Indo-American News, June 14, 2019

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Friday, June 14, 2019 | Vol. 38, No. 19

Indo American News Published weekly from Houston, TX


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Naushad Kermally (center) with his wife Narmin speaks to his supporters at a victory rally after the Sugar Land City Council runoff victory.

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June 14, 2019

5th International Day of Yoga Events Scheduled throughout Texas By Manu Shah Houston: The Consulate General of India, Houston in collaboration with Friends of Yoga, is organizing several events across Texas to celebrate the 5th International Day of Yoga. This ancient Indian practice received unprecedented global attention four years ago when the United Nations recognized June 21st as the International Day of Yoga. An initiative of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself starts his morning with yoga, the first IDY in 2015 saw people turning out in huge numbers stretching and breathing mindfully at public parks, convention centers and open spaces. Yoga’s soaring popularity can be seen from the crowds that join in the celebration every year. From serious yoga practitioners to curious beginners, each successive IDY has been drawing bigger crowds and garnering greater interest. As with every year, this year too will feature a lineup of common yoga practices, relaxation techniques and guided meditation by well-known yoga instructors. An added attraction is an Indian Vegetarian Food Festival which will be held at select places to mark the 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, Houston will celebrate IDY on Friday, June 21 on the lush green lawns of Midtown Park (2811, Travis St, Houston Texas 77006). The event will begin at 6:00 pm with a demonstration of some of the more difficult yoga postures (asanas) and a cultural program. After brief remarks from the Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray, the guided group yoga (Asanas or Postures), Relaxation, Pranayama and Meditation will be led by different yoga experts. The event will wrap up at 7:30 pm with a color powder dance party or Holi

A diverse group of Houstonians gathered to participate in the International Day of Yoga last year.

Participating Yoga teachers fold their hands in prayer before the start of yoga day.

From serious yoga practitioners to curious beginners, each successive IDY has been drawing bigger crowds and garnering greater interest. as it is known in India. (RSVP at yogadayoftexas2019.eventbrite. com) Coordinator of Houston’s yoga events and a firm believer in yoga for optimum health, Sharad Amin expressed his appreciation for the cooperation from Houston’s yoga community in celebrating IDY for the past four years. Yoga is a precious gift given by Indian sages to humanity, he noted, and em-

phasized the importance of practicing yoga for good health every day. “Each one should teach one” the health benefits of yoga as it is key to “being and well-being,” he added. The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands will host the event on Saturday June 22 from 7:30 -10am at the Town Green Park. (2099 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77380). Opening remarks will

be made by Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray followed by yoga practices from participating yoga studios, Surya Namaskars or the Sun Salutation practice by HTW Yoga Group and the 35 minute yoga protocol set by the Government of India led by renowned yoga instructors Sriram Sarvotam and his wife Ekaterina Jeleva. The morning will conclude with a guided meditation session.

Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 06, 2019 • Online Edition:

The Consulate General of India, Houston has also planned a series of events in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. IDY will be observed in front of the stately State Capitol building in Austin on Saturday June 15 at 6:00 pm (1100 Congress Ave. Austin, Texas 78701), in Dallas on 22nd June, Saturday at 8:00 am at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Plaza (1201 Hidden Ridge Dr., Irving, Texas, 75038) and in San Antonio on 21st June, Friday at 6:00 pm at the Riverwalk Mall (San Antonio, TX – 78205). In addition to these main events, multiple events are being organized at churches, temples, community centers, Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Brahma Kumaris, India House, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Shakas (HSS), Jamatkhanas and Patanjali Yogpeeth USA Trust between 15th and 23rd June. Please visit the following links for more information: Website :; Facebook : yogadayoftexas/; Twitter : https:// The events are free and open to all. Bring your yoga mats and plan to arrive 20 minutes ahead to find a comfortable spot. The events are being organized in association with The Art of Living Foundation, Arya Samaj Greater Houston, Brahma Kumaris Texas, Ekal Vidyalaya, Hindus of Greater Houston, Hindus Swayamsevak Sangh, Hindu Temple of the Woodlands, His Highness Aga Khan Council for the Southwestern United States, IMAGH, India House, IDoYoga, Isha Foundation, JK Yog, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial of North Texas, Midtown Houston, Patanjali Yogapeeth USA Trust, Pralaya Yoga, Sahaj Yoga, Sewa International, Youniversoul Fest, Vyasa USA, Yoga Studios, Yoga Friends and volunteers.

June 14, 2019

Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 14, 2019 • Online Edition:




June 14, 2019

Campaign Launched to Raise Funds for Guru Nanak Documentary By Jawahar Malhotra Houston: In commemoration of the 550th Birthday Anniversary of Guru Nanak, the National Sikh Campaign has launched a nationwide effort to raise funds for the production of a documentary about the founder of Sikhism, his life and his philosophy of equality and tolerance for all people. The documentary will be aired on over 200 public television stations across the country. The campaign is being led by Dr. Rajwant Singh a practicing dentist from Maryland, outside of Washington, DC, who is a co-founder of NSC and is its Secretary. He is also the Secretary of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in Rockville, Maryland and founder of EcoSikh which deals with climate change and environmental causes as well as being active in a number of other organizations. Singh was in town last month to participate in the Houston fundraising efforts at all the Sikh gurdwaras in the area. “There is a dire need to create awareness about Guru Nanak and his message in America and in the world,” Singh told the audience. “According to our polls and survey in 2014, 0 percent of Americans know about Guru Nanak and a vast majority of the people in world has no clue about his life and important contribution he made 500 years ago.

