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Friday, March 21 2014 | Vol. 33, No. 12


Indo American erican News Published weekly from Houston, TX

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IIFA Fever in Houston

Gaura Purnima Appearance day of lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu




Maha Abhishek of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu at ISKCON Houston.

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March 21, 2014



HOUSTON: The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) visited the United States for a special multi-city promotional tour of New York, Houston, Tampa and Orlando from the 11 – 14 of March. The Videocon d2h IIFA Weekend 2015 will be held from the 23 to the 26 of April in Tampa Bay, Florida. Houston saw the IIFA buzz on Wednesday, March 12, when actress Vidya Balan and singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya visited the city and met with the local media at the Westin Galleria.. IIFA partnered Star Promotion Inc on the Houston leg of the US promotional tour. Actor, Vidya Balan said, “Having travelled to a number of exotic locales the world over, IIFA has made its mark on the map, educating the world about Indian Cinema. Going forward, I am very pleased to be a part of IIFA’s landmark journey, as they venture into the United States, in Tampa Bay. I am excited to be a part of the IIFA Master Class this year and look forward to engaging with my fans in the US.” Fans are in for a treat this year. Music takes center stage at this year’s IIFA, with performers such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Pritam, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shruti Hassan joining Bhoomi Trivedi, Monali Thakur, Ravi Drums and Ankit Tiwari in performances paying a befitting tribute to the soul of Indian films. Additional unique events include the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum, an IIFA Masterclass with

March 21, 2014


Indian Cinema Megastar Vidya Balan Visits Houston to Promote IIFA

Abhijeet Bhattacharya

From left: Sabbas Joseph (Director – IIFA & Wizcraft), Dr. Kiran Patel (Supporter of IIFA), Actress Vidya Balan, and Rajender Singh, President and Founder, Star Promotion Inc.

Vidya Balan and Kevin Spacey, among others and IIFA Stomp, a celebration by the Tampa Bay community to welcome IIFA on April 23rd - a unique celebration of Indian music, dance and cuisine in the Curtis Hixon Waterfont Park in Tampa. This open for general public event, will feature popular DJs led by Ravi Drums and Akbar Sami. IIFA Celebrations presented by Freedom Health will play out in a star-studded affair at Tampa Bay, as a huge celebrity contingent including Farhan Akhtar, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Shruti Hassan, Sonakshi Sinha, Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Sri Devi

and Boney Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, Dr. Kamal Hassan, Shekhar Kapoor, Pritam, Anupam Kher, Vidya Balan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Genelia D’souza, Boman Irani, Fardeen Khan and many others will fly down to Tampa Bay in April this year for the IIFA Celebrations presented by Freedom Health. Having played a large hand to bring the IIFA ceremony to Tampa Bay; cardiologist, philanthropist, community leader and strong supporter of IIFA, Dr. Kiran Patel said, “As the excitement builds up, we are pleased to have Ms. Balan join us in the US. With the descend of Bollywood in Tampa Bay and the

continued goodwill of the Indian community behind us we look forward to the grandest celebration of Indian cinema that the US will bear witness to.” Sabbas Joseph, Director – Wizcraft International and IIFA said, “This is a momentous occasion indeed for IIFA and we are thrilled to be debuting in the United States. We have had an overwhelming response from the fans here and want them to experience the true magic of our cinema. IIFA has therefore decided to open up the Magic of the Movies to audiences. We trust that the partnership we have struck with Tampa Bay will lead to great benefits to both countries in terms of entertainment, trade and tourism.” “It gives me immense pleasure to announce that The “Bollywood Oscars” are coming to the Tampa Bay area the last weekend in April, with the

awards ceremony being televised worldwide from Raymond James Stadium on April 26. We at Star Promotion Inc will be supporting Wizcraft International Entertainment, to put on the multiday extravaganza and would request Houston Media and fans to welcome them with open arms. I am delighted to give my full support to host the IIFA 2014. I look forward to it and would like to invite people of Houston, to come and be part of the spectacular IIFA weekend 2014.” Said, Rajender Singh, President and Founder, Star Promotion Inc. Singer, Abhijeet Bhattacharya was also on hand, saying, “It’s always an honour when our cinema and music are appreciated around the world. IIFA has been a part of that journey. As a singer, it’s always special to be awarded or even nominated for an IIFA. The awards have a great deal of prestige attached to it.” The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) as a celebrated platform is known to take Indian Cinema on a global journey, generating unprecedented excitement and buzz around the world year after year for every upcoming IIFA celebration. Coming to the United States this year, the IIFA Weekend and Awards will take place in Tampa Bay, Florida from April 23- 26.



March 21, 2014


5 March 21, 2014 COMMUNITY Gaura Purnima Celebrated at ISKCON of Houston

Sunday school children acted in Gaura lila drama.

BY SWATHI MURALI HOUSTON: Imagine yourself in a desert. Its dry and the heat is burning your throat, the only moisture is the sweat that is pooling on your forehead and your feet are dragging as you try and search for some relief. Then just as you almost gave up hope you see in the distance an oasis, bright and pure and everything that is good and beautiful in the world and there is a huge resurgence of hope in your person. That is the feeling that permeated almost every being that attended the Gaura Purnima celebrations at Hare Krishna Dham Houston. This festival celebrates the appearance of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Krishna in the mood of his devotee and His appearance is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Gaudiya Vaishnava calendar. Mahaprabhu is most remembered for propagating the non- sectarian chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the most celebrated incarnation of the Lord because of his loving, kind and compassionate nature. His entire life is marked with events where he broke down the false barriers of devotion misused by the prideful and misguided persons so that all people could experience the love of God. This year Gaura Purnima fell on Sunday, March 16, and was celebrated alongside the weekly Sunday Feast program. The celebrations began with a Maha Abhishek (ceremonial bathing) of Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Chaitanya Chandra followed by a class by world renowned Hindu Monk, His Holiness Gunagrahi Swami. Throughout the entire temple program, the feelings of devotion and love Krishna and his devotees seemed to electrify the

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Photos: Thejas K R / Nagaragu Nagalla

Devotees listening to Gaura katha (pasttimes of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu)

atmosphere. Devotees were jampacked together, chanting the holy names of the Lord in the ecstatic kirtan led by Anish Pillai. Soon after, the devotees moved to the cultural center, Gauranga Hall for the cultural program filled with music, dance and a drama detailing the life of Mahaprabhu by the Sunday School Children. The cultural program kicked of with

a bharathnatyam dance by Radha Chenna followed soon after by a dance and music presentation by Krishnaya Corbett and the Jiv Jago youth band. Both of these presentations were beautifully done and was followed by a Drama headed by the Sunday School Children. The Drama highlighted many of the pastimes of Mahaprabhu and seeing the little ones dressed up

and enthusiastic to retell the stories of the Lord was the perfect and inspiring ending to a great festival. For further information visit Hare krishna Dham, Houston at 1320 W 34th St, Houston TX 77018 or for future events call at 713 686 4482 or log on to



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March 21, 2014

ICC Members Meet to Plan the Year Ahead

From left: Falguni Gandhi, Nandita Harish, Consul General P. Harish, Charlie Patel, Meera Kapur, Swapan Dhairyawan, Jasmeeta Singh, and Harshad Patel. (Not in pic PV Patel).

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HOUSTON: India Culture Center Houston (ICC) Executive Committee and Chief Trustees had a meeting with the Consul General P. Harish on Thursday, March 5, to discuss wide ranging topics of Community interest. This was the first interaction of the Newly installed Executive Committee with the Consul General. They discussed areas of mutual interest and cooperation for the oldest serving Community organization in Houston. ICC traditionally celebrates India’s Republic Day and Independence Day in Greater Houston area, to keep the people of Indian origin connected with their homeland.

