Indoamerican News May 17,2019

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Friday, May 17, 2019 | Vol. 38, No. 15

Indo American News Published weekly from Houston, TX


Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News

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Chief Guest Actress Sharmila Tagore BJP Protests Characterization of PM Modi in Time Magazine

Seniors Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Musical Extravaganza


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May 17, 2019


Sharmila Tagore Fans Rush Enmasse to Save a Mother Gala SUGAR LAND: The Save a Mother organizers seem to have hit on a tried and true formula for their annual gala. Last year, actress Shabana Azmi filled in for the celebrity guest with awesome music, and humor from a local comedian filled in the space for the guests. This year, it was the same combination, except with an actress from yesteryear, but more beloved by the older first generation audience, Sharmila Tagore, who posed as gracefully as ever for pictures with

an long line of admirers. The event was emceed by the poised Preity Bhaia and entertainment was by Ritika Saligram who sang several melodious songs. She was followed by comedian Anish Shah who was hilarious and shared his take on day-to-day experiences. His stint included a humorous demonstration on wearing a saree and he picked the newly married Ananth Balakrishnan on the challenges faced by newly weds.

Veena Kaul, the President of SAM Houston highlighted the charities programs and progress in India made in the 11 years of operation. She welcomed the radiant Sharmila Tagore and welcomed Shiban Ganju the founder of SAM. A doctor by profession, Ganju realized that many women in rural india needed education and awareness to take charge of their health. So, he came up with the idea of

Save A Mother to treat the problems experienced by young and new mothers. Volunteers visit door to door to convince women husbands and mother in laws to send women to attend training sessions. During a short presentation, Kaul showed how SAM programs have shown effective results in the areas sam served. Maternal deaths were reduced by 90% and neonatal deaths were reduced by 67%. Deliveries in hospitals increased by 99%. SAM budgets cover initiatives that amount to about $100,000. But the organization is very cost conscious and keeps overheads to minimum so as to maximize funds to the field levels to benefit women and children in villages. Kaul concluded that SAM started with one village and has spread the message to over 1,500 villages representing approximately 500000 women, while thanking board members

for their efforts. Shiban Ganju expressed his gratitude to for the support and talked about new initiatives. He explained how the launch of successful programs in villages gave the confidence to expand programs in an urban area near Benares Hindu University in Varanasi. The program will address total infection control in a slum. Sharmila Tagore spoke with great emotion about the success of the SAM program and her connection with Ganju who has committed to make a difference in the lives of women and children in villages. The gala raised $114,000, which is the largest, raised since the inception of SAM 11 years ago. With their enthusiastic and persistent request for funds in a limited 15 minutes challenge, Preity and Anish Shah helped raised over $45,000. -- Contributions from J. Malhotra

For photo collage, see Page 2

UNICEF 6th Annual Gala Raises $1 Million, Honors Lester Smith

Clockwise from top left: Save a Mother Houston President Veena Kaul; SAM founder Shiban Ganju flew in from India for the national fundraising galas; singer Ritika Saligram sang favorites and comedian Anish Shah regaled with humorous skits. - Photos by Bijay Dixit/Unique Photo Images

HOUSTON: The 6th Annual UNICEF Gala was held at the Post Oak Hotel on May 3 to a ballroom full of the cream of Houston society with the common cause of helping children worldwide. The honorary chairs for the event were the Houston power couple of Nat and Leela Krishnamurthy who have been active in he organization since the chapter started. The event was held in the newest five-star hotel on Post Oak, named after the boulevard itself, and featured silent auction items whose increasing prices rolled over on an electronic billboard. The remainder of the large-ticket

items were auctioned off live after a sumptuous dinner. All told, the gala raised over a million dollars. The event also honored Susan and Dan Boggio, its largest contributors, who were presented with the Helenaka Pantaleoni Humanitarian Award by Caryl Stern CEO of UNICEF. The Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award was given to Sue Smith and Lester Smith (posthumously) who accepted the award gracefully with emotion. Actress Tea Leoni surprised the Houston couple with a balloon gift, while the Garden State Guys performed golden oldies and UNICEF USA NextGen throw a silent disco.

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May 17, 2019

Indian Seniors Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Musical Program Houston: Mother’s Day 2019 was a happy and enjoyable experience for some 500+ members of the Indian Senior Citizen Association with music program coordinated by the music maestro who needs no introduction, Surinder Talwar, on Mother’s Day itself,

Sunday, May 12 at India House. The hall was packed with seniors and their families in tow humming to the medley of songs. The program began with a bhajan by Talwar and other musicians and singers Shrisanvitha Sridhar, Akhila Mamandur, Shruti

Vatsan, Akash Shrikanth, Sonali Mohanty, Krushal Panda, Navneet Arora, and Dimple Arora. They sang Bollywood numbers on the Mother’s love for her child. Prerna Shah sang a Garba that got many ladies on their feet to dance in front of the stage. Urjitha, Anjana





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Ganesh and Anika Ravi performed beautiful dances too. Tej Ganjoo accompanied on the harmonium and Jayendra Prabhukhot played the tabla. Gifts were presented to all Mothers were sponsored by the Sridhar family. Indian kulfi was sponsored




