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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010

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Tata Inaugurates Nano Plant in Gujarat after Exit from West Bengal

AHMEDABAD: Tata Motors’brand meter, snub-nosed car with a rear gasoline new plant for the Tata Nano at Sanand, engine. in Ahmedabad district of Gujarat, was The Nano is under close scrutiny at the inaugurated today by the Honourable moment after two of the cars caught fire Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narenearlier this year. Tata Motors is currently dra Modi, in the presence of the Chairinvestigating the incidents, and since May man of Tata Sons and Tata Motors, Mr. 24 it has been contacting all Nano owners Ratan N. Tata, Ministers of the Gujarat in order to inspect their cars. Government, top officials, vendor and The decision to inspect all Nano cars folsupplier partners, dealers and associlows a study by a 20-member internal team ates of the company. and an independent forensic expert. The plant’s inauguration marks the The plant has already directly employed culmination of the company’s goal of 2,400 individuals. The recruitment exermaking the Tata Nano freely available cise covered about 156 ITIs in Gujarat. As to hundreds of thousands of families, the capacity is increased, the project, along desirous of the car. The capacity of the The Tana Nano is now being assembled in Sanand, Gujarat after being driven away from West Bengal with the vendor park, is expected to generplant, to begin with, will be 250,000 by protests led by Mamata Banerjee. ate about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. cars per year to be achieved in phases, At the vendor park, plots have already and with some balancing is expandable been allocated to 41 vendors. More will be ackhand state. Deliveries from the plant, including BS4 up to 350,000 cars per year. Further capacity Built with an investment of INR20 billion, the commodated subsequently. Vendors, accountexpansion has also been provided for in this Tata Nanos, will begin this month. The output, Sanand factory will have a capacity of 250,000 ing for about 80% of the value of components supplemented by the facility at Pantnagar location. cars in the first year, but that could eventually to be sourced from the park, have already Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Tata said, “We (Uttarakhand), will in the immediate phase rise to 350,000 per year, India’s biggest auto begun construction. In the interim, they will complete pending orders from the booking are happy that the Tata Nano has found its home supply the plant from their existing facilities in maker by sales said. at Sanand in Gujarat. We would like to thank ev- process of 2009. the country. Tata Motors, which controls U.K.-based Built in a record time of 14 months starting eryone who has made this possible, particularly To celebrate the inauguration of the plant, a luxury car brands Jaguar and Land Rover, began the Honourable Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra November 2008, the integrated facility com- deliveries of the Nano last July after receiving fleet of Tata Nanos driven by prospective cusprises Tata Motors’ own plant, spread over 725 Modi. We would also like to thank the people of a record 206,703 bookings during April-June tomers, who participated in an online contest Gujarat on this occasion. I am glad that we will acres, and an adjacent vendor park, spread over 2009. on, began a country-wide now be able to manufacture the Tata Nano at a 375 acres, to house key component manufacturdrive, called the Nano Superdrive, from Sanand Tata Motors plans to have delivered the plant, set up in record time by the Tata Motors ers for the Tata Nano. first 100,000 cars to showrooms in Delhi by today. The drive was flagged off by Mr. Tata. Deliveries from the new plant will start in team who have and continue to receive full supThe drive will cover 15,000 km touching 36 December. port from the Gujarat administration. This will June, but to help clear a backlog in orders, the cities across the country, before converging at Because of the backlog, the company isn’t now allow us to better meet the strong demand company will continue producing the Nano at taking any new orders for the 624-cubic centi- Sanand on June 28. its Pantnagar factory in north India’s Uttarafor the Tata Nano across the country.”

Reconciliation at Reliance: Anil Drops Defamation Suit vs. Mukesh MUMBAI: In yet another step towards making peace, Anil Ambani on Tuesday withdrew the Rs 10,000-crore defamation suit he had slapped on elder brother Mukesh in 2008. Anil’s advocate informed Justice Roshan Dalvi in Bombay High Court that he did not wish to proceed with the suit, but did not specify a reason for the withdrawal. In the suit, Anil had alleged that Mukesh defamed him in a June 15, 2008, interview to The Ambani brothers: New York Times. times. Two Indian newspapers that had reproduced the story had also been made respondents in the suit. This is the third action in a matter of a fortnight that indicates that the Ambani brothers are trying to heal the rift between them after they split their father’s empire and parted ways in June 2005. After five years of feud, the brothers unexpectedly called a truce on May 23 by cancelling

the non-compete agreement they had entered into in January 2006, which stopped the duo from entering each other’s business territories, and had been a source of acrimony. The brothers also pledged to expeditiously renegotiate a gas supply agreement on the lines of the Supreme Court verdict of May 7. Soon after the signing of the agreement, on May 29, Anil and his wife Tina stayed at RIL’s Sri Krishna Guesthouse in Tirupati. It was the first time Anil back to happier stayed there since the brothers parted ways, temple sources had said. Reliance employees are reacting positively to the thaw. “Harmony is better than acrimony at any given day and these developments are good for the two groups,” said a senior official at one of the groups who did not wish to be named. Shareholders of the Reliance ADAG have already benefitted from the “peace dividend” over the past fortnight. Stock prices of group companies such as Reliance Infrastructure, Re-

liance Power and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) have gone up from 12-26 per cent. Could the truce between the two groups also see a change in fortune for Reliance Industries? Over the past one year, RIL has seen its stock price fall about 6.7 per cent whereas the BSE Sensex is up 13.3 per cent over the same period. Apart from low margins in its key business — petroleum refining — RIL’s stock price has also suffered because of an absence of growth opportunities. Could that change? With the company’s annual general meeting round the corner, there is anticipation that chairman, Mr Mukesh Ambani, could make some

big ticket announcements of new investments. Five years back, he had announced RIL’s decision to go for a new refinery of 27 million tons at Jamnagar at the company’s annual general body meeting. “They could probably announce large investments but that’s unlikely to impact the stock price immediately. Such projects typically yield value over a longer period,” says an analyst who tracks the firm. Market watchers feel that the company could come out with announcements in power or infra sectors — which require large investments and strong execution skills.

world markets

Wednesday, june 09, 2010 dow jones

Gold 46.96 $1,229.20 Ind. rupee

9961.07 • 21.09 • 0.21%


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colombo asi

4,464.41 • 37.14 • 0.84%

dhaka GI

5106.22 • 13.35 • 0.26%

Karachi 100

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nepal NEPSE

486.60 • 3.84 • 0.80%

per oz.

Silver $18.15

per oz.


$1530.00 per oz.


Pak. rupee




S.L rupee

Brent $73.96 Spot 2.60% Spot Bid Prices



Nepal rupee


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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


Raj Jain: The ‘Rapid Growth’ Sceptic

This retail head honcho is walking slow now in order to walk fast a few years later By Seema Chowdhry He hopes that when he retires he will be able to set up an art gallery with his art-promoter wife Ritu. But ask Raj Jain, 50, president, Walmart India and managing director and CEO, Bharti Walmart Pvt. Ltd, whether he has a say in what goes up on the walls of his swank apartment that almost sits on a golf course in Gurgaon, and he chortles. Jain has a deep rumbling laugh which becomes pronounced when he begins to tell a story he relishes. Now, he is about to narrate a life lesson he learnt on his honeymoon. “We were in Kathmandu and my wife, who has always been fond of ‘arty’ things, wanted to buy a big wooden mask. She said ‘Help me decide which one I should buy between these two’. I chose one. Instantly, she decided to buy the other. That’s when I knew never to give opinions about art.” Or interfere with what goes up on the walls of their house. Jain and I were supposed to meet at a club in his building complex but at the last minute, he requested I come over to his home, a 5-minute walk from the club. The reason for the change, I figured out later, was because Jain wanted to be home to meet his mother, who had come down from Delhi. After spending a few minutes with his mom, Jain settles down in his living room, orders tea and tells me he will be leaving for the US soon for his son’s graduation ceremony.

I am curious what management advice he has for his son, who has got a marketing job in New York City. After all, he worked with Hindustan Lever Ltd’s (HLL’s) sales and marketing team when he joined them as a management trainee in 1980, and then spent 10 years with Whirlpool Corp. before quitting as its regional head, marketing and supply chain, Asia-Pacific. He joined Walmart in China in 2006. The guffaw is back with full force. “All this while, I was an ATM. Suddenly, my son wants to know ‘What should I expect at work in my first month?’ from me.” In answer, Jain says he narrated stories of his first month as a management trainee at HLL. “I have told him to be himself. Things can’t get worse than what I faced in my first week in Mumbai.” He recalls how he was hauled up before a railway magistrate at Sewri station because he didn’t have a platform ticket. “I was made to feel like a criminal, and all the while when the magistrate was talking, I was worried that I was getting late for work. I told my son that the first month at any job will always be full of surprises.” Jain is dressed casually in a halfsleeve, off-white linen shirt and tan trousers and wears what looks like a prayer beads bracelet on his wrist. An engineer from the Delhi College of Engineering, Jain never imagined that one day he would end up a retailer. Yet retailing is in his blood—six generations or more of his

family have lived in Chandni Chowk, Delhi’s wholesale hub, and have been retailers. Though Jain’s immediate family did not inherit any of these businesses (his father was a government officer and his grandfather a lawyer), as a child he received some exposure to what happens in a shop. “Whenever I went with my father to visit my uncle, who owned a shop, they both would go away and leave me in charge. My uncle used to say: ‘Tum galle ke peeche khade ho jayo (you stand behind the cash counter)’. I used to enjoy those occasions.” Perhaps his habit of visiting shop floors at every opportunity is a hangover from those good old days, besides being integral to his current job profile. “As a retailer, the best place to get customer feedback is the store. Post-5pm on Sundays are big days at the (Best Price Modern Wholesale) cash-andcarry stores (currently, there are two

stores—in Amritsar and Zirakpur— and the third is scheduled to open at Jalandhar). The good thing is that customers in India are not afraid to tell you what they don’t like if you approach them. We get fewer women customers at the Best Price stores

Method over madness: While he lived in China, Jain, a vegetarian, used to carry a card with a list of things, written in the local script, that he couldn’t eat at restaurants.


but they are better critics. More vocal and insightful, whereas men tend to be reticent.” A large part of Jain’s job is also to ensure that the Bharti-run retail stores, Easy Day, are well serviced since Bharti Walmart is the sole supplier to these 70 retail outlets in 30 cities. “The Bharti retail outlets are run independently but we do share our expertise in terms of processes, resources, technology and management know-how. Since foreign direct investment is not allowed in retailing, we cannot do more than this. But we interact on (a) day-to-day basis and decisions, such as which states they should open new stores (in), are interdependent since we are their sole suppliers.” However, the demands at Best Price Modern Wholesale stores are very different from those at Easy Day outlets. Besides, as Jain points out, customers’ demands change dramatically from one state to the other. “India is a continent, not a country in that sense, because food, apparel, customs change every 200 miles. This is the reason why you don’t see any pan-India retailers as yet. I think it will be a long haul for people to be successful in retail across the country. So many flavours, so many demands—completing all these in a cost-effective manner is a tough job.” Perhaps that’s why Jain is concontinued on page 29


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Indian Mujahideen Declared a Terrorist Organisation NEW DELHI (NDTV): The Government on Friday declared Indian Mujahideen, believed to be a shadow outfit of banned SIMI and Pakistanbased Lashker-e-Toiba, as a terrorist organisation. The terror outfit, which has been allegedly involved in serial bomb blasts in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bangalore and Mumbai, has been added by the Government in the list of terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. (Read: Indian Mujahideen -- 35th terrorist organisation to face ban) “An order has been issued adding Indian Mujahideen and all its formations and front organisations to the list of Unlawful Activities (Prevention)

Act, 1967,” Home Ministry said in a statement. The Indian Mujahideen came under

spotlight on February 23, 2005 when it allegedly carried out a blast in Varanasi leaving eight people injured. The terror group, which is believed to be under the direct control of Pakistan’s ISI, has so far carried out over 10 blasts in various parts of the country killing nearly 500 people, a senior Home Ministry official said. The deadliest attack of the Indian Mujahideen was in the national capital in 2006 when as many as 66 people were killed in serial blasts. Amir Reza Khan was the founding members of the Indian Mujahideen, which was created by ISI ostensibly to spread terror through Indian front outfits. The terror group is at present headed by Iqbal Bhatkal.

