Indo-American News February 15, 2019

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Friday, February 15, 2019 | Vol. 38, No. 04

Indo American erican News


MTS Celebrates Thaipusam Published biweekly from Houston, TX

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Magic Bus 5th Gala Produces $1 Million Baby with Kapil Dev

Magic Bus USA Chairman Amit Bhandari, Houston Chapter President Kapil Mathur and with other board members and special guest Miss World 2017 Manushi Chillar and cricket Superstar Kapil Dev.

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February 15, 2019

A Readathon Let’s Houston Kids Support Pratham’s Kids H


OUSTON: The 2018 Pratham HoustonReadathonAwardCeremony was held at Dalip and Manjit Soni’s residence on Sunday, January 27. It was an inspirational evening and showed what a community of readers, parents and supportive adults can do in elevating the confidence of young readers. Manjit Soni welcomed and thanked all the young readers and their parents for their efforts and support by raising $5,600. Further motivating the team was a generous dollar-for-dollar match by Swatantra Jain, CFO of Pratham, USA, which doubled this amount and will help educate over 400 kids in India. The famous Houston based author of books for children and teens, Varsha Bajaj, shared her journey. She kept it conversational, involved the kids by asking them to share their favorite books, encouraged them to ask her questions and shared how she tries to incorporate Indian cultural elements in her picture books and stories. One young author (and my son), Ayan Nadkarni shared how he got on the path of writing from his deep love for reading and learning. “Don’t you learn something new every time you read?” he asked. “I write, because I want to put my thoughts together but also because I hope to help somebody learn something new in the process”,

said the 8-year-old, eloquently. Throughout the evening the kids interacted and were encouraged by community leaders Swatantra and Bimla Jain about the importance of reading and giving back. Jain shared how he visited a school in India, which reminded him of his school growing up, leading him to commit to Pratham. They inspired the kids with their journey and graciously pledged, yet again, to match dollar-for-dollar any amount raised by these kids. The Pratham Readathon Houston Chapter is led by Manjit Soni, an active community educator who has

worked at the Houston’s prestigious Village School which has held the Readathon for four years. She was untiring in encouraging the kids in WhatsApp groups, recognizing every small contribution they make and in her commitment to make the kids better readers while helping educate kids in India. She was helped by student readers/volunteers Armman Katarya, Diyesh Khatri, and Vanni Gupta. The real stars of the evening were the kids who dazzled the adults with their talents and unlimited potential with a private concert featuring Ajit

Nagi, playing the tabla, Neil Bose and Sharan Thind singing and Divya Khatri playing the violin. Divya’s father, Divyesh Khatri, had just returned the morning of the award ceremony from Qatar, where he presented in Model UNO meetings representing the Village School. Pratham USA aims to raise awareness and funds to support Pratham, one of India’s largest educational non- profit organization focused on eradicating child illiteracy in India. Prathan USAhosts an annual Readathon program all across USA to encourage children to commit to

Participants of the Readathon 2018 with Bimla and Swatantra Jain and Readathon organizer Manjit Soni and 8-year-old Ayan Nadkarni narrated his reading experience. Not pictured are Divya Khatri who played the violin in Etude Number 3 in G Major by Franz Wohlfahrt and Sharon Thind who sang the National Anthems of USA and India;.

reading certain number of books and find sponsors who would contribute funds on their pages. The program also offers opportunities for essay writing and other creative expressions whereby readers win money on their pages.



February 15, 2019


Magic Bus 5th Gala Rides to Fundraising Success with Kapil Dev

Magic Bus USA Chairman Amit Bhandari, Houston Chapter President Kapil Mathur and with other board members and special guest Miss World 2017 Manushi Chillar and cricket Superstar Kapil Dev.

BY SANCHALI BASU HOUSTON: Kicking off its festivities celebrating the 5th year, the Magic Bus gala organizers went all out to make it a grand success, the evening of Saturday, February 9, at the Royal sonesta hotel. The cocktail reception was abuzz with activity as the attendees showed up in all their glamour and glitz. The event raised a record $1 million for educational projects in India. Ritika Saligram held the audience’s attention with her rendition of the US and Indian national anthems. Kapil Mathur, the president of the Houston chapter, in his opening remarks mentioned how Magic Bus was helping one person at a time from childhood to livelihood. Amit Bhandari, Chairman of Magic Bus, USA elaborated how Magic Bus was encouraging Indian kids to stay in school, marry above the age of 18 and get higher education. These are the premises on which Magic Bus has been able to help around 2,000 kids over the past 5 years. Through this program 87% attend college vs a national rate of 10%, girls earn twice the national average. Magic Bus works with more than 3.75 lakh children and 10,000 young people living in poverty across 22 states of India. Swapnil Agarwal, guest speaker, owner of Nitya Capital and karya Property management, in welcoming Kapil Dev, the guest of honor, shared some anecdotes of how he idolized the great cricket all rounder and had shaped his life based on the latter’s work and sports ethics.

Kapil had missed only 1 game in his entire career of 131 matches over a span of 16 years. Kapil Dev, the Haryana hurricane, shared that anyone can achieve whatever one wants to, if there is passion, love and affection. He played for India for that reason and feels very humbled and embarrassed by the accolades showered on him. He mentioned that the magic lies in India and it is time to give back. Kapil was very reluctant at the age of 16 to start playing cricket since he knew he would have to speak in English. Despite being tentative, he did master the language after 20 long years, but still loves to break into Hindi, which he did to the delight of the audience. Very appropriately, he was presented a pair of cowboy boots by Dr. Dharmesh Patel, board member, to add to his collection of 150 pairs of shoes. Manushi Chillar, Miss World 2017, the other guest of honor, was introduced by Arpita Bhandari, benefactor. Manushi, who wanted to be the 1st Indian woman president, ended up differently, when she was crowned Miss World, at the tender age of 20. She has visited 20 countries and affecting the lives of children, who are our future, by empowering them. Dr. Amita Bhalla, board member stated how Magic Bus was the “wind beneath the wings” of people in deep poverty to facilitate and achieve their dreams through the community mentorship programs.


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Deval Sanghavi, partner and cofounder Dasra, who wrote the first check for Magic Bus in 1999 was elated that starting with 50 children, it has impacted 400,000 lives now in India. Matthew Spacie, COO who established Magic Bus, now employs 1,500 people and Houston chapter raises more funds than any other place globally. Parvati Pujari, flew in from India, to share how the Magic Bus mentor had helped her to continue school, and at 16, she had become a community health leader. At 24, she was the first girl graduating from her village. She went on to complete a Masters in business development and even convinced her parents to allow her to marry outside of her caste. This was followed by dinner provided by Dawat catering. Entertainment for the evening was provided by Banachek, mentalist who captivated the audience with his psychic powers. It was a long program, but well worth it for all the money that was raised at the event.

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (left) with Amit and Arpita Bhandari.

Magic Bus dignitaries Ansh, Dharmesh, Kapil Mathur with cricket star Kapil Dev (with cowboy boots) and Swapnil Agarwal.