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BJP Member Starts Petition to Protest Time Report Calling Modi ‘India’s Divider in Chief’ By Himani Chandna New Delhi: A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) officebearer has started an online petition “to protest” against a Time magazine report which calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi “India’s divider in chief”. Ashwin Johar, a doctorturned-politician and central committee member of Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janta Party (OFBJP), the party’s foreign cell, started the online petition on online platform to protest an “attempt to malign Modi’s image”. The BJP, too, has slammed the report. “In certain initiatives taken by the government, the benefit sometimes are given more to minorities. Hence, overall, there is no discrimination that the Modi government has done to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian,” Johar told ThePrint. The petition, started Saturday, has been signed by over 3,500 people in just over 8 hours. Johar has worked with Vijay Chauthaiwale, in-charge of BJP’s foreign affairs wing. A medical graduate from Moscow, he quit the profession in 2002 to start a business in healthcare. The May issue of US-based Time magazine’s international edition, has featured an illustration of PM Modi on its cover page, with the headline “India’s Divider In Chief”. The report, written by Aatish Taseer — son of late Pakistani politician and businessman Salman Taseer and Indian journalist Tav-

leen Singh — strongly criticises PM Modi for polarising the Indian society. It has been titled, “Can the World’s Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?” Taseer’s report notes, “If in 2014 he (Modi) was able to exploit differences in order to create a climate of hope, in 2019 he is asking people to stave off their desperation by living for their differences alone.” He adds, “Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialize, he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India.” Johar’s petition highlights that the “defamatory” Time report “is not only factually incorrect but it also questions the wisdom of Indian electorate who have overwhelmingly supported him in 2014

and also likely to reaffirm their faith in the leadership of Mr. Modi again in the ongoing election”. The petition says that the author is incorrect in the majority of his arguments — on economy, development, women empowerment or the Hindu-Muslim divide. “It appears that the only objective of this Pakistaniorigin columnist is to defame Modi, defame Indian electorate and defame India,” adds the petition. Tagging the editors of Time magazine, the petition says, “We are equally appalled by the choice of Timeeditors to make it highly derogatory column as its cover story, rather than another balanced story in the same issue of Time by Ian Bremmer which says that only- Modi is best suitable for economic reforms in India (sic).” Bremmer, a Time columnist, has written a report in the same issue, titled “Modi Is India’s Best Hope for Economic Reforms”. However, the petition also goes on to conclude that such reports “will have little or no effect on Indian electorate and they will elect Mr. Modi for the second term as India’s Prime Minister”. The BJP office-bearer, who goes by the handle name ‘Chowkidar Ashwin Johar’ on Twitter, shared his petition on the social media platform. In another tweet, Johar said the report is an attempt to create a “negative narrative” against PM Modi. -- Print

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Letter to Editor: Aatish Failed to Capture Main Reason Why India Has Turned to Populism Born pre-independence to a freedom fighter and growing up in India I was a proud Indian and a big fan of Nehru and Congress party. I was moderate and politically secular because as a Hindu I strongly believed that all men are born equal and need to be treated equally. But over the years the incompetent and corrupt descendants of Nehru family have used the

minorities as a vote bank by giving them undue preferences. The quota system for college admissions and Governments posts which was supposed to end once the minorities come to par is still continuing and on the rise. As a result, the brightest children of our families are having disadvantage to get admission in the elite colleges of India. Meanwhile, the mosques are


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May 17, 2019

US Banding Together with India to Protect Indo-Pacific Sovereignty : Mike Pompeo Washington DC: The US is “banding together” with nations like India, Australia, Japan and South Korea to ensure that the sovereignty of Indo-Pacific nations are protected and that they are not subjected to any coercion, secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said. His comments came days after the Indian Navy participated with the navies of the US, the Philippines and Japan in their first joint naval exercise in the disputed South China Sea+ , where China

is flexing its muscle. Pompeo, in his address to the Claremont Institute’s 40th Anniversary Gala in Beverly Hills, California, said: “We are banding together with the like-minded nations like Australia, India, Japan and South Korea to make sure that each Indo-Pacific nation can protect its sovereignty from coercion”. “It’s part of a greater commitment to a free and open order. You all know this: The distinctive mark of Western civilization is the belief

in the inherent worth of human beings, with the attendant respect for god-authored rights and liberties. Indeed, the declaration says that ‘all men are created equal’. And we ought to help nations protect these first things - and human rights as well,” he said. Trump administration’s policies, he said, has been a real pivot to Asia. “The President has taken action to stop China from stealing our stuff. No longer will American companies be forced to hand over

their technological crown jewels as the price of doing business in China. When a deal doesn’t work for the United States, no deal shall be done,” Pompeo said. The United States, he said, has bolstered its military presence in the South China Sea, and have put nations on notice around the world that the sale of key infrastructure and technology companies to China threatens their national security. “We have strengthened the group, the entity, that screens Chi-

nese and other foreign investments here in the United States. We are also fighting the battle to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party cannot burrow into the data of billions of internet users,” he said. The internet of tomorrow must have buried within its Western values and must not belong to China, Pompeo asserted amidst applause from the audience. Pompeo said putting ‘America First’ means proudly associating with nations that share its principles.


