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VOICE OF ASIA

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

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Vol. 30 No. 8 Friday, February 24, 2017 • Published Weekly from Houston • 713-774-5140 24 Pages ( 2 sections) 50 cents E-mail: voiceasia@aol.com • www.voiceofasiaonline.com

IDC Charity Clinic Opens its New Eye Clinic

New Sugar Land ordinance addresses distracted driving

Hearty felicitations for Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee, Ramesh Shah

“The operator of a motor vehicle may not use a portable electronic device while the vehicle is in motion – unless the device is in a hands free mode”

F

ORT BEND, Feb 22, 2017 Sugar Land City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday that prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while driving a vehicle in Sugar Land unless the device is in hands-free mode or being used for an emergency. Swatantra Jain and his wife Bimla Jain seen cutting the ribbon with Dr. Ravi K. Chundru, his wife Madhavi Patnana, MD, as KC Mehta and others look on. by Shobana Muratee HOUSTON - The Indian Doctors Club (IDC) Charity Clinic reached a new a milestone with the opening of a its Charity Eye Clinic on Saturday, February 18 at the Bellaire Professional Building located on 6550 Mapleridge, Suite 229. Chief Guests Swatantra Jain and his wife Bimala Jain, Houston’s well known philanthropists did ribbon cutting ceremony. Jain spoke his long association with the Charity Clinic, “We have witnesses the opening of

Clinic under the leadership of Dr. Sunita Moonat its first president. “It is much more fun to give where we live,” Jain said. The new Charity Eye Clinic was opened with the charitable contributions of Ravi K. Chundru, MD, ophthalmologist, President of Eye Physicians of North Houston and his wife Madhavi Patnana, MD, radiologist who bought equipment worth $25,000. It occupies on of the rooms Continued on Page 8

Suhas Patil, TiE Global Founder meets with Houston Charter Members

Portable electronic devices include mobile phones, personal digital assistants, MP3s or other hand-held music players, electronic reading devices, laptop computers, pagers, electronic game devices and more. “Wireless Communication Devices” are defined in Texas Transportation Code section 545.425. Sugar Land’s new ordinance will take effect March 20; however, drivers will be issued only warnings during the first 90 days. Following the grace period, any person found guilty of violating the ordinance will be fined up to $500 for each offense. Community awareness activities will include media releases, social media, print materials, community meetings, signage and events. Council’s recent action was the result of an extensive education campaign and public review process. The public was presented with the

Ramesh Shah with his wife Kokila Shah. Photo by Bijay Dixit. by Manu Shah HOUSTON - (Feb 20, 2017) Ramesh Shah was at an eye camp in India when he received a call from the Consulate in Houston to inform him that he had been awarded the 2017 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award for his 40 plus years of tireless community service. Whether it was co-founding the Gujarati Samaj or Ekal Vidyalaya, leading a silent hunger strike, garnering funds for Gandhi Bhavan or block marching for political campaigns, Ramesh Shah always led from the front. On 18th February, community members turned out to applaud this huge and well deserved honor at an event cohosted by India House

and the Indian Consulate. Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, in his address, put it best when he stated that Ramesh Shah “personified the Indian ideal of service.” The packed room not only agreed wholeheartedly but also highlighted wife Kokilaben’s support in standing “”shoulder to shoulder” with him in this journey. Hasita Kartick’s rendition of Vande Mataram was the leadin to the event while Emcee Achalesh Amar kept things moving briskly inviting old friends, close associates and community leaders to share their thoughts about Rameshbhai as he is affectionately known. Continued on Page 3

Continued on Page 7

IACCGH welcomes Former CG and Former Ambassador Rinzing Wangdi at Consulate luncheon

TiE Houston Charter Members with Suhas Patil (5th from left). HOUSTON - Thursday, February 16, 2017 - TiE Houston had the honor and pleasure of hosting a meeting with Suhas Patil, TiE Global Founder on February 16, 2017. Suhas has recently returned to the role of TiE Global President. His belief in the core values of TiE is as alive as it was 25 years ago. He says the key to successful leadership is “being a lightning rod with a spirituality of giving”. That attracts the people who will be the core of any organization because leadership is not a single person. He credits successful chapters for being dedicated to seeing their own community grow through true dedication to fostering of entrepreneurship.

“This isn’t a club” he says “you know a chapter has succeeded based on how many up and coming members learn the art of entrepreneurship. Then, out of that, how many succeed.” TiE Houston would like to thank all of our Charter Members and Board Members for coming out and engaging in this discussion to see how TiE Houston can continue to be on the forefront of these initiatives. We pride ourselves on our growing diversity and partnerships with fellow entrepreneurs here in Houston and beyond. We hope to continue to be the lightning rods for you because your success is our success. Together we will all achieve more. A clip of his talk is up on TiE Houston’s Facebook page:

Past President Sanjay Ramabhadran, Shell Project Coordinator Alyssa Holmes-Henderson, President Allen Richards, Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, Shell VP Fred Whipple, Former Ambassador Rinzing Wangdi, Past President Joya Shukla, Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia. Photo credit Bijay Dixit

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VOICE OF ASIA 2

OP-ED/COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS The surprising way Trump, IRS L have made Obamacare worse

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

VOICE OF ASIA Publisher: Associate Publisher: Editor-in-Chief: Austin Correspondent: Print & Media Marketing: Marketing Director: Office Manager:

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Columnists: Legal: Richard M. Alderman Legal: Sharlene Sharmila Richards Research: Prof. Meenakshi Bhattacharjee Health Insurance: Sudhir Mathuria Astrology: Hardik Vyas

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Shobana Muratee

All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the consent of the publisher. Voice of Asia assumes no liability resulting from action taken based on the information included herein. Published weekly by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713-7745143. Email for editorial submissions: voiceasia@aol.com; Email for advertising inquiries and submissions: ads@ voiceofasiagroup.com Voice of Asia (USPS 010-215) (ISSN#10705058) is published every Friday (for a subscription rate of $30 per year) by Free Press LLC, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074. Tel: 713-774-5140. Fax: 713774-5143. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Voice of Asia, 8303 SW Freeway, Suite # 325, Houston, TX 77074

It is the policy of Voice of Asia to publish letters to the editor which evidence a variety of viewpoints. The opinions expressed in any particular letter to the editor are not necessarily those of the management. Voice of Asia welcomes letters in reply to issues raised in letters to editor. In as much letters to the editor are not articles written or researched by members of Voice of Asia, it is not the policy of the Voice of Asia to perform any investigation or confirmation of any facts or allegations contained in letters to the editor. Moreover, Voice of Asia reserves the right to edit letters to the editor as necessary to correct errors of fact, punctuation, spelling and to comply with space constraints. Although paid advertisements may appear in Voice of Asia Group Publications in print, online, or in other electronic formats, the Voice of Asia Group does not endorse the advertised product, service, or company, nor any of the claims made by the advertisement. - The Publisher

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ast year’s promises by President Trump and Republican congressional leaders to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act — which the Obama administration said provided health coverage to 20 million previously uninsured residents — are on hold for now for several reasons. For one, insurance companies warned of chaos if the law wasn’t simultaneously replaced with a comprehensive new federal health policy. For another, the GOP may have been taken aback by the intensity of support shown for the 2010 law at recent rallies and lawmakers’ town hall meetings, and by a Associated Press poll in January showed just 16 percent of Americans back an immediate repeal. Yet hopes that the Trump administration would act carefully to replace or repair a law even Obama says needs improving may be for naught. The administration decision revealed Wednesday to loosen some regulations to try to stabilize health insurers got mixed reviews. But a Trump executive order from last month requiring federal agencies to provide relief from provisions of what’s

by Bhamy V. Shenoy

D

o you remember how it was for air travelers when there was just Indian Airlines? We may face such conditions while buying petrol and LPG. Should we be concerned? Soon there will be just one brand petrol stations throughout India and also just one oil company distributing LPG if NDA succeeds in merging state owned top six oil companies (ONGC, Indian OIl, HPCL, BPCL, GAIL and Oil India ) to create one giant integrated oil company. The Finance Minister unveiled such a policy while presenting the budget this year. Goals for such a merger stated by the Petroleum Minister are “to bear higher risks, to take large investment projects, to avail economy of scale and to create shareholder value”. This merger proposal is a monumental blunder of serious consequences and sadly has not yet caught the attention of the nation. Merger plans are hotly debated mostly in the financial media. PSU managements, investment banks and financial analysts have expressed their support. They have some reservations of the potential problem of blending of cultures as it happened while merging Air India and Indian Airline. However some oil experts and even Mani Shankar Ayer who proposed the idea under UPA in 2004 have questioned the rationale of such a mega merger. To simplify a complex decision making process I have developed a self assessment table with eight criteria to analyze four alternatives. In the first alternative, all top six PSU oil companies will be combined to create one giant integrated oil company. In the second alternative there will be two integrated oil companies - one consists of ONGC, BPCL and HPCL and the second consists of OIL, IOCL and GAIL. In the third alternative there will be one upstream company consisting of ONGC and OIL and the second downstream consisting of the rest. In the fourth alternative, instead of merging oil companies, we will split Indian Oil into two or three to have four or five PSU marketing com-

widely known as Obamacare has magnified the law’s key weakness.

paid by healthier individuals who don’t use nearly as much medical care — driving premiums higher and increasing the incentive for people to not buy coverage until necessary.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people cannot be denied health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions. People who don’t have health insurance through their jobs or families are required to buy coverage on their own or through state exchanges in which policies are subsidized based on income. But because federal tax penalties for not buying insurance are minor compared with the cost of a year of premiums — the median penalty in 2016 was just $330 — individuals, especially healthy young people, have a large financial incentive to not buy insurance until they get sick.

These fears aren’t unfounded. In the 39 states that use the federal health insurance marketplace, ACA premiums for basic coverage were forecast to increase by an average of 25 percent this year. This week, Humana became the first health insurer amid heightened uncertainty over the law to announce it would stop providing ACA policies, beginning next year. Then Mark Bertolini, chief executive of Aetna, an even larger insurer, said he believes more insurers will withdraw this year and “we’ll see a lot of markets without any coverage at all.”

This has long led to fears that state exchanges will face “death spirals” in which insurers have to pay for the cost of care for the sickest people without benefiting from the premiums

The president’s executive order makes that more likely than ever. Its requirement that federal agencies provide ACA relief has been interpreted by the IRS as meaning taxpayers

don’t have to confirm whether they complied with the law by maintaining health insurance — meaning those without insurance could theoretically avoid being penalized. Beginning this year, tax returns that didn’t respond to the question on line 61 of the 1040 form were going to be returned as incomplete. Not any more, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Reason website. The IRS says “taxpayers remain required to follow the law and pay what they may owe,” but its point has been made. It’s clear that Obamacare shouldn’t be replaced or revamped in a hurry. Still, it’s time for the Trump administration and lawmakers of both parties to begin the overhaul of a health care system that’s under siege. Editorial by The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

Merger of PSU oil companies will lead to modern day Bhasmasura Assessment of different alternatives to merge state owned Indian Oil Companies. Criteria

