Page 1

US Affairs 10

Delhi Centenary 24

Books 25

Spiritual Awareness 30

NEW YORK EDITION Vol.4 No.36 December 24-30, 2011 60 Cents Will Nikki Haley pay for endorsing Mitt Romney?

Why buy when you can rent high fashion! Fashion, Page 15

India to take up US Call Centre Bill with Washington Kochi: India would take up the issue of US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act in the appropriate governmental forum as also through the Obama Administration to safeguard trade and investment interests of the Indian industry, including the IT sector, Indian Ambassador to US Nirupama Rao has said. India was in the process of undertaking a detailed impact analysis of the Bill, tabled in the US House of Representatives, in terms of scope of its business coverage and its impact on the Indian BPO industry, she said here. "We are in touch with NASSCOM and the relevant government departments on this issue", she said at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) session Thursday. The bipartisan Bill aims to make companies that move call centers overseas ineligible for grants or guaranteed loans from the Federal government, a move to stem the tide of jobs

Indian Ambassador to US Nirupama Rao speaking at CII session in Kochi. heading to countries like India. The bill, if passed, will also penalize US call centers to the tune of $10,000 per day for failing to report a relocation to an offshore location, within 60 days to the US Department of Labor.

Follow us on Jaipur Jewellery Show brings glittering glory to Pink City Jewelry, Pages 16-17

Jolly old man who helps me get through Christmas Humor, Page 28

Lokpal bill finally in parliament, tough ride ahead New Delhi: The Manmohan Singh government Thursday finally tabled in parliament the much-debated Lokpal bill to combat corruption, with the prime minister and most of the bureaucracy under its purview. But the road ahead seemed bumpy with Anna Hazare trashing the bill as weak and political parties sharply divided on its efficacy. The government also introduced a separate bill to amend the constitution to confer constitutional status to the proposed institution at center and in states. This would need separate two-thirds backing in both houses which the ruling coalition does not have. The two bills would be debated in the Lok Sabha Dec 27 and will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha. Both houses meet Dec 27-29 to discuss the proposed Lokpal, an issue which has rocked the country for months.

No control over army and ISI, admits Pak govt Islamabad: Pakistan's defense ministry does not have operational control over the military and the ISI, the ministry has admitted in the Supreme Court, reported the daily Dawn. The Supreme Court is hearing the case about a secret memo sent to Washington that claimed President Zardari feared a military coup following the May 2 killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad by US Marine commandos. The defense ministry's reply said it was not in a position to submit any reply on behalf of the armed forces and the ISI. Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz had revealed the secret memo, leading to the resignation of Pakistan's ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani. Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that Pakistan's powerful army is fed up with unpopular President Zardari and wants him out of office, but through legal means and without a repeat of the coups that are a hallmark of the country's 64 years of independence, mili-

President Zardari and Army Chief Kayani: matters coming to a head tary sources said. Tensions are rising between Pakistan's civilian leaders and its generals over what has been dubbed Memogate. Continued on page 4

Anna Hazare has trashed the tabled bill as weak. "The (Lokpal) bill proposes to establish autonomous and independent institutions," according to the proposed legislation. Continued on page 4

House GOP leaders agree to extension of payroll tax cut Washington, DC: Giving in to pressure from their own partymen, House Republican leaders agreed Thursday to accept a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut, retreating from a showdown that Republicans saw as a threat to their election prospects in 2012. As agreed by House and Senate leaders, the House will now approve as early as Friday the twomonth extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday. On its part, the Senate will appoint members of a HouseSenate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012, according to The New York Times. Speaker John Boehner, who

House Speaker John Boehner. faced the most flak for being rigid on the issue, announced the decision over the phone to members. He conceded to reporters that it might not have been “politically the smartest thing in the world� for House Republicans to put themselves between a tax cut and the Continued on page 4

Tristate Community


December 24-30, 2011

Cornell bid chosen for science school in NYC New York: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Monday that he has chosen Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to build a $2 billion graduate school of applied sciences on Roosevelt Island near Manhattan, which, he said, would “spawn new companies, create new jobs and propel our city’s economy to new frontiers.”

“History will write that this was a gamechanging time in New York City,” Bloomberg said at a press conference that capped an intense yearlong competition for a project that is seen as a potential cornerstone of his legacy. Cornell was chosen from 7 proposals sent in by 17 institutions. The Cornell-Technion plan was “far and away the boldest and most ambitious,” the Mayor said. The school, which will not be fully built for 30 years, calls for 2,000 students, 300 faculty members and two million square feet

on a patch of city-owned land that now houses a little-known hospital. In addition, the universities are offering a $150 million fund for startups begun on the campus that remain in New York for three years. And, Bloomberg noted, it calls for “an incredibly aggressive schedule,” with classes starting in September at a leased off-site facility, and 300 students and 75 faculty on site by 2018. “In this day and age, great universities know they have to expand,” he said. “They have to expand their locations, they have to

expand their horizons, they have to expand their faculty interests.” The announcement came three days after Stanford University, long seen as the one to beat because of its success as an incubator for Silicon Valley, pulled out of the contest, and Cornell announced a $350 million gift, the largest in its history, to help finance its proposal. Cornell’s plan calls for 500,000 square feet of public space and partnerships with the public school system, including math and science support for at least 10,000 students.

XUSOM holds 22nd White Coat Ceremony

10 Indian Americans among Forbes brightest stars of tomorrow

(from right) Xavier University School of Medicine Aruba President Ravi Bhooplpaur, Chancellor Dr JG Bhat with faculty and students at the ceremony New York: The Xavier University School of Medicine Aruba (XUSOM) celebrated its 22nd White Coat Ceremony at St Francis Hospital’s DeMetteis Center for Cardiac Research and Education in Greenvale, NY, Dec 15. In the annals of medical education the White Coat, the attire physicians have worn for hundreds of years, symbolizes a rite of passage from the pre-clinical sciences portion of a student’s education to the clinical sciences and patient interaction portion. Each student was called to the stage and was formally “cloaked” in a White Coat by former practicing physicians, Dr. Bryan W. Little, Chief Academic Officer, and Dr. Manuel Flores, Dean of Clinical Sciences at the school of medicine. Dr. J.G. Bhatt, Chancellor of Xavier University School of Medicine, and Mr. Ravishankar

Bhooplapur, President, as well as the proud friends and families of the recipients were all in attendance. Paul Liu, M.D., J.D., Clinical Chair of Xavier University School of Medicine in Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology, graciously addressed the eager, young students on the symbolism of the White Coat and the fascinating discoveries each will make during their medical careers. Special recognition was given to valedictorian Mohammad A. Baqar for his outstanding performance during his pre-clinical work. The honored recipients were: Uzma Ahsanullah Aneesah Jaumally Zina Al-Sakini Yashika Jethmalani Julian Ang Keng Hao Maninder Kohli

Sharyar Bangash Mohammad A. Baqar Maria Basilico Marina Cardinez Zeinab Choucair Varun Dobriya Marlow Easterling Natalia Ferrer Bravo Deepti Gooriah Ogechi Iwueke

Llersania Lebron Ruiz Qurat-ul-Ain Mansoora Mark-Anthony John Sixto Medina Kishan patel Cristina Penon Ansari Rustam Ahmed Salem Justin Thomas Amanda Wolf

The White Coat Ceremony is celebrated following each 5th semester by XUSOM. The staff and faculty of Xavier University School of Medicine, Aruba wishes this group all the best in their journey to become competent, compassionate physicians.

Kingfisher Airlines to be part of Oneworld New York: Kingfisher Airlines will become part of oneworld® with effect from February 2012, adding India’s leading carrier to the premier global airline alliance. It will be the first carrier from the subcontinent to join any of the global airline groups – and the first of three airlines to join oneworld in its biggest membership expansion drive for five years, with Air Berlin set to follow it on board the alliance shortly afterwards and Malaysia Airlines

later in the year. Kingfisher Airlines received its green light to board oneworld this week after successfully completing a thorough review of its readiness conducted by British Airways, which is sponsoring its entry into the alliance, with the oneworld central team. So from February 10, it will be offering oneworld’s full range of services – and substantially expanding the alliance’s network throughout India, one of the fastest growing regions of the world for air travel demand. For Kingfisher Airlines, joining oneworld will strengthen its compet-

itive offering and its financial position, enabling it to offer customers an unrivalled alliance global network served by partners including some of the best and biggest airlines in the world. Its addition will extend oneworld’s global coverage to nearly 800 destinations in almost 150 countries, served by a total of 8,500 departures a day operated by a combined fleet of more than 2,250 aircraft, carrying 305 million passengers a year, with annual revenues of US$94 billion. oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby said: “Kingfisher Airlines will expand

oneworld’s network substantially in a key region of growing travel demand, with a carrier that matches our demanding requirements, while enabling Kingfisher Airlines to offer its customers a truly global network on quality partners. We are look forward to welcoming them to the oneworld alliance in February.” Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya said: “Kingfisher Airlines takes great pride in its track record for quality and innovation. By becoming part of oneworld in February, we will be flying as part of the Continued on page 4

Param Jaggi,

Maneet Ahuja

Washington: Ten Indian Americans, including a 17-year-old, rub shoulders with the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and pop stars Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber in the Forbes list of "tomorrow's brightest stars". The business magazine's '30 under 30' list profiles about 360 young "ultra impressive up-and-comers" that the companies should either "hire today" or would be working for them in the future as they are the young people of today "who matter". Among the Indians on the list of people from 12 diverse fields, including energy, finance, media, law, entertainment, science, design and technology, who are "reinventing the world" is Kunal Shah, at 29, the youngest managing director at Goldman Sachs. Also on the list is Param Jaggi, 17, an "award-winning high schooler" at Austin College, who created an algae-filled device that fits over a car's tailpipe and turns carbon dioxide into oxygen. Vivek Nair, 23, chief executive of Damascus Fortune, is developing a technology that transforms industrial carbon emissions into carbon nanotubes. Continued on page 4



December 24-30, 2011, a state-of-art learning portal, launched from New York

New York:, an educational online tutoring company that teaches on a variety of academic levels as well as languages, was launched on Dec 15 at a glittering event in Long Island. It was launched by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano during the Leaders Appreciation Breakfast hosted at The Woodlands in Woodbury, NY. He applauded for setting up business in Nassau County and awarded a citation to Harry Aurora, CEO, and Preeti Aurora, Managing Director. Mr. Aurora gave a video presentation of illustrating the state-of-art online portal as a

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revolution in learning. Students participate in one-on-one tutoring led by world-class teachers in the comfort of their home. provides help with all subjects of grades K-12 as well as offering 18 languages such as Spanish, French, German, Mandarin and Italian. Mr. Aurora narrated how was initially established with the mission of teaching Hindi and other Indian languages to Indian American children to help preserve their culture and heritage. However, in the development phase over the past year, Mr. Aurora and his team realized that there was a demand for other languages and academic subjects.

Lok pal bill Story Continued from page 1 These shall have powers to hold a preliminary inquiry, leading to investigation and prosecution of offences of complaints under any law for checking corruption. The prime minister will be under the purview of the nine-member Lokpal, but with riders. Hazare, whose campaign for an effective Lokpal since April has made him a household name, has been insisting on: bringing the PM, the CBI and all bureaucrats under the ombudsman, Citizens Charter in government offices, and Lokayuktas for all states. With the government not in agreement, and even a section of the political establishment having different views, it was clear Thursday that Team Anna was poised for a showdown with the authorities. Pak army Story Continued from page 1 General Ashfaq Kayani has, however, pledged to keep the military out of Pakistani politics since taking over

Harry Aurora, CEO of speaking at the launch of his online tutoring company, accompanied by Preeti Aurora, Managing Director. Mr. Aurora’s motto: “The future is here!” signifies that TheETutor has the technological advancements

to teach students through a virtual medium. Their technology includes an embedded whiteboard, built-in video and audio chat, image and file sharing and even a feature to record the tutoring session. Each enrolled student takes a Scholastic test to measure his or her strengths and weaknesses as against the national standard. The E has nearly 100 qualified tutors ranging from college students to PhDs who are certified in various subjects. “Results with are guaranteed,” emphasizes Mr. Aurora, citing research from elite universities that virtual audio and visual tutoring lights up parts of the

brain bringing unmatched focus for learning. “What we offer will be most welcome in remote and far-flung areas where people would have only dreamt of tutoring for their children,” Mr. Aurora adds, stating that the fees per tutoring session ranges from $35 to $89 depending on level, grade, subject or language. Mr. Aurora and his team are now preparing their promotional and advertising plans nationwide and later for the rest of the world. cause has backing by many professionals like attorneys, doctors and professors., in turn, supports the National PTA and local PTAs.

as army chief in 2007. Conspiracies are being hatched to oust the elected Pakistani government from power, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Thursday, insisting that "nobody is above the law" and all institutions in the country are "subservient to parliament". Payroll tax Story Continued from page 1 160 million American workers who would benefit from it, and to allow President Obama and Democrats to seize the momentum on the issue. The resolution ended the latest of the bitter struggles over fiscal policy involving House conservatives, the President and the Democratic-controlled Senate. Under the deal, the employee’s share of the Social Security payroll tax will stay at the current level, 4.2 percent of wages, through Feb. 29. In the absence of Congressional action, it would revert to the usual 6.2 percent next month. The government will also continue paying unemployment insurance benefits under current policy through February.

Without Congressional action, many of the long-term unemployed would begin losing benefits next month. In addition, under the agreement, Medicare will continue paying doctors at current rates for two months, averting a 27 percent cut that would otherwise occur on Jan. 1. 10 Indian Americans Story Continued from page 3 Vikas Mohindra, 25, financial advisor at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch gathered $38 million in three years from scratch, while Manvir Nijhar, 28, co-head of European Equity Derivatives Sales at Citigroup, gave "Citi's derivatives business a jolt". Raj Krishnan, 29, chief executive of Biological Dynamics is developing blood tests that use electric fields to detect key signals that a patient has cancer from the blood. Sidhant Gupta, 27, a graduate student at the University of Washington, is developing new sensors and software for the home that conserve electricity, heat and gas. Nikhil Arora, 24, co-found a business that sells 'grow-your-own-mush-

room' kits using one million pounds of recycled coffee grounds and Maneet Ahuja, 27, a producer at CNBC and a hedge fund expert has been on Wall Street since she was 17. Kingfisher Story Continued from page 3 world’s leading quality airline alliance – and the first carrier from the subcontinent to be accepted into any of the global airline groups. When Kingfisher Airlines joins, members of its King Club frequent flyer program will be able to earn and redeem mileage awards on all oneworld partners – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and almost 20 affiliated airlines. Since its launch in 2005, Kingfisher Airlines has established itself as India’s leading air carrier in terms of domestic passenger carried, daily flights (with more than 260 daily departures on average currently), customer service quality and innovation.

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Tristate Community

December 24-30, 2011

INOC’s Delhi chapter launched Garden City, NY: The Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) has been launched with Daljinder (Zinda) Singh as its President. Dr Surinder Malhotra, National President of INOC, USA handed Zinda Singh his letter of appointment at the launch on December 18 at Akbar Restaurant in Long Island. Zinda Singh was elected President of the Delhi Chapter by the National Executive Committee of INOC, following due process and careful consideration. The INOC Committee members present at the launch included Pam Kwatra, Eric Kumar, Najma Sultana, Rajiv Khanna, Kalathil Varughese, Varinder Bhalla and Shudh Jasuja. Dr. Malhotra praised Zinda Singh for his continuous service, passion for and involvement in Congress. Zinda has been associated with Congress party for over 35 years now, beginning as a Youth Congress leader in India in the 1970s where he used to rub shoulders with the Gandhi-Nehru family. Fittingly, his appointment has been blessed by Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi, and Dr. Karan Singh, who is in charge of INOC and NRI affairs. Zinda’s team includes Manoj Narang (Chair of Delhi Chapter), a community

Zinda Singh, President of the new chapter, with INOC (USA) President Dr Surinder Malhotra leader and philanthropist, Arvind Walia, Rajinder Singh, Amardeep Singh, Gurdev Singh, Gautam Goplani, Rohit Sharma, Jatender Ricky Advaney, Vidya Bhushan Sharma, Jessica Kalra, Thakur Rahul Singh and Avan Singh Panwar. All the team members pledged to work together to serve and honor the principles of secularism and equality as well as to bridge the gap between India and America, the core ideals of Congress party. The launch event was attended by the elite of Indian diaspora and the entertainment had a touch of both American and Indian cultures.

Banker dies in NJ plane crash Washington, DC: Rakesh Chawla , an investment banker, was among five people killed when their small plane crashed into a busy highway of New Jersey. Chawla, 36 and Jeffrey Buckalew, 45, heads of Greenhill & Co., an NYC investment firm, died when the aircraft spiraled out of control and crashed in the town of Harding,

Rakesh Chawla

NJ. Besides Buckalew, a licensed pilot and the plane's owner, his wife and their two children also perished. "Jeff was one of the first employees of Greenhill," said a company statement. "He and Rakesh were extraordinary professionals who were highly respected by colleagues and clients alike."

NYC Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio Advocates US-India Alliance By Ashok Ojha/SATimes New York : Bill de Blasio, New York City’s secondhighest elected official, who is a front runner Democratic candidate in the contest for next Mayor, has urged US officials to develop strong alliance with India to contain the country’s further economic slide. De Blasio was speaking at a fund raising event organized by leading business owners of Indian origin “I firmly believe in strong relationship between the two most important democracies of the world,” he commented. “It is in our interest to embrace the world’s largest democracy to ensure economic revival.” De Blasio pointed out that both countries enjoy mutual trust and share common values of equality, freedom and market competition. “In today’s globalized economy alliance between India and the US is the right path for


Bill de Blasio progress and safeguarding democratic institutions.” Criticizing the current administration of New York City for neglecting small businesses, De Blasio pointed out that his first priority as the Mayor of NYC will be to support small businesses in the city. “Small businesses are the engine of economic growth. We can’t allow them to fail.” He thanked the Indian American community for their generous support. He advocated better representation of Indian American community in the city administra-

tion. Introducing De Blasio and his wife Charlene McCray to the audience noted Otolaryngologist and philanthropist Dr. Navin Mehta praised the couple as an ideal pair who inspired everyone. “Mr. De Blasio is a dynamic leader who possessed a unique vision of progress and prosperity of all people. We are fortunate to have him as a great friend of our community who always demonstrates high regard and respect for the people of South Asian origin,” commented Dr. Mehta. Bill de Blasio defeated Republican Alex Zablocki with a margin of 77% votes in the general election held in November 2009. He has a track record of confronting the New York City administration in favor of helping and protecting the interests of common man. His job as the Public Advocate is that of a watchdog for the people of New York.