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May 17, 2019

Pakistan Reaches Agreement with IMF to Get $6 Billion Islamabad: Pakistan has reached an agreement with the IMF on a bailout package under which the cashstrapped country will receive $6 billion over three years, according to a top official on Sunday. The agreement now awaits a formal approval by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) board, Dawn news quoted adviser to prime minister on finance, revenue and economic affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as saying. Pakistani technical teams have reached an agreement with the IMF on a bailout package, he said. Pakistan would receive $6 billion worth of assistance under the IMF program over a period of three years, Shaikh told the state-run PTV News. “The Pakistani authorities and the IMF team have reached a staff level agreement on economic policies that could be supported by a 39-month Extended Fund Arrangement (EFF) for about $6 billion,” IMF mission chief for Pakistan Ernesto Ramirez Rigo said in a statement. The lender’s executive board will meet to approve the agreement for the 39-month loan, “subject to the timely implementation of prior actions and confirmation of international partners’ financial commitments,” IMF’s mission chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo said in a statement. The loan would represent the 13th bailout since the late 1980s from the IMF to


Pakistan, which is facing a balanceof-payments crisis triggered by high fiscal and currentaccount deficits and dwindling foreign exchange reserves. The pact was reached after Prime Minister Imran Khan overhauled his economic team, including the installation of Reza Baqir, who previously served in senior positions at the IMF, as the central bank governor. Rigo noted the efforts to stabilize the nation’s economy but said more needs to be done. “Decisive policies and reforms, together with significant external financing are necessary to reduce vulnerabilities faster, increase confidence, and put the economy back on a sustainable growth path,” he said. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, an economic adviser to the prime minister, told state-run Pakistan Television that there had been some overspending by the government, so to “recover costs we will have to increase prices in certain areas of the economy.” The IMF facility “should be taken as a program of structural changes” and its success depends upon how successfully the country implements it, he said. The crisis prompted rating companies to downgrade Pakistan’s credit score earlier this year, triggering a rout in the nation’s currency and stocks. On Monday, the benchmark KSE-100 Index of stocks rose as much as 1.5%, the most in more than three weeks, before falling 0.6% at 11:30 a.m. local time.

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May 17, 2019

IPL Final: Mumbai Indians Beat Chennai Super Kings by One Run Hyderabad: Lasith Malinga produced an incredible last over to defend nine runs as Mumbai Indians claimed undisputed supremacy in the IPL by securing their fourth title with a narrow one-run win over Chennai Super Kings in a pulsating final on Sunday. CSK needed nine runs off the last over but the experienced Lankan paceman Malinga kept his nerve to concede eight. He trapped Shardul Thakur leg before in the last ball after Watson (80 off 59) got run out two balls earlier. Before that Jasprit Bumrah kept Mumbai in the hunt with his tidy overs and two wickets, getting rid of Dwayne Bravo and Ambati Rayudu. The premier Indian pacer produced 13 dot balls in his testing overs. Young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar also played a key role in the middle overs as he too created pressure by bowling 13 dot balls. Both teams were tied at three IPL titles each heading into the finale with Mumbai holding the upper hand, having beaten CSK thrice earlier in the competition. The heart-stopping finish came after a disciplined bowling performance from CSK who restricted Mumbai Indians to 149 for eight. CSK have now lost to Mumbai for the third time in four finals. CSK had made a steady start by reaching 53 for one in the Powerplay but Mumbai bounced back in the middle overs, removing a struggling Suresh Raina (8 off 14) before getting rid of Rayudu to have Chennai under the pump. The biggest moment of the game came in the 13th over when Dhoni



game. The game-changed drastically in CSK’s favour when Watson hammered Krunal Pandya for three consecutive sixes, reducing the target to 18 off 12 but somehow Mumbai managed to keep CSK at bay. After opting to bat in a big game, Mumbai ended up with a belowpar total despite Kieron Pollard’s unbeaten 41 off 25 balls. Deepak Chahar (3/26) was impressive once again and so was fellow pacer Shardul Thakur (2/37). The spinners, Harbhajan Singh (0/27) and Imran Tahir (2/23), too played a crucial role in limiting Mumbai. Forty-year-old Tahir also became the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with this effort, increasing his tally to 26. Mumbai Indians have beaten Chennai Super Kings for the third time in four IPL finals.

was run-out trying to steal an extra single. An alert Ishan Kishan was spot on with his direct hit and he just managed to get the better of Dhoni. Since it involved the CSK skipper, high drama was on display as third umpire Nigel Llong saw replays with all possible angles and took his time before making a very difficult decision. It was an outstanding effort from Chahar (1/14) in the middle overs, putting CSK under tremendous pressure as they could collect only 16 runs between 11-15 overs with the loss of two wickets. Against the run of play, Watson walloped Malinga for three fours and a six in the 16th over that went for 20 runs and kept CSK in the

Rohit Sharma Says IPL Will Help Players Hit Ground Running at World Cup Hyderabad: With the World Cup starting on May 30, 18 days after the IPL final, workload management has been a major talking point throughout the season. Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma reckons that the demands of the IPL will help players build towards the showpiece event in England and Wales, rather than lead to burnout. Rohit cited the example of India winning the Champions Trophy in June 2013, which started about ten days after the end of the IPL that year. Rohit was in top form across both tournaments, following up his 538 runs in 19 innings for Mumbai

Indians in their maiden run to the IPL title with 177 runs in five innings in the UK, helping India secure that title as well. “Once the IPL started, we knew this was the window - March and April or April and May - because of the elections,” Rohit said. “In 2013, we played the IPL and went on to play the Champions Trophy and in fact we went on to win the Champions Trophy. I feel the guys who play IPL and go play big tournaments right after that, they’re very much in touch with their game.” Rohit also said that Mumbai were open to resting key India players


