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Friday, January 20 2012 | Vol. 31, No. 3

Indo American News

Katrina Heats Up Agneepath

Published weekly from Houston, TX

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From left: Pravin Vyas, President of VHP-A (Houston Chapter); Swapan Dhairyawan , Treasurer of Indo American chamber of G.Houston; Rajiv Bhavsar, Incoming President of ICC; Raj Bhalla, President of ICC; Sharad Patel, Treasurer of VHP-A (Houston Chapter); Prakash Shah, President Ekal Vidyalaya (Houston Chapter); Raj Shah, Volunteer Narendra Zamwar, President of Maheshwari Mahasad of North America; Sharad Amin, President of Hindus of Greater Houston and Nisha Mirani, President of Gujarati Samaj

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January 20, 2012

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Iam NEWS Since 1982

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By Venugopal Menon HOUSTON: When we celebrate another Republic Day this Jan 26th, there will be usual celebrations in the Indian-American community. Such festivities are part of the Indian-American life that maintains our emotional bonds with the country of our origin. We have also given back to our motherland in various ways, be it mobilizing resources for the needy - in health, education or feeding the hungry, or establishing business relationships and transfer of technology. In large part, the current nature of relationship that exists between NRIs and India is that of patron-recipient, which can sometimes take a toll on the conscience of the patrons, and self-respect of the recipients, equally. It is time to balance this equation. The question is what India can give to America that perhaps has remained unexplored. There has been a sea change in both America and India since the 1960s, when large numbers of Indians started to make America their home. In early years, American perception of India was quite often formed by the food grains doled out under the PL480 program or the rare and patronizing TV and print commentaries on India’s poverty, snake charmers and holy sadhus. Earlier, America’s perception of preIndependence India was built on a foundation of a colonialist paradigm that saw India as an appendage of Britain. Post WWII, newly independent India was reduced to an old world anachronism in the American mindset, an over-populated, distant third world country


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anew n indic new i mission in america m a

that needed to be fed, clothed, and civilized by the West. American politicians and the media reflected this mindset in their public expression throughout the 1970s to 1990s. However, starting in the late 1990s, alongside the Indian nuclear tests and the opening up of the Indian economy (the twin language of power and money that America is more familiar with), the American attitude towards India began a slow transformation. Along with triumphs (in cold war) in the international arena, American society also began to transform, driven largely by technology and the Internet. The social transformation which is underway at this time has seen new ideas being readily accepted, and old ideas given a surprise burial, highlighted by election of an African-American president by the majority white population. Even in matters of personal conviction, Americans more readily express partaking in spirituality. These are signposts of a people maturing through their nominal existence, and yearning for something new. As America navigates its way deep into the post-colonial phase,

it is natural for it to take a step forward into the next phase of its social evolution. It has already demonstrated its remarkable maturity to accept new ideas that may come from all sides and distant lands. Never has any nation in history of the world shown such a promise of transformation and positive change. Indeed, America is on the cusp of history, ready to advance from merely a Eurocentric nation-

state to a unique civilization in its own right that could rival Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, India and China from the distant past. This is where India and Indic ideas have a potential role to play in American mainstream life. India, through sheer perseverance and endurance during the long periods of colonization, retains the basic knowledge from its distant but glorious past. The knowledge that once made her a unique civilization is frozen and locked up in myriad institutions and with select individuals. This knowledge has the potential to help America find its way into

the next phase of its evolution. The Indic ideas of individualistic pursuit of spirituality, the compassionate attitude towards anything sentient (including animals), the passive resistance to evil, the allowance and acceptance of individual differences and yet build a successful collective, coupling of rights with duties for harmonious existence, charity and renunciation as a means to fulfill social responsibility, and pursuit of the Truth as a civilizational mission, have the potential to be accepted and integrated in the mainstream American life. Thus, calls for paradigm shift in the attitude of the Indian American community towards India. Instead of being patrons, let us become recipients of knowledge that Photos: Bijay Dixit the classical Indic civilization has to offer. Let India be our patron in the realm of ideas. The ideas contained in the philosophy as well as the traditional knowledge systems that existed in the classical Indian civilization, that are extant today in various forms. There are numerous ways the process of knowledge transfer in the reverse direction may commence. The prime area of action is the academics. So far, Indian Americans have chosen careers that yield the maximum monetary benefit – medicine, engineering, law. The Indian Americans should now look at Liberal Arts and Humanities as career options. This is where the new ideas are incubated that change societies along with public policy. Another area for consideration is healthcare. The integration of Yoga, Ayurveda and

meditation in the health delivery process can potentially reduce overall healthcare costs in the long run. This will immensely help the American mainstream. Yet another set of areas for consideration are our classical performing arts. The innate strength of our classical performing arts remains in the underlying spirituality that pervades the artistic expressions. Classical treatise such as Natyasastra should find their place in the curricula of American colleges. Indian-American community should also come forward in promoting classical dance, music, theatre and other forms of arts. This will potentially generate immense interest in American social, cultural and intellectual elite. The desired change in attitude will result in reorientation of community activities. This may entail creating scholarships for Indian American students in Humanities, along with fellowships for Humanities students from India. There should be a concerted effort at curricula development in Indic Studies with a focus on the knowledge contained in the classical India. This focus on classical India is required because this is the knowledge that will potentially help America’s evolution into a unique civilization in its own right. This is the new promise of India that we must realize as a community on the auspicious occasion of the Republic Day. This is the new Indic Mission in America. The author is a retired surgeon and President of the Indic Council of America Inc.

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


January 20, 2012

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


January 20, 2012

makar sankranti s celebrations: Kite Flying and so c s much m more

By SowMya nandakuMar KATY: There was no mistaking the aura of the colorful Makar Sankranti festival as we approached the George Bush Park from FM1093@1464, on Sunday, Jan 15. Greeted by city police managing a massive crowd, needless to say, parking was hard to find! However, the enthusiasm and enormity of the crowd truly was quite a spectacle. I sauntered in, absorbing and relishing the ambience of the festivities, and was thrilled to see a spirit of oneness and patriotism, which manifested in two ways - here was the Indian community being true Houstonians and Texans, crowding around two small screens, faithfully watching and rooting for the Houston Texans against the Baltimore Ravens, and then during the commercial breaks enjoying flavors of old Hindi music, the tunes of Sar kata sakte lekin, Vande Maataram, and other popular Bollywood numbers echoing across the park. A wonderful cultural blend – so indigenous in nature and yet so global in its outlook –a fabulously spirited community! It was a lovely windy day, sunny at first and then slightly cloudy with the most pleasant and perfect temperature range in the high 60’s – no better weather for flying colorful kites. Nisha Mirani, President of the Gujarati Samaj of Houston, said, there were about 2000 people gathered. They were flying kites, eating the famous khichari with chaas, spreading out their own picnic blankets and munching away on the endless flow of mouth-watering goodies brought from home. We got to taste the khichari and chaas, provided by the Gujarati Samaj – our verdict: it was hot, tasted fantastic and was the perfect thing to eat on a pleasant and windy Sunday af afternoon. The grounds were studded with people of all ages, flying kites of

Gujarati Samaj served over 2400 plates of khichadi and buttermilk.

rati Samaj of Houston, Hindus of Greater Houston, Shri Shirdi Sai Jalaram Mandir, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA, and Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America) and the fabulous volunteers who made this day-long (10am -3:30pm) event a success. Makar Sankranti is celebrated by Indians across the US, but Houston’s zest for it is unbeatable, said Praveen Vyas. Indeed it was enjoyable – a festival filled with colorful kites, cel-


ebrating the celestial movement of the sun into the Zodiac of Capricon, rejoicing enlightenment, knowledge and learning, bringing with it togetherness and a spirit of oneness. From the nearby lake, we watched the skies painted by the colors of the kites flying high, and the bursting energies of the crowd down below; we smiled to ourselves at the happiness and positivity in the air– the spirit of Makar Sankranti at its glorious best!

Flying Kites to Herald the e end of winter w

Vineet Sethi teaching kite flying to his son Krishna

all colors, shapes, sizes and patterns. There were grand dads teaming up with their grandkids, fathers and mothers with their sons and daughters eagerly trying to hold their kites up in the air, sometimes failing and losing their kites mid- air to the merciless snap from the twines of others, but yet relentlessly trying with another kite. Dotting the skies with kites meant that the grounds would be littered with the kites that fell and concerned by that, organizers requested that people leave behind clean grounds. The Kite stall always had a long queue of people waiting to get perhaps their first or even their tenth kite! Many of these kites were specially ordered for the occasion from Baroda, India, said Praveen Vyas, President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Houston chapter. By 2:30 pm the kite stall was sold out after a sale of 2000 kites! Positively attractive to the eye, with their vivid colors, de-

signs and vibrant patterns, my favorite was someone’s huge butterfly kite. There was a group playing cricket, some children had even come with their pet dogs and were running after them, and one kid was dutifully driving his remote controlled car, thoroughly enjoying just that. The park’s play area was teeming with children on swings and slides, and brimming with anxious mothers monitoring them. A couple of small children about 3-5 years had wandered away from their families and were lost in the crowds; rigorous announcements were made near the kite stall to reunite them with their parents. One of many parents, Muneesh Shah said, “We can fly the kites from our backyard also but the fun of coming here and flying kites with so many people is a great feeling and we enjoy this”. Hats off to all the organizers (Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Guja-

for their kids who haven’t grown By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: “Back home in up with the sport of kite flying. But Jaipur, Rajasthan on Makar Sank Sank- after ten years of going at it, and ranti, there are so many kites judging from the lack of parking, launched into the sky from city the notion seems to be catching rooftops that it turns black!” ex- on. Here’s hoping it can become claimed Gobind Kamnani as he more popular and mainstream helped his daughter and niece to like the Dragon Boat races along launch a kite into the clear blue Buffalo Bayou during the Chinese sky of George Bush Park last Sun- New Year celebrations. day, January 15. He and his brothers and their families were among the thousand or more people who came to fly kites to herald the end of winter in India. In northern India it is often called Makar Panchami and arrives on January 13, the same day as Lohri which celebrates the first harvest and also the culmination of Gobind Kamnani (right) with his brothers Narayan (second from left) and Surinder (centhe first birthday of ter with glasses) along with their children and a male child. Thirty Ash Malhotra (left) Photo: Jawahar Malhotra days later, according to the Hindu calenIndo American News (ISSN 887-5936) dar, on February 13 Basant Panis published weekly every Friday (for a subscription of $30 per year) by chami is celebrated and the beginIndoAmerican News Inc., 7457 Harwin Dr., ning of the Spring months. Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036, tel: 713-789-6397, fax:713-789-6399, The skies weren’t quite black email: with kites this past Sunday – many postage paid at Houston, Texas. were caught in the bare trees – and Periodical POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Indo American News, it seemed like more fun for the 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, adults from the Old Country than TX 77036


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January 20, 2012 Pravasi Bharatiya s samman Award conferred on Local Physician


yogathon y ogathon 2012 is Here! H Hss ss Invites All Participants

Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli among one of fourteen NRI recipients and the only other Indo-American

By kalyani giri HOUSTON: Local physician Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli is one of fifteen illustrious recipients of the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award for 2012 conferred by the government of India. The award, instituted ten years ago, is the highest honor of its kind given to non-resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin for their meritorious contribution in their chosen vocations and for enhancing India’s image globally. The valedictory event was presided over by the President of India Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention at Jaipur, Rajasthan, on January 9, 2012. In her congratulatory remarks, Patil said that Indians in the diaspora are becoming increasingly influential in the economic, professional and political fields of their adopted lands. “I congratulate all the winners. It is an extremely distinguished list and we are honored by the presences of the awardees at this function,” said Patil. “It is an occasion to welcome them to the land of their ancestors,” she added. Dr. Guntupalli’s distinguished career as Professor of Medicine and Chief Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine has made her a noteworthy forerunner in her field and has garnered her much recognition and many awards over the years. A graduate of Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in

n e p w



India, she did her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine at the District of Columbia General Hospital, Washington, DC; Dr. Guntupalli also completed a Fellowship in Critical Care at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her areas of clinical interest are acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), severe asthma, sepsis, and physician/patient education. Prolific, Dr. Guntupalli has also served as President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI). “Of all the recognitions, this award by the people of India means the most to me, because it is from people of India. I am most indebted to India, the Indian Government and the people for their love and support,” said Dr. Guntupalli. Dr. Guntupalli and Professor Surendra Kumar Kaushik, an economist were USA-based reeconomist, cipients of the award. Another eminent awardee sharing this year’s honors was Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar. The award consists of a gold medal, a gold pin, and a citation by the President of India. An estimated 30 million people of Indian origin live outside of India, some for several generations. Past recipients from the USA include CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and moviemaker M. Night Shyamalan.

By SowMya nandakuMar HOUSTON: A Yogathon! Free parking! Free refreshments and tea! Free access to stalls promoting Yoga and a healthy life style! All you need is to be there with your Yoga mats and if you happen to forget your mats, don’t you worry you can buy them for a nominal donation on location! The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh welcomes everyone to YOGATHON 2012!! – At Sugar Land Town Square (2711, Town Center Blvd, Sugarland, TX 77479) on Saturday, January 28 from 10-11:30am. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh launched this uniquely named event in 2007 and since then it has quite drastically grown in scale, numbers and participation. And now for the first time the grand finale of the Yogathon will be held at the Sugar Land Town Square. The Yogathon is a 15-day event which starts on January 14 every year and has been attracting more and more crowds every day since the 14th of this month. It

is a Health for Humanity effort achieved through a sequence of Yogasanas, called the Surya Namaskara, popularly known as the Sun Salutations. Surya Namaskara is a flow of postures, one posture connecting to and flowing into the other, the body moving gradually through the postures in tune with the rhythm of breathing. The body and the mind find their rhythm with the breathing (pranayama), ultimately aiming to connect the body to one’s inner spirit. This brings about a sense of peace and unison, reflective of the meaning of “Yoga” - Oneness. Bringing people together to celebrate this oneness is what the Yogathon is all about. The Health for Humanity Yogathon aims to bring a sense of selfdiscipline in all of our lives. By enabling us to connect with and internalize that habit of self-discipline, it teaches us to inherently assimilate this into our lives. This initiates the process of living a healthy life style.

