchased after the city's labeling law took effect. ``There is probably a subset of people for whom this information works, who report using it to purchase fewer calories, but what we're not seeing though is a change at an overall population
level in the number of calories consumed,'' said Brian Ebel, the study's author and an assistant professor at New York University's department of population health and medicine. Ebel said he wouldn't be surprised if the vending machine labels end up being equally ineffective, but he said it's possible that consumers might pay more attention to them for a couple of reasons. In some locations, a vending machine might be the only food option, he said. And reading a list of calorie counts on a machine will be less overwhelming than scanning a large menu at a fast-food restaurant with other customers waiting in line behind you, he said. ``It could go either way, but I think there's at least some reason to think it could be slightly more influential in vending machines.'' Even without the calorie counts, consumers already have ways to make healthier choices from vending machines. The vending machine industry group launched its ``Fit Pick'' system in 2005, which includes stickers placed in front of products that meet healthy guidelines for fat and sugar content. -AP
January 3, 2014
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Low-oxygen aids breast New device to catch early signs of eye disease cancer cells WASHINGTON: Scientists have discovered that low oxygen conditions, which often persist inside tumors, initiate a molecular chain of events that give breast cancer cells their ability to move. The study by the Johns Hopkins University underlines the importance of hy-
"High levels of RhoA and ROCK1 were known to worsen outcomes for breast cancer patients by endowing cancer cells with the ability to move, but the trigger for their production was a mystery" poxia-inducible factors in promoting breast cancer metastasis. "High levels of RhoA and ROCK1 were known to worsen outcomes for breast cancer patients by endowing cancer cells with the ability to move, but the trigger for their production was a mystery," said Gregg Semenza, the C Michael Armstrong Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Uni-
versity School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "We now know that the production of these proteins increases dramatically when breast cancer cells are exposed to low oxygen conditions," Semenza said. To move, cancer cells must make many changes to their internal structures, Semenza said. Thin, parallel filaments form throughout the cells, allowing them to contract and cellular "hands" arise, allowing cells to "grab" external surfaces to pull themselves along. The proteins RhoA and ROCK1 are known to be central to the formation of these structures. Moreover, the genes that code for RhoA and ROCK1 were known to be turned on at high levels in human cells from metastatic breast cancers. In a few cases, those increased levels could be traced back to a genetic error in a protein that controls them, but not in most. This activity, said Semenza, led him and his team to search for another cause for their high levels. The study found that low oxygen conditions, which are frequently present in breast cancers, serve as the trigger to increase the production of RhoA and ROCK1 through the action of hypoxia-inducible factors.-PTI
WASHINGTON: MIT researchers have ment that can be taken outside a specialist's developed a new hand-held device that office. The instrument uses a technique called scans a patient's entire retina in seconds to detect a host of retinal diseases including optical coherence tomography (OCT), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macu- which the MIT group and collaborators helped pioneer in the early 1990s. lar degeneration. The technology sends beams of infraResearchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the red light into the eye and onto the retina. new instrument which is the first to com- Echoes of this light return to the instrubine cutting-edge technologies such as ment, which uses interferometry to meaultrahigh-speed 3-D imaging, a tiny microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) mirror for scanning, and a technique to correct for unintentional movement by the patient. These innovations, researchers said, would allow collection of comprehensive data with just one measurement. Normally, to diagMIT develops hand-held device to catch early signs of eye disease nose retinal diseases, an ophthalmologist must examine the patient in his or her of- sures changes in the time delay and magnitude of the returning light echoes, revealfice, typically with table-top instruments. The MIT group, in collaboration with the ing the cross sectional tissue structure of University of Erlangen and Praevium/ the retina - similar to radar or ultrasound Thorlabs, has developed a portable instru- imaging.-PTI
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January 3, 2014
India Post 37
India, US need to handle issue with diplomatic finesse
hen the din has subsided, emotions have cooled down, it will be time to reflect what will be the lasting memory of Devyani Khobragade case. The Acting Consul-General of India in New York was arrested in front of her daughters' school, handcuffed, stripped, cavitysearched and held with hardened criminals in the oldest democracy whose top leaders never get tired of proclaiming that their relationship with India is the most defining relationship of the 21st century. These two images don't add up. The treatment meted out to the Indian acting CG doesn't behoove the oldest democracy. Aren't civilized democracies expected to behave in a more mature, sensitive
What surprises the US which will depend on Diplomacy is not dadagiri; it's delimost - it was approved DEVYANI KHOBRAGADE CASE America's overall as- cate handling of sensitive issues by the State Departsessment of the signifi- with diplomatic finesse, never losment! cance of its relations with India. ing sight of the broader picture If this is the manner in which With lengthening shadows of that serves national interests. Inthe State Department wishes to an assertive and aggressive China, dia and the US should have a cantreat diplomats of a so-called "strawhere does India fit in the US pivot did discussion to find a "cool" tegic partner", that partnership is or rebalance in Asia? How useful solution to the current "hot" imnothing more than a meaningless is India for a safe and smooth exit passe away from the media gaze. charade. of US troops from Afghanistan and Legal wrangling won't take them The US should learn to attach its political stability thereafter? very far. values to their words or none will Does India have a role in the Morarji Desai couldn't win his believe its words. They just have nascent thaw between the US and libel case against Seymour Hersh, no defense; they were wrong both Iran? How does India impact the what chance does Devyani in labeling charges of human trafdeliberations and decisions of Khobragade stand? Adil Surendra Kumar ficking and arresting; it shouldn't groupings and organizations like Shahiriyar, son of late Mohammed be such a big deal to say sorry. To solve this case? G-20, the UN and WTO? What Yunus, languishing in a US prison err is human. To convert a simple wage dis- about the discourse on global on drug-trafficking charges, was Even if the accusations against pute into criminal human traffick- warming and climate change? pardoned by Reagan and put on Ms Khobragade of violation of the ing and letting it degenerate into US minimum wages law and fur- an ugly and undesirable public Diplomacy is not dadagiri; it's delicate hannishing of false information in the spat raises serious doubts about visa application were true (this is the real intent of the US State De- dling of sensitive issues with diplomatic fiyet to be established in the court ) partment. Apparently, district at- nesse, never losing sight of the broader pictorney Preet Bharara has his own agenda to use this case as another ture that serves national interests. India and feather in his cap for fulfilling his the US should have a candid discussion to find political ambitions. Sangeeta went to the US as a maid fully aware of a "cool" solution to the current "hot" impasse how much she will be paid with a A host of issues of huge impor- board the Indian PM's plane. If meticulously worked out plan to tance impinge on the multi-dimen- there is will, they can find a way. stay on there. Dozens of Indian domestic asThe US embassy in Delhi facili- sional, multi-layered, burgeoning tated her husband's and relationship between India and the sistants accompanying Indian dipdaughter's "evacuation"; media US. What about bilateral trade and lomats go missing in the US every reports claim the embassy pur- investment, especially the gallop- year. The US authorities must be kidding if they say they aren't chased their air tickets. Why? To ing defense trade? It will be naive to suggest that aware of this. strengthen the strategic partnerthe leadership in the two countries A bilateral agreement about ship? When diplomats of friendly countries were caught trying to Morarji Desai couldn't win his libel case smuggle in banned items, Indian authorities didn't arrest or hand- against Seymour Hersh, what chance does Devyani Khobragade cuff them nor did they go public; Devyani Khobragade stand? Adil Shahiriyar, their missions were quietly adand nuanced manner? To put it did these violations constitute vised to transfer them out of India son of late Mohammed Yunus, languishing in mildly, the manner of arresting, such a grave danger to US inter- which they did. If the US felt a US prison on drug-trafficking charges, was handcuffing and detaining the In- ests that she should have been strongly that the conduct of Ms dian diplomat was uncouth, uncivi- treated the way she was? She isn't Khobragade was unbecoming of pardoned by Reagan lized and appallingly undiplo- an Al Qaeda operative nor was she a foreign diplomat, they could have matic; it was worthy of an ordinary fleeing the US; why weren't the discreetly advised the Indian gov- aren't aware of these factors. It is domestic assistants could be a cop! diplomatic channels allowed to re- ernment to withdraw her from the beyond imagination that such a practical way forward. relationship can be allowed to be Surendra Kumar is former AmUS. It's that simple. bassador and CG at Indian ConIf the State Department had derailed on the current issue. Give quiet diplomacy a chance. sulate, Chicago conveyed to the Indian embassy in Washington in September its "serious concern" about charges against Ms Khobragade and hinted at imminent action, why didn't the MEA shift her to PMI New York? Had the embassy and the MEA acted swiftly, this humiliating episode could have been avoided. There will be unending arguments about consular immunity and whether the diplomat had violated US laws. Evidently, Ms Khobragade's case can be resolved India retaliated against American diplomats by removing the concrete, security barriers that surrounded the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi only by a political decision by the Protest against Devyani Khobragadeâ€™s arrest in New Delhi
Investments in India's realty sector declined 6% NEW DELHI: Outstanding investments in the country's real estate sector were six per cent lower at Rs 14.51 lakh crore in September 2013 as against the same month previous year, according to a study by industry body Assocham. The study also revealed there is likely to be no respite for the realty sector at least till first half of 2014. "Outstanding investments attracted by India's real estate sector have plummeted from Rs 15.39 lakh crore as of September 2012 to Rs 14.51 lakh crore as of September 2013 registering significant drop of about six per cent," Assocham said. According to the study, the real estate sector suffered grave turbulence in 2013 due to a plethora of reasons like rampant economic slowdown both globally and domestically, liquidity crunch, unstable currency, high input costs, labor shortage, high interest rates and growing inflation.-PTI
Ineligible members may lose Adarsh investment MUMBAI: The 28 Adarsh members held ineligible by the panel probing the scam can be investigated by the CBI afresh, say legal experts. If it is found that they committed fraud, they can lose the money invested in the flats. Though the state has rejected the panel's findings against the members, the government has the powers to review and even revoke their membership, said Justice B H Marlapalle, a former judge of the Bombay high court. The panel, headed by retired HC judge J A Patil, has concluded that bureaucrats and politicians had used their powers to approve the building so that they could get flats allocated to their relatives as a quid pro quo.