ICC has been a service based organization in the recent years by involving itself in local communities. “ICC celebrated its 40th Anniversary Celebrations in August 2013 and plans to work closely with Partnering organizations like BAPS, Gujarati Samaj, JVB, Indian Senior Citizens, IHA, TCA and many more. We have many versatile and talented Directors on our Board and passionate Trustees this year and we are going to make a difference” was quoted by President Charlie Patel. For further information visit or call 832-4237979

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March 21, 2014


Radhe…Radhe…A Powerful Expression of Love for the Supreme

BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: The tinkling of ghungroos, the haunting notes of Krishna’s flute and the evocative dances by the gopis captivated an almost packed auditorium on 15 March in Pearland. Presented by GOD – Global Organization for Divinity to celebrate their Namadwaar Prayer House’s fourth anniversary, the dance ballet titled Radhe…Radhe… depicted Radha Rani’s divine love for her Krishna through the medium of the Bharatnatyam form of dance. A global nonprofit organization, GOD’s basic tenet is that universal harmony can be sought through spiritual awakening and achieved by chanting the Mahamantra or the Divine names of God. There are 20 Namadwaars around the

world established by GOD. Houston has the distinction of building the first Namadwaar outside India in 2010. Setting the tone for the evening was young Kruthi Bhat who invocated the blessings of Krishna, Radha Rani and His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji through a superb rendition of Bhava Bhaktim Dehime Sri Radhe. Hema Salvady welcomed the gathering including the luminaries - Mayor of Pearland, Tom Reid, Mayor of Manvel, Delores Martin, Kim Sinistore, Padmini Chari, Indrani Parthasarathy and Naomi Stevens. “Humanity and Divinity are inseparable,” explained Sriram Ramanujam and outlined several initiatives such as Health Fairs, Blood and Bone Marrow, Food,

Clothing and Educational supplies drives undertaken by the organization to better the community. Sriram also mentioned the new construction for Namadwaar that would enable the organization to extend its services. This line of thought was continued by Jeevan Nair who stated that the “giver benefits more than the receiver.” Representatives from Forgotten Angels and Adult Reading Center were invited to accept a contribution for their wonderful work. Offering a traditional Namaste to an appreciative gathering, Mayor Reid stated that Pearland has been “busy building a city, roads, waterlines, utilities…it was time to have some culture.” He lauded the

organization for “its stupendous outreach” and “was delighted to be a part of this evening.” In his message, His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji expounded on the four precepts of Krishna bhakti: pilgrimage to Brindavan, scriptures of Srimad Bhagavatam, singing Krishna’s divine names and service to Radha Krishna. He also explained why Radha Rani is not mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam despite her high standing in the hearts of saints and how Uddhava understood the true meaning of Bhakti on visiting Brindavan. Choreography Director, Dr. Surbhi Veeraragavan made excellent use of nine accomplished dancers to bring the story alive.

The dance ballet opened with Radha Rani’s birth. As she grows up, she dreams and yearns for her childhood playmate recalling his stealing butter, dancing on the serpent Kaliya’s head and his magical flute which mesmerized the gopis. This unconditional love conquers Krishna who also cherishes his Radhe. The two spend time wrapped up in their love for each other and seeing the Divine couple, even Shiva is ecstatic. This blissful state, however, is short lived as Krishna leaves for Mathura to fulfil his destiny and Radha is heart-broken. But her love never wavers or lessens and is, as Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji sings, of such divine nature, the world has




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March 21, 2014


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The ‘Common Core’ has been a hot topic in education news, but what is it exactly? At the most basic level, the Common Core can be defined as a set of clear college-and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade students in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. These standards have now been adopted by 45 of the United States and have been the topic of heated debate in recent news. Best in Class Education Center is a national supplemental education franchise specializing in math and English that has aligned itself with many Common Core standards to best help students succeed based on the current requirements they are expected to meet in school. Texas is actually one of the few states that have not yet adopted these standards, but they are on the docket and parents should be aware of the standards and what

they would mean for their students. The overall goal of Common Core standards is to improve student’s critical thinking skills to ensure they can find solutions to problems efficiently and effectively. Best in Class has incorporated several different types of exercises and methods into its proprietary curriculum to help students stay on par with Common Core standards. Some of these include: Reading comprehension passages with critical thinking response questions Essay writing with strong supporting facts and details Math story problems that require critical thinking and mathematical reasoning For more information about Common Core, you can visit For more information about Best

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WRITERS ....... TAKE NOTICE Writers are requested to limit their words to 500. The deadline for advertising and articles is 5 pm on Tuesday of each week. For more information, Call 713-789- NEWS (6397) or email us at: INDO AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM

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Rathna Visualizes a Dance Pose with Every Move She Makes

Dr. Rathna Kumar

Photos: Krishna Giri

BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: Just three years-old, Rathna Kumar was outraged that she couldn’t participate in a dance competition for five year-olds and above. So she threw a tantrum, forcing the judges to give in, and then performed for a huge audience which included the then Governor of Tamil Nadu, Sri Prakasha. Not content with merely competing, she walked up to the Governor and demanded her prize! The nonplussed Gov-

ernor looked around helplessly until someone had the brilliant idea of removing the collection money from a red plastic box and handing over the empty box to the tiny tot. Rathna was thrilled! Decades later, Kumar has won so many awards for her performances that she can’t keep count. A Houston dance icon, she is the Artistic Director of the Anjali School of Performing Arts, and the first NRI to receive the prestigious Sangeet Natak Aka-

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demi Award from the Government of India. Dr. Rathna Kumar (she received a PhD in dance many years ago) brims with warmth, merriment and a self-deprecating humor which she attributes to “growing up with P.G.Wodehouse and reading the cartoons every morning”. After just one look at her newborn’s nataraj like posturing, Rathna’s mother declared that her daughter would be a dancer! This was not so surprising considering that Rathna comes from a multitalented family. Her parents are great singers while other members are poets, writers, musicians and dancers. This intuitive knack for singing and dancing showed up early in life – in fact as early as three when she choreographed her first dance on Lata Mangeshkar’s Jhum Jhum Jhum Baje Payal Mori. Rathna, the child prodigy, started learning Bharatnatyam at the age of four and gave her first public performance at the age of nine. When Andhra Pradesh attained statehood on November 1, 1956, she was invited from Chennai to perform before Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Apart from her dance performances, she’s also acted as a child artiste in about 25 regional movies. Marriage to a family friend’s son, Anil, brought her to the United States where she enrolled in the PhD. Program at Rice University, but destiny had other plans for her. In 1975, she was invited to perform a classical dance for the visiting Indian Ambassador. No sooner had the dance ended than she was surrounded by several mothers who asked her to teach their children. Unsure about what to do, Rathna called both her teachers – K.J. Sarasa and Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam for their advice. Quoting from the Upanishads, Dr. Satyam told her that one cannot take “vidya or dhan (knowledge or wealth) to the grave and must distribute it before one leaves this earth.” Reassured, Rathna crystallized her plans into the Anjali School of Dance located on Beechnut near Kirkwood, which has now become the Anjali School of Performing Arts, located in Sugar Land. She has shared her knowledge and passion for dance with children and showcased their talent in many dance productions. In 1994, over a cup of tea with her friend, Thara Narasimham, the two decided to start a non-profit o rg a nization, Samskriti,, which would dedicate itself to organizing high quality events and conferences related to music, dance, theatre and other arts. Over the years, Samskriti has delighted Houstonians with performances by several noted artists such as santoor exponent Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain and the dancer and actress of yore, Vyjanthimala Bali. Rathna’s performances in Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi have been acclaimed by critics and audiences worldwide. However, for her, the one dance performance that stands out for its sheer “spiritual experience” is the one she performed at the Chidambaram Temple in Tamil Nadu. It is the only Shiva temple in India that has a statue of the Nataraja – every other temple has a shiva lingam - and Rathna danced for “the best audience in the world” – Shiva. All

