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Friday, July 15 2011 | Vol. 30, No. 28

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A Surprise Visit by the Guru to a Tumultuous Welcome


What Makes the “Healthy Indian Diet” Healthy?

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Multiple Blasts Hit

MUMBAI MUMBAI (TOI): Mumbaikars watched with impotent rage and sorrow as three explosions shook the city between 6.54 pm and 7.06 pm on Wednesday, July 13 . “Monday was the fifth anniversary of the train blasts. On November 26, we will hold candlelight vigils for the victims of the 26/11 terror strike. How many more anniversaries are we going to observe?” asked 33-year-old graphic designer Rekha Mehta. By Wednesday night, the death toll had reached 21 dead and 141 injured. DETAILED STORY ON PAGE 6

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Rehan Siddiqi Once Again Second Biggest Concert of the Year after Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

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Gem of a Charity Mixer through a Night at the Museum

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: If you ever wanted to spend a night at the Museum and see all its exhibits without the usual crowd, then you missed your chance last Thursday, July 7 to be at the Museum of Natural History when the Indo American Charity Foundation held its one-of-a-kind mixer for supporters and donors, past, present and future. And it wasn’t just the ho-hum section (as if there really was one at the HMNS) either, but the Gem Gallery on the second floor where a collection of more than 450 of the world’s largest crystals is displayed in walk-around cases. Just past the entrance, a small crystal specimen that looked, to most Indian eyes, the likeness of a stylized Ganesh, sat in a small case, and on the far back wall, a giant 2,000 carat blue topaz shone in the spotlight. As the guest list of a little over 120 people arrived, they walked by the illuminated cases, cocktails and hors d’oeurves served by waiters passing through the crowd and mixed with others who had the same philanthropic frame of mind. Of to one side, virtuoso Danny Vargas strummed the guitar and Michelle crooned some soft songs. Also open for the evening was the Smith Gem Vault, which contains brilliant custom-made jewelry made with some of the world’s largest and most rare cut gemstones. In wide-eyed amazement, many walked through the entire collection and posed for pictures by their favorite displays. “This evening was to show our appreciation for your support through the years,” said IACF President Anu Bala. “With your support, we have come a long way to helping those in need in Houston.” “We have many plans for growth,” said President-elect David Raj, who personally sponsored the entire evening. “In the coming year, you’ll see major events coming from IACF.” Bala introduced many of the Board of Directors along with the IACF’s

first Executive Director, Surender Talwar. The IACF has been known for its signature events, especially at its annual Gala, which will be held this year on September 16 at

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the Intercontinental Hotel. Last year, it held a series of mixers to publicize its efforts to raise money for the charities supports, with a large mixer at M-Lounge in Sugar Land. Its last major event was a Golf tournament in May and Scholarship Awards ceremony is planned for in August.

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Anu Bala, President of IACF and 2012 President David Raj welcomed the over 120 supporters to the Gems Gallery at a mixer held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science while David Vargas and Michelle performed soft songs. A crystal specimen looked like a stylized Ganesh to the guests. Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

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Houston Rath Yatra Festival 2011 to be Held at India House on July 16

By Surath Rath HOUSTON: Houston is all set for the grand celebration of Shree Jagannath Ratha Yatra to be celebrated on July 16 at the India House, 8888 West Bellfort Street, Houston, Texas 77031. The success of the past 3 years of the celebration and overwhelming support from different organizations, communities and individuals from Houston and neighboring cities is the driving force behind this year’s festival. The Orissa Culture Center (OCC) in partnership with ISKON, Houston, is preparing for the celebration of Shree Jagannatha Ratha Yatra commemorating the appearance of Lord Jagannath, His elder brother Lord Balabhadra and His younger sister Devi Subhadra to millions of their devotees on the grand pavilion in the city of Puri in the state of Odisha situated on the eastern coast of India. The days’ events have been carefully planned to include several aspects relating to Shree Jagannatha Philosophy and the ideology of several participating organizations. The event will be marked by a “Maha Yagna” or the fire worship, a tradition that dates back to the very root of the Vendanta Philosophy. This will be followed by different rituals and worship of the three deities in line with the practice that is followed for several hundreds of years in the Jagannatha Temple

at Puri. The late afternoon events include a one and half hour of cultural programs including classical dance, devotional music and sankirtan (name chanting of Lord Jagannath). The biggest attraction of the evening is the chariot procession in which hundreds of devotees will pull the beautifully

served evening dinner with “Maha Prasad” at the end of the procession. The evening worship or the “Maha Arati” of the Lords will be performed followed by music and dance consisting of tribal and folk dances. Odishi as a classical dance form of Odisha, India, has its origin in

decorated 22’ chariot housing the Lord of the universe, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. The procession will be accompanied by several spiritual and cultural groups singing devotional songs and chanting Lord’s names. All devotees will be allowed to offer worship to the Lord on the chariot before and at the end of the procession. It is believed that by pulling the chariot of Lord Jagannath and getting a glimpse of the Lord on the chariot one gets the blessings of the supreme Lord. All devotees will be

the “Deva Dasi Dance” tradition performed in Shree Jagannatha Temple at Puri, Odisha, dates back to hundreds of years. This year OCC will present an Odishi dance performance during the evening cultural programs by Shri Nityananda Das, an eminent Odishi dancer from Odisha. Born in March 9, 1975 to a modest family in the district of Bhadrak in Odisha, Nityananda was drawn to the art of Odishi dance from an early age. He continued his training under Odishi Guru Shri Bimbadhar Das. It was a cruel

stroke of destiny and on June 11, 2000, Shri Nityananda Das lost his right leg in an accident. All of a sudden his dreams of elevating the Odishi dance form to a higher level seemed to crumble. Lord Krishna who barely uses both his legs while playing the flute, Lord Jagannatha who does not even have his legs and hands, showered their blessings and the miracle started to unfold. Nityananda became more resolute than ever before and started his training under his Guru. All participants of this year’s chariot festival will witness this miracle through the performance of Nityananda. Physical limitations do not impose any restrictions on one’s ability and the mercy and blessings of the Lord almighty can bring miracle to every one’s life. The humility, deep faith in almighty and self perseverance is evident in this dance mudra (pose) of Nityananda. Among the important events of the evening also include a spiritual discourse by Guru Shri C.B Satpathy of the Shiridi Sai Organization in India. Shri Satpathy is spearheading the Shree Shiridi Sai spiritual movement in India and abroad. Guruji, through his discourses, teaches Shri Shiridi Sai philosophy that centers on the virtues of purity, love, compassion and tolerance towards one and all. A few other important additions to this year’s evening programs in-

clude a documentary film ‘Aparajita’ (The Undefeated) made by Yunuen Perez Vertti and Aswinee Rath and screening of Kanakalata , an Oriya movie made in 1973 by Director Ghanasyam Mahapatra, which was critically acclaimed nationally and internationally. The movie reflects the most authentic & vivid characters of rural life of Orissa in early 14th century in the religious minds of the Oriya family life and their simple living style & the joint family system. The director himself will be present at the screening to answer the questions from the audience. OCC is a fast growing non-profit institution in the city of Houston with a dedicated mission to promote the cultural heritage and traditional art forms from India in general and state of Odisha in particular. In addition, OCC also tries to promote the central philosophy of Lord Jagannatha which preaches universal brotherhood and religious tolerance. The members of Orissa Culture Center (OCC) and ISKON, Houston, cordially invite everyone from Houston and neighboring cities to participate in this year’s chariot festival and experience the oneness that binds all humanity together. For further information, visit or call 832-225-2376.

10554 Southwest Freeway Houston, TX 77036


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A Surprise Houston Visit by Guru to a Tumultuous Welcome

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: With very little notice and much less fanfare, the present guru of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (Punjab), Baba Gurinder Singh, paid a surprise visit to Houston and was welcomed by nearly 1,000 adherents to the faith this past Saturday, July 9. The program was a daylong affair, starting from 10 in the morning and was pulled together by a huge number of volunteers who had been given an inkling that a dignitary would pay a visit. Gurinder Singh, who is lovingly called Babaji by his followers, gave a satang (discourse) which lasted over 90 minutes and included a question and answer session. The Satang was held in north Waller County at the Science of the Soul Study Center and the main hall was full to capacity with followers not only from the Houston area but also from all over Texas and several other states and other countries as well. The Center is situated in the on a 120-acre lot that was acquired in 2007 in the Kickapoo Preserve subdivision. Since then, work has been going on to build a single-story, approximately 15,000 sf metal building that looks like a barn. The now almost complete building can seat 1,000 people and is surrounded by what were once lush ranches but is still a very quiet place where one can meditate. Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) is a philosophical organization based on the spiritual teachings of all religions and dedicated to a process of inner development under the guidance of a spiritual teacher. RSSB’s main centre is Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, named

G u r u o f t h e R adha Soami Satsang Beas (Punjab), Baba Gurinder Singh visited Houston last Saturday, July 9 to a huge crowd.

after its founder who settled there in the late 1800’s. Located in Punjab, the ‘Dera’ is a self-contained community with 6,000 residents. Radha Soami means ‘lord of the soul’, satsang describes a group that seeks truth, and Beas refers to the town near which the main centre is located in northern India. RSSB was established in India in 1891 and gradually began spreading to other countries. Today RSSB holds meetings in more than 90 countries worldwide. The philosophy teaches a personal path of spiritual development which includes a vegetarian diet, abstinence from intoxicants, a moral way of life and the practice of daily meditation. There are no rituals, ceremonies, hierarchies or mandatory contributions, nor are there compulsory gatherings. Members need not give up their

The Science of the Soul Study Center in Petaluma, California

cultural identity or religious preference to follow this path. At the core of the RSSB philosophy is a belief that there is a spiritual purpose to human life – to experience the divinity of God who resides in all of us so that we realize that there is only one God and we are all expressions of his love. Central to the RSSB philosophy is a spiritual teacher who explains the purpose of life and guides and instructs members in a method of spirituality based on a daily meditation practice. The present teacher is Baba Gurinder Singh, who lives with his family at the main centre in northern India. There are 22 other Science of the Soul Study Centers worldwide, with 3 on the US mainland, one in Hawaii and two in Canada. The other US centers are located in New York City, Petaluma, California and Fayettville, North Carolina. The Houston Science of the Soul Study Center is located at

24689 N. Kickapoo Rd. in Waller County.

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21 Killed, 141 Injured as Terror Strikes Mumbai Again MUMBAI (Hindu): Three blasts between 6.54 p.m. and 7.05 p.m. on Wednesday rocked the crowded areas of Mumbai, killing 21 persons and injuring 141 others. The most powerful one, suspected to have been set off by an IED (improvised explosive device), occurred at Zaveri Bazaar in south Mumbai, a congested part of the city, the second at Kabutarkhana near the Dadar suburban railway station in central Mumbai and the third at Opera House, also in south Mumbai. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, confirming the death toll, said the blasts were a terror strike and the police would get to the bottom of it. He said the blasts occurred at 6.54 p.m., 6.55 p.m. and 7.05 p.m. Appealing to Mumbaikars to remain calm, Chavan said he had spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and both of them assured the State all help. In the blast near a bus stop at Kabutarkhana, according to eyewitness accounts, a car that was passing by was shattered and its driver injured. The damaged bus stop and broken glass of nearby shops bore testimony to the intensity of the bomb, which was placed near the Hanuman Mandir, according to Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Umeshkumar Sarangi. Sarangi said the bomb at Zaveri Bazaar was placed in an umbrella, while the one at Opera House was

A victim of a bomb explosion is carried away on a stretcher moments at Zaveri bazaar in Mumbai. Photo: AP

in a manhole. While Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik confirmed that it was an IED that was used at Zaveri Bazaar, investigations are still on to confirm the kind of explosive used at the other two places. At Dadar, eyewitnesses said, the explosion was so loud many thought a building had collapsed. Rajendra Rathod, who has a shop just opposite the place where the bomb went off, told The Hindu that the intensity caused him to fall on the ground. A motorcyclist riding by also suffered the impact. The police cordoned off the entire area which was crammed with onlookers and the media. There was a scuffle as workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) insisted the police were late in taking away the injured persons to hospital. People said they saw at least four persons lying injured and one dead.