As the sun moves into the Zodiac of Capricorn, reaching Uttarayan, the sun is at the absolute North and this solar transition has many positive connotations. It is associated with the Goddess of learning and knowledge, Saraswathi, and with the destruction of ignorance by Lord Shiva, paving the way for enlightenment. What better time of the year to salute the sun and the enlightened spirit that the sun’s energy epitomizes! In line with this spirit of radiance, The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh invites all to participate in the Yogathon, an of offering of sun salutations, connecting with ourselves and others as we join in this Surya Namaskara Yagna. Yogathon has begun! – A fantastic way to enrich our lives and a great chance for all to start this New Year with a Yoga resolution! For more information, visit and register at sny/ or email at snyhouston@gmail. com or call 713-732-8233/281796-8455

Letter to the Editor

WrIters ... tAke NOtICe

As salute to s sindwani Bhai sahib s Words are words, they can always impress, Words are words, they can never express, The meaning that you gave to dignity of life. You fought with laughter and diligence through strife, A soul so pure that touched the sky, But never a flutter of ego in whole life. A life partner to another pure soul with whom you journeyed day and night, Paving the way for others to show what is real life, A salute to the soul that was a ray of light. Peace, Peace, Peace

- Kanta Seth

Writers are requested to limit their words to 500. The deadline for advertising and articles is 5 pm on Tuesday of each week. For more information, Call 713-789- NEWS (6397) or emailusat:indoamericannews@

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January 20, 2012

IPAws Houston elects n IPAws new Board for 2012

HOUSTON: A group of local animal lovers launched Indo-American Pet & Animal Welfare Society of Greater Houston (IPAWS Houston), an Indo-American initiative dedicated to improving the welfare of animals in our community through education and awareness. IPAWS Houston recently announced its Executive Committee IPAWS Board members, from left: Ramesh Anand, Sathish Rao, Suma Mudan, Preanka Desai and Krishna Giri. Latafor 2012: Suma Mu- fath Hussain and Pranav Kothari are not in the photo. dan, President; Latafath Hussain, Vice President; Krishna Giri, Trea- icans to end euthanasia as a means of consurer; and Preanka Desai, Secretary. trolling pet overpopulation, devocalization Other Board members include Ramesh and other issues related to the humane treatAnand (Founder & Past President), Pranav ment of animals in Greater Houston. Kothari and Satish Rao. •To participate in various outreach proSuma Mudan is a practising CPA. She, grams to educate Indo-Americans to adopt and her husband Krishna, moved to Sugar and be educated regarding pets, and find Land 2 years ago and are active in the com- good homes for the animals in our care. munity. They have two dogs, Mickie and Within the first six months since it’s foundMinnie, both adopted from local animal ing, IPAWS Houston has facilitated adopshelters. Suma believes that every animal tions, organized public outreach events, and deserves at least a second chance. has started a periodic newsletter. IPAWS will continue with its aggressive The goals of IPAWS Houston are: spay/neuter campaign and owner-education •To educate the Indo-Americans of Great- programs in the hopes that any pet adopted er Houston about the importance of having will find a permanent, loving home. IPAWS their pets spayed or neutered, and to pro- believes that community involvement will vide low or no cost surgeries for those pets result in a significant positive impact to the in need. welfare of companion animals. Together, •To provide care and no-kill shelter for we will make the difference. stray, abused or relinquished animals. For more information, email ipawshous•To educate the general population about the seriousness of pet overpopulation. Also, do visit and like us on facebook at • To be an advocacy group for Indo-Amer-

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O




January 20, 2012

y rogers yuki r mourned by community Memorial service planned for January 21, 2012

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By kalyani giri HOUSTON: When friends of Reyna Yuki Rogers did not see or hear from her in several days, alarm bells went off. After asking around, they filed a missing persons report with the police department and one of her friends, Munir Ibrahim, stopped by her southwest area town-home to try to find her. As he knocked on the door, a neighbor stepped out and gave him the devastating news that Rogers, 50, was dead after being shot by her 26 year-old son, James Alan Rogers, a military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She died at Ben Taub Hospital on January 11, 2012, the night of the shooting. “I’m still reeling from the shock,” said Ibrahim in a telephonic interview. “I’m deeply saddened.” Rogers, along with Ibrahim and another close friend Munira Panjwani served together on the board of the Asian American Family Services (AAFS), a Houston-based mental health agency, an irony that does not escape Ibrahim. “If only Yuki had shared her problems


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at home with us, we could have helped. She worked so closely with us and was so caring of others, and we had no idea of what she was going through,” said Ibrahim. “Unfortunately in the Asian communities, there is a stigma attached to mental health and she couldn’t bring herself to talk about it.” Kim Szeto, chief executive director at AAFS, released a statement that lauded Rogers for her “inner beauty”. “Yuki lived a life of dignity and beauty. Let’s honor her and remember her for all she has done for our community,” urged Szeto in her written tribute. Rogers, a native of Japan and the mother of three sons and a daughter, was known for her generosity of spirit and was well-liked. Widowed for over a decade, she raised her family in this city after moving here about 12 years ago. Committed to the local community, she worked with many organizations in various capacities. Indefatigably dedicated to causes she believed in, she served as executive director of the International Trade Center (ITC), an organization that fosters global growth for small businesses. She helped raise funds to benefit international education through ITC. “Yuki was a great asset to us at ITC and did a tremendous job at putting us together and connecting us with the community,” said ITC President and Consul General of Ethiopia, Gezahgen Kebede. “We are immensely sad by her loss as she was a wonderful person,” added Kebede. Rogers also served on the Asian Pacific Heritage Association (APAHA) board and co-chaired the organization’s gala in 2009 along with attorney Gordon Quan. Rogers’ friends created a website where she could be memorialized. One of several poignant messages from Panjwani, read, “My dearest friend, Yuki, I will miss our meetings, lunches and events. There will be a huge void without you around. You will be missed. Thank you for your beautiful friendship.” Yuki Roger’s Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, January 21 from 2-5pm at the Houston Community College Systems, West Loop Campus, 5601 W. Loop South at Fournace. The event is open to all.

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January 20, 2012

Indian cardiologists w win Appeal in suit s Against citizens medical center Here

By J.r.ortega Three cardiologists suing Citizens Medical Center won their appeal before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. The court ruled in favor of Drs. Ajay Gaalla, Harish Chandna and

“They are very happy about the Fifth Circuit ruling in their favor,” James said of the doctors. This time, the court had most of the evidence, he added. In February 2010, Citizens filed a resolution that would allow only cardiologists with contracts at the hospital to exercise clinical privileges in the cardiology department or part of the hospital’s heart program. The cardiologists fought back days later with a lawsuit stating they Doctors Harish Chandna, Ajay Gaalla, Dakshesh were being Parikh stand for a portrait in their offices’ waiting barred from room Photo: Caleb Bryant Miller practicing not Dakshesh Parikh in regards to based on their merit and expertise, equal protection claims, and the but because of economical and racourt also kept all the board mem- cial reasons. bers named on the lawsuit, said This not only affected them, but Monte James, the lead attorney for their patients who were denied the the cardiologists. right to see the physician of their

choice, according to the court documents. Citizens claimed the resolution was based on their disruptive behavior and issues with Dr. Yusuke Yahagi, a cardiovascular surgeon at the hospital. Later, court documents also state that the three cardiologists were derogatorily referred to as “the Indians.” The cardiologists also cited a comment from David Brown, the hospital chief executive officer, as saying the hospital was working on a plan for “getting the Indians off the reservation.” The cardiologists said the resolution Citizens placed violated their equal protection rights - and now the Fifth Circuit has voted in their favor. For now, the case is in stay, or on hold, James said. But soon, he expects the federal court will take it off hold, and it will proceed to trial. Brown would not comment until he could become familiar with the details, a hospital spokesperson said. As of Friday night, Brown had not commented on the ruling.


Minor Name Change I hitherto known as Rajkumar Ramachandran and Son of VA.Ramachandran, Employed as Principal consultant in the Genpact process solution LLC residing at 450 El dorado blvd, APT # 311, Webster, Texas, USA- 77598 have changed the name of my minor son Vishal Lavanya Rajkumar, D.O.B- 09/29/2002 and he shall hereafter be known as Vishal Rajkumar. Father-Rajkumar Ramachandran Mother-Lavanya Bollipalli Narasimhulu

Republic Day Flag Hoisting

Flag Hoisting ceremony on India’s 63rd Republic Day will be held on Thursday, January 26 at 9:30am at Consul General’s Residence (5634 Briar Drive, Houston, TX – 77056). Consul General Sanjiv Arora will read President of India’s Address on this occasion. Refreshments will be served. Indian nationals and friends of India are cordially invited to the function. Participants are requested to assemble at Consul General’s Residence by 9:25am. Kindly bring a photo ID.


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Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

10 January 20, 2012

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FIs Participates in m FIs mLK Parade

By n.S. VatSa kuMar HOUSTON: January 16 , 2012 marked the 83rd birthday of the late Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr., and in his honor, the 18Th Annual MLK Grande Parade took place in Mid town

Foundation for India Studies (FIS) is a proud participant for the second year in this parade whose theme is Empowerment through Education. Under a picture perfect weather, participants enjoyed the walk holding a color-

Houston, which was the third largest Parade in the U.S. behind The Rose Parade and The Macy’s Day Parade. The mile long colorful parade which included dancers, high school bands, art cars, horse riders and many other attractions, paid tribute to the late King who fought for civil rights adopting Mahatma Gandhi ji’s non-violent principles.

ful banner with pictures of Gandhi and the King. The attached photo shows some, but not all members who participated in the walk. The FIS group wore India’s tricolor scarves, made available by ICC and were cheered profusely as it moved along the parade route by thousands of enthusiastic onlookers who lined up the parade route.

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Foundation for India Studies believes it’s regular participation in the MLK parade will increase the Indian community’s visibility and would lead to greater bondage between India and America. The event Chair for FIS participation was Mr. Bashist Sharma. Charles Stamps, the Chief organizer of the Grande Parade said that in its 18 years of operation, it is the first time MLK parade was honored to have a personified “Mahatma Gandhi” participate and walk the entire route. Krishna Vavilala walked with a stick wearing the identifiable simple Gandhian dhoti, eye glasses and the pendent watch. The handouts distributed by the FIS volunteers helped the onlookers understand the common ideals shared by MLK and Mahatma Gandhi. For more information about FIS, call Krishna Vavilala at 713-7955169.

new Icc executive committe and Board 2012 n

HOUSTON: India Culture Center Houston had its Executive Committee elections for 2012 on Wednesday, January 4 at India House. The following were elected unanimously to the positions for which the term starts from February 1, 2012. Rajiv Bhavsar- President; Prakash V Patel- Vice President; Jasmeeta Singh- Secretary, Treasurer- Harshad Patel. Col Raj Bhalla would serve as Past President on this Executive Committee Also the position of Trustee was unanimously filled in by Swapan Dhairyawan. The New Committee takes charge after the completion of the major Signature Event of India Fair happening on January 29 at the New Stafford Center to celebrate the 63rd Republic Day Celebrations. For more information visit

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why we w were w w wrong about Ghee: not the main cause of Heart Attacks

worst cholesterol levels were eating a low-fat (and high-carb) diet. This is exactly opposite what early experts predicted. Whether food companies knew it or not, their scientists replaced dietary fats and added processed foods like high fructose corn syrup and plain old white sugar into packaged snacks, frozen meals, and popular drinks like soda. Companies catering to the Indian-Americans market did the same thing. Like us, food companies began using oils that were sometimes harmful, namely hydrogenated vegetable oils containing trans fats, a food particle now banned in places like New York and San Francisco because the science is so convincing that trans fats more than any other component in food promotes heart disease. Yet very little evidence associates saturated fats with coronary heart disease. This is why I want to set the record straight on ghee. I want to make sure our community has a better understanding of how what we eat influences our health. Af After all, South Asians who immigrated to the West (like my own parents) have among the highest rates of heart disease and diabetes, even higher than whites and other Asian groups as a 2006 study in the cardiology journal Circulation explained. I know this sounds strange considering that we eat little red meat and lots of vegetables. But part of the problem is what we cook our vegetables in: oils not meant for the high temperatures and prolonged heat typical of Indian cooking. Ghee has a smoke point – the temperature at which oils break down and

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produce harmful cell-damaging oxidants – of almost 500°F, which is higher than most cooking oils. This means that ghee tends to stay longer in its original form under heat. Instead of avoiding ghee and saturated fats, we should avoid easily digestible carbohydrates that come in white rice, white sugar, white potatoes, and refined wheat (or maida in Hindi) used to make breads like chapatti. I describe why in greater detail in “The Healthy Indian Diet,” but for now I want to express that according to the scientific evidence, ghee is not dangerous as we all thought. It is okay to eat ghee or to use it for cooking – with the stipulation “all things in moderation” and is part of the plant-based diet incorporating spices. It is funny that it took so much research for us to realize that ghee, a part of Indian cooking for as long as people were on the subcontinent, is not bad for us. A civilization tends to get rid of foods that are harmful, and that ghee made it through our civilization conveys some truth on the matter. As the famous food writer Michael Pollan explained, the best teacher of what’s healthy is not the food companies (because it is motivated to profit from cheap food that is often unhealthy), government (too often misguided and pulled in different directions by industry), or nutrition scientists (some admit their research techniques are flawed). The best teacher of what is good to eat is our historical culture, and as he put it, culture is a fancy word for mom and grandmother.

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lipid hypothesis, wrote in a famous 2001 review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, “It is now increasingly recognized that the low-fat campaign has been based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintended health consequences.” At the same time, evidence was accumulating that easily digested carbohydrates were the main thing in our foods that were increasing our risk of heart disease and diabetes. A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine explained that people on a low-carb diet (which is high in fat including saturated fat) had the best cholesterol levels. On the other hand, people with the


By niraJ patel M.d. Growing up, I thought that ghee was dangerous. Uncles and aunties would say, “We’re cutting back on ghee,” or, “We don’t use that stuff anymore, it’s so bad for you.” I wondered why ghee got such a bad rap, and soon I learned everyone’s doctors had been urging them to drop ghee because something called saturated fats – which ghee has in abundance – causes heart attacks. Desis, it turned out, were susceptible to heart attacks. Someone from our community had a heart attack almost every month, or so it seemed then, and sometimes an uncle we knew would die from it. So finding what caused heart attacks was a really big deal. Now fast forward to today, and here’s a new thought. What if we were wrong about ghee? What if eating ghee, or using ghee to cook food, never caused heart attacks? Research in the past decade strongly suggests that ghee was not the problem. If we were wrong about ghee, we were not alone. At the same time Indian-Americans were dropping ghee, Americans were dropping butter (from which ghee is made) for margarine, a processed oil-and-milk product. The replacement of butter, which had been eaten traditionally throughout America’s history, was part of the bigger phenomenon of Americans adopting a low-fat diet. The motivating factor was the “lipid hypothesis.” Research since the 1950s led experts to believe that diets high in cholesterol and saturated fats would cause coronary heart disease, the kind that led to heart attacks. Although the science was not complete or entirely convincing, the idea that lipids (or cholesterols) cause heart attacks became accepted as fact. In the 1970s, the U.S. government, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and other groups, hoping to slow down the rise in heart disease, began a massive campaign to convince us to stop eating foods containing a lot of fat. This is why your doctor told you to drop ghee. We listened: just as IndianAmericans stopped eating ghee, Americans replaced their high-fat foods. According to the USDA, less dietary fat is consumed per American today than in 1965. During the same period, the per capita consumption of refined grains, a source of easily digestible carbs (something I’ll return to soon), went up. Here’s the thing. The percentage of Americans who had obesity and diabetes went up, too. And the prevalence of coronary disease and heart attacks stayed the same, even though it was predicted that these two rates should come down as people ate less fat. Experts had to admit they were wrong. One prominent researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, which once advocated the


January 20, 2012

Read us online at IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM Serving Houston’s South Asian Community

Randeep S. Hira

Immigration Attorney and Native Houstonian

Niraj “Raj” Patel, M.D. writes on food and health. His book “The Healthy Indian Diet” explains why modern diets are associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers and why traditional diets are good. For more information, visit

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Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

