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Friday, November 09 2012 | Vol. 31, No. 45


Indo American erican News

IAN Diwali Special Supplement Inside pages 31-41 Published weekly from Houston, TX

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Historic Dusshera Mela

Draws Crowds More than 8000 people attended the first ever Dusshera Mela held at Constellation Field in Sugar Land on November 4.

Ram Leela Soars High Bayou City dwellers received a special treat when they witnessed the second Ram Leela performance this past Saturday, November 3, at Cullen Auditorium at the University of Houston’s Main Campus

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November 09, 2012


A Dusshera Mela that Many Had Dreamt About Finally Makes History

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA SUGAR LAND: For a while, all the pushing and shoving as you moved along with small steps in the crowd of people felt good. It felt nostalgic - a little like being back at New Delhi Railway Station after the train arrives and you just get carried along with the flow as everyone tries to get out all at once. But the crowd this past Sunday, November 4 at the Constellation Field baseball stadium in Sugar Land off Highway 6 had just seen something historic happen in Texas, something akin to being back at the Ram Leela grounds in New Delhi itself: Dusshera celebrated complete with burning eight foot tall effigies of the vanquished demon king Ravan, his giant brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnath set at the far edge of the baseball diamond. And hordes of desis mingled on the concourse, stopped by the merchandise booths, crowded the Natura ice cream stall and stood in the long line for fresh dosas made by Sankalp in the concessions stand. Some bought fashion jewelry, others got mehndi designs and the kids got lounged at the toy booths while others strolled to the kiddies playground area and for face painting. Many more walked over to get a closer look at the two sets of effigies (imported from New Delhi) – the eight foot ones at First Base which were later burnt and the 25 foot ones at Third Base which were not and were there for effect. It was a Dusshera Mela that had not been seen before in the Metroplex. It has long been a dream of the Hindu community in the Houston area to celebrate the month long festivities that culminate in Diwali (which falls on Tuesday, November 13 this year) with a large outpouring of people and a huge fireworks display to mark the traditional return of Ram, Sita and Lakshman back to Ayodhya many

at the gates. That has never happened before in Houston.” He had been featured with Shalini Aggarwal a few days earlier on ABC Channel 13’s Visions morning show and related the story of his quest to glorify Lord Ram. When the moment came, Verma asked for the floodlights to be turned off and then with small “pows” the effigies burst into flames, one at a time, with Ra-

an expanse of concrete in front of them open for dancers to crowd and show their moves. Many did just that for the next hour, but many others joined the stream of people to push and nudge their way to the exit, grabbing a handful of badam-kharot (almond-walnut) prasad from the volunteers, just before they passed through the gates. See Collage on page 14, 15

More than 8000 people attended the first ever Dusshera Mela this past Sunday at the Constellation Field in Sugar Land.

centuries ago after defeating the demons that plagued Earth. Although there have been smaller fireworks displays at area temples – notably the Swami Narayan Temple many years ago – none came close to encapsulating the Hindu experience in the manner that people witnessed last Sunday night. Convinced that his Lord Ram was the one who was guiding him and his wife Vinni to celebrate the most popular and joyous occasion in Hinduism, Dr. Arun Verma, an engineer-turned-businessman and devoted Hindu, set out to bring the Ram Leela to the large stage two years ago, with the creative association of Kusum Sharma, a talented dancer and choreographer. This year, Verma’s new teamup with dancers Rathna Kumar, Divya Unni and Shiva Mathur staged a more ambitious Ram Leela at the Wortham Theatre downtown (see IAN Nov. 2, 2012). But this year, Verma also had a much larger goal in his sights, nothing less than performing the Ram Leela onstage in the open, with a burning of the effigies later would satisfy him. “I am doing this all in the service of my Lord

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Ram,” remarked Verma, who often deflects compliments that are sent his way. With the support of two dozen sponsors and several advertisers, Verma had planned for the past eight months to hold the joint Ram Leela and Dusshera Mela, separated by a week. And there he stood, on a built up stage between first and second base in Constellation Field, welcoming the sponsors, speaking between the songs and performances that started in late afternoon and greeting Sugar Land Mayor Jim Thompson and US Congressman from District 22 Pete Olson and then stepping aside for actors to perform the fight to rescue Sita and kill Ravan scenes from the Ram Leela. After the performance, Sita, Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman made a round of the stadium seated in the back of a pickup truck past the thousands of people who sat in the seats on both sides of the stadium, which can hold 9,500 for concerts. All of this and the Mela’s stage shows were broadcast on the stadium’s giant video screen. “We had over 8,000 people here tonight,” said an ecstatic Verma as he took a minute to grasp the scene, “according to the counters

Darshak Thakkar (right) with his Krishna Sounds Band.

van (in the purple papier-mache outfit) going last. Fireworks burst into the air from behind and above the stadium to the delight of the old and young alike, with different colored rockets lighting up the dark, mild Fall sky, and culminated in a crescendo of multi-colored starbursts. And just when the field show had left off, Darshak Thakkar and his Krishna Sounds Band struck up their musical medley in the concourse above first base, with

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November 09, 2012

Ram Leela 2012

A Production of KUSUM SHARMA’S SHRI NATRAJ SCHOOL OF DANCE In Association with

November 3, 2012 See article on pg 5


Cullen Performance Hall Photos: Bijay Dixit



November 09, 2012

A Traditional Ram Leela Unfolds with Many Modern Embellishes

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: Bayou City dwellers received a special treat this past weekend when they witnessed the second Ram Leela performance in as many weeks, this one presented by Kusum Sharma’s Shri Natraj School of Dance, in association with the Indian American Culture and Heritage Foundation (IACHF). The play unfolded this past Saturday, November 3, the day after Karva Chauth, another North Indian tradition (see page 20), at the 1500-seat Cullen Auditorium at the University of Houston’s Main Campus to a packed hall. At the end of the play, the entire audience was handed packed prasad dinners, courtesy of Madras Pavilion Sugar Land. This is the first time that the Houston area has ever had not just one, but two Ram Leelas in the same season and for this New Delhite, it felt a little like being back home where the play is staged in all parts of the city, and where the popular version has been performed in the Old City for decades. Kusum Sharma, the creative force behind this week’s Ram Leela, was able to recreate the magic reminiscent of the many Ram Leelas that are staged all across the Hindu Heartland in North India, but sprinkle it with many modern embellishes. A trained Kathak and Bharat Natyam dancer, Kusum also runs the Shri Natraj School of Dance, which she started in 2004. “We have been planning and practicing for the past ten months,” said Sukhi Kohli, one of the founders of the IACHF, as he monitored the hall filling up. His other two founders, Vipin Sharma (Kusum’s husband) and Sachin Sharma (no relation) were backstage, already in costume to play the parts

Photo: Bijay Dixit

of Ram and Lakshman, roles that they have played for the past two years. “We made all the props ourselves and Kusum went to India to buy the costumes,” he added, “and now it seems like a dream come true.” For Kusum, who also plays the role of Sita, staging the Ram Leela is like second nature as this is the sixth one she has produced in Houston, although the large productions of the last three years, including this year, have been a lot more elaborate. For this year’s performance, she resorted to many of the elements that were shown last year, like the two Hanumans to depict two different scenes – flying through the air on a wire across the front stage to bring back the life-saving medicinal herb sanjavini from the Himalayas and bringing back the whole Dronagiri Mountain and later dance-fighting with a flaming staff as he sets Lanka on

fire – and the fire jugglers participating in the fight in Lanka. Before the program, Sunil Thakkar of Music Masala Radio warmed up the crowd with his mix of banter and humor as he walked through the aisle and randomly asked people about their recollections of Ram Leela and Diwali. “I still fondly remember the one I would see at Shivaji Park in Bombay,” he recalled. The program started off with a young couple dancing at the foot of the stage to a lilting bhajan and then transitioned off to six young girls dancing Kathak on stage. As with most Ram Leelas (which all run to four hours, as did this one), all the vital scenes were presented in sequence, starting with a reclining Vishnu, with Lakshmi, gazing at Mother Earth who beseeches him to descend among mortals and rid Earth of


demons. As he agrees, both Shiva and Brahma are lowered from above as if descending from the heavenly abodes, and convey their blessings. This lowering technique was used frequently throughout the program, as Ahalya is restored to life from stone and Jatayu flies down to stop Ravan. Several scenes are played out to explain their deeper significance, as when Vishwamitra explains the meaning of the things they experience to Ram and Lakhsman and when Dasharath remembers how he killed Shravan Kumar by accident. The scene with the boatsman Keawat helping the exiles cross the Ganga was well played, as was the scene when Ravan dances in indignation and anger after he learns from his sister Surpanakha of the disfiguring insult Lakshman has given her. The episode with Shabari feeding Ram and Lakshman berries she has bitten to check for sweetness was also done well, ending in a dance. And finally, Ravan’s death by Ram’s arrow is suitably strong and agonizing. As the tale came to an end, in a nice turn, five men in crimson dhotis and chunnis over bare torsos danced with their palms together to the Hanuman Chalissa set to a pounding drumbeat. And as they ended, the curtain rose to reveal the entire cast assembled in the Royal Court in Ayodhya as Ram, Sita and Lakshman are surrounded by their families and adoring public under a resplendently adorned canopy, while streamers are set off over the audience. See Collage on page 4




November 09, 2012

Talent on Display at ICC’s Miss Diwali Contest

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA HOUSTON: Last year, the India Culture Center and the India House held a Diwali party at the community facility on West Bellfort and a large number of people came to the event that included performances by local talent and a short speech by Congressman Pete Olson. This year, the organizers opted to merge their efforts with the large Diwali Mela that is planned for this coming Saturday, November 10 at the Constellation Field ballpark in Sugar Land and instead focus their energies in highlighting the beauty and talents of local Indian girls in a Miss Diwali contest. The top three winners in the Miss Diwali 2012 will receive cash prizes of $500, $300 and $200. The event is chaired by the tireless Jasmeeta Singh, herself a radiant and pert dancer of many programs over the past few years in the Indian community and Hari Kewalramani, a retired engineer and lover of Hindi poetry who has self-published two books on the subject (his latest effort is

ICC and India House Board members with participating contestants.

featured on page 23). Both are Directors of the ICC. “We have been working hard for the past three weeks to pull this event together,” explained Singh. “and had to do some reshuffling as one contestant, Danielle Dubash, had to drop out due to an accident that resulted in a torn ligament.” Held this past Friday, November 2 in India House in the smaller center hall with the stage, the nine contestants first broke out in a small meeting room to go through an interview before

Tulsi Gabbard Wins US House Seat in Hawaii

HONOLULU (Bizjournals): Democrat Tulsi Gabbard won the race for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District Tuesday with an overwhelming lead over her Republican challenger. Gabbard had 168,466 votes, or 76.8 percent, while Republican Kawika Crowley had 40,697 votes, or 18.6 percent after the second release of results. She looks forward to taking her oath on the Bhagwad Gita! Gabbard will succeed Democrat Mazie Hirono, who stepped down to run for the U.S. Senate seat begin vacated by retiring Daniel Akaka. Hirono defeated former Gov. Linda Lingle Former Honolulu Councilwoman in that race. Tulsi Gabbard has easily won a bid Gabbard resigned from to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congresher seat on the Honolulu sional District in the U.S. House, City Council on Aug. 16, beating a homeless handyman who five days after defeating surprised many by winning the former Honolulu Mayor Republican ticket but didn’t have Mufi Hannemann in the enough resources to seriously compete in the general election. Democratic primary.

showing off their routine to the 50 or so people who attended. The judges were Tanaz Chaudhury, a fashion designer and former beauty contestant; Nara Lakhani, another former beauty contestant, and current realtor and publisher of SBR magazine; Pindi Gill, who along with her husband owns and operates Hull Airport; Vatsa Kumar, an engineer and financial planner; and Amritha Nambiar. Each contestant came to the stage and performed their unique

Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar entertains the audience while the panel of judges looks on.

talent epitomizing Indian culture, with most of the young women opting to give dance performances, either in the classical or Bollywood style. Most settled on Hindi, although Monica Sirigiri gave an energetic performance to a Telegu number. Natasha Naik started the stage show with the rituals of an aarti for Diwali, delivered flawlessly in accented Hindi and much appreciated by the audience. Priyanka Golani and Mona Deo sang Hindi songs while Amarpreet Kaur (her dance

included splashing her feet in water in a trough on stage), Amita Batra, Rima Patel and Ashley Abraham performed dance routines. The short event concluded with talk with the effervescent Sunil Thakkar of Music Masala whose team is organizing the Diwali Mela this weekend. His booming voice needed no microphone as he jested with the crowd and encouraged them to come to the event, which already had sold 7,000 tickets, he said.

How Texas State Rep Candidates Fared in the Election America’s most expensive election finally comes to an end. President Barack Obama continues to occupy the White House after winning another four year term. Across the country, the results caused a wide range of emotions from dippy elation and jubilance to shock, dismay and disappointment. Months of campaigning paid off for some while others were not as lucky. In our October 19 issue, we had featured several key races in the area in which Asian candidates were running and reported on their stand on the important issues ranging from creating more jobs, less control over schools, cutting back costs in every department of government, better healthcare and making our streets safer. Now that the voters have voted, here are the results of these races: District 26: Rick Miller (R) 63% wins over Vy Ngyuen (D) 27% District 127: Judge R.K.Sandill (D) 50.3% wins over Russell Lloyd (R) 49.7% Harris County Sheriff: Adrian Garcia (D) 53% wins the reelection over Louie Guthrie (R) 45.2% Railroad Commission: Christi Craddick (R) 56.2% wins over Henry Dale (D) 39.6%. District 137: Gene Wu (D) 65.7% wins over MJ.Khan (R) 34.3% District 149: Hubert Vo (D) 61.1% wins over Dianne Williams (R) 38.9%

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Alarmel Valli: Poetry in Motion

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HOUSTON: If you really want to watch superlative dancing, one that will inspire you and elevate you, artistically and spiritually, do go and witness the magic of India’s greatest Bharatanatyam icon, the one and only Alarmel Valli, who will be performing in Houston under the auspices of Samskriti on Sunday, November 11, 5pm, at the Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for Performing Arts, 800 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002. Hailed as a nonpareil in classical dance, Alarmel Valli has been bestowed with countless honors, titles and awards, among them the highest civilian honors from the President of India, the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, and the Chevalier of Arts & Letters from the French Government – both given only to the most eminent of artists - the ‘Grande Medaille de la Ville de Paris’, the award of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the apex body for Indian Music, Dance and Drama in India, and the State award of Kalaimamani from the Tamilnadu Government. Dance critics around the world have waxed eloquent about this incomparable artist. The Indian Express, Bombay describes her as “a living poem of grace and beauty, who, with a glance or gesture, enraptures and makes poets of us”, and in the words of John Russell, former critic, New York Times “Now, as always, there are many gifted dancers in India, but Alarmel Valli is a paragon. Alarmel Valli is that rare thing - the solo performer who puts all others out of mind”. The Films Division of India commissioned a film on her for the Indian National Archives, titled ‘Pravahi’, and directed by eminent film-maker Arun Khopkar. Another film was made for the Omnibus series,

on BBC 2. She has been featured in dance documentaries by noted Indian producers like the late G. Aravindan and Prakash Jha, by the BBC (in The Spirit of Asia Series), the Nederlands Broadcasting Company, Arte (France) and Japanese National Television Network. A recent film on Valli, Lasya Kavya, by Sankalp Meshram, won the National Award for art films and will be screened at the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday, November 14, 6:30pm, with a Q & A session with Valli herself. Few Indian dancers have performed as featured solo artists at as many prestigious venues or festivals around the world - Bolshoi Theatre, Theatre De La Ville, Vienna International Dance Festival, Munich Opera Festival, Edinburgh Festival, New York International Festival of Arts, Avignon Festival, Cervantino Festival, Harbourfront Festival, Min-On Association in Japan, Venice Biennale, Lyon Biennale, Madrid Festival, Royal Albert Hall in London, Helsinki Biennale, Millennium festivals in Berlin and Bologna, Brussels Spring Festival, Asia in Helsinki Festival, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Israel Festival, and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence. To see Valli dance is to be uplifted, to see poetry in motion, to experience every nuance of every emotion that she expresses through her amazing body language, her myriad subtle facial expressions, her every eloquent hand gesture. To see Valli dance is to experience bliss. For more information and tickets, call 832-275-9656. To purchase tickets online, visit or or The program is co-sponsored by the Asia Society Texas Center, Silambam & Bharathi Kalai Manram, and part funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance



November 09, 2012

GOD’s “Life and Soul” Health Fair Does it Again!

MANVEL: The second annual “Life and Soul” Health Fair, conducted by Joy of Sharing, an initiative of Global Organization for Divinity (G.O.D.), provided free health screenings to well over a hundred participants on Saturday, Nov 3 at New Life Plaza located in Manvel, TX. Organized in a spirit of service to the community, the health fair brought together several likeminded health service organizations and attracted attendees from several cities in the Greater Houston area including Houston, Manvel, Pearland, Alvin, the Brazosport area, Sugar Land, and even as far as The Woodlands. Honorable Mayor Delores Martin of Manvel city kicked off the event with a few touching words that expressed her gratitude to the organizers. Several health professionals were on hand to perform numerous tests including Blood Glucose, Blood Pressure and Hemoglobin A1C (sponsored by HEB Plus), Complete Lipid Panel (Kroger Super Store), Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure (My Nurse Home Care), Bone Density (Walgreens), Pulmonary Function, Stroke and Peripheral Arterial Disease Screening (Alvin Community College), Vision screening

Manvel Mayor Delores Martin (left) with Dr. Lekshmi Nair (center).

(Dr. Seema Nanda and Texas Eye Institute), Diabetes Education (Dr. Lakshmi Seshadri and a Certified Diabetes Educator Heather Kleindez of Sanofi Aventis). Physicians who were available onsite for consultation included Gastroenterologists Dr. Jyoti Rao and Dr. Satish Iduru, Hematologist and Oncologist Dr. Dhatri Kodali, Rheumatologist Dr. Hema Salvady, Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Sweeya Ramireddy, Anesthesiologist Dr. Shakuntala Shetty and Family Practitioner Dr. Lekshmi Nair. Apart from the health screenings, St. Luke’s Hospital conducted a blood donation drive, free Statesponsored flu shots were given away to kids without insurance,

free helmets sponsored by Texas Medical Association were also given away to kids, free Zumba fitness tryouts were provided by Aracelli Martinez and her team. Michelle Pesina of Sai Primary Care was named the “Life and Soul Champion” volunteer of the event. Several student volunteers were also available to help with running the event from Health Occupation Students of America group of Milby High School, DeBakey High School, Manvel High School and University of Houston. Several local businesses and restaurants including Shipley’s Donuts, Johnny Carino’s and Pearland MRI sponsored breakfast and lunch for all the volunteers, vendors and physicians, while Sam’s Club, HEB and Kroger sponsored water, juice and snacks for the participants. Other event sponsors included Joseph and Janis Schneider, Amed

Home Health, Geografx, Sleep Center of Kirby, Best Coupons and Spine and OsteoArthritis Center of Texas. Participants also won door prizes for free X-rays, free 30-day passes to the 24 hour Fitness Center, dinner and appetizer coupons, etc. during lucky draws that took place every hour. Next year’s “Life and Soul”


Health Fair will be held around the same time of the year, during October-November, 2013. Joy of Sharing is an initiative of Global Organization for Divinity that reaches out to the community and society, thereby furthering G.O.D.’s cause of universal harmony and brotherhood through love and care. Joy of Sharing projects focus on education, health, environment and disaster relief. G.O.D. is a worldwide non-profit organization that aims to promote peace, harmony and universal love amid cultural diversity through inner spiritual transformation by chanting the Divine Name. For more information about Life and Soul Health Fair or Joy of Sharing, email or visit


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November 09, 2012


Diwali and Govardhan Puja at ISKCON, Hare Krishna Dham

HOUSTON: In the Samskrit language, “Deepawali” means a row or array of lights. Symbolizing the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, Deepawali (also known as Diwali) is celebrated all over the world with slightly different flavors. The ultimate message of the Lord’s unconditional mercy, grace, and love in protecting his devotees, however, remains undiluted. In the northern part of India, Deepawali signifies the triumphant return of Lord Rama along with His consort Sita-devi, and brother Lakshmana, after they had spent nearly fourteen years in exile and having overcome nearly impossible obstacles, finally culminating in the utter destruction of the demon-king Ravana along with his kingdom, Lanka. Ravana, an evil king who ruled Lanka, kidnapped Sita-devi and subsequently refused to hand her over to the Lord, upon which a huge campaign was waged against his island-kingdom, resulting in Lord Rama emerging victorious and rescuing Sita-devi. People welcome back Lord Rama with a splendid display of beautifully-lit diyas, or earthern lamps. They clean and tidy their homes in anticipation of the Lord’s visit, prepare delicious sweets and savories, and light firecrackers to celebrate the joyous occasion. In the southern part of India, Deepawali is about Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, a notorious demon who would imprison devotees and torture them. Desperate and with nobody else to save them, they worshiped the Lord in full faith and He did not let them down. As Narakasura lay dying, the Lord, in his infinite mercy, asked him if he had a last wish, to which Narakasura replied, let this day be celebrated like no other. The Lord granted his wish and thus the day marks both Lord Krishna’s victory and liberation of the imprisoned devotees as well as a fulfillment of Narakasura’s last wish. Celebrations are quite similar to the North: people burst fire crackers, prepare sumptuous meals and traditional sweets, and immerse themselves in the spiritual nature of the occasion. Jains and Sikhs also celebrate Deepawali, adding their own lovely touch in the process. This is what makes the entire country come alive – the melding of different faiths in the shared ecstasy of glorifying the Supreme. In certain parts of India (such as Gujarat), the New Year is also welcomed on Deepawali day. In order to have an auspicious beginning to the New Year and start it with the blessings of Sri Sri Radha-NilaMadhava, hundreds of devotees traditionally attend the Mangal Aarti (at 4:30am) the following day (this year, Wednesday,

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November 14, 2012). Day after Deepawali, there is another major festival known as Govardhan Puja (also known as Anna Koot – meaning a mountain of food). This is mainly celebrated in the northern part of India, and is once again about how the Lord goes to great lengths to protect his devotees and those that have faith in him. The story goes that the residents of Gokul used to worship Lord Indra, a demigod, so they would be blessed with proper rains for their crops and cattle. Lord Krishna, observing the preparations for the worship of Indra, asked for an explanation. When informed that everyone depends on rains and Indra is the one who provides timely and nourishing rains, Lord Krishna said that in reality one ought to worship Govardhana, a hill in Vraj, Mathura, as it was both a source of food to the cows, a place for picnicking, and also one of the reasons the rains arrived on time. Upon his insistence, a fire-sacrifice was organized to worship Govardhan. Observing this, Indra became angry, and in a show of his fury, brought down a deluge upon the whole area. The terrified people sought the protection of Lord Krishna, who calmed them, and then simply lifted the entire hill with the little finger of His left hand! Under that huge “umbrella” the citizens were saved from the rising waters. Indra continued to display his great anger for seven days before finally giving up. Lord Krishna in the meantime merrily continued to hold up the hill while the people continued to go about their daily duties. Finally, realizing his folly, Indra apologized deeply to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, who, of course, forgave Indra’s folly. Since then, celebrating the importance of the sacred hill, people have to continue to worship Govardhan, who is just another manifestation of the Lord Himself. This is how the Lord came to acquire the name Giridhari (the one who held the Govardhan). At Hare Krishna Dham (ISK-

CON – the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, founded by His Grace AC Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada), both Deepawali and Govardhan Puja are celebrated with much enthusiasm. This year being no exception, on November 13 (Tuesday) starting at 6:30pm, the temple will mark the occasion of Deepawali by hosting a public function comprising a candlelight aarti (display of lights for the Lord), melodious and spiritually uplifting kirtans (glorification of the Lord), and a discourse, followed by lovingly prepared prasadam (sanctified food, offered to the Lord). In keeping with tradition, on November 14 (Wednesday) starting at 6:30pm, the temple will host the much-anticipated occasion of Govardhan Puja. Featuring a very large number of bhoga (offering of food) to the Lord, this is the only day when food cooked by devotees is offered directly to their Lordships. In previous years, sometimes more than a thousand items have been offered, so one can imagine the sight (this is the Anna Koota aspect)!Other programs include Abhishek (ritual bathing of the deities in milk, water, honey, turmeric etc), wonderful discourse, and of course, mouth-watering prasadam. Sponsorships are available for those interested: Diwali Aarti: $201, Anna Koota Aarti: $251, Giriraj Aarti: $501 Hon. Consul-General of India, P Harish will be the chief guest for the Govardhan Puja festival on November 14. He will grace the occasion for arthi, Anna Koot dharshan and will address the congregation. For more information, call 713686–4482 or visit

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The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi

For Advertising in IAN First Victory for the Satyagraha Experiment

The story thus far… a recent court decision in South Africa held that the law did not recognize Indian marriages. The women were suitably offended by this and found it an attack on their basic family values. They openly broke the law and were imprisoned in large numbers. In the coal-mines at Newcastle, in Natal, Indian workers went on strike protesting against the repression. The arrests, the deportation of passive resisters, and the untold sufferings of Indian families angered the people of India. A large amount of money was collected for the relief of the victims. Many protesters were beaten and flogged, and some were beaten to death. Gandhi, who felt intensely the humiliation his people suffered, took a triple vow of selfsuffering. He changed his mode of dressing, opting for the look of a poor laborer, walked barefoot, and decided to have only one meal a day, till the poll-tax and other injustices were abolished. But Gandhi found the Government to be a relentless and merciless opponent. There seemed no solution in sight. He had to take further drastic measures. In October 1913, Gandhi organized a march of over 6,000 Indian workers from the Natal mining area into the Transvaal, although the law did not allow non-whites the freedom of crossing into the Transvaal without a permit. Gandhi advised his followers, “We are going to march peacefully together across the border into the Transvaal. The Government will arrest us and put us in prison. We are to remain peaceful. This is the nonviolent way of protesting against the polltax, against the Government’s decision not to recognize our marriages, and against all the laws that are made against us. We are fighting for just causes, we will not harm anyone.” He then asked the people, “Are you ready to face arrest and harsh treatment, remaining always nonviolent?” Roars of assent assured him of everyone’s support. They were ready to follow Gandhi anywhere. And so the march into the Transvaal began. Late in the evening Gandhi was roused from sleep by several uniformed men, who arrested him. Gandhi and many other Indians were jailed. The mines were cordoned off by barbed wire and converted into temporary jails. The satyagrahis or protesters were beaten to force them to go back to work, but without success. The authorities could not make them return to work. Gandhi had inspired in them the spirit of quiet, dignified resistance. The movement of passive resistance, or satyagraha, spread all through Natal and the Transvaal

like wildfire. The Government had no idea how to handle this phenomenon unlike any they had ever encountered before, because none yielded to their cruel treatment. The prisons were overflowing. At last General Smuts was obliged to act. He appointed a Commission to study the situation. In December 1913 Gandhi was released, but he would not give up the struggle. Gandhi threatened Smuts that he The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi is brought to you courtesy Mahatma Gandhi Library. would start another march if his demands were not met. That march, however, never took place. The European employees of the railways in the Union went on strike, and this made the Government’s position extremely difficult. Gandhi decided to drop the idea of the march at such a crucial time as he did not wish to embarrass the Government further. Gandhi ordered every Indian to go back to work, at least for the time being. His decision created a good impression on the Government and even General Smuts recognized this courtesy. The Inquiry Commission reported in favor of all the essential reforms demanded by the Indian leaders. The Indians’ Relief Bill was at last passed and signed by the Governor. It abolished the poll-tax on indentured workers, declared absolutely legal all Indian marriages, and removed penalties for crossing from one State to another. It was a huge victory for Gandhi

and the satyagraha movement. Gandhi had been active in South Africa for 21 years and had contributed so much to the welfare of the Indians in South Africa. Gandhi now felt that his mission in South Africa was over and he wanted to return to India. At that time Gokhale was in England. He wanted Gandhi to meet him in London before returning to India. Gandhi promised to do so. Gandhi announced his decision to Kasturbai. “You are going to London with me,” he said. “From England we will go back to India.” Gandhi, with Kasturbai and Hermann Kallenbach, a white South African farmer sailed for England on July 18, 1914. On August 4, two days before he reached London, the 1st World War was declared. Upon arrival in London, Gandhi heard that Gokhale had gone to Paris for reasons of health. Communications were cut off between London and Paris because of the war. Gandhi was disappointed. He did not want to return to India without seeing Gokhale, so he stayed on in London. Gandhi had no idea what to do during the war. At the suggestion of some Indian friends, a meeting was called of the Indians in England. Gandhi expressed the view that Indians residing in England ought to do their bit in the war. English students had volunteered to serve in the army and Indians should do no less. This brought forth many objections from many Indians who were of the opinion that the war provided an opportunity to get freedom for India and that Indians should




November 09, 2012

— To be Continued



14 November 09, 2012

November 09, 2012

Dusshera Mela 2012 Sunday, November 4 Constellation Field, Sugar Land

Thank you Houston for your unparalleled acclaim of Ram Leela and the historic First Dusshera Mela, witnessed by 8,000 people. See Article on Page 3

Listen to our new radio program on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on AM1480 INDO AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2012 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM



16 November 09, 2012

Story of Mahatma Gandhi



assert themselves and claim their rights. Gandhi felt that England’s difficulty should not be turned into India’s opportunity. He insisted on rendering all possible help to England. He organized an ambulance corps which, in spite of many difficulties, helped the British in their time of need. After some time Gokhale returned to England. Gandhi and Kallenbach went to see him often and they talked together about the war and other matters. Then Gandhi had an attack of pleurisy and Gokhale and his friends were worried. Dr. Jivraj Mehta treated Gandhi but there was little relief. Gandhi was still ill when Gokhale returned to India. As the pleurisy still persisted, Gandhi was advised to go back to India as soon as possible. He accepted the advice and returned to his homeland. After 12 long and eventful years, Gandhi was back in India. He was welcomed with a great reception

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in Bombay. Gandhi was overwhelmed by the great love and wealth of kindness shown to him by the people. Gokhale was in Poona and was in poor health, so Gandhi went to see him. Gandhi told Gokhale that his plan was to have an ashram where he could settle down with his Phoenix family. They had followed him to India and already were settled at Santiniketan. Gokhale approved of the idea and promised whatever help he could. Meanwhile Gandhi went to Rajkot and Porbandar to meet his relatives and then went on to Santiniketan. There Gandhi met poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore for the first time, as well as C. F. Andrews who was also present. During his short stay at Santiniketan Gandhi heard the sad news that Gokhale had passed away. He immediately left for Poona, with C. F. Andrews accompanying him up to Burdwan. TO BE


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VHP Bharat President Visits Houston

HOUSTON: Ashok Chowgule, VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) Bharat President (External) for international Hindu coordination and relationship build up visited Houston this past weekend as a part of his multi city visits across United States. During his two day visit, he met many key Hindu community leaders and activists based in Houston. He also visited prominent Hindu temples based in Houston like BAPS, Swaminarayan Temple and Ashtalakshmi temple. He also attended a Garbha event at Sri.Sai Baba temple Chowgule educated the community about VHP Bharat projects and their impact on helping Hindus and Hindu Dharma and culture in multiple domains like education, Cow protection, Hindu literature reforms, temples empowerment and more. Also discussed were

At Meet and Greet Gala dinner with Ashok Chowgule. From left (standing), Yogesh Naik, Dr. T.N.Rao, Devendra Srivastav, Rahul Chandra, Dhaval Joshipura. Sitting from left: Dilip Mehta, Pravin Vyas, Ashok Chowgule, Padmaja and Kusum.

issues, challenges and long term solution models to counter them. Chowgule appreciated the way more Hindus are coming forward and getting involved in US politics

and the rich cultural programs and traditions communities celebrate in large numbers and congratulated all involved in doing great work for Hindu Dharma on all fronts.

Life of PI Screening on November 12

Life of Pi is an upcoming 3D adventure film based on Yann Martel’s Mann Booker Prize winning fantasy novel. The film follows the story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper’s son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Visit our website (www.indoamerican-news. com) to watch the video created by Suraj Sharma, the actor who plays Pi in the film that details his journey making Life of PI. For more information about the movie, see ad on page 41.


November 09, 2012

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November 09, 2012

Diwali Dip

The proximate cause for the rupee falling to 54.60 against the dollar on Monday — a drop of almost 1.5 per cent since Friday’s close — was the global anxiety ahead of the US elections and concerns over whether the Greek legislature will support a key reform measure on Wednesday. Disconcertingly for India, the drop has wiped off most of the gains made by the rupee following the announcement of a set of reforms by the Centre in mid-September. Significantly, the drop has occurred despite the strong signalling by the ruling party at a rally on Sunday, where it unequivocally backed reforms, including the most controversial of them all, foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail. Movements in a currency usually reflect expectations of future movements, both in the short and long term. The precipitous dip in India’s currency that has begun since the backtracking on the rise in the prices of nonsubsidised LPG cylinders last week may show how the markets are reading the chances of further reforms for now. For instance, the non-deliverable forward market expects the currency to dip even further to 55.53 in the next three months. That will be worse than the level from where the rupee began firming up from September 13 onwards, after the government unveiled a flurry of reforms. The large drop in the value of the rupee means every barrel of imported oil would be costlier, despite lower prices in the global commodities markets. It is in this context that the finance minister, P. Chidambaram, said on Monday that he would now need to borrow another Rs 20,000 crore from the markets over and above his borrowing target for this fiscal. The markets were, however, expecting this slippage. The bond yields for the 10-year government paper barely moved on Monday. The finance minister’s adverse estimate factors in the expected low realisation from the upcoming auction of airwaves that will at best yield about Rs 13,000 crore instead of the projected Rs 40,000 crore, and the lack of time to disinvest public sector companies to raise another Rs 30,000 crore. The ministry is reportedly set to project the GDP growth rate for the year at 5.5 per cent, the lowest of all such estimates. The markets, too, now appear to agree with the lower confidence levels, despite a rousing Sunday. - IE

What’s in it for India?

BY SUE GHOSH-STRICKLETT As the presidential elections usher in a new foreign policy for the next four years, how do American voters view a US-India security alliance? Two recent national polls put India at the top of the list of allies with whom Americans wish to improve bilateral ties. Gallup’s 2012 poll showed that 75 per cent of American voters view India favourably. Gallup points out that an America buffeted by “political and economic foreign policy challenges” feels “warmer than ever” towards countries like Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan and India. The same poll showed that the least favoured countries are Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran. China’s popularity has dropped from 64 per cent in 1979 to 41 per cent in 2012. A Pew Research Centre poll, held in January 2011, showed that American voters view India as the top country — along with Canada, Japan, and the EU — with whom they’d like to improve bilateral trade ties. In the four years since George W. Bush signed into law the US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act (that is, India’s exemption from the 1954 Atomic Energy Act), there has been bipartisan consensus in Washington that a strong US-India partnership can bring stability to the concurrent and confluent security challenges in Asia. The Obama administration’s overtures towards India have received high media coverage: the state visit to India, the president’s speech to a joint session of Parliament declaring his support of India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and his announcement of trade deals during the state visit.

Voters on the campaign trail observe that Barack Obama has coaxed and cajoled countries that are on American voters’ least favoured list, while alienating those most favoured. The former, with stunning predictability, have spurned Obama’s advances as their geopolitical interests are in conflict with those of the US. Yet the country’s major allies expect America to lead, so that weaker countries can keep dictatorial regimes at bay. They would like to see sustained and meaningful confidence building measures, both bilateral and multilateral. Obama might have followed up on the work done by his predecessor and negotiated with the US Congress to

pass a law exempting India from the Arms Export ControlAct, 1979. Such a measure would fast-track review of defence sales to India and obviate the need for bureaucratic discretion in export licence reviews. Obama could also have sped up defence sales to India through executive orders and policy directives from the defence department, without seeking Congressional passage of new legislation. Instead, the Obama administration has authorised only two significant defence sales: a $2.1 billion sale of eight P-8 Poseidon aircraft and a $5 billion sale of Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft and General Electric F414 engines. Otherwise, defence sales to India are in bureaucratic limbo. The country is still viewed as high risk and any sale to India is weighed against comparable sales to

Pakistan, keeping the region’s stability in mind. As a result, US defence companies have lost significant business opportunities and a considerable slice of the Indian defence modernisation budget. Indians end up buying US-origin technology and equipment from Europeans and Israelis. If India can take Obama at his word, then the US seems to have a strong interest in empowering India to maintain a qualitative military and counter-intelligence edge over its hostile neighbours. After all, Indian gateway cities are victims of the same terror that lay behind 9/11. The same countries that aim short- and mediumrange missiles at Indian cities today have also trained long-range missiles on American cities. So the US must ensure that military or non-military aid packages are not diverted by the recipient country to adversely impact India’s qualitative military edge — a security threat to India is also a security threat to the US. As for the future of the US-India security alliance, American voters should ask some hard questions of the next president: Can a US-India partnership be the beacon of freedom against those who preach intolerance and extremism? Can it strengthen America’s ability to advance democratic reforms internationally, at the United Nations and other multilateral venues? Can it build security and prosperity in Asia? Can a US-India partnership effectively integrate the two navies and air forces to protect the vital trade routes of the Indian Ocean? Can a US-India partnership be an anchor for a regional security arrangement that includes Japan and Australia? The next American president should say yes to all of the above. Effective presidential leadership can forge a US-India security alliance that becomes the fulcrum for peace and prosperity in Asia. More of the same laissez-faire foreign policy will cede the future of Asia to autocratic regimes. -IE

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November 09, 2012

Diwali Program at Sri Meenakshi Temple: A Roaring Success

BY SAKSHI MULTANI PEARLAND: The 2012 annual Meenakshi Temple Diwali celebrations, held on Saturday, November 3, proved to be a hit with both children and adults. Kids enjoyed the extensive carnival and the festival of lights-themed art competition, and adults agree that the dancing was fantastic; everyone wished for the day to never end! The day began with the 17 th Annual MTS Community Health Fair which was a big success on every count. People lined up as early as 8 am. The ribbon cutting was done by Kyle Price, the Chief Operating officer of the Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital. Dr. P.Vaduganathan, coordinator of the Health fair thanked all physicians, nurses, technicians of the Memorial Hermann Southeast and the Kindred hospital, and volunteers who helped to carry out various tests and services. The blood tests ( by Kindred Health care) included Complete Blood count, Comprehensive metabolic profile, Thyroid function test and Fasting Lipid profile. In addition the following were provided. EKG, Vision Screening ( By Bhavani Iyer, O.D. of University of Texas), Dental check up ( by Dr. T Dorairajan), Well women check ( by Dr. Saraswati Reddy), GeneralMedical check up by Dr. Jay Patel, Dr. Hema Salvady( Rheumatologist), Dr. Akila Muthukumar ( Pediatric Hematologist), Dr. Geetha Sreerangan ( Nephrologist) and Prostate Screening By Dr. Saravanan V. Subramanian. Hundreds of people participated in the health fair. Katy Urgent care ( Dr.Alagugurswamy) provided Flu shots for free to all the temple staff. MTS Chairman, Tupil Narasiman thanked everyone for participating in the health fair and making it a success. Following the health fair opening, Sonal Buchar inaugurated the famous Diwali Bazaar with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The fun part of the Diwali celebrations started with an art competition for children. After completing their masterpieces, the children enthusiastically dashed to the huge outdoor carnival, which began in the afternoon and continued for hours until the start of the garba. Children could be found excitedly running about with friends, climbing up the rock wall, zooming down the giant slide with exclamations of joy and weaving their way through the tricky obstacle course. Many children spent their time at the enclosed petting zoo, interacting with the friendly animals, such as goats, sheep, a giant tortoise, and a small, adorable rabbit. Another major attraction for both adults and children was the train ride around the main temple with the temple history being narrated along the ride. The two ponies gave rides to kids all evening long. While the kids activities were going on at one area, the devotees were entertained with a great cultural show consisting of classical dances by local dance schools and out of town dancers. This was followed by a fantastic puppet show by the Dancing Peacock


Jai Ho Dacing by Kids and Adults in front of the Chariot

Diwali Bazaar Ribbon Cutting by Sonal Buchar


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At the health fair, the blood tests were performed by Kindred Health care

Puppet Company which entertained both the adults and the children. After a fun-filled day, it was time for dinner – and a show; while everyone was enjoying the delicious dosas and yummy noodles, there came a surprise event, a flash mob dancing to the iconic song Jai Ho. The group consisted of adults and teenagers alike, and the performance began spontaneously in the middle of the carnival area and quickly attracted a crowd of curious spectators. The MTS priests performed the Lakshmi Pooja around 7pm. This was followed by a Rathotsavam in which Goddess Lakshmi was placed in the Ratham and pulled around the Temple. It was a fantastic sight to see the Ratham lit so well with lights in the night. Following that unexpected performance was a spectacular fireworks show, which was truly a sight to see. Families gathered to watch the brilliant explosions of color streak the night sky in bright lights that were a perfect representation of the spirit of Diwali. It was like our very own festival of lights in the sky, broadcast to all in a stunning show that left onlookers awestruck. Then it was time for the main event, the dancing. Just as the clock struck

9pm, the hall began to flood with people, excited and ready for a great night filled with non-stop dancing and fun. The evening kicked off with the garba, getting everyone in the dancing mood, especially as the music began to speed up towards the end, making people rush to adjust the tempo of their own movements to fit that of the racing beat. Afterwards came dandia, and all the dancers cleared the dance floor to grab their dandia sticks before forming groups and performing the traditional steps of the dance. Adults found themselves reminiscing about their times dancing until all hours of the night as adolescents in India; and children and teenagers were seen having a good time as well, mimicking their parents and trying out the dance steps with their friends. After two hours of non-stop dancing and hungama, the festivities came to a close. People, tired after all of the excitement but with wide grins adorning their faces, reluctantly said their goodbyes to their friends and began to depart. It was a day they would never forget and one that they would spend the upcoming year looking forward to all over again. The entire Diwali event was coordinated by MTS Joint Treasurer Padma Golla.

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November 09, 2012

A Glimpse of the Moon Through a Sieve to Ensure Husband’s Long Life BY MANU SHAH CLEAR LAKE: It was with an audible sigh of relief that many married Indian women greeted the sight of the rising moon at around 9.33pm on Friday, November 2. Thankfully, it was a clear night. Husbands were quickly summoned, the moon was viewed through a sieve and no time was lost in offering the first sip of water and the first morsel of food to the wives who had fasted from sunrise to moonrise for safety and longevity of their spouses. The occasion was Karwa Chauth, a one day festival mostly celebrated in North India. Karwa means a clay pot once used for storing wheat, but can also be another word for diya, small earthen oil lamp, while Chauth corresponds to the fourth day of the full moon of the month of Kartik. The festival could have originated from the wives fast to pray for the safe return of their husbands from military campaigns of long travels. In the Punjab, this period also coincides with the wheat-sowing time and the fast could have been a prayer for a good harvest. Over the centuries, Karwa Chauth has commonly become associated as a day of bonding between a mother in law and a daughter in law, between married women and between a husband and wife. Traditionally, a mother-in-law prepared the predawn meal known as sargi for the daughter in law. Married women are supposed to spend the day resting and being pampered but many wives went to work claiming it helped pass the time faster and kept them out of temptation’s way. As with any Indian festival, Karwa Chauth is a photographer’s dream. More than twenty ladies gathered to celebrate the festival at Ekta Taneja’s house. The women were decked in vivid red, gold and orange saris or lehengas, a traditional bindi marked the forehead accessorized with colorful bangles and bridal jewelry. The thalis or bayas which are traditionally offered by the mother of the bride were arranged with dry fruits, sweet matthi (a fried biscuit), a lit diya (wick lamp) made of atta (wheat dough) and a gift for the mother-in-law. Palms glowed with intricate mehendi designs symbolizing luck and prosperity, thanks to Abiya Malhotra who sat for hours

Ladies celebrating Karwa Chauth - Vrinda Singh, Sangeeta Gambir, Sonam Nayyar, Meenakshi Malhotra, Poonam Jain, Manu Shah, Aveena Malhotra, Shikha Honawar, Monika Jetly, Leena Arjunani, Preity Bhagia, Sandy Shannon and Puneet Freibott.

ceremony. The women then applied tikka on each other’s forehead and hugged one another. As with every age old custom, this one has also adapted to changing times. With many husbands travelling, tech savvy women are using webcams and smartphones to break the fast. Swarovski studded channis (sieves) are available while delivery of sargi (vermicelli pudding) package (including other sweets and clothes) to daughters-in-law in international locations is just a courier’s call away. Bollywood has also played an important role in glamorizing Karwa Chauth and one director who can take credit for this is Karan Johar. The Karwa Chauth scenes in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge and Kabhi Khushi kabhi Gham are, for most of us, the source of our information about the traditions of Karwa Chauth. The actor Abhishek is said to fast along with his actress wifeAishwarya every year while the question on everyone’s lips is whether recently married actress Kareena was going to fast for actor Saif this year. After the ceremony, Aveena read

Thali or Baya which is passed around during the ceremony.

Prasad and Uma Mantravadi breaking the Karwa Chauth fast.

cheerfully applying designs to her mother’s friends’ palms. The actual ceremony is quite simple and beautiful, but deep in significance. Once the ladies settled down in a circle with their thalis,

passed around 7 times in a clockwise direction interspersed with the story and the singing of the folk song Le Viru Kudiye Karwa and the direction became anticlockwise during the eighth time signifying the end of the

Meenakshi Malhotra took the lead and commenced the ceremony with the narration of how Queen Veeravati regained her husband’s life and marital bliss through the power of Karwa Chauth. The thalis were

out a cheeky text message that is making the rounds. It claimed that husbands would live longer if women would also keep the maun vrat! No prizes for guessing who wrote this text!



November 09, 2012


IACCGH Members Welcome Consul General P Harish

HOUSTON: On Monday October 29, the board and members of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) welcomed the recently arrived Indian Consul General of India Honorable P. Harish and his wife Nandita at a dinner reception at Narin’s Bombay Brasserie. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Jay Guerrero, District Director for US Senator John Cornyn joined President Ajit Thakur and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia in welcoming the Consul General. Other special guests included Port of Houston Commissioner Jim Fonteno, Sugar Land current Council members Harish Jajoo, Himesh Gandhi and past council member Tom Abraham , Asian Chamber President Linda Toyota, Matthew Shailer from the Houston Mayor’s Office of International Trade Development and Nobel Laureate Robert Curl. As an added bonus Ambassador Rinzing Wangdi and his wife Pema were present. Ambassador Wangdi was responsible for helping the local business community form the IACCGH when he was serving as India’s Consul General in Houston in 1999. In his remarks Consul General P. Harish emphasized the significant role Texas plays in Indo-US Trade, explaining that Texas accounts for 11% of bilateral balanced trade between India and the US. He thanked the Houston community for their warmth in welcoming him and his family to Houston. Judge Ed Emmett and Jay Guerrero joined President Ajit Thakur in presenting a Texas Tie to Hon Harish. IACCGH Past President Deepa Thakur and Prema Wangdi welcomed CG’s wife Nandita with Yellow Roses of Texas. The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) is the voice of the Indo-American business community. IACCGH is committed to facilitating commerce between the U.S. and

India. The Chamber strives to use its good will to enable area businesses to succeed while facilitating access to its members and to the Indo-American market. IACCGH actively supports its members by offering a mentoring program for small businesses, networking events, lecture series, and presenting visibility at events with partners including Government Procurement Connections, Women’s

Business Enterprise Alliance Expo, Houston Minority Business Council Expo and Diversity Summit. For the benefit of member businesses, valuable alliances have been created with complimentary organizations such as the Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Minority Business Council. For information, visit www.iaccgh. com or call 832-746-8372 or email

Jagdip Ahluwalia, Jay Guerrero, Judge Ed Emmett, Ajit Thakur present Texas Tie to Consul General P Harish.

IACCGH Board and Advisors with the Consul General. From Left: Sanjay Ram, Amabassador Rinzing Wangdi, Allen Richards, Dr Atul Varadhachary, Swapan Dhairyawan, Joya Shukla, Pankaj Dhume Ashok Garg, Consul General P Harish with wife Nandita, Nitin Kapadia, Ajit Thakur, Madhukar Prasad, Deepa Thakur, Dr Renu Khator(Advisor), Dr. Suresh Khator, Jagdip Ahluwalia and Aku Patel. Photos: Bijay Dixit

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Pema Wangdi joins IACCGH Past President Deepa Thakur in welcoming Mrs. Nandita with the yellow roses of Texas.

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Panel Discussion by ASIE

Year 2030: Houston Are We Ready?

BY DINESH SHAH HOUSTON: American Society of Indian Engineers (ASIE) is a Houston based nonprofit organization established in 1994 for engineers, architects, and engineering technicians of Indian origin. ASIE members and many other IndoAmerican engineers have been serving the Engineering field in the Greater Houston area. The vision of ASIE is to expand and provide benefits of the experienced and well established present generation to the new, Panel Discussion – “Year 2030 – Houston, Are We Ready?” Speakers ( from young and dynamic genera- left) Leonard Waterworth, Executive Director, Port of Houston; Samar Muktion of the future by supporting hopadhyay, Chief Development Officer, Houston Airport System; Andy Icken, initiatives in engineering and Chief Development Officer, City of Houston; George Greanias, President & architecture, including Science CEO, METRO. Fair, Mathcounts, and E-Week event included a discussion on the fu- ture of Houston, he said that the Port programs. Every year, ASIE presents ture plans and visions of various gov- Authority is committed to helping the awards for the Science and Engi- ernment agencies in the HoustonArea City of Houston to grow businesses neering Fair and offers scholarships to address the needs of the population and growing the economy along the to students pursuing engineering growth. The sponsorship support of channel within the proximity to the degrees from public universities in many large engineering companies petrochemical industries. Next speaker was George Greanias, the Houston area. Since 1999, ASIE of Houston and attendance of over began the Young Engineer/Architect 130 engineers and architects made the President and CEO of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County of the Year Award and from 2011 event a magnificent success. ASIE Engineer/Architect of the Year The event started with network- (METRO). He is overseeing a public Award for the members, who have ing and social hour. ASIE President transit agency with almost 3400 emexcelled in the field of engineering. Srinivas Chintalapati presented the ployees and an annual budget of $ 1.3 From this year during the Engineer’s opening remarks with brief informa- billion. He mentioned that the region Week another award has been added tion of ASIE. A wonderful video does have a long-term goal to build a – “Indian Engineers Engineering the presentation of Greater Houston area mass transit system that reaches most Future”. developed by Dr. Stephen Klineberg area cities by a combination of buses, Thus a solid foundation has been at Rice University highlighting the commuter rail and light-rail. Samar Mukhopadhyay, the Chief laid for the future, and now ASIE demographic changes was impreshas decided to take the organiza- sive and highly informative. After Development Officer of Houston tion to the next level, focusing on the sit-down dinner, a senior board Airport System (HAS) was positive building the future together with the member of ASIE, Showri Nanda- about the future. Though it take about younger generation. “I would like giri, (North Harris County Regional 8 years to build one airport runway, to see this organization evolve to Water Authority) who orchestrated but he personally think that current promote events across various en- the panel discussion, welcomed and Airport System is adequate. HAS gineering/architecture disciplines. I introduced all four members of the does not need to worry financially would like to see us as an organiza- panel. The moderator, Sanjay Ram- also because population will be so tion that mentors young students abhadran, Vice-President at CP&Y, large by 2030 that they will share the with a passion for engineering and Inc., opened the session allowing financial burden. The city is on target to join or surpass the diversity of cities architecture.” said current President each speaker to give brief remarks. Srinivas Chintalapati, an engineer at Andy Icken, Mayor Annise Park- such as New York and Los Angeles. KIT professionals, Inc. er’s Chief Development Officer for The air travel growth will continue, ASIE consistently strives to pro- the City of Houston, said in his re- and it will come largely from intermote professional development by marks that Houston is a growing national travel. Furthermore, he anorganizing events monthly and an- city. The quality of life will depend ticipates that given the advantage of nually for networking and mentor- on investing in the growing need of the existing facilities, Houston will be ing the members and non-members. infrastructure. Houston has several a major player in the space adventure Recently on October 18, ASIE or- bayous, and city is planning to build business in the coming years. At the end of the discussion, ganized the Panel Discussion “Year park and bike trail along bayou side. 2030 – Houston, Are We Ready?”, at But the funding is always an issue. He each speaker were honored with a the Hess Club. The current data and added that funding should come from plaque as a token of appreciation by President Srinivas Chintalapati. The projections show that the population the public instead of private sector. in Greater Houston Area will increase Leonard Waterworth was appoint- program was concluded with vote by 42% from the current 5.8 Million ed six months ago as an Executive of thanks by ASIE President Elect, to 8.2 Million in the year 2030. The Director, Port of Houston. For the fu- Vishal Merchant.

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November 09, 2012

2012 and Beyond: Book by Hari Kewalramani Is Earth going to blow up or people will fly off the face of the Earth? What 21 December, 2012 is going to bring? The Mayan calender, Nostradamus, and many other prophesies state that the world will on 21 December. Hari Kewalramani has proposed his theory and explained the possible scenario in his new book “2012 And Beyond Other Theories Thoughts and Ideas”. The analysis is based on the Hindu system of time cycles of Satyug, Tretayug, Dwapuryug, and Kalyug; records of world population during Mahabharata, findings at Dwarka, graphs on population by Lambert Dolphin, Nostradamus, and The Great Flood records. His proposed pendulum model on the time cycles suggest changes in the population during each cycle. The population, ethics, business. religion, and spirituality are also considered. The first chapter covers few other theories of interest. The 2nd chapter covers general topics which will make readers think about everyday problems. Some topics are philosophical in nature and other cover common observations with a twist. The remaining 3 chapters are of easy reading and the last chapter is about statements and observations. Overall, the book is a partial collection of his writings and theories. The book covers time period beyond 2012,

hence the name of the book. It is an interesting reading and provides stimulus to the readers thoughts. The book is available on Barnes and Nobles and other book sites on the net, and the ebook is now available on Nook and Kindle. The ebook is available for readers in India at a lower rate. Kewalramani is a Professional Electrical Engineer, registered in the State of Texas. He has an MBA from the Univ. of Houston. He retired from Shaw Group Energy & Chemical Division, a Fortune 500 company, as Executive Director/Global Chief Engineer in 2011 to pursue his other activities. Since his retirement, he has published his poetry book “Mehfil ke Tarane -(available at Maharani Music on Harwin), and “2012 and Beyond, Other Theories, Thoughts, and Ideas” just last week. His other interests are painting and singing. He has been very active in the community service and social organizations since 1976. Kewalramaniji is a volunteer at heart and ready to help. He has been on the board of ICC, MTS, Hindus of Greater Houston, and is currently on the India House Executive Board. Kewalramani has been the Chief Coordinator for the Janmashtami celebrations at the George Brown Convention Center for many years. His main objective has been to bring all Hindu organizations together for the celebration. He resides in Houston.




November 09, 2012



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Is India’s Rising Billionaire Wealth Bad for the Country? BY VUVEK DEHEJIA (NYT) The strength and direction of the Indian economy may be up for debate, but one remarkable fact is not: There has been massive growth in the number and wealth of billionaires in India since the economic liberalization measures in 1991. The phenomenon has often been compared to the United States’ experience in the latter part of the 19th century. This was a period evocatively described by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner as America’s “Gilded Age,” a time characterized by industrialists so wealthy and powerful that they came to be pejoratively called “robber barons.” According to the 2012 list of the world’s billionaires, compiled annually by Forbes, 48 of the 1,153 billionaires are from India, accounting for a little over 4 percent of the total. This compares to India’s share of global output at 2.6 percent when compared using nominal exchange rates, or 5.7 percent when compared using “purchasing power parity” exchange rates. By this metric, India’s share of billionaires in the global total seems comparable to its overall share of the global economy. But look more closely, and a different picture emerges. A recent study by the economists Aditi Gandhi, formerly of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, and Michael Walton of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard attempts to parse the sources of the wealth of India’s billionaires as well as placing the Indian experience in comparative perspective. The data reveals a staggering increase in billionaires’ wealth as a percentage of national income in India, from a low point of less than 1 percent in 1996 to a whopping 22 percent in 2008. That number has dropped off as a result of the global financial crisis and

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries is the richest Indian according to the Forbes Billionaires list 2012.

plummeting stock markets in India and elsewhere, but as of 2012 it stands at just under 10 percent. How does this compare to other countries? India is now on par with the United States and Mexico, where billionaires’ wealth in both countries is about 10 percent of national income. Among the large emerging economies known as the BRICs, (referring to Brazil, Russia, India and China) India is more unequal than China (where the comparable statistic is below 5 percent) and amazingly even with Brazil (a little above 5 percent), historically a country noted for wide disparities in wealth and income. Among the BRIC countries, only Russia has a higher share of billionaires to national income (pushing 20 percent) – and that in a country famous for its oligarchs, latter-day robber barons who emerged during the heady days of former President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, when Russia held the dubious moniker of being the “Wild East.” The other important finding emerging from Gandhi and Walton’s re-

search is that 43 percent of India’s billionaires came from sectors that the researchers classify as “rent-thick,” that is, those enjoying what economists would consider above-normal profits because the companies possess certain privileges. What is more, these billionaires account for a majority (about 60 percent) of the total wealth of India’s billionaires. The Forbes list of richest Indians, released last week, is full of businessmen and women from “rent-thick” sectors: real estate, construction, infrastructure, media, cement and mining. These are sectors in which the government continues to play a large role, in the form of licenses and other forms of control, and in which there’s a presumption of a government-business nexus – or collusion, to use a less flattering term, according to Gandhi and Walton. For example, they contend that “the real estate sector is well known for the large number of ‘black’ transactions, and the nexus between politicians and realtors has been documented in recent sca” An obvious inference, although one

difficult to prove rigorously, is that the above-normal profits earned in industries like real estate or cement accrue because of the cozy relationship between business and government. There is some heartening news, though, in the study by Gandhi and Walton. According to their analysis, the majority of Indian billionaires are “self-made,” and around 40 percent represent wealth that is “inherited and growing,” like the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, sons of the late Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of the family business empire. Not surprisingly, the self-made billionaires are in fields like information technology, which are offspring of the 1991 economic reform measures, and not holdovers from the era of the “license raj.” Why might this be important? According to research, there is a positive correlation between economic growth and the wealth of self-made billionaires, while there is a negative correlation between growth and inherited wealth. It’s impossible to establish a conclusive cause-and-effect relationship, but the finding is at least suggestive of the fact that economies populated by those whose wealth is self-made are more dynamic than those that rely on the perpetuation

of existing economic elites and their descendants. As Jayant Sinha, an investment adviser, and Ashutosh Varshney, a political science professor at Brown University, have argued in a column in The Financial Times, the current state of the Indian private sector, which they dub “curry capitalism,” requires sweeping reforms, intended to ensure that cronyism and corruption are curbed while India’s entrepreneurial ethos is given a much-needed boost. What is more, even in the United States, there is an increasingly urgent debate on whether worsening income and wealth inequality, as captured by the importance of billionaires to the economy and other factors, is helpful or harmful for economic growth, the subject of a recent Times “Room for Debate” feature. In an era of flagging growth rates and a renewed reform impetus from the incumbent government, the possibility that excessive inequality could be bad for the economy may be the most important lesson to come out of the Forbes billionaire list. Vivek Dehejia is an economics professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and a writer and commentator on India.

Obama Re-Election will Make Indo-US Ties Stronger: Govt

NEW DELHI (Hindustan Times): Finance minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday expressed the hope that economic ties with the United States would improve with the re-election of Barack Obama as the US President. “I congratulate President Obama. I hope that Indo-US relations (will) get stronger...especially economic relations”, he told reporters in New Delhi. Obama won the election to get a second term as the US President overcoming a stiff challenge from Republican Mitt Romney. A votary of strong ties with India, 51-year-old Obama, the first black American to occupy the White House, scored the victory after a bitter and costly campaign running over months. Leaders of India Inc too have welcomed the re-election of Obama saying that continuity would be good for bilateral relations, but some of them expressed concerns over the outsourcing issue.





November 09, 2012

Women Fight Back Against Witch-Branding in Rajasthan

BY BETWA SHARMA RAJASTHAN (NYT): Shanta Devi was branded a witch nearly a decade ago, after her family was plagued by long bouts of fever and breathing proble Villagers still cover their faces while crossing the 65-year-old woman, who lives in a tribal belt about 60 miles outside Udaipur city in the desert state of Rajasthan. Last year, the branded woman’s relatives were advised by a witch doctor to make her drink goat’s blood as a cure. But she refused, even as neighbors wielded sticks in her backyard to pressure her into doing so. For generations, women have been frequently branded as witches in villages spread across the dusty Aravalli hills and elsewhere in rural parts of India, blamed for unexplained or incurable illnesses among villagers and livestock. The lack of medical facilities near remote villages allows these superstitious beliefs to prevail. In recent years, activists have pushed for better medical facilities and sanitary conditions in tribal villages. Still, most people cannot afford the jeep fare to the nearest hospitals, which are at least an hour away. So they turn to a witch doctor, called a bhopa, who plays the dual role of doctor and priest. The bhopa, who claims to have magical powers as well, prescribes remedies like burying a live chicken, burning hands with coal as well as identifying and punishing witches. Old and young widows are easy targets. The mixing of old superstitions with modern material desires has proved deadly for these women, as many brandings are now done to disinherit them from family property. Dakat Kunwar, 25, was declared a witch and thrown out of the house after her husband died. Kunwar, a manual laborer, now lives in a small room with her three children. “I can’t get remarried and I can’t feed my children,” she said.

Shanti Devi, 65, was branded a witch and was asked to drink goat’s blood by a witch doctor.

Lawmakers in Rajasthan have failed to criminalize witch-branding, but the practice is common even in states like Jharkhand that have made it illegal. Activists say a combination of severe punishment, a sensitized police force, easily accessible medical facilities and education can combat the deep-rooted persecution. Branded women, called dakans, rarely defy their tormentors, but Mrs. Shanta’s resistance was supported by a fellow villager, Lakshmi Khadadi, who has intervened on behalf of nine women. Mrs. Khadadi, 23, involves other bold women in the community to try to defuse a volatile situation by talking to the feuding parties or advising them to seek medical help. “There is safety in numbers so women should help women,” she said. “We have to show there is no connection between magic and illness.” They also pleaded with the village council last year to take Shanta’s side. The council sent emissaries to meet the bhopa who had advised drinking goat blood. “We found no logic to his counsel,” said Shankar Lal Meena, the village

chief. The bhopa, villagers said, sometimes made people put their hands into a snake pit as a test — getting bitten is seen as proof of guilt. Lakshmi Jain, a social worker with Seva Mandir, a local nongovernmental organization, said that perpetrators of witch-branding often have wide support. She recalled an incident in the late 1980s of two men slicing off the head of a branded woman with swords in broad daylight. Onlookers, including women, believed their village had been saved. “I was shocked, but it made me realize that only creating awareness will produce lasting change,” she said. Belief in black magic is entrenched in the countryside. Haresh Singh, a middle-aged villager, said he believes that his mother is possessed by a witch who causes her shaking fits. “Who are you to question when you didn’t see what I saw?” he said, getting annoyed it was suggested that it could be a medical problem. “Even doctors fail to help us.” The case of his mother, Geeta Kunwar, is infamous in these parts. A bhopa once advised her family that burning Mrs. Geeta was the only way to get rid of the evil spirit inside her, so many years ago she was made to hold burning embers. Babuji Lal, a bhopa, receives many requests to dispel witches from possessed relatives. He can be seen beating people with bushes of the sacred neem plant to cleanse them. Mr. Lal, however, insists that he no longer blames illnesses on witches. “It is angry goddesses who punish the villagers for doing animal sacrifices,” he said. “But villagers still want remedies to expel witches.” The education of young people is seen as key to eradicating such superstitions. Better roads are making it possible to cover the long distances for attending college in the city. Even a secondary school education could help change rural

mindsets. Mrs. Khadadi, during her childhood, saw many women being branded as witches. But going to school until the 10th grade, she says, made her question and eventually reject the practice. Her husband, who never received an education, supports her activism by doing home chores and taking care of the children. “He worries sometimes because village disputes can be dangerous,” she said. Jain said that her organization has focused on working with progressive village women who can fight witch-branding from inside the community. “We are seeing results,” she said. “Women are still branded, but we hear of far less cases of heinous crimes like burnings, tonsuring hair and killings.” There are also more instances of women standing up to their tormentors. A 65-year-old widow, also named Shanta Devi, is known for fighting back against a wealthy merchant family who believed she was casting spells to prevent them from siring male heirs. One late afternoon, four men came into her house and beat her mercilessly. “They hit me with sticks and kicked until I fainted,” she said. “They only had girls so thought I was killing the boys.” After being released from two weeks in the hospital, Devi decided to challenge her persecutors in a local women’s forum. Such meetings are organized by Seva Mandir to discuss various issues like the length of the veils covering women’s faces and employment opportunities. Shanta Devi wanted reimbursement for the medical treatment that cost 10,000 rupees ($200) and a public retraction. Forced to appear at the women’s forum by activists, the men eventually promised not to harass her but never covered the hospital bill. For Devi, the apology has more value since it might prevent other villagers from using her as a scapegoat in any future troubles. “I want to live without fear,” she said.



November 09, 2012

IIT 2013 Global Conference in Houston HOUSTON: IIT Board, USA, has selected Houston to host the IIT 2013 Global Conference. This conference is scheduled for December 6-8, 2013 at the Hilton Americas Hotel, Downtown Houston. The IIT 2013 Global Conference will be an international event that will bring together worldclass innovative and successful people, who have excelled in

technology, entrepreneurship, and global leadership. It will provide participants with a unique opportunities to listen to thought leaders, to gain knowledge through discussion sessions, to develop professional relationships and, most importantly, to have fun. The Conference has three thematic pillars - business innovation, social collaboration, and serving humanity. The sessions, keynote

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Ganguly Bids Adieu to IPL

KOLKATA (The Hindu): Four years after he announced his retirement from International cricket, former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has called it quits from all levels of the game, deciding not to play in the IPL as well. The former India opener had continued playing first-class cricket for Bengal so as to keep in shape for his franchise Pune Warriors but after last year’s debacle, Ganguly has at last decided against it. “I will be almost 41 by the time IPL-6 ends. Twenty20 is a very demanding format. It would have been very tough for the body,” Ganguly said. The left-hander also said he had made his intention clear to Pune’s officials during the last edition itself. “To captain in IPL, there is a lot of responsibility. You are answerable to many questions. It’s better to captain the country. At least, nobody would phone you and ask what went wrong,” he said. “I had a wonderful time playing in the IPL for five seasons. It gave me a chance to keep playing topclass cricket even after quitting international cricket. But I can’t go on forever, and I have requested the franchise owners not to consider me for IPL-6.” Asked whether coaching was on his agenda, Ganguly replied, “There is a long time left to become a coach. “Even if anyone approaches me to turn up as a player I won’t agree

this time. There is no question of playing anywhere if I’m not playing in Pune. If I don’t play IPL, I won’t play for Bengal as well.” “It is tough to play a whole season of first-class cricket when you know that you are not going to play for India. I kept playing first-class cricket because you cannot just turn up for IPL without any sort of preparation,” he said. About the future of Bengal cricket, Ganguly said: “Bengal cricket is in good hands. It is good to see the likes of Manoj (Tiwary), Wriddhiman (Saha), (Ashok) Dinda, (Mohammad) Shami and Anustup (Majumdar) knocking hard on the selectors’ door. I wish them all the best.” Having debuted for Bengal way back on March 23, 1990 at Eden Gardens, Ganguly last played for the state and captained the side against Baroda in their Ranji match from December 21-24 last year. The left-hander figured in 254 first-class matches besides his sparkling International career that saw him becoming the most successful Test captain with 21 wins out of 49. He scored 7,212 runs in 113 Tests and 11,363 runs in 311 ODIs in a career spanning more than a decade as he had announced his retirement at the Nagpur Test against Australia from November 6—10, 2008. Ganguly was part of the Big Four of Indian batting line-up alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Houston Rattlers Win TCC Taped Ball Tournament HOUSTON: Houston Rattlers won the TCC Taped Ball Tournament – Fall 2012 by defeating Gladiators in a match dominated by bowling backed up by excellent fielding from both sides. It was a rematch of the Spring final 2012. The final was a unique one as Gladiators were defending the title (it does not happen often) and Rattlers were in a final for the third tournament in a row. Rattlers won the toss and elected to bat first. Gladiators got the early wicket of Ajay. Vinod (39) and Satish (6) batted sensibly to lend stability to the innings. Vinod dominated the partnership and hit a couple of boundaries. The score was 47/2 in 10 overs. Soon after the break, Rattlers lost quick wickets of Vinod (39) and Mahesh (9) trying to accelerate. Manik was run out due to pressure built by tight bowling by Gladiators backed up by excellent fielding. The run rate was hovering around 4 runs per over till the 15th over. The lower middle order showed up at the right time. Ashwin (11) kept the momentum going before getting run out. Adhi (18) batted brilliantly taking the attack to the bowlers. He was ably supported by Senthil (9) who batted intelligently and got the runs with minimum risk. Sai and R Mahesh ably supported him. The run rate improved and the score at the end of 20 overs was a competitive 106/9. Ninad (3 for 19), Vinit (2 for 17) and Ketul (2 for 14) were the pick of the bowlers for Gladiators. Gladiators started the chase positively with Vinit hitting a boundary of the first ball, however a brilliant fielding and direct hit by Adhi in point caught non-striker Amrish short of the crease. Sai, though wicket less gave only 15 runs and finished his 4 overs in the first 10. Vinit (18) got runout attempting a risky single. After 10 overs, Gladiators were 43/3, requiring another 65 in 60 balls to win. Not a tall order, but with Rattlers sticking to plan it was not an easy task either. Adhi, Senthil, Mahesh bowled 9 phenomenal overs to suffocate the run chase. Fielding continued to be excellent; every time Gladiators tried to make a push Rattlers came back with a wicket. Ashwin’s quick reflex affected the run-out of Patel H (9) and Senthil’s well-judged catches in sweeper cover resulted in the wicket of aggressive Kartik

Rattlers: Winner of TCC Taped Ball Tournament, Fall 2012

Gladiators: Runners-up of TCC Taped Ball Tournament, Fall 2012

Shah (9) and a well settled Khattu (9). Ketul (16*) and Ninad (13) tried to counter attack using power play, but were not able to gain the required momentum. With 23 required in 2 overs, Senthil (19th) gave 7 runs and Ashwin (20th) ensured there are no last minute fireworks from Gladiators and took Rattlers home with just 8 runs separating the teams. Gladiators scored 99/8. Ashwin (2 for 21) and R. Mahesh (2 for 20) were the pick of the bowlers for Rattlers. It was a fiercely competed game between two wellbalanced teams. The game had high quality umpiring from two neutral umpires Trilok and Prabhakar. The game was followed by a wellorganized prize distribution ceremony arranged by TCC. The presentation party had Nanda Kumar, the president of TCC and HCL, Krishna, treasurer for TCC and member of Triggers ECC. The chief guest was Surya Saladi, board member of TCC. Jagadish Biradar, organizer for TCC Taped Ball tournament coordinated

the presentation ceremony. Senthil, the captain of Rattlers was presented with the championship trophy and Ketul, the captain of Gladiators was presented with the runners up trophy. The players of the winners and runners up received individual trophies. Man of the match for the finals was Vinod from Rattlers for a wonderful batting performance – 39 runs in 41 balls. Debasish from STYX won the Best Batsman trophy with 238 runs. Ketul from Gladiators won the Best Bowler trophy with 14 wickets. Ashwin from Rattlers won the Best All Rounder trophy with 120 runs and 12 wickets. Trophies were also given to the man of the match for Semi Finals and Quarter Finals. Ketul from Gladiators and Satish from Rattlers were the recipients of the man of the match for Semi Finals. Vinod from Rattlers, Sandeep from STYX, Amrish from Gladiators from and Thilan from SLCC were the recipients of the man of the match for Quarter Finals.


Indo American News

November 09, 2012



the festival of lights


w w w. d i n o d i a . c o m

Houston Gears up for Diwali, Texas Style!


Laxmi ki kripa itne ho ki Balaji bhi dekhte rah jayen !!

HOUSTON: It’s that time of year again when houses get a cleanover cum makeover, jewelery stores have standing room only, apparel is flying off the racks and you’re hitting the gym to stay in shape because the round of Diwali parties and mouthwatering mithais is round the corner. For many of us, it brings back memories of childhood Diwalis with the smell of firecrackers, marigold garlands intertwined with mango leaves, chalky rangolis and the excitement of trotting to a neighbor’s house with a plateful of sweets and savories. Miles away from home, we all try to recreate a little of the magic of Diwali here in the US- to recapture those childhood memories, to continue tradition as well as teach our children about our customs and festivals so that they are in touch with their roots. Every community celebrates Diwali with slight variations and reasons may differ depending on whether you’re a Hindu, Jain or Sikh; Bengali, Telugu or Tamilian but the common factor is to invoke the blessings of Goddess Laxmi for a happy and prosperous year. The word Diwali is a contraction of the word Deepavali which means a row of lights or diyas placed at various corners of the house. It is a five


part asian, 100% hapa


f you rolled a bit of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July all into one, then catered the affair with mountains of sweets and savory snacks, you would have a taste of what it means to celebrate Diwali, India’s best-known festival. It is a day of Hindu solidarity, when


h i n d u i s m t o day

of encounter

all Hindus gather in love and trust. It is observed by lighting rows of oil lamps and exchanging greeting cards, clothing and other gifts. Family bonds are strengthened and forgiveness sought. For many, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year. Joyous festivities and parties abound.

November 9, 2012 – April 14, 2013

november 9, 2012 – april 14, 2013

new jewelry. Girls and women decorate their hands with henna designs.

s o u m ya s i ta r a m a n

What occurs on Diwali? Diwali (or Deepavali, “row of lights”) is celebrated by Hindus worldwide to commemorate the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair. Oil-wick lamps are lit in every household, along with colorful strings of electric lights, causing the home, village and community to sparkle with dancing ames. The festival falls on the day before the new moon in the month of Ashwin (October/November). Communities spare nothing in celebration. Lavish spreads of sweets and treats reect unfettered partying. Diwali lehyam—a potent concoction made with ginger, pepper, ghee and more—is provided to help gourmands digest the sumptuous feast. Families reach out to each other with gifts of sweets, dried fruit and crunchy, salty treats. Everyone wears colorful new clothing and many even


asian american portraits Celebrating the Triumph of Goodness kip fulbeck

Organized by the Japanese American National Museum

a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 1 0

Photo by Kip Fulbeck, 2006

Asia Society Texas Center 1370 Southmore Boulevard Houston, TX 77004 (713) 496-9901

What does lamp-lighting signify? In Hindu culture, light is a powerful metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. It is a reminder of the preciousness of education, self-inquiry and improvement, which bring harmony to the individual, the community and between communities. By honoring light, we affirm the fact that from knowing arises respect for and acceptance of others. Lighting lamps reminds Hindus to keep on the right path, to dispel darkness from their hearts and minds, and to embrace knowledge and goodness. What legends are associated with Diwali? In the sacred text Ramayana, Diwali marks the return of Rama to his

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

Shimomura Crossing the Delaware (detail), by Roger Shimomura, acrylic on canvas, 2010. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Raymond L. Ocampo Jr., Sandra Olesky Ocampo, and Robert P. Ocampo



November 09, 2012


Wish You a Very Happy & Prosperous Diwali



Houston Gears up for Diwali


Guru Hargobind (the 6th Guru of the Sikhs) was day festival but according to one tradition, on released from Gwalior Prison on this day by the first day of Diwali, only one lamp is lit so Mughal emperor Jehangir, a day also known as that the spirits of the dead return to their former the Bandi Chhorh Divas. An interesting fact – home by following the lamp. It is also the only the foundation stone for the Golden Temple was time that Yama, the Lord to Death is honored. laid in 1577 on Diwali. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil; knowledge over ignorance and the light of the diyas dispel the darkness of the moonless night. However once the fireworks are reduced to ashes, the sweets and namkeens demolished, there is one more tradition that’s serious business. It’s gambling and has been given President Obama became the first president to light a legal sanction by Godceremonial Diya at the White House to mark the observance dess Parvati herself of Diwali, the “festival of lights.” who decreed that anyAnother belief is that on the first day of the one who gambled on the night of Diwali would festival, known as Dhanteras, Lord Dhanwantri prosper throughout the year. Let’s hope this emerged from the ocean holding the knowledge holds true for the losers too. With so many of us of Ayurveda to help mankind fight sickness, having made America home, it’s heartwarming to know that the White House started celebrating disease and death. In North India, Diwali is celebrated to rejoice Diwali in 2003 and President Obama was the the vanquishing of the ten-headed demon king, first to personally attend Diwali at the White Ravana by Lord Ram while the South celebrates House in 2009. Indian film makers also seem to have a penthe death of another demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Bengalis, on the others hand, believe chant for this day as it is the release date for that Goddess Kali killed the demon Raktavija on many big budget movies. Two big movies – Son this day. Jains celebrate Diwali as they believe of Sardar, starring Ajay Devgan and Jab Tak that Lord Mahavira attained nirvana on this Hai Jaan with Shah Rukh Khan will be butting day while the Sikhs celebrate Diwali because heads this Diwali.

November 09, 2012


How to Make Diyas (clay oil lamps) Making your own diyas can be a fun family activity and add a personal touch to your Diwali celebrations.

What you need Air dry clay, acrylic craft paints, paint brush, tea light candle, sequins and beads for decoration Directions Remove enough clay from the container to make a two-inch ball.. Roll the clay around in your palms until it is smooth and forms a round ball. Using your thumb, make a depression into the ball that is about an inch-and-a-half deep. Widen the depression to accommodate the tea light candle by pressing outward. Pinch the walls of the candle holder by depressing them between your thumb and fingers until they are thin, smooth, and a uniform texture. Smooth the rim of the candle holder by pulling up on the clay below it to make it taller in areas, and pushing down on the clay to make it shorter. Run your finger around the rim of the candle holder until it is smooth and even. Let the diya stand to air dry. Paint the candle holder with bright, festive designs using a paint brush and paint. Set aside the painted candle holder to dry. Insert the tea light candle into the holder and light the diya. Your diya is sure to light up faces and hearts too.

Abrahams Oriental Rugs Hand made rugs at Abrahams Brings good “Aura” in to your home. Special Deepawali discount 10% off for Hand washing carpets.

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November 09, 2012




November 09, 2012




November 09, 2012


Ten Reasons to Celebrate Diwali

BY EL JAY AREM (Hinduism Guide): Why do we celebrate Diwali? It’s not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy, or just that it’s a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter. There are 10 mythical and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights. Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudramanthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi. Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this very day (Diwali day), Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Larkshmi on Diwali. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

The Victory of Rama: According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on this day. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings. The Pope’s Diwali Speech: In 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a ‘tilak’marked on his forehead and his speech was sprinkled with references to the festival of light.

from all of us at



November 09, 2012


Gulab Jamun

With the taste of sweet success still fresh, try this simple chivda. Ingredients Thin Poha –3 cups, Oil – 2 tbsp, Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp, Curry Leaves – few, Green Chili – to taste (finely chopped), Roasted Chana Daal (Daliya) – 3 tbsp, Whole Raw Peanuts – 3 tbsp, Whole Cashews – 3 tbsp, Golden Raisins – 1 tbsp, Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp, Citric Acid – 1/4 tsp, Salt – 1 tsp or to taste, Sugar – 1 tsp

After all said and done - Diwali isn’t Diwali without sweets. Here’s an easy way to get into the spirit of things. Make these delicious gulab jamuns in just 30 minutes. The recipe was submitted by Wrinda Singh of Clear Lake. Ingredients 2 cups of carnation milk powder 1 cup of allpurpose flour 1 spoon of baking powder 236 ml. [half pint] whipping cream Oil for frying 4 cups of sugar

Syrup 4 cups of sugar 5 cups of water cardamom powder Directions Mix sugar and water and boil for 15 to 20 min. When the syrup cools down but is still slightly warm, add cardamom powder and fried jamuns.

Directions 1. Heat the Poha in the microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. 2. Grind the salt and the citric acid to a fine powder. 3. Grind the sugar to a fine powder separately. 4. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil at medium temperature. 5. Once the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop. 6. Add in the green chillies and the curry leaves and cook for a few minutes. 7. Add in whole raw peanuts and cashews and cook for 1 Pol. adv. Annise Parker Campaign

Directions Mix the carnation milk powder,

allpurpose flour and the baking powder well, then add whipping cream & make the dough. Next make small balls & deep fry on medium high heat. Put in sugar syrup.

HAPPY DIWALI! Please accept my warmest wishes for a happy and meaningful Diwali celebration. Let the lights of Diwali illuminate our minds and the year ahead.



minute. 8. Add in the roasted Chana Daal and cook for another minute. 9. Add in the golden raisins and cook for 30 seconds. 10. Add in the turmeric powder and the salt & citric acid powder. Mix well. 11. Add the Poha and mix well till all the Poha is yellow and no white is visible. 12. Once it is mixed well, turn off the stove and allow it to cool for just 1-2 minutes. 13. Sprinkle the sugar powder and mix well. 14. Allow the Chivda to cool down to room temperature before you store it.

Burfi INGREDIENTS 500 g Klim250 ml fresh cream Syrup 250 ml milk 625 ml icing sugar 50 ml ghee 125 ml sugar 5 ml rose water 2, 5 ml each elachie and nutmeg powder Tinted almonds METHOD • Mix cream and klim together. Set aside to dry for an hour. Sieve or use a food processor. • Combine milk, icing sugar, sugar and ghee in a pan. Simmer gently until you have a thread consistency. Add klim mixture and flavorings. • Cook until thick. Pour into a greased casserole or pan of your choice and sprinkle with almonds.

Happy Diwali to Everyone from Ricki Asra Rishi Razak Sahara Oberoi



November 09, 2012


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DIWALI SPECIAL How Does Houston Bring in the Festival of Lights?

November 09, 2012

Diwali Around the Houston Area


BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: For most of us, Diwali is incomplete without a visit to the temple. We caught up with Mr. Pillai, administrator at Meenakshi Temple to find out the Laxmi puja timings for Diwali. According to him, the puja will take place on November 12 at 6pm. The temple is also gearing up for many out-of-towners who make it a point to come every Diwali.

This year, Laxmi Puja at Meenakshi Temple will take place on November 12 at 6pm. At Bombay Sweets on Hillcroft, Special Diwali gift boxes are on display and can be filled with any of the 100 varieties of sweets that are made daily or with dry fruits.

BY MANU SHAH HOUSTON: Diwali is one of those festivals where calorie counting takes a backseat especially when it comes to mithais. There’s a delectable array of calorie bombs to choose, right from laddoos of all kinds, sandesh, katlis, gulab jamuns, gunjas and many, many more. Nanak Sweets, a popular brand of mithai has introduced two Diwali gift packs – one with Kaju Katli and Kaju Roll and the other containing Kaju Katli and salty cashews. There’s Nanak’s sugar free Rasmalai for those with diabetes. Moong dal halwa also seems to be increasingly finding favor this year. The mithais glistening enticingly behind the counter at Bombay Sweets can really test one’s willpower. Special Diwali gift boxes are on display and can be filled with any of the 100

varieties of sweets that are made daily or with dry fruits. Sugarfree kalakand and besan laddoos are also available. Free samples of mithais are generously offered to customers – a fact that probably explains why the owners have not seen any decrease in mithai consumption. They’re simply irresistible! Govind Baloor’s boondi laddoos have been satisfying our sweet molars for the last 40 years. He echoes a common sentiment when he says that the consumption of laddoos has decreased over the years with people getting more figure conscious. The one thing that hasn’t changed is his supply of 1500 laddoos to Kirti Jewelers every year for Diwali as well as 1000 laddoos to Raj Grocers in Clearlake. Do these figures look like people are cutting back on sweets?

Gold prices may be hitting the roof but jewelery store owners don’t seem to be losing too much sleep over it. Indians still believe in holding on to some time honored customs like picking up a gold coin or some piece of jewelery during Diwali. “Business is brisk”, says Akku Patel, owner of Karat 22. “Dhanteras is clearly the busiest day

of the year with people buying gold or silver coins. Lladro’s Ganesha and Laxmi’s ceramic creations enclosing tiny tea lights for $65 are popular gift items”. patel also mentioned that the younger generation prefers to pick up diamonds rather than gold. “It is the fluctuations in gold prices that kill us,” say Gobind and Narain Kamnani of India Jewellers. Now that the prices have stabilized during the past year, the jewellery market is looking up Kamnanis of India Jewelers are all set to make again and this was quite clear on their a good sell this Diwali season. open House day at the store. Once again, diamonds seem to be a clear favorite and for those looking to pick up some silver or fine arts, there’s a clearance sale on at the store. There’s nothing quite like Diwali to set the cash registers ringing in apparel stores. It seems like the thrill of getting a new dress for Diwali hasn’t subsided in the least with Indians heading to Hillcroft for new outfits. Madhavi Bhattacharya of Roop Sari Palace says that the trend now is bright colors, lehengas with long kurtas or choli style, Tussar silk sarees with kundan work or broad embroidery borders. Kundan jewellery is also making a huge comeback.



November 09, 2012


Diwali Greetings with Best Compliments From



November 09, 2012

How Some Wellknown Houstonians Celebrate Diwali

BY MANU SHAH For Ashok and Prabha Garg, Diwali is about being with family and friends. The different deities are washed and dressed, a Panditji performs a puja in the evening, boondi laddoos and pomegranates are placed before Goddess Laxmi as it is believed to be her favorAshok and Prabha Garg ite fruit. Gifts are exchanged and friends come over for a traditional dinner. On this day, the food is specially prepared without onions and garlic. Shobha Joshi, of GeetanjaliRadiomay have a hectic schedule, but it doesn’t stop her from bringing in Diwali with enthusiasm and festivity. The Joshis’ perform the chopra puja to invoke blessings of happiness and success. Her listeners Shobha Joshi with family are treated to festive songs while her friends and advertisers are treated to gifts and sweets. The Joshis’ also make it a point to call and wish all their relatives. Besan or atta laddoos are also made but according to Shobha, the sweetest gift is the gift her husband gets her every Diwali.


Renu and Suresh Khator celebrate all five days of Diwali. Since their daughters are unable to come home for the festival, they join their parents in the prayers via Skype. She also mentioned that she does get nostalgic about rangolis, her mother’s cooking and the street festivities in India.

Jasmeeta Singh

Renu and Suresh Khator

Leena Shah’s Diwali starts with lighting the diya and making the traditional lapsi – a sweet made of cracked wheat and jaggery. Instead of buying new clothes for her two sons, she opts to buy them a toy each instead. Their Laxmi puja is done before sunset and after 10.00pm they head to a friend’s house for a card party.

Jasmeeta Singh is surprised at how intensive the Diwali celebrations are getting every year as she doesn’t remember it being so even a few years back. She tries to educate her children about Diwali every year, gets them new clothes but where she veers from tradition is sweet making. With everyone so calorie conscious, she finds it futile to make any mithais at home. Diwali evenings typically find them at the gurudwara praying for peace and prosperity.

Ash and Leena Shah






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KTRK-TV, an ABC O&O located in Houston, TX is looking for an aggressive and motivated Assignment Editor. The successful applicant will be responsible for all facets of the assignment desk, which includes but is not limited to making beat-checks, answering phones, monitoring police and fire radios, getting information and developing stories. The candidate should be detail-oriented and able to handle many different responsibilities at the same time. Good news judgment, an even temper, patience and strong communication skills are essential. The candidate must be able to take directions, but should also be able to work without supervision. The candidate will work nights, weekends and must be willing to work flexible hours. The ideal applicant should have experience as a television news assignments editor. This is not a clerical or secretarial position. Only candidates with news experience will be considered for the position. All interested applicants must apply on-line at by uploading a resume file, cover letter and list of references. Please Reference Job ID: 73195BR No phone calls please, and no third parties. Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V.


November 09, 2012


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