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Friday, April 05 2013 | Vol. 32, No. 14

Indo American erican News Published weekly from Houston, TX

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April 05, 2013



April 05, 2013


Grand Celebrations of Gaura Purnima at Hare Krishna Dham, ISKCON Houston

Ecstatic Bhajan by Sunday school Children. Photos: Thejas Rajaram

HOUSTON: Last week, Gaura Purnima was celebrated with two days of celebrations at the Hare Krishna Dham temple. The festival marks the appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – an appearance of Krishna in 15th century in Bengal, India. Vedic texts state that Lord Chaitanya is the Supreme Person, Krishna, appearing as His own worshiper. He is the combined form of Krishna and Krishna’s most dear devotee, Srimati Radharani. He came to experience the love She feels for him, and to show by example how to fully surrender to Krishna. His appearance then as the child Nimai is special to Vaishnavas the world over. The festival Gaura Purnima – “golden full moon” – is called so because the golden-skinned Chaitanya was born under a full moon. The Gaudiya branch of Vaishnavism began with him. This past Tuesday, March 26 marked the actual appearance day in 1486. This was celebrated at the Hare Krishna Dham (the ISKCON temple close to the Galleria area) with hundreds of worshippers. The festival started with Maha Aarati and a joyous kirtan. There was Maha Abhishek for the deities Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. The bathing ceremony included honey, ghee, yogurt, many fresh fruit juices, and milk. The worshipers were then treated to spiritual talks by two visiting swamis, H.H. Giriraj Swami and

Jubilant Devotees participated in cultural events.

Maha Abhishek of Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda.

H.H. Bhakti Sundar Goswami. A full prasadam meal was served by ISKCON’s famous kitchen. Sunday, March 31, was the public celebration of Gaura Purnima. Aarati, kirtan and a spiritual talk in the temple were followed by a cultural program in the temple’s large Gauranga Hall and there were hundreds in attendance. Spirits were especially high after a wonderful kirtan and lecture by HH .Guruprasad Swami at the temple

room. Youth group lead a kirtan to Gauranga hall for the cultural program. The program comprised of bhajans sung by the Sunday school children; Hari Katha or a lila kirtan by HG. Barsana Devi Dasi accompanied by Jiv jago youth; folk dance by Sunday school children; and finally Hare Krishna Theater presented a musical dance drama “Gaura Lila - Delelverence of Jagai and Madhai” a famous pastime of Lord chaitanya Mahaprabhu

directed by HG. Vatsal Prabhu. This musical dance drama was performed by devotees and kids of Hare Krishna dham. Musical support was provided by youth group jiv jago and dances by Natya sakhi’s. After the program all enjoyed a great prasadam meal. The celebration of the appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is important for two reasons. First, he is none other than Krishna appeared as His own devotee, predicted in many scriptures and fulfilled. Second, he laid the foundation for the ever-growing bhakti worship of the past half-millennium. Anyone who has studied the Vedas knows that in previous ages there was great benefit from the many sacrifices and sacred rituals. However in more recent centuries the world and India had fallen so far from the Vedic ideal that Krishna delivered a merciful path for those born

into this era: bhakti yoga – the path of pure devotional love. Krishna came as Chaitanya to show how to live that life of loving devotion to Krishna. This allows one to live life as embodied in the sacred Bhagavad Gita. Worshipers at the Hare Krishna Dham are grateful for this wonderful blessing to the world and in their own lives. Thus the reason for the joy during the two days of festivals and over a thousand Houstonians took part in these events. The deities Sri Sri Radha Nila-Madhava preside over a welcoming aarati and kirtan each Sunday at 5:30pm at ISKCON Hare Krishna Dham located on 1320 W 34th Street, Houston TX. 77018, just off the 610 Loop close to the Heights and Galleria. For more information, visit or Call 713-686-GITA (4482).



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April 05, 2013


Rasaanubhava 2013: An Audio Visual Delight

HOUSTON: A large number of enthusiastic students of the Abhinaya School of Performing Arts presented “Rasaanubhava ’13, the annual recital at the Kaplan Theater, Jewish Community Center on March 30, 2013 as a dedication to the classical arts of Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi. The director Indrani Parthasarathy well versed in the Pandanallur style of Bharathanatyam and also trained in Kuchipudi style of dancing is the daughter of the Karnataka Kalathilaka Guru Radha Sridhar of Bangalore. She has to her credit more than 100 solo perPhotos: Amitava Sarkar

formances, has been a performer in India, UAE and USA and has been a part of her mother’s dance drama productions. Indrani established the “Abhinaya School of Performing Arts” in 2001 which is originally based in Katy has now grown and has branches in Cypress and Pearland. The annual recital began with the junior performance emceed by Deepti Setlur. The junior students

presented a highly colorful yet synchronized performance maintaining their lines and formations from adavus to Jathiswaram. Indrani had specially choreographed some folk and fusion dances to suit the age group of 5-8. The students performed with fervor and confidence in their coordinated costumes. The Junior performance started at 2pm and ended at 3:30pm. The senior segment began 4pm

with the highlight of the evening, a forty minute dance drama “The Tulsi Garland”. The dance drama, based on the story of Goda devi a Vaishnavite saint, was beautifully enacted by the senior students. Neeraja stood out as Goda devi while Avira, Shreya, Spoorthi, Aishwarya, Seetha, Sammitha, Sailakshmi, Shruthi, Priyanka and Maya complemented out as the beautiful friends of Goda. Anupama as the playful Krishna, Ritvik as Vishnuchitta supported well, as the male characters. Mellifluous music composition and vocals by Srivatsa, effective lighting and colorful costumes added to the effectiveness of the drama. The senior recital had an array of beautifully choreographed traditional classical dances like the Shabdams, Jathiswaram, Padam, Keerthanams and Thillana. They also presented contemporary thematic presentations like peace, enlightenment, music, musical instruments and love. The intricate

choreography stood out more because of the colorful coordinated special costumes. The joy and passion for dancing was evident on the faces of the students as they performed. Every student happily received a specially designed Rasaanubhava’13 trophy with a Indian dance art work on it. Anupama Nagasimha, the assistant teacher at Abhinaya School of Performing Arts thanked everyone and concluded with a note of admiration choreographing, planning and executing an event like Rasaanubhava and appreciation for her teacher’s passion and hard work in making this event a success.

Indo American News (ISSN 887-5936) is published weekly every Friday (for a subscription of $40 per year) by IndoAmerican News Inc., 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036, tel: 713-789-6397, fax:713-789-6399, email: Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Indo American News, 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036

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April 05, 2013

The Circle of Life: NAACH Performs with Richa Sharma at AAOHA

HOUSTON: The Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA) with about 11,000 members, is the voice of the owners of the hospitality industry in North America. Founded in 1989, AAHOA members own more than 20,000 motels employing about 578,000 people across the country. The AAHOA organizes a wide variety of events throughout the year, the annual conference being the biggest of all. This year, it was Houston’s turn to host the 2013 Annual AAHOA Conference at the George R Brown Convention center from March 25to 29. As a finale to commemorate this AAOHA gathering on a high note, on March 29, India’s well known playback singer, Richa Sharma took stage to entertain the attendees. She was accompanied by Kamal Khan, the winner of Zee TV’s SaReGa MaPa Singing Superstars show . Life comes a full circle and some of us are lucky enough to witness it. In 1999, Richa had her first major hit as a playback singer in Subhash Ghai’s ‘Taal’. In 1999, Mahesh Mahbubani, Artistic Director of Naach Houston acted in his first major Bollywood movie, in fact for the same song. Richa Sharma sang “Ni Main Samajh gayee” and Aishwarya Rai and Mahesh

Mahbubani shared the silver screen, dancing together to it. The result was a memorable song for a super hit movie. On March 29, at the AAHOA convention Richa Sharma enchanted a massive audience in Houston with her voice as Mahesh Mahbubani and the Naach Houston Professional Dance Team performed with her on stage. The result was a memorable evening for a great audience. The circle of life brought these talented artists together. Richa Sharma sang some of her most famous Bollywood songs including “Sajda” from the movie “My Name is Khan”; “Zindagi Mein Koi Phir Aaye rabba” from the mov-

Naach Houston dancers with Richa Sharma

ie Musafir as well as “Maahi Vey” from Kaante amongst others. Incidentally, “Mahi Vey”, won Richa her first major award as best female singer in 2003 while ‘Sajda’ got her the coveted Zee Cine Award best female singer in 2011. Dressed in almost angelic whites, Naach members performed Bollywood Contemporary dances for these songs, while Mahesh Mahbubani himself performed a Sufi style solo composition with Richa. Midway through the concert, Richa and Kamal got the audience off their feet by starting off a fast paced medley of songs. More and more AAHOA members got to

the front of the stage showing off Bhangra and Garba moves as well as Bollywood steps inspired by Naach Houston dancers. It was a memorable evening for the AAHOA members, Richa Sharma and her group as well as the young members of Naach dance team who added motion as a dimension to this event. An evening like this infused with soulful songs and breathtaking dance moves will be remembered for a long time to come just like the song from Taal that first got Richa and Mahesh together. The circle had been completed. For More information about Naach Houston, visit

Bhaktisangam: Devotional Bhajans Mangala Sane, a Professional singer (of Sargam School of Music) has recorded a CD of Devotional Bhajans of Meerabai called Bhaktisangam. The CD is now available on Mangala Sane has learned Hindustani Classical music, under Guru Master Navarag, from Mumbai, India. For information about the CD and music classes, call Mangala Sane at 281-498-6126 or email at or visit


April 05, 2013


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In Conversation with CPA Swapan Dhairyawan

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BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: We know there are a dozen things you’d rather do than huddle over capital gains, deductions and other number crunching figures with your accountant but April 15 is fast approaching. For those who haven’t already, it’s time to get out those officious files and take care of that dreaded word “TAXES.” Indo American News thought it would be a good time to catch up with Swapan Dhairyawan, a partner in MD and Associates, one of the leading Chartered Accountancy firms in Houston and get some pointers that would help our readers this tax season. Swanpan’s disarming smile, an engaging manner and community service has made him a familiar face in the Indo American community in a relatively short time. He came to Houston only in 1999 but admits that it wasn’t an easy decision. Leaving a close knit family and a multitude of relatives versus the American dream led to a tug of war between the heart and mind. Time went by and one day he made the life altering decision to move to the US. A Masters in Cost Accountancy from Kolkata and 10 years of work experience in India helped him land a job in a CPA firm – H.R. Shaikh. He worked there for almost 4 years during which he cleared his CPA. A great rapport with a fellow colleague, Irfan Moosa, encouraged the duo to toy with the idea of branching out on their own and in January 2004, this became a reality and MD and Associates was born. The duo now rolled up their sleeves and tackled the challenges of the new set up. Swapan recalls the day their first client, File No. 1001, the proprietor of Pro Clips walked in. The going was tough but three things helped him ride out the tough times – wife Pallavi’s unwavering support, the community support and the credit card! MD and Associates slowly and steadily built a strong client base and in January 2006, Irfan Moosa, his partner, started a second office in Dallas. A growing practice necessitated the opening of a third office in Spring, TX in 2008. A sense of gratitude for the community’s

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support when he needed it most along with a desire to keep the continuity of our culture for our children is probably what motivates Swapan to be an integral part of the activities of the Indo American community in Houston. He is a member of several organizations like the Indo American Chamber of Commerce and served as President of ICC in the year 2010. During his tenure as President, he is particularly proud of two initiatives: ICC’s newsletter “Tarang” which helped bring the organization and community closer and organizing an Eid program to involve the Muslim community in the ICC. This helped form the Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston (IMAGH). It says a lot about Swapan that he is one of the members of its Advisory Board. A piece of advice he received and one he’d like to share is “Be Yourself.” Life is so much simpler.


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April 05, 2013

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April 05, 2013


HCC-Alief CTE Students Awarded Career Readiness Certificates HOUSTON: Alief ISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department, in partnership with the Houston Community College System (HCCS), recently recognized 79 Alief students during the Career Readiness Certification Ceremony held at Hastings High School. Special guests participating in the ceremony included Ella Jefferson, Alief ISD Board President; Neeta Sane (pictured with an Alief student), HCC Trustee; and Zachary Hodges, HCC Northwest President. The Alief CTE Department is the first high school program in Houston that benefitted from this partnership with HCC Northwest College. The certification is an employability credential developed by ACT to verify a person’s workplace skills. For more information on how to enroll in the Architecture/Construction or Manufacturing programs at Alief ISD, contact the Career and Technical Education Department by visiting

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India Night at Clear Lake High School BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: Give a group of enthusiastic, inventive and talented teenagers a stage and you get an evening of pure unadulterated fun. The Clear Lake High School ICC student body organized India Night, an annual cultural evening and dinner on March 30 to showcase the talents of its 70 odd members during its evening of music, dance, fashion and drama. The show began with one of the emcees, Will Alexander, running into an old classmate Jahnavi Shriram (the other emcee) in India. Thanks to Jahnavi, the anythingIndian loving Will gets a firsthand taste of Indian culture and Bollywood masti. The sizeable crowd that turned up to root for the participants stood to attention for the American and Indian National Anthems sung excellently by Emory Duncan and Sumedha Rao. This was followed by Emory’s group which promised to “rock us” and, boy, did they deliver on their promise! Rohini and Pratyusha kicked off the evening with a lovely fusion dance - Dheem Tat Tai followed by Mere Dholna Sun – where a graceful Nikita danced to the tune of the lyrically gifted Lekha Yesantharao. Uff Teri Ada by Ayushi, Khushboo, Kaajol and Kaanan, Dil Mera Muft Ka by Lajja and Roma, a dance medley by Divya and Deeksha and a Fashion Show added to the fun of the evening. A valiant and hilarious effort to sing the title song of the Aamir Khan starrer was made by the Rang De Basanti team followed by the pulse pounding Sadda Haq where drummer Aden Fuestel was brilliant. Divya’s soulful Mitwa, Vishmi’s confident rendition of Yeh Ishq Ha Hai, Romil’s Sadda Haq and Kishan, Vasu and Faraaz’s Roobaroo is more than proof that one doesn’t need to grow up in India to sing Hindi songs well. The evening’s highlight was the skit depicting a class in India. Aki-

lan’s impersonation of a stereotypical cane wielding abrasive class teacher was simply outstanding. The back and forth play between the students and the teacher, the corny one liners, the strolling-into-class American from Kentucky who wants a tardy pass had the audiences erupting with appreciative laughter. President Nishant Raman acknowledged the efforts of all the people who helped put together the show which included the backstage and technical team that worked the show without a hitch. Teachers Dass and Goradia were also thanked for their support, encouragement and advice. The proceeds of the evening would be donated to Pratham, USA, for the education of economically backward children in India. The evening wrapped up with the Seniors lining up to perform a lively dance medley to Bollywood chartbusters building in a funny

GUNTUR (The Hindu): A software professional hailing from Guntur has been reportedly missing from Washington D.C since Sunday afternoon. According to Potharaju Krishnamurthy, retired assistant commercial tax officer, his son P. Venkata Sarath Kumar (35) has been missing from Washington since 4:45pm on Sunday after he mysteriously missed a tourist cab, while on a holiday jaunt with his cousin, P. Srinivasu. Kumar, who is working with TCS, has been living in USA for the last seven years. He is a resident of Chicago. Krishnamurthy said that his son reached Washington D.C on Friday. Accompanied by Vasu and his family, they set out for a weekend trip and visited Niagara Falls on

along with his family boarded the cab presuming that Sarath Kumar had already boarded the cab. After travelling for a while, they noticed that Kumar was not in the bus and alighted from the bus. They reached the park where they had last seen Kumar, but the latter was not to be seen. A complaint Potharaju Venkata Sarath Kumar, who has has been lodged with been missing from Washington D.C. the police and no clues were available Saturday. till now. “My son was in touch On Sunday, they booked a tour- with me till 1:48pm on Sunday ist cab for seeing places around and then we lost the connection. Washington. They stopped at a His phones were switched off,” park to have snacks. Srinivasu said Krishnamurthy.

Lekha and Nikita in a song and dance performance

Deeksha Madala and Divya Koyyalagunta doing a dance medley.

storyline about a Wrangler honcho who falls for a desi girl. More proof that even though we may be miles away from India, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani!

Techie from Guntur Goes Missing in US


April 05, 2013


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Namadwaar Anniversary Celebrated with Prayer, Giving and Classical Performances MANVEL, TX: The basis of Indian culture is to recognize divinity in everything—in prayer and worship; in people, in nature, in places and in objects; and also in work, vocation, charity and art—and to offer these actions and their results back to God. Global Organization for Divinity (G.O.D.) strived to do just that for the third anniversary celebrations of its Houston Namadwaar Prayer House. And it appeared that the heavens too were pleased as it was a perfect, pleasant afternoon for the outdoor celebrations on Saturday, March 30. Humanity and Divinity are inseparable. This being one of the tenets behind G.O.D.’s mission, several community projects as well as charitable-giving programs are conducted by G.O.D. throughout the year. As a special commemoration of Namadwaar’s third anniversary, G.O.D. was privileged this year to present a substantial donation of medical supplies to Houston Area Parkinson Society and of food and clothes to SEARCH Homeless Services, in the presence of chief guests, Honorable Mayor Delores Martin of Manvel city and Dr. Sulabha Hardikar, retired physician and active community member. Following this, a number of cultural events were presented as an offering to the Divine: An entertaining musical play was staged by young children who are part of G.O.D.’s “Gopa Kuteeram” Indian heritage program. Kids from Cypress, Pearland and other parts of Houston along with a few visiting children from Dallas, sang, danced and playacted an interesting incident about Lord Panduraga and Naraharisonar – that conveyed the message that God is one and that one should not hold any bias or animosity towards different forms of the one God. Surabi Veeraragavan, a talented Bharatanatyam dancer, gave a graceful, expressive and majestic performance of three pieces that depicted various leelas of the Lord where He saved and protected His devotees. The performance was truly moving and held the audience spellbound. The songs that Surabi danced to were composed by His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji of India, who is the inspiration behind G.O.D. The songs for this performance were sung by Uma Ranganathan and accompanied by Deepa Ramachandran on violin and Karun Salvady on mridangam. The final cultural performance of the afternoon was accomplished singer Vaishnavi Narasimhan’s classical Indian vocal concert. Ably accompanied by Deepa Ramachandran on violin and Vijay Ramamurthi on mridangam, Vaishnavi enthralled the listeners with her rich rendering of Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji’s compositions. Her melodious voice wonderfully brought out the beautiful meanings of the songs, even as she enhanced the rendition with superb classical improvisations. Thara Narasimhan of Hindus of Greater Houston, who was a special guest at the event, gave a short talk appreciating all the artistes and their performances including the little children

From top: Leeann Randolph speaking about Houston Area Parkinson Society. Also present were Jeevan Nair, Dr. Sulabha Hardikar, Mayor Delores Martin and Narayanan Sathiamoorthy; Nagara Sankirtan; Kid’s performance; Vaishnavi Narasimhan with Deepa Ramachandran and Vijay Ramamurthi and Surabi Veeraragavan.

of Gopa Kuteeram. She also congratulated Namadwaar on completing three years of service and expressed her appreciation and support for G.O.D.’s activities. At the end of the program, a Prayer for Peace was conducted by Sriram Ramanujam where he compared the Namadwaar to a “Divine Name Bank”. Divinity manifests itself in any place where God’s name is chanted continuously. And hence, he said (repeating his Master’s words), that a Namadwaar was akin to a bank. When we deposit a few “Names” (chants) in it, we reap huge dividends in the form of Divine Grace and all our prayers are fulfilled. Everyone then took a minute to silently offer their own personal prayers, and the Divine Names of God were then

sung in unison. Other highlight events during the prayer house’s weekend-long anniversary celebrations were 12hour continuous chanting of the Divine Names on Thursday and Friday with prayers for peace in the neighborhood, city, state, country and the entire world. There were also discourses by Sri Narayanan Sathiamoorthy of Boston, MA and Sri Ramaswamy Subramaniam of Susanville, CA on Saturday. On Sunday, G.O.D. was joined by other Houston organizations and together they conducted a Nagara Sankirtan (chanting the Divine Names on the streets) in the streets around Namadwaar in Pearland/Manvel area. For more information about Namadwaar or Global Organization for Divinity and its activities, visit, email or call 281-402-6585.


April 05, 2013

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Indo American Oral History Interview with Rao Ratnala HOUSTON: Rao Ratnala, founder of the Ratnala-Bahl, Inc. was interviewed by a retired IT Manager from Chevron, Sita Mutyala, MBA, herself an author, artist and a social worker. Ratnala first came to New Mexico in 1962 as a student and got his Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in Civil Engineering from University of Virginia. Met his American wife, Kandance Jones in New Mexico, got married and moved to Houston 43 years ago and had never visited India since then. He has a son, Ravi and two daughters Melissa and Melanie. A shy person by nature and a man of few words, but politically influential Ratnala, a lifelong Democrat, was one of the original founders of Houstonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s South Asian Chamber of Commerce, the IndoAmerican Chamber of Commerce and also Indo-American Political Action Committee. He was part of a fundraiser for both Democratic and Republican party candidates and was invited to White House many times. In March 2000, he was one of the only two people from Houston to have been invited by the White House to accompany President Bill Clinton to visit India. In the early days, Ratnala along with a group of people in Austin, made a presentation to General Services Commissioner under the administration of Governor Anne

Rao Ratnala, founder of the Ratnala-Bahl, Inc. was interviewed by a retired IT Manager from Chevron, Sita Mutyala

Richards for inclusion of Indian Americans into Historically Under Privileged Businesses (HUB). Until then, Indians were considered privileged minority. His service to the community was also exemplified by his companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pro-bono services provided to design the Mahatma Gandhi statueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pedestal. The ground breaking for the project was done in Hermann Park by former Mayor Lee P. Brown on October 14, 2003 and the statue dedicated by former Mayor Bill White on October 2, 2004. Among various Awards that Ratnala and his Company received, he takes pride in the fact that his company was named the fastest growing company for six years in a row

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BY POOJA RAO (Bollyspice) Taking a refreshing detour from the romantic and family entertainers that Dharma Productions is associated with, the production house unveiled the first look and promo of their upcoming film GIPPI starring 13-year old debutant Riya Vij and actor Taaha Shah (of Luv Ka The End fame). “Gippi is a new kind of film and it is unusual for us to venture into that space. I hope it gets all the love it deserves. The script took me back to my growing-up years. Everyone has a Gippi in them and I’m sure people will connect with the character,” said producer Karan Johar. The film directed by debutant Sonam Nair, who earlier was an assistant director on Wake Up Sid, traces the journey of Gurpreet Kaur, aka Gippi a 13-yr old as she lives through teenage years combatting adolescent issues of friendships, infatuations, looks, competition, superiority complex and more. The film commenced its principal shooting in May 2012, has been largely shot in Shimla and Mumbai and is scheduled for release on May 10.

Priyanka Chopra Duo with Pitbull BY PRIYANKA RAMESH KUMAR (Bollyspice) Last year there was rumours going on about Priyanka Chopra singing with Pitbull and now it’s confirmed. PC has taken to the world with her singing releasing her first single In My City and her 2nd Erase and now is quite busy these days working on her next single. Currently, PC is in Miami working on a musical collaboration with rapper Pitbull called Exotic. Initially the collaboration with Pitbull will be her 2nd release from her album. “Whilst PC records her part, Pitbull will join her after he performs at the Indian Premier League (IPL)” says a source. Even though PC is juggling films on one side she still wanted to keep up to date with her music career as she felt it’s needed for her to discover herself beyond the point of her previous songs. PC is already topping the charts with her first single and now pairing up with international sensation Pitbull, it’s sure to make the climb to the top easier. INDO AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, APRIL 05, 2013 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM




April 05, 2013

Some Wounds Never Close

Twenty years ago, Mumbai – then Bombay – was visited by two kinds of death in two periods of violence: death by the mob and death by the bomb. The devastating riots of December 1992January 1993 claimed nearly 900 lives and tore apart homes and livelihoods of over 3,000 people. The serial bomb blasts that followed in March 1993 took 257 lives and left about a thousand injured. Last week, as the Supreme Court gave its judgment on the blast accused, confirming death penalty for accused Yakub Memon and commuting death penalty to life sentence for ten others, there was talk of some justice delivered. Some, because the masterminds of the serial blasts appear well beyond the arm of Indian law. The blast affected re-visited the horror of those hours in the city, a few spoke of “a sense of closure”. The court verdict and all that followed had, of course, re-opened old wounds for thousands whose lives had been touched, directly or indirectly, by the bombs. Hardly did anyone complain about the pain of re-opening old wounds. But the refrain has been heard over and over again, from various quarters in the last 20 years, when victims of mob violence sought justice. The BN Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry painstakingly probed all aspects of the mob violence and arrived at scathing findings that implicated the top brass of the Shiv Sena, including its late chief Bal Thackeray, the Congress and a few opportunistic Muslim leaders. His report in 1998 was rejected by the Sena-BJP government then in power. The blasts case was heard in a special TADA court set up for the purpose, most of the 123 accused were charged under the stringent law. In 2007, the special court sentenced 100 accused for the blasts. By then, many riots cases had been closed, police officers indicted by the Commission continued in service with a few like RD Tyagi even getting promoted, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) chose to probe only a few cases, its report like that of the Commission was not binding on the government – this of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party. Also in 2007, a Bombay high court judgment on Thackeray observed that no justice would be served in re-opening old cases. At the last count, there were over 250 pending riots cases The communal riots and the blasts are indeed linked. Justice Srikrishna noted in his report that “the riots appear to have been a causative factor in the bomb blasts”. He agreed with the deposition of top police officers that “the blasts were a reaction” to the events in Ayodhya and Bombay in December 1992 and January 1993. But the intervening years of seeking justice for the violence have treated the victims of the mob and the bomb in starkly different ways. In 2013, those who wreaked death and destruction by the bomb are either punished or beyond punishment; old wounds are soothed. Those who ordered violence upon their fellow citizens and those who carried it out did not even stand the scrutiny of law; old wounds are still open. For victims of the mob, justice is still a long road ahead. Sadly so, for them as well as for Mumbai. Hindustan Times

How Satisfied Are You?

BY MANAS CHAKAVARTY Do you trust the national government? The United Nations Human Development Report (HDR) for 2013 says that 58% of Indians trust the central government. Among the masses of numbers thrown out by the HDR, there are survey-based data that purport to measure social integration and which includes statistics on “perceptions of individual well-being”, “perceptions of society” and “human safety”. Indians trust their leaders far more than Pakistanis trust their government. Only 28% of the people in Pakistan trust their national government, which, of course, is hardly a surprise. In Bangladesh, though, government support is widespread, with 79% of the population trusting it, according to the HDR. One reason why the Pakistanis don’t trust their leaders is because they don’t feel safe. Only 46% of the people surveyed there say they feel safe in their country. Contrast that with India, where 70% of the people say they’re safe, or Bangladesh, where 80% of the population feels safe. In South Africa, where the homicide rate is a very high 31.8 per thousand people, only 38% of the people say they feel safe. Interestingly, dissatisfaction with the government is widespread even in the developed world. In the US, for example, only 38% of those surveyed said they trusted the government. Japan was even worse, with only 23% of the people trusting their government. Small wonder, after two decades of stagnation. The HDR also measures “overall life satisfaction”, on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being least satisfied and 10 the most. India scores 4.6 on this scale and we’re a grumpy lot compared to Pakistanis, who score 5.3 and Bangladeshis, who score 5. China too scores 5, in spite of being much richer than South Asia. The overall life satisfaction scores, though, are in general much higher for the developed countries. The HDR for 2010 too measured “overall life satisfaction” and India scored 5.5 on the scale at that time. Clearly, we have become grouchier since then. In general, this measure

UN’s Human Development Report (HDR) for 2010 too measured “overall life satisfaction” and India scored 5.5 on the scale at that time. Clearly, we have become grouchier since then. In general, this measure was higher in 2010 even in the developed countries, which suggests that the economic crisis is taking its toll on their citizens. For instance, Greeks scored 6.8 on this index in the 2010 HDR, and 5.4 in the 2013 HDR, for obvious reasons.

was higher in 2010 even in the developed countries, which suggests that the economic crisis is taking its toll on their citizens. For instance, Greeks scored 6.8 on this index in the 2010 HDR, and 5.4 in the 2013 HDR, for obvious reasons. But while we may not be very satisfied with our lives, we are very easily satisfied in matters where we shouldn’t be. For instance, 67% of Indians say they’re satisfied with the quality of healthcare, according to HDR 2013. That’s a big improvement from 59% who said they were satisfied in the 2010 HDR. Also, the 2013 HDR says only 56% of US citizens are satisfied with the quality of healthcare. Only 47% of Germans are satisfied with the quality of their healthcare. Indeed, satisfaction with their country’s healthcare system apparently has little to do with the level

of development, if the HDR figures are to be believed. Also, in spite of the widespread criticism of our educational system, the 2013 HDR says that 74.8% of Indians surveyed are happy with the quality of education in the country. Contrast that with the US, where only 62.8% believe in the quality of their education, or Japan, where only 54.6% think they’re getting a good education. Going by these statistics, we can arrive at one of two conclusions: either our health and education systems are world class, or it takes very little to satisfy us. The HDR also measures satisfaction with “freedom of choice”. This should be high for democracies and India scores a high 80% on this yardstick. But why does Niger, which is right at the bottom of the Human Development Index (HDI), have 82% of its population satisfied with “freedom of choice”? 71.2% of Indians are satisfied with their jobs, according to the 2013 HDR. With most jobs being in the informal sector, with few benefits and tough working conditions, that result is a big surprise. Job satisfaction is higher in the developed economies, with most of the countries having high HDI having more than 80% of their population expressing job satisfaction. In Spain, with a youth unemployment rate of 48.2%, 85.7% of those surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs. That is really weird, but perhaps they surveyed those people who thanked their good fortune they had jobs. What is very important for an economy is whether we trust people. In India, 20% of those surveyed said they trusted people. Trust is more widespread in the developed economies, especially in the Scandinavian countries—60% of Danes said they trusted people. But how is it that 45% of the folks in Mali, plagued with an Islamic insurgency, trust each other? That’s provided these numbers are right, of course. Lastly, an astonishing 57% of Chinese say they trust other people. But then, 77% of them also say they’re happy about the freedom of choice in their country. Live Mint Manas Chakravarty looks at trends and issues in the financial markets.


HOUSTON: HAIDER KAZIM, MANU SHAH, CHETNA SAMAL 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 5 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 262, Houston, Texas 77036. Tel: 713-789-NEWS or 6397 Fax: 713-789-6399, email:, website:



April 05, 2013


The Hassles of Suspicious Guards Keeping a Nervous Eye on Buildings

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA DOHA, 28 February, 2013: The Qatari security guard was indignant, pointing his walkie-talkie at me as he took hurried steps in my direction, his soft, rolling belly divided by a wide belt, and shouted in Arabic. His cherubic face with a wispy black beard was contorted into an angry scowl with menacing eyes and knitted eyebrows. I was tucking away my camera into my black shoulder case and he shouted more as I got closer, and then repeated “Kamera! Kamera!” . I immediately understood that his anger was directed at the two photos I had taken from the small park 100 meters away of the outside of the Indian Embassy, with the flag fluttering on a mast on the wall of the top floor. I wanted to use one picture for the article I planned to write. I was amazed that he had seen me from behind the bushes and the cars parked on each side of the small lane, so he had obviously earned his keep with his eagle eyes. I had been in this predicament before, when security or the police had shooed me away from taking pictures of the outside of the buildings they were keeping an eye on. It has always puzzled me why, in the age of Google Earth satellite maps, why this incessant nuisance is perpetuated by security apparatuses in many countries, mostly those in the developing world with despotic and authoritative regimes. If taking a picture of a building can be so threatening, then it seems that the authorities are placing their energies in the wrong direction. So I fell back on the strategy that had worked most often in my other foreign travels – feign ignorance of what was asked, use hand gestures to ask for more information, try to see if the offending pictures could be deleted to the security guy’s satisfaction, declare and object that I did not understand the language and ask (and hope) for more English words to enter the fray. Only this time, it wasn’t working as the security guard in dark blue pants and short sleeves waved his walkie-talkie up and down and kept repeating, with a swirl of his head and pouting, round lips, ‘No! Kamera! Kamera!!”. Now, I was afraid that he actually wanted to confiscate my camera, and since I have also in the past been in the position of having to spend hours and days tracking down personal possessions that have been detained (including a passport), I was equally determined to hold on to it. “No Kamera! No!! Why? Why??”, I asked, irritated that such a thickheaded fellow who spoke no English would be assigned to guard a foreign Embassy. By now, the people arriving for the evening program (ironically about airing grievances that the local Indian community and nationals had against the Embassy, a weekly hour-long event) gave me a quick suspicious stare. A couple I asked for help with “Abdullah’s” (my name for him)

Arabic, they smiled apologetically, shook their heads and kept walking on, as if they had denied a beggar alms, not wanting to be dragged into a security situation. The Embassy’s Indian security guards came out to check the commotion they had seen on the camera monitors inside. Abdullah growled in Arabic, which the guards understood imperfectly, and they grinned peevishly. I handed them my business card and asked they take it to the Ambassador (whom I had come to see) and they refused, saying in Hindi “Nahin Sahib, us ne CID ko bulla leiya hai” (No sir, he has called the CID), turned and walked away. This only made Abdullah snort more annoyingly. This was the first indication I had that Abdullah had asked for higher intervention. Another rule of travelling is to make sure such situations these don’t escalate beyond where they start. If they do, hours can be wasted and I had no desire to spend more time in the hot, late afternoon sun. I immediately started to use more beseeching words and gestures to implore Abdullah (who, by now, I had handed over my camera to) to look at the pictures and remove the pictures (“Delete” was a word I found that he apparently knew). The soothing sounds apparently calmed him down and he looked at me as we both waited by the curb and said “Come! Come! Minute”, gesturing with a wave of his hand and showed five out-stretched fingers. A thought gnawed in my head that no one knew what was going on with me or where I was and if things didn’t turn out right, I may have to waste more time, but I had no intention of writing an article about the inside of a detention cell. I then called the only other person I knew, my business appointment from earlier in the day, to explain my predicament and asked he stay tuned for my return call, even

though the expensive call was routed through AT&T in the US to a local Doha number. Finally, a white Range Rover marked “Police” turned into the lane and slowly came to a stop in front of us. Out stepped a tall, lanky officer with a blue beret and a thin moustache whom I started to explain to, then stopped short to ask “You speak English?” to which he gave a confused stare and replied “Passaport!”. Apparently not, I realized and turned to the shorter, stockier officer with an easy smile who stammered only twenty words of English. He took my passport, leaned over the backseat, flipped through to the visa stamp and spoke into his walkie-talkie. He came back and queried “Kamera – see, see?” pointing at the viewer. “Yes, yes,” I replied and pointed to the guard’s room, gesturing there was too much sunlight to see outside. They nodded and I showed them the two pictures, which conveniently had come out overexposed. The three muttered some words excitedly to each other and the short one said “Delete, delete” to each picture adding an “aah” when I did so. Satisfied, the two officers handed me back my camera and Shorty exclaimed “No problem” with a jubilant smile and I reassured them with “Shukram, shukram” (thank you) which delighted them. I put the camera away in the case and gestured “no more’ as they turned to shake my hand and then spoke a few words to Abdullah who put up his arms and shrugged as if to say he was only doing his duty. He shook my hand too, smiled friendlily and motioned that I go to the next gate to enter the Embassy. Two hours later, as I walked back out into the waning dusk, he saw me walk by and waved a hearty goodbye with a big toothy smile. - Jawahar Malhotra is traveling

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April 05, 2013


Foundation Solution Seminar by ASIE

BY DINESH SHAH HOUSTON: American Society of Indian Engineers (ASIE), a Houston based organization for engineers, architects, designers, and engineering technicians presented a seminar for foundation solution on March 28 at a nice venue of Sankalp Restaurant. More than 80 technical professionals participated in this dinner seminar. After half an hour of registration and social networking, each and every one made a brief introduction. The current ASIE President Vishal Merchant warmly welcomed all attendees and particularly appreciated the presence of non-member guests. In his opening remarks, he briefly mentioned about ASIE activities. “The vision of ASIE is to expand and provide benefits of the experienced and well established present generation to the new, young and dynamic generation of the future by supporting initiatives in engineering and architecture, including Science Fair, Mathcounts, and E-Week programs. Every year, ASIE presents awards for the Science and Engineering Fair and offers scholarships to students pursuing engineering degrees from public universities in the Houston area.” He added, “Thus a solid foundation has been laid for the future, and now ASIE has decided to take the organization to the next level and focusing on Building the Future together with the younger generation.” He humbly requested and encouraged more than

ASIE Board of Advisor Dinesh Shah (right) presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to Speaker Craig Wooard of RamJack.

forty non- members to support ASIE by joining the organization. After the delicious dinner served by Sankalp, Craig Woodard with RamJack, made the video presentation for “Foundation Solution”. Dinesh Shah, who helped to put together the event, presented the Certificate of Appreciation to the speaker. Shah, a Board of Advisor of ASIE, during the networking expressed his views individually to the non-members and said that “my goal is to take ASIE to the next level, similar to the level of progress and strength of Medical Professionals in AAPI organization. All around the world and here in USA,

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Indo-American Engineers in all disciplines play a very important role. Just to name a few examples that they perform design and build amazing skyscrapers, deep seawater offshore drilling, nuclear power plants and many more mind boggling designs, but unfortunately not recognized or appreciated to the highest extent. I am serving to promote activities of ASIE, encourage all Indo-American Engineers, Architects, Designers and engineering technicians to join ASIE for creating our strength, to help build the future of next generation professionals, and ultimately get united and act with one voice.”

ASIE Member and Past Board Member Chad Patel (left) receives a prize from ASIE President Vishal Merchant. Invited guests during social and newtwoking hour.

At the end, the raffle for five lucky winners was drawn. The major prize was donated by Sankalp Restaurant and other token prizes were given by AISE. The event was concluded with Vote of Thanks by ASIE Treasurer,

Karthik Balasubramanian. All attendees were given a PDH certificate towards their continuing education credit. For more information, visit www.

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April 05, 2013


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Jeff Bezos, Jay Leno Started their Careers at McDonald’s! BY PRAKASH IYER They all started their careers working at a McDonald’s restaurant! Funnily enough, most of us in India never consider taking up a job like that. We find such job opportunities ego-deflating and not challenging enough. If you are about to start your career, you might find some valuable lessons from the people who started off working at McDonald’s. No job is too small. Many young people keep waiting for the ‘right job’ to come along. The jobs they get are in their opinion, either too lowly, or not well-paying. So they continue to wait. In hope. And in vain. Several successful people chose to take on the rather ordinary job at a Mac outlet. And it did wonders to their careers. Don’t wait. Take the job you get – and get to work! Boring is Normal. The job in a burger restaurant can be boring and monotonous. And that’s probably true of many jobs out there. Young people get bored easily, and seek change – almost too soon. Long-term success requires the ability to stay disciplined, and keep performing a task day in and day out. Jeff Bezos recalls having to crack 300 eggs a day at McDonald’s. Doing that right probably helped him ensure Amazon. com gets it right across millions of transactions everyday. The ability to accomplish simple tasks, time after time, is priceless.

What’s common between the founder of Jeff Bezos, the American comedian Jay Leno and the CEO of McDonald’s Corporation Jack Skinner?

