Indo-American News: June 10, 2022

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Friday, June 10, 2022 | Vol. 41, No. 23


June 10, 2022


Indo American News

Published weekly from Houston, TX

Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News

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Indra Nooyi Inspires Houston to Support Pratham

Kathak Beats 2022


Rocketry: Nambi Effect

Vinita Sud Belani, Founding Artistic Director of Enacte Arts, in conversation with Indra Nooyi, former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo. VIEW PHOTO COLLAGE ON PAGES 8-9.

P2-3, P8-9



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June 10, 2022

Indra Nooyi Inspires Houston Community at Pratham Gala

Pratham Houston Board with Pratham USA CEO & Global Executive, Manisha Bharti, Vinita Sud Belani, Founding Artistic Director of Enacte Arts, in conversation with Indra and former Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi. Nooyi, former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo.

Houston: The highly anticipated Pratham Houston Gala returned on Saturday, May 7, 2022 after a hiatus of two years. The event brought together Houston’s Indo-American community to raise awareness and funding for the charity’s education programs for children in under-served communities in India. The highlight of the evening was a conversation with Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. Annu Rao Naik, President of the Pratham Houston chapter, welcomed everyone and started the evening with why she, and so many others, support Pratham, as “Pratham not only connects us with India and enables us to give back, but most importantly we believe in this noble cause that education is a great equalizer. We trust the work Pratham has done over two decades to impact the lives of millions of children.” Pratham CEO, Rukmini Banerji and inaugural Pratham USA CEO and Global Executive, Manisha Bharti, took the stage together and provided insight into Pratham’s future and key learnings. The audience was left enthralled and inspired by Guest Speaker, Indra Nooyi, who spoke about education and women’s empowerment in a conversation with Vinita Sud Belani, Founding Artistic Director of Enacte Arts. Nooyi said, “I am so grateful to Pratham for taking on the challenge of educating the children of India.” She spoke about her personal journey of learning and the importance of education in her life. When asked who she looks up to, she said “Rukmini [Banerji] is one of my heroes. I don’t look up to people who make money. I look up to people who make a difference.” Another highlight of the evening was the honoring of Philanthropist and CFO of Pratham USA, Mr. Swatantra Jain, for his tireless support to Pratham. Mr. Swatantra Jain has been an integral part of the Houston community since 1985, involved with Pratham USA since its conception in 1999, and has been active on the Pratham Houston board since 2005, formerly serving as Pratham Houston President. He spoke about how education has deeply impacted his own life, saying “I have not forgotten how it feels to be poor where parents worry about how to find a meal for their children or to buy a book for their school. I have lived that life of poverty and hardships after my family migrated to Pakistan after the tragedy of India’s partition in 1947. I can feel the pain of the millions of underprivileged children Pratham serves and I am proud to be part of it.” Through Mr. Swatantra Jain’s generous donation and tireless efforts to increase literacy in India, Pratham will be creating the Pratham-Jain Education Centre. This Centre will create digital learning materials and help underprivileged children in the state of Punjab, which has some of the lowest literacy rates in India. The evening closed with an exciting performance by local dance group, Rhythm India and music by Indo-American News • Friday, June 10, 2022 •

3 to Support Education in Under-served Communities of India


June 10, 2022

Houston gala honoree, Swatantra Jain, Philanthropist & CFO, Pratham USA speaking Pratham Houston Gala 2022 Volunteers at the Gala with his wife, Bimla Jain.

From left to right: Deepak Raj (Pratham USA Chairman), Vijay Goradia (Pratham USA Dhiren Shethia, former Pratham Houston Chapter President and Pratham USA National Founder), Swatantra Jain (Pratham USA CFO), Bimla Jain, Rukmini Banerji (Pratham Board Member, with his wife, Anila Shethia Education Foundation CEO), Manisha Bharti (Pratham USA CEO & Global Executive).