We are hoping to change that with this community supported effort.” According to Harjit Singh Galhotra, Secretary of the Sikh National Center in Houston who is active in the local efforts, over $100,000 was collected, with $42,000 of that coming from the SNC, of which Dr. Hardam Singh Azad gave the highest amount of $25,000. The Houston fundraiser was held on Friday, May 10 at Hotel Preet off 290 West and featured representatives of eight area-wide gurdwaras. The event was emceed by radio personality and dance and fashion show choreographer Jasmeeta Singh and featured the King of comedy, Tarlok Singh Chug who flew in from Calgary, Canada and has been part of

the fundraising efforts in Queens and Long Island, New York City. Other fundraisers have been held Cerritos outside of Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Fort Lauderdale and Dallas. According to Singh, they NSC has raised $500,000 already. Thedocumentaryisbeingproduced by the father-son team of Gerald and Adam Krell of Auter Productions of Washington, DC. It will be released for broadcast on 200 PBS stations in November 2019, coinciding with Guru Nanak’s birthday celebrated on November12. For more information or to donate, contact Dr. Rajwant Singh at or at 202-4600630 or visit www.sikhcampaign.


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June 14, 2019

Naushad Kermally is First Muslim to Win Sugar Land City Council Seat


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Jubilant Naushad Kermally (center) withi his children Adam (left), Aaron, Arianna and wife Narmin.

By Pooja Salhotra Sugar Land With encouragement from his wife Narmin and support from his three children, Naushad Kermally decided six months ago to run for Sugar Land City Council. After an arduous journey involving dozens of volunteers, around the clock blockwalking and non-stop phone banking, Kermally emerged victorious in the District 2 run-off election on Saturday, becoming the first Muslim City Council member in Sugar Land. “No words can describe how I feel right now,” Kermally said to his supporters soon after the early voting results came in on Saturday. “This is not about Naushad. This is about the love for the City of Sugar Land first and foremost.” Kermally was speaking to a cheering crowd of about 150 supporters at an election watch party held at Fernando’s on Saturday. At the time, Kermally had enough of a lead in early voting for officials to call it a win. And minutes later, the final numbers arrived, announcing that Kermally had defeated his opponent Nabila Mansoor with 57.26% of the 3,163 votes. Saturday’s election was a runoff following an initial election in May. In that first contest, Kermally led the polls in a three-man race against Mansoor along with another candidate, David Gomet. The District 2 race was the only Sugar Land election that resulted in a runoff, so both Mansoor and Kermally were focusing their ef-

forts on driving voters back out to the polls. Kermally credits his loyal team of family members, friends and volunteers for helping bring out voters and secure a win. He called out his in-laws, for example, who helped drive people who needed transportation to the polls on Saturday morning; he thanked his son Aaron who, along with three friends, hung door hangers on 8000 plus homes across the New Territory, Telfair and River Park neighborhoods; and he thanked his three female “CEOs” — his sister, Anar Gulamali, his sister-inlaw Mina Kermally and his wife Narmin Kermally. He called these three ladies the “spines to keep me straight,” the “femurs to keep me upright” and the root of his energetic campaign. For members of the Ismaili Muslim community, Kermally’s win felt especially significant. Although Sugar Land the city with the highest concentration of Asians in Texas, the City Council does not always reflect that. Kermally is the first Muslim to serve on the City Council in Sugar Land, which is the home to the national headquarters for the Ismaili Council for the United States. “Sometimes, as a minority community, there are certain things for which we might not go to the City Council, for instance if there are issues with neighborhood crime,” said Sherali Haiderali, a Sugar Land resident who volunteered on Kermally’s campaign. “Now, I think people might have more


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confidence knowing that there is someone who can listen to us and understand our issues.” While Naushad did highlight the support he received from his Ismaili Muslim community, he also emphasized that he has run an inclusive campaign and will continue to serve as a representative for people of all backgrounds. He even thanked his opponent for running and said he hopes to meet with her in the future. “Whether you’re Hindu, African American, Chinese, it doesn’t matter, I want to represent you and I will represent every citizen of District 2,” Kermally said. “I will be a voice for all of us.” Kermally began his career as a Trauma and Critical Care nurse and later transitioned to business. He now serves as the Vice President of Prime Communications. He has lived in Sugar Land for the past 23 years, during which he sent his three kids through Sugar Land public schools and engaged with the community by serving on the Ethics Review Board, completing the Citizens Police Academy and taking on other voluntary roles. These positions were always leading up to an ultimate City Council run. “He’s always had a passion to serve, whether it be in the Ismaili community or the community at large,” Narmin Kermally said. Kermally is filling Bridget Yeung’s seat on the council. He will be sworn in during a public ceremony on Tuesday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m.

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Pratham Houston President Asha Dhume with Swatantra Jain, Pratham CEO & National Board member.

Houston: At the Board meeting on May 29, Pratham Houston President Asha Dhume was presented a plaque by Pratham CFO and Pratham National Board member, Mr. Swatantra Jain in recognition of her hard work, commitment and dedication to the cause of Pratham and for the upliftment of the underprivileged children of India. The entire Board recognized the outstanding work that Asha Dhume has done as chapter President raising a record $4.5 million at the annual gala on April 20th. This amount is the highest raised among all Indian- American charities in Houston and also nationally across all Pratham chapters in the US. The dazzling “sold out” gala celebrated 20 years of Pratham USA and honored Pratham USA Founder, Vijay Goradia. The recognition of Asha was truly special as several past Pratham Houston Presidents were attendees at the Board meeting - Anil Shah, Swatantra Jain, Marie Goradia and Ash Shah. Asha Dhume thanked the entire Board

for this recognition bestowed upon her and acknowledged the support of all donors who have contributed generously to the cause of Pratham over the years. Please save the dates for the Pratham Holiday Luncheon on Friday, December 6, 2019 at the Junior League of Houston and the Pratham Houston Gala on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at Hilton Americas. Established in the slums of Mumbai in 1995, Pratham is now one of India’s largest non-governmental education organizations, having affected the lives of more than 60 million underprivileged children in the past two decades. To achieve its mission of “every child in school and learning well,” Pratham develops practical solutions to address gaps in the education system and works in collaboration with India’s governments, communities, educators, and industry. Pratham USA is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with a consistent four-star rating from Charity Navigator that seeks to raise awareness and mobilize financial resources for our work in India. For more information, visit

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June 14, 2019


Club 24 Plus Members Enjoy Casino Royale: 007 James Bond Style

Hosts Bharat and Vanitha Pothuri with past presidents Pradeep Gupta (far left), Founder-Director Ashok Garg and Vivek Kavadi (far right). Dressed to kill -- the ladies came in their fineries to try their hands at Casino games such as Blackjack, Roulette, and Poker.