Luckily, no schoolchild was injured, said Amruta Parab. For at this time of the day, usually lots of children and parents would be moving around the nearby school. Kabutarkhana is one of the most crowded areas outside the Dadar suburban station and usually there would be 150-200 people around. Rahul Gokhale heard the blast sound a little away at Portuguese Church where he lives in, and came to the site, where he witnessed chaos and confusion. Pointing out that it was a difficult situation, Mr. Patnaik said Mumbai had witnessed blasts again and again. He promised the people that the guilty would be brought to book. This is the third bomb blast at Zaveri Bazaar, the heart of the diamond trading area of the city. The earlier two happened in 1993 and in 2003. On Wednesday, the bomb ex-

The scene after a blast near Opera House, Mumbai on Wednesday. Photo: Vivek Bendre

ploded in an area popularly called “Khau Galli” where people gather to have a snack in the evenings. It was littered with shattered glass and crowds surged to the site. Jayesh Labdhi, a diamond merchant, was coming out of his office when he heard the loud explosion which he thought was caused by firing. Then he heard people running around and saying it was a blast. He said that he took 14-20 people to hospital. He saw almost 30 people lying around with injuries. Some eyewitnesses said that they heard two blasts one after the other. Pravinbhai Tanna said the bomb exploded outside a shop called Super Tools. Its owner Syed Radhanpurwalla and some others inside the shop were seriously injured. Mustafa Patakdawalla, who was helping the injured, saw a huge plume of smoke rising into the sky.

Dheeraj Degliya was injured in the leg and hurt by metal particles. After the explosion there was complete darkness in the smoke-filled area. He said rains were a blessing because fewer people were out on the road. In Opera House the bomb exploded outside the J K building in the Panchvati diamond chowk area. Pankaj Jain, a diamond trader, was in his ground floor office nearby when he heard the explosion which brought a sleet of shattered glass inside. He sustained head injuries and fled the scene to get admitted to the Saifee Hospital. There were scenes of chaos at both the Saifee and Harkisondas hospitals with relatives and the media thronging the place for information. Jayant Sanghvi lost his hearing after the explosion. Speaking to The Hindu at the Saifee hospital, he said he had suffered head injuries too. The blast was heard a km away and even two streets down the road. On a normal day there would be 3,000 to 4,000 people in the area. At the GT Hospital, Sadashiv Bhane was badly shaken as his son, who works in Kalbadevi as a clerk, was injured. Barun Samanta, a gold worker is frantically searching for his colleague, Kamal Dalai. A hospital worker said nearly 30 injured persons were brought from Zaveri Bazaar and most of the serious cases were transferred to JJ and KEM.

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HCC Trustee Neeta Sane Honored by the Texas House of Representatives Recognized for community service

HOUSTON: Neeta Sane, Houston Community College trustee for District VII, was honored by the State of Texas House of Representatives in recognition of her service to the community and HCC. The House acknowledged Sane for her efforts to strengthen the college’s capacity to serve as a pathway to higher education and workforce training. Sane has promoted partnerships with area businesses and has held a series of regional workforce summits to explore new ways in which HCC can address local workforce needs. These efforts have resulted in the establishment of a new Associate in Applied Science degree program in logistics and global supply chain management. Sane has also focused her energies towards developing outreach programs to low-income and underserved communities, on improving support services for minority and economically disadvantaged students and on instituting a diversity program for the benefit of students and staff. Sane holds an M.S. from the University of Bombay and a master’s degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake. In addition to serving on the HCC Board of Trustees, she manages a Stafford-based software development and consulting firm, which

Neeta Sane, HCC Trustee, District VII

she established in 2001. Through her work and her dedication, Sane is making a positive difference in the lives of countless Texas residents. Because of her tireless efforts, the House of Representatives of the 82nd Texas Legislature honored Neeta Sane for her outstanding contributions in behalf of Houston Community College and the people of Fort Bend County.

TNF Convention in Houston HOUSTON: On June 24, Tamil Nadu Foundation USA (TNF) held its Annual General body meeting, on board Carnival Glory. Over 200 participated in the event including three trustees from Tamilnadu Chapter. Since 1974, Tamilnadu Foundation

Besides the General Body meeting several other fun programs were also held including Variety entertainment, Classical and Bollywood dances, Comedy, Games, and Singing. Pattimandram was presided by Umayal Muthu. Sam Kannappan, Somalay

Tamil Nadu Foundation Debate participants USA has implemented over 600 projects in every district of Tamilnadu, in the fields of Education, Health, Women’s empowerment and Rural Development. Dr.M.Rammohan, President TNF thanked the Outgoing Board of Directors for their selfless services rendered to the people of Tamilnadu during the preceding 2 years. Dr.Deivanayagam took over as TNF President for next two years. P.K. Aravazhi was elected secretary. Dr.Padmini and Sam Kannappan of Houston outlined the efforts of Texas team and their preparations for TNF2012 convention in Houston to be held during Memorial day holidays during May 25-28th 2012.

Somasundaram, debated for, while Brahashitha Guptha and Sundari Viswanathan against. The topic for the debate was ‘Do old Indian Traditions hinder the progress or render help to the Second Generation in USA ? ” TNF Director Geetha Pradeep was the main Convener for this Tamil Cruise. Shree Gurusamy, Brahashitha Guptha, and Usha Chandrasekar were the Co-ordinators for the Entertainment and Pattimandram. Call Kasthuri Gomes at 865- 481-0440 to become a TNF member. For more information about TNF2012 in Houston, email sam. or Padprn198@ or visit visit




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Swagatam at Jaina Convention


HOUSTON: Jain Society of Houston presented a signature program, Swagatam, at the recently held 16th biennial Jaina Convention. This marvellous concoction of song,dance, and audio visuals was conceived and choreographed by Shefali Jhaveri and Tina Shah. They were ably assisted by

the original version of “Swagatam”. The program flowed into a storyline of the spread of Jainism and the contribution of Jains in India. The maharastrian lavani, gujurati raas, rajastani ghumar, and the Punjabi bhangra were highlighted in this section. During the third segment, the contribu-

Sanjana Jhaveri, Rima Shah, Setu Shah, Mishi Jain, Leepi Mehta, Monali Shah, Meera shah, Amit Desai,Pratima Desai, and Chetan Jhaveri. They visualised a huge group participation and harnessed the creative skills of over 150 participants and 20 volunteers from the Jain Society of Houston. The classic theme of the convention, Live and Help Live, was highlighted throughout the entire program which was divided into four sections; Swagatam, which commenced with the primo Jain Navkar Mantra, morphed into a medley of five different dance forms, starting with Kathak, barathnatyam, kuchipudi, mohiniatam, and Odissi. This was choreographed by Dr. Ratna Kumar, who also lent her gracious voice as a narrator. Hariharan contributed by lending

tion of international Jains was reflected in the various dances performed. Thirty children between the ages of 4-7 performed to “It’s a small small world”. Dramatic special effects included an 8 foot globe which was lowered from a height of 40 feet.Desi, Jains kids performed the American Hip Hop with great elan and style. They were followed by an energetic and foot tapping Mexican folk dance and Irish tap dance. The final portion of the program advocated anti terrorism, peace, and the Jain principles of ahimsa and anekantvad. A.R Rehman’s Gurus of Peace led the way, followed by an unusually choreographed fusion yoga dance. Over 25 participants presented difficult yogic postures. A 10 foot silhouette of Bhagwan mahavir was lowered onto the stage to add dramatic appeal. The program closed with an energetic rendering of “All izz Well”. Excellent audio visuals support provided by Sandip Shah with technical support for sound and light by nirdesh oswal gave a professional touch. Costumes, specially designed by Shefali and Tina were imported from India. Swagatam raised the bar for entertainment programs produced locally in Houston.

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What Makes the “Healthy Indian Diet” Healthy? By Niraj Patel M.D. There are three things we can do to prevent becoming sick with chronic disease or better live with it: eat a good diet, relieve stress, and get regular exercise. Millions today exercise at home or in gyms, many of them almost every day. Millions also practice the ancient Indian art of yoga, and modern science has confirmed that yogic postures, breathing exercises, and meditation contribute to good health. But yoga isn’t the only thing which comes from India that helps people stay healthy. Did you know that many spices in Indian food like turmeric, cumin, and black pepper, among others and mixed together in combinations developed by Ayurvedic practitioners over centuries, have been discovered to have properties described as “anti-cancer” by experts like Dr. Bharat Aggarwal of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center? Spices are one or many elements that make traditional Indian food healthy. (Yes, I said Indian food can be healthy. Read on.) To explain this further, I’d like to tell the story of Robert McCarrison, an Irish physician who set off a revolution in our thinking on nutrition over a hundred years ago based on what he discovered in India. In 1901, the 23-year old doctor was sent to the Himalayas to care for soldiers stationed there. Amid long hours on duty, he recorded observations on a people living in the foothills

named the Hunza. They were in excellent health compared with soldiers from Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and other parts of India as well as Britain, he noted. McCarrison also observed high rates of thyroid disease among other Himalayan tribes, and his intuition was that different diets played a key role in why some people suffered bad health while in the same region other people enjoyed good health. This ran counter to popular thought, but his intuition was vindicated by his research on what people were eating in different parts of India, some being based on ancient traditions and Ayurvedic wisdom, and their overall health. During three decades of nutrition research, some in the South Indian hill town Conoor (where he founded a lab that is India’s nutrition research center today) but much of it in the field all over India, McCarrison witnessed a trend that disturbed him: the industrialization of food.

IACAN Health Needs Assessment of Asian Indians to Launch in Houston HOUSTON: Asian Indians are now the second largest Asian American group in Harris County and yet, little is known about the health status of this rapidly growing population. The Indian American Cancer Network (IACAN) in partnership with researchers from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center will be conducting a health needs assessment of the Asian Indian community in the Greater Houston area. The first phase of the study will be to interview key community members to get their opinions about major health issues of Asian Indians. Then individuals from the Asian Indian community will be invited to participate in focus groups at which information about their health beliefs, practices, and perceptions about health and cancer will be collected. All of this data will be used to tailor a health survey instrument that will be administered to at least 400 Asian Indians in the Greater Houston area. The findings from

the health needs assessment will provide documentation about barriers that Asian Indians may be facing in accessing health and cancer screening. The results will help us in designing programs that will teach the community about how to obtain and maintain optimal health. Who can participate? • Asian Indian men and women, 18 years and older • Live in Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria or Galveston counties • Able to speak and understand English or Hindi Participants will receive a $20 gift card for participation. Focus group sessions will last approximately 2 hours and will be held at a community facility. For more information or to participate, contact Dr. Beverly Gor at bjgor@ or call 713-563-2750 or Dr. Mala Pande at mpande@mdanderson. org or call 713-745-5625.

All over India processed products were showing up in people’s food, a departure from the way it had been. Before, as McCarrison noted, people ate grains close to how they grew in nature. Thus, parts of the grain called “germ,” which is full of minerals and vitamins, and fiberrich “bran” were eaten. But people were not getting nutritious parts of grains as they were eating much more refined wheat and white rice because food was being “modernized” in India. In addition to whole grains such as wild or brown rice and flatbreads from wholewheat (atta in Hindi), Indians traditionally ate dal (lentils) and other legumes, leafy vegetables cooked with spices, yogurts like dahi, nuts such as pistachios, and other plant-based foods. Meats were also occasionally eaten in some parts of the subcontinent. These foods when eaten together are the basis of what I call the “Healthy Indian Diet.” In the last decades of the Raj, Indians abandoned healthy eating habits based on wisdom cultivated over millennia because the industrialization that brought wealth and people to Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Amdavad and other Indian cities also changed what kind of food was cheap and available. Even people living in villages be-

gan eating refined grains and sugar, which are high in energy but poor in nutrition and help cause diabetes and heart disease, instead of whole grains and other natural foods. After nearly thirty years of studying the connections between what people ate and their health, McCarrison left India, took the wisdom that he gained there, and became a crusader against the Modern Diet in his home country of Great Britain. In one famous lecture he gave in 1936, he said, “I have little patience with those who would have us believe that ‘white flour’ [or maida] is as good an article of diet as ‘whole wheat flour’ [or atta].” White rice, he said, “[is] subjected to a number of processes before use by the consumer; all of which reduce [its] already sparse supply of certain essential nutrients. It is parboiled, milled or polished; often all three… It is thus deprived of much of its proteins and mineral salts and of almost all its vitamins.” Scientific studies from the last decade show this to be true: eating white rice does increase one’s risk of developing diabetes or worsening blood sugar levels. On the other hand, regularly eating brown rice reduces one’s risk of diabetes. Similarly, studies now show that eating refined grains and sugar encourages the development of heart disease, while eating whole grain foods and cutting out sugar prevents it. For people from India and surrounding countries, this connection between our food and our health is especially important because of our propensity to develop heart disease and diabetes compared with people from other parts of the world. continued on page


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Little Champs Singing Contest at India Fest 2011



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HOUSTON: India Fest 2011 will be celebrating India’s 65th Independence Day on Saturday, August 20 at the George R. Brown Convention Center Hall E. The theme for this year’s event is Amazing India at 65. India Culture Center, (ICC) Houston in collaboration with the office of the Indian Consulate and other major Indo-American organizations will hold India’s Independence Day celebration as a tradition being observed for over 38 years in Greater Houston since ICC’s inception. The India

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vertible. For more details visit National American Miss is dedicated to developing the success of young women across our nation with a program that is designed to be age-appropriate and familyoriented. Pageants are held in each state for girls ages four to eighteen in five different age divisions The National American Miss Pageants are for “Today’s Girl” and “Tomorrow’s leaders.” The pageant program is based on inner beauty, as well as poise, presentation, and offers an IIAll American Spirit” of fun for family and friends. Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition, and setting and achieving personal goals. The pageant seeks to recognize the accomplishments of each girl while encouraging her to set goals for the future! Surabhi’s sponsors for the pageant were Gita Software Solutions Inc., Hiremangalore and Ramadas family.

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the title of 2011 Miss Texas (South) Talent, Casual Wear and Top Model winner. Surabhi will attend the National Pageant to be held in Anaheim, California at Disneyland” during Thanksgiving week representing the great state of Texas (South) where she will have the opportunity to win her share of over $500,000 in cash and prizes! The National American Miss Pageants are dedicated to celebrating America’s greatness and encouraging its future leaders. Each year, the National American Miss Pageants awards 1.5 Million dollars in cash, scholarships, and prizes to recognize and assist the development of young women nationwide. National American Miss has added the ultimate door prize to Nationals 2011. Each girl that qualifies for the national pageant has a chance to win a new 2011 Ford Mustang Con-

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eant show, bazaar with commercial booths and to top it all they have introduced a new segment of “Little Champs.” The formal segment of the celebrations focuses on community

awards and flag honoring by India’s Consul General, the Chief Guest on the occasion, who will be delivering the Independence Day message to the Indian community. The Little Champs singing contest is for children in the Age group of 6 to 12 years. There is no restriction of language and the audition is free. The selected Champs will perform on the ICC stage and will be awarded on August 20. The auditions are slated on August 6 and the last date to register is July 31. For more information call Surender Talwar at 713-668-2948 or email at or visit

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An Interview with Legendary Orissa’s Film Director Ghanasyam Mohapatra

By Chetana Samal In 1973, “Kanaklata” made history on many fronts. It was critically acclaimed nationally as well as internationally. Very well commended by legendary Satyajit Ray and it had a special screening for then President of India, N. Sanjeev Reddy. This year, “Kanaklata” has been selected by Orissa Culture Center (OCC) for a special screening at Houston Rath Yatra 2011, at India House between 1pm- 3pm. The director, Ghanashyam Mohapatra has consented to be present at the screening. Below are some excerpts from the interview: We want to hear from the director, what made you to make the film “Kanakalata” in 1973? First of all, I want to thank the Houston Oriya community for inviting me and screening the Oriya film Kanakalata on such an auspicious day of Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath. I pray lord Jagannath for the prosperity and wellbeing of the entire Oriya community here. To begin with how I got the inspiration to produce such a social film, I have to go back to my school days. During 1947 when India got its independence, a powerful social film of V. Santaram titled “Dunia Na Mane” was screened for the school students of our High School at Dhenkanal in a local cinema house. I saw the film and was inspired by the social relevance of such a film. Then during my college days at Cuttack in 1950s, I saw a Gemini productions film “Sansar” and then during my study of cinematography at Bangalore as a government scholar from Orissa, I saw the APU triology i.e. “Pather Panchali”, “Aparajito” and “ Apur Sansar”. During that period, I was exposed to the productions of the fathers of cinema such as, D. W. Griffith, Eisenstein, V. I. Pudovkin, Robert Flaherty and Paul Rotha. From these, I had the inspiration to produce a social film that shall reflect the culture and social traditions of Orissa. Kanakalata, having stayed within the boundary of home, was very independent and aware of social issues and wanted to

Ghanasyam Mohapatra

bring change to society in her own way. Is the movie still relevant after 30 plus years of the movie released? I feel yes. This was your first feature film. What made you to pick Palli Kabi Nanda Kishore Bal’s book “Kanakalata” over any other novel? As to my wish to make my first feature film quite different from the commercial ones, I received the book “Kanakalata” from Mr. Krishna Kishore Bal, the elder son of the great poet Palli Kabi Nanda Kishore Bal. I was struck by the portrayal of Oriya social life in that novel. As such, I decided that this is the novel that I was looking for. I had no second thought about my decision. I shall say that the writing of the story “Kanakalata” was so perfect that when I read the novel, the visuals were passing through me like the real picture. As a film maker, who did you

get inspiration from? Who are your favorite movie directors – International and in India? The legendary film maker V. Shantaram is my inspiration as a producer and the veteran Satyajit Ray is my inspiration as the film director. What is your current project? To produce a documentary film on the life of Adi Kabi Sarala Das., who was the first Oriya poet to write the great Mahabharat in Oriya language in 5th century, there by gave the Oriya literature a great national status. His writings gave the inspirations to many Oriya poets in the later years. Do you see any change in trend in India’s movie industry? There is a great change in Indian movie industry. Till 1960s, Indian films were relevant to Indian social life, culture and history. But by 1970s onwards it imitates the western style blindly, which has no relevance to actual Indian social life anyway. What is the future of Independent film makers? I feel, they should produce films which should have true Indian identity, be it in any Indian language. The movie “Kanakalata” will be screened between 1pm – 3pm at India House on Saturday, July 16. The director Mr. Ghanasyam Mohapatra will be present at the screening to meet the audience.

Healthy Indian Diet continued from page


In the spirit of promoting healthy whole grains, here’s an easy recipe for “Masala Brown Rice” by Anuja Balasubramanian and Hetal Jannu of the recipe site ShowMeTheCurry. com. This is one of more than 30 tasty recipes in our book “The Healthy Indian Diet.” Hope you enjoy! Niraj “Raj” Patel, M.D. reads and writes on food and health. His new book “The Healthy Indian Diet” explains why modern diets are associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, and how the

principles of nutrition illuminated by modern science apply to traditional diets. The book contains healthy recipes by Anuja Balasubramanian and Hetal Jannu of and is available in paperback at Amazon and in eBook formats across all major platforms. You can download a free sample at

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India in Pictures

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Afan posts greetings to Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the occassion of his birthday, near his residence in Ranchi. Photo: Manob Chowdhury Devotees participate in the Bahuda Yatra, the return journey of the Lord Jagannath, in Puri. Photo: PTI

Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit Singh, lodged in a Pakistan jail, carries gifts and greeting cards for Sarabjit’s daughters and wife upon her return from Pakistan at the Wagah border, near Amritsar. Dalbir returned from Pakistan after meeting her brother Sarabjit, lodged in the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. Photo: PTI

Alawalpur: Rahul Gandhi is blessed by an old woman during the second day of his padyatra in Alawalpur on Wednesday. Photo: PTi

Rescuers comb through the wreckage of the Kalka Mail passenger train which derailed near the town of Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, July 10, 2011. Photo: AP

Shreeja Mathews, the first Indian woman to own a Harley-Davidson - the Iron 883, poses with her bike in Bangalore. Photo: K . Bhagya Prakash



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The Worth of Eternal Repose at Kerala’s Ancient Temple

By Minu Ittyipe TRAVANCORE (Outlook): The quiet in the ancient precincts of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is unperturbed even as a media storm brews on the outside. The fabulous wealth within its vaults or the large posse of policemen present do not deter the white mundu- or sari-clad devotees from their religious duties—they go about their prayers calmly, oblivious of the clatter of TV crews. But the treasures that are tumbling out of the six kallaras (vaults) can unnerve even the hardiest of spiritual men. One person who saw the treasure of the ante-chamber of Vault A could not stop shivering even at the end of the day. There are bagfuls of diamonds and rubies, there are ancient gold rice trinkets and crowns, there are gold statues of Mahavishnu, there’s an 18-feet-long gold chain, a thousand other gold chains, ropes made of pure gold, staffs, golden coconut shells. There are hundreds of kilos of raasi (Kerala’s first indigenous gold coin), coins from the Napoleon era belonging to the early 19th century, Venetian gold coins called ducats from the 17th-18th century. As someone said, there seems to be more riches stuffed in the temple vaults than even stories from the Arabian Nights could conjure. Whose treasures are these? Why were they stacked up in the temple’s vaults? “The sacks of diamonds, rubies and emeralds were probably purchased by the kings or were given as gifts by traders visiting these parts from all over the world,” says archaeologist S. Hemachandran. He says in those days precious metals and jewellery were stored in copper vessels but perhaps because of the corroding nature of copper, sacks were used to hold the gems. Shreekumar Varma, nov-

The Padmanabhaswamy temple complex

elist and grandson of the last queen of Travancore, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, says, “It was always known that there was much accumulated wealth in the temple but no one knew how much. There was a ritual practised formerly that before the coronation of a king, the gold would be brought out and the king would immerse himself completely in the gold and become ‘ponnuthampuran’ (golden chief) and only then would he be considered fit to be king. This ritual was put to an end by Raja Moolam Thirunal” (who reigned from 1885-1924). So far, there have been wild estimates of the value of the treasure, ranging from Rs 1,00,000 crore to even 10 times that. The temple has six vaults, A-F, of which five have been opened so far. When the first vault was opened, it was found to be practically empty. On a hunch, the members opened an ante-chamber inside, and out tumbled sacks of diamonds and rubies,

“Unlike the kingdoms of the north, Travancore’s kings led simple lives, which is perhaps why the treasures survived.” tonnes of gold. Some sources say there may be more ante-chambers within the vaults. A Supreme Court-appointed seven-member panel is now tasked with the arduous exercise of inventorying the temple’s treasures. It all began with a petition by former ips officer T.P. Sundararajan who had moved the courts to have an inventory done of the temple treasures. He now says he is happy with the net result though the methods adopted in inventorying could have been better. “The inventory taken on the basis of weight is substantially correct though not fully accurate. But I am satisfied that the treasure is being put back into the vaults and sealed,” he says. What made Sundararajan, an IB officer during Indira Gandhi’s rule, go to the courts with his demand? Sundararajan gave up the ips when his father became blind and came to live in their ancestral home, a stone’s throw from the west nada (door) of the Padmanabhaswamy temple. He would take his father daily to the temple, and soon he too became an ardent devotee. Today, the septuagenarian spends close to eight hours in the temple, starting his day at 2.30 am. Sundararajan, like many in Thiruvananthapuram, was always aware of its treasures. Much of the ancient offerings and donations to the temple are maintained in the matilakam records (written on cadjan or palm leaves) of the temple which date back to the 14th century. Many of those records are now said to be lost while some are preserved in government archives. Sundararajan was afraid the temple trust under the control of Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, younger brother of the last ruler of Travancore, did not have the wherewithal to protect the temple treasures. After Independence, all the major temples under the control and management of the erstwhile princely states came under the control of the Travancore and Cochin devaswom boards. But, under a special covenant, the administration of Padmanabhaswamy temple continued to be with the last ruler of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. The Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950, says “the administration of Sree Padmanabhaswamy and Sree Pandaravaya properties and all other properties and funds of the said temple are vested in trust with the ruler of Travancore”. In 1971, the privy purse was abolished which took away the term ruler. Balarama Varma passed away in 1991. In 1993, a constitution bench ruled that any

treaties, covenants, assurances entered into by the rulers of the erstwhile princely states and the government of India were void. “The question of the legitimacy of the royal family as the controlling trustees of the temple under Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, present head of the Travancore royal family, came into play,” says Anand Padmanabhan, counsel for Sundararajan. In 2009, Sundararajan appealed to the high court and later the SC for an inventory of the temple to be duly prepared. In May this year, the apex court appointed a seven-member panel to prepare the inventory and on June 27 the first of the vaults was opened. As the complex process of evaluating the wealth carries on, the question on everyone’s mind is: who does the treasure belong to? “It’s very significant that the vaults were locked for over a hundred years and all the wealth preserved because, unlike the kingdoms of the north, the lifestyles of the Travancore kings were simple, without any ostentation,” says Shreekumar Varma. “The kings were Padmanabhadasas...I feel the wealth belongs to the royal family. It has been administering the temple for so long without any problems...the family is devoted to the god.” There are all sorts of views on this; the conservative one veers towards favouring the status quo. Historian M.G. Sashibhushan, who has been following the Travancore royal family for many years, says, “The Padmanabhaswamy temple is the life and breath of the royal family. The treasure should remain with the temple and the royal family be allowed to administer the temple’s affairs.” But if it belongs to the royals, won’t they have to pay wealth tax? “Charitable institutions are exempt from wealth tax,” says chartered accountant Goda Varma Raja. “Technically, the wealth belongs to the deity. The royal family will never touch even a bit of it.” Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy has also been quick to say the treasures will not be removed from the temple. But finally it’s the court that will decide who the treasure belongs to. Right now, the top priority for the government is to safeguard the riches. “There is a three-tier security system in place—the outside perimeter, the inner perimeter and electronic surveillance. We are factoring in all types of exigencies and have formed a quick response team too,” says additional dgp Venugopal K. Nair, who is in charge of temple security. The next step in this fascinating story is the opening of the sixth and final vault—the mysterious kallara B. What lies inside it? The last vault has become controversial because the underground chamber is said to lie directly below the deity and it is considered the most sacred of all the vaults. The city of Thiruvananthapuram is rife with rumours that if the doors to the vault are opened, a terrible curse will befall the city, and those who open the vault will perish. Some recall the old folklore that there are deadly snakes inside ready to attack anybody who tries to get in. Another story goes that the door of this vault opens into a secret passage that runs underground, a tunnel large enough for two people to walk through, right up to Kanyakumari. When the Supreme Court panel tried to open this vault last week, they found an iron door that did not yield to any key. A gas-cutter may now have to be used to open this door. But this method is deemed inappropriate because it will disturb the sanctity of the temple and the authorities are not willing to allow this to happen. The panel members are sure to try to open the vault again very soon. Will it yield even more riches, will it unleash a plague, what is in store for Lord Padmanabha’s city? Outlook

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The Golden Truth about Brown Rice

By Anjum Dhir Kulkar That grand-and-mad wedding season is here again! Your taste buds will surely have a ball, but your digestive system will be crying hoarse. At such a time, dietary changes at home can go a long way in helping you cope up with health troubles. One such change is swapping refined white rice with brown rice or whole grain rice. Wholesome goodness Whole grain contains the bran, germ, and endosperm unlike processed grain that contains just the endosperm. The endosperm generates proteins; the bran contains minerals; and the germ contains vitamin E, unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. These grains hold large amounts of fiber and also contain magnesium. Antioxidant levels in whole grains are high and prevent the onset of cell damage. They fend off disorders like cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. They lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, and reduce triglycerides. Shikha Sharma, doctor of medicine and renowned wellness consultant explains, “Brown rice has

a high level of vitamin B-Complex and iron. It helps in managing weight and can be eaten by diabetics. Since the skin of the grain is intact, it is healthy and delicious.” Brown rice also controls blood

sugar levels by delaying the absorption of certain nutrients thus reducing the increase of insulin. It alleviates hunger and leaves you feeling fuller for longer. A definite benefit in the wedding season where delayed meals is the order of the day! It is important to remember that brown and white rice contain similar amounts of carbohydrates per serving, but brown rice of course carries far more nutrition! Enjoy this delectable and healthy treat Any rice may be eaten as brown

rice. Brown rice has a mild nutty flavor, is chewier than white rice, and becomes rancid more quickly. It can be refrigerated or frozen for longer shelf-life. The mineral-rich layers of bran in the brown rice make it thick. Thus, it may require additional water and take longer to cook than white rice. For extra flavour, try cooking the rice in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. Try these twists: - Brown rice can be added to your vegetable soup or stew, making it a complete meal. - For a quick snack, to the brown rice add some mashed tofu, herbs, and spices. Make the mixture into patties and toast it in a toaster. - For a Mexican twist, mix the rice with some spicy tomato sauce; wrap it in a burrito with some roasted beans, guacamole or salsa. - Opt for a healthy rice and red lentil salad. - Go oriental and stir-fry the rice with just a tad bit of peanut oil. Add vegetables and soy sauce for delicious whole grain fried rice. - To pamper your sweet tooth, make rice pudding with any left over rice and instead of sugar, use prunes and figs to sweeten up your treat naturally! - Femina


Masala Pappad Roll


Masala pappad: Two Boiled potatoes: 30 gm Paneer grated: 10 gm Chat masala and jeera powder: One gm each Salt and chilli powder: Two gm each Chopped coriander leaves: One gm Butter: One gm Oil: For frying Mint chutney: 25 ml Lacha onion salad: 20 Gms

Boil and mash the potatoes and add the grated paneer, salt, chat masala, jeera powder, chopped coriander, butter. Check the seasoning and keep it aside. Soak the masala pappad in a hot water for few minutes and take it out without damaging it and place it on a clean flat surface. Place the mixed potato on one end and fold both sides of the pappad and roll it. Keep the pappad roll in the refrigerator for 10 minutes as this will help in keeping the item crispy and in shape. Fry the pappad roll in the oil on medium flame till it becomes crispy and golden brown colour . Serve with mint chutney and lacha onion salad. - The Hindu Directions

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Living and Playing with Disability

By Mausumi Sucharita MANGALORE: Boniface Prabhu makes a graceful entry on his wheelchair with a warm smile to shake hands. Boniface Prabhu is one of the pioneers of wheelchair tennis in India and a guiding force for many wheelchair tennis players. He had recently come to Mangalore to receive the Swabhiman Award-2011 given by the Mangalore-based weekly Daijiworld, and was staying with a friend in Bendorewell. Prabhu is ranked India’s number one wheelchair tennis player, second in Asia and World number 24. He started his sports career as an athlete and has participated in shot-put, discuss, javelin, table tennis and badminton at national and international levels. It was during one such event in UK that he was amazed to see the sports played by disabled people and facilities available there. After that he tried his hand at shooting for some time, but shooting being an expensive sports needed sponsorship, which he could not muster at that point of time. Finally he took up wheelchair tennis, the most popular wheelchair sports and his favourite too because of the independence it gives to the player. Boniface thanks his friends and philanthropists who backed him financially in the early days of his career as finding a sponsor was the most difficult part of his journey.

People with disabilities need opportunities, not sympathy, believes Boniface Prabhu. Photo: K. Gopinathan

He says “There are many who start with a great zeal but quit midway because of lack of support. That way I was lucky to have some very good-hearted people who supported me during my rough days.” He used to participate only in two-three tournaments before he started getting sponsorship whereas now he plays 10 to 14 tournaments every year. “Even able-bodied tennis players have a problem finding a sponsor; obviously people are skeptical when it comes to disabled people,” said Boniface. He has not received any support from the government till date. A

private apparel brand has been his sponsor for the last six years and another private firm is the associate sponsors for the last four years. He was born as a normal child, but a wrong lumbar puncture in a clinic left him partially disabled at the age of four. But neither his parents nor his two brothers gave up on him. They raised him like any other normal child. He could not attend school meant for normal children, so he studied at home all through and appeared for SSLC examina-

tions. When he decided to take up tennis and met his coach for the first time in 1996, his coach was taken aback by his idea, but gradually they built camaraderie. “I love tennis because I get to travel a lot and meet new people.” He adores John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, David Hall, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendular and APJ Abdul Kalam. He had the opportunity to meet then President APJ Abdul Kalam who asked him about his future plans. Prabhu replied that he would like to play tennis on the moon. And that is exactly the kind

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of confidence this tennis player exudes — the unflinching determination and the “never say die” attitude are all part of his persona. But unlike regular tennis players, the economics of wheelchair tennis are quite different. The difference between money

Indo American News • Friday, JUly 15 , 2011 • Online Edition:

spent by a player on the entry fee and the award won is minuscule. He says: “We are working hard to make people aware of our cause. I don’t believe in asking ‘Why me?’ We don’t need sympathy, our community needs more opportunity and empathy.”

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Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011


AR Rahman: “It’s not a Perfect Life” AR Rahman: The Spirit of Music is an authorized biography. For someone so painfully shy, how difficult was it to allow someone to peep into your life and mind? The whole idea while writing this book was that it should make sense to the person reading it and be a positive exercise. And to make it positive, I had to give them the whole route. Did it take much convincing on the part of the author? First of all, I agreed to do it because Munni was writing it and also because she’s multi-cultural. I too have both Indian sensibilities and a certain global understanding because I have lived abroad too. What other goals have you set for yourself? We’re celebrating 20 years of my music career. I’m going into another direction which is giving back to society. My music school KM Conservatory is moving forward. How much do you get affected by criticism? If there is no criticism you become lazy. But it should be constructive and it should be the truth. Your theme song for the Com-

monwealth Games got a lot of flak… There were probably certain things we overlooked. Everyone was expecting an international song and we wanted it to be motivational. A lot of people were so drowned in Shakira’s Waka waka that they found Jiyo… very desi. Does genius also err? (Laughs). It is good to err. But making music in a film is not one person’s decision. They work as a team, but if the main guy, the director, goes terribly wrong then everyone hates the music and everything else associated with the film. Did you feel terrible when Jhootha Hi Sahi and Raavan came a cropper after your Oscar win? That’s how it is. But around the same time, I was working on 127

Hours which got an Oscar nomination. Were you prepared when you lost the Oscars for 127 Hours? I was prepared for it because I knew that after winning two Oscars, they wouldn’t give it to me again. So, after the awards, we skipped the governor’s ball and went to a Malayali restaurant and feasted on morkozhambu, rasam and sambar. What is your take about the must-have item song in movies? (Smiles) That’s the culture nowadays! If you’re making a commercial movie and people are enjoying it, it’s fine. Have you heard Munni badnam Hui or Sheila ki jawani? I liked Sheila ki jawani very much. Heard you’re planning to produce films… Yeah it’s an aspiration. For the past six months I’ve taken a break and going through ideas. We’ll mostly kick the venture with

one Tamil and one Hindi film. Would you remix an RD Burman song? What’s your stand on remixes? No! As a composer, I’d rather do a new song. Sometimes, a remix is good because it reaches a whole new generation. But when it gets too much, it’s irritating. Apparently, Mani Ratnam has gone back to Illayaraja for his next film... No, I’m doing the movie. Hopefully. Your collaboration with Mani Ratnam is magical. We struck a rapport with the first movie. The movie that we are now working on is a typical South Indian one. So there’s going to be a lot of South Indian classical and folk music. How often do you thank the Sufi saint Moti Baba (in Chennai) because it’s there your mother first saw your wife Saira? (Laughs) Moti Baba! Man! I can’t complain to him when things g o wrong. But seriously marriage is not just a physical thing. (Giggles) The institution of marriage works better when there’s a spiritual connection.

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What kind of a father are you? I am a friend when I need to be a friend, a father when I need to be a father and a musician when music calls. I switch roles accordingly. Is it true that when you take your kids to Disneyland and elsewhere you film it, so that they don’t accuse you of not spending time with them later? I have said this in the book in a cheeky way. You always cherish good memories. I thought it was important to have some documentation of whatever little I do. Do you feel guilty of not spending enough time with your family? (Laughs) No, I’m not guilty at all. At least they have a father. I didn’t have one. It’s not a perfect life. And that’s what makes it special. That’s what makes us more human. Filmfare



Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011

Deadly Rides It may not be the only ministry in the Union government that is poorly run, but the failings of the railways ministry are much more than an economic worry. The two train accidents on Sunday show yet again the tragic cost of inefficiency and neglect in railway administration. Given the lack of responsibility and accountability in the railways ministry, the surprising thing is that such tragedies are not more frequent. The most shocking part of this story is that the ministry seems to know the reasons behind its poor performance but is both unable and unwilling to mend its ways. And that is due to the fact that populism, not hard-nosed policy, is what drives the railways ministry. It is one ministry which has traditionally been seen as a political tool by those heading it. The railways’ resources are routinely used in order to serve petty political ends. Irrespective of the parties they belonged to, railways ministers over the decades have sacrificed efficiency and economics to partisan politics. Mamata Banerjee’s last term as the railways minister highlighted the vacuum in the railway administration as she devoted all her time and energy to her political battle in West Bengal. But several of her predecessors, including Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, ran the ministry in much the same manner. This abdication of responsibility has created holes in the administration that make railway journeys very unsafe and the ministry’s finances utterly ruinous. Several reports by government agencies point out the ministry’s failures in crucial areas such as the renewal of tracks, modernization of other assets and improvement of safety-related systems. The ministry has done little over the past few years to fill up nearly 100,000 vacancies, the majority of which are said to be in safety-related work. It is not that the ministry lacks funds to initiate the necessary reforms. Between 2003 and 2007, it spent Rs 17,000 crore on improving safety measures. But the spate of accidents and the deaths show how inadequate and inefficient the efforts have been. Since Ms Banerjee’s departure as railways minister, the ministry has had no cabinet minister. Tuesday’s reshuffle of the Union cabinet makes her party colleague, Dinesh Trivedi, the new railways minister. What the ministry needs, though, is a new approach that will make train travel less insecure and its administration a little less inefficient. Hindustan Times

Quotable Quotes “Politicians are like diapers. They should both be changed frequently and for the same reason.” Anonymous

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Will Rogers

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It’s Not All DK Bose By Sagarika Ghose A stray insight sometimes goes unnoticed. Manmohan Singh’s closeddoor meeting with handpicked editors last month generated controversy about the UPA’s communication deficit and its failure to manage perceptions. The PM’s statements about his readiness to be covered under the lokpal were deeply unsatisfying to a public longing to hear a more resounding clarion call for a more honest and transparent India. Yet one statement of the PM needs deeper scrutiny. There is too much cynicism, said Singh, and such an atmosphere of cynicism in the country is dangerous. The atmosphere is indeed overwhelmingly cynical and negative. An avalanche of negativism, bad blood and name calling seems to be rolling out of almost every public institution as well as from the citizenry. Mutual trust and respect has all but evaporated. The contemptuous language used by politicians seems to be mirrored by society. Is there reason to be so negative? What has happened in the recent past is remarkable by any standards. Throughout the history of independent India, there are instances of the rich and powerful manipulating the law and getting away. The kin of the super rich believe that laws are to be followed only when abroad on campus. India has always been their mere playground. Yet now, today, in a tectonic shift, the dominance of elite over the law has vanished in the blink of an eye. Extremely powerful politicians and corporate leaders, who would have been untouchable by the law in another era, now find themselves behind bars. Dayanidhi Maran is the latest VIP to find himself in the gaze of the law. Suddenly, troubling questions of conflict of interest among elected representatives — be it the Marans of Tamil Nadu or the Reddys of Karnataka or the Pawars of Maharashtra — are being debated and scrutinised with vigor. The 2G scandal has become a national catharsis. A powerful anti-corruption mood — some of it

Society is alive with positive energies. If environmentalists and corporates, and civil society and the government, learn to trust each other, instead of seeing the other as a mortal ‘enemy’, a true democratic spirit of giveand-take would be established based on mutual respect. politically manipulated, some of it spontaneous but most of it with undeniable public support — has forced accountability, forced a debate and forced an electric shock through the system, leaving us all scalded. Is the entire system just one big ‘DK Bose’, to use the fashionable phrase from Delhi Belly? Not really. Some of India’s institutions do work and do deliver on their constitutional obligations. A determined Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) stands out as an institution that has performed its watchdog functions well, unearthing violations and scams from the 2G spectrum deals of 2010 to the functioning of the Commonwealth Games. A dynamic Election Commission continues to deliver fair and violencefree verdicts. In violence-free elections in Bihar and West Bengal, the voice of the voter has been upheld by an efficient machine that sees itself as a servant of the people. The Supreme Court may be accused of judicial overreach by its repeated rap on the knuckles to the UPA from issues ranging from black money to Salwa Judum. But the fact is that it has stepped in where the government’s systems have failed and forced action and introspection, however grudgingly. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), accused of being the

IndoAmerican 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:

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lapdog of the State, has — nudged by a hyperactive judiciary — pursued cases against the politically powerful with reassuring relentlessness Corporate elitism and sleaze remains a concern, but we are also seeing the beginning of massive acts of corporate philanthropy. Wipro’s Azim Premji has transferred R8,000 crore worth of his shares to a trust to fund rural education, Nandan and Rohini Nilekani have donated $11 million towards the cause of sustainable urban development. BR Ambedkar once said that India would never be a true democracy unless social democracy accompanied political democracy. Social democracy, or liberation from birth-based privileges and hierarchies, is perhaps a long away, but it’s making its presence felt subliminally in key areas of the economy and polity. So perhaps this is the time to believe in India and play a constructive role, not surrender to numbing hatred. In Haryana, Kerala brides, purchased by their Jat husbands because of the shortage of women, are teaching their husbands to have more girl children and slowly transforming the brutally patriarchal world of Haryana society. Society is alive with positive energies. If environmentalists and corporates, and civil society and the government, learn to trust each other, instead of seeing the other as a mortal ‘enemy’, a true democratic spirit of give-and-take would be established based on mutual respect. There are two ways to deal with the undoubted daily horrors. One is the Arundhati Roy way, which simply dismisses Indian democracy as a sham. The other is to be a Neelam Katara and fight day after day against a history-sheeter like DP Yadav, fight the criminal justice system and fight until the judiciary wakes up, takes note and makes amendments to the criminal procedure code. Believing in India may be hard work. But negativism and cynicism are not what Gandhi and Nehru lived by. Sagarika Ghose is deputy editor, CNN-IBN.


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Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011


Multi-Dimensional Jain Philosophy

frustration. The Jain concept of Anekantvad is beautiful. It says that any truth is relativetotheperspectivefromwhich it is known. Reality is comprised of innumerable substances, both mate-

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Anekantvad is Jain philosophy that perceives life as being multidimensional. What we think we see is only part of life, rarely the whole.

rial and spiritual, and these too are constantly changing and in a state of flux. Raw materials that make up material and spiritual things too, are impermanent. And hence, it is near impossible for ordinary individuals to see the whole truth, the complete truth, of reality. What we often see, due to our limited vision, perspective, point of view, our senses and sensibilities, or beliefs, our social upbringings, our limitations is a thin slice of life, or reality. What we see in not the un-

truth, but it cannot be the entire truth, which is too vast for mere mortals to comprehend, and is also constantly undergoing modification and evolution. It needs a highly evolved or enlightened soul, of the calibre of a Mahavira, Buddha, Jesus or Nanak -- or the 24 Thirthankars, who form the foundation of the Jain religion -- to be able to see and understand that whole truth. The most common story cited to il lustrate anekantvad is that of a king who called six blind men to touch and describe an elephant. All of them came up with different answers, calling the elephant a rope, fan, snake or wall. While they were partly right, they were nowhere near the whole truth. All of us see the world and life from our limited perspective. If we knew this, then we would not be in conflict with others. But we assume that what we know is the whole truth and that the other is wrong. And hence there are conflicts all over the world, basically because my truth does not agree with yours, although both of us don’t know that we are both only partially correct, and are both likely to be wrong. We strongly hold on to our partial or wrong concepts, and fight over it, tooth and nail. When the final picture emerges, or with the passage of time, when we look back at the past, we will often see how our words and actions were often wrong. Anekantvad, once understood, will make us realise that our knowledge is partial and incomplete. We form our central core from this partial truth, and hence are prone to get into conflicts with others. If we recognize that we don’t know the whole picture, we are likely to become less aggressive and more humble, which will pave the way for more peace and joy on earth. TOI


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By P.V.Vaidyanathan Though most of us operate from our periphery, often saying and doing things spontaneously, without thinking or planning, we are all eventually guided by our centre. What is our centre? It is usually that core collection of feelings, beliefs, conditionings, thoughts, biases, prejudices, ideas, perceptions, points of view, and opinions --- basically whatever we think we are. This centre is often mind-based, not being or soul-based, for those things always operate out of silence and love. The soul or being is our real centre, as opposed to the mind or ego based ‘pseudocentre’ from where we frequently and unknowingly operate. Very few of us operate from pure love. Invariably, we tend to operate from fear, or its subsidiaries, like hate, greed, envy, avarice, mistrust, anger, competition and


Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011


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“Don’t Let the Music Stop, Dance on!” – Shobhaa De

By Shubha J. Rao What is your idea of happiness? It varies from day to day. Rainbows make me very happy. I am an absolute sucker for mushy, melodramatic films. Baby smells. I can’t get enough of my granddaughter Anasuya Devi and her combined smells – a bit of puke, baby cologne, spit, poo – all of it. Just the thought of being at a great bar in a great city with a great person making great conversation – yeah, that definitely does it for me. So does red lipstick. What is your greatest fear? Losing control. Mainly over my mind. Being dependent, helpless. Being terminally bored. Being STUCK – mentally, emotionally, physically. The overwhelming desire to flee from tiresome situations and people – and there are so many of both. How far can I possibly run? Which historical figure do you most identify with? Napoleon. What a man! What courage. What a life. He should have married Desiree, his first and only love. History would have been different. No Waterloo! Moral of the story: Listen to your heart... and save your ass. Which living person do you most admire? Binayak Sen. Cerebral. Courageous. Committed. And sexy. Now, if he’d only get on with the damn revolution! What is the trait you most de-

plore in yourself? Impatience. I get easily bored and restless. And I am extraordinarily poor at camouflaging my feelings. This gets me into big trouble. Oh, I am numbers challenged. I can’t count. This can be most embarrassing when calculating tips and taxi fares. My inability to fake it, whatever that ‘it’ is. Dirty bathrooms phobia – there’s got to be a name for this! What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lack of civility and grace. Boorishness. Vanity. Self-obsession. Crude and coarse behaviour. Pompousness. People who yell at waiters and ask that most annoying question: “Don’t you know who I am?” I’m always tempted to step in and say very loudly, “We all know who you are – the world’s biggest ass****.” What is your favourite journey? Into an interesting person’s head and heart. Find me that interesting person. Who is your favourite painter? M.F. Husain, by far. Picasso and Frida Kahlo are top favourites. But Husainsaabis above and beyond them all. Simply put, I was privileged to have known a genius. To have watched him at work and play for forty years. What a rare human

being. So full of contradictions – arrogant and compassionate, impossible and considerate. But never ever BORING!

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience! Why lose time over something that does not captivate your imagination instantly? Nothing really comes to those who stand and wait. Don’t fall for that line ever! Just

go grab whatever you desperately desire before someone else beats you to it. On what occasion do you lie? When the truth really doesn’t matter all that much. And I can spare someone’s feelings in the bargain. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Ummmm…. let me put it this way. I have really nice ears. The nape of my neck isn’t bad either. Both remain hidden from view, so I can safely boast! Which living person do you most despise? All godmen and godwomen. At the moment, Baba Ramdev. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? No kidding! Goddammit! Are you sure??? Seriously speaking. On the contrary. Go to hell! Hello darling! Devaa Devaa!!!! What is your greatest regret? That I didn’t take tango lessons in my youth, preferably in Argentina. That I haven’t met Antonio Banderas. That I am not Woody Allen. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Words. My family and our pet Kiara. The moon. Gulmohurs. The heady fragrance of jasmine garlands. When and where were you happiest?


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Whenever my mother cradled me and placed my head in her lap, gently stroking my hair and forehead. What is your present state of mind? Restless. Of course. But restlesshappy, as opposed to restless-frustrated. How would you like to die? Beautifully, dramatically, with a pen in my hand, a smile on my lips, smelling ofArpege, wearing red lipstick and high heels. What is your favourite motto? Don’t let the music stop – dance on! And the Benjamin Franklin quote: Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing. What is your greatest extravagance? Travel. Taking time off from writing. I am a workaholic. Holidays are precious and treated like guilty pleasures. But I have still to teach myself to switch off completely. I’m always on the job, taking notes, scribbling observations. I often say to myself angrily, “Get over it, De. Get a life!” Shobhaa De is a popular journalist and bestselling novelist. She founded and edited Celebrity, Society and, most famously, Stardust, which made famous an irreverent mix of Hindi and English that came to be called Hinglish. Her last book was the unapologetically titled “Shobhaa at Sixty: Secrets of Getting it Right at Any Age”. - The Hindu

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Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011

Anger Never Lets you Win

Every time you lose your cool, you lose control and at times the cost could be quite high.

By Prakash Iyer AS a little kid growing up on a sheep farm near Christchurch, New Zealand, Martin was a bright, hardworking boy, prone to losing his temper and getting angry. He would end up saying harsh words to his friends and family without often realising the impact of his angry outbursts. Intent on mending his son’s ways, Martin’s dad decided on a plan. He gave his son a sack of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the wooden fence at the back of their farm. The son agreed. The first day, he hammered 35 nails into the fence. As the days passed, the number of nails hammered into the fence gradually decreased. It was quite a task going all the way to the back of the farm and hammering a nail. Young Martin figured it was easier to just control his temper, and not get angry. And then, one day, he did not lose his cool at all. A day of no nails! Delighted, he told his father about it. And the father said that for every day that Martin did not lose his temper, he should pull out a nail from the fence. Martin did as told, and some months later, all the nails in the fence had been removed. Martin was pleased. And so was his dad.

The father led young Martin to the back of the farm and pointing to the wooden fence he said “You have done well, my son and I am proud of you. But notice the holes left behind by the nails? They will never go away. The fence will never be the same again. It’s like that with our anger too. When we are angry, we say things that leave a scar.

And no amount of apologizing thereafter can ever remove those scars. Remember that!” It’s a lesson Martin has remembered all his life. And it’s a lesson we would all do well to take to heart too. Keep your cool. Don’t lose your temper. And you will see a significant improvement in your relationships. People will like you more, they will respect you a lot more – and you will find that hardly anybody gets angry with you. If you find yourself losing your cool often, maybe you should set yourself a punishment equivalent to hammering nails on the fence. Like Martin, you too might then find

yourself controlling your temper a lot better. Good to remember that you can never really win when you get angry. You always lose -your temper, your cool and a whole lot else besides. Saying ‘Sorry’ is like using one of those erasers on the top of a pencil. It’s easy to use, it feels like you have erased what was written, but the marks remain on the sheet of paper forever. And in this era of instant messaging and on-the-go e-mails, it becomes even more important to watch your words. If you are upset and want to shoot off an angry email or message, hold it! Draft a mail perhaps – but leave it as a draft. Don’t hit the ‘send’ button whilst you are angry. Tell yourself that you will take a look at it the next morning, and only then send it. Chances are, with a cooler head the next morning, you will realise the folly of sending out the angry email. And it does not matter that you are in the right, or that you think your anger is justified. If you lose your cool, remember, you lose. Period. Next time you are angry and want to say something, take a deep breath. Pause. And maybe say nothing at all. Starting today, resolve to keep your cool. Watch what you say. And see the difference! Prakash Iyer is MD, KimberlyClark Lever and Executive Coach. For more inspiring life lessons, read Mr Iyer’s new book The Habit of Winning. - Careers

Fernando’s Goals for Children

NEW DELHI: On his first visit to India, 26-year-old Spanish footballer Fernando Llorente did not talk about his life passion: football. Instead, the striker had one message: let us stop the deaths of millions of children from causes and conditions that are completely treatable and preventable. In his new role as ambassador for Save the Children, the Bilbao Athletic player who was part of the Spanish team that won the 2010 World Cup, Llorente spoke about how moved he was when he came to know that over 8 million children under 5 die every year globally. Of this, close to 2 million die in India alone. “These are shocking statistics. Even more shocking for me is the fact that the majority of these deaths can be prevented,” Llorente said. The footballer said his time in Delhi visiting slums was an emotional experience. “I played football with young children in one of the slums. These children are like any other, full of enthusiasm and infectious joy. Given the right support, the kids here can grow up healthy. But I understand a lot of

Spain’s Fernando Llorente, the striker for the national football team, was in India to campaign for the rights of children.

children do not live beyond the age of 5 and a huge number are malnourished,” Llorente said. “I will carry back the message that children everywhere have the right to survive and grow healthy and it is our responsibility to make sure this is possible. I will use my status to raise this message for Save the Children wherever I can,” the footballer added.

Thomas Chandy, CEO, Save the Children, said: “The deaths of two million children under 5 every year is a silent epidemic. It is heartening that young footballers like Llorente are coming forward to talk about an issue that demands the attention of governments the world over. These deaths can be prevented and we have a moral obligation to do so.” -

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Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011

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Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011

National Sample Survey Finds Huge Disparity in Indian Incomes

NEW DELHI: While average monthly per capita expenditure stood at Rs 1,053.64 in rural areas and Rs 1,984.46 in urban India in 2009-10, there remained a huge gap between the incomes of the top and bottom segments of the population, as per the latest National Sample Survey. The National Sample Survey also found that food items accounted for the bulk of the expenditure, with the share of food in total household spending at 57 per cent and 44 per cent in rural and urban areas, respectively. Key indicators from the 66th round of the NSS’ survey released on Friday said the per capita expenditure level of the urban population was on average about 88 per cent higher than that of the rural population, based on the measure of modified mixed reference period (MMRP). “In terms of MMRP estimates, the average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) in 2009-10 was estimated as Rs 1,053.64 in rural India and Rs 1,984.46 in urban India,” it said. The survey found that the poorest 10 per cent of India’s rural population had an average MPCE of Rs 453, while for the poorest 10 per cent of the urban population, the average MPCE stood at Rs 599. There is a huge gap between the income level of the top and bottom segments in the country. The top 10 per cent of the rural population had an average MPCE of Rs 2,517, which is about 5.6 times that of the bottom 10 per cent. Meanwhile, the top 10 per cent of the urban population had an average MPCE of Rs 5,863, or about 9.8 times that of the bottom 10 per cent. “In rural India, half of the population belonged to households with an MPCE below Rs 895 (median value) and nearly 40 per cent of the rural population of India had MPCE below Rs 800,” the key indicators said.

per cent of population, it was 46 per cent. Meanwhile, in urban areas, the share of food was 62 per cent of the budget for the bottom 10 per cent of the population and 31 per cent for the top 10 per cent. Besides the modified mixed reference period (MMRP), two other measures — uniform reference period (URP) and mixed reference period (MRP) — were also used for the study. While MMRP measure, on which the results of the survey are mainly based, was used for the first time, the other two measures

There is a marked difference in spending patterns of the top and bottom strata, according to NSS survey

About 60 per cent of the rural population had an MPCE of less than Rs 1,000, while only about 10 per cent had an MPCE above Rs 1,650. In urban areas of the country, half the population was living with an MPCE below Rs 1,500. About 70 per cent of the rural population had an MPCE above Rs 1,100, while nearly 30 per cent had an MPCE above Rs 2,100 and 20 per cent above Rs 2,600. There was also a marked difference in the spending patterns of the top and bottom strata with respect to food. In rural India, the share of food out of the total expenditure of the bottom 10 per cent of population was 65 per cent and for the top 10

have been used in previous surveys also. As per the URP, the MPCE stood at Rs 927.70 for rural areas and Rs 1,785.81 in urban areas. It was Rs 558.78 and Rs 1,052.36, respectively, in rural and urban areas during the previous survey conducted in 2004-05.

According to the MRP, as per the latest 66th round, monthly per capital expenditure stood at Rs 953.05 and Rs 1,856.01 in rural and urban areas, respectively, in 2009-10 as against Rs 579.17 and Rs 1,104.60 in 2004-05. The survey was conducted between July, 2009, and June, 2010, and covered 7,524 villages in rural areas and 5,284 urban blocks spread across the country. The data on household consumption was collected with respect to three reference periods — the preceding seven days, 30 days and 365 days — for a specified set of items in the consumption basket. The items of reference included clothing, bedding, footwear, education, medical, durable goods, edible oil, eggs, fish and meat, vegetables, fruits, spices, beverages and processed foods, pan, tobacco and intoxicants, other food items, fuel and light, miscellaneous goods and services, rent and taxes. - The Hindu

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Maharani Gayatri Devi passes away at the age of 90 Read all about it inside.

BollywoodSho ws4U Brings EXPLOSION 2009 to Houston HOUSTON: Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan and Hard to make a stunning Kaur are set the Explosions eventappearance in Bollywood Shows organized by 4 by Moid Khan. The U conducted event is set to be held at the Reliant Arena on August 7, 2009.

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making Houstonians dreams organizing “Explosion come true, by 2009” Concert. “Explosion 2009 will Houston residents be giving a night non-stop session long of rocking Bollywood melodies, promising one of the most memorable musical treats like never witnessed before. For tickets log on to www.bollywoo or call 281-2354711.

Moid Khan informed that Houston residents have been waiting for a long time to see the live performance of Sonu Nigam. Bollywoodshows4u is bringing the performHouston. The Foundation could not have chosen to raise awarenessa better topic among IndoB P Americans in Houston K about its HOUSTON: If there’s one recent Indian studies programs. Prior movie that has to polarized opinions the discussion of the film, Parul about India, it Fernandes is lionaire. The movieSlumdog Mil- explained and Krishna Vavilala has all the elthat the Foundation ements of entertainmen t designed is currently conducting Hindi to glue you to your seat – shock, Level I and Level II courses as awe, amusement, well as love and inspiration. disgust, true Jainism classes on Hinduism, and the Anthropology have seen movie Some people India. of The each time moved several times, received Foundation has also to tears and joy. support from There are a few Indian others, however, government’s Ministry of Overwho could not get past the slum seas Indians to fund a Chair for kid’s jump into Indian studies at the UH. blinding of a child. cesspool or the An 11-minute clip of Slumdog More than 120 people with prob- Millionaire, edited by Anil Kuably 200 opinions about the movie mar, was screened to stimulate assembled at a the discussion. The town clip included held at India House hall meeting scenes depicting negative last Sunday afternoon. aspects of India such as religious disharThe town hall meeting was or- mony, child prostitution, ganized by the and Foundation for lice brutality. These scenes poIndia Studies at were the University of followed by uplifting scenes in

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Luchi in Ladakh? Check...

Holiday-makers now journey to destinations hitherto the province of adventure junkies By Arpita Basu Hum poochta haai, students haai idhaar aabhi?” The accent is unmistakable. It belongs to an umbrellashielded Bengali lady enquiring about the ‘Rancho school’ (the Druk Pema Karpo School in Shey, Ladakh) made famous by the blockbuster 3 Idiots. “Lunch ka time, na,” replies a local Ladakhi in confident, though broken Hindi—a tell-tale indication of Ladakh’s fast-tracked familiarity with sundry intonations from the length and breadth of Incredible India, thanks to the swelling ranks of domestic tourists. Till a few years ago, this cold mountain desert in Jammu & Kashmir was monopolised by adventure junkies and foreigners. Today, however, Ladakh appears to be just a Mall Road away from turning into the new Shimla of middle-class tourists. It’s a familiar story in the Andamans and Arunachal Pradesh, farflung corners where holidaying hordes typically chose not to—or, in the case of the Kashmir Valley, feared to—tread. No longer. Standing outside Leh’s Hemis monastery—abuzz with clutches of summer tourists toting point-andshoot digicams—Zubair Ahmed, general manager of Gawaling International hotel, says: “What was once an aspirational destination is now within reach, with numerous flights to Leh, abundant accommodation choices and innumerable package deals.” He adds: “If 2001’s Sindhu Darshan opened the doors for tourists, then 2009’s 3 Idiots unlocked the floodgates.” We soon see what he means.Whether in Leh’s quaint market square or at the serene Shanti Stupa, the dizzy heights of Khardungla or the stunning Pangong Tso, it’s simply impossible to escape the sightseeing troupes, and especially the ones that demand to know just where Aamir stood when Kareena came riding on her scooty (yes, that’s the film again). Ladakh’s status as the new mecca of the masses is both confirmed and fuelled by click-a-deal veterans like Make My Trip and Yatra. Both companies have doubled the number of travellers to Ladakh from a year ago. For Calcutta’s trusted budget travel company, Kundu Special, this “hot cake” destination has doubled

Tourists have been flocking to far-flung areas like the usually prohibitively restive Srinagar. Photo: Tribhuvan Tiwari

in group size, from 20 to 40-plus, for each trip this year. “When Make My Trip introduced charter flights from Delhi to Leh last May, public response exceeded expectations. We extended operations right up to August, till the cloudburst occurred,” says coo and co-founder Keyur Joshi. This year, their charters are taking off from Mumbai and Ahmedabad too. Yatra co-founder and executive vice-president, operations, Sabina Chopra, says: “We have 200 seats a week and they are all filled.” Doing the math with delight is Nissar Hussain, assistant director of Leh tourism: “Three years ago, there were under 40,000 domestic tourists here. This year, we expect to touch one lakh.” The cloudburst—apart from the mud caked on mountain slopes and parts of Choglamsar—seems a distant memory. Elsewhere in the state, another memory is being swept into the distance with relief: decades of unrest and violence. This year, the SrinagarPahalgham-Gulmarg-Sonmarg sector is chock-a-block with visitors, many of them from as far south as Madurai and Coimbatore. Vaidhyanathan, chairman of the Chennai-based Akshaya India Tours and Travels, says there is a 60-70 per cent rise in demand for a Kashmir holiday this summer. Rao Travels, the south Indian favourite in Delhi, says they

have sent 1,500 travellers to Srinagar since March. “The Valley has been peaceful so far,

a n d with separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani assuring tourists of safety, people are making the most of it,” says Vaidhyanathan. They most certainly are: the Valley received 4.85 lakh tourists in 2009. This year, the footfall has already crossed 4.3 lakh—and the season is expected to go on for three more months. Back from an unexpectedly packed Boulevard Road in Srinagar, Soumya T., a software professional from Chennai, jokes: “Dal Lake was so crowded I almost couldn’t see the water!” But Abdul

Rashid, secretary of the Kashmir Houseboat Association, is not complaining. “The occupancy of houseboats is around 80 per cent. Hotels are packed. Inshallah, it’ll only get better,” he says. Hopes are high in picture-perfect Arunachal Pradesh too, though it has only begun to feature on family holiday maps in the past couple of years. Asit Biswas, director of Help Tourism, which operates in the Northeast, credits the region’s current political stability for the increasing tourist inflow. “For so long, the Northeast was considered out of bounds, which fostered a great deal of curiosity. Then, when it was included in the Leave Travel Concession scheme in 2008 (like the Andamans before it), it encouraged travellers to discover and spread the word about the region’s unspoilt beauty.” Better rail and air connectivity and the Incredible India campaign have helped too. Last year, a whopping two lakh-plus tourists journeyed to the home of the cloud-kissed Tawang monastery, not just from Assam but also West Bengal, Maharashtra, Delhi and even Tamil Nadu. The numbers are on an upswing in the Andamans too, as the erstwhile haunt of honeymooners is now welcoming visitors by the planeloads. Last December, journalist Smita Sharma was “shocked to find people milling about like ants on Radhanagar beach”. It’s no wonder that Make My Trip’s charter to the archipelago last October was the first of many. For Kundu Special, too, the white beaches and crystalline waters have parlayed into serious business, especially over the past few years, reveals company official Nitai Sengupta. “The Andamans have always been on the Bengali travel radar, but now, there are people from all over India.” About two lakh domestic tourists sunbathed in the Andamans last year—up from one lakh-plus in 2008.

