Indo-American News April 26, 2019

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Friday, April 26, 2019 | Vol. 38, No. 12

Indo American News Published weekly from Houston, TX


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Sonu-Neha Rock the NRG

Rehan Siddiqi Makes History



Pratham’s $4.5 Million Gala P5

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April 26, 2019

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April 26, 2019


Rehan Siddiqi Makes History - Sonu and Neha Rock the NRG By Dr Sarita Mehta HOUSTON: On Saturday, April 20th, NRG Arena, the massive venue in the Reliant Park complex, which can seat 8,500 was packed to the limit, with extra seats brought in to adjust and seat many more. At last count, more than 9,000 people pored in from all over the surrounding cities communities and even from Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and many more to attend the year’s premier entertainment event, the ‘Klose to My Life’, live concert by Sonu Nigam and Neha Kakkar. Rehan Siddiqi, a successful business owner, concert producer and radio station personality and operator has more than 23 years experience in the music and radio industry. He has produced over 400 successful concerts with many of the biggest stars from South Asia and Bollywood and proved himself time and again as one of the finest show business promoters. His shows have consistently proved that Houston has the biggest crowd and they beat every other venue in the US. And the Sonu-Neha show was no less. The gates opened at 7:30

pm, and though we arrived at 7:00pm, the lines were so long, and the parking place was fully packed at it took us around one hour to reach the hall.

Star. Neha opned up the concert with songs from 8:45 to 10:00pm and warmed up the audiencekept the audience singing and dancing, and bringing out widely popular new songs, Mila ho tum, Kala

to 11:45pm, adding Abhi Mujh mein, Kal ho na ho, Suraj hua madham, Main hoon na. His last solo song was Abhi Mujg mein Kahin Baaki hai thodi Jindagi

Texas’s 18th congressional district, currently serving in her 13th term in the House for her support to help get visas for the performers for this US tour. In her speech she expressed that she was highly impressed by the show. Siddiqi extended his special thanks to Shaukat of Aga’s Restaurant.

The evening began with Neha Kakkar, an Indian Bollywood singer and performer who competed on season 2 of the television reality show “Indian Idol” in 2006 and was a judge on the tenth season of the same show. She has also appeared in Comedy Circus Ke Taansen in 2014 on Sony TV. In 2008, she launched her first album, Neha-The Rock

Chashma, Gali Gali Mei, Ankh Mara. Then came the star of the evening, Sonu Nigam, and he was warmed welcomed with whistling and sapplause. He started with the humble number ‘Shukhran Allah’ and then came,’ Ajeeb ittefaq hai’ rendered with trademark perfection. Sonu sang from10:15

The two stars closed out the evening together from 11:45 to 12:30 am with a riveting medley of Sonu’s and Neha’s popular songs, both of them were intertwined their numbers in turns. Rehan expressed gratitude to Sheila Jackson Lee, Congress women, who is currently the US. Representative for

The show was brought together by Mr, Entertainment himself, Rehan Siddiqi, along with Flash Brush Production, in association with Shri Balaji Entertainment & 27th Investment. “Houston brought the biggest crowed and beat the record in the US ” gushed Rehan. “Thank you Houston!” Rehan was thrilled that it was supported by every element of the desi community – Indian, Pakistani, Gujarati, South Indians. “It shows the power of music,” he said excitedly, adding, “Music has no boundaries.” Rehan has just announced the line up for his upcoming shows: in June Guru Randhava; July Kumar Sanu and Anuradha Podwal; August Shreya Goshal and many more stars in September.

Rehan Siddiqi Makes History Again!

Record Crowds for the Sonu Nigam-Neha KekkarConcert Indo-American News • Friday, APRIL 26, 2019 • Online Edition:



April 26, 2019

Youth Leadership Developement Program 10th Anniversary & 2019 Graduating Class




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April 26, 2019 5 COMMUNITY Pratham Houston Raises Record $4.5 Million at 20th Anniverary Gala

The 2019 Pratham Houston Board with actor and chief guest Anil Kapoor



OUSTON: On Saturday, April 20, 2019, more than 900 guests attended the dazzling Pratham Houston ‘Sold Out’gala - celebrating 20 years of Pratham USA and raising a record-breaking $4.5 million – the largest amount by an Indian-American charity. Pratham is dedicated to improving the quality of education for underserved children and youth in India and has reached over 60 million individuals since its inception. The elegant Hilton America’s

ballroom played host to an insightful and engaging evening kicked off by a touching video tribute to gala honoree Vijay Goradia - local businessman and humanitarian, who established Pratham USA in 1999 after visiting a small preschool in the slums of Mumbai. One of the highlights of the night was a lively conversation between Goradia and Pratham cofounder and president Dr. Madhav Chavan, former University of Houston professor. “Like I would bet on an established company over a startup, by investing in an NGO like Pratham, I am