By Pramod Kulkarni Cypress: Casino Night brings to mind the exciting Hollywood images of Casino Royale and our intrepid hero: 007 James Bond. While only two of the men of Club 24 Plus were dressed in Bond style tuxedos or white jackets, the women were certainly were dressed to kill. And kill they did at the games of chance. The top chip holders were both women. The men did partake of the casino games, but indulged in cocktails, both shaken and stirred at the luxurious home of Drs. Vanitha and Bharat Pothuri.


Club 24 Plus members displayed intense concentration at the Blackjack table.

Bharat and Vanitha Pothuri present special prizes to two members with the highest number of chips -- Alka Yagnik (left) and Bhavna Puri.

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June 14, 2019

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi - Part 1

Young Mohandas is Born in 1869 Born more than 130 years ago,

the life and times of the man who would grow up to be universally known as The Mahatma, still resonates until today. Mohandas Gandhi had an ordinary childhood in Porbandar, on the coast of Kathiawad in the western state of Gujarat, a loved and pampered son of very ordinary parents. He grew up to inspire legions of people globally by his fearless ideology that uprooted an empire, to bring freedom to the land of his birth. With his message of non-violence, he roused the nation and earned the title of Great Soul. For the next several weeks, Indo American News will bring you his life story, and of how he continues to be an inspiration to the world and mostly to millions of oppressed people everywhere. Born on October 2, 1869, to Karamchand Gandhi and his wife Putlibai. Young Mohandas hailed from a family highly regarded for the moral ethics and strength of character. His grandfather Uttamchand belonged to a humble family of merchants, but rose in the ranks to become the Dewan of Porbander. His son Karamchand, who had very little education, succeeded him but was a fine administrator. Putlibai, Karamchand Gandhi’s wife, was a deeply religious woman and strong-willed woman. She was widely respected for her wisdom and good sense. People often sought her advice on various matters. Mohandas was the youngest of the six children of Karamchand and Putlibai Gandhi. He was the favorite child of the family and was called Moniya by his parents and their friends. Moniya adored his mother. He loved his father too, but he was a little afraid of him. As a child, Moniya seldom liked to stay at home. He would go home for his meals and then run away again to play outside. Moniya was just seven years old when his father left Porbandar to become the Dewan of Rajkot, taking the family along. At Rajkot he was sent to a primary school. He was shy and did not mix easily with the other children. Every morning he went to school in time, and ran back home as soon as

school was over. His books were his sole companions and he spent all his free time alone reading. He had one friend, however; a boy named Uka. Uka was a sweeper boy and an untouchable. One day Moniya was given some sweets. He ran at once to Uka to share them with him. But Uka told Moniya not to go near him as he was an untouchable. It was the first time that Mohandas encountered India’s cataclysmic social divide. Stunned by the revelation that in India one was identified by one’s caste, he took hold of Uka’s hands and filled them with sweets. His mother, watching from a window, ordered Moniya in the house. She told him that high caste Hindus did not touch “untouchables”. When her son questioned her, she responded that Hindu customs forbid it. When Moniya disagreed, his mother had no answer but was angry with him. Karamchand Gandhi loved all his sons, but he was especially fond of the youngest. He often advised him to study well and take up a profession. Moniya worked hard, and did his lessons carefully. But he did not enjoy memorizing and was therefore weak in Sanskrit. Geometry was his favorite subject because it involved reasoning. Moniya had a friend named Sheikh.

He was tall and strong. Sheik was a meat-eater and he often told Mohandas that if he ate meat he would also grow tall and strong. There was also at that time a reform movement for a change in the orthodox beliefs and practices of Hindus. Mohandas himself had heard that many well to-do people had started eating meat, so he, too, tried meat. He did not like the taste of meat but as time went on, he started to like meat curries. Whenever Mohandas had a meat meal outside, he had to give his mother some excuse for not eating his dinner. He knew that his parents would not forgive him. This feeling was gnawing at his heart and finally he decided not to touch meat again. Mohandas had also taken to smoking with Sheik, his brother, and another relative. He had to pilfer small amounts of money to buy cigarettes. One day, in order to pay off a debt which his brother had incurred, Mohandas stole a piece of gold jewelry. Stealing was a great sin. He knew that he had committed a great crime. He resolved never in his life to steal again. He wrote down a confession of his crime and handed the paper to his ailing father. Karamchand Gandhi read the confession. He tore up the paper without saying a word. The bits of paper fell to the floor. He sank back on his bed with a sigh. Mohandas left the room, tears streaming down his face. From that day on, Mohandas loved his father more and more. Every day he hurried home from school to wait on him. His father’s condition grew worse and at length he died. The house was filled with sorrow. Mohandas was only sixteen when his father died. To be Continued in Next Issue