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January 3, 2014
Phoenix housing market shifts to central areas PHOENIX: The housing market in one of America's largest cities is shifting as builders turn vacant lots and old buildings into new homes. New houses and condo projects are starting to spring up on vacant parcels and in half-built subdivisions in Phoenix's core communities. The Arizona Republic reports that prospective buyers who want to live closer in are spurring builders to develop infill housing at the fastest pace in Valley history. -AP
6 Feng Shui secrets to sell your home
rying to sell a house this year? Consider using Feng Shui. The practice, which originated in China, is a very down-to-earth analysis of what does (and doesn't) make your home appealing and inviting, says Terah Kathryn Collins, author of "The Western Guide to Feng Shui" and founder of the Western School of Feng Shui. "I think the whole popular notion of staging is all contained within the practice of Feng Shui," she says. Everything we associate with staging -- from clearing the clutter to making the place smell good to sprucing up the entryway -- are all Feng Shui strategies, she says. But Feng Shui experts are the first to admit that it, alone, won't sell your house, says David Daniel Kennedy, a Feng Shui practitioner and author of several books on the topic, including "Feng Shui for Dummies." First, you want to have "the right price, the right agent and the right marketing plan," he says. "Those are the three basics that have to be right or Feng Shui is a nonstarter," Kennedy says. Once you have that, then you can put some Feng Shui techniques to work -- to amp up your chances of a sale, he says. Arrange rooms to 'welcome' visitors Ever walk into a party where all the guests have their backs to you? That's what it's like when you walk into a room and all you can see is the back of the furniture, says Collins. And that was one of the big
problems with a $5 million home she'd been hired to consult on prior to the sale. "There was not a lot of intimacy in this house," she recalls. She turned the furniture so that it faced the entry ways, and "it made all the difference in the world," says Collins. Another problem in the house?
through an area." So look at the room in terms of creating easy-to-navigate, open pathways. You want to represent a home that makes potential buyers feel comfortable -- not one that feels cramped or claustrophobic. And if that means getting rid of some of the pieces, that's OK, too, Collins says.
Chairs were isolated -- set down as one-offs. "Where do you sit and have a conversation in this house?" So Collins grouped them in pairs. And she placed them diagonally -- often sharing a table -- to create spaces where people could sit and talk. You want buyers to walk in and feel like they instantly belong, says Jayme Barrett, author of "Feng Shui Your Life." That means you don't want them to walk into your living room "and see the back of a sofa," she says. That arrangement "creates an obstacle," she says. "And you want the positive energy" -- and the buyers themselves -- to be able to move freely through the home, she says.
"The way space is arranged has such power over people," she says.
Create a good traffic flow Good traffic flow isn't just for parties. Buyers want that in their everyday lives, too. With one house, Collins "came around a corner and almost ran into a chair," she recalls. "That's a big no-no." The rule: "You don't want anything that's going to keep people from feeling that they can move
Watch the subliminal messages The painting over the bed in one client's master bedroom? A three-ring circus. While it was colorful, the underlying message was "stress," Collins says. "It might have been fine in a den, but it's not fine in a bedroom," she says. Instead, create an atmo-
sphere that's calm, restful and restorative, she says. With that in mind, the homeowner selected another piece of art to hang over the bed -- "a beautiful landscape," Collins says. "Nature scenes are soothing and will relax the buyers," Barrett says. Make sure to also put away those personal family photos and religious and spiritual icons, says Barrett. "You want to make your home as welcoming as possible to potential buyers ... you don't want your spiritual preferences, which may be different from theirs, to sway them in any way," Collins says. "It's essential for the buyers to be able to envision their family and furniture in the home so keep the decor neutral," she says. "Nature scenes are soothing and will relax the buyers," Barrett says. Feng Shui -- and home marketing -- are all about making a good first impression, says Collins. "You want to create that friendly, positive first impression." Use plants and water to your advantage Real estate agents will tell you to close toilet lids because no buyer wants to look into your commode. Feng Shui philosophy advocates the same thing for a different reason. "Water represents money and the toilet is the one place where water/money escapes," Barrett Cont’d on page 39 says.
January 3, 2014
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India Post 39
Home loans in Gujarat grow by 18.5% AHMEDABAD: The real estate market in the city may be going through a low phase but people seem to be buying more and more houses this year. According to the latest report by the state-level banker's committee (SLBC), fresh loans worth Rs 2,125.04 crore have been granted to 22,299 beneficiaries during the second quarter of JulySeptember this year, an increase of 18.5% compared to the same period in 2012. According to experts, the rise in home loans during the first half of 2013 is because of the reduction in interest rates by the top six banks. "The banks decreased the interest rates by 25 basis points, presumably due to the pressure from builders' lobby as well as the central government," said Aspy Bharucha, forex consultant.
The report of the 139th meeting of SLBC revealed that year-on-year growth in outstanding housing finance is Rs 4,374.05 crore and the outstanding level stood at Rs 23,125.93 crore in 3,48,779 accounts as of September 2013. "Several constructed flats are lying vacant because of which builders are under pressure and hence the lowering of interest rates," added Bharucha. According to the report, deposits in the banks of Gujarat recorded a growth of 14.56% during the second quarter in comparison to the same period last year and in the same time advances grew by 25.77% in quarter ending September 30. Private banks recorded 21.52% increase in deposits while the nationalized banks recorded 15.16% growth year-on-year in the same quarter.
6 Feng Shui secrets to sell your home Cont’d from page 38
Instead, "You can place a small tabletop water fountain either at the entrance or in the back left corner of the home, which is the wealth corner," she says. "Moving water circulates prosperity energy throughout the home." Another welcoming touch: "Place thriving plants and flowers in the corners of the room," Barrett says. That will "enliven the home and create harmony." Don't get emotionally attached to 'your'
price Feng Shui alters the way you interact in your environment -- so you are at least half of the equation, Kennedy says. One of the biggest roadblocks he sees is an emotional attachment to a particular price. "People are valuing the home based on an internal value rather than the market," he says. That set-in-stone price can be based on anything from what the sellers need to zero out the mortgage(s), to what they "need" to buy their next home -- or even how much they want in the bank for retirement, he says. Regardless, if you stubbornly hold on to
$350,000 when the market is screaming $300,000, it won't sell, Kennedy says. And no amount of Feng Shui tactics will fix that. His go-to fix is something called the "emotional freedom technique." It's a combination of memory, meditation and tapping specific acupressure points that you can use to give yourself an "attitude adjustment," Kennedy says. "Think of it as a change for your 'internal' Feng Shui." Be sure you're ready to let go If you haven't let go of the house, that's a big roadblock to a sale, Kennedy says. If the house isn't moving, it could be a red flag that you, or other family members, don't really want to move. So it's smart to rethink your options. Don't let yourself be fast-talked into something you don't want, or caught up in artificial "deadlines." Instead, focus on what you and your family truly want. If you're set on leaving, find a way of saying goodbye and letting go, says Kennedy. And that's no mean feat. "Your basic sense of security is still getting rattled in a big way." Some strategies: • Walk room by room through the house and mentally say "thank you" for the good -- and bad -- times you had there, says Collins. • Picture yourself holding the house, presenting it as a gift to the next owner, Kennedy says. • Start packing. "It starts getting the energy moving" and releases "your hold on the house," Kennedy says. Plus, packing away your personal items is a good way to lose the "It's my house, not yours" vibe. Courtesy Bankrate.com
Developers eye Aravali green zones in Haryana NEW DELHI: "Conservation zones" in authority" be changed to "regional recrethe national capital region, including the ational activities as per state government eco-sensitive Aravalis, Yamuna riverbed tourism policies after obtaining environmenand areas around major water bodies, have tal clearance from competent authority". been the main targets of real estate develBarring the Aravalis falling in Haryana, opers who sought the lifting of restrictions there is little scope of carrying out such on "recreational activities" put in place by activities in any other part of NCR. Morestate government tourism policies. In a concerted approach, they appealed to the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) to, in fact, include tourism projects under the Haryana has been pushing "recreational" category. for removing all restrictions Haryana has been pushing for removing all restrictions on construction in the on construction in the conconservation zones - a proposal turned servation zones - a prodown by the planning committee of NCRPB. Now, it emerges that at least five posal turned down by the real estate companies expressed similar planning committee of views in their submissions to the board. The details of objections and sugges- NCRPB. tions uploaded on the NCRPB website shows that these companies even used the same wording with regard to construc- over, Haryana's tourism policy, which tion activities in conservation zones. incentivizes mega projects, says that in such Urging inclusion of tourism projects projects, 70% area will be used for games within "regional recreation activities" they and rides, 15% for commercial activities and sought that the provision for allowing "re- the remaining 15% for parking and green gional recreational activities after obtaining space. Commercial activities includes mulenvironmental clearance from competent tiplexes, restaurants and accommodation.