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investing in the future of tens of millions of children,” explained Goradia, who pledged $1 million at the benefit. “It has a proven track record, continues to be well managed and grow.” Local luminaries and gala underwriters Bimla and Swatantra Jain, who were also recognized for their longstanding commitment to education, made a commitment of $1 million to support the construction of a vocational training center in North India. “This is our city’s 20th annual gala, and every year we see an increase

in participation and enthusiasm for Pratham’s innovative programs,” said chapter president Asha Dhume. “Many people are astounded when they learn that of the 26 million Indian children who enter first grade each year, nearly half will reach fifth grade unable to read or write. Pratham is working to solve this learning crisis.” Celebrity guest Anil Kapoor was visibly moved by the tremendous show of support: “It’s a privilege, it’s an honor, it’s an emotional moment for me to be here listening, observing, absorbing emotionally the

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kind of work Pratham has done for 20 years!” exclaimed the Bollywood superstar. “I’m feeling really very small compared to all of you and all the people who have done so much for such a noble cause and for such a great organization. It proves that Pratham is one of the world’s best organizations.” The event, hosted by mistress of ceremonies Nicole O’Brian Lassiter, featured inspirational speeches including a sincere address by local businessman Ali Dhanani who Continued on page 8



April 26, 2019

YLDP Students Show their Mettle at Graduation Ceremony By Dr Sarita Mehta


O U S T O N : T h e Yo u t h Leadership Development Program, celebrated the Graduation Ceremony of the Class of 2019, as well as its10th anniversary on Sunday, 20 April at India House. YLDP, a non- profit organization that helps high school juniors and seniors from the Greater Houston Area, of Indo- American origin, to develop leadership skills and attributes through interaction with established successful local organizations, accomplished leaders and community service projects. A total of 57 students graduated from this class. The graduating students were divided in six teams, and Kalpana Suresh conducted these student-moderated sessions very efficiently. Students were given different topics on which they made presentations, and each team was lead by their student team leaders: Kishore Iyer, Aamani Pillutla, Aryan Parikh, Bhavya Rastogi, Sai Ponnapalli, and Shrishti Rohilla . The three students who were awarded ‘ Best Service Projects’ are; Seema Kulkarni, Srivishnu Yarabarla and Rohan Scaria. Nine who were awarded for Perfect Attendance are; Mihir Gundamaraju, Trisha Kulkarni, Ami Patel, Adarsha Pokkulandra, Rajit Ponakala, Sai Ponnapalli, Prudhvi Putam, Jaanavi Ramalingam, Radhika Sonde. Active Participation awards were given to Mohith Boorgu, Harsha Devireddy, Yesh Dhruva,

Soham Jadhav, Aayush Kathuria, Sherya Laxman, Aryan Parikh, Ami Patel, aamani Pillutla, Sai ponnapalli, Bhavya Rastogi, Yamini Roy, Rohan Skaria, Radhika Sonde, Sanjana Srinivas, Vinisha Vasan, Divya Yadavalli, Srivishnu Yarabarla. The chief guest, Dr. Anupam Ray, the Consul General of India, in his motivational speech on leadership shared anecdotes from his own personal life and the lives of great world leaders including great characters from the Mahabharat - Yudhishtra, Arjun, Karan and Lord Krishna, Lord Ram, Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mendela, Abraham Lincoln and many more. Leadership,

according to him, involved facing adversity with courage and sacrifices, and decisions coming from those conditions. Dr. Ray’s speech was

For a collage of the YLDP Graduation, see page 4 followed by an interactive question and answer session in which students came up with many intellectual questions, and he answered them elaborately and happily with his own personal examples. YLDP President Minal Varadharajan, in his welcome speech, congratulated the students who


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graduated this year, and recognized their parents for their logistical and moral support to the students through the year. He expressed his pleasure by relating the milestones covered through the year and covered multiple themes in the fields of science and technology, business and entrepreneurship, government and politics, philanthropy and charity and art and culture. ”We believe you will take important pointers from these sessions,” he said, “and apply them to become future leaders of our community.” Varadharajan thanked all the eight guest speakers who visited from time

to time throughout the session 201819 and provided great insights in their area of their expertise; Chuck Hinkle, Biane Greene- president of Houston Food Bank, Dr. Ratna Kumar, founder-Director of theAnjali Center for Performing Art, Judge Ravi K. Sandill, Gibson Du Terroil, President of the Lighthouse of Houston, Dr. Arun Pasrija, President and CEO of CHR Solutions, Bert Natalicchio, ITM-Technology, Development and Wells, Shell Oil Company, and Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India. He further mentioned the efforts of efficient Service rendered by late Director Kush Tandon, whom the institution unfortunately lost earlier this year, who was very popular amongst students too. He further extended a big thanks to the entire board members and volunteers as they have put in countless number of hours behind the scene in the planning and execution of the sessions and graduation ceremony. YLDP is focused on the development of leadership skills and attributes in the upcoming generations of Indo-American youth, working with a great Vision,” Nurture emerging Indo-American leaders to succeed in business, philanthropy, science, culture and government since 2009. Contact Sharda Prasad, Publication Director about enrollment for new upcoming session. For more information, visit:




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Mayor Ravi Bhalla Meets Mayor Turner, Local Leaders, Sikh Community H


