Indo-American News: February 12, 2022

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Friday, February 18, 2022 • Vol. 41, No. 7 February 18, 2022

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On Her 3rd Anniversary, Maaji Still Showers Us with Blessings H

Maaji .... Gone 3 Years Laxmiben Thakkar – who would become better known as Maaji in later years devoted herself to her spiritual guru Shridi Sai Baba and built the Jalaram Saibaba Temple on Hillcroft just north of Harwin Drive, in a lease space behind Keemat Grocers. At left, a picture of her as a toddler in her birthplace, Bhuj, Kutch and at right, as a young woman when she moved to Houston to be with her family. Below, a picture of the early days of the Jalaram Sai Baba Temple when it first opened in the early 90’s. Hundreds of devotees would attend daily services. The temple held a special service on Feb. 13 in memory of Maaji and Papaji.

Maaji as a toddler in her birthplace, Bhuj, Kutch


OUSTON: If you were in Little India on any day or night and wanted to get some blessings, all you had to do was visit the temple on Hillcroft behind the first row of shops, almost behind Keemat Grocers. It is small and cozy and until 3 years ago, sitting by the entrance on a padded chair was Maaji (Respected Mother) who greeted you with a wide toothless smile on her pretty round face with the large round tilak on her forehead and a disarming “Ajao beta, kaise ho?” (Come in child, how are you?) It would be fair to say that the Jalaram Sai Baba Temple was synonymous with Maaji as she was the one who founded the Little Temple on Hillcroft (as many knew it) in the early 90’s in a 100sf rented space, to impart the blessings of Shridi Sai Baba. Her husband Bechardas Thakkar (known as Papaji) who owned East West Video (later East West International) at the corner of Hillcroft and Harwin Drive would drop her off at the temple at 9:30 every morning. “And Maaji would stay there until he picked her up at 7:30 in the evening,” recalled her daughter Jyoti Thakkar, “seven days a week.” Maaji was also the founder of the Shirdi Sai Jalaram Mandir in Sugar Land where she served as the Lifetime Chairwoman of the Board. She donated the downpayment to acquire 7.5 acres of land in Sugar Land where the SSJM has been built on West Bellfort and Highway 6.

She worked tirelessly to propagate Sai teachings in the community and lived by the example. She continued to support activities at both the temples and ensured that they thrived and enrichened the devotees with the teachings of Saibaba and Jalaram Bapa. Her great vision was to build a vridh ashram – old age home - for the unfortunate and seniors, enabling them to lead a spiritual life. Maaji was 85 years-old when she passed away on February 14, 2019 – her real name was Laxmiben Thakkar - and had struggled for many years from blood pressure, diabetes, blockages in her legs, frozen hand syndrome, back pains, knee replacement surgery, three heart attacks, quadruple heart bypass surgery, loss of teeth and had lost most of her hearing. Inspite of her disabilities and not knowing English, she continued to work on her vision. Still, Maaji’s deep devotion brought her each day to the temple, even in a wheelchair, and she would delight in the almost 300 to 400 people - “her children” - who came daily. Born on October 6, 1933 in Bhuj, Kutch she was raised in Ghatkoper, a suburb of Bombay, where all of her five children – two girls and three boys – were born. When their sons moved to the US, the parents came to be with them in the early 80’s. Jyoti lived with them and took care of their needs (Papaji died a few weeks ago) despite her won health problems including two heart attacks. Maaji is also survived by 7 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Maaji’s husband Bechardas Thakkar was born on Jyly 1, 1932 in Anjar, Kutch, India and spent his childhood and early life in Mumbai. He came to the US in the a early 80’s and started a 220-volt appliances and electronics business followed by additional businesses. He lived a down to earth, very simple and honest life. He was a man with integrity, vision, character and with a strong devotion to his family He had gone to California to visit his children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren. However due to medical problems, he had to be hospitalized and subsequently, he passed away on January 19 this year at the age of 89.