DJ Chani of Desi Junction DJs. After two years, the Houston community came together once again to celebrate the accomplishments of Pratham and to continue the crucial work being done in India. When asked what they thought about the event, Smita Singh said, “It was a wonderful evening for a crucial cause, and it is always

a joy to see the Houston community come together to support children’s education. Education is a cause I feel strongly about and the work Pratham does in India is incredible!” School closures in India due to the pandemic have been longer than most other countries. There are significant concerns around

increased learning loss. As schools reopen in a staggered manner across India, many children will return to the classroom without the necessary fundamental skills - or they may not be able to return at all. Pratham’s proven programs play a role in addressing inequity in education - helping an entire generation of children to learn well

and determine their own futures. The funds raised at the Pratham Houston Gala will provide much needed support to children in India, giving them an opportunity to learn and stem the steep learning loss that has occurred during the pandemic. Event Sponsors included: Accenture, Active Athlete, Amegy

Bank, Ascend Performance Materials, Cadence Bank, Deloitte, Gordon Arata Montgomery Barnett, JP Morgan Chase, JVB Preksha Meditation Center, Kingham Dalton Wilson, Methodist Learning Medicine, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, Wells Fargo. PHOTO COLLAGE: PAGES 8-9

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June 10, 2022

Kathak Beats Celebrates Annual Recital - Udaan 2022

Kathak Beats Ladies group

Kathak Beats children’s group

Houston: “Udaan -2022 – A Leap to touch the Stars” is a celebration of every students spirit to excel and explore the joy of dancing . It shares everyone’s story of breaking free from inhibitions to learn and enjoy a new art form. It salutes the spirit of learning and helps to inculcate / retain traditional values. Udaan is an annual dance recital event of Kathak Beats and has earned a reputation for its spellbinding authentic Kathak performances and offering visual treat of perfection by its participants. It has received outstanding response from the community and this show was completely sold out in a matter of just 2 weeks. Kathak Beat is Houston’s Premier Kathak dance school and promotes the ancient Indian clas-

sical dance form of Kathak. It focuses on providing authentic training and was the first to offer a globally recognized certification programme in Houston, through Akhil Bhartiya Mahavidyalaya which is India’s most prestigious institute for fine arts and dance. This year’s Udaan recital on the 27th May 2022 at Kaplan Theatre began with a traditional lamp lighting and was followed by invocation of Lord Ganesh and seeking his divine blessings. Emcee Sonali Walawalkar helped provide valuable insight into the classical aspect of this dance form with every performance. The program showcased the various facets of the Benares gharana of Kathak. Its students showcased different compositions which included complex

footwork, spins(chakkars) and abhinaya. The audience were surprised at the level of coordination and perfection amongst the multiple dancers. Every performance received a roaring applause as each batch of students continued to mesmerize the audience with their level of skill and talent. The audience were totally floored by the visual treat and flawless execution presented by different groups of performers. Participants were extremely elated at the recognition and motivation they received from the audience. They said that they credited their Udaan(flight) to perfection to Dr Manjusha for her dedication, personal attention, and style of teaching, which made them ready and confident in such a short time.

The performance reached its electrifying crescendo when Dr Manjusha performed. The speed and complexity demonstrated in the multiple traditional compositions of Benares gharana left the audience awestruck and wanting for more. She received a thunderous applause and a standing ovation. “We are proud that we are learning under such a talented guru . We dream of the day, when we can perform with her on stage” remarked a group of students after the show. “We lost track of the 2 and half hours we spent here. I wanted this show to continue with its beautiful combination of brilliant choreography, colorful costumes, fast paced moves and melodious music ”remarked an audience member .

It was a wonderful production, well executed by Dr. Manjusha, her skilled students, efficient team moms and volunteers. “Udaan -2022 – A Leap to touch the Stars” was a super success and left the audience cheering, applauding until the very end. Dr Manjusha is the Founder and Director of Kathak Beats and a strong follower, choreographer and proponent of Kathak, since early childhood. She has been helping imbibe her motto of – Grace, Perfection and Rhythm in all her students. She has led Kathak Beats’ spectacular growth across various neighborhoods of Houston with the love and following of the community. For more details – visit Kathak Beats Face Page or Kathak Beats .com


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June 10, 2022

Gulf Countries Condemn Remarks on Prophet

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has been facing backlash from Gulf and other countries over the remarks made against Prophet Muhammed by its spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal. The foreign ministries of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia issued official statements condemning the remarks and demanding an apology. The BJP on its part has suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal while stating that it “respects all religions” and is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion”. Pakistan On Monday, Pakistan summoned the Indian chargé d’affaires over the remarks made by the BJP leaders. In a statement, the Foreign Office called the comments “totally unacceptable”, saying that they have “deeply hurt the sentiments” of Muslims across the world. The FO also told the Indian diplomat that it “deplores the belated and perfunctory disciplinary actions taken by the BJP government against the said officials, which cannot assuage the pain caused to the Muslims.” Earlier, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, had condemned the “hurtful comments”. “Have said it repeatedly India under Modi is trampling religious freedoms & persecuting Muslims… World should take note & severely reprimand India,” he tweeted. Saudi Arabia On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed

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marks made by the BJP spokeswoman. The Ministry welcomed the suspension while demanding a public apology. In a statement similar to Qatar’s, the Ministry that such “hostile statements” if allowed to continue without any deterrence, “will increase extremism and hatred.” Afghanistan The Taliban-ruled government in Afghanistan also condemned the “use of derogatory words against the Prophet of Islam”, news agency PTI said. In a tweet, spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said, “We urge the Indian government not to allow such fanatics to insult the holy religion of Islam and provoke the feelings of Muslims.” Bahrain Bahrain also welcomed the BJP’s decision to suspend Sharma, “stressing the need to denounce any reprehensible insults against the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, as a provocation to Muslims’ feelings and incitement to religious hatred,” a statement by its Foreign Minsitry read. -- Indian Express

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Indo American News Founder: Dr. K.L. Sindwani Publisher: Jawahar Malhotra Editor: Pramod Kulkarni Correspondent: Sanchali Basu

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June 10, 2022

Akshay on Preparation for ‘Samrat Prithviraj’

Superstar Akshay Kumar’s next is Yash Raj Films’ first historical, Prithviraj, which is based on the life and valour of the fearless and mighty King Prithviraj Chauhan. He is essaying the role of the legendary warrior who fought valiantly to protect India from the merciless invader Muhammad of Ghor in this visual spectacle. Akshay and Manushi reveal that they relied heavily on Prithviraj Raso, the epic poem written by Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan’s court poet Chand Bardai to understand the life and daredevilry of the legendary warrior king! Akshay says, “When you set out to make a historical like Prithviraj, which is based on the life and daredevilry of a mighty warrior who gave up his life to protect his motherland and countrymen, you need to be absolutely sure that you are being authentic to his life and times. I was delighted that I was collaborating with a revered historian like Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi ji, who has shown with his earlier works that his research and mastery over Indian history is flawless.” He adds, “During our initial meetings on this project, doctor

saab gifted me the incredible Prithviraj Raso, which is a Brajbhasha epic poem about the life of Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan. This book, written by Chand Bardai, who was a court poet of the Samrat, became the cornerstone of my prep. for the project. It was an eye opener for me to read this book as I understood the life philosophies of the Samrat and it became invaluable research material that I kept referring to throughout the shooting of the film.” The ethereally gorgeous Manushi Chhillar, who won India the Miss World title in 2017, plays the role of King Prithviraj’s beloved Sanyogita. She says, “My director, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi gifted me Prithviraj Raso and told me

that if I want to understand the life and times of the mighty Samrat, I should read this. The book became an invaluable source material for me to understand the mind of Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and his life journey with Princess Sanyogita. I think I could prep. thoroughly because I always had Prithviraj Raso to refer to.” Prithviraj has been directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who is best known for directing the television epic Chanakya and the critically acclaimed film Pinjar. Manushi’s launch in this movie is definitely one of the most awaited debuts of 2022. The film is set to release on June 3 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.



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June 10, 2022

Muhammad Sameer Sheikh Weds Afifa Burney


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.

Send us the correct answer before June 14, 2022. Email us at Please send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published. A family group picture taken at reception hosted by Muhammad Saeed & Farida Sheikh & Arif and Saima Burney to celebrate the wedding of Muhammad Sameer Sheikh with Afifa Arif Burney.

Solution Next Week

A group picture of S. Javaid Anwar, Vicky Anwar, Dr. Shahid Aziz, Ahmed Waheed taken at the reception hosted by Muhammad Saeed Sheikh & Arif Burney to celebrate the wedding of Muhammad Sameer Sheikh with Afifa Arif Burney.

Last Week’s Solution

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, along with Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez presenting Congressional Congratulatory Resolution to the wedding party.

Houston: Though they both went to different Universities of Texas, it wasn’t till their junior year that Muhammad Sameer Sheikh met Afifa Arif Burney, both 27, at a get together through some common friends. Slowly they grew attached, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Their overjoyed parents made plans for the wedding, and it was held this past Saturday, June 4, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in the Energy Corridor in front of their close family and friends. The following evening, the newlyweds were introduced to around 700 people at an elaborate reception hosted by Muhammad Saeed & Farida Sheikh and Arif & Saima Burney at the Marriott Sugarland, Town Square. The reception was an elegant and grand fairytale affair done with typical Pakistani and started off with heartfelt and touching blessings given by Imam Tauqeer Shah. Many local celebrities, politicians and prominent businesspeo-