OUSTON: Ravi Singh Bhalla, the Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, shared his uplifting life journey with a diverse audience of local business leaders, elected officials, and the Greater Houston Sikh community during a visit to the Bayou City this past weekend, April 20 and 21. Mayor Bhalla, a devout member of the Hoboken Sikh community, was elected that city’s 39th Mayor in November 2017 by focusing on improving Hoboken’s quality of life in fiscally responsible manner. The soft-spoken Bhalla, a self-described introvert, spoke of overcoming racial and religious bias to earn his seat at the head of the table and has delivered results to his constituents, “At the end of the day the constituents are interested in authentic leaders who are bold, compassionate, will be straight with the voters and are willing to make some hard decisions for the benefit of entities they are elected to serve.” Bhalla earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master of Science in PublicAdministration and Public Policy at the London School of Economics, and a Juris Doctorate from Tulane Law School in New Orleans. He is married to Bindya a human rights lawyer and the couple has two children, 11-year-old Arza Kaur and Shabegh, 6. The mayor’s luncheon visit at the renowned Kiran’s restaurant in the Kirby District was organized by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston led by President Swapan Dhairyawan and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia. Among the events Bhalla attended included a power dialogue luncheon with Illinois’ 8th District Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi who was also in town this weekend and the chief executive of Fort Bend County, recently elected Judge K.P. George. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner personally welcomed his counterpart during an evening reception in River Oaks home of Drr. Harvinder andAku Bedi; co-hosted by many prominent members of the Sikh community with a diverse group of invited guests and members of community organizations including Interfaith Ministries and the Anti-Defamation League. “I am honored to welcome City of Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla to the most diverse city in the nation,” Mayor Turner said. “[He] and I grew up on the shoulders of our parents who worked hard, played by the rules, and allowed us to dream big. They ensured we had the best and live the American promise.” Bhalla said it was an honor to receive Mayor Turner’s warm welcome and expressed his thanks to the entire Indian & Sikh Community, “I am humbled and grateful for your support” of the trip. On Sunday morning, Mayor Bhalla joined congregants at the Sikh Center of Houston on Prairie Street,

the oldest Gurdwara in the region. During services, Bhalla reminded them that Sikh values are American values and that service and faith were not in conflict with each other noting that America “allow(s) each one of us to be ourselves without compromising in our belief system and being resilient in service to others.” He also sat for a informal session with the congregation’s youth during Sunday school where he answered a wide range of questions about being the CEO of the City of Hoboken to his personal experience bullying as he was growing up. He also urged them to participate and demand to be heard, “We need to think big but start small and work at the grassroots level first to hone our skills and then build on our experience and rolodex to run for elected offices,” Bhalla concluded.

Counter clockwise from top: Mayor Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken, New Jersey visited Houston this past weekend and met with the Indo American Chamber of Commerce at Kiran’s restuarant; at a recception in the evening at the home of Dr. Harvinder and Aku Bedi where Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner praised Bhalla’s election and was joined by prominent Sikh families and sponsors like Gurmit Bhatia and his wife; and the following day spent the morning at the Sikh Center Gurdwara on Prairie St where he met with young kids and received an award.

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April 26, 2019

Pratham Houston Raises Record $4.5 Million at 20th Anniverary Gala

Continued from page 5 contributed $1 million last year to Pratham. Program beneficiary Mamta Dawar’s heartfelt message encouraged the audience to support Pratham so girls like her can find their voice and strength. The magical night wrapped up with lively entertainment from the dance group Rhythm India and a fashion show by leading Indian designer Anita Dongre presented by Raaz. A sumptuous plated dinner provided by Daawat catering was appreciated by all the guests. The gala co-chairs were Peggy andAvinash Ahuja, Indrani and Hemant Goradia, and Shital and Bhavesh Patel. Prominent attendees included Consul General Dr Anupam Ray, Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Andrea and Bill White,Anne andAlbert Chao as well as many other community leaders and philanthropists. Corporate sponsors who have been supporting Pratham’s transformative work for over a decade included Wells Fargo, Ascend Performance Materials, Packwell, Amegy Bank of Texas, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Family Office Services, and PKF of Texas, all of which have been supporting Pratham’s transformative work for a decade. 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

Clockwise from top left: Sapphira Goradia, Pratham USA Founder Vijay Goradia ,Marie Goradia; Pratham Houston President Asha Dhume, Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, Pankaj Dhume; Anil Kapoor, Pratham USA CFO Swatantra Jain, Bimla Jain; Pratham Advisory Board member Dhiren Shethia, Pratham USA Founder Vijay Goradia, Pratham Founder Dr. Madhav Chavan Photos: Bijay Dixit/Unique Photo Images.