Principal Office Located in Houston, Texas


12 January 20, 2012

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi

wheels of Independence Are set in motion

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The story thus far….The war in Europe was having an impact in India. The Congress Working Committee found itself unable to accept in its entirety Gandhi’s attitude to the war. In particular, they would not accept his view that the defense of India should not depend on the armed forces. Congress leaders met on several occasions in Gandhi’s room at Sevagram and talked of their desire to start some action. Finally a proposal was put forward that all provincial governments should join with the British authorities in the defense of India, but the British rejected the offer. In September 1940, a meeting of the All-India Congress Committee was held in Bombay. There, as a protest against England’s utter indifference to India’s hopes, it was decided to launch individual civil disobedience against the authorities. It was also decided to hold meetings to protest against British imperialism. At that time such meetings were forbidden. Vinoba Bhave was the first to inaugurate individual satyagraha. He was arrested and so were hundreds of others who followed him. Nehru also was arrested. Within a few months over 30,000 Congressmen were put in jail. Only Gandhi was not imprisoned. He devoted his time to spreading the gospel of truth and nonviolence. In December 1941 the government released all the satyagrahis. Then, in 1942, as the Japanese swept across the Pacific and went through Malaya and Burma, the British began to think of a settlement with India. Japan, it was feared, might even invade India. Even Gandhi began to feel that his pacifism might stand in the way of India’s future. So he made the proposal of a provisional government so that all the resources of India could be added to the government’s side in the struggle against the aggressors. But this proposal was ignored. In March 1942 Churchill announced that the war cabinet had agreed on a plan for India and that Sir Stafford Cripps had agreed

to go to India to find out whether the Indian leaders would accept the plan, and whether they would devote all their thought and energy to the defense of India against Japan. Cripps arrived in Delhi on March 22. He met Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and other important leaders. Cripps promised greater freedom than what had been offered before. He also offered complete freedom after the war, if India wanted it. The leaders would perhaps have accepted this offer if it had come a year earlier, but now it was rejected. The Congress leaders did not want any compromise based on promises. The British did not trust the people of India sufficiently to give them any real power, and so the Indian leaders felt that they could not trust the British to hand over power after the war. In August 1942 the All-India Congress Committee met in Bombay, and was presided over by Maulana Azad. Again the demand to set up a provisional government was made.“We can no longer hold back our people from exercising their will,” Gandhi said. “Nor can we go on eternally submitting to the imperialist policies. The time has come for the English to go. Civil servants, army officers, government officers all of them should quit India.” The “Quit India” resolution was

drawn up and passed by the meeting for presentation to the government. Nehru moved the resolution and Sardar Patel seconded it. The resolution also announced the starting of a mass struggle on the widest possible scale. Winding up the meeting, Gandhi said, “I have pledged to the Congress, and the Congress has pledged herself that she will do or die.” The government did not wait for the mass movement to begin. Overnight Gandhi was arrested, as were many other leaders in various parts of India. Gandhi was interned in the Aga Khan’s palace in Poona. Mahadev Desai, Kasturba, Sarojini Naidu and Mirabehn were also taken there. But with the leaders in jail, India did not remain idle. ‘Do or die’ was taken up by the people. There were mass movements everywhere. And there was a great outburst of violence throughout the country. People started destroying government buildings and whatever else they considered to be symbols of British imperialism. Shortly after his detention in the Aga Khan’s palace Gandhi suffered a grievous bereavement. Mahadev Desai, his faithful and able secretary, died of a heart attack. “Mahadev has lived up to the ‘do or die’ mantra,” Gandhi said. “This sacrifice will only hasten the day of India’s deliverance.” All over India there were strikes and disorder. Lord Linlithgow, the Viceroy, blamed Gandhi for all the turmoil. Gandhi had invited violence, he claimed. In a long series of letters to Lord Linlithgow, Gandhi tried to persuade him to retract this charge against him. Failing in this, Gandhi decided to undertake a fast as “an appeal to the Highest Tribunal” against the unjust charges. Gandhi fasted for 21 days in February, 1943. It was a great ordeal, but he survived the fast. Kasturbai nursed him back to health, but her own health was failing. She suffered two heart attacks. Gandhi tried his best to save

her, but Kasturbai grew worse. One day she died quietly in Gandhi’s arms. A few weeks later Gandhi was taken seriously ill with malaria. The Indian people demanded his immediate release and the authorities, believing that he was nearing death, released him. Gandhi was The Extraordinary Life and Times of Mahatma Gandhi is brought to you courtesy Mahatma Gandhi Library. slowly restored to health. The demand for Indian independence had now acquired worldwide interest. Apart from India’s own attitude, America and other countries started pressing Britain to grant freedom to India. But Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not yield to any of these approaches. India had always been the jewel in the British crown, crucial to the Britain’s prosperity. Churchill was the last man to think of giving up India. Two months after Germany’s

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surrender in May 1945, the Labour Party came into power in Britain and Clement Attlee became the Prime Minister. After the defeat of Japan in August that year, the British government announced that they expected to grant self-rule to India as soon as her internal problems could be solved. This was indeed a victory for India and a victory for the principle of nonviolence. Britain agreed to a planned withdrawal from India in friendship and with no bitterness. All through his life Gandhi had worked for unity between Hindus and Muslims, without much success. There was a large section of nationalist Muslim in the Congress but leaders of the Muslim League were drifting further and further away. Gandhi was not the man to give up hope, however, and he pursued his efforts to bring about a settlement. On the other hand, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, was hostile to the idea of unity. — To be continued

Shraddhanjali to Mahatma Gandhi Saturday, January 28, 2012 at Rose Garden Hermann Park

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Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

January 20, 2012

Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya MAHASIVARATRI

Come celebrate and receive Lord Siva’s grace and blessings Sunday, February 19, 2012 8:35 am - 10:15 am 11:15 am - 01:00 pm

Maha Mrtyunjaya Homa - Session 1 Maha Mrtyunjaya Homa - Session 2

( In Chinmaya Smrti Building 05:00 pm - 06:30 pm

Homa sponsorship: $21)

Pradosa - Rudrabhiseka in the Temple

Sivoham Come and enjoy a captivating dance drama on Lord Siva's glorious attributions and different facets. The theme skillfully depicts the Lord’s mysticism as conceived and presented by renowned: Dr. Rathna Kumar and Anjali Center of Performing Arts 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Stafford Civic Center Tickets: $10, $20 and VIP (1415 Constitution Avenue Stafford, TX 77477) For Tickets and information, Contact: Rina Merchant 281- 265 - 3529

Monday, February 20, 2012 9:00 am 7:30 pm 7:00 pm 10:00 pm 10:30 pm

( Temple Hours 8:00am to Midnight ) - 11:30 am Mahanyasa purvaka Rudrabhiseka - 10:30 pm Laghunyasa purvaka Ekadasa Rudrabhiseka - 9:45 pm Ksirabhiseka to Utsava Murti of Lord Siva - 10:30 pm Arati & Prasada - 11:45 pm Meditation followed by midnight Arati

( Rudrabhiseka puja sponsorship with Ksirabhiseka Seva: $21 per family ) ( Milk for abhiseka will be provided by temple )

Chinmaya Mission Houston 10353 Synott Road Sugar Land, TX 77478 281-568-1690 Contact: Jay Deshmukh 832-541-0059 Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


14 January 20, 2012 presents: Annual PCC Night 2012...

Lohri Celebration

Please join us for an entertaining, musical, life-filled event…

Entertainment by: Riyaaz Qawwali

(Hosted by Punjabi Culture Club – Houston)






ON SUNDAY JANUARY 22, 2012 at INDIA HOUSE 8888 West Belfort, Houston TX 77031

Time: 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm

You should attend the seminar if you have in India or anywhere outside the USA: •Bank Accounts •Rental and Investment Property •Stocks, Bonds & Mutual Funds •Full or Partial Business Ownership including Active or Passive Partnerships •Inherited Property •Post Office Account •Interest, Dividend, Capital Gain, Pension and other income. LIMITED SEATING, Pre Registration Strongly Recommended To register email or gopiohouston, GOPIO: Mahesh Shah, President, 713 256 5441 Chad Patel, Vice President 832 217 7045 IACCGH: Ajit Thakur CPA, President, Jagdip Ahluwalia, Executive Director, Tel: 713 624 7131 Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


January 20, 2012

masala r radio and naach aach Houston Bring Bollywood to IK IKeA

By kalyani giri HOUSTON: Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar is a born showman, a quick-thinker with an irrepressibly upbeat personality that can easily coax a smile onto the most stoic of faces. This past weekend on January 15, he brought his bonhomie and bold Bollywood beats to the Swedish superstore IKEA at Katy Freeway and regaled a diverse, multicultural and multi-generational crowd for several hours on the store’s busiest and biggest sales event of the year. With the Masala Radio Hummer occupying a visible spot on the sidewalk in front of the store, Thakkar teamed up with vibrant young dance company, Naach Houston, and commandeered the upper level of IKEA for a rousingly fun afternoon. With popular movie songs permeating

the store and shoppers rapher/dancer Mahesh Mahbubani. With stopping by to try out Thakkar urging the participants to dance the moves, it turned with “energy, enthusiasm, and excitement”, out to be a largely in- the revelry was infectious. He did on the teractive event that saw spot interviews, asked contestants what they Thakkar encouraging liked about IKEA, and got some surprising people of all ages to answers; many responded that they liked try the Bollywood the food at the store’s cafeteria best, while dance steps under the others talked about the “cool stuff” that the tutorship of Naach store sold. Thakkar gave winners gift cerHouston’s Star Gilani, tificates to restaurants, month-long dance Hasina Sadiwala, and classes with Naach Houston, and CDs of Shahbaz Rajabali, to Bollywood music. “This is all about being out here and gettunes spun by DJ Zee. Special guest artist to ting involved with the larger Houston comMasala Event Coordinator Riya Sangani, Masala Radio CEO Naach Houston’s en- munity,” said Thakkar, who along with his Sunil Thakkar, IKEA Manager Kim Castillo, Masala Radio Traf- deavor was popular wife Sandhya branded Masala Radio into a T:10” fic Manager Nimi Lokhandwala Bollywood choreog- household name through astute marketing Photos: Krishna Giri


and a hard work ethic in the past 18 years. Anil Rana, president of Naach Houston, was glad for the positive message generated by the event. “It’s a multi-cultural experience and we are about connecting communities and bridging cultures, it’s truly been a great af afternoon,” said Rana. IKEA advertized their annual sale with only two radio stations, Masala Radio, and with 104.1 KRBE. Earlier in the day, 104.1 KRBE’s Roula and Ryan were on site, followed by Masala Radio’s program. IKEA recognized the significance of drawing the flourishing South Asian clientele to the store, said Sandhya. “We’ve had more affinity toward the South Asian market from 1993, when we started, but after 2011, we’re broadening our reach,” said Sandhya. “Sunil has the ability to straddle the cultures and find common ground with just about anyone. While we may not become mainstream anytime soon, we are trying to make our presence felt, and the radio is a strong catalyst,” she added. Kim Castillo, Marketing Manager at IKEA, said that she hoped Masala Radio would be more than just an annual appearance at the store. “We’re excited and thrilled to be working with Sunil and his team,” said Castillo. “They echo the creative spirit of IKEA with their fun attitude and innovative ideas,” she added. Masala Radio broadcasts Mondays through Friday from 4.00pm – 8.00pm on 10.90 AM. And Saturdays from 11.00am – 5.00pm on 14.80 AM. For more information visit




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Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


16 January 20, 2012

Hullaballoo, defections and money Power mark elections in Five Indian states s By raJ kanwar ian india CorreSpondent The ongoing electioneering in the five of the Indian states has caused much hullaballoo and mutual mud-slinging among the numerous political parties that are in the fray. Whether it is a discussion on news channels or exchange of charges and countercharges at public meetings and through press conferences, it is virtually a game of one-upmanship at which “holier than thou attitude” is all pervasive. Watching a couple of the exclusive ‘vote shows’ on news channels, one feels sad at the utter lack of decorum and absence of logic whatsoever in the discussion amongst the supporters or spokespersons of rival political parties. A nauseating feature about 690 outgoing legislators in these five state assemblies is that nearly 35% of them have known criminal records under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Some of these criminal offences are of serious nature. Incidentally, among the legislators who had themselves declared in their signed affidavits the nature of the cases of criminal offences pending against them is the former Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who was involved in three cases including one of serious nature. Another BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi had also declared three criminal cases against himself. In Uttar Pradesh, the top three ‘criminal legislators are Dhirendra Pratap Singh (BSP) with 29 cases, Sushil Kumar (BSP) with 14 cases and Ram Prakash Yadav (Congress) with 11. Likewise in the Punjab, Captain Balbir Singh Bath and Nirmal Singh Kahlon, (both of Shrimoni Akali Dal), were too involved in

Chief Election Officer Quereshi - man in the hot seat

criminal cases. Other statistics made available by Association for Democratic Rights reveal that 35% of these retiring legislators are also crorepatis (crore = 10 million). The number of these millionaires is the largest in the Punjab at 67% while in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur their percentage is 25 and two respectively. Interestingly, 235 legislators out of a total of 690 do not pay income tax and do not even possess PAN card which is an essential requirement even for opening a bank account. Another worrying figure says that only 5% of these MLAs were women. The ongoing elections are notable for money muscle and rumors are doing the rounds about the liberal and open distribution of money and lucre among the ‘have

not’ voters as also promises and IOUs galore to influential constituents with sizeable vote bank at their beck and call. The Election Commission has issued strict instructions to the chiefs of state election units to keep a close watch on movement of large amounts of currency in their respective states. As a result, the police have seized substantial cash amount in the election-bound states. A total sum of rupees 250 million in Uttar Pradesh, nearly 90 million in the Punjab and just about three million in Uttarakhand was seized by the police and the couriers who could not explain the source of the large amounts they were carrying were arrested. Interestingly, the richest of the legislators belong to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party

(BSP) which is currently in power in Uttar Pradesh (UP). In UP and Uttarakhand two of the top three richest MLAs are from BSP while the top most is from the Congress. It may be noted that in Uttarakhand, BSP has just a hand full of legislators. The situation in Punjab is entirely different where three of the richest legislators owe their allegiance to Congress; the richest being Amarinder Singh, the former chief minister and erstwhile ruler of the princely state of Patiala. The election results this time will be influenced to some extent by defections in all political parties in different degrees; many of these defectors have filed their nomination papers as independents while others have crossed over the political divide and joined the rival parties. How much of the vote these defectors and independence will be able to muster will ultimately decide the fate of the major political parties in closely fought seats. Meanwhile, chief election commissioner Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi has annoyed the Bahujan Samaj Party in UP by ordering the draping of statues of Mayawati and Elephants (which is BSP’s election symbol). Mayawati on her birthday on 15 January called it an illegal and anti-Dalit Act. Other political parties however support Quraishi’s injunction. Quraishi as the chief election commissioner, like his predecessors, has a tough job on hand but he seems determined to ensure violence-free elections. He and his representatives in the states are keeping a close watch on the expenses being incurred by the contesting candidates on their election campaigns.