Quest for Harmony Turns into Eternal Gandhi Museum

interactive experiences inspired by Gandhian thought. The Museum will be located in southwest Houston on a 3-acre property at Beltway 8 South and Riceville School Road. The total cost to build and furnish the Eternal Gandhi Museum is $8.5 million. The Mahatma Gandhi Library, a nonprofi t 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 2002 with the mission to increase public awareness, especially to the children, of Gandhian philosophy and teachings, highlighting the universal values of Peace, Truth, Nonviolence Love, and Service. For more information, visit eternalgandhi.usa Credit: India Herald

STAFFORD: “Prayer is either petitional or in a wider sense, inward communion.” This quotation of Mahatma Gandhi splashes on the electronic screen at the marquee outside the office of the Eternal Gandhi Museum at 303 Dulles Avenue, Stafford. The signboard displays different quotation of Gandhi each day. The Eternal Gandhi Museum is an exciting new initiative of Houston’s Mahatma Gandhi Library. One of the world’s first digital multimedia museums, this unique new destination will keep the flame of Gandhi’s legacy and impact alive by presenting key historical events associated with Gandhi’s life and a variety of

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Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 14, 2019 • Online Edition:


Crisis Defused on Hindi

The Centre has moved quickly to defuse a potentially volatile controversy over the charge of Hindi imposition. It is quite apparent that the Narendra Modi government did not want the language issue to acquire disproportionate importance at a time when it is embarking on its second innings with a huge mandate. Further, given the impression that the ruling party does not have much of a presence in South India, barring Karnataka, it did not want to be seen as being insensitive to the concerns of southern States, especially Tamil Nadu. The reference in the newly unveiled draft National Education Policy to mandatory teaching of Hindi in all States was withdrawn following an outcry from political leaders in Tamil Nadu, a State that is quite sensitive to any hint of ‘Hindi imposition’ by the Centre. The modified draft under the heading ‘Flexibility in the choice of languages’, has omitted references to the language that students may choose. However, the broader recommendation regarding the implementation of a three-language formula remains, something Tamil Nadu, which will not budge from its two-language formula, is averse to. The revised draft merely says students may change one or more of their three languages in Grade 6 or 7, “so long as they still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board examinations some time during secondary school”. It may not amount to a complete reversal , but is still important in terms of conciliatory messaging. However, there is a larger issue here. Ever since the Constitution adopted Hindi as the official language, with English also as an official language for 15 years initially, there has been considerable tension between those who favour the indefinite usage of English and those who want to phase it out and give Hindi primacy. Compulsory learning should be limited to one’s mother tongue and English as the language that provides access to global knowledge and as a link language within India. It is time attempts to force Indians proficient in their mother tongue and English to acquire proficiency in a third are given up. -- The Hindu

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June 14, 2019


The Surgical Vikas Strike By Madhavan Narayanan Aspirational poor-- those who may not be absolutely poor but feel themselves to be laggards -- are the likely cause of BJP’s big vote surge in its decisive triumph over Congress, which has focused on those struggling for basic needs or livelihoods. In sheer voting numbers, the former trumps the latter, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party a larger potential universe of voters to target, which he did. The Congress may have had its heart in the right place, but the BJP had its eye on the main chance that lay above the poverty line. In the business of electoral politics, post-facto analysis is a lot easier than predictions, but when poll victories throw up dramatically discernible insights or patterns, there is a case to sit up and take note of what went right for the winner and wrong for the losers. In this year’s Lok Sabha sweepstakes, it turns out in retrospect that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have thrown up a gamechanger by looking at poverty the right side up, politically speaking. On the face of it, Rahul Gandhiled Congress played the big populist card with its manifesto that promised NYAY - Nyunatam Aay Yojana -- that promised Rs 6,000 a month to the poorest 5 crore families in India, or about 25 crore people. In the eyes of many Congress insiders, the party failed to capitalise on it because the promise came too late and also because it lacked the organisational cadre and energy to convert that into votes. While that explanation may be valid in itself, there is another way to understand how Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have capitalised on poverty -- that of looking above the poverty line for votes -- from those who may not be truly poor in the eyes of an economist but nevertheless can be politically harvested as poor voters. Modi has led a campaign to suggest that Congress has kept India poor over seven decades and it was time to fight that, with an accompanying narrative that focuses on corruption and black money. However, hard data shows India has reduced what economists call

absolute poverty, defined as not having enough to meet biological needs or basic needs. This is distinct from “relative poverty” that addresses secondary needs. It is widely believed that Indira Gandhi’s “Garibi Hatao” (Remove Poverty) slogan that led to her sweeping success in the 1971 elections was inspired by Pakistani leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s call for “Roti, Kapda Aur Makan” (Food, Clothing and Shelter) that explicitly defined a political slogan in terms of absolute poverty. That seemed to work then, as absolute poverty was common in those years. It is 48 years since the Congress gave that slogan and there have been nearly four decades of India’s economy nearly doubling its infamous average “Hindu rate of growth” of around 3.5% in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The disturbing irony for the party could be that the children born out of a demographic surge accompanying the gradual reduction in the share of the population living below the poverty line defined by basic needs has thrown up hundreds of millions of voters who feel themselves to be poor enough but unaware of the history of the country’s poverty. They stand above the poverty line and have turned out to be a powerful socioeconomic vote bank for the BJP. Sometime during his tenure as Prime Minister, the late BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee had remarked that people increasingly demanded schools, roads and hospitals. This could have been a demographic turning point for the political discourse that Modi has capitalised on. For the better part

Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 14, 2019 • Online Edition:

of Indians now, needs have shifted from “Roti, Kapda Aur Makan” to “Sadak, Bijli and Shiksha”. The BJP has smartly shifted its focus towards the ‘aspirational poor’ while the Congress has been mired in its past -- focused on the absolute poor. While the Congress shouted in shrill tones on the agrarian crisis, the problems of farmers and the plight of unemployed youths, the Modi government steadily built up a combination of performance, promise and political imagery around cooking gas (Ujjwala scheme), toilets (Swacch Bharat Mission) rural electricity (Saubhagya scheme), roads (PM Grameen Sadak Yojana) and affordable housing (PM Awas Yojana) and self-employment (MUDRA loans). For instance, the rural road scheme’s coverage, though started under Vajpayee, increased from 55% to 82% over the past five years. The Saubhagya scheme extended rural electricity to target households rather than just villages. BJP president Amit Shah had set a target for campaigners to reach out to 22 crore beneficiaries touched by at least one of the schemes launched by his government. Party campaigners aided by call centres reached out on their own account to 24 crore people through 18 crore beneficiaries. In a tangential way, the outreach’s beneficiaries comprised substantially of the poorer sections of women. It is significant that women closed the gender gap in the record 67.36% voter turnout in the 2019 elections, lagging men by a negligible 0.1%. The decline of caste-based parties such as the BahujanSamaj Party and the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh seems to bear out the hypothesis that vast sections of the rural poor found a higher emotional connection with Modi’s redefined idea of poverty than the traditional appeal to vote on the basis of identity which is largely centred around access to government jobs or sheer appeal to clannish sentiments. -- Indian Express The writer is an independent journalist, political analyst and commentator.



June 14, 2019

Sai Baba’s Message Reaches Out with Conviction in Bud Patel’s Hindi Play Stafford: It is latent talup the daunting ent and a pent-up desire to challenge of draexpress yourself creatively matizing a clasthat brings community thesic spiritual story atre alive for others to maron stage but did vel at. That fascination with so magnificently the arts has been building up well, managamong the desi community ing the cast and as it has grown larger and crew of over 50 more diverse in its makeup people. over the past two decades, The play transand in particular the past ported you back eight years as more people to the British Era are drawn to take part in the in the small villimelight, and not just in lage of Shirdi dance productions. in Maharashtra. Bhadresh Patel – better There were lively known as Bud - is one of performances of those people who have milead actor Vibgrated from their profession has Dhurandhar to the avocation that first The cast, crew, sponsors and wellwishers gathered for a group photo at the end of the unique Sai-Leela as Sai-Baba, and called them as a young per- theatrical performance. others playing son. A microbiologist who Baizama (Sonal worked in a medical lab, Tu l j a p u r k a r ) , in the play “Sai Leela” with a set the audience knew that something Bud became an hotelier, even build- designer and costumes and acces- magical, momentous and on a Saurvanbai/Meera (Kiran Guping some hotels in Houston. But the sories imported from India. ta), Dhandu (Vinay Goel), Pandu grand-scale was about to start. acting bug that he got when he was “Shridi Sai-Baba message is very The play had all the dramatic ele- (Krishna Mishra), Bal Yogi/Nacha just 7 years-old in Bombay and then simple,” explained Bud. “Shraddha- ments found in large productions - (Ratnakar), Chandbhai/Shastriji developed in Marathi dramas, led saburi (faith-patience) and com- soulful music, thunderous dialogues, (Akshay Shah), Rukhmani (Mukta him on to writing scripts, film mak- plete devotion to God and Guru.” melodious songs, extravagant sets, Vijaywargiya), Keshav (Ishaan Viing and teaching aspiring actors. He The production was lavish and each beautiful costumes, mesmerizing jawargiya), Lord Curzon (James became a producer and the lead in actor had to deliver their own lines dance sequences, and a powerful Burtan), Queen (Madhu Prakash), “A Curry on an American Plate”. in Hindi. The dialogues and back- performance of Sai Baba on stage. and Bud Patel himself as Kulkarni But Bud yearned to mix theatre ground music was not pre-recorded. Still the show had a contemporary Sarkar. The special dance sequence with his devotion to Shridi Sai “Sai-Baba’s divine blessings were feel to it and the credit goes to di- (Dipavali song) was choreographed Baba, and for the past few months, with us,” Bud added. rector Bud Patel, scriptwriter Dr. by Khusboo Jaiswal and the Lavani he pulled together a script, a cast of Sai Leela premiered at the Old Arun Banker, and lead actor Vibhas and Qawwali was choreographed actors and a producer (“My wife,” Stafford Civic Center on Friday, Dhurandhar for painstakingly add- by Kiran Gupta. he smiled) to direct a Broadway June 7 to a sold out audience of ing theatrical details to adapt it to Houstonians will cherish the style drama based on the saint’s life 900.. As the curtains were raised, the stage. Bud Patel not only took show for long time as Bud Patel has

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raised the bar by producing a show on such a grand scale. He was also able to accomplish the overwhelming task of finding local talent, who could act and dance and offering them an opportunity to shine on stage. The devotion (Sai-Bhakti) and hard work put in by each artist was reflected on their performance. “I can’t help but appreciate how much of an amazing milestone this is and how lucky I was to have this amazing team,” said Bud after the show. “I sincerely bow to Sai-Baba who has blessed me with this glorious opportunity of translating his work into stage play. I am ever indebted to his mercy towards us and our cast and crew.” The producers especially thanked the show’s sponsors and volunteers - Rakesh Parikh (voice, music & sound recording) for spending countless hours on mixing and arranging the sound track and voice recording; Anilkumar Sihray (for stage lighting direction); Fateh Ali Chatur (for special advice and stage management) and Sangita Tailor Jolie of Jolie Salon & Makeup. The grand sponsors were Sanatan Shiv Shakti Mandir, Shirdi Sai Jalaram Mandir, Umang Mehta (Deep Foods), Sudhir Mathuria (Health Medicare 360), Baccha Tiwari (New York Life), Vinod Shah (ABC Travel), Bharat Kalyanji (BK Traders), and Ajit Patel and Nisha Mirani (Manoranjan Inc).