she remembers after the dance ended were tears streaming uncontrollably down her face and her spirit soaring. Reflecting somberly, and a little wistfully, she says that in a year or two she will dance once more before Nataraja in the Chidambaram temple and thereafter stop all public performances. She will however continue to teach. Apart from Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi, Rathna has also studied Kathak, Oddisi, Mohiniattam and during a one-year sojourn in France, even ballet to understand how each dance style uses body movements. As for Indian movies, Rathna believes that a background in classical dance can bring a different perspective to a Bollywood dance and considers the dances in Dil toh Pagal Hai and Dhoom 3 simply amazing. However the one dancer she considers “a treat to watch” is still the inimitable Vyjanthimala Bali. Rathna is gearing up for her next big dance theatre presentation – Dashavatar or the ten avatars of Vishnu - on April 6 at the Wortham Center, choreographed by her and performed by 32 other dancers. Even though everything is on schedule, she isn’t immune to pressure and occasionally breaks out into what she laughingly calls the “bhadrakali dance” when pushed to her limits of annoyance! Rathna credits her success to her two teachers, her extremely supportive husband Anil, parents and her extended family all of whom have sacrifices to ensure that she reached her full potential as a dancer. She considers herself fortunate to be able to teach several super talented students but cannot help bemoaning the fact that “in this county, career comes first.” She has written two books on dance, and when asked if she planned to write a memoir about her dance experiences, said with her droll sense of humor, “Other than family, who else will buy it?”


March 21, 2014



16 March 21, 2014


Rehan Siddiqi Brings Stars to Houston

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HOUSTON: Rehan Siddiqi’s knack of bringing some of the biggest shows to Houston warms up again as Spring is in the air and Houston awaits Atif Aslam, the singing sensation along with Preity Zinta the Bollywood Superstar and Shalmali Kholgade, the up coming peppy singer from Mumbai. Reliant Arena will play host to this grand show to be attended by over 8500 people on Sunday March 30, 7.30 PM. A show of such a massive scale has not only created excitement amongst South Asians in Houston but all over the United States since this is the only show in North America where Preity Zinta will also be joining Atif Aslam and Shalmali Kholgade on stage. Born in Wazirabad, Pakistan, Atif Aslam started singing at the behest of his friends. His first album ‘Jal Pari’ was released in 2004, the album was a hit and Atif never looked back. In a span of short ten years, he has become one of the highest paid singers with over 9 million hits and a soaring

popularity amongst South Asians on a global basis. His recent tour to India was sold out. Atif’s appeal reaches out to the youth of India and Pakistan alike. His popularity in India can certainly be attributed to the songs he has sung in various Bollywood movies. Expect Atif to sing some of his memorable songs from the past and present in Houston. What will enhance the audience at Reliant Arena is that Atif will be accompanied by a live band. Talking about accompaniment, teaming up with Atif is the young singer from Mumbai, Shalmali Kholghade. Singing since the age of 16, Shalmali hit the popularity charts with her first song “Pareshaan” for the Bollywood movie “Ishqzade” in 2012. In the last two years, she has crooned some very peppy Bollywood songs in movies like ‘Cocktail’, ‘Aiyya’, ‘Race 2’ and ofcourse ‘Balam Pichkari’ from ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwaani’. Shalmali’s skills are not limited to Bollywood, she has infact been a part of a two hour feature on Amy Winehouse and sings in English as well. Jazz singing is very much a part of her repertoire. Besides the superstar singers, live music and a full house, the show will also feature about forty Bollywood dancers, detailed sound and lighting arrangements, big screens to show onstage performances, fire works & pyrotechnics, confetti … all adding to a bring us a grand and festive atmosphere. The entire tour for this show is being attributed to Houston’s own Rehan Siddiqi who deserves accolades for bringing major shows to Houston. Rehan has been instrumental in presenting “sold out” shows with some big namces such as Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sonu Nigam, Adnan Sami, Daler Mehendi, Sunidhi Chauhan, Ghulam Ali, Strings, Sukhwinder Singh, Amanat Ali, Shazia Manzoor, Fariha Perwaiz, Umer Shareef, Mika Singh, Had-

iqa Kiani and many more. Rehan’s shows are unique in terms of presentation and creativity. Not only the audience but even the stars coming from India and Pakistan look forward to working with Rehan’s team. The shows are well advertised and promoted ensuring a sell out crowd and all round success. The upcoming Atif Aslam show featuring Preity Zinta and Shalmali Kholgade promises all this and more. As Rehan puts it in his own words “I am very thankful to Preity Zinta, Atif Aslam and Shalmali Kholgade for coming all the way to Houston to provide great entertainment to Houstonians and it is my promise that the presentation, the sound quality, t h e lighting, the stage and the over all atmosphere with a packed Reliant Arena

Rehan Siddiqi

will be one to remember for time to come. I look forward to providing Houston with more entertainment this year with Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik on May 4 at Hilton Americas and then again in June with Mika Singh followed by Shreya Ghoshal in August and Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan on Septmber 20 back at Reliant Arena. Other show dates shall be announce shortly”. Rehan adds “I thank all Houstonians, my sponsors and all entertainment lovers, we are here to provide you with world class entertainment and that’s my personal commitment to this city”. See ad on Page 2

Radhe…Radhe…A Powerful Expression of Love for the Supreme CONTINUED FROM PAGE


never and will never know. The credit for conveying this haunting tale of love must be given to all the dancers – Anu Nagasimha, Shubha Soman, Nisha Gosar, Roopa Nagarajan, Maya Iyer, Akila Raman, Kavya Rajan, Suwetha Kalyan and Nrithi Subramanian. The lift of the eyebrow, darting looks, yearning, pensiveness and other soulful emotions flit easily across their faces, the expressive hand gestures and the delicate footwork succeed in convey the deep abiding love between Radha and Krishna even to those in the audience who were not well versed in the dance form. Uma Ranganathan, Janakiraman and Karthik Jnaneshwar worked with His Holiness’s compositions to provide the soulful music. They

were supported by Ganapathyraman on the Mridangam, Ananthakrishnan on the violin, Devraj on the flute, Ramesh on the veena and Shankarraman on the keyboard while sound engineer Radhakrishnan brought it all together. Secretary of Hindus of Greater Houston, Thara Narasimhan con-

cluded the evening by articulating the fact that without music there is no dance and there’s no dance without love and devotion. She congratulated all those who had worked tirelessly for this evening after which the dancers were facilitated by a charmed Mayor Reid.


March 21, 2014



18 March 21, 2014


Queen’s English

Checkmating the West

The overwhelming vote in a referendum for Crimea to secede from Ukraine and Russia’s instant recognition of that province as a sovereign nation carry important lessons for world politics. They draw attention to controversial issues of our time—use of force by great powers, legitimacy of regime change carried out through external intervention, question of self-determination for minorities and utility of economic sanctions. The Crimean referendum to break away from Ukraine was conducted under supervision of the Russian military and its allied ‘self-defence units’, evoking howls of outrage from the United States and the European Union. German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned resort to military means to enforce Moscow’s will as “outdated geopolitics” and oldfashioned tactics that have no place in the era of mutual cooperation and globalisation. Redrawing of borders of a sovereign state through military assistance from an outside power does go against the status quo of international order. Yet, in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not make the first move to illegally dismember Ukraine. Rather, he reacted after an illegal overthrow of a friendly regime in Kiev by mobs receiving moral, diplomatic and financial support from the West. From Putin’s perspective, the Europeans and Americans who are fulminating against Russia for egging Crimea’s secession from Ukraine were the ones who created the problem initially by funding the downfall of a democratically elected pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. If intervention by western powers to topple an elected president is legal, Putin would contend, how could Russia’s attempt to defensively protect Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine by giving them the right to self-determination be illegal? Two wrongs may not make a right, but Putin is responding in a hardnosed tit-for-tat strategy to Western moves to weaken Russia’s influence over post-Soviet space. His message to the West is simple: do not mess with Russian interests using foul means, else I can pay you back in the same coin. The Crimean episode illustrates the West cannot claim to be on a moral high ground and that it must also introspect how it misplayed its hand in the Ukrainian crisis. At a broader level, irrespective of Merkel’s notion that use of force is obsolete in international relations, the West has repeatedly used military might to effect regime changes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, often bypassing international law. If we needed proof of a “post post-Cold War” era in which western hegemony and capacity to dictate international outcomes are at rock bottom, Crimea provides the perfect instance. Iron-willed Putin is reminding us that unipolarity of the post-Cold War period is a thing of the past. Sreeram Sundar Chaulia in Times of India. The writer is Dean, Jindal School of International Affairs.