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20, 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


January 20, 2012

microsoft’s Bill Gates talks m t a about His Philanthropy

By Bill Gates Founder, MicrosoFt corp (Mint) It is an honour to follow so many thoughtful contributors to this series on philanthropy. People like Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal, Shiv Nadar and Rohini Nilekani exemplify a generation of leaders who are building on India’s heritage of philanthropy, with a contemporary and uniquely Indian perspective. One thing that occurred to me as I was reading the essays was that philanthropy, regardless of where it happens, shares certain commonalities—an acknowledgement of the humanity that binds us all together and a desire to translate good fortune into actions that serve the greatest possible good. I grew up in a family where giving back to society—whether through volunteer time or financial resources—was just part of what you did. At the dinner table, both of my parents talked frequently about their volunteer work with non-profits and their advocacy work for children and the less fortunate in our community. Community service was also an important part of Melinda’s upbringing; so even when we were still just engaged to be married, we talked about our responsibility to give back the great majority of our wealth—even though at that point we didn’t know exactly how or when we’d do it. Anyone who wants to seriously engage in giving faces two important questions: where can you make the biggest impact, and how do you structure your giving so it’s effective. Our viewpoint evolved over time, but there was a real turning point when we read an article about rotavirus, a disease that was pretty much a non-event in the United States, but which still killed a half-million children a year in the developing world. It seemed impossible to us that it was receiving so little worldwide attention. And so we dug in, learnt a lot more about the

problem, and eventually began a serious effort to reduce childhood mortality worldwide. Today, the framework that guides our giving is based on the simple premise that everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. Given the resources at our disposal, we believed we could make the biggest difference by concentrating in three areas: global health, global development, and in the US, education. Half our foundation’s funds are spent addressing global health problems, with a focus on malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases. Twenty-five per cent of the foundation’s funds assist the poorest people in the world in ways other than healthcare through development projects. And the other 25% is devoted to improving public education in the US, where, in spite of our nation’s great wealth, our education system continues to fail too many of our children. A few basic principles guide the way in which we give. Our approach emphasizes partnerships, and looks to foster innovation, often pursuing new technologies or delivery

Anyone who wants to seriously engage in giving faces two important questions: where can you make the biggest impact, and how do you structure your giving so it’s effective. schemes. For example, in India, we have enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the National AIDS Control Organisation to scale up HIV prevention through the Avahan India AIDS initiative. More recently, we entered a partnership with the government of Bihar—a state at the frontier of global polio efforts—to improve health and nutrition, particularly for mothers and children under five. Melinda and I are looking forward to getting a chance to see first-hand how some of these programmes are working in our visit this week to India. We try to apply new thinking and approaches


to solving big problems, which sometimes means taking calculated risks on promising ideas. We set goals and are quite serious about measuring our results. Often, this means attempting to be a catalyst by investing in areas where governments can’t or won’t invest, or where there is a vacuum or failure in the mar marketplace. Diseases that affect the poor are a great case in point. Rich-world diseases attract research investments that dwarf the money going to problems like kala-azar or rotavirus. (Think of how much more money goes to curing male pattern baldness than malaria!) As a foundation, we have the chance to help address that inequality. The question of risk is something we think about a lot. Warren Buffett, our good friend and the third trustee of our foundation, reminds us that failure will be part of any bold approach. “You can have a perfect batting average (admittedly, he’s talking about baseball here, not cricket) by not doing anything too important. Or you’ll bat something less than that if you take on the really tough problems.” We’re willing to accept failure at times in the name of trying new things to solve old and dif difficult problems. At the end of the day, what draws people to philanthropy is something universal—the connection to other human beings and the desire to make a difference. This is what tugs at people and that makes them want to get involved, to imagine how they can help create a better world. As the Mahatma once said: “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” For me, philanthropy is a responsibility, a passion, and an honour. And so far as I can continued on page 19

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20 , 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

18 January 20, 2012 martial differences

If a Martian wanted to find out one fundamental difference between India and Pakistan, all he would need to do is pick up the paper and look at yesterday’s two top stories both involving army chiefs of the two countries. Pakistan first. While the latest turn of events has pitted Pakistan’s civilian government — itself a giveaway term that suggests that there could be any other kind of government in that country — against its judiciary, the real wrangle is between President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistani army led by Ashfaq Kayani. In ‘better’ times, General Kayani would have been able to conduct a coup and get things back in order, if only for a while. This time, however, in a scenario where the army is livid at Mr Zardari for secretly passing on a memo to the American administration seeking protection against an, um, army coup, as well busy facing off hordes of Islamicist extremists, the Pakistani military is in the news for less capable reasons. In contrast, the news that the Indian army chief is making across the border has little to do with a genuine, institutional stand-off with the government — yes, the only one India ever had was the civilian government. It’s about General VK Singh insisting that he’s a year younger than the government believes he is. He has now gone to court over what is a human resource quarrel about whether he should stay on as Chief of Army Staff for another year or not. Despite what army canteen rum-drinkers insist about the issue signalling a breakdown in the Indian Army-government relations, this isn’t what one may call the stuff of constitutional crises. So in a snapshot, one can get the relationship that both ‘democracies’ have with their armed forces. If the Pakistani example triggers a nostalgia for the army’s ability to become the (strict) adults necessary when the children are making a mess of things, the Indian example shows that the army has a more specialised role in the country. And that this birth certificate imbroglio is just a sideshow worthy of bureaucrats. - Hindustan Times


i takes it t two to tango t t By Karan thapar How can we ensure 2012 is better than the year we’ve just, thankfully, left behind? That’s a question most of us will have asked ourselves in the last week. And not just in India but, probably, internationally. After all, whether you’re Pakistani, British, French, Russian or American, 2011 was one of the worst most people can remember. For us, in India, a lot depends on the performance of the government and the message that it sends out. A government that knows what it wants and is determined to get it can give a sense of purpose and direction to the country. A floundering and indecisive administration which is what we had last year creates not just disappointment and disillusionment but, very possibly, depression. I would say nothing will more convince the media and the chattering classes that the Manmohan Singh-led UPA has found a new resolve than an assertive and successful push ahead with reforms. We don’t need ministers talking about FDI in retail, GST, DTC, pension, banking and insurance reforms. We’ve had that till we’ve begun to disbelieve it. We need action

i.e. delivery. Why do I pick this basket of reforms? Because they would galvanise the economy, cheer-up industrialists, win the praise of the newspapers and news channels and make the middle class believe fresh life has been breathed into the flagging India story. Of course, India needs other reforms and some hold they are more important than the ones I’ve chosen. But these would be the best bet to change the image of the government and the mood of the country. That’s why I list them first. Then, no doubt, the others would have to follow. But the problem is these reforms are stuck in Parliament or held up by the government’s own allies. To realise them Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has to break two political logjams. Will he? Or, do I mean, can he? I fear it’s the latter. Let me explain. What’s needed is for the government to reach out — to the BJP, in Parliament, and its allies, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in particular, in the UPA. Alas, this is easier said than done. Because for seven years the Congress has treated the BJP as political pariahs while UPA 2, if the TMC is to be believed,

has taken it for granted. What should be obvious seems to be either forgotten or ignored. A party that depends on its allies cannot afford to upset them. Mamata is awkward and troublesome, no doubt, but she has to be mollified if the government is to deliver. The policy paralysis of last year cannot continue. By the same token, if you cannot carry your allies with you then you must find a way of reaching out to the BJP. Yashwant Sinha doesn’t deny that the roadblocks his party has placed can be shifted by a different political approach. I’m told all of this will only happen if two people accept the need for it. They’re Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. They must first believe that the economic reforms I’ve identified are a priority for the government to really push for them. Only then will it ef effectively reach out to its allies and opponents to secure their passage. In which case 2012 begins not with Singh but the Gandhi duo. They can ensure this is a better year or just a repeat of the one before. Will they? I don’t know but I hope ‘friends’ who claim the Gandhis have other priorities are wrong. - Hindustan Times

Behind the cricket c collapse

Indian cricket is at a critical juncture. The innings defeat in Perth — the seventh successive Test loss overseas, caused by another failure of the batting in the face of consistent, quality bowling — was an illustration of how far the former World No.1 has fallen. It was not just that India was stripped of its crown in England; the abjectness of the performances in these seven Tests has made people wonder how on earth the honour was earned in the first place. That is an unfair view. In the decade since the turn of the millennium, India under Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and M.S. Dhoni added another string to its bow. Traditionally very difficult to beat at home, India began to travel assuredly. Series wins in Pakistan, the West Indies, England, and New Zealand materialised; there were also defining drawn series in Australia and South Africa, the first to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the second to hold on to the No.1 ranking.

India began 2011 with a Caribbean win, but gloom descended thereafter. Unlike in England, where injuries mitigated the dejection of defeat slightly, there has been no place to turn to for comfort inAustralia. For the current squad is India’s best at the moment; the critical mass, the great batsmen and the bowling spearhead, hasn’t changed greatly from the team that had success abroad in the previous decade. This, however, isn’t a time for panic. Annihilation can be dispiriting, but it cleanses the mind, creates space for renewal. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case with the BCCI, judging from the tenor of the Board’s awards ceremony in Chennai (where there was no reference to the 4-0 drubbing in England) and other indications. When England suffered a clean sweep in Australia, it commissioned the Schofield Report; when Australia then lost the Ashes at home, it put in place the Argus Review. There was systemic change, envisioned

and executed by passionate, intelligent, thoughtful people. Thus far the reaction of India’s cricket administration has been near-sighted. India got to No.1 because a group of extraordinarily skilled, singularly determined cricketers rose above the system. But dominance was always going to be beyond them; it required the next generation, developed in a world-class structure and transitioned seamlessly into Test cricket. But the BCCI wasn’t proactive. Several long-term issues remain as a result. The most important is the quality of pitches domestic cricket is played on, for this has the most direct influence on bowlers and batsmen. The very structure of domestic cricket and the priorities in scheduling the three formats also need rethinking. In the short term, a transition needs planning. It will be a test of the Board’s intent and intelligence, and a portent of India’s cricket future. - The Hindu

I Indo Am American News Founder: dr. K.L. Sindwani

editor: Pramod KuLKarni BuSineSS manager: Jawahar maLhotra managing Partner: KriShna giri Community rePorter: KaLyani giri Community editor: manaSi goKhaLe adminiStrative manager: vanShiKa viPin BuSineSS & reCreation: JaCoB david graPhiC deSign: SaqiB rana correspondents chicago: nand Kapoor, UK: aseem KUlKarni new delhi: raj Kanwar ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. The deadline for advertising and articles is 5 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 262, Houston, Texas 77036. Tel: 713-789-NEWS or 6397 Fax: 713-789-6399, email:, website:

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20 , 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


January 20, 2012

Guru Gobind s singh’s ingh’s 346th Birthday c celebrated at sikh s center c

HOUSTON: The devoted Sikh community of the Greater Houston area celebrated the birthday of the faith’s tenth and final guru who set forth its tenets that are still followed today at the Sikh Center of Gulf Coast from January 5 to 8. The auspicious occasion of Guru Gobind Singh’s 346th birthday was celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion and attended by a large number from the community. Guru Gobind Singh was a man who was born a mortal but through his sheer force of character became immortal. He was born a prince, but chose to remain a saint whom circumstances turned into a warrior. He battled with small forces that were big with the spirit he injected in them, allowing them to win big battles, but he still refused to acquire even an inch of territory. Son of a martyr, great grandson of a martyr, Guru Gobind Singh laid not only himself at the altar of God but all his four sons in order to save Hindus and Sikhs alike. The Sikh Center celebrations included a Keertan Ragi by Bhai Manjit Singh & Company on Thursday, January 5. The Siri Akhand Path was sponsored by Jarnail Singh and family was held on Friday, January 6. On Sunday, January 8, the Bhog Sri Akhand Path was held at 10am allowed by the Nishan Sahib Sewa by Gurpinder Singh and family and a Keertan sponsored by Ragi Bhai Manjit Singh & company. Following the services, a discourse on Guru Gobind Singh was presented by Dr. Sukhminder Singh, a pioneer of the Sikh Center, who was visiting from California. He delivered a very powerful message urging Sikh to follow the example of the Jewish leaders, who were thrown out of every country during World War II.

Upon arriving in the United States, the Jews set their eyes on higher goals to get into media business and higher learning to gain recognition. He pointed out that Sikhs need to aim for excellence in education to go to

the length to earn a Nobel Prize. He also emphasized that Sikhs need to build a character, as inspired by the Ten Gurus, for the world see that they are distinguished people who can be accomplished as well as moral.

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Bill Gates: The most Gratifying Job on earth continued from page


tell—after being a parent—it’s the most gratifying job on earth. A SENSE OF URGENCY The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a structure that Indian philanthropists may want to ponder upon. Bill and Melinda Gates have a sense of urgency about the social problems they are hoping to solve. Accordingly, the foundation


will spend all of its resources within 50 years after their deaths. In addition, Warren Buffett has stipulated that the proceeds from the Berkshire Hathaway shares he still owns are to be used for philanthropic purposes within 10 years after his estate has been settled. The decision to not exist in perpetuity reflects the belief that a window of opportunity exists now to reduce some of the world’s greatest inequities. The trio believe that

this is a unique time in history. They argue that advances in technology and communications mean that great minds can be brought together from around the world to find solutions to very complex problems. They have put much of their money behind this thinking. Very few philanthropic organizations around the world have created such a structure, which in essence, is a huge bet that solutions will come, and soon.

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n Jacksonville Jaguars owner new o shahid Khan s claims real Fans are season-Ticket Holders

By Ben Maller (The Post Game) Jacksonville has a new NFL owner and a new head coach. But now it also has new PR problems. Not only was the hire of coach Mike Mularkey panned by critics Wednesday, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is in serious damage control mode after his comments about what makes a fan of his team. Khan explained just what it takes to be a Jaguars fan, in his opinion: “I think I can clarify at this point for me a fan is somebody who is a season ticket holder fan for the Jaguars,” said the new owner. “We want to hear from people, we want a huge amount of constructive feedback. We need input, but we need that from fans who are season ticket holders.” So the implication is if you’re down on your luck and can’t afford season tickets in a state hit hard by the recession, you’re not a true fan. Considering the Jaguars finished 24th in attendance in 2011, that’s a pretty small number of supporters. Khan wouldn’t speak on camera to First Coast News about the backlash,

but his representative spinned the dis as an “off-the-cuff comment.” The Jags owner did pop on local radio in Jacksonville to clarify his position. In a prepared statement sent to First Coast News from Jim Woodcock, Khan’s representative, the owner said: “All it takes to be a Jaguars fan is to love the Jaguars. And if you love the Jaguars, you’re the most important person to me and the entire organization.”

Khan also told Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union he wasn’t worried about negative feedback on social media for his decision to hire a retread coach who failed in Buffalo. In fact, he compared it to his own situation. “When Wayne (Weaver) announced he was selling, probably more than half [the fans on social media] said, ‘Oh my God, this is disaster. The team’s going to move. Who’s this guy coming in? Are we going to have beer in the stadium? Oh gee, it’s a Muslim,’” Khan told Ganguli. “The social media was abuzz with that. That’s great if half thought it was good for the team being sold. We only have to work on the other half. This (coaching hire) is just like that.” Born in Pakistan, Khan made his fortune in the automobile parts industry in Chicago. He’s the first person from an ethnic minority to have ownership of an NFL franchise. He paid $760 million to purchase the Jags. Jacksonville finished the 2011 season with a 5-11 record and the NFL’s 29th best scoring offense at 15.2 points per game.

