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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

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Friday, February 25 2011 | Vol. 30, No. 8

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This Week Inside:

Book Reading by Award Winning Fiction Writers

Students Display Proficiency in Shlokathon 2011

“No More Tears”Somi Ali’s NGO to help the Abused

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iFest Brings on The Silk Road to Houston

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Dr. Kalam to Visit Chicago in April

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To beat Shah Rukh Khan’s stunt on a desi cycle-rickshaw, Salman Khan decided to perform his stunts on tuk-tuk, the Thai auto-rickshaw, on Pattaya’s narrow lanes for Anees Bazmee’s “Ready” Two tuk-tuk’s blow up and Salman jumps into a new tuk-tuk.

Stellar Premiere Lineup Set for WorldFest 2011

Indians burn photographs of Ajmal Kasab, only surviving gunman of Mumbai terror attacks in Ahmadabad. An Indian appeals court Monday confirmed the conviction and death sentence for the only surviving gunman from the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which killed 166 people and derailed peace talks with neighboring Pakistan.

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s ’ n a h K n a m t l n Sa u t S ! Y SCAR

High court Upholds Kasab’s death Verdict

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A Site Finds Love in India


MUMBAI (TOI): The Bombay high court today upheld the death sentence to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab for his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead. ( Read Bombay HC’s judgment ) A division bench of the court comprising justices Ranjana Desai and R V More also dismissed the Maharashtra government’s peti petition against acquittal of two Indi Indians, Faheem Ansari and Sabaud Sabauddin Ahmed, accused of aiding the commission of the crime. Kasab, 24, the only one of the 10 perpetrators of the attack to be

captured alive, was sentenced to death by a special anti-terror court on May 6 last year. (Read: Cop, who fired at Kasab, happy after death penalty confirmation ) Ansari and Ahmed had been, however, let off for want of adequate evidence by the trial court. Kasab appeared briefly in the court through a video link wearing a white kurta with his head down. Kasab and his accomplices had landed at Budhwar Park in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008 night from Karachi by sea and went on a shooting spree at various city landmarks including CST railway terminus, iconic Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital and Nariman House, a Jewish outreach centre, leaving 166 dead and many more wounded.

Italy’s Avati brothers, Pupi and Antonio - recipients of the 2010 Career Achievement Awards - flank WorldFest Houston’s Founder and Chairman Hunter Todd at the Opening Night festivities last year at the AMC Studio 30. Photo by Krishna Giri

By Kalyani Giri HOUSTON: It is the festival that first recognized and feted the genius of film-makers in the stellar ilk of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, Ridley Scott, The Coen Brothers, and John Lee Hancock before they achieved international acclaim. This year as in the past, many an aspiring independent director/actor from over 37 nations will bring their dreams to the 44th WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in the hope that the festival’s magic at starmaking will work and earn them a place in that exalted upper echelon of cinema legends. WorldFest runs from April 8 – 17, 2011 at the Flagship AMC Studio 30 Theaters at Dunvale. “We will premiere approximately 60 new international and independent feature and 100 short films,” said Kathleen Haney, WorldFest’s Program and Artistic Director. “There will be six master classes in Film/Video Production and Distribution, an Opening Night Champagne Gala, A Remi Awards Gala Dinner, and a Regatta and Texas BBQ complete with Longhorn Steers and a sailboat race at the Houston Yacht Club,” she added. WorldFest offers 10 major categories, shorts and features, television commercials, music videos, screenplays, new media, television production, business films, experimental media, documentaries and

student endeavors. This year, there are several creative opuses that shall debut at the festival. Houston-based filmmaker Trisha Ray’s Sugarbaby, a movie set in Calcutta, will make its world premiere at WorldFest. Last year, Ray and partner San Banerje’s searing psychological thriller Bodhisattva, directed by Banerje and starring Bengali cinema stalwart Soumitra Chatterjee, was a runaway hit and went on to garner a Remi award and accolades at the festival. Movies from Asia are Hong Kong’s Far Away Eyes, a suspense film directed by Stanley J. Orzel, The Floating Shadow directed by China’s Jian Donsgshuo, a Sri Lankan period-drama Theja directed by Nilantha Hapanweera, and Where the Road Meets the Sun by Singaporean Yong Mun Shee. Houston made productions are the world premiere of Into the Wind II directed by Chris Page, a film that focuses on powered hand gliding; Moonbug directed by Nichola Bruce; Playing House directed by Tom Vaughn, a movie shot in Houston. At a reception held at the La Colombe d’Or on February 23, Hunter Todd, visionary founder of WorldFest Houston announced that the Port of Houston was sponsoring the regatta. For more information about the film festival and the calendar of events, visit

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011


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Skipping Rote Memorization in Indian Schools By Vikas Bajaj PANTNAGAR (NYT): The Nagla elementary school in this north Indian town looks like many other rundown government schools. Sweater-clad children sit on burlap sheets laid in rows on cold concrete floors. Lunch is prepared out back on a fire of burning twigs and branches. But the classrooms of Nagla are a laboratory for an educational approach unusual for an Indian public school. Rather than being drilled and tested on reproducing passages from textbooks, students write their own stories. And they pursue independent projects — as when fifth-grade students recently interviewed organizers of religious festivals and then made written and oral presentations. That might seem commonplace in American or European schools. But such activities are revolutionary in India, where public school students have long been drilled on memorizing facts and regurgitating them in stressful year-end exams that many children fail. Nagla and 1,500 other schools in this Indian state, Uttarakhand, are part of a five-year-old project to improve Indian primary education that is being paid for by one of the country’s richest men, Azim H. Premji, chairman of the information technology giant Wipro. Education experts at his Azim Premji Foundation are helping to train new teachers and guide current teachers in overhauling the way students are taught and tested at government schools. For Premji, 65, there can be no higher priority if India is to fulfill its potential as an emerging economic giant. Because the Indian population is so youthful — nearly 500 million people, or 45 percent of the country’s total, are 19 or younger — improving the education system is one of the country’s most pressing challenges. “The bright students rise to the top, which they do anywhere in any system,” Mr. Premji said over lunch at Wipro’s headquarters in Bangalore, 1,300 miles south of Uttarakhand. “The people who are underprivileged are not articulate, less self-confident, they slip further. They slip much further. You

the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Although the results in Uttarakhand are promising, they also suggest that progress will be slow. Average test scores in one of the two districts where the foundation operates climbed to 54 percent in 2008, up from 37.4 percent two years earlier. (A passing mark is 33 percent or higher.) Still, only 20 of the 1,500 schools that the foundation works with in Uttarakhand have managed to reach a Dhananjay, 10, sketches during a group story-telling session at the basic standard of learning Nagla elementary school. Within India, there is widespread recognition as determined by compethat the country has not invested enough in education, especially at the tence tests, enrollment and primary and secondary levels. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan for The attendance. Nagla is not New York Times one of the 20. “We are working with the kids with 64 percent in India. compound a problem of people Premji said he hoped his foun- who were neglected before,” said who are handicapped socially.” Outside of India, many may dation would eventually make a D. N. Bhatt, a district education consider the country a wellspring difference for tens of millions of coordinator for the Uttarakhand of highly educated professionals, children by focusing on critical state government. “You won’t see thanks to the many doctors and educational areas like exams, cur- the impact right away.” The Premji Foundation helps engineers who have moved to the riculum and teacher training. He West. And the legions of bright, said he wanted to reach many more schools in states where the governEnglish-speaking call-center em- children than he could by opening ment has invited its participation ployees may seem to represent, private schools — the approach — a choice that some educational to many Western consumers, the taken by many other wealthy In- experts criticize because it seems to ignore fast-growing private dians. cheerful voice of modern India. schools that teach about a quarter Premji, whose total wealth But within India, there is widespread recognition that the country Forbes magazine has put at $18 of the country’s students, includhas not invested enough in educa- billion, recently gave the founda- ing many of India’s poor. Narayana Murthy, a friend of tion, especially at the primary and tion $2 billion worth of shares in Mr. Premji and chairman of Infohis company. And he said that he secondary levels. In the last five years, govern- expected to give more in the fu- sys, a company that competes with Wipro, said he admired the Premji ment spending on education has ture. Those newly donated shares are Foundation’s work but worried it risen sharply — to $83 billion last year, up from less than half that being used to start an education- would be undermined by the way level before. Schools now offer focused university in Bangalore India administers its schools. “While I salute Azim for what free lunches, which has helped and to expand and spread proraise enrollments to more than 90 grams like the one here in Ut- he is doing,” Mr. Murthy said, “in tarakhand and a handful of other order to reap the dividends of that percent of children. But most Indian schools still per- places to reach 50 of India’s 626 munificence and good work, we have to improve our governance.” form poorly. Barely half of fifth- school districts. Mr. Premji says his foundation The effort’s size and scope is grade students can read simple would be willing to work with unprecedented for a private initiatexts in their language of study, according to a survey of 13,000 rural tive in India, philanthropy experts private schools. But he argues that schools by Pratham, a nonprofit say. Even though India’s recent government schools need help education group. And only about rapid growth has helped dozens of more because they are often the one-third of fifth graders can per- tycoons acquire billions of dollars last or only resort for India’s poorform simple division problems in in wealth, few have pledged such a est and least educated families. Mr. Premji, whose bright white arithmetic. Most students drop out large sum to a social cause. “This has never been attempted hair distinguishes him in a crowd, before they reach the 10th grade. Those statistics stand in stark before, either by a foundation or comes from a relatively privileged contrast to China, where a gov- a for-profit group,” said Jayant background. He studied at a Jesuit ernment focus on education has Sinha, who heads the Indian office school, St. Mary’s, in Mumbai and achieved a literacy rate of 94 per- of Omidyar Network, the philan- earned an electrical engineering cent of the population, compared thropic investment firm set up by degree at Stanford.

