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Friday, December 21, 2018 | Vol. 37, No. 50

Indo American erican News

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Infusion 2018

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Magical Christmas Bollywood Spectacular!

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December 21, 2018

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COMMUNITY

December 21, 2018

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C24 Plus Toy Drive is a Merry Holiday Affair

C24+ President Manisha Gandhi (center) and Joya Shukla (right) delivered the toys to The C24+ Executive Committee and event coordinators with President Manisha Gandhi the Manager of the Foster YMCA at the luncheon at Brio Tuscan Grill on Sunday, December 9. Photos: Bijay Dixit, Unique Photo Images.

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA

HOUSTON: What could be

better on an overcast, cold day than a chance to while away the afternoon in the company of like-minded friends? And it is an especially warm coziness when they come together to make a difference in the community they live in. This time around, the members of Club 24 Plus wanted to show their concern for the little young ones among us who are less fortunate and may not find a toy to

play with come Christmas eve. C24+ tried a new way to show the involvement of Indians with the community they have flourished and made their homes in. In an idea borrowed from the Holiday Spirit, for the first time, the C24+ members each brought along a toy for a drive to collect colorful and entertaining objects for disadvantaged kids. The drive was organized by Joya Shukla and coordinated by others in the outreach committee, including

Mary Grace Landrum, wife of Judge Michael Landrum of the 113th Civil District Court of Harris County. About 50 couples attended the Holiday lunch held by the C24+ at Brio Tuscan Grill in City Centre on Sunday, December 9 on the terrace behind heavy canvas to hold back the chill of the afternoon before retiring for lunch indoors and photos (by Bijay Dixit of Unique Photo Images) in front of the brilliantly decorated

Christmas tree in the lobby. C24+ President Manisha Gandhi spoke of the programs that the group has participated in during the year and how much she has enjoyed being part of this dynamic group that has among its members many who also support the community’s premier charity, Pratham. “The true passion of the members is to serve the greater community,” said Gandhi as she recognized her

other Board members and other key individuals like event coorganizer Nimal Bhagat. After the luncheon, Gandhi, Shukla and Landrum packed the toys into cars and drove down to the Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA on West 34th (near the Hare Krishna Temple) which is a collection point for toys and a distribution center to get them to the kids most in need.

For photo collage, see page 06

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December 21, 2018

See article on page 5 INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


COMMUNITY BY VANSHIKA VIPIN VARMA

STAFFORD: As the month of

Christmas celebrations set in, it was time for yet another enticing show by the talented artists at Infused Performing Arts. The much anticipated event, in its 8th year, “Infusion 2018 - A Magical Christmas Bollywood Spectacular “ was organized at St. Joseph’s Auditorium on Saturday, December 8. An elixir of Bollywood, Disney and Magic; Infusion 2018 was a magnificent show choreographed and directed by Kiron Kumar and Tina Bose-Kumar, founders of Infused Performing Arts. Astonishing performances by the Infused Dance Company & students, a total of 200 performers, left the audiences stunned. Since its inception in 2009 by the adept choreographer couple, Tina Bose-Kumar and Kiron Kumar, Infused Performing Arts has been amusing the audiences through numerous shows. It was their passion for arts and their zeal to popularize the affluence of Indian art forms across USA that led to the provenience of their Dance Company. With time, Infused Performing Arts gained popularity and today they are acclaimed for their originality and innovation in each of their performances. This is a result of the meticulous selection of dancers by the founders themselves coupled with their diligent training. The choicest of the artists that form Infused Dance Company, have regaled audiences at over 500 shows across USA since 2011, with over 100 this year. Some of their remarkable shows comprise Houston Rockets halftime Show, World Film Festival, Houston’s

December 21, 2018

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An Evening of Fun, Fantasy & Fascination at Infusion 2018! Photos: Murali Santhana

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Urban Nutcracker and gazillions of Bollywood concerts with Katrina Kaif, Govinda, Farhan Akthar, Preity Zinta, Zack Knight, Dileep and Suresh Gopi. As the audiences eagerly waited for the show to set about, the Kumar’s gave it a distinctive beginning by showcasing DJ Dholi Deep’s latest Love Mashup music video featuring the couple themselves, and directed by Rockstar Zain. The video received nonstop applause by the audience. The theme of the show was about Prince Antoine, charmingly enacted by Keith Larue Alix Jr, who was cursed to become a robot. He could get rid of this execration only if he carried out 3 acts of kindness. In order to do so, he resorts to Anna, beautifully played by Shalini Patel, who helps him on his journey down 3 distinctive fairytales to achieve his mission. The concept was seamlessly sectioned into seven scenes and dance performances. To correlate

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For photo collage, see page 04


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December 21, 2018

See article on page 3 INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


December 21, 2018

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December 21, 2018

An Evening of Fun, Fantasy & Fascination at Infusion 2018!

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 05 well to the theme were stunning scenes on the LED backdrop. The show was a mixed bag of performances in the likes of various dance styles & languages, opulent costumes, magical illusions; jaw dropping stunts and the fire and sparkler effects. The enchanting acts of magician Merlin played by Kiron Kumar, through his magical illusions, awe-strucked the audiences. Getting his magic wand out of fire, he showcased 4 distinct magical illusions. The abrupt appearance of Prince Antoine out of thin air as fire flames shot up left the audiences open-mouthed. Turning into a Queen from rags, Tina Bose cursed Prince Antoine into being a robot. The vanishing act of Snow White (played by Keerthana Varma), the sleeping princess who appeared as floating in the air, was amusing to watch. However, the audiences were wonder-strucked as she appeared from midst of the crowds. The very charming Cinderella (played by Smriti Korampally) gets bolted in a chest targeted with swords. However, she appears to be in her prince’s arms (played by Umair Qureshi) unscathed. The audiences were completely bowled over. Other actors included Janki Prajapati (Step-Mother), Priyanka Athavale (Step-Sister), Aria Amin, Sophie Patel, Nytza Yaseen, Ava Ridley, Sofia Patel, Alisha Bakshi, and Riya Sekharan. Dance performances were beautifully fused in with an introductory classical performance on Mi Gente Classical Remix & Kuttanadan Remix by Vidya Vox. The medley featured Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyatam & Kalari. Another beautiful dancing act was Chogada, featuring the real life couple Vanshika Vipin Varma and Sushil Varma as Beauty and Beast. It was no less than a reallife like performance with amazing chemistry and graceful moves. The folk dance on the medley of songs like Ghoomar, Udi Udi Jaye, Zhingat and Khalibali had the audience’s grove in, especially the females as the Infused men on the stage performed. Each performance was better than the best and the enjoyment was felt throughout. Last but not the least, a Western dance performance on Medley of Muquabala Remix, BomDiggy/ Magenta Riddim Mix,