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April 26, 2019

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April 26, 2019

Northwestern Mutual Study: Caring for Aging Parents is Not a Family Affair MILWAUKEE: For most families, caring for mom or dad as they age is not a family effort. According to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s latest C.A.R.E. Study, the responsibility most likely falls on the shoulders of one sibling, rather than being shared among all the children. Findings reveal that two in five caregivers are caring for or have cared for a parent and, while the majority (83%) have siblings, only one in 10 say siblings equally share responsibilities as a team. Rather, 40% say their siblings don’t assist in caring for their parent at all, and an additional 41% indicate that while siblings offer some help, they themselves are the primary caregiver. “Families are fundamentally changing in ways that impact how they’re able to care for aging parents,” says Dave Simbro, senior vice president, risk products, Northwestern Mutual. “Parents are living longer, most of their children are working full-time, people are having children later in life, and families are geographically dispersed. These evolving demographics underscore the importance of planning for long-term care needs.” Is there a choice when it comes to stepping up as a caregiver? While more than half of

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caregivers (58%) knew in advance that they would be providing care, for two in five, it was not discussed and was completely unexpected. This factor – whether a caregiver knows in advance about taking on this role – impacts how they feel about the choices they have: • 58% of caregivers who feel they did not have a choice in becoming a caregiver said there was no discussion ahead of time and it was totally unexpected. The perception of choice is also influenced by age and relationship with the person receiving care: • 72% of Millennials report that they had a choice, followed by Gen X (56%). Whereas 62% of Baby Boomers don’t feel they had a choice. • Two in three (65%) of those caring for a spouse don’t feel they have/had a choice, versus 51% of those caring for a parent. The study looks at the financial and practical realities of caregiving and finds: • Caregivers define caregiving as a combination of practical/personal care support (42%), emotional support (34%) and financial support (23%). • 55% of caregivers are providing more than six hours a day of care over an expected average of almost 10 years of total care. • When it comes to getting support

for their caregiving responsibilities, most turn to friends (43%) before siblings (34%) for help with the emotional aspects of support, but rely equally on siblings, other family members and healthcare professionals for practical/personal care support (28%). • Caregivers are spending on average 26% of their own monthly budget on caregiving, a percentage that is slightly higher for Millennials (32%) versus Gen X (25%). They mostly don’t seek any support when it comes to financial needs (43%). If they do, they will ask family members (22%) or siblings (20%), rather than friends (13%). Despite their own experience, 72% of caregivers have not planned for their own long-term care needs. Moreover, two in three haven’t spoken about preferences for their care either because they just expect it will be taken care of as it has always been done in their family (37%), or because they don’t have any expectation that anyone would be responsible for them (30%). Among those who have planned: • 47% increased their savings • 39% purchased long-term care insurance • 37% incorporated long-term care into their financial plan • 31% talked to their financial advisor

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April 26, 2019

VT Seva Houston Celebrates Earth Day


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Over 25 years experience By Ranganath Kandala HOUSTON: Ragini (Shweta Basu Prasad) receivOn Sunday April 21st the Houston Chapter of VT SEVA celebrated its second annual Earth Day Science Fair. Spearheaded by VT Seva CoBranch Director Swetha Sirivolu, over 85 registrants enrolled to participate in this multifaceted program designed in a competitive format. The fair was open to students from pre-school to 10th grade. There was a costume contest for pre-school to 2nd grade students, tri-fold poster competition for 3rd through 8th grade, a power point demonstration for 9th and 10th grade high school students, and an impromptu speech contest on Earth Day-related topics. An esteemed panel of judges presided over the contest. VT Seva focuses on promoting

youth leadership and involvement in community service and philanthropic activities. The VT Seva youth volunteer team assisted in program arrangements and some took to the stage as emcees for the Earth Day program. The Earth Day program began with a poignant skit presented by Prajna students. This was followed by the costume contest, a delight to the audience with a colorful display on a myriad of topics related to the Earth Day. An outstanding feature of the contest was that most costumes were made from recycled material. One of the most creative costumes was that of “Plastic Yamraj”, who, to the amazement of the audience, said “If you use plastic, I will take you to my world!”. During the impromptu speech

contest, students boldly stood up to express their views on various Earth Day-related topics given by the judges. This was followed by an awards ceremony with awards for each category presented by the event’s special guests, who then gave a message to the audience and complimented the youth for their commitment to such an important cause. The Event Sponsors and Partners were recognized for their support of this program. Under the able guidance of event lead Swetha Sirivolu and her team comprised of Mr. Krishna Chokkarapu, Swathi Suryawanshi, Swetha Khade, Praveen Sirivolu, Prasanna Vaishnava, Dr. Renu Tamirisa and Dr. Aparna Tamirisa, it took the work of numerous volunteers to make this event possible. The commitment of these volunteers was truly the key to the success of this event. VT SEVA, spearheaded by His Holiness Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji, has as one of its focus areas Environmental Awareness and Protection of Mother Earth. As part of this, the VT SEVA SEVA Houston Earth Day event is an annual program and now looks forward to a great event in 2020!

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April 26, 2019

Multi-talented Actor, Artist Bud Patel has Many Projects Underway By Dr. Sarita Mehta