40 India Post
January 3, 2014
A THE RS. 1,600 CRORE ENTERTAINMENT PARK THAT IS SPREAD OVER 300 ACRES OF LAND OFF THE MUMBAIPUNE EXPRESSWAY (TRAVEL TIME FROM MUMBAI BEING ABOUT 90 MINUTES) IS OWNED AND OPERATED BY ADLABS ENTERTAINMENT LIMITED (AEL), PROMOTED BY MANMOHAN SHETTY
dlabs Imagica is India's first and only International standard Theme Park, offering fun, action, entertainment, dining and shopping at a single location. Imagica is a place where you can live out your wildest adventures and be thrilled by the world's most amazing rides; from roller coasters in deep space, to spine tingling journeys through the ravines of the Wild West. There's something here for every family - a new experience at every step, and a thousand ways to have fun. The Rs. 1,600 crore entertainment park that is spread over 300 acres of land off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway (travel time from Mumbai being about 90 minutes) is owned and operated by Adlabs Entertainment Limited (AEL), promoted by Manmohan Shetty. It is clearly his most ambitious project till date. The park has 21 attractions including lndia's largest roller-coaster, 4D simulation rides, the highest drop ride and an interactive Bollywood ride styled on the film Mr India, among others. The park can accommodate as many as 20,000 visitors. Plans are afoot for a 300-room hotel and water park. A video tour of the park is available on YouTube. Contâ€™d on page 41
January 3, 2014
Travel & Hospitality Post www.indiapost.com
IMAGICA India's Disneyland off Mumbai Contâ€™d from page 40
ATTRACTIONS & RESTAURANTS Viva Europa A land where childhood lives! Enter a land of innocence in a European setting complete with cobble stone pathways and Victorian lamp posts. In this world of fairytales, ride with the Bandits and Robin Hood, splash along with the Loch Ness monster, fly to the mood with Tubby, interact
with the star chief and meet various characters like Puss in Boots, Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more. Come experience the world where all your childhood stories come alive. Arabia An exotic land recreated through stories! Travel through
the mystical realms of the land or Arabia. Take journey through a colorful, rustic street with souks. Fill your ears with the tinkling sounds of authentic jewellery and Arabic tunes. Soak in the patterns, textures and designs of the majestic castle. Explore all of these through the classic tale of Alibaba Aur Chalis Chorr and through the classic entertainer - The Magic Carousel. Experience this enthralling world captured in its magnificent past.
Asiana Zoom across to futuristic world! Everything is brighter and faster in this world existing twenty years ahead of our time. With modern structures and neon lights, this land gives us a glimpse of a time yet to come. Experience the finest technology adopted in various attractions like Cinema 360 - Prince of the Dark Waters and Deep Space and get way ahead of the
21st century. Americana Homage to the best of the USA! Experience an America existing seamlessly through its classic eras. Travel through the ravines and the ranches of the Wild Wild West in Gold Rush Express. Jive in the rock n' roll era through the hot-red fliptops and classic diners at Red Bonnet American Diner. Zip into the fast lane and experience the America thriving in the 21st century through many thrill rides. India A land where past and present meet! Various time periods, from the rich past to the pulsating present of India, are summoned to this land. From mythology captured through the Wrath of the Gods to the contemporary age showcased through Mr India-The Ride. From a historical episode portrayed through the Curse of Salimgarh to the present day India. A visit to the ruins of a temple, a virtually immersive experience, a journey through a haunted fort and spectacular flight over the beautiful expanse of India; you can experience it all in this land. Jambo Africa The majestic continent tells its tale! With bongo tunes and roaring dinosaurs, African flavors and exotic plants, tribal masks and thatched roots, this land is a true reflection of Africa. Experience different moods of this majestic land at Rajasaurus River Adventure, Mambo Chai Chama Crazy Tea Cups and Zeze Bar+Grill.
Travel & Hospitality Post
January 3, 2014
2013 saw Tourism Ministry making lot of promises NEW DELHI: The year 2013 saw Tourism Ministry of India making lot of promises like bringing about a liberal visa regime, easing restrictions for film shooting and removing hurdles for the growth of the tourism sector but some incidents of sexual assault on foreign tourists brought shame. Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi quit midway after the government's decision to create Telangana state. His resignation was not accepted and he attended files without going to office. The ministry made a strong pitch for extending visa-on- arrival (VoA) facilities to many countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, France and South Korea. Currently, there are only 11 countries, including Japan, New
Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, which are being given the facility. The ministry says the tourist visa regime is an impediment to the growth of foreign visitors in the country which ultimately results in lesser foreign exchange Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi earnings. H o w e v e r, though the VoA issue was also have got the nod from the governtaken up by the Planning Commis- ment till now. sion, only South Korea seems to The growth in foreign tourist
arrivals was 3.8 per cent as 60.48 lakh overseas visitors came during January-November against 58.25 lakh in the same period last year. The foreign exchange earnings from tourism was Rs 94,156 crore during the 11 months of the year as against Rs 83,938 crore in the corresponding period last year, registering a growth of 12.2 per cent. The ministry organized a series of roadshows abroad in 2013 showcasing Indian destinations in different countries. In order to change the perception that India is a winter destination, the ministry stepped up efforts to showcase the country as
a plan to encourage people involved in tourism sector to wear badges with slogan "I Respect Women" as an image-makeover exercise. It was aimed at instilling confidence among foreign visitors and also to show that majority of people here do not support crime against women. In the wake of the country getting negative publicity over incidents of crime against foreign tourists, it was decided at a tourism ministers' conference that all states and union territories will have tourism police. Chiranjeevi was at the forefront in launching the 'Clean India' campaign at Taj Mahal in collabora-
a summer tourist destination by promoting virgin peaks of the Himalayas. The year also saw approval for the proposal for setting up of the Central Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition at Jagdishpur in Sultanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. The ministry joined hands with Genesys to launch 'Walking Tours' at www.wonobo.com, an innovative website to make it easy for tourists to walk or drive through the most-visited cities in India by providing all tourism-related information at one place. The site linked with the Incredible India portal, aims to cover 54 cities in the country. In the backdrop of sporadic incidents of crime against foreign tourists in the country relating to harassment and assault, the ministry initiated steps for the safety of tourists. A foreign tourist was raped and killed in Madhya Pradesh in March while another had to jump from the first floor of a hotel in Agra to escape sexual assault. Chiranjeevi said such incidents could hurt the growth of tourism. Expressing concern over the safety of tourists, particularly foreigners, the ministry came out with
tion with the ONGC to inculcate civic sense among citizens to keep tourist places, including monuments, clean. There was a plan to take up the campaign at many monuments, including Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra, Red Fort in Delhi, Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu with the help of ONGC. But the campaign somehow slowed down after the launch at
Taj. Aiming at making railway stations tourist-friendly, the ministry sanctioned about Rs 27 crore for development of amenities at five stations - Amritsar, Rai Barelli, Agra, Trivandrum and Gaya. The Tourism Ministry sanctioned a special financial package of Rs 100 crore for restoration and reconstruction of the tourist facilities damaged due to rains and floods in Uttarakhand.-PTI
January 3, 2014
Travel & Hospitality Post
Indian tourists flocking to Australia, says report MELBOURNE: Indian tourists are flocking to see beauty of Australia taking the total number of overseas travelers from the region to over 134,000 from January to October this year, a report said. According to latest data of Tourism Australia, a total of
2013-14 respectively. "Markets expected to experience strongest gains in visitor volumes in 201213 are China (15.9 per cent), Malaysia (13.9 per cent), Singapore (12.5 per cent) and India (7.5 per cent)," it said. "This revision represents a dif-
17.2 per cent to 0.5 million compared with same period in 201112. "Visitor expenditure is forecast to rise 19.8 per cent in 201213 to USD 867 million. In the longer term to 2021-22, average annual growth of 10.9
Kerala unveils cultural fete in tourism season THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has switched on to a festive mode to give a feel of its traditional and folk arts to domestic and foreign tourists as the high tourist season got under way. Branded as 'Utsavam', the cultural extravaganza will be staged in 60 venues across all the 14 districts of Kerala for three weeks, a Kerala Tourism release said. 'Utsavam' (festival) has been an annual event since 2007. "This is an event aimed at sustaining and popularizing the traditional art forms of Kerala, some of which are on the verge of decline," Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar said. "The festival is for the people
of Kerala and our guests from outside the state and country," Anilkumar, who inaugurated the event on December 26 at the picturesque Bekal Fort in Kasargode in north Kerala said. The inaugural day of 'Utsavam' saw the performance of 'Rhythm of Kerala', a dance medley based on tribal, classical and folk arts by seasoned artistes. The first edition of 'Utsavam', held from December 2007 to March 2008 drew enthusiastic response from domestic and international travelers, fetching Kerala Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award in the heritage and culture section. -PTI
SpiceJet's special offer for corporate travelers 134,000 visitors from India visited Australia during October this year, an increase of 9.5 per cent as compared to the same period previous year. According to its Tourism Forecast Committee report released earlier this year, visitor arrivals from India were predicted to rise by 7.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent to 1,63,800 in 2012-13 and 176,300 in
ference of 6500 more visitors in aggregate. In the longer term to 2021-22, average annual growth of 7.2 per cent to 306,100 visitors is expected," the report cited while note trends from Indian tourists. It said that average length of stay rose 20 per cent to 66 nights per trip while total nights in hotels, motels and guest houses and serviced apartments rose
per cent is forecast to USD 2 billion, representing an upward revision of USD 354 million," the report predicted. Last year, Tourism Australia had launched India 2020 Strategic Plan which was developed to maximize India's tourism potential and set a foundation for the future, when long haul leisure travel by Indians becomes more common. -PTI
Tourists, migrants to pay for medical services in UK LONDON: Britain's National Health Service (NHS) will begin charging overseas visitors, including tourists, and migrants for medical services under new rules aimed at tackling the abuse of the free healthcare system. The NHS is well-known around the world for providing free basic healthcare to all but this will change by March 2014, when the UK government will set out detailed plans on how overseas visitors and migrants will be charged for services. The move is aimed at tackling health tourism, especially by a growing number of visitors from nearby European Union countries. The Accidents and Emergency (A&E) department will still be open to all in an emergency but there will be a bill to pay afterwards for patients from overseas.