DJ Tamim’s Dilbar Remix, and Peg Peg Peg by DJ Dholi Deep stole hearts. The finale featured all 200 performers on the stage. It was a sight to watch as they tapped their feet to Rangtari and Hard Hard Nachengi. Besides, there were scintillating performances by girls across age groups on Ghagra, Sajna Ji Vaari, Nachde Ne Saare, Kaun Nachidi with fans, streamers and stunts. Upbeat performances by the boys displaying energy and buoyancy on songs like Tu Meri, Mein Tera Bf, Prem Leela, Mundiyan, and Badtameez Dil captured the hearts of the crowds. What also amazed the audiences was a zestful performance on Kamli featuring 25 girls. Their props superbly combined with their jaw-dropping flexible moves. The audiences requested to see more of their performance especially after watching the youngest batch of dancers, aged 3-5, dancing like rock stars on the very famous song from Judwachalti hai kya nai se barah, tan tana tan tan tan tara. The marvelous event stole everyone’s hearts. Shows like these are a hit because of tireless efforts from the organizers. The backbone of this show did a fabulous job in order to make the event a success. The script and dialogues were by Yaksha Bhatt, while the lighting and LED was by Sage Productions. The major sponsors of this event were Shri Sita-Ram Foundation (Arun & Vinni Verma), and Brask Inc (Sangeeta & Dinesh Bakshi). Upcoming Events: 1) Rockets vs. Spurs Halftime performance on March 22, 2019. YOU can be a part of the halftime performance. Auditions will be held for experienced dancers ages 7 & up to perform at the halftime. 2) BollyX & BollyZumba Glo Fitness Party will be held on Friday, January 4, 8-9:30pm, at Infused Performing Arts. This will feature a master class of five amazing fitness instructors. For details visit www.infusedperformingarts.com or call 72-INFUSED-8 (724-6387338). Classes are now open for registration. Dance school locations are in Stafford, Pearland, & Dallas.

For photo collage, see page 04

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December 21, 2018

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December 21, 2018

Neiman Marcus Hosts International Media Soirée PRESS RELEASE

HOUSTON: Move over ‘Desi Girl’ Priyanka Chopra, we have Houston’s very own International media star Ruchi Mukherjee bridging the gap between the ethnic and the mainstream. Decked out in a sultry black sari, Ruchi mesmerized the crowd at her LCAHouston International Society News Magazine Winter Cover Reveal Party, hosted by Neiman Marcus in the Houston Galleria. Nearly two decades after taking the helm as an international correspondent

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with media giants, including The Times of India and The Statesman, Ruchi has worked tirelessly for the community with her media promotion skills. She is popularly known as the “Lights CameraAction Girl” for readers of her publication which started in 2009 and is now one of the leading online and print lifestyle magazines in H-Town. “The mainstream community needs to be aware of all the fabulous things the South Asian and other ethnic communities are doing. Whether it’s in the fields of fashion or charity, we are taking the center stage,” said Ruchi. At LCAHouston’s special Winter Edition Cover Reveal Party at Neiman Marcus on December 12, from left, The Men of Distinction featured on the cover: Dr.Waqar Khan, Travis Torrence, Shafik Rifaat, Dave Ward (seated), Gordon Quan, Kevin Murray with Ruchi Mukherjee. Photo: Gittings

This has been the exact vision of her publication and its most recent Winter Edition Cover. “We decided to feature some of Houston’s dynamic and diverse gentlemen from various walks of life,” adds Ruchi. The Men of Distinction on the Cover features Houston media icon Dave Ward, along with Shafik Rifaat, Gordon Quan, Kevin Murray, Dr. Waqar Khan and Travis Torrence. “It has been a pleasure to host LCAHouston’s special Winter Edition Cover Reveal Party at Neiman Marcus. It’s about diversity and inclusion“, shared Stephen Brunelle, the new VP-General Manager of Neiman Marcus which sponsored the event, proceeds from which went to the SPCA. The event was held on Wednesday, December 12 at Chanel Couture Salon on Level 2 of the store, with about 50 exclusive friends of LCAHouston. The evening was an elite crowd of Houston’smostfashionablemenandwomen sipping champagne, enjoying holiday cheer and previewing LCAHouston’s new launch of its ‘Social Butterflies: Art of the Scarf’ Collection, where fashion meets tradition. “It has been my dream for a long time to present to the world the elegance of a silk sari with a fashionable practicality of a French scarf,” said Ruchi. Walking through the streets of India and France, she found herself in a paradise of weavers transforming paper designs to gorgeous silks. “It’s not just about building a fashion business. It’s our goal to empower women by providing opportunities to skilled artisans in rural West Bengal, India. It’s an honor to host a trunk show at the prestigious and world renowned Neiman Marcus,” Ruchi added. Among the well-dressed guests attending this exclusive affair were: Dave Ward, Alice Mao, Travis Torrence, Dr. Waqar and Sarah Khan, Maha Rasheed Khan, Mona and Wasay Khan, Gordon Quan, KPRC Meteorologist Justin Stapleton, Swati Narayan, Kevin Murray, Kent Schaffer and Shara Kuy. Krupali Laxmidas contributed to this report INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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December 21, 2018

Starting January 5, STAR India’s TV Channels will be Streaming ONLY on Hotstar in the US

Stream your favorite shows anytime, anywhere, on any device only on Hotstar

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EW YORK: Hotstar, the go-to streaming platform for the South Asian Diaspora, will now be the exclusive destination in the US to watch your favorite shows from the Star India network including hit titles such as Koffee with Karan, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, among many others. The entire Star India network, including Star India Plus, Star India Gold, Star Vijay, Maa, Asianet and MoviesOK, will no longer be available on any cable TV provider in the US including Dish TV, Sling TV, Comcast, Verizon starting January 5, 2019. For fans of Star India’s TV content offering, a Hotstar subscription is, more than ever, a must-have. Hotstar has an attractive annual subscription for $99.99, which will give consumers complete access to the entertainment library and cricket calendar throughout the year. Log onto us.hotstar.com and use promo code HOTSTAR40 to get 40% off on the annual pack. “Now, more consumers will be exposed to Hotstar’s premium product interface and cutting-edge streaming experience,” said Ipsita Dasgupta, President of Hotstar International and Strategy at Star India. “We are extremely excited

to continue to bring the South Asian Diaspora their favorite entertainment content. Newcomers to the platform will quickly feel the benefits of being able to watch their beloved shows anytime, anywhere.”¬¬ Apart from its robust entertainment library, Hotstar is home to an unrivaled sports content offering. The platform offers a highly enhanced live cricket experience that includes HD quality, commentary in 8 languages, expert analysis, predictions and highlights. Live cricket events to look forward to include the Paytm India vs. Australia Series in February 2019, the VIVO IPL in April 2019, and the ICC Cricket World Cup in May 2019.The platform is also home to exclusive surround cricket content with shows like Breakfast with Champions, Follow the Blues and Game Plan, making for a truly immersive experience for the cricket enthusiast. About Hotstar: Hotstar, India’s largest premium streaming platform for Indian dramas, movies and live sports, is now also available in the US, Canada and UK. A subsidiary of Star India and 21st Century Fox, Hotstar

was launched in India in 2015 and became the fastest app to reach a million downloads. The platform offers a bouquet of rich and diverse content encompassing the latest movies, popular TV shows, documentaries and live sports. By delivering premium, ondemand content across devices and in multiple languages, Hotstar ensures South Asians across the world are never too far from their favorite entertainment. H o t s t a r can be accessed through us.hotstar.com, ca.hotstar.com, uk.hotstar.com or via iOS AppStore, Google Playstore, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Android TV.

