Indo-American News June 28, 2019

Page 1

Friday, June 28, 2019 | Vol. 38, No. 21

Indo American News Published weekly from Houston, TX


Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News

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June 28, 2019

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June 28, 2019


More than 1,200 Join 5th International Day of Yoga at Midtown Park By Manu Shah

Houston: “Despite the scorching sun, about 1,200 yoga practitioners took over the lawns at Midtown Park on June 21st to celebrate the 5th International Day of Yoga (IDY) organized by the Indian Consulate of Houston. It was a record turnout and proof that Yoga awareness is growing exponentially and helping millions of people around the world lead healthier lives. Prior to the main program, Austin Dunn, Marion Hall, Samuel Parmer and Wayne Campbell displayed some of the most mind boggling poses in yoga to demonstrate what our bodies are capable of if we put our mind to it. Emcee and renowned yoga teacher from Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, USA, Shekhar Agrawal welcomed the “yogis and yoginis” and described yoga as “a balanced study of the body, mind and intellect.” An invocation dance to Adiyogi or the first yogi Shiva, set the mood for the evening and was performed by Meera Borle and Veda Charthad from the Anjali School for Performing Arts. A practicing yogi himself, Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray’s cheerful greeting showed that he was equally eager to hit the yoga mat. In a brief address, he noted that what began as one event in Houston three years ago is today being celebrated at 200 places in Texas and expected to be attended by 15000 people. Houston’s yoga program was coordinated by community leader Sharad Amin with the support of several city organizations and they were recognized prior to the event. The formal yoga session began with the chanting of a Sanskrit prayer “to channel our energies” by Swami Vishvang accompanied by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh children. Six of the city’s top yoga instructors led the com-

What began as one event in Houston three years ago was celebrated at 200 places in Texas and attended by 15,000 people. Photo on Page 1 by Ravikanth Sirigadde Yoga teachers lead the chanting of the Sanskrit prayer for IDY 2019 session at Midtown Park.

Tanya Arriaga, Matt Bench, Zack Durr and Gayle Wetz present an awe inspiring acroyoga performance.

mon yoga protocol prescribed by the Government of India. Vishwarupa Nanjundappa of SVYASA Yoga walked them through the warmup and standing practices, Olivia Keller of Black Swan Yoga

with the sitting and lying down asanas (postures), Marlon Hall of Big Power Yoga Studio guided the Shravasana (Corpse Pose,) Pam Johnson of Heights Schools of Yoga led the Pranayama (breath-

ing exercises) while the meditation practice was guided by Mark Ram of the Brahmakumaris. Calming music during the relaxation session was provided by cofounder of YOUniverSoul Saumil Manek - a spiritual entrepreneur whose efforts are aimed at “bringing oneness in the community and changing the world with actions and beliefs.” You’re never too old for yoga. This was proved by Ratanlal Jaju, a 97 year old yoga teacher who was invited on stage with the lead teachers and did the asanas with ease. Ratanlal Jaju runs a free yoga studio in Hyderabad, India and has made teaching yoga his service to humanity. Proclamations were presented by Fort Bend County Judge K.P. George and Congressman Al Green. Congressman Green’s representative, Sam Merchant, while presenting the proclamation, explained how as a teenager, he was advised to undergo joint surgery or alternatively try yoga. Merchant opted for yoga and that was the last he heard about surgery. Combining the traditions of yoga, acrobatics and dance, Tanya Arriaga, Matt Bench, Zack Durr and Gayle Wetz displayed a perfect sense of coordination, strength, steadiness and flexibility

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in an awe inspiring acroyoga performance that drew several rounds of applause. The program concluded with a prayer seeking enlightenment and the playful smearing of ecofriendly colors that only Houston offers. The vote of thanks was given by Madhukar Adi. Sewa International volunteers distributed free yoga T-Shirts. IDY at The Woodlands saw 300 people show up early at the Town Green Park on 22nd June to kick start their morning with a robust session of yoga. Twenty yoga teachers, 50 volunteers and the Hindu Temple Woodlands team ensured that the event was executed smoothly. Yoga sessions are held at The Woodlands temple on a regular basis and the 22nd June event was to encourage everyone to practice and promote yoga. IDY was also celebrated at Austin, Dallas and San Antonio with a huge turnout everywhere. An Indian Vegetarian Food Festival was also organized to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and the food stalls with their appetizing aromas were seen doing brisk business. Steve Klueber, a regular to the IDY program, interrupted his evident enjoyment of the spicy biryani to mop his brow with a napkin and to say, “I love yoga and I love Indian food.”