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February 15, 2019

Club 24+ Celebrates Valentine’s Day with a Bollywood Skit BY PRAMOD KULKARNI HOUSTON: Club 24+ members were able to get an early start to Valentine’s Day romantic festivities with their annual luncheon on Sunday, Feb. 9 at Magiano’s Italian restaurant in the Galleria. Magiano’s second-floor party room was decorated in the festive Valentine’s balloons and party favors and even small teddy bears on each table. Social Committee Chair Hansa Patel welcomed Club 24 Plus members and their guests to the special occasion and thanked committee members that included Madhu Goel, Prabha Garg, Kiran Gupta and Nimmo Bhagat. Kiran was particularly helpful in making arrangements with Magiano’s, Hansa said. Hansa recruited her husband Vimal to write a fun-filled skit around a Bollywood romance that had eight couples do various dialogs from early courtship through “Aati kya Khandala” to 25 years later with “Buddha mil gaya!” Club 24 Plus Founder Ashok Garg welcomed new members, who were C.V. Rao, Eric and Tanya Merchant, Paul Vo and Gisela Tejada, Genevieve and Curtis Rowland and. Another Club 24 Founder, Dr. Vivek Kavadi, came to the podium to thank Manisha Gandhi for her service as club president.

Ladies of Club 24+ gathered for a group photo after posing for individual couples’ photos. Photos by Bijay Dixit.

Sanjay and Savita Rao present a romantic pose during the Bollywood skit written by Vimal Kothari (back center).


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February 15, 2019

‘Women’s Health Issues’ Interactive Session with Women Physicians

“Women’s Health Issues” interactive session was led by Dr. Sushma Mahajan (left), Dr. Reena Jogi, Dr. Deepali Patni, Dr. Gina Pandya and Meera Kapur.

BY DR. SARITA MEHTA HOUSTON: This is for the first time SEWA International organized a workshop for Women’s Health Issues, co-sponsored with Arya Samaj on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at Arya Samaj, Houston Texas. More than fifty five women participated in this Family services workshop by the female physicians specialists on Internal Medicine, Dermatology and Obstetrics & Gynecology in which very informative and interactive sessions were conducted very effectively. Meera Kapur, organizer of this program, is a volunteer with Sewa International Houston Chapter and an active Yoga teacher welcomed the participants and introduced Arun Kankani, the national Vice President of Sewa International USA. Moderator Dr. Sushma Mahajan introduced the panelist doctors and informed the attendees that they would be able to ask anonymous written questions from the doctors after their presentations. Dr. Hina Pandya, board cerified in Internal Medicine and practices General Internal Medicine at Memorial Herman Medical Center Bellaire, in her presentation, ‘How to Stay Happy and Eat Healthy’, explained. very important symptoms of some common problems like Diabetes, Cholesterol, blood

sugar, and their treatment, and how early preventive measures can help to save future problems. Dr. Deepali Patni, board certified physician, practices both obstetrics and gynecology with interests in minimally invasive surgery at Kelsey-Setbold Clinc appealed, “Ladies, make your health a priority. In her presentation, she explained different stages of development of disease like cancer at various stages of life, and how to overcome them with proper diet and regular exercise. Dr. Reena Jogi, board-certified in both internal medicine and dermatology, whose primary focus is dermatology, treats a wide range of skin diseases, and she is also a national trainer in platelet-rich plasma treatments for hair loss, as private practioner in the Memorial area at Village Dermatology. In her presentation, “Seven decades in seven minutes”, she gave the tips and tricks for all ages to protect the texture of the skin, how to save it from hyper pigmentation, and also explained about hair loss and its treatment. The most important part came after all the three presentation was more than a half-hour long question-answer session in which participants were very excited, arose many questions, which panelits answered effectively. Meera Kapur concluded the workshop with a vote of thanks and suggestions on Yoga exercises.



February 15, 2019


Arya Samaj Houston Celebrates Republic Day, MLK Day of Service

BY ANJANA KALITA HOUSTON: Arya Samaj Houston celebrated 70th Republic Day with great reverence on Sunday, 27th Jan 2019. The regular weekly Satsang heard the loftier Vedic ideas that build a strong nation. We were reminded that Arya Samaj was the strongest force to earn the country’s freedom with almost 80% of freedom fighters originating from it, the top nation building organization founded by Maharshi Dayanand in 1875. The entire congregation gathered in the outside lawn near the flagpole joined by the children, teachers and volunteers of its Sunday School, DAV Sanskriti School. The unfurling of the national flag was followed by singing of the National Anthem, “Jana Gana Mana” by everybody. The ambience reverberated with Jai Hind and Vande Mataram. Sanjay Sood conducted this gala day event and delighted to share a glimpse on the Indian history focused on Republic Day in 1950 that witnessed declaration of secular, sovereign republic that India is. The celebration, truly reminiscing for everyone, brings all the people of Indian origin together and instills a feeling of nationalism and patriotism in their hearts. Colonel Upneja, who served Indi-

an army shared traumatic memories of Sino-Indian war in 1962. He shed light on bravely fought Indian army at high altitude without quality weapons and lack of ammunition. Even after inevitable losses in 1962 war, whole Indian nation united tremendously afterwards. Sqn. Ldr. S.S. LaL who served for 35 years in AFMC, also touched upon golden past and revealed how Indian army bravely fought. Both speeches gave listeners good enough goosebumps, teary-eyed and feeling proud at the same time. Not to be left behind, Lakshya Yadav, Child Speaker for the day from the Sanskriti School, articulated his mature thoughts on the 70th Republic Day of India in chaste Hindi delivered extempore. “Gantantra Divas” begins with the Prime Minister of India who first lays a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate to pay tribute to the soldiers of the armed forces who laid their life for the motherland. Flag hoisting at Rajpath on arrival of the president is followed by grand military parades, variety of other events exhibiting country’s rich cultural heritage from different states and cultural dances by school children. His speech reflected nation’s history and the di-

versity which identifies India as a great unique republic country. To further raise significance of the event, the children of the DAV Sanskriti School and DAV Montessori School, sang evergreen patriotic song “Insaaf Ki Dagar Pe” that inspire children to take their responsibilities as responsible citizens. The top listed iconic song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon” that commemorates to solider laying down his life defending the country received a special applause by audience. Children from the Sanskriti School enthralled the audience with their Indian dance performance based on patriotic themes. The soulful vibrant dance performances by little kids in colorful attractive attires stole the show. The gathering on this joyous and momentous day pledged together to make nation better and salute their national flag with Jai Hind, Vande Mataram. The culmination of Republic Day celebration saw chanting of Shanti Paath. There was overall appreciation filled in the air that the little children of the DAV Sanskriti School learn so much about Indian values and culture in mere two hours a week. The gathering moved into the dining hall to enjoy special meal topped by traditional laddoo.