“Great corporate leaders never fight shy of doing the ‘small tasks’ ”

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The customer is always right. Never mind what role you play and how high you rise in the hierarchy, you will find that you need to serve customers. The customer could be internal – within your organisation – or external. Many people allow their egos to come in the way of their serving other people. Starting off in a sales role – or in a fast food joint – is a good way to put your ego in its rightful place. Success does not come in an instant. It takes hard work, increasing levels of responsibility – and consistent performance – to progress in your career. Don’t expect to be rewarded for flashes of brilliance. Take heart from what happened to Jack Skinner. Three decades of doing it right and doing it well saw him rise from just another guy behind the counter – to

American comedian Jay Leno

the global CEO of McDonald’s. And he didn’t even go to college. Roll up your sleeves, dirty your hands. Great corporate leaders never fight shy of doing the ‘small tasks’. Even today, the CEO of India’s largest FMCG company will happily dust a shampoo pack lying in a store. And most heads of automotive companies enjoy getting under the car and getting some grease on their hands. These are habits that you imbibe early in your career. Jay Leno recalls a time when someone spilled a huge

Jeff Bezos, the founder of

can of tomato ketchup on the floor of the McDonald’s restaurant where he worked – and he had to help clean up the mess. If he could do it, you should too! The magic of teamwork. In a fast food outlet, you quickly learn that you are only a small part of a larger team. Someone does the burgers, someone pours the shakes – and yet another person takes the orders and the payment. Good lesson to learn: You can never do everything all by yourself! No matter where you choose to go to work, remember the lessons people learn when they start out at McDonald’s. And in case you are looking for your first job – be willing to do all that they do at a burger place. Remember, the pay may be small. But the impact on your career will be big! - Careers 360 Prakash Iyer is MD, KimberlyClark Lever and Executive Coach. For more inspiring life lessons, read Mr Iyer’s new book The Habit of Winning.


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ing income offshore will become increasingly more difficult. At the beginning of 2012, the IRS reopened the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) following continued strong interest from taxpayers and tax practitioners after the closure of the 2011 and 2009 programs. The IRS continues working on a wide range of international tax issues and follows ongoing efforts with DOJ to pursue criminal prosecution of international tax evasion. This program will be open for an indefinite period until otherwise announced. The IRS has collected $5.5 billion so far from people who participated in offshore voluntary disclosure programs since 2009. Highlights of American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 which had expired or set to expire; which have been extended through future years are: 50% Bonus Depreciation Capital Gains & Dividend Tax rates of 15% & 20% Phase out levels for personal exemptions and itemized deductions are raised for 300000$ for Married filing Joint Work Opportunity Tax credit for hiring veterans & certain individuals meeting specific criteria AMT patch has been made Permanent and indexed to inflation. For more information, call Swapan Dhairyawan at 713-774-6533.

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One of the Tax scam which Taxpayers should consider closely & be aware about is the “Overseas/Offshore Bank accounts” Over the years, numerous individuals have been identified as evading U.S. taxes by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or nominee entities, using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access the funds. Others have employed foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annui- ties or insurance plans for the same purpose. The IRS uses information gained from its investigations to pursue taxpayers with undeclared accounts, as well as the banks and bankers suspected of helping clients hide their assets overseas. The IRS works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute tax evasion cases. While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements that need to be fulfilled. U.S. taxpayers who maintain such accounts and who do not comply with reporting and disclosure requirements are breaking the law and risk significant penalties and fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution. Since 2009, 38,000 individuals have come forward voluntarily to disclose their foreign financial accounts, taking advantage of special opportunities to comply with the U.S. tax system and resolve their tax obligations. And, with new foreign account reporting requirements being phased in over the next few years, hid-

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April 05, 2013

Audit Proofing and Tax-Saving

One of the common mistake a taxpayer often does is ignoring the deductions that they deserve. For the majority of the tax payers, they are not sure if they are eligible to get such deductions or they are scared of being audited by the IRS. Audit proofing does not mean playing it safe. I am not advocating a conservative approach to doing your tax return as a means of audit-proofing it. You should not be afraid of taking legitimate deductions because you are afraid of being audited. No matter how scary the prospect seems to you, your tax strategy should not be based on fear. Your taxes represent your hard-earned dollars. What you pay to the IRS comes right out of your pocket. Think how hard you’ve worked and slaved to earn your gross earnings. Every dollar in taxes that you pay comes out of those earnings. If you had fewer taxes to pay, your earnings/savings would be bigger. Think what you could do with the extra money. The point is saving in tax converts to saving dollars: Less to Uncle Sam means more to you. As a necessary tool of financial management, your tax strategy should always be tax reduction and not avoidance. Everything you do should be tax-efficient or tax-considerate. That means you should consider the tax ramifications of everything you do that involves money. Buying a house? Getting a divorce? Sending your

kids to summer camp? Starting a new business? All these activities have tax ramifications. For tax purposes, there’s always a right way and a wrong way and the wrong way will cost your extra dollars. Audit-proofing your tax return translates into saving tax dollars in several ways:

First and foremost, when you become disciplined about keeping good records, you will probably end up taking deductions for items you never took before simply because you never knew they were deductible. Secondly, with proper recordkeeping you will probably end up taking deductions you never dared to before simply because you weren’t sure you could support them in the event you were audited.

Thirdly, if you are audited and win, you won’t have to pay additional penalties and interest for the back taxes they would otherwise hit you with. Perhaps the most worthwhile reason to auditproof your tax return is the peace of mind that ensues, if you are audited, in knowing what the IRS will be looking for, and being properly prepared for them to find it. Audit-proofing your tax return involves these 4 steps: STEP 1. Keeping proper records for an IRS audit. STEP 2. Getting correct information from the IRS (and others). STEP 3. Knowing what the IRS will be looking for. STEP 4. Avoiding tax scams, shams, and illegal shelters. By following these four steps you will help yourself be prepared for the possibility of an IRS audit. While no one can prepare themselves for the circumstances that you might have to encounter, by audit-proofing your return, you not only save tax dollars but you will also give yourself significant and invaluable peace of mind. That’s not to say that you won’t be nervous about being audited; you just shouldn’t be terrified about it any longer. The information given here should ease a lot of your anxieties about what formerly was a mysterious event.


Ways to Save Money on Return Still Fretting About Doing Your Taxes By April 15? Here Are Five Tips That Could Save You Money: • If Using Snail Mail (Not E-Filing), Do Not Just Automatically Mail A Return To The Same Address You Used Last Year. The Internal Revenue Service Has Changed The Filing Location For Several Areas. See Www.Irs.Gov To Find The Addresses To Mail To For Your State.. • Did You File A Tax Return For 2009? The Irs Notes That More Than $917 Million In Refund Money Awaits About 984,400 TaXpayers Who Did Not File A Federal Income Tax Return For 2009. But The 2009 Return Must Be Filed No Later Than April 15 In Order To Collect That Refund Money. About Half Of The Potential Refunds For 2009 Are Expected To Be Worth More Than $500. • Save Hundreds Of Dollars On A TaxPreparation Bill By Going Through Your Own Checkbook, Credit Card Statements And Receipts. If You Organize Your Own Documents, Instead Of Handing Over A Shoe Box To A Tax Preparer, You Can Save Big Money On Hourly Billing. • ThinK About Any New Deductions In Your Life. Did You Have A Baby Last Year? Did You Take Out A Mortgage To Buy A Home? Did You Make A Larger-Than-Usual Contribution To A Special Fundraising Effort?



April 05, 2013


Friday, June 10, 13 2011 .com 05, 20 April -news y a id r F erican m a o d in www.

April 05, 2013


IndoAmerican News

Business IndoAmerican News


Ambani Brothers Join Hand for Telecom Biz

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries’ telecom arm will hire nationwide optical fibre network of Anil’s (left) Reliance Communications for the roll-out of 4G services. File photo.

NEW DELHI (The Hindu): Billionaire Ambani brothers on Tuesday struck a Rs 1,200-crore deal wherein Mr. Mukesh will use his younger sibling’s optic fibre network for launch of his telecom venture. Under the pact, Mukesh Ambaniled Reliance Industries’ telecom arm will hire nationwide optical fibre network of Reliance Communications for the roll-out of 4G services. “Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Reliance Communications Ltd today announced the signing of a definitive agreement for approximately Rs 1,200 crore as one-time indefeasible right to use (IRU) fees for sharing RCom’s nationwide inter-city fibre optic network infrastructure,” RCom said in a statement. Under the terms of the agreement, Reliance Jio Infocomm will utilise multiple fibre pairs across RCom’s

1,20,000 kilometres inter-city fibre optic network to provide the backbone for rolling out its 4G services. As per the agreement, RCom will in turn have reciprocal access to optic fibre infrastructure to be built by Reliance Jio Infocomm in the future. “The agreement provides for joint working arrangements to be put in place immediately for upgradation of the optic fibre network, to ensure seamless delivery of next generation services,” the statement said. This agreement is the first in an intended comprehensive framework of business co-operation between Reliance Jio Infocomm and RCom to provide for optimal utilisation of the existing and future infrastructure of both companies on reciprocal basis, including inter alia, inter-city fibre, intra-city fiber, towers and related assets.

India Unlikely to Hike Gold Duty Again: Chidambaram BY ANTONI SLODKOWSKI TOKYO (Mint): Indian finance minister P. Chidambaram suggested on that the government is unlikely to raise the import tax on gold further to avoid gold smuggling and would instead introduce inflation-indexed instruments to help curb a record current account deficit. In January India raised the import tax on gold to 6% to curb purchases. Its passion for gold, seen by many as a hedge against high inflation, has led to a rise in its current account deficit, which reached an all-time high of 6.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the December quarter. “We did raise tariffs from 4% to 6%, but there are limits to which tariffs can be raised on gold, because if you raise tariffs prohibitively, gold smuggling will increase,” Chidambaram said. India vies with China as the top global consumer of gold, and with nearly all demand covered by imports, the country’s purchases are a major factor in global prices. “Creating inflation-hedged financial instruments is a way out to reduce dependence on imports of gold. Reserve Bank of India and the government are working on inflation-proof, inflation-indexed instruments,” he said. The Indian economy, mired by the global slowdown and stubbornly high inflation, probably grew around 5% in the business year ended 31 March, the slowest pace in a decade. As a part of a government drive to avert this trend, Chidambaram is planning a series of meetings after his return to India with stakeholders to speed up stalled investment projects. India has a clogged pipeline of large industrial and infrastructure projects making businesses unable or unwilling to invest. Reducing bottlenecks

ShinzoAbe and has lined up meetings with Japan’s largest business lobby Keidanren, portfolio investors and key government ministers. Foreign investment caps The finance minister also said that the government will reform foreign investment caps to attract more investment to help tackle its large current account deficit. His government wants to open up the insurance and pension sectors. “I think there’s a reasonable chance that Parliament will go along with my proposal. If we raise the insurance cap from 26% to 49%, automatically, the pension cap would be raised from 26% to 49%,” he said. The government is continuing negotiations on the issue. In March, Samajwadi Party (SP), said it will keep supporting the Congress Partyled government, after a Chidambaram said that the government key ally withdrew from will reform foreign investment caps to the coalition, but said it attract more investment to help tackle its would oppose plans to large current account deficit. open up the insurance Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint and pension sectors to is a short-term measure that will help foreign investors. India’s financial account, which boost growth, said Chidambaram. “Banks have agreed to lend to includes foreign direct investment, 215 projects where the investment portfolio investment and overseas is a very large amount. We’ll bring borrowing by Indian companies, the bankers and project developers showed a surplus of $31.1 billion in together, identify the blocks and try the December quarter for the fiscal to remove the blocks,” Chidambaram year ended 31 March. “We have to look at each cap, ask said adding he expected to “make very quick progress in the next weeks ourselves does it serve any purpose, if there’s a purpose, we’ll continue and months.” The minister, who is in Tokyo to with the cap, if there’s no purpose promote India as investment destina- the cap should either be relaxed or tion, has already met Prime Minister removed.”

In January, India raised import tax on gold to 6%; Chidambaram says a further hike on gold duty could increase smuggling





April 05, 2013

IPL Carnival is Back in India, Bringing a Bevy of International Players

Captains of the IPL teams were introduced at the inaugural ceremony in Kolkota.

BY SIDDHARTH RAVINDRAN MUMBAI (ESPNCricinfo):It may not be everyone’s favourite tournament but an indicator of the IPL’s status as the biggest annual competition in the cricketing calendar is the reduced number of bilateral series this season. While there have been plenty of calls for an official window, which the ICC has repeatedly refused, the only series being played in April is the bottom-of-the-table clash between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. And the next series is England v New Zealand, beginning in mid-May. Sri Lanka have reshaped their scheduled full tour of the Caribbean to a tri-series also involving India starting June, freeing up the Chris Gayles and Lasith Malingas to play the entire IPL, window or no window. The line-up of controversies ahead of the tournament, several of which are only tangentially related to cricket, underlines the significance of the IPL in India. In Maharashtra, the opposition party doesn’t want IPL matches to be held in the state due to the drought in region, claiming each venue will use up 2.16 million litres of water during the tournament. In Karnataka, Kingfisher Airlines employees have threatened to disrupt IPL matches in protest at not receiving their salaries from Vijay Mallya, owner of Royal Challengers Bangalore. In Tamil Nadu, the chief minister has barred Sri Lankan IPL cricketers from playing in Chennai, after growing political tensions over the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka. For the players, this season becomes particularly important since

(almost) all of them go into the auction pool next year. That will mean additional pressure on the players, who will be well aware that a decent season this time could make them millionaires over the next few years. Just ask Saurabh Tiwary, whose 419 runs in 2010 earned him an enormous US$1.6m the following year. He has done little of note in the two seasons each, but continues to earn that fat salary from Royal Challengers. A lacklustre season, especially if you are an overseas player, and you could end up watching IPL 2014 from your couch at home. Unlike the everything-changes season of 2014, this year fans will at least be able to easily identify with their teams as the core of most teams remains unchanged, and with mainly low-profile signings. Plenty of little-known cricketers earned big bucks - including Sri Lanka spinner Sachithra Senanayake, Australia fast bowler Kane Richardson, South Africa allrounder Chris Morris, Australia allrounder Glenn Maxwell - and there will be plenty of interest to see whether any of them can repeat the star-turn that Sunil Narine provided after pocketing a bagful at the 2012 auction. The glaring exception to the trend of small names being bought was Ricky Ponting, the Australian legend who returns to the IPL after a four-year absence, and in a delicious twist will captain fellow great Sachin Tendulkar and his supposed bête noire Harbhajan Singh. With Anil Kumble also in as Mumbai’s team mentor, most of the central characters of the Bol-

lyline controversy of the 2008 Sydney Test will share a dressing room this season. Ponting is one of the retired old guard that most fans can only watch at Twenty20 leagues like the IPL. A year after Adam Gilchrist said, “I have played my last game of cricket,” he is back leading Kings XI Punjab for another season. There’s also Muttiah Muralitharan, looking to prove he has as much guile two years after his international retirement as he did in his pomp. Sourav Ganguly may have finally hung up his boots but Rahul Dravid is still around, more than a year since he last turned out for India. A new title sponsor has come on board, shelling out $72m for five years, nearly twice what the previous sponsor had paid; Deccan Chargers are no more a part of the IPL after defaulting on payment, but new owners were found for the franchise soon after, sold for a healthy $80m. Dravid is in charge of Rajasthan Royals, who are once again expected to find the going hard. As in the previous season, at the start of the tournament there seems to be two tiers of franchises in the competition - four out of Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers are expected to progress from the league phase, with Royals, Kings XI Punjab, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Pune Warriors generally predicted to be also-rans. Warriors are the most likely of the second lot to put up a serious challenge, bolstered by the return

Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif performed during the inaugural.

of Yuvraj Singh and the acquisition of New Zealand’s Ross Taylor and Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis, though they will miss the experience of their first buy at the auction, Michael Clarke. Warriors could challenge Daredevils from the first group, as the loss of bighitters in Kevin Pietersen and Taylor have weakened a team that has typically been among the favourites every year. There have been plenty of changes in the IPL since tens of thousands of Kolkata Knight Riders fans thronged the streets of Kolkata to celebrate victory last season, several of which showcased how big a draw the IPL remains. A new title sponsor has come on board, shelling out $72m for five years, nearly twice what the previous sponsor had paid; Deccan Chargers are no more a part of the IPL after defaulting on payment, but new owners were found for the franchise soon after, sold for a healthy $80m. Though the IPL continues to pull in the crowds, the television ratings in the past couple of years - while still very healthy haven’t matched the heady highs of the Lalit Modi years (TVRs of 3.45 in 2012, compared to 3.51 in 2011, well below the 5.51 reached in 2010). Two years ago, among the first lines of commentary in the IPL was about how the tournament had been instrumental in India winning the World Cup. One of the final lines of commentary of the recently concluded home international season before the 2013 tournament was Ravi Shastri informing us how the unexpected and unprecedented whitewash of

Australia had “set India up nicely for the IPL”. While the breathless haste with which the IPL followed India’s World Cup win hurt the tournament in 2011, India’s appalling overseas run in England and Australia hit the ratings in 2012. This season, with the mood in India on the upswing after the Australia victory, the organisers will be hoping for a similar upswing in the ratings. It still remains popular enough for Bollywood to consider holding back big releases till the end of the IPL season, but the league still has plenty of problems, with several franchises and franchise owners facing financial difficulties. In December, the Sahara group, owners of Pune Warriors and major sponsors of the Indian team, were ordered to pay back Rs 24,000 crores ($4.42billion) to their investors; Vijay Mallya’s companies, owners of Royal Challengers, have been weighed down by his debt-ridden airline. In February, Rajasthan Royals were fined Rs 100 crore ($18.77 million) for violating India’s foreign exchange laws, while both Royals and Kings XI Punjab were involved in a long legal battle with the organisers after they were threatened with expulsion for violating the IPL contract agreement. Despite those troubles, the IPL is set to dominate the cricketing landscape for the next couple of months, with its usual mix of cricket, Bollywood and hype. Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


April 05, 2013


Low-Cost Drugs in Poor Nations Get a Lift in Indian Court BY GARDINER HARRIS & KATIE THOMAS NEW DELHI (NYT): People in developing countries worldwide will continue to have access to low-cost copycat versions of drugs for diseases like H.I.V. and cancer, at least for a while. Production of the generic drugs in India, the world’s biggest provider of cheap medicines, was ensured on Monday in a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court. The debate over global drug pricing is one of the most contentious issues between developed countries and the developing world. While poorer nations maintain they have a moral obligation to make cheaper, generic drugs available to their populations — by limiting patents in some cases — the brand name pharmaceutical companies contend the profits they reap are essential to their ability to develop and manufacture innovative medicines. Specifically, the decision allows Indian makers of generic drugs to continue making copycat versions of the drug Gleevec, which is made by Novartis. It is spelled Glivec in Europe and elsewhere. The drug provides such effective treatment for some forms of leukemia that the Food and Drug Administration approved the medicine in the United States in 2001 in record time. The ruling will also help India maintain its role as the world’s most important provider of inexpensive medicines, which is critical in the global fight against deadly diseases. Gleevec, for example, can cost as much as $70,000 a year, while Indian generic versions cost about $2,500 a year. The ruling comes at a challenging time for the pharmaceutical industry, which is increasingly looking to emerging markets to compensate for lackluster drug sales in the United States and Europe. At the same time, it is facing other challenges to its patent protections in countries like Argentina, the Philippines, Thailand and Brazil. “I think other countries will now be looking at India and saying, ‘Well, hold on a minute — India stuck to its guns,’ ” said Tahir Amin, a director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge, a group based in New York that works on patent cases

Big Court Ruling Favors Generic Drugs: The Times’s Katie Thomas explains why a ruling in India favoring generic drugs has rippling effects around the world. Visit http://www.nytimes. com/2013/04/02/business/global/top-court-in-india-rejectsnovartis-drug-patent.html to watch a video.

While advocates for the pharmaceutical industry argue that fairly liberal rules on patents spur innovation, a growing number of countries are questioning why they should pay high prices for new drugs. Photo: Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press

to foster access to drugs. In trade agreements — including one being negotiated between the United States and countries in the Pacific Rim — the drug industry has lobbied for stricter patent restrictions that would more closely resemble protections in the United States. Gleevec is widely recognized as one of the most important medical discoveries in decades. In a televised interview, Ranjit Shahani, vice chairman of the Indian subsidiary of Novartis, said that companies like Novartis would invest less money in research in India as a result of the ruling. “We hope that the ecosystem for intellectual property in the country improves,” he said. India exports about $10 billion worth of generic medicine every year. India and China together produce more than 80 percent of the active ingredients of all drugs used in the

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United States. In Monday’s decision, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the patent that Novartis sought for Gleevec did not represent a true invention. The ruling is something of an anomaly. Passed under international pressure, India’s 2005 patent law for the first time allowed for patents on medicines, but only for drugs discovered after 1995. In 1993, Novartis patented a version of Gleevec that it later abandoned in development, but the Indian judges ruled that the early and later versions were not different enough for the later one to merit a separate patent. Leena Menghaney, a patient advocate at Doctors Without Borders, said that the ruling was a reprieve from more expensive medicines, but only for a while. “The great thing about this ruling is that we don’t have to worry about the drugs we’re currently using,”

Menghaney said. “But the milliondollar question is what is going to happen for new drugs that have not yet come out.” Others decried the ruling, saying it was further evidence that India does not respect the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies. Last year, India granted what is known as a compulsory license to a generic drug manufacturer to begin making copies of Bayer’s cancer drug Nexavar, and revoked Pfizer’s patent for another cancer drug, Sutent. Both companies have appealed the decisions. “It really is in our view another example of what I would characterize as a deteriorating innovation environment in India,” said Chip Davis, the executive vice president of advocacy at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group. “The Indian government and the Indian courts have come down on the side that doesn’t recognize the value of innovation and the value of strong intellectual property, which we believe is essential.” Anand Grover, a lawyer who argued the case on behalf of Cancer Patients Aid Association in India, said the ruling confirmed that India had a very high bar for approving patents on medicines. “What is happening in the United States is that a lot of money is being wasted on new forms of old drugs,” Grover said. Because of Monday’s ruling, “that will not happen in India.” In the United States, companies can get a new patent for a drug by altering its formula or changing its dosage. The companies contend that even minor improvements in medicines — changing a pill dosage to once a day instead of twice a day — can have a significant impact on patient wellness. But critics say a majority of drug patents given in the United States are for tiny changes that often provide patients few meaningful benefits but allow drug companies to continue charging high prices for years beyond the original patent life. They point to AstraZeneca, for example, which extended for years its franchise around the huge-selling heartburn pill Prilosec by slightly altering the chemical structure and renaming the medicine Nexium. Am-

gen has won so many patents on its expensive erythropoietin-stimulating drugs that the company has maintained exclusive sales rights for 24 years, double the usual period. A result of this practice is that the United States pays the highest drug prices in the world, prices that only a tiny fraction could afford in India, where more than two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day. While advocates for the pharmaceutical industry argue that fairly liberal rules on patents spur innovation, a growing number of countries are questioning why they should pay high prices for new drugs. Argentina and the Philippines have passed laws similar to the one enacted in India, placing strict limits on patents. And Brazil and Thailand have been issuing compulsory licenses for AIDS drugs for years under multilateral agreements that allow such actions on public health grounds. As the economies of emerging markets grow, the countries’ refusal to pay higher premiums for newer drugs could significantly reduce the money needed for innovation. The drug industry makes more than a third of its sales in the United States, a dependence that many in the industry fear is unsustainable, especially since sales of prescription drugs actually dropped in the United States in 2012, according to the research firm IMS Health. Sales in emerging markets like Brazil and China are expected to account for 30 percent of global pharmaceutical spending by 2016, up from 20 percent in 2011, according to IMS Health. The United States government has become increasingly insistent in recent years that other countries adopt far more stringent patent protection rules, with the result that poorer patients often lose access to cheap generic copies of medicines when their governments undertake trade agreements with the United States. Washington is currently negotiating the terms of a new Pacific Rim trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which might be completed later this year. The pharmaceutical industry has lobbied the United States to require other countries to enforce tougher patent restrictions, although the details are still being worked out.

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