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May 17, 2019


Elections 2019: Why Bengal Has Emerged as Critical Battleground By Rajat Roy West Bengal is in limelight after 70 years. For the first time in the seven-decade old election history of India, the state has assumed significant importance in Lok Sabha elections 2019. After Uttar Pradesh (80) and Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42) is the third largest state in terms of seats. Since the SP-BSP pre-poll alliance in UP has diminished the chances of the BJP repeating its 2014 performance when it got 71 out of 80 seats in the state, the party needs to look elsewhere to make up for the loss. Hence, West Bengal, where its previous achievement got stuck at mere two seats, has become a key state to focus on. There are several reasons for the BJP to focus on Bengal. First, ever since Partition, the presence of millions of Hindu refugees who came from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, has made the state a soft underbelly for Hindutva politics. Despite a strong legacy of secular-liberal politics that was built around the general consensus among the mainstream political parties, West Bengal has witnessed several major and minor communal riots in past 70 years that created permanent fissures in Hindu-Muslim amity. Second, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), with its ostensive appeasement policy to the minorities gave the BJP a long stick to beat them with. Third, despite doing some good work for the poor, introducing schemes like Kanyashree for empowerment of

girl students, providing cheap ration and laying new roads in rural Bengal, TMC’s arrogance, rampant corruption and highhandedness have alienated a large number of people. Lastly, in the absence of a sustained and meaningful protest movement against the ill-doing of the ruling TMC, the mainstream opposition, i.e., Left and the Congress are losing their support base fast, thus creating a vacuum in the Opposition space. There are instances of how the Left abdicated their responsibility and abandoned their space. In September 2018, the CPI(M) Birbhum district secretary Manasa Hansda gave a call to hold protest rallies throughout the district, but it was called off the next day after opposition from the police and the TMC. The BJP district president Ramkrishna Roy seized the opportunity and held a protest march, defying police and TMC warnings. Many participants who swelled the BJP rally were Left supporters. A CPI(M) district committee member of Birbhum says that in these elections, it is not only the CPI(M) supporters who have switched their allegiance to the BJP, even local and area committee leaders of the CPI(M) have been seen actively working for the saffron party. It is not for nothing that Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, veteran CPI(M) leader and former chief minister of West Bengal had issued an appeal to his party workers and sympathisers to not support the BJP. His comment, “Is it wise to jump from TMC frying pan to BJP fire?” has found resonance

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with Manik Sarkar, former chief minister of Tripura, who was ousted from power by the BJP. Whether their appeal will have positive impact on the CPI(M) workers and supporters is yet to be seen. To enthuse the Left, so that they retain their vote share and do not help the BJP, Mamata, in her desperation, started helping the CPI(M) to reopen their party offices (that were captured and shut down by the TMC) in various parts of rural Bengal. Also, the TMC supremo is now praising Bhattacharjee for his staunch anti-BJP stance. But one thing is certain, the CPI(M) in particular and the Left in general, are in for a serious crisis, which might push their politics to oblivion. Analysing these points, the BJP seized the opportunity. With an active support from the national leadership, state BJP started working overtime on these factors to mobilise support in their favour. In the last three years, BJP president Amit Shah has visited the state several times, strategised and energised the state unit to gear themselves up for the battle. It is true that BJP or its predecessor Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) has never been able to make any significant dent in electoral scenario in Bengal. In 1952 assembly election, BJS got nine seats and the Hindu Maha Sabha (HMS) got four. In the first Lok Sabha, there were two BJS MPs and one HMS MP from Bengal. After that there was a long interregnum of

46 years till the BJP got its first MP in 1998 from Bengal. Since 1991, when BJP’s vote share shot up from four per cent to 11.7 per cent, BJP calibrated its campaign on the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to play up the latent anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu refugees settled in the state. It is not without reason that BJP’s victory in Dum Dum in 1998 and Dum Dum and Krishnanagar in 1999 were in a refugee belt. However, as they were in coalition with the TMC, they got to contest limited number of seats and thus their vote share was restricted to mere six per cent. In 2014, riding on the Modi wave, the BJP won two seats on its own and the party’s vote share went up to 16.9 per cent. But, with the steady erosion of the Left and secular forces (Congress have limited presence in three districts -- Malda, North Dinajpur and Murshidabad) the politics in Bengal has been polarised between two parties: TMC and BJP. To achieve poll position, the BJP started hammering TMC on issues of illegal migration, appeasement to Muslims, corruption and intolerance. Also, for the last two years the BJP upped its ante on communal issues by observing Ram Navami in a big way, forcing Mamata Banerjee to follow a line of soft Hindutva. Now, she is also competing with the BJP to prove her credentials as a ‘real Hindu’, while terming the BJP’s Hindtva as a contrived one.

Indo-American News • Friday, MAY 17, 2019 • Online Edition:

Recently during West Bengal CM’s election campaign in a village, three boys shouted ‘Jai Sri Ram’ in front of Mamata’s convoy makes the narrative symbolic of the change that has taken place in present day election scenario in West Bengal. The poor people, who have been substantially dependent on state’s dole for their livelihood, are mostly pliant and seldom protest against the ruling establishment for their wrongdoings. More so, if they dwell in rural areas, where the ruling party controls their lives through village panchayats and other institutions, they try to remain invisible in time of political contests. Yet, the fact that these boys could gather courage to throw a challenge to the all-powerful chief minister says volumes about the groundswell for BJP. By targeting Bengal in a big way, Modi and Amit Shah are trying to kill two birds with one stone. Their first goal is to gain maximum seats in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha; the four states have a total of 117 seats. Earlier, the BJP got 47 seats in total in the four states. Now they are desperate to increase their tally. But their other aim is to pin down Mamata. Ever since the January brigade rally of Mahagathbandhan at Kolkata, Mamata is carefully crafting her image as a leader who can rise above others and can stitch together all regional parties to form one unified alliance pitted against the BJP. If the BJP’s primary goal is to get maximum seats in Bengal, it is also equally important for the saffron party to project Mamata as a corrupt, intolerant and undemocratic leader, so that her acceptability among other regional players would be suspect. Finally, in a hypothetical scenario, where the BJP secures 25% vote share in Bengal, they can make serious plunge to oust Mamata from power in 2021 state assembly election. Considering all these factors, it makes sense that after Uttar Pradesh, Modi and Shah are devoting maximum campaign time in Bengal. Like Modi and Shah, it is a do-or-die scenario for Mamata too. -- Outlook India



May 17, 2019

More than 2,000 People Celebrate the Tradition of Iftar in Houston Houston: For so many years now, Houstonians of all background come together to rejoice the tradition of Iftar here in this the fourth largest metropolis of USA This event is organized by untiring group of volunteers, who are Muslims & Non-Muslims; Women & Men; Old & Young; Professionals & Businesspersons.”These were the words of Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator of the past eight years of the largest greater community gatherings of USA in Ramadan. This “The Houston Iftar” has been happening for the past 20 years organized by Sister Cities of Houston. Iftar is the breaking of fast as the day ends during Ramadan, and traditionally families, friends, & communities gather together to break the bread. This all-inclusive Houston Iftar revives this tradition every year, where Mayor of the City is the Chief Guest, and several federal & local elected officials, Consul Generals of various countries, heads of various community organizations, & Houstonians from all walks of life are present. Every year this event has a different organization being the Chair, and this year the Dawoodi Bohra Community of Houston was the Chair and was represented by Sheikh Yusuf Mogri. Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “This years’ event is my fourth

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A group photo of the Organizing Committee of Houston Iftar with Mayor Sylvester Turner, Guest of Honor S. Javaid Anwar, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman AL Green.

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Houston Iftar. The Muslim Community of Houston is a salient part of the fabric of Houston, and I want to make sure that this enterprising community is represented at the City Hall & participate in all aspects of the society. Today is the largest ever gathering of the Houston Iftar, and I feel honored to be speaking to you all today. We are a big diverse family here in Houston, and Muslim Community is an important segment.” These were some of the sentiments of Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner, as he spoke to the assembled 2,000 Houstonians. Members of Congress Sheila Jackson Lee & Congressman Al Green Other dignitaries attending the Iftar dinner included oil magnate Syed Javaid Anwar, ISGH President Sohail Syed, former City of Houston Councilperson M.j.Khan also spoke. The Houston Iftar is organized by the Houston Abu Dhabi, Basrah, Baku, Istanbul & Karachi Sister City Association in collaboration with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), along with 50 community organizations. Several Sponsors, especially Syed Javaid Anwar of Midland Energy, ISGH, Helping Hand USA, Islamic Relief USA, and other organizations, businesses, & individuals contribute (cash & in-kind) to make this event a success by the Grace of God.


May 17, 2019


On the Relevance of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the New Millenium

Houston: Each year the world celebrates Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday in the month of May, with a vigor that speaks volumes about the famous son of India and the vision that he embodied. Question that automatically arises to the common mind is why do we celebrate such a personality? Psychologist Abraham Maslow says in his extended pyramid of human needs that man has “transcendence needs” at the highest order of needs. Tagore’s poetry seems to give man a peek into that territory of sublime surrender to the universe. His poetry explores every emotion that man can possibly have and sings to it. But is he still relevant after being the Asia’s first Nobel Laureate (in the year 1913) for essentially condensing the thoughts of Upanishads in an anthology called “Gitanjali”? So what Gandhiji called him “Gurudev”? So what he renounced Kinghthood in protest of Jalianwalabagh massacre 100 years back? So what he he founded a university singlehandedly by pulling all the sharpest creative minds from across the globe? So what he has the unique distinction of composing two national anthems? So what he finds avid fans among the finest intel-

Tagore Society of Houston members gather before the statue of Rabindra Nath Tagore in Hermann Park.

lectuals through ages (such as Einstein, Yates, Gandhi, Helen Keller, Satyajit Ray, Audrey Hepburn, Sean Penn, Deepak Chopra, Shilla Jasenoff, Eric Weiner and many more)? So what liberal arts departments of top-notch universities across the globe still stage dramas written by him? So what his paintings still get auctioned highest in London and Paris? Is reading Tagore in the 21st century a reasonable thought? Is he relevant in today’s fast paced, tech savvy satellite connected

world? Why do find that new editions of “Gitanjali”, first published in 1912 are still printed internationally in numerous languages, and read heavily by people of all generations.? Why are there Tagore statues and busts in various countries and universities. Roads, universities, boulevards, and squares are named after him. Postal administration of many countries issued stamps dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore. Why has he always been referred to as a genius during his times and years later? What makes Tagore a genius

who we revere and how much of Tagore do we really understand? What deeper issues does he address? Questions prompt the readers to go back and read his poetry, essay, novels, plays and find the deeper vibrations of his writings that resonates with all. The answer to all the above and many more lies in the fact that Tagore was a Myriad Minded Man (Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson (2000)). An educational, social, religious reformer, a creative powerhouse and above

all a lover of nature and humanity. Through his writings he always wanted to explore and express the eternal Truth of human life. He believed every action in this world led to the understanding of the deeper purpose of our lives, i.e. the union of man and the universe. He was an exemplary leader who taught us through his own life and his creations on how to be aligned with the nature. Whether it is a discussion on quantum physics and the nature of reality with Albert Einstein or his political dialogues with Mahatma Gandhi, he had a very clear vision of man’s role in this universe. His thought of “unity through diversity” was unique and embraced and accepted all. It was not only a rhetoric to accept the vast diversities in human creed but the diverse nature that stands united in its show. This is a key evergreen ever relevant mantra for all. His vision of “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where the knowledge is free, where the world is not broken up in fragments by narrow domestic walls...” is still a dream by mankind in the 21st century. He said “Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity.” Here lies his relevance.