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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December 21, 2018

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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Sri Ayyappa Mandala Pooja at Sri Meenakshi Temple

BY DR. VENUGOPAL MENON

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December 21, 2018

EARLAND: As the very first Shakthi Temple outside India, and the earliest one to install an Ayyappa Sannidhi, Sri Meenakshi temple has also gained the privilege of building the Holy Eighteen Steps – the sacred Pathinettampadi - offering its Sri Sastha devotees a hallowed opportunity to observe all the authentic Pooja traditions of Sabarimala, without even leaving the city of Houston. For the last 36 years, we have been conducting the most auspicious Mandala Pooja at our temple Ayyappa Sannidhi, with an ever-increasing number of devotes participating in the celebrated annual event. Now they can even undertake the blessed climb on our newly constructed, panchaloha (five metals) made Pathinettampadi. Perhaps no other concept of Divinity exemplifies the ‘it is all one’ hypothesis of ‘Advaita’ philosophy, that ‘all’ are just an infinitesimal extension of the Ultimate Consciousness, as extolled by the sublime principle of Dharmasastha, the protector of Righteousness, consecrated at the shrine of Sri Ayyappa atop the sacred hills of Sabarimala, in Kerala. Sri Ayyappa is the personification of unity, blending the differences on many planes, many beliefs, many rationales, and many principles into a gigantic acceptance and accommodation of reverence bringing humans together, bonding their minds and blending their devotion to ultimate submission. Ayyappa or Ayyappan is also referred to as Hariharaputra, Sasthavu, Dharma Sasthavu, or Manikantan. He is the son of Shiva and Vishnu, uniting the Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions, a celibate yogi God, who can be attained only through penance of self-control, the epitome of Dharma extolling the virtues of rectitude, an incarnation of Buddha, reaching beyond the tenets of Hindu faith, and with his friend a Muslim, accomplishing harmony of religions. Even His devotees are elevated to the level of divinity, calling each other ‘Ayyappa’, transcending the notion of ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, ‘I am the Ultimate Reality’. Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha temples in the world, situated on a 3000 feet hilltop in the state of Kerala. Millions of devotees undertake their pilgrimage during the Makaravilakku in the month of January, making it one of the most active pilgrimage sites in the world. Sri Ayyappa of Sabarimala is unique and special, installed, consecrated and invoked as a Naishtika Brahmachari, a celibate forever, in total control of his senses and detached from worldly life, utilizing all his power to a higher level. And in that form, a Naishtika Brahmachari has some peculiarities and requirements to be respected and followed by the devotees who are desirous of visiting Him.

The intensely dedicated devotees observe the obligatory penance, ‘Vritham’ for 41 days, the Mandala Pooja time, starting from the first day of Malayalam month Vrischikam, around mid- November, the day on which Sri Ayyappa was born, and lasting till the end of December. The significance of the Vritham is to observe austerity and abstinence in life, seeking a merger with the Ultimate. The devotee embarks on the sacred mission with the blessings of his elders and the Guruswamy who has attained a status through several visits to Sabarimala. They wear a garland, the mala, made of Tulsi or Rudraksham beads guided by the Guru in the environs of a temple. During the Vritham, the devotees surrender to Sri Ayyappa, being an ascetic, in thoughts, words, and deeds, taking bath early in the morning, praying and offering poojas, following strict sattvic vegetarianism, avoiding sensual pleasures and offering themselves to the service of others. At the conclusion of the 41-day Vritham, under the guidance of the Guru, they perform the Kettunira, preparing the sanctified travel kit termed Irumudi Kettu, a twin pack, the front one, munmudi containing offerings to Sri Ayyappa and the Pinmudi with items for the devotee’s personal needs. The offerings include coconuts filled with ghee, betel leaves and nuts, coins, jaggery, turmeric, camphor, kumkum, vibhhothi and such. At the conclusion of the pooja, each of the Ayyappa pilgrims takes the Irumudi on his head and embarks on the journey to the sacred Sannidhaanam, the Sanctum. On their way, the devotees would be paying their visits to several temples, and reaching the base of the holy hills, dipping in the sacred waters of Pampa river

and start their climb of about three miles. They are usually in groups, family and friends led by their Guruswamy and throughout the trip will be devoutly chanting ‘Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa’ and other such praises of the God. Every Ayyappa devotee, before he reaches the Sanctum Sanctorum, has to lay his footsteps over and climb the sacred 18 steps, the Pathinettampadi. The significance of the ritualistic procedure is a symbolic way of shedding the personal ego, as expressed through the steps. Eighteen is traditionally propitious in Hinduism, as noted from the Vedic age, from the number of chapters in the first Veda, the number of days of the Kurukshetra war, or the chapters in Bhagavad Gita. And the 18 Holy steps in Sabarimala symbolize the five sense organs or Panchenrdriyas, the eight passions, the three natures or Gunas and the last two being Vidya or knowledge and Avidya or ignorance. By climbing the eighteen steps the devotee is getting detached from all the above-mentioned worldly ties and qualifying to attain the divine premise. Sri Meenakshi Temple inaugurated this year’s Mandala Pooja with the Sapta Sudhi Pooja on

November 16th, the daily pooja starting the following day. The day starts with Abhishekam and Malar Nivedyam at 9 am, then the Usha Pooja at 9.45 am, Uccha Pooja at 11.45 am, Deeparadhana and Bhajans at 6.15 pm, Sahasranama Archana at 7.30 pm, with Seeveli (procession) at 8.15 pm and culminating in reciting Harivarasanam, singing the God to His celestial sleep, before closing the Nada for the day. Every Saturday during November and December, there would be Ashtabhishekam. The first Padi Pooja was observed on

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November 17th and the next one on December 8th evening along with Akhandanamajapam during the whole day and Annadaanam at noon. A few devotees would be ascending the Pathinettampadi on December 15th and 22nd, along with Ghee Abhishekam Laksharchana and, Deeparadhana followed by the procession on the twenty-second. On December 26th, is Kalabhabhishekam and the following day the Mandala Pooja would culminate in Abharanam (celestial ornaments) procession & Charthu (adorning), Deeparadhana, Pushpabhishekam and Harivarasanam. On the fourteenth of January, the festival of Makaravilakku Pooja on Makar Sankranthi would be performed, coinciding with the major annual celebration at Sabarimala. Every devotee of MTS and Sri Ayyappa is privileged and invited to participate in the Mandala Pooja observed and celebrated adhering to all the authentic traditions of Sabarimala and performed by our priest Sri Parameswaran. Please sponsor and attend the auspicious poojas with your family and allow the blessings of Sri Sabarimala Ayyappa be showered upon you. Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa.

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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December 21, 2018

Local BITSAA Savor Holiday Season Luncheon, No Bitcoins Accepted!

OUSTON: Members of the BITSAA International - Houston Chapter met at Nirvana restaurant on the city’s westside on Saturday, December 15 to celebrate the Holiday season with a luncheon. It also provided an opportunity for the young Bitsians who moved to Houston recently to meet with the senior Bitsians living in Houston. The event was coordinated by Nikhita Punna. The eminent Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) is a private institute of higher education and a deemed university established in its present form in 1964 in Pilani, Rajasthan. The institute’s transformation from a regional engineering college to a national university was backed by the late Indian philanthropist Ghanshyam Das Birla or the industrialist Birla family. The institute is one among the 6 Indian ‘Institutes of Eminence’ recognized by the Government of India. It has expanded to campuses at Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai across 4 campuses and has 15 academic departments. It focuses primarily on higher education in engineering and sciences and on its management program. Though accurate numbers are unavailable, it is estimated that there

Front row (from left): Nikhitha Punna, Viveka Nalluri, Rachna Shetty, Palak, Sandeep Gade, Sharva, Utkarsh Gupta and Rajat Jain. Back row (from left): Krishna Vavilala, Ashish Rohil, Vidya Sagar Ronanki, Shweta, PS Raju, Vyom, Ashwin, Manish Sood, and Hari Krishna

are more than three hundred Bitsians living in and around Houston greater metropolitan area, mostly employed in the oil and gas, IT, engineering and financial fields. BITSAA (BITS Alumni Association) International is a notfor-profit organization registered in New Jersey with several chapters throughout the US. The local Houston chapter was officially launched on BITSAA Day, August 2, 2013 by then erstwhile Indian

Consul General Parvathaneni Harish who himself was an engineer before becoming a diplomat. BITSAA’s mission is to “maximize the potential of BITSians and BITS Pilani”. It engages in charitable and educational activities by raising funds for setting up endowments, creating scholarships, rewarding teaching and research and generally promoting the development of resources at Birla Institute of Technology and Science at Pilani, Dubai, Goa and Hyderabad

campuses. The Government of India has recently named BITS-Pilani as one of the six Institutes of Eminence in India, a special category. BITSAA International aims to strengthen the ties, friendship and communication amongst former students, alumni faculty and friends of the Institute. BITSAAInternational provides a number of channels for people to stay connected with each other and with Birla Institutes of Technology & Science.