At 21, when his father died, Premji took over his family’s cooking oil business, then known as Western Indian Vegetable Product. He steered the company into information technology and Wipro — whose services include writing software and managing computer systems — now employs more than 100,000 people. He remains Wipro’s largest shareholder. While the foundation has been welcomed by government officials in many places, the schools in Uttarakhand provide a glimpse of the challenges it faces. After visitors left a classroom at Nagla school, an instructor began leading more than 50 fifth-grade students in a purely rote English lesson, instructing the students to repeat simple phrases: Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good night. The children loudly chanted them back in unison. Another teacher later explained that the instructor was one of two “community teachers” — local women hired by a shopkeeper to help the understaffed school. Although under government rules Nagla should have nine trained teachers for its 340 students, it has only four. Underfunding is pervasive in the district. But so are glimmers of the educational benefits that might come through efforts like the Premji Foundation’s. Surjeet Chakrovarty, now a 15-year-old secondary school student, is a graduate of Nagla and still visits his old school regularly. The son of a widower who is a sweeper at a local university, Surjeet aspires to become a poet and songwriter — something he attributes to the encouragement of his former teachers at Nagla. “My teachers here gave me so much motivation to write,” he said. One of those Nagla teachers, Pradeep Pandey, shared credit with the Premji Foundation, and its assistance in developing new written and oral tests. “Before, we had a clear idea of the answers and the child had to repeat exactly what we had in mind,” Mr. Pandey said. “We can’t keep doing what we did in the past, and pass them without letting them learn anything.”

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Reading by Award Winning Fiction Writers HOUSTON: The 2010-2011 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series—the 30th anniversary season—presents a reading featuring two award-winning fiction writers, Gish Jen and Chitra Divakaruni, on Monday, March 7 at 7:30 pm (doors open 6:45). The reading will be held in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby Street, 77002. Tickets are $5 general admission, available online at For more information, visit or call 713-521-2026. Chitra Divakaruni, born in India, is the award-winning author of 16 books, including novels, short stories, poetry collections, and children’s books. She has been published in more than 50 magazines, included in more than 50 anthologies, and translated into 18 languages. Her short story collection Arranged Marriage received an American Book Award, and two of her novels The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart were made into films and were national bestsellers. About her latest novel, One Amazing Thing, which focuses on a diverse cast of characters trapped together during a crisis who tell each other stories to lift each other’s spirits, Booklist writes, “A storyteller of exquisite lyricism and compassion, Divakaruni weaves a suspenseful, astute, and unforgettable survivors’ tale.” Junot Diaz calls her “a brilliant storyteller; she illuminates the world with her artistry and shakes the reader with her love.” Divakaruni is a faculty member at the UH Creative Writing Program. Gish Jen’s work is known for its “trademark compassion, laser-like attention to detail, and quirky wit” (Publishers Weekly). She is the author of four novels and a book of short stories, including Typical American, a New York Times Notable Book which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, Mona in the Promised Land, and The Love Wife. Her latest novel World and Town is a humorous and moving story about starting over. Ron Charles in The Washington Post writes, “What a pleasure to read this smart, warm novel from Gish Jen [which] manages in its amiable, unhurried way, to consider the challenges of immigration, the limits of scientific rationalism, and the sins of fundamentalism.” The Washington Times calls it “a beautifully written novel of wit and insight and great

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an awardwinning author and poet. Photo: Neela Banerjee

generosity. Jen’s novels do not come along often, so this is not one to miss.” The reading will be followed by an onstage interview, conducted by fiction writer and UH Creative Writing Program alumna Miah Arnold, and a book sale and signing, where audience members can meet the authors. This reading will be presented in conjunction with Inprint’s annual young professionals mixer, Books & Bellinis. Now in its 30th year, the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series ranks among the country’s leading literary showcases. The Series is presented in association with the UH Creative Writing Program, the Alley Theatre, and Brazos Bookstore. Since 1980, the Series has presented more than 300 of the world’s great writers, including winners of 49 Pulitzer Prizes, 45 National Book Awards, and six Nobel Prizes. The low admission cost of $5 has not changed in 30 years, thanks to generous underwriting support from The Brown Foundation, Inc., Weatherford International, and the National Endowment for the Arts, “which believes that a great nation deserves great art.” Inprint also receives in-kind support from the Alley Theatre, United Airlines, KUHF 88.7 FM, and Bank of America Center, as well as support from the Texas Commission on the Arts and The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. Special thanks to the Chinese Community Center and the Organization of Chinese Americans Greater Houston for providing promotional support of this reading. - Your Source for News!

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011


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david Plays for His Friends By jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: Even though he is in the wealth management and financial planning business, David Raj doesn’t hide his passion for music, especially playing with his rock band. He has often played at fundraisers and other charitable causes in the desi community, usually picking up the tab for he own expenses. But once a year, for the past seven years, David plays just for his clients. “Its my Client Appreciation Dinner,” he said as he prepared to go onstage at the Stafford Civic Center on Constitution Ave on Saturday, February 13 in front of 150 of his clients and friends, a little less than the 250 or so who have come out in the past few years. Dinner was served by Dakshin and a free wine and soft drinks bar was laid out too. The performance started with

some Country tunes played out for some dancing on stage, including a line dance; followed by David’s group, featuring the talented guitarist David Vargas, playing many of their own compositions and also some favorite classical rock pieces for an hour. The show closed out with local talents singing Indian filmi hits for another hour.

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

extravaganza of c culture and celebrities c

By nand Kapoor ian ChiCaGo Correspondent CHICAGO: Chicago’s 28th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration, “One Vision, Many Voices,” is all set to rock South-Asian communities on February 26, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, 9300 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, in Rosemont, Illinois. On offer are unique blends of shows, comprising not just performance in classical music, classical dance, and Bollywood, but also includes awardees and celebrities from diverse ethnic presentation. Annual Lunar New Year Celebration is celebrated every year as an Asian American Coalition Chicago initiative to enrich the city’s cultural fabric with performance of renowned artistes from across the United States. This year Indian community is back celebrating this largest extravaganza. This year’s festival would open with, “A Traditional Auspicious Opening of An Event - With Diyas and Dhol Beats”. The cultural entertainment highlight of the evening are features, “Unity in Diversity: From Kathak to Bollywood,” presented by the ‘Asian American Coalition of Chicago 2011 Performing Artists.’ It is directed and choreographed by Gauri Jog, founder of the Indian Dance Company, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation located in Schaumburg, Illinois. Approximately 90 artists will participate in the show Every year a different Asian community takes turn playing host of the Lunar New Year gala. This year it is the Indian American Community, which has thrice before (1988, 1995 and 2003) held the gavel for the Asian Pacific American community’s most important event of the year. “This is the 28th Annual Asian American Coalition of Chicago Lunar New Year Celebration. The Indian American Community is honored to host this Gala once again, and I am humbled to serve as Chair,“ said Nadja P. Lalvani, 2011 Chair of the 28th Annual Asian American Coalition of Chicago Lu-

nar New Year Celebration. “There are so many examples of Asian Americans who have defied the typical stereotypes and risen to the top of virtually every U.S. industry, from the arts and entertainment to fashion to business and technology,” continued Lalvani. “Our culture, family life and the unique experiences and challenges that we bring to the table continually redefines American society. This year’s theme,“One Vision, Many Voices” embodies our journey leading to the next level of impact – we must come together as a community to embrace, support and lift up all Asian Americans called to public service through elected office,” she said. An event held on this grand of a scale only once a year, Lunar New Year is traditionally the single largest organized annual event in Chicago’s Asian American community. According to the latest Census, the Asian Pacific American population in Illinois numbers approximately 428,213, or 3.4% of the statewide population. Numerous dignitaries traditionally attend the festivities, including the Asian consular corps, elected and appointed governmental officials, political candidates, top business and corporate leaders, decision-makers at Chicago’s major media press outlets, and everyone who considers himself or herself a mover and shaker in and around, or for, the Asian Pacific American national movement. Tickets are available at $750 per table of ten or $75 each for this popular star-studded event. More than 1,100 people are expected at the black-tie optional gala. Reception, open microphone, exhibits and silent auction begin at 5 p.m.; opening ceremonies are at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner, entertainment, cultural entertainment and awards ceremonies until approximately 10 pm. Tickets are available on a first-funded, firstseated basis. forpPurchase information visit or call M. Bhaskaran at 630-217-6190 or email at m_bhaskaran@

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, FeBrUAry 25 , 2011 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O




Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

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s students of Vedic Heritage school s demonstrate confidence and Proficiency in s shlokathon 2011