India House /SOS Continues Life After Seminar Series: Sustainable Income in Retirement Houston: Most Retiree and soon-tobe Retiree’s desire to live a healthy and comfortable retired life, travel to exotic places on their bucket list, and spend quality time with family and friends. However, retirees’ may feel anxious of whether their life savings will outlast theirs and their spouse’s lives and whether they are able to leave some legacy. This anxiety is exacerbated by the increasing turbulence in the geopolitical environment and the information overload from the internet economy. Share Our Secrets (SOS), in partnership with India House, is organizing a free educational program which will provide suggestions on how retirees and soon-to-be retirees may achieve some of their retirement goals (comfortable lifestyle, leaving a legacy, etc) through careful planning and implementation. The program is titled Sustainable Income Stream for Retirement, and will be on June 9th, 2019 from 4 to 6:30 PM at India House. The program will cover common threats to income during retirement years, strategies to mitigate these threats, and share some personal anecdotes and experiences. The program is for audiences who are approaching retirement as well as those currently in retirement, and both spouses are encouraged to attend. The program will host Dr. Mohan Kuruvilla, Senior Professor of Practice at the University of Houston Bauer College of Business and current President of the Houston CPA Society.

formative/ educational seminars. India House, in partnership with Food Bank of Houston, has recently started a program

to distribute food to disadvantaged members of the neighboring community. All are welcome to volunteer at these events

Have you planned for your future?

Dr. Kuruvilla will discuss trends and case studies on retirement planning and ways to maintain a sustainable income to enjoy the desired retirement lifestyle. This will be followed by ample Q & A time with Dr. Mohan Kuruvilla CPA, Anasuya Kabad, CFP® from Jaykay Wealth Advisors Inc, A. J. John, from Wheatstone LLC, and a senior sharing their personal experience. Share Our Secrets (SOS) is an educational organization, which conducts a gamut of programs for educated young people to teach them skills that are not taught in college curriculums and enabling them to succeed in their careers. SOS also conducts various community outreach events, on topics of interest to Houstonians, and specifically for seniors that could benefit them in their retired lives. India House is a community center which provides a myriad of services & activities, either free or at a highly discounted price, including Charity Clinic, Sareen Clinic, Yoga, Meditation, After School, Technology Classes for Seniors, Vedanta Study, Hindi Language, Sanskrit Language, Legal Consultations, Dance Classes, Cricket and in-

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Indo-American News • Friday, MAY 17, 2019 • Online Edition:


May 17, 2019

Hindu Worship Society Elects Ravi Goel as President for 2019-2021 material after the Janmastami celebrations ended at midnight and take them back to his office where he would store it until the following year. Growing up in a “conservative Hindu family,” Ravi was accustomed to going to the temple and performing pujas from an early age and he continued this practice when he came to the US. According to him, being a good Hindu means serving the family, community and your adopted country, love for the poor and needy and respect for the environment. He believes that praying to the deities

is “a means of concentrating your mind and body on the Supreme Being.” HWS’s new President and his wife Aruna, who is equally involved with the temple activities, also pray at other temples like BAPS, the Sri Meenakshi Temple, Arya Samaj and Chinmaya Mission. As he philosophically puts it “everyone worships in their own style but the goal is the same.” The temple is located at 2223 Wirtcrest Lane, Houston Texas 77055. For more information, contact or call 713-957-4608.

Property Management Employment HWS Board members: L to R: Ravi Goel, Nisha Bhatia, Ashima Patel and Promod Bhanwal. Ranjan Lashkari was not present for the picture.

By Manu Shah Houston: The Hindu Worship Society (HWS) has the distinction of being the second oldest Hindu temple in Houston. Founded in 1969 by a handful of Hindu Americans who wanted to sustain and practice their Hindu traditions, the temple moved to its present location in 1980. As the congregation grew, the South Indian members of the temple left to start the Sri Meenakshi Temple Society and HWS began serving the North Indian community primarily, providing spiritual, moral and ritualistic aspects of worship. The temple’s prestige suffered a brief setback due to differences among its board members but in 2015, the Society was taken over by a new management team. Bal Sareen, well-known philanthropist and highly respected Houstonian was elected President and he devoted a great deal of his time, resources and efforts in restoring the temple’s stature. He recently stepped down and Ravi Goel, an active member has been elected President for 2019 – 2021. Other Board members include Ashima Patel – Secretary, Nisha Bhatia – Treasurer, website manager and Children Events Coordinator, Ranjan Lashkari – Temple events Coordinator and Promod Bhanwal