HOUSTON: For over two decades, Martin Luther King Jr. day has been designated as a national day of service, not “a day off, but a day on”. Volunteers across the nation gather every year to spread the true spirits of volunteering and giving back to the community. So that’s exactly what AYM (Arya Yuva Mandal) students of the Arya Samaj of Greater Houston did. On Monday, January 21st, 2019 (MLK Jr. day), all these youth volunteered at Interfaith Ministries’ ILEAD Youth Day of Service to help spread the spirits of volunteerism by assisting many groups, including but not limited to Meals on Wheels and refugee programs. Although students of all religions and faiths attended the ILEAD program, there was one shared goal: to work together with everyone else and help better the community. The activities began with an opening speech by the head of IM (Interfaith Ministries), Martin B. Cominsky for Greater Houston. Students of AYM were then split into four

groups along with everyone else: one to make breakfast bags, one to wish happy birthday to those in Meals on Wheels who had birthdays, another to make care packages for refugees, and the last group to make Valentine’s Day cards. Altogether, all the youth split up at the event and carried out variety of service projects, including packaging several hundred meals, prepare care packages, make telephone calls for wellness checks of seniors and cards for over 2,000 refugees. The event took place over a span of four hours, with all the time devoted to the community service. As hours eventually came to a close, Neeraj Salhotra, an AYM alumni, made concluding remarks about the involvement of the community in public service. ILEAD’s Youth Day of Service was a great success for the youth and the community, enlivening MLK Jr.’s spirit of hope and service to the community. It is with no doubt that we can say that AYM will be back the following year to help in such a great event.

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February 15, 2019

Houston Maharashtra Mandal to Present Historical Play on Shivaji HOUSTON: The Houston Maharashtra Mandal (HMM) will present on stage an epic play titled Janata Raja (The Wise King) on Saturday, March 9 at Stafford Centre on Cash Road. The play is a dramatic presentation of the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a warriorking (1627-1680 AD), who founded the Maratha kingdom in the western region of India. A tribute to Shivaji’s life and times, Janata Raja is presented on a multi-level stage as a dramatic spectacle, featuring as many as 100 actors. This is a full-length historical opera, which is enacted with clockwork precision against the background of splendid scenography and digitally recorded 4-track sound. Janata Raja was written by Maharashtra state’s popular historian, Babasaheb Purandare. On 2019 Republic Day, Babasaheb was awarded with the Padma Vibhushan Award. Staged in both Marathi and Hindi languages, Janata Raja can be a unique, outdoor theatrical presentation with gigantic sets rising up to three stories, elaborate props and costumes, including elephants, horses, camels and even bullock carts. Janata Raja is considered a marvel of the theatrical world. Since 1985, more than 1,250 dramatic enactments have been performed

Eminent historian Babasaheb Purandare.

The epic play Janata Raja is presented on a multi-level stage with as many as 100 actors.

in both urban and rural areas of Maharashtra and in several other regions of India. More than 800,000 people have attended live Janata Raja performances. A typical performance has approximately 6,500 people in the audience. In the United States, Janata Raja was presented at the BMM (an organization of people of Maharashtrian origin in North America) convention in Boston in 1997 with the active participation of local Americans of Maharashtrian origin. Janata Raja was also

performed at London’s Wembley Arena on February 6, 2015. In Houston, HMM will present a similar enactment with the active participation of our local membership. Two directors associated with Babasaheb Purandare are conducting the rehearsals. Janata Raja has been performed to critical and audience acclaim wherever it is presented. When the play was presented in New Delhi, the performance was appreciated by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Janata Raja shows are never done for profit; they are produced predominantly by local artists for generating awareness about the history and culture of Maharashtra and raising funds for preserving forts and monuments of historical importance. In Houston, the play is being presented as a fundraising project to support construction and development of its 11-acre property in Rosenberg, Texas, including a Hanuman Prayer Station, Siddhi Vinayak Temple and a sabhagruha (auditorium).

HMM is building a small Hanuman Prayer Station at its Vastu site in Rosenberg and plans to build a Siddhi Vinayak temple and a sabhagruha (auditorium) on the its 11-acre property.

For additional information, please contact Rahul Deshmukh at president_vastu@hmmhouston. org or Abshishek Bhat at



February 15, 2019

Gitesh Desai Receives Pravasi Samman BY MANU SHAH VARANASI: Gitesh Desai was reading an email from India’s Ministry of External Affairs but before the words could sink in, he got a call from Houston’s Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray congratulating him. Desai was one of the 28 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardees of 2019. The normally eloquent Desai says he was “struggling for words” during his conversation with the Consul General. Desai was presented the prestigious award by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind at a special ceremony in Varanasi on 23rd January. He had “goose bumps while walking on the dais” to receive the award. He was also felicitated at his alma mater University of Baroda and in his hometown Jambusar in Gujarat. A cherished recognition, Desai plans to hang the framed certificate in his living room. Desai came to the US in 1980 with an engineering degree from India, but the lack of practical experience, a US degree and fluency in English proved to be major roadblocks in getting a job. In exasperation, he finally told an interviewer at Jack D. Gillum, an engineering company, “Henry Kissinger was an unknown person too until Nixon gave him a chance. Engineering formulas don’t change whether they are applied in India or the US. Just give me a chance.” Desai got the job and soon proved himself. He rose quickly through the ranks in every one of the four prominent companies he’s worked for – Jack D. Gillum, Stone and Webster, KBR and presently Wood where he is Senior Principal Engineer. He’s racked up a combined experience of 35 years in engineering and construction projects and has worked on assignments that were individually worth $12 billion. His present boss describes him as “a solutions oriented, goal driven problem solver.” This description of Desai would be proved right once again in a completely different setting. Three months after he took the helm as President of Sewa International Houston Chapter, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. His own house was flooded with 5 feet of water for two weeks. Desai gathered his passport, laptop and with the clothes he was wearing, walked out of the house and moved into a hotel. He began coordinating rescue and relief efforts from the hotel’s lobby and was in the forefront mobilizing 1250 volunteers who rescued 687 people stranded in their homes. Sewa International collected over one million dollars in donations including a $400,000 grant from the Mayor’s Fund for relief and rehabilitation efforts, the first ever such grant to any


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Gitesh Desai receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award for 2019 from the President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind in Varanasi, India on January 23, 2019. Looking on is Sushma Swaraj (left), External Affairs Minister of India.

Indian American organization in the US. Desai lost most of his belongings, personal memories, paintings and some rare books in the flooding but the three things, he says, he didn’t lose were “his positivity, hope and health” for which he is grateful. He stayed in a hotel for one year and has only recently moved back home occupying the second floor as the first floor still “looks like a war zone.” Growing up in a traditional family environment, Desai was greatly influenced by his grandmother. In the 1940’s, she initiated several programs for women empowerment, opened four stores and, in a revolutionary move for those times, hired widows to run them. He comes from a family of freedom fighters and social reformers where Gandhiji’s influence ran deep. Desai recalls spending hours on the charkha spinning thread. The family encouraged wearing khadi, a practice that can still be seen in the natty khadi jacket and kurta churidar he sports at any Indian event. At 11, Desai joined a Gujarati medium Gandhian boarding school where he learned “discipline and self-reliance.” The genesis of his activism was first seen in the 1974 Navnirman Andolan in Gujarat. As a student leader, Desai led students to protest against the rampant corruption which led to the toppling of the government. In 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared emergency. Desai protested and was detained in prison for two weeks. After his release, he moved to Mumbai and then Dubai as he was on the Government’s Black list for his involve-