One integrated oil company 1

Multiple integrated oil companies 2

Merging upstream and downstream into two large companies 3

Splitting IOC into multiple companies 4

Managing Risk

2

2

2

0

Economy of scale

0

0

0

0

Ability to invest

3

2

3

0

Creating shareholder value

0

0

3

4

Stability in earnings

2

2

0

0

-8

-8

-6

0

Competition

-10

-6

-8

8

Energy security

-10

-6

-10

8

Total Score

-21

-14

-16

20

Blending cultures

Source: Author’s assessment. Readers can make their own assessments

panies which is my proposed suggestion. Presently the government is considering only the first three alternatives or some variations and not any splitting alternative. To assess different merger alternatives, I have added four more criteria in addition to the four suggested by the government. When I evaluate each alternative giving scores on a scale of -10 to 10 to each criteria, giant integrated oil company idea suggested by Jaitly gets the most negative score (-21) followed by the other two alternatives of multiple integrated companies ( -16 and -14) hinted by Pradhan, the petroleum minister. He contradicted Jaitely, the finance minister by stating that he does not want to put all eggs in one basket. The alternative which gets the maximum score is not on government radar. Though this alternative creating more marketing companies will result in more competition, NDA

government enamored with large size is not interested. For them, “Big is Beautiful”. The goal claimed by the government is to create large size companies like Exxon, Shell, BP, etc to invest in risky projects and to enhance shareholder value. Based on the market reality, this strategy will not succeed to achieve these goals. In oil industry even the largest oil companies handle risk by forming consortiums and our oil companies are already pursuing such strategies. Many integrated oil companies like ConocoPhillips, Marathon, Hess are split recently to enhance shareholder value. Earlier UPA also had considered mega merger and dropped the idea when experts argued against it. The real but unannounced driving force for merger is to monetize political power. Politicians all over the world find it easy to milk one large

company as happened in countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico. It is surprising that a government which is seriously fighting to reduce corruption is likely to help the future oil ministers who may like to milk the giant company. This is the unintended result of the mega merger which the NDA might have overlooked. India should have learnt from the devastating experience of Mexico. It has been suffering as a result of its giant oil company PEMEX. It was the oil sector union which forced the Mexican government to nationalize oil industry in 1938. Since then till recently PEMEX employee union has played a significant role in shaping the destiny of Mexican economy and politics. And it has been disastrous by any criterion. In 1989 in a military raid union leader was arrested because the employees were conspiring against the government. What was started to solve the exploitation by the multinationals, resulted in causing a grave problem to the security of the country. Only since two years Mexico has started to privatize the oil industry and reduced the monopoly power of PMEX union. It is unfortunate that our government instead of learning from Mexican experience is going the opposite way to create a modern day Bhasmasura. Once such a monster is created it will be difficult to destroy him. Houston NRIs can contribute to India’s energy security urging PM Modi to drop this proposal which is not in the best interest of India. Bhamy V. Shenoy is a former manager of Conoco, former board member of Georgian National Oil Company and former member of Exploration Advisory Committee to ONGC Chairman.

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COMMUNITY VOICE OF ASIA

VOICE OF ASIA 3

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Second Front Page

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Hearty felicitations for Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardee, Ramesh Shah Ramesh Shah’s work with Ekal came from Consul General Dr. Ray who noted that every child saved by Ekal could well be a child saved from becoming a Naxalite or insurgent. The final word came from the Pravasi Bharatiya awardee himself. Humble to the core, Rameshbhai shared his honor with the community which he stated had supported him in all his endeavors. He also reflected that he was deeply

Continued from Page 1

President of India House Dr. Manish Rungta welcomed the gathering and described the honoree as a “role model.” In an introduction that captured the deep affection between the two community leaders, Jugal Malani observed that his mota bhai (older brother) Ramesh Shah always worked “without any expectation like a true karmayogi.” Jugal Malani also described Ramesh Shah’s two unique qualities – his helpful nature which intuitively empowers him to “land down like Superman” to help those in need and his strong personality and determination. He quoted a dialogue from a film which he said best described Rameshbhai’s spirit of determination – “ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, phir main apne aap ki bhi nahi suntaa.” As the laughter and applause subsided, he added that it is these qualities that have made Rameshbhai a “genuine, outstanding and successful leader” of the community. Other heartfelt observations came from all corners of the room – Kulbhushan Uppal spoke of the many times Ramesh Shah dug into his own pockets to organize community events, Anu Mahendra, described by Emcee Achalesh as Ramesh Shah’s mentor, cheerfully conceded that this is an instance where “the chela (disciple) has become better than the guru”, Dr. Harsad Patel spoke of being inspired by Ramesh Shah while Arun Sharma remarked on his simplicity as good Swayam Sevak It seemed that everyone in the room wanted to share their thoughts about Rameshbhai. Arun Kankari

Ramesh Shah with all the speakers Arun Kakani, Subhash Gupta, Jugal Malani , Dr. Manish Rungta, Rupal Shah, Hon Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray, Kokila Shah, Ramesh Shah , Col. Raj Bhalla , Arun Sharma. Photo(s) credit: Vijay Pallod.

Rajeev Gadgil, Publisher, India Herald, his wife Bina Gadgil with the Shahs at the event.

highlighted his ever smiling face and observed that he is a manifestation of a “rishi” who not only dedicates his life for service but inspires others to do the same. Wellknown community leader Abeezar Tyebji asserted that Rameshbhai epitomizes the saying – “reach for the stars and keep your feet on the ground.”

It was an emotional moment for daughter Roopal, who fought back tears before stating that she is “super proud” of the fact that of the one billion Indians on the planet, India recognized Rameshbhai and Kokilaben’s lifetime of service - two ordinary people with an extraordinary commitment to using this life for something more.

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This spirit of service, she added, was a common feature during their years growing up where the three children were often roped into activities from drafting letters to helping set up chairs before an event. Roopal concluded her gratitude to the community by asking each one in the gathering to expand their circle to “add one more person, one more cause, one more act of kindness” towards each other in these trying times. Ekal Vidyalaya confronts illiteracy in India’s remotest corners - a cause close to Rameshbhai’s heart. Subhash Gupta, an Ekal associate, revealed that the organization’s US Chapter originated in Ramesh Shah’s house and added that Rameshbhai would travel extensively on red eye flights fundraising for Ekal Vidyalaya all on his own dime. His dedication to the cause is such that he will be spending the next four months travelling in a van across the US with nine artists from India to raise funds for Ekal. The biggest tribute for

influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s writings and asked for only one thing from the gathering – their blessings to continue his work till his last breath. At the end of the day, one thought prevailed in the room “Manushya tu bada mahaan hai” Amit Mishra capped off the evening by thanking the evening’s hosts and organizer Vijay Pallod for his efforts in bringing the event together.

Arya Samaj for Houston Food Bank

A

rya Samaj Greater Houston organizes its annual Food Drive for the Houston Food Bank. Its members enjoy food every Sunday together after the weekly Satsang, called Rishi Langar’s Preeti Bhoj. But this time of the year is slightly different for them when they spare a thought to the recurring pain of the hungry people in the society. The Sixth Principle of Arya Samaj envisions a world without suffering - Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah - may all be happy, including humans and animals. Hunger is the greatest enemy that gives rise to all sorts of evils. The unfortunate people without adequate food suffer hunger. Sleep could make one forget the pain of hunger but a hungry man is unable to sleep, too.

We know that water and air are more necessary substances for survival than food is. It is God’s benevolent design that air and water are available to everybody without any major effort, and it is the food that triggers a common human being into the action mode. One could lay the responsibility

on the hungry man that he is lazy and responsible for his own plight. But the society is greatly interconnected. The society as a whole must make it happen that everybody is gainfully employed and can earn with dignity to bring food into his home. There are instances when a person is willing to work but is unable to find work. Of course, there are difficult cases when a person is simply unable to work due to old age, handicaps, infirmity, etc. Putting all factors together, Arya Samaj believes in doing a small bit to lessen the suffering in the society we live in. Arya Samaj Houston takes pride that their members responded generously for the cause in the year 2017, surpassing the previous contributions. Besides a number of boxes of canned food, cash donation of $4000 was made, encompassing a multi-volunteer drive of 6-8 weeks - a small step toward a hunger-free world. Let there be a world where food is available to everybody just as one can count the availability of water!


COMMUNITY

VOICE OF ASIA 4

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Non-Compete Agreements in Texas

The People’s Lawyer

Q. As a business owner, can I give new employees a one-time lump sum amount of money in exchange for them agreeing to a non-compete?

www.peopleslawyer.net Richard M. Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Agreement to exchange things is enforceable Q. My friend and I agreed that if he would give me a lawn mower he wasn’t using, I would give him my bicycle. Right after he agreed I brought him the bike. He told me he had to make a small repair to the mower and would then bring it over. Now he refuses to give me the mower or return my bike. What can I do? He says I am out of luck. A. Under the law, a contract is formed when there is “bargained for exchanged.” For example, when you agree to buy something the exchange is you will give someone money and he agrees to give you the goods. In your case, the exchange you agreed to is also considered a binding contract. This type of agreement, exchanging one thing for another, is know as “barter,” and is just as enforceable as any exchange to pay money for a good. I suggest you let him know that you believe you have a contract and expect he will live up to his half of the bargain. If he does not return the bike or give you the mower, you can file a claim in justice court to collect what it will cost you to purchase what he promised to give you. Q We just moved here

from Indiana. My wife and I have simple wills prepared by an Indiana attorney. Are our wills still valid in Texas? A. Your will may or may not be valid, depending on whether it complies with Texas law. Even if valid, however, it may not have the same effect in Texas because of the difference in state laws. For example, Texas is a community property law state and Indiana is not. My suggestion is to simply get a new will prepared in Texas. Shop around and you should be able to find an attorney that prepares a simple will for a very reasonable fee. Q. I have a hospital bill I was paying off when I lost my job. I couldn’t pay for several months. I now have another job and want to start paying again. The hospital told me that it expects payment in full and will no longer accept partial payments, and will sue if I don’t pay. Doesn’t the hospital have to accept my payments? A. Under the law, no creditor is required to work with you to arrange a payment plan. The creditor may demand payment in full and refuse to accept anything less. Having said that, most creditors will accept what you can afford to pay. Cred-

Nitin Sud, Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney

itors simply want to be paid and they know that suing in Texas usually doesn’t help. To see what can happen if you are sued, look at the debt collection section on my website, www.peopleslawyer.net. I suggest you speak with the hospital, explain your financial situation, and let them know you are again able to make regular payments. My guess is that they may try to get you to pay more but ultimately will accept what you can afford. Q. I have a life insurance policy and an IRA account with named beneficiaries. I also have a will. I have been told that when I die my will controls the distribution of these assets and that the will controls over my designations. Is this correct? A. It is not correct. The beneficiaries of a will inherit only the property owner by the deceased at death. If the deceased has named beneficiaries in assets such as a life insurance policy or IRA, those funds pass at death pursuant to their terms, and are not considered part of the estate dealt with by the will. In other words, the life insurance and IRA proceeds will be distributed to the named beneficiaries, no matter what the will says.

M

any employers require their employees, especially employees involved in sales or marketing, to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of their employment. Although the Texas Supreme Court has consistently made such agreements more enforceable over the last 11 years, specific requirements are still required. The failure to abide by these requirements could render a non-compete agreement unenforceable. Q. What are the basic requirements of an enforceable non-compete agreement? A. There are technically two requirements: 1) it must be ancillary to or part of an otherwise enforceable agreement at the time the agreement is made; and 2) it must contain limitations as to time, geographical area, and scope of activity to be restrained that are reasonable and do not impose a greater restraint than is necessary to protect the goodwill or other business interest of the promise.

A. No. The agreement must give rise to the employer’s interest in restraining the employee from competing. Specifically, the employer must give something that is “reasonably related to an interest worthy of protection, such as trade secrets, confidential information or goodwill.” Generally, providing employees access to such information should be sufficient; however, simply providing cash would not be. Q. I was a sales employee for my prior employer. In my job, I worked with several customers selling [a product/service] on behalf of my employer. The non-compete agreement prevents me from communicating or selling anything at all to these customers I worked with for one year. Is that enforceable? A. Although every situation is different and the enforceability of a non-compete agreement may depend on specific facts and the judge making the decision, the situation you describe is probably not fully enforceable. Although a oneyear time frame is likely to be reasonable, the problem is that your employer is inappropriately limiting the scope of activity to be restrained. For example, you would have the right to communicate with these customers (perhaps in a social setting or as a friend). Also, you would likely have the right to sell unrelated products/services that would not cause any loss to your prior employer’s busi-

ness. Q. I worked for a large company with thousands of customers, but only had dealings with a small fraction of those customers. The company’s non-compete agreement prevents me from soliciting or working with all of its customers for one year. I quit my job and have just started working for a direct competitor. Can my prior employer still prevent me from soliciting or working with all of its customers? A. Probably not. Generally, an “industry wide” exclusion is too broad. If you did not work with certain customers and knew nothing about them, it will be difficult for your prior employer to prevent you from working with them for your new employer. However, your prior employer can likely prevent you from targeting customers with you did work. Nevertheless, this issue is debatable, and a judge may have discretion to decide how to rule. Disclaimer This article is for general information purposes and is not to be construed as specific legal advice.