INDO-AMERICAN NEWS •News FRIDAY, MARCH 01, 2019• ONLINE WWW.INDOAMERICAN-NEWS.COM Indo-American • Friday, february 18, 2022EDITION: •


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Friday, February 18, 2022 | Vol. 41, No. 07


February 18, 2022

Indo American News


Published weekly from Houston, TX

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Hijab Controversy Stir in Karnataka

Six girl students of a college in Udupi attended a press conference held by Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into the classroom by wearing hijab. PTI. SEE PAGE 2

‘Mithya’: Series on Zee5

ZEE5 Global will release another original web series – Mithya. SEE PAGE 12


3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y, T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a . c o m

Indo-American News • Friday, february 18, 2022 •


INDIA Hijab Controversy Escalates in Coastal Karnataka February 18, 2022

Students wearing saffron shawls block a road during protest over ‘Hijab’ controversy, in Shivamogga in coastal Karnataka. PTI

one year in advance,” he added. Pointing out that there are hundreds of religious symbols in all sections of the society, Kumar asked: “Why are they picking only on the hijab? Is it being used for discrimination based on religion?” On Tuesday, the Muslim girls who moved the High Court against the hijab ban, argued that the Indian brand of secularism was a ‘positive’ one, unlike that of Turkey, and submitted that wearing the headscarf was an innocent practice of faith and not a display of religious jingoism. They contended before a three-judge bench that secularism in India was not like ‘Turkey secularism’ but a positive one where all religions are recognised as true. -The Hindu, Indian Express


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Bangalore: A controversy over the hijab or headscarf worn by Muslim girls has escalated in coastal Karnataka Echoes of the controversy are being heard in other parts of Karnataka too, even as a political slugfest is unfolding on the communally sensitive issue. Several political leaders including Mehbooba Mufti and Rahul Gandhi have voiced their condemnation on twitter. How did it start? Six female students belonging to the Government PU College for Girls in Udupi were not allowed to attend classes wearing hijab. The students protested on December 31, 2021, claiming the college was not allowing them to attend classes for the past 15 days. Udupi BJP MLA Raghupathi Bhat, who heads the college’s development committee, held a meeting with parents and other stakeholders. He told students to follow the college’s dress code in the classroom. The six students chose to stay away from the classroom. The students filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court, and also approached the National Human Rights Commission. Why did other educational institutions get involved? Following this incident, a group of boys at the Government Pre University College in Kundapur went to college sporting saffron shawls in protest against some girls attending classes wearing hijab. Kundapura MLA Haladi Srinivas Shetty held a meeting with parents and asked students to comply with the dress code of the college till the government takes a final decision on the issue. The MLA said that some girl students of the college have been coming to class sporting hijab for the last about five days. The girl students, on the other hand, have argued that they cannot be forced to stay out of the college following a ‘sudden change in the dress code’ to bar hijab. To counter girls wearing hijab, several Hindu boys have been turning up wearing saffron shawls, but they too have been barred from entering classrooms. Such cases have been reported in several colleges in Udupi district in coastal Karnataka. The row took a new turn in Chikkamagaluru when students of IDSG Government First Grade College arrived wearing blue shawls. They chanted Jai Bhim slogans and raised their voice in support of Muslim girls. They said they were in support of wearing hijab in colleges as part of religious practice. What has the government said? The Karnataka Government issued an order stating that students have to comply with the uniform/ dress code prescribed by College Development Committees. Primary and Secondary Education Minister B.C. Nagesh said rules framed under the Karnataka Educational Act 2013 and 2018 have empowered educational institutions to prescribe uniforms for school/ PU college students. The department has issued a circular based on these rules and appealed to students to follow uniform rules prescribed by colleges till the High Court pronounced its verdict on the matter. Though uniform is not mandatory in colleges, College Development Committees, often headed by local MLAs, have been insisting on a dress code, including banning hijabs, in Udupi and other districts. The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing petitions challenging the ban on hijab in some educational institutions in the state, on the fourth day. The court will assemble again tomorrow at 2:30 pm to hear the rest of writ petitions. Senior Advocate and Professor Ravi Varma Kumar, appearing for the petitioners, refered to the Karnataka Education Act and stated that the rule notifies that when educational institution intends to change uniform, it has to issue notice one year in advance to parents. “If there is a ban on hijab, it should inform