For more information, please visit BITSAA at www.bitsaa.org/page/ about-bitsaa-international or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ groups/BITSAAHouston. For information on BITSAA Houston chapter, call Krishna Vavilala at 713795-5169.

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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December 21, 2018

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SNEI Aims to Impart Punjabi, Spiritual Teachings to Area Sikh Youth

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BY RUBENDRA BAINS

OUSTON:Awise man once said that education is a “great equalizer” of the conditions of men and women. The directors of Sikh National Center plainly had this advice in mind when they created an independent division called Sikh National Education Institute to spearhead educationbased programs for the Sikh Panth (path). SNEI was created to spearhead education-based programs for the Sikh Panth. Under the leadership of President Dawinder Khehra, Vice President Gurmeet Saini, and

Treasurer Ruben Bains, the SNEI has already successfully implemented a Punjabi school as well as a kirtan (religious chanting) school (together referred to as the Guru Nanak Khalsa Schools). These schools initially started out with a handful of students but the attendance has burgeoned into nearly 200 students today! The kirtan school has enjoyed tremendous success under the leadership of Bhai Hardeep Singh, Bhai Kuldeep Singh, Bhai Khazan Singh, and Dr. Amrita Bains. These instructors are classically trained in

instruments as well as singing. The school holds classes for classical string instruments (such as dilrubah, taos, etc), tabla, and raag kirtan. Classes are held weekly where students from ages of 5 through 18 learn kirtan in raags as well as musical instruments. The training and preparation of the Guru Nanak School’s students was on full display on Sunday, December 9 during the Sikh National Center’s youth dewaan (assembly). The entire program, from the beginning ardaas (prayer) to hukam naama (divine

order) was conducted by Sikh youth. The students delivered inspiring and insightful speeches as well as performed heart-touching kirtan. Nearly 100 participants partook in the program, from all across the Metroplex. The dewaan hall was packed with sangat (worshippers) and the organizers were delighted by the large attendance of young Sikhs. The sangat appreciated the program by the youth and encouraged the Sikh Youth as they took the stage/podium confidently, one after another.

While SNEI’s current programs have enjoyed tremendous success, SNEI’s mission doesn’t just end with the Punjabi and Kirtan School. SNEI is seeking to expand its educationbased programs to other areas as well, including developing leadership skills in Sikh youth, providing career counseling, teaching public-speaking skills, just to name a few. For more information about the SNEI, contact Davinder Khehra at 832-256-1988 or Gurmeet Saini at 281-217-7944.

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December 21, 2018 On Extradition of Vijay Mallya

The judicial order in the United Kingdom allowing the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya marks a rare victory for India in getting back a fugitive from the law from another jurisdiction. Coming shortly after the United Arab Emirates handed over Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, progress in the Mallya extradition case is another victory for the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is in the throes of a raging controversy over a power tussle involving its two top officers. It must be a matter of satisfaction to the Government of India that the controversy did not affect the outcome of the extradition proceedings before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Mr. Mallya’s lawyers raised doubts about the CBI’s independence, its alleged susceptibility to political interference, the perception that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress were using his case to score political points, the possible pressure on Indian courts due to adverse media coverage and, lastly, the conditions in Indian prisons as overcrowded and with appalling facilities for its inmates Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot rejected these issues. On preliminary evidence, in an order that analyses documents and the sequence of events relating to borrowings made by Kingfisher Airlines from IDBI Bank, she concluded that there is a prima facie case against Mr. Mallya as well as some bank officials. The industrialist does have an opportunity to go on appeal before higher courts. But the categorical finding that there appears to be an intention to defraud, and that the end-use of the borrowed money did not match the stated purpose for which the loans were taken, may make it a little harder for him to obtain relief. It is clear that fleeing India in March 2016 while a consortium of lenders to the defunct airline was seeking to recover about Rs. 9,000 crore from the company has not helped Mr. Mallya’s cause, beyond buying him time. He has failed to portray himself as a victim of the political system and the media back home. And the verdict, by which his case has been sent to the U.K. Home Secretary for a formal decision on his extradition, reinforces the widely held perception that his company’s financial predicament is due less to the problems that beset the aviation sector at the relevant time and possible poor management, than to his profligate ways and flamboyant lifestyle In particular, the extradition court accepted evidence that showed that “the offence may have begun with the obtaining of the loans, but continued with the disbursement of the loan proceedings and his subsequent avoidance of his liabilities”. With the court also having spoken of a prima facie case of money-laundering being established, Mr. Mallya’s attempt to play victim has failed. It is only appropriate that he be brought back to India at the earliest and made to submit himself to the legal process. -- The Hindu

EDITORIAL/COMMENTARY Centerism Holds in India

BY SAJJAN KUMAR The Congress succeeded by offering itself as the default alternative for farmers and the youth, not by soft Hindutva Centrism, as an essential characteristic of Indian politics, signifies the institutional incentive that political parties have to adopt a set of policies aimed at harmonising societal and cultural contradictions rather than accentuating them. Some of its essential elements are: centrality of an accommodative approach, appeal to minorities, welfarism and a broader space for dissent from the Left and the Right. No wonder, given the richness of Indian society and its multiple fault lines, centrism has been the hegemonic framework ensuring electoral success since Independence. Barring a few exceptions, this also accounts for the relative marginalisation of a leftward and rightward agenda in India until 2014. Can the setbacks to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Hindi heartland States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh be seen in this context? The idea of ‘India First’and ‘Achhe Din’ implied the heralding of welfare-laden Indian citizenry across the board, claiming their rightful place in the comity of nations. The votaries of the economic right affirmed and celebrated the easy fit between centrism and the Right under Mr. Modi. Rural India shared the enthusiasm. However, the political trajectory of the BJP since 2014 has two big takeaways. The promised material plurality never came and the unsaid cultural singularity emanating from the Hindutva discourse acquired prominence. The former is visible in the initiation of a series of welfare policies, especially for poorer sections, like cheap housing (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana), toilets for all, disbursal of LPG cylinders (Ujjwala Yojana), the health insurance scheme (Ayushman Bharat), besides schemes such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana. The ground narratives reveal that