HOUSTON: Bud Patel, renowned film Producer of “A Curry on an American Plate” which is streaming on Amazon Prime, an official selection at the 2018 Hoboken International Film Festival and also in 2018 NIFF International Film Festival in Houston, is coming with live stage show an epic Hindi drama based on life of Shirdi Ke Sai Baba.” Sai Leela- Hindi Drama. Bud, also known as Bradresh Patel, a person of versatile personality, producer, director and director, has acted in over 150 short films stage shows in Hindi, English, Gujarati, Mara-

thi, and Bengali Drama in Mumbai, Houston, and Toronto Canada. I feel immense pleasure to present him. Question 1: Tell us about you and how and when you started your acting career? I am Microbiologist and my profession was in medical field and worked in Medical Laboratory. I am also Hotelier and build Hotels in Houston. My passion is acting which started at the age of 7 in school. Later worked in Marathi Dramas in Mumbai at Shivaji Natya Mandir & Chabildas Natya Mandir in Dadar Mumbai. I went to school for film making and script writing, I also teach on camera acting and stage acting for aspiring actors. Question 2: Tell us about your next projects We have just finished shooting short Hindi web-series “Inverted Coma” it is murder mystery. Also working on short film called “Identified” which is based on social media abuse. But most importantly and currently producing lavish Broadway-style Hindi drama on the life of Shirdi Ke Sai Baba (SAI-LEELA) Question 3: Tell us about Sai-Leela Drama and how it was conceptualized I had a life threating surgery last year and was in hospital for long time and was praying Sai-Baba for speedy recovery. That’s when it conceptualized and once I was out of hospital it all started with three friends, writer

Dr. Arun Banker and actor Vibhas Dhurandhar. Three of us worked tirelessly on story, concept, and stage play and completed the script in three months. Once the sript was ready we had multiple session of script reading with actors and made multiple revisions to make a bounded script that is inspiring and divine. The story has many dramatic and comedy scene with special effects, the dialogue are very well written by Dr. Banker. Question 4: Tell us about cast, crew, sets and costume. As we were writing the stage play, casting was done simultaneously and

most of the actors that are casted are first choice. We have about 39 actors playing various role, some of them are playing double & triple roles. With Baba’s blessing we also have team of best sound engineer, best musicians, best choreographer, and best light director. We have hired Set Designer to create sets. The properties has been imported from India. The custom made costume has been ordered for each character, especially Sai-Baba’s costume and Marathi Navwari Sarees for each character. Question 5: What is unique about the drama, I have heard there are some special effects Yes you have heard it right, we have loads of special effects because Sai-Baba is known for performing miracle, for example lighting Diya’s with water (without oil) and other trick scene. Other important factor is script and dialogue. It is not prerecorded each actor will deliver their dialogue live in front of our audience, a difficult task to remember each line and act at the same time.All our actors are very hard working, dedicating and professional Question 6: When is your premier show and how long is the show? The premier show is on Friday June 7th @ 8:00 PM at Old Stafford Civic Center. The show is 2:45 hours with interval. We will have food booth on the day of event. We also have been approach by many organization and have requested to perform in Austin, San Antonio and Seattle.

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The serial blasts on Easter Sunday rank as the worst bloodbath Sri Lanka has seen since the end of the civil war in 2009. It is a monumental tragedy for a country that is trying to live down the strife that lasted more than a quarter century. In what could be the handiwork of a local Islamist radical group, as many as 290 people are dead, and nearly 500 wounded in multiple blasts, a few of them involving suicide bombers. The targets chosen as well as the occasion suggest that the bombings were aimed at gaining maximum global attention. The coordinated blasts took place while guests were having breakfast in three luxury hotels frequented by foreign tourists close to the seafront in the capital, and worshippers had gathered for Easter in a church each in Colombo, Negombo on the western coast and the eastern town of Batticaloa. The most immediate impact will be on the economy, to which the well-run tourism industry is a huge contributor. Already the economy is going through a rough patch, as the country grapples with the aftermath of the political instability that prevailed a few months ago. The spectre of ethnic relations between various communities deteriorating also looms. The small Muslim minority, caught in the crosshairs of the conflict in the past, and Christians, an even smaller minority, have faced violent attacks by hardline Sinhala Buddhist groups. However, nothing in such incidents suggested any acrimony that could have led up to the sort of savagery seen on Easter day. Reports that specific overseas intelligence inputs were not taken seriously are disturbing. The inquiry ordered by President Maithripala Sirisena will, it is hoped, address the concern voiced by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, that he and his ministers were kept in the dark about these inputs. However, the administration responded admirably to the situation, especially in preventing the spread of rumours and any backlash against sections of society. Possibly following the New Zealand example, the government and the security establishment sought to deny the group any immediate ideological mileage and any claim to putative martyrdom by not identifying the group involved. It has now been named as the ‘National Thowheed Jamaat’. However, intriguingly, no group has owned responsibility for the blasts, something extremist outfits are wont to do to attract recruits and strike terror on a global scale. Given the scale and sophistication of the operation, which would have involved reconnoitring targets, assembling and transporting explosives and detonators, it does not seem likely that a solely indigenous group would have the wherewithal to carry it out. The neighbourhood will closely watch the investigation, as it may reveal the extent to which the shadow of the Islamic State is falling on the South Asian region. -- The Hindu.