Shudh Prakash Singh appointed chief coordinator of PPCC in US New York: At a recently held Dinner Reception at hotel Taj Chandigarh, Inder Dev Singh Musafir, under the directions of Captain Amarinder Singh announced NY’s Shudh Prakash Singh as the Chief Coordinator of the Punjab Election Campaign Committee (PPCC) for the US. Inder Dev Singh Musafir, Chairman NRI-Cell (PPCC) informed during his speech about the formation of country wise Election Campaign Committee’s under the banner “NRI’s for Congress”. These committees will focus on mobilizing the diaspora residing in various parts of the world, to support and work for the victory of the Congress party in the forthcoming Assembly Elections in Punjab. Also attending the function were senior high level Congress leaders. Arvind Khanna the General Secy of PPCC said “I have known Shudh personally and he is the best choice for this position.” Khanna felt NRIs can play a very important role in upcoming Punjab elections. Surinder Singla, former Finance Minister of Punjab said he has visited New York several times and always found Shudh working hard to expand the congress party base in America. At a separate event earlier in an NRI dinner meeting at Park Plaza hotel Ludhiana organized and hosted Jassi Khangura about 300 NRIs from around the world gathered.

Amarinder Singh honoring Shudh Prakash Singh with a shawl hudh Prakash Singh was keynote speaker and he highlighted the problems being faced by the diaspora. During the function, Captain Amarinder Singh was presented with a prestigious citation on behalf of the New York State Legislative Assembly. Capt Amarinder Singh in his address thanked Shudh Prakash Singh for the honor brought to him from NYS assembly. Other INOC leaders Vikram Bajwa President of California Chapter, Bhupinder Sodhi President of Florida Chapter, Micky Kahlon President of Chicago Chapter, Sunny Door President of MIchigan Chapter, Micky Singh Ex President of New Jersey Chapter and Sunny Singh, ex President of Pennsylvania Chapter applauded Capt. Amarinder Singh for appointing Shudh Prakash Singh.


Tristate Community

December 24-30, 2011

US officials extend help to victims of domestic violence in Indian families By Ashok Ojha/ SATimes Edison, NJ: Incidents of domestic violence are on the rise as the population of Indian Americans has increased in various parts of USA. The US law enforcement community is slowly waking up to the fact that South Asian communities carry a tradition of secrecy about domestic violence resulting into many unreported incidents. To remove the fear of victims some of the District Attorney offices are reaching out to folks with information about network of financial and legal support in order to protect victims from abusing family members. “Women who are victims of abusive husbands and elderly parents abused by their adult sons and daughters can receive immediate relief and protection if they approach the law enforcement agencies,” said G. Michael Green, District Attorney of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Green said

Ujwala Dixit, president of a non-profit group SEWAA, which helps South Asian victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania seen with G. Michael Green, District Attorney of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Ashok Ojha) that his office was aware of social being of the sufferers.’“Local law taboos involved in such cases, ‘but enforcement agencies are well getting help from authorities can trained in providing shelter to vicensure physical safety and well tims of domestic abuse and can help

get restraining orders from the court so that incidence of violence are not repeated. Severe punishments are prescribed under the law in cases of repeated incidences,” he pointed out. The meeting was organized by SEWAA, an organization that works for creating awareness against domestic violence at Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens in Devon, PA. Requesting improvement in the techniques applied by US law enforcement agencies, members of the organization raised various cultural and social concerns that deter victims from openly accusing their abusive family members. Ujwala Dixit, president of SEWAA, said that 63 reported murder or attempted murder of South Asian women took place in the US in the last two decades. “SEWAA was formed in 1990 after the brutal murder of Dr. Meena Aggarwal, a physician in Bryn Mawr, PA whose husband was later arrested on murder charges,” she said adding that

majority of abuse victims are women while children and relatives were also killed in some of the cases. “An environment of silence exists in our community that helps create a hidden hell for too many women and children.” According to officials victims of domestic violence have right to petition a court for ‘protection from abuse order’ that includes restraining the abuser from further violence, directing the abuser to leave the victim’s household and directing abuser to pay support to the victim and affected children. A number of such agencies work closely with the law enforcement agencies at local levels. 911 is the easiest way to get help in such matters rather than tolerance of domestic violence. According to the Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, 41 to 60 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander women reported experiencing domestic violence during their lifetime.

Mohammad Faroqui selected Indian American doctors arrested in illegal referral scheme for ‘Rising Star’ award New Jersey: The owner of a diagnostic how many diagnostic tests – including MRIs,

New York: Mohammad Faroqui, MD, Malak Designs, a New York based Web, Print and Graphic Design company, has been selected for ‘Rising Star’ award. He will be honored at the Fourth Annual Rising Stars Awards & Networking Event Jan 26. The event is sponsored by the Queens Courier chain of newspapers, celebrating 26 years in business and the mailed business to business newspaper Queens Business. The Rising Star Awards & Networking Event honors young professionals who exemplify outstanding leadership skills, not only in their chosen fields, but also in their community. The

evening features networking with Queens’ top professionals, an expo with the area’s leading businesses, and a charity raffle benefiting a not for profit organization.

Parents sign petition, ask for Diwali holiday in new school calendar New Jersey: Parents and students from Bernards’ Township have asked for a Diwali day off in the school calendar under consideration for 2014-15. Monday night's Board of Education meeting was attended by dozens of residents from the Bernards Township's IndianAmerican community demanding the same. "Diwali is important to Indians, and all of the Indian community," said Deepak Kapadia, a parent who presented the school board with a petition asking that the district recognize Diwali on an upcoming school calendar for

2014-15, patch. com reported. Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger on Tuesday said the petition was received with 78 signatures.Kapadia said the Indian community in Basking Ridge reflects the diversity not only of the town, but of a group of Americans who are rapidly being assimilated into the "national tapestry." On a practical level, other parents and students said it was hard to enjoy the holiday when they must worry about preparing for tests the next day, or bringing students to school early to participate in other activities.

facility and six doctors of Indian origin are among the 14 New Jersey healthcare providers who have been arrested and charged in a cash-for tests referral scheme for allegedly taking illegal kickback payments to refer patients. The arrests were announced Dec 13, by New Jersey US Attorney Paul J. Fishman and US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHSOIG) Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell. On the morning of Dec 13, more than 65 federal and local agents and officers led by HHS-OIG arrested the 14 health care practitioners, to whom radiology and diagnostic facility Orange Community MRI (OCM) allegedly paid monthly cash kickback payments in exchange for their referral of Medicare and Medicaid patients to OCM for testing services. OCM’s executive director, Chirag Patel, 36, of Warren, NJ, was arrested on Dec 8, in connection with the scheme. He appeared that day before Judge Arleo and was released on a $750,000 bond. According to the complaints filed in the related cases, OCM began making the illegal kickback payments as early as 2010. At the end of each calendar month, individuals at OCM printed patient reports that detailed

ultrasounds, echocardiograms, CAT Scans, and dual-emission X-ray absorptiometries – were referred by each of the accused doctors. These patient reports were used to calculate the payment owed to each defendant. According to each defendant’s agreement with OCM, the health care practitioners were paid kickbacks for each Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary diagnostic test referred to OCM. The defendants also were paid for referring some privately insured tests. During only a two-month period between early October and early December, there were 32 separate payments made to or by the 15 defendants currently charged in connection with the alleged scheme, with total cash kickbacks of $51,500. All of the health care providers charged practice in New Jersey and have offices in Newark, Orange, East Orange, West Orange or Irvington. The bribe amounts ranged from $200 to more than $5,000 per month. Other than Chirag Patel and Jose Castaneda, who is a nurse practitioner, all of the defendants are medical doctors. The other Indian origin physicians caught in this net are Shashi Agarwal, 59, of Edison; Ramesh Kania, 58, and Yash Khanna, 69, both of East Orange; Dinesh Patel, 57, and Padma Siripurapu, 44, both of Newark.

National Community


December 24-30, 2011

Will Nikki Haley pay for India-US relationship transformed backing Mitt Romney? beautifully: Rajiv Shah

Nikki Haley with Mitt Romney Washington, DC: South Carolina state’s Indian American governor Nikki Haley’s endorsement of front runner Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is threatening her own support at home. Former Massachusetts governor Romney’s campaign is using Haley’s endorsement to build his acceptance among the tea-party base that’s never been comfortable with his candidacy, especially in a state where former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been running even stronger than elsewhere, the influential Washington newspaper Politico said. But the people in that base who propelled Haley to the governor’s mansion last year see the endorsement of the more moderate Romney as abandoning them – and giving them another reason to turn away from a governor whose approval rating has dropped to 34.6 percent, the daily focusing on politics said. Immediately after Haley

announced her support Friday morning on “Fox and Friends,” her Facebook page lit up with accusations that the first-term governor was selling out her principles, the newspaper said. Haley, at the age of 39 the youngest current governor in the US, though, insists she’s not worried. Haley told Politico she believed the tea partiers now upset would eventually see the wisdom of her decision. “I have a great respect for the members of the tea party and what I know is all South Carolinians make the decision that’s best for them,” the daughter of Sikh immigrant parents said. “And so that’s what I did today.” By backing Romney, Haley’s grabbed a chance to appeal to the more moderate, establishment Republicans who might be more inclined to his candidacy – and could now give her a second look, Politico said.

New Delhi: The collaboration between the US and India in the past five decades has led to several meaningful partnerships, especially in agriculture, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said at a Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) function here Dec 20.The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with a budget of over USD 40 billion and nearly 2,000 employees, is an independent federal agency responsible for most US foreign aid. “Since that first partnership over half a century ago, the relationship between our two nations has transformed beautifully, delivering meaningful results for both our people,” he said.Speaking at the event

Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator was on a two day trip to New Delhi to commemorate the long standing partnership between India and the US, Shah said that is has paid rich dividends not only to India but has led to several innovations, which

have a potential to address development challenges globally. Noted farm scientist M S Swaminathan hoped that this partnership will be more fruitful in the future.

Mani Batchu gets 10 years for luring girl into sex Northampton: A Hampshire Superior Court judge sentenced a Chicago psychiatrist to 10 years in prison for child rape. India born Mani Batchu, 32, a resident psychiatrist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, admitted to having sex with the 15year-old girl on two occasions in 2009, once at the Mount Pollux Conservation Area in Amherst and once in a dressing room at the Hadley Shopping Plaza. In seeking the 1-year sentence, prosecutor Carrie M. Russell called Batchu a “sophisticated predator” who took

advantage of both the girl’s age and her learning disability. Batchu is already serving a 30year federal sentence for crossing state lines to commit the crimes. In addition to flying from Chicago to meet the girl in Massachusetts, he also followed her to Florida on a family vacation and sent her hundreds of email and texts, according to prosecutors. If Batchu is released from prison while still under probation, he will be barred from having any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16.

Mani Batchu The Republican of Springfield reported the 32-year-old man met the teenager online in 2009, lied about his name and age, and "groomed" her for sex by buying her gifts.

Christmas celebrations at Embassy of India in Washington, DC on Dec.8

Congressmen Ed Royce speaking on the occasion

The Mizo group singing Christmas Carols

Ambassador Nirupama Rao with the Southern Baptist Church Choir which also performed at the event


National Community

December 24-30, 2011

Indian doctor from Michigan bids for House of Representatives By Ashok Ojha/SATimes Edison, NJ: Dr. Syed Taj, a physician from Canton, Michigan, visited New Jersey to garner support in his bid for a seat in the US House of Representative. Taj, who was raised in Bihar, arrived in USA after graduating from Patna Medical College. “The Indian community in the US is going through a crucial phase of claiming its space in mainstream America. Our population is growing fast but we are not represented proportionately among elected offices of the nation,” said Taj, 65, who is a Democratic nominee in the absence of any challenger from his party, for contesting from the 11th district of Michigan. His Republican rival will

Dr. Syed Taj (middle), running for US Congress from Michigan, making a point to fellow Democrat NJ Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, while Dr. Sudhanshu Prasad, Edison Councilman (right), looks on. (Photo by Ashok Ojha) be known after the primary to be held in early 2012. District 11 was carved out during the recent redistricting exercise.

Indian artist's new animated web series launched in US Washington, DC: A digital entertainment company founded by three Indian Americans is launching a new animated web series by noted filmmaker John Woo created with writer Garth Ennis and Indian artist Jeevan J. Kang. Liquid Comics, founded by Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra and Suresh Seetharaman, have joined Tiger Hill Entertainment to launch the first four episodes in a 13 episode animated web series from Woo, maker of "Mission Impossible 2", "Face-Off" and "Red Cliff." The animated series is an adaptation of the graphic novel, "Seven Brothers," created by Woo, with writer Garth Ennis and Indian artist Jeevan J. Kang. "Seven Brothers" tells the story of how 600 years ago mighty Chinese treasure fleets on voyages of discovery across conti-

nents left behind an evil legacy and a plot by a powerful Chinese sorcerer to dominate the world. Now, in modern day Los Angeles, an ancient prophecy must be fulfilled and seven men, with nothing in common but their destinies, must face the Son of Hell to save the world. "'Seven Brothers' is a fusion of mythology and edge that only an icon like John Woo and the brilliant creative team behind 'Seven Brothers' could pull off," commented Liquid Comics CoFounder, Gotham Chopra. "For Liquid, the future of comic books is about jumping from the printed page on to the digital screen and 'John Woo's Seven Brothers' is the perfect project to launch our new line of animated web shows," added Liquid Comics CoFounder & CEO, Sharad Devarajan.

“The new district has been created as if to accommodate the growing population of Indian Americans numbering 10 percent,” said a

beaming Dr. Taj. Speaking about the problems faced by the Indian community in Canton Township of Michigan, Dr. Taj said, “It has been a struggle for our community to get permission from authorities for remodeling six places of worship: two each of temples, gurdwaras and mosques.” “To prosper as a community we must embrace our differences and work together for our future,” he said explaining why is contesting for a Congress seat. “Americans are tired of Washington political games and the failed divide and conquer strategies of our current system.” “It will be a milestone achievement for the Indian American community if Dr. Taj could win the elec-

tion next year,” commented NJ Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula. “So far we have no representation in the US Congress. Let us all extend our wholehearted support to Dr. Taj.” Dr. Sudhanshu Prasad, Edison Township Councilman, introduced Dr. Taj to the audience as a binding force for the community. “He is a hard working physician who moved up in his career to become the Chief of Medicine at Oakland Hospital. Dr. Taj truly represents the aspirations of our community and was capable of becoming the united voice of Indian Americans on Capitol Hill.” The meeting was organized by Dr. Binod Sinha and other alumni of Patna Medical College.

Vivek Bavda joins race for Congress district seat Chicago: Indian-American attorney Vivek Bavda has joined the race for a revamped Congressional District seat in Illinois in the November 2012 general elections, close on the heels of Raja Krishnamoorthi announcing his bid for another district in the US state. 34-year-old Bavda of Mundelein is running for Congress from the 10th district, home to close to 8 per cent Asians. Bavda and another candidate Brad Scheneider will face Waukegan community organizer Ilya Sheyman and Hainseville mathematician Aloys Rutagwbira in the Democratic primary on March 20, 2012. Born in Columbus in Ohio, Bavda, whose parents hail from Gujarat, is confident that he will win. "A lot of Asian Americans don't vote. We need Asian Americans to vote . I'm up for the challenge. Part of my job is to engage them and let their voice be heard,"

Vivek Bavda (right) Bavda said. Bavda said he wants to work on creating more jobs and to improve education. If elected, he said that he would encourage legal immigration. "We need a bigger younger base to support our ageing community. I'm proud to be an Asian-American," he said. A lot of Indians come to me with the problem of visas and immigra-

tion reform. "Having me in Congress and raising support system will let more Indian-Americans get into Congress," he said. About 5,000 Indians live in the 10th district and Bavda said that it would be nice to get more help. Among other candidates is Krishnamoorthi, who is running for Congress from the 8th District in Illinois.

Donated Pacemakers from US safely reused in India: Study Reusing the devices after original recipient's death made the lifesaving procedure affordable Washington, DC: Reusing pacemakers from dead patients is safe and effective, according to a new study. It involved 53 heart patients in Mumbai, India, who received pacemakers donated by the families of deceased American patients. The pacemakers were sterilized before they were implanted in the Indian patients. After receiving the pacemakers,

all the patients were alive and doing well, according to Dr. Gaurav Kulkarni, currently of Loyola University Medical Center, and colleagues. During two years of follow-up, there were no infections or other major complications and none of the pacemakers failed. All but two patients reported significant improvements in their symptoms.

All four patients who were previously employed returned to work, and 27 female patients said their symptoms improved enough that they could resume household chores. The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. The Indian patients had severe heart rhythm disorders called

complete heart block and sick sinus syndrome, which left them gasping for breath and exhausted after the slightest physical exertion, the researchers said in a Loyola news release. Without a pacemaker, the patients would have died within weeks or months. But a pacemaker costs $2,200 to $6,600 in India, far more than the patients could

afford. The pacemaker donations began as a humanitarian project but the physicians involved later decided to conduct a formal study of the safety and effectiveness of the reused pacemakers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibit reusing pacemakers in the United States but no such law exists in India, according to the release.

National Community

December 24-30, 2011

Illinois law professor stabbed in throat at train station Champaign: University of Illinois Law Professor Dhammika Dharmapala , a Hindu from Sri Lanka and a naturalized U.S. citizen, was the victim of a shocking violent attack this week at a train station. Joshua Scaggs, 23, allegedly stabbed him in the neck after shouting something about this being Scaggs’ country. Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Ziegler said Dharmapala had a cut about 6 inches long and bled a great deal. Scaggs appeared mentally deranged and promptly fired his attorney Baku Patel. He is charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery. Dharmapala, 41, teaches law and economics, tax poli-

Dhammika Dharmapala cy, public economy, and political economy. Dhammika Dharmapala joined the Illinois faculty in the fall of 2009 from the University of Connecticut Department of Economics.

He is an authority in tax policy, public economics, law and economics, and political economics. He was recently named to the National Tax Association board of directors.

Utah scientist pleads not guilty in industrial espionage case Utah: A North Logan man indicted in U.S. District Court for allegedly emailing trade secrets from a Utah drug company to his brother-in-law in India has pleaded not guilty. The case against 42-year-old Prabhu Mohapatra marks the first time an industrial espionage filing has been made against a defendant in Utah, the FBI announced Tuesday. Mohapatra is accused of trying to help his brother-inlaw — employed by a competing company based in Germany — by giving him confidential information from Logan’s Frontier Scientific Inc. During a Thursday arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Brooke C. Wells, Mohapatra pleaded not guilty to the charges. Wells set a tentative trial date of Feb. 13 Salt Lake Tribune reported. Mohapatra — who worked as a senior scientist at Frontier Scientific Inc. from October 2009 to Nov. 1 — was caught after a co-worker noticed suspicious behavior and reported it to management. The co-worker watched Mohapatra create Microsoft word documents that contained the recipe for processing a chemical called "2,2’-Dipyrromethane," according to the indictment filed this month. The co-worker also saw Mohapatra convert the file into a PDF, which was sent from his personal email account. Additional red flags were raised when the co-worker observed Mohapatra using his work computer to create a logo for a company called Medchemblox, as well as when Mohapatra brought a personal laptop to work each day. Alerted by the co-worker, IT managers placed software on his computer to monitor his computer activity at work. They discovered Mohapatra had sent emails


Prabhu Mohapatra containing the drug recipe to India. Company officials placed Mohapatra on administrative leave on Oct. 26. He agreed to meet with company officials and provided a handwritten note, which stated, "I admit my mistake and I am truly sorry," according to court documents. Mohapatra signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding company information, but revealed the information to his brother-in-law anyway, court documents state. Mohapatra faces three counts of felony theft of trade secrets and two counts of computer fraud. He may spend up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Mohapatra sent the emails to his brother-in-law for the "apparent purpose that the recipe be used by a chemical company for the benefit of that [overseas] company and its owners and employees, and to the economic detriment of [Frontier Scientific Inc.]," court documents state. He was remanded to the custody of U.S. Marshals while he awaits trial.