none of these welfare schemes has been successful in capturing the imagination of the people, amid general price rise and joblessness. Moreover, the debilitating impact of demonetisation on pre-existing rural distress and agrarian crisis is getting strong credence with a corresponding resonance among rural voters. It seems the government’s material policies/schemes resemble a scenario of people being served with starters upon starters without a main course. Simultaneously, parallel to the material plurality, India has witnessed the emergence of a series of cultural policies/issues focussed around the themes of cow, Mandir, changing names of places and questions of citizenship, all emanating from Hindutva’s framework of cultural singularity. This attempt to not only infuse the cultural singularity of Hindutva with material plurality of welfare schemes but also see the former superseding the latter problematises the claim that centrism could have an easy fit with a rightward polity. Centrism, by definition, desires a parity between the material and the cultural in their pluralities. As a corollary, a singularity in any realm is the antithesis of centrism. Thus, the emerging crisis of the material realm and attempts to overshadow it with cultural politics reveal that while the Right could negotiate with the framework of centrism in a material realm by speaking for all, in the cultural realm it remains diametrically opposed to this pitch, excluding the minorities in subtle ways. Hence, the argument that both the centre and centrism witnessed a rightward shift seems shaky. To contextualise the interplay of ‘cultural singularity and material plurality’ in the electoral verdicts in the just-concluded Assembly elections, especially in three Hindi-speaking States where the BJP and the Congress were pitted directly against each other, one needs to go back a bit back and take the Uttar Pradesh election as the starting point where Mr. Modi used the binary of ‘kabristan-shamshan’ and ‘Diwali-Ramzan’ while exhorting voters to choose the BJP to end the “exile of development” in the State. Not to be left behind, both Bahujan

Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav competed to emerge as champions of ‘Muslim interests’ and, by extension, of secularism. Ms. Mayawati claimed in almost all her rallies that she gave 100 seats to Muslims — a rhetoric the BJP exploited to the hilt. Demonetisation and people’s suffering — the material issues — took a back seat in political calculations. The unprecedented victory of the BJP and the selection of firebrand Hindutva leader Yogi Adityanath as U.P. Chief Minister signified the ascendency of cultural singularity being a condition to developmental politics. The glimmers of this were visible in the Gujarat election though the equations had changed by then. The BJP suffered serious setbacks in rural seats. The historic win in Tripura gave the BJP the mistaken confidence about the invincibility of cultural issues qualifying the material promises. It rejected the subsequent setbacks in by-elections as aberrations until it suffered defeat in the recent Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in varying degrees. The factors that revived the Congress from dormancy were the material crisis after demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax. The combination of rural distress, joblessness and rural inflation are the issues that significantly account for the BJP’s electoral loss. There is no reason to believe that these issues will not be relevant in 2019, as is argued in the oft-repeated electoral cliché that the dynamics for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections are qualitatively different. This marked material crisis informing the Indian polity indicates the shrinking space of cultural politics. Hence, the road to 2019 lies in the framework of centrism that guarantees electoral success in resurrecting material politics without any polarising attempt to privilege the cultural singularity of Hindutva or its rhetorical counterpart from the Left’s attempt to forge a Dalit-Muslim alliance. -- The Hindu Sajjan Kumar is a political analyst associated with People’s Pulse, a research organisation specialising in fieldwork based political research

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December 21, 2018

Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. The name ‘Christmas’ comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (which is sometimes called Communion or Eucharist) is where Christians remember that Jesus died for us and then came back to life. The ‘Christ-Mass’ service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day), so people had it at Midnight! So we get the name Christ-Mass, shortened to Christmas. Christmas is now celebrated by people around the world, whether they are Christians or not. It’s a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have. People, and especially children, also like Christmas as it’s a time when you give and receive presents! No one knows the real birthday of Jesus! No date is given in the Bible, so why do we celebrate it on the 25th December? The early Christians certainly had many arguments as to when it should be celebrated! Also, the birth of Jesus probably didn’t happen in the year 1 but slightly earlier, somewhere between 2 BCE/BC and 7 BCE/BC (there isn’t a 0 - the years go from 1 BC/BCE to 1!). The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December. There are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. A very

early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25th - and it’s still celebrated today on the 25th March. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th December! March 25th was also the day some early Christians thought the world had been made, and also the day that Jesus died on when he was an adult. December 25th might have also been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals called ‘Saturnalia’ and ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti’ took place in December around this date - so it was a time when people already celebrated things. The Winter Solstice is the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. It happens on December 21st or 22nd. To pagans this meant that the winter was over and spring was coming and they had a festival to celebrate it and worshipped the sun for winning over the darkness of winter. In Scandinavia, and some other parts of northern Europe, the Winter Solstice is known as Yule and is where we get Yule Logs from. In Eastern Europe the mid-winter festival is called Koleda. Christmas had also been celebrated by the early Church on January 6th, when they also celebrated the Epiphany (which means the rev-

elation that Jesus was God’s son) and the Baptism of Jesus. Jesus’s Baptism was originally seen as more important than his birth, as this was when he started his ministry. But soon people wanted a separate day to celebrate his birth. Many Orthodox and Coptic Churches still use the Julian Calendar and so celebrate Christmas on the 7th January (which is when December 25th would have been on the Julian calendar). And the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates it on the 6th January! In some part of the UK, January 6th is still called ‘Old Christmas’ as this would have been the day that Christmas would have celebrated on, if the calendar hadn’t been changed. Some people didn’t want to use the new calendar as they thought it ‘cheated’ them out of 11 days! Christians believe that Jesus is the light of the world, so the early Christians thought that this was the right time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They also took over some of the customs from the Winter Solstice and gave them Christian meanings, like Holly, Mistletoe and even Christmas Carols! St Augustine was the person who really started Christmas in the UK by introducing Christianity in the 6th century. He came from countries that used the Roman Calendar, so western countries celebrate Christmas on the 25th December. Then people from Britain and Western Europe took Christmas on the 25th December all over the world! -whychristmas.com

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COMMUNITY

December 21, 2018

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Annual Namadwaar Utsav to Include Unique Bhagavatam Event This Year

MANVEL: The 11th Annual Namadwaar

Madhura Utsav (sweet celebration) of bhakti and Bhagavata Dharma will be held at New Life Plaza at 3945 CR 58, Manvel TX 77578 this year, from December 24 to 30. The event is conducted annually by Global Organization for Divinity with the blessings of His Holiness Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji. This year’s event will include 2 days (Dec 28-29) of “Sri Dasamam Shatakratu” – an extremely auspicious and rare event where 108 devotees will together do parayan (read) the 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that narrates all of Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s leelas. It is a unique opportunity to participate in this Shatakratu and devotees are invited to come, be one of the 108 fortunate ones. The event will be led by Smt. Shobha Parasuram from Atlanta. One has to only be able to sit and follow Bhagavatam as others read. Enactment of the different leelas of Bhagavan will also be performed during the parayan, and it will be a very enjoyable event. The week-long Utsav will also be filled continuously with celebration of Bhagavan through song, dance and listening to His stories, and will include special events for children also. Some highlights of the Utsav include daily morning 11 am and evening 6:30 pm discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam, a special Children’s Day with games and special lunch on Dec 25, Procession of Bhagavan daily at 10 am led by children, Ashtapadi kirtan-Sampradaya bhajans in the afternoons, cultural programs and concerts, and a grand Radha Kalyanam (Radha-Madhav Vivah) on Sunday Dec 30 starting at 9 am. These seven days will immerse everyone – young and old – in a joyful world filled only with love and service of the Lord, and away from the anxieties of worldly life. Come, enjoy your time with your family in Bhagavan’s and devotees’ presence. All events are free and open to the public. Breakfast, lunch and dinner mahaprasad will be served on all the days. Prasadam seva and general sponsorships are welcomed for this auspicious event. If you find this divine cause worthy of your generosity, please call 281-402-6585. This year’s Utsav is being held at a different location away from Houston Namadwaar because a new Namadwaar hall is under construction. We request your generous support to help build and complete the construction of the new hall that will house the deity of Sri Srinivasa Perumal (Sri Balaji) along with Sri Radha-Sri Krishna who already reside there. To support the new Namadwaar construction and to see the different ways in which you can support the project, see houston.godivinity.org. For more information about the event or about Global Organization for Di-

vinity or Namadwaar, please call 281402-6585, email houston.god@godivinity.org or visit houston.godivinity.org.