June 28, 2019

SIMA & IAPAC Host Reception for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner H

OUSTON: SIMA (Small Independent Motel Association of Houston) & IAPAC (Indo-American Political Action Committee of Greater Houston) hosted a reception for the Indo-American community of Greater Houston honoring the Mayor of Houston, Mr. Sylvester Turner. SIMAand IAPAC President Mr. Hasu Patel welcomed and introduced the Honorable Mayor Sylvester Turner. At a very well attended event at India House Houston, Mayor Turner, who is up for re-election on November 5th, spoke about issues that were close to his heart and provided his vision for the future of Greater Houston. He thanked the Indo-American community for always being there for the city and the valuable contribution they made during Hurricane Harvey. He mentioned the critical role SIMA members played during the hurricane by providing hotel rooms for thousands of displaced victims and donating to the Mayor’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Mayor Turner shared his overall mission as recognizing that diversity is the backbone of the city and is best demonstrated by active diverse participation at the city, on boards and commissions. Mayor Turner shared how the pension liability was at $8.2B when he assumed office and is now at 4.03B currently. Similarly, unemployment in the city is the lowest since 1981. Continuing his talk related to employment, he

what was needed to help establish a direct flight from Houston to India, in the near future. Thanking the Mayor for all his initiatives and services to the city, the President of SIMA and IAPAC, Mr. Hasu Patel thanked the guests of the evening and informed them that the evenings efforts had raised $50,000 towards the Mayor’s re-election campaign.

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Hasu Pate (left), Raman Das, and Jagat Kamdar (right) present a plaque to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

shared statistics about summer jobs that were at 450 when he assumed office, and over the years have grown exponentially to 1,000 to 5,000 to 7,500 to 10,985 this year. To a round of applause from the hospitality community, Mayor Turner talked about his plans to bring back a theme park to Houston which will attract tourists and other enterprises to Houston and provide

entrepreneurship opportunities to Houstonians. Speaking about growth in Houston, Mayor talked about the city having identified five specific neighborhoods in Houston that were underutilized and various initiatives that were put into place to bring in development in those areas with appropriate incentives being provided. As a follow-through, he mentioned the


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city intended identifying 5 more neighborhoods this week where similar plans will be put into place. Finally, Mayor Turner thanked the Indo-American community for the wonderful trade mission he made to India where he met with the Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu and several ministers. The Mayor also had a delightful visit to Akshardham. He also mentioned that he would do

New York: More regional winners were announced throughout the U.S. as the 33rd annual Ernst & Young U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Award competition. The Pacific Northwest June 14 announced eight regional winners included Rajeev Singh, CEO at Seattle-based Accolade Inc., in the Innovator category. In the Michigan and Northwest Ohio region, winners included Radha Gurusamy, founder and chairman at ApexonHealth. In the New Jersey region, Indian American Neel Premkumar was among the 11 winners advancing to the national phase of the competition. No Indian Americans were named regional winners in Utah, Orange County, Greater Los Angeles, New York, Northern California, Gulf Coast and Mountain Desert regions.




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June 28, 2019

5th IDY at Gandhi Memorial in Dallas

Dallas: More than 300 NRI’s participated at the “5th International Day of Yoga” hosted by Mahatma Gandhi Memorial of North Texas (MGMNT) in association with Consul General of India, Houston at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial on June 22nd. Irving City Mayor Rick Stopfer attended the event as Chief Guest of Honor and Consul Rakesh Banati from Consul General of India, Houston as a Special Guest. MGMNT Secretary Rao Kalvala in his opening remarks welcomed the gathering and stated it is very apt to conduct yoga day at Gandhi Memorial as Gandhi himself was an ardent yoga practitioner. MGMNT Co-Chair B.N.Rao said it is heartening to see hundreds of NRI’s in all age groups gathering at this Gandhi Memorial to learn and practice yoga with passion. MGMNT Founder Chair Dr. Prasad Thotakura asserted that yoga is not spiritual but should be everyday ritual. Yoga keeps body fit and mind alert. Sound body and sound mind make a healthy society. There is no age restriction, racial discrimination, cultural or language barriers to practice yoga. The art of yoga is a great gift given by India to the world. It is very impressive to see millions of people in more than 170 countries celebrating June 21st as


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Yoga Day that was declared by UNO. Dr. Thotakura requested Mayor Stopfer to introduce Yoga as an extracurricular activity in all schools at all levels in the City of Irving to which Mayor responded positively. Chief Guest Mayor Stopfer in his message articulated the enormous benefits of yoga, welcomed all participants to Yoga Day and thanked MGMNT Board for hosting such an important event. Consul Rakesh Banati reminded the gathering that Hon. Prime minister of India Shri. Narendra Modi initiated and introduced June 21 as International Day of Yoga 5 years ago which was unanimously resolved by UNO. Dr. Prasad Thotakura introduced 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee three champions who are from Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. The winners Abhijay Kodali, Sohum

Sukhatankar, Rohan Raja along with their parents were felicitated by MGMNT Board and the Guests. MGMNT presented $2,000 annual scholarship to University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson to Monique Wedderburn, Director, Asia Center through Mayor Rick Stopfer. Yoga instructors Vijay and Peggy demonstrated the techniques and intricacies of Yoga that was followed by hundreds of NRI’s who practiced for almost 2 hours with passion. MGMNT Treasurer Abhijit Railkar in his closing remarks thanked all the volunteers, Kamal Kaushal, Dinesh Hooda, Sailesh Shaha, attendees, media partners, Music Masti Magic for A/V, Bombay Studio for Photography, Sarigama restaurant for providing water bottles. MGMNT presented Participation Certificates and served Breakfast to all attendees.