Marriage, children, home no longer must for achieving American dream New York: According to the fifth annual MetLife Study of the American Dream, South Asian Americans show a slight shift in their view of the American Dream. This compares to a clear emergence of a less traditional and more personalized definition of the dream among the general population. And while South Asian Americans remain far more confident about achieving the dream than most Americans, pessimism is starting to creep in. The study also uncovers a shift in South Asian Americans’ perception about having an adequate financial safety net. Three quarters of South Asian Americans believe that having a safety net is key to achieving the American Dream, yet only 49% feel theirs is adequate this year, compared to 59% in 2010.

Fifth Annual MetLife study finds decline in financial optimism among South Asian Americans

“Times are tough, but people are adapting and pursuing their own version of the Dream,” said Devang Patel, certified financial planner with Patel Financial Group, an office of MetLife. South Asians are having the most success achieving the American dream. Forty-one percent say they have achieved the dream, compared with just over a third (34%) of all Americans and among South Asian Americans who haven’t yet achieved the Dream, 8 in 10 think it is possible.

The study reveals that like most Americans, South Asians no longer place importance on many traditional elements of the dream: 67% and 66% respectively say marriage and children are not essential and 58% say you don’t have to own a home to achieve the dream. However, while a majority of Americans (65%) say a college education is no longer important, only 47% of South Asian Americans agree. Education is still key in their version of the American Dream.


US Affairs

December 24-30, 2011

Experts see a false dawn in economy’s recent gains Washington: As the fourth quarter of 2011 draws to a close, a spate of unexpectedly good economic data suggests that it will have some of the fastest and strongest economic growth since the recovery started in 2009, causing a surge in the stock market and cheering economists, investors and policy makers. In recent weeks, a broad range of data — like reports on new residential construction and small business confidence — have beaten analysts’ expectations. Initial claims for jobless benefits, often an early indicator of where the labor market is headed, have dropped to their lowest level since May 2008. And prominent economics groups say the economy is growing three to four times as quickly as it was early in the year, at an annual pace of about 3.7 percent. But the good news also comes with a significant caveat. Many forecasters say the

recent uptick probably does not represent the long-awaited start to a strong, sustainable recovery. Much of the current strength is caused by temporary factors. And economists expect growth to slow in the first half of 2012 to an annual pace of about 1.5 to 2 percent. Even that estimate could be optimistic if Washington lawmakers fail to extend aid for the long-term unemployed and a payroll tax cut for 160 million American wage earners. At stake is about $150 billion, the bulk of which would go to middle-class families and the unemployed. If Congress does not pass the measures, economists say, it would significantly weaken growth from alreadydamped levels anticipated early in the new year. “Unfortunately, I think we’re going to see a slowdown over the course of next year,”

US population grows at slowest rate since 1940s Washington: The US population is growing at its slowest pace since the 1940s, authorities said Wednesday. The US saw its population increase by 2.8 million between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, to 311.6 million, the Census Bureau said in a report. Its growth of 0.92 percent over the 15-month period was the lowest since the mid-1940s, reported Xinhua. "The nation's overall growth rate is now at its lowest point since before the baby boom," said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. These were the first set of Census Bureau population estimates to be published since the official 2010 Census state population counts were released a year ago. The slowdown of national population growth was partly a result of fewer immi-

grants entering the US, some analysts said. The economic downturn made it more difficult for immigrants to find jobs in the US, particularly in industries like construction that traditionally absorb disproportionately higher immigrant workforce. California remained the most populous state, with 37.7 million inhabitants, according to the report. Rounding out the top five states were Texas (25.7 million), New York (19.5 million), Florida (19.1 million) and Illinois (12.9 million). In terms of percent increase, the District of Columbia experienced the fastest growth during the period, at 2.7 percent, followed by Texas, Utah, Alaska, Colorado and North Dakota. The only three states to lose population were Rhode Island, Michigan and Maine.

New York City had over 50 mn tourists in 2011 New York: New York's "quality of life" led around 50.2 million tourists to visit the city this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said. "Five and half years ago, we set an ambitious goal to reach 50 million visitors by 2015, and in 2008, we accelerated that goal to be the end of 2012," Xinhua quoted Bloomberg as saying in a statement Tuesday. "Today, we know that we will exceed this significant milestone by year's end," he said. "New York City's quality of life has contributed to this great success and we are confident we will sustain the success of our tourism industry in the months and

Times Square: crossroads of the world 40.1 million domestic visiyears ahead," he said. NYC & Company -- the tors by the end of the year. city's tourism agency -The figures also translate forecast that the city will into good business, with $32 attract 10.1 million interna- billion in tourist spending tional visitors, a four per- and $48 billion in economic cent increase over 2010, and impact by the start of 2012.

Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told reporters last week. “Not only do we have the European crisis spilling over and hurting U.S. trade and confidence,” he said, but the United States economy also faces “homegrown shocks.” There are two reasons for the renewed pessimism. First, economists say that temporary trends increased growth in the fourth quarter and may not continue into next year. Second, the economy faces significant headwinds in 2012: some from Europe’s long-lingering sovereign debt crisis, and some from domestic cutbacks beyond the control of President Obama, whose campaign would like to point to a brightening economic picture, not a darkening one. Even the Federal Reserve is predicting that the unemployment rate will remain around 8.6 percent by the time voters go to the

polls in November. The fourth quarter benefited, for instance, from wholesalers restocking inventories of goods like petroleum, paper and cars, giving a jolt to growth. Consumers also pulled back on their savings, helping to finance a recent spurt in spending. a trend that forecasters doubt will continue. Other short-lived factors include falling gasoline and commodity prices, and an increase in orders from Japanese companies returning to business after the devastating spring tsunami. But next year, Washington is increasing some taxes and reducing spending as temporary measures enacted during the worst of the recession expire. That will dampen growth by a percentage point or more next year, forecasters say. Provisions like a tax write-off to help businesses pay for equipment are winding down or ending.

WSJ slams Republicans for payroll tax cut gift to Obama New York: The conservative Wall Street Journal is slamming House Republicans for their hard-line position on the payroll tax cut, writing that GOP lawmakers are throwing the 2012 election to President Obama before it even begins. House Republicans are refusing to pass the bipartisan two-month extension of the tax cut that passed the Senate on Saturday, demanding a year-long increase. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he'll only reopen negotiations on a longer deal once the House passes the Senate bill — and removes the immediate threat of a tax increase for most Americans. Senate Republicans say Boehner backed the short-term bill until it became clear that many conservative Republicans would oppose the bill. Rather than pass the Senate bill with Democratic support, Boehner has positioned himself against the entire Senate. The Journal wrote: The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play. Republicans have also achieved the small

House Speaker John Boehner is facing the flak miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.” House Republicans have managed to look even more partisan — on an issue where there really isn't all that much daylight between the two parties. The Journal's advice: Pass the tax cut — and fast.

Korean dictator’s death was ‘extensive intelligence failure' Washington: South Korean and US intelligence services failed to pick up any clues even after 48 hours of Kim Jong-il's death last Saturday, demonstrating an extensive intelligence failure, the New York Times reported Tuesday. The North Korean leader died on a train at 8.30 a.m. Saturday in that country. Kim was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un. Asian and American intelligence services have failed to pick up significant developments in North Korea even earlier. Pyongyang built a sprawling plant to enrich uranium that went undetected for about a year-and-a-half until North Korean officials showed it off in late 2010. The North also helped build a complete nuclear reactor in Syria without tipping off Western intelligence. Highly sensitive antennae along the border between South and North Korea pick up elec-

tronic signals. South Korean intelligence officials interview thousands of North Koreans who defect to the South each year. And yet remarkably little is known about the inner workings of the North Korean government. Pyongyang, officials said, keeps sensitive information limited to a small circle of officials, who do not talk. On Monday, the Obama administration held urgent consultations with allies but said little publicly about Kim's death. Senior officials acknowledged they were largely bystanders, watching the drama unfold in the North and hoping that it does not lead to acts of aggression against South Korea. Some speculate that the younger Kim might serve in a kind of regency, in which the real power would be wielded by military officials like Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il's brother-inlaw and confidant, who is 65.

India Newswire


December 24-30, 2011

Lokpal debate rages on, Parliament disrupted New Delhi: The new Lokpal bill was tabled in Parliament on December 22 with RJD, SP, BSP and AIMIM members protesting exclusion of minorities from the anti-graft bench of the proposed ombudsman. RJD chief Lalu Prasad raised the issue during Zero Hour alleging that minorities had been kept out "under pressure" from RSSBJP. "The Congress and RSS-BJP are hand in glove. That is why there has been a delay in circulating the Bill. We will not accept it. It is incomplete. Amend it and then introduce the Bill," Prasad said.

Some parties are demanding a quota for minorities in the proposed anti-corruption body.

Government's Lokpal bill useless: Anna Ralegan Siddhi (Maharashtra): Social activist Anna Hazare threatened to stage a sit-in and court arrest outside Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence in New Delhi to protest against the government's "useless" Lokpal bill. "This is a useless bill. Unless you bring the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) under the ambit of the Lokpal, the Lokpal law will serve no purpose," Hazare told reporters at his home here, on a day the government is scheduled to table the legislation in the Lok Sabha to be passed in parliament. He said he would go on a three-day

hunger strike from Dec 27-29 and would launch "jail bharo" struggle. "My jail bharo protest will be outside the residence of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi," the 74year-old activist said. She said if Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) combine, thought the government's Lokpal bill was strong "let her debate this infront of the media or else we will make her understand how weak this is. But let her come face to face". He said the government lacked the will power to curb rampant corruption in the country.

While reading out contents of the Bill which has been circulated among MPs, Prasad accused the government of being scared of the BJP. Speaker Meira Kumar objected to his reading out from the Bill, pointing out that it was yet to be introduced. As he was protesting against the government's move, Prasad was joined by members of SP, BSP and AIMIM in creating an uproar. Two SP members also moved into the Well but returned to their seats after the Speaker asked them to go back. In the melee, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip

Bandopadhyay was seen talking to NCP chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar apparently on the legislation. After Kumar's request for order failed, she adjourned the House. The RJD leader said there was a "conspiracy" to keep Muslims out of the measure "on the pretext of printing (mistake). We verified it." He was referring to a provision in the bill which provides for 50 per cent quota for SCs, STs, OBCs and women. Initially, the revised bill had the mention of minorities but it was later reportedly deleted.

Lokpal bill best possible, says government New Delhi: The government said its Lokpal bill was "the best" possible and trashed as mere politics the opposition to it from parties and social activists. "They are opposing it because they think the Congress will score brownie points by passing the bill. This is an historic movement. Instead of appreciating the move, they are opposing. Whatever the government

is bringing they are opposed to that," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla said. He was speaking to reporters shortly before the government was to table the much-awaited anti-corruption bill in the Lok Sabha amid a tough battle given the opposition within and outside parliament. Social activist Anna Hazare has labelled the bill

weak and threatened to go on a three-day fast from Dec 27-29 followed by a court arrest protest in New Delhi. Shukla asked Hazare to give up his agitation and see the bill. "The government has given the best bill. I think he should realise it. Most of the things have been done. The PM (prime minister) has been brought under the Lokpal," the minister said.

I will fight for Lokpal, says Sonia Gandhi New Delhi: Hitting out at those behind "a deliberate and malicious misinformation" campaign against the Congress, party chief Sonia Gandhi said she was ready to fight for the anti-graft Lokpal in the Lok Sabha and urged Congress MPs not to be defeatist. Speaking to her party's parliamentarians a day after the cabinet gave its nod to the Lokpal bill, Gandhi told the MPs to be prepared for a battle in the house as she was herself ready to "fight for Lokpal and women's reservation" bills. The women's reservation bill, another pet project of Gandhi that

proposes reservation of 33 percent seats in legislatures for women, has been hanging fire after the Rajya Sabha passed it in March 2010. It is facing opposition from many parties. Referring to the upcoming assembly polls next year, Gandhi asked her MPs to be confident and be sure of the party doing well in the five assembly elections next year. Gandhi said there was a "definite sentiment in our favour" in Uttarakhand and Punjab. "I am confident we will return to power (there)". She added that while the

Congress was facing "odds" in Uttar Pradesh, "there is growing support for us". "The challenge is to convert that support into votes on polling days... In Manipur and Goa, where we are in government, our achievements these past years give us the confidence of securing a renewed mandate." She, however, confessed that the party and the government were not doing enough to publicise the accomplishments of the last seven years of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule. "I cannot see any reason for us to

Jayalalithaa expels close aide Sasikala

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa with close aide Sasikala Natarajan.

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has expelled her long time close aide Sasikala Natarajan from the AIADMK. The move comes close on the heels of Sasikala deposing in a disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK chief has been accused of amassing assets worth Rs 66 crore during her

term as chief minister in 19911996. Sasikala is a co-accused in the case along with Jayalalithaa. Jayalalithaa has warned her party men from making any contact with Sasikala. She has also expelled 11 other members, including all relatives of Sasikala, from the party. There was no clarity as to why she took the step.

be defeatist. What seems to be lacking is a more effective effort by both the party and the government in communicating and propagating our accomplishments. Fight the forces out to destabilise us," said Gandhi who is also the chairperson of the UPA. Taking on Hazare and his team, Gandhi said there was a "deliberate and malicious misinformation" campaign that the Congress was not tackling corruption. Gandhi listed the anti-graft legislations the UPA government has passed and intends to pass in coming days.

Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi.


India Newswire

December 24-30, 2011

NIA gets nod to file chargesheet against Headley New Delhi: The government has given its sanction to chargesheet nine people including PakistaniAmerican terrorist David Headley, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and two ISI officers for plotting terror attacks in India including the 26/11 strikes. Besides Headley and Saeed, the home ministry gave sanction to National Investigation Agency to prosecute 26/11 attacks mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Headley's accomplice and Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana and al-Qaeda operative Illyas Kashmiri, official sources said here. Sajid Malik, handler of Headley, and Abdul Rehman Hashmi will also be named in the chargesheet besides two officers Major Iqbal and Major Samir Ali, believed to be working for Pakistan's snooping agency, the sources said.

A courtroom sketch of Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley. The sanction of prosecution against the nine was accorded after a legal opinion of the Law Ministry was obtained. They will be named in the charge

'2G case: Radia used to call me many times' New Delhi: A former aide of A Raja told a local court that corporate lobbyist Niira Radia used to call him "many times" on phone to inquire about the "whereabouts" of former telecom minister. Asservartham Achary, former additional private secretary of Raja, also claimed that The corporate lobbyist Niira Radia. during one of the telephone me many times on phone. She conversations Radia told him to used to speak to me about the pass on a message to the then whereabouts of A Raja... I used to minister that she had sorted his address her ma'am and not by her "Kalaignar TV problem." name," Achary said. During DMK MP Kanimozhi, an cross-examination, Achary, accused in the 2G scam case, has deposing as a CBI witness, said 20 per cent stake in DMK-run he immediately used to recognize Kalaignar TV. Achary was put to Radia's voice when she called intense questioning by senior him. advocate and Kanimozhi's counJethmalani asked him if he was sel Ram Jethmalani in a Delhi aware of the Kalaignar TV probCourt where he gave answers to lem that Radia was referring to queries ranging from Raja's com- during their telephonic conversamunication with Prime Minister tion on September 18, 2008. Manmohan Singh and conversaRadia had called Achary saytions with Radia. ing, "Ok tell him (Raja) that I When asked about Raja and have sorted out his Kalaignar Radia, Achary said the corporate problem. That Kalaignar TV lobbyist used to call him "many problem." Achary had a tough times" on phone to inquire about time to answer questions from the former telecom minister and Jethmalani relating to Raja's that she had also spoken about November 2, 2007 letter to the Kalaignar TV. prime minister as in the first "It is correct that before my instance he was not sure whether conversation (of September 18, it was urgent or not but later he 2008), Niira Radia had spoken to admitted that it was urgent.

sheet for waging war against the country under the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The NIA had registered a case

against 50-year-old Headley and Rana on November 12, 2009 and later on added other names after investigation by central security agencies showed a large set of people involved in terror activities against the country. Both Headley and Rana are at present in custody of US authorities and NIA has only got a limited access to Headley, who had entered into plea bargain with US authorities to escape harsh sentence. The 50-year-old Rana was found guilty by the US court of terror activities in Denmark but absolved of his role in the 26/11 strikes in Mumbai. The NIA, while registering a case against Rana and Headley under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and for conspiring to wage war against the country, had alleged that Headley had visited India "several

times before 26/11 and once after" the Mumbai terror strikes, which left 166 people dead. Barring Headley and Rana, NIA has secured an Interpol Red Corner Notice against all the seven accused including Saeed and Lakhvi, who is said to be in a Pakistani jail facing trial for conspiring the 26/11 attack. Headley helped NIA identify voices of handlers giving instructions to the holed-up terrorists during the 60-hour carnage in Mumbai in November 2008. The handlers included Abu Hamza, the man who carried out the attack on the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, and a key planner, instructor and handler. He also identified Sajid Majid, a top LeT terrorist, who asked the terrorists in Chabad House to ensure that none of the Israelis were left alive.

Court bars Facebook, others New Delhi: In the midst of a debate on monitoring content, a Delhi court has restrained social- networking sites including Facebook, Google and Youtube from webcasting any "anti-religious" or "antisocial" content promoting

hatred or communal disharmony. Additional Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar, in an ex-parte order, directed the social networking websites to remove the objectionable content in the form photographs, videos

or text which might hurt religious sentiments. The court passed the order on a civil suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi through advocate Santosh Pandey who had also submitted the printouts of the contents.

Gita ban: Govt asked to consider representation in Russia Mumbai: Bombay High Court has asked Government of India to consider the option of the country being represented before a court in Russia to defend the Bhagwad Gita, the holy Hindu scripture which is facing a ban there. A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi also asked the Centre to inform the court about what action it has initiated to monitor the issue on the next date of hearing on January 9 next. The court was hearing a public interest litigation seeking the government's intervention in the case before the Russian court where a ban on Bhagwad Gita has been demanded. The petitioners have quoted newspaper reports that a ban has been sought on Gita in a Tomsk courtin Siberia dubbing it as a literature spreading social discord. Beni Chatterji, counsel for the Central government, informed the court that S M Krishna, Minister of External Affairs, had made a statement that the ministry is monitoring the case.

The petitioners have quoted newspaper reports that a ban has been sought on Gita in a Tomsk courtin Siberia dubbing it as a literature spreading social discord.

M I Sethna, counsel for the petitioners, however, said that the government is just monitoring and has asked Iskcon to defend the literature there. "It is a grave insult to our culture. Instead of asking Iskcon to defend, the government should defend the Gita," Sethna said. The PIL states that Gita is a sacred text and attempts to ban it would have far-reaching implications not only in India

but also internationally. It contends that the subject concerned not just the Indians in Russia, but had world-wide significance. Any failure on Indian government's part to intervene, supported by in-depth research, scholastic views and analysis, would cause irretrievable damage to the country's and rich culture and heritage, the petition contends.