ple attended the reception including S. Javaid and Vicky Anwar; Mike and Zolia Diamond, US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez; State Representative Jacey Jetton; the Consul General Abrar Hashmi of Pakistan; the Honorary Consul General Marty McVey of Bangladesh and representatives from the Office of Congressman Al Green and the Consulate General of UAE. And of course, many members of the both families family members of host families came from Pakistan, U. K., Canada, and across the US. A special Congressional Resolution and Greetings were

presented to the newlyweds. Sameer Sheikh received his degree in Biomedical Engineering from UT Austin where he had a full scholarship. He works as a financial Senior Consultant at Alliant, His father Muhammad Saeed Sheikh involved as self-employed in sales and marketing business. Nawel Burney recently received her doctorate in Pharmacy, also from TSU and will sit for her Board exams soon. Her parents are originally from Karachi but have been in the US for around 25 years and her father is an engineer. The newlyweds left on their honeymoon in Italy and will make their home in Houston.

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June 10, 2022

Madhavan Promotes ‘Rocketry ...’ in Houston

Houston: Eminent Indian actor and filmmaker R Madhavan and one-time ISRO scientist Nambi attended receptions in their honor at the University of Houston and India House earlier this week. The duo was in Houston to promote their new film: “Rocketry: The Nambi Effect”. as part of a 12-day US tour. While in Houston, they met US astronaut Sunita Williams. Scheduled for released on July 1, the film traces the life of Nambi Narayanan, a former ISRO scientist and aerospace engineer. Nambi was renowned for developing the Vikas engine, one of the most efficient liquid fuel engines that remains the workhorse at ISRO. Nambi was embroiled in a spy scandal. The biographical drama will unveil the truth behind the mystery as it unravels in an interview by celebrated superstar of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan (in English and Hindi) and Suriya Sivakumar (in Tamil) on a TV programme. R Madhavan plays the lead role of Nambi and has also directed, produced and written the film. The film received its world premiere during the 75th Cannes



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Call Pravin at 713-932-0687 or send your resume to Film Festival. India’s Ministry of Culture has officially selected Rocketry: The Nambi Effect for its Red Carpet World Premiere at the prestigious venue. Rocketry: The Nambi Effect has been shot simultaneously in multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil and English, with the English version premiering at the prestigious, international film festival. Its theatrical release, scheduled for 1st July, will also feature Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada versions. Staged on a mammoth scale, the film has been shot in India, France, Canada, Georgia, Serbia and Russia. It features an ensemble star cast comprising acclaimed, international actors Phyllis Logan, Vincent Riotta and Ron Donachie

alongside R Madhavan, Simran, Rajit Kapur, Ravi Raghavendra, Misha Ghoshal, Gulshan Grover, Karthik Kumar and Dinesh Prabhakar, with special appearances from superstars, Shah Rukh Khan and Suriya. Speaking about Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’s World Premiere during Cannes Film Festival, R Madhavan says, “I’m in a daze! I just started by wanting to tell the story of Nambi Narayanan and I’m unable to believe all that’s happening. With God’s grace, we’ve waited long and I’m grateful and thrilled to watch all good things happening for the film. As a debut director, my nervousness is making it difficult for me to breathe and all I hope is to make India proud!”

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Spelling Bee Champ: Harini Logan

Oxon Hill, MD: The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a way none of the 93 competitions before it did. A spelloff. The final two competitors, Vikram Raju and Harini Logan, failed to correctly spell two words in a row between Rounds 13 and 18. At that point, judges opted to institute the first spell-off – 90 seconds to spell as many words as possible correctly. The one with the most spelled correctly would win the Bee. Logan – an eighth-grader from Texas – spelled 22 words correctly, compared to Raju’s 15, to become the 2022 champion. Officially, this year’s winning word was “moorhen” – a medium-sized bird defined as “the female of the red grouse.” “Just so surreal, this is such a dream,”

Logan, competing in her fourth national competition, said. Logan, 14, nearly didn’t advance past the word meaning round on Thursday. She’d heard the tragic bell after her answer for “pullulation” was rejected. “I was like ‘Wow, I’m out. This is it,’ “ Logan said. However, the judges conferred during a break and ruled that the answer she gave could be correct, since it could mean “to breed” or “to swarm.” Head judge Mary Brooks explained the ruling and Logan, who only minutes earlier had learned of her reversed fortunes, returned to her seat on the stage. “There was a few minutes in between that were frantic,” the Montessori School of San Antonio student said.

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