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Canada Plans Record Immigration Entries Ottawa: Canada, a country that relies heavily on immigration to grow its labour force, has set an ambitious plan to bring in more than 1.3 million newcomers over the next three years to support its post-pandemic growth. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government aims to add more than 431,000 permanent residents this year, 447,000 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024, according to the 2022-24 Immigration Levels Plan released on Monday. Figures for this year and 2023 have been revised higher from earlier targets of 411,000 and 421,000, respectively. “Immigration has helped shape Canada into the country it is today,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in a statement. “We are focused on economic recovery, and immigration is the key to getting there.” Immigration had been one of the main drivers of Canada’s econo-

my, and accounts for almost all of the nation’s employment growth. Last year, Canada welcomed more than 405,000 newcomers, the largest single-year increase in its history. Nearly 60% of newcomers will qualify as economic immigrants, selected on the basis of their skills and work experience. In a statement to CIC News, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser explained “This levels plan is a balance of needs for our country and our international obligations. It focuses on attracting skilled workers

5 Indo American News February 18, 2022

who will contribute to Canada’s economy and tackle the labour shortage, while recognizing the importance of family reunification, and helping the world’s most vulnerable populations through refugee resettlement. Our focus remains on supporting our economic resurgence through increased retention of newcomers in regions with real economic, labour and demographic challenges. I’m proud of what Canada has achieved thus far, and I want wait to see how newcomers will continue to make Canada a top destination of choice.” In 2022, some 56 per cent of new immigrants will arrive under economic class pathways such as Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and the Temporary to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) stream that was available in 2021.

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February 18, 2022

Bappi Lahiri: Disco King of Bollywood Dies Mumbai: Singer-composer Bappi Lahiri passed away on Tuesday at the age of 69 in Mumbai. He was ailing for some time and died at CritiCare Hospital in Juhu, Mumbai, due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Personalities from all walks of life paid tribute to Lahiri, including PM Narendra Modi, actors Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar and composer AR Rahman. An official statement was released by the late composer’s family announced that his funeral will take place on Thursday. The statement read, “It’s a deeply sad moment for us. The cremation will take on the arrival of Bappa (his son) from Los Angeles tomorrow mid morning. We are seeking love and blessings for his soul. We will keep you updated. The statement was signed by his wife Chitrani Lahiri, Gobind Bansal, children Bappa Lahiri and Rema Lahiri. Also Read |When Bappi Lahiri explained his love for bling, why his ‘gold chains got bigger’ as career progressed CritiCare hospital director Dr Deepak Namjoshi told, “In January, Bappi Lahiri was brought into the hospital for chest infection and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. He was admitted here for 29 days, including 18 days he was in the ICU. He then recovered well and his parameters were stable and he was undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation. On Monday, February 14, he was given a discharge. He stayed at home for about one and a half days, and then his health started deteriorating and his family called us up, so we rushed to his residence with an ambulance. He was here around 11:30 pm on Tuesday, and very critical, we tried reviving him, but he ultimately passed away around 11:40

– 11:45 pm on Tuesday night.” An official statement from the hospital read, “Bappi Lahiri was suffering from OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) and recurrent chest infection. He was treated by Dr Deepak Namjoshi. He was hospitalised in Criticare Hospital, Juhu for 29 days. He recovered well and was discharged home on 15 February. However, after a day at home, his health again deteriorated and he was brought back to Criticare hospital in a critical state and succumbed to his illness at about 11:45 pm. He suffered from Covid infection last year. He had OSA since the last one year. He was admitted on multiple occasions in Criticare Hospital under treatment of Dr Deepak Namjoshi and recovered on all occasions.” Best known for popularising disco music to the Indian mainstream, the singer was fondly known as Bappi da, and experienced huge success in the 1980s and 90s. He earned the title ‘Disco King’ thanks to his work on films such as Disco Dancer, Namak Halaal, Dance Dance, Commando. PM Modi condoled his death, “Shri Bappi Lahiri Ji’s music was

all encompassing, beautifully expressing diverse emotions. People across generations could relate to his works. His lively nature will be missed by everyone. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.” — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 16, 2022 In 2021, the singer was admitted to the ICU of the Breach Candy hospital as a precautionary measure after testing positive for the coronavirus. It was reported later that year that the singer had lost his voice. Lahiri denied these reports in an Instagram post, writing, “Some media outlets are spreading false news about me and my health, which breaks my heart to hear. By the grace of my fans and well-wishers, I am completely healthy.” After completing 50 years in the industry in 2019, the singer expressed his gratitude and told PTI, “I feel so proud to have had this journey and to have worked with all the extremely talented people in the industry. Simply put, my life is Dilip Kumar to Ranveer Singh. From Dharm Adhikari to Gunday I’ve done it all.” -- Indian Express