Bio Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney Nitin Sud represents employees, executives, and small businesses in a variety of labor and employment matters, including litigation in state and federal courts. For more information, visit www.sudemploymentlaw.com

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FBISD rallies for public schools over vouchers by David Garvin

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he Fort Bend Independent School District board is urging community members and parents to attend the ‘Join One Voice for Texas Public Education’ on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol on Monday, February 27, at 11:00 a.m. “Please join our coalition and let our legislators know you support public education and oppose school vouchers!” said Kristin Tassin, Fort Bend ISD Board President and attorney. Fort Bend ISD, Klein ISD, Spring Branch ISD have all passed resolutions of support for the One Voice for Texas Public Education Coalition, and other school districts, organizations and individuals are considering joining as well. For more than 100 years the Texas PTA has promoted collaboration and engagement of families and educators in the education of Texas children and youth. Texas PTA members work in partnership with a wide array of individuals and organizations to broaden and enhance the organization’s ability

to serve and advocate for all children and families. By attending Rally Day, PTA voices will be heard and legislators are asked to take action while decisions are being made rather than afterwards when nothing can be done. One Voice for Texas Public Education Coalition exists to be a collective voice for the support and benefit of all students attending Texas public schools. It is our purpose to ensure that the interests and values of the local community remain at the heart of educational decision-making by advocating for meaningful, equitable accountability that takes into consideration the needs of the student population. Also, they advocate for adequate funding of public schools for the benefit of all Texas students, including the elimination of unfunded mandates passed at the state level. “We collectively call upon our state legislators to put the interests of Texas children first when voting on legislation and ask for consideration and support of the policy initiatives endorsed by the Coalition,” the coalition writes in their appeal for support.

SL Police accepting applications for Teen Academy

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ugar Land Police Department Teen Academy applications will be accepted through March 6. The Teen Academy is a new program intended to engage students in a variety of topics designed to foster relationships, trust and understanding between officers and teens. Participants will have an opportunity to gain an understanding of police operations through specialized presentations and hands-on activities. The two week academy will be held at the Sugar Land Police Department from June 12 through June 23. Those interested must commit to attend all

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

sessions, which will be held Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to noon. Students between the age of 14 to 18 who are enrolled in public or private schools within the city of Sugar Land and its extra-territorial jurisdiction will be considered. Applications are available at https:// volunteer.sugarlandtx.gov. Other requirements for consideration include a parental release, medical release and application questions. Classes are limited to 20 students per session. For more information, visit www. sugarlandtx.gov/PDteenAcademy or contact Officer Lauren Stockholm at (281) 275-2956. (-SLPD)

www.voiceofasiaonline.com

March of Dimes ‘Walk for Babies’ set for April fundraiser Join Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital as they raise funds for infant health

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UGAR LAND - Kyndal was born at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital four weeks early, to a young, first-time mom named Jazmin Hosea. Like many premature babies, Kyndal had a number of serious health issues, and she required an extended stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. “Premature birth is the leading cause of death for infants in the U.S.,” said NICU nurse Beth Kennedy. “Because of the seriousness of the issues these babies face, and because they are so small and vulnerable, the NICU can be a scary, intimidating environment for parents – especially for young moms. But Jazmin was here every day for hours, and she worked hard to learn everything she could from the nurses so that she could eventually care for Kyndal herself.” Thanks to the outstanding care she received, today Kyndal is nearly two years old and is happy and healthy. And as her way of saying thanks, Jazmin is serving as the 2017 Patient Ambassador for Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s March of Dimes Walk for Babies. The hospital has a team participating in the first-ever Fort Bend Walk for Babies, scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive in Sugar Land. Fort Bend residents are invited to join our team and participate in the 3.2-mile walk to raise funds that support healthy childbirth and babies. Easily sign up at marchforbabies. org/team/HoustonMethodistSugarLandHospital and click on the pink “Join This Team” button on the right. Or, you can donate to our team by clicking on the orange “Donate” button. “March of Dimes does a fantastic job of working to support healthy

Jazmin Hosea, Beth Kennedy, RN, and Kyndal Silva (Photo courtesy Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital) lives for newborns,” said Kennedy. “Proceeds from the annual Walk for Babies are used to fund research into understanding premature births and how to prevent them, as well as actually supporting moms like Jazmin – and their families – who are struggling with the stress and difficulty of having a premature baby. Participating in the walk is our way of giving back and working toward reducing or eliminating premature births here in Fort Bend.” “Kyndal is healthy and active today because of the care and support that Houston Methodist Sugar Land and March of Dimes provided,” said Jazmin. “Participating in the Walk for Babies can help other new moms gain

the skills and confidence they need to care for their premature babies and create even more success stories like ours. I encourage everyone to join our team or make a donation today.” To learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit houstonmethodist.org/sugarland or our Facebook page at fb.com/methodistsugarland for the latest news, events and information.

VOA

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VOICE OF ASIA 6

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017


COMMUNITY

VOICE OF ASIA 7

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

IACCGH welcomes Former CG Stephanie Houston and Dee Knox and Former Ambassador Rinzing named Fort Bend ISD’s 2017 Principals of the Year Wangdi at Consulate luncheon that Indo Americans are serious about “being a part of the community.” When asked what he thought was the game changer in the relationship between the two countries, the former Ambassador observed that public perception about India changed during President George Bush, Jr’s presidency and reached greater heights with President Obama. He also alluded to the early successes of the Chamber’s efforts with BMC Software and United Airlines and admitted that Houston ranked as one of his favorite postings. Rinzing Wangdi by Manu Shah

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hen India’s Consul General Rinzing Wangdi came to Houston eighteen years ago, one of his objectives was to bring about a deeper, long lasting and transformative change in the economic engagement between the US and India. This vision led to the creation of the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston or IACCGH as it is better known. The organization, started in 1999 with 40 Indo American business leaders has become in the words of its Founding Secretary and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia “the force that it is today.” On February 13th, Founding members, Past Presidents, community leaders, elected official representatives and IACCGH members turned out to meet and reconnect with “the founding father of the Chamber” Rinzing Wangdi. In a gracious move that has become his hallmark, CG Dr. Anupam Ray invited the Chamber to host former CG and former Ambassador Wangdi’s luncheon at the Consulate. IACCGH President Allen Richards welcomed the gather-

ing. In his address, he described the Consulate as a “great location” and added that this venue “reinforces our vision as a Chamber and the commitment of the Consul General to foster the cultural and economic development we are trying to do within the community.” Consul General Dr. Ray also mirrored the thought that the venue to welcome the former Consul General is fitting because it is “institution builders” like Ambassador Wangdi who pave the way for diplomats like himself. The CG also described the India US relationship as a “story which only has upsides” and reiterated the Consulate’s efforts to address all calls, complaints and emails in the shortest time possible. The armchair conversation between Past President Sanjay Ramabhadran and former Ambassador Wangdi was rich in wit and wisdom and provided a glimpse into the fascinating life of a diplomat. The former Ambassador emphasized that the Foreign Services is more a “calling” than a service. His vision in creating an economic chamber, he elaborated, was not only to enable people, business and our countries to connect but to show the US

Shell’s VP Fred Whipple, in his vote of thanks, noted that it was a privilege to sponsor the Series and added that he had been enriched by the lectures over the years. He also thanked the Chamber for their impact locally.

New Sugar Land ordinance..... Continued from Page 1 following three options. • Drivers may not text and drive, but phones may be held while driving to make phone calls; • The operator of a motor vehicle may not use a portable electronic device while the vehicle is in motion – unless the device is in a hands free mode;

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ORT BEND ISD (February 16, 2017) – Veteran educators Stephanie Houston and Dee Knox were named Fort Bend ISD’s 2017 Principals of the Year. Houston is the principal at Ridgemont Elementary School and is the Elementary Principal of the Year; and Knox, principal at Dulles Middle School, is the Secondary Principal of the Year. They were selected by their peers for the honor based on their outstanding leadership, service and dedication to their students and staff. An educator for more than 23 years, Houston expressed that she is grateful that her peers see her hard work, dedication, and commitment to Ridgemont Elementary and FBISD. “I am extremely elated and honored to receive the recognition as “Principal of the Year” in FBISD, and humbled by this acknowledgement because I commit myself to do this awesome work for the students in order for them to succeed,” Houston said. “In my role as a campus leader, I have worked alongside many distinguished principals that I respect and admire.” Houston also served as the principal at Townewest Elementary for eight years. Prior to that, she worked for Alief ISD as an elementary teacher, math specialist and assistant principal. Knox officially joined the District in 1993 as a teacher at Austin Parkway Elementary, and then served as assistant principal at Walker Station Ele-

• No ordinance. Citizens overwhelmingly chose the second option. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a number of bills related to the use of portable electronic devices while driving. The proposals

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prohibit texting and driving and allow cities to enact ordinances containing regulations more stringent than those proposed in the bills. Sugar Land’s new ordinance is consistent with those being considered by legislators.

Pictured (from left) are: Principal Stephanie Houston, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Dupre, and Principal Dee Knox.

mentary. Later, she became the assistant principal at Holley Elementary, where she eventually assumed the role of principal. Currently, she is principal of Dulles Middle School and has already proven she is a great leader. “I have been blessed to have people in my life that have shaped me into the leader I am today,” Knox shared. “I am grateful to my peers and

colleagues that I have worked with, laughed with and from whom I have learned. Being a principal allows me the opportunity to turn around and invest in the lives of students, teachers and parents the way others invested in me. It is my joy and privilege.” Both principals will be honored later this spring at the Region 4 Education Service Center Principal Recognition Ceremony.

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COMMUNITY

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

IHA and ICC present ‘Gazals IDC Charity Clinic Opens its New Eye Clinic Night’ for Valentines

L-R: KC Mehta welcoming the gathering at the opening of the new IDC Charity Eye Clinic. Also seen are Dr. Kiran Gandhi, Chief Guests Mrs. Bimla Jain and Swatantra Jain. Continued from Page 1

Singers and Musicians: Archana Panda, Nausha Asrar and Imtiaz Munshi gave a memorable performance. by Shobana Muratee The International Hindi Association, (IHA) Houston Chapter and India Culture Center (ICC), Houston presented a sold out ‘Ghazals Night’ at the India House on Friday, February 10 with scintillating songs and music setting the mood for the Valentine’s. Local artist Nausha Asrar and Archana Panda from California gave a passionate Members of IHA and ICC with the artists at the Ghazal Night. and engaging performance. Ghazals Sangeeta Pasrija, IHA Na- and PA and Gautam Jani for have been sung as a way of en- tional Director and Swapan videography. Madras Pavilticing, appealing and endearing Dhairyawan, IHA National ion’s owners Mahesh Shah and for years and continue to gain President commenced the eve- his wife Alpa Shah were also their popularity through tal- ning by giving background of felicitated for continuing support to IHA and ICC for the ented singers and Ghazal writ- IHA and event concept. past seven years. ers. Bollywood Ghazals in parApart from entertainment, ticular are a delight for people there were interactive games of all ages which that evident and prizes to be won for ValThe core committee that from Imtiaz Munshi’s musical entine’s weekend. Guests got worked to make the event a presentation that night. complimentary wine; delicious grand success comprised of The IHA and ICC aims to dinner catered by Madras Pa- Swapan Dhairyawan Dr. KD promote Hindi language in the vilion and even got to take pic- Upadhyaya, Sangeeta Pasrija, United States. Ghazals are not ture at the photo booth. Rajiv Bhavsar, Charlie Patel, only rich in their literary form ICC President, Falguni Gan- Sanjay Sohoni, Nisha Mirani but impart great knowledge dhi welcomed the gathering. and Ajit Patel. about the times and lives of The artists were later felicitated people of different eras. It was by IHA chapter president Dr. fund-raising event for IHA and Next free event ‘Holi ke KD Upadhyaya. proceeds from the program will Hindi Bol’ will be held at JVB The organizers thanked Ra- Praksha Center on March 5h be entirely used for ‘Prasar’ and ‘Prachar’ of Hindi at the newly ghu Thakkar for photography Sunday 2 PM to 5 PM For and Darshak Thacker for sound more info call 832-640 0809. started classes at VVM.