Other changes planned as part of a government consultation include extending charging for pre-
scriptions to people from overseas, and requiring them to pay higher charges for services that are subsidized for patients entitled to
NHS care, such as optical and dental services. There are also plans to intro-
duce a new system of identifying and recording patients who should be charged for NHS services.
MUMBAI: Budget carrier SpiceJet has announced special offer to corporate travelers on its domestic network with free tickets to promote business travel, which remains on the downside due to a subdued economic activities. Under the offer, a corporate traveler will be entitled to one free
the offer will be excluding applicable fees and taxes, which will have to be paid by the passenger, it said. The special offer, however, is applicable to only registered corporates, the airline said. Also, the offer is valid only on direct and via flights and not the
single way ticket for every six completed one way journeys, the airline said. Similarly, it offers two free single way tickets for every 10 completed one way journeys. The free ticket availed under
connecting ones, it said, adding that eligibility tickets are valid for bookings and travel between December 23 and March 27, 2014. Redemption ticket is valid for booking and travel from January 6 to March 31, 2014, the airline said. -PTI
Consultations with general practitioners (GPs) and nurses will remain free, which the government believes will reduce risks to public health such as HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections. "Having a universal health service free at the point of use rightly makes us the envy of the world, but we must make sure the system is fair to the hardworking British taxpayers who fund it," said Health Minister Lord Howe. "We know that we need to make changes across the NHS to better identify and charge visitors and migrants. Introducing charging at primary care is the first step to achieving this.
"We are already looking at taking action and next year we will set out our detailed plans to clamp down on the abuse of our NHS," he said. The announcement follows a Department of Health study that estimated up to 500 million pounds could be recovered from overseas visitors' and migrants' use of the NHS every year. "We cannot have a situation where any patient with a serious health need is deterred from visiting a GP, especially if their condition raises a potential public health risk," cautioned Chaand Nagpaul, who leads the British Medical Association's GP committee. -PTI
In Brief ACLU urges judge to force release of documents NEW YORK: The American Civil Liberties Union has urged a federal judge in New York to force the U.S. government to quickly turn over documents it needs to help reform a system in which thousands of immigrants are detained for months or years. The ACLU says people are subject to ``prolonged'' detention as their immigration statuses are reviewed. It sent a letter to Judge Richard Berman a day after government lawyers insisted they needed 15 months to deliver 385 out of 22,000 files.
The ACLU says the government's request to delay turning over documents is a lastminute attempt to avoid its obligations under the judge's orders and the Freedom of Information Act. The ACLU sued in Manhattan federal court in 2011 seeking documents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. -AP
Â„ US deports fugitive wanted in Mexico for murder HOUSTON: U.S. immigration authorities have turned over to Mexican officials a fugitive wanted in Mexico for murder and attempted murder. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escorted 32year-old Humberto Lopez-Perez to the border at Laredo in South Texas where he was taken into custody by the Mexico Attorney General's office. U.S. officials say Lopez-Perez had three previous deportations when he was convicted in October of illegally entering the United States. The customs agency's Enforcement and Removal Operations office in Houston then determined he had outstanding warrants in Mexico for homicide and attempted homicide. David Jennings, a field office director in Houston, says the case is part of an expanded U.S. and Mexico cooperation to identify, arrest and repatriate Mexican fugitives who flee to the United States to avoid prosecution at home. -AP
Mass. immigrants horrified by war in native Syria Details on page 46
44 India Post
January 3, 2014
Fears of immigration from EU spark political firestorm in UK LONDON: They're portrayed as pickpockets who will steal British jobs. There are predictions they will beg, the unruly young ones will stir up riots, and some will even try to sell babies. For months, Britain's tabloids have repeatedly warned of the horrors they believe will ensue after Jan. 1, when work restrictions will be lifted across the European Union for migrants from Romania and Bulgaria - two of the trading bloc's newest members. Those changes, the papers claim, will unleash a mass exodus of the poor and unemployed from the two eastern European countries to Britain. ``In January, the only thing left will be the goat,'' a Daily Mail headline proclaimed, referring to a remote Romanian village where, the paper claimed, everyone was preparing to move to Britain for the higher wages and generous welfare benefits. ``We're importing a crime wave from Romania and Bulgaria,'' another headline declared, quoting a Conservative lawmaker who told Parliament that most pickpockets on British streets hail from Romania.
The alarming stories about a possible Romanian and Bulgarian influx, and a government scramble to tighten welfare rules, are part of the latest chapter in an increas-
over voters by arguing that foreigners, particularly eastern Europeans, are flooding Britain's job market with cheap labor and exploiting the country's benefits
A general view of the Sculeni border crossing point from Romania to the Republic of Moldova. Britain is gripped by fresh fears that a new wave of immigrant workers will arrive after restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are lifted on January 1.
ingly bitter debate about Britain's immigration policies and its uneasy relationship with the EU. Right-wing politicians have won
system. The upstart UK Independence Party, known as UKIP, has seized on the anti-immigration
mood to undermine support for the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron. In response, Cameron has recently stepped up his rhetoric on immigration and rushed to impose curbs on the ability of new migrants to claim state benefits. He also angered fellow EU leaders when he challenged the established concept that there should be a free movement of workers throughout the economic bloc, arguing that it should be amended to stop mass migrations from poorer to richer member states. ``The politicians are doing it for popularity,'' said Father Silviu Petre Pufulete, a priest at a Romanian Orthodox Church in London. ``It's been unfair to the Romanians and it's just been blown out of all proportion.'' How big exactly is the potential problem? Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and more than 100,000 migrants from the two countries already work in Britain, albeit under work restrictions that limit their access to jobs and state benefits like health care. Cont'd on Page 46
US: Immigrant detainee data can't be provided fast NEW YORK: U.S. prosecutors say they can't meet a judge's demands that they quickly deliver documents about thousands of immigrants who've been detained nationwide for months or years as their immigration statuses are reviewed. The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara laid out the government's position to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in a letter. The letter came five days after the judge criticized the government, saying it had been on notice since the American Civil Liberties Union requested the documents nearly five years ago. The ACLU eventually filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in 2011 seeking documents from the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
dures in place to determine whether their detention is justified.'' It cited a dramatic increase
The Office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara laid out the government's position to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in a letter made public on Wednesday.