Dhawan 117 Secures India’s Win vs. Aussies

June 14, 2019


SNC’s 4th Annual Blood Drive

By Alagappan Muthu Southhampton (ESPN Cricinfo): India 352 for 5 (Dhawan 117, Kohli 82, Rohit 57, Hardik 48, Cummins 1-55) beat Australia 316 (Smith 69, Warner 56, Carey 55*, Bhuvneshwar 3-50) by 36 runs There was a masterclass in batting at The Oval. Shikhar Dhawan overcame a weakness to score 117. Steven Smith showed none as he made 69. Hardik Pandya was pure unfettered power. David Warner fought demons. And Virat Kohli, as always, was method over madness. That the Oval pitch offered nothing to the bowlers dulled the contest a little bit, but India showed immense awareness with the way they paced their innings and for that alone they deserved victory. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins understood that there wasn’t any help for them and so were quick to pull their lengths back and keep a tight line around the off stump, and occasionally resorted to cross-seamers, bouncers and yorkers to surprise the batsmen. For the first seven overs, Dhawan and Rohit Sharma sauntered along at 3.14 per over. Then came Nathan Coulter-Nile. And three boundaries in six balls. India’s victory is owed entirely to

Organizer Amrit Singh was among blood donors at the SNC.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar in his delivery follow-through, World Cup 2019.

their batsmen recognising moments like these. They were like the muscle car revving up in front of the stop light. Dhawan, especially. He had a big bulls-eye on him. A weakness against left-arm pace. And he’d have to deal with one of the best exponents of it in recent times. He’d been lbw to Trent Boult and Mustafizur Rahman in the warmup games because of his front foot going too far across, but here a simple change - batting on leg stump, and even occasionally outside - helped him stay beside the ball and survive Starc’s menace. There were other obstacles in his way. Namely Cummins. The right-arm quick hurt Dhawan’s left

thumb with a bouncer and the batsman kept yanking his bottom hand off his bat every time he was forced to drive. The physio’s magic spray helped but to play through pain for nearly three hours - he didn’t come out to field in the second innings was a monumental effort. And it came with a fitting reward. A sixth century in ICC tournaments. Of all batsmen from anywhere, only Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar have more. India did a great many good things in this game. They identified Australia’s fifth bowler (Marcus Stoinis) and their lead spinner (Adam Zampa) as weaknesses and carted them for 112 runs in 13 overs. A lot of that was Hardik’s doing.

Houston: One pitch to give blood is “and be a hero” and for most people it rings true enough to make their way to the Blood Center van. Two Sundays ago, on June 2 – four days before the 75th commemoration of the D-Day – the invasion of Normandy in World War II – the pitch rang true for members of the congregation of the Sikh National Center. The 20-acre SNC site has been the focus of most of the Sikh community’s efforts to build a masterplanned center that would house a Gurdwara as well as a boarding school, auditorium, museum, library, pavilion and residence for priests. The collection van from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center pulled up beside the basketball pavilion and the interim gurdwara which has been the focal point of Sunday prayer meetings for the past ten years.

Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 14, 2019 • Online Edition:

According to one of the organizers, Amrit Singh, the 4th Annual Blood Drive by the SNC was held to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Operation Blue Star during which – from June 1 to 8, 1984 - the Indian military took action to oust militant religious leaders from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. “Of those who attempted donation, 23 were successful, including many first time donors,” said Singh after he had himself donated. Blood collections are performed by the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center ( which encourages the donations in order to replenish the Houston Blood Bank that services area hospitals. To meet the needs of the area community, The Blood Center must collect about 800 donations every day and so it encourages individuals to Commit for Life, to give blood.



June 14, 2019

Indologist Sees Modi’s Second Term Favorable to the Hindu Agenda ently, compared to past decades. This is the time to consolidate the gains, and press ahead with seeking equality with others in the constitution of India, which institutionalizes discrimination against the Hindus. Dr. Elst’s

advocated Hindu lobbying within the BJP and outside of it, to end systemic discrimination against the Hindus. Dr. Elst was in the city as part of the 16 city U.S. lecture tour organized by the Global Hindu Foundation. The Houston program was organized by Srini Katta, Neeta Pahwa and Anjana Chatterjee. Dr. Elst was hosted by Shri Gopinath and Shrimati Renuka Mistry. The public program was moderated by

Dr Elst posed with several of the organizers and audience after the lecture.

Houston: Indologist Dr. Koenraad Elst, who is the topmost Hindu Renaissance scholar in the world today, delivered a lecture on Saturday, June 1 in the afternoon titled ‘Hindu Agenda On Modi Time’ right after the election results came in from India at the Holiday Inn Westchase. Dr. Elst, Ph.D. is a Hindu Renaissance scholar from Belgium, whose lifelong dedication to the intellectual empowerment of Hindus and ideological defense of Hinduism have enabled a large number of Hindus to fight for the Hindu cause. Dr. Elst has written on a wide variety of subjects within the larger discipline of Indology. Dr. Elst started his lecture with comments on his last book on the subject titled ‘On Modi Time’ which he wrote ten months after the BJP came to power in 2014, noted that Modi was already wellknown as a development leader in

his home state of Gujarat when he was sworn in for the first time as Prime Minister. His first term saw many great achievements on the economic front. Campaigns such as ‘Swachha Bharat’ made real difference on the ground. However, the pursuit of the Hindu Agenda has been slow throughout the first term. One of the biggest draw is from the constitutional infirmities wherein Hindu organizations like R.K. Mission were vying for declaring themselves as non-Hindu for obtaining material benefits. The most disadvantageous to the Hindus is Article 30 of the constitution which effectively yields constitutional discrimination against Hindus. The 2008 Right to Education Act, championed by the Congress and Communist combine, was another nail in the coffin of Hindus. This is an area where Modi government needs to do something substantial to end discrimination

against Hindus. Modi’s second term has started with a strange twist with ‘earning the trust of minorities.’ This is a very bizarre position right after a massive and decisive mandate. There was no political need to adopt such a posture. Such posture is a tell-tale signs of the psychological siege that may still exist. The magnitude of the Modi mandate should be seen as a second chance for the Hindus. Instead, it appears to being burdened by the ghosts of the past. Speaking on triple talaq and Uniform Civil Code, Dr. Elst added that these are truly a secular agenda. These are not part of the Hindu agenda. Hindus should focus on their agenda, and get things done as per their civilizational interests, and not fritter away their energies in pursuing the secular agenda. For India, Hinduism and Hindus, the wind is blowing differ-