of Charity Clinic and is open to all on 2nd Saturdays of every month from 9:00 AM to 12 noon, patients can arrive at 8:30 AM and will see on a first come first serve basis. Comprehensive eye exams including screening for glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes, macular degeneration, will be done. Prescription for glasses will also be written upon checkup it was announced. “The IDDC is now part of a network of organizations like: Houston’s Eye Associates Foundation, Prevent Blindness Texas, Lighthouse of Houston, Lions Club and others too that support the eye care needs of the less fortunate of our Houston community,” Dr. Chundru said at the inaugural. Recognizing the origin and history and IDC Charity Clinic to see any patient regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, Dr. Chundru said, “We also welcome our volunteers with the same enthusiasm whether physician, nurse receptionist.” Dr. Chundru his wife Dr. Madhavi, were presented with a plaque by Jain on behalf of IDC Charity Clinic. Other organizations: Indian Doctors Association (IDA), Houston, Indo-American Charity Foundation (IACF) and a few individuals were also recognized for their support to the Charity Clinic on the occasion. Earlier, welcoming the gathering KC Mehta, Secretary, IDC Charity Clinic gave a brief history of the IDC Charity Clinic that was established in 1999 by doctors of Indian origin for the purpose of providing patient care for those without insurance, low income groups and people from all communities. He recognized the services and

Dr. KT Shah speaking on the occasion.

leadership of its members: Drs. Sunita Moonat, Suresh Moonat, Satish Jhingran, Ninan Mathew, Jagdish Sharma, Jay Raman, Snehal Mehta, Bhuchar, Manoj Vakil, K T Shah Gopal Nana, Rachel Varghese to name a few. Mehta introduced the Board of Directors and Chairman –Elect and Medical Director Kiran Gandhi. Dr. KT Shah, Chairman and Medical Director of the IDC Charity Clinic gave a robust insight of the Charity’s operations and growth. Dr. Shah has been volunteering his services since Donors Dr. Chundru his wife Dr. 2005. He spoke of the ser- Madhavi receiving a plaque from vice that are provided free Swatantra Jain. and some other that can be availed at a subsidized fee ic in the future. The IDC Charfrom the Charity Clinic’s sup- ity Clinic is run entirely on porting institutes. He will be donations and by volunteers. soon handing over charge to Dr. Guests were served lunch caKiran Gandhi he said. tered by Bhojan Restaurant. Mehta said that the IDC Char- Those interested to be a part ity Clinic is working on more can call 713-410-7052 or visit such Specialty Clinics and their website www.indiandochopes to add a free mobile clin- torscharityclinic.org

IDA members: Subodhsingh Chauhan, MD, Atasu Nayak, MD, Prasun K Jalal, and Manish Gandhi, MD receiving a plaque from Ramesh Shah. Photo by Shobana Muratee.


COMMUNITY

VOICE OF ASIA 9

Back & Neck Pain? Find Relief

Seminar on Wednesday, April 19 at 6 p.m. at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Brazos Pavilion Conference Center.

Dr. Karl Vega-Lelkes, orthopedic spine surgeon

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UGAR LAND — (February 16, 2017) Most healthy adults will experience back or neck pain at some point in their lives. Whether you’re young or old, back and neck pain can be debilitating. And it’s no wonder, your neck and back work to give strength to your movements and hold up half of your weight day in and day out. The spine is a complex structure with more than 33 vertebrae that form the flexible column running from skull to tailbone; between each is a cushiony disc, and holding everything together is a web of ligaments and muscles. “With all of these different parts in the spine, there’s a lot that can go wrong,” said Dr. Karl Vega-Lelkes, a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon at the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Neuroscience & Spine Center. PREVENTION IS KEY Back ailments can stem from

a variety of sources, including heavy lifting, improper sports or exercise techniques, sitting hunched over a desk or being overweight. Conditions such as a herniated disc, muscle spasms, arthritis and scoliosis can also contribute to back pain. Depending on the source of your back problem, you may experience acute pain (lasting a few weeks) or chronic pain (lasting for months or years). “Since most people end up experiencing back pain, one of the best things we can recommend is prevention,” VegaLelkes said. Some of the steps you can take to prevent back and neck pain include: • Maintaining good posture • Strengthening muscles in your legs, back and abdomen • Lifting objects with your legs, not your back • Maintaining a healthy weight • Wearing supportive shoes TREATING THE PAIN If you’re experiencing mild back or neck pain, over-thecounter anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen may help, along with applying an ice pack and alternating with a heating pad. Whether your pain is intense or a slight throbbing, it’s important to seek a treatment option that’s right for you. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Karl Vega-Lelkes, visit houstonmethodist.org/ appointments for easy online schedule or call our Neuroscience & Spine Center at 281.274.7979.

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

TiE’s Annual Charter Members Dinner

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OUSTON - Saturday, February 11, 2017 - TiE Houston’s annual Charter Member Dinner was held at McCormick & Schmick’s this on February 11, 2017. Charter Members and Board Members together to celebrate 2016 and share what is in store for 2017. Dr. Arun Pasrija, TiE Houston President, and board members shared the overall strategies and goals for 2017 to remain a meaningful part of Houston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Their specific areas of focus are mentoring, investments and networking. Dr. Atul Varadhachary outlined a new mentoring initiative and pilot program. They are currently in the process of creating the first CEO peer group which focuses on non-profit organizations. Once that group has TiE Houston Board of Directors. From left to right: Back: Ravi Brahmbhatt, Dr. Shri Iyer, Dr. Arun been established the goal will Pasrija (President), Aruna Viswanathan, Shahid Javed, Dr. Atul Varadhachary, Karl Maier be to create similar groups Front: John Reale, Michael Raspino, Ram Shenoy. Not pictured: Dr. Roopa Gir whose focus is on energy, tech, and IT. More details coming soon! Michael Raspino shared the strategic goals for new and exciting investment opportunities. The very first meeting of TiE Houston investors will be meeting this Friday, February 24th to hear a pitch from a company that participated at the TiE Houston Venture Forum this past November. They have been working with a TiE Houston Charter Member mentor since September. Finally, Karl Maier explained the power of our TiE Houston network and how we will use it to elevate our thriving entrepreneurial community. TiE Global is going to

Dr. Arun Pasrija speaking to group. Right: A section of the gathering be rolling out a new platform to connect all of its 13,000+

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Indian PM urges U.S. to keep an open mind on visas for skilled workers by Manoj Kumar

Congress.

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“He urged developing a reflective, balanced and far-sighted perspective on movement of skilled professionals.”

EW DELHI - Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the United States on Tuesday to keep an open mind on admitting skilled Indian workers, in comments that pushed back against Republican President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric on jobs. Modi’s comments reflected concern that India’s $150 billion IT services industry would suffer if the United States curbs the visas, known as H-1B, it relies on to send its software experts to the United States on project work. “The prime minister referred to the role of skilled Indian talent in enriching the American economy and society,” Modi’s office said in a statement after he met a bipartisan delegation of 26 members of the U.S.

Indian nationals are by far the largest group of recipients of the 65,000 H-1B visas issued each year to new applicants under a cap mandated by Congress. Exemptions on the H-1B cap are available to up to 20,000 further applicants who have obtained a U.S. master’s degree. The actual number of Indian nationals working in the United States under the H-1B program is significantly higher, however, because many visas are rolled over. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was born in India, also met Modi on Tuesday. He told the Economic Times earlier that his own career had been made

possible by “an enlightened immigration policy”. Initial confidence that Asia’s third-largest economy would benefit from Trump’s election victory has given way to concern that his isolationist rhetoric and hostility to free trade would hurt India’s hi-tech and outsourcing industry. The sector, led by Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, employs 3.5 million people and is lobbying against proposed U.S. visa curbs - including increases on salaries that H-1B visa holders must earn. Part of the delegation led by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, met Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister in charge of electronics and IT. (-Reuters)

H1B visa: India begins dialogue with US lawmakers by Anirban Ghoshal and Sunny Sen EW DELHI - The Indian software services companies will breathe a sigh of relief as the Indian ministries, authorities and industry lobby had a dialogue with a visiting eight-member US delegation headed by Congressman Bob GoodLatte, on the ongoing concerns of H1-B visa holders.

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After the meeting with IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, GoodLatte, the chairman of house judiciary committee that plays an important role in drawing policies around immigration and intellectual property, said, that it was up to President Donald Trump to reassess the situation on the immigration policy. To put things in perspective, the Trump government has started a clampdown on H1-B visa holders, who he believes take away American jobs. The

Indian IT industry has thrived over the “offshore” business model. America accounts for 65% of $155 billion Indian IT revenue. However, according to a senior government official who had knowledge of the meeting said that things looked positive. “US-India has a good relationship historically. India and US compliments and supplements each other in several areas especially with Indian talent adding value to US firms and the biggest examples are Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai,” he said. The source, who is highly placed in the government, added that nearly 75% of all Fortune500 companies are serviced by Indian IT firms, and that some of the top IT firms doing business in India, are of American origin, such as Cisco, Google and Amazon. Meanwhile, Nirmala Sithara-

man, minister of commerce and industry said that “the issue” had been discussed in details with the US Congressmen. “Business always flourishes in an environment of certainty and transparency. So even this visa related issue is an issue on which we would want to have an air of certainty and also transparency,” she told reporters on Tuesday. Sitharaman added that the US Congress is waiting for the new administration to settle down, and once that happens, the Congressmen will play an important role in the coming out with the rules.

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Bangladeshi girl dies in US plane crash

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AN DIEGO, CA - A Bangladeshi girl has died in a training plane crash near Ramona in Southern California. The victim was identified as Sayra Nur Lamisa, 20, daughter of Captain Zakir Hosen of Bangladesh Biman, reports Bangla daily Prothom Alo. Cal Fire Capt Issac Sanchez told the San Diego Union Tribune that they received a report of the crash Sunday afternoon. Authorities Monday recovered the body from the crash site on a mountainside in a remote back- country area north of Ramona, reports the Ramona

Patch. A 28-year-old man and a 25-year-old man survived the crash. They have been transported to Palomar Hospital with minor injuries. They were flying from the American Aviation Academy out of Gillespie Field, Cal Fire says. It was an instructor-student flight, reports NBC 7. “The fact that we had two survivors absolutely is fortunate for them, but, again, we are dealing with a fatality and there’s going to be a family out there that’s going to be grieving,” Isaac tells NBC 7. A witness, who saw the plane

Sayra Nur Lamisa (-Facebook) go down, called 911 immediately but it took rescuers in a helicopter about an hour to find the wreckage, according to the Daily Mail.

USA expert focus on universal energy security

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H U B A N E S WA R : While access to energy is crucial for economic development, the challenge before every nation is to meet the energy demand of people at an affordable cost, said Prof Michael Greenstone from University of Chicago. Speaking on ‘Energy security and innovative solutions to environmental challenges’ at the eighth session of Odisha Knowledge Hub (OKH) Lecture series here, Greenstone said there is a great variation in energy access and consumption pattern in various parts of the world. While the per capita consumption of energy in USA is around 13,000 kilo watt hour (kWh), in many parts of Europe and Germany, it is around 5000 to 7000 kWh per annum. On the other hand, there are countries like India with lower energy consumption. Even China’s per capita consumption (2700 kWh) is much higher than India (1400 kWh),

Indian IT sector, contributes 9.3% to the country’s GDP, and employs of 3.7 million people. The uncertainty has led to drop in value, and fall in employment.

rent H1-B minimum wage of $60,000 was fixed in 1989.

