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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

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Friday, May 06 2011 | Vol. 30, No. 18

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Osama Bin Laden

DEAD

“Justice has been done,” says President Obama after elite US Navy SEAL Team Six, in a targetted operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, locates and kills the mastermind behind the worst terrorist attacks almost a decade after 9/11

Protests Continue over Indian Visa Rules

Read Editorial on Page 16

This Week Inside By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: The situation is reminiscent of the TV anchor played by the late British actor Peter Finch in the 1976 iconic movie “Network” directed by director Sidney Lumet (who just passed away). Finch’s character is fed up of all the bureaucratic red tape and encourages his viewers to go out and shout their frustration for all to hear. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Contd

Pg 4

Shri Ganeshram:

Math Whiz

In Conversation with Shweta Tiwari Pg 19 Pg 11

A Walk along the Silk Road at iFest IACF’s Walkathon Brings in Generous Support

Top: (From left) Jugal Malani and wife Raj, Surender Talwar, Swatantra Jain and wife, Anu Bala President of IACF; Right: Dr. Shintri did a 10-minute headstand as Bobby Singh solicited donations. Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

By Jawahar Malhotra SUGAR LAND: It was one of those rare days in late April when the breeze was cool enough, when the skies were just cloudy enough that a walk in the park was what the doctor ordered. And, out there in Lost

Creek Park, just off Williams Trace Boulevard, Dr. Dominic Shresta was holding a mini-wellness clinic for those who wanted to have their vital signs checked. For some, the advice that Shresta gave was just that: take a walk in the park!

8 Contd Pg

Photo: Krishna Giri A replica of the “Gateway of India” at iFest’s Incredible India zone

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Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary c celebrates Poet Laureate’s Prolific Life By Kalyani Giri HOUSTON: India’s first Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore espoused the ideology that human civilization should be of one mind with many different expressions, said keynote speaker Partha Ghosh at the Tagore Society of Houston’s (TSH) Fundraising Gala on April 30. The formal dinner, held at the Durga Bari Society Sur Auditorium, was one of a series of Tagorethemed cultural events on the TSH calendar this year in honor of the 150th Birth Anniversary of the Bard of Bengal. “Tagore believed in keeping a identity and language local, and a global mind, which is so relevant to leadership today. He was the perfect purist of Bengal during his time, and what made him so great was his ability to see the dots, connect them, and present a logic,” said the Boston-based Ghosh, who is a renowned strategist and management consultant and an aficionado of Tagore’s life and works. Ghosh’s talk on The Relevance of the Thoughts and Spirits of Tagore in the 21st Century was scholarly and riveting, often reflecting on the potential impact that Tagore could have had as an innovator for change in today’s world. Multifarious, Tagore was a poet, philosopher, social activist, novelist, musician, painter, and playwright. Through his writings, he became the architect who modernized Bengali literature by infusing in them, threads of politics and societal

Bard of Bengal’s Ideology Relevant in Today’s World

Partha S. Ghosh, a renowned strategist and management consultant and an aficionado of Tagore’s life and works

consciousness. Gitanjali, a collection of 103 poems, won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, and opened up world travel and friendships with other luminaries such as Albert Einstein, William Yeats, Robert Frost, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells. With Einstein, Tagore enjoyed lengthy discussions

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2010 UH Tagore Scholar, Sruthi Thekkiam with Partha S. Ghosh

on music and a variety of subjects, said Ghosh. “Tagore influenced and enriched Einstein’s thought processes. Everything he did was momentous,” added Ghosh. “Tagore recognized divinity in every human being.” Tagore grew up in the shadows of his famous father Debendranath Tagore, the founder of Brahmoism, the youngest religion in India, and his grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore, who gave tremendous momentum to the Bengali Renaissance; also casting a looming shadow was the other renowned poet/writer Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. But the young Tagore was also a brilliant thinker with strong opinions, added Ghosh. “He appreciated the USA for its freedom, liberty and justice. He wrote Franklin Roosevelt a letter that told of Tagore’s pride in India’s Vedic heritage and his sadness and concern that India did not have a voice during British rule,” said Ghosh. Tagore penned the anthems for two countries; Jana Gana Mana, the Indian National Anthem, and Amar Shona Bangla, the National Anthem of Bangladesh. Reiterating the need for more awareness of Tagore’s work, President of TSH Raja

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Banga told the 150 guests that the funds raised from the event would be used to create a scholarship trust for students studying Tagore. He also added that THS is rededicating its core mission and is being remodeled on the Asia Society ethos of going beyond culture and ethnicity to be all encompassing. The organization will continue hosting traditional events but will also join hands in cooperative spirit with other organizations. Following a sumptuous dinner catered by Raakhee’s Cuisine, guests were treated to a musical presentation Timeless Classics by Nabin Das. Other events commemorating the timelessness of Tagore include a celebratory kick-off at the India House on May 7, and the Moods and Emotions cultural tribute featuring singers Srabani Sen and SI Tutul on May 28 at the Durga Bari Sur Auditorium. For the calendar of events and information, visit www.tagoresociety.org. 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:713-7896399, email: indoamericannews@yahoo.com. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Indo-American News, 7457 Harwin Dr., Suite 262, Houston, TX 77036

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Hirschi High s school Junior, s shri Ganeshram s sitting Pretty Wooed by Two Prestigious Schools, MIT and Harvard

By JacoB DaviD WICHITA FALLS, TX: Shri Ganeshram, born in Oaklawn, Illinois, in 1994, just turned 16, is a Hirschi high school junior dropping out of school. His parents feel tremendously proud he’s doing so. It’s because he’s been selected by both MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) and Harvard, having met their selection criteria. He will not be getting his school diploma, but saving time on getting a career quickly. Ganeshram plans to visit both schools to see what they have to offer him. His father Vedan Pattu from Madras, a Cardiologist, and mother Deepika from Hyderabad, a Software Engineer, feel absolutely elated and over the top that their son has been selected for this distinction. Ganeshram plans to do a double major in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering paired with Computer Science. “I would also love to do International Business Law” he said in an exclusive interview with Indo American News. He is now looking for financial aid programs to continue his studies. Now the argument raised by several supporting Shri Ganeshram here is, “Shouldn’t he be given a school diploma anyway?” It is highly unlikely as the school feels that he is not completing his high school requirements in

proper fashion. Not to raise a controversy, but in reality, Ganeshram meets all the requirements and is validated to receive a high school diploma. Here’s how: In the eighth grade, he completed

he has accomplished such a feat and made the school proud. Starting off young, his mom helped him learn math from three years old. “I started practicing multiplication and division and

math levels.” His mother found him tutors who were adept at Math to help him achieve a better understanding of concepts. Over the summer during the holidays, Shri Ganeshram and his parents kept busy practicing Math. Shri Ganeshram credits his high school teacher Anthony Newberry who introduced him to Math team practices and University Interscholastic League Math competitions. The math competitions by the UIL tests students on Math, Numbersense, Calculator (Engineering Mathematics), Science and Computer Science. He is an avid Shri Ganeshram (center), a high school junior only 16 will be skipping one year from player of table school and checking MIT and Harvard for admission requirements having completed tennis and he 12th grade Math requirements in school, here with his friends at a Math competition keeps at the game for 30-40 minutes his high school final year math. If got that done by 5 years.” Then whenever time permits. “It helps he has indeed in the 8th grade fin- his mother started teaching him me relax and focus better.” he ished high school math and met basic Computer Science math and says. other subject requirements, they Base Arithmetic when he was 7. Shri Ganeshram has not forgotshould indeed give him a honor- “I was in my 1st and 2nd grade ten his roots, he attributes his sucary diploma, and feel proud that when I completed junior school cess or genius if will call it that,

solely to his parents who were his mentors from an early age. He feels that he has to share his math skills with the rest of the world. He has started a website that features math content, theory, equations explained online. He also updates free math lectures to help the students around the world who are thirsty to learn Math like him. “There is a student body of Indian and American students who help me keep the website updated.” He doubles as an assistant teacher during summer” With perfect SAT scores, making 800 on Math, 720 on Writing, and 680 on Critical Reading, Shri Ganeshram is a humble, down-toearth student, in spite of all the accolades he has received. “It’s always been my dream to go to MIT and learn there.” Shri Ganeshram says. That dream is now within reach. A current resident of Wichita Falls, Texas, with a population of 100,000 a small county set in North West Texas, but counted as the biggest city 150 miles north of Dallas. It is home to the Mid Western State University and home of the Shepherd Airforce Base. It has about 100 South Asian families, most Gujaratis, whose main bread winners are doctors, engineers and motel owners. To visit Shri Ganeshram’s website, go to: www.onlinemathcircle.com

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Vaisakhi c celebrated by the Punjabi culture c c club

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: It was easily a celebration among friends who have known each other for a long time. There were many of the more well-known names in the Punjabi elite who came as much for the camaraderie as the food and the promise of music to dance to. Among them was Dr. Raj Chopra (and his wife Sue) who was the former Superintendent of the Ft. Bend ISD and has now returned from San Diego to settle in Houston after his retirement. And then there were some newcomers, like newlyweds Rajat and Sonam Chopra and Brian and Aveena Reis (who came with their young daughter Daya), who represent the future of Punjabi culture in the Bayou City. Both Aveena and Rajat’s parents are long-time residents of Houston and active in Punjabi events. “We come together so that we can stay connected,” said Punjabi Culture Club President Saroj Bahl, “with each other and celebrate the Punjabi culture, language and festivals, which is the mission of the PCC, now 20 years old.” Bahl went on to recite some verses of poetry and played a song by Jagjit Singh about staying happy and appreciating one another. Bahl took over the office after the long-serving former president Paul Mehta was unable to continue due to health issues. Both he and his wife Sudesh, who helped to arrange the event, were in the audience last Saturday night, April 30, when the PCC celebrated Vaisakhi, the first day of the New Year in the Hindu calendar and a herald of the beginning of warm weather at Ashiana restaurant and attended by about 100 people. Khush Basra started off the night with an explanation of the significance of Vaisakhi for the Sikh community as the day in 1699 when Guru Gobind started the order of the Khalsa at Anandpura. Later, Sudesh Mehta and Dr. Kiran Bhatia, who are also on the PCC’s Executive Committee, expressed their thanks for the show of support for the PCC. After a sit-down Punjabi dinner, the evening concluded with dancing to music by DJ George of Desi Entertainment.

Dr. Kiran Bhatia; Saroj Bahl; Khush Basra & Sudesh Mehta

Dancing after the dinner

Brian & Aveena Reis with Daya

Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

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swadesh Khurana scholarship for Hs Graduates By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: The Swadesh Khurana Scholarship was established in 2008 to help deserving high school graduates who want to further their studies in college. The one-time, $ 2000 scholarship is administered by the Punjabi Culture Club of Houston “The scholarship is a way to honor the memory of my wife,” said Balwant Singh Khurana at the PCC’s Vaisakhi celebration held this past Saturday (see related story on left). “She was a tireless community worker and doting mother and grandmother who would have wanted to share her good fortune in her adopted country with other deserving kids of Indian origin.” Swadesh Khurana passed away suddenly in October 2007 following a stroke while eating dinner in a Houston restaurant. Those interested in applying for the $2000 scholarship should submit officials transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, a resume, letter or recommenda-

Rajat & Sonam Chopra

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, A mAy Ay, A 06, 2011 • Online editiOn: Ay On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

Balwant Singh Khurana tion, essay and letter of admission into a four-year college to PCC / Swadesh Khurana Scholarship, 15215 Greenleaf Lane, Houston, TX. 77062 or email to daslachhman@hotmail.com. or ajit.p.kwatra@boeing.com by May 15, 2011. For more information, call Lachhman Das at 281-4885532 or Ajit Kwatra at 281488-5300 or visit the PCC Houston at www.pcchouston. com/index.htm


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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

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club 24’s Philanthropy reaches c r c charities

By viveK K KavaDi HOUSTON: Club 24 is an organization that was founded by members of the IndoAmerican community in Houston 5 years ago. It is a social club with a primary mission to build bridges with the broader community in Houston. Many individuals are involved with various organizations, serve on boards, and are active in different charitable causes. Club 24 sought to organize some of these individual activities and try to leverage our involvement to create a larger scale. Over the last 5 years Club 24 has developed deeper relationships with several organizations. This has been through jointly sponsored events, board involvement, and fundraising. On April 16, Club 24 held its 4th annual Philanthropy event. It was hosted by members Sheela and Ashok Rao. Club 24 Exec-

utive Chair, Anuradha Subramaniam, and signature event co-chairs, Madhavi Kavadi and Sushma Bhan, put together a highly successful event. A total of $58,000 was raised from Club members which included funds from the club itself. The organizations that were supported this year were: Ekal Vidyalaya, Association for Community Broadcasting, Daya, Pratham, IndoAmerican Charity Foundation, The Rotary, Ananda Ashram, and Save A Mother. These donations were the largest amount in the Club’s history and the philanthropy program has grown tremendously over the last four years. Nearly 100 members and guests attended and everyone enjoyed the Rao’s hospitality, the food, and the camraderie. The next signature event will be the Diwali event with a couple of smaller gatherings planned prior to that.

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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

s scholarship Program by s southwestern national Bank HOUSTON: Southwestern National nouncement

Bank Scholarship Program is funded by Southwestern National Bank to recognize and assist outstanding high school graduates to reduce financial burdens for college. Southwestern National Bank Scholars are selected on the basis of their financial need, academic achievement, and community involvement. Each year a total of $5,000.00 will be awarded to five selected scholars. Each scholar will be awarded a total of $1,000.00. Application Process & AwardAn-

1. Please send your application package to Southwestern National Bank, Attention Scholarship Program-Jennifer Zhou, 6901 Corporate Drive, Houston, Texas 77036 2. Applications and all supporting documents must be received by June 03, 2011 for application to be considered 3. Interview may be part of the application process for all semi-finalists 4. Scholar for the 2011 Scholarship program will be announced by mail before end of July, 2011.

IAcF cF Initiates 2011 s c scholarship Program

Pasadena Memorial High student wins IACF sponsored 1st Prize in City Of Houston Essay Contest

HOUSTON: The Indo-American Charity Foundation sponsored the $2000 first prize at the Public Service Recognition Week Essay Contest organized by the City of Houston. The awards were presented on Tuesday, May 3 at the Houston Public Library on McKinney. Kevin Cain of Pasadena Memorial High School was the welldeserved first place winner of this contest and took home the IACF $2000 prize. Anu Bala, IACF’s President and Surender Talwar, the Executive Director presented this coveted award. For many years now IACF has been supporting the City of Houston and has sponsored the Ist prize at this annual event. Public Service Recognition Week is observed nationally in the beginning of May and calls attention to the broad range of services provided by public servants and encourages others to seek a public service career. Essay contest participants are asked to write about how they would make

D SPOTTE

From left: Surender Talwear, IACF Executive Director, Kevin Cain, the scholarship WINNER of $2000 IACF Award, Anu Bala, IACF President

a difference as an employee of the Houston Municipal Government. The contest is open to seniors from Houston area high schools. Kevin Cain, the winner of this year’s IACF scholarship prize wrote about how he would make a difference in BARC – the Bureau that handles animal shelter and adoptions. HOUSTON: Recently, the Director General of Police, Rajasthan, Harish Chandra Meena was in Los Angeles for a conference. In the midst of his busy schedule, Meena found the time to pay a visit to Houston. While in Houston, he caught up with an old friend, Rajender Singh of Star Promotions Inc. They got a chance to talk about various things and about the life and times back home, since Rajender is originally from Rajasthan. An IPS Officer of the 1976 batch, Meena has been the DGP of Rajasthan since 2009. He has been a recipient of the 1996 Indian Police Medal and the 2002 President’s Medal. On his visit to India in April 2011, Rajender Singh met with Rajasthan DG of Police, Harish Chandra Meena

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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

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IAcF’s c w cF’s walkathon Brings in Generous support s

continued from page

1

So, in a sense, the Indo American Charity Foundation was following Shresta’s (who happens to be a newly elected Director of the group and co-sponsored the event) lead in bringing together a group of desis to take a walk along the tree laden 4-mile long trial by the edge of the lake, squeezing by the kid’s soccer league on the one side and the young desi men playing cricket in the open field on the other. Apart from the invitation to promote a healthy lifestyle, the IACF and most of the Board of Directors (including yours truly) was on hand to encourage those who came to leave behind a pledge or a donation to help the group further its philanthropic vision. Although the turnout was much lighter than last year’s, the final tally showed that over $12,000 had been raised. In attendance were Sugar Land Councilwoman Jacquie Baly Chaumette, who spoke briefly of her association over the years and affection for the IACF and City Council District 4 hopeful candidate Harish Jajoo and his wife Shashi who were canvassing for votes in the upcoming election on Saturday, May 14 (early voting has already started on Monday, May 2). With Darshak Thacker and his wife Mona at the sound table playing vibrant desi music, half way into the morning, Crystal Joseph, daughter of Director Reji Joseph, and Dr. Sinthri led a group through pre-walk stretching exercises in the open, crepe myrtle lined plaza and away the group went! Like last year, Dr. P.G. Parmeswaran and his wife Laxmi had a Bone Marrow registration booth and brought along new registry manager, Divya and Dr. Jay Kumar who gave testimonial to his recent donation of bone marrow after he was located through the registry. After the long walk, a snack of idli, pakoras and chutney (generously donated by Madras Pavilion Sugar Land) and fruits, muffins, juice and coffee vetted the appetites of many and got them in the mood for some Bollywood dancing as IACF past-President Bobby Singh egged them on. He continued his encouraging ways as Dr. Sinthri did a headstand for 10-minutes and those around donated in $25 blocks for each minute, eventually raising $1,000 for the IACF. The IACF’s next event is a

Bobby Singh, Anu Bala Sugar Land Council woman Jacquie Chaumette

Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

8

Golf Tournament to be held on Saturday, June 4 at Tour 18 Golf Course in the Humble area. For more information on the Indo American Charity Foun-

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, A mAy Ay, A 06 , 2011 • Online editiOn: Ay On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O

dation, visit www.iacfhouston. com or call Anu Bala at 832865-6222. To apply for a $2,000 scholarship for graduating high school seniors, contact Ritu Raju at rituraju@hotmail.com before June 15.


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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

save a mother Gala Aims to rescue s r maternal mortality in India

By SeeMa a Kachru HOUSTON: Yet another occasion for assessment of the status of women in a country where the glass ceiling is within reach but not broken, where health statistics are still determined by gender, where public entertainment is dominated by patriarchal clichés and where female feticide continues despite strides in various sectors. A whopping number of 80,000 women die annually due to pregnancy related complications, seven every minute during pregnancy, 210 babies born every minute, 50% in unsanitary conditions, thus increasing the risk of death and infection. Scary numbers, but a reality as a quarter of the world’s total maternal deaths take place in India and Indian women are 60 to 70 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than in other countries. This harrowing statistics about the depressing state of mater-

sions focus on regular community meetings, personal hygiene, and best practices in pregnancy, infant care, child immunization and nutrition, adolescence development, cooperation with public health workers. Activists track every pregnancy, ensures pregnant woman gets three antenatal checkups, 100 iron tablets, immunizations, institutional delivery. “The focus is on opening of mind beyond health”, says Shiban Ghanju, its founder and chief field volunteer. Dr. Shiban Ganju, a practicing physician with 36 years of NGO work. “Maternal deaths are avoidable with the help of skilled health personnel, adequate nutrition, better medical facilities and family planning”. SAM has chapters in Houston, Chicago, Boston, and Sacramento, all run by dedicated volunteers, without any overhead or admin fee. In India the project so far covers 3 states with highest mortality rate-- UP, MP, Karnataka, 5

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After a resounding success of its previous gala’s, “Save A Mother” Houston is at the threshold of its 3rd spectacular Annual Fundraiser, just to make a difference in the lives of millions of mothers, who are about to enter blissful state of motherhood. The gala enables the guests, mostly business and community leaders and individual philanthropists, to learn about SAM’s accomplishments and how well their donations are spent in curbing the most worrisome and historic maternal mortality in India. The gala titled, Masquerade Masti on May 13, 2010 at Chateau Crystale, 2517 South Gessner Road, will, raise money and every dollar raised can save another heart to beat in this world and live a healthy life. Those, who cannot attend personally but are interested to help the cause can sign up and donate securely on the group’s Web site at www. saveamother.org or send a check

KUSUM SHARMA’S

SHRI NATRAJ SCHOOL OF PERFORMING ARTS • Kathak • Bharatnatyam • Bollywood

A SAM Health Activist Educating Village Women in India

nal and infant mortality in India, spurred one NGO to develop health care solutions for the poor by starting a non-profit organization project “Save a Mother” (SAM), in 2008, at a grass root level-- simply to educate the mothers about the basics-- pregnancy, nutrition, immunization, child birth and child care. SAM trains women by training health activists within a group, who in turn educates the villagers; educating the mother-to-be and their families, enabling them to seek care, ensure timely checkups and provide information about personal and public health. Besides, it ensures e access and transportation to a local medical facility. Since 2008, SAM has trained over 13000 health activists and five master trainers. Health activist in each village is trained in a workshop for 3 days and one day refresher training. Each activist attends 24 day training over 2 years. The ses-

districts-- Rae Bareli, Sultanpur, Azamgarh, Jhansi, Chikballapur. It caters to the needs of 1000 villages; the project is expanding at the rate of a village a day. According to Veena Kaul, Houston Chapter President, “Save A Mother approaches health as a responsibility over human rights. Viewing health as a personal responsibility radically changes the mindset of villagers. Our mission is to develop healthcare solutions for the poor”. Among the celebrity supporters of SAM is the actress turned social worker Shabana Azmi, who believes, “Education is a basic necessity and only when you are educated can you make an informed choice about everything.” Shabana is willing to take the responsibility to get concerned MPs on board to flag the issue of high maternal mortality in India, a matter of concern and politicians need to prioritize womens health.

Small size of classes to provide personal attention to the registered 501(c)(3) organization in Houston, TX at : Nat Murthy, 633 Lake Shore drive, Sugarland, TX 77478. What SAM needs for total of 60,000 Indian villages is just a $100 per village per year. All funds raised at its fundraisers go for field work directly. If the current economy is holding you up, you still can help by creating awareness about the harrowing maternal and infant mortality in India; share its link on your website, blog, profile or in email. The need is to take up the big challenge where the cause is noble and the reward is high. No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you---Life. If we cannot give life, we can save one. We urge you to Save a Mother, and give those mothers a chance to live and enjoy the melodious cries of life they give birth to. For more information visit us @ www.saveamother.org

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society

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

Protests continue over Indian Visa rules r

Seldom has a cause galvanized the desi community in Houston as much as the changes and requirements over the past two years in the issuing of visas by the Indian government and the treatment vetted out by the people at the Consulates and Embassy as well as through the national clearinghouse, Travisa, a private company. Frustrations had grown to a breaking point back in November last year with reports of roughshod treatment, demands for extraneous supporting documentation, ill-tempered Consulate of officials, lengthy processing times and undue delays in providing timely visas that resulted in many having to cancel or miss their flights. The lack of responsiveness by phone then forced many to drive or fly to Houston to personally follow up on their applications or ask others to intervene (see IAN dated December 10 and 17, 2010). Consular officials responded then icily and even sternly when challenged, explaining that their staff was working overtime and processing hundreds of applications and by explaining the Indian Government’s position on a local Indian radio program and holding

a Townhall style meeting at Rice University where only some written questions were responded to by Consul General Sanjeev Arora, without any chance for vocal

discussions or rebuttals (see IAN dated December 24, 2010). Responding to reports of continued incidents, the group, led by activist Ramesh Shah, that sparked the community’s reaction last November with a one day fast once again held a one day fast this past Saturday, April 30 at the VPSS

parking lot in southwest Houston. This time, 19 other people fasted for 36 hours along with Shah, who also observed a day of silence in the Gandhian style of stayagraha. Last December, Shah had promised to follow through if the situation hadn’t improved and this time the protests were better organized and held simultaneously in 7 other cities across the nation – Atlanta, Tampa, Silver Spring, Chicago, Columbia and Dallas. Estimates are that several hundred people participated and many more sympathized with the protesters. This time the furor is not just over bad service and delays but also over rules that inflict additional inconvenience and burden on to the desi community settled overseas as well as tourists. At the tent set up in the VPSS parking lot, protest signs fluttered in the breeze and the fasters aired their grievances and related personal stories of obtaining visas, while

collecting signatures on a petition seeking to revamp the offending rules: • Two-month lapse rule: If you have traveled to India on a tourist visa, you cannot revisit within a 60-day period without getting a reentry clearance certificate. In case of emergency, such as the loss of a relative, this can be issued within a day. The fee is $35. • Surrender certificate: This is required of all applicants of Indian origin who have become US citizens before any visa is processed. The fee is $20 if citizenship is acquired before June 1, 2010 and $175 if citizenship is acquired af after June 1, 2010 • OCI card: The requirement for this lifetime Overseas Citizen of India visa is that the applicant’s US passport be surrendered for upto 6 months in order to process the visa. The fee is $290. Ostensibly, the Government of India is using these rules to as a pretense to weed out terrorists and other undesirable elements from entering India as well as to raise revenues from thousands of applicants. But what seems to be missing, and what the protesters claim, is the common sense that should pervade any set of rules. The twomonth rule is a particular irritant and stands in contrast to the easy

access that is granted to those US citizens wanting to travel for pleasure in places like Singapore, Bangkok Hong Kong, Dubai or the EU bloc. “You mean a terrorist would apply for a re-entry visa?” fumed one protestor. “The tourist business is losing revenue for sure.” As for the surrender certificate, again common sense would dictate that those US citizens with Indian passports misplaced or lost long ago would no longer use them, and the rule might apply to those with still valid ones except that they would not be able to reenter the US without the arrival and departure Indian immigration stamps (issued at the airports) on their US passports. Finally, processing an OCI application could be accomplished with a copy of the entire US passport, rather than holding the document itself. “My passport was misplaced,” said a recent applicant, “and it took forever to find it.” And what if the applicant has to travel abroad during the interim? “Its terribly inconvenient and just a ploy to make more money,” said one man as he sat besides the other protestors, “but the Government of India just doesn’t care to think sensibly.”

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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

society

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A Walk Along the Silk Road at iFest

By Jawahar Malhotra HOUSTON: For the past four decades, the International Fest (and its previous incarnations) has celebrated the diversity of the people who live in the greater Houston area with a festival that takes over the west end of downtown around City Hall and features performances by local and visiting artistes. Every year the central theme is built around a country, with miniature replicas of heritage monuments scattered around Sam Houston Park. Many booths, food, music and dancers representative

of the country line the area and take people away for two weekends on a cultural cruise without even leaving the Bayou City. This past weekend, after months of preparation and publicity, iFest (as it has morphed into) opened up to beautiful, breezy weather and huge crowds and featured not one,

but three countries, China, India and Turkey, as it retraced the footsteps of the travels of the 13th century traveler Marco Polo, ending with a bridge and gondola representative of Polo’s native Venice. Dancers and musicians performed on the stages in the Park as well

as in front of City Hall. Some of the Indian booths are shown in the photo collage. The iFest formally opened with a preview of Chinese and Indian dancers on Center Stage on Friday for dignitaries and a concert by the string quartet Kronos and Central Asian instrumental music by Afghani Homayoun Sakhi on the rabab and featuring Afghani Saler Nader on the tabla and Uzbek perIndo American News • Friday, MAY 06 , 2011 • Online Edition: www.indoamerican-news.com

cussionist Abbos Kosimov. The iFest kicked off with a parade on through the blocked off areas on Saturday, April 30. A soft bound teaching guide discussing the three countries was also published by iFest and distributed to educators across the city as a teaching guide to share with their students. The iFest will continue through the weekend of May 7 and 8.


Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

Online Edition: www.indoamerican-news.com

Tagore150Fest g : Tagore’s g 150th Birth Anniversaryy Tagore Society of Houston Invites All to the

Rabindranath Tagore Day Proclamation

on Saturday May 7@ 6 pm: India House (8888 West Bellfort Houston, TX 77031)

Program Details (May 7, 2011)

(1861-1941)

• “Tagore Day” Proclamation • Speeches byDr. Chitra Divakaruni, Honorable Deputy Consul of India Mr. Anil Matta Honorable Judge Ed Emmett & Honorable Minister of Bangladesh Mr. S. Haque • Reverential cultural event by Local talents from the Indian & Bangladeshi communities • Master of Ceremony: Dr. Rathna Kumar

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls …”

TTagore iinfluenced fl fl d many hhearts…. will illlll hhe iinfluence fl fl yours? Programs supported in part by the Consulate General of India, Houston

Please visit us atwww.tagoresociety.org G

Stay Tuned for..

ndira Gandhi Satyajit Ray A. Hepburrn Amartya Sen Octavio Paz Martin Sheen Suu Kyi,

A

n

 Cultural Tribute I (Saturday May 28, 5 pm @ HDBS Sur Auditorium13944 Schiller Rd, Houston, TX 77082)  Cultural Tribute II (Sunday May 29, 4 pm@ Old Stafford Civic Center (1415 Constitution Avenue Stafford, TX )

Indo AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, A mAy Ay, A 06 , 2011 • Online editiOn: Ay On: www.indOamerican-news.cOm O


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OBITUARY Laxman G. Kuratti March 18, 1937- April 26, 2011

Laxman Gururao Kuratti departed this life on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. He was born March 18, 1937 in Gadag, Karnataka state, India. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Cancer Institute, Building 31, Room 11A-16, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892. Laxman spent his childhood in Dharwad and earned a Masters degree from Agriculture College, Dharwad, of Karnatak University in 1963. He immigrated to the United States and earned a Ph.D. in soil chemistry from Utah State University in 1969. In the first phase of his career, he taught at Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State College. He subsequently decided to pursue his interest in sales by becoming an agent for New York Life in Jackson, Mississippi. The Kuratti family moved to Houston in 1981, where Laxman became an agent for State Farm. After a successful career in the insurance business, Laxman became a gentleman farmer by growing Indian vegetables and raising cattle with his wife, Prema. Laxman became well known in the local Indian community as the “Methi King.” After oil and gas were discovered on his farmland, he became the first Indo-American oilman. In his retired life, Laxman enjoyed learning classical Indian music and day trading. Laxman and Prema have also built a home in Dharwad. Laxman enjoyed meeting people and was a generous friend all his life. Laxman is survived by his wife, Prema Kuratti, sons Anand and Mohan, daughter-in-law Sunita, and grandchildren, Anada and Tanmay. He is also survived by his sisters Shanta, Rangu, Sushila, Leela, Prabha, and brothers Vasantrao, Venkatesh and Narayan.

society

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

15

No Teacher Left Behind

Area students respond to reality of public school teacher cut-backs; form a petition to tell Texas Legislature “No Teacher Left Behind

By Gabe Gutierrez KATY(Khou): Students at Cinco Ranch High School are planning a letter-writing campaign to protest teacher layoffs after administrators warned any more walkouts would provoke disciplinary action. Hundreds of students throughout the Katy Independent School District walked out of classes on Thursday and Friday to rally against what they called “unfair” budget cuts. “When we’re slashing budgets, education should be last on the list because it’s first for our futures,” said Taral Patel, a Cinco Ranch junior. But any more similar rallies appear unlikely. “I think we’ve been pretty well informed by the administration that the walk-out is not really an option anymore,” said senior Ankit Tandon.

Instead, the students are starting a campaign called “No Teacher Left Behind,” a

message they hope spreads to neighboring school districts. “If we can really inundate the politicians and the legislators with our letters and let our voices be heard, we might actually make a difference,” Tandon said.

Indo American News • Friday, MAY 06 , 2011 • Online Edition: www.indoamerican-news.com

The campaign is already growing on social networking sites like Facebook. And it’s not just limited to Katy. Students at Clements High School in the Fort Bend ISD are also planning a sit-in protest on Wednesday. In northeast Houston, one student council member is planning on starting his own letter-writing campaign to protest the cuts of several student programs. “For the lawmakers, I know they should think twice about cutting any of these programs, because some of these programs motivate students to come to school every day,” said Sam Smith, a student at Kashmere High School. While the protests are taking many different forms, it appears some students throughout the Houston area are searching for their voice – a voice that seems to be drawing a lot of attention. “There were many people who just wanted to skip school,” said Neel Bhan, a junior at Cinco Ranch. “But there were also a lot of people who actually cared about their teachers.”


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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

End Of The Road

The news of Osama bin Laden’s death in a US military operation deep inside Pakistan marks a moment in history. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks in the US, bin Laden’s impact on world events in the first decade of the 21st century was profound. Terrorism became a global security agenda. It provided the impetus for US military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would be premature to predict the downfall of al-Qaida or jihad-inspired terrorism with bin Laden’s end. The days ahead call for a state of high security alert. That the No.1 terror fugitive in the world made his last stand not in the rugged terrain of the AfPak border but inside a plush compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad - a mere 100 km from Islamabad - is significant. Pakistani authorities have long denied bin Laden’s and the al-Qaida leadership’s presence inside that country. The Americans have insisted that the operation against bin Laden was wholly theirs with no prior information being shared with any other country. If we take the US narrative at face value, Pakistan’s lack of cooperation in dealing with terror is laid bare. On the other hand, if Islamabad feels constrained in publicly owning up to any kind of help in the operation, that indicates the degree of fear inspired by bin Laden’s followers and concomitant difficulty of combating his legacy. Bin Laden’s death could also impact the situation in Afghanistan. The American military-intelligence combine has long insisted that al-Qaida is their primary target. With bin Laden out of the way, cutting a deal with the moderate factions of the Taliban appears sweeter. That’s especially the case if targeting bin Laden has been part of a quid pro quo with the Pakistanis. With an eye on the 2012 US presidential polls, President Obama may speed up the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. But this could as easily lead to chaos with serious security ramifications for the region, including India. Indian diplomacy will need to scramble to deal with the consequences of bin Laden’s death. The world would do well to remember that al-Qaida is a highly decentralised organisation. There is reason to believe that its elaborate network will endure and undertake retaliatory attacks to prove its vitality. Bin Laden’s aura grew as he successfully evaded capture for over a decade. Even now as reports of burial of his body at sea trickle in, there is scope for propaganda furthering the jihadi cause. Bin Laden may be dead, but terrorism continues to be a global threat.- Times of India

editorial

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You, Me & Osama By Ashok Vohra Once a member of the audience asked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “You look like Osama bin Laden! What do you have to say to that?” The guru gave a spontaneous reply: “Why do you say i ‘look like’ Osama bin Laden. I am he”. He went on to add: “You cannot catch

known by different names in the perceived world of our experience. Though it is formless it is identified by us at the phenomenal level with the body it inhabits. But this association with a particular body in no way affects its essence, its oneness. In this context, the atman

him and you cannot catch me”. This was Sri Sri’s way of illustrating Vedantic wisdom. I am Brahmn and so are you and everyone else. By saying “I am he”, he was alluding to what the Upanishads say about the true nature of all beings. The essence of every being in the manifested universe is the atman, which in turn is Brahmn. They are two sides of the same coin. The essence of being therefore is nothing else but Brahmn, also called Purusha. Atman, Brahmn or Purusha permeates the phenomenal world with all its diversities. There is just one atman which pervades the entire universe. It assumes various forms. It is

of Osama bin Laden is in essence the same as that of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or any one of us. Ontologically, we are One. That is, we are identical, but phenomenologically we are many, so we are different. Take the actor, for instance. If Amitabh Bachchan is Professor Vijay in one film, police inspector Subhash in another and villain Shahenshah in yet another, he does not cease to be the person he is: namely, Amitabh Bachchan. Similarly, a person is a student for someone, a teacher for another, brother, friend, husband or father to still others. He is the same person - only he is perceived dif-

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: indoamericannews@yahoo.com, website: indoamerican-news.com

Indo American News • Friday, MAY 06 , 2011 • Online Edition: www.indoamerican-news.com

ferently by different people. With all our apparent differences, at the root we are One. That there is just one atman and not several is further confirmed by the fact that the word atman does not admit plural form. The same is true of the term Brahmn. The moment we start seeing ourselves essentially as atman or Brahmn, as sat, chit and ananda or pure being, consciousness and bliss, we realise that we are not just the conglomeration of mind and body; we are much more than that. We rise above the notion of mine and thine which is the sole cause of jealousy, hatred and greed that generate dukh or suffering. When we transcend the phenomenal world or prapancha jagat; the world of plurality and diversity ends for us and so does pain and suffering. We reach the point where jagat is mithya, illusory. This transcendence helps us to know our true nature which is cosmic oneness, full of bliss. In such a state there is no dvaita or duality. One can get hold of your body, one can even capture your mind, one can imprison you - but can one catch hold of the essential you, the atman? The answer is a categorical ‘no’, because the nature of atman is nitya, shuddha, buddha, mukta, svabhav parmatman. That is, it is eternally pure, awakened and free. Osama bin Laden may be captured one day, but the essential ‘I’ can neither be captured, nor confined.


business india

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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

i indian work w ork Visas for U Us s citizens c equal H-1Bs, L1s

Now Open

Sustained India-bashing over visa usage has led many in India’s technology industry to believe that it is time India negotiated a comprehensive service agreement with the US. “The scale of engagement between the two countries is going

up and India’s visa regime offers flexibility for business. India is more liberal, despite being a much smaller economy,” an executive with a top tier IT services firm who did not want to be named said. India, he noted, should look at comparable fee structures for issuing work visas for US nationals cur currently, the fees are very low and put Indian companies at a disadvantage.

“The enhanced fees should be used to fund higher education by giving scholarships,” he said. Last August, the US Senate approved a hike in application fees for H-1B and L1 visas. The money raised would fund security improvements along the porous US-Mexico border. “We have to look at a services agreement. Sometime back, NassNass com had also been talking about a separate category of ser services visa or chalking out mutual arrangements with various countries. In the future, countries will have to negotiate people movement. The demography is changing,” CEO and MD of Infosys Kris Gopalakrishnan said. Nasscom president Som Mittal said India’s focus should be to get US visa fees reduced. “It increases the cost of business for both sides. Both sides should work to increase the easy flow of skilled people. Just like goods need free flow, people need free flow too. We should also differentiate between trade and immigration. The visas we ask for is for trade and not immigration,” he noted.

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By Goutam Das BANGALORE (Samachar): While Indian IT companies are of often accused of replacing American workers in the US, data from India’s home ministry reveal that substantial jobs have been created for US nationals in India. The numbers suggest that India is issuing nearly equal if not more work vivi sas as compared to the US. In 2010, the Indian missions in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston collectively isis sued 22,262 employment vivi sas. Data from the Washington mismis sion was not available. Besides, about 15,000 to 20,000 persons of Indian origin and those with overseas citizenship of India permits came to work in India, sources said. That took the tally of Americans working in India last year to more than 42,000. In comparison, the US has issued 58,664 H-1B work permits (major (majority of them being extensions), according to data from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. The H-1B category has an annual limit of 65,000. According to brokerage firm CLSA, Indian companies received only 5,042 fresh H-1B visas in 2009, 12,810 in 2008, 12,597 in 2007 and 17,515 in 2006. Assuming that 10,000 H1-B visas were awarded to Indians in 2010 (the figures for fresh H-1B visas are not yet out) the overall work permits to India (H-1B and L1) would total about 46,821 – only a few thousands more than what would have been issued to US nationals by India last year. H-1 B visas are non-immigrant visas used by Indian companies to send workers to the US. In 2008, India had issued about 31,000 employment visas to US nationals and 13,300 in 2009, the year of the worldwide economic slowdown.

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india

i conversation with shweta in s t tiwari

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

19

Prerna of Kasauti zindagi ki was a well known name but today after winning the reality show, Bigg Boss, the talk of the town is Shweta Tiwari, the offscreen name of Prerna. We chanced to have a word with her. Here are some excerpts of the interview By rachana sriV riVasta VastaV astaVa Va First thing first , tell us the secret behind your perfect figure? Nothing much. I do not work out. But I don keep a check on what I eat. The thing is that, this is what I have got in my genes. Everyone in my familyis thin. Recently you were seen work working with Manish and Bharti in Jubile comedy circus. How was the experience working with them? Oh! That was awesome. I had never done a comedy show ever before and hence trying something new was very exciting. Bharti is an institution herself when it comes to comedy so it was great working with her. Manish is like master of comedy, he can dance, can sing and he takes the comedy to another level. I am a part of the upcoming comedy circus’s show too. How does it feel to be a first female contestant to win the Bigg Boss show? Well, its a great feeling, I have done many reality shows before but Bigg Boss was altogether a differ different experience, staying apart from your family for so long and then staying with people whom you dont know, some you have not met ever was something challenging. I had never imagined that I would win, there were other potential contestants as well, but at the end when I was declared a winner, it was hard to believe. The prize money was a big one, how much importance does it hold for you? Its like one has been lucky with a lottery number, it hold a lot of importance to me. The win was not an easy one and so it is very very important to me. Has this win made an effect on your life? Socially yes, previously people knew me as Prerna , now the actual me is known by everybody. You have done many plays as well , any specific reason working in a play? Nothing special except that I am very much attached to the stage, I take the play as a challenge because there is no retake in it. Is there any oncoming play of yours? Ya! my oncoming play is “Aaine ke 100 tukde” . Tell us more about the play? I am the sole actor in the play, my co actors are the lights, I mean everything has been well defined with the lights like, for happiness its red and pink light, for love its snow and fog all around . It has been shown beautifully. One can relate himself with the play.The play is 2 hours long. In India four shows have already been successfully done.I was quiet hesitant about doing it at first, I thought it

was not my cup of tea. But when at my very first show when people gave me a standing ovation then I felt I did it. We have a plan to take it abroad as well. Daily soaps are pretty different from the reality shows , does it affect your image as a daily soap actress when you do a reality

My husband ( Now divorced) wanted to do something in this area. This company was opened for him only. Soon it turned into a successfully running company and was acclaimed by people as well and hence we turned into production too. It is seen that the big actors

show? Well I don think so, because now people know me who I am , I too am a human being with lots of positives and some negatives as well. Now a common man can relate and understand a common man in me too. You have been an important asset in Bhojpuri films, it is said if one works in Bhojpuri films he loses the chance for the Bollywood, what do you say? Loser speak of failure, when you fail you tend to pass on the fault on to something. I feel Bhojpuri films give you strong platform. There are many who have kissed the success in both the fields. Your film Beni aur Babloo was a successful one. Yes it was liked by the audience despite of my role being a short one, I enjoyed working in the film. Whats your oncoming film? “Bin Bulaye barati’ is my next film with Aftab. Shweta Tiwari- a producer, tell us something about it.

these days are looking forward to work on television, but TV actors look for a chance in Bollywood. what do u say? Well! The Grass is always greener on the other side. So that’s a human nature , you always long for what you don have . Whats your daughter’s future plans? As of now she is a little fickle minded, does not stay on one thing for long. But yes , one thing which has maintained her interest since long is colors, she loves colors. Being a woman what do u feel, woman needs a man to rise high in life? Its never a man behind a successful woman , its always a woman behind a successful man as they say. So I think woman is complete in herself, she does not need a man to rise high. But yes this also is as true that one needs a life partner to share the sentiments. Any message for the readers? I would say, keep loving me the way you always do.I learn from you and I am just like you.

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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

RTI & MURDER

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Death of an Activist

Niyamat Ansari fearlessly sought to secure for people their rights under the law. The political economy around the delivery of those rights, however, proved too vicious, and he was killed tre for NREGA workers. Working on a compensation case in Khunti, I realised how difficult it is to get what is rightfully yours according to the law. A year prior to my arrival in Khunti, the centre had begun work on these compensation cases. Despite having all the required documents in place, it took over a month of hounding district and state officials and being passed around various offices like a parcel at a 5-year-old’s birthday party to get the workers the compensation that was rightfully due to them. Khunti has recently been a hotspot of Naxal activity, yet one feels safe there. The same cannot be said for Latehar. Just the stories I had heard about the Maoists and

middlemen were enough to send shivers down my spine. Fellow passengers on the Ranchi-Latehar bus were rather concerned for me, “Mumbai se akeli ladki Latehar ja rahi hai? Hai ram!” Latehar is not a safe place, and not just for a lone girl. Even Niyamat, who has relentlessly worked for the betterment of Latehar could be killed by its own people. An area where the middlemen reign almighty requires men of mettle who will combat them. Niyamat and Bhukhan have been that for Latehar. Today Niyamat is no more and Bhukhan’s life is in danger. Heroes like Niyamat should be supported and celebrated, not ignored and left in the hands of local predators.

Bhukhan Singh and Niyamat Ansari from Manika (Latehar). Niyamat was killed on 2 March for exposing a case of rampant corruption in which the post office was also involved. Bhukhan survived that night, but continues to receive threats. Nothing stopped Niyamat. His the forest department and a PIL against illegal mining in Gir forest. crusade continued. On 2 March 2011, ten armed Dr. Binayak Sen was sentenced men went to Bhukhan’s residence to life imprisonment on count of in search of him. Luckily for “sedition” because he exercised Bhukhan, he was not home at the his right to free speech. Is this time. Niyamat wasn’t so lucky. the reward for speaking up in the The armed men went to his house world’s largest democracy? For every step forward we govand took him with them under the pretence of ‘questioning’. Hours ernment take with legislation like later an unconscious Niyamat was NREGA and the RTI Act, we take carried to Manika thana, from there three steps back by turning a blind he was taken to Latehar Sadar Hos- eye to incidents like Niyamat’s pital. Unfortunately, Niyamat did murder and imprisoning not survive the beating. The next day his sister filed an activists like FIR naming eight people in the Binayak Sen. 929 S. Mason Rd., Katy, TX 77450 murder of her brother. Now all but How far we one of the accused have surren- have fallen Ph: 281-579-6066 • Fax: 281-579-6045 dered and are in judicial custody. from the insumitjindal@hotmail.com What is most unfortunate is that spiration days this is the fate of Indians who care of Indepenabout the state of this country, and dence. Heroes, actually do something about it. Another shocking fact: Niyamat each of them — General and Cosmetic Dentistry Having had made a desperate plea to the my government for help only days spent — Advanced Restorative Dentistry before he died, however it fell on c h i l d h o o d — Equipped with computerized injection technique in Mumbai deaf ears. — CAD / CAM Technology and my colWhy? What I fail to understand is why lege days in — CT Scan used for treatment planning Niyamat had to suffer for trying to Delhi, the re— In house dental lab (Rush delivery, crown, bridge make the government do its job. alities of rural and dentures within 3 days) Why could the government not be India were unknown to bothered to protect Niyamat when — All dental work guaranteed he reached out for help? Why doies me. Urban Most Major Insurances Accepted it not have the gumption to punish notions of how governhis murderers? Niyamat is not the first to be mur- ment schemes • We accept Medicaid , CHIP dered for demanding rights under work in rural • Free exam and consultation for the the law. On 14 May 2008, Lalit areas are quite Mehta was murdered for revealing different from month of April, 2011 irregularities in NREGS through the real story. • Easy Payment Plans available Living in a social audit in Palamau. Less • 15% off for the Elderly and Disabled than a month later, Kameshwar Ranchi, I travelled 4 times Yadav of Giridih was shot dead by • Saturday Appointments available unidentified gunmen for exposing a week to scams in NREGS. In July 2010, Khunti where “Keep a healthy mouth, Live a Healthy Life” RTI activist Amit Jethwa was I was working killed for filing petitions against at a help cen-

Mankind Dentistry of Katy

Dr. Sumit Jindal, DDS

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IA News © 2011

By Reetika Khera (IT) Niyamat Ansari was a man who never blinked in the face of danger. He fought tirelessly for the rights of workers under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and for forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act. It was as if he was on a mission - to ensure that poor and disenfranchised citizens of India got what the law provided for them rightfully. He worked on empowering people by spreading awareness about their rights. Niyamat along with other local activists like Bhukhan, Shyama and Pachati have fearlessly exposed numerous cases of fraud in NREGA over the last few years. I had the opportunity to work with Niyamat, Bhukhan, Shyama, Pachati and James (an activist from Palamau) in August last year. In the summer of 2010, along with student volunteers from Delhi University and elsewhere they documented a number of cases of delayed wage payments under NREGS in Manika block (Latehar district of Jharkhand). They had filed for compensation for delayed wages under Schedule II, Rule 30 of the NREG Act, 2005 and Section 15 of Payment of Wages Act 1936. The POWA states that a worker whose wages are pending is entitled to compensation up to Rs.3000 but not less than Rs.1500. My job was to help them ensure the workers got the compensation due to them. Working with the team in Manika was an enriching experience. They had meticulously organised all the required documents and had taken every measure possible to ensure that compensation payments were only sanctioned to genuine workers. It was thanks to their dedication and hard work that the Assistant Labour Commissioner sanctioned compensation up to Rs.2000 each to 92 workers. Niyamat’s knowledge of the law, his understanding of the people of Latehar and his dedication and ability to overcome obstacles that came his way made him the man Manika will never forget. His continuous fight for people’s rights brought him in the line of fire of corrupt local contractors. Niyamat’s activism threatened a powerful nexus of corrupt contractors and other criminal elements active in that area. Earlier in October 2008, an attempt had been made on his life, when he narrowly escaped a gang of armed goons.


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Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

Don’t Pay a Bribe, File an RTI Application

By Rukmini Shrinivasan NEW DELHI (TOI): Transparency measures like the Right To Information Act are intended to reduce levels of corruption, but is there any proof that this actually happens? Two field experiments in Delhi by Yale University researchers suggest that this might be true; transparency measures are as effective as bribes in ensuring service delivery and, furthermore, may even erase class differences. Leonid V Peisakhin and Paul Pinto, two PhD candidates at Yale University’s department of political science, conducted a field experiment in a Delhi slum, the results of which were published in a recent paper. The subjects, all of whom were poor slum-dwellers, did not have a ration card but wanted to apply for one. They were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups. The first group applied for the ration card and then did nothing more about it, the second attached a letter of recommendation from an NGO to their ration card application, the third paid a bribe after putting in their application, and the fourth enquired about the status of their ration card application through an RTI request shortly after the initial application.

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Peisakhin and Pinto found that the group that paid a bribe was by far the most successful, in that its application was processed faster. But interestingly, the group that put in an RTI request was almost as successful. Hardly anyone in the other two groups received their ration card during the 11-month duration of the study. Peisakhin conducted an extension of this study, and found that RTI requests helped underprivileged applicants get results almost as fast as the middle class. Peisakhin divided his subjects into three groups the control group, those who paid a bribe and those who filed an RTI plea as they tried to register as voters. The study was conducted separately among middle class subjects and urban poor. While bribing was the most efficient technique, filing an RTI plea too halved the median processing time. Most significantly,when poor subjects filed an RTI request,it erased the class disadvantage they otherwise faced their applications were cleared as fast as those of middle class subjects. Access to information appears to empower the poor to the point where they receive almost the same treatment as middle-class individuals at the hands of civil servants.This is something that payment of a bribe cannot do, says Peisakhin.

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22

india

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

Online Edition:www.indoamerican-news.com www.indoamerican-news.com online edition:

ramayan amayan for our daily aily Lives

pursuance of economic gains fueled greed, individualism, and an increasing disregard for family. Because of the mounting pressure for success, deteriorating family life, and loss of spirituality, the deeply stressed individuals we see today began to lose themselves. This catastrophic chain reaction has led to our current societal condition, and through the Ramayana we can change it for the better. Many have naturally looked towards the success of the west and emulated such strategies to bring success and happiness in their lives. These strategies are based on advances in science and psychology. Although these strategies did address some aspects of success, but not without side effects and not in a comprehensive manner. This is partly because these methods are productivity driven and allow business and corporate life to take precedence over family life and personal goals. In many instances, family has been reduced to the nuclear unit, and basic values,

Dr. ramesh kumar Gupta (TOI) The world today is experiencing a period where relationships based on the economy, individualism, and greed is at an all-time high. This change has begun to break down even the most pious and stable institutions of marriage, family and parenting. As the world moves further towards globalization, this is likely to worsen as youngsters are influenced by the ease of the modern way of life and culture. So how do we successfully and positively influence people to preserve individual and family values, while they are working hard to achieve success and happiness? It has been found that Ramayana can provide us the critical link to solve these contemporary problems. Many wonder, how did we reach this state of affairs? If we examine recent history, we learn that the focus of scientific progress over the past 300 years has largely concerned improving the quality of life through technological advances and medicinal breakthroughs. These developments caused substantial economic growth and many opportunities for individuals to pursue high profits through commerce. With much of their time and energy dedicated towards professional for fortune, people lost sight of what truly matters: God, family, and society. Discoveries in science and technology resulted in a shift in focus from God to the secular domain. Zeal less

Annam

such as respect for elders, are forgotten. What good is this solution if it does not fix the Whole problem and creates more problems to worry about? To solve such problems, we have identified three cardinal principles, namely, logic and evidence based life, satvic entertainment or transactions and family like multigenerational togetherness. While search-

ing for an easy template solution, Ramayana has been found to be the most perfect shastra for promoting these goals. Ramayana upholds principles and righteousness and has the foundation of a family structure. Being a universal and perennial source of knowledge, it continues to be rel-

evant to today’s times. Instruments of science and psychology afford an 80/20 solution at best and dilemmas, conflicts, confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty around what needs to be done continue in our minds. The universal principles of Ramayana can give us a near perfect solution to the tune of 95+% success and minimize any side effects. And these solutions are applicable to most people and most situations, including individual life, family life, and business life and to larger dimensions of social and national issues. It can help us in management and in various other aspects of life of human per personality. This is because Ramayana assimilates principles of science and psychology, within its broader fold of spirituality and wisdom, and thus affords an all-inclusive solution. Contrary to popular belief, the Ramayana is more than just a story. The age-old wisdom found in this great epic has endured the test of time and provided us with the key

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to success. One may wonder why we chose the Ramayana over the Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, or Vedas. The significant distinction is the overall ease in understanding the Ramayana. Unlike, other Eastern texts, the Ramayana presents profound teachings that we can apply to our lives, without a complicated wording or abstract ideas, and it is beneficial for people of all ages, functioning as great way to bring the family together. A toddler can enjoy the story while learning basic values. A young adult can learn from the Ramayana and use it to become successful in his studies or career. A father or mother will further under understand the principles and can utilize them to raise a family. The elderly can share and discuss the ideas from Ramayana that they have embraced in their lives that brought them success. The whole family can enjoy the Ramayana together, allowing them to find their own roles clearer, and grow closer together by practicing the hidden wisdom in these chopaiyan. The Ramayana can be beneficial to every household, individual and career and is a repertoire of ways that can help them achieve comprehensive success. (Dr. Ramesh Kumar Gupta is a renowned US-based doctor and comes from a religiously and spiritually inclined family with strong affinity to the Ramayana and its pristine values.)


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horoscope

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

23

WEEKLY HOROSCOPE www.GaneshaSpeaks.com ARIES Mar 21 - Apr 20: Communication is the key to every relationship. Taking your relationship to the next level, Rams, you focus strongly on communicating with your partner. Talking about important issues will give you a chance to decide your future, while talking casually on any topic will test your compatibility. It’s time for networking and making contacts, along with updating your resume giving you an opportunity to progress in your career. As far as work is concerned, the ground looks firm beneath. Go ahead and paint your future bright! TAURUS Apr 21 - It’s your birth month and as usual, you have lots of plans for it. Switching on your party mood, you are all set to become a ‘rockaholic’. Chocolates, champagnes and celebration are going to keep you, the Bulls, on toes round the week. You look prettier than ever as you pamper yourself at spas. This will not only make your glowing skin noticeable, but would be totally therapeutic, leading to peace of mind. Bonding with friends and renewed relationships may go a long way. Financial gains and inheritances are likely to add spark to your celebrations. GEMINI May 22 - Jun 21: At the very beginning of this month, you will discover a new ‘you’. This week, there will be a switching of priorities and activities, which will eventually shift your focus from work to home and family. You become more affectionate and warm, loving and mature. As a result, you will bond with your spouse and kids. You along with your family, get involved in charitable activities for the society. You will also be interested in spiritual matters and work towards it. Your contribution and sacrifice for your family is appreciated. CANCER Jun 22 - Jul 23: You will be building castles in the air that will soon go away with the wind; day dreaming will not work for a longer period of time. You will soon return to the world of reality. After getting a dose of reality, you will learn to value money. After keeping some amount for your future security, you go on a shopping spree to give a makeover to your wardrobe. You may decorate your home as well as office. Nothing seems to bother you as of now moneywise, as you have various income generating plans and freelance projects. LEO July 24 -Aug 23: This week, you are in a mood to ponder over your requirements from life. Slowly and gradually, you will zero-in on your demands and try to fulfil them in the best possible way. There’s is no point in working and living in a way that does not suit you. Consider situations in a way that you are not answerable to anyone, but to yourself. Like they say, what goes around comes around. Try to spread love and affection, and you are sure to receive it back. All in all, a philosophical mood lingers on your mind throughout the week. VIRGO Aug 24 - Sep 23: It’s raining money for the Virgin. Unexpected monetary gains from various sources is on the cards. Learn to invest it smartly. You avoid splurging on unnecessary things. Instead, you choose to go for investments. You may buy a few products for your comfort and luxury. Your future financial security is of prime importance. This week, you experience a sizzling chemistry with your partner and an extra bonding with your family. LIBRA Sep 24 - Oct 23: You will honestly reach out to people from all walks of life.

Your interests this week will abruptly shift to communications, whether it is through phone calls, through e-mails, or by making new friendships. You will be happy with the profits that come your way. Your inter-personal relationships will soar to new heights. Your relationship with friends, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues will be cheerful. Be glad that you have been living life with full zest. SCORPIO Oct 24 - Nov 22: Make the best of the new moon phase, as you carry for forward your plans and assignments. You have great leader leadership qualities and are a true performer with outstanding finance management skills. You will lean towards spirituality now, though you will also make substantial profits. You will come up with answers to formidable problems, and you will rise in the esteem of your loved ones, and peers at the office. You will indulge in judicious trading in the markets. You are confident, and determined to succeed SAGITTARIUS Nov 23 - Dec 22: You look at things with a fresh perspective and this will help you attain success in your projects. As work pressures increase, you will hardly have any time to enjoy, even over the weekend. This is a fruitful phase and you will make quick progress. You implement expansion projects, which entail substantial investments. However, you may rest easy as the money will fetch adequate rewards at a later stage. Right now it is time to work hard, consistently. Grab opportunities as they come to you in life. CAPRICORN Dec 23 - Jan 20: After a welcome break, you are back in your elements. As far as your career is concerned, you are making slow and steady progress. Monetary benefits are guaranteed and that too without putting in extra efforts. Money is not the only aspect of success in life. There are many other factors involved, but at the moment at least you have monetary success coming your way, and you bask in its glory. With your creativity, stamina and charisma, you love to take challenges head-on. With your astonishing ability to work hard, you will make progress in the correct direction. AQUARIUS Jan 21 - Feb 19: Your modus operandi takes a welcome turn during this phase as you begin to work really hard. The quick rewards that follow will encourage you to work even harder. Even your health improves as your mind is positively occupied with work. You will feel full of energy, and ready to start off on a new venture. Your originality and appeal are likely to dazzle one and all. It is all hunky-dory at home and you will feel rather relaxed. You will win the appreciation of your colleagues, and sign up new projects, which will take you to greater heights. A new addition to your family is on the cards. PISCES Feb 20 - Mar 20: You are brimming with ideas and plans for expansion. You have even made up your mind to implement them. It is a wonderful phase with Lady Luck following you everywhere. You make remarkable progress, regardless of increasing monetary outflow, in whatever you do. Look forward to a lot of monetary benefits in business, and be clever enough to seize opportunities. Love too is on the cards. It may be a short relationship, but you will cherish the moments for a long long time. www.indoamerican-news.com

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24

Indo American News • Friday, May 06, 2011

opinion

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We Make Much Ado about Anything and Everything We, Indians, generally seem to be having the illusion that ‘doing more and more’ is indicative of success. What we need is to focus on quality rather than quantity

By Ilango Ponnuswami (Hindu) In Tamil, there is a saying that too much of even honey is poison. I am sure that similar sayings are there in other languages of this great nation. However, as a society with such a rich and diverse culture and heritage, we seem to have a national “obsession” with overdoing almost everything. I have often had an intriguing feeling to see this obsession causing so much of detriment to people. In public places, we see people talking loudly and endlessly without caring about others. In buses and trains, even during night, we can find people talking or sometimes quarrelling loudly. I have felt extremely embarrassed by such unruly behaviour of fellow Indians even in international flights. Another thing I have noticed is that during travel, be it any mode, Indians seem to be munching eatables throughout their travel (probably except the time they sleep) which we cannot see in advanced countries, where people quietly read or listen to music. Indian weddings are noisy and elaborate with ritual after ritual and a flamboyant

display of jewellery and other material possessions and, of course, food too. Besides, we make a fuss about every little thing. Our filmdom and media world are also obsessed with overdoing everything.

of class notes or notes from guides without any kind of analysis, synthesis, knowledge integration and application to practical situations. Even our public functions are elaborate events with lengthy

No practical skills In education, both the teacher and the taught (even many administrators) feel that imparting of too much information and doing a lot of things determine the quality of education. Most students in India write pages and pages of answers, containing just a mere reproduction

speeches (that too, as many as one can possibly accommodate within the Indian stretchable time). Our governance is ridden with heaps and heaps of paperwork, endless meetings and unimaginable formalities seldom found in progressive countries. The ramifications of this collec-

tive phenomenon of overdoing everything can be observed at various levels, in areas of mundane daily living to more complex societal phenomena. I have been seeing a particular trend among small businesses, large corporate houses and even educational institutions, service industries and, to some extent, even among governments, State and Central. To cite an example, in an urban neighbourhood, after seeing one entrepreneur running a photocopying shop profitably, several others open the same business, that too, on the same street and eventually, all of them go out of business. Among educational institutions, a similar thing happens when schools and colleges mushroom in particular localities offering more or less the same types of courses, competing with one another, without catering for far-flung, educationally deprived areas. Service industries are no better either. In the case of governments, they regulate, control or restrict or even interfere too much; or go to

Indo American News • Friday, MAY 06 , 2011 • Online Edition: www.indoamerican-news.com

the other extreme of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, resulting in further marginalisation, alienation and social exclusion of some sections. Specifically in economic policies and programmes, we find an over-emphasis on “growth,” which is just an indication of doing much quantitatively without being able to achieve ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’ development. We see a rapid, ill-planned expansion of urban centres, mindless acquisition of motor vehicles, leading to unprecedented levels of pollution, chaotic traffic and ever-increasing accidents claiming precious lives; mind-boggling vertical expansion of housing stock with practically no consideration for safety, sanitation, water resources, energy utilisation and skyrocketing real estate costs. We, Indians, generally seem to be having the illusion that ‘doing more and more’ is indicative of success, achievement, progress and prosperity. What we fail to understand is that we need to return to the basics concentrating on the quality rather than quantity of anything.

May 6 Pages1-24  

May 6 Pages1-24