Indian-origin PM for Trinidad PORT-OF-SPAIN: A 58-year-old woman of Indian-origin, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, was elected the first woman prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership won 29 of the 41 parliamentary seats in Monday’s elections, ending the ruling party’s 43-year rule. A former Spanish colony, Trinidad and Tobago is a south Carribean island nation. Forty-four per cent of its 1.3 million population is of Indian origin. “I am grateful for the immense support from women across the country,” Persad-Bissessar, a devout Hindu, said. “I celebrate this victory on their

Indian-origin Trinidad and Tobago PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

behalf.” Persad-Bissessar was also the first woman attorney general of her country and served as minister of legal affairs as well as of education.


Her forefather was among the 1,48,000 Indian labourers who were brought here between 1845 and 1917 to work on sugar and cocoa plantations.

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For Friendship Across the Border Pakistani businessman Aziz Memon on the need to improve India-Pakistan relations. By Rasheeda Bhagat ISLAMABAD (Hindu): Pakistani businessmen are forever urging their government to improve trade and cultural ties with India, while politicians take their own time to resolve bilateral issues, says Aziz Memon, chairman of the $100-million Kings group of Pakistan, which deals in textiles, water and medical services among other sectors. The Rotarian was in Chennai to participate in the inauguration of an ice-making unit, community centre and school built with aid from Rotary International in the Pulicat region near Chennai, hit by the tsunami of December 2004. Excerpts from an interview: What do educated, liberal Muslims with international exposure feel about the monster of terrorism in Pakistan? For us, it is very sad… Now this young boy who was trying to blow up this van at Times Square, Faizal Shahzad, he comes from a good family. He was not poor and did not go to a madrasa. He was the son of an Air Vice-Marshal and went to a very good American university. His getting brainwashed is something for which I can’t find an explanation. How do you see the Pakistan Taliban issue? Gradually the Swat region and South Waziristan have been taken by the Pakistan administration, but North Waziristan is a problem. The tribal terrain, their stronghold, is difficult and the Pakistani Army and Air Force, supported by U.S. drones, are fighting them. But as these terrorists take shelter behind the local population, carpet-bombing is not possible. Also, how do you distinguish one Taliban from five locals? Our polio eradication [programme] has also been affected in that region where we got 20 polio cases this year; not a single one from Punjab or Sindh. Our polio workers too get killed... And your economy is in the doldrums? A lot of money is being pumped

Aziz Memon: Pakistani businessmen have always felt that both countries can benefit from a partnership

into the war against the Pakistan Taliban. If we put our relationship right with India, the troops from the Indian border can be put to better use. Our economy is going through a difficult phase; again we have started borrowing from the World Bank and the IMF. In 10 years of the Musharraf regime power generation didn’t increase by a single kilowatt; industry is suffering from severe power shortage and we need to improve power generation. Law and order, targeted and ethnic killing, are major issues, and people’s lives have become miserable. All this has to come to an end if business needs to flourish. I feel we can do it together because nowhere is it written that the two countries have to live in animosity for all time. The Mumbai attacks were such a huge blow… We know that and have condemned it. Pakistanis don’t approve of such attacks, but you have to understand that we’re also victims of terrorism. Are you happy with the present government? They’re doing a great job and should be commended because they took over at a very difficult time. On Indo-Pakistan relations, Paki-

stani businessmen have always felt that both countries can benefit from a partnership. Pakistani businessmen are not shy of India’s better technology and [do not fear that] it would swallow us up. We’re confident that if an opportunity is given to us we can compete. That’s why businessmen have been saying, let trade and commerce, cultural exchanges and people-to-people contact grow. It will strengthen the relationship. And leave the politics to politicians who will take their own time to resolve bilateral issues. Let’s not do it for our generation but the coming generation. Do we want our children to grow up in this atmosphere of suspicion and lack of trust? A flight from Mumbai to Karachi is little more than an hour. Trade and tourism can flow. Our hotels are lying empty; there are no tourists. Under these circumstances we can’t expect tourists to come from the U.S. or New Zealand. But Indians will come; there are family and cultural ties. Do you think some of the recent initiatives are making a difference? Definitely... Surgery for newborns with cardiac problems is not possible in Pakistan. Last year we sent about 100 children to Bangalore and Delhi for surgery. Do they get Indian visas easily? For medical cases there is no problem… the Indian High Commission is very generous about it… Besides cardiac problems, even our cancer detection facilities are not good and people have to come to India for screening. For liver transplants Pakistanis would like to come to India. The quality of healthcare is very good here. Next we are trying to send 200 children by a chartered aircraft to Kolkata for heart surgery; hospitals there have come forward to do the operations. If 200 children land together, it becomes a media event, otherwise the media are not interested.

Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


No Untreated Waste in Ganga by 2020: Says PM Manmohan NEW DELHI: Asserting that the UPA government was committed to cleaning up the Ganga, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said no untreated waste and industrial effluents would flow into the river by the year 2020. “Under ‘Mission Clean Ganga’, it would be ensured that by 2020 no untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluents flow into the Ganga,” Singh said in the Report to the People on completion of one year of the UPA’s second term in office.

He said the investment required for the Mission would be shared “suitably” between the Centre and the state governments concerned. The Prime Minister said an empowered steering committee has been constituted for appraisal and sanction of projects on a fast track basis.Projects for approximately Rs 1,390 crore have been approved so far.The Centre had recently set up a Ganga River Basin Authority to monitor the implementation of the clean up project and other development schemes.-Agencies

Raj Jain: The ‘Rapid Growth’ Sceptic 27 servative when he estimates that Bharti Walmart will take “at least 7-10 years to make profits. I can’t think of retailing starting to make money for anybody in two years’ time.” He believes retailing is a scale business. “If you have a high-growth trajectory, then it is unlikely that you will make money in the initial years. It sucks up a lot of investment and a lot a management time.” That’s why he says he is “walking slow now to walk fast later. I would much rather we have fewer stores and make sure no customer walks out disappointed than open a new store every month without my back-end and supply chain being perfect. In retail, if you disappoint your customer you will be penalized. However, three years from now when we have fixed all our staff and supply chain issues, to go slow then will be unnecessarily over-cautious.”

continued from page


With French retailer Carrefour SA announcing that it will open its first cash-and-carry outlet in Delhi, was going to Amritsar first such a good idea in retrospect? He calls the decision an experimental risk, something he is most comfortable with. “I would classify myself as a leader who takes calculated risks. I never take ‘bet the farm’ kind of risks. When we decided to set up the first cash-and-carry in Amritsar, people laughed at us. Well, Amritsar is a huge wholesale market. It services lots of others states like Jammu and Kashmir, and cities such as Pathankot, Meerut. It is a very underserved market too and it made sense to be there first.” It is almost time for Jain’s yoga teacher to arrive. An avid gym-goer until recently, Jain has switched to yoga because he realizes flexibility is more important than sheer muscle—a principle he follows to the tee at work.-Outlook

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Punjabi Heart, Legal Mind, Hip-Hop Soul ONE career represents By Susan Dominus the classic American NEW YORK (NYT): The résumé that dream — high-powered Bikram Singh could draft is not the kind producers discovering that employers come across every day. him through a Web site Education: Touro Law School. Experihis brother made. The ence: Defending tenants on the brink other represents perhaps of eviction and providing legal services the immigrant’s Ameriat a Hindu senior center. Career objeccan dream: a law degree, tive: Providing affordable legal services a gateway to security. to communities in need while building The demand for his curprivate practice and maintaining status rent legal work also reas international heartthrob and Punjabi flects some limits of the hip-hop star. American dream — how Watching Mr. Singh negotiate with far does citizenship take blustering landlords’ lawyers the other you if you cannot afford day in the humdrum hallway outside a lawyer? housing court in Manhattan, I wondered Mr. Singh’s most reif it took some restraint for Mr. Singh, 29, cent album, “Tip Top,” to refrain from demanding, “Do you know reveals the many moods who I am?” of a hip-hop Punjabi But of course they do not. Unless they are young fans of Punjabi folk music, Bikran Singh, a housing attorney, is said to be the most famous Bhangra fusion star in North America folk singer and ambitious community-based chances are they haven’t seen the young women lining up backstage to meet Mr. Singh married to a fellow Punjabi, also a lawyer. For farm in India when he was 13. Paneer makhani lawyer. In one photo on the CD case, his hands after concerts, or downloaded “Kawan,” a similar reasons, he never mentions his music and vegetable curry at home, pizza and burgers are shoved into jeans pockets and his facial romantic duet he recorded with a popular Bol- to colleagues at Assemblywoman Michele R. at school. Bhangra at home, Wu-Tang Clan at expression reflects an attitude, as if to say: You talking to me? On the CD, however, Mr. Singh Titus’s office in Queens, where he works with school. Punjabi at home, English at school. lywood singer. The local Sikh community helped orient the is pictured in a dress shirt and tie, and the look on Of the stars in North America who perform her constituents. So what does he tell the office when he goes family, connecting Mr. Singh with his first part- his face seems to say: I will crush you, opposing Bhangra fusion — an urban take on traditional Punjabi music — Mr. Singh is “absolutely off to Europe on a business-class ticket to time job, at a gas station. His father, a construc- counsel, and your client will pay my fee, too. In the hallway at housing court, as Mr. Singh the most famous,” said Rekha Malhotra, the perform for thousands of fans? “I tell them I tion worker, encouraged his two sons to work waited to hear whether a client would be granted producer of a popular Bhangra series at the have a conference,” Mr. Singh said. “And then hard and give back. I reschedule the work.” “When I sing in Punjabi, I’m reflecting back more time to come up with back rent, he told Manhattan nightclub SOB’s. Martha Taylor Butler, the assemblywoman’s on our culture and giving it representation,” Mr. the story of his life as a famous performer. The As for Mr. Singh’s fans, they don’t fully know who he is, either: Nowhere on his official site chief of staff, did sound surprised, when reached Singh said. “But I’m also giving them legal rep- client, Zaur Beniaminov, a 32-year-old Russian is there any reference to, for example, the work by phone, to learn of Mr. Singh’s other life. resentation.” The City University of New York immigrant, listened in and finally said, “What he does through Volunteer Lawyer for a Day, a “But I can see it,” she said, “when I look at Law School nurtures that objective through the are you doing here?” Mr. Singh put his arm around his client’s Community Legal Resource Network, which state-financed program that provides people in his hair.” In a sense, Mr. Singh has been leading a provides support for lawyers like Mr. Singh, shoulder, flashing a megawatt smile. “I care housing court with legal aid. “I don’t want my fans to think that music is double life, so common to immigrants, since who eschew big-firm culture to work in their about you, man,” he said. Spoken like a rock star. just a hobby for me,” said Mr. Singh, who is his family came to Astoria from the family communities at more affordable rates.


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A Country in Search of a Hangman: What’s Next for Kasab?

By Soutik Biswas MUMBAI (BBC): Ask Mahadeb Mullick, a squat, forty-something man whether he is ready to execute Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab, the Mumbai (Bombay) attacker on death row, and he winces. “I know the job,” he says. “But I have my demands.” Qasab, a 22-year-old Pakistani citizen, was given the death sentence recently, and the media is abuzz with reports that the government is struggling to locate a hangman. Hangmen have become scarce in India as the need for them dwindles - there have been only two hangings in the last 15 years; and the majority of the more than 300 convicts on death row can expect their sentences to be commuted to life. Reports suggest that there are only one or two hangmen available in India - and Mahadeb Mullick could be one of the more qualified. The reason: he belongs to the country’s first family of executioners. I am sitting in a single-storey concrete shack that is the Mullick home on a sliver of a road in a crammed neighbourhood in Calcutta. The place is teeming with noisy children and busy, brisk women going about their chores. In the midst of this domestic chaos, Mahadeb Mullick is mulling over my question: to hang or not to hang Qasab if there is a request from the authorities.

Mahadeb Mullick says he is “trained” to execute; A framed picture on the wall of the stout and neat looking man, who lived between 1889 and 1971, describes him as “India’s only hangman [who] lives on the edge”. It is a curious eulogy for a long dead man.