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February 18, 2022

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Houston: Southwestern National Bank Scholarship Program is funded by Southwestern National Bank (Member FDIC) to recognize and assist outstanding high school graduates reduce the financial burden for college. Southwestern National Bank Scholars are selected based on their financial need, academic achievement, and community involvement. Each year a total of $5,000.00 will be awarded to five selected scholars. Each scholar will be awarded $1,000.00. Eligibility 1. Demonstrates financial need for college tuition, book & supplies and expenses 2. U.S. high school graduating seniors 3. Has a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (un-weighted) 4. Will enroll in an accredited U.S. college full-time for the entire academic year 2022/2023 Documents Required 1. A completed Southwestern National Bank Scholarship Application Form 2. An official high school transcript 3. Copies of the most recent document(s) demonstrating the

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February 18, 2022

Have you planned for your future?

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February 18, 2022

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SUDOKU/BOLLYWOOD Place a number in the empty boxes in such a way that each row across, each column down and each 9-box square contains all of the numbers from one to nine.

February 18, 2022


‘Badhaai Do’: Matrimonial of a Different Kind

Send us the correct answer before February 22. 2022. Email us at Please send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published.

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Kumud Athavale, Ramana Vadrevu, Sanchali Basu, Krishna R. Vuddagiri, Ramesh Shah

Story: Sumi and Shardul lead dual and socially-suppressed lives as closeted members of the gay and lesbian community. When they settle for a marriage of compromise to please their intrusive families, they assume this would give them cover while they pursue partners of their choice. What they eventually achieve by this and how forms the narrative of this family entertainer. Review: Marriages are made in heaven, or so they say. Interestingly, a huge number of these ‘heavenly marriages’ appear all shiny and bright owing to the compromises made by couples on various levels. In Badhaai Do, this matrimonial compromise is of a different kind – one that is not often spoken about but has been in existence all along. For those unversed, it’s called a lavender marriage – which is a hetero marriage between two homosexual persons, who agree to this arrangement of convenience for various reasons like trying to fit into society, avoiding social stigma emanating from their single status, and using it as a cover so that they can live their lives with some semblance of freedom. Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s film depicts this complicated arrangement with humour and wit - but not at the expense of the characters - and handles the protagonists’ dilemma with a great deal of sensitivity. The film is an attempt to send out the message that sexual orientation should not and does not define who an individual is. A sequel to the multiple National Award-winning movie Badhaai Ho, the film is an entertaining family watch. In the film, newly-weds Sumi and Shardul (Bhumi Pednekar and Rajkummar Rao) live like roommates. What follows Sumi and Shardul’s wedding is their journey of walking on eggshells to keep their secret from their families,

friends, and neighbours, while trying to stay true to who they are. In the process, they find themselves running from one chaotic situation into another. Shardul and Sumi’s romantic interludes with their real partners play out with the kind of ease, comfort, and turbulence that we have seen between any other couple in our movies - an indication that the intention of the film is not to stereotype the gay and lesbian community but to change mindsets and eliminate prejudices against them. The film sensitively portrays the immense loneliness and sense of isolation that a gay person feels, especially when they lack a window to communicate openly with their family, and are forced to deal with issues on their own. How the protagonists attempt to come out of the loneliness and communicate with their family is highlighted in the second half. Badhaai Do attempts to normalise the big-screen depiction of the gay and lesbian community and their romantic relationships. The complexities of marriages, middleclass traditional families and their demands from individuals have also been shown with sensitivity and realism. The beauty of the narrative lies in the fact that there is no judgment - the characters are not treated differently because they’re gay. From the word go, the film treats the lead pair’s sexual orientation as matter-of-factly as possible. Rajkummar Rao’s portrayal of Shardul is spot-on. The emotionally-charged moments especially are heartachingly beautiful. He has a firm grip on his character, which he plays with absolute grace and honesty. Bhumi Pednekar’s portrayal of Sumi is sensitive, nuanced, and on point. Expressing the turbulence, she battles within without words is a charm that she has in abundance. Chum Darang makes a fine debut in Bollywood with a role that