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June 14, 2019


India House Joins Asian-American Month Celebration at Houston Health Dept Houston: The Houston Health Department’s (HHD), Cultural and Linguistic Competency (CLC) group hosted an “Asian American and Pacific Islander” month celebration on Wednesday May 8, 2019 with the participaton of India House and several other Indian organizations. Executive Director of India House, Retired Colonel Vipin Kumar, was a guest speaker and he shared a plethora of free services offered at India House which can be accessed by all. Information on free yoga and meditation classes offered at India House was well received. Dedicated Houston Health Dept. staffs put this event together, Varsha Vakil an epidemiologist, and a Cultural and Linguistic Competency co-leader worked diligently under the guidance of the Cultural and Linguistic Competency co-director Ms. Barbara Sudhoff-McGill to portray India Vadtal Dham - Houston’s Ina

HHD staff display beautiful Indian attire; CLC’s Varsha Vakil (seen in the lineup) celebrates the moment.

Col. Vipin Kumar with HHD’s Barbara Sudhoff-McGill (far left), Varsha Vakil and Deputy Chief Policy Officer Judy Harris.

Patel offered impressive facts on her topic of “Medicine in Indian Kitchen” and highlighted various Indian spices that are used daily in curries. Ina Patel enthusiastically shared health benefits offering her personal experiences thus leaving Houston Health Dept. staffs eager to learn more. An enchanting Odissi dance by Supradipta Dutta from Kalaangan Odissi School of Dance was simply mesmerizing. This

celebration was adorned with free Indian food from Maharaja Bhog. Varsha Vakil received compliments from Houston Health Dept. staffs on the knowledge and enrichment gained through this event. The May celebration concluded on Wednesday May 22, 2019, with joyful Houston Health Dept. staff participating in a spectacular fashion show.

TSH’s Annual Tagore Talk Spreads Message of Humanity, Creativity academic curriculum should build modules for students to develop liberal minds. The panel was led by Sukanti Ghosh a senior director of Apco Worldwide. The panelists were Diana Sayavedra (Chief Academic Officer of Fort Bend County education), Mathew Willis (Chief Program Officer of Children at Risk) and Raj Salhotra (co-founder of Swag to College

and One-Jump). TSH’s month-long Tagore celebrations will end with a joint classical peace concert with Indian Music Society on June 15 (at 5 pm) at the Houston Durgabari Auditorium dedicated on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s sesquicentennial. The featured artists are well-known flautist Pandit Pravin Godkhindi and his family.

Sudprita Tagore (left) with Debleena Banerjee, Sukanti Ghosh, Diana Sayavedra, Matthew Willis and Raj Salhotra.

Houston: Organized by the Tagore Society of Houston, the Ninth Annual Tagore Talk was delivered by Sudripta Tagore, the great-great grandson of Satyendranath Tagore (elder brother of Rabindranath). The TSH is a preeminent organization in existence since 1974 and strives to spread Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophy of humanism and cultural exchange as expressed through his own creations. An educationist in his own right having taught and setup schools in many places in India and southeast Asia, Sudripta Tagore considers himself the foot soldier of Rabindranath. Tagore has now settled back in Santiniketan to build a school that will introduce Rabindranath Tagore’s educational philosophy through a new-age 21st century educational pedagogy. In his keynote speech Tagore shared the importance of building a “liberal mind” in the 21st century globalized world. His presentation harped on four key points that should be included in a learning environment: unification with nature, practicing humanism, explor-

ing liberal arts, and immerse with aesthetics. These he believes will help all understand the universe in its completeness. Rabindranath Tagore believed that “humans are angels of surplus” and that meant that humans had the capacity to experience the beauty of the infinite within the finite boundaries of a body. It was this that paved way to a feeling of bliss or “ananda” that he had often referred to in his numerous creations. Tagore also roused the audience to sing along a Tagore song as he played Indian dulcet Esraj, an overwhelming joyful experience for all present. The evening began with the Tagore Society Youth Orchestra presenting two melodious Rabindrasangeet. These young kids are being groomed through different creative avenues to experience the boundless joy within, be it orchestra performance or raising money through bake-sell or drama production. The Tagore Society Youth Orchestra has nurtured more than 50 kids from greater Houston area

since its inception 4 years ago. It is a unique platform that helps youth ranging in age from 6-18 experiment with different genres of music, languages, instruments and interact with different people, audience and stages. Besides music kids learn performance skills and develop a passion and acceptance of world music. They learn to transgress boundaries of language and genres so that they grow up appreciating humanity in its various forms. The evening ended with a very powerful and enriching panel discussion where the panelists brought home the message that the

Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 14, 2019 • Online Edition:



June 14, 2019

Balavihar Class of 2019 Graduates at Chinmaya Prabha By Shalini Somraj H ouston : The cheerful and beautiful morning of May 27th heralded the graduation of 36 Bala Vihar seniors of the Class of 2019 who convened with joy at Chinmaya Smrti Hall with their families and friends, arrayed in resplendent traditional attires and bright colors. The Graduation day started in an auspicious manner in Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya with the priest Sri Ganeshji conducting a puja for the well-being of the youngsters ready to make the big leap in their lives from high school to university for postsecondary education. After the new graduates completed the puja, Brni. Shweta Chaitanya led the students to Swami Chinmayananda’s Pratima where they offered flowers at the lotus feet of Pujya Gurudev. In this offering, the students were led by the respected Pujya Acharyas of CMH, Sri Gaurang Nanavaty and Smt. Darshana Nanavaty. As the students entered the Smrti Hall with folded palms, many parents in the assembled audience watched misty-eyed; this was the big day to honor the culmination of hard work and dedication that pointed to bright

The 36 graduating seniors of the Class of 2019 of Bal Vihar gathered for a group photo with their teaches and mentors. Photo by: Jayesh Mistry.

future prospects! Above all, for the BalaVihar class of 2019, this was a day of gratitude for the enriching spiritual education received in BalaVihar systematically taught from Pre-K to the 12th grade. Such a valuable cultural exposure was made possible with the blessings of Pujya Gurudev, the loving guidance of theAcharyas, and the commitment of BalaVihar teachers along with the support of all CMH volunteers. The Emcee Smt. Manasa Kethireddipalli welcomed the

gathering and invited Pujya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty to deliver the Convocation address to the students. Following the revered Hindu tradition from ancient Vedic times, Gaurang Uncle as he is lovingly known in the Chinmaya family, gave a befitting discourse based on Taittiriya Upanishad. In this sacred Vedic treatise, the preceptor gives clear instructions to the aspirants on character-building and imparts to them rules of right conduct and right living.

Following the convocation address, the Acharyas ascended the stage accompanied by students Srijith Kambala and Vaishnavi Gade, for the ceremonial lighting of the lamp to symbolize the celebration of knowledge. Then, Smt. Leena Sawant did the honors of introducing the Class of 2019 as each student bowed, offered a lamp at the altar of Pujya Gurudev, and received the Graduation trophy from the Acharyas. The presentation of the graduating class included

highlights about their favorite quotes and activities in Chinmaya Mission as well as their future education plans. Keeping with the ancient Hindu tradition of Guru Dakshina, a token of deep gratitude on the completion of spiritual education received from the revered Guru, students Rishi Kommalapati and Shruti Machiraju offered Guru Dakshina to the Acharyas on behalf of the Class of 2019. The graduates then lined up in front of the assembled guests while Smt. Sucheta Karandikar sang ‘Abhinandanam’ to congratulate them. The gathering joined Rohith Narra in reciting the Chinmaya Pledge. With joy and humility, the new graduates served a sumptuous lunch to teachers, sevaks, and guests who attended this memorable ceremony. Amidst much cheer, hugs, and congratulations all round, the day drew to a beautiful close. For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities visit, or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233

Art of Living’s “Make Houston Happy” Campaign a Huge Success Houston: The Art of Living Foundation in Houston organized a successful Make Houston Happy campaign going on since March 27th of this year. As part of this initiative, they conducted a special “Happiness Program” workshop from May 4th – May 6th at the Sheraton (Brookhollow)Houston. Through this campaign Houstonians across the greater Houston area are empowered to rediscover their joy, and be a more calm, confident version of themselves, by experiencing the power of breath and meditation. A powerful way to have it all, invented thousands of years ago, refreshed for the 21st century. The special Happiness Program had over 80 Participants during the 3-day workshop who experienced practical tools to get rid of stress and anxiety in day to day life and took home a breath work practice they can use to stay calm every day. As a part of the

course offerings participants got to learn Sudarshan Kriya or SKYTM breathing technique, which is a combination of unique rhythmic breathing patterns. The Happiness Program was conducted by International Faculty Prabhat Singh and Narendar Shankar, in collaboration with local faculty Divija Odapally and Aurva Kapoor. During the 3-day workshop participants got to experience valuable skills for managing negative emotions and challenging situations, for improving focus and produc-

tivity at work and strengthening relationships. Practical wisdom and processes to discover what attitudes in your life are working for you and what aren’t, low-impact yoga for improved health and increased flexibility. “The secret lies in our own breath. Through breathing exercises, certain breathing techniques and some practice of meditation, we can rekindle positive vibrations within and around us.” – says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Art of Living Foundation.

After the course the participants shared their experience and some of the benefits reported after 1 month of completing the Happiness Program were ● Reduced stress ● Improved sleep ● Greater sense of joy, happiness and enthusiasm ● Experience more confdence ● Development of interpersonal skills The Art of Living Foundation is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization. It was founded in 1981 by Ravi Shankar. The Art of Living Foundation has centers in more than 156 countries and has impacted lives of 450 million people across the globe. Art of Living offers several stress-elimination and self-development programs based on breathing techniques, meditation and yoga. Over 70 independent studies

Indo-American News • Friday, JUNE 14, 2019 • Online Edition:

conducted on four continents and published in peer review journals, have demonstrated a comprehensive range of benefits from practicing Sudarshan Kriya™ and related breathing exercises taught on the Art of Living Happiness Program. Some of the key benefits includes 218 % increase in Deep Sleep, 50% increase in Serum Prolactin (Wellbeing Hormone) along with it 56 % decrease in Stress releasing Hormone called Serum Cortizol and 70 % decrease in Depression Remission rate. Houston is fortunate to have Art of Living teachers and volunteers who are continually working to impact lives of thousands of people in a positive manner. For more information about the Make Houston Happy Campaign or the Happiness Program, please visit You can also contact Saurabh Chaudhari (832)-232-8723.

June 14, 2019

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June 14, 2019

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