His credentials for this grisly job are impeccable. Family ‘tradition’ Nata Mullick, his father, died last year after

a long “career” during which he executed 25 people. His grandfather, Shib Lal Mullick, the family says, carried out some 600 hangings, mostly in British-ruled India. There is no way to verify this claim. A framed picture on the wall of the stout and neat looking man, who lived between 1889 and 1971, describes him as “India’s only hangman [who] lives on the edge”. It is a curious eulogy for a long dead man. His great-grandfather, according to letters available with a family, was also a hangman. Mahadeb Mullick says “hanging is in the family’s blood” and he is ready to carry out his first execution. But Mullick, who holds a day job as a municipal worker, is carrying a grouse against the authorities for treating his father unfairly. Nata Mullick became a star after he carried out India’s last hanging in 2004 - a security guard who had murdered and raped a school girl. The government paid him 10,000 rupees ($213) for the job. News networks lapped up the story with unconcealed glee. Reporters descended on the Mullick home, many carrying ropes and towels, asking him to demonstrate his job for the cameras.As Mullick demonstrated how to tie a “good noose” around a neck for the cameras, half a dozen children around Bengal imitated his moves and accidentally strangled friends and relatives. An undeterred Mullick blamed it on the media, while simultaneously revelling in his new found celebrity. He inaugurated blood donation camps, functions and even acted in a few jatras, or rural theatre, which are immensely popular entertainment in Bengal’s villages. But he was also castigated by a senior ruling Communist leader for being feted. The powerful leader was quoted in the local press exhorting people to stop lionising the hangman.Mahadeb Mallick has not forgotten the slight. “Hangmen are used and discarded. They are stigmatised. Authorities will have to apologise for the things they said against my father,” he says.“After my father carried out his last hanging, none of the authorities came to our house to find out how we were living. Nobody cares.” Authorities say this is not entirely true - they

say that they gave a 10,000 rupees-a-month job to Nata Mullick’s nephew Prabhat Mullick as a “sweeper-cum-hangman.” ‘Trained to hang’ When I meet Prabhat, he tells me that he cannot carry out an execution because he was never “trained to hang”.“I went along with my uncle [Nata Mullick] when he carried out his last hanging. I could not keep my eyes open when the moment arrived,” he says.With an unwilling and “untrained” executioner in the family the onus has now fallen of Mahadeb Mullick to carry out executions. At least, Mahadeb says, he is trained. How does a hangman get trained? I ask him. “Oh, you just accompany a hangman and watch a few executions, steel yourself, and carry out a few mock hangings,” he says. So when Nata Mullick hanged the security guard in 2004, he had a retinue of seven assistants, including Mahadeb, with him. Mahadeb says he carried out half a dozen “dummy hangings” with a 75kg sandbag figure. He says he also learnt to make the specially made rope slippery using soap, oil and mashed bananas, how to tie the noose properly, how to put the mask on the convict properly and the right time to open the gallows trapdoor. He also accompanied Nata Mullick during the hanging of two men in 1991. “It is not an easy job, hanging people. You need a lot of courage. You kill with a plan, with a clear head and no tension. And you cannot afford to fail,” Mahadeb Mullick says. To top it, the hangman has sometimes to face the ire of the convict at the gallows. “One of the men we hung in 1991 abused us before we tied the noose around his neck. He said he would haunt us and destroy my family,” Mahadeb Mallick says.“But we have to keep our cool and beg forgiveness. We have to tell them, ‘Please forgive us. I am doing this on the government’s orders’.” So if the authorities call on him to carry out Qasab’s execution, Mahadeb says he will “possibly do it” after some negotiations over pay and a regular allowance. “But if you ask me, I think Qasab should be taken to a zoo and fed to the lions and tigers in front of the TV cameras. Hanging him is too little a punishment.”



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Aziz Ansari: Feeding the Comedy Beast without Serving Leftovers By Dave Itzkoff NEW YORK (NYT): Halfway through a 90-minute set late on a recent Friday night at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater here, Aziz Ansari did something radical for a stand-up comedian: he sat down. If Mr. Ansari, a 27-year-old performer with a bearded baby face, was irresistibly drawn to the plastic chair where he completed his routine between sips of tea, it was understandable. This was his third show of the evening, during a weeklong marathon in which he was refining material for a new tour and his hosting gig at the MTV Movie Awards (which will be shown live on Sunday night). All while, by day, he had been shooting episodes of “Parks and Recreation,” the NBC sitcom on which he is a co-star. Mr. Ansari made no apologies to the crowd at the theater, where the $5 tickets were cheaper and the jokes more meandering than they would be at those future gigs. As he had said that afternoon over lunch at a vegan restaurant in the Silver Lake neighborhood, “I even tell the audience, ‘You’re getting an inferior version of the joke so, I can work on it myself.” “I know you’re thinking, ‘Man, this is going a little long,’ ” Mr. Ansari added with a confident, self-mocking click of his tongue. “I know it is. That’s the goal. So I can tighten it up and make it better later.” Mr. Ansari does not mind portraying himself as arrogant: it is a defining quality of characters like Tom Haverford, his slick, self-defeating “Parks and Recreation” bureaucrat, or Randy, the self-promoting, maddeningly successful comedian he played in the Judd Apatow film “Funny People,” who has since become part of his act. Just don’t think that he is ever idle. When Mr. Ansari asked an audience member at a previous evening’s performance at the Largo nightclub here to imagine how he spends his days, he was surprised by the response. “He was like, ‘You probably wake up about 10 o’clock, and then you smoke some weed,’ ” Mr. Ansari said. “ ‘Then you play video games for a couple hours.’ ” Recounting that exchange, Mr. Ansari said, “That sounds like a terrible existence.” Before he had graduated from New York University, majoring in marketing, Mr. Ansari, who grew up in Columbia, S.C., was avidly performing comedy in New York clubs and became a fixture of the city’s alternative scene. In 2007 the video shorts he made with fellow comedians Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer and the director Jason Woliner landed them their own MTV sketch show, “Human Giant.” That show, on which Mr. Ansari played ev-

Friedman said. “This guy gets us in a much more immediate way than other comedians. He’s grown up with the audience.” To Mr. Ansari, the musicians he satirizes are fascinating not for their over-the-top lifestyles but for their single-minded devotion to their craft. Citing a scene from “The Carter,” a documentary about the rapper Lil Wayne, Mr. Ansari said: “He says something that I thought was really funny. It’s like: ‘Repetition is the father of learning. I repeat, repetition is the father of learning.’ ” “Not to compare myself to Lil Wayne,” Mr. Ansari said, “but that’s

why I’m repeating my set three times tonight, to see if I can figure it out.” Mr. Woliner, who has continued to direct Mr. Ansari on “Parks and Recreation” (and occasionally sleep on an air mattress in his house), said Mr. Ansari’s work ethic comes from emulating comedians like Chris Rock, Louis C. K. and Patton Oswalt, who are constantly rewriting their routines from scratch. In the weeks ahead Mr. Ansari, who has a small part in the new comedy film “Get Him to the Greek,” is commencing his stand-up tour and performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. Then he’ll shoot a role in “30 Minutes or Less,” a movie directed by Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”), playing the friend of a pizza deliveryman who is forced to rob a bank. Then it’s back to work on the new season of “Parks and Recreation.” (“But touring is kind of a vacation,” Mr. Ansari said.) More than burnout, the peril for Mr. Ansari is that, as his celebrity increases, his ability to comment on his unusual pop-culture adventures — like partying with Mr. West — from the position of an outsider diminishes. “Hopefully he won’t lose that wonder at falling into these very strange situations,” Mr. Aziz Ansari’s stand-up comedy pokes fun at a wide range of Woliner said. pop-culture targets, from rappers to the What Mr. Ansari won’t do is exploit Internet. his minority status for laughs, or make it the focus of his comedy. You won’t erything from a hard-charging agent of child hear him opining about his parents’ actors to a police officer who pursues criminals background as Tamil Muslims from by hot-air balloon, caught the attention of the India, and he said he’s tired of people’s “Parks and Recreation” producers, who hired assumptions that he encountered ramhim before they had cast its star, Amy Poehler, pant racism growing up in the South. or settled on a concept for the series. Perhaps the greatest challenge for “He defies categorization,” said Michael Mr. Ansari is that to honor the values Schur, who created “Parks and Recreation” of the comedians he most admires, the with Greg Daniels. “He’s really sarcastic but ones who constantly refresh their acts, also kind of lovable.” He added, “There’s so he will have to retire his best-known much going on with him that we felt it would stand-up bits from only a few months be funny just to have him and Amy Poehler in ago. That includes his popular (and the same room.” detailed) impression of an R. Kelly perIn his stand-up act Mr. Ansari can be just as formance that was highly sexualized, far-flung, joking about his time-wasting Internet even by the standards of that eccentric searches or his fixation with R&B and rap stars R&B musician. like R. Kelly or Kanye West. (Mr. West was But not to worry: Mr. Ansari said he’s sufficiently flattered that he invited Mr. Ansari got a completely original R. Kelly bit to a party at his house, which in turn became the in his new routine. basis of another stand-up bit.) “I was kind of like, ‘Aw, man, I Stephen Friedman, the general manager of shouldn’t do another thing about R. MTV, said Mr. Ansari’s pop-cultural tastes Kelly,’ but R. Kelly keeps doing amazmade him an ideal embodiment of the miling things,” he said, blowing out the lennial-generation viewers whom the channel word “amazing” as if it were a party wants to reach. horn. “I’d be failing at my job if I didn’t “He’s playing with music, our sweet spot, address them.” but doing it in a way that creates a visceral con- Aziz Ansari is refining material for his new tour nection with everyone in our audience,” Mr. and hosted the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday.


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Justice Delayed, Justice Denied? Keshub Mahindra among those sentenced to two years in jail, but activists say this is a case of too little and too late By Padmaparna ghosh & Manish Ranjan NEW DELHI (Mint): Twenty-six long years after the country’s worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal lower court on Monday sentenced each of the seven accused to two-year jail sentences and a fine of Rs1 lakh. Lawyers said the decision to hold senior management responsible for such disasters sets a legal precedent even as activists representing survivors insisted the judgement does not go far enough. The convicted include Keshub Mahindra, then non-executive chairman of Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), which owned the factory from which the killer fumes escaped into Bhopal’s night air in December 1984, killing an estimated 3,000 people. Mahindra, currently chairman of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, declined comment. The erstwhile UCIL was also fined Rs5 lakh. The convicted have been given bail. The verdict does not cover Warren Anderson, former chairman of Union Carbide Corp. (US) and the main accused in the gas tragedy; he has been termed an “absconder” by the lower court and is being tried in a different court. Experts said the landmark judgement has highlighted the lack of a law to deal with large industrial disasters, forcing the prosecution to rely on existing civil and criminal laws which do not make any distinctions in the nature of a crime. “It is a precedent, but it is not enough. The accused have been tried

under ‘causing death due to negligence’ whereas they should have been tried under ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” said Prashant Bhushan, a Supreme Court lawyer. Bhushan was referring to the Supreme Court order in 1996, which reduced the charges on the accused

from “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” to one causing death by negligence. The former can potentially invite a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, the jail sentence in the latter is a maximum of two years. The apex court ruling followed after the accused challenged the Madhya Pradesh high court, in 1995, upholding their prosecution for stricter charges. Activists believe that the Supreme Court verdict weakened the case of the prosecution. “This is a disaster in three levels. First was in 1984, second when

the government failed to adequately charge the perpetrators, and third the contamination going on at present in and around the accident site,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, an activist with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Lawyers and environment activists believe that industrial accidents of such magnitude should not be covered under general sections of section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). “A separate section should be inserted in the IPC which can take care of such industrial accidents” said Sanjay Parikh, a Supreme Court lawyer. Existing and proposed environmental legislation does not have any criminal provisions either. “The National Green Tribunal, for instance, has only civil liability. There was some talk of including criminal provisions, but that has not happened. In such cases, the IPC or the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) are the only options,” said Sanjay Upadhyay, an environmental lawyer. Bhushan added that industries using hazardous substances should invite higher penalties for violations. “Instead the government is limiting liabilities (pointing to the Nuclear Liability Bill),” Bhushan added, asserting that with rapid industrial growth, such provisions are critical. The other convicted UCIL officials are Vijay Gokhale, former managing director, Kishore Kamdar, former vice president, J Mukund, former works manager, S.P. Chaudhary, former production manager, K.V. Shetty, former plant superintendent, S.I. Qureshi, former production assistant, R.B. Roy Chaudhary, former assistant manager.