The ACLU questioned the practice of ``prolonged immigration detention - for months, if not years - without adequate proce-
in the number of immigration detainees in recent decades, noting they weren't serving criminal sentences but were being detained
by the thousands to ensure they're available for removal from the country if removal is ordered and appeals are exhausted. The judge said the government's continued refusal to produce documents had stymied efforts to reform a system in which thousands of immigrant detainees, some applicants for asylum, languish in immigration jails longer than six months. He also attacked as ``painstaking and riddled with further delay'' the government's process for releasing documents, saying the government hasn't produced any documents since his Sept. 9 order to release documents and had at times claimed it would take seven years to produce 100 files. Cont'd on Page 45
January 3, 2014
India Post 45
Indian-origin man jailed for human trafficking in UK LONDON: An Indian-origin man is among five members of a human trafficking ring jailed for a total of 34 years by a British court. Ramesh Mali, 31, was sentenced to two-and-half years in prison at Wood Green Crown
ing beaten and was forced to un- tenced to a total of 11 years bedergo a sham marriage and open hind bars. Victor Maule pleaded guilty to bank accounts in her name. Besides Mali, investigations conspiracy to control prostitution led to the arrest of Sandor Jonas, for gain, conspiracy to assist unAnita Viktoria Maule and her lawful immigration into the UK, brother Victor Maule as well as possession of an imitation firearm, solicitor Chika Ike possession of a prohibited Michael who arranged weapon and possession of two ofthe sham marriage. fensive weapons. He was jailed for Detectives traveled five and a half years. Michael was found guilty of to Hungary and were able to identify a sec- conspiracy to assist unlawful imond victim who had migration and was sentenced to been trafficked in to the five years in jail. After the conclusion of the UK in 2005 and held case Detective Constable Natalia until 2010. Jonas was found Barrett of the Met's Human Trafguilty of conspiracy to ficking and Exploitation Unit, said: traffic persons into and "The defendants were part of a within the UK for the highly organized criminal network purpose of sexual ex- who deliberately targeted vulnerploitation, conspiracy able young women in the hope to control prostitution they would be too scared to conand conspiracy to as- tact police, or if they did, would sist unlawful immigra- not be believed. Accomplice: Ramesh Mali was sentenced to tion into the UK. He "The police take such allegatwo and a half years in jail was sentenced to a to- tions very seriously and I would Court for conspiracy to assist untal of 10 years in jail. like to encourage victims of traflawful immigration after it emerged that he forcibly married a woman brought to the UK from Hungary "The defendants were part of a highly orgaas part of a prostitution ring. nized criminal network who deliberately Earlier this year, Scotland Yard was contacted by a woman who targeted vulnerable young women in the said she was being forced to work hope they would be too scared to contact as a prostitute in London after being brought into the country police, or if they did, would not be believed. in March 2010. According to the 'Barnet Press' newspaper, the MetropoliAnita Maule was found guilty ficking to come forward and seek tan Police found that she was beof the same charges and sen- help." -PTI
US: Immigrant detainee data can't be provided fast Cont'd from Page 44
The government, though, said in its letter it is ``not feasible'' to produce documents from more than 22,000 individual files as ordered but said it can produce a reliable sample of 385 files within 15 months, with rolling releases within eight weeks of a revised order. In 2009, The Associated Press conducted a computer analysis of
an Immigration and Customs Enforcement database obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, finding there were 32,000 immigrants from 177 countries detained, including more than 18,000 with no criminal convictions. The analysis showed that nearly 10,000 had been in custody more than a month, that 400 of those with no criminal records had been locked up more than a year, that a dozen had been held for
three years or more and that one man from China had been incarcerated more than five years. Many of the longest-term noncriminal detainees were asylum seekers. The analysis was referenced in the ACLU lawsuit. According to a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, immigrants are supposed to be deported or released within about six months. AP
Arizona saw deportations drop by 12 percent PHOENIX: Arizona has seen a nearly 12 percent drop in the number of immigrants deported so far this year, according to new federal statistics. The newly released data showed that in 2013 close to 35,000 people were deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's operations in the state, Arizona Republic reports. The decrease comes as President Barrack Obama has been under growing pressure from immigration advocates and some members of Congress to ease up on record deportations. Nationally, the country saw a 10 percent decrease from the previous year and the first time deportations dropped since Obama took office in 2009. ICE officials say one of the reasons the agency deported fewer
people in 2013 is that the agency is focusing more attention on catching and removing serious criminals, whose cases take more time. An increase in the percentage of Central Americans being apprehended at the border after crossing illegally also has reduced overall deportation numbers because they take more time to deport than Mexicans, ICE officials said. But ICE officials emphasized that 98 percent of the 368,644 people deported last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, fit into the agency's priorities of removing criminals, recent border crossers and repeat immigration violators. ``These results clearly demonstrate that ICE is enforcing our nation's laws in a smart and effective way,'' acting ICE Director John Sandweg said in a recent conference call with reporters. -AP
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46 India Post
January 3, 2014
Mass. immigrants horrified by war in native Syria LOWELL, Mass.: Wadia Khabazeh, a Syrian immigrant, knows how violence can tear lives apart. She didn't learn that overseas as some may assume. When she lived in her hometown of Sednaya, a Christian city a few miles north of Syria's capital Damascus, she said the country was at peace - a delightful place to live. She has stories of neighbors walking in through doors without knocking to eat and visit with friends, of family members helping one another out and grand Christmas celebrations held every December with a tree decorated outside the Convent of Our Lady, one of the oldest monasteries in the world. It didn't resemble any of the images broadcast on international television, of war-torn cities with bloodied streets, mutilated civilians and collapsing buildings. Khabazeh came to Lowell some 20 years ago with her parents who
were looking to start a better life. She graduated from UMass in 2003 and pursued a career as a multilingual interpreter. She started a fam-
ily, and took trips back home to visit her beloved nation. Then, in November 2008, Khabazeh's husband was stabbed
In this photo taken Dec. 22, 2013, Father Leonard Faris, right, poses in Lowell, Mass. with Wadia Khabazeh, who worries every day about family members still living in her hometown of Sednaya, Syria. Father Faris is helping Khabazeh to raise money for a Syrian relief fund to give aid to families like hers.
Fears of immigration from EU spark political firestorm in UK Cont'd from Page 44
The work restrictions use quotas to limit the number of lowskilled Romanians and Bulgarians who can take jobs in Britain and requires them to obtain a ``worker authorization document'' before taking a position. Those who work without proper papers, and employers who hire them, face fines and prosecution. Those restrictions - similar to those in place in several other EU
general election in 2015. The relaxation of work rules has become a hot button issue in Britain, but has not provoked similar passions in Germany, France and other European countries, despite occasional tensions over the large number of migrants and complaints that the new arrivals are linked to a rise in street crime in major cities like Paris. Nobody knows how many Romanians and Bulgarians will actually come to Britain, and the gov-
``It's the fear of it rather than reality,'' said Simon Usherwood, a specialist in European politics at the University of Surrey. He said studies reveal that most EU migrants tend to be young, healthy and employed. countries - will be lifted Jan. 1, giving Romanians and Bulgarians the same rights as other EU nationals to live and seek work freely across Europe. Britain is bound by EU regulations to let the migrants work, and is powerless to extend the restrictions. That feeds frustration among those who feel Britain has given too much power to bureaucrats in Brussels. The turbulence comes as Cameron has promised a nationwide referendum on Britain's continued membership in the EU if his party wins the next
ernment has refused to provide an official estimate. But many Britons believe that the migrants will choose Britain over other EU members because it is seen to be a generous welfare state. ``The biggest issue is that some see Britain as a soft touch,'' said Victoria Honeyman, a politics lecturer at the University of Leeds. ``They assume people will want to come here because they'll get an easy ride here.'' Much of the anxiety can be blamed on the British experience in 2004, when Poland and other
