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Friday, June 17 2011 | Vol. 30, No. 24

Indo American News

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First Hindu Youth Awards P3

READ US ONLINE at Published weekly from Houston, TX

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Khan vs. Khan vs. Khan Actor Salman Khan kept silent when his counterparts Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan were busy fighting for Bollywood’s No.1 title. In fact, he never claimed that he is the number one actor in the film industry but let his films to do the talking. If we are to by his box-office power, he is on the verge of overtaking the other two big Khans. Besides Aamir and Shahrukh having more hits to their credit, Salman is slowly but surely in the race for the number one spot. The stupendous success of his films like Wanted and Dabangg, and the


good opening of his latest offering Ready speaks volumes. Dabangg broke opening records and Ready too did very well at the box office with its opening weekend collection crossing Rs.40 crore in spite of the mixed reviews from the critics. That shows his star power. It looks like Salman will soon overtake Aamir and Shahrukh if he goes at this pace, you never know!


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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011

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Council Member-Elect, Sugar Land City Council

Sugar Land District 4 Voters I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you on the city council. I am very grateful for youryou supportfor and giving I will work hard keep the trust you have placed I thank metothe opportunity to in me.

serve you on the city council. I am very grateful for your support and I will work Earnest efforts diligence organized volunteer made a signifi hard to and keep theoftrust you haveforce placed in cant difference in the outcome of this race. Kindly extend your understanding of the volunteers whospecial may have called and/or emailed times to request you to me. A thank you tomultiple all my friends vote. With your support, justice has been rendered in City of Sugar Land District 4 andI, my supporters. election. family, and my campaign extend warm greetings and sincere thanks A special thank you to all my friends and supporters in the Indo-American community.

to all the voters and supporters.

Political Av. Paid for by Harish Jajoo Campaign, Kolbe Curtice, Treasurer, 15999 City Walk #250, Sugar Land, TX 77479

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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011

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Harish Jajoo w wins in s sugar land r run Off

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Passing on the mantle to the next Generation of Hindus Harish Jajoo with wife Shashi

Front row, from left: Disha Roy, Raveena Bhalara, Khyati Vaidya, Shivani Agrawal and Charu Thammaram; Back row, from left: Akash Gupta, Gaura Klein, Abhishek Balakrishnan, Anish Patel Kaishal Shah. (Awardees Tejas Dave and Kavita Pallod left early)

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: These were the words that the elders in the Hindu community were waiting to hear as the youth from among them stepped up to accept their awards. One after the other, they spoke of their journeys, expressed love for the cause of Hinduism and how they would go forward. It brought elation to many elders that their efforts to promulgate Hinduism in the U.S. will have torchbearers to carry the work on. Billed by the Hindus of Greater Houston as a Gala Night, the event was bereft of the usual glitter of other galas, and attended by 300 supporters. Rather, it was a gala that shone its glitter on those who have stood out among the dozen or so major Hindu institutions in the metropolis and on those individuals who have done so much to bring these institutions up through their own persistent hard work, and for some, their strong financial support.


father’s Day

Father: A hild’s First Hero… P19

Held this past Sunday evening, June 12 at India House, the HGH presented the 11 recipients of its first Youth Awards, including one to an organization, the BAPS Youth Wing, for exemplary behavior, attitude and service to the cause of Hinduism nationwide. Eleven stalwarts of the Hindu organizations across the Houston area were called upon to present the awards to the deserving youth, some about to enter college and others already working professionals. They were called onstage by the emcee for the awards segment and a young new voice on the Indian media circuit, Hiren Joshi, son of the exuberant Shoba Joshi of the Geetanjali radio program, who sat along with her husband Rakesh among the audience. Hiren is a senior at the University of Houston and also hosts a segment called It Happens Only in India, on the radio show. And many of the recipients were equally passionate of their work so far, even as they were stepping into young adulthood. Khyati Vaidya was presented by a founder of the Janamashtami program first held 22 years ago, Raj Syal, and said she got involved with the Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh 16 years ago. Anish Patel received his award from another founder of the Janamashtami program (which led to the creation of the HGH), Padmakanth Khambatti. Patel received a rousing ovation for his work while at UT Austin in developing the video,

SUGAR LAND, TX: An election contested by two highly qualified candidates for the District 4 seat was decided in favor of Harish Jajoo this past Saturday, June 11. Voter turnout was unprecedented, and in the end, Jajoo secured more than 52% votes to win the election over his opponent, first time candidate attorney Farah Ahmed who came in 134 votes behind Jajoo. This was Jajoo’s second run for political office, having run for Fort Bend School Board about 18 years ago in a pioneering effort for an Asian American. Since then, several other Indo Americans have actively engaged in civic process and won city council and school board positions. The council race took a turbulent turn as an incendiary flyer, claiming dubious connection, surfaced and had an undesirable impact on the election. Jajoo thanked to all the voters and supporters and invited them to join him as he takes the oath of the office on Tuesday, June 21 at 5:30 pm at the City Hall in Sugar Land.

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Swami Pavitrananda Bramhaachari from the Gangnath Mahadev Ashram, Gujarat , who was the guest speaker for the Gala night, also released first HGH Newsletter (created and compiled by Indo American News’ Krishna Giri and Manasi Gokhale) featuring the work carried out by the organization over the past year. Photos: Bijay Dixit

website and visuals for the Hindu Students Association. Gaura Klein received his award from Vijay Pallod, an universal cheerleader of Indian community events. Gaura has been raised in the ISKCON Mandir and was dressed in a starched white dhoti with gold and vermillion edging, a black Mayapuris t-shirt and an amulet and spoke of his love for Krishna through a song he wrote

after his first visit to Vrindavan, and sang while accompaning himself on his guitar. Tajas Dave received his award from Sushma Mahajan, who along with her husband Dev co-founded the Arya Samaj of Houston and is on the Board of the Inter Faith Ministries. Tejas opened his acceptance with a shlok, and then, in a very focused, poised and strong way issued a call to duty

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JUne 17, 2011 • Online editiO A ditiO ditiO On: n: www.indOamerican-news.cOm

for Hindus. “I am ready to take on the responsibility to take the Sanatan Dharam to future generations,” he exclaimed. Disha Roy, in colorful attire befitting her passion for Indian classical dance which she learnt from Ratna Kumar who heads one of Houston’s leading dance schools, received her award from Swatantra Jain, a co-founder of the JVB Preksha Meditation Center. Disha, whose her father is President of the Bangladeshi Association, said that her experiences taught her that we were all the same, regardless of religion or creed. Kavita Pallod, a recent graduate of UT Austin, and the daughter of Vijay Pallod, received her award from Dr. Raj Bhalla, the President of India Culture Center. Kavita, in her husky voice, related the story of how she got into the Teach America Corps based upon the leadership skills she had instilled in her through the work her parents encouraged her to do in setting up the Hindu Students Association at UT and the first Holi celebration there that drew over 2,000 people. A short video followed to show highlights of this celebration. Shivani Agrawal received her award from Santosh Gupta, President of Ekal Vidalaya USA, an Indian based charity that provides free elementary education for underprivileged children. She said that working with the HAS showed her that being different continued on page



Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011


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Visa Revisions Revealed by Indian Consulate Officers HOUSTON: On June 11, India House hosted a town hall meeting with the Consulate General of India. Eight consulate officers and consulate staff were present there and approximately 200 people attended. Vice Consul Manchand welcomed all with opening remarks and requested questions in writing. Consul Anil Matta gave a owpoint presentation showing consular activities and statistics of the last four years the number of states and people served and also data of visas issued including, PIO and OCI. The Consulate officials said that analyzing the data showed that the services given by the consulate were almost same in 2008, 2009 and 2010. and there were no problems until May 2010. However, after May 2010, the retroactive and hastily instituted Surrender Certificate rule created inefficiencies at the consulate and gave all kind of hardship, inhumane treatment, harassment, disrespect for Indian Diaspora.

The Consulate Staff announced that starting from June 15, the Indian consulate will not require holding current US passport to be submitted with OCI application. This decision was welcomed as it has been a source of the protests and fasts that have been held over the past few months. In the community feedback, it seemed that the majority of people did not like the Travisa service and felt that it added one more roadblock to get consular services, all with additional cost. P e o p l e also complained that Travisa is very rude. Another issue that stood out is the need to provide dedicated telephone lines to answer inquiries. The Consulate promised to look in to it. Third party agents explained that US corporations and busy individuals have to use their services as part of their business dealings and requested the consulate to recognize their role and legitimacy in the process.

10554 Southwest Freeway Houston, TX 77036


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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011


Indian o ocean Brings Tidal w wave of Authentic Indian coastal c cuisine to Houston rather than the run-of-the-mill commercial fare, and we fulfill to that need, it’s really popular,” said Rao, who also caters from the Indian Ocean menu for special events. Indian Ocean’s Sheik Kabab wraps and veggie rolls were a

Photo: Krishna Giri

comfort foods like Dal Maharani, Shahi Paneer, Dum Aloo, Bhindi Kurkuri, and Aloo Palak to please vegetarian guests. Mangalorean Fish Curry simmered in coconut sauce, Tiger Shrimp cooked in exotic spices, grilled Tilapia, boneless lamb

Photo: Jacob David

By Kalyani Giri HOUSTON: In a city saturated with Indian restaurants, it takes courage and determination to start a new venture and make it hugely successful. Satish Marathe Rao came to Houston in the year 1999 with a handful of savings. He borrowed some funds from friends and started his first restaurant, Udipi Café on Shepherd and Richmond in 2000. And the rest, as they say, is history. Rao’s multiple awardwinning restaurant chain was ranked Top Indian Restaurant this year and for the past three consecutive years by the Houston Restaurant Guide Fearless Critic, and named the Best Vegetarian Restaurant by the Houston Press, a testimony to the intrepid entrepreneur’s hard work ethic and his commitment to excellence. Udipi has since moved out of the Shepherd area and has added locations on Hillcroft, in Katy, the 1960 area, and in Dallas since inception. Rao’s newly refurbished enterprise Indian Ocean Coastal Cuisine has been making waves; reopened one month ago after a year-long hiatus, the eatery has garnered a fan base of diehard foodies in Sugar Land where it is based and from around the city. Fairly smallish and sitting on 2200 sq feet, Indian Ocean seats 60 guests comfortably. The restaurant has a restful ambiance in muted yellow and green with prints of Indian regional/ tribal women adding veracity to the theme. Affectionately dubbed Rao’s Kitchen, Indian Ocean offers authentic flavors of the spice coast that include the Konkan, Karavali, Chettinad, and Kundapur Bunt styles of cooking. The strictly a la carte menu proffers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes; on weekdays, aside from Tuesday when the eatery is closed, Indian Ocean has a set lunch menu that draws a diverse crowd on any given day. There are tantalizing

Indian Ocean is situated at 3559 Highway 6 South, Sugar Land.

in tomato gravy, Chicken Chettinad in an aromatic fennel/ poppy/coriander seed-infused curry, would delight the palates of most non-vegetarians. All vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes arrive with steaming hot butter naan and pulav. The eatery is licensed to serve beer and wine. “They serve the kind of food that one eats in India,” enthused regular diner at Indian Ocean, Ramesh Anand. “We (Anand and wife Zarina) had a great dinner the other night with good friends and covered five coastal states in one restaurant! Mutton Vindaloo from Goa, appam from Kerala, Chettinad Chicken from Tamil Nadu, Chicken 65 from Andhra Pradesh, Fried Prawns from Maharashtra. And finished it off with strong Madras cof coffee! They really serve that kind of food I remember eating in India,” added Anand. “We recognize the demand for more home-cooked flavors

Indo-American News (ISSN 887-5936) is published weekly every Friday (for a subscription of $30 per year) by Indo-American News Inc., 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036, tel: 713-789-6397, fax:713-789-6399, email: Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Indo-American News, 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036

huge hit at a recent soiree at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The restaurant catered for Rao’s landlord Shiraz Lakhani’s son’s wedding reception at the Westin Oaks. Indian Ocean prides itself on using only the freshest of wild caught fish, never farm raised seafood. They use halaal meat and all dishes are prepared to order. Indian Ocean’s head chef is Premsingh Balaji from Chettinad. There are three cooks and two wait-staff. Rao’s righthand man Abdulla Mohammed Yusuf manages and efficiently oversees the daily operations of the restaurant. Floor manager Ashwin Shetty also brings to the table knowledge of Mangalorean cooking. As Rao will readily admit, the secret to his rise to success is his wife Sangeeta, whom he married in 1991. “I couldn’t do anything without Sangeeta; marrying her was the best decision of my life, and her support and love are invaluable,” said Rao. Sangeeta takes

care of accounts for all the restaurants. The couple has two sons, Sairaj and Saidev. Rao is an accomplished chef hailing from a family of restaurateurs; on occasion he pitches in to cook if needed. His father H. Yeshwanth Rao ran a storied restaurant and catering business in their native Bangalore. Amiable and ever willing to help, Rao, who will celebrate his 50th birthday this month, has led a rich and textured life for one still quite relatively young. At a very young age, he toured the world as a bicyclist for the Indian national team, a celebrity welcomed by hordes of people in cities and villages in interesting and exotic locales. “Growing up in India, cycling was my passion and it kept me out of trouble,” said Rao with a smile. When his travels brought him to New York in the early ‘80s, he donned gardening gloves and worked as a horticultural designer in Central Park. To supplement his income, he bussed tables at Madras Woodlands, the oldest south Indian restaurant in the US, and worked part time at the local Udipi Café. Restless, he turned to his vocation as an aircraft mechanic and joined Continental Airlines who further

honed his skills at Pratt Avionics, and absorbed him and his expertise. Growing up, Rao helped in the family business, just as his sons do today. “I want my boys to see how hard we work. They are born here so I want them to understand hardship. This is a tough business and can make or break you,” said Rao. “I wouldn’t expect them to do this or take over the business, I would prefer they find careers that they are happy with. They do enjoy coming to the restaurant as they meet many people,” he added with a smile. Indian Ocean is situated at 3559 Highway 6 South, Sugar Land, Texas 77478. Hours are 11am – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Telephone number is 281-240-0377. If you receive your paper more than 4 days after the Dateline, please file a complaint with your post office or call the USPS Consumer Affairs Office at 713-226-3442

If you receive your paper more than four days after the dateline, please file a complaint with your post office or call the USPS Consumer Affairs Office at 713-226-3442

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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011

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mid dAy Ay Investigations editor J. dey Ay s dead in m shot mumbai by Underworld

MUMBAI (TOI): A senior journalist with an English tabloid, Mid Day, who extensively covered underworld and crime for over two decades, was shot dead in broad daylight today by four unidentified bike-borne persons who pumped five bullets on him from behind in suburban Powai. Jyoti Dey (56), who was working as editor (special investigation), was shot dead by unidentified persons in Powai at 1530 hours, joint police commissioner (Law & Order) Rajnish Seth said. According to additional police commissioner, Vishwas Nagre Patil, four persons on two bikes fired a number of rounds at Dey, who was also riding a bike, from behind this afternoon in Hiranandani area of Powai. Following this, he was rushed to nearby Hiranandani hospital where he was declared dead, Patil said. The shooters escaped from the spot after firing five rounds, police said, adding further probe was on. Expressing shock over the killing, Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the journalist did not ‘target’ any gang or mafia in particular. Asked if the killing could be linked to elements from the underworld or the oil mafia, Bhujbal, a former home minister, said, “Dey was a very honest person. He used

Senior journalist and Investigations Editor with leading Mumbai tabloid MiD DAY, J Dey was shot dead on Saturday afternoon outside Spectra Building near DMart at Powai. He sustained five bullet wounds.

plaint regarding any threat to his life. Patil said the government has taken the killing of senior journalist J Dey “very seriously” and senior police officials have been asked to immediately nab the culprits. “I have spoken to the Mumbai police commissioner, and Joint Commissioner (Crime) who are visiting the scene of crime. I have given instructions that the culprits be arrested as soon as possible,” Patil said Police sources however said Dey, who recently ran a series of news reports on oil mafia, had received threats from anti-social elements. Patil said the identity of the killers could not be ascertained for the moment but whoever is behind the crime will be arrested. Chhagan Bhujbal said Dey’s killing appeared to be pre-planned.

Police release sketch of J dey’s Killer

to write on underworld. He was not targeting anyone in particular, whether any gang or any (oil) mafia”. Mid Day editor Sachin Kalbag said the killing of Dey was a tremendous loss to the newspaper. Kalbag sad Dey ws called a “guru” by budding crime reporters for his expertise in investigative reporting. Kalbag said it was too early to ascertain the motive behind the killing. State home minister RR Patil said Dey had not made any com-

Bina, Dey’s inconsolable mother, touches her son one last time before the cremation

Police released a sketch of one of the four killers of senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey on the basis of description given by an eye-witness to the shoot-out incident. The alleged killer, whose sketch was released, is in the age group of 20 to 25 years and of medium built, with a height of 5.5 feet. His complexion is black and was wearing a blue raincoat at the time of the incident, police said.

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UT Austin’s Bijal Mehta: Biking to Find a Cure for Cancer AUSTIN: Bijal Mehta, 23, Carrollton, Texas at this writing is peddling her bicycle through a scorching summer heat. Along with her 20 University of Texas at Austin fellow students she is riding to Anchorage, Alaska in what is considered the world’s longest charity bicycle ride. Bijal and her team kicked off their 4,775 miles odyssey on June 4 from Austin, Texas as part of the Texas 4000 organization. The team will crisscross five states –Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming – and three Canadian provinces –Alberta, British Columbia, and Yucatan – before entering Alaska. It is a long ride testing physical endurance and mental temperaments. The team will be on the road for 70 days in heat, rain, sleet, wind, and snow. Each day the team travels between 70 and 130 miles, and night-rest at schools, churches, host families, or camp out. With 1.6 million new cancer cases and 600,000 deaths in US alone, cancer has supplanted heart disease as the number one killer. There is hardly anyone who is not unfavorably impacted due to the destruction wrought by cancer. Interacting with many communities along the way Bijal and her team wants to raise awareness, educate prevention, and collect dollars for cancer research. Over the last several years the Texas 4000 organization has collected

and donated more than two million dollars for cancer research. They plan to establish a new biomedical research center at UT Austin. “ I have been undeservedly lucky in my life”, says Bijal. “I want to give back to the community. I have had an incredible network of friends, family, and well wishers in my community.” “This is also my Thank-you note. My uncle had a deadly cancer tumor knocking at the edge of his brain. With God’s grace, he survived miraculously, and we are all grateful”, Bijal continued. Months ago before Bijal Mehta, a 23 year old UT Austin graduate she graduated this May, from Carrollton along with other riders left Bijal landed a dream Austin for Anchorage. job at Amazon.Com in Seattle, Washington. The job $8,000. About Bijal Mehta: required her to start working in A former nationally ranked June, and she was reluctantly ready to turn it down because of high-school debate champion Bithe ride. She contacted the com- jal Mehta was born in Indianapolis pany and told them abut the ride, and raised in Carrollton, a suburb its mission, and her commitment. of Dallas, Texas. She graduated The company told her that was May of this year from Univergreat, and they would hold the job sity of Texas at Austin with maopen for her. Bijal has raised $12,000 so far. jors in Business Before she reaches Anchorage Honors; Supply she hopes to raise an additional Chain; and the

Plan II liberal arts program. As part of Business Brigade, a college organization, she has worked in Panama, Central America for developing entrepreneurs. She has won two national level Business Case competitions for starting sustainable, environmentenhancing businesses. She has


travelled to more than 24 countries but her most favorite destination continues to be Mumbai spending lazy summer time with her grandma. For more information about her ride or support Bijal’s efforts, visit

Help the Thirsty Trees in Your Area, Suggest Houston’s Tree Advocates (Yourhoustonnews) No rain —and none in sight — has local tree advocates concerned about the long-term effects of the drought on Houston’s tree inventory. Drought-weakened trees now means the city could potentially lose millions of trees later, setting in motion a long-reaching and long-lasting adverse environmental impact, said Trees For Houston. The plant and protect tree organization is urging Houstonians to water the thirsty trees in their neighborhoods since tree maintenance by city and organizations can only do so much. Without such immediate localized grassroots efforts to water neighborhood trees, the landscape of Houston and surrounding environs will look significantly different in five years as the full effects of the drought become apparent. Newly planted trees are especially vulnerable. Early signs of damage include yellowing leaves and premature leaf drop all over the crown. As the damage progresses, leaves will die from the bottom of the tree upward and from the inside of the canopy outward. Sometimes leaves simply wilt, or “burn” along their edges. Trees need a deep, thorough soaking once a week during the growing season. A watering schedule that is adequate to maintain a lawn will not maintain a tree. A rule of thumb during a drought is to give small, one-year-old trees 28 gallons of water a week, two-year-olds 56 gallons a week, and three-year-olds 112 gallons. Also, remove weeds and grass, which compete for water, beneath trees and replacing with a two- or three-inch cover of mulch. Adopt a tree (water edition) In a related outreach to mitigate the effects of drought on trees, Trees For Houston is operating a summer drought campaign to help fund watering of trees the organization maintains. The cost of watering one tree for a year is $75. A nonprofit organization, Trees For Houston plants and protects trees. During the 20102011 planting season, which ended in March, the organization and its volunteers planted about 42,000 trees along residential and commercial streets, in parks, along bayous and trails and on school campuses. Since its beginning in 1983, Trees For Houston has planted and distributed more than 420,000 trees and seedlings. For information or to underwrite tree watering, call 713-840-8733 or visit Indo American News • Friday, JUNE 17, 2011 • Online Edition:


Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011


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Klein oak’s Balasubramanian Advanced to national s science Fair after Houston success s

LOS ANGELES, CA: Kishore Balasubramanian, a ninth grade Pre-International Baccalaureate (IB) form Houston participated in the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair-2011 (ISEF) in Los Angeles where he earned second place in the medicine and health category. His participation in the ISEF came as a result of his winning as a finalist in the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH)-2011; additionally, he earned first place in medicine and health category and also the best in division award(9th grade division) at SEFH-2011. All winners of a first and second place awards at the INTEL ISEF-2011 will be honored with a minor planet/astroid named for them. This unique recognition is possible through a program called Ceres Connection in partnership with the Lincoln Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Intel ISEF. His project, “Inflammation is Skin Deep with Gingerol and Transfersomes” showed that ginger, available in the produce department of grocery stores, possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can provide a natural alternative to conventional drugs(NSIDS) drastically reducing the side effects of using the NSIDS. Kishore said, ‘It was the Harmony Schools and the mentoring form Dr. Ferrari’s Team of University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, which seeded the passion to Science in me. I am thankful to Harmony School System for having introduced me to the Science Fairs and to my mentors, Dr Ferrari and his Team University of Texas Health Science Center at

Houston for having seeded the passion to science and research in me. Also, I made it this far with my passion to Science and Science Fair because of the support, motivation and encouragement I received from my parents”, he added. ‘Every time I visit India with my parents and when I travel through the rural parts of the Country, it bothers me a lot when I see people suffering still for their little basic needs … When I am old enough, one of my goals is to spend a portion my time every year to help the people in need in the rural India in what ever the way I can.” he added. Kishore plans to become a doctor, perhaps a neurosurgeon, or a research scientist. Kishore, even with the knowledge that a minor planet/astroid will be named for him and a $1500 check for being international winner at the INTEL ISEF, describes himself as a “regular teenager.” He likes to read science fiction, play video games, watch movies in his free time.

n nimal wins Google’s People’s c w choice Award


FREMONT (SI): Nimal Subramanian, a resident of Irvine, Calif, representing the United States, won $10,000 as the People’s Choice Award in Google’s recent “Science Race,”. Subramaniam, son of Janaki Santhiveeran and V. Subramanian, an eighth-grader at Rancho San Joaquin Middle School in Irvine, submitted his project “Cancer buster” in the 1314 age group. The project focused on whether the germination and protein content of certain seeds decreased when combined with a series of edible spices, such as pepper, cumin, ginger and hibiscus and the anti-cancer agent turmeric. More than 10,000 students from 90 dif dif-

ferent countries participated in this competition and Google received 7,500 projects from which 60 projects were selected. In their blog, Google stated that they received over 100,000 votes and the competition was stiff. When notified of the win, the young Indian American stated: “I want to thank the public who played an important role in my success as the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Having the experience of being a semi-finalist in the Google Global Science Fair 2011 has been a rewarding experience. Winning this award is definitely the highest point in my life so far.” According to The Orange County Register, he is now one of the top 15 finalists before a panel of judges for the grand prize, set to be decided July 11.

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, Ay, JUne 17 , 2011 • Online editiOn: A On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011

Hindu y youth Awards 2011

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Hiren Joshi, the emcee for the awards ceremony was not only okay but good even. Raveena Bhalara received her award from Dr. Sudha Rajan President of S. Vyasa. A young high school graduate on her way to college, she said she has been involved with the VPSS in Houston and feels fortunate to be born an Indian. The next award to Abhishek Balakrishnan was presented by Jugal Malani, who co-founded Unique Industrial Products and is a self-effacing, unflinching supporter of many causes in the Indian community. Abhishek spoke about his ties to the Meenakshi Temple in Pearland and his love for volunteering on projects there. He is about to enter Duke University. Akash Gupta received his award from Suresh Patel, a bulwark of the VHP Youth Summer Camps. Gupta has been going to the Arya Samaj of Houston for the past four years and encompassed his whole existence in the word that has become second nature to him, idemamana, “which means ‘This is not me’,” Akash explained, adding that he had learnt its true meaning. “I will go out and make the world noble,” he said as a delighted Dev Mahajan, administrator of the Arya Samaj, clapped enthusiastically. Charu Thammaram received her award from Ramesh Butada, President of Star Pipes, and a staunch supporter of Hindu causes and events, who along with Malani’s and Pallod’s contribution, pledged later in the evening to support the annual Janamashtami celebrations to a tune of $10,000 each year. Charu is finishing her doctorate at the University of Houston and has been

active in the Network of Indian Professionals (NetIP) as well as the Save a Mother organization. The final recipient was the Youth Wing of the BAPS, accepted by Kaishal Shah and presented by Ramesh Shah, a Chairman of Ekal Vidalaya and an ardent community activist. Kaishal spoke about the rewarding work that was carried out by the youth in his organization, with the guidance of Pramukh Swami. Interspersed between the awards were brief speeches and acknowledgements by Vijay Pallod who reminded and encouraged young people to donate from an early age; Amit “Sonny” Mehta and Supriya Agarwal of the HAS who pledged to work relentlessly to help Hindu causes and Girish Naik, the President of the HGH for the past 5 years who gave a slide presentation of the work carried out by the organization over the past year (a first newsletter - created and compiled by Indo American News’ Krishna Giri and Manasi Gokhale featuring the same was also unveiled and distributed). Sanjay Jajoo, the gala coordinator, asked for a moment of reflection to pray for the health of Swami Ram Dev; and introduced Rishi Bhutada, son of Ramesh and himself a huge supporter of the HAS, who spoke of the imperative for “youth to take up leadership roles, but the next step must be to incorporate their opinions” as he heaped praise on the work of the Hindu American Foundation which lobbies in Washington, DC. Swami Pavitrananda Bramhaachari from the Gangnath Mahadev Ashram on the Nirmada River outside Baroda, Gujarat, who has been on a 16-city tour of the US with lectures at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio lit the lamps in an opening ceremony after opening bhajans by Keerthana and Kruthi Bhat and then gave a lengthy discourse about his work (he is a former electrical engineer) on the connection between physics and metaphysics, which is the basis of his doctoral dissertation. Entertainment for the evening was by Madhuri Dasmohapatara who sang two beautiful bhajans, accompanied by Dexter, who is aptly named for his dexterity on the tabla; and towards the evening’s conclusion by Pandit G.S. Chandra, a new entrant to the local vocal singer scene, who carried the audience away with a superb ghazal and bhajan, again accompanied by Dexter. The ISKCON JivJago group performed a invigorating number on stage, culminating in a kirtan to end the Gala. A buffet dinner for the event was catered by Bhojan restaurant.

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Indian Americans o observe Prayer day for swami s r ramdev

The news of Swami Ramdev ending his fast after nine days to mobilize Indians against corruption was greeted with prayer and gratitude by Indian Americans in community halls across America. As thousands of Indian Americans have been congregating for prayer meetings to pray for Swami Ramdev, a groundswell of concern, support and prayer from IndianAmericans surged toward the yoga guru. As people gathered for more prayers on Sunday, the news fil-

June 25 in front of Indian Embassy and presenting more than 10,000 signed petitions is also planned to show solidarity for citizens of nation and anger against brutality on our brothers and sisters. Visit www.bharatswabhimanoverseas. org for details. Mahesh Derashri, Trustee for Hindu Worship Society Temple, Houston said “Anyone who takes up the cause against corruption in India needs to be full heartedly supported and Baba Ramdev is one of them. We pray for his long



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Havan for Babaji’s Health conducted Dr Premchanji Shridhar at Arya samaj, Houston

tered in that Swami Ramdev had ended his fast. At over 200 IndianAmerican community centers and places of worship people heaved a sigh of relief. Support from Swami Ramdev and anger against Indian government has been palpable among Indian Americans. Indain Americans have lanched the worldwide petition against brutality and is available at A nationwide grand protest in Washington, DC on Saturday,

life.” Dr. Vidya Bhushan Verma, President of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of North America said, “We are thankful that Swami Ramdev ji has come out of his fast. We need him alive to continue this campaign and pray for his long life. Many of our North America’s Vedic centers have held special prayer and Yajyna for his good health,” Bhasy Nair, Board members of DFW Hindu Temple, Irving, TX said “We made a special mention

of the contribution of Ramdev Baba before the noon Arati, most crowded time in the Temple, and devotees in the Temple chanted Gayatry Mantra and Maha-mrutunjaya mantras 9 times for the well being of Babaji and the others who are with him.” “We are pleased Pujya Swamiji finally ended his fast. In the jampacked hall of India House, members stood up and joined in one voice chanting Mahamrityunjaya Mantra praying for his well being so that we can continue having the vision of this Yug Purush for Maa Bharati.”said Girish Naik, President of Hindus of Greater Houston The sentiments of support and prayer have been echoing from community leaders and preachers at Gurdwara Sahib of Houston, Fremont Hindu Temple, Fremont, CA, Gurdwara Sahib Southwest, Sugar land, Texas, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Stafford, Texas, Chinmaya Mission Houston , Arya Samaj Vedic Center, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of America and dozens of more organizations representing Indian Americans of all faiths. Hundreds of devotees prayed at Gayatri Shaktipeeth in Chicago for good health and long life of Swami Ramdev, according to Mr. Brij Kamboj, Coordinator BSOChicago. On June 8, leading Indian Americans from 15 cities across North America joined in a conference call and resolved to mobilize support for Swami Ramdev’s anticorruption Satyagraha.

r retirement s success driven by series of Good decisions s

By JiMMy aBrahaM What is the sign of a good decision? It’s working with those who can help build your retirement plan – and confidence. When planning for retirement, we all face similar questions. But each of our answers will be as unique as we are – based on where we are now and where we want to be later. Reaching those goals will require making a series of good decisions about what’s right for you in these key areas: Income – How will you create income for life?

How much of your income should you guarantee? What about inflation? Liquidity – Will you have access to money as you need it? Over the 20 to 30-plus years your retirement will span, no doubt there will be unexpected challenges – and opportunities – along the way. You’ll need assets readily available to handle the unexpected and still maintain your lifestyle. Long Term Care – What will you do if you or a loved one can no longer live independently because of a chronic, long-term condition? Thanks to medical advances, people are living longer than ever in history. Plan now to help ensure your lifestyle isn’t jeopardized by long term care costs. Legacy – What legacy will you leave? For many, the thought of living well includes leaving behind a legacy of financial security. If this is important to you, you’ll also want to explore how to establish a sound estate plan. Fortunately, you don’t have to make these decisions on your own. Take the most important next step now: Contact your financial professional. The sooner you do, the more confidently you can look ahead towards a rewarding retirement. Jimmy Abraham is a financial representative with Strategic Financial Group, LLP, a MassMutual agency who represents Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and other companies, courtesy of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) © 2010 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. CRN201201-129573

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It’s m murder, Pure and simple s not be ascertained by the doctor by any means, as a reason for which any couple can seek an abortion, is another highlight of this Act.

The MTP Act, by its nature being very liberal, allows both doctors and clients to do abortions for the wrong reasons. A growing disregard for the sanctity of human life has led to the liberalisation of abortion laws world over. In developing countries, a common view is that liberal abortion laws bring down maternal mortality. However, it should be noted that maternal mortality had improved considerably in western countries even before abortion laws were liberalised. Countries like Ireland which have stricter abortion laws record one of the best maternal mortality figures in the world. There are many humane ways of bringing down maternal mortality, and legalised killing of foetuses may not be the right one. In the West, while it is promiscuity that leads to unwanted pregnancies, the solution is found in killing foetuses and not in decrying promiscuity. Abortion, though sounds milder, is nothing but taking a person’s life. Our lives come into existence

by a process which is too beautiful to describe, as if by a sculptor who makes his artwork fearfully and wonderfully, who takes pain to make every detail of it very artistic and without blemish. Anyone who has held a newborn baby would know this fact. This process starts right on day one of conception, in the wombs of our mothers. Therefore, taking someone body’s life, even one’s own child before he or she is born, for reasons such as greed for a male child, want of money, avoiding social embarrassment and unwillingness to take the responsibility of bringing up children, amount to murder. This heinous act should be abhorred at all costs. A society has to kill its conscience before it kills its children. In the West, while the killing happens to maintain its sexual freedom, in the East it happens to satisfy its greed for having male babies. In this heinous crime, whether it is the greedy gynaecologist or the radiologist, or the greedy family which asks for the abortion, the conscience is killed first before the baby is killed. Foeticide is nothing but infanticide happening in a much earlier state. It appears as if education has not done much to arrest the moral degradation of people. This is proved by the fact that abortion practices are higher among the educated lot. A hardened conscience and disregard for the sanctity of life is the reason for widespread abortion, and female foeticide in particular. “What’s wrong with the world,” a famous author said: “I am.” It is true that every evil act by a human being ultimately has its source in the heart of the person. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and no one understands it really well. In the light of this, we, the human beings, who were foetuses to start with, whether lawmakers or doctors or the common man, should make all our decisions, especially when it comes to abortion, with a clear conscience and should refrain from flouting the sanctity of human life.

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By ronald Carey (Hindu) A massive genocide has been unearthed with the 2011 Indian census. It shows a drop in the numbers of girls per 1,000 boys up to the age of six to 914, from 927 a decade ago. Indiscriminate abortion of female foetuses is the reason for this skewed ratio. Naturally, if abortions were not done, there would be about 952 girls born for every 1000 boys. The exact number of abortions done in India, for obvious reasons, is not known. Had an equal number of male foetuses also been killed, this genocide would have not have been known. It is doubtful whether the issue would have come to the limelight, in case the exact number of abortions was known and their numbers were equal. It is a regrettable fact that when there are people to fight for women’s rights and animal rights, there are not many who uphold the sanctity of human life. Different reasons have been cited for the widespread female foeticide including ineffective implementation of the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Section) Act, illegal promotion of ultrasound machines by business giants, greedy radiologists and gynaecologists who comply with people for abortions and the patriarchal system of society. While there are elements of truth in some of these and none in others, the overarching, real reason is quite deep. A qualified doctor in India who does an abortion for wrong reasons is unlikely to get caught. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which could rightly be called, ‘The Guardian Demon,’ is such that one can do an abortion for whatever reason and still remain free. It allows a doctor to do an abortion if he ‘feels’ that there is a grave risk to the mental health of the mother upon continuance of the pregnancy. Since this is very subjective, when stated as a reason, a doctor is free from any hassles. Contraceptive failure like the failure of condoms which can-

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rana Acquitted in 26/11 case, r convicted of Aiding LeT

By lalit Jha & hiMani KuMar CHICAGO: (Outlook) In a verdict that was received with disappointment by India, a US court today acquitted Tahawwur Rana on charges of plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks but held him guilty of supporting Pakistan-based terror group LeT and planning a strike in Denmark that will get him a maximum of 30 years in jail. A 12-member jury here reached a split verdict after two days of deliberations and ruled that the 50-year-old Pakistani-Canadian was not guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people, including six Americans. If he was convicted on this count, he could have received a maximum sentence of life im-




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Rana’s attorney Patrick Blegan said he would file post-trial motions that there was not enough evidence to convict him and that there was an error in the trial. “Obviously we are extremely disappointed. We believe in Rana. We believe he was not guilty. The jury came to another decision. We respect their decision, but we think they got it wrong,” Blegan said. After the jury gave its verdict, US Attorney Patrick J Fitzgerald said the acquittal of Rana, who was a co-accused in the Mumbai attacks with Headley, from charges that he was involved in the 26/11 terror attacks was disappointing. “We are disappointed in the not guilty verdict on the Mumbai attacks,” he told reporters. At the same time, he said they were “gratified” that the jury found Rana guilty of involvement in plotting a terror attack in Denmark and providing material support to LeT, designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organisation. He also justified the controversial plea bargain deal cut with Headley that spared him the death penalty and extradition to India, saying that not doing the pact would have been a “terrible mistake”. Each of the count, for which Rana has been convicted, carries a maximum imprisonment of 15 In this courtroom sketch, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana is show in federal court, Chicago. years, Rana’s attorney Blegan File Photo said. “Because the jury found no prisonment. death resulting for the final count 12 (proAnnouncing the verdict, US District Judge viding material support to LeT) there is no Harry D Leinenweber said Rana was guilty maximum of life sentence. Maximum is 15 of providing material support to Lashkar-e- (years) for each count,” he said. Taiba, which had carried out the 26/11 atHe said the government emphasised on tacks, and plotting to bomb Jyllands-Posten, the secretly taped car conversation between a Danish newspaper which had published Rana and Headley, the star witness during cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. the trial. Blegan said there is a huge contraRana faces a maximum sentence of 30 diction in the verdict as LeT is primarily inyears in prison on the two counts combined volved in Mumbai and not in Denmark. and remains in federal custody without “But the government’s evidence was that bond, a US Justice Department statement at least Lashkar was also involved in Densaid. mark plot for a short period of time. Sound No sentencing date was set. that the jury agreed to that,” he said. Reacting to the verdict, the Indian govThe verdict came after nearly three weeks ernment expressed “disappointment” over of trial of Rana at the Chicago court. Rana’s acquittal on charges of plotting the “One of the big issues could be whether Mumbai attacks and said it will soon take these (sentences) could be run consecua decision on filing a charge sheet against tively. That is something that could be part him and LeT operative David Headley in an of the motion,” said Charles Swift, Rana’s Indian court. other attorney. “We are disappointed that Rana was ac“We will argue that (to run the two senquitted on the count of conspiracy to pro- tences consecutively) because they involve vide material support to the Mumbai terror- exact same conduct but it will be up to the ist attacks,” Secretary, Internal Security in judge,” he said. Prosecutors alleged that the Ministry of Home Affairs, U K Bansal, Rana, a military doctor-turned businesssaid in a statement in New Delhi. man, was aware of the Mumbai attacks and US Justice Department spokesman Ran- was in contact with the terror groups and dall Samborn earlier said: “A Federal Court their leaders in Pakistan. Rana’s attorney, on jury has convicted defendant Rana on one the other hand, pleaded not guilty and said count of conspiracy to provide material that Pakistani-American Headley was an all support to the Denmark terrorism plot and time liar and had fooled him. The judge orone count of providing material support to dered the defence to file post-trial motions LeT, and not guilty of conspiracy to provide by August 15. material support to the Mumbai terrorist atBlegan said, “we do not know what the tacks.” jury was thinking.” He said the jury decided The verdict left Rana, who was dressed that there was no death involved due to Rana in white shirt and checkered olive blazer, providing material support to LeT. stunned. His lawyers said they would ap“This is a split verdict. Mumbai part of peal against the ruling as there was an “er- the verdict is very significant as jury did not ror” in the trial. The jurors, who were not find him guilty in the terrorists attacks,” he identified, declined to speak to the media to said. explain their split verdict, which defence atAmong those present in the court room continued on page 14 torneys called conflicting.

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National Spelling Bee Reminds us that Some Kids still Care about the English Language By Phil Giannotti (NJ) Cymotrichous. I didn’t know what this word meant. I didn’t know how to use this word in a sentence. I certainly didn’t know how to spell the word! However, thanks to Sukanya Roy, who spelled the word correctly to capture the Scripps National Spelling Bee championship earlier this week, I now know the word cymotrichous. I know that it means “having wavy hair”. Most importantly, I have expanded my vocabulary. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is always fun to watch. Part of me likes seeing kids struggle under the enormous pressure of spelling words that I never knew existed. Another part of me enjoys that they are usually able to spell the words based on context and etymology, a feat that is incredibly impressive for adults, let alone adolescents and pre-teens! The Bee has always been popular, with nationally televised airings and a 1999 documentary, “Spellbound”. I have always found watching it to be entertaining and educational. When I checked out of my 8th grade regional spelling bee the word that tripped me up was minstrel, which I spelled menstrual. I finished in third place and couldn’t figure

out why everyone was laughing. But this past week the kids had to contend with words like, polatouche, rougeot, abhinaya, capoeira,

cheongsam, opodeldoc, zanja, Jugendstil, galoubet, anaphylaxis, brachygraphy, sorites and bondieuserie. At least when I lost, I had actually heard of the word I was given and

the word I misspelled. That is what I like most about the Spelling Bee – it focuses on intelligence. These are children that have learned to spell these challenging words and understand how to use them in conversation. Believe it or not, there was a time when this was important to our society. Electronic media has facilitated a rapid globalization that has sacrificed proper spelling and grammar. Internet forums and comment sections are littered with flagrant misspellings and improper grammar. The scary thing is that whenever someone points out the errors they are chastised as being part of the Grammar Police. Instead of being embarrassed by their inability to properly use the English language, people actually have the audacity to defend their ineptitude. Unregulated subdivisions of the internet are not the only places

where bad grammar and awful spelling run rampant. There are many prominent online news sites that run stories that look like they never crossed the copy editor’s desk. You can find glaring mistakes that make you wonder how someone could let the articles go to print. I have pride in the blogs that I post. They have to look good and be grammatically correct; otherwise I am doing myself and the reader a disservice. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot understand how we have let our language arts suffer so badly. I had an English teacher that taught me to always have a dictionary handy, so I could look up any unfamiliar words I came across while reading. That simple lesson has allowed me to cultivate an improved vocabulary. Kids need to grow up with this kind of lesson. There has always been this bizarre cultural notion that it’s cool to be dumb and that smart kids are square. That kind of thinking can only be changed through proper parenting. Kids need to learn how to speak, write and spell properly. They need to take pride in their intelligence. As our society continues to be beleaguered by a reality-television-absorbed, internet-hypnotized dumbing down, there is definitely no shame in being smart.

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Rana’s Acquittal will Remain Mystery continued from page


were US attorney Fitzgerald and assistant attorneys Daniel Collins and Vicky Peters, defence attorney Blegen, Rana’s wife Samraz Rana, their two daughters and mother of Samraz. Blegan and Rana’s family members looked tense and crestfallen. “The message should be clear to all those who help terrorists — we will bring to justice all those who seek to facilitate violence,” said Fitzgerald, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He, however said, “we are disappointed in the not guilty verdict on the Mumbai attacks.” “I do not know, the government had the burden of proof,” he told reporters when asked what went wrong on the 26/11 charges. “We put our evidence forward and the jury found that we did not meet the burden (of proof) there. But they did find we made our burden proving material support to Lashkar and they found that we met our burden with regard to attack on Denmark,” Fitzgerald said. In his final arguments, Collins urged the jury that “those who died in Mumbai demand justice. You (the jury) will find the truth that this man knew that his trained terrorist friend (Headley) was bent on killing people.”

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The Goddess of Small Things

Why should a New India born, upwardly mobile urban family treat its employees any different from the out-of-town neighbours? By Priya Ramani (Mint) When my cook-nanny took a couple of months off recently to blow up her life savings on her son’s wedding, I tapped my brand new mommy network for some substitute help. She showed up one day at my door, nicely clad in seemingly clashing prints, matched with the ease of a Sabyasachi. She was English spoken, a queen of babysong, a goddess of pumpkin soup and momos. She worked for Europeans who were on holiday but who didn’t mind her earning some extra money while they were away. One day when I was particularly crotchety (euphemism), she waited until the storm had passed, then raised one eyebrow and said, “Looks like you had a really bad night.” In short, she could kick my butt too. A few weeks into the job, she decided I wasn’t so bad. She told me she would find me a full-time nanny for Babyjaan. One day I overheard a phone conversation with a potential hire. Their chat ended with this reassuring clincher: “They are like foreigners only. Same systems, same attitudes.” Why should a New India born, upwardly mobile urban family treat its employees any different from the out-of-town neighbours? Yet many domestic workers who

Domesteq, a placement and training agency in Delhi. Pradeep gaur/Mint

have worked with expatriate families say they are reluctant to be employed by Indians. Of course there are exceptions but,

usually, in the former household the hours are more structured, the salary and perks are better, the employers’ vocabulary includes

Please, Thank You, and Most Grateful. Most important, there is greater respect for their work, acknowledgement that what they do is Real Work that improves the quality of their employers’ lives. When I flash back on all the women who’ve worked for us in the past decade as the husband and me tripped through cities and apartments—Radha, Savita, Nirmala, Shruti, Natalie, Asha, Shashi, Sameena, Sushma—three commonalities come immediately to mind. They all carried their blinding smiles to work every morning. They all had standardissue brutal lives. They all (well most of them anyway) made our lives easier. Last month I heard three stories about the private lives of domestic workers. Of a girl who attempted to kill herself because the man she loved married someone else. Of a slip of a woman who had her fifth abortion. Of a wife who was hit hard on the head with a brick because she attempted to intervene in a fight between her husband and a neighbour. You’ve all heard similar stories, I’m sure. Of course it’s not all bleak. Domestic workers are getting more policy attention than ever before. Health insurance, minimum wages, smart cards are all in the works for an industry that’s increasingly being recognized as workers who

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provide essential services and not just help in the house. A draft study conducted in West Bengal by the International Labour Organization wanted to investigate whether this kind of employment empowers migrant domestic workers or whether it just ends up being another form of slavery. Apparently, domestic workers are doing the best they can with the opportunities they have to improve their lives and, many often utilize their regular incomes to buy a house— although, in true it-happens-onlyin-India style, several women then end up registering the house in their husband’s name! According to official estimates there are 4.75 million domestic workers in India; three million of these are women who work in urban areas. Most independent studies indicate that this number is a gross underestimation and there could actually be 20-80 million domestic workers. As this underpaid and overworked group works hard to push their children into Better India, we really are their biggest anchors. We can no longer shrug off our responsibility by paying them a salary that’s a little higher than market. We have to be active participants in improving their lives. After all, they spend all their time improving ours.

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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011


Historical novel “river river of s r smoke” by a amitav Ghosh

In September 1838 a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured labourers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared—two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading east out of Cornwall? Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces? On the grand scale of a historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbours of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to


stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, por porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned amateur botanist Paulette and a motley collection of others in pursuit of romance, riches and a legend legendary rare flower. All struggle to cope with their losses—and, for some, unimaginable free freedoms—in the alleys and crowded waterways of nineteenth-century Canton. The River of Smoke, is book two in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy. Here’s a review of the novel. By Tessa Hadley Hadley. In historical novels the past can sometimes feel tamed; hindsight, hovering just off the page, tells us that we know what it all added up to and what came of it (the First Opium War, during which British gunboats enforced a treaty opening Chinese ports to international trade, comes shortly after the ending of this novel). But Ghosh’s novels somehow succeed in taking us back inside the chaos of when “then” was “now”. His grasp of the detail of the period is exhaustive – he is so thoroughly submerged in it – that readers can’t possibly remember all the things he shows them, or hold on to all the life-stories of all the characters he introduces. Both

novels are cabinets of curiosities, crowded with items that hold a story of their own. We get a moment’s glimpse in River of Smoke, for example, inside a ship’s cabin – and Ghosh can’t resist explaining how a copper tub is “attached ingeniously to the ceiling, with removable trivets”. Bahram, the Parsi opium trader from Bombay, whose story is the primary focus of the novel, likes to eat “a Xinjiang specialty called a samsa…”: “these were small triangles of pastry, stuffed usually with minced meat: baked in portable Uighur tandoors they were sold hot in the Maidan . . . and were spoken of familiarly by their Hindusthani name – samosa”. Every element, no matter how small, in the novel’s world opens up to reveal the further worlds stacked up behind it. The sheer accumulation of ma-

terial ought to burst the seams of fictional form – and on occasion in River of Smoke, it does. The thread of the story can get lost amid the overwhelming interest of its context. In Sea of Poppies, the density of the novel’s past-world was counterpointed by several strong and converging storylines: a young Hindu widow escaping from being incinerated with her husband’s body, a black American sailor passing as white, a Raja degraded as a common prisoner, and so on. Bahram’s story in River of Smoke doesn’t have the same dynamism, although some strands of plot left over from the first book are picked up. The Raja, for example, escaped and, while in disguise, finds work as Bahram’s munshi or secretary – but these strands never quite recover the verve of their first outing. But perhaps it’s fitting that the story should feel somewhat stalled, as the Canton opium traders, prevented from disposing of their cargo, await developments in the stand-off between the Chinese authorities and the forces of Free Trade. Bahram’s fate is his helplessness. He’s intelligent, capable, resilient, a gifted entrepreneur – yet he’s also a mere atom, at the mercy of the forces of politics and history. And a disadvantaged atom, at that – both in terms of the rigid hierarchies of the Parsi community at home, where he’s a lowly son-in-law in a superior family; and in his relations with the

Canton foreign traders. The novel renders with subtlety just how the nuances of condescension and exclusion work in the peculiar world of the foreign trading enclave, and in this pre-Indian Rebellion period of race relations. The novel feels stitched together clumsily in a few places. In par particular, the section narrated in letters from Robin Chinnery (illegitimate, mixed-race and presumably fictional son of George Chinnery, a real-life painter of South China scenes) to Paulette the botanist, who appears in the previous book On the whole, though, the novel’s strength lies in how thoroughly Ghosh fills out his research with his novelistic fantasy, seduced by each new situation that presents itself and each new character, so that at their best the scenes read with a sensual freshness as if they were happening now. The judgements of history are generously deferred. The story of the opium trade is an ugly one, but the spirit of the novel is enthusiastic tragicomedy, not moralising posthoc gloom. And for all the writer’s sympathy with the Chinese authorities, there’s no lament in here for the loss of past purity. The writing can’t help coming down on the side of the rich intercourse of ports and traders, the hybridity born of cultural contact, the bastardisations of language in pidgin and port slang, and sexual encounters across the barriers of race and convention. Guardian

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Who is in Charge? The emergence of what is mistakenly being called “civil society movements’’ has given rise to a spurious debate. Pranab Mukherjee, the Union finance minister, who invariably acts as the troubleshooter for the present government, nailed this debate when he remarked, perhaps out of sheer exasperation, that no one — individual, body or movement — could dictate terms to the Parliament. The Parliament, composed of elected representatives of the people, is the supreme lawmaker of the country. It follows therefore that terms and conditions cannot be laid down for the Parliament. The point needed to be made since some charlatans are trying to hijack the democratic process in India. These people range from a yoga teacher who is threatening to arm young men to a village-level social reformer who fancies himself to be a latterday Gandhi. Behind these people lurks the shadowy presence of political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (or some of its wings) and a handful of the educated middle class who are either ignorant of the stakes involved or have inflated ideas of their own importance. What needs to be highlighted in the prevailing melee of words and fasts is that none of those spearheading civil society represents the people or is accountable to them. Civil society activists are drawing attention to the prevalence of corruption in public life, especially in the higher echelons. The issue of corruption has acquired a new edge and urgency after the sordid revelations regarding the 2G spectrum allocation. In this context, it should be recalled that at present one cabinet minister, the daughter of an extremely powerful politician, and several top managers of important companies are already behind bars and some more are under investigation. Earlier, the man suspected of corrupt practices during the Commonwealth Games was arrested even though he had strong political connections. These examples would suggest that if the existing law-enforcement agencies are allowed to function without fear or prejudice, they can actually take action against people under suspicion even when such people are important and powerful. The government, in fact, should not get involved in a side skirmish with civil society activists. Rather, it should declare war against corruption and allow the law to take its own course even if this means action against some very influential people. The government has nothing to lose. Calcutta Telegraph

Quotable Quotes To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. Confucius


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Breakfast Thoughts By Indrajit Hazra It usually takes an average healthy person about 60 days to die if he goes without food. After three weeks of fasting (no juice, only water), the body starts breaking down drastically. By 40 days, constant pain and illness take over. The body lacks the energy to conduct basic cellular functions and starts to fall apart. All this sounds dire on a Sunday morning. But with Ramdev on his ninth day without food and Anna Hazare having gone on a day-long (10 am to 6pm) fast on Wednesday, my thoughts have turned towards those who reached the logical conclusion of a fast-unto-death. So, as I tuck in two sunny side up eggs on two pieces of toast, I won’t be talking of Gandhi who because of his size and weight, didn’t ever go beyond the 21-day mark. Or those who inspired him to use the hunger strike as a political weapon: the suffragettes in the early years of the 20th century fighting for womens’ voting rights in Britain. Instead, my breakfast thoughts linger on 27-year-old Bobby Sands, a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who refused to eat for 66 days from March 1, 1981, to the day he died on May 5, 1981. As well as the nine others who joined him in a bid to force the British government treat them as political prisoners (not

Baba Ramdev ended his fast against corruption on the 9th day. as criminals) and to internationalise the IRA cause. Unlike the suffragettes and Gandhi, these men weren’t believers in non-violence. They had chosen terrorism to drive the British out of Northern Ireland. So in terms of having a moral right to shame the powers-that-be to meeting their demands by refusing to eat, they had none. But even though the government did not give in to their demands, the string of hunger deaths in the Belfast prison made an impact. People were moved by the ‘spectacle’ of people killing themselves by ‘wasting away’. Even if many realised that they were fasting for a wrong cause, they saw their refusal to eat until they died as selfless. As was the case with others who

actually died by starving themselves - such as LTTE ideologue Theelippan who died in 1987 after a 12-day hunger strike protesting against the Sri Lankan government and the Indian Peace-Keeping Force. The slowness of a hunger death with the media spotlight on it (a starvation death in some corner of the world won’t make the grade) makes it strangely dramatic in a world used to ‘quicker’ forms of self-death such as suicide-bombing or even selfimmolation. Death-from-fasting has a medieval ‘religious’ awe-inspiring aspect to it, like a karva chauth with a vengeance. My favourite hunger striker, however, is a fictional one. Franz Kafka’s hero in his 1922 short story: ‘A Hunger Artist’. “I always wanted you to admire my fasting,” he tells the supervisor of the fairground where he’s displayed in a cage for spectators. “But you shouldn’t admire it... Because I had to fast. I can’t do anything else.” On being asked why he can’t do anything else, he replies “Because... I couldn’t find a food which tasted good to me. If had found that, believe me, I would not have made a spectacle of myself and would have eaten to my heart’s content, like you and everyone else.” Those were his last words. - Hindustan Times

Unsung, Swami Nigamand Fasts Unto Death By C.K. Chandramohan They may worship the same gods and cite the same scripture but all babas — and their fasts — are clearly not equal. Lionised by politicians and the media, Baba Ramdev fasted for a few days before he ended his protest. At the first sign of weakness, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj rushed to pay him a visit. However, Swami Nigamanand, who went on a hunger strike in February to save the Ganga, paid the ultimate price for his beliefs, dying in hospital on June 13 with netas and journalists alike oblivious to his cause or sacrifice. Nigamanand, 36, a founder-mem-

ber of Matri Sadan, went on an indefinite fast on February 19 seeking a ban on quarrying in and around the Ganga in the Kumbh area. The district administration admitted him to the Haridwar District Hospital after his condition deteriorated on April 27. District Magistrate Meenakshi Sundaram said the Uttarakhand government had issued two orders banning all mining activity in the kumbh region as sought by the fasting seer. These orders were challenged in the High Court at Nainital by a stone crusher owner. “The court rejected the petition on May 26 and we immediately ordered closure of all mining

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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activities in the Kumbh region,” Mr. Sundaram said. Meanwhile, Swami Shivanand, founder of Matri Sadan here, has sought a CBI probe into the death of Swami Nigamanand at the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT) hospital at Jolly Grant in Dehra Dun district. Doctors at HIHT said the Swami was brought in a state of coma on May 2. He was immediately put on ventilator. He was, however, ‘brain dead’ in a few days. Even then, they tried their very best to revive him until he was finally declared dead on June 13, the doctors said. - The Hindu

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Father: A c child’s First Hero…

establish a close and nourishing relationship with their children. Fathers cannot substitute this with money and provisions from work. Guardians do that, and a father is something more. Fathers should be there every step of the way in a teen’s years in demonstrating strength, dependability, responsibility, vigilance, and caring love. Father’s leave their legacy to

children to carry onwards. It is important to set a good example for children, and set a strong role model. A father must do this. Every father wishes to leave his traces for children to follow. My father passed away a few years ago. He is still alive in my heart through his values and principles. It is said by Swami Vivekananda that the heavenly father’s love manifested itself on earth as the mother, and the heavenly father’s power manifested on earth as the father to protect and rear children. Parents are the divinity manifested on earth to take the responsibility of raising children to become the wonderful, loving, and caring human beings they should be. Fathers are the head of households and are protectors and caregivers. They are the strong shoulders to lean on. Hats off to fathers who work hard for their children and their children’s upbringing. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers.

u.s. Army Assigns First Hindu chaplain c WASHINGTON D.C. (PTI): Pratima Dharm, a serving woman captain in the American Army, has been named the first-ever Hindu chaplain in the US Defence Department. Dharm is the first Indian-American woman to be appointed as US Military’s Hindu chaplain. Coming from a diverse background, forty-year-old Dharm, migrated to Amer America just months before the 9/11 attacks. She was born in New Delhi. “My neighbours were Muslims, my neighbours were Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Christians,” she was quoted as saying. “My close friends in school represented all the different faith groups, and it never occurred to me then that we were different

Pratima Dharm: First U.S. chaplain

or there was anything strange about it.” She said the US Army, and the United States itself were founded on the idea that people can be united while worshipping differently. Hinduism, with nearly a billion adherents worldwide — has fewer than

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1,000 active service members, according to Pentagon statistics — was the largest of the world faiths not represented by a chaplain. Dharm, a chaplain on the medical staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, has started getting emails from her friends though the of official announcement is yet to be made. “I’m already on the job,” she said. “There’s this tremendous sense of hope and relief that there is someone who understands their story at a deeper level, coming from the background I do.” “To be able to sit down and show compassion for soldiers I have never met before is part of the message of Christ as well as [the Hindu teachings] of Vedanta.”

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By Uma ranI anI medI Dad is the protector. He provides the feeling of safety that a roof gives during a thunderstorm. We often hear children say, “I’m going to tell my Dad about this.” We often see children calling upon the support of their fathers in their early crises. In other words, children see that their dad’s will protect them and look after their safety and comforts. Mothers take the majority of the responsibility of raising children. They must bear them, feed them, teach them, and play with them. Fathers act as good role models for their children and tend to shoulder the financial responsibilities in providing for the family. After all of the work a father does, the sight of his children at the end of a hard day dispels all troubles. A father’s involvement in a child’s rearing becomes necessary when the child becomes a teenager. That is the time when children need their fathers the most. Every father should


Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011

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When was the Last Time We Planted a Tree? By Arvind Srivastav The blueprint will consume unEvery year World Environnecessary space if we plant some ment Day just passes by — trees. Trees can be messy with people paste posters of a green fallen leaves and broken branches, world, distribute pamphlets on noisy monkeys and chirping birds. planting saplings and saving We want the maximum benefit out trees. Free tree saplings, free of the space. Neither the builder vermi compost bags are also nor the buyer is worried about the on offer. Not to mention the green posts on the walkways. e-mail forwards on how to We are moving into a passive revive the green cover. world, where we expect someIs this enough? While the body to read our emails, sms, and world is moving in geometric posts and plant those trees for us; progression, the one plant that we won’t do it ourselves. we have got on our desktop We are sincere citizens and table is less than a billion fracwould continue to light 10 bulbs tions in comparison. in the training rooms when just We are doing our bit, isn’t four are enough. Drive an SUV it? By doing what? When was with just one person and expect the the last time we planted a tree government to give us wide roads or a shrub in our neighbourby cutting the trees. We use plastic hood? Except for a handful bags while we can afford to carry of green lovers who continue a cloth bag or jute bag to the store. to believe in a green world, The cart vendor whips out a thin and are desperate in handing non-reusable plastic bag to pack down a green environment to the vegetables or fruits right at our future generations, all others doorstep. Do we have the heart to are busy sending out emails A student participates in a tree planting refuse and run up for a bowl or bag and/or sms. It is our day out in a event at a college in Hyderabad. File back home? year to plant some seeds in our photo Global warming cannot be congarden (?) just for the sake of tained by half-hearted, lackadaisiTake a look at the realtor’s map. cal tree planting measures. It is high doing it. Do we follow it up? Do we water it and nurture it? Some enthu- Basement for parking 20 cars, pave- time we realised that forwarding siastic children are given saplings ment for a morning jog, 60 x 40 emails does nothing better than in schools or volunteers take home space for a gym, 30 x 40 party hall, igniting a fraction of a billion brains saplings to their luxurious apart- 10,200 sq. ft. auditorium, so on and to go green. ments that have cemented surround- so forth. Did we read 1 sq.m for evThis year, World Environment ings and do not host a terrace garden. ery 30 sq.m-long space for 10 trees? Day was celebrated on June 5 The plants wilt with no one having I guess not. Trees, the darlings of The Hindu lung space, are not part of the plan. time to tend them with care.

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Home came alive a when the tV w t conked out o

The poor TV sat neglected in the corner waiting for the always-busy mechanic to come …. Slowly, I could make out the little joys that filled the void of TV time. We got more time to spend together. By elIza IzaB Iza zaBetH davIS av The screen dimmed and the visuals contracted to a single line in the centre followed by a thudding sound. Then the line sprang back to live action and the ladies with lovely luscious hair reappeared on screen. I always wonder how they manage to have such beautiful hair and all the brands showcase the sheen of crowning glory! Thud!! zhoom! The television screen went blank again and remained so. But the voices kept going on. The idiot box was ill and just would not play. I kept wondering how my eight-year old would take it. She had seen the visuals disappear herself. When her dad announced that the TV had to be repaired, I watched my daughter’s expressions. Gone was her Pogo, cartoons and films. Though the TV goes live only after her study time and prayers, her eyes are glued to it till bedtime. Not to mention the impatience and quarrels when we switch channels to watch the news headlines. Most of the days, TV joins us for dinner. Dinner time is quiet if there is any interesting movie playing. I find no criticisms on my cooking and meals are finished quickly. However, I was surprised to see my daughter take the incident in a quiet and mature manner. She had seen it go and knew it was not one of our pranks. The poor TV sat neglected in the corner waiting for the alwaysbusy mechanic to come. It was fascinating to see our family tuning in to the lack of the idiot box. Slowly, I could make out the little joys and happiness that filled the void of TV time. We got more time to spend together. I could listen to my daughter chattering away about her world. She started practising her piano lessons with her dad. She would dance into the kitchen with her queries.And dinner time was a pleasure. Stories and laughter filled our tummies along with the food. We got to speak out our feelings more to each other.

I could see my daughter getting interested in how I spent my childhood where there was no TV or the mobile phone. With the company of an attentive listener, I happily plunged into the box of my childhood days and pulled out glitters of those good old days and games. My thoughts raced back into the four walls of green leaves and twigs which we children had made our makeshift home. We were busy preparing lunch using coconut shells as vessels and sand, pebbles and green leaves as ingredients. Finally, delicious sadya was ready with the round green leaf as the pappad. I could see my daughter visualizing the pappads. Then I spoke of kuttiyum kolum, a game we used to play for hours. When I explained that it somewhat resembles cricket, my daughter was awestruck. The earth was our play station. We used to draw squares and columns in the mud with our fingers and play with marbles. “Just like your carrom board, only thing we used our fingers as strikers and the good earth as our board.” I could see my daughter getting interested in every word I said. “Have you played the game with broomstick pieces? I bet it would help you develop concentration!” With these words, I took a few broomsticks and broke them into small equal pieces. The broomsticks were then stacked together and thrown into a heap on the floor. You would be given two slender

broomsticks. What you have to do is to remove each stick from the heap without moving the others using only the two broomsticks given to you. I remember the running races we had, feeling the wind blow against our faces. Those childhood days were filled with fun and games and we used to return home exhausted and brimming with happiness. There was no TV or even a mobile then. New games were invented during the holidays and there were plenty of children to play with. My husband joined in the conversation, speaking of fishing and swimming while taking the cattle out to the fields. No mango tree was spared of stone-pelting. My daughter sat spellbound hearing all our stories. I could see her making up her mind to play these games. As I expected, I saw her teaching her friends those good old games. She seemed happy and evenings were packed with talking, story-telling and singing. Then, one day, the mechanic came. We had forgotten about him. The TV was repaired and the visuals came live. Though we had forgotten about the poor TV, we were happy in a way when it came alive. My daughter took command of the remote as usual. And the TV became the master of the evenings again. But I make sure that TV was switched off after some time. For the family time show. The Hindu

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Indo American News • Friday, June 17, 2011

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u unelected councils in India r run Villages with s stern Hand

By jIm Im yardley SISANA (NYT): There are two laws in this dusty village less than 50 miles from India’s capital: the law of the land and the law of the village. And for local residents like Takdir Dahiya, the law of the village councils known as khap panchayats is the only one that matters. “We do not know what the law is,” he said on a recent boiling afternoon. “We only know what is decided by the khap panchayat. Here it is not the Supreme Court that decides. It is the khap panchayat that decides.” For generations, these unelected councils of male elders have dominated life in many villages, mostly across northern India, exerting social control through edicts that govern everything from marriage to property disputes. But the councils are coming under growing national scrutiny as their extrajudicial rulings — especially those blamed for the spread of so-called honor killings — are challenging the concept of the national rule of law. In recent months, an assertive Supreme Court has issued opinions condemning the councils as illegal bodies, and the controversy is expected to spill into this summer’s “monsoon” session of Parliament. Legal advocates are pushing for a comprehensive law establishing criminal penalties to deter the khaps from issuing their edicts. Meanwhile, khap leaders are unrepentant and pushing their own agenda in Parliament by demanding alterations to make Indian marriage laws reflect their conservative traditions. “They are mobilizing for protests,” said Ranjana Kumari, a women’s rights advocate. “And they are capable of organizing a very huge protest.” The legal battle is another example of the growing pains in Indian society as the rippling influences of modernity collide with ancient beliefs and practices. Khap panchayats often seem to be trying to stop the advance of the modern world: some khaps have ordered bans on women wearing tight clothing and have even tried to ban the use of mobile phones by people in college or younger, since the devices are tools that couples can use for fur furtive contact. Khap leaders contend that their councils create social cohesion and order, while providing speedier justice, in the absence of effective local government. They justify their strict edicts on marriage as being rooted in religious belief and say that their practices have prevented inbreeding and other health issues — claims disputed by their critics as wrongheaded and outdated because village populations are far larger today. Here in the state of Haryana, khap panchayats dominate many villages and exert heavy influence on the political system. Much of Haryana is populated by Jats, a north Indian caste divided into subgroups known as gotras. Traditionally, villages are run by a particular gotra with its own khap panchayat, which adjudicates local disputes and upholds marriage customs, including the belief that men and women within the same gotra, and the same village, are considered brothers and sisters and are prohibited from marrying. It is the khaps’ unyielding position on mar marriage, which they say derives from ancient Hindu texts, that has thrust them into the heart of a national controversy. Critics blame their edicts for directly or indirectly provoking honor killings of couples who marry within the same gotra or village. In other cases, social pressure has driven young women to commit suicide. Khap panchayats often order residents of a village to boycott, whether socially or economically, families whose children defy the

Members of an unelected village council of male elders gathered for a meeting recently in Sisana, India. Photo: Graham Crouch for The New York Times

or working in the area. “Once the khap came to a conclusion, both parties accepted it,” Dahiya said. Critics of the councils say local police officers and politicians sometimes work in tandem with the khaps. In some cases, the police have tracked down couples who had eloped, ar arresting the men on charges of kidnapping and returning the women to their families. “Local and state-level politicians have been noticeably reluctant to condemn the khap panchayats, since they represent a large and powerful vote bank,” said Rani D. Mullen, an assistant professor at the College of William & Mary and the author of a forthcoming book on village-level democracy in India. “This has created a political environment that essentially condones the khap panchayats, with local marriage custom. In some cases, khaps have even ordered that couples be killed, though more often the social pressure they create is the issue; many times, a killing is actually carried out by family members seeking to escape social shame and ostracism within their village. At a time when a younger generation of women is becoming more independent, many critics believe that the khaps are desperate to maintain traditional controls over women and property, which is intertwined with marriage. “It’s all about social control and control of the girl,” said Kirti Singh, a lawyer who argues cases before the Supreme Court. In Sisana, a farming village northwest of New Delhi, the local khap panchayat meets periodically on an open concrete platform in the village to consider various disputes. “It is a very sanctified place,” said Surender Dahiya, 47, a member of the khap. “It is assumed no one will tell lies there.” In Sisana, a farming village northwest of New Delhi, the local khap panchayat meets periodically on an open concrete platform in the village to consider various disputes. “It is a very sanctified place,” said Surender Dahiya, 47, a member of the khap. “It is assumed no one will tell lies there.” Dahiya and others in Sisana denied that the khap was an illegal entity, or that it ordered honor killings. He said the khap financed schools and gave cash to poor families. As for their edicts, the khaps, he said, issue fines or call for social boycotts, and also act as arbiters on local crimes. “If criminal incidents take place, a court will take years and years,” he said. “The khap will sit together and very quickly make a ruling.” When a violent clash occurred between two families in Sisana, leaving seven people dead in a cross-fire, the khap decided which family was guilty and barred from marrying

politicians and police turning a blind eye. The courts are often left as the only public defenders of the law.” Since April, the Supreme Court has issued two lacerating rulings about honor killings and has described khap panchayats as products of a “feudal mentality.” “These acts take the law into their own hands and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal,” the court wrote on April 19. Khap leaders placed the blame for honor killings not on their methods of exerting social pressure but on the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act, the national law that contains no prohibition on marriage within gotras. When Parliament meets in July, khap leaders are planning to demand that the law be amended to bar such marriages, an uphill struggle politically. “The court tells them they are right,” Ishwar Singh, 64, who lives in a village near Sisana, said of the intra-gotra marriages. “The court protects them. We are angry with that. If you are brother and sister, how can you marry?” Ms. Singh, the Supreme Court lawyer, has drafted legislation that would categorize the khaps’ extrajudicial edicts, including those demanding social boycotts, as crimes of harassment, with punishments of up to 10 years in prison. The bill is expected to be considered by the Parliament in July. “We want to reiter reiterate the right of people in India to enter into a marriage of their choice,” she said. Many people here in Sisana say the local councils, which have operated for centuries, will outlive legal and parliamentary challenges to their existence. “We keep a very close eye on our society,” Surender Dahiya, the khap member, said. “Social pressure does not have any legal sanctity. But it is a very powerful tool.”

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A Tribute to M.F. Hussain (1915-2011)

Absorbent of India, Exiled by Local Passions

By Nilanjan S. Roy For a moment in the 1980s, my brother’s hand was briefly worth a small fortune. M.F. Husain was a frequent visitor to our landlord’s home in Delhi, and unlike the Calcutta Club, which memorably evicted the artist for lack of appropriate footwear, the barefoot artist was welcomed by Mr Dhillon and his family. My brother was a toddler with an explorer’s zeal for new territory, and he once escaped from our house to wander in the Dhillons’ garden. He was restored some hours later, in cheerful spirits; he had chatted with the artist, who had drawn a story on his hand. Husain already had a towering reputation, had been awarded the Padma Bhushan, and was one of the best-known of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, though his canvases had not yet sold for the stratospheric prices they would command in the art auctions of the 1990s. The discussion on how best to preserve a miniature modern masterpiece worth thousands was, sadly, terminated by my brother, who was found washing garden dirt and Husain’s birds off his grubby paws. There may have been no modern Indian painter as prolific as Husain, though. His collected canvases ran into the thousands. His sketches in blackboard chalk were on display at Kovil in Delhi’s Connaught Place, carelessly tossed off, eagerly preserved. Meeting him at his studio in Delhi in the early 1990s, I knocked a large file off the table. “Throw it in the trash,” he said, busy pulling out some sketches from the 1960s. The file was filled with old brochures from art shows—and new drawings. He shrugged and stuffed the drawings back into a drawer. “That’s a few lakhs more in the bank,” he said. And he continued talking about Rembrandt, one of his early inspirations, and how he had been haunted by the faces in Rembrandt’s portraits as a young man aspiring to be an artist, painting portraits obsessively. Those two sides coexisted without apparent contradiction: Husain the artist in love with his work, Husain the showman in love with the prices his canvases commanded. He told a revealing story about his early life as

an artist in Indore, where his family had moved from the temple-town of Pandharpur. His father took him to art school, but MF, looking at the work of final-year students, decided he could do better than that. He was proud of this, and told this story much more often than the sentimental story about him working as a billboard painter in Bombay—which he did, briefly, along with whitewashing walls, until he found his niche with F.N. Souza and the rest of the Progressives. Husain was good at gimmicks. In the late 1960s, he rented an art gallery and painted in public for 40 minutes every day. In later decades, there would be the Svetambara exhibition, where he covered a gallery with crumpled newspapers; and the famous obsession with Madhuri Dixit, which he tried later to replicate, unsuccessfully, with more forgettable Hindi film heroines. He loved his cars—he had more, he boasted, than Bhagwan Rajneesh—and was especially pleased to add a Bugatti to the roster of Jaguars and bmws after his sad self-exile to Dubai. Those who say M.F. Husain should have held his ground and fought the relentless tide of attacks on him and his art forget that he had stayed, for a decade-and-a-half. He joined a beleaguered and illustrious ros-

ter that included Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta, Habib Tanvir, Vijay Tendulkar, Taslima Nasreen and several others, victims of an orchestrated, cynical intolerance. What happened in those decades? From Husain’ s perspective, his art exhibitions were stormed by the Shiv Sena’s goons, his studio desecrated, his paintings destroyed. Galleries he had worked with for years would no longer display his work, though Husains were still displayed in corporate boardrooms, like balancesheets. His paintings of Bharat Mata and Saraswati were called obscene, often by those who had not even seen the works in question, but who were actually disputing the right of a Muslim artist to paint Hindu icons. A landmark 2008 judgement upheld his right to freedom of expression, but by then filing cases against M.F. Husain had become a useful means of harassment. There was very little genuine outrage in all these decades against Husain; almost all of it, from the crowds who smashed paintings in the Amdavad ni Gufa (designed by him and Balkrishna Doshi) to the righteous indignation expressed by those who said he had desecrated ‘their’ goddesses, was carefully manufactured, as Salil Tripathi documents in

contained words from the Quran. The real crime against Husain was not even the destruction of his paintings, or the twisted process by which his images of an exhausted, drained Bharat Mata or a lively Saraswati were rendered ‘obscene’ in the public mind. His paintings of goddesses, like his raga series, like his beloved horses, like his almost childish fascination with cinema, came from being an equal inheritor of the Hindu tradition, of growing up knowing the Ramayana as well as he knew the kalma. The real crime we committed against M.F. Husain was to watch helplessly as a tiny, hate-filled set of bigots attempted to deny the artist the right to his own Indian traditions and his own history. Neither of the two images that linger in my mind are of M.F. Husain the showman, or Husain the flamboyant, media-loving artist. One is of an old man in his nineties, too tired to fight any more battles, leaving his country unwillingly for Dubai, on the back of a series of compromises. The other is of a barefoot artist with a generous heart who took the time, on a longago Delhi afternoon, to make a child happy with a story and a priceless scribbled bird. Outlook

his book on censorship. For those with little access to the English language media, attacking a celebrity like Husain had many benefits: it allowed right-wing politicians to make a name for themselves, it brought in massive publicity, and it blocked the open discussion of history, art and ideas. The damage done to freedom of speech and free expression was almost incidental, almost a byproduct of the real agenda, which was to demonstrate who wielded power in today’s India. And he was an equalopportunity offender, facing the bigotry of Islamic groups for carrying a qawwali in the Mourners carry the coffin of Indian painter Maqbool film Meenaxi Fida Husain during his funeral procession in south that apparently London, Friday, June 10, 2011.

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ARIES Mar 21 - Apr 20: You come out of your selfish frame of mind and realize the importance of your loved ones. It is no longer you and your goals and ambitions alone. You have a spouse, children, parents, friends, colleagues, and they have their legitimate expectations from you. Stand up and let them know that you have finally realized it. Communicate your willingness to do your utmost to please them. However, there is a little problem here: you may not have enough time, energy or money to fulfil all their desires. But do your best and meditate. TAURUS Apr 21 - Basically conservative and of a solemn frame of mind, you will now make a U-turn and become a party animal. You will dance your blues away with your friends and family members. As you become more cheerful, you will find more joy from your connections with your parents and in-laws. Children will put you in high spirits. You enjoy life to the fullest, especially as money matters do not pose any worries. People will still seek you out for advice. Take care of your health as all the partying could affect it. GEMINI May 22 - Jun 21: You will pay more attention to your relationships, your family as well as friends. You will feel inspired to stretch yourself, both physically and emotionally, to the limits in order to strengthen your associations. Communications and joint ventures play a vital role both in your professional and personal life. But life will not be easy. Unforeseen losses, may be even an accident, could have an adverse impact on your joint ventures. Be watchful and flexible to minimize damages. Clarity will return soon. CANCER Jun 22 - Jul 23: With the full moon and eclipse, what a propitious time it is for you! The prospects are endless, with meetings, social gather gatherings, and travel all crammed together in this phase. The hectic pace of life is no less than a roller coaster ride. Latest research, studies, techniques and discoveries will take you to far away locations. You are in the right mood to explore undiscovered places. You will meet new people and share a lot of warmth with them. You believe in the adage that honesty is the best policy, but be careful not to shoot your mouth. LEO July 24 - Aug 23: Be ready to spend, or brace yourself up for taking risks, as large investment and purchases are on the cards. Raising loans, funds and joint finances will become imperative as you look at increasing production. Handle matters with care. It is difficult to predict demand, especially when introducing a new product. You are giving people new choices, but remember that good quality alone will translate into good business volumes. But don’t worry, you will create new markets. There may be a wedding in the family. VIRGO Aug 24 - Sep 23: Your workload increases and monetary outflow mounts. Travel and joint ventures could prove to be beneficial. During this phase you will be inclined to taking unnecessary risks with the desire to make a quick buck. In such a mood, you could be lured by a lot of dreams and promises. Some of them could be unscrupulous, so be careful about committing yourself in a hurry. You might be tempted by something that is unethical, so exercise extra caution in you dealings. This is a testing time for you. LIBRA Sep 24 - Oct 23: Buzzing! That’s how your life is going to be. Meetings, inter interviews, conferences, social gatherings, research,

discoveries will keep you on your toes and you’ll enjoy the challenges. Traveling is cer certainly on the cards. It will not only expand the horizon of your knowledge and help you unwind, but also strengthen your financial position. You are highly receptive, and your efforts reward you for efficiently utilizing everything that is coming your way. Make hay while the sun shines! SCORPIO Oct 24 - Nov 22: Bask in the sunshine! The dark clouds of challenges are no more hovering over you. Domestic issues, career, personal life, relationships, legal matters, investments and some pending tasks - you have a backlog of plenty of work. Don’t get tensed though. You know the art of time management so you’ll be able to finish off the pending work pretty well. You’ve learnt many lessons from the hardships you’ve been through, and you won’t lose confidence and will show a praiseworthy level of courage. SAGITTARIUS Nov 23 - Dec 22: Your plate is full with activities, events, and relationships. People around you will demand your attention and you’ll happily attend their calls. The expectations are more than ever before, resulting into a lot of socialization and networking. Your professional life, however, is secondary. Traveling is also on the cards for the Archer this week. With a busy week, it is only human to feel tensed and tired. How about going for a relaxing spa treatment or to the nearest hill station to relax? CAPRICORN Dec 23 - Jan 20: With some travelling on the cards and spiritual matters grabbing your attention, this week you’re going to be very busy. There’ll be some new professional and personal relationships along with the old ones that you’ll need to nurture. You will socialize a lot. You’ll also want to spare some time out of the busy schedule for hobbies and doing things that you like doing. You’re enthusiastic about everything in your life right now, and you enjoy every bit of it. Friends, family, parties, entertainment and a fulfilling personal life, what more could you have asked for? AQUARIUS Jan 21 - Feb 19: Every problem comes with a solution, they say. Be it personal or professional, you’ve solved majority of the issues. Now, you’re relatively relaxed and it’s time you speed up on the path of progress. Unlike the previous week, you will see a lot of improvement in your health this week. It’ll give you the much needed confidence. Get yourself some new outfits and even get a make-over, as you’ll be busy partying with friends and having a good time. You will, refresh your energies, put your life in the top gear and live it on your own terms PISCES Feb 20 - Mar 20: Your plate is full with money matters, domestic life, friends, travelling and a lot of commitments. All of them are equally important to you, as a result you fail to concentrate on any one if them. However, the financial issues will beat the rest and take centre stage. The Fish will need to swim carefully and cope with all of them cleverly. Challenges may catch you unawares. Now that you are face to face with them, you’ll have no option but to deal with them. You’ll socialize and may even meet your dream girl/boy. Visit us online today!

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