BY SATYAM VISWANATHAN By treating accent hierarchies with disdain, ‘Queen’ mirrors a new social contract. Among the many bases for social stratification that Indians have devised, the callous derision of the minority “native” English speakers for the majority “non-native” English speakers (derogatorily referred to as “vernaculars”) is perhaps the most insidious. It is this unstated but well-established basis for creating social distance that Kangana Ranaut blows to pieces most effectively in her dignified portrayal of Rani in the recently released Hindi film, Queen. While the movie is winning acclaim for its richly crafted, woman-centric, female-empowerment narrative, this is not the only pathbreaking aspect of its appeal. By treating the accent-based caste system imposed by India’s Westernised, convent-educated lot with the disdain it deserves, by recognising that to even dignify it with acknowledgement is unnecessary, the movie offers a refreshing new paradigm. The movie features Ranaut as the female protagonist whose accent, dress sense and conservative values would typically elicit taunts (such as “behenji”) and ridicule from her more Westernised peers in India. Yet, without any fuss, Ranaut makes a sharp statement of pride in her own identity, simply by being herself — plain speaking, forthright and unaffected by anyone else’s perception of her. No apologies, no diffidence, no selfconsciousness, no desire to please anyone. Recent films such as English Vinglish and Cocktail have addressed somewhat similar themes, but not before subjecting the nonWesternised character to some ridicule early on, highlighting her insecurity, anxiety and lack of confidence, and attributing them to her discomfort with English and a Westernised lifestyle. Unlike these movies, where the need was felt to explain the characters’ backgrounds, paint them in

a sorry light and only then showcase their transformation, the makers of Queen felt no need to justify the protagonist’s circumstances or perceived shortcomings, other than to set up an opening conflict for the plot—the bride who gets jilted at the altar. Across the world, accents have always served as signifiers of social class. Working-class Cockney accents are significantly different from the upper-class cadences produced by England’s elite public schools. New York City’s unique dialect, one that has its roots in an era when industrial workers were a dominant cultural presence, is shunned by the city’s upper classes in favour of a more standard American rhotic pronunciation (think “water” with an emphasis on the “r”, as opposed to the more working class “waduh”). The difference with India lies in the pride with which workingclass British and American accents are retained by their speakers, as markers of identity and authenticity and, more importantly, the delinking of accent from access to opportunity. In India, unfortunately, where the aspiration for English-medium education spirals unrelentingly upwards, and the value of wellspoken, “appropriately-accented” English as an opportunity magnet and a sign of progress is unambiguous, the social distance created by accents is no minor issue. Rani’s strong sense of pride in her identity, one that is rooted in a

middle class, halwai-shop-owning, Punjabi family, is more consistent with the working-class pride seen in the West. Her innate sense of security also allows her to navigate alien European cities without any of the usual baggage that Indian film characters in foreign lands are saddled with. She projects an unwavering comfort in her own skin, a confidence in her English accent and conservative values that we rarely see in today’s Hindi cinema. This is in sharp contrast to the nonsensical caricatures of Indians travelling abroad that Bollywood routinely subjects us to. What we have instead is a straight shooting girl from Rajouri Garden, who fumbles through culture shocks and alien environs with a deep confidence that she is not supposed to have. This is not a story of “new India” making a break from the inferiority complexes of the past. It is instead a gentle and tangential introduction to an emerging social contract that is redefining how non-native English speaking Bharat and Westernised India engage with each other. Lisa Haydon’s free-spirited person of Indian origin character in the movie is never allowed to patronise Ranaut — their relationship is strictly a coming together of equals. Bharat is telling India that it doesn’t care much for the opinion of the upper classes, for their accents and pretensions. In a film that appears to have been written with her in mind, Ranaut brings to the screen her own lived experience of having fought vicious bias. As a smalltown, non-native English speaker making her way up in the Hindi film industry (still run by a largely Westernised establishment), she has had to fight prejudice every step of the way. That she pulls off a tricky role, one that could easily have been taken over-the-top, with such dignity and grace, makes it all the more commendable. More power to her. IE The writer is a consumer researcher and part of the Junoon Theatre team.


HOUSTON: MALAY VYAS, MANU SHAH CHICAGO: NAND KAPOOR, INDIA: RAJ KANWAR ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. The deadline for advertising and articles is 4 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 262, Houston, Texas 77036. Tel: 713-789-NEWS or 6397 Fax: 713-789-6399, email:, website:



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A Hearty Invitation to all Hindu Devotees on the occasion of the celebration of

Chaitri Navaratri Mataji’s Pooja & Havan

Chaitri Navaratri Ashtami Pooja & Havan of Mataji Shree Durga & Bahucharaji

Monday, April 7, 2014 Pooja Starts at 1.00 PM. Havan Starts at 4.00 PM, Purnahuti at 5.30 PM (Nariyel Offering) Arti at 7.00 PM ** Garba from 8 to 10 p.m. Mahaprasad will be served after Aarti Devotees willing to sit in Havan & Pooja may give their names to our Priest Shri Hardik Raval Tel: 361-243-6539 or 713-278-9099

Sanatan Shiv Shakthi Mandir is located at 6640 Harwin Dr. Please Note we do not have any other Temple at 5645 Hillcroft Ste: 701


20 March 21, 2014


Blissful Bhagavathi Seva Performed at MTS

Sri Durga Parameswari invoked through the beautifully decorated lamps at Bhagavathi Seva conducted at Sri Meenakshi Temple.

BY CHITTOOR RAMACHANDRAN PEARLAND: Sri Meenakshi temple of Pearland is highly revered for its established tradition of following the ritualistic practices based on ancient Hindu texts in Siva-Shakthi upasana . The procedure of worship in this temple (as per Agama shastra) primarily follow the practice of Madurai Sri Meenakshi Temple of Tamil Nadu. Through a variety of rituals, celebrations, festivals, social events and religious teaching year around, this temple has gained nationwide reputation as a Hindu pilgrimage center for worshipping (especially) Sri Meenakshi (Mother Goddess, Devi, Durga, Parashakthi). On astrologically significant occasions (a few times a year) the temple performs special poojas with unique characteristics and formats. The highly respected Bhagavathi Seva conducted on Friday, March 14 was one such ritual in the worship of Devi, the pooja familiar in the temples and homes of Kerala and Southern Karnataka. Although the tradition of Bhagavathi Seva existed in the worship many centuries ago based on Tantric Principles, it was Bhaska-

rarayar (1690–1785 CE) who is widely considered to be the authority who systematized the current Devi worship procedures (pooja vidhi) including Bhagavathi seva. By sunset on March 14, many ardent Devi devotees assembled at Sri Ayyappa sannidhi where the pooja was performed. Much preparation obviously went in ahead of time as the priest Sri Parameswaran lighted the oil lamps to initiate the pooja. He, hailing from the lineage of disciples of Sri Bhaskararayer, trained at Sri Vidya Upasana Peedham in Tamil Nadu had his mind set to perform a significant ritual. Using rice flour, kumkum (vermilion) and turmeric powder he drew the design of Ashtadala padmam ( Durga padmam) on the floor. After drawing the padmam, he placed five glittering bronze lamps (Nilavilakku) filled with ghee (purified butter) and the wicks on top of the padmam. The lamp placed at the center was decorated with flowers and a red silk decorative piece of cloth. Immediately after all the lamps were lighted, the priest started the pooja that involved several mystic hand gestures, familiar only to the

trained Devi upasakas. The serene expression of the priest with closed eyes was indicative of this as the invoking procedure. In the aradhana that followed, the priest performed pooja on each lighted lamp representing Guru, Sri Ganesha and Sri Durga Parameswari in sequence who were all invoked. The devotees were permitted to join him in the recital of certain passages like Lalitha Sahasranamam. The ambience during the entire duration of the pooja was pious, calm and intensively focused on spiritually uplifting names of Devi. The copious shower of rose petals and the fragrance of camphor and burning ghee added divinity of the surroundings. The blissful feeling it infused in the devotees was beyond words. The pooja predominantly employed recitation of several passages from the highly regarded scriptures including Brahmanda purana ( Lalitha sahasranamam and Lalitha ashtotharam , which enumerate the meaning-embedded divine names of Parashakthi), selected stanzas from Devi Mahatmyam (Durga Sapthashathi; from Markandeya Purana that describes the glory of the Mother Goddess) and portions of Soundarya Lahari ( which extol Parashakthi, the consort of Siva, as the creative energy of the universe - based on Adi Shankara’s bhashyam). In the concluding rituals, the priest gracefully honored the Goddess with gratitude for her continued blessing and mercy towards the devotees. With the reaffirmed trust in Devi, the devotees prostrated to express their unconditional surrender to Sri Durga Parameswari. This pooja was coordinated by Sri Sasidharan Pillai and the religious committee.

Vedic Heritage School Teachers and Volunteers Appreciation Celebrated at Sri Meenakshi Temple ALEXANDER P. MATHEWS, CPA For Services In:


25 Years in Public Accounting 11104 West Airport, Ste 114, Stafford, TX 77477

(281) 564-9500

celebrated the very successful Shlokotsavam on February 16 and it is befitting to honor the Teachers and Volunteers with the appreciation Day, who have been a key driver for the developSri Meenakshi Temple Vedic Heritage School ment of the children. (VHS) Teachers and Volunteers appreciation The event began with day, with MTS Board. the young children demonstrating what PEARLAND: Sri Meenakshi they have learned and thanking Temple Society (MTS) in Pear- the teachers in their own inimitaland celebrated the 2014 Vedic ble style which was touching. The Heritage School (VHS) Teachers VHS coordinators, Garuda Rao, and Volunteers (T&V) Appre- MahaLakshmi Panchavaty and ciation Day on Sunday, March 2. Sripathy Karnam, along with all The first VHS class was started in the teachers and volunteers helped 2000 with a modest beginning with to run this segment smoothly. The recognition began with the about two dozen students and five volunteers. The VHS growth has Invocatory Slokas to Sri Sarasbeen dramatic with an enrollment wathi. MTS Education committee in excess of 220 with about thirty coordinator and Executive directeachers, volunteers and teaching tor of MTS board, Meena Subraassistants. The VHS recently had manian gave the opening remarks

and introduced the MTS Chairman Dr. Vaduganathan to present the awards. Dr. Vaduganathan remarked on how his young adult children had grown being an Integral part of the VHS School, attending the classes and immensely benefitting from the experience which was much appreciated. He added that this is a typical experience of a number of families that have benefitted from the service that VHS has offered from its inception. Several MTS board members were present to lend their support to the VHS School, and especially appreciated the tremendous efforts of the teachers and volunteers, each of whom was recognized individually. A sumptuous lunch was served as part of the appreciation, enjoyed by all. For further information on Vedic Heritage School check http://mtsvhs.blogspot. com/ or contact



March 21, 2014

Twenty Years Celebration of Hinduism Radio Program

HOUSTON: Voice of Sanatan Hinduism Radio program has now completed 20 years of broadcasting. Looking back to the past 20 years the Houston Hindu Community started to build the foundations of many institutions and organizations to establish not only places of worship and teach Hindu Dharma it also ventured into the media of radio. This was also a time and age when the Western world looked up to Sanatana Dharma for its teachings with accurate meaning and significance of traditions, festivals and rituals. A radio program to showcase the tenets of Hinduism was created by “Dheerga darshi” (Intuitive Instructor) Padmakant Khambhati. His vision was to explain the doctrines of Hinduism by sharing Vedic knowledge and share it on public media the richness of Hinduism and its philosophies. Hinduism alone is by itself a vast and ancient religion as a great diversified and yet subtly unified mass of spiritual thought and realization. For the past twenty years, one voice that has provided to communicate through public media not only the eminence of Hindu faith but also present melodious Bhajans, Music and Chants of Vedic Hinduism. The program is only supported with donors, well-wishers and listeners support with no commercials. We were able to sustain this many years and we thank all those who have helped and donated generously in the past. To thank the community we are celebrating our 20th year Anniversary celebrations on March 29, at VPSS Temple. We cordially invite you to join us as we bring you the finest of Houston Artists with Celebrity performers. Chandrakantha Courtney presents Devotional Bhajans, Rajarajeshwary Bhat presents Grand Houston Hindu Choir and Symphony, Kusum Sharma presents Devotional Dance And Amazing Chants by Young Children on Saturday, March 29 from 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM, VPSS Haveli 11715 Bellfort Village Dr Houston, TX 77031. Please RSVP to attend and send via email to our address: We look forward to your continued support and your donations are tax deductible. We endeavor to improve the program with your suggestions, participation and serve to the interest of all age groups. Please contact our

For advertising Call 713-789-6397



Stay tuned every Sunday,


to from 2.30pm to 3.30pm


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Padmakant Khambati (left) and Thara Narasimhan.

radio station 281-983-9550. You can send your donations to Sa-

natan Hindu Center, 10007 Mystic Spring Lane, Richmond, TX 77407 Telephone- 281-459-0866 Your financial support ensures that you can listen at the convenience of your home, car or internet selective choices of unique and favorite Bhajans, Music and Hindu news around the world on Voice of Sanatan Hinduism radio program.


Geetanjali Radio AM 1320 Sat & Sun 2-6 PM For your business ads

Tel:281-909-0825 - 713-545-4749 Cell:832-878-4338

May 17-18, 2014 This celebration marks the culmination of nearly forty years of dedication and hard work at ISKCON of Houston. An inspiring vision of HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj to carry on Srila Prabhupada’s and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission of spreading the holy names of Lord Krishna is finally coming to fruition through the opening of this new temple – a place for celebrating, promoting, and educating people in the science of Krishna consciousness. ISKCON of Houston 1320 West 34th Street Houston, TX 77018 E-mail: I Phone: (713) 686-4482 Dedicated to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)


22 March 21, 2014 LEARN TO DRIVE TODAY!


Houston BITSians Welcome BITSAA International President, Jayan RamanKutty

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Reception to Jayan RamanKutty at Kiran’s Restaurant

HOUSTON: The newly elected President of BITSAA (Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences Alumni Association) International, Jayan RamanKutty, a silicon valley serial entrepreneur was felicitated with a memento by Houston Chapter members at a luncheon reception held at Kiran’s Restaurant on March 2. His wife, Vibha Jayan also graced the occasion. The day’s honoree, Jayan RamanKutty distinguished himself as a founder of four successful technology companies in the last 20 years. Most recently, he was the Founder-CEO of YuMe Networks (NYSE: YUME), a company focused on real time on-line video and adv. Management. In 1997, he co-founded Lara Networks, a world leader in search engines, which was acquired by Cypress Semiconductor. Immediately after graduating from San Jose State University in 1991 with a Masters in Computer Engineering, he cofounded Nimbus Technologies to design multi-processing Sparc Chip sets which was acquired by Alliance Semi-conductor in 1993. He also co-Founded Empower Tel. Networks which was acquired by IPunity in 2002. Despite short notice, the event was attended by 25 proud BITSians, young and old, living in Houston Greater metropolitan

area that included BITSAA Houston Chapter activists: Krishna Vavilala, Narendra Gosain, Sanjay Ramabhadran, Aalap Tripathy, Rajesh Chelapurath, Ram Tekumalla, P.S. Raju and Venkat Yadha. A prominent Houstonian and a proud BITSian, Ramesh Bhutada of Star Pipes could not attend. RamanKutty spoke of the need to create a brand name for the BITSAA International organization to inculcate a common pride of being a BITSian. As the incoming President of the organization, he would try to connect all BITSians so that they could network and help each other. Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, famously known as BITS-Pilani is the largest privately funded deemed university renowned for high standard of education. It is the only private Indian institution that has set up a campus outside of India, in Dubai, in addition to its three existing campuses in India, at Pilani, Hyderabad and Goa. The institution was founded by late G.D.Birla - an eminent industrialist, a philanthropist and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. BITS symbolizes entrepreneurship and leadership and has world renowned reputation for creating immensely talented technical and business leaders.

BITSAA members are estimated to be around 40,000 spread over 80 countries and are strongly connected through BITSAA International which is a registered non-profit organization. The fact that BITSAA International, under the leadership of its outgoing Chairman and CEO, Raju Reddy, another Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has presented a US $1,000,000/- check to its alma matter in the recent BITSAA Global Meet 50@50, held in Hyderabad on January 5, is a testimony of its global strength. On 23 December, 2013, BITSAA was invited to ring the NASDQ opening bell, a unique honor rarely bestowed on an educational institution located outside America. This was in recognition of the number of technology companies started by BITS Pilani graduates in America, thus creating thousands of technology jobs. Local Houston chapter of BITSAA was ceremonially launched on Aug 2, 2013 by Consul General, P. Harish and his wife Nandita to coincide with the BITSian day celebrations all over the world. For further information about BITSAA International log onto or call Krishna Vavilala 713-795-5169, Venkat Yadha 860-214-6135 or Kalyan Chakravarty 561-670-3384.


March 21, 2014

Job Posting:

Job Posting:


Would you like to work in one of the best news towns in the nation? And for one of the strongest broadcast companies? If you can spend all day crafting a quality newscast and then drop everything for breaking news, then we want to hear from you. KTRK-TV, the ABC Owned Station located in Houston, TX is looking for a journalist who is a strong writer, understands how to use graphics and can produce a well-paced newscast under daily pressure. The ideal candidate is both a leader and a listener. Candidates must have at least three years of experience as a newscast line producer. ENPS /Aurora/Ignite experience a plus - as is good understanding of social media and how it can be used to reach viewers and create content. Candidates must be able and willing to learn both non-linear editing and writing for our digital platforms. Applicants must be willing to work overnights, weekends and holidays.


Non-Linear News Editor (Part Time)

KTRK-TV, and ABC owned station in Houston, TX has an opening for a part time Non-Linear News Editor. Candidates should have experience in editing on non-linear systems as well as knowledge of the Digital Newsroom and understanding of the digital workflow for broadcast news, in a deadline intensive environment. Serious candidates should also have a working knowledge of a server based digital media workflow. Candidates should be able to edit in deadline situations, be creative, precise and be able to work fast. You must be able to take direction, and be a “Team Player” who is not afraid of an intense news environment. Hours will vary depending on the needs of the department, so flexibility to work a varied schedule is required.

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Applicants must apply on-line at by uploading a resume file, cover cover letter and list of references. Interested applicants should also send video tape of references. If you are truly ready for market #10, please send writing sample of your work to: Human Resources, KTRK-TV, 3310 Bissonnet, Houston, TX letter and list samples and a copy of your latest newscast including one that demonstrates your ability 77005. Please Reference Job ID: 171682BR on all materials submitted. No phone   to: Human Resources, KTRK-TV, 3310 Bissonnet, Houston, TX calls please, and no third parties. to handle breaking news HOLESALERS   ONSOLIDATORS  FOR  ALL  MAJOR   77005. Please Reference Job ID: 171572BR on all materials submitted. No phone calls please, and no   third parties.

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24 March 21, 2014


Place a Number in the empty boxes in such a way that each row across, each column down and each 9-box square contains all of the numbers from one to nine. Send us the correct answer before March 26, 2014. Email us at or mail to 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036. Send us your picture and we will publish it if you are a winner (for first three entrees only).

Solution Next Week

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Mama’s Punjabi Recipes

Dhuli Mah Chole Di Dal (Skinless Split Urad And Split Chana Dal) This is a variation on the most beloved of all dal dishes for Punjabis, and a welcome change from the brown chocolate colored Dal Makhani (Butter Lentils) which is found in just about every Indian restaurant and dhaba around the world. It combines the flavor pf the black urad dal - but without the bitter taste of its skin - and the yellow chana or chola dal (without the skin). Most Punjabis will argue that the skin on the urad dal adds fiber and protein to the finished dal dish, but many will tell you that the skinless variety makes the dish sweeter and allows adding more spices to enhance the flavor. Most dals are made alone, by themselves and not mixed with others. The urad-chole dal combination is considered unique to the Punjab by tempering the soft starchiness of the urad dal with the hardiness of the chole dal. But when the urad dal is skinless it tends to cook even faster, so you have to be very careful that it does not dissolve into a soupy liquid and doesn’t taste like a dal. This dal should not be made in a pressure cooker or all you will get is a thin soup! The chana dal should be cooked first and then the urad dal added to it. This dal goes well with many other dishes, rice and rotis and condiments, like achaars and red onions, without imposing a strong flavor and should cooked with a little hing (asafetida) to assist in digestion and add flavor and garnished at the end with garam masala and coriander. If you prefer, you can use powdered ginger and garlic Ingredients: • 1 cup skinless split urad dal • 1 cup skinless split chana dal • 4 cups pani (water) • 2 tbspn olive oil • 1 tspn garam masala • 5 stalktops fresh dhania (coriander) – pinch off the leaves and cut into pieces • Spices: lal mirch (red pepper); namak (salt); haldi (turmeric) – to your taste

Ingredients for curry masala: 1 large pyaaz (onion) – peeled and chopped • 4 cloves of lasan (garlic) – peeled and chopped, or use powdered garlic • 1 medium adrak (ginger) – peeled and chopped, or use powdered ginger • 1 pinch of hing (asafetida) • ½ cup water Directions: 1. It is important to prepare the chana dal first. You can either soak the chana dal for an hour in water and then cook it with the urad dal or place the chana dal and water in a pot on the stove and bring to boil for 10 minutes until it is a little tender. •

2. Pour the urad dal into the pot and add the ginger, garlic, and spices 3. Bring to boil for 15 minutes, if needed add more water but this dal should not be runny. Let the dal mix well, the grains of urad and chana dal should not appear separated but the dish should not appear too thick. The grains should be soft but not mushy. Be careful that the

4. Heat the oil in a small karai or wok and add the curry masala spices and water and brown it a little. When roasted and the smell of the pieces starts to come through take off the heat and drop the masala into the pot of cooked dal and stir to mix well. 5. Sprinkle the top of the dal with garam masala and the cut coriander leaves above. Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.


There have been many times when the dal that is served is watery and very thin, with the individual grains either sunk to the bottom or the entire dish is like a soup. This is not the Punjabi style of cooking dals, as the dish should be thick, the grains visible and it should be able to be scooped up with a piece of naan, roti or parantha. The reason that the dal becomes a soup is that it has been cooked for too long over high heat or in a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking time. Be aware of the density of each type of dal and then cook them accordingly. Most dals do not need to be cooked in a pressure cooker, instead they should be cooked for 10 to 15 minutes over medium high heat – later reduced to medium low – in a pot.