April 26, 2019


The Allure of a Second-hand Bookshop By Mini Kapoor There are any number of reasons I routinely take shelter in a bookshop or a public library, in my hometown or as a tourist in less familiar cities. These range from the need to find a comfort zone in order to recover my equilibrium and get on with the day’s schedule, to the opportunity to jog my mind and reorder my reading list — there is, for instance, no better way to throw oneself back into the difficult book at hand than to spy another copy sitting enticingly on a bookshelf elsewhere and read a page or two in that edition. Bookshops also satisfy a long-standing curiosity about how people organise their books, and serve as nudge to reassemble my reading in my mind. Second-hand bookshops are altogether different, if equally fulfilling. And it’s not only because folks who run these shops, by the very fact of having honed their appraisal skills for buying book collections and pricing them, have a somewhat judgmental air. This impression of mine was unfounded for long, and based on the odd throwaway remark — such as when I tried to negotiate the price of a second-hand, hardback copy of Christopher Ondaatje’s Sindh Revisited down to at least its cover price, when the bookseller said, “I’ve seen the other books you have piled up. I know how much you’d like to get this book.” But Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller, based on his experience of running Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop in the book town of Wigtown, confirmed the impression, with his withering takes on browsers who stray in. But there’s another reason second-hand bookshops are challenging. They have different organising principles, and their stock is always changing. As a reader/ buyer, you are aware that there is little time to decide on the bargain at hand, that the book on offer may be grabbed any moment by another buyer. What that bargain really may be is also a mystery to most readers. Among Janet Malcolm’s essays recently collected in Nobody’s Looking at You is her 2014 profile of New

There is no better way to throw oneself back into the difficult book at hand than to spy another copy sitting enticingly on a bookshelf elsewhere and read a page or two in that edition. Bookshops also satisfy a longstanding curiosity about how people organise their books, and serve as nudge to reassemble my reading in my mind.

York City’s iconic Argosy book store, known for old and rare books. Malcolm — who once put all journalists on notice by opening a book with the line, “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible” — captures the gentle rhythms and attentiveness that keep the family-run shop going. But one day this orderly rhythm is disturbed when it is found that a signed copy of J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace has been bought “for the ‘$1’ written on its flyleaf”. The book, it is reckoned, was worth $400. You wonder, was the buyer aware of the dream deal? Did he or she care? Or at least notice the discrepancy between the signature and the price? The three sisters who inherited the Argosy from its founder, Louis Cohen, in 1991 don’t let Malcolm tag along on a book-buying expedition. “We don’t know how you could understand how we decide so quickly,” one of them tells her, having previously said, “It’s the kind of knowledge it has taken us decades to be comfortable with.” In other words, to keep the secrets of the trade secret.

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But they do share a story about Cohen. He had gone on a book-buying expedition to a doctor’s house, and found that it was so full of books that the owner had been “pushed out… and lived somewhere else”. Cohen came up with a random offer, “a lowish price”, and the doctor immediately agreed in sheer relief. Sorting through the books took time, so when the owner said he had got a buyer and had to transfer the property within a month, Cohen offered to buy the house, so he could sift through the collection at his own pace. Other tips are more freely shared. For instance, should you ever come across an old copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and wonder if it’s an investment worth making, go to page 205 and look for “sick in tired”. If they occur, it’s the first edition and the first issue. In the second issue, it was corrected to “sickantired”. No wonder the Argosy’s think tank separates books into “books for reading” and “books for collecting” — and it makes you wonder which category that owner of the rare copy of Disgrace placed it in. Mini Kapoor is Ideas Editor, The Hindu.



April 26, 2019

Kartarpur Sahib: A Pilgrimage Corridor to Unite By Bhupinder Singh

of this historic Gurdwara after the partition in 1947, we saw a new ray of hope when the PM of Pakistan, Imran Khan in November 2018 laid the foundation stone for the corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side of the border. The news has generated a lot of excitement, enthusiasm as this year of 2019, we all will be celebrating 550th the Prakash Purab of the founder of this Sikh Faith and of this commune. This place is the final resting of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev with having Samadh of Hindus and Sikhs and a Mazaar of Muslims peacefully coexisting under its one roof. This is the shrine has the potential to become a beacon of peace between the two warring nations after 72 years of the partition. This shrine can be the binding glue to the people’s hearts of the two nations. This has the potential to be the model for opening of more land corridors between the two nations. The bridge over Ravi could become the peace bridge linking the two nations. After all, Guru Nanak Dev Ji promoted the harmony, brotherhood between people of

Houston: The concept of Kartarpur city was conceived by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and was also given the concrete shape by Guru Ji himself in 1522 AD when he moved and settled there. He was 52 years old when he settled there and lived last 18 years of his life there with his family. In fact, it is longest stint of Guru Ji’s life in one place. This serene, congregational cum egalitarian commune, became a magnet attracting adherents of different faiths to it, who followed Guru Ji and made it their home. Unfortunately, during the turmoil of drawing of the partition lines of the sub-continent by the Radcliffe commission, this idyllic commune became a traumatic victim. Although, the district of Gurdaspur was awarded to India, but one Tehshil Shakargarh out of the four of the district along with Kartarpur was awarded to Pakistan. With most of Sikh population migrating to India, this serene town found itself almost abandoned. Since the partition in 1947, the Gurdwara remained in disuse and it was only reopened in 1999 to coincide with Indian PM Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan. Eighteen years after the reopening

different religions all his life. Even in his death, he left a legacy of love, and a bonding place for people with divergent faiths and viewpoints. It was this hope that attracted us to visit West Panjab in Pakistan in March 2019. I could feel the genuine love, regards and warmth of Panjabi hospitality the moment I stepped into the other side of the border. Although, this was exactly a month after the Pulwama attack had taken place which had brought both the nations close to brink of hostilities, so we cautioned against the visit. But, by placing our hopes and fate in Guru Ji’s hand, with prayers on our lips and looking at it as Guru Ji’s calling we decided to go ahead with the earlier scheduled tour. U n b e l i e v a b l y, a m a j o r transformation in the heart takes place on entering the Kartarpur soil and breathing its fresh air. We took tour of the shrine and soaked in the feeling of Guru Ji’s divine presence. Next having the langar (community meal) there was again an out of world experience. Imagine breaking the bread made from wheat of Guru Ji’s farm and savoring it with the Dal (lentil soup), along with sabzi of aloomatar (vegetable dish of potatoes Continued on page