former communist countries joined the EU. Officials had mistakenly estimated that several thousand would come, but more than 1 million Poles moved to Britain. Arguments that the influx of Polish workers has helped Britain's economy have not calmed worries of a second wave of eastern invasion, especially now that the British economy is much weaker than it was a decade ago. ``It's the fear of it rather than reality,'' said Simon Usherwood, a specialist in European politics at the University of Surrey. He said studies reveal that most EU migrants tend to be young, healthy and employed. The Center for Economics and Business Research said that continued immigration is one factor that will help Britain eclipse Germany as the biggest economy in Europe by 2030. That hasn't stopped British media from focusing on the poverty and unemployment in parts of Romania and Bulgaria. A favorite topic is the impoverishment of the Roma, or Gypsies, a minority that has endured centuries of discrimination in Europe. Roma are scattered across Europe, with the largest population in Romania. Tabloid stories have accused the Roma already living in Britain of a wide range of things, from trying to sell babies to eating cats. -AP
to death on the streets of the Mill City. Mazen Alwarad, a clerk at 7Eleven, was attacked outside the Chelmsford Street store when he provided a stranger with a cigarette and a light. The man, Luis Rodriguez, hurled an ethnic slur at Alwarad and an argument ensued. Rodriguez was sentenced to life in prison for Alwarad's murder. Khabazeh said her husband was just about to come off his late-night shift with about 19 minutes left to go. The holidays have presented a difficult time for Khabazeh and her children since then. Khabazeh is a single mother now with her 17year-old daughter, Linda Lutfi, and 8-year-old son, Kenan Alwarad, who was only 3 when his father died. Their sense of loss weighs heavily, but even more so now as they learn of the bloodshed in Syria. The country is in a civil war now in its third year. Khabazeh said as the violence escalates, she Skypes three or four times a day with her cousins, aunts and uncles, to check in. ``We're living in suspense every day,'' she said. ``We never know. We talk to them on Skype and you never know. You'll think, `Is a bomb going to come to their house today? I saw them on Skype this morning but now, I'm not sure.'" Activists in the Middle Eastern country estimate the war has led to the deaths of more than 120,000 people - millions have fled their homes because of the fighting,
seeking refuge in camps set up in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Khabazeh said her extended family members are under a constant threat of attack. Last November, her uncle was brutally murdered in Sednaya, likely by rebels. Her cousin and another uncle have also been reported missing for months, but she says her family is too proud to leave. ``It's just the place where we were born, where we grew up,'' she said. ``It's a very beautiful place. ... and it is something to be really, really proud of.'' Khabazeh said today she struggles to find comfort, but her church St. George Antiochian Orthodox on Bowers Street - is there for her family. The Rev. Leonard Faris said he continues to look for ways to supply humanitarian aid for those in need in Syria, touched by the Khabazehs' story along with many others. The church took up a second collection for their relief fund dedicated to Syria at a recent Sunday's Mass. Faris is now seeking to collect coats for children staying in refugee camps, freezing in exposed tents outdoors. Some of them, he says, have seen their own family members killed before their eyes. ``And that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,'' he said. ``Really, your heart goes out to these people.'' -PTI
7 Indians deported from Saudi for visa violation DUBAI: Seven Indian workers have been deported from Saudi Arabia for visa violation, reports said. Some of the workers violated visa regulations intentionally, while the rest were cheated by their sponsors. They were deported after being released from the Abha detention centre in Asir province, Arab News reported. Four of them flew home. "Of a total of 22 Indian inmates in the Abha detention center, only seven are eligible to return home," said Indian social worker Ashraf Kutichal. The Abha chapter of the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress paid 1,000 Saudi riyals (around USD 265) each for the release of
the expatriates as penalty for not being in possession of a valid "Iqama", a residency permit for expatriates in Saudi Arabia. Ashraf said the remaining 15 face various charges and would not
be allowed to leave the country. "We are very happy going back home. We faced a lot of difficulties...It was very cold inside the deportation centre, especially at night," one of the workers said. -PTI
India Post 47
January 3, 2014
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Upcoming Sat, Jan 4 • Discourses On Vedanta Venue: DISCOURSES ON VEDANTA, 8 Anthony Avenue, Edison, NJ 08820 Time: 9:30 pm Contact: 7324690799
Sat, Jan 11
Sat, Jan 25 • Saregamapa Live In Concert Venue: Resorts World Casino, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, New York, NY 11420 Time: 08:00 pm
Sat, Feb 08 • Gujarati Comedy Play 2
• Lohri Party 2014
Venue: Royal Alberts Palace, 1050 King Georges Post Road, Fords, NJ 08863 Time: 5:00 pm Contact: 551-221-7000
Venue: Hindu Temple Auditorium -NY, 143 - 09 Holly Avenue, New York, NY 11355 Time: 8:00 pm Contact: 347-989-6104
Sat, Feb 22
Sat, Mar 29 • Zakir Hussain and The Mas-
• Indian Classical Music Competition Venue: Marathi Vishwa Community Center, 143 State Route 35, Old Bridge Township, NJ 08879 Time: 11:00 am Contact: 862-222-0105
ters of Percussion Venue: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets, New York, NY 10001 Time : 8:00 pm Contact : 866-858-0008
January 3, 2014
Sat, Jan 4 • Take a Breath Bay Area ...
Fri, Feb 14 • Star Enterianment - Valentine Bash 2014
give a Gift to Yourself this New Year !!
Venue: India Community Center, 525 Los
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Coches Street, Milpitas, CA 95035
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Time: 7:00 pm
Time: 9:30 am Contact: 408-946-1468
Sat, Jan 25 • Tamil Manram Celebration Pongal Vizha 2014 Venue: Gale Ranch Middle School, 6400
Thu, Feb 20 • Seminar on Health Care Fraud 1050 Bayhill Drive - San Bruno, California
Time: 2:00 pm
Time: 9:00 am
Venue: 4800 Patrick Henry Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95054, 4800 Patrick Henry Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054 Time: 9:00 am Contact: 408-409-4325
Sat, Feb 15 • Uttarayan 2014 Venue: Royal Delhi Palace, 22323 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303 Time: 11:00 am Contact: 408-586-0006
Sun, Fed 23 • The Wedding Show for The Modern Bride Venue: Sofitel Hotel, 8555 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Upcoming • J K Yog Satsang and Bal Mukund Hindi Classes are held every 2nd and 4rth Sunday of Month Chicago Satsang Information: J K Yog, Chicago - Swami Mukundananda Venue: Clarion Inn/Waterford Banquets, Board Room, 933 South Riverside Drive, Elmhurst, IL 60126 Time: 3:30pm-5:30pm Contact: Ajay & Arti Chandhok @ 630-561-4807 Website: www.jkyog.org
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Sun, Jan 26 • Announcing Reiki-2
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Blvd, Norcorss, GA 30071 Time: 9:00pm
Vivekananda Vedanta Society • Sat Jan 11, Shivanam
Sat, Jan 25 • Maa Tujhe Salaam 2014 Venue: Shree Shakti Mandir’s Sumant Center, 1450 Huie Rd, Morrow, GA 30260 Time: 6:00 pm
Fri, Feb 14 • Cupid Calling ! Valentines Day Party. Venue: Shiana Impact Banquet Hall, Global Mall, 5675 Jimmy Carter Blvd,
Time: 04:00 pm
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Sun Jan 19, Swami Vivekananda Tithi Puja Time: 10:30 am Venue: Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago Contact: 708-301-9062
Mondays and Fridays • Free ESL - English as Second Language Classes Where: Metropolitan Asian Family Services Venue: 9015 N Milwaukee Ave, Niles, IL, Time: 10:30am to 12:30pm Contact: 773-465-3105
January 3, 2014
India Post 49
50 India Post
January 3, 2014
What the Stars Foretell but do not Compel FOR YEAR 2014
by Pandit Parashar
Continued from last week (August 23 to September 22)
ast experience and setbacks will help you make the right choices and stay away from troubles. Of course few mistakes made in the past could continue to drain you financially for first six months of 2014. But right after June you will bounce back and maybe even better than before and this time you will be standing on solid grounds. Jupiter's presence in house of career will keep you on the edge and ready to change given an opportunity. Working conditions will get tough forcing you to apply outside and closer to home. Efforts will show results in mid June and you will make a smooth change in career this year. Second half of 2014 is very promising in many way. Your assets will grow and you may buy another property this summer. Some of you may find very like minded and experienced people to launch a major project on hold for long time because of lack of finances. Bachelors will not have to look around anymore as they will find their soul mate after June. First six months will be a learning experience as you will start to recognize foes among friends as few people close who made big promises in the past will completely disappear from scene. You will become strong and tough once Rahu moves on your sign in July. People prone to blood pressure should keep an eye and try to stay calm especially in first three months of 2014.
(October 23 to November 22)
ransit of Jupiter in ninth, house of luck from June 19th and onward will be amazing. First six months it be a continuous battle and may require extra efforts to meet your commitments. Though the year will start with a positive note and enhanced spirits. All you need this year is , determination. You will need the attitude either now or never and the results will amaze every one in second half of 2014. Addition in the family will be accompanied by good luck and fortune. Jupiter's transit in ninth will bring you in company of a matured and religious person. Just being in touch with him will bring you wisdom and good luck. Rahu's presence in twelfth till July is tricky. You will be tempted to take big risk in order to become rich over night and such results could create dent in your earlier savings. Now on positive side, after June you will come across many great financial opportunities to make money in fair way. This may be a great time to peruse your educational dreams on hold for past few years. All you earlier investments will start to reap rich rewards and by the year ends, you will see enormous wealth in your possessions. Because Saturn still transiting house of expenses and losses, watch out for legal troubles, be extra careful when dealing with government or filing taxes and drive more carefully this year.