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June 28, 2019


Trump Demands India Withdraw ‘Very High Tariff’ on US Products

Washington DC: President Trump called on India Wednesday night t0 withdraw its tariffs on U.S. products, ahead of meeting with the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at this week’s G20 summit. India imposed higher tariffs on 28 U.S. products this month, after the Trump administration withdrew the South Asian country’s preferential trade status under the Generalized System of Preferences scheme. India was the biggest beneficiary of the scheme, which allowed duty-free

exports of up to $5.6 billion, per Reuters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in New Delhi on Wednesday, where he said he’s “very confident” that the 2 countries could find a solution to the trade standoff. Why it matters: It’s the latest escalation in President Trump’s trade war, designed to cut U.S. deficits. The tariffs on products including almonds and apples are as high as 70% on some items and are in response to Washington’s refusal to exempt Delhi from higher taxes on steel and aluminium imports.

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June 28, 2019

South Asians Expected to be Largest Immigrant Group in the US by 2065 Washington DC: SAALT released its latest South Asian demographic snapshot, revealing a community in the U.S. that’s growing almost as fast as it is changing. By 2065, Asian Americans are on track to be the largest immigrant population in the U.S. The South Asian population in the U.S. grew a staggering 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017. The Nepali community grew by 206.6% since 2010, followed by Indian (38%), Bhutanese (38%), Pakistani (33%), Bangladeshi (26%), and Sri Lankan populations (15%). There are at least 630,000 Indians who are undocumented, a 72% increase since 2010. There are currently at least 4,300 active South Asian DACA recipients. Income inequality has been reported to be the greatest among Asian Americans. Nearly 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the U.S. live in poverty. There has been a rise in the number of South Asians seeking asylum in the U.S. over the last 10 years. ICE has detained 3,013 South Asians since 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol arrested 17,119 South Asians between October 2014 and April 2018 through border and interior enforcement. The South Asian community in the United States includes individuals who trace their ancestry to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The community also includes members of the South Asian diaspora – past generations of South Asians who originally settled in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada and the Middle East, and other parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

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South Asian Americans include citizens, legal permanent residents, students, H-1B and H-4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and undocumented immigrants. SAALT’s Interim Co-Executive Director Lakshmi Sridaran said, “As we witness this unprecedented growth in our communities, it is more important than ever that the needs of the most vulnerable South Asian populations are met. South Asians are impacted by the full spectrum of federal immigration policies – from detention and deportation to H-4 visa work authorization and denaturalization to the assault on public benefits. An accurate Census 2020 population count is essential to distributing critical federal funding to our communities. A citizenship question on the census would chill thousands of community members, resulting in a severe undercount, with at least 600,000 South Asians in the country not being counted and thousands more deterred. And, this means even fewer resources to the communities who need it the most.” SAALT’s demographic snapshot is based primarily on Census 2010 and the 2017 American Community Survey.

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June 28, 2019

Sara Ali Khan Opens Up about Movie Dreams, Family & More By Ashwini Deshmukh Mumbai: Her genepool is rich and lush. Granddaughter of ace cricketer, the late Nawab of Pataudi and the renowned Sharmila Tagore. Daughter of the suave Saif Ali Khan and the spunky Amrita Singh. Sara Ali Khan has an ancestry rare and privileged. To her royal sensibilities, she brings in self-awareness. An early realisation that not only is she to the manor born but she is also to the manner born. A degree in law and political science at the Columbia University in New York in 2016, was a follow-up to the nerd that she is. But her dreamy romance with razzmatazz had begun way

before her ardour for books got legitimised. And that ‘first love’ could no longer be denied. Her countdown to fame kick-started when the scale dipped from a whopping 96 kilos to a svelte 55. The delay in her debut vehicle Kedarnath was a blessing of sorts. Because December 2018, showcased Sara scaling the extremes of the spectrum within a matter of days. If Kedarnath had viewers swept by her prodigious histrionics, Simmba serenaded her

as the masala queen. Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal 2 opposite ‘crush’ Kartik Aaryan promises to woo the beauteous Sara all set to surrender. Aristocracy may be her inheritance, her ambition is her own. Here’s celebrating the princess who’s now ready to sway the showbiz court… While Kedarnath revolved around you, your presence in Simmba was limited. So, what attracts you to a film? It’s a different reason each time. I’m a huge commercial cinema fan, a huge Rohit Shetty fan, a huge Ranveer Singh fan. I got the opportunity to be Ranveer’s heroine in a Rohit Shetty film. So, why wouldn’t I do it? In Kedarnath, the

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character was written so beautifully, so wonderfully nuanced. There are some projects that you just want to be part of. There has to be a fine balance between being creatively satisfied and commercially successful. Is there any strategy you intend to follow? As a newcomer, what’s utmost important is conviction. I need to be convinced about my director, the script or the role or preferably all. People talk about that one Friday. What they don’t realise is how many Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, are spent shooting. The only way I can work is honestly, purely and with conviction. -- Filmfare

COMMENTARY A Just Ambassador

One of the few appointees in the Trump administration who inspires confidence is Ken Juster, the US Ambassador to India. A career government servnt with a long track record in the Bush era, Ambassador Juster made a persuasive argument for greater cooperation between the US and India during his recent keynote speech at the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) annual gala. Juster identified four issues that would be of interest to India: China’s growth, economic growth, terrorism and modernization of India’s military. Juster then described how the United States could help India address each of these concerns. The US is hoping that India will serve as a bulwark against an increasingly assertive China along with other powers in the region such as Japan and Australia. Juster mentioned a few concerns such as territorial integrity of sovereign nations, free passage in international waters, and open trade. The second issue concerned India’s economic growth. India’s growth rate has slowed recently and there have been reports that the growth rates in previous years may have been less than the published rates. Trade between India and the US grown substantially in recent decades and there is actually trade deficit in India’s favor, which irks Donald Trump. The US is seeking greater access for US multinationals to India’s growing middle class. There is room for negotiation for more open access provided the US also allows Indian companies unfettered access to the American IT market. US help will be useful to fight terrorism through actions such as joint military exercises and exchange of intelligence. Both countries are victims of Islamic terror and have a shared interest in curbing terrorism. A related topic is the modernization of India’s military. India has already purchased Chinook helicopters from the US as well as other armaments. A long advocate of nonalignment, India need not become an American ally on all fronts, but work with the US as well as other European and Asian countries to advance its own political, economic and military agendas. -- Pramod Kulkarni

Indo American News Founder: Dr. K.L. Sindwani Publisher: Jawahar Malhotra Editor: Pramod Kulkarni Advertising Administrator: Sarita Mehta Correspondent: Sanchali Basu ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. The deadline for advertising and articles is 4 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 212, Houston, Texas 77036. Tel & fax: 713-789-6397 email:, website: www.

June 28, 2019


Claiming the Indo-Pacific By Girish Luthra The prevailing and emerging international order, characterised by a new form of internationalism and hazy geopolitics, finds centrality in the Indo-Pacific region. It is the new arena for strategic rivalry, within the bounds of interdependence, and all major players have made Indo-Pacific-related policy and posture pronouncements in the recent past. The region’s share of world merchandise trade is over 75 per cent and its seaports are the busiest in the world. Its contribution to global GDP is around 60 per cent. The region is also critical to world energy flows, for both suppliers and consumers. The rise of China (and President Xi Jinping’s grand Belt and Road Initiative), the realignment of US global strategy, the new approach adopted by India, Japan, ASEAN, France and other key players and new partnerships have further underlined the salience of the region. It is true that the Indo-Pacific has some very diverse sub-regions, where systems, environments and challenges differ widely. Yet, the region is now a coherent strategic space due to its increased interconnectedness. The geographical expanse of the region, however, is open to interpretation. While the US considers this region to be from “the West Coast of the United States to the western shores of India”, the other perception includes the area from “the East Coast of Africa to the West Coast of the United States”. There is an increasing recognition of the importance of maritime security, maritime commons and cooperation. In the last few years, almost every joint or vision statement at the end of summit-level talks or meeting between major maritime powers accords high priority to maritime security and stability. China has made a decisive move from a continental to maritime mindset, with its maritime orientation becoming central to its overarching ambition of seeking a new model for great power relations. The Chinese posture has underlined the need for an equal and equitable world order, and has stressed that the American ap-

India should pursue a proactive strategy for the region, including a decisive move to the next level of maritime orientation.

proach to global and regional issues has become redundant. The US Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, released on June 1, outlines the US posture and plan to retain its influence in the region, through partnerships and preparedness. It underlines the strategic rivalry with China, identifying it as “a revisionist power, which is undermining the international system from within”. It considers the Chinese economic model for the region, of inducements and penalties, as “predatory,” with China operating in the “grey zone” between peace and hostilities. It also identifies Russia as a “revitalised malign actor”. India, in recent years, has moved from being a reluctant maritime power to a conscious one. It has sought to align its Indo-Pacific strategy with national maritime interests, and has developed partnerships accordingly. In its first term, the Narendra Modi government accorded high priority to maritime stability and security. It emphasised regional connectivity and growth through Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). Few key logistic and support bilateral arrangements have been finalised, and some are in the pipeline. The Blue Economy has been given fresh impetus, particularly through Project Sagarmala. Cooperation on the Blue Economy was also included in the action plan at the BIMSTEC meet in Kathmandu. Efforts have been sustained to further enhance India’s credibility as a reliable maritime power, with Indian Navy and other agencies tak-