takes courage for a newcomer to go along with. The makers must be lauded here for casting an artiste from the northeast as a parallel lead, which is rare in Hindi cinema. Gulshan Devaiah deserves a special mention, his cameo is the surprise packet. Look out for this one! The supporting cast, comprising veteran artistes like Seema Pahwa and Sheeba Chaddha, adds gravitas to the story. In fact, some of the most laughable moments stem from their conversations. The first half could have been edited better to add pace to the proceedings. The narrative, in its bid to add layers, loses its way on a few occasions, but finally, it hits home. The film has been shot well, capturing the beauty and the simplicity of Uttarakhand. In the music department, Badhaai Do’s title track by Tanishk Bagchi and Bandi Tot by Ankit Tiwari stand out. Hum Thay Seedhe Saadhe by Amit Trivedi is also a beautiful love track that lingers long after the film is over. When the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality in 2018, Justice DY Chandrachud quoted the late Justice Leila Seth and said, “The right that makes us human is the right to love. To criminalize the expression of that right is cruel and inhumane.” In a country where it took decades to decriminalise consensual gay sex and where same-sex marriages are still not recognised by the law or accepted by the society at large, films like Badhaai Do are important. It normalises the subject for the average Indian family and starts a conversation. While Bollywood has seen several films where the stories revolve around the gay and lesbian community, this film attempts to provide a perspective to families, especially in smaller towns. Instead of walking away from them, the film brings families right into the centre of the fold. -- Times of India

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February 18, 2022

Lies, Love, Chaos, and More: ZEE5 Global’s Latest Series ‘Mithya’ is Unmissable Soon after releasing its successful original – Kaun Banegi Shikharwati, the largest streaming platform for South Asian content, ZEE5 Global will release another original web series – Mithya. Produced by Applause Entertainment in association with Rose Audio Visual Production, the show is a psychological drama that navigates through the conflicted relationship between a Hindi literature professor Juhi, and her student Rhea. What sparks off as a classroom conflict soon spirals out of control, triggering adverse psychological combat between the two women leading to fatal consequences and shocking revelations. Directed by Rohan Sippy, the show’s cast is helmed by Huma Qureshi and features Sameer Soni, Rajit Kapur, Avantika Dassani, Parambrata Chatterjee and Avantika Akrekar. Mithya is a part of the platform’s continual drive to cater to the diverse entertainment preferences of global audiences by delivering unique and engaging content that leaves a lasting impression on viewers. So, here is why you need to watch Mithya the minute it drops on ZEE5 Global: Intense storytelling Mithya is a tense and dramatic

thriller, playing out in a university where knowledge and truth is pursued, but each character deceives the other, and ultimately themselves. Huma Qureshi essays the role of Juhi, a Hindi literature university professor and Avantika Dassani as her student, Rhea Rajguru. As Juhi and Rhea engage in head-to-head psychological combat, both unwilling to back down, Mithya takes a dark turn and threatens to engulf the two

and everyone around them. Avantika Dassani’s Debut with Mithya Avantika Dassani, daughter of Bollywood actress, Bhagyashree, is set to debut on the digital streaming platform with Mithya on ZEE5 Global. She plays Rhea Rajguru, a highly reactive, manipulative, rebellious young girl with a rich but complicated family history and a cold-hearted father. Fan-favourite actor Huma

Qureshi in a lead role Known for her diverse roles and unconventional choices, Huma Qureshi is now ready for another power-packed performance in Mithya. Qureshi plays the lead role of Juhi Adhikari, a very relatable character who is an ambitious, independent, self-made Hindi literature professor. To watch Mithya and other Originals, Movies and more, users can download the ZEE5 app

Indo-American News • Friday, february 18, 2022 •

from Google Play Store / iOS App Store, on Roku devices, Apple TVs, Android TVs, and Amazon Fire Stick. ZEE5 is also available on Speaking about her character in Mithya, Huma Qureshi said, “Juhi Adhikari is a very layered character and I have never played such a character i.e a college professor, that too a Hindi professor before, so for me, the important thing was that though Juhi is a Hindi professor, she is a woman of today. She is not that typical stereotypical professor you see in content pieces. Juhi is bilingual as she can speak well in English too, so for me, to get that right was very important about that character. Honestly, the script is lovely, and the way Rohan (Sippy) imagined the character, I just had to follow his lead as to how to approach it. I read the script and tried to play Juhi to the best of my ability.” For Huma, the kick of being an actor is in finding roles that have something different to offer.fered a similar role or script, she turns it down. Producer Rohan Sippy said, “Mithya is a pulpy psychological thriller that delves into the human mind. Hopefully, it will leave you rattled, shaken and excited.”.

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