(September 23 to October 22)
t will be a very favorable year by all means. Most favorable planet Saturn will continue to occupy your sign and bring things under controls one by one. Secondly it's your tough attitude that will do rest of the magic. Construction on the land will be completed on time and you will move in quickly. For others buying a property for the first time becomes a reality in month of June. Try not to go for too old property this time. There is no harm in buying an old rental property. Once Jupiter moves in house of career in June, it's gonna cause major changes in career/ professional life. You will need to seek outside advice and enough moral support or will end up making the wrong or inferior choice. Your negotiation talents will be tested and if you can play your cards right you could really hit a goldmine in career. Dream job with lots of perks is within grip only if you are ready to relocate to a distant place. You will become very ambitious when Rahu moves in twelfth house in July. You will be shooting for Moon, just stay on solid grounds as you do not wish to loose what you have in order to gain what is beyond reach, if not impossible. Money wise you will stay comfortable, always finding reasons to spend on things needed or not. Play safe, hold your temptations and avoid borrowing too much in order to expand and you will do fine this year.
(November 23 to December 22)
ittle efforts and big rewards will be the theme this year. You will be happy and content the way things will shape up and opportunities will knock at your door. Right after January 15th, you should start to have the sense and positive feelings about the year ahead. Do not hesitate to accept the assignment overseas or to other end of country. There is a strong chance of an addition in the family in month of May for those looking for one. There is no slowing down this year as you will have one good idea after another and continue to find right team and resources to implement them. Finding the right partner and immediate marriage is also in the air for bachelors this year. Strong chances are that you will buy a property in July but may not live in it. You will be on the move in second half and may have to travel frequently for solely business purpose. February and March is auspicious to launch your plans. You will achieve great success in between April 15th and September 20th and will never look back. Don't be surprised when you receive more than anticipated from a litigation or an Insurance claim. You will become far sighted and keep putting money away without even close family member's knowledge. Respect elders and do not forget the people who helped in rainy days or the success will lead to big ego. (December 22 to January 19)
t will be a fruitful year by all means. An exalted Saturn in house of career will cause major improvements. Education you acquire by summer will immediately take you to a total different dimension.Chance of an addition in the family continue to stay strong till June 2014. Investments you make this year and especially in properties will turn profitable within this year. Money wise you will continue to grow and by the year end, you will have lots of money in savings. It will be a better year for people doing business overseas or are in the field of communication or sales. A narrow minded colleague will create some headaches and may even complain to superiors but will end up quitting the job himself in the month of April. In the beginning of year you may have to deal with some health issues but proper care will help cure problem forever. Saturn can also help you get favorable outcome in a law suit. You will have to stay alert and keep your eyes and ears open in year 2014 as opportunities will come quick and if prompt actions are not taken, you will miss the boat. After June 19th, there might be some change in partnership setup, there may be friction among partners. Spouse may also have some health issues,just remember that western medications will not help at all, only orthodox remedies like yoga, change of diet, homeopathy and herbal medicine will help.
January 3, 2014
What the Stars Foretell but do not Compel FOR YEAR 2014
by Pandit Parashar (February 19 to March 20)
(January 20 to February 18)
ransiting Jupiter in fifth will help you grow financially. Expenses will stay under controls and you may put a moratorium on new as well as unnecessary purchases by immediate family members. Issues involving a child will ultimately get resolved with the help of a matured and spiritual person. You will successfully implement your plans and keep marching towards financial freedom. Some of you may diversify or buying another franchise business around June. Value of stocks purchased last year will appreciate and you will not hesitate to dispose them off and put the money in savings in month of July. Saturn on the other hand will continue to occupy house of luck. People doing business overseas will benefit a lot from such Saturn. There will be at least three trips overseas in connection with business. Nature will change and more than one time you will go out of your way and help needy siblings or friends. You will turn down few tempting offers because they clash with your ideology. You will make connection with a successful politician and get some major work done with his help. Do not under estimate your other half, pay attention, your partner is full of very bright ideas this year. Think there is no letter I in "team".
hings will be little slow in the beginning but after June there will be some surprising developments in life. Professionally you will be on the top of this world in second half. Exalted Jupiter will bring confidence back and you will once again walk in social circle with your head high. People in business will be successful in recovering most of the money. Money you loaned to a friend will also come in full. You will be spending lots of money on your home and family member in first half but liability will suddenly disappear after June. Political connections made in past few years will come handy during 2014 and people with political aspiration will be appointed to some post this summer. Strong Jupiter will help you overcome all obstacles. Be humble and pay respect to elders and your life will flip around only for betterment and you will start to have the life and luxuries you always dreamed about. Saturn in eighth can give some health trouble requiring some kind of surgery. Do not be scared to go under the knife as problem will cured once for all. People looking for an addition will be blessed with one towards the end of 2014. If there will be problems, it will come from or because of a female this year.
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evotee: My son passed away in February. I was grief-stricken. I was disgusted with this life. I want to devote myself to spiritual life. But my duties as a grihini do not permit me to lead a retired life. Maharishi: Retirement means abidance in the Self. Nothing more. It is not leaving one set of surroundings and getting entangled in another set, nor even leaving the concrete world and becoming involved in a mental world. The birth of the son, his death, etc., are seen in the Self only. Recall the state of sleep. Were you aware of anything happening? If the son or the world be real, should they not be present with you in sleep? You cannot deny your existence in sleep. Nor can you deny you were happy then. You are the same person now speaking and raising doubts. You are not happy, according to you. But you were happy in sleep. What has transpired in the meantime that happiness of sleep has broken down? It is the rise of ego. That is the new arrival in the jagrat state. There was no ego in sleep. The birth of the ego is called the birth of the person. There is no other kind of birth. Kill the ego: there is no fear of recurring death for what is once dead. The Self
race is from God, and works in the depth of the soul whose powers it employs. It is a light which issues forth to do service under the guidance of the Spirit. The Divine Light permeates the soul, and lifts it above the turmoil of temporal things to rest in God. The soul cannot progress except with the light which God has given it as a nuptial gift; love works the likeness of God into the soul. The peace, freedom and blessedness of all souls consist in their abiding in God's will. Towards this union with God for which it is created the soul strives perpetually. Fire converts wood into its own likeness, and the stronger the wind blows, the greater grows the fire. Now by the fire understand love, and by the wind the Holy Spirit. The stronger the influence of the Holy Spirit, the brighter grows the fire of love; but not all at once, rather gradually as the soul grows. Light causes flowers and plants to grow and bear fruit; in animals it produces life, but in men blessedness. This comes from the grace of God, Who up-
remains even after the death of the ego. That is Bliss - that is Immortality. D: How is that to be done? M: See for whom these doubts exist. Who is the doubter? Who is the thinker? That is the ego. Hold it. The other thoughts will die away. The ego is left pure; see where from the ego arises. That is pure consciousness. D: It seems difficult. May we
D: Do we not see God in concrete form? M: Yes. God is seen in the mind. The concrete form may be seen. Still it is only in the devotee's mind. The form and appearance of God-manifestation are determined by the mind of the devotee. But it is not the finality. There is the sense of duality. It is like a dream-vision. After God is perceived, vichara commences. That ends in Realization of the
If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not now and here, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh, will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say, the Self is not reached. You are the Self. You are already That. The fact is that you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure Bliss. Attempts are
What is not permanent is not worth striving for
Recall the state of sleep. Were you aware of anything happening? If the son or the world be real, should they not be present with you in sleep? You cannot deny your existence in sleep.
proceed by bhakti marga? M: It is according to individual temperament and equipment. Bhakti is the same as vichara. D: I mean meditation, etc. M: Yes. Meditation is on a form. That will drive away other thoughts. The one thought of God will dominate others. That is concentration. The object of meditation is thus the same as that of vichara.
Self. Vichara is the ultimate route. Of course, a few find vichara practicable. Others find bhakti easier. D: Did not Mr. Brunton find you in London? Was it only a dream? M: Yes. He had the vision. He saw me in his mind. D: Did he not see this concrete form? M: Yes, still in his mind. D: How shall I reach the Self? M: There is no reaching the Self.
directed only to remove this ignorance. This ignorance consists in wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge consists in the false identification of the Self with the body, the mind, etc. This false identity must go and there remains the Self. Excerpted from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. The 134th birth anniversary of Sri Ramana Maharshi was observed on December 30.