By Chittor raMaChandran HOUSTON: It turned out to be an extraordinarily rewarding February the thirteenth for me and nearly a hundred others. To write about this day is very gratifying due to two reasons. One, because I belong to the generation of immigrants who could only dream of a place like Vedic Heritage School (VHS) when we raised our children. Two, because this event proved how fundamentally vital a program like VHS is for the future of Hinduism in the western world. The event coined Shlokathon 2011 was the annual presentation of the junior students of VHS who are enrolled in the organized teaching program that follows Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s “PoorNa VidyA” Vedic Heritage Teaching syllabus. This curriculum has been adopted by a majority of educational organizations (Hindu temple schools, Bal Vihar, Chinmaya Mission, etc.) throughout the world. This program is intended to teach Hindu scriptures and instill Hindu values in children. Shlokathon 2011 was a competition to demonstrate the recitation skills of the memorized lines learned in class. The remarkable performance of students can be credited to the dedication of Smt. Chitra Kumar, the program director, and instructors Dr. Bhavani Iyer, Dr. Venkat Prasad, Smt. Vyjayanthi Vivek and Smt. Kiran Parthasarathy. “The children are fun to watch; in every session, they amaze us as they grasp difficult Sanskrit words,” said one of the teachers. Mrs. Chandan Pillai drives a long way to bring her children religiously to the temple for every class. She has great admiration for the dedicated volunteers and feels fortunate for the rare opportunity and knowledge the children gain from these classes. Several other parents expressed similar sentiments. Kalyana mandapam turned into an extended family room, and most parents were equipped with gadgets to capture a few precious moments of their children. The three-year old Rahul sitting

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ery rhymes, there is a meritorial distinction. What is being taught at VHS has added advantages. Sanskrit is the language of mantra, the spiritually empowered sounds. One can notice that PoorNa VidyA has carefully included shlokas appropriate for the age group which are recognized to be the maha mantrams in praise of the divinity. Even if the children do not learn the meaning of what they memorize, these shlokas will give them spiritual strength throughout their life. As they continue to learn and progress to higher levels, VHS students are taught and encouraged to learn more serious subjects. The teachers at VHS program are particular to make sure that their students pronounce each word perfectly. It is very critical that one should avoid minor errors in words especially when children learn multiple languages. Mrs. Devi Menon commented on the vital role Sri Meenakshi Temple plays in spreading the message of Sanatana dharma in the youth. She suggested that the best way for the families to thank the temple for this great opportunity is to encourage their children to recite what they learn in the class in front of the deity. Apart from the educational and spiritual value of learning shlokas, the excitement and self- confidence generated in the children by Shlokathon makes it truly a worthwhile and rewarding event. More information about the VHS teaching program is available at http://

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on his father’s lap was thrilled to prompt his sister loudly when she appeared to stumble on a word he learned from her. It was pleasing to watch the absolute confidence in even the beginner-level students as they sat in front of the microphone. What they most likely did not know was that they were about to utter a few lines, even the great sages were unable to fathom. When the adorable four-year old Rishi was reciting mahavakyams from Brhataranyaka Upanishad, an exhilarating delight arose in the audience. The precise pronunciation of Priya was a sure bet in every Sanskrit word she recited, perfectly adhering to the meter (Anushtup Chhandas, a term in Sanskrit poetry to gauge the rhythmic aspects), when she sang Nama Ramayana. Her passion and training in classical music helped her deliver the lines in an attractive raga taught by her instructor. While delivering the memorized stanzas from Aditya Hrudayam with ease and clarity in subtle Anandabhairavi, perhaps neither Shriya nor Murali truly realized the greatness of this ancient text from Valmiki Ramayana (Yudha Kandam: Sarga 113). These are only a few random examples from an aggregate of more than sixty participants. What was interesting is the fact that almost all the participants were yet to celebrate their 10th birthday. Although shloka recital by the children in this competition may appear to be similar to the way children memorize and recite nurs-

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

sri Guruvayurappan Temple Immerses devotees in a s swell of Akhanda Nama Japam

By Chittor raMaChandran HOUSTON: As Houston is regaining the sweater-free way of life, the God-fearing have started filling the parking lots religiously on Sunday mornings. An unusually large crowd of Hindus assembled this past Sunday at Sri Guruvayurappan Temple as early as 6pm to attend Ganapathi homam. The lustrous and lighted oil lamps, flame and the fragrance of burning ghee, incense, camphor and sandalwood and ardent bhakthi created quite a divine ambience in the prayer hall. Verses of Bhattathiri’s Narayaneeyam were falling on the ears in the form of P. Leela’s familiar voice. Her Sarangam gave the same soothing bliss of Saraswathi yaamam as M.S. Subbulakshmi’s Venkateswara Suprabhatham would have. Temple volunteers prepared for the big day of Akhanda Nama Japam- meaning uninterrupted chanting. As the meaning of Akhanda Nama Japam indicates, this is a demonstration of self-discipline and a pledge that the four walls of the temple would resound with the mahamantram: ‘Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare’ for 12 hours of the day. The community of Sri Guruvayurappan devotees deserves praise for accomplishing their pledge with sincere dedication. The word ‘Hare’ has come from ‘Haran’ which means ‘to take away’ or ‘to end’. So, ‘Hare Krishna’ means one who is requesting Krishna to take away his sorrows,

shortcomings, failures, and pains. According to Hinduism, Krishna and Rama are the two incarnations of Sriman Narayana. Being a temple built for worshipping Sri Guruvayurappan (Sri Krishna), this temple follows all Vaishnavaite traditions like regular Parayanam of Vishnu Sahasranamam, Narayaneeyam, Bhagavatham, and Vedam, and rituals like Sudarshana homam, archana, abhishekam, nivedyam, utsavam, etc. These are only a few of the established notable and primary pooja rituals. A constant flow of devotees continued throughout the day averaging 50 at a given time and a total of nearly 300 people. Each devotee spent an average of two hours at the temple to join the chanting. During the Akhanda Nama Japam, devotees strove to focus their minds on their favorite deity with sounds of the mahamantram surrounding them. Although the expectation of Akhanda Nama Japam is to arrive at a transcended stage, in a large crowd of people,

much effort and spiritual practice is needed to accomplish it. Sri Guruvayurappan Temple makes all efforts to adopt and spread several basic values of Hindu traditions in everyday life. One such gesture we regularly notice at the temple is annadanam. Many generous devotees sponsor annadanam regularly. The event on February 19 was accompanied by sumptuous meals for all devotees throughout the day. According to Thaithareeya Upanishad, annam (food) is prana (life) because no life can originate or sustain without food. Hence, by giving food, one is giving life in a tangible form. Bhrgu Valli (a section of Thaithareeya Upanishad) describes how the son of Varuna, Bhrgu, obtained realization of Brahman through repeated tapas under his father’s guidance. This section describes the greatness of donating food (feeding the hungry), as well as the greatness of food. It says that since food is the support for all forms of life, food should not be insulted (annam na nindat) or declined. This concept is also valued in other major religions which give much importance to charity. As the temple will be completing its first year since its inception in a couple of months, it is enjoying a respectable status among several other reputed religious and cultural centers of Houston.

HOUSTON: For the past three years ICC Houston and IHA (International Hindi Association), have brought a refreshing, enriching and fun-filled entertainment to the residents of Greater Houston. Celebrity poets from India are invited to come and perform in dif different cities of USA once a year. The program was a huge success all last three years and is expected to be packed with excited listeners this year too. This year the evening of April 2nd will feature poet (Geetkaar) Vishnu Saksena and Praveen Shukla. These artists are going to

make the audience reminiscence India’s political, social and cultural themes with a rip-roaring humor, a little satire and maybe some heart- warming patriotism, weaving their intellect and idiocy with such deft that the result is pure delightful sprinkle of poetic jokes. Both poets have performed extensively all over India, on radio and TV, and conducted kavi-sammellans in many south Asian and European countries and in North America. . Chaired by the Immediate Past President of ICC Swapan Dhairyawan and IHA Director of Hous-

ton Sangeeta Pasrija, the program will start at India House at 5:30 pm, after the social hour which starts at 4:30 pm and will continue non-stop for 3 hours. The program is made possible by the combined efforts of ICC committee members, IHA Committee members and many ICC volunteers and is sponsored by MD & Associates LLP, United Central Bank, Club 24 and Madras Pavilion. For tickets ($50 for premium, $20 for regular each including snacks) contact Sangeeta Pasrija at 281-788-9750 or Swapan Dhairyawan at 281-382-0348.

Icc cc Presents Annual Hindi Hasya Kavi sammellan s

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011


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Jilted in the U.s., A site Finds Love in India

By hannah seliGson NEW YORK (NYT): IN 2008, three young guys in Manhattan started, a dating Web site focused on twentysomethings. They sought to set themselves apart by enabling members to set up group dates: One member, serving as a point person, could arrange a date — a movie, say, or a picnic in Central Park — with a group of other people and thereby take some of the awkward edge off of typical dates. During the company’s first year, the three founders — Kevin Owocki, now 26, Daniel Osit, 29, and Adam Sachs, 28 — hustled to get the word out, hosting parties, blitzing college campuses with fliers and doing a big push on Face-

book. By the end of 2008, Ignighter. com had 50,000 registered users in the United States — a decent number, but not big enough to put it on the digital dating map, which is crowded with competitors. “People just didn’t get right away what the site was when we told them about it. They thought it was a site for orgies,” says Sachs, who is in charge of business development and media relations for the site. Then, in April 2009, while checking statistics about visitors to the site, Osit, who is in charge of marketing, noticed that there was a lot of traffic from Singapore, Malaysia, India and South Korea. Sachs recalls: “We didn’t pay

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any attention to it at first. “We thought, ‘That’s interesting — now let’s plan our next event in New York City.’ ” But by June, they couldn’t ignore the traffic from Asia — specifically India, which by then had more visitors than any other Asian country. Ignighter was gaining hundreds of users a day, mainly from New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. “In January 2010, we made the decision that we are an Indian dating site,” Mr. Sachs says. And now, with almost two million users — and 7,000 more signing up daily — Ignighter is considered India’s fastest-growing dating Web site. To put it another way, it gets as many users in a week in India as it did in a year in the United States. Next month, Ignighter will open an office in India and hire a dozen local employees. The company has stopped developing its American site, though it remains online. As funding heats up for Web start-ups in general, some investors have taken notice of Ignighter and its potential in India. This month, the company closed a $3 million round of financing. Forty percent of its investors are based in India, including Rajan Anan-