– Facility Maintenance. The three trustees are Sandeep Soni, Dr. Durga Agrawal and Bal Sareen. In the last few years, the temple has been drawing a number of devotees who come to practice their faith and spirituality. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Laxman and Sita, Lord Krishna and Radha and Maa Durga. Resident temple priest Pandit Shree Bhawani Shankar Shastri is well versed in Vedic Literature such as the Upanishads, Bhaagvat Purana, Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta and Valmiki Ramayana. He performs the daily pujas and rituals according to traditional Vedic conventions and holds discourses every Sunday on the teachings of the Gita and its modern applications as well as other scriptures. He also performs weddings and other significant rites of passage in a Hindu’s life such as naming ceremonies, death rites, the shraadh ceremony (prayers for our ancestors) and even car pujas. A feature of the temple is its free Sunday Prasad or lunch usually hosted by a member of the congregation for a celebration or in memory of a relative. The puja starts at 11:30 am with bhajans, a spiritual discourse, the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa and Aarati followed by a vegetarian lunch cooked in the temple kitchen. The onsite kitchen

can cater to 400 people at a time and has adequate parking for visitors. As Ravi steps into his new role as President, his future plans include reviving the Hindi classes, inviting speakers in English to offer discourses and celebrating the main festivals of Holi, Diwali, Shivaratri and Dashehra in a grander fashion. The temple also holds the Mata Jagran (all night vigil) three times a year. It will stick to its ritualistic style of worship and will propagate the spiritual, moral and cultural values of Hinduism. An engineer from Amritsar, Punjab, Ravi came to the US in 1973 to pursue his higher studies. In 1986, he turned entrepreneur and started Hardy Machine and Design, Inc., which manufactures parts for the oil field industry. He is also a founder member of Hindus of Greater Houston and recalls the early years when he would collect the props and other For advertising in Indo-American News, Call Sarita Mehta: 713-789-6397

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May 17, 2019


Sadhguru to Lead Spiritual Discourse at AAPI By Ajay Ghosh Atlanta: Understanding the inherent humanity that unites all nations, religions and cultures, Sadhguru is recognized for his pioneering efforts to nurture global harmony, Dr. Naresh Parikh, President of American association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), said today, while announcing spiritual discourse led by Sadhguru during AAPI’s 37th Convention in New York. The 37th Annual AAPI Convention & Scientific Assembly will be held from July 3rd to July 7th, 2019 at the fabulous and world famous Omni Atlanta at CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center. Expected to have a record attendance of more than 2,000 delegates including Physicians, Academicians, Researchers and Medical students, “the annual convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the alumni and evening social events,” Dr. Parikh added. “Having Sadhguru at the Convention with his unique ability to make the ancient yogic sciences relevant to contemporary minds, and act as a bridge to the deeper dimensions of life, will make the convention and the delegates from across the nation richer, in so many ways,” said Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Chairman of the Convention. “His approach does not ascribe to any belief system, but offers methods for self-transformation that are both proven and powerful,” Dr. Gangasani added. Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru is a realized Yogi and mystic who works tirelessly towards the physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing of all. Sadhguru’s work has deeply touched the lives of millions worldwide through his transformational programs. “We need to create a culture of Health in society, instead of investing in just healthcare,” Sadhguru says. “What we call feeling healthy, is not just the absence of disease, but having a sense of wholeness within us. If we feel like a complete being in our body, mind and spirit, that is when we are truly healthy.” An author, poet and internationally renowned speaker, Sadhguru’s wit and piercing logic provoke and broaden our thoughts and perception of life. Sadhguru has been an influential voice at major global forums including the United Nations, World Economic Forum, the UK House of Lords, TED among many others. Just as he has stated, “Your suc-

cess in this world essentially depends on how well you can harness the prowess of this body and this mind,” Sadhguru believes in dedicating his life for the service of humanity. He established Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization supported by over three million volunteers worldwide. From powerful yoga programs to largescale humanitarian projects for rural upliftment, education for the underprivileged, environmental restoration, as well as holistic and healthy living, the foundation’s activities are designed to create an inclusive culture. His fundamental vision is to offer the science of inner wellbeing to every human being – a science vitally helping realize the ultimate potential within. From this vision stem a multitude of projects, programs, and methods, all towards the same aim: to raise every human being to the peak of their potential, be exuberant, all-inclusive, in harmony within themselves and the world. you see a certain need around you, you do what you can do – that’s all. But I have a dream, that someday, walking on a street anywhere in the world, I would be able to meet lots of enlightened or realized beings. That would be the greatest blessing to happen to the world.” As though responding to the growing need: “Physician, heal thyself,” especially when there are growing signs of burn out among physicians, AAPI is focusing on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession. Accordingly, some of the major themes as part of the CME sessions include: Pursuit of Happiness In Medicine; Burnout Prevention and Wellness in Physicians; Easy Life of a Hospitalist: An Illusion; and, Meditation and Mindfulness. Other themes at the CME include: Combining Ancient Sciences and Modern Medicine in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases; Mysteries of Type 2 Diabetes in South Asians - the Unresolved Questions; and, Cardio-oncology: Clinical Practice and Echocar-

diography. The annual convention this year is being organized by AAPI’s Atlanta Chapter. In addition to offering over 12 hours of cutting edge CMEs to the physicians, CEOs Forum, fabulous entertainment, and women’s leadership forum. The convention will be addressed by senior world leaders, including US Senators, Presidential candidates, Nobel Lauretes, Governors, Congressmen, and celebrities from the Hollywood and Bollywood world. Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 37 years, AAPI Convention has provided a venue for medical education programs and symposia with world renowned physicians on the cutting edge of medicine. “Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!” said Dr. Naresh Parikh. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit: and