lifts the soul, for if the soul is to grow God-like it must be lifted above itself. To produce real moral freedom, God's grace and man's will must co-operate. As God is the Prime Mover of nature, so also He creates free impulses towards Himself and to all good things. Grace renders the will free that it may do everything with God's help, working with grace as with
interest. As long as man loves something else than God, or outside God, he is not free, because he has not love. Therefore there is no inner freedom which does not manifest itself in works of love. True freedom is the government of nature in and outside man through God; freedom is essential existence unaffected by creatures. But love often be-
is the chief matter; when a man finds this within himself, he can let go externals. No law is given to the righteous, because he fulfils the law inwardly, and bears it in himself, for the least thing done by God is better than all the work of creatures. But here on earth man never attains to being unaffected by external things. There never was a Saint so
If man loves something else than God, he is not free To produce real moral freedom, God's grace and man's will must co-operate. As God is the Prime Mover of nature, so also He creates free impulses towards Himself and to all good things. an instrument which belongs to it. So the will arrives at freedom through love, nay, becomes itself love, for love unites with God. All true morality, inward and outward, is comprehended in love, for love is the foundation of all the commandments. All outward morality must be built upon this basis, not on self-
gins with fear; fear is the approach to love: fear is like the awl which draws the shoemaker's thread through the leather. As for outward works they are ordained for this purpose that the outward man may be directed to God. But the inner work, the work of God in the soul
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. - Lao Tzu Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. - Albert Einstein Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living? - Bob Marley All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better - Ralph Waldo Emerson Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. - Mark Twain When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'. - Erma Bombeck
great as to be immovable. Some people wish to do without good works. I say, "This cannot be." As soon as the disciples received the Holy Ghost, they began to work. Excerpted from 'Outward and Inward Morality,' a sermon by Meister Eckhart, German theologian of 13th century
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. - Albert Camus
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January 3, 2014
Afghan Mujahideen & J&K: How real is the threat?
here has been a serious concern, at times even a threat perception, that after the American withdrawal in 2014, the Afghan mujahideen would enter into J&K, as they did after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. How real is the threat? How relevant is the previous example to the contemporary situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and J&K? Does the contemporary political and security situation in these three regions along with the attention of international community provide a space conducive for the Afghan mujahideen to enter (on their own) or being pushed (by Pakistan) into Kashmir? Much of the Afghan mujahideen threat perception to J&K emanates from a perception that Afghanistan would unravel after 2014. In fact, it was the instability within Afghanistan in the early 1990s after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 which made the country unstable. This instability across the Durand Line also left Pakistan with a huge refugee
Threat from the Taliban to the government in Kabul may not be as grave as it was in the 1990s. Afghanistan is likely to witness an ugly stability and not an all out civil war between every faction population including a substantial mujahideen residue. A section within the Pakistani Establishment and ISI saw this as an opportunity to support the militant struggle taking roots at that time in J&K in the early 1990s. It was the opportunist use and abuse of the Afghans within Pakistan by the Establishment and its ISI which resulted in J&K witnessing the mujahideen. During that time, neither the mujahideen were infused with a jihadi spirit to establish a caliphate all over the region, nor did they want to fight for the cause of an independent Kashmir. They were used and abused by the Pakistani Establishment as mercenaries.
ANSF better trained & equipped In retrospect, it would also appear that the pumping of Afghan mujahideen into J&K did not support what Pakistan wanted to do; in fact, it became counterproductive, as there was at that time and in fact even today a substantial section within J&K that would abhor what the Afghan
D SUBA CHANDRAN
mujahideen did to the social fabric at that time. Second, is Afghanistan likely to be unstable after the withdrawal of international security forces (ISAF) after 2014? In this context, there is a misperception or cynicism that Afghanistan would collapse after the American withdrawal. Such a perception does not reflect the improved situation at the ground level. Today the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is much better trained and equipped than they were in the early 1990s. In fact, this is the best force that Afghanistan could have had in the recent decade in terms of numbers, training, equipment and more importantly motivation. On the other hand, ever since their inception, the Taliban today is perhaps at its weakest position in terms of numbers, second tier leadership, infrastructural support and motivation. Unlike the 1990s, there is no Taliban wave that could sweep province after province. In fact, the Taliban is using suicide attacks and IEDs as a major strat-
egy against the ANSF, rather than any coordinated conventional offensive. Clearly, the Taliban is on the defensive and is unlikely to run over the ANSF militarily after 2014. The above does not mean the ANSF would succeed to completely remove the presence of Taliban from the Afghan soil. Taliban would still remain an important threat for Karzai and any future President; but this threat from the Taliban to the government in Kabul may not be as grave as it was in the 1990s. Afghanistan is likely to witness an ugly stability and not an all out civil war between every faction. Third, the situation within Pakistan, and the relationship between the Establishment and Afghan militants are not the same today, as it was in the early 1990s. Thanks to the American support to Pakistan as a frontline state in the 1980s, there was an enormous clout that Islamabad and Rawalpindi had over the Afghan fighters across the Durand Line. Thanks to the infrastructural and monetary support, the Afghan mujahideen, especially the Pashtuns were totally at the mercy
of Pakistan in fighting the soviet troops. Pakistan could influence multiple Pashtun factions, arm them and provide them with sufficient financial support against the Soviet troops in the 1980s. Except perhaps Ahmed Shah Massoud, the entire Afghan mujahideen leadership was based in Pakistan.
Situation for Pakistan Today, the situation for Pakistan is totally different. The TTP, primarily led by the Pashtun fighters from the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) is waging a violent onslaught against the Pakistan Establishment. Except for the Haqqani network, the ISI seems to have lost its hold over the Pashtun Taliban. Even the links between Mullah Omar and Pakistan seem to be in a delicate balance, though the former is believed to station in Quetta. If Pakistan has to divert the Afghan mujahideen into J&K after 2014, which of the above faction is going to be used as a fodder to Islamabad's cause? Will TTP be ready to fight Pakistan's cause in J&K, when the group under its new leader Mullah Fazlullah is even more hostile to the Establishment? Will Pakistan push the Quetta Shura and Haqqani network after 2014 into Kashmir? Both these factions are likely to be pinned down in fighting the ANSF, rather than shifting to another region, especially J&K. Neither the Quetta Shura nor the Haqqani network is buoyed with a jihadi fervor to import their brand of Islam in the rest of world; rather, they would be keen to fight within Afghanistan. If Pakistan wants to use non-State actors, it would rather make use of the Lashkar network, rather than the Afghan mujahideen.
Space within J&K Finally, is there a space within J&K, that would accommodate Afghan mujahideen as a strategy? To a large extent, there seems to be a political approach, even if it means use of pressure and violence in the form of hartals and stone pelting, rather than any predominant support for militancy. The society within J&K does not seem to be inclined to allow militancy to take over and change the existing discourse vis-a-vis the State. Certainly, it is not looking for any external support from the Afghan Mujahideen. Based on the above, it appears that the threat from Afghan Mujahideen to J&K is exaggerated. The writer is Director, IPCS
Man of the Year
ntering into the last month of year 2013, Narendra Modi was the clear front runner for the Man of the Year title. Having started early, he had the Congress stalwarts worried as he tore into their fossilized and dynasty-centered politics drawing large responsive crowds. But close to year end, within a few weeks he has been pipped to the post by a rank outsider, Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Narendra Modi could still be the man staking his claim to the PM crown in the 2014 General Elections but the picture has changed a little with the entry of AAP in the political firmament. A former RTI activist and Anna Hazare aide, Kejriwal broke from his mentor over entering the political field. He had been taunted by those in power who had blocked the Lokpal Bill to join politics and try to change it from within. Hazare thought politics was a dirty minefield and good people should not join it. Kejriwal and those of his way of thinking in the Hazare movement chose to accept the challenge to enter this minefield and formed the Aam Aadmi Party, willing to dirty their hands in trying to change things. AAP has been placed in a very interesting situation in Delhi. Although only second in its tally of MLAs to the BJP, it has been forced by people power to form a government. The AAP aim was never to form the government but act as an outside force to change things. Although AAP does not have a clear majority, results show that it remained second in over 20 constituencies. Had it not been the Delhi people's fear of wasting their vote, it might have won a clear majority. This has been proved by the large crowds present at the open-air swearing in ceremony of AAP ministers at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi. At his provoking best, within two days Kejriwal has banished all security for himself and other government officials, travels in his small Maruti Suzuki Wagon-R, is setting up a hotline to trap corrupt officials and has begun audits of water and power departments. His next target is politicians and officials of the previous Congress government who were feathering their own nests and neglecting delivering welfare to the people by whom they had been elected. All this in spite of knowing that his government's days are numbered as it is supported by eight MLAs of the Congress who could pull the rug anytime. Curiously, the Kejriwal government might last some time. The Congress knows pulling down this government will draw the ire of an entire capital city if not the nation. For this reason, it may have to bear the indignities and insults and anti-corruption cases for some time. The BJP also wants to put up a nice face in view of the extraordinary support the AAP has been enjoying in Delhi and a supposed clean image it wants to project for the General Elections. Both veteran national parties have really no love for the AAP but will behave because hurting AAP at this time would be like hurting people who are likely to vote in the coming elections. Even if re-election is forced on Delhi, it would mean a return of AAP with double the numbers. Both the parties know this and so they might adopt a hands-off approach towards this new darling of the people party. In the short time at its disposal, if the AAP manages to deliver even on a few issues, it will transform the narrative of Indian politics. The whole nation has watched with interest the stunning electoral debut of AAP with many forming AAP units in the States. Even in adjoining Pakistan it is being seen as a model to follow. If indeed an AAP unit is set up in Pakistan, would it be called PAAP, that is Pakistan Aam Aadmi Party?
January 3, 2014
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