By yudhvir rana AMRITSAR (TOI): “The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has asked France to submit a report by March 15 on measures it is planning to take against violation of religious freedom of 76-year-old Ranjit Singh, who was asked to remove his turban for an ID photo” informed Mejinder Mejinderpal Kaur, legal director of Sikh NGO, United Sikh on Thursday. Following this observation of UNHRC, the Sikhs had won the turban case against France at UN, Mejinderpal Kaur added. Quoting the media conference held in Bobigny, near Paris, by the United

Sikhs legal team that had filed a communication in December 2008 on beahlf of Ranjit Singh, she said the UNHRC had concluded that France had violated the religous freedom of Ranjit Singh. The committee observed that France had failed to explain how the turban hindered identification since the wearer’s face would be visible and he would be wearing the turban at all times, she said. She also conveyed the reaction of Ranjit Singh, who said “I had faith that truth and justice would prevail and I patiently waited for this day. I pray that France will now fulfil its obligation and grant me a residence

card bearing my photo without baring my head.” Mejinderpal Kaur said that they were happy with the Committee’s observations that France was under obligation to provide Ranjit Singh with an effective remedy, including a reconsideration of his application for renewal of residence permit and a review of the relevant legislative framework and its application in practice. “We now look to France to fulfill its treaty obligations under International law and its moral duty to ensure that the freedom of religion and belief is upheld for everyone who lives within its territory,” she added.

Shahid Khan

20 January 20, 2012


s w sikh wins Turban case ase against France in U Un

Apologize for offensive o sshow, India tells BBc

LONDON (TOI): India has demanded an apology from the BBC over its presenter Jeremy Clarkson mocking Indian culture during a Christmas special program while driving around the country, calling it a “breach” of agreement. Clarkson, one of the highest paid BBC presenters known for his controversial comments, presented the Top Gear programme, which since its broadcast prompted several complaints and allegations of racism. In its January 6 letter to the programme’s producer, Chris Hale, and copied to Mark Thompson, director-general of BBC, the high commission said the BBC was “clearly in breach of the agreement that you had entered into, completely negating our constructive and proactive facilitation”. The letter added: “The programme was replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity. This is not clearly what we expect of the BBC. I write this to convey our deep disappointment over the documentary for its content and the tone of the presentation”. In the programme, Clarkson allegedly made controversial comments about India’s trains, toilets, clothing, food and

India has demanded an apology from the BBC over its presenter Jeremy Clarkson mocking Indian culture during a Christmas special program while driving around the country.

history. The BBC has confirmed receiving 23 complaints about the programme, and added that it would directly respond to the Indian high commission’s letter. Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who called for a BBC apology when the programme was broadcast over Christmas, told The Telegraph last night: “It seems

that the reasons given by the BBC in order to obtain their visas to go to India did not disclose the true nature of the content of this programme.” “One ridiculous programme has done a lot of damage to this good relationship. A swift apology from the BBC and Mr Clarkson may go some way towards restoring our good relations and the reputation of the BBC in India,” Vaz added. Before leaving for India, Hale had informed the high commission in a letter dated 21 July that the trip was intended to be “light hearted... focusing on the journey and the inevitable idiosyncracies of the cars they will drive, as well as the country and the scenery we see along the way”. Clarkson was accompanied by two presenters, Richard Hammond and James May. Hale’s letter added: “There will be spontaneous interaction between the presenters and their environment, and potentially people they meet along the way. This will be in an incidental manner, not interviews. Key ingredients of what we film will be beautiful scenery, busy city scenes, local charm and colour within these locations, areas to illustrate the local car culture that exists in India.”

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JAnUAry 20 , 2012 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


January 20, 2012

Kiran nagarkar’s w wonder Boys Ravan and Eddie


The author’s long-awaited new novel follows the child-heroes of ‘Ravan and Eddie’ into adulthood (Mint) In 1995, one of Marathi literature’s wunderkinds published his first novel in more than 20 years. Kiran Nagarkar’s Ravan and Eddie had had an adventurous gestation. It had begun in Nagarkar’s earliest drafts, in the 1970s, as a Marathi novel, morphed into a screenplay— never filmed—a few years after that, and finally seen the light of day as an English novel about two children born on different floors of the Central Works Department (CWD) chawl in Mazgaon, fated to hate each other even as their lives intertwined. It may be in keeping with the history of this classic of Indian English writing that Ravan and Eddie’s sequel, The Extras, comes out a mere 17 years after the first. In it, “the boys” have grown up, and are hurtling towards their respective doom in startlingly similar ways. Ravan Pawar is trying to keep control of the Cum September Jai Bharat Band, while Eddie Coutinho leads the Bandra Bombshells at Catholic weddings. The Bombay of the 1960s is grinding away at their new adulthood, but also encouraging them to dream of movie-star glory. It is a different book from its predecessor, but the adult Ravan and Eddie have been with Nagarkar for at least as long as the schoolboys of the first book. “My original screenplay was not about the children,” explains Nagarkar in a conversation which began at last month’s Goa Arts and Literary Festival in Panaji,

and spilled over, in the week before The Extras’ release, to his home in south Mumbai. “They appeared in the opening sequence, and then, as we do so often in our movies, came the titles, after which you saw them as grown-ups.” The grown-ups never made it to Ravan and Eddie. “I don’t know if it was fatigue or not, but somewhere, someone as completely incapable of any kind of foresight as I, actually realized that if I was going to do them together, this would not be a 600-page book.” Since 1995, life—and a couple of other novels—has repeatedly run interference with the telling of their tale. “I always maintain that writing is an act of masochism,” Nagarkar says. “I’ve never gotten over having been foolhardy enough to continue to write.” Nagarkar is an artist of the deadpan, in conversation as in writing. His international critics have compared his wit to Cervantes and Italo Calvino. With two remarkable works coming out in the 1990s—Ravan and Eddie was followed, in 1997, by the Sahitya Akademi award-winning Cuckold— he was, for a time, categorized with contemporary Indian practitioners of the form who were also producing big novels in that time. But he shares even fewer similarities with Vikram Seth and Salman Rushdie than they do with each other. In retrospect, it

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is far more accurate to locate Nagarkar’s deadpan in the milieu of the great bilingual poets of Mumbai, Arun Kolatkar and Dilip Chitre, and their wry, angry, tender world view. His books are full of characters who are traitors to their identities, passion-

ate lovers and bitter misanthropes. The residents of Ravan and Eddie’s neighbourhood are every bit as fragile as they are cruel. God’s Little Soldier (2006) is about a religious zealot whose instinct for extremism does not change even as he changes faiths; the central figures of Cuckold are the saint-poet Mirabai and her husband the crown prince of Chittor, who is tormented not only by his wife’s disengagement from his world, but by the fact that he is himself devoted to the god Krishna, in whose favour ‘the Little Saint’ has spurned him. All their worlds are brutal—indeed, nowhere is this clearer than in the CWD chawl—but Nagarkar’s humane imagination never allows them to be pathologized. Great tragedies unfold in narratives stuffed with jokes, asides and snark; Nagarkar’s novels contain plenty of grief, but are totally devoid of melancholia. In his friend and long-standing colleague Kolatkar’s poems, humour is the edge of the knife; in Nagarkar’s novels, it is a battleaxe. Nagarkar wrote his first Marathi stories at Dilip Chitre’s prompting, for Abhiruchi, a magazine edited by Chitre’s father. It is an enduring surprise—“perhaps one of the happiest accidents of my life”—that he produced his first published works in his mother tongue. Born in 1942, he had been to English schools all his life, and studied English literature, briefly at St Xavier’s in Mumbai, and then at Fergusson College in Pune. This was where the privilege of English became a problem. “Once they realized I was from Xavier’s, and I spoke English, I was completely…” Nagarkar pauses, and begins to laugh. “I was way beyond isolated. Nobody would talk to me. And it was such a good thing they did. I was forced to go to the library because there was no one to horse around with, which

is what I specialize in. So I went to this august library, where you go to the basement and find books which (Gopal Ganesh) Agarkar and (Bal Gangadhar) Tilak had borrowed. Can you believe it?” That is how Nagarkar first became a serious reader, and perhaps how he began to acquire a stake in his mother tongue. Saat Sakkam Trechalis, his 1973 debut (translated in English as Seven SixesAre Forty-Three), is considered a Marathi landmark, equalled only by his contemporary Bhalchandra Nemade’s Kosala (Cocoon). “An absolute stunner, supposed to have reinvented the language, etcetera,” Nagarkar says of the reviews. “But what was the point?” In 1978, Nagarkar’s Marathi play, Bedtime Story, brought together four stories from the Mahabharat to explore ideas of personal responsibility. The political reaction to the play in post-Emergency India was vicious. Mauled by censors, who made 78 cuts, some of them page-length, in a 74-page play, its actors and producers were threatened with physical violence. “How would any stupid courage have helped?” he remembers. It was never rehearsed, and Nagarkar, to employ his own word, “withdrew”. His next published work would be Ravan and Eddie. In a repetition of history which could come from one of Nagarkar’s own novels, it set Marathi-language criticism alight once again, this time among an intelligentsia who resented what they saw as his rejection of Marathi. Will he write a play again? “Given another 80 very healthy years, I would very much like to go back to drama,” he says gravely. Nonetheless, the orality of drama is evident in his novels, and Nagarkar invokes the oral tradition when he talks of his own writing (the epics, Western and Indian, are a great source of inspiration). His novels are certainly speech-inflected. Ravan and Eddie, Cuckold and God’s Little Soldier all talk themselves up to full speed, with characters chattering, mimicking and talking over each other constantly, like particularly gifted salesmen in busy markets. At their worst, the barrage of double adjectives and qualifying clauses can become wearying unless they are read aloud. At their best, they achieve a superb conversationality. “I don’t read much here, but all my

work is meant to be read out loud,” he says. Nagarkar’s books never have blockbuster openings (“I’m used to my books dying the minute they’re born.”). But Saat Sakkam Trechalis, Ravan and Eddie and Cuckold have all had long and influential afterlives. God’s Little Soldier, on the other hand, met with critical indifference in India, although it has achieved acclaim in the US and Europe— two separate programmes, at Cornell University and in Zurich even set the Kabir of the novel to original music. The story of a young extremist who barrels through a series of epiphanies that take him from fundamentalist Islam to extreme versions of Christianity and Hinduism, perhaps the novel suffered, among other things, from its timing. Its first draft had been written in 2000—“840 pages,” Nagarkar says—but the book appeared in 2005, well after the global conversation about religious fundamentalism had fractured under the weight of post-11 September 2001 politics. Nagarkar’s central anxiety, in all these works, has been about human responsibility, and the role of individual action in large destinies. “The notion of responsibility I was talking about in Bedtime Story stayed with me,” he says. “My stance is that if anything happens anywhere in the world, you and I are responsible for it. Iraq? Afghanistan? There’s no question of not being responsible. We often say when we talk about the Nazis: How could the Germans have done it? It wasn’t the Germans. It was us.” This butterfly-effect morality may, at first glance, seem too exhaustingly comprehensive to be useful. But Nagarkar’s work has always been about the push and pull of this idea with reality. The Maharaj Kumar of Cuckold competes with a god, and the CWD chawl boys grow up in a world where human kindness is as precarious as the morning’s water supply. These characters are both symbols and witnesses of human frailty. But Nagarkar’s anger at the world which they inhabit is a cleansing anger. He makes us laugh with them so that we enter into their tragedies. Like Ravan and Eddie, The Extras takes up the same nagging questions, transmuted now from the dangers of childhood to those of adulthood. In a city where everyone is in someone else’s hair, who isn’t responsible for their neighbours?

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23 India w wins the Battle Against Polio: no new n cases in 2011


January 20, 2012

By niK iKhila Khila Gill (NYT) Today marks the first full year in India’s history when no new polio cases have been recorded, a milestone that just a few years ago seemed India might not reach. Polio has largely been eradicated, nation by nation, since vaccines for the disease were discovered in the 1950s. In India, new cases dropped significantly through the 1980s and 1990s, but picked up again in 2002 as rumors spread through Muslim communities that the vaccine could, among other things, make children sterile. In 2009, India accounted for nearly half of the world’s polio cases. Rotary International, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization have been key to eradicating the disease in India, health experts say, using a combination of advocacy, social awareness and many millions of dollars in funding. “The strongest opposition against the vaccination drive was from religious minority groups, particularly in Uttar Pradesh,” said Deepak Kapur, chairman of Rotary International’s India PolioPlus Committee. The campaign was perceived, especially by Muslim communities, as a collaboration with a foreign government to limit their population, he said. Misinformation about the ingredients of the vaccine, which was rumored to contain haraam (forbidden) components, was also rampant.

and by 2010 that number had dropped to just a few dozen. While a year without polio cases is an achievement, health experts says, the handful of remaining polio-endemic countries, which include Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, still pose a signifi-

cant risk to India’s polio-free status. Neighboring Pakistan reported 192 cases in 2011. “We have to keep up the immunization efforts for the next three years and valiantly guard against the reintroduction of the virus,” Jafari said.

i indian cab driver a arrested on c charges of rape r

School children hold placards during a polio awareness campaign at the Saint Francis girls high school in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

To separate fiction from fact, Rotary International set up a committee of Muslim ulema, or religious scholars, in Uttar Pradesh, with representation from every district in the state. A significant breakthrough came when the head cleric at the Idgah in Lucknow, an important religious center, fed his grandson the oral vaccine in front of 3,000 followers. Another high-risk subgroup in India was migrant laborers and their families, who helped spread the disease and were difficult to track. Anti-polio campaigners reached them by scheduling vaccines for festive holidays, when laborers often return to their home states to see family. “So far, 4.2 million migrant children have been vaccinated” in India, said Hamid Ja-

fari, project manager for the National Polio Surveillance Project run by the World Health Organization. The trials were not limited to social and political impediments; there were also scientific hurdles, Mr. Jafari said. The vaccination had to be changed a number of times, he said, to address different strains of polio that had developed, which involved extensive research. The Indian government also played a crucial role. India had the “highest level of political commitment to the program,” Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Friday in a press release issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. India reported 741 new polio cases in 2009, nearly half the global cases,

NEW YORK (TOI): An Indian cab driver has been arrested on charges that he raped and robbed a 26-year-old passenger in his taxi last year. Gurmeet Singh, 40, had allegedly held his victim at knifepoint and bound her wrists. He faces charges of rape, assault and robbery among others. The woman had told the police that she fell asleep after she got into Singh’s cab on her way back to her home one night in May last year. When she woke up Singh allegedly held her at knifepoint and raped her, The New York Post reported.

Singh, who is a Sikh, also stole her cellphone and some cash before letting her go in the morning. Police officers had posed as city taxi commission inspectors to get evidence that Singh was the cab driver they were looking for. They matched his DNA, obtained through a glass of water they had offered to him, with evidence uncovered in the police investigation of the sex assault. Singh has been driving a cab since 1999 and his license was suspended in 2007 for violating motor vehicles rules.

in memorium: somepalli omepalli

Rao Venkata Somepalli, 58, of Kingwood, passed away on Wednesday, January 11, 2012. He was born in Chennai, and grew up in Guntur, India. He had a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Environmental Engineering and had been the CEO of RAO Environmental Services Inc for more than 15 years. Rao is survived by his wife, Aruna K Somepalli; son, Jesvant Somepalli; three sisters; a brother; and several nieces and nephews.