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Interracial Marriages At an All-Time High: Pew Study By Stephanie Chen The first time Priya Merrill, who is Indian, brought her white boyfriend home for Thanksgiving in 2007, the dinner was uncomfortable and confusing. She still remembers her family asking if Andrew was the bartender or a family photographer. The couple married last August, and her Indian family has warmed up to her husband despite their racial differences. “I think we get the best of both cultures,” said Merrill, 27, of New York. She added, “Sometimes I just forget that we’re interracial. I don’t really think about it.” Asian. White. Black. Hispanic. Do race and ethnicity matter when it comes to marriage? Apparently, race is mattering less these days, say researchers at the Pew Research Center, who report that nearly one out of seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic. The report released Friday, which interviewed couples married for less than a year, found racial lines are blurring as more people choose to marry outside their race. “From what we can tell, this is the highest [percentage of interracial marriage] it has ever been,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer for the Pew Research Center. He said interracial marriages have soared since the 1980s. About 6.8 percent of newly married couples reported marrying outside their race or ethnicity in 1980. That figure jumped to about 14.6 percent in the Pew report released this week, which surveyed

ticipating in such marriages roughly tripling since 1980, the study said. About 16 percent of African-Americans overall are in an interracial marriage, but researchers point out a gender difference: It’s more common for black men to marry outside of their race than for black women. The gender difference was the reverse in the Asian population surveyed. Twice as many newlywed Asian women, about 40 percent, were married outside their race, compared with Asian men, at about 20 percent. “We are seeing an increasingly multiracial and multiethnic country,” said Andrew Cherlin, professor of public policy and sociology at Johns Hopkins University. “The Priya Merrill, 27, and husband Andrew Merrill, 30, married in August. They are part of a growing trend of change in our population is interracial marriages. bringing more people into But not everyone is willing to acToday’s growing acceptance of contact with others who aren’t like newlyweds in 2008. cept mixed-race marriages. A Loui- interracial marriages is a contrast to them.” From what we can tell, this is the siana justice of the peace resigned the overwhelming attitudes 50 years The Pew Center also found educahighest [level of interracial marriage] late last year after refusing to marry ago that such marriage was wrong -tion and residency affected whether it has ever been. an interracial couple. and even illegal. During most of U.S. people married interracially, with --Jeffrey Passel, Pew senior deHowever, studies show that support history, interracial marriages have college-educated adults being more mographer for interracial marriages is stronger been banned or considered taboo, likely to do so. More people who live Couples pushing racial boundaries than in the past, especially among the sociologists say. in the West marry outside their race have become commonplace in the Millennial generation. Among 18- to In 1958, a woman of black and than do people in the Midwest and U.S., a trend that is also noticeable 29-year-olds, about 85 percent accept NativeAmerican descent named MilSouth, the survey found. in Hollywood and politics. President interracial marriages, according to dred Jeter had married a white man, Cherlin explained why education Obama is the product of a black father a Pew study published in February. Richard Loving. The couple married has helped bridge various races and from Africa and a white mother from Scholars say interracial marriages are in Washington, D.C., instead of their ethnic groups: With more minorities Kansas. Supermodel Heidi Klum, important to examine because they home state of Virginia, where state attending college, education, rather who is white, married Seal, a British can be a barometer for race relations laws outlawed interracial marriages. than race, becomes a common thread singer who is black. and cultural assimilation. The couple was arrested by police. holding couples together. Their case made its way to the Supreme Court in the case Loving vs. “If I’m a college graduate, I am goVirginia in 1967, where the justices ing to marry another graduate,” Cherunanimously ruled that laws banning lin said. “It’s of secondary importance interracial marriages were unconstiif that person is my race.” tutional. We are seeing an increasingly mulIn the decades after the court’s tiracial and multiethnic country. ruling, the U.S. population has been --Andrew Cherlin, professor at changed by an unprecedented influx Johns Hopkins University of immigrants. The growing numbers Technology is also making it easier of immigrants, said Pew researchfor people to date outside their races, ers, is partially responsible for the said Sam Yagan, who founded Okincrease in interracial marriages., a free Internet dating site. The Pew Center study released He said his site, which receives 4 milFriday found that marrying outside lion unique visitors a month, has seen of one’s race or ethnicity is most many interracial relationships result common among Asians and Hisfrom people using its services. panics, two immigrant groups that Adriano Schultz, 26, who is Brahave grown tremendously. About 30 zilian, met his wife, Theresa, who is percent of Asian newlyweds in the white, through the site in 2006. A year study married outside of their race, later, the couple married. and about a quarter of Hispanic new“I don’t feel as if ethnicity for us was lyweds reported marrying someone a big issue,” said Schultz, of Indiana. of another race. “It was more about personalities and David Chen, 26, of Dallas, Texas, is having things in common that really Taiwanese. He is planning a wedding drove us together.” with his fiancee, Sylvia Duran, 26, Yagan attributes the increase in inwho is Mexican. He says race isn’t an terracial relationships to the Internet, issue, but parts of their culture do play which makes it easier to connect with a role in their relationship. They will someone of a different race. People probably have a traditional Chinese who live in a community where tea ceremony at their wedding. race is an issue can meet someone “The thing that we really focus of another race more privately, than on is our values and family values,” say, instead of having to start their instead of their race, he said. “We both relationship in a public setting. like hard work, and we really put a “You don’t have to worry about focus on education.” what your friends are going to think,” The African-American population he said. “You can build the early parts also saw increases in interracial marof the relationship.”-CNN riage, with the number of blacks parINDO AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, june 11 , 2010 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM

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AR Rahman Jai Ho Concert is a Show Stopper Fans around US are paying top prices like $1000 for the AR Rahman concert

NEW YORK: Most international musicians barely get noticed in the bustling Big Apple, but AR Rahman is a show-stopper — and very profitable. Fans have paid prices of up to $1,000 (Rs 47,000) for 11 concerts in North America between June 11 and July 5, which are already thought to be sold out. Rahman’s “Jai Ho — The Journey Home Tour” begins on June 11 comes to Houston’s Toyota Center on July 3. “It’s definitely an East-meets-West kind of show where there’s technology and tradition. Just likeAR’s music, it breaks all borders,” said the show’s artistic director Amy Tinkham, who has run tours for Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys and Mariah Carey. Two years after Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars, interest in all things Indian is still going strong. Rahman’s Slumdog... soundtrack, which earned him two Academy Awards and two Grammys, has made him a recognisable name in America. It also helps that Rahman is a prolific composer who has astaggering range. Americans find his music “easy listening” as it is brewed with an unerring feel for melody, swing and soul. Ahead of his concert, Rahman who has been writing musical scores for Bollywood since the 1990s credited the film industry for his versatility.

“In America, they typecast a person — he is a good horror movie soundtrack composer or he is a good classical music composer. In India, the director expects everything from one person. That pushed me to compose different types of music — Indian and Western,” Rahman told DNA on the sidelines of an event in the Asia Society. For a musician who has won two Grammys, Rahman started out as an engineer who was clueless about

the depth of his prodigious musical talent. “My first movie, I thought it was going to be my last movie,” said Rahman. “So I wanted to do my best and then leave it.” For a man who was going to do his “best and then leave it” Rahman has come a long way. He has sold 150 million records and 200 million cassettes and is counted among the top 25 recording artists of all times. TIME magazine rated the soundtrack of Roja in the top 10 of their all-time best

movie soundtracks of the world. Financially the “Jai Ho...” tour is being run like a Swiss watch. Rahman will perform at massive venues in North America and Europe, but there will be one night per city instead of a run, so more places will be pumped up with enthusiasm and keen for Rahman souvenirs. Rahman snakes through America and Europe before ending at London’s Wembley Stadium on July 25. Rahman is putting on a three-hour


concert that features Cirque du Soleil or circus acrobats, four troupes of dancers and a Mongolian contortionist who will demonstrate extreme Indian yoga. The show brings together flutists, cellists, tambura players, singers and musicians who have played with Lionel Richie and Fleetwood Mac. “Rahman has captured the imagination of audiences of all demographics, both Indian as well as western. His music is multi-faceted. I don’t think his Oscar-winning Jai Ho is his best work, but he certainly deserves an Oscar for the breadth and excitement of his musical talent,” said Aroon Shivdasani, executive director of the Indo-American Arts Council, which is selling the concert’s tickets. “Regular tickets to Rahman’s concert tour of the US are sold out. The only tickets remaining are those of high ticket value. I doubt there will be a single available seat at any of the actual concerts,” she added. Americans are buying into the Eastmeets-West spectacle. “Landing a Rahman concert ticket is a big deal,” said attorney Gary Sherman, who has a ticket for Rahman’s concert at the Patriot Center, in Washington. “It’s definitely a blockbuster, you cannot put a price on Rahman, this is what bollywood is all about - the music, the magic and the melody and Rahman is the best in the bunch” said Moid Khan, Rahman’s show promoter in Houston.


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Indo-American Connections to Creation of a Synthetic Bacterial Cell By Ashish Kumar Sen

hence treat more easily the diseases they cause.” Man’s quest to play Both Vashee and God seems to have Radha assisted Dan become irrepressible. Gibson, a senior What better way of submember of the team, limating this instinct, in the construction of then, than to harness the synthetic genome breathtaking scientific that created the new breakthroughs to create bacterium. About the life itself in the labochallenges they had ratory. But this wasn’t to overcome, Gibson what prompted Radha says, “To produce a Krishnakumar to apply synthetic cell, our for a slot on the exclusive group had to learn team of the eponymous how to sequence, J. Craig Venter Institute synthesise and (JCVI), the genomic transplant genomes. research organisation Many hurdles had to based in Rockville, be overcome, but we Maryland, that has creare now able to comated the world’s first synbine all of these steps thetic bacterial cell. Her to produce synthetic inspiration was altruiscells in the laboratic, though she did feel tory. We can now bethe excitement course gin working on our through her as she read ultimate objective of in a journal about the synthesising a miniincredible plan of scimal cell containing entist J. Craig Venter. only the genes necAs Radha told Outlook, Radha Krishnakumar, Staff Scientist. BA Sanjay Vashee, Assistant professor. Prashanth Parmar, Reasearch Associate. The essary to sustain life Grandfather left Gujarat for Zimbabwe, his from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore; MSc India Connection: Born in Surat, moved to the “Immediately I saw in its simplest form. mother was raised in Dhanori, Gujarat. from Bharathidasan University, Trichy. US as a five-year old: the huge benefits and This will help us betimplications of such an ter understand how cells work.” achievement and wanted to be a part continents. As Radha says, “Our syn- Indian mind as it is to the American Manjulaben, was born and raised in The third Indian member of the of it.” thetic biology team has taken the system’s quality of attracting talent Dhanori, Gujarat, and his wife, Rita, team is Prashanth P. Parmar, a reShe applied for a job at JCVI in first successful step towards mak- from around the world—and accord- is from Surat. “I have several aunts search associate at JCVI’s Pathogen 2006 and received a nod from Prof ing designer bacteria. This was ac- ing it due prominence. and many cousins who still reside in Functional Genomics Resource CenJohn Glass, who specialises in syn- complished by writing a modified It was only in 2000 that Radha flew Gujarat,” Vashee says, stressing upon ter. Born in Surat, he moved with his thetic biology. He placed her on the genetic code using the genome of an down to the US to pursue a PhD in his ancestral Gujarati roots. family to the US at the age of five. 25-member team tasked with creat- existing bacterium, synthesising and microbiology from the University of Vashee, too, studied at the UniverHe says he has been interested in ing a synthetic bacterial cell. On the assembling this new genome, and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after sity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, science for as long as he can rememteam were two other Indians—San- then transplanting the genome into a completing her BSc from Mount got an MS from Western Illinois ber. He candidly says he did not play jay Vashee and Prashanth P. Parmar. closely related bacterial cell.” Carmel College, Bangalore, and University, and did his PhD at the a direct role in the creation of the Glass says he recruited her and seVenter describes the creation of MSc from Bharathidasan University, University of Texas at Austin. Not synthetic cells, but was responsible lected the other two Indians because the world’s first synthetic cell as a Tiruchirapalli. Six years later, she was among those eager to appropriate for performing experiments to help he was struck by their ability to solve “team effort that would not have hap- a member of one of the world’s most credit, Vashee says the team’s ascharacterise them. About Parmar, difficult scientific problems. “I could pened without the skills and expertise important research teams, bringing tounding feat can be ascribed to the Glass gushes, “Prashanth is an expert not be more proud of the tremen- of all, including Sanjay, Radha and to it her expertise in the creation of fact that every member worked “very at proteomics. When I needed to have dous work they—Sanjay, Radha and Prashanth.” a strain of Mycoplasma—a kind hard, setting aside his or her ego to get two-dimensional protein gels done to Prashanth—have done in researching Indeed, such scientific break- of bacterium—with the capacity to the job done.” characterise synthetic cells, I knew this extraordinary scientific mile- throughs are usually a team effort. metabolise 21 amino acids. About the potential benefits of just who I wanted to perform that stone,” he said of his juniors. But this shouldn’t suggest that the The presence of Sanjay Vashee the breakthrough, Vashee says, “It analysis.” Burning the midnight oil for 15 three Indians played a peripheral in the JCVI team speaks more of should now become more possible Parmar says he is delighted at the long years and incurring an expen- role in the creation of a synthetic cell. the wanderlust of Indians, particu- to design or engineer new organisms team’s achievement, “especially in diture of $40 million, Venter and Listen to the praise Glass lavishes on larly Gujaratis. In the 1920s, Vashee’s to produce such things as biofuels, light of how long and hard many of his team succeeded in constructing Radha: “She’s a gifted scientist with grandfather shifted from his village, pharmaceuticals etc. This technolus have been working on this project. the first self-replicating, synthetic superb skills in molecular biology Sari Bujarang in Gujarat, to—believe ogy should also allow us to possibly The implications of the research for bacterial cell. The feat naturally gen- and microbiology.” Her inclusion in it or not—Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. begin to work with genetically inenergy and pharmaceutical developerated a frisson of excitement around the JCVI team is as much an eloquent But he remains steeped in the Indian tractable pathogens so that we may ment are very exciting”. Outlook the world, grabbing headlines across testimony to the brilliance of the tradition largely because his mother, be able to understand them better and