The US has introduced the Lofgren Bill, which proposes the minimum wages being doubled to $130,000. The cur-

However, most H1-B visa holders get an average of $1,00,000, according to consultancy firm, Greyhound Re-

he said. In Odisha, he said, electricity access and consumption is comparatively better than many other Indian States. The per capita electricity consumption in Odisha is around 1200 kWh. Acknowledging the fact that energy access is a major problem in many parts of the globe, Greenstone, who is now Director of Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC), said climate change due to excess burning of fossil fuel is another area of concern. While emphasising on the need for universal access to energy, Greenstone said efforts should be made to generate more clean energy at an affordable cost. He offered three solutions to achieve energy security while causing less damage to the environment. He suggested that conventional energy should be priced taking into consideration its full social cost and there should be more investment in

search. The government source added, “The Indian government has asked the visiting US lawmakers to keep the Indian IT firms’ contribution in mind while the

innovations, research and development activities. An effective policy tool should be put in place through collaborative efforts among universities and Government departments. He also emphasised on better pollution audit and research policy partnership. “There is a large scope for collaboration between Government of Odisha and University of Chicago. The State Government has taken the right step in initiating the process through methods of knowledge sharing. We will work together in future, specially in areas of energy and environment challenges,” Greenstone told reporters. Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan said, “We invited the professor to listen from him about the future of fossil fuel and how they collaborate with various State Governments for addressing the challenges of energy and environment.” (-Express News Service) new government is reassessing its policy on immigration.” To hold further discussions in the matter, a Nasscom delegation from India, will visit the US for a week-long trip. (-Hindustan Times)


ASIA/WORLD

VOICE OF ASIA 11

22 migrants flee US to seek asylum in Canada

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TTAWA, Canada | AFP - At least 22 migrants fled the United States for Canada over the weekend, sneaking across the border in Manitoba province to request asylum, authorities said Sunday. Twenty-two people, mostly from Africa, crossed the border on foot overnight Saturday into Sunday, said Greg Janzen, a local official in the city of Emerson. Eight others had arrived on Friday. Emerson, 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Winnipeg and close to the US states of North Dakota and Minnesota, has seen the porous border -- in many areas with no official crossings -- drawing greater numbers of asylum seekers since US President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The Republican took office in January and promptly signed an order to temporarily ban US entry for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, and for all refugees. Under a bilateral agreement, asylum-seekers from the United States are usually turned back at Canada’s border

crossings. But this does not apply to those crossing the border illegally in other places. Migrants who crossed into Canada in early February faced harsh, frigid conditions: two had their hands frozen and needed to have several fingers amputated.

India adoption centre heads arrested over trafficking

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OLKATA | AFP - Indian police said Tuesday they have arrested the heads of an adoption centre suspected of selling at least 17 children to foreign couples, the latest trafficking scandal to hit the country.

But temperatures were much milder this past weekend.

Investigators said children aged between six months and 14 years were sold to couples from Europe, America and Asia for between $12,000 and $23,000 and taken out of the country.

Migrant arrivals, mostly people who are undocumented in the United States, are rising sharply in Manitoba. Ninety-nine people crossed the border since the beginning of the year to seek asylum, local authorities say.

Police in the eastern state of West Bengal arrested Chandana Chakraborty, head of the Bimala Sishu Griha centre, and her deputy Sonali Mondal at the weekend after a tip-off from the federal adoption agency.

The trend has officials in Emerson fretting. They have asked federal and provincial authorities to increase resources to address the situation. “Illegal crossings are dangerous and a burden on our local communities, and our laws must be enforced,” Tony Clement, a Conservative spokesman for public safety issues, said on Twitter.

China delays nuclear reactor start again

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

“In the last two to three years, they have sold at least 17 children,” a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The heads of an adoption centre are suspected of selling at least 17 children to foreign couples (Photo: AFP)

“We will try to contact the couples and are expecting more arrests in coming days.”

One said the accused ran health camps to identify poor and unmarried pregnant women and convinced them to give away their babies for adoption after paying them.

One French couple paid 1.5 million rupees ($23,000) for a child in 2015, he said.

“They used fake fitness certificates and police stamps to process the adoption applications,” the officer said.

The women were also involved in running two other homes in the area.

India has an estimated 30 million orphans, but the rules governing international adoptions are strict and domestic adoptions remain relatively rare.

“Two people were arrested after raids in three charitable homes on Saturday night,” Sashi Panja, state women and child development minister, told AFP. It is unclear how the alleged sales escaped official notice. Investigators said they had been monitoring the charity since June when child welfare authorities found discrepancies in their records and relocated all the children from one of the homes.

Only 3,011 children were legally adopted by local couples in India between April 2015 and March 2016, down from 3,988 in the previous period, according to the Central Adoption Resource Authority. Experts say desperate couples wanting to adopt in India are often frustrated by lengthy bureaucratic delays and complex rules, pushing them towards

the thriving illegal adoption market. In recent years the federal government has pledged to relax the adoption rules for local couples. For foreigners and couples of Indian origin living abroad, the number of adoptions has risen by almost half but they remain subject to intense scrutiny, and the adoption process can take years. The latest scandal comes four months after police arrested 18 people over the sale of newborn babies in the same state. The gang stole babies from nursing homes, smuggling them out in biscuit boxes and keeping them at adoption centres before selling them. The scale of the operation is still being uncovered, and the remains of five newborn girls were recovered from one of the homes in November.

Seven die at Pakistan court as three suicide bombers attack Several third-generation nuclear reactors are under construction, but none has started operating yet (Photo: AFP) EIJING | AFP - Two nuclear reactors being built in the southern Chinese city of Taishan will come onstream months later than planned, said China General Nuclear Power (CGN), which runs the project together with France’s EDF.

B

“Taishan Nuclear recently organised a comprehensive evaluation on subsequent engineering construction plan and relevant risks, and after due consideration, it is decided to adjust the construction plan of Taishan project,” CGN said in a statement filed late Monday to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The reactors are of the so-called third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) type which has yet to go onstream anywhere in the world, and their start had been de-

layed once before, in 2016. Britain in September gave the green light, with conditions, to EDF and CGN to build such a reactor an Hinkley Point, after a heated debate which included worries about China’s involvement. Following EPR delays in Finland and in France, the two Chinese reactors are set to become the first of their type to go into service anywhere. “The expected commercial operation of Taishan Unit 1 and Taishan Unit 2 are adjusted from the original first half of 2017 and the second half of 2017 to the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018, respectively,” it said. Construction of the Taishan plant started in 2009.

Nepal to hold first local elections in 20 years ATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal will hold its first local elections in two decades in May, the government has announced, a key moment in the country’s fraught transition to democracy.

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The impoverished Himalayan nation emerged from a brutal decade-long civil war in 2006, which brought the end of the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy and transformed it into a secular republic. But deep political divides have prevented it from implementing a new constitution that paves the way for elections, but which the minority Madhesi community says leaves them politically marginalised. “The government has taken a historic decision. The election will be held in a single phase across the country,” Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said following a late night cabinet meeting on Monday (Feb 20). “Election is compulsory for safeguarding all agendas and implementing the constitution for the functioning of democracy.” Local polls will be held on May 14, paving the way for provincial and then national elections later in the year. The Madhesis, who live in the densely populated Terai plains bordering India, want the constitution to be amended first and have pledged to protest against the polls. “We will not take part in the local level election without our demands being addressed,” Mahindra Yadav, the chairman of a Madhesi political party, told AFP on Tuesday. “The election cannot be a success unless we take part in it.” The Madhesis have long complained that the internal borders laid out in the constitution leave them under-represented at the ballot box and in the national parliament. After the constitution was adopted in September 2015, Madhesi protesters kicked off a months-long blockade of the IndiaNepal border that led to a crippling shortage of goods across the country. An amendment to the constitution currently in parliament proposes to redraw some of provincial borders to address some of the Madhesi parties’ demands. “This is an achievement in a way but the problem is whether the Madhesi parties will be on board. If the Madhesi go for protest it will be impossible (to hold the polls),” Nishchal Pandey, director of the Kathmandu-based Centre for South Asian Studies, told AFP. Local government representatives were last elected in 1997. Their five-year terms expired in 2002, at the height of the civil war, and their mandate was allowed to lapse.

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ILGIT, Pakistan | AFP, February 21, 2017 - At least seven people were killed when multiple Taliban suicide bombers attacked a court complex in northern Pakistan Tuesday, the latest in a series of assaults which have raised fears militants are regrouping. One bomber was briefly on the loose inside the busy complex in the Tangi area of Charsadda district but was killed by police some 20 minutes after the attack began, officials said. A second bomber was shot dead by security forces and a third died when he detonated his vest outside the main gates of the facility in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to police. The attack was claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) faction of the Pakistani Taliban, which carried out a series of apparently coordinated assaults last week including a powerful bomb blast in Lahore which killed 14

Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the site of a court complex in Tangi after multiple Taliban suicide bombings (Photo: AFP) people. Earlier this month the group vowed

a fresh offensive on targets in Pakistan including the judiciary.


VOICE OF ASIA 12

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017


Lifestyle VOICE OF ASIA

VOICE OF ASIA 13

VOA

voiceofasiaonline.com Vol. 30 No. 8

Section 2

Email: voiceasia@aol.com

Marriage, sex, and being LGBT in Pakistan Usually shunned by their families, the victims of beatings and rapes, they are often condemned to a life of begging or prostitution

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Tel: 713-774-5140

Bare cheek as Japan men strip off for ‘naked festival’

Members of the Pakistani transgender community attend a party in Peshawar in January of this year (Photo: AFP)

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ESHAWAR | AFP - Pakistan’s transgender community, known as “khawajasiras” or “hijras”, are now fighting for change. Usually shunned by their families, the victims of beatings and rapes, they are often condemned to a life of begging or prostitution. The situation is complicated by the deeply conservative, traditional Muslim country’s views of sex and sexuality. - Sex in Pakistan The law only permits heterosexual relationships within marriage. Sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by imprisonment. For women, virginity is an important condition for marriage, the vast majority of which are still agreed and arranged by parents and family members. The suspicion of an unlawful love relationship, or even regular communication with a man, could see a woman killed by her relatives in the name of “honour”. Homosexuality, prohibited by Islam, is punishable by 10 years imprisonment or even 100 lashes. While homosexuals are viewed with derision, in the case of men, few would identify themselves as gay so long as they are the “active” partner. Homosexuals identified as “passive” are ostracised in patriarchal Pakistan. Known as zenana, they wear men’s clothes but display effeminate behavior. Some from this group form a community who are traditionally both

close to and rivals of the hijras, the third sex. Lesbians, meanwhile, are all but invisible. Hijras, or khawajasiras, are those born male but who identify as women. They are perceived as a third sex and have been able to hold Pakistani identity cards since 2009. There is no term for women who identify as men. In Islam, a Surah popular among the hijras says Allah “creates what He wants” — “girls”, “boys”, or “both boys and girls”. Sexual intercourse between a man and a hijra is not considered homosexuality, even if it amounts to the same action. Almost all hijras claim they have been born in a man’s body with “a woman’s mind”. They say they are cultural heirs to a glorious past as eunuchs during the Mughal dynasty, when they were part of the elite — as harem guardians, artists, but also generals, like Malik Kafur in the fourteenth century. Some Hijras use hormones and silicone to enhance their feminine features, often injected without proper medical supervision, to shape their bodies — but full, expensive sex-reassignment operations can not be done in Pakistan. Their effeminate behavior can cause families to reject them, and they often end up in the power of a so-called “guru”, with the risk of commercial sexual exploitation that implies.

A writhing mass of sweaty worshippers wrestled for elbow-room inside Saidaiji Temple in Okayama, western Japan, late on Saturday night in the hope of catching the sacred batons. by Quentin TYBERGHIEN KAYAMA, Japan | AFP With only a skimpy loincloth to protect their modesty, thousands of men brave freezing temperatures to fight for lucky charms thrown by a priest at Japan’s annual Naked Man Festival.

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A writhing mass of sweaty worshippers wrestled for elbow-room inside Saidaiji Temple in Okayama, western Japan, late on Saturday night in the hope of catching the sacred batons. Around 10,000 hardy souls celebrat-

Soon the dancers are possessed: their eyes glaze over, their bodies jerk around, and they say the spirits shield them from the hot coals they are about to leap onto.

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Continued on Page 14

Once dismissed as superstitious and banned by Vietnam’s communist authorities, the fire dance is now performed publicly by the Pa Then ethnic minority after decades when they celebrated in the woods in secret.

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UYEN QUANG, Vietnam | AFP - Deep in a trance and impervious to the heat of burning coals underfoot, lithe young men prance across piles of glowing embers at a ritual fire dance to exorcise spiritual demons and pray for a healthy harvest.

The shaman leading the ceremony taps a traditional string instrument to invoke spirits.

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“You have to write down your blood type on a form and tuck it into your loincloth in case you get seriously hurt.”

But revellers have been crushed to death in the past in a melee that makes Tokyo’s infamous rush-hour trains look like a walk in the park.

Exorcising demons in Vietnam

The evening starts with an offering to the gods: a whole boiled hog atop a platter of its own intestines. Logs are stacked in a two-metre (six-foot) tall tower ready to be lit nearby.

Art for Soul

“It can get very rough,” 62-year-old auto mechanic Kazuhiko Nishigami told AFP, bare-chested and ready to rumble.

more than a few bumps and bruises after scrapping over a pair of wooden sticks, measuring 4cm (one and a half inches) in diameter and 20cm (eight inches) in length, believed to bring good fortune to whoever catches them.

Playing with fire

“Everyone here is so excited to see it,” said first-time observer Hua Manh Linh, who joined hundreds to watch the hours-long nighttime ritual by the animist Pa Then people in northern Tuyen Quang province.

Members of the Pakistani transgender community attend a party in Peshawar. (Photo: AFP)

ing the religious festival stepped under ice-cold fountains to purify their bodies before risking life and limb in a mysterious ceremony dating back some 500 years.

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Fire dancers are often in a trance as they perform on piles of burning embers to exorcise spiritual demons and pray for a healthy harvest (Photo: AFP) Truong, who has danced in the past, though not this year because he said couldn’t invoke any spirits. For him, the ceremony is a proud display of Pa Then culture, defined by a belief that everything in the universe possesses a soul. The dance was driven underground in the 1960s and 1970s as communist authorities cracked down on so-called superstitious rituals, according to historian Nguyen Van Huy. But since the country started opening up in the late 1980s and gradually eased religious restrictions, the ritual crept back into public life. Today it is listed as intangible cultural heritage by the government, and performed at museums

and ethnic minority festivals. But Huy warns that turning the dance into a public spectacle risks cheapening its sanctity. “(It’s) now getting more popular, and is performed more and more, so I worry about its sacred value, whether it will be preserved or lost in time,” said Huy, author of “Cultural Mosaic of Ethnic Groups in Vietnam”. Pa Then shaman Sin Van Phong says his concern is that younger generations, perhaps more rapt with mobile phone apps than centuries-old rituals, will let the fire dance fade. “The biggest challenge is passing the job on to younger generations, young people don’t want to learn about the ceremony now,” he said.


LEISURE

VOICE OF ASIA 14

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Dubai street art turns urban On the road with Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sprawl into open-air museum female rickshaw wallah further across the city. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We were on the hunt for

a way to turn Dubai into an open(-air) museum,â&#x20AC;? AlSoueidi explains.

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A graffiti by Malaysian-based Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, seen on a wall of 2nd of December street, part of the government-funded Dubai Street Museum project. (Photo AFP/by Nizar Ballout.) by Mohamad Ali Harissi

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UBAI, United Arab Emirates | AFP | The streets of Dubai may be known for architectural superlatives like Burj Khalifa, the highest of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s high-rises, and the Middle Eastâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest shopping centre Dubai Mall. But a group of street artists now also wants to turn the concrete walls of a fastgrowing urban sprawl into an open-air museum that celebrates Emirati heritage and speaks to everyone in the multicultural city. From poetry painted in intricate Arabic calligraphy to a portrait of an old man rowing a wooden boat, the art of the government-funded Dubai Street Museum is bringing new life to the city. The project features the work of 16 mural and graffiti artists of different genres and nationalities, including four Emiratis. They include Malaysianbased Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic -- who has been likened to British graffiti artist Banksy -- and Tunisian street artist The Inkman. Each brings their own interpretation of a curated theme -- â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Pastâ&#x20AC;? -- to the 2nd of December Street in the heart of Satwa, one of the older quarters of Dubai. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dubai has everything, from finance to tourism,â&#x20AC;? says project director Shaima Al-Soueidi. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tourists can see our history at the museums. But we want everyone to be able to see that history everywhere, even in the streets.â&#x20AC;? Urban art is a growing trend in the Middle East, a region dotted with cities carrying complex -- and frequently crisis-ridden -histories. But while graffiti in older cities like Tunis and Beirut

often acts as a form of resistance against contemporary politics, the art form takes on a more a conciliatory tone in Dubai. - â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hope it spills overâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Satwa, originally home to Emirati bedouins, is today a working-class neighbourhood largely inhabited by labourers from the Philippines. Known locally as â&#x20AC;&#x153;mini Manilaâ&#x20AC;?, Satwa is a bustling residential area dotted with late-night restaurants and shops selling everything from car parts to Chantilly lace. Satwaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique social makeup caught the eye of those behind the Dubai Street Museum, who hope to see the project spread

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Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lone female rickshaw puller Mosammat Jasmine says she would rather work to support her children than beg. (Photo: AFP)

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Allah has given me a pair of hands and legs to work with. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t beg --

Continued from Page 13 go off and priests cast the mystical charms from the templeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rafters into the heaving crowd below.

Those who snaffle one of the holy talismans tossed from above have to fight tooth and nail to keep hold of it as they come under attack by rivals desperate for the juju it bestows. Fuelled by beer and sake, many festival-goers came to blows. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was lucky to escape,â&#x20AC;? said firefighter Kosuke Yasuhara, clutching one of the talismans.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;It dropped right in the middle of our group,â&#x20AC;? added the 38-year-old. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I had to quickly slip it into my loincloth to hide it and then force my way out.â&#x20AC;? High priest Zenko Tsuboi insisted the festival was not an orgy of violence, even if wailing ambulance sirens have provided an unwanted soundtrack in previous

years. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Those who catch the charms will prosper and receive a bumper harvest,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to remind people this is a religious festival so we have become much stricter these days about alcohol and rough behaviour.â&#x20AC;?

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As revellers and the hundreds of police and firemen on call made their way back through the rice fields to the city, father-to-be Yasuhara broke into a wide grin. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This charm is a gift from the gods,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I believe it will deliver us a bouncing baby when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s born in April.â&#x20AC;?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;A maidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job is good if you only have to worry about yourself but not if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got children. And the factory work is really back-breaking and the pay is really poor,â&#x20AC;? the 45-year-old explains.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Others told me that Islam does not permit a woman to roam around like this while there were some who refused to pay me the same fare as a male driver,â&#x20AC;? Jasmine says, before adding: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I stuck to my guns as who else pays my bills, who is else is going to cover the

On average she earns 600 taka ($8) a day for an eight hour shift on the rickshaw, part of which she pays as rent to the rickshaw owner. She works seven days a week. Now a familiar sight on the streets of the bustling port city, she has won the respect of her colleagues. As she parked up by the bus station, she exchanged smiles and greetings with around a dozen male drivers. Since switching last year to a battery-run electric rickshaw, the work has become a little less arduous but she is still an inspiration to many. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jasmine is unique. She is the only female rickshaw-puller among all of Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 160-million population. It is overwhelming to see her courage,â&#x20AC;? local rights activist Suzana Salim told AFP. The traffic police applaud her good road sense and for always wearing a helmet -unlike her male counterparts. And even some with religious authority have started praising her. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She is a good example to society given that many girls who fall on hard times turn to prostitution or drugs,â&#x20AC;? said Nurul Alam Azmiri, the imam at a local mosque. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She has a vision for her kids, which is commendable.â&#x20AC;? Young people are particularly keen to flag her down, drawn in part by the loud music that blares from the speakers on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pagli Khalaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;sâ&#x20AC;? (the Crazy Auntieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s) vehicle. Despite the growing acceptance, Jasmine -- who is a practising Muslim -- says she still faces taunts by people who question her faith. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t listen to them,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My sons need their education and so Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll do my best to ensure that for as long as I live.â&#x20AC;?

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Initially, many simply refused to get on board and some taunted me, saying I was doing a manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job,â&#x20AC;? she recalls.

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Left to fend for three young children when her husband ran off with another woman, Jasmine initially tried her hand at being a maid and then working in one of Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s garment factories but found neither job suited her.

But finding willing passengers proved a stiffer challenge.

Japanese boys step out of a fountain after being purified during the boysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; event in the annual Naked Man Festival or â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hadaka Matsuriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama, western Japan (Photo: AFP)

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Muslim-majority Bangladesh is one of Asiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most conservative societies where the concept of a woman doing such a job had been unheard of before Jasmine hit the road five years ago.

Working out how to navigate the streets of Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second city was the easy part although she did find it painful at times to peddle her brightlycoloured tricycle up some of its hilly neighbourhoods.

- Danteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Infernoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; In a scene reminiscent of Danteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Infernoâ&#x20AC;?, steam rises as thousands of groaning men, faces contorted with pain, thrust their arms upwards from the suffocating pit below, as if begging for forgiveness -- or if not a pair of trousers and a shirt to keep warm.

instead I earn a living by using his gifts,â&#x20AC;? she adds.

Struggling to make ends meet and determined to pay for her childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education, she decided on her radical career change when a neighbour who owned a rickshaw offered to lend it to her for a few days.

As holy water was splashed from above, camera flashes illuminated the sea of bodies like disco lights at a rave -- before all hell broke loose.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;I do it to make sure my sons donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go hungry and they get a decent education at a good school,â&#x20AC;? says the mother of three as she takes a break at Chittagong bus station.

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H I T TA G O N G , Bangladesh | AFP - As Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only known woman rickshaw wallah, Mosammat Jasmine may be a feminist icon but to the passengers she cycles around the streets of Chittagong, she is known as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Crazy Auntieâ&#x20AC;?.

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HEALTH, SC & TECH

VOICE OF ASIA 15

5 things your teeth may be saying about your health Lack of regular dental care in older adults can mean important clues get missed

A dentist uses a syringe as she treats a patient. (Photo: AFP) by Shelley Lyford

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he impact of poor oral health on general health and quality of life is enormous, especially for vulnerable older adults. Millions live with untreated cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, oral pain and tooth loss due to limited, or no, access to basic dental care. Recent studies have shown oral health issues may be associated with serious medical conditions including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cognitive decline and pneumonia. Aside from the physical toll, poor oral health reduces self-esteem and increases social isolation. Many older adults, however, are often on their own when caring for the teeth. Most don’t have dental insurance (Medicare, the largest health provider for those over 65, does not cover routine dental care) and high out-of-pocket costs keep them out of the dentist’s chair. A new analysis of 2012 Medicare data by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that only 12 percent of people 65 and older have some form of dental insurance and fewer than half visited a dentist in the previous year. Dental visits are even less frequent among low-income and minority older adults. That makes them particular hard hit by oral health issues, said Dr. Karen Becerra, dental director of the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center in San Diego. The center is one of the few geriatric dental clinics in the country focused on providing care for low-income elders — some of whom haven’t been to a dentist in more than 20 years. Untreated oral disease can cause pain and make it difficult to chew, swallow and eat, which in turn, can have a major impact on nutrition. “If you don’t have a healthy mouth, chances are, you don’t have a healthy body. It’s so important to pay attention to what your teeth may be telling you,” Becerra said. “It’s especially important as we get older, since seniors actually experience tooth decay at higher rates than children and tend to have chronic conditions that can be related to their oral health.” - 5 Signs of Trouble Becerra offered these five signs older adults may expe-

rience that should not be ignored:

1

. Dry mouth Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. It is, however, a side effect of more than 400 medications, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety and depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are always feeling parched, consult with your doctor to see if it’s connected to one of your medicines. If so, your doctor may be able to change the dose or provide an alternative. Over-the-counter sprays, rinses or mouthwash and drinking more water can also help stimulate saliva flow and restore moisture in your mouth. Your dentist can apply a fluoride varnish to protect the teeth from new cavities, since the mouth acidity may have changed. This will help reduce the risk for cavities, gum disease and infection.

2

. Pain in the mouth Untreated oral disease can cause pain and make it difficult to chew, swallow and eat, which in turn, can have a major impact on nutrition. People start to avoid certain foods, like healthy fruits, vegetables, and chicken and fish and replace them with softer foods like pastas and rice, or reduce consumption altogether. Also, a poor diet can contribute to painful cavities and gum disease, so it works both ways. If you’re a caregiver, and you notice that a loved one is having trouble eating, it may not be their appetite, it may be their teeth. Encourage them to seek treatment and find out their options for fixing their teeth and eating right.

3

. Covering your mouth or avoiding social interaction Missing teeth or oral pain can lead to social isolation and embarrassment. Research shows older adults who describe themselves as lonely have a 59 percent greater risk of functional decline and a 45 percent greater risk of death. If you or a loved one are shying away from social interactions because of your teeth, talk to a dental professional about your options. Having a conversation, smiling, laughing and showing emotion are a lot easier when your mouth is healthy. If you have oral health problems, you are not alone

and you can get help.

4

. Loose teeth or bleeding gums Unhealthy teeth and gums have been associated with several chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cognitive decline or dementia. In fact, the state of your teeth may be a sign you have one of these conditions or could make them worse. For example, gum disease, bleeding gums and loose teeth could be signs of diabetes. At the same time, research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes and may slow the progression of the disease.

5

. Open sores or areas of irritation in the mouth that last more than two weeks The American Cancer Society estimates that about 48,330 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year. The average age of those diagnosed will be 62. Symptoms include a sore or irritation in the mouth or throat that persists, red or white patches or a pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips. During check-ups, dentists look for any abnormalities or suspicious changes that could indicate disease. Oral health cannot be separated from general health. Maintain a good oral health regimen every day to stay healthy and seek out professional dental care.

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

60,000-year-old microbes found in Mexican mine: NASA scientist They were discovered in the Naica mine, a working lead, zinc and silver mine in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. The mine is famous for its huge crystals, some as long as 50 feet (15 meters). The discovery has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but it has led Boston to believe that living organisms may also have survived in the extreme environments of other planets and moons in our solar system.

NASA scientists discover ancient microbes that can survive on a diet of sulfite, manganese and copper oxide in the Naica mine in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua

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OSTON (AFP) NASA scientists have discovered living microorganisms trapped inside crystals for as long as 60,000 years in a mine in Mexico. These strange ancient microbes have apparently evolved so they can survive on a diet of sulfite, manganese and copper oxide, said Penelope Boston of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute in a presentation over the weekend at a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “This has profound effects on how we try to understand the evolutionary history of microbial life on this planet,” she said.

She said about 100 different kinds of microorganisms -- most of them bacteria -- have been found locked in Naica crystals for periods ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 years. Ninety percent of them have never been observed before now, she said. The discovery of these ultrahardy microorganisms has been a windfall for researchers but also a source of concern for astrobiologists thinking about bringing back samples collected on space missions in the solar system.

The extreme conditions under which these microbes have survived raises the possibility that dangerous extraterrestrial organisms could accidentally hitch a ride to Earth on a returning spaceship. Astrobiologists also worry about the risk that Earth organisms could contaminate other planets in the course of missions to places like Mars, which has already been visited by several US robots. NASA sterilizes its spacecraft and equipment before launching them into space. But there is always a risk that ultraresistant microorganisms will survive. “How do we ensure that lifedetection missions are going to detect true Mars life or life from icy worlds rather than our life?” asked Boston. The concerns are not new. During the Apollo missions of the 1960s and ‘70s, astronauts returning from the moon were quarantined. The microorganisms found in the Naica mine are not even the oldest discovered to date. Several years ago scientists reported finding microbes in ice and salt that were up to 500,000 years old.

2017 Predictions 3 Technologies that will put your new year on the right track by Vernon Irvin

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f you’ve been following any of the latest business and technology headlines, you’ve no doubt heard how 2017 will be the year that ground-breaking technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence will create new paradigms in our healthcare systems, schools, universities, and enterprises. Even small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) stand to gain immeasurable benefits from these technological advancements, helping managers to understand, manage and measure businesses operations and customer interactions in ways that were never possible before. We’ll have the opportunity to become more efficient, innovate faster and ultimately, make better decisions as long as we have the network foundation required to sustain this innovation. Here’s a look at three types of technology that can help you establish the groundwork required to get ahead in 2017: 1. Fiber Optics: Fiber is the foundation of any business technology stack with its inherent speed and scalability. With fiber, you’re driving on a supersonic raceway; without it, your business will operate like the digital equivalent of driving on

a dirt road. Fiber has the speed needed to enable complex technologies where every nanosecond counts. Fiber networks provide uncompromised performance and distinct uptime advantages with split-second data processing and the ability to upload and download files at the same fast pace. As the technology landscape becomes more complex and our patience for “load times” diminishes, it’s extremely important that businesses have a network that can run everything from basic business functions like conferencing and cloud uploads to some of the more powerful applications, like data mining and artificial intelligence. I’ve seen plenty of retail establishments leverage fiber and it’s fast, dependable connectivity as a competitive advantage to attract customers into their business. But if they wanted to go a step further, the store or restaurant could leverage fiber to access cloud-based business intelligence applications and better understand their customers’ preferences and buying habits. Similarly, I’ve consulted with larger companies who also leverage fiber for cloud-based applications, but in addition to business intelligence, they also rely on it for instantaneous access to cloud-based procure-

ment, sales and customer service applications, data backup and server processing environments. 2. Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN): Having multiple office locations has always been a bit of a headache when it comes to IT. First, there’s the capital investment for the networking equipment that has to be considered. Then, how do you manage and maintain it? That’s where SD-WAN comes in play. With SD-WAN, SMBs have costefficient, secure, cloud-based WAN connectivity that not only supports the bandwidthintensive, dynamic nature of today’s applications, but also reduces the need to spend money on proprietary hardware and expensive network transport. SD-WAN can securely connect a business to a public or private cloud or as in the case of a branch office, to a corporate network. Expect adoption of SD-WAN to continue to expand as companies gravitate towards virtualization of traditional, physical networking functions that allow them to pay for only the networking requirements they have now and the flexibility to adapt service to changing requirements at a moment’s notice without waiting 60 or 90 days for a hardware instal-

lation. 3. Security: I believe that today’s businesses are caught between the benefits of the hyperconnected enterprise and the ever-growing number of smart, sophisticated cyber attacks. This perfect storm of the new digital economy and increasing security threats creates serious risks for businesses and for the people who manage them. Whether you own or manage a coffee shop and are processing customer credit cards, process patient information for insurance companies or manage global acquisitions, you require encrypted, secure transactions to protect not only your networks and company data, but also to protect your customer and patient data from falling into the wrong hands. The technology landscape is morphing at warp speed. Autonomous cars, drones, voiceactivated artificial intelligence devices, smart homes and even smart cities are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Ultimately, the benefits that these technological advancements afford us far out-weigh any potential risks. I believe that 2017 will definitely be the year of expanding paradigms and supersonic advancement. (-CenturyLink)

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VOICE OF ASIA 16

Section 2

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Email: voiceasia@aol.com

Tel: 713-774-5140

US university’s invite to US lawmakers target undocumented student ‘sanctuaries’ Dalai Lama sparks uproar by Joseph Stepansky

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t took four attempts for eight-year-old Miguel Gutierrez, his mother and two-year-old brother to make it to Arizona from Sonora, Mexico. “Each time we walked through the desert. The first time was probably the hardest; it was about eight to 10 hours. We stayed out through the night and camped out there,” said Gutierrez, now 21. The unsuccessful journeys often ended at deportation centres, he said. Gutierrez is a computer science major at Swarthmore College. It is one of about a dozen US colleges that have declared themselves “sanctuary” campuses. A “sanctuary”, though commonly known as a place of refuge, has no legal definition in the US. “Sanctuary cities” became a term used to describe jurisdictions that employ varying policies of lawful non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Some declared themselves sanctuaries, but not all did. After the 2016 elections, a small number of colleges, including Swarthmore, also declared themselves sanctuaries in opposition to US President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration. Like sanctuary cities, these schools employ differing policies of noncompliance with ICE, experts say. ‘Sanctuary’ label “Swarthmore really came forward. The whole community really came forward,” said Gutierrez, who dreams of a job in Silicon Valley. He is one of thousands of undocumented students granted temporary reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) pro-

gramme. “I feel like if Trump repeals DACA tomorrow, I’ll be safe for the rest of my time at school.”

Students, faculty, alumni and activists have petitioned around 250 institutions to declare themselves sanctuaries. The “sanctuary” label, however, which

many say has been politicised by both liberals and conservatives in the US, has some school administrations reluctant to openly adopt it. (-Al Jazeera)

Global School Access excells

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lobal School Access, (GSA) headquartered outside Chicago, Illinois, promotes international education and culture exchange through strong partnerships with international families and American private high schools, as well as high schools in other countries.

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has been invited by the University of California San Diego to deliver a graduation speech in June.(PTI File Photo)

GSA stays in contact with the students’ families, host families, and schools to ensure a rewarding experience for all parties, and with a focus on the students’ success and personal growth. GSA partners with academically rigorous schools that teach values, offer many outside activities, and prepare students for college and the college-application process. GSA works to meet the needs of its partner schools, and provides a great deal of support during the entire process. GSA promotes its partner schools to families and educational institutions in other countries, and takes steps to ensure the student and school are a good fit. GSA works closely to identify host families (if not a boarding school), meets with the families, and takes steps to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for the student. Living Arrangements Living arrangements are a tremendous source of learning and understanding, as well as opportunities for new, different, and exciting experiences. GSA’s mission At Global School Access,

L

Weihao Li with Sarah Sharp and Children October 2016. our mission is to provide a dynamic growth experience—personally, academically, socially, and cross-culturally— for students, families, schools, and communities through exceptional care and strong partnerships, with the utmost integrity and respect, and with the goal of excellence. We aim to inspire young people to be happy, successful, and good global citizens, and to be viewed as the premier organization for international education by the families we work with, our partners, and our employees.

OS ANGELES, | AFP | - A California university’s decision to have the Dalai Lama speak at this year’s commencement ceremony has sparked uproar among Chinese students who see the choice as an affront.

He added that many parents will be flying in from China to attend their children’s graduation in June and the Dalai Lama’s presence “will ruin our joy. What we want to say is that objectively, he will be an excellent speaker for the commencement,” Wang wrote.

The University of California San Diego (UCSD) said it extended the invite to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in a bid to promote his message of “global responsibility and service to humanity.”

“Nonetheless, culturally speaking, his selection to be a presenter is inappropriate in such a situation, considering how many Chinese students and their families are going to attend this commencement.”

However the San Diego chapter of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and other groups have objected, denouncing the 81-year-old Nobel laureate as a separatist leader intent on dividing China. “The Dalai Lama is not simply a religious person, but also a political exile who has long been engaged in splitting the motherland and destroying national unity,” the student association said in a statement.

Weihao Li with host mom at church performance

In an op-ed for the school newspaper, The Guardian, Ruixuan Wang said the main reason Chinese students are upset “is that our university shows little consideration about cultural respect, as he is a politically sensitive person in China.”

The university said in a statement that it stood by its decision and there was no indication it planned to rescind the invite. “The University of California San Diego has always served as a forum for discussion and interaction on important public policy issues and respects the rights of individuals to agree or disagree as we consider issues of our complex world,” the statement said. “As a public university dedicated to the civil exchange of views, the university believes commencement is one of many events that provide an appropriate opportunity to present to graduates and their families a message of reflection and compassion,” it added.