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Nurturing Indo-American Future Leaders

The Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP) of Houston is an independent 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, nurturing future Indo-American leaders Since 2007, YLDP has been providing high school juniors and seniors of Indian origin living in Greater Houston a unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills. Curriculum includes talks by leaders in Politics, Government, Philanthropy, Science & Technology, Business, Entrepreneurship, Culture and Art. Students go on Field Trips and learn to be proficient in public speaking.

Graduating class of 2018 with Hon. Consul Gen. Dr Anupam Ray

Students from Class of 2019 with the CEO of Houston Food Bank, Brian Greene

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April 26, 2019



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Mama’s Punjabi Recipes

This has to be the most well-known Punjabi paranhta, and one that several readers have asked to reprint. Among older desis in the US, a hot, crispy Aaloo da Parantha is a comfort food that brings back memories of home. So here is a reprint of this popular recipe with some additional information and directions. Mama has even made a video of this recipe will soon be available on Youtube.

Aaloo da Parantha

(POTATO STUFFED CRISPY FLATBREAD) Every cuisine in every corner of the world has its comfort food and if you ask a Punjabi, what their choice is, chances are pretty good that they’ll first say “paranthas (crispy flatbread)! Paranthas have become famous the world over and are found not just in Indian restaurants but also in the frozen food section of Indian grocery stores. Though the basic way to make paranthas is very similar but it’s the stuffing that differentiates them in the cooking methods and of course the taste … and even the way you eat them. So well is this idea ingrained in the minds of people that the art of cooking paranthas is celebrated in guidebooks like Michelin or Lonely Planet which lead tourists to a small busy restaurant in the old part of Delhi in Chandni Chowk to the Paranthe di Gulli (Parantha Alley) where there is usually a line to get in to eat 12 inch round paranthas of all types! A homemade Punjabi parantha is usually 8 to 10 inches round and nearly ¼ inch thick. It is made of twice-rolled dough, with a little dab of oil and then cooked on each side till there is a crispy, golden brown top layer, which can only happen when you coax the dough to actually puff up and NOT press down hard on it while cooking. Then the crispy side is coated with some butter or oil and served piping hot. The easiest – and most often made – stuffed parantha is the aaloo (potato) type probably because they are readily available everywhere and easy to cook and prepare. Many people make aloo paranthas that are limp and taste like soggy mashed potatoes which takes the joy out of them, while others use too much butter or oil which makes them too greasy. Made properly, they should be crispy and just firm enough to eat with plain yogurt. Ingredients: • 500gm kanak (gehon) ka atta (wheat flour) • 500gm aaloo (potatoes) – firm white, not Russet or baking kind • 2 tbsp tael (olive or vegetable oil) • 1 1/2 cups pani (water) • 1 tsp dhaniya (coriander) • ½ tsp lal mirch (red pepper) • 1 tsp amchoor (mango powder) • ½ tsp garam masala • ½ tsp ajwain (fenugreek) • Pinch of namak (salt) per parantha

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April 26, 2019

Directions: 1. Combine the spice ingredients in a small bowl and set off to the side. 2. Knead the atta into dough with water and set aside for 30 minutes. 3. Put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to a boil. When they are soft but not mushy, turn the heat off and drain the water out. Let the potatoes cool off for 20 minutes. 4. Peel the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Smash them with a masher into small pieces. Add the spice mixture and mix thoroughly. 5. Pinch off a piece of dough and make into 1½ inch round padde (balls). Roll each padda out into a 4 inch disc. 6. Spread the dough into the middle of the disc and place three tablespoons of the smashed potatoes into it. Throw in a bit of salt and then gather off the ends off the dough with a pinch and then roll into a ball again. 7. Carefully roll out the ball into an 8 to 10 inch disc ¼ inches thick, trying not to spill the mixture in a

tear of the dough. 8. Put a small dab of oil on a hot tava (hotplate or skillet) and place the flattened disc on. When it puffs a bit and turn color, turn the pancake over. Turn the heat to medium low. Put another dab of oil on the tava and then turn it over again till it is fully cooked. 9. These paranthas are best served hot with butter, plain yogurt or lassi (buttermilk). Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her early-nineties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.