India Newswire

Japanese PM in India next week, n-deal on agenda New Delhi: India and Japan will seek to push their stalled nuclear talks and focus on expanding economic ties when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda touches down here next Tuesday for annual summit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The two prime ministers will discuss steps to enhance the IndiaJapan strategic and global partnership," the external affairs ministry said here while announcing the Japanese prime minister's visit. This will be Noda's first visit to India since becoming the prime minister in September. During their talks Dec 28, Manmohan Singh and Noda are expected to discuss a wide array of issues, including the prospects of civil nuclear cooperation, jointly combating piracy and terrorism, climate change, the global financial crisis and the evolving East Asia architecture. The two leaders are expected to focus on reviving civil nuclear

negotiations which stalled after the March 11 Fukushima radiation disaster. The two sides have already held three rounds of nuclear negotiations. India is hoping that the next round of talks will be held early next year. The two sides, who signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) earlier this year, will also be looking to step up trade and investment. The two countries are looking to scaling up bilateral trade to $25 billion from $10.3 billion. The Japanese prime minister's visit comes at a time when Japanese companies are looking anew at India as a growing market and its burgeoning infrastructure needs. Japanese companies are looking to step up investment in diverse sectors, including manufacturing, automotive, machinery, electronics, infrastructure, high speed rail like bullet trains and power generation.


December 24-30, 2011

India's Oscar hunt hinges on Rs 2 crore National Award winning director struggles for funds to promote his film Thiruvananthapuram: He's been there, done that. Now, he has to go there and do that again. Salim Ahmed (39) spent his life's savings and borrowed money from friends to raise Rs 1 crore to make Adaminte Makan Abu, the Malayalam movie made on a shoestring budget that went on to become the surprise National Award winner in May 2011. Now, he's again scrounging for funds. Ahmed's debut creation is India's official entry in the Best Film in a foreign language category at the 84th edition of the Oscars on February 26 next year. He needs Rs 2 crore to promote his film with the 6,000 members of the US-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who will judge his film and vote for the winner. That's Rs 2 crore more than he has. “I find it difficult to manage funds,” said Ahmed, who worked

A still from Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu, India’s official entry for Foreign Language Oscar with various travel firms before he could fund his dream project. He is now knocking on whichever door he can find, including that of the government, but the response has been lukewarm. Friends are pitching in again as is Oscar-winning sound engineer



Resul Pookutty, who has done the film's sound re-design and re-mix free of cost. Ahmed recently met Hindi film actor Aamir Khan to seek his advice. “Aamir's Lagaan was an official entry for Oscars in 2002. He gave me a few tips and wished all success,” Ahmed said.


Op Ed

December 24-30, 2011

Anti-graft bill:

Anna holds center-stage By Amulya Ganguli efore Delhi's winter froze Anna Hazare's campaign plans in the national capital, the government was very much on the backfoot, not least because the Congress shied away from the opportunity to present its case before the anti-corruption crusader during his one-day fast at Jantar Mantar. Since then, it has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with Anna by conceding some ground, such as bringing the prime minister under the Lokpal's ambit with several caveats, but trying to retain its control over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In addition, the government is also entering uncharted territory by proposing reservations for the backward castes, Dalits and scheduled tribes in the Lokpal panel to placate sections of the opposition which tend to support the government such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Samajwadi Party. The move may also delink the Janata Dal-United from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As is known, the BJP had lost no time in jumping on to Anna's band-


wagon since he no longer regarded the politicians with contempt as when he had called them 'bikaau' or purchasable and shooed away those who tried to join him on the stage last summer. Only time will show how much it will gain from its proximity to Anna considering that the sight of Brinda Karat of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Arun Jaitley of the BJP sitting on either side of the campaigner cannot but be embarrassing for these two parties from the opposite ends of the political spectrum. For Anna too, the interaction with the politicos did not go entirely in his favor since the Communist Party of India's (CPI) A.B. Bardhan reminded Team Anna that they were not the repositories of all wisdom. A member of the parliamentary standing committee on the Lokpal bill, Pinaki Mishra of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), also pointed out that the committee's report could not be written off. It is clear, therefore, that none of the three sides - the government, Team Anna and the opposition - has been able to outwit the other. Anna, therefore, may have no option but to go on a fast from Dec 27, as he has threatened. But a fast in

Mumbai will not have the same impact as one in Delhi. Besides, the fact that he had to run away from the cold is bound to expose him to ridicule. His halo has also dimmed a little. First, his overtures to politicians showed that his earlier diatribes against them were more for effect than a genuine expression of his feelings. The change of stance is not unlike his earlier backtracking from his praise of Narendra Modi. Secondly, some of the recent reports about his penchant for flogging habitual drinkers in his fiefdom of Ralegan Siddhi has earned him a note of dissent from Amartya Sen. Thirdly, the charges of less than honest conduct by some of his close associates like Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi have cast a shadow on Team Anna's reputation. To most people, therefore, the description of Anna as a wellmeaning but "slightly dumb" neighborhood elder by social commentator Ashis Nandy will ring true. If the government has been unable to take full advantage of these setbacks, the reason is that it remains mired in a myriad difficulties. For one, its intentions about the Lokpal bill are still in doubt. In fact, the reconvening of the stand-

Anna Hazare has succeeded in dictating the Lokpal agenda to a considerable extent, including the move to extend the parliamentary session. ing committee to make some lastminute changes has fuelled speculation that someone is pulling strings from behind. Hence, Anna's allegation that Rahul Gandhi is the backseat driver. For another, the government's failure to push through its decision on foreign investment in the retail sector has confirmed the impression of policy paralysis, which its latest initiative on the passage of the bills on citizen's charter, judicial accountability and whistle-blowers hasn't dispelled. On the other hand, the virtual shooting down of the much-hyped unique identification scheme by the standing committee on finance headed by the BJP's Yashwant Sinha has shown that the government continues to stumble along. Moreover, if and when it bestirs itself, the government lands in further trouble as when Telecom

Minister Kapil Sibal suggested censoring the websites carrying offensive material. To make matters worse, one of its senior ministers, P. Chidambaram, has become involved in charges relating to the telecom scam not long after the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, had to intervene to make peace between him and another senior minister, Pranab Mukherjee, over the leakage of documents about the scam. Since the government still gives the being all at sea, Anna has succeeded in dictating the Lokpal agenda to a considerable extent, including the move to extent the parliamentary session. As for the opposition, the Left has a long way to go before it can recover from its recent setbacks while the BJP has not succeeded in either resolving its leadership tangles or imparting some clarity on its policies.

Rupee to stay volatile on uncertain economic outlook By Gyanendra Kumar Keshri he Indian rupee, that has weakened almost 16 percent against the US dollar since the beginning of the year, is likely to remain volatile in the coming months due to uncertain domestic and global economic outlook, say analysts. The partially convertible rupee got battered in the last one month, hitting a record low of 54.30 against a dollar on Dec 15, almost 24 percent down from the year's high of 43.85 recorded July 27. It has been the worst performing among Asian currencies. "In the short-term, say, the next five to eight weeks, the rupee will remain volatile with negative bias," said Sanjeev Krishan, executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers


(PwC). The rupee depreciated sharply in the last two weeks mainly because of increased demand for the greenback from importers and investors, and outflow of capital from Indian equities market amid concerns about slowing growth, high inflation, widening deficit and inability of the government to push forward key reforms. Overseas investors are the net sellers in the Indian equities market this year. After pumping in almost $29 billion in 2010, foreign investors have cut holdings of Indian shares by $353 million so far in 2011. Top economic policy makers, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, have expressed concern over the rupee slide. "No finance minister will find it comfortable when rupee is declining," Mukherjee told lawmak-

ers last week. However, Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen does not share the pessimism. He said the depreciation in the value of the currency also benefited a section of the economy. So it should not be considered a disaster. "From the point of view of some people a lower value of currency is a loss, from the point of view of many other people it is not, so you have to judge it," Sen, a professor of economics at Harvard University, said. Sen pointed out that some countries like China were deliberately keeping their currencies undervalued to boost exports. After the central bank's move, the rupee rebounded almost two percent Friday, the last trading day of the week, from the record low of 54.30 hit in the previous day.

The partially convertible rupee got battered in the last one month, hitting a record low of 54.30 against a dollar on Dec 15. The depreciation in the value of currency should make imports costlier and boost exports. However, the exporters are not enthused by the slide in the value of the rupee. India is dependent on imports to meet its growing energy demands. The country's trade deficit is likely to rise above $150 billion in 2011-12 as compared to $94.6 billion in the previous year.

The views expressed in Op Eds are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times.



December 24-30, 2011

Why buy when you can rent! By Jinal Shah/The SATimes reeti Shah, 31, is facing a sartorial situation with wedding season just round the corner. “I have three Indian weddings to attend this month and will bump into the same set of people. On top of it Facebook uploads have made it difficult to repeat clothes,” said Shah desperately looking for options. Not just celebrities, even people like you and me are increasingly becoming conscious about not being seen in the same outfit more than once. Shah is not the only one worried about making the faux pas of repeating an outfit her friends on Facebook must have already seen or liked. Many fashion conscious women can relate to the nothing to wear scenario even if they have a closet full of glamorous clothes. “There are still days when it all feels repetitive,” says Shah. This age-old wardrobe conundrum aggravated by the new wave of social media has inspired a handful of companies to deliver an innovative solution for the modern woman -- dress rentals. This relatively new concept helps fashionistas -- with designer tastes and budget more suited for conservative shopping-- to rent a designer dress at a fraction of its retail price, wear and return without the headache of stocking or cleaning. And just as this e-commerce model has become passé in USA for western dresses, Indian designers and fashionable women are not far behind. In the last six months two companies -- Luxemi and Devi’s Closet -- started their erentals, both inspired by the Indian American owners’ own wardrobe crisis. “The genesis of Luxemi can be traced to our own wardrobes. We were invited to many different Indian weddings at the same time and met the same set of people, hence it was difficult to repeat dresses. Going back and forth to India and selecting clothes became an expensive affair too. A small survey in my own family and a


Swapna Chandamuri (left) and Swati Narra, co-founders of Luxemi

Meera Patel and Seeena Patel, co-founders of Devi’s Closet market study made us realize there are many Indian women facing a similar problem. Indian clothes are vibrant, unique and easy to recall. Especially with Facebook and Twitter, it’s difficult to repeat clothes,” said Swapna Chandamuri, CEO and co-founder of Chandamuri’s story echoes in Meera Patel’s. Patel, co-founder of Devi’s Closet with Sheena Patel and Amy Heller, even admits that her business venture was inspired by rental sites like Rent the Runway, Wear Today Gone Tomorrow, and Girl Meets Dress some of the successful rental sites in USA. “There is surely a shift in consumer behavior from old-fashioned shopping experience to online shopping primarily due to lack of

time and money. Nowadays, access does not necessarily mean proximity to stores, it is also on variety and price. With the current economic slowdown, rental options offer a great value for your money,” says Chandamuri. Here’s how it works. One can sign up for a free membership, select the outfit and or accessories, enter the date of next event, size and zip code. The outfit will be shipped to your doorstep with a pre-paid, return envelope to send it back. Once returned, the outfit will be drycleaned and ready to be shipped out to the next customer. With a building up of inventory, both the e-commerce sites promise to give their members fresh stocks of dresses, accessories and handbags. “Although retail shopping online

Some clothes and accessories from Devi’s Closet

Luxemi promoting the renting fashion concept for Indian dresses is well estab- from Devi’s Closet. However, rentlished, the experience is still old- ing Indian clothes--that too online-fashioned, that’s one of the reasons may not go well with the conservawe realized that if shopping for tive Indian audience. “I regularly western outfits is so up to date why shop online for my western dresses, not make Indian shopping recent but I am not prepared yet for online and fresh,” added Chandamuri. shopping for Indian dresses. And Thanks to Lakme Fashion Week renting a dress, if caught by friends, and Wills Lifestyle, designers like would be an embarrassing situaAnita Dongre, Manish Malhotra tion,” worries Shah. and Satya Paul are increasingly Conversely, both Patel and becoming household names even in Chandamuri believe that times are the US. changing and fashion conscious “South Asian women are also South Asians are opening up to the more stylish and designer-con- idea of renting clothes. “Renting scious than ever before,” says may still be considered as a taboo Patel, adding, “With the rise in pop- by the older generation, but the ularity of India’s Lakme Fashion younger lot is fairly open to renting Week, designers like Ritu Kumar clothes online. The reason behind it and Amrita Singh have gone main- is the pressure of not repeating stream across North America. clothes. People are more practical Modern South Asian women recog- now. They well understand that nize the cache of these designer buying a dress that can be rented at labels, which will lead to brand loy- a fraction of its price is a wise alty.” option.” Indian designers are quickly realWhereas Luxemi is currently izing the importance of rental web- focusing only on Women’s wear sites for building up brand loyalty, (both retail and rental), Devi’s furthering their chances to pene- Closet also showcases ethnic men’s trate not just the Indian community wear. Both the sites offer designer living in the US but even collection from lehengas to salwarAmericans. suits to sarees with a range of sizes “I think working through a rental at standard shipping rate throughplatform helps our customers’ out US. brand loyalty as it reaches out to “In this age of mix and match, it them and makes the garments is not necessary to strictly follow available at an affordable price and the rules for dressing up. Our fashhelps them come back again and ion consultant and the blog provide again for more,” adds Payal tips on how to dress up that sassy Singhal, CEO of Payal Singhal Inc. black dress with Indian accesA few of her dresses are available sories,” says Chandamuri.



December 24-30, 2011

A medley of charisma and sophistication In its 9th edition, Jaipur Jewellery Show from Dec 23-26 will add glittering glory to the Pink City.

By Prakash Bhandari/SATimes Jaipur: The Pink City is also a gem city. It is world’s foremost city where lapidary art has been a long tradition. Amazingly, Jaipur, despite having no source of gemstone mines developed itself as a center for cutting and polishing of gemstones and it has emerged as the world’s biggest centre for cutting and polishing of gemstones which caters to the entire world through its array of colored stones. Apart from lapidary, Jaipur, which was once a center for producing exquisite kundan meena, has now become a center for exquisite jewelry. The growth of the city in terms of infrastructure, influx of tourists, new hotels and restaurants, all indicate a city in the making of a metro. In 2003, a small step was confidently taken to give a further fillip to the city by launching the Jaipur Jewellery Show (JJS). The vision was clear: giving an impetus to the Gems and Jewelry trade; placing Jaipur on the world gem & jewelry map. The JJS is recognized and awarded as the epitome for excellent collection in its treasure. It has grown in reputation as the apex in the trade within a decade. The glittering show this December displays an infinite variety of high quality modern jewelry. The humble beginning with 67 stalls at Entertainment Paradise (EP) saw an encouraging response, interaction and zeal. Small wonder then that the 2004 JJS witnessed a quantum leap to 189 booths. There has been no looking back since then. In 2005, the venue was shifted to the Raj Mahal Palace, with as many as 276 stalls. This venue provided greater space and facilities to the exhibitors, other participants and visitors. This year, too, Raj Mahal Palace is the venue with as many as 451 booths, fully booked. Further, there is a waiting list for 62 booths for the show from December 23-26. What is particularly gratifying is that 85 percent of the exhibitors are repeat participants. It amply reflects that there has been a high degree of satisfaction for the exhibitors and participants. One advantage of Raj Mahal as venue is that it is located right in the heart of the city. The manner in which

the exhibitors show their creativity in highly impressive stalls is amazing. The December show, as it is popularly known, has become an important event what with over 30,000 visitors. Over 2000 online registrations have also been done. This year too the JJS will be a complete show what with stones, gems, diamonds, color stones, precious metals -- silver, gold, base metals -- carving and beads being showcased and marketed. The exposition will also cover jewelrs, gemstone dealers and jewelry institutes, publications, machinery and tools. The top retailers of India have already confirmed their participation in the show. And it is indeed heartening that this notfor-profit event is ploughing back funds for promoting the trade. The JJS has the celebrity model and actress Sonal Chauhan as its brand ambassador. The cheerful actress reflects the young, innovative, trendsetting outlook of the show, and will add a dash of youthful glamour to its events and promotions. She continues to make JJS popular all over the world. Participants and visitors are expected from Japan, Thailand, USA and Hong Kong in this B2B as well as B2C prestigious show. GIA, DTC, GJEPC, WFDB, CIBJO, KPMG, GJF, ICA, RioTinto all have been prestigious partners to JJS. A special feature of the JJS has always been the fact that different stones and jewelry items have been

proactively promoted as a theme. For instance in the past years the themes have been: 2003: Redefining colors 2004: Defining colors, Defining value 2005: Mystique of Gems 2006: Emerald: Add one to your life. 2007: Emerald: and More 2008: Tanzanite: Rarest of the Rare 2009: Cherish the Miracle of Tanzanite 2010: Kundan Meena… A tradition that goes on the generations 2011: Kundan Meena… A Regal Heritage As for the emerald and the tanzanite group earlier, a special promotion group has also been formed for giving a boost to the Kundan Meena. Apart from highlighting Kundan Meena on the promotional material, the group has proactively promoted the artistic jewelry at road shows at Pune and Kolkata. A comprehensive book entitled “When Jewellery Speaks: Celebrating the traditions of Kundan & Meenakari” will be released at a gala function during JJS. The book was commissioned by Jaipur Jewellery Show, authored by Shemul Mehta Vyas - who teaches at National Institute of Design. The networking dinner and musical evening is being organized for the third time. It allows traders, retailers and local jewelers to mingle and interact. On this occasion the theme poster on Kundan Meena

Jaipur Jewellery Show's media chief Ajay Kala (left) co-convenor Dinesh Khatoria and Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council's chairman Rajeev Jain addressing the media.

The managing committee of the JJS pose for a group photograph. will be launched by the JJS. All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) Board of Directors have been invited by the JJS for the show. GJF is a national trade federation for the promotion and growth of the trade in gems and jewelry pan-India. As many as 70 top jewelry retailers of the country will attend the glittering

event. Their presence will give an opportunity for expert interaction with the exhibitors on issues related to G&J sector. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will make a presentation on ‘Colorstone Valuation’ and Prashant Bhojani of Rapaport will talk on ‘Effective ways of making NET profit in diamonds’.

Brand Ambassador Sonal Chauhan to add glamor to JJS he up-andcoming film actress and celebrity model Sonal Chauhan will be attending the Jaipur Jewellery Show (JJS) at the Raj Mahal Palace in Jaipur. She is the brand ambassador of JJS. The honorary secretary of the JJS, Rajiv Jain said that being the brand ambassador, Sonal Chauhan will present new trends in jewelSonal Chauhan, film actress and JJS brand ry, which will be ambassador, is herself fond of Kundan more attractive for Meena jewelry. the younger generation. The brand ambassador is dedicated to raise the level of the city of Jaipur for jewelry. According to Mahavir Sharma, member of the JJS organizing committee, Sonal is extremely fond of Kudan Meena jewelry and will be herself buying jewelry during the fair. Sonal Chauhan starred in the well known Bollywood film Budha Hoga Tera Baap with Amitabh Bachchan.