Rao Venkata Somepalli 1954-2012




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24 January 20, 2012

m microsoft’s youngest Professional ,Arfa Karim randhawa y r dies at 16

LAHORE (Digital Journal): Arfa chairman Bill Gates. According to Express Tribune, KaKarim Randhawa, the youngest MiAfter she was hospitalized, Gates rim was certified a pilot by a flying crosoft Certified Professional, died offered to pay for her medical care club in Dubai. She is the youngat the age of 16 from complications and proposed moving her to the est ever recipient of the Presidential following an epileptic seizure and U.S. for better treatment. Doctors, Award for Pride of Performance. cardiac arrest. Karim, a Pakistani, however, thought that moving her She also received the Fatima Jinnah became a Microsoft Certified Profes- was not in the interest of her health Gold Medal in Science and Technolsional at the age of nine, in 2005. because she was on a ventilator and ogy and the Salaam Pakistan Youth Condolences have been pouring in in a critical condition. Award. from all over the world for the girl’s Pakistan is renaming the IT Media Karim’s father Amjad Karim, family since she died. Daily Mail re- thanked Gates for his concern and de- City in Karachi after Karim. ports that Karim went into a coma on scribed his daughter as a “spark that IB Times reports one of Karim’s top December 22, following an epileptic got attention and love from everyone quotes: “If you want to do something attack and cardiac arrest. She was on the globe.” IB Times reports that big in your life, you must remember admitted to the Combined Military her uncle said: “We are grieving her that shyness is only the mind. If you Hospital in Lahore and placed on life loss but she was a strong child. [...] think shy, you act shy. If you think support at the Intensive Care Unit. IB She was God’s gift to us and now she confident you act confident.” Times reports that Karim’s condition has returned to Him.” had been improving when she suffered a tracheotomy complication on Saturday evening and died. Karim was buried on Sunday in her native village Ram Dewali, Faisalabad, after a funeral prayer in Lahore. The funeral prayer was attended by a large crowd, including Pakistani Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, politicians and Karim’s colleagues. After Randhawa came to international attention in 2005, when she became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at the age of nine, she was invited in 2006, at the age of 10, to visit Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where she met Her hero: Karim pictured with Microsoft founder Bill Gates (left) in 2006

In her honour: Crowds gather in the streets as Arfa Karim Randhawa’s body was taken to her native village Ram Dewali, Faisalabad for burial

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(Sun Sign) Visit us Online task in itself. But you’ll love ARIES Mar 21 - Apr 20: Your foresight and the challenge as it’ll give you ability to alter your plans will be very helpful an idea about your communithis week Regarding finance cation skills and the equation and markets, your judgement you share with them. Learn is spot on. Certain things are the art of delegation as it will beyond your control. Your dehelp you a lot. And under undersire to accumulate more wealth will increase. However, don’t stand that your job is a part of your life and invest your money in real estate. Buying a not your life. Your health will drop this week small vehicle is a safer option. As far as health and you exhausting your energies may make it is concerned, there may be problems related to worse. Avoid arguments with your family and/ or boss at work. liver or thighs. Take care! SCORPIO Oct 24 - Nov 22: Scorpions, it’s TAURUSApr 21 - May 21 Spiritual pursuits going to be an emotional week will be on this week. Long periods of deep for you. Don’t take things to thinking, and philosophical apheart and be practical. People proach will lead you to wonhave their own sets of probderful spiritual experiences. lems to deal with. If they say Be careful while cooking and or do something hurtful, give driving, as you may be prone them the benefit of doubt, to minor accidents. Maintain a for it may not be intentional. Maintain your fine balance between spiritualism and materialpeace of mind and deal with your own issues. ism. Desire to strengthen your financial position Develop a positive outlook towards life in order will get stronger. On the business front, you to handle your personal and professional matmay face some problems. New friendships may ters efficiently. Be more attentive on the career make your life beautiful. front. One wrong decision, and your career may GEMINI May 22 - Jun 21: Work dominates have to bear its consequences for a long time! you time and attention this week. This may Business may keep you on your toes. take some of your personal SAGITTARIUS Nov 23 - Dec 22: This and family time. You are most week can be very produclikely blessed with loving and tive if you have clear objecunderstanding family memtives. Sometimes you may bers, so they will adjust. Now feel that you cannot finish is the time to concentrate on your tasks and you need more your career. Make sure your subordinates and time. Learn the art of time colleagues don’t take undue advantage of your management and prioritize your objectives. candid and frank approach. This is a time when Planning is the key here. The more precise your you won’t want many chances with your image and social standing. It’s an art, as there has to be plans are, the more satisfactory the final results are going to be. Your planning skills will be a fine balance. CANCER Jun 22 - Jul 23: Focus on hon- help you in your personal life as well. Archers, ing your communication skills. Form strong keep a check on your spendings. Pay attention relationships and reputation for to family matters. CAPRICORN Dec 23 - Jan 20: You know a better future. Co-workers are what your goals are, how you trying to overtake you and be in want to go about them and the the boss’s good books, let them possible hurdles, too. Good hog the limelight. This is only for you! Unless you make a a temporary phase. Give others mistake, nothing can stop you time, they will eventually be able to see who is now. So stay focused. Also, more competent. On the domestic front, there try to sort out long-standing may be some conflicts, as you will not be able to fulfil your family members’expectations. Don’t family issues once and for all. Because they mix your personal life with professional life. keep on diverting your attention and energies. And when you’ll be done with them, you’ll be You may have stomach related problems. LEO July 24 - Aug 23: Staying true to your able to concentrate on your ambitions more. basic nature, you will give importance to the Trust your instincts, experiences and foresightlives of your loved ones. The edness about your plans. Because this is the Lion will dutifully play the role only way you can lay a firm foundation for a of a provider. Now that you bright future. AQUARIUS Jan 21 - Feb 19:You’re going will focus more on your relato be very strong, especially tionships, you’ll understand on the mental level. No social how important they are for pressure, no family problems, you. Remember that your loved ones love you no personal shortcomings a lot. And, your rising popularity in the social will be able to weaken you circuit will add to the good times. At work, be will power. You’re committed patient and tactful. If you’re running a business, to your goals to fulfil personal focus on providing better quality goods and/ or services to your customers. Learn to adjust, desires and improve your standard of living. Spare a moment here and think whether you’re sometimes it is the best option for you. VIRGO Aug 24 - Sep 23: Say bye-bye to moving forward in the right direction or not. anger, impatience, irritation and negative emo- Don’t get too self-centred. Put certain visions tions, for they will slow down and business decisions into action. A person of your progress. Be diplomatic the opposite sex may catch your attention. Think and tactful. This week, you will twice before entering into a relationship with be independent, but you’ll need this person. Decide carefully! Don’t rush it. PISCES Feb 20 - Mar 20: The Fish will have to gel with others to proceed towards a common goal. Howa tough time swim through ever, some people may take advantage of your the week. Romance may have amicable nature. But you can’t help it, you have some ups and downs. Expect to take the good with the bad. If you’re in busidifferences of opinion and ego ness, you may need to rethink about your sales clashes with your beloved. It and marketing strategies. Focus on the existing would be best to maintain business tie-ups, rather than forming new ones. a rational and calm approach. Too much of On the personal front, there will be hardly any- struggle may kill your relationship, especially if thing to be worried about. the problems are not resolved in time. Don’t get LIBRA Sep 24 - Oct 23: You’ll have to deal on each other’s nerves! Maintain your cool, and with a lot of people this week. Making them learn from your mistakes. Business partnerships understand your point of view may become a too are likely to go through a delicate phase.

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26 January 20, 2012

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2 Friday, June 10,012011 y 20, 2 .com anuar J -news y a n a c i Frid r me indoa www.


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Global Crisis May Not Rattle India

By Ritesh KumaR singh (Samachar): The Indian media is full of stories about imminent doom and gloom caused by a worsening Euro Zone debt crisis and continuing economic slowdown in the US. Every day, one hears about a lower GDP growth for India, though most forecasts give it a growth rate of 7 per cent or so. Is India really doomed as predicted by a growing number of analysts? Is India as dependent upon Europe and the US for its exports? The combined per cent share of Europe and the US in India’s merchandise export has declined from 49 per cent in 2000-01 to 31 per cent in 201011. Thus, in 2010-11, 69 per cent of India’s exports of goods went to destinations other than Europe and the US. For Indian merchandise exports, a largely unexplored Africa is roughly as important as the US and accounts for 8.3 per cent compared with the US’ 9.8 per cent. Latin America and West Asia are the fastest growing export markets for India. China, including Hong Kong, accounts for 12 per cent of India’s export and is the largest export market for engineering goods. The BRICS region, as a whole, now accounts for one-sixth of India’s merchandise exports. Among Asian Tigers, Taiwan and South Korea are key export markets to fall back on in times of crisis. In Europe, a non-EU fast growing country, Turkey, has become an important export destination for India and witnessed an export growth rate of 79.1 per cent in 2010-11. The acceptance of Russia into the WTO fold will further open up this high-potential market for Indian businesses. Among key export items with

more than 2 per cent share in India’s overall exports, only a few items such as organic chemicals and pharmaceuticals, readymade garments, iron & steel, machinery & mechanical appliances and electrical machinery & equipment have high (more than 30 per cent share in India’s export of an item) exposure to Europe and the US, taken together. Again, only two product categories — readymade garments and electrical machinery &

equipment — have very high exposure to Europe. Given the slow progress of WTO talks, India can use bilateral routes under PTAs/FTAs to secure improved market access for heavily protected textiles and clothing items. India’s export to GDP ratio is about 25 per cent (16 per cent in goods and 9 per cent in services). When it comes to export of services, IT & ITES is the most important category, accounting for approximately 40 per cent of the export of all services and with high exposure to Europe and the US. But, luckily, it will benefit from the decline in rupee. Besides, the crisis in developed countries presents an opportunity to explore inward (domestic market) and high-growth emerging economies for supplying IT services. The BRICS region, with a combined population of 3 billion and GDP of $4.6 trillion, is a huge market to tap. Private final consumption

expenditure accounts for roughly 60 per cent of India’s GDP compared with China’s 35 per cent or so. India’s dependence on the external sector is still not very high though it has increased over the years. India is primarily a consumption story and with rising income and expanding middle-class it will remain so. Increasing income of rural population will further generate demand for industrial products and keep the economic wheel moving. External challenges: A worsening sovereign debt crisis in the Euro Zone and growing risk aversion on the part of FIIs may keep net forex inflows low for a far longer period. With the RBI’s limited manoeuvrability in the forex market, rupee will remain under pressure. This may affect the cost-competitiveness of import-dependent manufacturing industries already facing a high cost of borrowing, such as copper smelters or petroleum refineries. The other challenge is the consequences of fiscal mismanagement and sustainability of easy money policy in the US. Yet another concern is whether China will be able to maintain its growth momentum in the light of its high dependence on the external sector, low domestic consumption and high investment rates; and growing resistance in the US against Chinese trade surplus when China is expected to play the role of global growth driver? Internal challenges: India’s lacklustre performance on the policy front — be it land acquisition, speedy environmental clearance, allowing FDI in specific sectors or checking fiscal deficit and inflation or tackling corruption — is making investors, domestic and foreign, nervous. The question is: can India deliver?

India to Launch $1 Bn Innovation fund by June-July 2012: Pitroda MUMBAI (TOI): India plans to billion, citing uncertain economic launch a $1 billion fund by June- conditions. July, with an initial capital of Rs 5 “It will be a private fund, where billion, to invest in innovations that the government is one of the can generate services and products investors,” Pitroda said, adding to uplift the poor, a top government the government’s stake would not official told reporters on Monday. “ We n e e d t o provide money to those who have ideas but no seed capital,” Sam Pitroda, adviser to prime minister on public information, infrastructure and innovation, said on the sidelines of an industry event. The fund, named India Inclusive Innovation Fund, will invest in sectors such as agriculture, water, energy and healthcare, Pitroda said, after delivering the keynote address at Grid Week Asia Summit, organised by Indian Electrical & Electronics Manufacturers’ Association. Providing an innovation fund to give seed “It will have an capital to the poor who have great ideas in initial investment, different sectors like agriculture, water, energy, seed capital from healthcare will get profits. The government will the government. The be one of the investors but will not have a stake finance ministry has of more than 20% and expects that the fund already talked about will generate a modest return of 10-12% Sam allocating 100 crore Pitroda, adviser to prime minister is hopeful. rupees (1 billion rupees).” be more than 20 percent. The fund intends to raise 5 billion The fund is expected to generate rupees in its first phase. modest returns of about 10-12 Pitroda said he was hopeful the percent, as opposed to present finance minister would give out industry standard of about 18-20 further details in the budget for percent. 2012/13. The government is in talks with The budget for the fiscal year foreign investors and has received ending March 2013 will be “some interest from UK agencies, presented after elections scheduled from IFC ( International Finance in five states between the end of Corp) and others”. January and early March. It is also in advanced talks with Pitroda did not say when the various state and private banks in fund would be scaled up to $1 the country and other investors.




January 20, 2012

China is Pakistan’s Leading Trade Partner

By mohiuddin aazim ISLLAMABAD (Dawn): China has emerged as Pakistan’s largest trading partner replacing the US and is being closely followed by the UAE. The US has slipped to third position on the list of the top ten trading partners. Germany and the UK occupy eighth and 10th slots respectively and Japan is no more on the ten top list. The latest rankings based on the FY11 statistics indicate that

“Interestingly whereas recession in the US and troubled political relationship between Islamabad and Washington affected growth of bilateral trade, the surge in the US troops in Kabul aimed at winding up the military operation there increased our exports to Afghanistan,” according to a senior official of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). That explains, at least in part, why Afghanistan’s seventh slot among

in Europe. “Increase in imports from China, for example, is also related to the Chinese investment projects in Pakistan part of which are scaling down American influence,” said a former president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “Interestingly, however, our imports from India are growing rapidly because Pakistani authorities have removed almost all non-tariff barriers on Indian exports without caring for the principle of reciprocity.” India, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Malaysia are top players. Whereas Pakistan imports large amounts of costly fuel oil from the first three countries, it runs trade deficit with Malaysia due to huge import bills of palm oil. “Apart from low transport cost, the India and China are two of the top countries that does trade with neighboring g r o w i n g i m p o r t s country Pakistan. Countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Malaysia, from the Asian region Afghanistan do brisk business with each other. Bangladesh is emerging as a is attributed to the major trade player in the region. All these nations are making efforts to win trade exportable surplus deals internationally with the US, Europe and Germany as well there,” says Mr. Tariq Pakistan is doing much more trade our largest trading partners in Sayeed, a former President, within Asia and its reliance on FY11. FPCCI.“Pakistan has the immense American and European markets Our exports to Kabul totaled $2.3 potential to improve its bilateral is on the decline. billion in FY11. This growth trend trade relations in the Asian region Asia rescued much of the is continuing and in the first five and particularly with the Saarc world from the global recession months of this fiscal year, exports to member countries also because of of 2008-09—thanks largely to Afghanistan have touched a billion similarities of consumer tastes and the huge market provided by the dollars mark. trading priorities.” phenomenal economic growth in Movement in intra-Saarc With four countries out of the ten China and India. merchandise exports is gathering largest trading partners, Pakistan Emergence of the new rich in pace and TDAP officials say our boasts of a trade surplus. These China and expansion in middle- exports to Bangladesh is growing are the US, Afghanistan, Germany income consumers in the Middle so fast that if Pakistan-India and the UK. “Whereas it is easier Eastern countries opened up new trade relations do not improve in to retain Afghanistan as a major opportunities for Pakistan to near future, New Delhi would be export market and it is encouraging boost trade with all these nations. replaced by Dhaka, and not by that Bangladesh has emerged as Moreover, the trade gravity played any other country, on the list of a billion-dollar market for our its part in redirecting our external the ten largest trading partners of products, the US, Germany, the trade towards South and East Asia Pakistan. Whereas import from UK and other European countries including Malaysia and Indonesia. Bangladesh remain static below a are equally important for sustained Small wonder then, that in the last hundred million dollars, exports to growth in overall exports,” fiscal year seven out of the top ten Bangladeshi markets grew more remarked chairman of Pakistan largest trading partners of Pakistan than 100 per cent to $1 billion in Bedwear Exporters Association Mr. were all Asians—China, the UAE, last fiscal year. Shabbir Ahmad. He and many other Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Business leaders say Pakistan’s exporters believe that normalization Afghanistan and India. And all of top bilateral trade partners are of political relationship with the US them except Saudi Arabia and India changing not just because of and continuing of efforts to win trade showed an improvement in their economic miracle of China and concessions in European Union are respective rankings, in a small span overall better average economic required for keeping exports on a of three years. growth in Asia than in America and high growth trajectory.