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December 21, 2018

Read us online at

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KTRK ABC13, the ABC Owned station in Houston, Texas, is looking for an MMJ with the ability to serve as fill-in anchor on various newscasts. Experience as a traffic presenter is also a plus. We want someone who is willing to work any shift, any day of the week. You must be hard-working and self-sufficient with a passion for unique story telling. At times, you will be researching, shooting, writing, and editing for TV and/or various digital platforms. You must be comfortable covering hard breaking news as well as full-filled feature stories. Resume reels should include examples of packages, live shots, anchoring, and traffic reporting. On most days you will be working independently, but on some days you will be given a photographer, in particular for live shots. You must be able to quickly cultivate contacts in the community and must know how to dig for unique, exclusive content on the big and little stories alike. We want a respected, knowledgeable, ethical station representative and promoter with a strong presence on social media. Candidates need at least 1 year of on-air experience. Background check clearance and clean driving record will be required. To be considered all interested applicants must apply online at disneycareers. com, reference job # 620034BR. Please upload a cover letter, resume and list of references. No Telephone Calls Please KTRK-TV is an Equal Opportunity Employer Female/Minority/Veteran/Disability/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity

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December 21, 2018

SUDOKU 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 December 26, 2018. Email us at indoamericannews@yahoo.com or mail to 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 212, Houston, TX 77036. Send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published (for first three entrees only & 1 submission per month).

Solution Next Week

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L��� W���’� SUDOKU W������ 1) Savita Rao 2) Neha Patel 3) Zia Khan

PUZZLES / RECIPES

Mama’s Punjabi Recipes

Although beetroots are commonly available in India, they are not often used to make any dishes due to their sweet taste and hard texture which make cooking them very time consuming, almost like turnips, but they are eaten as a salad, in pickles and mostly juiced. Below is a reprint of Mama’s Chukandar da Salad recipe, reprinted with some additional information and directions.information and directions.

Chukandar da Salad (BEETROOT SALAD)

Beetroots are not commonly used in Indian cuisine as a main dish though it is eaten sometimes as a salad. When I was a young girl in our ancestral home in Lyallpur, we used to boil the chukandar (beetroot) and then peel it before eating it. Our hands and towels would be red with the effort! These days, when people are obsessed with organic foods and antioxidants, it is easy to forget that some basic vegetables provide really good benefits and protection for the body. High on that list is chukandar (beetroot), a most misunderstood and unloved vegetable that has amazing curative powers and stores a lot of energy. Chukandar belongs to the same family as shalgum (turnips), palak (spinach) and chard. In north India, the common belief is that eating chukandar is very beneficial as it helps to increase the blood in the body. They are high in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C, minerals (especially potassium, magnesium and phosphorus) and folic acid. Beetroot is considered good for the heart, lowers blood pressure and betacyanin (which gives the purple color) is a powerful anticancer agent that inhibits tumor formation. The red coloring is also used in tomato paste, sauces, deserts, jams, jellies, ice cream and other foods. It can be peeled, steamed and eaten warm with butter; cooked, pickled and eaten as a condiment or peeled, shredded raw and eaten as a salad. Beetroots are commonly used in East European countries to make a stew called borscht and in Serbia as the popular cvekla, a winter salad, seasoned with salt and vinegar, with meat dishes. Beetroot juice is considered a healthy tonic by many people. A large portion of the crop is turned into pickles and yellow, sugar beetroot is used to produce 20% of the worldwide sugar supply. The vegetable has also been used to make ethanol, a fuel additive, due to its high glucose content. Ingredients: • 10-12 medium chukandar (red beetroot) – only two are needed for this recipe • 1 large nimbu (lemon) – cut in half • 1 large lal piyaaz (red onion) – peeled and finely chopped • 1 medium adrak (ginger root) – peeled and finely chopped • 2 large hari mirch (green chillies) –

finely chopped • 1 tsp ajwain (bishop’s weed or carom seeds) • 2 tbsp dhania (fresh coriander leaves) finely chopped • 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder) • Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper) Directions: 1. Cut the ends of the chukandar, wash and dry with a towel and keep to the side to the side. 2. Take a baking tray and cover it with foil. Coat the beetroot with a thin layer of vegetable oil then place them on the tray. 3. Preheat the oven to 350 deg on bake, then the tray inside for 30 minutes. Take out the tray, turn beetroot over and place back in the oven for another 30 minutes. 4. Take the tray out of the oven and let the beetroot cool down. 5. Peel the chukandar and cut into small pieces. For the salad, you will need only one or two beetroots. Keep the rest in a bowl in the refrigerator

for use later. 6. Throw the chukandar in a large bowl, and then add the onions, ginger, chillies and all the spices. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons over the mixture. You can also use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemons. 7. Stir the mixture thoroughly and then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, Sprinkling the dhania before serving. 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 (since renamed Faisalabad) 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 early-nineties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.

MAMA’S TIP O F THE

WEE KEEP SUGAR, SALT AND OTHER SPIC K ES DRY AND EASY TO USE When co

oking er the sto ve, pe inexperienced, usov ually just pour orople, especially the young and straight out of the bo sprinkle the sa grains of the spices ttle. The steam from the dish usualt and spices or bottle. To avoid sticker to the container and gets inlly makes the pour it into the di this, it is best to take a spoonful of to the shaker container), a roundsh. This is why we use the namak the spice and for cooking Indian bowl or rectangular box divide daani (spice on the amount of spdishes. It also allows you to use dyointo sections, ice used. ur judgment Another method to keep salt and blac especially in humid k pepper y in sh akers, as the rice will absoareas, is to put some grains of whdr ite rice in them, rb the humidity.

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ENTERTAINMENT:REVIEWS/NEWS ENTERTAINMENT:REVIEWS/NEWS

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Can ‘Zero’ revive Shah Rukh Khan’s withering career? Most ardent fans of the megastar have been feeling the same mix of hope and trepidation in the days leading up to a big release – and let’s face it, if it has anything to do with Khan, it’s always a big release – for several years. Hope, because we’d like nothing more than to see him reinstated to his former glory and silence all the haters who leave no opportunity to gleefully announce that he’s “over” and his career is “finished”; and fear, because we’re not yet ready to consider the awful

notion that there might be a grain of truth to the pronouncement. With SRK now 53, how long can it be before even devoted fans tire of the increasingly longer gaps between movies that are worth waiting for, and stop showing up at cinemas? Sure, some of his movies, Chennai Express, Dilwale and Happy New Year have made obscene amounts of money, but the general sentiment over his more recent cinematic choices has been that of resignation, and a hunger left unfulfilled.