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Indo-American News • Friday, MAY 17, 2019 • Online Edition:


May 17, 2019

Abhinaya School of Performing Arts Holds Annual “Rasaanubhava” Houston: Students and parents of Abhinaya School of Performing Arts look forward to their annual dance event “Rasaanubhava” with great fervor and anticipation. This year’s performance took place at Westchester Academy for International Studies on April 28, 2019. Beginners, junior, intermediate, senior and advanced students performed dances choreographed in Bharathanatyam to traditional and contemporary themes. While the beginners demonstrated the adavus or basic steps learned during their academic year, the junior and intermediate students performed the Pushpanjali, Jathiswaram,Thillana and Bhajan.The senior students performed the Varnam while the advanced learners performed Keerthanams, Ashtakams, and Thillanas. Neeraja Setlur, emcee for the day, provided eloquent explanations to the dances. The logistics

were very effectively handled by the organizing committee headed by Anandi Subramanian, Deepthi Setlur, Priya Chandru and Ajaya Sonde. Parent and student volunteers assisted the teachers in effectively execution of the performances. The director, Indrani Parthasarathy, well versed in the Pandanallur style of Bharathanatyam and also trained in Kuchipudi style of dancing, is the daughter of the Karnataka Kalathilaka Guru Smt. Radha Sridhar of Bangalore. She has to her credit more than 100 solo performances and has been a performer in India, UAE and USA. Indrani established the “Abhinaya School of Performing Arts” in 2001 which is originally based in Katy has now has 0branches in Cypress. Two other staff members, Krithika Ganesh and Anupama Nagasimha, assist in teaching and in the institutes other activities.

Juniors group of Abhinaya School of Dance. Photos by Reflection Media.

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May 17, 2019


Arya Samaj Houston Celebrates Sanskriti School Graduation Day

Sanskriti School children participate in Yagnaroop bhajan with Kavita ji and Vinita ji. By Ved Ratna Acharya Harish Chandra Houston: The Sunday School of Arya Samaj Houston, called DAV Sanskriti School has been functioning since the latter’s inception. Its advancement has been a continuous process, at present educating 147 children age 4-13, besides its youth wing AYM (Arya Yuva Mandal) attracting another 40 high schoolers. The Sanskriti School teaches two compulsory subjects – Naitik Shiksha (Moral Instruction) and Hindi Conversation, besides electives of Tabla, music, dance, instrumental, Hindi Read & Write, Vedic Math, Yoga, Multimedia Art, etc. Its academic year 2018’19 ended last Sunday 12th May in a glittering manner. Traditional Havan heralded the event, the graduating 8 AYM youth as Yajmaans. The cultural program started with the presentation of youth orchestra. Graduates spoke later one by one and shared their experience at Arya Samaj Houston, particularly how they

benefited from connecting to the cultural root. Audience noted with a sense of pride that all of them were to join prestigious universities to pursue their chosen career. A total of 17 AYM in age group of 14 to 18 received President’s Voluntary Service Awards. They were given a farewell with books and souvenirs. The Sanskriti School concentrated on Annual Day to showcase their talents related to the electives such as Tabla, music, dance, instrumental and Yoga. All the performances attracted huge applause. As usual, their performance brought the audience spellbound, particularly because they meet only 40 minutes a week. Another noteworthy feature was little children’s discipline throughout. Multimedia art children had displayed their talents in the form of an exhibition. Some of them were bought by enthusiasts, proceeds going to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for those affected by the recent Cyclone Fani. This year, the presentation of their Hindi related

skills was organized in January at the school and at the Indian Consulate too. Sunday 5th May was devoted to Celebration of Learning when every child participated in displaying what they learned in Naitik Shiksha. The blood donation camp & bone marrow registry on the site attracted several noble people. Three volunteers shared their experience: Indra Singhal, Ritu Chanchalani and Shikhar Singh who have volunteered at the Sanskriti School for 39, 15 and 2 years, respectively. Indraji’s memories of the yesteryears, particularly her association with the founder of

Arya Samaj Houston Late Ram Chandra Mahajan (fondly remembered as Pitaji) gave a unique glimpse. Her call to the parents to get more involved with the Sanskriti School and Arya Samaj was well received. In her report, Director Dr. Kavita Vachaknavee, highlighted new feathers in the cap such as eight volumes of the new text books produced for Naitik Shiksha, Special elective of Public Speaking and related contest, new course on Leadership Skills for age 12-13, Counselling Service, etc. Registration of new students along with reenrollments were in full swing, on

site. The Sanskriti School reopens 18th August with new fervor. The flagship chorus song by the entire Sanskriti School children, volunteers and teachers provided the grand finale to the celebration. The event ended with a well deserved feast well served by the Food committee. For more information about Sanskriti School and AYM, please call (832)874-3376 or visit www. DAV Montessori & Elementary holds there graduation on May 19th from 10am to 12 noon. All are invited to witness the talents of our little ones.

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Sanskriti School girls perform a folk dance.

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2019 Arya Youth Mandal Youth Group with Sanjay ji.

Jayakumar Natu

Saturday, June 1, 2019

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Fundraising Dinner

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Sanskriti school children perform Yogaasan with Swarli.

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Indo-American News • Friday, MAY 17, 2019 • Online Edition:


May 17, 2019

Indo-American News • Friday, MAY 17, 2019 • Online Edition: