Indo-American News April 19, 2019

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Friday, April 19, 2019 | Vol. 38, No. 11

Indo American News Published weekly from Houston, TX


Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News

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Arijit’s Sell-Out Show Dazzles Houston

India Polls Underway

P5 ‘Kalank’: Stunning Sets


Story on Page 4

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April 19, 2019

Arijit’s Show Wows with Unparalleled Sets, Record Crowd By Jawahar Malhotra Sugar Land: Ever since his first US tour in 2015 when he performed with a full symphony in four cities including Houston, Arijit Singh has been on a roll with entertaining crowds in America. He skipped a year and did a 6-city tour in 2017, then focused on Toronto and Vancouver in 2018. Now, with his fans craving for more, Arijit has returned this year for an 12-city US lineup and played at the Smart Financial Center in this suburb of Houston this past Friday, April 12 to a record sellout crowd. Of course, no one better could handle the enormous logistics and turn out the fans than the master of on-air entertainment and live shows, Rehan Siddiqi, who, it seems hard to believe from his youthful appearance, is a 25-year veteran of the industry. Rehan has always had an eye on perfection and showmanship, and with this first mega-show of the summer, he had hit a perfect ten. “We were completely sold out,” gushed Rehan. “Thank you Houston!” Rehan brought the show to Houston with Bright Brains Production and was thrilled that it was supported by every element of the desi community – Indian, Pakistani, Gujarati, South Indians. “It shows the power of music,” he said excitedly, adding, “Music has no boundaries.” Rehan is also bringing the Sonu Nigam Neha Kekkar concert to town this coming

weekend. Arijit has found tremendous success ever since he first got noticed in Fame Gorukul in 2005 by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Kumar Taurani. With a subsequent win in 10 Ke 10 le Gaye Dil, he parlayed his Rs 10 lakh ($15,000) prize to build his own recording studio and produce music and pieces for ads, news channels and radio stations. He career as a playback singer really took off in 2010 and he has had one hit after the other ever since. Last Friday night, as the audience filled the Smart Financial Center, they witnessed how Arijit has grown

as a stage presence and his voice has attained the range to sing complicated melodies and still bring out the passion in each note. Arijit sang all of his hit romantic ballads - Pal Kaisa Pal, Tu Hi Hai Aashiqui, Tum Hi Ho, Phir Mohabbat, Muskurane, Har Kisi Ko, Duaa., Humdard – and many more with his backup singers and band melding into each note. He sang love songs that tore at the heart and even a few of the oldies with his own style. The spectacle of a stage blazing with brilliant colors and lasers pyrotechnics pulsated through the cavernous hall, as the excellent

acoustics filled every ear. Backed by the world symphony, Arijit’s music took on another dimension that had the audience singing along till the very end.

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Houston promoter Rehan Siddiqi (front) and international promoter Jai Singh (back) pose for a selfie with Arijit Singh during his sold-out show in the Sugar Land.


April 19, 2019

Lok Sabha Phase 2: Over 75% Votes Cast in West Bengal, Kashmir is Lowest with 43%


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New Delhi: The second phase of Lok Sabha elections 2019 ended on Thursday, with West Bengal recording highest voter turnout with 75.27 per cent. Jammu and Kashmir recorded the lowest poll percentage with 43.37 per cent. The voting took place in 95 constituencies across 11 states and one union territory. Polling is being held in 38 seats in Tamil Nadu, 14 seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry. There were reports of violence in north Bengal’s Islampur in which CPM candidate Md Salim’s vehicle was attacked allegedly by miscreants. Polling in Vellore, which was slated for today, stands cancelled owing to the abuse of money power. Four booths in Odisha will undergo re-polling in Daspalla assembly constituency due to technical problems in EVM machines and VVPATs, ANI reported. Union ministers Jitendra Singh, Jual Oram, Sadananda Gowda and Pon Radhakrishnan, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, A Raja and Kanimozhi are among the 1,600-odd contestants in the second phase of Lok Sabha polls. The elections for the 17th Lok Sabha will be held in seven phases. The elections will start on April 11 and continue till May 19. The counting will be held on May 23. Nearly 90 crore voters will be eligible to vote for 543 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.

Consulate General of India, Houston Tender Notice for Replacement of Carpet The Consulate General of India, Houston invites sealed tender to undertake work of replacement of Carpet in the Consulate building from professional companies/contractors. Terms & conditions and scope of work may be downloaded free of cost from the following websites: or Interested parties may send their sealed tender with refundable Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) of $ 1100 and Integrity Pact Security Deposits (IPSD) of $ 2,750 through Cashier check in favour of “Consulate General of India, Houston” by mail or in person before 14th May 2019 at 1100 hrs. Address: Consulate General of India, 4300 Scotland Street, Houston, Texas-77007 For inquiry please email: or

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April 19, 2019

Club 65 Seniors Take a Spring Bling at Lake Conroe

By Sarita Mehta

of Club, along with Rahat and Paru, who are well versed in seniors, kept them busy to enjoy every moment. Lunch was sumptuous with chicken, burgers, vegetable cutlets, salad, hot tea and cake. Club 65 brings together seniors from all walks of life and varied vast experiences, skills and interests, so that everyone feels as one family, regardless of religion, place of origin or language. The vision of Club 65 has been to engage and energize seniors in the community through social interaction, educational seminars and fun events which have been fully delivered via monthly lunchand-learn meetings, picnics and celebration of all major holidays such as Eid Milan, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Diwali , New Year Eve, etc Club 65 engages, energizes and activates the golden years of our seniors.

Conroe: Club 65, a non-profit organization under the umbrella of IMAGH(IndianMuslimsAssociation of Greater Houston) organized a picnic on Sunday, April 14 with 32 members spending the whole day on beautiful Lake Conroe. Spring is here and so is the Sun, warm weather and blue skies: it was a beautiful but breezy and remarkably cool day. Very excited about the trip, each one wore comfortable clothes and hats, sunscreen and light jackets to spend a day on beautiful Lake Conroe which is located approximately onehour north downtown Houston. Every one arrived on time at 8:45 am at the meeting point, Bayland Community Center, and had a warm welcome with open arms and smiles from the organizers, Paru McGuire, the President of the Club, Meera Khanna and Rahat Kalle and the bus started at 9:30 am. The journey began with distribution of water bottles and cookies, and soon after, all the picnickers were divided in two groups, to play Intakshari game which kept everyone so active that the hour and a half journey passed by in a blink. At the lake, there was plenty of entertainment, and everyone participated in various activities including musical chairs, passing balls, sing-alongs and dances in the enclosed Pavilion. Fatehali Chatur, Chairperson of Board of Directors

For more about Club 65 or to become a member, visit www.imagh. org or call Paru McGuire at 440390-1763.


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April 19, 2019

Cypress Woods Student Wins 1st Place at Texas State Science Fair

Houston: Cypress Woods High School junior Govind Chada has won the 1st place award at the 2019 Texas Science and Engineering Fair in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics category for his research project on early detection of lung cancer using machine learning. More than 1,200 students showcased their projects and were judged by experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the state competition held at Texas A&M University in College Station on March 29-30, 2019. These students gained eligibility to participate in the state’s premier science and engineering competition by qualifying as a top finisher from one of the 13 regional science fairs across Texas. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the U.S., with more than a hundred thousand deaths every year and a very low 5-year survival rate. Chada’s research was motivated by the fact that early detection of lung cancer significantly improves chances of survival and prognosis. Through research conducted for nearly a year, he developed a

machine learning model that detects lung nodules with state-of-the-art accuracy. In addition, he applied a novel visualization technique that allows radiologists to see how the algorithm is making its decisions, thereby increasing their trust in the model. Chada plans to continue work in this area and hopes to see his research being used by radiologists in practice to save lives. His project was titled “Using 3D Convolutional Neural Networks for Classification of Lung Nodules and Early Detection of Lung Cancer” “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my teachers and administration for the encouragement and support I received in pursuit of my extracurricular activities. I have been very fortunate to have great teachers who spend countless hours after school and weekends creating strong STEM and leadership programs and inspiring us to be the best we can,” Chada said. As a 1st place winner, Chada was awarded a scholarship to attend the prestigious Governor’s Science and Technology Champions Academy summer camp to be held in July at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

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April 19, 2019

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April 19, 2019

Ex-Ambassador to India Pickering Serene Lady Champaben Gandhi Slips Away at World Affairs Council Meeting Quietly and Quickly on Her 82nd Birthday By Jawahar Malhotra

Sam Kannappan with Thomas Pickering, former US Ambassador to India.

The World Affairs Council of Greater Houston honored Jeff Shellebarger, President, Chevron North America Exploration and Production company with 2019 International Citizen of the year award on April 17th 2019. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner introduced Shellebarger. The nominee emphasized the importance of balancing between American interests and local national interests in different parts of the world. His experience is based on his 38-year service with Chevron in Angola, Indonesia and various U.S. locations. An international dialogue be-

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tween Former American Ambassador to the United Nations and to India, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and US Ambassador to Qatar Chase Untermeyer followed. Ambassador Pickering praised the contributions by Indian Americans especially in Silicon Valley. United States and India have good military cooperation. Ambassador Picketing predicted that coalition Government will be formed in Israel and India after the current elections. Ambassador Pickering was known to Sam Kannappan when they served in Boeing Company in 2008.

Houston: She would always be at her daughter Manisha’s side, accompanying her on many community functions and she would relish those events, sitting quietly by herself or with some other elderly ladies whom she had come to know. Often she would come dressed in fine, bright colored sarees and say a few words to the people who would greet her. That serene lady, Champaben Gandhi passed away quietly and quickly this past Friday, April 12 which was also her 82nd birthday. She apparently had a silent heart attack as she was in the bathroom, although she never exhibited any symptoms before. She was rushed to the hospital and held on long enough for most of her immediate family to be by her side. Champaben was born in Bahadarpur, a village close to Baroda in Gujarat on April 12, 1937. She and her husband Chandrakant Gandhi, who was born in the small village of Dabhoi, Gujarat, migrated to the US in December 1974 and initially came to Hoboken, New Jersey before settling in the Houston area. Chandrakant passed away in 1988, when the couple had been married for 34 years. As a young widow,

Champaben Gandhi

Champaben adapted to her life here and her four children who were all also in the US. Her family released the following statement: “Our beloved Champaba was

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always smiling and cheerful. She left us unexpectedly but with a spiritual calm and she is on her way to a celebration with Srinathji bhagwan. As a mother and grandmother, she was always by our side with love, strength, and good health. Champaben was joyful, energetic, enjoyed dancing to garba and even sang along with family. She taught us that material possessions and trivial luxuries have no value. She taught us that the things that matter the most are love, faith, and family. Unlike many of us, for her, life was not about herself. It will be hard to not hear her chuckles, adorably and innocently giggling to American jargon reading social cues from the rest of us. It will be hard to not hear her daily prayers. But we also know that she is at peace and she will be forever cherished and loved.” Champaben leaves behind her three children Manisha Gandhi, Lata Desai and Gopal Gandhi. Her daughter Pratima Maniar passed away last December in New Jersey. In addition, Champaben is survived by her grandchildren Bina, Janie, Shilpa, Reema, Seema, Kushal, Radhika, Mansi and Manan. Her funeral was held on Tuesday, April 16 at the Winford Funeral Home in Southwest Houston.


April 19, 2019


Space Center CEO Describes Initiatives at IACCGH Series

IACCGH Board members with Shell representative Ana Knopf and guest speaker William Harris, President & CEO of Space Center Houston Manned Space Flight education foundation. Photo by Bijay Dixit.

Houston: On April 4, 2019, the Indo-American Chamber of Greater Houston, hosted Mr. William Harris- President and CEO of Space center Houston manned space flight education foundation, for its SHELL distinguished lecture series at Double Tree Hilton – Greenway Plaza. Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia opened the event by welcoming the attendees and highlighted the chamber’s upcoming events and the Annual Gala. “We were so impressed with his presentation at the India delegation last year, that we felt there was need for an initiative and outreach

of Space center to our own members and resource partners here.” Said President Swapan Dhairyawan. He also thanked event sponsor Shell for their support and contribution to the chamber. Mr Harris spoke at the length about the various ongoing initiatives that NASA takes each year and introduced the upcoming programs for the coming year. He emphasized on the fact that there is something for everyone at NASA and that it truly is a dynamic destination where people have a great experience. There are 10 NASA centers across the United States and 14 visitor cen-

ters, among which the space center Houston has the most access of laboratories and research of any NASA center in the country. The space center takes pride in the fact that people come to the Space Center Houston where they are able to go behind the scenes to see where the astronauts train, the robotics lab, where everyone can see the real hardware, where the center is developing most advanced humanoid robot in the world that is going to support deep space missions, where one can see the space station control room. In conclusion he was excited to share that the space center Houston is trying to present a great en-

gaging experience for all its visitors. They truly believe and are committed to be an all-inclusive organization where people of all abilities, age, race, ethnicity, gender and learning styles can enjoy. They are constantly improvising on how to make themselves available to everyone and make it one of their most memorable visits. The event concluded with Shell Representatives giving Mr Harris a token of appreciation on behalf of the chamber and an engaging photo session. For more details about future events, visit

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April 19, 2019

Houston Tamils Participate in Thirukkural Marathon


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Some of the Thirukkural organizers and participants gathered for a group photo.

By Nadhu Radhakrishnan Houston: Thirukkural, a collection of 1,330 couplets referred to as Kurals, written by Thiruvalluvar is a possession that is treasured by the Tamils. This collection has been written more than 2,000 years ago. However, every verse of Thirukkural holds good to our deeds today. In order to commemorate this divine literature and pass on the tradition to our future generations, Tamil Nadu Foundation (TNF) – Houston Chapter conducted a two day marathon of Kural recitation. Children between 5-18 years of age were encouraged to recite as many Kurals they can along with its meaning. For each correct

recitation, one gets a prize money of $1.00. Parents who have been training their kids for a long time shared their thoughts in unison that this generous gesture showed by TNF-Houston Chapter has encouraged their children to continue learning Kurals. Participants, not only from Houston, but other major areas including Sugar Land, Cypress, Katy, and Beaumont enthusiastically narrated their list. The office bearers of TNFHouston chapter have been working tirelessly to successfully host this event. Mrs. Mala Gopal, a long term resident of Houston, is the President of Houston chapter. “It is refreshing to see kids at tender age recite Kurals” she said. “I was

enthralled to watch a five-year old participant narrate more than 430 kurals” she added. The top five participants in the list and mothers of toppers within the age range 5-13 and 13-18 will be honored on TNF-Houston’s Mothers’ Day celebrations. The two mothers will receive a customized saree with Thiruvalluvar’s image weaved within as a special prize. This event will be held on the 5th of May, beginning at 3:00 PM at The Westchester Academy for International studies, 901, Yorkchester Drive, Houston, Texas 77079. The entire team of TNF-Houston would like to have the support of the community to make this event a grand success.

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April 19, 2019

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eview: Too many subplots, but a satisfying gangster saga Gangs of Madras movie review: Too many subplots, but a satisfying gangster saga


April 19, 2019


By Rachit Gupta

Gangs of Madras: Satisfying Gangster Saga

Story:A complex love story set during India’s Partition era, where the young Roop (Alia Bhatt) is torn between respect for husband Dev (Aditya Roy Kapur) and her newfound love for Zafar (Varun Dhawan). While their back stories and heart-breaking love saga unfolds, the history of India takes an epic turn, from where there is no coming back Review: As the name suggests, ‘Kalank’ is a story that questions the high morals of society, especially when it comes to love and family ties. At the heart of the story, the film focuses on how eternal love goes beyond the norms and rules of society, the trappings of religion, and all other physical and man-made boundaries. At a dramatic moment in the film, Aditya Roy Kapur’s Dev remarks that if someone’s wife is in love with another man, then what is the point of the marriage at all. In that aspect, writer and director Abhishek Varman’s film makes a strong point. The story is based in a town called Husnabad, near Lahore, a few years before the Partition of India and Pakistan. It’s a town populated by blacksmiths and a majority of them are Muslims. Husnabad’s most affluent family is the Chaudhrys - Dev and his father Balraj (Sanjay Dutt), who also run a liberal newspaper called The Daily News. Dev’s life takes a sudden turn when under strange circumstances he gets married to Roop. But the complexities in the

Cast: Priyanka Ruth, Daniel Balaji, Velu Prabhakaran, Ashok Kumar Director: CV Kumar Rating: Three stars The axe forgets but the tree remembers—Gangs of Madras opens with this line. Revenge has been a recurring theme driving generations of successful commercial Tamil filmmakers, and CV Kumar takes the same route with his second directorial venture, after Maayavan. Gangs of Madras is the story of Jaya aka Razia Sultana (a fantastic Priyanka Ruth), seeking revenge as she can’t come to terms with the loss of her unborn child and husband Ibrahim (Ashok). We get a glimpse into Jaya’s childhood days, in which she thrashes a boy, who hurt her, after three months. She doesn’t forgive others and their past crimes. “Yaaru adichaalum thirupiyum adikkanum,” is Jaya’s motto in life. Then, we are shown her transformation from a simple girl to a gangster.

‘Kalank’: Visually Stunning, Great Performances

story are just about to begin. Without revealing too much, during a visit to Bahaar Begum’s chamber (where Roop is honing her music skills) Roop meets Zafar, the local blacksmith and after several meetings they develop strong feelings for each other. The story seems like it offers something new, but the complex relationships and illfated romances are often predictable. What’s fresh about ‘Kalank’ is the treatment. This period drama is mounted on a lavish scale and whether it’s the sets or the costumes, everything about the film brings the grandeur alive. While it does make a strong case for the universal nature of love, the film’s screenplay at times, becomes a little too indulgent and keeps oscillating between the deft nuances as well as theatrical drama. And yet, there are sublime moments like the uneasy relationship between newly-weds Roop and Dev, the tender exchanges between Satya and Dev and the romantic scenes (topped

with intense dialogues) between Roop and Zaffar. The other high points of the film are the problematic equation between father and son, Dev and Balraj as well as the fragile teacher-student dynamic between Bahaar Begum and Roop. What we wish is that the narrative lingered more with such intimate moments that would make us feel more for the characters. The biggest highlight of the film is the star-studded cast and thankfully, the performances measure up to the epic ensemble. Alia Bhatt leads the way in a role that showcases vulnerability and strength in equal measure. Varun Dhawan, flaunting his superbly toned, greased body looks great for the part and he shows immense intensity that his conflicted character demands. Another stand-out performance comes from Aditya Roy Kapur, who excels in the stoic silences and reserved nature of his character. Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Sanjay Dutt and Sonakshi Sinha

chip in with moments of pitchperfect drama, too. Kunal Kemmu as Zafar’s friend Abdul, brings in tension and thrills in his greyshaded role. The joint efforts of the cast add the proverbial punch to the experience of ‘Kalank’. An epic love saga based during the 1940s has so much scope for visual detailing and finesse. While ‘Kalank’ scales up the production in every aspect, at times, the world that it recreates looks a little too plush and away from reality. The film features arresting frames full of grand visuals captured by cinematographer Binod Pradhan, and the music by Pritam has stand out songs like ‘Ghar More Pardesiya’ and the ‘Kalank’ title track. At 2 hours and 48 minutes, with a tighter edit the story could have wrapped up much sooner though. ‘Kalank’ is a true labour of love that tells you a story laced with beautiful moments that will tug at your heartstrings. -- Times of India



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t f Utsav Parking Lot Inaugurated at Sri MTS a r d



April 19, 2019

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Pearland Mayor Tom Reid (center) cut the ribbon to the new Utsav parking lot with MTS President Dr. Padmini Ranganathan.

By Vatsa Kumar Pearland: An April morning with clear skies and a gentle breeze was the perfect setting at Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, Texas for Mayor Tom Reid to inaugurate the Utsav Parking lot. Serving the Indian community for over 42 years, Sri Meenakshi Temple, one of its kind in the US, is a beacon for any Hindu pilgrim that yearns to visit the original Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple built in Madurai, a South Indian pilgrim center. The current board of administration at the Temple, under the leadership of Dr. Padmini Ranganathan, has launched an ambitious project to renovate the 20 years old Kalyana Mandapam so as to meet the growing needs of devotees. The project estimated to cost

over a million is scheduled for completion by the end of November, 2019. As part of phase 1 of this project, construction of a new parking lot was taken up in March and completed within 6 weeks. This parking lot, which can accommodate 104 additional cars, was inaugurated by Pearland’s Mayor Tom Reid, after religious activities were performed by the temple priests. Reid commended the temple board for launching this project to add the additional spaces for the members of its congregation. Meenakshi Temple honored the Mayor in a traditional Indian manner by robing him with a beautiful Indian shawl. Delicious lunch followed this festive event. The welllighted Utsav parking lot is now open to serve the devotees of the Temple throughout the year.

Indo American News Founder: Dr. K.L. Sindwani Publisher: Jawahar Malhotra Editor: Pramod Kulkarni

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Indo-American News • Friday, APRIL 19, 2019 • Online Edition:


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April 19, 2019

Indo-American News • Friday, APRIL 19, 2019 • Online Edition:

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