Indo American News • Friday, july 15 , 2011 • Online Edition:

P.C. Das of the tourism board says: “In the early 2000s, there were only 25 hotels here. Now, there are 113 hotels and restaurants, with at least two new ones springing up every month.” Many of the eateries are vegetarian, says Das, to cater to the sizeable number of “Marwari and Gujarati” tourists. Likewise, in the land of the Kashmiri wazwan, kiosks selling dosas and Bengali fare have sprouted in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. Leh’s popular Happy World Cafe offers no fewer than six lassi avatars for north Indian patrons dining on “paneer items”. A hotelier in Leh’s Changspa area says many Gujarati tourists carry their khakra by the boxful, besides a personal team of cooks to rustle up a mini Amdavad in makeshift kitchens. Even as he speaks, 40-odd Bengali tourists travelling with Kundu Special in Ladakh pick bones out of fish specially ordered from Srinagar, to top off a hearty Bengali lunch of dal, saag and aloo posto. All of it made by cooks from Calcutta travelling with them. “Even a few years ago, people used to wonder if they needed a passport to come here!” laughs Ahmed, whose seasonal stay in the rarified air of Ladakh has now stretched from four months a year to eight, in keeping with the increased tourist flow. He is also getting used to a different kind of crowd profile, one that is gathering strength in numbers across the country, no matter how distant or trying the terrain—the regular Indian family, kids and grandparents included. As Sabina Chopra says, “The middle- class tourist no longer saves up for that one big holiday, choosing instead to take as many as three breaks a year. He is looking out for newer destinations as accessibility and affordability increase. Budget accommodation is easily available, and one can get a decent room for as low as Rs. 1,500- Rs. 2,000 a night in most places.” A.K. Singh, director of tourism, Arunachal Pradesh, agrees, adding that as many as 20 tourist lodges have been set up in the state in the past two years. There’ll have to be plenty more because the Great Indian Tourist has only just begun. As for those looking to travel down the road less taken, well, you’ll have to walk a lot farther than you thought. Outlook


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Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011



ARIES Mar 21 - Apr 20: Your focus shifts from personal affairs to professional issues. Your personal acquaintances have so far pitched in with their support along your way to material success, but now you realize that you have to step up the tempo on your own to make further progress. Both financial and in the shape of career growth begin to pour in, be wary of becoming too smug! Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground! Close associates will look up to you for guidance. TAURUS Apr 21 - May 21 Lately, some events have led to a sea change in your attitude. You have changed dramatically, and though you are still assertive, you pay heed to the opinions of others and even encourage them. Moving on from a tendency to hog all the credit, you are now more inclined to share the limelight with others and more appreciative of teamwork. You take great pains to help out your colleagues with their work. You have immaculate manners. Financial matters are moving smoothly, just as your domestic affairs. GEMINI May 22 - Jun 21: This week you will be preoccupied with broadening your horizons through spiritual practices. You are feeling pepped up and extremely inspired. Sound judgement and selfconfidence are yours for the taking. There is no break for you neither from work, nor from domestic compulsions. This will make you want to organize your work load in a more efficient way, so that you can squeeze in your periods of rest. Mounting domestic expenses could cause a worry or two, the stress of which in turn could lead to health problems. Solve your dilemmas in a creative way. CANCER Jun 22 - Jul 23: Worldly aspirations and financial matters will again predominate during this period. You desire to live life king-size! You are brimming with ideas, plans, enthusiasm and intensity to grab without inhibitions what you feel is rightfully yours. You will have to deal with financial matters like loans and inheritances, besides legal issues. You will be a big attraction at parties, and meetings. You are not such an outgoing person, but you will meet and befriend new people, and will be dragged out of your shell. LEO July 24 - Aug 23:A new awareness dawns on you now. As Bob Dylan would say: `The Times They Are A-Changing’. And they are changing rapidly. You can do nothing to stop it and you can’t avoid confronting the reality! The world is dynamic and you will have to be a go-getter! Just adapt to the changes and get on with your work! Some surprising tidings will raise your spirits. They will give you a positive outlook, and you will work with zeal. You realise that involving yourself in work can help keep your mind off all that is troubling you. VIRGOAug 24 - Sep 23: The mild dalliance of last week was just a slight, harmless interlude. Mounting work pressures will demand your complete focus now. Too many things crammed into this phase, travel, relationships, gatherings, joint ventures, and takeovers. You will manage everything with great intensity and distinction. You have imbibed well the lessons that life has taught you, and you make up good decisions. There could be minor disputes at the workplace, leading to some despair, but you should resolve them before they blow up into a major rift. LIBRA Sep 24 - Oct 23: The focus this

week will be on the quality of your interactions with those around you. You will not only profit monetarily, but will also build strong emotional relationships. You have long realized that being flexible and adaptable gives you greater joy, peace of mind, and sense of contentment. In the final analysis, isn’t that what we all desire? You have got a head-start over others! You will come up with fresh ideas on squeezing the best out of the time and resources available to you. SCORPIO Oct 24 - Nov 22: Life is thrilling and you are full of happiness! Finances, family affairs and relationships all combine to give your spirits a big boost. There will be realignment and redesigning at your workplace that will keep you engrossed. There will be monetary pressures from all sides, but you will handle them well. New plans, new projects and new demands emerge, and they bring with them new opportunities as well. Your earnings and other funds will be drawn into the scheme of things, and you will use them judiciously. SAGITTARIUS Nov 23 - Dec 22: Things are beginning to turn in your favor. You are pepped up and slogging away at full blast. You are so loaded with work, you scarcely have the time to breathe! Besides, there are many new job and career openings, there is romance in the air, and there will be monetary outflow and investments. So many things happen simultaneously you might suddenly find yourself in a tight spot, but you will emerge stronger from it. You will become ambitious, which will prompt you to get the best out of your resources. CAPRICORN Dec 23 - Jan 20: This is a fortunate period for you, since the full moon is in your own sign. Your man-management abilities are excellent, and you will be able to garner the support of both family members and colleagues. Joint ventures and teamwork will prove to be beneficial this week. You will overcome many impediments and make remarkable progress towards eventual success. There may be legal issues, which could impair your self-image. You will emerge triumphant with support. AQUARIUS Jan 21 - Feb 19: You will be called upon to shoulder responsibility and make the right decisions to steer your life in the desired direction. You on your part are overflowing with energy and excitement to get into the driver’s seat and zoom full speed ahead! You will make substantial progress, and the results will be fantastic. You will win recognition and mature as a person. Spending time with friends and loved ones will lead to a great deal of happiness. Beware,not to slide into one of your famously negative moods. PISCES Feb 20 - Mar 20: You’re rocking! You are the heart and soul of the office! Work, though, will be as demanding as ever; there is no relaxation on that front. You are very possibly on the brink of fatigue, and will quickly need to take required measures to relieve the stress. There are many financial deals and projects waiting for your approval. You can’t put your signature on them unless you go through the fine print on them all, and to do that you tend to over-exert yourself day and night. It’s not the time for romantic flings or socializing. It is the time to slog and reap its dividends!

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I a m E n t e r t a in m e n t N e w s

Indo American News • Friday, July 15, 2011

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(TOI): Her brother Saif Ali Khan may be striking a fine balance between commercial potboilers Saif, Kareena are andMUMBAI offbeat subjects, but Soha Ali Khan prefers to stick to the road less traveled. Her films, including Mumbai Happy Together: Meri Jaan, Dil Kabaddi and Khoya Khoya Chand, bear testimony to that.


While these films may not have set the box office on fire, they did fetch her rave reviews. So is she happy with the way her career has shaped up? “I don’t know if anyone is ever happy with his/her career. If you are ambitious, then nothing is ever good enough. I’m happy in a way, but there is lots more to achieve, and I am hungry for more,” says Soha.

Shahid: Sonam and I Love & Hate Each Other

Kareena Turns Down Hrithik’s Agneepath MUMBAI (TOI): Karan Johar seems to have failed to pull off a casting coup of Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor for his forthcoming production Agneepath. While rumours suggested that Bebo might be gyrating to an item number in the Hrithik-Priyanka starrer, the truth is that the actress will not be a part of the film, in any way. The song in question would have been a part of a sequence that takes place in the villain Kancha Cheena’s (played by Sanjay Dutt) den. And since the film is a remake of the classic 70s, the villain’s den needs to have a Helen. Kareena, if one recalls has been Farhan Akhtar’s choice to replay the veteran item queen in his version of Don earlier, when she danced to Yeh Mera Dil with Shah Rukh Khan. Though Karan Johar and Agneepath director Karan Malhotra following Farhan’s

example, had approached Kareena to groove for their remake of Agneepath, the actress has refused the offer. A source revealed, “It was a tough call for Kareena. She certainly didn’t want to refuse KJo who is a very close friend. But she did.” This however, happens to be the second time Kareena has refused an offer from the filmmaker. KJo had approached Kareena for the lead role in the 2003 film Kal Ho Na Ho. This cost the actress his friendship and also a blockbuster, which was grabbed by Preity Zinta. KJo and Kareena had later patched up in 2006. Unlike 2003, the filmmaker has taken her refusal in the right spirit, this time around. “Karan is a thorough professional. He understands the intricacies of Bollywood. He has taken it very sportingly,” said the source.


Ever since the Shahid Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor starrer Mausam went on floors, we’ve been hearing reports about Shahid and Sonam not getting along well. When asked Shahid Kapoor about the same he said, “We have a very friendly-fighty relationship. Sonam and I love & hate each other. That is how we are.” Sonam Kapoor was quick to add, “I don’t usually interact with my co-stars. Actually, I’m extremely shy and reserved person before someone gets to know me. Shahid had to talk to me initially and then we were fighting. But I don’t think we had any major fights. We used fight about the kind of clothes Shahid wore. Eventually we became friends.” We must say, all’s well that ends well.

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