Promotions for JJS in Kolkata and Bangalore.



December 24-30, 2011

Kundan Konnections

Kundan Meena… A Regal Heritage’ is the theme of the Jaipur Jewellery Show 2011.

By Dr Naval Agarwal undan jewelry is the jewelry of the royals patronized and promoted by the Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs and the Nizams. This classical jewelry apart from the royal households was the proud treasure of the fabulous riches of pre-Independent India, which is now becoming the most sought after ornaments by not only Indians, but also people from the Middle East countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and even the US and Europe. Now as more and more people have become aware of the purest form of kundan meena and the precious stones used and the resale value that it commands, the attraction for this jewelry, which is pride of India, has resulted in its huge demand globally. Kundan meena jewelry that used to be once confined only to temples, has undergone a metamor-


Kundan jewelry maintains its lure eternally. Older the jewelry, more majestic is its look. Its value appreciates beyond the values of gold and it always ends up as family heirloom. phosis and it was during the Mughal period that this art got a new look. The influence of Persian art incorporated colorful minakari, which included various floral and animal motifs. It was during this period that the royal houses protected and patronized this art. How is kundan different from gold jewelry? While other gold jewelry is made by a single craftsman, the making of Kundan jewelry

involves the expertise of a number of highly skilled craftsmen of various disciplines. Kundan jewelry involves several processes: Making the base, and enameling (minakari), shaping and fixing of stones; making, filling and studding of kundan. The process begins with making of the base jewelry and is known as “Ghaat” making. The gold of high purity, generally 23 carat, is hammered and made into plates of 2025 gauge and then molded by

Favored by the film frat By Prakash Bhandari undan jewelry is one of the oldest and purest forms of jewelry made with 24 carat gold. It’s also become the jewelry for the screen gods and goddesses. Kundan Meena reflects the fusion of ancient and modern India with inspiration drawn from royal heritage of Rajasthan. Kundan Meena not only underlines Mughal sensibility but also gives an European feel. The best part of kundan meena is that one can wear it with both sari and a western dress. Film star Preity Zinta has gracefully adorned kundan meena both with sari and dress. Bollywood has been a trend setter and taking the cue from Hollywood, it is inspiring design houses. Jewelry companies have produced special ranges for films. The trend was started by Jodha Akbar and the die was cast. “Bollywood is a strong medium for setting trends in India and after clothes it’s jewelry, particularly kundan meena, that is helped by Bollywood and Jaipur is the gainer with its authentic designs,” admitted Dr Nawal Agarwal, coordinator of kundan


Preity Zinta has showed that kundan meena jewelry can be worn with both sari and dress. meena promotions of JSS. Veteran actresses Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore and Rekha have been buying kundan jewelry from Jaipur for decades and they could be called the first trend setters in Bollywood for kundan meena. Rekha made kundan meena not only a party wear but also celebration jewelry. Kundan meena radiance was first displayed in the classic Mughal-e-Azam, then in Beena Rai-Pradeep Kumar starrer Taj Mahal and in Pakeezah and in recent times in Paheli and

The stunning jewelry adorning the ‘Jodha Bai’ character of Aishwarya Rai was exquisite even by standards reserved for royalty. Devdas. People also discussed the stunning jewelry worn by ‘Jodha Bai’ character of Aishwarya Rai in the epic movie, which was exquisite even by standards reserved for royalty. It is all set to fuel a trend for heavy, stone-studded queen necklaces and chunky earrings extending from the top of the ear till shoulder line. In Hollywood, Kundan meena’s majestic feel has touched Goldie Hawn and Nicole Kidman. Thus, Kundan meena is not only investment buying for Bollywood, but also Hollywood.

hand into motifs which include patterns of Mango, hand–fan (pankhi), different floral designs, animals and bird motifs. They are then soldered with high purity gold solders or with Cadmium solders to give the jewelry shape, keeping the hollow cavity on the upper surface and flat plate on the lower surface. After proper filing, emerying and burnishing, the pieces of base jewelry are given to minakars for enameling. Traditionally, the minakari is done on both lower and upper surfaces of the jewelry piece. The minakars do the fine engraving minutely using a lot of manual precision while drawing and designing on the flat surfaces of the base. These engraved surfaces are then filled with mina of different colors and hues. The filling of mina is done by skilled craftsmen and only a handful of minakars are left now who could do this painstaking art on the metal surface. After filling mina, the jewelry is pushed into an oven at a temperature just below the melting point of gold. The temperature of the oven is also important. If the mina is heated more it may burn and become blackish. This makes the mina stick with the gold molecules and get a glazing on the surface. Better the purity of the base metal, better will be the sparkle, shine and sharpness of the mina colors. Such colors as red, green and blue with inlays of gold, cream and white are mainly used in minakari but sometime less fast colors such as pink, turquoise and black are also used. The experts consider the red mina of Jaipur as the most beautiful. After minakari, the jewelry pieces are polished and given for Jadai (setting). The setter, who is

called jadia, sticks these pieces on suitable wooden frames called “hundi” with the help of sealing wax and also partly fill the cavities of the jewelry pieces with the wax or shellac. The stones, which generally include flat cut diamonds and colored gem stones, are selected according to the colur combination to be put into cavities. This is followed by the process of shaping the stone known as the Uttrai. Stone grinders finely grind the edges of each stone to the perfection of the cavities. The lower surface of the stones is then covered by a silver foil to provide it a reflecting surface when studded. This is called “dank”. These stones are placed in the cavities and the surrounding space filled with Kundan tightly in almost vacuum-like condition. Kundan is the purest form of gold made into foils of a few micron thickness made by precision hammering and heating. The gold of maximum purity (999 fineness) is only used for this purpose. After filling of the kundan, the excess kundan is scraped off by expert craftsmen to give the fine details to the motifs. The jewelry is then in its final phase of completion where it is assembled, and tied with pearls or with beads, manis, etc, of gem stones by another artisan called Patwa. The jewelry now becomes ready for sale. Making of Kundan jewelry is thus a work of art. The whole piece is covered with delightful minakari, or by sparkling gem stones or by noble metal of highest purity. Kundan jewelry maintains its lure eternally. Older the jewelry, more majestic is its look. Its value appreciates beyond the values of gold and it always ends up as family heirloom.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year From

INOCC USA Delhi Chapter Team Sheila Dixit

Manmohan Singh

Sonia Gandhi

Chief Minister Delhi

Prime Minister

Party President

Dr. Karan Singh Chairman of the Foreign Affairs

Rahul Gandhi Gen. Sec. INC

Executive Committee Manoj Narang Chairman

Ricky Advani

Gurdev Singh

Gautam Goplani

Rajinder Singh Vidya Bhushan Sharma

Arvind Walia V. Chairman

Avan Singh Panwar

Jessica Kalra

Daljinder 'ZINDA' Singh President

Rahul Singh Thakur

Amardeep Singh

Rohit Sharma


December 24-30, 2011

Labor party's Seema Malhotra wins London bypoll

Seema Malhotra London: Britain's opposition Labor party candidate Seema Malhotra, daughter of Indian immigrants has won the bypoll to the Feltham and Heston constituency in London with an increased majority over the Conservatives. The byelection to the constituency, a stronghold of the Labor, was caused by the death of former party MP, Alan Keen.

Delighted with her win, Malhotra said it was a "wake-up call" for the David Cameron government. "This result shows that this Tory-led government is totally out of touch." The result proved that the opposition Labor party, which lost power in 2010, was changing, "listening harder, winning back the trust of the people we seek to serve," she said. Malhotra increased Labor's majority from 4,658 to 6,203 when she won with 12,639 votes. Conservative candidate Mark Bowen came second with 6,436 votes, while Roger Crouch, the Liberal Democrat, held on to the third place with 1,364 votes. Malhotra grew up in Feltham and went to school in Heston. She was an adviser to senior Labor leader Harriet Harman during her stint as Leader of the Opposition in 2010.

Indian visa application goes online in Saudi Arabia Dubai: An online visa application system has been set up by the Consulate General of India in Saudi Arabia following Indian government’s decision to make it mandatory for all visa applicants to apply online. The system was introduced on an option basis in coastal city Jeddah from December 17, as the online application system is being rolled out in a phased manner in all Indian embassies and consulates around the world. However, it will be mandatory from January 1, 2012 to apply for Indian visa online. During the transition period, the applicants can continue to use the current

by 160 points, I think it’s gone.’ I didn’t know what to expect, but he came back and said, ‘I won it,’” The Age quoted his father, Melbourne Business School associate professor Kannan Sethuraman, as saying. Bharadwaj was younger than all but three of the 83 competitors he beat in Malaysia and has now set his eyes on the World Scrabble Championship in 2013. The family shifted to Melbourne from Chennai when Anand was 13 months old. By 15 months he was reading on his mother’s knee, able to page reference any quote from dozens of books. At four he kept fel-

London: A British woman's Indian husband of 37 years has been barred by a court from entering the country because he cannot speak English. A law that requires immigrant spouses to speak English before entering the country was ruled legit-

imate by the London High Court Friday, the Daily Express reported Saturday. Three claimants, including British-born 54-year-old Rashida Chapti, tried to get the law overturned.They argued that the law interfered with their right to married

life and was racist and discriminatory.Chapti's Indian husband -- as well as father to her six children -- cannot join her in Leicester because he cannot speak English. The high court judge dismissed the case, saying the rule was rational and that even if it does affect married couple's lives, it does not override Britain's right to protect its interests.

School with Indian kids named Britain's best

Anand Bharadwaj low preps entertained by naming train stations in Melbourne sequentially.In his voluminous vocabulary, ‘Douleia’ is his favorite word. ”It means worship of saints and angels. And it uses all the vowels,” Bharadwaj said.

Kamla Persad on a 10-day India visit in Jan 2012 Port of Spain: Indian-origin Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla PersadBissessar will be on a ten-day state visit to India in January from January 4 to 14. Persad-Bissessar will travel to India as an official Guest of the government of India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. As part of her program, Persad-Bissessar will pay a courtesy call on the President of India, Pratibha Patil and the Vice President, Hamid Ansari. She will also meet Dr. Singh with whom she will hold delegation level talks followed by State banquet in her honor in New Delhi on 6 January 2012. Her program will include other high level bilateral meetings with the External Affairs Minister and the

visa forms, the consulate announced. “The applicants need to log on to the website and fill a self-explanatory visa form and submit it online to start the process, take a printout and approach a preferred visa outsourcing agency and submit copy of their application, passport, two photographs and application fees,” the consulate said. This would enable visa-outsourcing agencies to access forms online and further process their applications. On October 18, Indian missions in the UAE announced the launch of online visa application for tourist and visit visas.

British woman's Indian hubby cannot enter country: Court

Anand Bharadwaj becomes world youth scrabble champion Melbourne: Eleven-year-old Indian-origin Anand Bharadwaj has been crowned as the World Youth Scrabble Champion, after he successfully managed to recover from a triple-triple. Anand explained that if an opponent covers two triple word squares, their score multiplies by nine and adds 50 points. Such was his predicament earlier this month at the finals in Malaysia when his opponent played ‘waysides’ for a tournament-high 176 points.“It was a crucial game, and everybody wrote him off. The ushers came and told me, ‘He’s trailing


Leader of the Opposition. Persad-Bissessar will also attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2012 being held at Jaipur from 7th to 9th January as the Chief Guest. She is the first female Head of Government in the Diaspora and the first dignitary from Trinidad & Tobago to be bestowed with this honor. Persad-Bissessar’s official business agenda will also include engagements with the Indian private sector and senior Ministers in Rajasthan, Maharastra, and West Bengal. In Kolkata, West Bengal, the Prime Minister is due to hold discussions with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee. In Mumbai, Maharastra, the program of activities will include meetings with senior Government officials and business leaders.

Students at Newton Farm School in Harrow, northwest London achieved the best exam results in the country. London: A primary school in Britain where the majority of students are of Indian and Asian origin has achieved the best exam results in the country. Students at Newton Farm School in Harrow, northwest London, gained the highest average points score in their tests, The Sun reported. More than three-quarters of pupils are from "minority ethnic groups", mainly Indian and other Asian backgrounds, and speak a language other than English at home, including a large number of

Tamil-speaking pupils. Over 90 percent of pupils in a class achieved a level above the standard in the age group in both Math and English. The school has 200 pupils aged four to 11. "The school provides a really well-rounded education while the foundations are absolutely rock solid. I believe our success is down to the rigor with which we look after our children," headteacher Rekha Bhakoo, herself of Indian origin, was quoted as saying.



December 24-30, 2011

U.S.' human rights criticism unfair: Rajapaksa Colombo: The United States has urged the Sri Lankan government to fulfill all of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation report and also address those issues that the report did not cover. “We're still studying the full report, I do have to say that we have concerns that the report, nonetheless, does not fully address all the allegations of serious human rights violations that occurred in the final phase of the conflict. So this leaves questions about accountability,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters in response to a question in Washington DC. To another question, she said that the Sri Lankan government's preliminary action plan did not provide the kind of detailed roadmap that the U.S. had hoped to see for fulfilling all of the Commission's recommendations. Rajapaksa's view The U.S. State Department was unfair in the observations made about the government's response to the report of

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) said President Mahinda Rajapaksa, addressing select Sri Lankan Editors at Temple Trees on Tuesday morning. Rajapaksa said that on the matter of accountability, a clear statement on how the government intended to act on LLRC recommendations was made by the Leader of the House when the report was tabled in Parliament. The President also said there was an unfair selectivity in dealing with Sri Lanka on this matter by referring only to the last phase of a conflict that went on for nearly 30 years. The President also observed that while raising issues of accountability

with Sri Lanka, the U.S. had recently brought provisions in law to detain persons for any length of time outside the normal law. Explaining the Sri Lankan position further, Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L. Peiris reiterated that the Leader of the House Nimal Siripala de Silva had clearly stated the manner in which the government would act on these matters. “There was no question of the government trying to evade matters of accountability that had been mentioned in LLRC recommendations, as this matter had been clearly explained by the Leader of the House when tabling the report in Parliament,” said Prof. Peiris.

‘Zardari's return may be cameo appearance’ Washington: President Asif Ali Zardari's return to Pakistan from Dubai could be just a "cameo appearance" before his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's death anniversary on Dec 27 and after that he would be probably leave for a long convalescence in London or Dubai, a media report said. Zardari had suddenly flown out of Pakistan on Dec 6 to Dubai where he was admitted in a hospital. His exact health status is not known with reports ranging from a heart attack to a stroke that caused bleeding in his brain. He returned to Pakistan on Dec 18. New York Times quoted some Pakistani and Western officials last week as saying that "if Zardari returned, it could be only for a cameo appearance before Dec 27", Benazir's fourth death anniversary. After that, Zardari would probably leave for a long - perhaps permanent - convalescence in London or Dubai, the report quoted

Zardari had suddenly flown out of Pakistan on Dec 6 to Dubai where he was admitted in a hospital. officials as saying. Benazir Bhutto (19532007) was the first woman prime minister of Pakistan. She was twice the prime minister 1988-90 and 1993-96 - but could not complete any term. She was assassinated in December 2007, after a Pakistan Peoples Party rally in Rawalpindi, just two weeks before the scheduled parliamentary elections of 2008.

'Taliban not enemy to US' Washington: The United States has said that Taliban is not an enemy of America, a move seen as the latest effort of the Obama administration to send an olive branch to the terrorist outfit that ruled Afghanistan before 9/11. "Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That's critical," US vice president Joe Biden said in an interview to the Newsweek magazine. "There is not a single statement that the (US) president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the

Taliban is our enemy because it threatens US interests," he said.If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there's a dual track here, Biden added. The move is seen as a latest effort of the Obama administration to send an olive branch to the terrorist outfit.

Second nationwide shutdown paralyses Nepal Kathmandu: A second general strike in three days brought much of Nepal to a halt as protestors blocked roads and torched cars over the prison killing of a senior opposition party activist. The opposition-called strike closed businesses across the country as protestors on major highways enforced a ban on road traffic by attacking cars and burning tyres. "We arrested 27 protesters, most in Kathmandu, and a coffee shop and five vehicles were damaged in the capital," police spokesman Binod Singh said. In towns throughout the country, government offices, banks and vehicles were vandalized, he said. A local television station reported that thousands of people were stranded at a major road access point to Kathmandu, where buses were being denied entry. The strike was organized by the Nepali Congress (NC). The United States warned that the action could lead to Nepal's

The opposition-called strike closed businesses across the country as protestors on major highways enforced a ban on road traffic by attacking cars and burning tyres. travel warning being reinstated. The UN's chief representative in Nepal, Robert Piper, tweeted Monday about what he described as "a coercive, enforced stoppage." "Using bandhs (strikes) to seek redress, & the trigger for this one -a murder in custody of an NC cadre -- more evidence of weak rule of law in Nepal," he wrote.

Shiva Poudel, chairman of a party youth wing, was critically injured when a group of inmates attacked him in a prison in the southern district of Chitwan on December 6 and he died in Kathmandu on Saturday. He was on remand, having been accused of murdering a political rival.

The NC demanded an investigation and called on the Maoist-led government to withdraw cases filed against Poudel, declare him a martyr and compensate his family. Hundreds of riot police brandishing wooden batons and shields patrolled the streets of Kathmandu. Nepal's civil war ended in 2006 after a decade of fighting that

killed some 16,000 people, but the country has remained unstable due to political squabbling over the terms of the peace process. Political parties last month reached a breakthrough deal that allows for the reintegration of thousands of former Maoist rebel fighters as the parties work to complete a new constitution.



December 24-30, 2011

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dead Pyongyang: Kim Jong-il, the 69-year-old supreme leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, died during a train journey. His youngest son was made the "great successor", the country's official KCNA news agency announced. South Korea promptly put its security forces on high alert as its financial market got rocked. Washington said it was in touch with Seoul and Tokyo over North Korean developments, reports Xinhua. The KCNA said that the "Korean revolution" is now led by his son Kim Jong-un,

and that the powerful "Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) members, servicepersons and all other people will be faithful to his leadership". Kim Jong-un is the youngest son of Kim Jong-il and his late third wife Ko Yong-hui. KCNA urged the communist nation to rally behind the younger Kim, who is believed to have been groomed to take over power and was appointed a general last year. Kim died "from a great mental and physical strain at 08.30, Dec 17, 2011, on train during a field guidance tour", said the offi-

cial media report. Kim, who had received medical treatment for his cardiac diseases for a long period, suffered "an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock" on the train, reported Xinhua. Kim had taken power in 1994 following the death of his father, Kim Il-sung. Kim built a nuclear arsenal, which culminated in North Korea's first nuclear test explosion in 2006. Another test took place in 2009. He led the country of an estimated population of 24 million with an iron hand.

Kim had taken power in 1994 following the death of his father, Kim Il-sung.

