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Friday, April 18 2014 | Vol. 33, No. 16


Indo American erican News Published weekly from Houston, TX

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Oye Vaisakhi hai at Sikh National Center

Lord Rama


at Sri Meenakshi Temple


The divine couple Sita and SriRama with Lakshmana and Anjaneya Swamy

Vaisakhi Special




April 18, 2014

Indo Ameri News 10x13_0408 OL.pdf



2:45 PM











April 18, 2014


Dashavatar: A Magnificent Presentation from Samksriti

Concept and Choreography: Rathna Kumar, Artistic Consultant: Seetha Ratnakar, Music Composition: Rajkumar Bharathi.

HOUSTON: The excitement in the Wortham Center was palpable on Sunday, April 6. The audience was in for an extraordinary experience that far surpassed their expectations. The curtain opened upon a stunningly beautiful silhouette of Vishnu, with the voice of the narrator (Rathna Kumar) explaining the reason for the avatars. It was continuous and seamless storytelling, through dance and drama, of the Ten Avatars of Vishnu, presented in a short one and half hours, with each story acted out by various characters and linked to the next by three groups of dancers who were the Sutradharis ) (Chorus), summing up the story through myriad hand gestures and ) fast footwork. with... comfort ) all The large cast of 40 dancers, ) of them Houstonians, was uni) giving the ) perforformly good,

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mance great consistency in qual- Samyukta as Vasuki the Snake, in the midst of all this action was Ramana Prasad and Shefali Jhavity. The opening scene, with the Jamy Abraham as Yamuna and the omnipresent Vishnu, played by eri did a great job of the props. The chanting of the Vedas, the demon Krupa Mysore as Seetha were per- Nishka Bommareddy, who looked music, by Rajkumar Bharathi of Soma’s stealthy entrance, the may- fect in their roles. Rathna Kumar’s serene and godly and tailor-made Chennai, was divine and memorahem caused by his stealing of the choreography of the Balarama for the role. ble, as also the singing by Srikanth Vedas, with tsunami-like waves, Avatar was a masterpiece, making The use of levels on the stage and the percussion segments by N. cleverly ‘created’ with fabric, set it a lively village scene with young was another brilliant idea. Avatars K. Kesavan. the perfect mood for the perfor- folk dancers - Amani, Milinda, Ra- seemed to appear and disappear Kudos to Samskriti for such a mance. In the lead was Venugopal chana, Ravali, Riya and Jvalanti – in a cloud of smoke, and Yamuna brilliant and original ‘home’ proJosyula, Assistant Director at the who added a wonderful dimension descended from a higher plane, al- duction, kudos to Rathna Kumar, Anjali Center for Performing Arts, to the whole production. Outstand- most as if she were coming down its Artistic Director, and to Krishwho glided in and out of various ing in their perfect coordination of from the Himalayas. The brilliant na Giri, Seetha Ratnakar and the roles with supreme ease. His cho- movements and their execution of and aesthetic lighting by Krishna entire team of dancers and volunreography for all the male dancers, the lightning-fast footwork were Giri and Seetha Ratnakar certainly teers who must have worked long especially the fight scenes, was the core dancers – Anjali, Sreya, elevated Rathna Kumar’s amazing and tirelessly to make Dashavatar excellent and well executed. Nis- Rohini, Divya, Rukmini, Meera choreography to a much higher such a grand success! It is hearthanth Raj, Kiron Kumar, Sudesh (Kuchipudi) and Amulya, Sneha, level, making it a professional ening to know that this production Pillutla, Arun Kumar, Harishvar Meghana, Shravya, Setu, Sanjana, presentation. Seetha Ratnakar, was funded in part by grants from Ganesh and Tejas Kumar donnedExplore Smrithi, Tanooha, Jahnvi, Toshani, former Assistant Station Director the Texas Commission on the Arts Explore the world the inworld comfort in comfort with... with... the roles of the various male char- Samyukta, Rima, Ragini, Harshini of Doordarshan, Chennai and the and the City of Houston through acters. (Bharatanatyam). Cameo roles by Artistic Consultant for the produc- the Houston Arts Alliance. We ) Jvalanti ! "#$%&'$%(&) *)+ #,&#$-.'/#(&)0#()'$$)1'2#() Young as Prahlada, Anushka as Hanuman and Nan- tion, had also designed all the fab- look forward to more such events Ankita as the little Vamana and dini as a sacrificial goat further ulous costumes, and had specially under the aegis of Samskriti. ) Mareecha '-($-,%& the Explore Golden ) Deer, the enhanced the presentation. And flown in with... from India for the show. world in comfort


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April 18, 2014


Large Sports Day Turnout Brings Out the Fun of Vaisakhi steel building, while more than 20 volunteers helped. Most of the crowd spilled out all day long to the sports and games that had been arranged over the open field and under the steel open-sided basketball court. Many young people stayed on for hours to play basketball, volleyball and a tug-of-war and the younger ones enjoyed rides and games. Sim Bhullar, a 7 foot 5 inch, 22 year-old Indo-Canadian Sikh college basketball player at New Mexico State University attended the event, dwarfing the rest of the people who stopped to pose for pictures with him. Many other people from across the state also came to the event. The event committee was ecstatic about the turnout and donations and spokesmen Manohar Singh Mann and Bhupinder Singh said they were busy planning the next event after the Vaisakhi program (this coming Saturday) for the newly formed Punjab Sports and Culture Club. It promises to be an entertainment event at the Sam Houston Racetrack in late June, featuring five out of town performers, dinner and several exhibit booths and will be free to the public.

From left: Event committee members, Aman Singh Sidhu, Amar Singh, Manohar Singh Mann, Bhupinder Singh and Satwant Singh Basu at the Sikh National Center’s Sports Day this past Sunday, April 13.

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: If you grew up in North India, and especially in the rural parts of the Punjab and Haryana, Vaisakhi was an eagerly awaited day as farmers gave jubilation for the end of winter and harvest their fields. Hindus celebrate the beginning of a New Year and Sikhs commemorate the establishment of the Khalsa. Along with its advent comes a feeling of liberation and excuse to have fun, call it Spring Fever with a passion

for Punjabis. And this passionate feeling of fun-filled abandonment, along with reverence to the day’s deep religious significance, was on display at the Sikh National Center’s Vaisakhi Sports Day held at the huge tract of land off Beltway 8 between Gessner and FairbanksNorth Houston where an estimated 2,500 people attended the day long activities on Sunday, April 13. The 20-acre site has been the focus of most of the Sikh commu-

nity’s efforts for the past 15 years as a master-planned center that would house a Gurudwara as well as a boarding school, auditorium, museum, library, pavilion and residence for priests. During this time, through the dedicated efforts of a core, determined committee, the Sikh community has been able to raise money for the project through annual events at the site and donation drives. This year’s Vaisakhi celebrations brought together nearly $30,000 in

donations at the Sri Akhand Path Bhog and Kiratan Diwan held in the morning at the metal frame building that currently houses the Guru Granth Sahib. Two days earlier, on Friday, April 11, the Sri Akhand Path Arambh was held in the morning. After the religious services on Sunday, a langar of daal, kaddi, chawal and roti was served until almost till 3pm and pizza, gol gape, jalebis, masala dosa made in the kitchen in the back of the


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Indian Doctors Association Gala Funds Charity Clinic

HOUSTON: The 33rd annual gala of the Indian Doctors Association (IDA) was held on April 12, at the Westin Oaks, Houston. About 470 guests, physicians and non physicians attended this event. This was a record number this year who came to attend this gala. The Indian Doctors Association serves the function of networking, community service, education and mentoring to young students and physicians. As part of the community service drive, it has its Indian Doctors Charity clinic which is a completely free clinic. A sum of $10,000 was presented by Dr. Uttam Tripathy, a practicing cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon and the president of the organization to Dr. KT Shah who runs the charity clinic. In addition, this year, three medical school scholarships were given to one student from each of the three medical schools ( Baylor College of Medicine, UT Health Sciences and UTMB, Galveston). Hirani Vin from Baylor, Jaimin Shah from UT and Sonam Jaggi from UTMB were the recipients of

IDA board members.

the $2,500 scholarships this year, given for exemplary academic performance and community service. A vendor fair preceded the gala with displays of various technological improvements in the field of medicine. The gala event was celebrated with the rhythm and beats of India, a cultural extravaganza with dances from various parts of the country performed

Photos: Bijay Dixit

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        HOUSTON: The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) and GIBV got together on April 6, for one of the first open interactive discussion supporting Shri Narendra Modi in the 2014 General Election. The “Chai Pe Charcha� event was organized by Nitish

Desai and moderated by the panel consisting of the media team of the OGBJP. The panel members Aadit Kapadia, Pramod Buravalli, Sunanda Vashsisht and Nitish Desai discussed various topics including defense policy, economic issues, NRI contributions, cultural issues

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Sita Rama Kalyanam Celebrated at Sri Meenakshi Temple PEARLAND: The Hindu religion is unique in its tradition of celebrating divine weddings as an expression of Bhakthi (devotion to God); it serves as a reminder for all, the eternal message of love and the union of the soul (jeevatma) with the divine (paramatma). Even to this day – the song sung to celebrate the Seetha-Rama kalyanam, “Seetha kalyana vaibhogame; Rama kalyana vaibhogame” is rendered at weddings in remembering and invoking the blessings of the celestial wedding of Lord Rama (an Incarnation of Vishnu) and Sita devi (an Incarnation of Mahalakshmi). One of the foremost devotees of Shri Rama, Shri Bhadrachala Ramadas, is credited with setting the tradition of celebrating Seetha-Rama Kalyanam at Bhadrachalam Shri Rama temple. Houston’s own Sri Meenakshi Temple Society (MTS) conducted the Seetha-Rama Kalyanam on Saturday, April 12, with the same spirit of auspicious devotion. The event began with the traditional seer varisai from the Ganesha temple. The divine wedding was celebrated at the main temple which was decorated beautifully with a celestial ambience and the event commenced with a Vishwaksena Pooja (to ward off all obstacles) and Punyaha-vachanam (to ritualistically) purify the space. From the enchanting divine bride and groom, to the décor, the display of sweets and the background music for the wedding, the assembled two hundred and fifty plus devotees felt blessed to be part of this holy matrimony. Ladies gathered up on the stage for the pidi sutral (offering of colored rice). The priests performed the recitation of the lineages for the three generations of both

The majestic Raja gopuram raises behind the beautiful Silver Chariot on Sita Rama Kalyanam at Sri Meenakshi temple

the groom and the bride. They then moved to tie the Raksha Sutram - a wristband that attests to the resolve of the sponsoring devotees to perform the holy wedding. This was followed by kanya dhanam (offering of the bride to the groom), mangalya dharanam (tying the holy thread) and maalai maatral (exchange of garlands); the priests then followed it up with the homam- holy fire ceremony, akstharaponam- sprinkling of holy rice, and mangalaharathi. The Houston devotees proved to be ardent supporters of the Sita Rama wedding and had flocked fervently to make it a huge success. Following the wedding, the celestial couple were carried around the temple premises in the silver chariot in a procession (with the cries of Jai Shri Ram- Victory to

Lord Rama), while the devotees chanted Vishnu Sahasranamam. The divine wedding concluded with a sumptuous wedding feast, organized by MTS board member and Food committee lead, Jeyam Thyagarajan and served by MTS staff and volunteers. The MTS Pooja Committee, volunteers and the priests Doraiswamy Bhattar, Sridhar Raghavan and Sri Parthasarathy, and staff members deserve our gratitude for planning and organizing this event with the support of the board, the administrators and the volunteers. In particular we thank the event coordinators, Bhargavi Golla, Vijaya Kaila and Kumari Mikkilineni. These events really enrich our lives and nourish our souls. (References from M. Sriram, V. Natarajan and N. Sadagopan; Photos: S. Srinivasan and GNP)

Beautifully laid out Seer varisai for Sita Rama Kalyanam at Meenakshi temple


April 18, 2014



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16 April 18, 2014


Author Amitav Ghosh Enlightens Houstonians through Trilogy

Amitav Ghosh

BY SANCHALI BASU HOUSTON: It was indeed a treat to listen to Amitav Ghosh discuss his latest work, the Ibis trilogy at the Asia Society of Texas on April 10. The first 2 of the trilogy, the best-selling Sea of Poppies, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2008. River of Smoke is the second in the Ibis Trilogy, where one travels the opium route with Bahram Modi, a Parsi opium merchant from Bombay to 19th century China. The author was welcomed by the co-chairs Dinesh Singhal and Rick Pal of the University of Houston India Studies program. They thanked Chancellor, Dr. Renu Khator, Lois

Zamora, chair comparative literature, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, writer, faculty UH, with whose collaboration the evening was made possible. They mentioned their humble beginnings in 2009 with a meeting at Dr. Khator’s house, and how it has taken wings and gone on to become a strong program with Houston’s vibrant Indo-American community. They asked the audience to spread the word and support the program Chitra introduced the author as someone who had a great influence on her, being born in the same city, Kolkata. Ghosh has taught Comparative Literature and English at City University of New York, and Harvard University. He is the recipient of several awards including the Padma Shri, Sahitya Akademi Award and Ananda Puraskar in India and International e-book and Arthur C. Clarke award to name a few. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages, and he currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn. He started his talk by giving the background of his trilogy and how in the late 19th century when India was under the rule of the British, the East India Company’s main trade commodity was tea which amounted to more than 20% of all British revenue. Tea was taxed as high as 100% and the taxes alone paid for all non-military expenses. The Chinese were more interested in buying opium and the British found it to be more profitable. Thus began the protagonist’s journey on a smuggling boat to Canton. The author walked us through a very extensive slide show which encompassed the

types of boats used, including the graduation from the square rigged ship to the Baltimore schooner. He mentioned the Parsis (a dwindling community in India now) who ran the most important ship building companies in the world at that time. The opium factories in the east and west coast of India generated enough wealth to build almost half of London and the grand palaces in India and there was not a single merchant at that time who did not trade opium. The places like Macau, Lintin Island, Whampoa in the Pearl River estuary were shown on maps which formed the trade route. The sneaky process in which they off loaded the opium on Lintin Island and landed on the mainland (Canton) without their cargo was explained. The significance of Canton, the mega city as old as Rome and its rich heritage and culture was touched on. The industrial power that it has now become stemmed from that era, be it in the field of porcelain, furniture, flowers, lacquerware or pictures. Most of the paintings of western leaders were done by Chinese painters, Lamqua being the most notable.

The conversation with Chitra ensued and Ghosh elaborated that characters do have a will of their own and end up in places one wouldn’t have conceived. He loved to read since childhood and historical fiction by Bengali and other writers had inspired him with his present worker. He does like to travel to the places he writes about but they do not in any way resemble what they used to be. There are magical moments that trigger a novel, when characters come alive. On the topic of the political and social function of literature and the difference between India and the USA, he did emphasize that there is more freedom of expression in China vs India and that Indian books are subjected to attacks by Indian politics. The audience was mesmerized by the mellifluous flow, depth of knowledge and the charismatic persona of the author. A reception followed with wine and finger foods and the author obliged by talking to all his ardent admirers who stood in line to get their books autographed by him. Ghosh definitely made a great impact on Houstonians on his first visit to the Space City.

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April 18, 2014


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18 April 18, 2014

Righting a Wrong By recognising the third gender, Supreme Court takes a big step forward for human rights. Transgendered citizens have won a long-denied right, as the Supreme Court formally acknowledged a “third gender” status for them. Responding to a PIL that appealed for greater mainstreaming and recourse against discrimination for transgenders, the court has declared that they should be given priority in education and employment, and recognised their status as socially and economically backward. It has asked the Centre to work out this change, and directed states to devise welfare schemes, create special facilities and run awareness campaigns to counter social stigmatisation. It also acknowledged that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was being used by the police against trans individuals — treading on delicate territory since the same Supreme Court has recently upheld that law, which is intended to punish “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and ends up being the blunt tool with which LGBT citizens are harassed. In this judgment, the court drew a distinction between transgenders and gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, a line that is far from self-evident when it comes to constitutional rights against discrimination and for equality. There have been smaller interventions in favour of trans individuals, at least in terms of the state’s enumerating instruments. In 2005, the Centre introduced the “E” category for eunuchs in the passport form and other documents. The Election Commission has “O” for others, Aadhaar included “T” for transgenders and Census forms also now acknowledge gender-variant identities. But apart from a recognition of formal citizenship, and the strength in numbers that this brings, they also need policy action to fight the discrimination, and even violence, that they face. While states like Tamil Nadu have set progressive examples, with a dedicated transgender welfare board, separate public facilities, preferential admissions, ration cards and so on, there needs to be comprehensive action across India to give them their due in healthcare, housing, workplace opportunities. The court’s decision to treat them as socially and educationally backward is an acknowledgement of the persistent prejudice that has held them back. Such progressive interventions to uphold minority rights can only be made by the court. And in turn, the court’s progressive intentions can only be realised by governments that share its concern. State governments must act immediately to set up departments for transgender integration and welfare, and make amends for the decades of indifference to their cause. -Indian Express

Indo American News


A Deeper Democracy On April 7, as the sun rose on India, the first voter from the Northeast kicked off the world’s largest exercise in democracy. That India has survived as a nation, withstood numerous internal and external subversions and handled so much diversity is an extraordinary feat that needs to be applauded — and understood. With remarkable foresight, the founding fathers of the republic put their faith in liberal democracy as a way of organising and running the country. One may not agree with all that they stood for, but few will doubt their integrity, ethics and moral standards and scholarship, which connected many facets of what India had to offer as a civilisation with the modern sensibilities of liberty, equality and fraternity. In his landmark work The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argued that modern liberal democracy and technologically driven capitalism are endpoints in the evolution of history — and that all the big questions around the underlying principles and institutions of a democracy have more or less been settled. Fukuyama made his arguments in the context of the withering away of the challenge of communism, but scarcely acknowledged India setting the precedence for liberal democracy amongst newly independent countries. Liberal democracy has stood India in good stead but faces many challenges, the biggest three being from caste, corruption and institutional complacency. Since Independence, Indian democracy has been in perpetual conflict with the quasi-feudal structure of society. Caste-based hierarchies are undemocratic, unscientific and unethical, gnawing relentlessly at the foundations of our democracy. Unfortunately, rather than advancing the cause of fraternity, our political parties have by and large succumbed to the use of caste-based identities to create long-term electoral vote banks. For India’s social scientists, mostly trained in the dialectical method of analysis, caste has provided interesting binaries for the analysis of the human condition. Their analysis, perhaps inadvertently, has reinforced caste as a “legitimate” structure.

But caste barriers could now disappear through the institutions of liberal democracy and technology-driven prosperity. Many nations of East Asia have achieved rapid prosperity by utilising existing knowledge and opening their societies to competitive processes. Some, admittedly, are not models of liberal democracy. However, for India, liberal democracy is foundational, and long-term prosperity in a democracy can only be achieved, as Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have argued in their book, Why Nations Fail, through “inclusive institutions” and not rent-seeking “extractive institutions”. Corruption in India has emerged as the biggest threat to welfare programmes, general prosperity and equality of opportunity and, as a consequence, to liberal democracy. Three reforms are necessary to deepen India’s democracy. First, political parties must report the sources of their funding. If, under the RTI, all government activities, barring those dealing with national security, are in the open, why should the affairs of those who are actually going to govern be opaque? Many of our issues with corruption, cronyism and patronage stem from the secrecy shrouding campaign funding. The second key reform is establishing the rule of law. Much has been said on the need for the Lokpal and Lokayukta as curative institutions to tackle both big and petty corruption. However, at the end of the day, justice is provided by the legal system. The weakest spot in our judicial system is the pendency of cases. How can rule of law be established when cases remain stuck in the courts for decades? By current estimates, there are more than three crore cases waiting to be disposed of by the courts. A complacent judicial system is a millstone around the neck of a liberal democracy.


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The third area of reforms — strengthening institutions — is vital but not tangible in terms of remedies. Any constituent structure of a liberal democracy — Parliament, political parties, courts, regulatory bodies, army, police, universities, corporations — is an institution whose individual vitality and ability to evolve contributes to the overall strength of a liberal democracy. Unfortunately, little consciousness exists on the role of institutions in deepening democracy in India. In general, our institutions easily succumb to political interference and tend to be individual-centric rather than based on a shared commitment to excellence, accountability and service. Hopefully, reform in political funding and a time-conscious judicial system will catalyse reform in other vital institutions. But how will these reforms come about? Perhaps those elected will bring about a revolution from the top. Maybe a citizen’s movement will force political parties to be more open and the judiciary, less complacent. If so, who will organise this citizens’ movement? We already had one and it seems to be fizzling out. What is the role of intellectuals in pushing for key reforms? It may be useful to quote Eric Hobsbawm from his essay, “The Intellectuals: Role, Function and Paradox”. “Thinking intellectuals alone are in no position to change the world even though no such change is possible without their contribution. This requires a united front of ordinary people and intellectuals.” Many in India today are writing about fraternity, the critical necessity of electoral reforms and the importance of institutions. But how will they reach the public imagination? The writer teaches genetics and is former vice chancellor of Delhi University. Views are personal. -Indian Express

April 18, 2014



20 April 18, 2014


Abhishek Prasad Marries Lillian Fernandez



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BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA RICHMOND, TX: As a child, the young Abhishek had always been pushed to excel, with his doting mother Rita at his side, whether at learning to play the tabla or mastering the courses in his high school, eventually earning a perfect 1600 on his SAT. But he always had a mischievous spirit in him and a youthful fascination with things that are unusual and fun. That’s what led him to plan out his Hindu wedding Barat procession to come down the length of the parking lot at the Safari Texas Ranch but he couldn’t decide on the conveyance. He had first decided on a white mare which stood with her handler, both decked in festive colors. But later Abhishek changed his mind at his family’s insistence, and decided on Page, an elephant who stood nearby munching on branches from trees waiting for the groom to arrive in a stretched out black limo from the banquet hall. Finally, as he climbed onto the seat, his little nephew Raunak in front of him, “I was nervous at first being on the elephant”, Abhishek later confessed, but he felt elated as the baratis danced and led the procession to the bride’s family. Throughout the afternoon, the guests were thrilled to get elephant rides around the parking lot. It was a day of high Hindu traditions and celebrations planned with an eye to the creative details that the groom’s mother Rita Prasad is known for among her friends. She and her husband Raghunath spared to effort in making the day long function fun and entertaining, starting at noon on Saturday, April 12 with the barat and ending after the reception at the same place at midnight. The traditional Hindu wedding was conducted in the ballroom in the afternoon, complete with the devotional songs sung onstage even as the priests Dr. Shukla, assisted by Dr. Sen Pathak in English translations of the proceedings, conducted the two-hour long marriage ceremony in front of over 400 seated guests. The wedding reception for nearly 700 people was more relaxed as the families were introduced and made short speeches. Lillian’s father Carlos called her his “Yellow Rose of Texas”, presenting her with one in a box and Abhishek as “Leo, the Lion” reflecting his Zodiac sign and presenting him with a framed glass painting of a lion. The groom’s father Raghunath recalled his own arranged marriage, much to the delight of the audience and Rita Prasad counseled with words of advice and devoted motherly love for the newlyweds. The food was catered by Gourmet India restaurant. The sangeet was held at the Prasad residence in Richmond two days earlier. The groom is the son of Raghunath

The newlyweds Lillian Fernandez and Abhishek Prasad with the bride’s parents Dr. Carlos and Martha Fernandez and the groom’s parents Rita and Raghunath Prasad after the wedding ceremony at the Safari Texas Ranch this past Saturday, April 12, 2014.

The groom, Abhishek Prasad on an elephant with his nephew Raunak, following the barat procession,

Prasad, an engineer in the petrochemical industry and Rita Prasad, a homemaker both of whom have been in Houston since the early ‘60s. Abhishek, 36, was born and raised in Katy, Texas, graduating from Taylor High School and going directly to medical school at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, later finishing his residency at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is an ENT specialist at the Kelsey Seybold Clinic in Sugar Land, where he met Lillian. The two had been dating since 2009. His sister Garima and her husband Neil are also physicians in Dallas, where they live with their children Raunak and daughter Manasi.

Lillian, 40, is an Administrative RN at Kelsey Seybold Sugar Land and is the daughter of Dr. Carlos Fernandez, an oncologist and her mother Martha is a homemaker. Lillian was born and raised in Houston in the Memorial area and graduated from the University of Texas, Austin and later got her nursing degree from UT/Tyler. Her family is originally from Bolivia and she has three other siblings all in Texas. The couple will have a Catholic wedding on May 3 in Houston and then go on their honeymoon in Hawaii. They intend to make their home in Sugar Land.



April 18, 2014


Pedal Power and Metro Rail: the Great Integrators of the Indian Populace

A college student and a newlywed in the Metro

A family transports wedding sarees in the Metro

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA NEW DELHI, India: You have to admire the fortitude of the cycle rickshaw drivers upon whose leg power, in all sorts of weather, Indian cities and their economies have prospered for decades. They have ferried people and materials short distances – upto 3 or 4 kilometers depending on the stamina of the driver – and provide a needed and affordable means of transportation. Some transport a bunch of tiny tykes to and fro from their schools, others add a cart to the back and lug much larger loads across town. The basic frame of the rickshaw hasn’t changed and they are ubiquitous, though each succeeding driver has run his machine for a few years before it has conquered his health and physique. Each year it seems their rates go up by 50 per cent, their informal network spreads the message of rate hikes across the city, and since they do not have meters, the price they quote for a ride is

an estimate that you can haggle over a little, but you get better at second guessing them in time. The cycle rickshaw driver pedals all day for a living, going all over his part of town, forming little bonds and alliances that help him eke out a living that often requires living 10 to a room, or if times are tough, sleeping on his rickshaw, all in the hopes of sending money back home to the family in a far off village. Most come from the poverty stricken areas of the eastern states of Bihar and Orissa and leave behind families to work in the large cities, often for years, while their wives grow distant and children grow up without knowing their them except through a short once a year visit to the ancestral village. Ashok Kumar Rathord stopped me at a bank counter and without shame or hesitation, but with timid respect asked me to help him fill out the deposit slip to put Rs. 10,000 into his account. A skinny, dark skinned

young man with the grimy slacks and shirt of a day laborer, he told me his cell number in Hindi numerals to put down on the slip, and adding “Sirji, rickshaw chalata hoon, to hum ne ghar pasise bhejne hain, na” (Sir, I drive a rickshaw, so we have to send money back home, you see). In the past two years, these cycle rickshaw wallahs are being threatened by a new predator – the battery operated rickshaw, a cross between a golf cart and the cycle and scooter rickshaws. Rakesh, with a cap to shield his eyes – he could not remember his age, but his crinkled face made him look forty - said he was much easier to drive these. “Kharcha toh hai Sir, humain doh sauh roopayia to din ka dena hota hai malik ko aur uppar se satar roopayia lagta hai bijli ki charge ke liya” (Sure, it is expensive, Sir, we have to give 200 rupees per day to the owner and on top of that another 70 rupees for the electric charge), but the rates are the same, about ten rupees per 500 meters. But the battery powered ones can go further – about 100 km a day and can carry upto five people. Many drivers pick up passengers along the way and add to their route’s total revenue. These modified, low cost versions of Filipino Jeepney’s - and their other minivan counterparts that ply a set route – are the great integrators of the Indian populace, along with the much vaunted Metro rail system, bringing together the middle class with the down trodden and the rural; the school and college students with the young and older professionals; the laborers and the house maids with the housewives and retired folks; the ignorant young men who assist in tiny shops with the shop keepers and small kiosk owners. As I sat in a battery rickshaw on my way to Nizamuddin Railway Station to catch my 4:55 pm First Class Sleeper to Mumbai, I haggled with the driver who beckoned me with a price of forty rupees. “Kya” (What)? I said incredously. “Acha, acha, tees de dena” (Fine, fine, give thirty), he came down and I got in with my three bags, across from a young woman with a pearl necklace and sky blue salwar-kameez and her companion, a man in a striped shirt and impossibly pale brown hair, who paid her way, who were chatting office gossip. A ways down, the driver spied a stocky young man with greased black hair, a backpack and a square watch who got on and sat on the bench next to the him, quoting him thirty rupees for the same ride to the station. The couple got off, the young man moved into the seat I moved from and a short while later a young dehati (village) woman in pink salwar-kameez and a young boy in tow got on – she sat next to me and told the boy “pakad ke rehena” (hold on tight) as he sat next to the driver. In the Metro rail, which carries CONTINUED ON PAGE

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Pedal Power and Metro Rail: the Great Integrators of the Indian Populace

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an estimated 2.5 million passengers every day, the mingling of different segments of society are routine and fashions, mannerisms and behavior is molded by osmosis. Since its inception, there has been an emphasis on giving your seats to the elderly, disabled or women and most follow this simple courtesy, and should they forget, then a tap on the shoulder and an admonishment from a fellow passenger serves as a reminder to do so. School kids in uniforms and blazers, others in casual clothes, college students with backpacks and young adults are always plugged in to their phones – more and more are Smartphones – with the thin, long wires leading to earbuds and for those who have lost power, there are plugs to charge their batteries. The same group leads the charge in fashions, with most women favoring the tight, skinny pants or colorful leggings that are the current rage from Istanbul to Manila, with short tops or kurtis and the men in low-cut skinny jeans and tight shirts, usually with rolled-up sleeves, though some with better physiques sport the Star Trek look of Captain Kirk with tight pants and tight full sleeved top, a style that many predict will rule the future generations. On one morning, Bikram, who prefers to go by Biki, stood at the connecting slider between carriages, hair brushed high and back, past his neckline, a twoday dark stubble on his face, aviator sunglasses on and keeping pace with the music in his ears with his fingers tapping against his jeans-clad legs, all the way to his stop. College kids returning from classes huddled noisily together, speaking excitedly in Hindi about their day and joked with one another. Young couples found refuge in a corner, or a seat for two, to share their tenderness’s and flirt, some girls using beguiling looks and words to make endearing demands of their sweethearts, as the young men tried to put up a chivalrous front and their best debonair and fashionable airs. A family of peasants joins in from a platform in the tail end of the Yellow Line; five adults and four little kids, two in their laps, and I nudge the young office boys to give up their seats for them. Rather than let the older man with bad, stained teeth, a large white moustache-less beard, purple lungi and soiled white kurta

Hassling a Japanese tourist in the Metro

sit, the two excited short women jumped on the seats with three tykes between them and one at glued to the window. The younger man in pants and a green shirt sat on his bag on the floor - hanging onto a tiny boy - obviously settled in the city and excitedly, in Orissi spoke loudly to the others, as if explaining the ride in the Metro, while his wife, in a blazing red dupatta with the silver brocaded border across her head and behind the ears like a frame, stood by, adding to the description. On another line, as the doors opened and the incoming jostled for space, a young woman in a salwar-kameez rushed to drag in eight huge white bags bulging with boxes of sarees, and helped the middle-aged man and woman who passed her even more bags, emblazoned with the name of the store, Arun, in Hindi, with “No Return. No Exchange. No Guarantee of Cloth, Color and Zari” in English printed prominently below its name. The sale obviously had to be final, apparently in preparation of a wedding, and the bags took up the space around the center post. Young newlywed women in brilliantly colored outfits and with shiny, sequined, colorful bangles worn from their wrists to the elbows – and some with rings on each toe – ride the Metro, sharing space and seats with the college kids who pay them no attention. On most of the Metro rides, there are very few foreign faces – and mine got its share of stares – other than the rare students from Africa, notably Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana, who travel to the western suburbs. More get on near the New Delhi Railway Station platform and some dare to dive into the heavily traveled central Rajiv Chowk junction which is teeming with people at most hours. A few venture further out to the see the sights, but for the most part, the foreign faces congregate comfortably in the southern satellite city of Gurgaon at the numerous BPO and IT companies nestled there. On one morning, as the carriages were still fairly empty, two young men were badgering a young Japanese tourist, who they had apparently accosted. They spoke in accented English to him, trying to impress with their knowledge of Japan, Sumo wrestling and other places and then asked about his opinion of Indian girls


and where he wanted to go, all loud enough for the rest of the wagon to hear. I interjected, “Oye, kuan satate ho bachare ko” (Hey, why are you hazzling the poor guy)? They just chuckled at the fun they were having. Finally a man across from them told them to stop confusing the tourist, and the young man in the white shirt erupted against him, telling him in the offensive impolite tense to mind his own business. “Tera kya lagta hai? Tu meri baat mein dakhle na de, sumje” (What is it to you? Don’t you meddle in my business, you get it)? An older man with a stern voice admonished the white shirt and his skinny cohort to stop, that this was not the impression to give tourist and that he would call the security. The white shirt at first shot back at him, then recoiled, sat down and at the next stop, sensing that fun time was over, got off with his skinny friend in tow. On most rides, Metro or rickshaw, passengers never make eye contact or never exchange a word with strangers. So imagine my surprise when the man in the dark grey safari suit to my right suddenly turned to me and asked, “Yeh kya likha hai? Aap purd sakhte hai – bohot bariq hai” (What’s written here? Can you read it – its such small type). Sure enough it was, so I told him I’d take a picture on my iPhone and blow it up. “Haan, yeh ache idea hai” (Yes, that’s a good idea), he exclaimed. I did and we could read that the roll of candy he was holding was made by Silvassa, an Italian company and he offered me and his older companion a piece, then went on to explain how the candy was made, as he had seen it on the Discovery Channel, which he watched almost religiously every night along with the news. He then related other episodes which showed how the tiny country of Denmark made so much cheese that it exported it worldwide and how another farmer – a Sikh in the Punjab – charged thousands of rupees to allow his prize bull to inseminate cows so that they would produce calves which would give huge quantities of milk. “I have watched Discovery Channel for the past twenty years”, he said, as he got up to take his stop., and said “Challo toh” (Okay then), with a slight nod of his head. A first, I thought, making contact with an Indian who didn’t turn away and minded his own business.

April 18, 2014



24 April 18, 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 April 23, 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).

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Mama’s Punjabi Recipes

Karele de Chilke di Paronthi (Bitter Melon Peelings Paronthi) It seems that everyone loves a nice, crispy, hot Punjabi parantha coated with the right amount of olive oil (some people still use butter or ghee). And many people also love the taste of karelas (bitter melon) too, usually eating it with roti. This recipe combines the taste of karelas with the texture of paranthas in a way that uses the peelings (or scrapings), which is the most beneficial part of the vegetable. In North India, it is widely believed that karelas are good for you if you have high sugar. In the past twenty years, there have been many reports that karelas have an anti-diabetic property that can help to reduce the amount of sugar that is released into the blood and can play a role in the prevention and treatment of Type II diabetes. Karelas may even prevent or reverse insulin resistance. Some people drink karela juice, others take karela capsules. In any case, the beneficial aspects of the karela lie mostly in its rough outer skin. So, this recipe uses th peelings – the part that most people usually throw away – to make fresh paranthas on the tava. Their taste is quite bitter, and some people love it. But for those who have high sugar, eating these paranthas may make a difference. To make the paranthas soft, add the oil; to reduce the bitterness of the karela peelings, add some water while making the dough. Use a small dab of oil on the tava (skillet) to make the parantha crisp and cook thoroughly. And the nice part is that, when you make karelas, you get a chance to get two dishes out of one vegetable! These paranthas taste best with fresh, plain yogurt, although some people eat them with daal or another curry and find the taste is refreshingly different. Ingredients: • 5 medium karela (bitter melon) • 1 cup atta (unbleached wheat flour) • 2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil – to make the paranthi soft • 2 cups pani (water) – to take out some of the bitterness of the karela

round ball. Pour a little dry flour on the counter and roll the ball in it to coat it. Now use a velna (rolling pin) to roll the ball into a nice round, flat pancake, about 1/8 inch thick.

Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), amchoor (dry mango powder)

Directions: 1. Wash the karele carefully so that all the dirt is cleaned off. Dry the karele, then scrape off the skin with a knife and keep the peelings in a bowl or deep plate. 2. Pour the flour into the bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper, then slowly pour the water in while kneading the dough till it becomes a nice, round, tender firm ball. If you want, add the amchoor to cut the bitterness of the karela. 3. Dab the surface of the ball with a little water to keep it moist, cover the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. 4. Pinch off a portion of the dough and make into a 2 inch

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.


Indians love to eat onions with their meals, especially if there is a spicy curry meat dish or daal and some really hot, fresh roti or naan. But sometimes the onions are just too strong and sting to be eaten easily. My husband’s grandmother used an old village trick to take the sting out of the onions. She would throw the onions outside in the rain and let them soak for a while. This would take the sting out. Of course, it is not always possible to wait for a rainy day, so you can do the same thing by placing a peeled onion in a bowl of water for 20 minutes. This trick also works in getting the starch out of peeled potatoes, so it is okay for diabetes to eat. Some villagers in the North just smash an onion and squeeze the water out of it between their palms in order to get the sting out.

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5. Place a tava (flat plate or flat skillet) on the stove and heat on medium. Now carefully place the flattened dough on the tava and spread a dab of oil around the circumference on the tava. When small brown spots appear, turn the parantha over and let it cook and use the oil again. When brown spots appear on this side, turn over and repeat till the parantha is lightly brown. The parantha is now ready to eat.

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April 18, 2014

Movie Review: Bhoothnath Returns

BY MADHUREETA MUKHERJEE Our good-hearted ghost with a dost is back. This time he’s all set for some social seva by contesting elections and befriending a street-smart slumboy. After his last visit to earth (prequel), Bhoothnath (Bachchan) goes back to exotic Bhoothworld, where ghosts lavishly live it up. Though it’s run like a sarkari organization with departments like ‘Reincarnation Section’, ‘Bhooth Mail’, et al. Lol!. ‘BN’ is ridiculed by his gang-of-ghosts at his inability at scaring kids. While there’s a long wait for reincarnation (longer if you want to be reborn as Aamir’s dog. Bhoots love Bollywood too!), ‘BN’ gets one final chance to descend to earth for another kiddie scarefest. There he meets the zesty, tapori slumboy, Akhrot (Parth) who’s the only one who can see ghosts. They form an inseparable team of ghostbusters

- evicting haunting bhooths from buildings, and other earthly endeavours (like cleaning up garbage on the streets and inside the system). Soon they meet the conniving politician Bhau (Boman), and after some awakening ‘BN’ agrees to contest elections as the first ever bhooth candidate. He turns into a celebrity ghost, posing for media interviews, and teaming up with filmys. But will Bhoothnath’s ghostly powers be able to match up to the ghastly politics of humans? Tiwari’s sequel sets off with a lot of promise, entertainment, laughs and endearing camaraderie between a bhooth and a boy. The first-half has wittily written scenes - strung with satire and emotion, but the story slowly turns into a tedious vocational course on voting. The preaching distracts from some superb performances and inadvertently loses

humour, but the story does have its heart in the right place. ‘BN’ makes a comeback at a perfect time - bang on with our Indian elections, and packs a powerful message, albeit with potholes in the plot.Bachchan is brilliant as the bhooth having a ball at his bhootiyapa, but his booming spiels are sometimes banal; it’s the one-liners that score. Boman is ‘predictably’ good but OTT in parts; and Mishra (lawyer) enthuses with an effortless act. The leader of this party is unquestionably child artist Parth. His confidence, charm and energy are incredible. He has the best lines in the film, adding as much gusto (if not more) to this ghost-story. So, you better go to the polling b(h)ooth on election day, because Bhoothnath says so! Or risk being ‘haunted’ by bad governance. -Times of India

Ranbir-Katrina to Live-in Together?

Following his cousin Kareena Kapoor's footsteps, Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor has also decided to live-in with his girlfriend Katrina Kaif before marriage. Since the couple hardly get time to spend with each other due to work commitments, they have decided to just stay together. A Saharasamay report says that Ranbir has finally decided to move out of his Pali Hill family residence, Krishna Raj, where he hitherto was staying with his parents Rishi and Neetu Kapoor, and has decided to buy his own apartment where he can move in with Katrina. Quoting a source, the report adds he has already spoken to a few builders and is looking for a big apartment situated somewhere between Ban-

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dra and Juhu. In fact the actor will visit the apartments shortlisted by his agent personally before he finally selects his love nest for his alleged lady love. It is said that Katrina used to visit the actor frequently at Krishna Raj. Her frequent visits were allegedly disapproved by his father Rishi, who often commented on her coming to their residence so often. Hence, Ranbir took this big step and has decided to move out of his parents house and live with Katrina. Recently, there was a buzz that Ranbir and Katrina are planning to tie the nuptial knot in 2015. However, the actress has denied these rumours. -Times of India

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014 2011 Friday, June m 18, 210, April Friday an-ne c i r e m indoa www.

April 18, 2014


IndoAmerican News

Business IndoAmerican News


How do Elections Affect the Economy?

The consumption of steel slowed every time India had an election in the past two decades Photo: Mint

BY PRAMIT BHATTACHARYA & RAVI KRISHNAN MUMBAI: The Indian economy typically slows down ahead of Lok Sabha elections even as government intervention turns opportunistic, a Mint analysis has found. A study of key economic variables over the past 30 years shows that economic activity lost pace significantly every time there was a general election. Government spending went up in an average election year, which tended to fuel inflation rather than

spur growth, suggesting that the extra public expenditure ahead of polls was largely wasteful. The slowdown in investment and economic activity, however, is more pronounced this election season because the government failed to take policy decisions in the past couple of years while battling a raft of corruption charges. The consumption of steel, for instance, slowed every time India had an election in the past two decades (see chart 1). The average growth

in steel consumption in an election year is 6.45 percentage points lower compared with a non-election year in this period. This year, the fall has been worsened because of the overall economic slowdown, with steel consumption falling 5.6% over the year-ago period in the nine months ended 31 December. New project additions dry up in an election year (see chart 2). Investors and businessmen postpone key decisions till a new government is formed, and wait to gauge what the future policy environment will be before launching major projects. At the same time, the pace of industrial credit growth decelerates (see chart 3). Industrial credit growth slows down as there are fewer industrialists lining up for bank loans ahead of elections. The average rate of industrial credit growth in election years was 1.8 percentage points lower in the past three decades compared with non-election years. Policy uncertainty may not be the only reason for the decline in consumption of raw materials such as steel and cement. Cement consumption declines ahead of elections as builders divert funds to illicitly fund political campaigns, research by

economist Devesh Kapur and political scientist Milan Vaishnav shows. Government spending rises in election years although that affects inflation more than real economic activity. There’s a clear spike in both total and revenue spending in election years, or if the elections are held in April and May, the just-preceding fiscal year The average increase in nominal government spending during election years is 15.84% compared with 11.38% for non-election years. Looking at it another way, the increase in median spending is 14.73% compared with 11.28% for non-election years. The effect of government spending also clearly shows in the fiscal deficit numbers. Average fiscal deficit for the election year is 5.87% compared with 5.08% for the nonelection years. To be sure, the fiscal deficit and government spending numbers don’t seem to follow the pattern in 2013-14. However, this year the government’s hands were tied by threats of a downgrade by rating agencies. In many cases, government intervention in an election year is designed to cater to special interest groups rather than to provide a boost to the overall economy. “We find that politicians manipulate fiscal policies

before elections to provide targeted favours to specific interest groups, possibly in exchange for campaign support,” said a 2002 World Bank study by Stuti Khemani. The amount of farm loans given by state-owned banks was 5-10 percentage points higher in election years than in years following an election, a 2007 research paper by Harvard University economist Shawn Cole found. “In election years, more loans are made to districts in which the ruling state party had a narrow margin of victory (or a narrow loss) in the previous election. This targeting does not occur in non-election years,” Cole wrote. “Politically motivated loans are costly: they are less likely to be repaid, and election year credit booms do not measurably affect agricultural output.” Given that government spending is usually opportunistic ahead of elections, the spike in spending fails to lift the economy and instead stokes the fires of inflation. Inflation measured by the gross domestic product deflator spikes up around national elections . The average inflation during election years is 8.56% since 1980, compared with 7.55% for non-election years.

LIC Trims Stake in Infosys to 3.25%; Garners Rs 850 Crore NEW DELHI: State-run insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has reduced its stake in Infosys to 3.25% in the last quarter, with the share sale estimated at over Rs850 crore. LIC, the biggest institutional investor in the stock market, held 3.71% stake in Infosys during the OctoberDecember quarter, which has fallen to 3.25% as of 31 March 2014. The state-run firm has been reducing its stake in Infosys since June

quarter. It held 6.72% stake in the country’s second largest software services exporter at the end of 30 June 2012, as per the latest data available with the stock exchanges. Taking into account the current market value of Infosys shares, the 0.4% decline in LIC’s holding in the company would be worth about Rs852 crore. Infosys shares closed at Rs3,235.80 level on Friday. Infosys, which is scheduled to report its fourth quarter earnings On Tuesday, is ex-

pecting a sluggish growth in revenue during the quarter. Company’s CEO and MD S.D. Shibulal, last month, said he expects sluggish growth in January-March quarter due to muted spending by clients, especially in retail sector. He had also said that muted growth in the fourth quarter of 2013-14 may spill over to the next financial year as well. Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy was brought back to head the

IT major in June last year, following quarters of laggard performance. Meanwhile, the company scrips have underperformed the broader market by declining nearly 6% compared to 5.7% surge in the BSE’s benchmark Sensex during the March quarter. LIC appears to have sold shares at a time when Foreign Institutional investors (FII) shored up their stake. FIIs hiked their stake in Infosys to 42.10% in the January-March quarter



from 40.65% in the preceding three months. However, domestic institutional investors reduced their exposure in Infosys to 13.66% in January-March period of 2014 from 15.35% in the preceding quarter.

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UAE All Set to Host Lavish Welcoming Party BY KARTHIK KRISHNASWAMY The controversy surrounding the IPL has done little to deter fans in UAE from flocking the stadiums, as they gear up to watch the Indian stars in action for the first time since 2006. On Monday afternoon, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium looked like it had been airlifted out of India. This impression came partly from the lightweight tent-like roofs covering the stands at the other end, the sort of roof that has sprung up over pretty much every new stadium in India. Mostly, though, it was all the branding, all those blue vinyl strips that covered every available surface with the IPL logo and the crests of its eight franchises. Tony Greig would have struggled to identify exactly which aisles all that dancing had taken place in, all those years ago. Back then, back in the boom years of 50-over cricket, Sharjah had hosted the IPL of its time. There was money, there was Bollywood, there was even a tantalising whiff of impropriety. When it all became too much, India stopped playing there. For close to 14 years, the people of the UAE didn’t get to watch India play, except when they came over for two matches in Abu Dhabi in 2006. It seems weirdly appropriate that the IPL has come to the UAE precisely when - though not for that reason - the whiff of impropriety surrounding it is at its most pungent. Not that anyone is staying away. Tickets for most of the first week of the tournament have already sold out. “IPL is IPL,” said an Emirates Cricket Board official. “There is so much enthusiasm that such things will not cause public interest to wane.” You could feel this at the ground, where crews of workers were putting things in place for the start of the tournament. Even the Pakistani expatriates among them were looking forward to the IPL, never mind their players missing out, never mind them missing out even when the tournament had pitched its tent at what has been their cricketing home for the last five years.

Nobody is staying away: Tickets have been selling through the roof in UAE © AFP

“We are feeling very bad,” said MohammadArshad, a member of the stadium workstaff, speaking for himself and for his colleague Wasim. They occupied the two top-most rungs of a 20-foot stepladder, and were hoisting a cable up to the roof. “But we are supporting Chennai Super Kings. We like MS Dhoni’s captaincy.” Leaning against the fence of a neighbouring stand, a man watched over a crew of maintenance workers hosing down the seats. This man, Mohammad Ali, turned out to be their supervisor. He has been in Sharjah for 11 years, and visits his family in

Madurai once every one-and-a-half years. “I like all the players in the Indian team,” he said. “So I’m definitely excited about the IPL. I’ve watched Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan obviously, and even Afghanistan. Almost all the teams except India.” The official had said pretty much the same thing. “The Indian players were missed,” he said. “No one expected the IPL to come here, so after it happened, suddenly, there has definitely been a buzz. It is a good break,

and it’s good to have India here, and to have the BCCI here.” The Emirates Cricket Board, he said, looked forward to the BCCI’s support in helping the growth of cricket in the UAE. “We will seek their guidance towards developing cricket in this part of the world,” he said. “They are like our elder brothers.” At times, though, they can get a bit Big Brother. Back in 2009, when the IPL was first moved out of India, the management at the Wanderers in Johannesburg weren’t too pleased with what they saw as an attempt by the IPL to “take control of the entire Stadium operation, regardless of the cost or disruption.” Back in the old days, the members’ stand in Sharjah had a clear view of the players’ comings and goings, and the only thing separating the media and the players’ dressing room was a four-foot long fence. But much has changed in the years since India last played there, and the public and the media definitely won’t get the same kind of access any more, for better or worse. On Monday, though, some vestiges of the stadium’s old-world atmosphere still remained. A man with a camera seemed to have wandered in without too much of a hassle, and was clearly enjoying himself, taking photographs of the last-minute preparations at the ground, and even of the office walls, covered with action shots from the 90s. At some point, though, his luck ran out, and he ran into a venue manager, who made him delete all his photographs. He had crossed the invisible line separating Sharjah Cricket Stadium and Sharjah, the IPL venue. Back then, back in the boom years of 50-over cricket, Sharjah had hosted the IPL of its time. There was money, there was Bollywood, there was even a tantalising whiff of impropriety. When it all became too much, India stopped playing there. Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo -ESPNCrickinfo


IPL Spot-fixing Mudgal Report

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday revealed that the Mudgal committee report on IPL spotfixing has named N Srinivasan and 12 eminent cricketers. The SC said that it is not inclined to order a CBI or SIT probe into the allegations as it would sully the image of reputed cricketers and undermine autonomy of cricket board. The SC asked the Mudgal panel to engage a counsel to meet the charge of recording of evidence levelled by Srinivasan and Dhoni. But, the SC is firm that the sealed cover allegation must be investigated thoroughly, given their serious nature.The SC also was firm that till investigation were over, Srinivasan must stay out of the BCCI. Interim BCCI president Sunil Gavaskar has written to the SC saying he can not take a decision on removal or continuance of Sundar Raman as chief operating officer of IPL. The SC decided to continue with Sundar Raman as the IPL has begun. The court also made it clear that IPL 7 would go on, as scheduled, and it also agreed to hear the plea of BCCI and Srinivasan for allowing them to get the tapes of audio recording of interactions of the Mudgal committee with Dhoni and Srinivasan. Srinivasan had onTuesday knocked the doors of the apex court for reconsidering its interim order keeping him away from the affairs of the Board and sought its permission to resume his office, the tenure of which is till September this year. In an affidavit, he had claimed that he never interfered with disciplinary proceedings or criminal investigation against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who is one of the accused in IPL spot-fixing. Srinivasan had also denied allegation of senior advocate Harish Salve that he was guilty of corruption and “cover up” and also expressed his ignorance that the sealed envelope submitted by the Mudgal Committee contains any audio tapes having conversation between two accused of betting -- Vindoo Dara Singh and Meiyappan. -Times of India

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April 18, 2014


Celebrating the ancient harvest festival and solar year

Vaisakhi Special

Vaisakhi Celebrations The Festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated with lot of joy and enthusiasm in the northern state of Punjab and Haryana. Farmers are jubilant over the festival as for them Vaisakhi marks the time for harvest of rabi crops. Prosperous with the bountiful produce they look forward to celebrating Vaisakhi with all eagerness. For the predominant Sikh population of Punjab Vaisakhi is one the biggest festival as it marks the foundation day of Khalsa Panth by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Sikh community located anywhere in the world celebrate Vaisakhi by participating in the special prayer meets and Vaisakhi processions.

Vaisakhi Celebrations by Farmers

I n the villages of the Punjab and Haryana, the day of Vaisakhi is full of colors and vibrancy. Cries of “Jatta aayi Vaisakhi” reverberate in the skies as gaily-dressed men and women move towards the fields to celebrate the occasion. The high point of Vaisakhi celebrations in villages is the performance of traditional folk dance bhangra and gidda by men and women re-

spectively. The dance is simple in movement but is extremely energetic and is performed in-groups on the beat of dhol. Farmers also celebrate Vaisakhi as a Thanksgiving Day. After taking an early bath in ponds or rivers people visit temples or gurdwaras to express gratitude to the Almighty for the bountiful harvest and pray for prosperity and good times in future. At several places in the Punjab colourful Vaisakhi Fairs are also organized to celebrate the day. People participate in these fairs with lots of enthusiasm and charm. The major attractions of Baisakhi Fairs are the bhan-


gra and gidda performances besides wrestling bouts, singing and acrobatics. The performance of folk instruments - vanjli and algoza is also quite popular. Food stalls and shops selling trinkets make Vaiskhi Melas even more joyful.

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Vaisakhi Special

Favorite Vaisakhi Recipies April 18, 2014 35 VAISAKHI SPECIALGajjar Til Favorite Vaisakhi Coconut Laddoo Gajak daRecipeMethod: milkmaid. Mix suji in a round vessel and add ¾ tin(sesame Halwa and• Roast Ingredients when it starts turning light well. • Make small brittle) balls of the mixbrown take it out and keep aside. 1 cup suji (semolina) (carrot 1 1/2 cups grated fresh • Add atleast one cup grated ture. • Roll the balls in the coconut to the semolina and keep coconut halwa) coconut powder. the mixture to cool down. 1 tin Milkmaid 1 cup caster sugar

Servings : 2 Time Taken : 15-30 mins Method

Ingredients 2 cups - carrot, grated 1 cup - milk 1 cup - evaporated milk 1 tbsp - Pistachio, chopped ( optional) 1/2 cup - ghee [ dont gawk!!! You absolutely need this for that heavenly reason!!! Ok if you really need to cut it down to few tbsp :’( ] 1 cup - sugar [ stop smirking! You are really taking the fun out of eating this by looking at me with raised eyebrows! Use 50-50 - sugar and splenda!!!! ] 1 tsp - cardamom powder 1 tbsp - broken cashews, toasted

Heat a non stick pan, heat the ghee and then add the carrots, saute till the raw smell of the carrots is replaced by distinct aroma. Then add both the milk and cook for another 10min or until the milk is almost absorbed. Add sugar and cardamom and cook further till it all comes to a single mass. Now garnish this with the pistachios if using and cashews and let the taste buds take over. You can also use raisins for this recipe although I personally like this as it is.

• Keep rest of the grated coconut to wrap the laddoos. • Put caster sugar after a while

• Place it in the refrigerator. • Laddoos are ready to serve.

Servings : 2 Time Taken : 15-30 mins Ingredients 1 cup sesame (til) 3/4 cup jaggery 1/2 tsp cardamom powder 1 tbsp ghee 1 tsp. oil

Method Heat a heavy pan, add sesame seeds and half ghee. Roast sesame on low flame stirring continuously. Boil jaggery in 1/2 cup water to form thick syrup.

Put a droplet in a plate of cold water. If it forms a soft ball and does not spread,it is done. Add roasted sesame to syrup, mix gently, take off fire. On a rolling board, spread a film of oil, for rolling gazak. Pour sesame-jaggery mixture, and roll to 1.5 cm. thickness. Allow mixture to sufficiently cool, then mark into square pieces. Once cooled completely, break into marked squares. Store in an airtight container.

Best Wishes To All On The Occasion Of


36 April 18, 2014 Vaisakhi Celebrations by Sikhs Vaisakhi is a historic harvest festival based out of the Punjab and Haryana area which starts a new harvest season as well as marking a new solar year. For Sikhs, Vaisakhi is one of the most significant festivals in the Sikh calendar and commemorates the beginning of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib in year 1699. This was done by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (the 10th Sikh Guru) where the first Sikhs were baptized using amrit (sweet nector juice). Therefore, Indian Punjabis and Sikhs reflect on the values taught by Sikh Gurus and celebrate the Khalsa’s birth. Sikhs celebrate this very important day of their religion with joy and devotion. They take an early bath, wear new clothes and visit the neighborhood gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) to participate in the special prayer meet marked for the day. After a special ardas of kirtans (religious songs) and discourses kada prasad (sweetened semolina) is distributed amongst all present. Later, people sit in rows to relish the langar or community lunch prepared and served by kar sevaks or volunteers. Major celebrations of Vaisakhi are organized at Golden Temple, Amritsar where the Khalsa Panth was founded on a Vaisakhi Day in 1699. Most Sikhs strive to visit Golden Temple on the occasion.

Another high point of Vaisakhi celebrations by Sikhs is the Vaisakhi procession or nagar kirtan carried though the city under the leadership of Panj Piaras or the Five Beloved Ones. Men, women and children alike participate in the Vaiskhi processions with enthusiasm. Performance of bhangra and gidda dance make Vaisakhi processions quite colourful and enchanting. Later in the evening, people exchange greetings with friends and relatives usually with a box of sweets or other traditional gifts.

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Vaisakhi in Hinduism & Bhuddism Sikhs, Punjabis and Indians all over the world celebrate Vaisakhi (also known as Baisakhi) usually on the 13th April, and occasionally on 14 April. For the Hindus, it is the start of the solar New Year, and is celebrated with requisite bathing, partying, and worshipping. It’s believed that thousands of years ago, Goddess Ganga descended to earth and in her honor, many Hindus gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths. The action is centered in the holy cities along the Ganges in north India, or in Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens, Jammu’s Nagbani Temple, or anywhere in Ta m i l N a d u . Hindus plant poles (wrapped in flags of goldembroidered silk) in front of their homes, and hang pots of brass, copper or silver on top. In Kerala, the festival is called ‘Vishu’. It includes fireworks, shopping for new clothes and interesting displays called ‘Vishu Kani’. These are arrangements of flowers, grains, fruits, cloth, gold, and money are viewed

early in the morning, to ensure a year of prosperity. In Assam, the festival is called Bohag Bihu, and the community organizes massive feasts, music and dancing. Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj on Vaisakhi, in 1875. Therefore, Vaisakhi is as special for the Hindus, as it is for Sikhs. In April, this day marks the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year. In fact, this day is celebrated all over the country as New Year day, under different names. Apart from the Sikhs and Hindus, Va i s a k h i i s a n important day for the Buddhists as well. The name is Vaisakha, Wesak o r Ve s a k . I t commemorates the Birth, the Awakening and the Enlightened Passing Away of Gautama Buddha who was born as prince Siddharta. The festival occurs on the full moon day of May and has no connections with either harvest festivals or New Year’s Day. (Source: Wikipedia)

Best Wishes To All On The Occasion Of Vaisakhi From


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