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Now in India, a Private Investigator is Often the New Matchmaker

tion about prospective partners. By Neha Bhatt Many women have been hoodNEW DELHI (Outlook): Boy met winked by NRI men. As people girl... not through friends, or family, are becoming more net-savvy, but as often happens these days, on a they’re also becoming more nawebsite. She was Bengali, so was he, ive.” and they hit it off instantly. She lived A point made across the board, in Delhi, he in the adjoining dormitory by agencies as well as sociolotown of Gurgaon—they couldn’t meet gists, is that detectives are, to often, but made up for it with interminasome degree, performing funcble phone conversations. Personable, tions that aunts, uncles and traand well-heeled—he earned Rs 60 lakh ditional matchmakers carried per year working for an MNC, he once out, and quite effortlessly, in a confided—he seemed perfect husband gentler era, when matches were material. But why, she wondered, did made within a relatively small he often seem to be chewing paan, yet circle of friends, acquaintances keep denying it was a habit. As the posand family contacts. They are sibility of marriage grew real, that tiny a “coping mechanism, a safety seed of doubt grew larger in her head. net”, as Desai puts it, for dealing And that’s how Bhavna Paliwal of with the random world of clasTejas Detectives came to be entrusted sifieds and online matrimony that with a simple brief: Check him out. match-seekers seem increasingly It didn’t take the Delhi-based detecto rely on—both individuals and tive long to blow his story apart. Foltheir families. (Industry sources lowed home from work, the ostensibly estimate that over 40 million Indirich suitor turned out to be living in a ans are registered on matrimonial shabby paying guest accommodation websites.) that cost Rs 4,000 per month, meals inOffline, too, networks of cluded. A garrulous maid provided the friends and acquaintances are useful nugget that he drank quantities As salesgirl, tutor or household help, Bhavna Paliwal-in-disguise squeezes out all those intimate details that will diverse, and from an anxious parof beer daily. Thanks to her network of perhaps seal the fate of a spouse-to-be. Roughly three in ten cases yield a dodgy candidate. ent’s point of view, less reliable. HR contacts, Bhavna also discovered All seemed well for a 27-year-old Delhi that he had added a fictitious zero to his girl who had fallen in love with a man sure they are not being cheated or lied to bride’s family that he could help “cure” the tribe see it as part of a day’s work annual salary of Rs 6 lakh. And, oh yes, she met through a friend. Her mother, the paan. “He chews twenty a day,” his to unearth the phone records, degrees, a groom of his homosexuality) and even about something.” Does this point to a growing trust deficit too, was impressed by her prospective payslips or medical records of a marriage moral guardians and social workers; like local paanwala reported happily. in society? “I don’t think so,” says adman son-in-law, who came from a wealthy Captain D.K. Giri of Hyderabad-based candidate. For Bhavna, adept at unpacking the and social commentator Santosh Desai. political family in a small North Indian Sharp Detectives, who charges one-third Sneaky, enterprising and unfazed by lifestyles of apparently affluent young men, this was an easy case. To crack privacy barriers, sleuths like these, charg- of what other agencies charge for pre- “If you are going to take such a big call (ie town; but just as a measure of caution, she trickier ones, she has donned the disguise ing Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 per case, are marital investigations and takes great marriage) without knowing much about hired Jitendra of Topsgrup to carry out a of a domestic worker (to check out a making good money in the increasingly pride in “saving someone from the trau- someone—what do you do? Companies “routine” background check. “Our inves29-year-old suspected of sleeping with randomised world of urban matrimony. ma of a bad marriage”. And each sleuth do reference checks, too, before tying up tigators went to the boy’s home town,” he his maid), tailed a would-be bigamist all Many detective agencies report a surge— has his or her own spin on why a practice with other companies.” Using a detective says, narrating the tale with relish, “and the way from Delhi’s international airport a four-fold one, say some—over the last that lurked on the margins, if at all, of the to check on a spouse after marriage, he ar- blended in with the residents. They found to Chandigarh and even stayed up all three years in ‘pre-marital cases’; 20-25 marriage mart has gained popularity. For gues, suggests a lack of trust. “But in cas- out that the family had a hotel which was, night in a five-star hotel room in Jaipur cases per month is standard for the well- instance, Ravi Kapur, managing director es such as these, the relationship doesn’t in fact, also being used as a brothel”. These horror stories apart, what also at Delhi-based Ace Detectives, makes it even exist.” Sociologist Patricia Uberoi to keep watch on an NRI client’s chosen known ones. The case histories they relate—com- sound like buying insurance to protect sees the hiring of detectives by young comes through in the detectives’ colourbride and her male colleague. Delhi detective Rahul Rai Gupta had plete with tidbits of salacious, even hair- an expensive investment. “If middle- to people as a comment on the way they ful tales is that they are being hired not an agent pose as a gay man—to confirm raising, detail—indicate that a mix of upper-class families shell out upwards are seeking and negotiating relationships just to allay the fears and anxieties of their suspicions about a prospective groom’s age-old and contemporary urban worries of Rs 10-20 lakh for a wedding, what is these days. They lead, she points out, far clients, but also to fuel their skyrocketare causing singles and their families to a few thousands to secure a future with a more mobile lives, and yet continue to ing aspirations. “The trend these days,” sexual habits look for guarantees in relationships. In reveals Bhavna, for instance, “is to have Rahul Rai Gupta, proprietor of Se- put prospective grooms, and less fre- sound candidate?” he asks. this paradoxical urbanscape, trust is being a detective check out five-six prospecShadowing a cheating fiancé or dubiquently, brides, under the scanner. Is he cret Watch, another Delhi agency, had one of his agents pose as a gay man to in a relationship with another woman? Or ous boyfriend, Chennai-based A.M. Mal- renegotiated, says Uberoi. “People are tive grooms or brides for a client—so uncover the sexual habits of a prospec- worse, a man? Is he impotent? Does he athi plays moral police for her women taking more risks and they’re also aware that they can pick out the best. And they tive groom. And warm, matronly A.M. live well enough for my needs? Is he only clients, many of whom are now like of the dangers of taking risks. Marriage want the details—what they eat, what they wear, where they hang out—everyis recognised as risky business.” Malathi of Malathi Women Detective after me for my Canadian citizenship? extended family Invoking the G-word, globalisation, thing.” Comments Uberoi: “It’s a very He, and others too, also issue dark Agency (“What is impossible for you Will she be able to adjust to our ‘lifestyle is possible for us”, reads its tagline) in and culture’? Does she drink? Has she warnings about the rising levels of de- rarely absent from any discussion about competitive world out there because you Chennai’s busy Anna Salai—whose cli- lost her virginity? Does the family have ception and fraud in marital matters, modern day India, Jitendra Satpute, CEO, are looking for the best in an anonymous punctuated with a fund of horror stories. Topsgrup, a Mumbai-based security and space. It reflects a neo-liberal economic ents are often middle-class girls from IT a history of dowry harassment? The detectives see themselves not just Citing a surge in what she calls “immoral detective agency, says, “People are mar- order driven by ambition, aspiration and companies—thinks nothing of spending days stalking a young man who may or as lowly snoops, but trendspotters, coun- activities”, Malathi says, “People come rying across continents, and this makes it choice, where the sky is the limit.” may not be a suitable boy. Others from sellors (like Rahul, who told a dismayed to us even without a reason, just to make very challenging to get reliable informa-



Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010

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Straight Up

Food Talk

Adapt to a Heart Healthy Way of Eating with Dr. Reddy’s Pita Bread By Jacob David HOUSTON: Dr. Kota Reddy, renowned cardiologist, has a message to preach, one that he does passionately. He is a doctor on a mission to get people to eat right and stop the onset of heart attacks, starting with stopping diabetes. Dr. Reddy believes that each dia-

betic client is treated like he / she has already had their first heart attack. “It’s because it is that serious. People don’t realize that they are on their way to a heart attack. Not all diabetics have heart attacks. But “the slow cooking process” in which diabetes slowly destroys vital organs finally damaging the heart is inevitable, if the patient keeps eating unhealthy foods. Becoming a Chief Intervention Fellow honored so by St. Luke’s Episcopal, Houston, he believes in the prevention and reversal of heart disease through educating the public. Asians eat rice, Mexicans eat corn flour and bleached wheat tortillas, Italians eat pasta, Europeans and the French eat bread, which is the staple diet for each nation. All these grains are milled and processed. They are high in starch and carbohydrates, including their common accompaniments - tuberous vegetables like potatoes and carrots which are high in sugars.

Dr. Kota Reddy in keeping with the basics of the world staple diets set about to experiment on making a universal bread that will help the healthy, the would-be’s, and the diabetics by not increasing their sugar levels. Mixing different combinations of flour ingredients, he found that soy flour and flax seed suited his purpose. Grinding these together make the pita bread that is nutritionally health conscious. Testing it on 100 diabetic patients who have had several helpings of the Reddy Pita Bread, their sugar levels stayed the same over repeated testing, compared to their sugar levels while eating other types of bread. The ingredients flax seed and soy flour are a combination that provides health benefits to the human body according to ongoing research. Flaxseed has polyunsaturated fats that help lower the total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. It contains omega 3 fatty acids that help maintain a healthy heart. It has also been found to help lower the harmful levels of triglyceride in the human blood. Soy flour has a nutty flavor if toasted and has many health benefits including keeping organs functioning healthy plus helping you lose weight. People eating the Reddy bread over a set period lost 35 - 70 lbs in individual cases. These were diabetics who were able to successfully shed weight and also reduce purchasing expensive medication. Not having wheat as an ingredient makes the bread gluten free helping those suffering from Celiac disease, a digestive deficiency where the small intestines lack the capacity to absorb nutrients from wheat products. Gluten is an im-

portant source of protein found in wheat, rye and barley grains. Over 2 million in the US suffer from gluten allergies. Dr. Reddy in choosing his ingredients has been conscious about this group of allergy sufferers. A native of Hyderabad who came to USA in 1989, Dr. Reddy completed his internship and per-

formed residency in Internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. He specialized in Cardiology at the Texas Institute. He became fully trained in Coronary and Peripheral interventions. Going beyond operating on patients suffering from heart attacks and blood clots, Dr. Reddy has found his calling in reaching out to the masses before they go through a life threatening condition. The adage, “Prevention is better than cure,” rings true in several patients who owe their life to Dr. Reddy’s new way of healthy eating. The Reddy bread is manufactured in Houston. The Pita bread is available sold only at his office. Select

stores only carry the roti in 6 and 12 count packs. The humble pita bread can be eaten by itself or combined with a variety of stuffings - scrambled eggs, avocados with tomatoes and cucumbers on a bed of lettuce, a variety of nuts - pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pecans; plus deli meats (with low sodium levels) or curried meats, vegetables, and fish. It has 8.5 gms of protein per serving with 0 sugars, 15% calcium and 20% iron having 135 calories per half slice serving. It provides a healthy alternative for corn or wheat flour tortilla. Dr. Reddy recommends that each person drink plenty of water while following this eating regimen. He recommends eating egg with yolk and says that most of the cholesterol is not retained by the body. In advising his diabetic patients and those who are on the borderline, Dr. Reddy says: “Stay away from eating corn, carrots, potatoes, beans, lentils, peas, egg plants, yams, beets, cashews, whole and crushed grains, which include Oatmeal, all types of cereal - sugared


and frosted, fruits, fruit juices, wheat, rice, breads, pasta, all types of bakery products and processed foods with high fructose corn syrup or fruit syrups.” Heart attacks can also be caused by high level stress jobs and constant globe trotting, not directly related to food. Eating Dr. Reddy’s Pita bread with a combination of healthy food choices is certainly worth trying as the first step to getting healthy. Add to that plenty of fresh air, sunshine with exercise is a recipe that will help reduce stress levels and keep your heart pumping healthy blood for a lifetime. So here’s hoping to your long healthy life and an empty medicine cabinet in your later years. Visit www.

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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010




Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010

S trai g h t u p f o o d ta l k

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Cauliflower Fry

Ingredients 1/2 kg cauliflower 3 potatoes (medium) 10 small onions 5 teaspoons of oil 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 2 teaspoons of chilli powder 2 teaspoons of cumin powder 2 teaspoons of coriander powder salt as per requirement

Prerequisite Cut the cauliflower into small and medium sized florets. Wash it thoroughly. Cut the potatoes into medium cubes. Also chop the onions fine.


Preparation of cauliflower fry Place the non-stick kadai on the stove. Add 5 teaspoons of oil to it. Now add the chopped onions to the kadai. When onions have turned golden brown, add the cauliflower florets to the kadai. Also add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of chilli powder, 2 teaspoons of cumin powder and 2 teaspoons of coriander powder to the curry. Stir it well, so that the spice spreads through all the florets. Cook it in medium flame for 10-15 minutes until the florets are cooked and can be eaten. Stir the curry at frequent intervals. Be sure not to overcook the florets. Finally add salt as per requirement. For non-vegetarians: Add Chicken 65 pieces to it and enjoy. - Recipes Indian

Indian Food Curries Favor with Americans Indian food in America is having its “Slumdog Millionaire” moment. Supermarket shelves are lined with chutneys, pickles and sauces and all manner of boxed heat-and-serve Indian meals. The quality and number of Indian restaurants has soared, offering an alternative to cheap allyou-can-eat buffets. And a flurry of new cookbooks is introducing home cooks to subtle regional differences in Indian cuisine shaped by climate, geography, religion and caste. In Chicago, Indian businessman Vijay Puniani is betting Indian food will be the next big thing. After studying the success of Chipotle, Puniani opened the first in what he says will be a chain of “fast-casual” Indian restaurants modeled after the popular Mexican eatery. Chutney Joe’s, which opened in downtown Chicago in February 2009, features the sleek, minimalist decor of Chipotle -- warmed up with orange walls -- and a similarly simple menu. For $5.99, diners choose one of four meat or four vegetarian entrees accompanied by rice or the thin flatbread naan. Condiments to spice up or cool down the dishes are free.

Puniani says the Indian-Pakistani population of Chicago comprises just 15 percent to 20 percent of the store’s customers. “We look at Main Street, America as our customer base,” he says, adding that menu items were adapted after focus groups revealed that many people in the U.S. consider Indian food too spicy and heavy. For instance, the popular dumplings known as samosas are baked instead of deep-fried, and cream and butter, two staples of Indian cooking, have been banished from the menu. The growing awareness of Indian culture and cuisine is due to the big influx of immigrants from South Asia since 1965, when national origin quotas favoring Europeans were abolished. Since then, the United States has witnessed a remarkable flowering of Indian talent, energy and drive as well as a seemingly insatiable appetite for all things Indian, including bhangra music, Bollywood films and yoga. Perhaps nothing expresses America’s fascination with that giant emerging economy more than the runaway success of the British film “Slumdog Millionaire,” a rags-to-riches tale based in the Mumbai slums that won eight Academy Awards in 2009. Courier Post


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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


Rethinking India’s Law on Sexual Assault

Human rights groups combating sexual assault, women’s groups and groups working on child rights have come together to reflect on the extent to which the proposed Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2010 addresses concerns on the ground. By Kalpana Kannabiran NEW DELHI (Hindu): The Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2010, being proposed to bring about changes in the criminal laws with respect to protections against sexual assault, has been a subject of discussion and popular misinterpretation in the recent past. While the move by the government to re-examine the law on sexual assault is long overdue and the opening up of this subject a welcome step, it is necessary to underscore the concerns raised by rights advocates across the country. Human rights groups combating sexual assault, women’s groups and groups working on child rights have come together to reflect on the extent to which this bill addresses concerns on the ground; to identify major gaps; and propose an alternative that might eliminate the gaps and ambiguities to the maximum extent possible. This critical engagement with legislative drafting is especially important in view of the fact that it has taken 30 years to put the issue on the floor of Parliament a second time, and 10 years after the Law Commission of India made fairly concrete recommendations in its 172nd report, 2000. In the 30 years since the Mathura and Rameeza cases launched the first major campaign for reform of rape laws in the early 1980s, the experience of sexual assault that has been reported has changed dramatically and in troubling ways. If impunity for armed forces personnel accused of assault sets up a major hurdle to bringing justice to survivors (Manipur and Kashmir), sexual assault during episodes of collective violence (Gujarat and Kandhamal) or as part of caste atrocity (Rajasthan and Khairlanji); custodial sexual assault on intellectually challenged women (Chandigarh); on transgenders (Karnataka); on children — girls and boys; and sexual assault on and/or humiliation of men in custody and situations of collective/targeted violence have posed serious problems for rights advocates in the absence of provisions in the law to prosecute perpetrators. These concerns that emerged in the course of combating rights violations have given birth to the effort to think through — collectively — parameters for a law on sexual assault that will be comprehensive to the maximum extent possible. The large and diverse group engaged in this exercise is, of course, aware that this is no easy task, and is aware also of the fact that both the process of drafting provisions and canvassing the draft will be educative both for those engaged in it and for those who must receive it — in government, Parliament, institutions of justice and communities. There is also a hope

Members of a women’s group during a protest against a rape case in New Delhi.

that the deliberations around the new legislation will not be trivialised and made a mockery of in Parliament and the media like the women’s reservation bill debates. The entire effort to reach this point is over a decade old, and begins with the petition to the Supreme Court, on whose directions the Law Commission put out the 2000 report. The key themes in the effort that has been under way in the current drafting phase for three months are: (a) To set out a statement of objects and reasons that will provide an interpretive guide to prosecutors and the legal fraternity; (b) to formulate tentatively the definition of sexual assault and aggravated assault that effects a clear shift from the limitations of the existing formulations in the IPC on outraging modesty and rape; (c) to think through the gradation of punishments, and procedural and evidentiary standards that reflect the gravity of the experience of sexual assault and provide just redress without putting the complainant on trial. Broadly, the ongoing effort to formulate a new law aims at situating sexual assault within the constitutional right to life, dignity and bodily integrity along with evolving international jurisprudence that sees rape as a form of torture when committed in custody or in situations of

Shiv Sagar

occupation/conflict. It also attempts to set out the social contexts within which such violence occurs, underlining the fact that it is always an exercise of power that is used to target women, children and persons who are socially vulnerable. Coercive circumstances — economic, political and social dominance, positions of authority and situations of custody ranging from state institutions to the family — enhance the power of the perpetrator. An important part of the discussions focusses on the fact that sexual violence occurs along a continuum that ranges from sexual harassment to aggravated assault. For this reason there has been some discussion (as yet unresolved) on whether the title of the chapter should read ‘sexual violence’ or ‘sexual assault.’ Drawing on the experience of advocates and groups pushing relentlessly for prosecution of those involved in mass crimes in Gujarat in 2002, the debates recognise the fact that sexual violence is not limited to penetration but includes sexual humiliation, which has aggravated consequences for the victims and their families. The category of sexual humiliation as an assault on bodily integrity and dignity is one that needs to be articulated carefully and in a manner that does not fall into the trap of “honour

discourse” that has defeated women’s rights to equality for decades. Victims have faced an uphill task of proving that they did not consent to sexual intercourse and that they were in fact assaulted. The first battle was to remove a consideration of past sexual history as a factor that establishes the credibility of the complainant. The second major battle was to determine what constituted ‘resistance’ to rape. In providing support and redress to victims, rights advocates have found that coercive circumstances often disable any possibility of offering resistance, even where consent is withheld. What is the substantive meaning of consent? While it simply means “unequivocal voluntary agreement,” can it be weighted when the victim is in coercive circumstances? How is the issue of consent dealt with in the case of a woman who is “affected by an intellectual, mental or physical condition or impairment of such a nature and degree that she cannot consent or refuse to consent to the activity?” Drafting protections against child sexual assault poses the biggest challenge to this effort. In dealing with aggravated sexual assault, the pinning of command responsibility on a public servant would lead to more effective exercise of due diligence in preventing the crime. Given the range of cases before us, it is important to study the failures of omission and commission, in order to delineate clearly what command responsibility consists of in cases of aggravated sexual assault. Broadly, rather than viewing ‘sexual assault’ as a mechanical substitute for ‘rape’ under Section 375 of the IPC, the effort of rights groups has been to think through the feasibility of formulating a chapter on sexual violence/atrocity that will define a range of such violence in a manner in which the focus shifts from the penetrative logic of definitions hitherto used to the assaultive nature sexual violence. Effecting this shift has implications for procedural law and the law of evidence as well — carefully calibrating the shift in burden of proof and eliminating the two finger test, for instance — both of which are being examined alongside the penal code provisions, with a clear understanding that procedural and evidentiary guarantees upholding universal human rights standards will not be derogated in the course of redefining the law on sexual assault.