Manikarnika: Kangana Ranaut looks fierce as Queen of Jhansi The teaser of Manikarnika, the film based on Rani of Jhansi, is here. After many stills from the sets of the film, the audience gets to watch the teaser of the film and it looks quite grand. The teaser begins with Amitabh Bachchan’s voice over as he explains that India was a flourishing and welcoming nation when the Brtish decided to invade and it was then that Manikarnika decided to fight for her motherland. This introduction is followed by grand shots of Manikarnika entering her palace. We also see her riding on a horse. There is also a shot of her sitting atop her throne with a baby in her lap. She is shown as a fierce commander who can handle her sword perfectly well. Talking about the teaser, producer Kamal Jain said, “We are delighted to present the teaser of the movie Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi. Rani Lakshmibai was not only a great warrior and an important part of our Independent struggle but also a fascinating person and through this biopic we will be showing her journey. It is truly one of its kind movie and with this teaser people will be able to get a small glimpse of that”. After Sonu Sood’s exit from the film, there were a few reports suggesting that Kangana had completely taken over the film against her word

that she was only doing patchwork. However, Kangana is not billed as the co-director in the film’s teaser. “I am proud of this film, and of portraying a character who empowers and inspires. We have put in our heart, blood and sweat into making this film. Manikarnika will make every Indian proud,” Kangana had earlier said in a statement about the film. Directed by Krish, the film stars Kangana Ranaut, Jishu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi, Danny Denzongap-

pa, Atul Kulkarni, Ankita Lokhande and Zeeshan Ayub among others. The film is written by the writers of Baahubali and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Kangana Ranaut, who will be next seen as Rani Lakshmi Bai in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, was fascinated with the 150-year-old authentic weapons used in the film. Zee Studios’ and Kamal Jain’s film, that showcases Rani Lakshmi Bai’s extraordinary journey, also has some of the best action/war sequences

Speaking about fierce warrior Jhansi Rani, Kangana said, “Rifles were new for people at that time, and only a few used them. While the British army used Enfield rifles, Rani Lakshmi Bai preferred swords. I was fascinated with those 150-year-old authentic weapons we used in the film.” She further added, “The action sequences were quite intense but that did not deter anyone from giving their best. -- Indian Express

Ranveer , Ayushman trendsetters of 2018

Gone are the days when women made fashion headlines by espousing unique trends and experimental outfits. Men have undoubtedly taken a lead at surprising the fashion police with their choices. The quirky Ranveer Singh and the dishy Ayushmann Khurrana have both managed to keep the fashion watchers at the edge of their seats. While Ranveer opted for never seen before ensembles and hues, Ayushmann worked around with the classic outfits with a modern touch. Talking of Ranveer Singh, we sure believe he is a divo having innumerable pairs of shades and shoes. Adding to his innate craziness and will to experiment, stylist Nitasha Gaurav brings her sartorial magic to turn this man into a complete killer. He pulled of neon dhotis with yellow hats and printed overalls in 2018.

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SPORTS

December 21, 2018

Aussies Blow Away Lower Order to Level Test Series BY VARUN SHETTY PERTH (ESPN Crickinfo): Australia 326 (Harris 70, Head 58, Ishant 4-41) and 243 (Khawaja 72, Shami 6-56) beat India 283 (Kohli 123, Rahane 51, Lyon 5-67) and 140 (Lyon 3-39, Starc 3-46) by 146 runs Australia made quick work of breaking India’s lower-order resistance - a meek, thin, inexperienced resistance - to level the series at 1-1 before lunch on the fifth day. It was their first win since the Newlands episode in March, and Tim Paine’s first as captain. Having broken the overnight partnership inside six overs with Hanuma Vihari’s wicket, Australia swiftly ran through India’s long tail, albeit with some intimidation thrown in against the tailenders. Mitchell Starc was especially fiery, going relentlessly at Umesh Yadav and co., and taking two wickets on the morning. Nathan Lyon was crafty as ever at the other end, and snared Rishabh Pant to end India’s chances inside an hour. The odds weren’t in India’s favour to start with: since the start of 2014, only six teams had chased 200 or more in 124 attempts, and overall, India had gone past 287 - the target only twice in a successful chase. With a sixth-wicket pair that had fewer than 10 Tests’ experience between them, and a lack of any allrounders No. 8 onwards, it didn’t look likely India would come close. For what it was worth, Vihari looked compact in the first half hour of play, getting behind the line solidly against Starc, and using his wrists to pick up singles both in front of and behind the wicket against Lyon. But Perth’s extra bounce persisted on the final day and Starc’s pace was sufficient to make Vihari’s inside-edge carry to square leg off the pad. From there, it was upto Pant to bat with a lower order that has normally had at least one of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to help him out during his short career. In the absence of all three, Pant couldn’t keep his innings going for long enough. And Australia weren’t going to make it easy. The field placements were telling of Pant’s skillset, and how Australia had figured him out. For Starc, Australia had three fielders

Josh Hazlewood produced a good one to remove Cheteshwar Pujara, Australia v India, 2nd Test, Perth, 4th day, December 17, 2018

behind square on the off side against Pant - a deep point, a deep third man, and a fly slip. For a batsman

who feasts on the front foot against bowlers on low pitches, this strategy seemed particularly stifling. Pant’s

propensity to slash rather than drive didn’t help either, and for most of the early period after Vihari’s dismissal, a lot of his shots were either skewed or off the leading edge. When he made occasional brute connection against Lyon, the field was spread out enough for it not to be damaging to them. They were giving nothing away to a thin, nervous lower order. They weren’t even letting them stand easy. Umesh was in Starc’s crosshairs, copping at least two bouncers on the body, and being put on his backside trying to slash at another. In the middle of this barrage, he saw Lyon beat Pant in flight to have him caught superbly by Handscomb at midwicket, and after a cursed 23ball stay, Umesh ended up fending a bouncer straight back to Starc. Pat Cummins was then handed the ball for one last volley of bouncers. He managed to get Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah with them, and in the space of four balls, India fell to their sixth consecutive away defeat in a chase this year.

Sri Lankans Bat All Day to Give Hope vs. Kiwis WELLINGTON: Sri Lanka 282 and 259 for 3 (Mendis 116*, Mathews 117*) trail New Zealand 578 by 37 runs On day four in Wellington, facing a monumental first-innings deficit, and in what seemed like a hopeless match situation, Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews went to the trenches. They absorbed New Zealand’s many attacks. They delivered a few glancing blows of their own. They made a hundred apiece, and for only the 22nd time in the history of Test cricket, they batted out an entire day without losing a wicket. Their partnership - 577 balls in - is worth 246. It is easily Sri Lanka’s best against New Zealand, and has allowed the visitors to go into the fifth day of an intriguing Test with a fighting chance of securing a draw. They are still 37 runs away from making New Zealand bat again, but will be buoyed no doubt by the weather forecast, which suggests rain will arrive around mid-day, if not before. Mathews was in a dogfight virtually the entire time he was at the crease, hit by balls last night and in the first session on Tuesday, defending with astounding stoicism - but

Kusal Mendis lunges into a forward press while batting all day.

Mendis played a more attractive innings, at least in the morning. While Mathews was struggling to work himself into the innings, playing and missing, and failing to get out of the way of some of New Zealand’s many bouncers, Mendis struck sublime straight boundaries to prevent the quicks from settling, and made sure to climb into a few commanding pull shots as well. There were a few occasions through when Mendis slowed down, and Mathews took up the scoring burden, but after lunch, both had basically de-

cided that nothing New Zealand sent their way - not another spell of Neil Wagner bodyline, not another spell of Tim Southee probing outside off, not Ajaz Patel’s disciplined lines and lengths - were going to shake them out of their calm. Mathews has batted like this before, of course, and has played several match-saving innings in his career, though it has been a while since the last one. For Mendis, this was a new sort of innings entirely - one which, at least since after the lunch break, was focused largely around his defence.