India-Nepal to Share Terror Info on a Real Time Basis

NEW DELHI (Samachar): India and Nepal today decided to join hands in sharing terror-related information on a real- time basis, check circulation of fake Indian currency notes and drugs besides cooperation in police training. New Delhi will also help Kathmandu in modernising immigration facilities at the Tribhuvan International Airport for smooth transit of passengers to and from Nepal. These decisions were taken at the two-day Home Secretarylevel talks which began here. The Indian delegation was led by Home Secretary R K Singh while Nepal was led by his counterpart Sushil Jung Rana, official sources said. The meeting took stock of the security cooperation between the two countries and decided that henceforth the Home Secretary of the either country may telephone

his counterpart to discuss or seek cooperation on any terror-related issues on a real-time basis. Kathmandu assured New Delhi that it was working on a pro- active manner to check the fakes notes which has been a major concern for India as these often come through the porous Indo- Nepal border. Both the delegation emphasised on enhanced cooperation between the border guarding forces to check cross border crimes, particularly smuggling of drugs, arms and ammunition. Nepalese police personnel would avail training in Indian police training institutes and New Delhi will also offer help to Kathmandu to improve its police training facilities, sources said. India shares a 1,751-km-long border with Nepal from Uttarakhand to Sikkim.

“Jallikattu”, a Tamil Version of Spanish Bull fighting

This enthusiast had a narrow escape after the raging bull almost gored him during the annual ‘Jallikattu’ event at Palamedu near Madurai on January 16, 2012. Thousands of people, including foreigners, had gathered to witness the traditional sport of rural Tamil Nadu. Photo: G. Moorthy

MADURAI (The Hindu): Jallikattu, the adrenaline-pumping, dangerous sport of ‘taming’ bulls is held in Tamil Nadu annually during the Pongal festival. Young men put themselves at great risk as they try to subdue the bull. Today, a score of contestants were injured. Jallikattu’ has come to stay as part of the tradition and culture of rural Tamil Nadu.



Seen as mere baiting of bulls and display of cruelty by animal rights activists, but venerated by villagers as a symbol of antiquity and the martial tradition of Tamils, ‘jallikattu’ evokes varying reactions from different sections of society. It is part of the three-day celebrations of Pongal, the harvest festival of the Tamil people.

January 20, 2012


India-China Ties face Golden Period: Visiting Chinese Official NEW DELHI: China has predicted “a golden period” for relations with India, with a top official saying Beijing was “fully committed to developing long-term friendship” with New Delhi. Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, said to be close to Chinese President Hu Jintao, wrote in an article in The Hindu Monday: “While working hard to develop itself, China is fully committed to developing long-term friendship and cooperation with India. It is our genuine hope that India will enjoy prosperity and its people, happiness. “There does not exist such a thing as China’s attempt to ‘attack India’ or ‘suppress India’s development’.

China will remain committed to the path of peaceful development,” he wrote. Underlining the need for closer ties with India, Dai said: “We speak with one voice and enjoy increasingly closer coordination and collaboration in multilateral mechanisms and in tackling global challenges.” The influential Chinese politician and diplomat also rejected that his country had rivalry with India. “We need to view each other’s development in a positive light and regard each other as major partners and friends, not rivals. We always need to be each other’s good neighbour, good friend and good partner,” he said.

China’s state councillor Dai Bingguo along with National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon before the start of the 15th round of India-China special representatives talks in New Delhi

“What we face is a golden period to grow China-India relations. The world has enough space for China and India to achieve common development, as there are so many areas for us to work together,” he said. Dai’s comments came against the backdrop of recent discordant notes in bilateral ties. China recently denied visa to an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who was to go as a member of the Indian military delegation to China, on grounds that he was from Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state claimed by China. This led to India scaling down its delegation from the original 30 members to 15. Subscribe: 713-789-NEWS

Little Bollywood Struggles in Afghanistan, Movies Looked Down upon u

By hejRatullah R Ratullah eKhtiya K R JALALABAD (AT): At first sight, the green tents standing in a row in the southeastern Afghan city of Jalalabad look like they might be temporary shelter for a group of refugees, but they serve a very different purpose. In a city known as “Little Mumbai” as the nearest thing Afghanistan has to Bollywood, the tents are the local cinema. For around a US dollar a time, Jalalabad residents can watch a locally-made film in their own language, Pashto. The tent cinemas are only open for business on public holidays. Gaps in the cloth are patched up to prevent daylight getting in. Zerawar, 23, has seen three films back to back, although his enjoyment was somewhat reduced by the noise from outside the tent, as young men revved their motorbikes nearby. “I wish there was a cinema hall in

Nangarhar province,” Zerawar said. “Our officials are busy looting, and they don’t attend to things like this.”

Back in the 1980s, Jalalabad had two cinemas, but both are long gone. The head of the film industry

A city in Jalalabad known as “Little Mumbai” is the nearest thing to Bollywood in Afghanistan where there are tents that feature local cinema and Hindi movies from Mumbai. Here in this photo: few Afghan boys are enamored by the movie posters

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workers’ union in eastern Afghanistan, Najibollah Sadeq, said government inaction meant that plans to build cinemas had never materialized, and shops had appeared on the proposed sites. Sadeq said his association used to rent halls in Nangarhar’s larger hotels to screen films, but the owners had stopped allowing this because of growing security concerns. As a result, he said, “We have to set up these tents and present our films to the public.” Mohammad Zarif, who both produced and acted in one of the films now showing, Upper and Lower Pashtuns United, said showing it in a tent was a last resort. “Filmmakers and actors have made great losses here. They have lost interest in it and many have given up the profession,” he said. After the Taliban government was ousted in 2001, Afghanistan experienced a boom in all kinds of media. When it came to films, nowhere was more productive than Jalalabad, where over 100 movies have been made in the past decade.


Production values may be basic and some of the acting amateurish, but the volume and popularity of the output won Jalalabad the nickname “Little Mumbai”. It has been an uphill struggle. For a start, none of the female parts are played by locals, because conservative Afghan customs and values make that impossible. To get round the problem, filmmakers cross into neighboring Pakistan and hire female actors there, splicing the footage into the sections shot in Nangarhar. A male actor called Shaan recalled being in scenes of a film in which no women were involved. “When I watched the finished film, I saw an Continued on page 30

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January 20, 2012

India Opens Consulate in Atlanta for Southeast u.S. States

ATLANTA(IW): The government of India has opened a new consulate to serve the Southeast. Georgia governor Nathan Deal and Consul General of India in Atlanta Ajit Kumar announced the consulate’s opening. In addition to Georgia, the office will serve the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as the US Virgin Islands and the US commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Kumar previously served as the Indian consul general in Frankfurt, Germany, and Durban, South

of its intentions.” “Despite the worldwide economic crisis,” he said, “all parties have pressed forward vigorously to realize this purpose. The Indian Consulate is a vital addition to Atlanta’s consular corps and community of trade commissions and binational chambers of commerce, which already represents more than 70 other countries and is a key component of Georgia’s diversity and international success.”

Africa, and as ambassador of India to the Republic of Zimbabwe. In Atlanta, he will lead a team of 20 full-time employees. The consulate will serve the approximately 100,000 Indian Americans living in Georgia and roughly 290,000 across the Southeast with services such as visas, passports and other documents. It also will help facilitate Georgia’s surging business with India. Figures from the Georgia Department of Economic Development show that the state

Consul General of India, Ajit Kumar announced the opening of the Consulate in Atlanta along with Georgia governor Nathan Deal. Apart from issuing passports, visas it will help improve business relations bewteen Georgia and India.

exported $562 million worth of goods to India in 2010. That was a 35% increase over 2009. Georgia is the 10th largest exporter to India among US states. “This marks a significant milestone in Georgia’s international evolution,” said Deal on making the announcement. “The Consulate General is the crowning symbol of

the dynamic business and cultural connections India shares with our region and state.” The governor added, “This is a proud day for the State of Georgia, whose longtime efforts to locate an Indian Consulate General for the Southeastern United States in Atlanta culminated in the Indian government’s 2008 announcement

Georgia governor Nathan Deal said a lot of effort has gone to start an Indian Consulate in the state of Georgia.

Little Bollywood Struggles in Afghanistan

Continued from page 29


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actress running along, and myself chasing after her,” he said. Such issues reflect the sensitivities of making films in Afghanistan, where TV stations are often under attack for showing Bollywood movies deemed too racy for local tastes. For viewers like Zerawar, the Nangarhar-made films in Pashto strike the right tone. “Foreign movies are harmful to our culture and faith, but Afghan films give us messages of patriotism and humanity,” he said. But as Sadeq pointed out, filmmakers and male actors are constantly at risk from those with more radical views. “Every evening when I go home, I check around my house four times. I live in fear,” he said. “People believe that if someone works in cinema, he’s an infidel. And we can’t go outside the city to shoot movies.”

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He said many Islamic clerics were happy with the content of locallymade films, but if the Taliban tracked down the filmmakers, “they will behead us with a knife”. Mohammad Asef Bahadori sees himself as a founding member of the Pashto film industry here, but says it has proved impossible to turn a profit. “I made 12 films in Nangarhar at my own cost. I spent a lot of money, but made huge losses, because the films didn’t bring in enough income to cover costs. I’ve given up making films now,” he said. “Since there’s no cinema for people to come to and pay admission, the films are released on CD even before the final cut. They go on sale in the shops, and that doesn’t pay even 5% of their cost.” Mohammad Shah, the representative of the state agency Afghan Film in the provincial

g o v e r n m e n t ’s c u l t u r e a n d information department, said he had raised the matter with more senior officials, to no avail. “We have nothing in our hands, and there’s nothing we can do about it. The government has not been supportive of the Afghan Film Agency. When we talk to officials about this, they nod their heads but do nothing,” he said. Sadeq remains optimistic despite all the obstacles. He cites two success stories - a film called Handprint won first prize in a national film festival, while a 22-part drama serial called White Poison has been taken up by the national television network. “We cut down on the cost of food for our own children to pay for these films,” he said. “There are no profits to be made in Afghan cinema, but we are driven to make films by our own enthusiasm and by the popular interest in them.”


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January 20, 2012


Sikh American, Satyendra Huja, Elected Mayor of Historic u.S. City

VIRGINIA(TOI): Charlottesville, Virginia, a historic city of more than 43,000 people and once the home of three US presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe - now has a Sikh American mayor. Satyendra S Huja, initially elected to the Charlottesville City Council in 2007 and reelected in November 2011, was chosen mayor unanimously by the fivemember city council on January 3. The term is for two years. “It says something about a community, when they can elect somebody like me mayor,” Huja told India-West. “It shows that they respect diversity.” As far as he knows, he added, he is one of only a few Sikh Americans in the city, located about 70 miles northwest of Richmond, Virginia, and 115 miles from Washington, DC Huja said that the Asian American population in

Charlottesville is about four per election, Huja said the issues being environment and the city’s water cent. debated included “the quality of system.” He came down on the The president of side of long-term planning, planning and design recommending a 50-year firm Community plan to safeguard the city’s Planning Associates, water supply. the new mayor Huja finished first in the before joining the balloting, with three council council was director members elected in a “six of strategic planning or seven” candidate race, for Charlottesville he said. from 1998-2004 and Huja’s main issues of director of planning concern on the council and community have included energy development for the conservation, initiating city for 25 years prior a “dialogue on race,” to that. downtown revitalization He is also adjunct and historic preservation. faculty member at the A member of the American University of Virginia Planning Association and in Charlottesville, American Institute of where he teaches urban Satyendra Huja was chosen unanimously as Mayor Certified Planners, he has by the member city council for a term on two years planning courses in the Huja is happy that the community that elected him served as a consultant to the school of architecture. Mayor is truly diverse in that it respects individuals city of Pleven, Bulgaria, on Asked about his and their contribution to society. economic development and campaign for re-

tourism. Born in Kohat in an Indian frontier province that is now part of Pakistan, Huja was raised in Uttar Pradesh. He came to the US in 1960 when he was 19 years old to pursue his education. The Indian American city planner received an undergraduate degree in urban planning from Cornell University. Indian industrialist Ratan Tata, whom he saw, but never met, on the campus at Cornell, was two years ahead of him, he said. Huja then received a master’s degree in urban planning from Michigan State University. Huja told India-West that when he was 18 and about to come to America, his father told him two things. “First, he told me to follow my religion. Second, he told me to participate in the community, wherever I settled. And the Sikh religion is very service-oriented.”

India Dominates Man Asian Book Prize Shortlist with Three Authors

HONG KONG (Dawn): Indian writers dominate the shortlist of authors competing for Asia’s top English-language literary prize, with a debut Pakistani novelist also among those vying for the $30,000 award. An unprecedented seven authors, including three from India and writers from Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and China, will compete for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize after judges expanded the shortlist from its usual five. BBC correspondent Razia Iqbal, who heads the judging panel, said that the shortlist had been expanded to accommodate the current strength of Asian contemporary fiction and “the imaginative power of the stories now being written about rapidly changing life” in the region. “This power and diversity made it imperative for us to expand the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize shortlist beyond the usual five books,” she said. The prize, limited to Asian authors whose books are either

written in English or translated into English, was founded in 2007 and shares the same sponsor as the Man Booker Prize, among the world’s top literary awards. The seven shortlisted books

include “Rebirth” by Indian doctor and author Jahnavi Barua, about a young woman faced with an uncertain marriage and portraying the bond between a mother and her unborn child. Indian cricket journalist Rahul Bhattacharya’s “The Sly Company of People Who Care” chronicles a man’s decision to give up his job and travel to escape the deadness of his life. Amitav Ghosh’s historical epic

“River of Smoke” charts the stormtossed journey of a convict ship from Calcutta into China’s crowded harbours. The three Indian authors will compete against “The Wandering Falcon”, the debut by Islamabad-based author Jamil Ahmad set in the border areas of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan in the decades before the rise of the Taliban. As a member of the Civil Service of Pakistan, Ahmad was posted in Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul before and during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Also vying for the prize is “Please Look After Mom” by acclaimed South Korean novelist Kyung-sook Shin, a novel that is a million-pluscopy bestseller in its native country detailing a family’s search for their missing mother. The shortlist also includes “Dream of Ding Village” by Chinese novelist Yan Lianke, an account of a blood-selling scandal in China that was officially censored upon

its Chinese publication. “The Lake” by top-selling Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother before finding herself embroiled in a troubled romance. The two other judges for this year’s competition are Pulitzerprize finalist and author o f T h e Surrendered, Chang-rae Lee, and Vikas Swarup, author of “Q & A” which was filmed as the Oscarwinning Slumdog Millionaire. A total of 90 books were submitted for entry in 2011 and a longlist of 12 was announced in October l a s t y e a r. The winning

author is awarded $30,000 and the translator, if any, receives $5,000. The winner will be announced at a black-tie ceremony in Hong Kong on March 15. Last year’s prize was won by acclaimed Chinese author Bi Feiyu for “Three Sisters”, set during the Cultural Revolution.