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ing new initiatives. But more needs to be done. This is recognised by the new government, as evident from the invitations for its swearing-in ceremony on May 30. The prime minister’s maiden visit in his second term to Maldives and Sri Lanka is in part due to this recognition. In order to sustain the focus on the IndoPacific, the new government may look into the following. India should pursue a proactive strategy for the region, including a decisive move to the next level of maritime orientation, and play a key role in the evolving narrative. There is a need to give shape and substance to SAGAR, with an appropriate implementation plan. Bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral, and multilateral partnerships in the Indo-Pacific should be strengthened. India should initiate new cooperative projects, and accelerate the momentum of ongoing projects in infrastructure, manufacturing, trade and tourism, with special focus on connectivity, coastal areas and ports. While the Blue Economy and Resource Resilience initiatives can be progressed at bilateral and sub-regional levels, its potential at the regional level can be suitably leveraged to enhance stability and prosperity. India can play a leadership role in developing a common understanding on Freedom of Navigation. Almost all countries agree that there ought to be Freedom of Navigation. However, the interpretations of international maritime law (IML) related to Freedom of Navigation differ widely. This is particularly relevant in the UN Convention on the Laws of Sea (UNCLOS), like passage, surveillance and exercises through different maritime zones, and some entitlements in the Exclusive Economic Zone. -- Indian Express The writer is Indian Navy’s former Commander-in-Chief of Western Naval Command and Southern Naval Command.

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June 28, 2019

Deva-Snana Purnima: Odias Celebrate Shri Jagannatha’s Birthday Houston: Deva Snana Purnima is celebrated on the full-moon day (Purnima) of the month of Jyestha month of the Indian calendar. Odias, the people from the eastern coastal state of Odisha in India, mark this day as the birthday of Shri Jagannatha and observe the day with pomp and gaiety. Snana Purnima, also known as Snana Jatra is one of the annual occasions when the deities, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannatha leave their abode, the garba-griha or the sanctum sanctorum of the Shri Jagannatha Temple and come out for a ceremonial bath, snana means bath. The bathing and ablution are carried out with water from the well within the precincts of the Shri Mandira in Puri. Snana Purnima showcases the coming together of spirituality and ritualistic details, where the Lord of the Universe, Jagannatha is depicted in a ‘humanized’ way, emphasizing a divinity that is easily approachable and relatable. But again the ablutions have a code of conduct as enshrined in “Niladri Mohadaya”, that are followed religiously, like exactly 108 pitchers of water are used for the ceremonial bathing. The ceremonial bathing and Besha is performed at Snana Mandapa. This Mandapa is designed in such a way that even people outside the temple can enjoy the ceremony. Akshaya Tritya which was celebrated in the month of May, marked

Snana Purnima was observed on June 16th 2019. The resident Odia community celebrated this pious day with prayer and offerings to Shri Jagannatha, followed by an Odia-style lunch-prasad. The Houston Odia community led by Orissa Culture Center (OCC) in collaboration with Shri Sitaram Foundation will celebrate Houston’s twelfth Jagannatha RathaYatra on July 6th, 2019 at the In-


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Gajanan Besha in Houston

are not keeping well. During this phase of 15-days following Snana Purnima, the bathed wooden idols are repainted and redecorated. At the end of this ‘Anasara’ period the deities emerge for public darshan just a day before the famous Ratha Yatra. We in the Houston Odia community like our brethren world-wide have geared up the forth-coming Ratha-Yatra. At the serene environs of Shri Jagannatha Mandira - Houston, 3101 Fuqua St., Houston,TX

the beginning of the grand annual festival of Ratha Yatra, with the commencement of construction of the three majestic wooden Ratha – chariots. Snana Purnima is the final leg towards Ratha Jatra buildup. As following the ablutions, the three beloved deities, are dressed up in Gajanana or Ganesha Besha and for the subsequent period of 15 days, known as the ‘Anasara’, the deities have a temporary disappearance from the public domain. In local folklore, it is said that the deities

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June 28, 2019


“Kabir Singh” Movie Review: In the Mood for Misogyny

By Shubhra Gupta Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Soham Majumdar, Arjan Bajwa, Kamini Kaushal, Suresh Oberoi Director: Sandeep Vanga Reddy Rating: One and a half stars To watch a character like Kabir Singh do this thing for nearly three hours plonks the viewer squarely in a place of conflict. Here’s a fellow who thinks that going through life yelling and shouting, snorting-and-drinking on the job, assuaging his raging libido with crass directness, basically being a sexist so-and-so, is an acceptable thing. So why do we keep watching, even though so much of what Kabir does is so offensive, so problematic, and sets our teeth on edge? We do this because we are led to believe that he has something more to him. We hope to see that something more, the something that will let us see past the ugly walls he’s built for himself. The thing that makes us human. Because that’s what Arjun Reddy, the protagonist of the 2017 Telugu film (of which Kabir Singh is a faithful copy) manages: it is a character study of a deeply flawed young man, but one who does, most importantly, have an arc. Arjun Reddy goes from point A to point B, and his journey is

marked by a reluctant progression, where a self-obsessed manchild makes his painful way into a sort of adulthood. Vijay Deverakonda’s playing of Arjun Reddy is fully switched on, and on-point. His single-minded conquest of a much-younger new student, the pretty Preethi, takes you to the questionable space of ‘putting a stamp of ownership’ on another, and we are taken aback by the complete submissiveness of the mouse-like girl in question. Some of that may be put down to individual natures, and also to the established hierarchies of male-female, senior-junior in professional educational institutions, especially in such gendered spaces as medical colleges. But, and this is crucial, there is a surprising free-spiritedness to Arjun and

Preethi’s romance which flourishes, in and out of bed, and which, for a Telugu movie, even in 2017, was quite jaw-dropping. A lot of this has been lost in translation, and the Hindi version, with Shahid Kapoor in the lead, is the poorer for it. Kapoor’s physical resemblance to the Reddy character is startling, the same unkempt hairand-beard, the same dark glasses, but it is not an internally realized performance. Kapoor managed that interiority in Jab We Met in which he was outstanding, and, in parts, in Kaminey. Deverakonda lets us in, and is not afraid of breaking the boys-don’t-cry myth (a scene in which he goes after another student with vicious kicks and bloody punches also shows us his wet-eyed heartbreak). Here are some bare-bones details for those coming fresh into the

Hindi remake. Dr Kabir Singh (Kapoor), an orthopaedic surgeon, has blood on his hands. And nothing on his conscience. We soon realize that he is a roaring, raving drunk. He makes no distinction in other things he abuses: they could be chemical, or people, especially those who love him, and more especially, the young woman who adores him. If there was a walking, talking example of a fully dislikeable human with self-destruction as a goal, that would be, yes, our hero. The list is long, and as the film slides into a flashback of when the protagonist was a senior student in a medical college where his exemplary academic record is held up at the same time as he faces down his ‘anger management issues’, the film threatens to become a endless paean to Kabir’s behavior. His pursuit of Preeti (Advani) shows us even more violent, aggressive behaviour. But their coming together feels real, feels like two young people hot for each other doing something about it. There’s a credible physicality to their relationship which immediately lifts it above the bloodless, anodyne coupling that Bollywood usually manages to come up with. In these portions, both Kabir and Preeti display equal passion, which is a good thing, because everywhere else, that dynamic is skewed.

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The director has said that he has made some changes in the Hindi version. I couldn’t spot too many, but the one I remember from the Telugu version is quite striking: a conversation between Arjun and his best pal about a third young man ‘objectfying women’. Which is rich, given that that’s all they— Arjun and his male pals– seem to do, but it’s also something that leads you into thinking about sexism and sexist behaviour in a nuanced way: can you amplify centuries of graven-in-stone sexist, misogynist behaviour by showing a character who is living breathing example of those qualities? Showing such a character change can be a marker for change, too. And the setting is important too—the rules that govern public display of toxic masculinity, and what it is like to be a man– change if it’s a relatively provincial setting like in the original movie, or the Delhi-Mumbai ones of the Hindi version. Nothing about the latter rings true, though we keep getting the name of the two cities as reference. Deverakonda’s undeniable charisma helps his Arjun get past rank bad behavior, but finally he gets to a point where he has to dial back. There’s a redemptive arc, and we are given that as a take-away, and the possibility of a turning-over-anew-life, which is a great way to end a film.-- Indian Express


June 28, 2019

McDonald’s Launches McAloo Tikki Burger Chicago: The fast food chain has unveiled its McAloo Tikki burger in the U.S. for the first time, though the burger sells like hot cakes in India, where a large population is vegetarian. The only downside is, for now, the burger is only on the menu at McDonald’s global headquarters restaurant in Chicago. But you never know; if it has already made its way to the U.S., it won’t be long before the company realizes its full potential.

For the uninitiated, here’s how McDonald’s describes the burger: “A little tikki delight with a potato, peas, and bread-based patty that’s placed between two light, fluffy buns and tomatoes, onions, special veg sauce and ketchup,” adding there isn’t anything flashy in this burger except the “ketchup.” For the health-conscious ones, here’s a breakdown of its nutritional values: the veggie burger contains 353 calories, 8 grams of protein, 50

grams of carb, 15 grams of total fat, 8 grams of sugar, 5 grams of saturated fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 790 mg of sodium. But it’s not just this famous food from India that McDonald’s is serving up, its’ adding menu favorites from around the world in its one-of-a-kind global-inspired restaurant on the ground floor of its new corporate headquarters in Chicago.

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June 28, 2019


The Hits Keep the Audience Mesmerized at Voice of Punjab Concert By Jawahar Malhotra

the founder of the radio program. It has been his deep desire to “dedicate to promoting the rich and enthusiastic culture and heritage of the Punjab.” The Grand sponsors were Dr Gurdip Singh Buttar, Jasmeet Singh Buttar, Jagjit Singh Mann and Inderbir Singh Mann. The Gold sponsors were Sulhwinder Singh Shahji, Amrit Sandhu, Gurbir Singh Boparai, Raghbir Singh, Aman Sidhu, Tirath Singh Khera, Mandeep S Cheema, Gurdip s Mundi, Mohan Singh Grewal, Gurminder Padda and New York Life agent Bachcha Tiwari. The other sponsors were Ujagar Singh Jassar, Hardev Singh Mand, Balbir Binning,Gurmeet Singh Dhoat, Balwinder Sidhu, P. Singh Ghuman, Rohit Garg, Ashuman Garg, Nunihal Singh Brar, Dr Sunny Gill, Simran Maan Gill, Dr Pirpal Judge., Karya Property Management, Dr Deepika Aggarwal, Swapnil Aggarwal and Varinder Bansal.

Stafford: The Old Stafford Civic Center came alive this past Saturday evening, July 22 as the sounds of the Punjab reverberated inside the hall full of people. They had come to enjoy the concert – the second in two years – arranged by the Radio Voice of Punjab’s onair host K.P. Singh with a lineup of popular Punjabi singers and musicians. The concert featured a superstar of the Punjabi music world, Tarsem Jassar who is known for his family-oriented movies. Jassar is known to provide quality content and family oriented movies and songs much appreciated audiences everywhere. Jass Bajwa was the second performer on stage and sang his hit songs. Following him, upcoming artist Harman Chahal sang several songs. Tarsem entertained the audience by singing his hit songs like Galwakadi, Ik Do Gazlan, Value, Guts, and many more! The concert of Punjabi hits was certainly one for the books This year’s concert was a follow up to the Punjab Virsa show that KP Singh had organized last June dedicated to spreading awareness about Punjabi heritage. This year was the second Punjabi show brought onstage by Kanwalpreet Singh Gill (popularly known as KP Singh) who is a journalist and

Top: Tarsem Jassar performs onstage on July 22 at the Old Stafford Civic Center in the Live in Houston concert produced by Voice of Punjab Radio show host KP Singh. Bottom: Tarsem with several of the program sponsors including KP SIngh (second from right). Photos: Jaswant Singh

Photo Collage Next Week

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June 28, 2019

In Buzbee’s Houston, Diversity is More Than Just a Buzzword, it’s an Opportunity By Jawahar Malhotra Houston: The floor-to-ceiling glass windows of his 73rd-story office provide a spectacular and all-encompassing view of the city that he has come to love and admire. Behind the tall, Phillip Johnson designed, Gothic-spired brown skyscraper snakes the spaghetti bowl of the elevated I-45 freeway and just in front lies Jones Plaza and the Aquarium Restaurant. Many of the other iconic skyscrapers that give identity to the Bayou City crowd out the view to the left and in the clearing to the right, you can see the vastness of Houston with Uptown in the distance. It is the view that makes Tony Buzbee’s mind dream of the possibilities that could be for the city that he has adopted as his own. He was born and raised in the rural small town of Atlanta (population 5,800) in Cass County, in northeastern Texas about 25 miles from Texarkana; the son of a butcher and a school cafeteria worker. But he set his sights high and earned a bachelors in psychology from Texas A&M University and rose in the ROTC. He later served in the Marine Corps in the Persian Gulf and Somalia, rising to the rank of Captain. On his return from duty, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center. It is Houston that offered him opportunities that have made him one of the highest profile and highest paid lawyers and certainly one of its wealthiest. He has represented former Texas Governor Rick Perry, recording artist Jimmy Buffet, horse trainer Bob Baffert and in 2009 won the largest jury verdict against British Petroleum. All the while, Buzbee has seen deficiencies in the way the city was being managed and instinctively knew he could do better. On October 30, 2018, he quelled his detractors and announced that he would run for mayor of Houston,

committing his own money rather than raise it from donations. And he has always sought out new ideas to guide him further, looking outside the box. On a whim this past January, he took off for Mumbai – a city that always fascinated him – and spent

7 days visiting different areas from Leopold’s Café (site of the November 26, 2008 terrorist attack) to the Dharavi slums (made famous by the film Slumdog Millionaire). “I like to travel and be around people,” Buzbee said during an interview in his office. “It

inspires me to write poetry, which I started when my daughter was born 20 years ago.” While on his trip to Mumbai, he ate a lot of pani puri off the street (“I was brave!”, he quipped) and he bought a lot of art, saying “India inspired me.” During his Mumbai trip, Buzbee

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was fascinated by the way people handled waste. “There was so little of it as most of it got recycled,” he recalled. That thought brought him to how solid waste was collected in Houston and how a recent investigative report showed that waste and recyclables were being dumped together even though two trucks went out to collect each. “We should do it once a week without sorting and send it to Ecohub which has markets for its waste,” he said, “but that contract was cancelled by the city. Why else would Goldman Sachs invest $500 million into the company?” He recalled the moment that motivated him to run for Mayor. The tire blew out on his car when he hit a pothole. Then, while he was in a local Walmart, someone smashed the window and broke into his car. “It made me frustrated and I thought ‘I could do a better job for the city’.” He decided to run even though he had done a huge fundraiser for the current Mayor Sylvester Turner in the last election against Bill King. He realizes that, in order to win, he must reach out to people from everywhere. Towards this end, he wants to cultivate the people from diverse backgrounds and place them in qualified positions. The notion that diversity should be promoted as a way of gaining worldwide attention to the Bayou City resonates with him. And he also wants to provide more access to city contracts to MBSBE firms, not just through a majority of contracts going to one large firm. “I want to put the city on the map,” Buzbee said, “and get credit for what we do right. Not the same old politicians, failed pothole program, uncontrolled flooding. The landscape of politics is changing dramatically. We must embrace new technology land educate people about it. We have the resources to be as good as Austin. What do we want to be known for in the future”


The story thus far: Gandhi, having

studied well and completed his law degree in England, returns to India. He misses England but is happy to be reunited with his family. He begins practicing law in Rajkot. Upon return to India, Gandhi started to practice law in Rajkot, but he was soon deeply disgusted at the greed and dishonesty of many of his fellow professionals. After some time, he got an offer to work in South Africa from Dada Abdulla & Co who owned big business concerns there. He was to be a legal adviser to the firm that had filed a lawsuit against another company seeking damages of 400,000 dollars. They hired Gandhi for his fluency in the English language and his knowledge of English law. He was contracted for one year and was promised a substantial salary and first class passage to South Africa. The lure of seeing a different country and meeting new people piqued Gandhi’s interest. He accepted the offer, even though it was difficult to be apart from his wife and young son. In April 1893 he left Bombay for South Africa. He reached the port of Natal at the end of May 1893. In South Africa, he noticed that Indians were treated with little respect. They were called “coolies”, a derogatory term. Within a week of his arrival, he visited the court with Abdulla Seth of Dada Abdulla & Co. No sooner had he sat down that the magistrate pointed his plump finger at him and

June 28, 2019

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi - Part 3

Gandhi in South Africa

said “You must remove your turban”. Gandhi was surprised. He looked around. There were several Muslim and Parsi men wearing turbans. He could not understand why he was being singled out. “I see no reason why I should remove my turban. I refuse to do so,”

said Gandhi. When the magistrate insisted that he remove his turban, Gandhi walked out of the court. Abdulla Seth ran after him and caught him by the arm. “You don’t understand,” said Seth. “These white people consider Indians inferior and address them as coolie or sami. Parsis and Muslims are allowed to wear turbans as the turban is thought to have religious significance,” added Seth. “The magistrate insulted me,” Gandhi said angrily. “Any such rule is an insult to a free man. I shall write at once to the Durban Press to protest such insulting rules.” And Gandhi did write. The letter was published and it led to unexpected debate and discussion. At the same time, some other papers described Gandhi as a troublemaker and unwelcome visitor. After a week in Durban, he left for Pretoria to attend to the case for which he was engaged. With a first class ticket, he boarded the train. At the next stop, an Englishman got into the compartment. He was traveling to Pretoria too, in the first class compartment. He looked at Gandhi with

contempt and called the conductor. “Take this coolie out and put him in a lower class!” he ordered. The conductor turned to Gandhi and said, “Hey Sami, come along with me to the next compartment.” Insulted, Gandhi refused to move saying that he had purchased a first class seat and was entitled to be there. The conductor called a policeman who pushed him off the train with his bag and baggage. The train left and Gandhi spent the night shivering in the cold. This incident changed the whole course of his life. He decided to fight all such injustices. He sent a note of protest to the general manager of the railways, but the official only supported the rail employees. More trouble was in store for him. The next morning, he went to Charlestown by train. He had now to travel by a stagecoach to Johannesburg, but he was not allowed to sit inside the coach with white passengers. To avoid confrontation Gandhi sat outside on the coach-box behind the coachman. After some time the conductor asked him to sit on a dirty sack on the step


below. Gandhi refused. The conductor began to pull him down and beat him. At this time, some of the passengers came to Gandhi’s rescue and he was allowed to sit with them. Gandhi reached Johannesburg the next night, quite shaken by the experiences on the way. He had the address of a Muslim merchant’s house, where he spent the night. The next day he bought a first class ticket and continued his train journey to Pretoria. The only other passenger in the compartment was a well-dressed Englishman. A little later, a conductor entered and Gandhi quickly showed him the ticket. “Your ticket does not matter,” growled the conductor. “Go to the third class compartment at once!” Before Gandhi could reply, the Englishman said, “Why are you harassing this gentleman? His ticket gives him a right to be here.” And then turning to Gandhi, he told him to make himself comfortable. Thanking him warmly, Gandhi settled down with a book. It was late in the evening when the train pulled into Pretoria. He stayed at a hotel that night and moved into a lodge the next day. There he began to study the Abdulla lawsuit. Even while he was working on it, he found time to call a meeting of the Indians in Pretoria. To be Continued next week...

Sponsored by the Houston Arts Alliance in honor of the Mahatma Gandhi Sesquicentennial Houston celebrations.

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June 28, 2019

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