ment in the protests against the Emergency. The over 6-ft, broad shouldered Desai is a familiar face in Houston. He was on the Boards of the Indo American Charity Foundation, the Toastmaster’s Club, City of Houston’s General Appeals Board and President of the Indo American Political Action Committee. He led a delegation to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. lobbying for accountability, and transparency in the US financial aid to Pakistan to ensure it wasn’t being used to fund terrorist activities against India. In another delegation, he lobbied for a US-India Civil Nuclear Deal and successfully blocked a killer amendment against it in the US Congress. Desai is also a certified yoga teacher. He loves reading, listening to Hindustani classical music and oil painting. But nothing beats driving down to Dallas every other weekend to spend time with his two grandchildren. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) has been celebrated on 9 Jan every year since 2003, to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community in the development of India. This day was chosen to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi, India’s greatest pravasi, from South Africa to India in 1915, and change the lives of Indians forever. During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India’s growth. he 2019 PBD was also special because it was held in Varanasi and delegrates were given the opportunity to see some of the historical sights of Varanasi and Sarnath, visit the Kumbh and the Republic Day Parade. The Ganga Arti at the Ghats was incredible, as was an audio-visual laser presentation on Mahatma Gandhi.

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February 2019 31,15, 2018 212 August

70th republic day celebration, sunday, January 27, 2019



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February 15, 2019

Who Will Pay for the Sops? BY HARSIMRAN JULKA

The summons to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to appear before the parliamentary standing committee on information technology dents government’s efforts to improve India’s ease of doing business. Summoning a top business leader like Dorsey all the way from the US, to respond to frivolous complaints initially levelled by an unknown right wing group calling itself Youth for Social Media Democracy, sends out all the wrong signals about India. The group wrote to committee chairman Anurag Thakur, a BJP leader, alleging bias in suspension of right wing Twitter accounts. The summons is an outcome. It is also a dead giveaway that India’s current hyper-politicised atmosphere is interfering in business. Acting tough on a foreign company may feed electioneve nationalist frenzy but the repercussions may manifest in areas beyond Thakur’s narrow ambit. There is, for example, the constant US refrain that India places too many entry barriers for market access to US companies. Given President Donald Trump’s tariff-happy ways such needling of US companies is best avoided, particularly, at this time. Authorities often threaten to hold social media companies to account for user posts numbering in millions daily, which is akin to punishing telecom companies for a crime hatched during a phone call. However, after blaming social media companies for inaction the grouse against them now seems to be that they are taking action. Thakur should note that social media platforms may just be acting more stringently owing to government’s draconian threats to shut down platforms on which fake news or unlawful content is posted. None of this is to say that Parliament cannot summon Dorsey or a Mark Zuckerberg as US Senate did. But that happened only after significant evidence of serious privacy violations and Russian meddling in US polls surfaced. Government’s tendency towards regulatory overreach is spurred by too many laws, vaguely defined executive powers and weak institutions that lend themselves to harassing individuals. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done excellent work in wooing foreign investment. But all that could be nullified by an excess of nationalist frenzy and regulatory zeal at home – even as less attention is paid to pressing problems such as agrarian distress or the jobs crisis (themselves outcomes of over-regulation to some extent). The government must nudge Thakur into letting go. By working up an avoidable pseudo-nationalist lather the IT committee is also working, precisely, against the national interest. --Times of India


The Interim Union Budget 2019 is no less than a full budget with changes in taxation and announcement of lucrative schemes for various sections of the population. The recent losses in three major assembly elections rang alarm bells for the ruling dispensation. With the general election around the corner, it had to act to regain the support of various segments of the population. The government’s policies in the last five years have caused distress to farmers, youth, small businesses, the cottage industries sector and minorities. Small and marginal farmers will get Rs 6,000 per year. Concessions on credit and crop insurance to farmers have been announced. There is a pension scheme for unorganised sector workers. The lower middle classes have got concessions in income tax. The upper middle class has got concession in taxation on a second house. There are schemes for the SCs, STs, women, nomadic tribes and senior citizens. There is no proposal for additional taxation. Given that in the current year, tax collection was lagging behind and the fiscal deficit was running way ahead of the target — 114 per cent in the seventh month itself — next year could be worse with additional expenditures but no proposals for raising additional revenue. More taxes are not sought to be raised lest some section feels hurt and that is undesirable in an election year. The rich could have been taxed more through a wealth tax or a cess on corporation tax. Actually, the corporates were expecting a reduction in the tax rate from 30 per cent to 2 per cent, announced two years back, but they would be happy that the tax rate has not gone up. The budget shows only a marginal rise in the fiscal deficit to 3.4 per cent in spite of the planned new expenditures and tax concessions. But if the revenue projections turn out to be incorrect, the deficit would indeed be higher. Is the government now reaping the benefits of the structural

unemployment, creation of new jobs, GDP and its growth rate, the data pertaining to the Indian economy has become highly suspect. Most are incredulous that the rate of growth has been shown to be the highest in the year of demonetisation since, by all accounts, the economy was badly hit, starting November 2016. It hardly recovered when it was again hit by a structurally-flawed GST. The unorganised sector has been declining since then. Unfortunately, the data for the unorganised sector comes with a big lag and it is implicitly assumed to be growing at the same rate as the organised sector. So, the government can claim that the economy was not impacted by the shocks. But, as this author has argued before, if the data from the private surveys is taken into account, the rate of growth of the economy would turn out to be around 1 per cent and not 7 per cent to 8 per cent. This slow growth is consistent with the problems relating to employment, the cottage sector and farmers. Data also vitiates budgetary calculus. So, tax revenue growth is sluggish because of the low rate of growth. But if the rate of growth is around 1 per cent, shouldn’t the problem be more acute? Not really, because most of the taxes are paid by the organised sector which is growing. Effective direct taxes are paid by about 1.5 per cent of the population even though about 6 per cent of the population files tax returns. Ninety-five per cent of the GST is paid by 5 per cent of the businesses in the country, according to the finance minister. Small businesses are largely exempt and do not have to register or they are under the Composition Scheme. Thus, if tax collection has not suffered more despite the rate of growth falling to 1 per cent, it is due to the growth of the organised sector. Clearly, to the government and the economy, the unorganised sector matters less and less. The writer is Malcolm Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences.

SPORTS In the budget, there are sops for almost every segment of the population. But there are no proposals for higher taxes. So who is going to pay for the sops? reforms that it carried out in the last five years — demonetisation, digitisation and GST? In the budget speech, it was claimed that demonetisation has expanded the tax base, leading to higher direct tax collection. Digitisation and GST are also supposed to do the same by expanding the tax base. It is claimed that the number of tax filers has doubled in the last few years, but the direct tax to GDP ratio has risen by 0.3 per cent last year — hardly much of a rise. The GST collection this year is short by about Rs 1 lakh crore. Thus, tax collection is not showing high buoyancy. Non-tax revenues are also not very buoyant. There was pressure on the RBI to announce a special dividend and pass on revaluation reserves (a few lakh crore) to the government. This did not materialise due to resistance from the RBI. The government wanted this money to announce big concessions. The wonder is that without this, many concessions have been announced and without the fiscal deficit rising. All budgets indulge in creative accounting and the current one is no exception. There is no harm in announcing higher revenues and higher expenditures. One can always correct these figures subsequently. Public memory is short and few remember last year’s figures. Given the recent controversy on

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February 15, 2019

Loyal Donors Gather for CRY at Verandah’s Soft Opening BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA


OUSTON: It was a three-forone moment made for the benefit of all of them, and what could be better than to make it worthwhile in the newest eatery in the Upper Kirby District. Restaurateur Chef Sunil Srivastava and his wife Anuradha made special arrangements to open up Verandah, their brand new establishment, on Thursday, January 31 for a charity the couple have had a long association with, Child Rights and You, better known as CRY. CRY held its Donor Appreciation Night meeting at Verandah with many of its loyal donors attending a special soft opening, filling up the contemporary interiors of restaurant at the new 3300 Kirby high rise, across the street from Whole Foods. About 60 people attended the function, despite a rain-soaked evening that had made the freeway commute hazardous with backed up traffic. Ritu Nadkarni, the evening’s chair opened up with brief comments on the work that CRY does in Indian and across the US at its six chapters. Advisory Board member Dharam Bali echoed the sentiments and Patrick Bocco, CRY’s national fundraising marketing manager added in with his persona narrative from recently visiting several projects in India. Other Gala Committee members Juuhi Ahuja, Dina and Sameer Patel; Neeraj and Gauri Seth; Geetha and Bala Balachandran; Dr. Tina and Dr.

Harish Pariani; Chetan and Radha Patel and Dilip and Devina Bhojwani attended the event. CRYAmerica will hold its Houston Gala at 6pm on Sunday, March 3 at the Marriott Towne Center hotel in Sugar Land. CRY America works with grassroot projects, communities and local government agencies to ensure children have quality education, health care and are protected from child labor, child marriage and gender discrimination. CRY’s professional project planning, monitoring and selection process model delivers impact that brings lasting change in the lives of

the communities and the children it serves. With the support of over 25,153 donors and 2,000 volunteers, CRYAmerica has impacted the lives of 695,077 children living across 3,676 villages and slums through support to 73 Projects in India and the US. Child Rights and You America (CRY America) is a 501c3 non-profit with a vision of a just world where children have equal opportunities to develop to their potential and realize their dreams. For further information visit www., email support@


Clockwise from top left: Organizers of the CRY Houston Chapter and their donors gathered to kick off the Gala preparations; Dharam Bali who spearheaded the CRY Houston chapter spoke about the work that the group supports in India; Verandah Restaurant’s owners Sunil and Anuradha Srivastava.

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February 15, 2019

Houston Bengalis Celebrate Saraswati Puja



Stay tuned every Sunday,


to from 2.30pm to 3.30pm



Geetanjali Radio AM 1320 Saraswati Puja is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Bengal (above) and the Bengali diaspora throughout the world.


Saraswati Puja is held very close to the heart of Bengalis. Being the goddess of learning and wisdom, not only is goddess Saraswati very important to the students, but also to the scientists, researchers, professors associated with academia and everyone at large. Somehow, this puja day also has a connotation of what we call Valentine’s day in the west. Decked out in their bright yellow (Basanti) saris on Basanta panchami day, young girls attend Saraswati puja in their schools/colleges/universities or at home and young men in their crisp kurta pajamas are out to woo the young girls. PSGH organized Saraswata puja

celebrations at the Aliana community center on Feb 9, under the leadership and guidance of priest Dr. Bishnupada Goswami. As is the custom, students kept some of their books at the idol’s feet asking for her blessings. Young children who have not started writing yet, underwent the ceremony of “Haathe Khori”, where the priest helps the child to write on a slate board with chalk. Saraswati mother’s idol was beautifully decorated with garlands of marigold and she sat on her swan, Veena and book in hands in all her splendor. After the puja, pushpanjali (offering of flowers) and arati ensued, with great devotion. Fruit and bhog prasad were distributed to the attendees and a

short musical program was presented by the young talent present. This included vocal, instrumental (keyboard), Kathak dance and recitation. Although Basant Panchami marks the preliminary preparations for the arrival of spring, the weather was slightly nippy and cloudy in Houston. This did not deter the ladies from turning out in their gorgeous yellow saris, the men in their bright yellow kurtas and the children in their cute yellow Indian outfits. Saraswati Puja is more a puja for the youngsters, and they had the times of their lives and enjoyed thoroughly. The food prepared by the volunteers was very tasty and much appreciated. The puja went off very well, much to everyone’s delight.

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February 15, 2019



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February 15, 2019


Mama’s Punjabi Recipes

In response to reader requests, here is a reprint of one of Mama’s much asked for recipe. Since it has first been printed almost six years ago, this has been Mama’s most popular recipe, getting over 400 views each week. Mama’s Atta di Pinni recipe is simple, tasty and a wonderful accompaniment to a cup of hot tea or coffee!

Atte di Pinni

(SWEET WHEAT FLOUR BALLS) Pinnis are a uniquely traditional Punjabi sweet dish that are sometimes mistakenly called laddus by nonPunjabis. The main difference is that laddus are usually made of fried dough and are then formed into balls, whereas pinnis are made with flour (or crushed moong dal) that is browned in a kadai or wok. There are other differences too: pinnis are not drenched in syrup and most also contain mewa (dry fruits), ajwain or a bitter til which a uniquely Punjabi taste. And their taste is completely different from the traditional laddus. Pinnis are usually made and served in the cold winter months in the Punjab as they give lots of warmth and energy. Because of the way they are prepared, they can be kept in a tightly closed container for weeks and even months and not go bad. There many styles of pinnis, and the ones of Amritsar are considered exceptional, in fact many people ask visiting relatives to pick up cases of pinnis from the city. Do not use chasani (sugar syrup) because the granulated sugar you get here is very fine. If you make pinnis with sugar syrup, they do not keep for very long. Pinnis made with dry sugar do not go bad even for a very long time and do not need to be refrigerated. In the old days, before refrigerators, we used to keep the pinnis in pipas (tall tin cans) without any problems. Pinnis aren’t hard to make, and the preparations leading upto making the round balls are not time consuming as many ingredients are available in most Indian households. Our family used to make them at home for our large extended family when we had our ancestral lands and home in Lyallpur (which became part of Pakistan after the Partition). My grandmothers and mother brought these family recipes with them and would make pinnis every winter in Delhi. Ingredients: • 1 kg atta (wheat flour) • 500 gm chinni (white granulated sugar) • 500 gm ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil • 250 gm khoya (congealed sweet cream) • Mewa (dry fruit) (to taste): badam (almonds), piste (pistachios), kishmish (raisins)

Mama(right)makingpinnisathome this past week with family friends (from left) Sumana Bheemarao, Kritika Iyer and master chef Kiran Bheemarao.

Directions: 1. Heat the ghee or oiive oil in a kadai or wok over low heat. 2. Pour in the flour and brown it for about 20 minutes, stirring often as you don’t want to have the flour get too brown as it may give a burnt smell. 3. After the flour is slightly brown, throw in whatever dry fruit you desire and mix well. 4. For added flavor, use khoya in the pinnis. If you like, first brown the khoya over low heat and then mix it into the cooked atta. 5. Turn off the heat and throw in the sugar and mix well. 6. After the mixture has cooled down and can be touched, take a small amount of the mixture and form into a 1.5 inch ball in the cup of your hand. Grease your hand with a little oil if the pinnis start to stick. 7. Place the balls on a tray or plate to cool down and congeal further. Eat

when the balls are cool. Some people actually like to eat these warm as they say the pinnis taste better. Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her early-nineties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.



Lyallpur in the 1930 how important it wa especially food. Withs to use everything wisely and not to’s, I learnt just may pop up at your no phones to call ahead, you nevewaste things, with some type of pr house, so the family kitchen was r knew who always ready epared food. And, often in th was cut and the meolcolder months, and especially after th would make swee asses were reduced by cooking in e sugarcane which were coatedts with the gur (jaggery) and then ushuge vats, we sweetened chai (te inside with a sweet layer, to boil wae the utensils a) for everyone. Th te used up after prepar is way, all the gurr and make ing sweets. was easily

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Fakir of Venice: Farhan, Annu Share Unique Chemistry Story: Adi Merchant (Farhan Akhtar), a hustler from Mumbai is hired by a Venetian artist to find a fakir for an art installation in Venice. He cons the art fraternity and hires a daily wage laborer Sattar (Annu Kapoor) instead and the two have the most unique time of their lives in the picturesque European city. There’s a scene in the film, where the con that Farhan Akhtar’s character is pulling off on the European artists, almost falls flat because of Anu Kapoor lying to him. An enraged Farhan asks Annu why he lied to him about his failing health. To which Annu answers, “We have both lied.” This pretty much cap-

tures the gist of the film where Farhan as a hustler and Annu as a daily wage labourer are pulling a fast one on the European art community. While Farhan is a fixer with almost no conscience, who cheats on his girlfriend, bosses over Sartaj and has zero qualms about exploiting those around him, Annu Kapoor lies because of his own complex reasons. The film, made 10-years-earlier, feels dated in its treatment but its characters are relatable and fresh. Farhan and Annu share an interesting chemistry that makes for a decent one-time watch. While the story is decent, the execution is shoddy. A shaky camerawork and a fuzzy screenplay

draw away your attention from the story of these two characters. What’s also odd is how Farhan’s character, instead of trying and understanding Annu’s Sattar, given that he a big reason the duo will make any money, is downright mean to him almost until the film ends. The meanness is overdone. Farhan Akhtar as the typical suburban, upper-middle class Mumbaikar delivers a credible performance in the film that marked his debut a decade ago. Annu Kapoor as the strange yet head-strong laborer delivers a pitch-perfect performance and is the reason for most of the jokes in the film. -- Times of India

Yatra: Mammootty is Convincing as YSR; It is a Human Drama Rather than a Biopic Cast: Mammootty, Jagapathi Babu, Suhasini Maniratnam Director: Mahi V Raghav Rating: 3 stars On January 7, NTR: Kathanayakudu was released. In the film based on the rise and rise of late legendary actor NT Rama Rao, we were introduced to YS Rajasekhara Reddy, a young politician from Pulivendula. “He’s a very good friend,” Chandra Babu Naidu introduces YSR to NTR. “I am your big fan,” YSR replies. Since making an honourary cameo appearance in the NTR biopic, YSR has got his own standalone film, Yatra. It is the second Telugu biopic on a political leader to release this year in the span of just 30 days. However, unlike the former, Yatra limits itself from indulging in over-the-top adulation of its subject. Yatra is not a film about just one man. It is about what that one-man meant to millions of people. Director-writer Mahi V Raghav told me that political biopics has never clicked at the box office in India. He did not just understand the risk of taking up such a project, he was also mindful not to repeat the common mistakes of the biopic genre. The hack is not to burden the script with too much information. For example, NTR: Kathanayakudu was crammed with way too many

details that weighed down the entire film. The filmmakers had included at least three different moments just to illustrate one point: NTR was always punctual. He was neither late nor early. He was always on time. A passing reference would have served the purpose, instead of dedicating the precious screentime to play up this trivia, which has no value to add to the narration. But, for Raghav, facts are not as important as narrative. He has avoided writing trivial details into the script, by focusing on just one part of YSR’s life, where he revived the fortunes of

a political party that was staring at a definite electoral loss. Make no mistake, it is not a detached study of one of the most important political leaders of our time. The director does want to make YSR look more endearing and the epitome of leadership. But, what makes this film a pleasant watch is the director’s earnest approach to telling a tale of a political superstar. For those who are aware of YSR’s achievements in politics, the film works in the realm of nostalgia. For an uninitiated viewer like me, it subtly captures the power tension between

a regional satrap and an age-old national political party. YSR (Mammootty) sticks out like a sore thumb among the crowd of docile. He plays by his own rules and not always obeys the party highcommand. But, the fact of the matter is the party needs him more than he needs the party. If push comes to shove, YSR won’t even hesitate to warn the party detailing the strength he enjoys in the assembly. The party infighting is just a subplot in Yatra. The main course is the journey of YSR, who becomes more mellow and determined to address problems at the grass-root level. Beyond politics, the film also works as a decent human drama. Other characters have a limited role to play in the film, but thankfully they are not used as a hero-worshipping tool. For instance, Jagapathi Babu, who plays YSR’s father’s YS Raja Reddy, makes a strong presence in the story, even though he just appears in just a couple of scenes. Mammootty, on the other hand, delivers a convincing portrait of a political leader. The first line that YSR says is: “There is no need for you to worry when I am alive.” This dialogue echoes at the end, when you see people collapsing on the ground in despair. -- Manoj Kumar in Indian

Badla: An Engaging Whodunnit

The trailer of Badla starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapse Pannu opens with AB’s voice over, “Badla lena har baar sahi nahi hota, lekin maaf kar dena bhi har baar sahi nahi hota” (It’s not always right to take revenge but it’s also not right to always forgive). Here, Amitabh Bachchan plays a lawyer, who Taapsee hires for a case. She has been accused of murder, but she insists that she is innocent. There are various versions of the truth here, but it’s this layering of the story that makes it for an engaging thriller. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Badla’s trailer gives evokes curiousity. The trailer for a whodunit has to introduce the characters, the basic conflict and push the audience towards different conclusions and Badla checks all the boxes.


February 15, 2019


Gov. Abbott Kicks Off Celebration of Indo-American Culture in Austin Austin: The celebration of Indian American culture in Austin, TX was kicked off by the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and members of a leading Hindu organization, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) at the Texas State Capital on February 6, 2019. Governor Abbott spent time meeting with members of BAPS, recognizing the community service and contributions of the Indian American community. In his remarks, Governor Abbott thanked BAPS and its volunteers for supporting their communities throughout Texas, and for participating in efforts that enrich communities throughout the state. A resolution was read recogniz-

ing BAPS and its Hindu places of worship in Texas along with the many contributions by Indian Americans in local communities across the state during the 86th Legislative Regular Session. Thereafter, BAPS members also had the opportunity to meet with David Whitley, Texas Secretary of State, as well as Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to discuss the importance of communication between all members of society. Throughout the day, BAPS members from across Texas met with State Representatives, Senators, and respective staff members to share background on the Hindu faith and on the Indian American community’s history and growth.

The meetings also gave an opportunity for BAPS volunteers to learn from their government representatives. “It is always so great to have people from the district to come and talk about wonderful charitable and humanitarian work that BAPS is doing. “I am inspired and honored to be a part of this community,” said Julie Johnson, Texas State Representative, District 115. In the evening, BAPS volunteers hosted an event centered on the theme of Samp or unity, a message inspired by the current spiritual leader of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. The event highlighted how the diversity of Texan and Indian Ameri-

can culture work in harmony to further enrich the diversity of Texas. The evening showcased a myriad of spiritual, economic and cultural contributions that Indian Americans have made to the Lone Star State. Glenn Hegar remarked, BAPS’s contributions to the community range from local service to educating each generation living in America about Hindu culture and tradition. Matt Shaheen, Texas House of Representatives, District 66, ecognized the community work and events that BAPS carries out annually. “BAPS has a great history of community service dedicated to peace and harmony. BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for society, families, and individuals, and is making a posi-

tive impact in Texas.” The program also touched on the unique role of BAPS mandirs, which provide a platform for India’s rich culture and heritage. Meghal Bhatt from Pearland stated, “A traditional stone carved mandir like the one in Stafford, Texas enables me to share the traditions, festivals, and diverse culture of India with my friends and colleagues.” These places of worship not only provide a base for spirituality but also a place to become better citizens of tomorrow. For more information on BAPS, its 3,300 internatonal centers and an extensive range of volunteer community services based on peace and harmony, visit

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JOB AVAILABLE Positions available: 1) Full- time or part-time cashier / counter (must be able to speak English and understand Hindi) 2) Full-time kitchen help. 3) Full-time sales girl for Sari store (must be able to speak English and understand Hindi) Anyone interested in this opportunity, please contact Ramesh Lulla at 713-819-1820 after 2 pm or Aakash Lulla at 832-715-8328 after 2 pm INDO-AMERICAN NEWS • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2019 • ONLINE EDITION: WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM



February 15, 2019

Festival of Thaipusam Celebrated at Meenakshi Temple Society

It was a breathtaking sight to see hundreds of devotee families joyfully carrying the Kaavadis and Paal kudams in a procession. Photo by Srini Sundarrajan.

BY M. K. SRIRAM HOUSTON: The festival of Thaipusam commemorates the day when Lord Murugan also known as Skanda, Karthikeya and Subramanya, received the divine ‘Vel’ (spear) from his mother, Goddess Parvati to destroy the powerful demon Surapadman. This festival is observed annually on the day of the ‘Pusam’ star in the Tamil month of ‘Thai’. It was certainly celebrated with great pomp, gusto and fervor at the Sri Meenakshi Temple. It was a clear and crisp Saturday morning on January 26th, when Devotees from all over the Houston and other cities poured in to do just that. The preparations for this grand event had started weeks ahead with a group of dedicated volunteers working with the temple staff to get everything ready. The theme of this year’s event was “Aaru Padai Veedu Dharishanam”, meaning the display of the six houses

of Lord Muruga. These refer to the six major holy shrines of Muruga in southern India, namely Tiruchendur, Pazhani, Tiruthani, Tirupparankundram, Pazhamudir Cholai and Swamimalai. A most beautiful display of this theme was conceptualized by priest Sri Manicka Bhattar and setup at the Kalyana Mandapam by the shilpis (artisans) lead by Sri Ramanathan. The event commenced at the Ganesh Temple, with the traditional puja to Prasanna Vinayaka and sanctification of the colorful Kaavadis and Paal kudams. Enthusiastic volunteers quickly got the above ready and then they were distributed to the sponsors It was a breathtaking sight to see hundreds of devotee families in a splash of colorful traditional attire joyfully carrying the Kaavadis and Paal kudams in a procession, that was an enactment of a pilgrimage, in and around the temple, to the continuous bhajans and chants in praise of Vel Murugan. The procession culminated with a delirious dance as it

reached its destination, the Kalyana Mandapam. It was a most divine experience to witness the Abhishekam performed on Lord Subramanya with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, to the accompaniment of the blissful Sri Rudram.As the priests were doing the alankaram (decoration) of the deities, the devotees joined together to sing the most popular devotional song Kanda Shasti Kavacham, followed by other compositions. When the curtains opened, it was an indescribable heavenly experience to have the darshan of Lord Muruga with Valli and Deivanai dressed in colorful vastrams and decked with beautiful flower garlands. Devotees were mesmerized as it were under as spell as they witnessed the Archana, Deeparadhana and Upacharam. The final Arathi was to the accompaniment of the popular and most beautiful Thirupugazh song Naada Vindu. The deities were then taken on a procession on the grand silver Theru (chariot) around the temple

to the accompaniment of the Chenda melam (traditional drums). The devotees were then treated to a sumptuous lunch prepared by the Temple kitchen. Several volunteers had spent many hours the previous day cutting the vegetables for this feast. Kudos to the MTS chairman Mrs Padmini Nathan for her great leadership, vision and creativity in meticulously planning and executing this event with the support of the Committee members, priests, admin staff, silpis and volunteers. The event was

flawlessly and beautifully executed thanks to the coordinators Sheila Sriram, Dorairajan, Muthuraman and Muthukumar. All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable and divine festivals conducted at Sri Meenakshi Temple. In short, Lord Murugan filled everyone’s heart with true pure happiness. For more information on Sri Meenakshi Temple Society’s temple in Pearland and its numerous activities and community services, including a public library of books on Hindu religion and culture, visit

MTS VHS Class Students Visit Kannappam Art Museum

PEARLAND: About seventeen students from Meenakshi Temple VHS class visited Kannappan Art museums, Pearland on February 3rd 2019. Parents and teachers accompanied the students. Museum’s Executive Director Heidi Weiss conducted informative tour. Exhibits include Blue saree worn by

Late Kaliyammai Achi, mother of Sam Kannappan around 1940. Statue of Thiruvalluvar attracted the attention of the students. Photographs included three level house built by Sam Kannappan’s grand father Late Narayanan in 1944 in Nattarasankottai with raised first floor to keep flood waters away.

When Ms. Weiss asked students for their input, Rohit Satish said museum explains history over time. The Museum visit was initiated by Dr. Chitra Kumar, Coordinator of VHS class. For more information, please email



February 15, 2019

Gandhi’s 70th Death Anniversary Observed HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi Library and Unity of Houston along with Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Jung Center’s Mind Body Spirit Institute, The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center, Baha’I Faith of Houston, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston and many other organizations commemorated Mahatma Gandhi’s 70th death anniversary at Unity of Houston on Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 3 PM to 5 PM at Unity of Houston. “A good heart is the best religion.” This teaching of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama would have been endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi as well, said Dr. Alejandro Chaoul of the Jung Center’s Mind Body Spirit Institute in Houston. Dr. Chaoul was the keynote speaker at Shraddanjali, a memorial tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of the 70th death anniversary of the Apostle of Peace. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Mahatma Gandhi Library, Unity of Houston, Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, the Ismaili Jamatkhana Center, Mind Body Spirit Institute, Bahai’s of Houston and other organizations joined the service and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on Saturday, February 2 at the Main Sanctuary of Unity of Houston. Dr. Chaoul had an avid interest in interfaith and visited the land of Gandhi, a symbol of inner and outer peace in 1989. Gandhi symbolized world peace, he said. After visiting the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi and traveling in northern India, Dr. Chaoul happened to be in the presence of the Dalai Lama when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His encounter with the spiritual leader rendered him literally speechless. “I met someone who touched my heart. I was crying,” Dr. Chaoul recalled and reminisced on the words of the Dalai Lama, “A good heart is the best religion.” The business address of mind is

Zamir presented devotional music from the Baha”i faith. Dolly Goyal and her students presented a Bollywood medley and danced to Vaishnava Jana to. Unity’s choir led by Stephanie Bland also paid a musical tribute. Dr. Barkat Charania outlined the continuing programs marking the Gandhi sesquicentennial celebration. The year-long celebration was kicked off at Asia Society on Sept. 30, 2018. Naresh Sathya, a winner in the Mahatma Gandhi speech contest, gave a rousing speech on the topic “If I met Gandhi today.” Dr. Manish Wani offered a status of the proposed Eternal Gandhi Museum. Land has been acquired at the intersection of Beltway 8 and West Belfort and about $2.5 million of the targeted $8.5 million required for the project has been raised so far. The goal is to open the museum by 2020. FortBendCountyJudgeKPGeorge, who was the guest of honor, while paying homage to Gandhi who propagated non-violence, said he would provide all possible help toward the Eternal Gandhi Museum and would also advocate for including teaching of Gandhi in the school curriculum. The Founder of Mahatma Gandhi Library, Atul Kothari provided a perspective on Gandhian philosophy of practicing Truth non-violently and Truth is God.

Jain Center Commemorates Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary HOUSTON: On Feb 3rd, 2019, Jain Center of Houston students, teachers and parents celebrated with all the pomp and circumstance of a grand Republic Day. This was a special celebration to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth year. The event started with a parade led by Gandhiji with over 250 students and parents waving tirangas and chanting “Vande Mataram”, in an effort to reenact the Dandi March. Gandhiji led his fellow pupils to the main hall, where a group of moms were singing patriotic songs. The hall was adorned with drawings of Mahatma Gandhi. Children of JSH Pathshala had created paper dolls dressed in the traditional attire of each of the 29 states of India. Actual footage of Gandhiji leading the Dhandi March was also being played. After the children settled down, the show began.

Personal Injury: Wrongful Death Claims


called “monkey mind,” and the home address of the mind is the heart, of heart chakra, Dr. Chaoul said and added that “we need to cultivate inner peace and find peace within.” Dr. Chaoul was glad that Houston will be home to the Eternal Gandhi Museum, which the Dalai Lama has strongly supported in a letter and by the Mayor of Houston. Earlier, the program began with a welcome by Rev. Mindy Lawrence of Unity of Houston, followed by an invocation rendered by Marcel Wormsley of the Baha’i Faith. Rev. Mindy Lawrence, Atul Kothari, Dr. Alejandro Chaoul, Devinder mahajan and Rev. Greg Han lit the lamp and garlanded Gandhi’s portrait. The program began with lovely Anusha Sathya, as emcee for the event. Children of the DAV Montessori School and Sanskriti School, led by Smriti Srivastava, presented a bhajan “Insaaf ki Dagar pe...”. This was followed by Smriti Srivastava and the Swar Sangam group’s presentation of “Vaishnava Jana to,” a favorite bhajan of Gandhi, a Bengali song “Ekla Chalo Re.” and “Raghupati Raghav Rajaram.” Other musical tributes included “Allah & Lab Pe Aati Hai”, a medley by Kamal Haji’s Zikr band of Ismaili Jamatkhana and it served as a bridge between tradition, culture, and faith. Similarly, Anisa and Alma Roshan-


The Texas legislature enacted the Wrongful Death Statute which provides the sole remedy and maximum compensation for the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents for all losses sustained as a result. Wrongful death is defined as death that occurs as the direct result of intentional, unintentional, negligent, reckless, or unskillful actions of a person or entity when the death was avoidable and there are monetary damages. This action creates a valid wrongful death claim and it is especially important when the deceased was the primary income owner or estate owner for the surviving family members. Who can file a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas? There are many parties that can file for wrongful death claims, including the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased. Siblings of the deceased are not allowed to file a claim. Under Texas law, the plaintiffs of such lawsuit are in the shoes of the victim if s/he had lived. Each party may file together as a team or separately. Further, the named beneficiaries must file the claim within three-months after the death or the executor or administrator of the estate shall bring suit on behalf of the beneficiaries. There is also a two year statute of limitations from the date of death. What damages may be recovered? When there is a valid wrongful death claim or death caused by the defendant’s intentional act or omission or gross negligence, plaintiffs are entitled to actual damages and exemplary damages for the harm caused by Defendant. The damages awarded are shared equally among all plaintiffs entitled to recover. The recovery for wrongful death claims includes lost income that the deceased would have earned if s/he were still alive and employed, lost care and assistance, property, legal fees, mental

anguish, distress, emotional pain, physical pain that the wrongful death of a loved caused on surviving beneficiaries and dependents. Texas Wrongful Death law exists to provide a right for the surviving family to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent person or company to seek full damages and punish the wrongdoer for their negligence. It is imperative that spouses, children, or parents suffering from the wrongful death of a loved one, to contact a qualified attorney to begin working on their claim immediately. The attorney will work to prove all evidence of the egregious actions by the defendant for the highest compensation. About the Author Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997. Mala has been appointed leadership roles for the American Bar Association GP Solo and GP Solo YLD division, is Board member of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, Past President of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, and prior board member of the SouthAsian Bar Association. She is also a member of the Houston Bar Association. Mala has also been selected as 10 Best Attorneys by the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorney for 20182019, Top 40 under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers for 2018-2019, and Texas Top 10 Personal Injury Attorney by Attorney and Practice Magazine for 2019. This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at office number 281-893-8644 or by email at mala@ to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.


Parents and kids alike danced to different popular patriotic songs. One girl sang “Sabarmati Ke Sant” while another sang “Vatan Mera India, I love my India”. Atul Kothari, the president of Houston’s Gandhi Library, gave a speech on programs and events nationwide that spread

awareness of Ghandiji’s legacy.At the end, a three-year-old Pathshala toddler sang the Indian national anthem “Jana Gana Mana”. The audience, standing in attention with their hand on their chests, joined her, their faces shining with pride. Pictures provided by Navin Mediwala and Sunny Jain.

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February 15, 2019


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