Sat., Jan. 28 • 2pm Sun., Jan. 29 • 2pm Purchase tickets at the Box Office, by calling 866-4HOUTIX or online at For group tickets, contact Courtney Aldrich at




January 20, 2012

A Rare Job for a Woman Doctor, Converting the Men who are fence-sitters

By usha Rai AMRITSAR (The Hindu): Tall and elegant in traditional salwar kameez, hair gracefully covered with a chiffon dupatta, Dr Baljit Kaur looks a picture of femininity but the minute she steps into the operation theatre, scrubs up and dons the surgeon’s robes for NSV (no scalpel vasectomy) procedure she is a transformed human dynamo. Dr Baljit Kaur, Punjab advocates No With great ease and dex- Vasectomy procedures (NSV) terity she looks for the best spot on the scrotum for the vas, then no dressing and minimal rest. It is the snips and ties and within minutes the best permanent method. However, if operation is over and she is on to the the need arises it can be reversed and next client. In a country where wom- sperm flow restored. en bear the brunt of family planning Invited by the NGO Janani in Patna, responsibilities through tubectomy, she demonstrated her NSV technique women specializing in NSV are a and talked to 50 doctors and operation rare breed. theatre assistants. In the early days, A national and state trainer of train- she recalled men were not told to ers on NSV, she has done over one use condoms after the procedure for lakh NSV procedures. In her home three months. The result was that if town, Amritsar, 45 per cent of the by chance the woman got pregnant, sterilizations are of men and to a not only was she looked on with large extent the credit goes to her. suspicion but she advised women for She is also the national and state miles around her not to allow their level trainer for tubectomy, IUD and husbands to go in for vasectomy. emergency contraception but quite The many fence-sitting men, awaitclearly her passion is NSV because, ing a good terminal method of conshe maintains, it is the safest, quick- traception, need a push and guidance est, cheapest and most painless pro- on where to go for a good NSV cedure. NSV is a brand name, she an- procedure. A successful procedure is nounces. It requires no stitch, no cut, invariably talked about by satisfied MADRAS N PAVILIO T & DAAWA CATERING

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Pennycuick, the architect of Mullaperiyar dam, as they believe his birthday coincides with the harvest festival. In Alanganallur in Madurai district, noted for its traditional ‘Jallikattu,’ (bull taming) Superintendent of Police Asra Garg flagged off the event. In Chennai many households celebrated Pongal, but many shops remained closed, as most of its workers from rural areas had gone back to their villages to celebrate the festival. Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah and Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa led a host of leaders in extending greetings to people on the occasion of the harvest festival.


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CHENNAI (The Hindu): Pongal, the harvest festival, was on Sunday celebrated with fervour across Tamil Nadu, with farmers worshipping the ‘Sun God’ with their agricultural produce. Skilfully laid out colourful ‘kolams’ (rangoli) on the streets and houses decorated with palm leaves and flowers marked the day as people welcomed the auspicious Tamil month of ‘Thai.’ In rural areas, farmers decorated cattle and farm equipment and worshipped the ‘Sun God’ after cooking pongal, the local sweet delicacy in traditional earthern pots in the fields. Families exchanged greetings with friends and relatives and distributed pongal. Some southern districts celebrated Pongal in honour of British engineer




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In Punjab there are 36 NSV trainers. Her guru is Dr RCM Kaza, the national master trainer for NSV and she has been to China for a refresher course. Last year less than five percent of the sterilizations in the country were of men. “When I started work in Punjab, I was told that the men of Punjab are male chauvinists and will never agree to NSV.” Today, 21 per percent of the sterilizations in the State are of men!

Tamil Nadu Celebrates Pongal with fervor

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Dr Baljit Kaur is known for her advocacy and communication skills. In Punjab she has been able to buttonhole politicians and bureaucrats to advocate for NSV. She takes them to the clinic and demonstrates the simple, low cost procedure. Punjab’s Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla is a great supporter and when people come to her for jobs or other help because of poverty, she sends them to Dr Kaur so that their fertility is first addressed.




clients and they bring in more clients. If a mobile is given as incentive, more men will come for NSV, she assures. Though sexual activity can be resumed within 24 hours of the procedure, men should decide when they are comfortable returning to sexual activity. However, Dr Kaur advises condom use for three months post-NSV.


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Women in Chennai cook Sarkarai Pongal, a sweet delicacy of rice with jaggery. The first day of Bhogi is celebrated on January 13 and Pongal on January 14th celebrates the harvest


January 20, 2012

Ram Singh y yadav Qualifies for London 2012 Marathon

MUMBAI (The Hindu): Ram Singh Yadav backed himself when it came to the crunch, at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2012. The Indian armyman plotted his own assault on the IAAF ‘B’ grade qualifying time for the 2012 London Olympics (two hours and 18 minutes), striding at his own pace and running down the clock in 2:16:59. “I qualified on my own ability. Last time when I missed qualification by seconds, I was not given a second chance. Let us see what decision awaits me now,” said the winner among Indian elite runners and 12th overall this year. He was the fastest Indian in SCMM 2008 with 2:18:23, short of the Olympic qualifying ‘B’ standard of 2:18, and so was absent for the 2008 Beijing Games. Yadav has asserted his form at the right time for London 2012. “I am not satisfied with this performance. Shivnath Singh’s 2:12:00 is my aim,” he said, referring to the India great. The late Shivnath had stunned the world with bold running at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, clocking 2:16:22. Yadav crossed the qualification hurdle after 36 years, though with 2:16:59 as his career-best, still has some catching up to do. “This achievement is for my family and Army Sports Institute, whose training facility got me to this level,” he observed.

JOY: Winner of the Mumbai Marathon, Ram Singh Yadav (centre) with Elam Singh (left) and Rajesh TA (right). Photo: Shashi Ashiwal

Yadav’s Mumbai run was the first marathon after 45 days training at a high-altitude training centre in Coonoor, Ooty. ASI marathon coach K.S. Mathews, under whom Yadav trains, pointed out that more Indians can go under the 2:18 standard. He added, “We have Satyaprakash who has done 2:17. He will be

sent for the Singapore Marathon. India has a minimum of four runners with the capability of qualifying for London 2012. We need to assess them against superior competition.” Elam Singh finished 15th overall on Sunday (2:18:27), missing the chance to book a London berth by just 27 seconds.

Second Win for Indian Women in Hockey vs. Azerbaijan

NEW DELHI (The Hindu & IBN): India managed only a 2-1 win against Azerbaijan despite adopting a more attacking approach in the second of the four-match women’s hockey Test series at the National Stadium here on Monday. Ritu Rani (18th) and Saba Anjum (41st) found the target for the home side, while Gyeonga Kim (23rd) led the fight for the visiting team. Injuries to some players forced coach C.R. Kumar to alter his plan and introduce a few changes in the team for today’s match. Younger legs made a marked difference as the midfield and the forward-line showed good combination to make umpteen raids on the rival citadel.

Asunta Lakra and Kirandeep initiated the moves while Poonam Rani, Ritu Rani and Vandana Agarwal made the invasions. The absence of corner specialist Jaspreet, who missed the second half due to an injury, also contributed to India’s poor showing in penalty corner conversion. The host wasted as many as seven short corners. However, it was a well-planned penalty corner which broke the deadlock. Asunta launched a slapshot and Saba cleverly deflected it to the top of the net six minutes after the break. Meanwhile, one of the prominent strikers, Rani Rampal, fractured a finger and missed a major part of

the match. The hosts, ranked 13th in the world, played a fast-paced game and repeatedly attacked their opponent’s citadel from the left flank in the first half. They scored through Ritu Rani (18th minute) and Saba Anjum (41th). The 15th-ranked Azerbaijan side tried to match up with their Indian counterparts, played better than in the first match on Sunday and created lots of chances, but could manage only one goal through Gyeonga Kim (23rd). After losing 0-3 in the first Test, Azerbaijan started off with an aggressive approach, but it was India who drew first blood in the

18th minute through a field goal by Ritu. The visitors were quick to bring up the equalizer within a space of five minutes, with Gyeonga Kim finding the goal after being set up by Taejeong Han. Both teams went into the lemon break locked at 1-1. The Indians were sharp and agile in the field and earned as many as eight penalty corners, with two coming in the first half, but they lacked penetration.


more agile and had played better hockey, but admitted penetration was a problem. “We had good receiving skills and I am happy with the agility and pace of the game, but penetration is a problem. We fared poorly in converting the penalty corners,” Kumar said. “We couldn’t play the same team as many couldn’t recover from injuries and we replaced them with others.”“Also Jaspreet had a low back pain after she fell down

India manages a 2-1 win against Azerbaijan in the second test to take a 2-0 lead in the four match series

In the 41st minute, India earned their sixth penalty corner and skipper Asunta Lakra took the strike, with Saba Anjum deflecting it inside the post to give the home team a 2-1 lead. In comparison to India, Azerbaijan could manage just one penalty corner in the 54th minute but squandered the chance. Jaspreet Kaur hurt her back during warm-up and didn’t play in the second half of the match. The third Test between the two sides will be played on Wednesday. India women’s hockey coach CR Kumar said his girls were

during the warm-up, it also affected our performance as she didn’t play the second half. Our priority is the Olympic qualifiers,” he added. Kumar also praised Azerbaijan for playing better hockey. “They played better hockey today. They have a very European style of play, there goalkeeper was very good and their defence was also good. They crowded the goal-mouth, so penetration became difficult and we had to try out new ways,” he said. The result: India 2 (Ritu Rani, Saba Anjum) bt Azerbaijan 1 (Gyeonga Kim).

NEW DELHI (Hindu): After experiencing a satisfactory year in 125cc competition in the Grand Prix of motorcycle racing, Mahindra has decided to groom Indian rider Sarath Kumar for the future. Sarath had represented Aprilia in three races in the 125cc World championship last season. Mahindra, which finished third in the constructor’s championship,

spotted the talented racer and made up its mind to back him wholeheartedly. However, Mahindra wanted to go step by step with Sarath and put him alongside Italian Riccardo Moretti for the Italian championship. Choonia said the Italian Championship will be an ideal place for Indian riders to grow.

Mahindra Backs Motorcyclist Sarath




January 20, 2012

The ground reality check is so depressing

Are we Ashamed to be Indians?

By y Raj KanwaR anwaR ian india CoRRespondent RR RRespondent When Rahul Gandhi personally saw on 11 May, 2011 the atrocities perpetrated by Uttar Pradesh police on the unarmed farmers in a Noida village, he instantly said, “I am ashamed to be an Indian”. His reflex remark brought forth a Niagara of protests from pseudo patriots calling him all sorts of names. Quite often many of us in India get a similar “unpatriotic” feeling too when we see the mess that the politicians and the bureaucrats have made of India and the depths of degradation to which our country has fallen in the past three or four decades. This Monday, I too felt ashamed to be an Indian like Rahul Gandhi did on that hot day in May last year. The immediate provocation was two front page stories in the Times of India. The first was headlined ““Indian students rank 2nd last in global test test”. ”. Its sub-heading was less reassuring and said, “Better Than only Kyrgyz Kyrgyzstan in Maths, Reading & Science”. The news below this lead story was equally shocking. Here are two excerpts: “Across the world, India is seen as an educa education powerhouse – based largely on the reputa reputation of a few islands of academic excellence such as the IITs. But scratch the glossy surface of our education system and the picture turns seriously bleak. Fifteen-year-old Indians who were put, for the first time, on a global stage stood second to last, only beating Kyrgyzstan when tested on their reading, math and science abilities. India ranked second last among the 73 countries that participated in the Program for

ics and Science from India. The knowledge of English language was then considered India’s USP in business and education. I then came across a few groups of Chinese business visitors or trainees accompanied by English interpreters. The Chinese did not then know English language. Some of them who could speak pidgin English would find excuse to converse with me simply to improve their spoken English; so great was their intensity to learn

Chair without teacher

International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted annually to evaluate education systems worldwide by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretariat. The survey is based on two-hour tests that half a million students are put through.” When I frequently visited the USA in 197080s, I was often asked by American business associates, “where did you learn you English?” My simple answer was “at the school”. That used to amaze them. Even though my accent widely differed, I could easily make myself understand. Then and in the subsequent years, Indian students in the U.S. invariably scored top marks and the Indian teenagers won many of the “Spelling-Bee” contests. The natural destination for most Indians passing out of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) was the Ivy League universities in the US which too warmly welcomed students from India. There was and still is a big demand for teachers in English, Mathemat-

the language. Three decades later, the roles have ironically been reversed. It was China’s Shanghai province participating in PISA for the first time that scored the highest in all the three categories viz, reading, mathematics and science. The second story that shamed me was headlined, “Superpower? 230 million Indians go hungry daily”. It said, “Often, in the hype over economic growth, we forget the harsh reality of India – extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of education, and regressive social practices”. In its Global Hunger Index (GHI), the International Food Policy Research Institute says that 23% of India’s population is undernourished; nearly 44% of Under-5 children are underweight and 7% of them die before they reach five years. And here is the most shaming part of this report; it says that India is firmly established among the world’s most hunger-ridden countries with situation better than only, hold your breath, Congo, Chad, Ethiopia or Burundi, but it is worse than Sudan, North Korea, Pakistan or Nepal. Just imagine that two of our immediate

neighbors with multiple problems of their own are better off than us in GHI. The intentions of the top hierarchy no doubt are good but remember that the “Path to Hell is paved with good intentions”. Funds to the tune of millions and millions of dollars had been regularly allocated during the past three decades for health, hygiene, education and other social sectors but the leaking and corrupt delivery system usurped on the way all these funds. All over the country, there are thousands of schools without teachers or hundreds of hospitals and health centers without doctors and para-medical staffers. On paper, these doctors and teachers do exist but in reality they are always on fur furlough, with or without the connivance of their superiors. It is under such depressing reality checks that Indians like me too feel ashamed to be an Indian and more ashamed in my twilight years to feel so very helpless.

Raj Kanwar is a Dehra Dun based freelance journalist and writes columns on current affairs for local and national newspapers. He is also the author of the official history of ONGC, which is one of the top three companies in India in terms of market capitalization. Kanwar is also associated with World Oil as its Contributing Editor for South Asia.

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