The founders of are, from left, Daniel Osit, Adam Sachs and Kevin Owocki. Photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

dan, Google’s top executive in India. In the United States, Ignighter is backed by Point Judith Capital, Founder Collective and GSA Venture Partners, among others. “Here we are, a few Jewish guys sitting in Union Square, and we might have accidentally revolutionized the dating scene in India,” Sachs says of himself and Osit. They and Owocki, who is

charge of Web development and programming for Ignighter, have never been to India — though they now plan to make frequent trips there. IT’S not all that unusual for start-ups to find that their market isn’t what they intended, said Sean Marsh, co-founder of Point Judith Capital in Providence, R.I., and an investor in Ignighter. But not all entrepreneurs choose to listen to what the market is telling them, he says. Even though an Indian dating site wasn’t their original concept, the Ignighter founders decided to pivot at a crucial moment, he says: “You have to be flexible as an entrepreneur and bend to the market and consumer feedback.” So how did this happy accident happen? Osit suspects that young people in India read about the service on technology blogs like Mashable and TechCrunch. From there, it grew in part because dating in India is still in a somewhat embryonic stage. It happens in big cities like Mumbai and Hyderabad, but in many less cosmopolitan parts of India it’s still considered taboo for unmarried men and women to be seen in public together. Many couples, as they have for centuries, meet through arranged marriages that their relatives orchestrate. But for some in this generation — those raised on a diet of MTV and social networks — there’s a desire to find new dating scripts, or just to hang out with a coed group. The group dynamic also makes going out an easier sell to parents, who are worried about safety and propriety. That’s what led Rohan Bhardwaj, 23, to set up a profile on Ignighter last month. He works in New Delhi at Exclusively.In, an online store that sells Indian luxury goods, and, like a majority of his peers, he lives with his parents. He heard about Ignighter from his boss in the United States — the chief executive of Exclusively.In, which shares office space with Ignighter in Manhattan — and from his cousin in Canada. Bhardwaj formed a group with two friends and, as the point percontinued on page

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Ignighter: A Dating Site

son or “ambassador” of that group, asked out two twentysomething women from New Delhi. They arranged a date at a karaoke bar, and their second date was at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Saket District Center. Since then, he has gone on a couple of more dates with that group. Bhardwaj says he isn’t trying to find a wife through the site. For him, that’s a long way off. “There’s a particular age when people have to get married, which is around 26 or 27,” he says. And he is not yet sure if he will go the traditional route to find a wife, adding that his parents are open to the idea of a “love marriage” that is not arranged. For people like Mr. Bhardwaj, Ignighter is filling a social niche that allows them to combine social networking and offline “friending” without the pressure of the matrimonial sites that dominate India’s online dating landscape. “Group dating is a great opportunity that didn’t exist before,” Mr. Bhardwaj says. But in a culture where dating can still be a relatively new concept,’s success may depend, in part, on which way the social winds blow. “I’m seeing the change happening. There are enough people in the new generation who want to have their own identity and meet people on their own terms,” says Sasha Mirchandani, 38, an investor in and managing partner of Kae Capital, a venture capital firm in Mumbai. “If I were 27 or 28 and single, I would go online to date,” says Mr. Mirchandani, who is married. Ignighter, unlike the matrimonial sites, puts socializing and dating directly into the hands of young people. Matrimonial sites thrive in India. and others like

Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

Still, she acknowledges that the site could draw young people who move to a big city, like Chennai, and don’t yet have a social circle and are seeking an alternative to an arranged marriage. Mishra is skeptical that a site like Ignighter. com can succeed. “Indian women don’t even In New Delhi, Rohan Bhardwaj, left, used Ignighter to plan post their own profiles group outings instead of typical dates.Photo: Daniel Etter on matrimonial sites; their fathers and brothers for The New York Times do,” he says. “So, I can’t and Bharat Matrimony all imagine Indian women posting their profiles have millions of users. The online matrimo- on a dating site, and to have a successful datnial industry in India is estimated to generate ing site, you need to have women.” Still, 40 $63 million a year in revenue and has tens percent of Ignighter’s members are women, of millions of registrants, according to Em- according to the company. The next phase for is to see Power Research, a market research firm. After hearing about Ignighter from friends whether it can be an Indian dating site based and colleagues, Navya Shreejogi, 26, an en- in India. All three founders agree that they gineer in Chennai who lives in an apartment can’t run the business by remote control with two roommates, logged on, created a from their office in Union Square. So each basic profile and went browsing. She was will spend a couple of months a year at the a little disappointed. “It’s more teenagers soon-to-be-opened Indian office. “All of our decisions so far have been very who are still in college and just want to have fun,” she says. “The guys didn’t seem mathematical,” Sachs says. Osit adds that serious.” Shreejogi, like many in her gen- their biggest cultural blind spot is in undereration, isn’t that worried about meeting standing male-female interaction in India. someone. She’ll leave that to her parents. “I’m sure there are a lot of subtleties there “I don’t need to bother finding a mate,” she that we need to grasp,” he says. When Mr. Osit, Mr. Sachs and Mr. Owocki says. “My mom and dad have been searching for a husband for me for two years, and go to India for the first time next month, I have lots of friends and colleagues I can they will set up an office, arrange for the go out with on the weekend, so I don’t need company to be incorporated, and hire emthis kind of site.” She also says she and her ployees. But they will also see how young female friends are concerned about safety people interact, becoming students of the issues connected with meeting strangers Indian social scene so they can make some decisions about the site: through online dating.


Should they remove the “Seinfeld” references on the site that were meant for an American audience? Should they translate the site into Hindi? If so, how do you say “group dating” in Hindi? Should they ask users for their caste? What kinds of offline partnerships, if any, should they form? And what role should mobile devices play? They’ll also have to navigate serious logistical issues. A case in point is that 70 percent of payments that subscribers try to make can’t be processed because of problems with the credit card system. (Members are allowed to keep using the site free when this happens but can’t send messages.) Mr. Sachs says he hopes they can work out these glitches upon their arrival. In India, the site works the same way it did in the United States. Groups chat through messaging, and arrange to go out on dates to movies, restaurants and clubs. The median age of users is 23.5; the average group size is four people, Mr. Sachs says. The site is still trying to determine the best pricing; a yearly subscription fee now runs $10 to $45. On the Indian version of the site, a virtual-goods marketplace is prominent, selling virtual gifts like cricket balls and naan bread — to be sent to other users as a way to flirt. “It’s been a big hit,” Mr. Osit says. “We sell about 10,000 gifts a month.” AS for how many group dates Ignighter. com has helped to arrange in India so far, the founders don’t know. They’ll start doing user and market research later this year. At this point, it’s not clear whether many of the group outings lead to romance, but the site is clearly striking a chord. “Young people aren’t using to get married,” Mr. Bhardwaj said. They’ll still go to the tried-and-true matrimonial sites for that.

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011


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“No More Tears”- An NGO to Help the Abused

son behind this? I think I was not fit for the Bollywood world. To be there you need a charismatic personality which I think I lacked. Since my childhood I was a philanthropist. I was 14 when I went to India, I went there just to satisfy my hobby, I never had any passion to become a big star or be successful in the glamor world. I felt that the face and body will fade away with time but education will remain with me forever. Be it Hollywood or Bolllywood both the worlds are superficial. Somi Ali in her office, No More Tears, a Non- I have spent Governmental Organization started to help abuse 8 precious victims of families around the world years there, some digging into what she is do- did 10 films, met some very good ing these days. I got to know inter- and some very bad people, learned esting things about her only when a lot, but what I did best was to she came to a party organized by come over here and complete my EEG Entertainment. Come lets education. Today I am running an hear what she has to say about her NGO “No More Tears.” You earned a degree first for disappearance from Bollywood, every job you did, be it jourstraight from the horses mouth. The temptation of Bollywood nalism or film making, why is glamor lures star actors, yet you that? Rightly said... I feel whatever left the golden world of Bollywood and chose to do gradua- you do, give it your best. I am intion instead. What was the rea- terested in Human Behavior and By Rachana Srivastava MUMBAI: Bollywood actress Somi Ali has acted in about 10 hindi films. Yaar Gaddar, Aao Pyar Karen, Krishna Awatar, Aandolan, Teesra Kaun and Ant are to name some. After doing a great job in these films she suddenly disappeared from the Industry, so I did

Humanity and so earned a degree done with her I am sure there will nay color or religion. Wherever for that. At the same time I wished be many more like this in Amer- people are suffering and are victo do Journalism and film mak- ica. This thought made me start tims of abuse and pain, No More ing so I educated myself for that the “No More tears” organization tears will help them. Whoever as well. and has been named so by my wants to join us can do so on our You have made a documentary mother. I kept saying, “no more..... To run such an organization, on teenage suicide, why did you no more....” while deciding upon choose this subject? a name and then my mother said finance must be necessary, play From 14 till 18 is quite a tender “No More Tears.” and since then it an important part? Yes, true, money was required age, children get affected by good has been No More Tears. I think it to start it but when I came from and the bad easily. At this age chil- is an appropriate name. dren under go lots of pressure in How many people have been India I had 67 thousand dollars, studies, from parents and friends, helped by your organization so they were soon finished and then my father gave me an so sometime they additional ten thousand fail to bear the dollars. Apart from that I burden and comhave 200 volunteers who mit suicide. Its help our organization quiet a sensitive regularly. We have not and important taken any help from the topic but is hardly government as yet. We brought into light. are planning to apply for I wanted to bring aid in order to make an the subject to ashram (a refuge home) light and create an for the home less . awareness among Is it true that when the public, so I you are kind and genmade this film. Victims of abuse, these children were rescued from their How did the home. Abuse happens in all types of families, Somi Ali erous towards the N o n - G o v e r n - says and it knows neither religion nor color. Somi Ali, mankind you earn lots mental Organi- ex Bollywood Actress is using her prowess to make this of blessings? True, but let me tell you zation, “No More world a safer place. a truth, I am quiet selfish. Tears” happen? I do all this for myself, it soothes I had a Bangladeshi neighbor, far? one day I saw some blood on her I have completed my 62nd case me deep down in my heart. When forehead. I realized she was a prey before coming to Dallas by God’s I go to bed at the end of the day, I of domestic violence. She was be- grace in three years. I have helped feel relaxed and good, that I have ing ill treated by her husband for 62 children and women who were helped someone in need. Any profound message to our the last 10 years. His father also being ill treated physically menreaders? abused her sexually. I helped her tally and sexually. Yes, I will just say: “Neither be out, took her to the police, got her We have served and helped peodivorce done, brought a home for ple from every part of the globe. unjust to anyone nor bear injustice her. I then realized if this could be Domestic violence does not have done toward you.”

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

movie review: 7 Khoon maaf continuing to (metaphorically and literally) challenge the social mores and morality. And men! Right now, Bhardwaj, like his fave filmmaker Kieslowski, is the only guy in Bollywood who can imbue cinematic texts with deep philosophical undertones. However, the spiritual dimension in 7KM seems clumsily shoved in as a twist in the tale to shock-surprise the audience than leave them with

By naMrata joshi MUMBAI (Outlook): Ruskin Bond’s Susanna’s Seven Husbands is an intriguing tale of a rich woman whose seven husbands, most of them fortune hunters, die mysteriously, one by one. Speculation about her involvement in these deaths is offset by her many acts of kindness and charity. There’s another hint of a persuasive idea implicit in Bond’s short story: what does a woman really want? What does she look for in a man? What drives her love for him and her impatience and hatred against him? What makes her opt for and out of relationships? I hoped Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf , a screen adaptation of the story, would explore this aspect at length. That the seven “murders” would ultimately reflect on the “saat pheras” of marriage from a woman’s perspective. I clung on to that hope as one character in the film proclaimed: “Jaldi jaldi shadi karo, aaraam aaraam se pachhtao (get married

in a hurry and regret at leisure).” As Susanna’s (Priyanka, confident but made to age abruptly with bad, patchy makeup) marriages started coming undone I could sense an emerging pattern. The unbearable possessiveness, the unforgivable recklessness, the painful sexual abuse, the heart-breaking betrayal, the sheer lack of love and the blatant exploitation--each of her six relationships seemed to underline the problems we would have faced with the men in our lives at some point in time. Yet these embedded messages somehow don’t reach out at large. Instead the audience keeps questioning the motivations of the protagonist. Why the hell does she do what she is doing? How can she so easily jump from one relationship to the next? Is she plain mad or pure evil? Ah those poor, poor men! The womanly voice gets heard only to get summarily drowned out. The shade of black in her is made to eventually find a spiritual redemption instead of

any thoughts and beliefs to ponder on. It’s the reason the film itself doesn’t go beyond being a tepid thriller just as the lead character stops short of being anything more than a psychopath. Perhaps Bhardwaj loses his way in the film’s telling. He, undoubtedly, is one guy who “understands” cinema. He can narrate stories with a fluid, rhythmic visual flair. Yet the setting, costumes, look in 7KM get


so overwrought and orchestrated that they scream Sanjay Leela Bhansali than Bhardwaj. Here’s a film which could have played out like a simple yet profound fable, somewhat like Blue Umbrella. Instead you find the opulence of the dreamlike frames clashing unnervingly with references to actual events like Operation Bluestar and Babri Masjid. An uneasy mix of the real and the surreal!

matrimonial ad?

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, FeBrUAry 25 , 2011 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011


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Houston iFest Brings on The Silk Road

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: The Houston International Festival has been busily promoting this year’s theme spotlighting The Silk Road, the route that the ancient explorer Marco Polo took through India, China and Turkey, and brought its message to the Indian media at a luncheon arranged by two of its Board members, the renowned dancer and guru Ratna Kumar and Vale Subramanium, a former ICC President and a current Trustee. At the luncheon held at Mayuri restaurant on Westheimer and Founatinview, the media met with the publicity, marketing and events directors and heard from Interim President Rick Mitchell explain the focus of this year’s iFest which will be held over the two weekends of April 30 and May 1 and May 7 and 8. As in past years, the festival will be held downtown around Tranquility Park, City Hall and in Sam Houston Park. “Ever since iFest featured the highly successful India themed celebration in 2005, there has been a resurgence of interest by attendees,” said Subramanium as he made a few comments. His remarks were echoed by Mitchell as he noted that the India Zone had become a permanent part of the Festival’s annual lineup. “And we always count on the support and draw of Ratna Kumar,” he quipped, “to bring in a few hundred people every year!” Kumar has been a Board member for many years and

Houston iFest publicity and event team with iFest interim President Rick Mitchell and Board members Rathna Kumar and Vale Subramaniam at the media luncheon. Photo: Jacob David

has been instrumental in bringing many participants from local desi dance schools to perform. This year’s theme will include a China Zone featuring reproductions of the Great Wall, silk and calligraphy exhibits and a traditional teahouse. The India Zone will have a reproduction of the Gateway to India and arts and cultural exhibits and a Hare Krishna exhibit on aryuvedic medicine and traditional dress in a village setting. Turkey will be featured with a reproduction of the Trojan Horse and a traditional village dwelling. In a fitting homage to Polo, a reproduction of a Venetian bridge and gondola will terminate the journey through this centerpiece called the Chevron Silk Road Liv-

cial works with Asian-American themes through funding from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Also featured on the remaining days will be Mayapuris, hand drummers playing devotional music; Atash from Austin; Red Baraat from New York; the Little Earth Orchestra featuring Iraqi Rahim Alhaj; David and Chandra Courtney; Moodafaruka; Audio Telepathy – a sitar and tabla group; Golden Dragon Acrobats and Bollywood Blast! Produced and choreographed by Ratna Kumar. Mitchell, a former music reporter for the Houston Chronicle, showed his passion and knowledge for World Music by playing pieces of selected cuts from CDs

of these groups. Not to leave the international spirit flag off during the weekdays, the iFest will bring The Silk Road to local area schools through demonstrations, performances, educational activities, exhibits and a comprehensive Teacher’s Curriculum Guide that provides background to the countries that Marco Polo touched during his travels and other pertinent details on the people and the culture. The chapter on India has been provided by the Indian Consulate. For more information on the iFest or to volunteer, contact Wendy Slaton at or Kayler Williams at kayler@ifest. org

ing Museum. The atmosphere for the two weekends will also be infused by performances from musicians from the region, some of who are flying in on special nights just for the festival. On Friday, April 29, the Kronos Quartet featuring Afghan rubab player Homayun Sakhi, Afghan tabla player Salar Nadeer and Uzbek percussionist Abbos Kosimov. The Houston Grand Opera will perform two spe- A rendering of the Living Village showing the China, India and Turkey Zone

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

IACF Supports Community Outreach of Avance Houston

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: The Indo American Charity Foundation was ably represented at the Avance Houston 2011 Gala celebration held on Friday, February 11 at the Hilton Post Oak as Board members David Raj, Surender Talwar and Jawahar Malhotra joined President Anu Bala at the sumptuous event that featured a large silent auction and a casino night. The event was attended by nearly 400 people and featured Mayor Annise Parker as a guest speaker. Avance, from the Spanish word “advance” or “progress”, is a nonprofit group that was founded in 1973 in Texas and serves at-risk families by promoting better parenting, school readiness, literacy, health and personal development. Avance’s current Executive Board

includes Chair Martha Rost, Vice-Chair Gloria Luna, Treasurer Rudy Martinez and Secretary Tanya Easter. The Gala honored CHOICE! Energy’s CEO Javier Loya and his wife Lucinda and presented the Roy Barbosa Award to Octavia and Maria Avelina Garcia. Javier is also a minority owner of the Houston Texans football team. The entertainment for the evening was by the popular Latino band, Mango Punch. IACF has supported Avance through a $2,000 donation this year. “This is part of our efforts to develop ties with the community at large,” said Bala, “and show that the Indo-American community is willing and able to do our part to serve the people of Houston.”

Indo American Charity Foundation was ably represented at the Avance Houston 2011 Gala celebration held on Friday, February 11 at the Hilton Post Oak as Board members Jawahar Malhotra (left), David Raj, and Surender Talwar and joined President Anu Bala.

Short Film “Kavi” Up for Oscars

HOLLYWOOD: After last year’s Oscar success of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Smile Pinki” (the other Oscar-winning film about poor children set in India, for Best Documentary), it will be a quiet year for South Asia at this year’s Academy Awards. The one exception is the documentary, Kavi, about child slavery in India, produced by an American as his USC film thesis. Nominated in the short film (live action category), the subject of the documentary is Kavi, a boy in India who wants to play cricket and go to school, but instead he is forced to work in a brick kiln

as a modern-day slave. Unsatisfied with his fate, Kavi must either accept what he’s always been told, or fight for a different life even if he’s unsure of the ultimate outcome.




Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

Empty Words

Words and images can change perceptions, but they also expose the contrast between illusion and reality. Governments that do not work often try to clutch at words in order to fool not only the people but also themselves. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government seems to have done just that by creating a new brand for West Bengal. On the face of it, the slogan of the new brand — “Shobar Bangla (Everyone’s Bengal)” — is meant to showcase the inclusiveness of the state’s culture and society. As such, it is supposed to attract all, especially investors, to Bengal. Mr Bhattacharjee would like to project it as a promise, but impartial observers and the people themselves know this to be an illusion. The reality is a far cry from the brand’s promise. Bengal today is a deeply divided society which draws the line in every field between ‘us’ and ‘them’. This division is the result of a pernicious political culture bred and nurtured by the Left during its three decades in power. Anyone who was not with the Left was branded an enemy of the people. The schism took root during Jyoti Basu’s long reign and Mr Bhattacharjee did nothing to change things. So deep-rooted has the division become that Mamata Banerjee now uses it with a vengeance in her race for Writers’ Buildings. This reality makes all attempts by the government to create an illusion a futile exercise. Ironically, the government’s attempt at brand-building comes at a time when it is daily losing control of things. Political parties, including those ruling the state, compete with one another in derailing the administration. Not infrequently, they do so in violent ways. Its timing makes the brand’s promise utterly unrealistic. The government simply does not have the time to even initiate the reforms that are desperately needed. The elections are around the corner and even the most brazenly optimistic among the ruling Marxists do not really expect another term in office. It is even doubtful if the government has the will that can make a meaningful change possible. Worst of all, both the government and the Opposition seem to have lost their belief in Bengal. Having brought the state to this sorry pass, they probably believe that nothing much will change for Bengal. It is this collective collapse of faith that makes the reality so grim. A new brand now is worse than a cruel joke. It was the last thing that Bengal needed from an inept regime. Calcutta Telegraph

No PM is an Island

If this is the age of television news, then Dr Manmohan Singh clearly belongs to another era. During the 1998 elections, we were doing a news program on a day in the life of the economist-politician. It was his first electoral battle and the reticent academic in him was clearly troubled by the intrusive nature of the camera. Already tired of being jostled by Congress workers on the campaign trail, he appeared reluctant to come out of his shell. ‘Privacy’ in the 24x7 news whirl may seem incongruous for someone in public life. A Laloo Prasad Yadav will take you to his cowshed, even brush his teeth in front of the camera, and an Obama family holiday will be splashed across the front pages, but Manmohan guards his personal space zealously. Last year, we managed to get the prime minister to do a Children’s Day special with his wife Gursharan Kaur on the lawns of 7 Race Course Road. The feisty lady broke into a song at one stage, the best the prime minister could manage in response was a weak smile, barely visible under the grey beard. the prime minister hasn’t really done a single detailed interview in almost seven years in power. In his first term, he did two major press conferences at Vigyan Bhavan and then stopped them altogether. He did another one last year, but then again retreated behind the forbidding walls of government. Maybe at age 78, it’s too late for Manmohan to transform himself from the self-effacing bureaucrat-politician to an effective mass communicator. - Rajdeep Sardesai, Outlook India


online edition:

The Slow March of the American Idea By Pradeep Anand The twentieth century was a major turning point in the history of humankind. These hundred years saw several changes in the global economic and political systems that increased the power of the masses. In many parts of the world, the major institutions of the nineteenth century that controlled the world economy and its people—monarchy, empires and religious organizations—gave way to democracy and secularism. Armed with democracy, capitalism scored a major victory over communism. These changes did not come about peacefully. World economic powers, especially current members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), were dragged into two major world wars and several other regional “conflicts” to shake out the old systems. More than a hundred million lives were lost during the twentieth century, to deliver a world of global prosperity that has been unmatched in history. People of other countries made this early transition. For example, India was unique in its early, peaceful transition to this new world because of three pillars on its democratic foundation. The first was the nonviolent idealism of its leaders, who fought for its independence from British colonialism. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru provided the leadership that made the transition could have been bloodless, except that it triggered the largest migration of people in history, dislocating tens of millions and sacrificing millions of lives. The second was an existing infrastructure of governance that went all the way down to its villages, where elected “elders” ran a village council— the Panchayat. The third was India’s long history of its people of different religious pursuits living together (sometimes amicably, sometimes with violent skirmishes), which created and evolved a grass roots sense of secularism that later laws embodied. Ethnocentricity was built around culture, not religion. Due to these transitions, today, the middle class in many parts of the world lives a quality of life that only the royalty and the landed gentry

could enjoy a mere hundred years ago. Unfortunately, these benefits are enjoyed by populations of countries that joined the new economic and political bandwagon early. Billions of people around the world are still stuck in paradigms that ruled the nineteenth century. However, unlike the not too recent past, telecommunications has made knowledge and information instantaneously available, with pictures and videos. Global trade and the low cost of airtravel have allowed a greater intermingling of people and their ideas and experiences. Today, these billions of disenfranchised people are not as ignorant as our forefathers

were a hundred years ago. They have remotely experienced a whiff of democracy and capitalism and now want to own the whole package. Today’s monarchs and dictators, even benevolent ones, have to look back at the trends of the recent past and recognize that the power of this historical juggernaut is infinite. Resistance to it is futile. Despite near-term victories, the outcome is inevitable. Democracy, capitalism and secularism will win. The United States was the pioneer of this idea, but unlike others who break new ground, it has benefited from it, because of the collective brilliance of its founding fathers, its constitution, the three branches of its self-governance model and its adherence to free enterprise. During the nineteenth century, the US resolved its own internal differences with a Civil War and focused on improving its laws and the lot of its own people. It was a slow transition but the trajectory was in the right direction. Henry Ford’s mass production model and other innovations ignited

the country’s move from an agrarian economy to an industrial one that enriched and empowered the individual, which created the mass consumption revolution. This consumer-powered growth pushed the US up the global economic charts but it remained inward looking. Separated from the rest of the world’s continents by two massive oceans and an isthmus, with little access to timely information, it and its population remained an isolated island of prosperity, building on its military, economic and political strengths. After its reluctant entry into World War II and the victory of the Allied powers, the US became a hesitant leader of countries that chose its winning political and economic models. It led one side of the Cold War that tried to stem the spread of communism militarily. However, its victory came from the economic and political fronts. As the people behind the Iron Curtain— Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union—traveled abroad and learned about alternate economic and political models that celebrated the individual and selfdetermination, in one infinitesimal historical moment, communism disappeared from these countries. Communism had already marginalized religious institutions and monarchy. Unopposed, democracy and capitalism marched in triumphantly. However, more than sixty-five years after the end of World War II and almost twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, we, as a people are still inward looking, still naïve about the nature of global winds of changes that the American model has initiated. The riots in the countries of the Islamic Crescent constitute ripples in the waves of a tsunami of a transition to a political and economic system that celebrates the individual. However, unlike other historically recent movements to democracy and capitalism, this change will have to contend with a strong religious institution. Secularism and “separation of church and state” are not foregone conclusions, as they were in recent examples of change in governments.

IndoAmerican News Founder: Dr. K.L. Sindwani Editor: Pramod Kulkarni Business Manager: Jawahar Malhotra Marketing Manager: Krishna Giri Community Reporter: Kalyani Giri Community Editor: Manasi Gokhale Administrative Manager: Vanshika Vipin Marketing & Food Reporter: Jacob David correspondents Chicago: Nand Kapoor ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. The deadline for advertising and articles is 5 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 262, Houston, Texas 77036. Tel: 713-789-NEWS or 6397 Fax: 713-789-6399, email:, website:


continued on page 17



Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

Dr. Kalam to Visit Chicago in April

By nand KaP aPoor Ian ChIC Ian h ago CorresPondent CHICAGO: Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, eleventh President of India, has graciously accepted the Indo-American Center’s (IAC) invitation to visit Chicago in late April. “The IAC and its Board of Directors are honored to host Dr. Kalam’s visit. Chicago has a great opportunity to meet an individual whose service as Indian President was only one among a wide array of significant contributions he has made worldwide. We are eager to bring the community together in celebration of these,” said Jay Luthra, IAC Executive Director, as saying in press release. Activities planned for his Chicago visit include the following: a public reception in his honor hosted by IAC; an essay contest for high school students addressing Dr. Kalam’s concerns with science, the environment, and public policy; a question and answer session with local high school students; and a collegiate luncheon for college students. These activities are a testament to the wide-ranging influence Dr. Kalam’s work has had throughout his lifetime. From his 2002-2007 presidential terms to his continued leadership and advocacy of his 2020 vision for India, Dr. Kalam has helped pave the way for India’s emergence as a world leader. In addition to his success in politics, Dr. Kalam has achieved global stature in several other fields including science, technology, and education. He has been Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology and professor at several Indian universities and research institutions. Highly respected as a scientist and engineer, he is particularly known for his work on the ballistic missile and space rocket technology, which have brought India into modern space research. His honors include America’s top engineering prize, the Hoover medal, for his work in public service contribution as an engineer. Dr. Ralph Nicholas of IAC’s Board of Directors expressed his excitement about the visit: “Dr. Kalam does great honor to Chicago and to the IndoAmerican Center by visiting us. As President of India he was known as ‘the People’s President’ who opened the doors of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to all. As one of India’s foremost scientists he has been a leading advocate for young people and advancing

scientific education. As an ardent advocate for protecting nature he has championed the environmental movement. He brings many impor important messages to us at the same time: about India’s tremendous advances, about science, about youth, and about the environment.”

More information about his visit, including the public reception and tickets, is available at The Indo-Amer Indo-American Center is a not-for-profit community service or organization serving the South Asian immigrant population. The mission of the Indo-American Center is to promote the well being of South Asian immigrants through ser services that facilitate their adjustment, integration and friendship with the wider society, nurture their sense of community, and foster appreciation for their heritage and culture.

The Slow March of the American Idea continued from page 16

This changeover will not be quick and easy. It will be troublesome because of these countries’ ownership of a vital resource— hydrocarbons. It also controls the flow of goods between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Wars have been fought to protect resource flow and we should be prepared for oil price increases and a decline in the quality of our lifestyles, until this transition is complete at major countries of this crescent. Laggard dominoes will fall in quick succession as they did in Eastern Europe. More worrisome is the inevitable transformation in China. If practical wisdom prevails in that country as it did in the 1970s, a peaceful transition to a new economic and political system will occur. However, if the global economy sinks into another

recession because of turmoil in the Islamic Crescent, Chinese leader leadership will be challenged sooner than later. Those who possess power will sacrifice others to preserve it. A common distraction is to stir nationalistic emotions by pointing to an external enemy, accusing them of aggression. The United States is a convenient target for distracting the Chinese population. I hope that the match that Mohamed Bouazizi struck to set himelf on fire in Tunisia does not inadver inadvertently set the world on fire, dragging the US into playing the role of the Fire Marshal once more. Pradeep Anand is president of Houston-based management consulting firm Seeta Resources. He is the author of An Indian in Cowboy Country: Stories from an Immigrant’s Life.


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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011



Annual Gateway- A Spiritual Retreat

By atul agrawal BRUCEVILLE, TX: The Hindu Students Association (HSA) hosted its annual Gateway on February 4-6 at Bruceville, TX. The location was chosen specifically to help students and young professionals escape their daily lives. Nearly 120 students from all across Texas gathered at this one campsite for one purpose, to invest in themselves. Just as the body craves food, so does the mind. While many of us ignore it, the hunger pains will soon surface. To satisfy these appetites, HSA brought a buffet of spiritual teachers that would definitely quell this insatiable hunger As the old proverb goes, “you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”. Gateway had a similar goal in mind. Rather than just helping everyone calm their mind and grow spiritually once, HSA wants to inspire people to carry this throughout their lives. Satguru Bodhniathaji and Swami Senthilnathaswamiji from the Hawaiian Monastery, Bramacharya Girishji from Chinmaya Mission attened the event. One key aspect of any intervention group is to provide its members a social network to help each other. A single pillar under the weight of the world is more likely to collapse than several pillars bur bur-

HIndu Students Association members

dening the same weight. Similarly, Gateway provides a social network to help people grow spiritually in these troubled times. People can fundamentally change the way they think of their religion or can apply their religion when they have a meaningful conversation amongst people with the same interest. Gateway was one weekend, just a mere three days out of the whole year. Yet there were students from UT Austin, Texas A&M, UT Dallas, University of Houston, University of Ar Arkansas, Bellaire High School, Taylor

High School, Clements High School, and young professionals from Arkansas, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Maryland gathered together at one place. I, as part of HSA’s national executive board, can only hope that the effects of this Gateway extend not only beyond Bruceville or our respective homes, but pervade throughout the globe. In the end, we in HSA can only provide a platform for a youth to step on. Now that the platform is laid out, I am excited to see how the youth will step up and strengthen our community!

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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

Slog. Get Your Hands Dirty to Get Ahead in Life from a classroom. “I learnt to drive a car. But my first job required me to drive a little tempo. The steering wheel was different, and so were the gears. I thought I knew how to drive – but I couldn’t even get the tempo started.” The world outside the classroom is a very different place. That’s as true for engineers and MBAs and accountants as it is for drivers. Get ready to get surprised. 3. Slog. Get your hands dirty. “I spent nights working as a cleaner. That’s when I learnt all about the insides of an automobile. Knowing

what’s under the bonnet has made me a better driver today.” The brightest marketing professionals in the country will tell you that they learnt their biggest lessons in the days they spent slogging in small towns selling soaps or colas. There’s no other way. If you want to be successful, work hard, dirty your hands – and go beyond your specific role. 4. Initially, what you learn is more important than what you earn. “In my first job, the pay was bad but the boss was good. He gave me opportunities to learn, make mistakes. I

banged his tempo quite a bit. While the dents were quickly repaired, the lessons I learnt remain firmly etched in my mind.” In your first job – don’t worry about pay packet or the size of the organization. Get a good boss. A good mentor. That’s priceless. 5. Don’t worry about which car you drive. Focus on being a good driver. “I always wanted to drive the best cars – but rather than complain about having to drive a tempo or a school van or the city transport bus, I focused on driving well. I told myself that if I do that, the good cars will come. And they did.” Now that’s a great lesson.

It’s not about the company. It’s about you. Do the best with what you have, wherever you are. Karunan spent 15 years struggling in odd jobs before landing a driver’s job in one of India’s largest companies. We could all benefit by staying focused on doing a great job – rather than worrying about the next job, or the next promotion. Do a good job. Success and happiness will follow. Inevitably. Those then are five fabulous life lessons from an unlikely guru. Follow Karunan’s advice and I guarantee they’ll make a difference to your career. And to your life!

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, do anything well, work hard, go beyond your specific role, success will follow

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By Prakash Iyer Hw is 58 years old, bespectacled with distinguished silver grey hair. He’s spent 25 years working for one of India’s most respected corporate houses. I have learnt a lot from him. But it is unlikely you would have ever heard of him. His name is Karunan. And he worked with me as my driver. Sometimes, the biggest lessons in life come from very unlikely sources. And as Karunan spoke to me one morning about his life and times, I thought young people would benefit from listening to what he has to say. Since Karunan will probably never be invited to deliver a convocation speech or a commencement address at a college, I decided to share those lessons with you. Here goes: 1. Getting a driving license does not make you a driver. “I was 18 when I got my license. But it was only after several months of driving a car that I actually learnt to drive, and became a real driver.” A license is only a permit – and not a stamp of authority. An MBA does not make you a manager. It is only after you spend several more years learning on the job that you truly qualify to call yourself a manager. Many young people confuse getting a degree as signifying the end of their learning. Wrong. It’s just the beginning. A degree or a diploma – the licence – simply marks you out as someone qualified to learn from real life experiences. It doesn’t make you an expert. 2. The real world is very different



Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011



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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

From Hollywood Extra to Bollywood Lead Prashant Kumar

MUMBAI (TOI): We’ve all heard of strugglers and their dreams but this young actor takes the cake for his sheer talent and determination to struggle it out and make a name and place for himself. New Yorker Prashant Kumar came to Mumbai to pursue a career in Hindi films without any contacts, film funding or lineage. His credentials whilst in America comprise from acting in community theatre to being a production intern to even being an extra in a Hollywood film that had Nicole Kidman in it. With little scope in the home land, he came to Mumbai and in a span of three years, he’s gone from playing a cameo in Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi to a supporting role in the recent horror Kaalo and now Prashant will play

the lead amongst veterans in a comedy film. Grapevine has it that a critically acclaimed director from 2010 has also signed him as the lead in a thriller. “I’m very happy with the way my career is shaping up. From being an extra in a Hollywood film to now, it has been a great journey and I have enjoyed every second of it. I’m looking to do some great work in Mumbai and want people to look at me as a fine actor who is handworking and dedicated to his craft,” he says.




Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011



A Scratched Record

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s detention ignites Pakistan, reopens old wounds

By aMIr MIr MIr Ir MUMBAI ( Outllook): When news about the detention of singing sensation Rahat Fateh Ali Khan at New Delhi’s international airport trickled in, the people of Pakistan turned apoplectic in unison. In the collective expression of fury was forgotten the cause of his detention—he had been nabbed whisking away $1.2 lakh in gross violation of Indian laws. And those who dared to point to his transgression were countered with speculative questions the white-hot anger spawned. Couldn’t the Indians have planted the money on Rahat? Couldn’t the authorities have confiscated the money and allowed him to board the flight? From there, it was only a small leap of imagination to reach the damning conclusion: it was an Indian ploy to slight Pakistan, defame its famous singer, and discourage Pakistani artistes from taking assignments in India. Rubbish theories, typically Pakistan, you are likely to mutter. For a second, though, imagine Islamabad detaining Amitabh Bachchan or Shahrukh Khan. Ordinary mortals who go into raptures at the sight of stars tend to believe their heroes are above thieving or breaking laws, even beyond the notions of good and evil. This