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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010



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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


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Enchanting Magic Performing Trio

By Liza George MUMBAI (Hindu): There is something magical about magic. A magic trick or two, no matter how simple, has been known to bring a smile upon the face of, to borrow a term from Harry Potter, ‘muggles.’ While once the world of magic was dominated by male magicians, women are slowly but surely making their mark. For Mumbai-based magicians Pearl and Zenia Bhumgara and Kerala-based magician Ammu S. Rajasekharan, the smile that breaks upon a person’s face when he or she sees a magic trick is worth the applause and accolade that come with magic. Magic started at home for them. While sisters Pearl and Zenia have their magician father, Mhelly, to thank, Ammu says it is her father, Rajasekharan Muthukulam, a freelance journalist’s interest in magic that ignited the magical spark in her. All three started their training young. “But our dad, didn’t believe girls could become good magicians. It was our mom, Kaizad, who taught us our first trick. When our dad saw that a girl could pull of a trick, he started training us,” say Pearl and Zenia. While Ammu uses her magic to spread awareness against various issues such as HIV, drug abuse and tuberculosis, the Bhumgara sisters use theirs to spread cheer. “Mostly to cancer patients, orphans…,” they say. Although learning a trick is easy, constant practice is needed for a magic act to be perfect. “Magic is like any other art form, where practice makes perfect. You can learn a trick in a day but tough to make it seem like magic,” says Pearl who left magic in

Spinning magic: (from left) Ammu Rajasekharan, Zenia and Pearl

between to become a pilot. When her dreams of soaring up in the air failed to take off, magic re-entered her life. “It was tough. I thought I could pick off from where I stopped but couldn’t. I had to keep practicing to make my acts seem seamless.” Magical treat And constant practice seems to have paid off, for these three wooed the audience gathered at AKG Hall in connection with the first ever convention of women magicians in the city with their kitty of tricks. The event, organised by Gopinath Muthukad’s Magic Academy was held with the aim of bringing women magicians to the forefront. So, why is it that there are just a handful of women magicians when compared to male magicians? Says Pearl: “Actually, I feel there are more women magicians in India than abroad. While participating in magic competitions abroad, only one or two female magicians turn up to compete. Here, while once women magicians

did not have a platform, professional magicians like Muthukad sir, are giving us one. The trend of women being mere assistants is changing.” But did they face any gender discrimination while in the field? “No. Skill is skill. If you are good, the audience accepts you,” says Ammu. According to the trio, to be a good magician, one has to be good at keeping secrets. “You need to know how to keep the secret behind the trick to yourself,” says Zenia. Well, while keeping secrets has its share of troubles, it also has its share of positives.“Curiosity often drives people to learn magic. It sure did for us. Many of my friends and others too started learning magic as they saw us on stage. They thought if they can do it, so can we. In fact many started imitating our acts, or music, tricks, style of presentation… But then imitation is the best form of flattery. Our aim is to get more and more women into this industry and be charmed by it.”

Bollywood to Screen Hitler & Eva Story The love story of Hitler and Eva Braun will soon come alive on silver screen, as veteran actor Anupam Kher and actress Neha Dhupia pair up for a Hitler biopic. Titled as Dear Friend Hitler, the film is directed by Rakesh Ranjan Kumar. A source informs Mumbai Mirror that the film shows Hitler’s relationship with his close associates. Says the source, “It shows Hitler in his underground bunker and portrays his relationships with

his close associates - those who loved him, those who betrayed him and those who stood by him till the end. It aims to take the viewer into close quarters with the enigmatic personality that Hitler was and give a glimpse into his insecurities, his charisma, his paranoia and his sheer genius.” Imtiaz Ali has been roped in as the creative consultant for this film. Neha Dhupia seems to be excited about her new role and has already started researching for her character. A source close to Neha informs


Mumbai Mirror, “Neha has already started researching for the character. She is watching tons of historic footage and movies on Eva Braun. Neha learnt many interesting facts while researching this, like how Eva was considered a symbol of ‘womanhood’” “She had a lot of rumours surrounding her, about her sex life with Hitler, her fetish for fur coats, wine and expensive jewellery. She was an absolute attention seeker,” continues the source. - HT

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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


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Piggy ‘Chubby’ Chops? Priyanka Chopra has always had a figure to die for, but her fans will see her looking plump in "Saat Khoon Maaf" because director Vishal Bharadwaj wanted her to put on some weight for the thriller. The actress is disliking every bit of it. "I've been on a put-onsome-serious-weight kind of diet for 'Saat Khoon Maaf" yuck! I feel so unhealthy!" the actress posted on her Twitter page. The 27-year-old is now waiting to hit the gym.

"Now that the film is almost over, I plan on hitting the gym with a vengeance and coming from me that's a feat in itself because I hate gyms! Aaaarrrggghh!!" she wrote. Based on Ruskin Bond's story "Susanna's Seven", "Saat Khoon Maaf" is about a femme fatale who bumps off her seven spouses and Priyanka plays that role with seven male actors including Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan and Neil Nitin Mukesh. - Agencies

Raajneeti Gets Biggest Opening of the Year Raajneeti seems to have lived up to the expectations of the audience as it made the biggest opening of the year last weekend. According to film critic Taran Adarsh, the film has received a huge response despite releasing in fewer screens and lesser shows than Housefull and Kites. The multi-starrer film has made the second biggest opening ever, following 3 Idiots. The film which reportedly cost Rs 55 crore for making and promotion, managed to gross

a whopping Rs 10.5 crore on the first day itself and about Rs 33-35 crore over the weekend. This puts the film in a position to achieve record collections in the course of its theatrical run, especially as there is no big movie scheduled for release the next weekend, giving Raajneeti an uninterrupted 14 day solo theatrical run. Raajneeti has been particularly well received in urban centres and across North India, with occupancies above 80%. - Agencies


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Houston Posts Easy Win Over Colorado in Central West Cricket Tournament

Corns, who moved to the US from South HOUSTON: All rounder Ryan Corns showed his maturity as he led the Houston Africa is studying business administration Cricket League to victory in the two-day and also has a part time job as a sales associCentral West Cricket Tournament in Hous- ate, said Jermaine Levine, his captain at Memorial Cricket ton held during Club, and club the Memorial president Mike Day weekend. Greathead, who Corns, 19, who is also from has representSouth Africa, ed the United have helped him States national improve with Under 19 team, advice. was named the The CCL t o u r n a m e n t ’s reached the Most Valuable championship Player scorgame for the ing 145 runs first time with and taking five wickets with his Ryan Corns receiving the Most Valuable Player an upset win over the North left arm ortho- award from DIRECTV in 2009. File photo Texas Cricket dox spin. In the championship match, the Colorado Association (NTCA) on the opening day. In this contest, Rohit Ramkumar conCricket League (CCL) was dismissed for 163 in 41.3 overs and the Houston Cricket firmed himself as one of the best batsmen League (HCL) cruised to 164 in 17.1 overs in the region with a powerful 128 as CCL

The Houston Cricket League Team without losing a wicket. “It was very hot and humid,” said Corns in an interview with The tournament was Corns’ coming out party as he showed his class as a potential player for the US national senior team. He scored at ease with classical drives and powerful pull shots. He dominated the bowlers in both games he played and was the unanimous selection for the MVP award. While at the crease, he was patient, picked the right ball to hit, and seems to have eliminated the cross bat slogging. Corns said that since he returned from New Zealand with the Under 19 national team he has worked hard on changing his technique. “I have cut back on the bad shots, and I am trying to be patient and waiting to punish the bad balls. By being patient the runs will come,” he said. “I have been in stages where I have been impatient and it has cost me. Patience brings runs.”

amassed 329 in 50 overs, which was beyond NTCA’s reach. HCL was without Sushil Nadkarni and the NTCA missed Orlando Baker. Both were on duty for the US national senior team. HCL spinners Jermaine Levine and Corns, both left arm orthodox, and off spinner Niraj Shah were at their best in both matches. Vivek Inampudi underlined that he is the backbone of the NTCA offense with 88 in the unsuccessful chase of CCL’s 329. He came in at 3/9 in the second game against Central Texas Cricket League (CTCL) and led it to a win. In the first game, HCL dominated CTCL, which was all out for 193 in 37.2 overs. HCL’s fielding was superb and when HCL batted Corns hammered 68 as it made 4/194 in 34.2 overs. HCL had a shaky start in the championship game, but it eventually overcame a fast start by CCL, which took advantage of some wayward bowling, dropped catches, a

Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


Sania Blazes Back after Marriage BIRMINGHAM: Indian tennis star Sania Mirza suggests she may have only two more years on the tour after winning her first match on Monday since her marriage to Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik. Despite twin distractions of a high-profile wedding and a persistent wrist injury, Sania played with remarkable assertiveness to beat rising young Taiwanese Chan YungJan 6-1, 6-4, in the first round of the Aegon Classic. Sania spoke positively about being separated so soon from Shoaib, and for a lengthy period of time. “The distance between us is difficult. But we will be together for life hopefully, so two years isn’t long,” she said. “Marriage is something which happens to everyone at some point. It’s just whether you want to wait to finish your career or get married now. “For me, marriage is personal and tennis is professional. It’s two separate things so it doesn’t feel like a distraction.” Sania said the best she can do with her injury was to contain it, which made the win over Chan — only her second in a mere seven matches all year — in this Wimbledon

warm-up event so much sweeter. “I was just happy to be competing and happy to be out there and feeling healthy,” said the player who became the first Indian woman either to win a WTA Tour title or capture a Grand Slam title (with Mahesh Bhupathi in the Australian Open mixed doubles). “When you come back after a long time and win, it’s good for your confidence.” Up until 6-1, 3-0, Sania hardly struck a shot wrong, connecting with the ball as cleanly as though she had never been away from the tour. On the softish grass this enabled her to strike winner after winner, but when she tried to hurry things along her progress slowed. It brought two double faults to cause her to drop her service game, after which Chan, ranked No.83 in the world, began playing more like a player with top 50 ambitions and rallied to 5-4 down. But when it came to closing out the match Sania made no mistake, delivering two solid first serves from 30-all and both times following up with weighty forehand drive winners.

u run out miss and a solid 0/106 start after 19

Nanda Kumar, the Vice President of the Houston Cricket League said the tournament had “very good quality of cricket” and about 250 people attended the two day tournament, which was played on Astro-turf. Kumar said that there had been no rain for six weeks and it was “very hard, dry and no grass.” Rain finally came. “It was much better than we expected and the tournament was a success,” he said. Tournament champions: Houston Cricket League. Runner up: Colorado Cricket League. Third: North Texas Cricket Association. Fourth: Central Texas Cricket League. Tournament MVP: Ryan Corns (HCL) 145 runs, five wickets. Best batsman: Vivek Inampudi (NTCA) 158 runs. Best bowler: Niraj Shah (HCL) six wickets. Best fielder: Majid Rizvi (HCL). • Contributed by Raheel Khan

overs. Spinners Levine, Corns and Shah slowed down CCL capturing a bunch of wickets before fast bowler Andre Rowe returned to bowl out the last three batsmen and mopped up the innings with CCL making 163. Cornes (77) and Majid Rizvi (70) for HCL were both unbeaten.. The new fields at Paul D Rushing Park were in good condition after being constructed less than two years ago. It was a fitting finale for Tournament Director Sean Chapman, who will be returning to Australia after 11 years. He said: “This was an outstanding weekend of cricket, with exceptional individual and team performances over two very hot days. I was especially thrilled to see the ‘spirit of cricket’ on full display from all teams throughout the weekend as all teams played hard, but fair. “This weekend was perfect for me to say goodbye to cricket in Houston and the USA, as I am moving back to Australia after 11 years in the USA in July.”



Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010

c omm u n i t y c o n n e c t i o n s


Arya Samaj of Greater Houston 281-242-5000

Havan Satsang 10 AM - 12, discourse by Dr. Premchand Shridhar: 281-7520100 DAV Sanskriti school 10 AM - 12 - Havan, Hindi and Naitik Shiksha classes. Shekhar Agrawal: 281-242-5000

Every Sunday satsang assembly accompanied by Santo with inspirational BAPS 281-765-BAPS (2277) talks & devotional bhajans from 4:30pm - 6:30pm followed by arati and mahaprasad. 281-765-BAPS (2277),

Durga Bari Society Temple hours: Monday - Saturday: 9am- 11am and 4pm to 7pm; Sandhya Aarti 6.30pm. Sunday 9am- 7 pm., Champak 832-347-4003 Sadhu. • 13944 Schiller Road. Hare Krishna Dham

Daily Darshan & Arati Times: 4.30am, 7am, 8.30am, 12noon, 4.30pm, 7pm, 9pm. See darshan live on Sunday Festival: 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Located at 1320 West 34th St, Houston, TX 77018.

Hindu Worship Society Temple

Priest – “Bhibhdutt Mishra Ji”. Open for Darshan all days, except Thursday, from 8am -10am & 5pm - 8pm. Sunday 11:30am to 1:30pm – Regular Puja, Religious discourses and Prasad. Website

JVB Preksha Center

Regular weekly program of Yoga and meditation Mon-Thu 7.15pm to 8.15pm. On Saturdays from 9.00am to 11.15am. Located at 14102 Schiller Rd.


Sanatan Shiv Shakti Rudrabhiskek every Monday followed by Aarti and mahaprasad. 5645 HillMandir croft, #701 Houston TX 77036. 713-278-9099

Saumyakasi Sivalaya 281-568-1690

Temple hours: Mon - Fri: 8.30am-Noon, 5-8pm, Sat & Sun: 8.30am-2pm, 5-8pm, Aarti: Noon and 7.30pm, Chinmaya Prabha, 10353 Synott Rd, Sugar Land, TX 77478., Bharati Sutaria: 281-568-1690

Parkash & prayer everyday: 6-7:15am, Evening Diwan: 7:15-8:30pm, Special Sikh Center of Gulf Diwan: Wed: 7-8:30pm, Sun: 10am-1:30pm, Langar everyday. 8819 Prairie Coast Area Dr., Houtson TX 77064, 713-466-6538, 281-635-7466, 832-633-5092 Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple 281-498-2344

Daily Schedule: 7:30am – 9:30am -Suprabhatam, Sri Murthy Aaradhana, Tiruppa:vai Sevakalam, Theertha Ghosti, Balabhogam, 9:30am – 11am :Temple is open, 6:30am – 7pm,

Sri Guruvayurappan 11620 Ormandy St. Houston, TX 77035,, temple@ Temple Houston Shri Kripalu Kunj Ashram 713-344-1321

Vedanta Society


Send event information to Listings should be concise and occur within 15 days of submittal


1pm: Hurricane Preparedness Workshop, Texas Medical Center and Houston Office of Emergency Management, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, 713-791-8805, mscarborough@


8pm: Sathavaro Shree Radhey Shyamno, Namaskaar Entertainment, HBU Morris Cultural Center, 281- 240-3333 8:30pm: STRINGS and FUZON Live, House of Blues, 832-607-2007

13 Sun 22 Sat 16

10am: Center for Gayatri Consciousness;Grand Opeing, 5645 Hillcroft, Ste.307, Sangita Tailor: 281-304-0727,,




19 Sat

20 Sun

Super Singer,USA 2010- Sing a Song and Support a Student, Spandana Foundation, 5:30pm: South Asian Chai Exchange, South Asian Chamber of Commerce, Westin Oaks, Galleria, 832-660-2952, 10am: Kumbhabhishekam, Sri Meenakshi temple, 281-4890358 Ext 100, 101 , 4pm: An Evening with Pandit Jasraj , Indian Music Society of Houston and Center for Indian Classical Music of Houston, Govinda Shetty: 713-922-2501 Carnatic Music Concert with Bombay Jayshree, Bharathi Kalai Manram, JCC center, Houston,

27 Sun

Satsang & spiritual discourses, Sun: 10.30 am.-12.30pm. with simultaneous prog. of Hindi, Sanskrit and Moral science for kids, dance classes for children and adults every Fri:8 pm,

Shri Radha Krishna Four Arti daily: 6:30am , 12 noon, 7pm & 9pm. Tuesday & Saturday 7:10pm. Sunday Bhajan and Kritan at 6pm. Maha Arti 7pm, More information www. Temple Located at 11625 Beechnut Houston, TX 77072. 281-933-8100 Swaminarayan Mandir (ISSO) 281-530-2565

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10am: Amma’s North American Tour, Hyatt Regency, Dallas, 1-888-4-AMMA-09 South Asian Spelling Bee Houston, Trent Internationale School, 281-980-5800, 8pm: Eagles in Concert, Toyota Center, 866-4HOUTIX, www.

JuLY 2010

Darshan: Daily 7.30am-12.30pm, 4-8.30pm. Aarti: Daily 7.45am & 7pm. Hanumanji Aarti: Sat: 7.15pm. Rajbhog Thaal (No Darshan): 10.30-11am. Dinner Thaal 5.30-6pm. Located at 10080 Synott Rd, Sugar Land TX 77498.


8:30pm: A.R.Rahman’s Jai Ho Concert: The Journey Home World Tour, Bollywoodshows4U, Toyota Center, 866-4HOUTIX

5906 Cypress • Classes Sunday from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 1st &3rd Sunday; Bhagavad-Gita, 2nd Sunday; on works of Swami Vivekananda, More information visit


10am: Pujya Deppakbhai Satsang Seminar: Dadabhagwan. org, Vallabh Priti Seva Samaj Hall, Shailesh 832-646-4696


Art and Literature at the Tanjavur Maratha Court: Indian Performing Arts - Samskriti and MFAH, Brown Auditorium, MFAH, 281-565-9483




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5:30-6:30pm: Hindi Classes (starting June 13th), Shri Radha Krishna Temple, SRKT: 281-933-8100,


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Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010


How India’s Roads are Avenues of Death & Dismemberment By Heather Timmons and Hari Kumar NEW DELHI (NYT): India lives in its villages, Gandhi said. Bu/t increasingly, the people of India are dying on its roads. India overtook China to top the world in road fatalities in 2006 and has continued to pull steadily ahead, despite a heavily agrarian population, fewer people than China and far fewer cars than many Western countries. While road deaths in many other big emerging markets have declined or stabilized in recent years, even as vehicle sales jumped, in India, fatalities are skyrocketing — up 40 percent in five years to more than 118,000 in 2008, the last figure available. A lethal brew of poor road planning, inadequate law enforcement, a surge in trucks and cars, and a flood of untrained drivers have made India the world’s road death capital. As the country’s fast-growing economy and huge population raise its importance on the world stage, the rising toll is a reminder that the government still struggles to keep its more than a billion people safe. In China, by contrast, which has undergone an auto boom of its own, official figures for road deaths have been falling for much of the past decade, to 73,500 in 2008, as new highways segregate cars from pedestrians, tractors and other slow-moving traffic, and the government cracks down on drunken driving and other violations. Evidence of road accidents seems to be everywhere in urban India. Highways and city intersections often glitter with smears of broken windshield and are scattered with unmatched shoes, shorn-off bicycle seats and bits of motorcycle helmet. Tales of rolled-over trucks and speeding buses are a newspaper staple, and it is rare to meet someone in urban India who has not lost a family member, friend or colleague on the road.

to a wedding. The truck crushed Akshay so completely that his father could identify his son only by his shirt. The truck also ran over a second man and drove away. Reckless driving and the juxtaposition of pedestrians and fast-moving heavy vehicles is common. The expressway that runs southeast from Delhi to Greater Noida, a fast-growing satellite city, cuts through farmland interspersed with new industrial parks and shopping malls. Small settlements of huts piled with cow-dung patties fringe the road. During a 40-minute ride on that highway, a tractor hauling gravel was seen driving the wrong way, a milk truck stopped in the road so its driver could urinate and motorists swerved to avoid a bicycle cart full of wooden tables in the fast lane. Drivers chatted on mobile phones as they steered stick-shift cars and wove across lanes. Side mirrors were often turned in or were nonexistent. A cluster of women in saris holding small children waited anxiously for a gap in traffic so they could race across the highway. Opposite them, a group of young men in office attire waited to cross in the other direction. The breakdown in road safety has many causes, experts say. Often, the police are too stretched to enforce existing traffic laws or take bribes to ignore them; heavy vehicles, pedestrians, bullock carts and bicycles share roadways; punishment for violators is lenient, delayed or nonexistent; and driver’s licenses are easy to get with a bribe. Kamal Nath, India’s minister of road transport and highways, said in an interview that highway safety was a “priority” for the national government. “Road safety is one of the major issues” the ministry is addressing, he said. The ministry is reviewing the Motor Vehicles Act and, three years after a government-backed committee

An accident in Thane, Mumbai

The dangerous state of the roads represents a “total failure on the part of the government of India,” said Rakesh Singh, whose 16-yearold son, Akshay, was killed last year by an out-of-control truck in Bijnor, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, as he walked along a highway

recommended that a national road safety board be established, it has introduced legislation to that effect in Parliament. International safety experts say the Indian government has been slow to act. Bringing down road deaths “requires political commit-

A car cuts through traffic to cross lanes in New Delhi.

ment at the highest level,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, director of the department of violence and injury prevention at the World Health Organization. India’s government is “just waking up to the issue,” he said. Mr. Nath, who was India’s commerce minister before moving to the Highway Ministry last year, has increased highway expansion plans and is raising $45 billion from private investors to extend India’s 3.3-million-kilometer, or 2-million-mile, road network. The expansion is an integral part of keeping the economy, now at about 9 percent growth a year, humming, Mr. Nath says. Government planners warn that fatalities are unlikely to decline soon. When highways are built, “there are always more accidents,” said Atul Kumar, chief general manager of road safety with the National Highways Authority of India, part of Mr. Nath’s ministry. Mr. Kumar said that his agency had spoken with local residents before building and expanding roads near towns and villages but that it could not always satisfy them. “If we accept all their demands, we’d have an underpass every kilometer,” he said. The expansion has to be “viable for bidders,” he said, and “underpasses and flyovers are expensive.” In the rest of the world, a rise in high-speed roads does not always have to mean a rise in deaths. In Brazil, for example, new, privatized highways have much lower rates of fatal accidents than other roads. Private companies building and running new highways in India say that their hands are sometimes tied. From his office overlooking a 32-lane set of tollbooths, Manoj Aggarwal, chief executive of the road-building company Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity, says he witnesses hundreds of traffic violations every day that he cannot stop. “Look at this man in the middle of the road,” he said during an interview, pointing to a pedestrian slowly weaving his way through the traffic. “I can’t fine him. I can’t punish him.” Only the police can ticket or fine speeders, or people who are on the roads but should not be. But, over-burdened and understaffed, the police are rarely available, Mr. Aggarwal said, even though he has offered to pay them extra to work on off-duty hours. In 2008, 73 people were killed on just this 27-kilometer stretch of highway, earning it the nickname “Expressway to Death.” The death toll dropped as Mr. Aggarwal added safety features outside the government contract. Shivani, a 15-year-old student, recently landed in St. Stephen’s Hospital in Old Delhi with a fractured right leg after just such a highway dash. “I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I was trying to cross the road.” Her forehead and

knuckles were blackened and scraped, and her eyes were glazed after a four-day coma. She has to cross a busy highway during her one-kilometer walk to school. There are no crosswalks, no underpasses and no stoplights. As cars increase, those who cannot afford them and continue to travel on foot, bicycle or rickshaw are more vulnerable, safety experts say. Dr. Mathew Varghese, the head of St. Stephen’s orthopedics department, said he saw hundreds of patients a year like Shivani. The government is building “economic growth on the dead bodies of the poor on these highways,” he said. Frustrated Indians often take matters into their own hands, forming impromptu mobs to beat up offending drivers. “Road rage” incidents, where drivers step out of their cars and get into physical altercations, have become common. Some people have begun campaigns to curb unsafe driving. “People don’t understand the value of life here,” said Manoj Gupta, a consultant from Chandigarh, whose wife was riding a motor scooter when she was crushed by a speeding bus two years ago. Helmet laws apply only to men, and she was not wearing one. The bus driver was out on bail in four or five days, Mr. Gupta said. Now Mr. Gupta stops reckless drivers to tell them about his wife and to ask them to drive more carefully. Safety “needs to be an important part of the driving culture, and that is still lacking,” said Harman S. Sidhu, president of ArriveSafe, a road safety awareness group in Chandigarh. He started it after he was left paralyzed by a car accident in the Himalayas. Last year during Raksha Bandhan, a festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters, ArriveSafe enlisted thousands of sisters to beg their brothers to drive carefully. Mr. Singh, the father of Akshay, the boy killed by a truck in Bijnor, said he had spent days searching for the driver who ran over his son after the local police refused to help, finally taking the police in his own car to make the arrest. Megh Singh, the investigating police officer for the case, said in an interview that the police were eager to investigate but hampered because the station has only one jeep for its 18 to 20 inspectors. The truck driver, now awaiting trial on charges of negligent death in Akshay’s case and murder in a second man’s case, has been released on bail. The truck, which appeared to be carrying an illegally heavy load, was returned to its owner without incurring any fees or fines. Dozens of letters Mr. Singh wrote to local and national politicians asking them to investigate overloaded trucks in the area have not been answered. “No one wants to be responsible,” he said. “They are all passing the buck.”



Indo American News • Friday, June 11 , 2010

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