Golfer Shubhankar Sharma Reaches No. 1 Rank in Asia NEW DELHI: Shubhankar Sharma finished an eventful year ranked Number one golf player in Asia after emerging as the 2018 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion following a dream season which saw him rewrite many Indian records. The 22-year-old secured the top spot on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings after the proceedings at the South African Open to cap off a brilliant year. “2018 is the year that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ve played all the majors, all the WGCs and won the Arjuna Award as well as the Asian Tour Order of Merit,” he was quoted as sayibg by Golf Australia. He added: “I’ve always dreamt of winning the Order of Merit since turning professional in 2013. I used to watch the Asian Tour on TV, seeing the likes of Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and Anirban Lahiri, who have all won the merit title. I am honoured to be part of that illustrious list.” Shubhankar carried his winning momentum over to the new season as he clinched his second Asian Tour title at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia overcoming a four-shot deficit by shooting a final round 10under-62 to claim a stunning two-shot victory at the $3 million event. In March, Shubhankar posted a commendable tied seventh at the Indian Open that helped him climb to a career-high 64th in the world rankings. He carded a sizzling 64 during the Indian Open week to set a new course record. The 22-year-old Chandigarh-based joined the exclusive club of Indians who have achieved the Asian Tour Order of Merit in the past – Jyoti Randhawa (2002), Arjun Atwal (2003), Jeev Milkha Singh (2006 and 2008) and Anirban Lahiri (2015).

Shubhankar Sharma is no. 1 ranked Asian player at the end of 2018.

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Positions available: 1) Full- time or part-time cashier / counter (must be able to speak English and understand Hindi) 2) Full-time kitchen help. 3) Full-time sales girl for Sari store (must be able to speak English and understand Hindi) Anyone interested in this opportunity, please contact Ramesh Lulla at 713-819-1820 after 2 pm or Aakash Lulla at 832-715-8328 after 2 pm INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


December 21, 2018

Indians Are Buying Gold Online for as Little as One Rupee NEW DELHI: Indians are buying gold for as little as one rupee as retailers offer online sales in bite-sized portions to prop up shrinking demand in the world’s second-biggest consumer. Demand for gold is falling, partly as a result of government measures, higher local prices and the metal’s fading appeal among more youthful customers. That’s forcing jewelers to adapt online purchases to appeal to a more internet-savvy, younger population. “A lot of people have been buying at one rupee,” according to Gaura Mathur, managing director of digital platform SafeGold, which has partnered with payments apps such as Flipkart Online Services Pvt’s PhonePe to sell gold starting at that price. “It’s a low-risk way to try the product.” Buyers only get physical delivery of the metal once they have paid enough for one gram of gold, currently about Rs 3,200. The low barrier

of entry, compared with a minimum purchase of 1 gram in the traditional market, and faster transactions, which can be done on a phone in about 40 seconds, are the biggest lures for the product, Mathur said. Since its launch last year, about 3 million people have already transacted on the platform and the company, which counts the World Gold Council

as one its investors, is targeting to raise this to 15 million by next year, he said. The market is still small compared with the country’s overall consumption of gold, which stood at 524 tons in the nine months ended September. India’s consumption of gold, almost all of which is imported, has been declining because of the govern-

ment’s efforts to curb its trade deficit and combat so-called black money by discouraging investors who used the metal to evade taxes. Demand for the yellow metal last year fell by about 23 per cent from a peak of 1,002 tons in 2010. Meanwhile, benchmark gold futures in Mumbai are set to post a third year of annual gains in 2018 aided by a weaker rupee, which fell to a record low earlier this year. Platforms offered by SafeGold, Augmont Enterprises and India’s most popular digital payments service Paytm, backed by China’s Alibaba as well as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, are trying to make inroads into a market dominated by traditional retail stores and chains such as Titan Co, the country’s top maker of branded jewelry, and Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri Ltd. Augmont sells gold and silver coins and bars with quantities as low as 100 milligrams to make bullion affordable for the public.

Reliance, Saudis in Talks for Joint Petrochemical Projects MUMBAI: World’s largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia and richest Indian Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries Ltd are discussing joint investment in petrochemicals and oil refinery projects, Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said Al-Falih, who has known Ambani for over a decade now, travelled to Udaipur earlier this month to attend the pre-wedding festivities of Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani’s marriage with Ajay Piramal’s son Anand Piramal. During that visit, he also held talks with Ambani but choose to tweet about those discussions only this week. In an Arabic tweet, which was translated using online tools, AlFalih said he was delighted to meet Ambani. At the meeting “we discussed opportunities for joint investments and cooperation in petrochemical, refining and communications projects.” He also tweeted a picture of the meeting

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falith and Mukesh Ambani have been friends for more than a decade.

where Ambani is dressed in a business suit, a sharp contrast to other pictures of his in traditional attire during the pre-wedding festivities held on 8 and 9 December. No details of the meeting were available from Reliance. Reliance operates two refineries at

Jamnagar with a total capacity of 68.2 million tonnes per annum. Reliance plans to expand its only-for-exports SEZ refining capacity to just over 41 million tonnes from current 35.2 million tonnes but does not have any plans to set up a new refinery in the country.

It is presently focused on expanding petrochemical and telecom business, industry people said. SaudiArabia, on the other hand, is keen to get a foothold in the world’s fastest-growing fuel market so as to get a captive customer for crude oil it produces. Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, and its partner Abu Dabhi National Oil Co. (Adnoc) have picked up 50% stake in a planned $44 billion Ratnagiri refinery in Maharashtra but the project is facing problems in acquiring land due to protests from local politicians. Saudi Aramco and Adnoc will together hold 50% stake in the 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) refinery and adjacent 18 mtpa petrochemical complex planned to be built at Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra by 2025. The two will supply half of the crude oil required for processing at the refinery.

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India Again Defers Duty Increase on US Products NEW DELHI: India for the fourth time deferred the deadline to impose retaliatory customs duties on 29 US products, including almond, walnut and pulses, by another 45 days, the government has said. According to a notification by the finance ministry, the implementation of the duty hike has been postponed until January 31, 2019. The commerce ministry had asked its finance counterpart to extend the deadline further. In June, India decided to impose retaliatory tariffs from August 4. But it was extended by 45 days till September 18 and then till November 2. In November, the decision to impose these duties was deferred till December 17. As part of imposition of higher import duties, New Delhi has notified higher tariffs on several products. While import duty on walnut is to be hiked to 120 per cent from 30 per cent at present, duty on chickpeas, Bengal gram (chana) and masur dal will be raised to 70 per cent, from 30 per cent currently. Levy on lentils will be increased to 40 per cent, from 30 per cent. The duty hike move by India was in retaliation to US President Donald Trump’s March 9 decision to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items. Senior officials of India and the US are in discussions to finalise a kind of trade deal. Both sides are holding two track discussions -- to increase trade in short and medium term, and identify long-term trade potentials. India is pressing for exemption from high duty imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their generalised system of preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from agriculture, automobile, automobile components and engineering sectors. On the other hand, the US is demanding greater market access through cut in import duties for its agriculture goods, dairy products, medical devices, IT and communication items, the official added.

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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December 21, 2018

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


December 21, 2018

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INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2018 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM


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