“What was Rahat thinking when he said he didn’t understand the rules? Why turn it into a IndoPak issue?” - Mustafa Qureshi, Film Actor

is also true of Pakistan’s love for Rahat. He’s no ordinary singer; his rendition of Sufi songs often has his listeners sway in ecstacy, to slip into pure bliss. And it’s he who is popularly perceived to have inherited the legacy of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, popularising a style of singing erroneously described as uniquely Pakistani. This is why interior minister Rehman Malik was quick to contact the Pakistani High Commission to intercede on Rahat’s behalf with the Indian authorities. Rahat may ultimately fly out of India, but his detention has brought to the surface the ineluctable bitterness that fresh attempts at India-Pakistan detente had sought to conceal. This particular incident especially rankles Pakistanis because India chose to treat harshly a singer whom it had so warmly embraced— recognising his prodigious talent, his admirable skills, and his mellifluous voice—despite his nationality. Yet, ironically, Rahat’s popularity in India has fanned conspiracy theories. It is claimed his spectacular rise in Bollywood has prompted jealous competitors, in connivance with the authorities, to hatch a diabolic plan to accuse him of money-laundering and tax evasion. Veteran classical singer Ustad Badar-uz-Zaman told Outlook as much. “If some Indian artistes want him to fail, then they should do it through competition—and not by using such mean tactics.” But this conspiracy also has a political

“When artistes like Rahat go to India to mint money, they must be prepared to lose respect and honour.” - Babar Awan, Pakistan Federal Law Minister

Imagined slight? Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, an idol in Pakistan, at a concert in Mumbai. Photo: Fotocorp/Outlook

undertone, insists Zaman. “There are elements who want to sabotage a growing people-topeople contact between India and Pakistan since artistes have done more than politicians to weave together loose threads between the two peoples.” Socialite and music aficionado Mian Yousaf Salahuddin says Indian singers too have spir spirited away money from Pakistan in hard cash. “When Indian ghazal singer Jagjit Singh came to Pakistan, he took Rs 10 million with him the way Rahat tried to,” he alleges. Salahuddin also alludes to cut-throat competition in the world of singers to explain Rahat’s plight. “More and more Pakistani singers are going to India seeking bigger markets. However, their popularity ignites jealousy in Indian singers, who resent the inroads of Pakistanis in the Indian film Industry,” Salahuddin told Outlook. It’s understandable why Pakistani artistes covet the Indian mar market. It provides a singer a following he or she can’t hope to command in Pakistan. And the greater the fan following, the fatter becomes his or her bank balance. A large fan following provides scope for public performance, which is becoming rarer in Pakistan because of the fear of Islamists, who consider music un-Islamic. Then, cutting an album in India has technological advantages. To top it, payment to artistes in cash means they don’t have to pay tax in India or Pakistan. As Indian singer Sonu Nigam once alleged, “It becomes their black money.” But payment in cash isn’t confined to Pakistanis only, argue singers, who claim Indian taxmen have made it a habit of targeting Pakistani artistes to set an example. Says music composer M. Arshad, “First, they targeted Adnan Sami and now Ratat Fateh Ali Khan. Why?” Adds another composer Faisal Rafi, “They should

first create a system through which Pakistanis can legally repatriate their earnings home.” The Indian system allows foreigners to repatriate their earnings in India after paying tax on it. This is why veteran Pakistani film actor Mustafa Qureshi refuses to believe in Rahat’s innocence. As Qureshi told Outlook, “What was he thinking when he said that he was a school dropout and did not understand rules and regulations? He told his interrogators that he had carried foreign exchange earlier as well, but it was never detected. What kind of defense is it? Why turn it into an Indo-Pak issue? It has nothing to do with Rahat being a Pakistani on Indian soil.” Agrees theatreperson Suhail Ahmed, “Really, there can be no excuse for violating the law of another land—anyone who does so shouldn’t expect expect special

treatment of any kind.” Contrasting views on Rahat were expressed in the social media as well. Yet even those who are critical of Rahat believe Indians are generally prejudiced against Pakistani stars. In support of their conclusion, they cite several examples— the harassment of cricketer Shoaib Malik days before he was to marry tennis star Sania Mirza, the property tax singer Adnan Sami had to cough up, the humiliation of Ghulam Ali by Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai, and the decision of cricket bosses to keep out Pakistani players from the Indian Premier League. The debate took a sharp jingoistic turn as federal law minister Babar Awan weighed in: “When artistes like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan go to India to mint money, instead of exploring their talent in Pakistan, they should be prepared to lose their respect and honour there.” For music lovers, though, Rahat will lose respect and honour only when he sings below par. Foreign exchange violations or tax evasions are not elements to judge music and its exponents by.


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Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

Bone Marrow Donation - A Life Giving Experience

By Riddhi Patel HOUSTON: The first time I heard about donating bone marrow was at a student talent show in the spring of 2004. Dr. Vijay Mehta was promoting registering in the South Asian community. The following week I went to the drive with a friend to register. “Why not?” I was thinking. Registration only required five drops of blood; there was a 1 in 100,000 chance of matching anyone in a given lifetime, and even if someone does match, they have the right to say no. There was no harm in just registering. To my surprise, I received a call that following December. I was a potential match for a six year old boy suffering from leukemia. My initial reaction was sheer shock; “Did I really match someone?” “Would I be able to save another human beings life?” The aftermath was that there was a chance that I wouldn’t match. This would mean that there was someone out there who may pass. His and his family’s hopes would be bashed. I did the required blood work and awaited my duties. A month later I still had no response from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) regarding further use of me and my marrow. I

had pushed it aside and decided that luckily, the little boy was feeling better and was not in need any longer. Not until March did I get a phone call that informed me that operation plans were in order. Since I was in school we decided to have the surgery pushed to the first week of May. I did my physical and more blood work between then while still in school. After my last final, I went home to San Antonio and the next morning I was to undergo surgery. The night before, I could not sleep at all. I was scared, anxious, excited, happy, and nervous at the same time. I just wanted nothing to go wrong, but I couldn’t stop myself from having thoughts of mistakes during the operation or the boy’s body not receiving the marrow healthily. Even driving to the hospital, I was very nervous about the entire procedure. When I woke from surgery, everything felt fine. The operation ended within an hour and I wasn’t in as much pain as I thought I would be. I had heard horror stories about how painful this operation could be. I was a little sore, but it was the same kind of sore as working out too much; it was just in my back instead of my quads. Within three days I was off of my medication and I even made it to my sister’s graduation in Waco.

I sat for an actuarial exam two weeks later and a week after that, I started my internship. By the end of June, I was exercising to the same capacity as I had that spring. After the operation, I tried to write about my experiences, but would just end up crying. There was still uncertainty on my part for whether or not the boy had re-


covered. A month after surgery, we had heard he took the marrow perfectly, but there was still doubt. I was so worried about him recovering quickly and returning to a regular childhood. A year later, I finally received his contact information, but before I could call or email the boy and his family, his father called me. We spent an hour on the phone sharing stories and tears. The boy had fully recovered within weeks of the donation and was healthy and laughing on his 7th birthday. His father was extremely gratified and could not stop thanking me and God for “giving life.” Talking to the boy and his family was a very humbling experience. And through the help of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and their work with the NMDP, I was able to meet the boy and his family in the fall of 2006. He was shy, and understandably so; I can not imagine going through what he did at such a young age. It was a very surreal moment knowing that the child standing before you is here because of a small piece of your body, a piece that has regenerated in him and you at the same time. Being the match for this now 11 year old boy is something I’ll never forget; I’m grateful that I registered when I did and went through this amazing experience. The rewards far exceeded the time and discomfort of the operation.

The National Marrow Donor Program showed Riddhi Patel, a quiet, shy girl in her mid twenties a way to save another life - bone marrow transplant. She donated bone marrow to an ailing, about to die six year old boy. Thanks to her and the Donor program that made this possible, the boy is now eleven years old. His parents are thankful to Riddhi for helping save their son’s life. For Riddhi, having given life to a boy is thanks enough



Indo American News • Friday, February 25, 2011

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India House Gala “Communities Coming Together”

Saturday, March 12, 2011 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm

At Intercontinental Hotel Houston (near the Houston Galleria) Some Program Details for Entertainment..

DJ & Dance floor for your overall enjoyment ‘Rhythm Experience’ [Taal Anubhav] ‘Speed and Melody’ [Nritya Kala] ‘Rama Rama’ - Fast Dance Number

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Sponsor India House Today Platinum Palladium Benefactor Grand Patron Patron Sponsor

Attendees Couples Individual

$50,000 $25,000 $10,000 $5,000 $2,500 $1,000

$500 $275

2 VIP center tables; VIP Reception; Advertisement 1 VIP center table; VIP Reception, Advertisement 1 VIP center table; VIP Reception, Advertisement VIP Seating for 6 VIP Seating for 4 VIP Seating for 2

Seating for 2 Seating for 1

*Complimentary valet parking to all sponsors & attendees

Thanks to all our early sponsors! Platinum Sponsors:

Brij & Sunita Agrawal Durga & Sushila Agrawal Jugal & Raj Malani Prithvi Raj & Arti Jindal

Palladium sponsors:

Anil & Mukta Aggarwal Suresh & Krishna Agrawal Rajendra & Sangeeta Agrawala Anand & Bela Jain Virendra & Nalini Mathur Manish & Manju Rungta Tilak & Manju Agarwal Jiten & Shalu Agarwal Vikie & Chrisha Agrawal Ricky Agrawal


Paul & Stephanie Madan

Grand Patron

Deviprasad & Saroj Rungta Sewa Singh & Kuldip Legha Nagraj & Shila Eleswarapu Kul Bhushan & Suman Uppal Swatantra & Bimla Jain Ramesh & Kiran Bhutada


Raj & Kanwal Bhalla Ashok & Mohini Bhambhani Hari & Poonam Kewalramani Showri & Raju Nandagiri Devesh & Namrata Pathak Raj & Krishna Syal Lachhman & Lalita Das Hindus of Greater Houston [Vijay Pallod]


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Feb 25 2011 1-24  

Feb 25 2011 1-24