THE DOS AND D MAKING GOOD PAON’TS OF Making tasty and crispy aaloo para RANTHAS nt tip

has can be tricky s can make the en but a d results a much put the salt into be tter. The first tip is few the mashed potato not to es spices. This only m akes the potatoes along with the rest of the sh cult to stuff and ro ll out the dough. Th ed water and makes it diffien, it is important heat on high unde to turn the r the tava and wh en the first parant for the first time, ha is turned turn the heat to m edium low. Next, oil on the tava ea place a little ch This will make it cr time before you place and flip the parantha. ispy. Finally, do no cooked parantha t press down hard but wait till both of the unsides are slightly try to make the pa cooked, then rantha fluff up.

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April 26, 2019

ENTERTAINMENT: REVIEWS/NEWS ‘The Tashkent Files’: A Fictional Hard-hitting and Volatile Political Drama By Rachit Gupta Story: A young and ambitious journalist Ragini (Shweta Basu Prasad) receives an anonymous tip about a scoop behind India’s exPrime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s mysterious death in Tashkent. She publishes a story in the newspaper, which leads to an official committee being set up by the government to investigate the 53-year-old case. Review: Based on one of the most controversial chapters of India’s history, The Tashkent Files tries to recreate a hard-hitting and volatile political drama. The film is based in modern times, as a journalist takes a deep dive into investigating Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death from 1966. While the pursuit of truth after halfa-century may seem jaded, the young journalist, played by Shweta Basu Prasad, chases the scoop because she’s overly ambitious and in the world of social media, any sensationalist topic, will do. So she and a whole host of politicians, social workers and civil servants, join a committee

that has the task of uncovering and reinvestigating the truth. It’s a setup borrowed from 12 Angry Men, and the lack of novelty doesn’t help the proceedings at all. Director and writer VivekAgnihotri

explores a lot of political stories, facts and rumours through the story. As the young journo comes face to face with the history of Shastri’s death, she also realises that the world of politics and espionage can be overwhelming for

the common man. That the story is able to put across such a relevant point is commendable, but the execution of such ideas is far from ideal. The direction and narrative of the film is inconsistent. Also the music, both the

background score and the songs used in montages, are too loud and don’t compliment the complex nature of the story at all. One of the film’s strengths should have been the ensemble cast featuring Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Pankaj Tripathi, Mandira Bedi and more. But, apart from Mithun Chakraborty, no other actor gets a character that does justice to the talents of the actors. Even the film’s lead, Shweta Basu Prasad, gives an honest performance in an underdeveloped character. The Tashkent Files makes some shocking claims about India’s political history, dynasty politics and the citizen’s right to know the truth. All its sensational content is relevant and important social issues are highlighted, too. But, the storytelling effort is half-baked and lacks the finesse that such a heavy-duty film requires. It also doesn’t help that the final slide of the movie tells the audience that the authenticity of all the facts displayed in the film cannot be verified.-- Times of India


Kartarpur Sahib: A Pilgrimage Corridor to Unite Continued from page 14 and peas) again from Gur Ji’s fields. Even the water used for cooking and drinking is from Guru Ji’s wells that he used for drinking and for his fields. Next taking a tour of the construction activity in preparation of the corridor opening was eye opening. The road on Pakistan side is 4.5 KM and on the Indian side is 0.8 KM. There will be a bridge on River Ravi 0.8 KM long on Pakistan side. The pictures included capture the pace of this huge construction project which is scheduled for completion by November 2019. It is our sincere hope and prayer that we preserve the heritage that was left untouched because of disuse as a result of partition. Of course the heritage sight needs the upgrading,

but it should not come at heavy price of erasing the artefacts forever. After all the visitors to this shrine are going there to get first hand taste and feel the ambience that Guru Ji created during his stay there based on the model for ideal life style that he preached. Let this place become a living model of the life style Guru Ji preached and practiced. Guru Ji epitomized purity and simplicity in life and let this shrine spread that message to the entire mankind. So, even if we even have 125,000 visitors leaving their footprints there, we just leave behind an ecological footprint of one visitor. Now, that will be a new evolutionary, environmental friendly road map based on Guru Ji’s life that will resonate with the entire mankind.

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April 26, 2019


Safety Record Abysmmal in Chennai Dear Editor, It was reported in the media on April 21 , 2019 that four workers died while cleaning a tank in the Individual Effluent Treatment Plant in a private dyeing unit in Tirupur due to asphyxation and three other workers who had attempted to save them fainted and had to be removed immediately before further calamity occured there. It was also reported that even though manual cleaning is strictly prohibited the Tamil Nadu Pollution control Board has given earlier given consent for the functioning of the Plant.

It is a matter of very great regret that all the workers who lost their lives were from Assam. The Factories Act, 1948 makes mention of 28 polluting industries including dyeing units. Occupational hazards caused to workers should always be prevented and if caused resulting in death the affected worker’s legal heirs should be compensated and also given suitable jobs. It is the duty of the State Human Rights Commission to order for the payment of reasonable monetory compensation to

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the legal representatives of the deceased workers apart from taking stringent action against the owner of the dyeing unit and the concerned officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for their dereliction of duties in not complying with the mandatory provisions of Air ,Water and Environment Acts and permitting the functioning of the concerned effluent treatment plant. P.S.Subrahmanian, Mobile 9443704447 No87(old No 50) DrRadhakrishanan Salai, Mylapore,Chennai-600 004


April 26, 2019

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