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ENTERTAINMENT Movie Review: Queen

BY SHUBHRA GUPTA Stop press: I have just seen an honest-to-goodness, full-fledged, full-bodied film. A FILM, hear me? Not an American sit com masquerading as one, or yet another meaningless 70s masala remake. ‘Queen’ is a significant Bollywood marker, a film that is intensely local and gloriously global, with a terrific lead performance by Kangana Ranaut, in a story that bubbles over with real

feeling and meaning. Rani (Kangana Ranaut) is dumped just a day before her wedding by her fiance Vijay (Rajkumar Rao). Devastated, she decides to flee, because staying home to lick her wounds is not an option. So, she finds herself in Paris, and the journey she embarks on makes ‘Queen’the kind of coming- of-age, discoveryof-self tale that Bollywood usually doesn’t touch with a bargepole. Because women-centric films don’t do well, do they? This is where Phantom Productions, which has made this ( their first was ‘Lootera’), has stepped in. It starts with a loud Punjabi wedding, and you enter the film, mildly diverted by Rani’s loud Punjabi family, doing ‘giddha-shiddha’, ‘mehendi-shendi’, but not before you’ve had time to register that the Rajouri Garden ‘mithai’-shop-owning middle-class-ness of the Mehras is just right. And that Mummyji, Daddyji, the plump ‘chota bhai’, and Dadiji are all pitch perfect. Big Punjabi weddings and Bollywood have had a long relationship, but where ‘Queen‘, both the girl and the film, start coming into their own, is when Rani is left to fend for

March 21, 2014 herself, first in Paris, and then Amsterdam.Alone Indian girl, a ‘behenji’ with a ‘desi ghee tadka’, would usually fumble her way across crowded streets and annoyed pedestrians and find herself in a handsome stranger’s arms, sing a few songs, do a few ‘nakhras’and gratefully accept ‘mandap’ and ‘mangalsutra’. But not Rani aka Queen. She does make silly touristy mistakes, nearly gets mugged but doesn’t let it get to her, and discovers she has a spine after all. Lucking into a long-legged hotel maid Vijay Lakshmi (Lisa Haydon) is the first departure from standard Bollywood practice: this other Vijay takes Rani under her wing, drags her into a store with lovely Parisian clothes (these Paris maids are not just drop dead sexy, and enjoy their libido, they can afford all those designer threads?), and generally hand-holds Rani for an enjoyable spell. Bahl’s second directorial venture is a delight: his first, ‘Chillar Party’, had some spark, but nothing prepared me for this. The story, which could easily have slipped into mush, stays free of drippy sentimentality, barring one or two raised-violin scenes. Rani is given interesting companions: in Amsterdam, she is handed a multicultural trio, a vertically challenged Japanese, a black Frenchman, and a good looking Spaniard, as well as a dishy Italian. Again, this could have turned into a clichéd international-accented soup, but despite a couple of exaggerated mis-steps, it stays grounded. And Rani is well on her way to learning the meaning of friendship and freedom in a land far

away from home, where girls have to live with the word ‘allowed’ . Kangana Ranaut revels in her solidly-written role, and delivers a first rate, heart-felt performance. There are only a couple of slips (in one, she pronounces the word ‘fiance’ perfectly, all rounded vowels: given her Rajouriness, this should have been a straight opening of mouth). I was also quite taken aback by the speed with which she junks her ‘chatak’ Lajpat Nagar ‘kurti’ look and adopts pastel, understated dresses. But no matter, I found myself watching Kangana Ranaut much more than her clothes. Her mobile face has sensibly been kept free from pancake, and more than anything else, Ranaut comes off believable: she does hurt like no other Bollywood heroine currently can. Lisa Haydon nearly walks off with the film in her small role. She doesn’t place a single foot wrong as she strides long and smooth next to the diminutive Kangana. She left me asking for more. And the bunch of ‘foreigners’ that Rani raps with in Amsterdam are all well drawn, and what is even better, nicely rounded. The one part I didn’t feel as convinced about was Rao’s: he is made to whine and mumble altogether too much, as he makes his way through the film in uneasy fits and starts. But that’s all right because this film isn’t about him. It’s about, hallelujah, her. It’s probably quite deliberate that Lisa Haydon’s name is also Vijay. And Ranaut is Rani, Queen of Hearts. -Indian Express

Kareena Kapoor to Sizzle in an Item Song in ‘Gabbar’ Bollywood diva Kareena Kapoor Khan, who has set the screen on fire with her moves in item songs such as ‘ Fevicol Se’ and ‘ Halkat Jawani’, is all set to do another item song. According to reports, the pretty actress has been signed for an item song in ‘Gabbar’. Quoting choreographer Vishudeva, a report says that Gabbar will have an item song in it. Though he has not confirmed if Kareena will do it, he said the shooting of the song will commence from March end. Gabbar, directed by Krish and produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is a Hindi remake of Tamil film Ramana made by A.R. Murugadoss. The movie will see Akshay Kumar paired with the gorgeous Shruti Hassan for the first time. The movie has also been made in Telugu and Kannada languages.The report further adds that Kareena will join the cast of the film in Pune by end of this month. With a fresh pairing of Akshay and Shruti and a sizzling item number by Kareena, Gabbar will surely set the box-office on fire. -Times of India

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Air India Looks to Cut Costs, Boost Revenues in 2014-15

Air India expects operating losses to reduce by 42.85% to Rs.1,200 crore in 2014-15 based on higher projections for passenger and cargo revenues, according to its own estimates. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint


The airline is expected to post a

liance means Air India passengers

14. Mint has seen the estimates document. The state-run airline posted a net loss of Rs.5,100 crore in the last financial year and has debt of nearly Rs.40,000 crore on its books. Air India posted a net loss of Rs.7,100 crore in 2011-12 and is in the midst of a Rs.30,000 crore government bailout programme. The airline will be able to offer more flight options after joining Star Alliance in the next financial year, the executive said. “The deadline of joining Star Alliance is June 2014 and we are preparing ourselves to comply with certain rules for the entry,” he said. Star Alliance, a global grouping of airlines, had suspended its invitation to Air India in 2011 but renewed it in December after a unanimous vote against the backdrop of improved operating conditions in the Indian aviation sector. Entering the Star Al-

like airport lounges, fly on a network of 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries and redeem air miles on airlines such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Singapore Airlines Ltd and United Airlines Inc. Cutting losses and entering the Star Alliance are key milestones for Air India as competition is intensifying in the Indian aviation sector. Etihad Airways PJSC of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) bought a stake in Jet Airways (India) Ltd and Tata Sons Ltd is in the process of launching new airlines with Singapore Airlines and AirAsia Bhd. However, experts are not enthusiastic about the government airline’s prospects. “Air India will not survive unless it is taking radical measures to address the issues of bloated worked force and bloated salaries,” said Hormuz P. Mama, an aviation expert. Mama agreed that Air India’s losses are coming down year by year but said it

MUMBAI: Air India Ltd wants revenue of Rs.19,200 crore for 2013- will be able to use Star’s facilities

to cut its operating expenses by some 40% in the next fiscal year even as the state-owned airline prepares to post an operating loss of Rs.2,100 crore and a net loss of Rs.3,900 crore in the year to 31 March. The national flag carrier expects operating losses to reduce by 42.85% to Rs.1,200 crore in 2014-15 based on higher projections for passenger and cargo revenues, according to its own estimates. “The next financial year is going to be critical for us. Strict cost-control measures and revenue enhancement efforts are likely to result in at least Rs.1,200 crore reduction in our operating losses,” an Air India executive said, requesting anonymity. Air India is expecting a 15% increase in its total revenue of Rs.21,500 crore next fiscal year, backed by an overall seat occupancy of 75% and an on-time performance of 85%. It also indicates a 9% increase in capacity or seats deployed to garner this growth.