Death toll from Philippine Indian scripture faces ban in Russia Bhagavad Gita, one of flash floods tops 1,000 Moscow: the holiest Hindu scriptures, is fac-

The latest tally showed a total of 1,002 have been confirmed dead, including 650 in Cagayan de Oro and an additional 283 in nearby Iligan city. Iligan: The official death toll from last week's massive flash flooding in two southern Philippine cities topped 1,000 as authorities said they lost count of how many more were missing in one of the worst calamities to hit the coastal region. The latest tally showed a total of 1,002 have been confirmed dead, including 650 in Cagayan de Oro and an additional 283 in nearby Iligan city, said Benito Ramos, head of the Civil Defense Office. The rest came from several other southern and central provinces.A tropical storm swept through the area recently and unleashed flash floods in the middle of the night that caught most of the victims in their sleep. "There were many lessons learned by the people who did not listen to national and local governments, but this is not the time to put the blame on them," Ramos told The Associated Press, adding that warn-

ings by weather forecasters of an approaching storm went unheeded. President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity during a visit to the region and promised the government "will do its best to prevent a repeat of this tragedy.""I do not accept that everything had been done. I know that we can do more. We must determine what really happened," Aquino said. "Must this end in tragedy? We knew that (storm) was coming. There should have been efforts to avoid the destruction." People wept during funeral rites at the Iligan city cemetery, where soldiers carried the caskets of at least 38 victims Tuesday. Many wore masks to try to block the stench of decomposing bodies. About 45,000 displaced were still crowded in evacuation centers as aid workers rushed in relief supplies. Lack of running water was a major concern.

ing a legal ban and the prospect of being branded as "an extremist" literature across Russia. A court in Siberia's Tomsk city is set to deliver its final verdict in a case filed by state prosecutors. The final pronouncement in the case will come two days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Dec 15-17 official visit for a bilateral summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev consolidated bilateral trade and strategic ties and personal friendship. The case, which has been going on in Tomsk court since June, seeks ban on a Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" written by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia and declared

The ISKCON followers in Russia have also written a letter to the Prime Minister's Office in New Delhi, as a literature spreading "social discord", its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal. In view of the case, Indians settled in Moscow, numbering about 15,000, and followers of the ISKCON religious movement here have appealed to Manmohan Singh and his government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue

in favor of the scripture, an important part of Indian epic Mahabharata written by sage Ved Vyas. The ISKCON followers in Russia have also written a letter to the Prime Minister's Office in New Delhi, calling for immediate intervention, lest the religious freedom of Hindus living here be compromised.

US targets Iranian nuclear program

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Washington: The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that a nuclear Iran will not be accepted at any cost, while the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin

Dempsey said the Pentagon is planning to target the atomic installations of Tehran. In an interview with a US TV channel, Leon Panetta has said that the Iranian leaders would make nuclear weapons within a year, adding that if Iran had got the capacity of uranium enrichment they Iran will speed up the construction of nuclear weapons. He said that the nuclear program of Iran is threat for US and Israel, adding that if Iran would speed up steps for the preparation of nuclear atom bomb then US would conduct every possible step including military operation against the nuclear installations of Iran. On the other hand the US Army Chief General Martin Dempsey said that every possible step would be taken to stop Iran for the achievement of nuclear weapons, adding that Israel will also support US in this attack.



December 24-30, 2011

Downturn: 10 firms on the edge in 2012 It was four years ago that a recession officially began. Some firms are still struggling, whether from delayed effects of the recession, relentless competition, fresh strategic blunders or a turnaround plan that hasn't panned out. Here are 10 prominent firms likely to struggle in 2012: Eastman Kodak: It's never a good sign when a firm denies that it's heading for bankruptcy, as Kodak has been doing. The firm is now seeking to sell assets and find other ways to raise cash so it can return to profitability after five consecutive money-losing years. Kodak stock has recently traded below $1 per share. Research in Motion: The once-ubiquitous Blackberry commanded 55 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in 2009. Today, its market share is less than 10 percent. Blackberry-maker RIM has failed to counter ruthless competition from Apple's iPhone and the many Android phones now available. OfficeMax: The tough economy, plus competition from discounters like Walmart and Costco, has put pressure on the whole group. Investors seem to have the strongest doubts about OfficeMax, whose stock has fallen significantly. Monster Worldwide: If the economy springs back and hiring picks up, this job-placement firm could thrive. But the economic rebound, of course, is painfully slow, with CEOs basically waiting to see whether another crisis is coming.

KFC overtakes Pizza Hut in India

KFC has overtaken Pizza Hut as the largestselling fast food chain of Yum! Restaurants. New Delhi: KFC, which almost quit India due to protests from health and animal rights activists after its debut in 1995, has overtaken Pizza Hut as the largest-selling fast food chain of Yum! Restaurants, riding on the country's increasing appetite for chicken. World's largest quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain McDonald's, domestic fried chicken chain Bangs and T.G.I. Friday's restaurant chain too have reported a spike in chicken sales this year, confirming the widening appeal of the meat as eating out becomes a habit across the country. "KFC is growing faster than Pizza Hut," says Sandeep Kataria, chief marketing officer of Yum! Restaurants India, while McDonald's says the McSpicy chicken burger range is the fastest growing product across its 240 stores.

Bank of America: Bank of America is under special scrutiny because of its disastrous 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial, which has saddled the bank with billions in losses on bad mortgages, many of which may to sour. Netflix: This once-hot movie-rental website endured an abrupt comedown in 2011 when it tried to separate its DVDby-mail and video streaming services into two separate companies, while hiking prices on customers who want both. The fallout halted the firm's rapid growth in subscribers, just as competition from Amazon, HBO and others was intensifying. KB Home: This California-based homebuilder has lost more than $2 billion since the housing bust struck in 2007. With a housing recovery not likely to start until 2013 or 2014, at the earliest,

the next 12 months look like another grinding year. Hewlett-Packard: With operations in many business and consumer markets, HP has numerous competitors that have been nibbling market share, leading to disappointing results likely to continue into 2012. Sears: The nation's fourth-largest retail

chain has been slashing costs and closing unprofitable stores, but analysts still expect a loss for 2012. Washington Post: The storied newspaper company has offset declines in its journalism revenue. Ad revenue from the company's print and online news operations has been falling—with more competitors popping up all the time.



December 24-30, 2011

Oz recall Hilfenhaus, Cowan for India Test debut Melbourne: Tasmanian seamer Ben Hilfenhaus has been recalled and in-form New South Walesborn batsman Ed Cowan included in the 13-member Australia squad for the first Test against India starting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Boxing Day. Also in the extended squad are Shaun Marsh and Dan Christian; out go injured all-rounder Shane Watson, fast bowler Ryan Harris and out-of-form batsmen Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja. Veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey were retained, although there was a scare for the 37-year-old former Test skipper in the nets Wednesday morning. Facing fast bowler James Pattinson on the second day of coach Mickey Arthur's batting camp, Ponting was struck on the right hand and walked out of the nets immediately, looking at the point of contact. Concerns about a possible injury were played down afterwards. Chief selector John Inverarity

Tasmanian seamer Ben Hilfenhaus and New South Wales-born batsman Ed Cowan. said a 13-man squad had to be named instead of the normal 12 owing to the uncertainty over the fitness of Marsh, who has been battling a bad back. Dumped after Australia's disastrous Ashes campaign last summer, Ben Hilfenhaus, 28, is back with some consistent performance in domestic cricket. Hilfenhaus could come in for left-armer Mitchell Starc in the eleven on the back of an impressive season in which he has gath-

ered 22 first-class wickets at an average of 30. He was considered for the first Test against the Kiwis in Brisbane earlier this month after performing well for Australia A against New Zealand in the leadup. Marsh will have to prove his fitness in the Big Bash game for Perth Scorchers in the Twenty20 league Thursday night. Tasmania's Cowan, 29, has been rewarded for a superb run of four centuries in four matches, the latest

Dravid fears Ponting's comeback against India

Rahul Dravid. Melbourne: India's batting great Rahul Dravid insists that the visitors fear a comeback from former Australian captain Ricky Ponting who, he said, was surely not on his last legs as a Test batsman.

"I think he (Pointing) is still a great player. He showed in the couple of Test matches that he played against us in India that he is still I'd say he is still - the best Australian batsman," said Dravid. Dravid, who will turn 39 next month, will be India's mainstay in the batting in the four-match Test series starting with the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Dravid said Ponting's his aura hasn't faded despite his poor run in the Test series against South Africa and New Zealand. However, Ponting's most uccessful series in recent times

was against India in October last year, when he scored 224 runs at an average of 56 in a two-Test series. But the 37-year-old Tasmanian hasn't scored a Test century in 32 innings spanning almost two years. "From our perspective I hope he can start a golden run after our series. When you read his name on the sheet he is still one of the most feared, there is no doubt about it," said Dravid. Dravid, Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and South Africa's Jacques Kallis are the select group of players to score more than 12,000 Test runs.

Olympic hockey qualifiers: India take on Italy New Delhi: Eight-time hockey Olympic champions India will start their campaign against lowly-ranked Italy in the men's Olympic qualifiers for the 2012 London Games that would be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here from Feb 18-26. The men's field, besides hosts India, also includes Canada, France, Poland, Italy and the United States. India enter the event as highest ranked team in the tournament at world No.10. The two top teams will play the final and the winner will qualify for the London Olympics. India shockingly failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games for the first time in 80 years.

This time the world No.10 have been handed a favourable draw and will open their campaign Feb 18 against Italy, who are lying in the 28th spot in FIH rankings. The women's tournament will also be played simultaneously and, besides India, the participating teams are South Africa, Italy, Canada, Ukraine and Poland. South Africa are the top-seeded team and are ranked world No.12 while India are world No.13. In all, six Olympic spots are up for grabs, three each from the men and the women's section. The winners of each of the six Olympic Qualification Tournaments will earn a berth to the London 2012 Games.

effort being 109 for the Chairman's XI against India in Canberra against the Indians, and he should make his Test debut at the MCG. Khawaja finds himself out of Michael Clarke's side for the second time in his young career to make way for others, while opener Hughes, as expected, has been dropped after a disappointing series against New Zealand. "Ed Cowan has been in excellent form in recent weeks. His inclusion is in recognition of his consistently

good performances and we anticipate that he can provide steadiness at the top of the order. Ben Hilfenhaus has regained form this season and he provides a strong and reliable bowling option," Sydney Morning Herald quoted Inverarity as saying. "We see both Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja as developing players with bright futures and remaining as players of significance. They are determined young men and I know that they will work hard to produce compelling performances and push strongly for further consideration," the chief selector said. South Australia allrounder Christian, the 12th man in Hobart, is also close to collecting a baggy green cap after being included in the squad again. The squad: Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin (vice-captain), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Dan Christian, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.

Dhyan Chand recommended for Bharat Ratna New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) requested the sports ministry to confer legendary Dhyan Chand with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in the country. The legendary Dhyan Chand. HI in a statement said it has requested sports to be conferred with the Padma minister Ajay Maken to consider Bhushan Award in 1956. He passed the late Dhyan Chand for the pres- away in 1979 at the age of 74. "In view of his rarest of rare tigious award. "Late Major Dhyan Chand is acknowledged as the all- achievements, there is no deserving time greatest player of the game of sporting icon other than Major Hockey all over the world. He is Dhyan Chand to be considered for probably the only Indian player for Bharat Ratna," HI said in its stateany sport to have generated a num- ment. Dhyan Chand started his internaber of myths about his ability as a hockey player," HI said in a state- tional career in 1926 and retired in ment.Dhyan Chand, born 1905, 1948 at the age of 42. India's only individual Olympic won three successive Olympic gold medals at Amsterdam in 1928, Los champion Abhinav Bindra has also Angles in 1932 and Berlin in 1936 been recommended for the Bharat and was the first Indian sportsman Ratna.


Delhi turns 100, celebrations begin

December 24-30, 2011

The journey in bricks and mortar sk any resident of Delhi — or in fact any tourist who has visited this city — to name its landmarks, and they will come up with a few grand, although undoubtedly definitive, structures of New Delhi. The presidential palace or Rashtrapati Bhawan, the India Gate memorial to fallen soldiers, Mughal emperors’ Red Fort complex, the towering and ancient Qutub Minar, the red sandstone marvel of Humayun’s Tomb, to name a few, are all predictable elements of the picture that is usually painted to describe Delhi’s exterior. Why is it then that post-independence structures such as Gandhi’s memorial, or Rajghat, the National Museum in the heart of the city, or even the grand Hindu temple, Akshardham, fail to leave deeper imprints on people’s minds? The answer to this may lie in the diversity of rule that the city has been through. Delhi’s architecture has had an amazing ride through time. Shaped by various empires, the city’s architectural body stands tall, bearing the crown of Mughal taste on its head, the stout body of British imperial imprint and the occasionally shaky legs of today’s independent, democratic rule. Foremost among all the imperial


Delhi has adapted itself to the tastes and needs of various empires it housed over centuries. The diversity of Delhi’s architectural heritage appears to symbolize the city’s rich and vibrant democratic ethos. buildings was the Viceroy House, placing the two secretariat build- princes along King’s Way (now centre of the old city. now known as Rashtrapati ings on the same elevated plat- Rajpath) — such as Hyderabad The dramatic influx of refugees Bhawan. Some 29,000 workers form. Baker wanted to signal that House and Baroda House as well to Delhi was a major factor that worked on this prime project, and the administrative and executive as the National Archives building. decided the architectural course of tonnes of red and cream sandstone powers were united in their comAnother important figure who the city. “Our main priority was to were brought from neighbouring mon purpose — the governance of designed the greatest number of house people. There was no time Dholpur, Bharatpur and Agra for India. civic buildings in New Delhi was to think about planning monubuilding the seat of British imperiLutyens agreed to this, only to Robert Torr Russell. He designed ments! This explains, in a way, the al rule atop Raisina Hill. realize later that Baker’s plan had the shopping mall of the time, austere architectural journey that The responsibility to build the ruined the very symmetry of his Connaught Circus, dubbed by followed post-independence.” secretariat buildings (now North plan. This caused him much frus- many architects as the “drawing Delhi has adapted itself to the Block and South Block, serving as tration which led them to part room of Delhi”. Just like New tastes and needs of various offices of the central government) ways. He famously called this Delhi was built to define a new empires it housed over centuries. was handed out to Herbert Baker, episode as his “Bakerloo”. From power centre, away from The diversity of Delhi’s architecwho wanted to emphasize the then on, the responsibility of build- Shahjahanabad or Old Delhi, as tural heritage appears to symbolize humbleness of imperial rule. ing the colossal Parliament House they named it, Connaught Circus the city’s rich and vibrant demoIt was suggested that while and staff bungalows was given to was intended to be the central cratic ethos. Whether greater Lutyens had envisaged the Viceroy Baker, while Lutyens designed the commercial hub of New Delhi, inclusivity and liveability will one House as the sole occupant on top All India War Memorial (now the providing a counterpart to Chandni day become part of the capital’s of Raisina Hill, Baker suggested India Gate), the houses of the Chowk which was the commercial ethos is another question.

100 years of Delhi roads, names! New Delhi: Do you know that Rajpath that overlooks the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan was once called Kingsway? It is not Rajpath alone that has over the years been renamed in Lutyens Delhi -once the capital of the British empire -but several other English names in Rajdhani Dilli have made way for Indian ones. As the Indian government set about making Delhi its capital, many roads were named and renamed after leaders of modern India, in the process of erasing the memory of the British empire. Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard of the country that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan through Vijay Chowk to India Gate, right up to the National Stadium, was once called Kingsway. Likewise, the Motilal Nehru Marg, which houses the likes of the Chief Minister of Delhi, was once called York Road when Edwin Lutyens started building New Delhi in 1912. New Delhi, the capital of the modern India, turns 100 today and a lot of things have changed in the city, the names of roads being just one of them. Teen Murti Marg, that houses the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library,

Motilal Nehru Marg was once called York Road.

was once known as Roberts Road and the present day Rafi Marg was known during the British Raj as Old Mill Road. The original name of Tees January Marg, which got its name after Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 at Gandhi Smriti, is Albukerd Marg. While the erstwhile Canning Road is now called Madhavrao Scindia Marg, after the Congress leader who died tragically in 2001, G B Road is known as Swami Shradhananda Road. However, the Connaught Place, the centre of the British capital, retains the original names of its roads, with Chelmsford Road, Minto Road, and Hailey Road yet to be renamed.

Royal gifts of phones, trains and electricity ineteen-eleven was the year that got Delhi back in the race with Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. The arrival of George V and his Durbar gave the languishing Mughal capital its first shot at modernity. So, 2011 is not just the centenary of Delhi as capital of India but also marks 100 years of telephony in the city. Delhi's first phone service started with the Central Telephone Exchange in the Coronation Durbar telegraph office. Common people could make calls from all post offices, barring the three at Wazirabad, the Mall and Prince's Road. Talking of post offices, they certainly were more businesslike 100 years ago. Most of them worked 10 hours a day (8am to 6pm) but stamps were available for 13 hours (7am to 8pm) and telegrams could be sent from 7am to 9pm (14 hours). Telephones, though, were only one of the many improvements the city experienced in the run-up to the Coronation Durbar. For the common man, the new railway lines, a large power generation unit and water treatment facilities made a more significant difference. The city got a new suburban railway for the Durbar — aptly called the Durbar Railway — but even the old broad gauge and 2'6" narrow gauge lines were upgraded. The old Delhi-Ambala-Kalka line, for instance, was doubled from Sabzi Mandi station to Wazirpur junction, where it linked with the new Durbar lines.


Delhi's first phone service started with the Central Telephone Exchange in the Coronation Durbar telegraph office. Likewise, the old Southern Punjab Railway line was doubled from Brewery Cabin to Shakurpur. A new terminal station — Hamilton Road — was also built to decongest the other main stations. Augmentation of electricity supply was another Durbar milestone. Until before the Durbar, the city was powered by a lone 2MW diesel generator installed at Lahori Gate. But the installed power capacity more than doubled when a coal-fired steam turbine became operational at the Central Power House on Alipur Road. The 3200-horse power turbine generated 2.4 MW of electricity, good enough to light up 72,000 bulbs. During the Durbar, 100 miles of road length was lit up using 10,000 poles and 900 miles of copper wire.



December 24-30, 2011

Celebrity writers to light up Jaipur Litfest By Prakash Bhandari/ SATimes his will be a season of celebration for the Pink City of Jaipur. After Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, the "most fabulous literary love-fest on the planet", would enthrall literature enthusiasts again from January 20-24, 2012. As always, the annual festival will be held at the heritage property Diggi Palace. The Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 promises to live up to its claim of being a celebration of Indian and international writing , and encompassing a wide range of activities including debates, discussions, readings, music and workshops. The festival will play host to over 200 speakers from across the globe. Prominent authors who have confirmed their presence at the 5thDSC Jaipur Literature Festival include Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Amish Tripathi, Ben Okri, C.P. Deval, David Hare, David Remnick, Deepak Chopra, Fatima Bhutto, Gulzar, Hari Kunzru, Helen Fielding, Jamaica Kincaid, James Schapiro, Jason Burke, Javed Akhtar, Lakshmi Sharma, Mahesh Dattani, Michael Ondaatje, Mohamed Hanif, Pavan Varma, Piyush Daiya, Prasoon Joshi, Purushottam Agrawal, Rahul Bhattacharya, Rabi Thapa, Ranjit


Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple: writers and festival co-directors Hoskote, Shyam Jahangid, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Tahmima Anam, Thant Mynt-U, Tom Stoppard and Zoe Heller. This year the festival will focus on a variety of issues including Bhakti and Sufi traditions, Arab Spring, Gandhi, Ambedkar & Anna, Vegetarianism, Censorship, writing from conflict zones and theatre. Jaipur’s has grown to become the biggest festival for promoting new books and publications. It has become a festival of lifestyle, glamour, products, fun and entertainment. Speaking about the literary extravaganza, festival co-director Namita Gokhale said, “The Jaipur Literature Festival is now the Kumbh Mela of Indian and international writing. It nourishes narratives and nurtures a vibrant literary community. Once again,

this coming January, our festival will generate and give voice to the marvelous and spontaneous energy that has become its hallmark.” Festival co-director William Dalrymple said “This is our best Jaipur line up ever. I am particularly proud this year to have brought Tom Stoppard and David

Hare, two of our greatest living playwrights, cutting edge writers of non-fiction like the Tiger Mother Amy Chua, Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, great novelists such as Annie Proulx, Ben Okri, Jonathan Safran Foer and Michael Ondaatje, as well as the editor of the New Yorker, David Remnick besides frontline reports from the Arab Spring and the art of writing for stage and screen. We will also be analyzing the fascinatingly interwoven relationships of Tolstoy, Tagore and Gandhi.” Sanjoy K Roy, Producer-DSC Jaipur Literature Festival and MD - Teamwork Productions, said, “We are completely overwhelmed with the response the festival has received year after year. This is our fifth year at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival and going forward, our sincere efforts will be to ensure that the

Festival in 2012 fulfils the expectations of our audiences and continues to be a dream destination for book lovers from across the world”. The festival as always is free for the general public to attend. In 2011, the five-day festival showcased 225 speakers with 140 sessions with approximately 60,000 visitors. The festival featured 20 concerts and live performances at the specially designed music stage. The 2012 program will showcase myriad music performances from across the world. Artists from India and abroad will enthrall the audience. Rajasthani musicians Chugge Khan & Nathoo Lal Solanki, Fire Eaters and Dancers, Parvathy Baul, Dub Colossus, DJ Cheb I Sabbah and Duncan Bridgeman from 1 Giant Leap will be the show stealers.

Writers Fatima Bhutto and Ben Okri, and The New Yorker editor David Remnick have confirmed their presence at the 5th Jaipur Literature Festival from January 20-24. 2012.

Mills & Boon 'desi' romance - with Indian faces By Madhusree Chatterjee he world's oldest series of romantic fiction, Harlequin Mills & Boon, has broken the cultural barrier to publish its first "made-in-India-with-Indian faces" book after inducting its first writer from the country last year. The book, "His Monsoon Bride" by Astha Atray, features Indian models Simran Sachdeva, Nupur Mehta and Bhanujeet Sudan on the cover for the first time. They were chosen in a model hunt contest judged by three leading names in the industry this year. "Mills & Boon now has four Indian models - two men and two women - on board for the covers of the subsequent books," Harlequin Mills & Boon India country manager Manish Singh said. The publishing giant - which has been catering to women readers between 16 and 60 years since it was founded in 1908 - launched its first Indian author, Milan Vohra, last year with the book, "The Love Asana". Vohra was the winner of the Passions writing competition in 2009. This week, the publishing house launched its second Indian


writer Atray, a journalist, who made the cut in 2010. "We are working with two more authors - Soma Narayanan and Poonam Dabas - the runners-up of last year's writing competition. "Narayanan's book will be in stores by February-March and Poonam's book will follow a couple of months later," Singh said. The Britain-based Mills & Boon, which was acquired by the Canadabased Harlequin Enterprises in 1971, currently has a database of

1,300 writers worldwide, he said. The publishing house was founded by Gerald Rusgrove Mills and Charles Boon as a general fiction publisher which started with a romance. By 1930, the publishers realized that romances were doing well - and decided to concentrate on romances. It has a dozen imprints, including the modern, desire, historical, medical, special moments, intrigue and nocturn (paranormal) romances. Atray's book - which is redolent with the flavors of Bollywood - is set in Mumbai. "It is about a journalist - a rich man's daughter - in Mumbai who chooses to travel by train. The hero is a self-made millionaire in modern Mumbai who has lived in Dharavi as a child," Atray, who has lived in Mumbai for six years, said. The two, Amrita and Mehtab, enter into a marriage of convenience - but soon find themselves drawn to each other. "In our country, the Mills & Boon formula has been replicated in Bollywood movies forever. My hero is tall, dark and handsome and pretty flawed," the writer said. Atray, who entered the Passions

writing contest by submitting her 3,000-word story five years before deadline, had to expand her story to 40,000 words for a 192-page novel after winning the contest. Atray's sensibility is Indian. "I was inspired by my own marriage. My character, Amrita, (the lady light) in the book is a gorgeous curvy girl like any Indian woman who does not bother about weight. We are so obsessed with weight the fashion magazines talk about size zero. But I am a normal person and I wanted the character to be very Indian," Atray said. The writer said she has "tried to show a Mumbai that she sees every day - the normal people and their problems". "Writers don't write about you and me any more - they either write about slumdog India or NRI India. I wanted to write about the India which is now," Atray said. Structuring the book was painstaking. Atray spent months with her editors at Harlequin who told her to "sketch the characters in the first three chapters - their childhood, origins, their growing up years and how they would relate to their parents".

"Only then could we decide how the heroine would respond to the man. It was a crash course at writing," she said. Atray's book follows a pattern set by Vohra in whose book, "The Love Asana", the romance was themed around a trophy wedding between a fitness magnate and a yoga instructor. "I did not say no to sex in my book, it is natural even in the Indian context," Atray said. Mills & Boon, which has doubled its sales in India, is also branding itself in Bollywood by promoting movies like "I Hate Luv Storys" and "Jhootha Hi Sahi", its country manager said. Two surveys by the publishing house in India have helped it coin its motto - 'Friends for Life'. "Mills &Boon has been perceived as a woman's companion in various stages of life. But we are the most popular in the category of 21-32 years segment of single (professional) women readers in India," Manish Singh said. From the kiss-and-seal conventional British romances of the early 20th century, it has been a fruitful global odyssey for the popular fiction series, Singh said.


Ultimate Bollywood

December 24-30, 2011

'MI 4' - thrilling action, disappointing cinema isually, two things that instantly transcend the immediate boundaries of a viewer's intellect to land straight inside are sex and violence. Thus brands that can no longer appeal to your intellect, or are too lazy to try, resort to either or both. That brand can either be a product or a movie star. This is indeed a trend observed among male movie stars. Ageing stars, who no longer have the confidence of their youth, resort to movies that have an overdose of sex and violence. If you have followed Tom Cruise's selection of films lately, you would have observed an over-reliance on action at the cost of other factors. "Mission Impossible 4" is



After seeing "Ghost Protocol" as a discerning viewer, you'll realize that Tom Cruise has lost the plot, figuratively and literally.

no different. The story of "Ghost Protocol" is simpler than the elaborate charades you made up as kids. Smoked out of a Russian prison, Ethan Hunt and his renegade team, have to hunt down a Russian scientist with launch codes for nuclear warheads and save the world. After seeing "Ghost Protocol" as a discerning viewer, you'll realize that Tom Cruise has lost the plot, figuratively and literally. All his recent films have been shoddy excuses in the name of cinema, but had very good action. The Church of Scientology does not seem to be helping our star. He needs to enroll himself in the church of cinema.

The action scenes do not disappoint. They are elaborately conceptualized, beautifully shot and adeptly edited to make you sit at the edge of your seat. Tom Cruise might have forgotten other things, but he hasn't forgotten the art of choosing the best action team in the industry. If you want to watch the film for it being shot in India, and for Anil Kapoor, you'll be sorely disappointed. Only two minutes of actual India make it to the film. The other shots thought to be filmed in the country, have actually been shot in Indian localities of North America. Kapoor barely has a few minutes' role as a lecherous business tycoon. It's not enough either for his fans or his detractors.

'Pappu...' a case of Timberlake, West named 'Most Stylish Men of 2011' opposites attract ustin Timberlake and Kanye West have been voted as the Most Stylish Men of 2011 in a recent poll. In the new poll conducted by InStyle Magazine, the singer turned actor and the rapper were named as this year's trendiest males among 20 other celebrities, Contactmusic reported. West has recently launched his own fashion line. Other stars who made the cut are Zac Efron, 'Twilight' hunk Robert Pattinson, soccer ace David Beckham, Jennifer Aniston's boyfriend Justin Theroux and actor Jake Gyllenhaal.


The first half of the film is snappy and moves with ease. The second half, slow yet lively with a predictable goal, gets a bit boring. ade on a shoe-string budget, this film is a roller-coaster ride about the life of two individuals who have come to Mumbai, the city of dreams and luxury. The title, "Pappu Can't Dance Saala" is misleading. The 'Pappu' is not the proverbial idiot. Nor is the movie about his dancing capabilities. Instead, "Pappu Can't Dance Saala" is a simple film that captures the essence of Mumbai and the struggle of outsiders who come here "to make it big in the city". A rom-com, the film is about an odd twosome who experience several odd situations that eventually get evened out and they discover they have fallen in love with each other. So sweetly predictable! In a government residential complex in Mumbai, Vidyadhar Acharya (Vinay Pathak), a simpleton from Benaras with humanitarian and middle class values is working as a medical rep. His neighbour Mehak (Neha Dhupia) is an overtly ambitious, brazen streetsmart dancer.


He is a conscientious and morally bound citizen. She is fun-loving, bohemian and an opportunist. They can't see eye-to-eye simply because of their conflicting lifestyles. Neha Dhupia's portrayal of Mehak is convincing and the highlight of the film. Her taut body and reflexive steps to match is a frontbencher's delight. Vinay Shukla is typecast and offers nothing extraordinary. She flaunts, he hums. The first half of the film is snappy and moves with ease. The second half, slow yet lively with a predictable goal, gets a bit boring. The dialogues are good, witty and above average. The storyline, simple and straight from the heart, is a bit of a setback coming from the brilliant writer director Saurabh Shukla. His third project as a director and his graph seems to stagnate. Overall, the film is of mediocre production value with several cinematic liberties and is made with a sincere effort. It is worth a watch if you are looking to learn life's lessons, simply.

In a poll conducted by InStyle Magazine, the singer turned actor and the rapper were named as this year's trendiest males among 20 other celebrities.

Rakhi Sawant says Katrina follows her dance moves akhi Sawant, perhaps true item-girl in Bollywood today, alleges that actress Katrina Kaif has copied her antics in her "Chikni Chameli" act in "Agneepath" remake. "I think 'Chikni Chameli' is a good song. Katrina has danced very well but it's not something new. I have already done all this before. You can watch all my songs, I have already done that," the 33-year-old controversy queen said at the Big Stars Entertainment Awards. "I have done this in 'Dekhta hai tu kya' and she did this in 'Shiela ki jawaani'. In 'Chikni Chameli', she is again following me. It seems Katrina really likes me...It's alright if someone wants to follow me and dance," added Rakhi, who did a cameo in a few films before featuring in a full-fledged item number "Chura liyaa hai tumne" in 2003. Rakhi hasn't got any awards so


Katrina Kaif in a still from the song ‘chikni chameli’. far. When asked about it, she compared herself with Aamir Khan, though in a light-hearted manner, and said: "Aamir and I are similar. Neither he gets awards, nor do I. But we have won the heart of India and we do not need an award."

The loud-mouth actress, who has dabbled both in television and films, was last seen on the big screen in an item song in "Loot". On small screen, she hosted the reality talk-show "Ajab Desh Ki Ghazab Kahaaniyan".

Ultimate Bollywood


December 24-30, 2011

SRK, Priyanka are bollywood's hottest jodi! hah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra are the most sought after pair these days. They have been approached to co-host a major awards show and both have agreed to do it. Apart from this, they've also been approached to do five endorsements together. So expect to see SRK and PC starring in a series of campaigns and commercials in 2012. Currently, they are in the midst of deciding which endorsements to give the nod to. A source who has made one such offer says, "They are definitely one of the hottest jodis in the market right now. Last year, PC and Shahid Kapoor were the hot pair and they


The duo will co-host an awards show apart from appearing together in multiple endorsements in the coming year.

Vidya makes a dig at Kareena ctor Vidya Balan, at the success of party of her most recent hit, The Dirty Picture, seemed to enjoy all the attention and praise that was being bestowed upon her. It was told to her that Kareena Kapoor, her arch-rival, had seen The Dirty Picture and even applauded Vidya's bold act. However, she was also told that Bebo will have as hard-hitting a role in Heroine as she did in 'The Dirty Picture'. What did Vidya have to say that? "It can't get dirtier than 'The Dirty Picture'. They could make a 'Heroine' but no one will be


Vidya Balan and Kareena Kapoor had a fall-out ever since Vidya was linked with Shahid Kapoor shortly after Shahid and Bebo's break-up.

able to make 'The Dirty Picture'." Vidya Balan and Kareena Kapoor had a fallout ever since Vidya was linked with Shahid Kapoor shortly after Shahid and Bebo's break-up. Well, let's see if Vidya's taunt does get to Kareena, who is still basking in the glory of being the first to act with all three Khans reigning Bollywood today. At the same time, Vidya who is being given a pat on the back for her womancentric choice of movie was compared to the Khans of Bollywood, and Vidya said, "Instead of me adding Khan to my name, the Khans can add Balan to theirs."

Neil Nitin Mukesh in Baazigar remake?

teamed up for a series of coffee advertisements. Now, Shah Rukh has replaced Kapoor. Also, Shah Rukh was seen in a series of print and television commercials for a home decor brand with his wife Gauri last year." Interestingly, the Don 2 pair has been offered ads together in the past but they've turned them down because they weren't interesting enough. Now, with the sudden interest taken in their pairing by the public, SRK and PC are getting offers they are excited about. While they've been on many public platforms together to promote their upcoming film, the pair is defi-

nitely most wanted for their chemistry. Which is perhaps why a last minute role was added for her in SRK's home production RA.One as well. So far, SRK has hosted awards shows with Karan Johar and Saif Ali Khan. This is the first time he will be teaming up with one of his leading ladies. Says a source, "It was SRK's idea to get PC on board. A few years ago, she had hosted the same awards show and imitated Shah Rukh's character in My Name Is Khan. He was very impressed with her talent and thought they should host the show together in the future."

Aniston and Clooney 'most kissable' ennifer Aniston and George Clooney are the celebrities people would most like to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve, according to a poll. The poll undertaken by Yahoo!/OMG! is based on the vote of 1000 readers, who chose Aniston and Clooney over other celebrities with 22 percent and 28 percent of the vote respectively, Fox News reported. Aniston's arch-rival, Angelina Jolie, famous for her perfect pout, came only at number four among male respondents, with 13 percent of the vote, while Megan Fox came in fifth among male respondents, with 12 percent


The poll undertaken by Yahoo!/OMG! is based on the vote of 1000 readers, who chose Aniston and Clooney over other celebrities. of the vote. Meanwhile, Johnny Depp was able to impress about 27 percent of female voters.The two Ryans-

Gosling and Reynolds-both made the top five, however, 12 percent of women still pine for Brad Pitt.

Vidya Balan says no to Rajnikanth? idya Balan has officially turned down a chance to star opposite south star Rajinikanth. Earlier this year, it was suggested that she was to be his leading lady in Rana, since her distinctly desi looks would click with south Indian audiences too. Later, rumor mills were abuzz that Vidya had raised issues because she was not being given the script. Now for the first time, Vidya goes on record to say that the script had played spoilsport. “Rana makers spoke to me about the film, but I wasn’t exactly in serious talks. Later, I asked for a script, which I didn’t get,” says Vidya with a smile. So, did they want her to sign on for the film sans a script? “I don’t know what to say and how to explain it. They just didn’t call me back. And how can I take the next step without a script?” questions


If reports are to be believed, Neil is being considered by Abbas-Mustan for the role. he actor who's all set to sizzle the silver screen with ‘Players’ might step into the shoes of SRK in Baazigar remake. If reports are to be believed, Neil is being considered by Abbas-Mustan for the role.“Abbas-Mustan, after seeing Neil’s bad boy act in the rushes of their forthcoming film


have decided to cast him in their remake of Baazigar,” Neil's friend told Mumbai Mirror."In fact, Neil and the directors have also worked out the details of how to shape the characters in the new Baazigar," added the friend.“It is true I’ve been signed by Abbas-Mustan. I hope it’s for Baazigar,” Neil told the daily.

Vidya was supposed to play the superstar’s leading lady in the south Indian flick Rana. the actor. Ravikumar, on his part, contends that they were in talks with several female leads, and not just Vidya. “Yes, Vidya was also contacted. But since our script wasn’t ready

by then, we couldn’t hand it over to her. And by the time the story was locked, it had gone onto a completely different tangent. So, there was no point in sending the script to her,” says Ravikumar.



December 24-30, 2011

Humor with Melvin Durai

The jolly old man who helps me get through Christmas f my kids seem particularly well-behaved at this time of the year, it’s because they think that a man with a white beard and red suit is keeping track of their behavior, all the way from the North Pole. Telling them that “Santa is watching” is a great way to get them to be nice to each other, far more effective than saying “God is watching.” God may be all-powerful and allknowing, but he doesn’t bring them toys on Christmas morning, not even a Jesus action figure. All three of my kids, Lekha, 9, Divya, 7, and Rahul, 5, still believe in Santa, still believe that the gifts they find under the tree on Christmas morning were placed there by the jolly old man. He travels to millions of homes around the world on a reindeer-drawn sleigh and –- here’s the real miracle –manages to not get shot down by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It helps, of course, that he’s a white man. If he were a brown man, he’d be spending the week after Christmas pulling bullets out of his butt. Elf: “Santa, what happened? Did someone shoot you while you were


sliding down their chimney?” Santa: “No, they shot me while I was landing on their roof. Remind me never to deliver toys to anyone named Sasha and Malia.” I would never think of shooting Santa, whatever race he happened to be. Santa is a great help to me. My kids are much nicer in the weeks before Christmas. And if they unwrap their gifts on Christmas morning and don’t like what they’ve received, all I have to do is shrug and say, “Sorry, kids. The old man messed up again!” Santa doesn’t usually mess up, of course. That’s because the kids tell him exactly what they want, either by writing him a letter or saying it aloud. Rahul: “I want Santa to bring me a gun.”

Me: “Santa doesn’t believe in violence. I don’t think he’s going to bring you a gun.” Rahul: “Okay then, can Santa bring me a set of drums instead?” Me: “Santa doesn’t believe in noise either.” Rahul: “What does Santa believe in, Daddy?” Me: “He believes in small toys that cost $10 or less.” What Santa believes in isn’t quite as important as what my children believe. And I’m dreading the day that they stop believing in him. They’ve already started asking too many questions. Lekha: “Daddy, where does Santa get all the toys from?” Me: “His elves make them in the North Pole.” Lekha: “Then how come this toy says ‘Made in CHINA’ on it?” Me: “That’s not the country China, honey. That’s the acronym ‘CHINA.’ It stands for ‘Creative Households in Northern Arctic.” Then there’s the question about all the Santas who appear at the mall and other places in December. Divya: “Is that the real Santa, Daddy? Shouldn’t he be in the North Pole?”

Me: “No, honey, that’s an imposter. He’s just pretending to be Santa.” Divya: “Oh, that explains it.” Me: “Explains what?” Divya: “Why he smells of beer. I don’t think the real Santa would drink and glide.” Then there’s the question about

communicating with Santa. Lekha: “Daddy, I don’t feel like writing a letter this year. Does Santa have Twitter? Can I just tweet what I want for Christmas?” Me: “Sure, honey, you can tweet Santa. But don’t be surprised, on Christmas morning, if you feel a little mis-tweeted.”

Laughter is the Best Medicine

by Mahendra Shah

Mahendra Shah is an architect by education, entrepreneur by profession, artist and humorist, cartoonist and writer by hobby. He has been recording the plight of the immigrant Indians for the past many years in his cartoons. Hailing from Gujarat, he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tech Life Rebecca Black most watched on YouTube in 2011 New York: Rebecca Black's infamous "Friday" video has topped all other YouTube videos of 2011 with 180 million views. The Google Inc. videosharing site announced its most-viewed clips of the year Tuesday. The 14-year-old Black was turned into a viral video celebrity after her parents paid a production company to make the music video for her. "Friday" became an unlikely, off-key global hit.

Because of a legal dispute with Ark Music Factory, the video has had two YouTube incarnations, both of which were tabulated in the yearend count. The second most popular video was "Ultimate Dog Tease," in which an owner taunts a dog with food and voices its reactions. Third was the "Saturday Night Live" digital short featuring Michael Bolton as a rabid "Pirates of the Caribbean" fan.

Cellphone ban urged for drivers, even hands-free Washington, DC: A federal agency called for a ban on all cellphone use by drivers the most far-reaching such recommendation to date - saying its decision was based on a decade of investigations into distraction-related accidents, as well as growing concerns that powerful mobile devices are giving drivers even more reasons to look away from the road. As part of its recommendation, the National Transportation Safety Board is urging states to ban drivers from using hands-free devices, including wireless headsets. No state now outlaws such activity, but the board said that drivers faced serious risks from talking on wireless headsets, just as they do by taking a

hand off the wheel to hold a phone to their ear. The agency based its recommendation on evidence from its investigation of numerous crashes in which electronic distraction was a major contributing factor. The agency's recommendation is nonbinding, meaning that states are not required to adopt such a ban.

But, the recommendation may also provide cover for legislators, safety advocates and others who support such a broadbased ban. Many polls show that while people continue to use their devices behind the wheel, they also widely consider such behavior to be extremely dangerous. The ban is also noteworthy because it is the first call by a federal agency to end the practice completely, rather than the partial ban that some legislators have put in place by allowing hands-free talking. Nine states now ban the use of handheld phones, and 35 states ban texting by drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state traffic agencies.


December 24-30, 2011

By Dr Prem Kumar Sharma Stars Foretell: December 24-30, 2011 Aries: This week you will be benefited provided you take some bold decisions. New romance for some cannot be ruled out. You will find it extremely difficult to concentrate on your work, as your mind will be busy fantasizing about this special person who has just entered your life. You will learn valuable information if you keep your mind open to new cultures and religions. Money position will also improve as pending payments get cleared. During this period you should go out and build new relationship and contacts, but avoid strangers who behave extra friendly. Taurus: Despite some tensions that you might have experienced in the last few days, this week starts on a bright note. Excitement and gaiety marks your days ahead. Plenty of gains stored for you in whatever you do. New ventures and assignments will lift your spirits and confidence. Your interest in outdoor activities will see you go out on short trips, outings and other entertainment activities. Spouse will keep you happy and you should try to plan something special with children towards the weekend. Gemini: This week tempers will mount if you’re too pushy at work or at home. There will be vast improvement in your business as well as professional skills. Opportunities to travel will bring desired results. Certain legal matters will need immediate attention, therefore seek advice of a lawyer if necessary. Financial gains are certain throughout the week, but your tendency to overspend will make it difficult for you to save. Friends and near ones will be helpful to complete pending jobs. Cancer: This week you should set new goals for yourself and work towards them. Your confidence and ability to work on projects, which require high responsibility, will bring you benefits in the long run. This period is also good for building ties with influential people who will be helpful in implementing your projects. A short trip for pleasure later in week cannot be ruled out. Get involved in outdoor sports or activities that are challenging and will help you stay in perfect shape. Leo: Distant trips will bring beneficial results, however hectic schedule will trouble your health. Financial gains are expected from new contacts. Uncertainty with regard to career opportunities for your children, seem to bother your mind, seek advice from an academic counselor if necessary. Empty promises are also evident from people you trust and respect the most. Don’t expect anything from others and you won’t be disappointed. Do not spend lavishly on friends and rather spend more time and money on family members. Virgo: This week if you work quietly behind the scene, you will achieve what you plan. New jobs will dominate your days ahead. For those at service new opportunities or some sort of monetary benefits cannot be ruled out. Domestic happiness and romance will flourish. Despite such a prosperous time and financial gains, some tensions due to careless actions of your domestic servants, co-workers or working partners cannot be ruled out. Libra: Take legal advice before you take action regarding important issues. You are likely to be appreciated by your partners and coworkers. Religious feelings will arise, forcing some of you to seek blessing from a spiritual person. Journeys and travelling that you undertake during this period will be highly rewarding and educating.


Though gains from investment are foreseen, but few losses due to hasty speculation cannot be ruled out. Scorpio: You will be emotional about changes that are going on around you. Your confidence and determination will be at all time high and you will win plenty of favours from members of the opposite sex. However deception from a close associate or losses due to hasty investment cannot be ruled out. Encourage children to spend their extra time into creative activities and sports. Your harsh attitude and derogatory comments could create uneasy moments at home. Sagittarius: This week put in some extra hours and finish pending jobs before you venture out for some fun and entertainment. Work pressure might leave you irritated and exhausted, but you should remember that harsh words and erratic behaviour will only bring disregard and criticism. Financial gains seem likely as you recover delayed and pending payments. Children will need careful handling and proper attention. Adopt meditation for mental peace. Capricorn: Don’t allow your partners to take advantage of your generous nature. Though work progress will be slow and not very rewarding on the financial front, some good news will bring happiness and will boost your morale. Close relative might make an unexpected visit bringing gifts and presents. These pleasant and memorable moments bring happiness and harmony at home. Your interest in religious and spiritual activities will make you seek divine knowledge. Aquarius: Entertainment will be on your mind, but do not leave your office without completing your work, or you will be in serious problems. Anxiety and indecisiveness that has plagued you in the past seems to end, as optimism and confidence seems to take control. Financial gains seem likely, but you need to be extra careful before entering into any new partnerships. Housewives are likely to be more involved into embroidery, cooking or other creative activities. Children will cause bit disappointment, as they spend lavishly on friends and parties. Pisces: This week you can make money through real estate investment. Your high energy level will bring enormous gains and enhance your reputation. Financially you will become more comfortable and have plenty of time for recreational and other activities. Members of the opposite sex will be source of inspiration and will help you in need of the hour. Some tension might arise with friends or relatives. Pleasure trip will be important for healing your emotional state of mind.

Before you consult... i) Accurate Data: Please make sure Date, Time and Place of birth is accurate. ii) Careful: Did you check background of the astrologer before disclosing your secrets. iii) Fee: Discuss the charges before, don’t feel shy. It’s his business. iv) Expectation: Expect the best, if the outcome is not as desired, never give up. v) Consult: Take second opinion before spending thousands on cure/remedies.

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Annual Predictions: For those born in this week December 24 Ruled by number 6 and the planet Venus, you are generous, practical, energetic, original and a simple person. Your hard-work and sincerity are appreciated by others but your tendency to behave extravagant and to interfere in the affairs of others attracts enormous criticism at times. This year rewards and appreciation for scientist, lawyers, writers, and women professionals associated with advertising and marketing seems certain. A better understanding with your family members will ensure happiness, peace and prosperity at home. Financial gains will increase as the year progresses making you spend more on luxuries and other comforts. Heath matters will cause concern, therefore do not ignore medical advice whenever necessary. The months of July, December, January and Dec will prove to be highly beneficial. December 25: Dominated by number 7 and the planet Neptune, you are responsible, affectionate, creative, simple and a research oriented person. You possess many talents, which make you popular amongst your friends, but you need to check your tendency to behave jealous, introvert and hypocrite at times. The year is perfect to undertake important changes and make strong decisions. Matters related to property, partnerships and new ventures will get resolved. Concentrate on your efforts and growth and prosperity will follow by themselves. The latter half of the year will bring in opportunities to travel overseas for business as well as pleasure. Selective speculation will bring gains. Some good news can be expected from children towards the last quarter of the year. Renovation, construction and socializing will be major highlight of this year. The months of September, November, January and Dec will prove to be highly significant. December 26: Influenced by number 8 and the planet Saturn. You are ambitious, energetic, authoritative, systematic, and a sober person. You possess remarkable talent and conviction to fight against any adverse conditions with courage, but you need to check your tendency to behave highly stubborn and jealous at times. Your coming year promises financial prosperity and good health. Businessmen will invest in more profitable ventures. Promising contacts will build through social get-togethers and traveling. Unexpected help from a distant relative will give a major boost to your career. Your spouse will be quite cooperative and shower her full love and affection upon you despite your erratic behavior towards her. An infatuation within the group will keep you in high spirits for some time but it will not be long lasting. The months of August, December, March and April will prove to be highly significant. December 27: Ruled by number 9 and the planet Mars. You are intelligent, dashing, courageous, enthusiastic and a brilliant individual. In any crowd, you can easily draw attention because of your humble outlook and intellectual talks, but you need to check your tendencies towards aggressiveness and short-temper at times. The coming year sees new ideas and plans materializing. Perfect year that will improve your earning power and let you establish important relationships. Support from your seniors and colleagues, will boost your morale and generate new confidence. Overseas assignments for some will be lucrative. Spouse will provide love and care, but behave highly possessive and unpredictable. A journey preferably

to a distant location towards the yearend cannot be ruled out. The month of September, November, January and Dec will prove to be highly result oriented. December 28: Dominated by number 1 and the Sun. You are smart, intelligent, energetic, friendly and highly dignified person. You are a great admirer of art and literature, but you need to control your tendency to behave stubborn, timid and careless at times. This year you will make good financial gains, provided you take advantage of the opportunities being provided to you. Your charisma and outgoing personality will bring you popularity and win you favors. Home front will be peaceful with family members extending all possible help and cooperation. Spouse and children will look after you well, but be highly demanding at times. Wedding bells for some in the last quarter of the year while others will find romance to keep them in the right spirit and good mood. The months of October, February and June will prove to be important and eventful. December 29: Ruled by number 2 and the Moon. You are highly active, reliable, methodical, imaginative, trustworthy and warm-hearted person. You do not have any hesitation in spending your time and money for others. You are very fond of making new friends, but you need to check your tendency to behave restless, stubborn, lazy and careless at times. This year brings in appreciation and rewards that you deserve. Investments in real estate during this year will prove highly rewarding. However indulging in speculation will be detrimental and should be avoided. Legal disputes, which have been bothering your mind, will settle amicably to your satisfaction. Children will be a major source of happiness and spouse will keep you happy. Health of your parents will suffer due to stress, and rise in family medical expenses will bother your mind. The months of December, April, June and October will be highly important and eventful. December 30: Dominated by number 3 and the planet Jupiter. You are creative, simple, courageous, dignified and original person. You possess an outstanding character, which makes you are highly sympathetic, helpful and generous. You love peace and harmony and you dislike arguments and confrontations, but you need to check your tendency to behave moody, timid and spendthrift at times. This year you will be appreciated for making quick and correct decisions. Your approach will be practical and new assignments and tasks will bring favorable results. You will be receptive to new ideas and progress in your work, which will eventually bring you lot of gains. Investment will bring rewards, but dubious schemes will not be as lucrative as you might anticipate. Renovation or new construction should take place towards the year-end. The months of November, March, July and September will prove to be important and significant.

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Spiritual Awareness

December 24-30, 2011

Follow disciplined life to realize dreams Part two of the discourse 'Olympics of Meditation'

By Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj here are certain traits that make an Olympic winner. By analyzing these traits, we can incorporate them into our own lives as we pursue excellence in any field, including spirituality.


Focus The first quality we find in these Olympic heroes is that they focus one hundred percent on the goal. When the Olympic champions are interviewed we find that their entire life is based on the ruling passion of winning their goal. We have found that some children began at the age of three, four, or five years of age or older with every waking moment of their lives focused on winning the gold medal. They are not wishy-washy. They do not drift from one thing to another. They set a goal and they stick to it without wavering. They put all their attention into that one activity. They are focused on not just participation, but winning and being the best. For example, there is the humorous story of an athlete who came down with a fever. The doctor came to examine him and told him he had a high fever. The athlete asked the doctor, "How high is my fever?" The doctor said, "One hundred and one degrees." The athlete quickly replied, "What’s the world record?" Athletes are trained to only strive for the top scores, to break all records, and to be the best. For example, look at swimmers who broke records for gold medals. To get there, these swimmers focused their entire lives on swimming faster and faster. Think of how many times they had to go back and forth in the pool, timing themselves, and then speeding up again and again to break previous records. It takes total focus to train the body and mind to groove their muscles to perform accurately and quickly. The same commitment is required by divers. Think of how they have to perfect the art of jump-

ing off a diving board, and doing a back flip, spinning two or three times, straightening out the body, and landing in the water at a perfectly vertical angle with little water splash. They have to be totally focused on this goal to be able to repeat it over and over until they have reached perfection. Look at runners. They have to be poised to take off at the starting signal and then escalate to top speeds to win the race. Think of how focused they have to be to do this again and again and again, each time beating previous world records. Look at volleyball players. For example, in 2008 the USA women’s team was unbeatable in over 100 games! Their eyes, minds, and bodies were so focused on the incoming volleyball that they actually dove to the ground to get under the ball and punch it up with their fists to get it high enough to hit it over the net. Think of the focus to be able to dive fast enough to get under a ball wherever it is landing in the sand before the ball touches the sand. What incredible focus one needs to be able to do this no matter how hard or how fast the ball flies and to be in position wherever the ball lands! Look at gymnasts. Think of how high they do twists, turns, and flips in the air from uneven parallel bars, and then land squarely on the floor. Think of how they have to coordinate their timing, body speed, and body position to make their routine come together to achieve close to perfection! As one compares the performance of those who win the gold medal with those who do not, one sees a level of focus that permeates the athletes’ entire lives that helps them achieve the gold. Passion and drive Not only do gold medal winners have one hundred percent focus on the goal, but they are filled with passion and drive to achieve it. None of the gold medal winners are lackadaisical in their attitudes. They are not working in a bored, humdrum way for their gold. They all radiate passion. They are excited about what they are doing. They are pumped. They are full of energy and life. They have a passion for what they are doing. They wake up each day excited to perfect their skills.We can see this in many sports players who love what they are doing. They are excited about getting up to go to practice. They are so excited about it that for them it is not work; it is fun and enjoyment. The gold medal winners for swimming love to swim. The gold medal winners for diving love to

dive. The gold medal winners for running love to run. The gold medal winners for volleyball love volleyball. Without that passion, how would they put in the time necessary to become good at their sport? Passion and drive are key ingredients in making a gold medal winner. Time commitment Some people may have a goal and love a sport, but they fail to put in enough time to become good at it. The difference between an average athlete and a great one may rest in the time spent in perfecting the skill. Gold medal winners may put in more time to their sport than those who do not even make it to the Olympics. Let’s look at the mechanics of this. For the body to perform at supersonic speeds or do twists,

sport. The amount of time they put in is rewarded by their body being able to do what the athlete wants it to do on command. Discipline to do what it takes One can have a goal and a passion for the goal and can also put in the time to be a winner. There is another important ingredient, though, to winning, and that is having the discipline to do what it takes to be the best. One can show up for practice for twelve hours a day, but it is the discipline of doing what is required during those hours that makes one a winner. For example, think of the Olympic sports heroes. It is not only the time they put in, but the discipline to do the tasks necessary within that time frame. They might have to do push-ups, pull-ups, run in place, or stretch. There may be

The winners stay fixed on what they are doing and not what others are doing. In this way, they can give their best and not lose precious seconds looking at what others are doing.. turns, and rotations while suspended in the air requires an incredible degree of synchronization of the body and mind. The brain has to use the senses to judge where the body is in space and to be able to direct the muscles of the body to perform accurately with split second timing. For this to happen, messages sent from the brain cells to the muscles of the body have to be sent quickly and automatically. This takes training and repetition. It is not just doing it once or twice that makes someone perfect. They have to repeat this hundreds and thousands of times until the body and brain can do the extraordinary feats automatically. Olympic winners put in the maximum possible time to perfect their sport. They are the first ones at the gym to practice, and they are the last ones to leave. They may be seen practicing even in the middle of the night. They practice on weekends. They practice on their holidays. They are consumed by the

many repetitive drills that are not as exciting as playing the game but are needed to hone their muscles and movements. Some sports require discipline when it comes to diet. Some sports require one to be light so these athletes have to eat fewer calories. Other sports require muscle bulk so those athletes have to eat certain foods, whether they like it or not. The stamina to run may require certain nutrients, which means the athlete also must watch his or her diet. It is not easy staying on any diet, whether it is to lose weight, gain weight, or watch one’s blood sugar. It means that when that athlete goes out with his or her friends at a party, he or she may have to avoid certain foods. That takes tremendous discipline. Sports ban the use of certain substances, such as steroids or illegal drugs. Thus, some athletes who get caught are eliminated from the competition. It takes discipline for them to observe the restrictions on

drugs even when their friends are offering drugs to them to be cool at parties. Coaches of these Olympic gold medal winners may have required them to observe a set schedule of exercise and rest. They may have to get a certain number of hours of sleep or rest each night, which also involves discipline, especially when others are out partying all night. There are certain exercise routines that may take hours to perform. The routines need to be followed exactly for maximum results. There is discipline involved in keeping to the time schedule for practice. Follow the careers of the Olympic winners and one finds them following a disciplined life to realize their dreams. Focus on their own achievement instead of what others are doing When interviewed about their plan for winning, those gold medal winners often give the same reply, saying, "I have to focus on my game. I have to focus on what I do best." They are not concerned with what others are doing. They know that if they do what they are supposed to do they have a chance at winning. Those who do not win get caught up in what others are doing. For example, at times someone may be ahead in a race, but when they see someone gain on them, they turn their head to watch the other player, and suddenly this distraction causes the one in the lead to fall behind. We see horses that watch other horses trip and fall. For this reason, blinders are put on a horse to keep the animal on track and not be distracted by others. Athletes on a gymnastics team who watch other teammates perform before their own turn comes and who see a friend make an error are often so upset and feel the pain of disappointment of their teammate so strongly that their own ability is affected. They have focused on someone else and their own performance suffers. The winners stay fixed on what they are doing and not what others are doing. In this way, they can give their best and not lose precious seconds looking at what others are doing. (To be continued...) Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj is an internationally recognized spiritual leader and Master of Jyoti Meditation who affirms the transcendent oneness at the heart of all religions and mystic traditions, emphasizing ethical living and meditation as building blocks for achieving inner and outer peace.


Vol 4 Issue 36 December 24-30, 2011