needs to opt for structural changes to return to profitability. “In principle, sure, they can manage it much better if they want to and are given freedom by government,” said Craig Jenks, president of New Yorkbased airline consultancy Airline/ Aircraft Projects Inc. There is no interference from the government and there is more direction towards growth, a second Air India executive said, without elaborating. The executive, who declined to be named, said two units of Air India—Air India Express, which is an international low-fare airline, and Alliance Air, a regional airline—will have increased revenue with the new fleet. “Air India Express will have a revenue of Rs.2,200 crore for the next financial year against Rs.2,000 crore in the current financial year, while Alliance Air will have a revenue of Rs.275 crore (against Rs.230 crore). Air India Express will also have a fleet of 35 planes in the next fiscal from current 21 by way of leasing. We will be hiring new planes for Alliance Air too,” the second executive said. Air India has plans to bring in 19 Airbus A320 aircraft to boost its domestic operations. “We have already agreed to take five Airbus A320 planes from China Aircraft Leasing Co. Ltd. All these five planes would be economy planes to compete with low fare airlines of the country,” the second executive said. Mint could not immediately contact China Aircraft Leasing for a comment and an email sent to the company did not elicit any response. The second executive said that Air India would lease 15 more planes from different companies and it would be mixed configuration, all economy and two-class configuration with business and economy classes. “There are some routes that can have business class seats or premium

economy class seats,” the official said. “We will deploy the planes and configure seats in such a way that it will compete with both AirAsia India and Tata-Singapore Airlines.” The loss-making airline is also in the process of raising nearly $300 million to pay advance money to aircraft maker Boeing Co. of the US to fund four more Dreamliner planes. Air India has already raised $200 million through a bridge loan from Bank of India for pre-delivery payments for its 13th and 14th Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft. Mint could not reach Bank of India for a comment. Air India took delivery of its 14th Dreamliner on 7 March, and will add six more planes in next financial year, taking the Dreamliner fleet to 20. The remaining seven will come in financial year 2015-16. The Dreamliners are expected to turn around the fortunes of lossmaking Air India. In 2005, the airline placed an order for 27 Dreamliners worth $6 billion from Boeing under the leadership of then-civil aviation minister Praful Patel. “In principle Dreamliners should pay off, as in airlines, the operating cost is always much higher than the annualized equipment cost, and this is a very efficient airplane,” Jenks of Airline/Aircraft Projects said. Air India is also in the process of selling some of its long-haul planes that are currently grounded. It has already sold five of its Boeing 777200 LR long range planes to Etihad Airways for an undisclosed amount.



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28 March 21, 2014 World T20: India Eyes Elusive win, Takes on England MIRPUR: Their already low morale further dented, a listless India would be desperate for a win when they take on England in their second and final warm-up game in the ICC World Twenty20 Championships on Wednesday. India will be playing their first group league match against Pakistan on Friday and a win against England is a necessity considering the team’s continuing poor run. The Indians went down by five runs in the opening warm-up match against Sri Lanka on Monday. Although they didn’t set the stage on fire, the two comeback men Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh had a decent outing with the bat, which makes their case even stronger. Yuvraj scored 33 and Raina contributed 41 in a losing cause but both were out after they had got set. That both can also roll their arms over on this slow track at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium makes young batsman Ajinkya Rahane’s case a bit weaker. By getting out for nought having misread the flight of a Sachitra Senanayeke delivery, Rahane has done himself no good. The batsmen who automatically select themselves are Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. While Raina batted at No. 3 on Monday, it was done with an aim of giving skipper’s trusted lieutenant a chance to settle down and play more deliveries since Kohli’s place is settled in the side. Yuvraj is a player who has got four man-of-the-match awards in India’s last five official T20 internationals. The only place Rahane fits in is at the top of the order where both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been struggling of late. Rahane has also successfully opened for Rajasthan Royals in the last two seasons of the Indian Premier League. It won’t be surprising therefore if one among Rohit or Dhawan is dropped in order to accommodate Rahane. There remains a possibility of Dhawan making way for Rahane as Dhoni has backed

(Capt.), Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Mohammad Shami, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh. England: Stuart Broad (Capt.), Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Michael Lumb, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Stephen Parry, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Luke Wright. TOI

Sehwag: Still 2-3 Years Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is hoping to call a time out on the long losing streak.

Rohit in times which were even worse than this. Rohit had a long streak of single digit scores but the skipper always showed enormous faith in his talent and abilities. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the two main spinners in the side. Both being handy bowling allrounders, they are much ahead in the pecking order than Amit Mishra, who has not done too badly in the limited opportunities that he has got. Mohammed Shami is inarguably India’s number one pacer currently and Varun Aaron looks better suited than Bhuvneshwar Kumar to become the second pacer of the side. Bhuvneshwar’s 17 runs in the final over against Sri Lanka proved to be decisive in the final context of the match. The young UP seamer is certainly under pressure as the wickets have dried up and the swing which made him such a lethal weapon in skipper Dhoni’s armoury is long gone. While he was an unknown entity in the first season, the teams over passage of time in the last 12 months have started analysing his bowling. His lack of pace also makes him vulnerable in this format. Mohit Sharma was the only

player in the 15-member squad who was not fielded in the first warm-up game. He is certain to get a chance against England but it will be very difficult for him to break into the playing XI right away even if he performs well. Another interesting aspect will be to watch skipper Dhoni bat in a match situation after recovering from side strain. Prior to the practice match against Sri Lanka, Dhoni didn’t bat in the nets. During the match, he kept wickets as the team doesn’t have an option but he didn’t come out to bat. Even if it’s a strategy, a defeat only dents the confidence and this Indian team has tasted more of it in recent times. England, on the other hand, will be fighting a jet-lag having taken a long flight from Barbados to Dhaka. Skipper Stuart Broad is suffering from a dodgy knee while the team is not exactly rich in overall international experience save a few like Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan to support Broad. But they have a few explosive players including Alex Hales, who briefly held the number one rank in the ICC list for the T20 batsmen before Brendon McCullum snatched it from him. Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

NEW DELHI: Virender Sehwag has been away from international cricket for more than a year now and it’s easy to forget that for over the last decade or so, he was the most feared opening batsmen in world cricket. Now 35, Sehwag doesn’t have age on his side. The pile of scores has run dry even in the domestic arena. Can Sehwag make yet another comeback into the national side, or is one of the most explosive openers of the modern era considering retirement? “Quitting the game is farthest from my mind at the moment. I still believe that I have 2-3 years to give to Indian cricket,” Sehwag, who is preparing to take fresh guard with Kings XI Punjab, told TOI on Tuesday. “I think there is hope for everyone and everybody deserves a second opportunity. I have been really working hard on my fitness in the gym and trying to hone some of my batting skills to prepare for IPL. The focus has been to watch the ball right from the bowler’s hand. I have been struggling to pick the ball up early enough and I’m trying to improve that,” Sehwag said. The veteran of 104 Tests struggled all season with the Delhi Ranji team. Sehwag played in seven games for Delhi and only managed 234 runs at an average of less than 20, with just one half-century. Delhi Daredevils lost faith in Sehwag but, Kings XI showed faith in Sehwag’s ability and picked him for Rs 3.2 crore.


India Women’s WT20: Latika, Sravanthi Called DHAKA: Opener Latika Kumari and left-arm spinner Sravanthi Naidu have been recalled to the India Women’s squad for three Twenty20s against Bangladesh and the Women’s World Twenty20. Both players last played for India in 2009 and are two of six changes to the squad from the one that played the T20 series against Sri Lanka Women last month. Kumari has played just one T20 for India, against England Women at the 2009 World T20, while Naidu, who has played one Test and four ODIs, is uncapped in the format. Left-arm spinner Gouher Sultana and legspinner Poonam Yadav were named in the T20 squad after their performances in the recent ODIs against Sri Lanka. While Sultana last played a T20 for India in June 2012, she finished as the leading wicket-taker against Sri Lanka, with eight dismissals from two games, including a haul of 4 for 4 in the first match.

Mithali Raj launches into one during her century, India v Sri Lanka.



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