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VOICE OF ASIA 17

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Bollywood -Hollywood

Section 2

Email: editor@voiceofasiaonline.com

Tel: 713-774-5140

Dev Patel, Emma Stone win Tamil actress shares her disturbbig at the BAFTAS 2017 ing experience, expresses solidarity with Malayalam actress who was harassed

Dev Patel who won the BAFTA for Supporting Actor for his work on the film Lion poses with Nicole Kidman at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Monday (Photo: AFP) mma Stone picked up the best actress award on Sunday at the British Bafta ceremony for her role in “La La Land”, a whimsical tribute to Hollywood’s golden age of musicals.

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Stone beat off competition from actresses including Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman to pick up the gong at a glitzy ceremony held at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She plays an aspiring actress in “La La Land”, which has already picked up seven Golden Globes and has been nominated for 14 Oscars. Casey Affleck won the best actor award at Britain’s Bafta ceremony on Sunday, for his role in the drama

“Manchester By The Sea”. Affleck saw off nominees including Ryan Gosling and Jake Gyllenhaal to pick up the prize at a ceremony held at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Dev Patel, a British actor of Indian descent won the Supporting actor for his work on the film Lion. Known for his performance in Slumdog Millionaire, Dev recently, lost the Best Supporting Actor award to Aaron Taylor-Johnson at the 74th Golden Globes. But after BAFTA award, Dev is very likely to win an Oscar. Directed by Garth Davis, Lion is based on Saroo Brierley’s best-selling autobiography A Long Way Home.

Jackman sheds a tear for end of ‘Wolverine’ franchise

Varalakshmi Sarathkumar (Twitter) mid growing furore over the abduction and harassment of a leading Malayalam actress, a noted Tamil actress on Monday claimed that a TV channel executive had spoken to her in an “improper” manner.

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Actress Varalakshmi Sarathkumar said women’s safety has become a joke as she rallied behind the fellow actress who faced the harassment in Kochi. Recalling a meeting with the programming head of a “leading” TV Channel, Sarathkumar claimed that towards the end he had asked her if they can “meet outside”. “When questioned if it was regarding some other work ‘his answer (said with a smug like it was the norm) no no! Not work.. For other things,” she tweeted. “I hide my shock and anger and tell him Sorry! Please leave. His last words on the topic was So.. That’s all? and he smiled and walked away,” she posted on Twitter without specifying when the incident occurred. “I am an actress. It does not mean that just because I lead a glamourous life on screen that I deserve to be spoken with disrespect. It’s my life, my body and my wish,” she said. She said incidents of rape, molestation, manhandling and disrespect to women were rising “at alarming rates”.

Neil Nitin Mukesh and Rukmini Sahay at their wedding reception party at JW Marriott in Juhu, Mumbai on Friday evening (Prodip Guha/Hindustan Times)

Neil Nitin Mukesh

weds

eil Nitin Mukesh exchanged wedding vows with Rukmini Sahay on February 9 in Udaipur. The Prem Ratan Dhan Payo actor had a traditional Hindu ceremony, attended by family and close friends

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After a grand celebration in Udaipur, Neil threw a reception at the JW Marriot Hotel, in Juhu (Mumbai) on February 17. Dressed in green, the Varalakshmi, daughter of actorturned politician Sarathkumar, has acted in several Tamil films. On February 19, the Malayalam actress was allegedly abducted and harassed for two hours by a gang of five men, who forced their way into her car before fleeing in a busy area in Kochi. The incident had triggered widespread condemnation from all sections of society.

Rukmini Sahay

newly-wed couple chose to be colour co-ordinated. Neil looked regal in a bottle green and white Jodhpuri suit and wife Rukmini opted for a green embroidered ensemble. The guests who have attended the grand reception include names such as actor Jackie Shroff, filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya, veteran singer Anuradha Padwal, and Kabir Bedi with wife Parveen Dusanj. Amitabh Bachchan walked in with wife Jaya Bachchan to bless the newly-weds. While senior Bachchan was dressed in an all-black suit, wife Jaya chose a pink and red traditional gotta patti work sari. Sanjay Khan came in with wife Zarine, along with son Zayed Khan and his wife Malaika. Also, seen among other guests were names such as filmmakers Abbas-Mustan, veteran actor Randhir Kapoor, Dino Morea, and newcomer Pooja Hegde.

Hugh Jackman (Photo: AFP) by Deborah COLE

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ERLIN, Germany | AFP | Hugh Jackman’s rip-roaring final turn in the “Wolverine” franchise premiered at the Berlin film festival Friday, as he admitted he shed a few tears saying goodbye to the juggernaut role. “Logan” sees the blade-fingered superhero reunited with his ailing father figure Professor X (British actor Patrick Stewart) and introduced to Laura, his mutant daughter he was unaware had been created in a Mexican laboratory. Though still small, Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen) inherited her father’s steely claws and awesome strength. She joins him in battle against the agents of an American company that wants her back after engineering her along with a band of superhuman child soldiers. Jackman, who first appeared in the role of The Wolverine from the Marvel comics X-Men series in 2000, said the family story packed a heavy emotional punch for him and, he hoped, the audience. “When I saw the movie I was very nervous, knowing what was at stake for me and it exceeded my expectations. I looked at that character -- there were some moments I cried, in weird places like carrying the child (Laura) back up the stairs,” he said. “I can’t say I’ll miss him because it’s difficult to describe, it’s not going anywhere for me. It will always live here. The fans will remind me every single day of my life whether we got it right or wrong.” The film’s opening chapter takes place along a heavily militarised US border with Mexico, in the near future. Logan -- or Wolverine -- and Professor X are living in hiding when Lisa surfaces, having escaped her creator-captors with the help of a nurse from the clinic.

The woman pleads with Logan to shepherd Lisa to “Eden”, a safe haven in North Dakota, near the Canadian border. The three generations of the family end up on a fateful odyssey through an America populated by ruthless corporations and the decent citizens who try to stand up to them. - Political ‘echoes’ Stewart said the resonance of the picture’s themes had grown stronger during production.

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“We did not set out to make a political movie and yet there are references and echoes in this movie that could not have been anticipated but exist today,” he said. “That is serendipity.” Jackman also saw the story as prescient.

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VOICE OF ASIA 18

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

HEALTHY LIVING VOICE OF ASIA

Section 2

Email: voiceasia@aol.com

Post-Valentine’s Day tips for a healthy heart by Karin McCay

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UBBOCK, TX - February is all about the heart and what can make it stronger.

So, if Valentine’s Day has left you with a lot of chocolate in the house, is that a good thing or a red flag? We asked Dr. Mimi Zumwalt, a Texas Tech Physician and world champion body builder. She says chocolate contains cocoa butter which has good fats and bad fats. She says, “Chocolate has one unsaturated fat similar to olive oil which is good for the heart, but with two saturated fats that are bad for the heart. But the other good thing about chocolate is it has antioxidants which helps to repair the cell damage from free radicals that are produced in the body.” Overall, she offers this advice, “I say you may want just one Hershey kiss a day and hopefully keep the doctor away.” Good luck with that. It might be easier to follow Dr. Zumwalt’s exercise plan for better heart health. She says even one hour a week of walking can help make your heart stronger. Especially if you’re just starting a program, she says try to get 10 minutes of walking every day, even if that includes parking far away and walking to your destination… or climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Coincidentally, right now at the

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Dr. Zumwalt is developing a new app that she hopes will make exercise easier and more motivating for better health. Dr. Zumwalt say she has a team of

folks at TTUHSC working to put all her ideas into this new app. It will be called FIT-FIX. It will help you design your own workout with timers to know when to move on to the next exercise. (-KCBD)

5 ways to lower your heart disease risk You can do a lot to lower your odds of getting heart disease. Taking action will improve your health -- and, possibly, save your life. Get going on these 8 ways to get on track. 1. Quit smoking. If you smoke, you are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack as nonsmokers, and you’re much more likely to die if you do have a heart attack. 2. Improve cholesterol levels. You’re more likely to get heart disease if you have: Total cholesterol level over 200, HDL (“good”) cholesterol level under 40, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level over 160 and Triglycerides over 150. Cholesterol isn’t the only thing that matters. Your doctor will consider the big picture, including all your potential risks. To help lower cholesterol levels, eat a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and refined sugars and high in fiber. 3. Control high blood pressure. More than 50 million people in the U.S. have hypertension, or high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. Exercise and healthy eating as well as avoiding salt help. Some people may need medicine to control their blood pressure, too. 4. Get active. People who don’t exercise are more likely to get heart disease, and die from it, than people who are active. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you aren’t active now. She can tell you what you can do. 5. Follow a heart-healthy diet. Eat foods that are low in fat and cholesterol. Just about everyone should eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, and other plant-based foods. The fiber is good for your cholesterol, and you’ll get vitamins the natural way, from foods. Also limit salt and sugar. Most people get too much of both.

Dr. Oz’s Top 10 health and fitness tips of all time Take the doc’s advice to look and feel your best for life by Jessica Smith

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llness or injury may often be the instigator, but frailty is what kills us, says Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon, author, and host of The Dr. Oz Show. Our bodies can’t recover as well if we’re not strong, which is why he recommends a balanced workout plan that includes strength, cardio, and flexibility training. Get Strong, Not Skinny This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym each week. The busy doctor has no problem fitting in his seven-minute workout every morning, which he says is better for you than the occasional hour-long gym session. And you can say goodbye to boring treadmill sessions. Instead, Dr. Oz suggests getting a basic pedometer and setting a goal of 10,000 steps per day (that’s about five miles) to stay slim and healthy. Cut Out the White Stuff The easiest way to lose weight and improve your health? Ditch the white stuff! Most white foods (bread, rice, pasta, sugar, flour) are primarily made up of refined carbs and empty calories, so cutting them out of your diet is one of the quickest ways to shed pounds and improve your wellbeing, Dr. Oz says. There are a few exceptions to the rule, including egg whites, cauliflower, and fish, he says. Those are the only white foods you should have on hand. Bring On the Broccoli They may be chock-full of nutrients, but exotic vegetables like celeriac and Jerusalem artichokes don’t always appeal to more traditional pallets. And that’s fine, according to Dr. Oz, who says broccoli is his alltime favorite produce. “Broccoli is the best produce option because it cleanses the liver and helps to fight cancer,” he says. To reap the most rewards, the doctor suggests cleaning and slicing cruciferous veggies (like broccoli) five to 10 minutes before cooking, and then steaming or microwaving them (instead of boiling) to help retain the most cancer-fighting compounds. “New research says that vitamin D may play a crucial role in weight loss by controlling appetite and helping fat cells become more metabolically active,” Dr. Oz says. The sunshine vitamin also helps your body better absorb bone-boosting calcium, improves immunity, reduces inflammation, and may even protect against some forms of cancer. Nearly 75 percent of Americans

are vitamin-D deficient, so there’s a good chance you’re not getting your recommended daily dose of 400 IU (some people may need as much as 1000 IU, so check with your doctor to find out what’s right for you).

body mass index, and lifestyle factors such as exercise and sleep duration, the authors found that the foods most associated with adding pounds

Get Your Daily Dose of D “The best sources [of vitamin D] are salmon, tuna, and mackerel (especially the flesh),” Dr. Oz says, adding that “fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks also contain small amounts.” And don’t forget the most convenient source of all: sunlight. “Vitamin D is actually produced in your body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike your skin; the UV rays trigger synthesis of vitamin D, which then gets converted in your liver into its active form.” Drink More Water There’s a reason Dr. Oz can’t omit this expected tip from the list. Drinking water is so imperative for staying healthy, energized, and even losing weight. There are so many reasons to stay hydrated—hunger is often disguised as thirst, it boosts your metabolism, and water is the best energy drink available, he says. Trade Supplements for Tea Drinking all-natural green tea is an excellent way to boost your weight loss and your health. Not only does it have the power to stoke your metabolism, but it also contains the highest concentration of catechins, antioxidants found in plants that have been found to protect against heart disease and even some cancers. Sip on a few cups of green tea throughout the day to get all of its amazing benefits. Focus on Nutrients, Not Calories While the amount of calories you consume is crucial for weight loss, the quality of your food is often more important (and often ignored). “Losing weight isn’t all about cutting calories. Your brain is looking for nutrients, not calories, and [your brain] will prod you to eat until you’re satisfied,” says Dr. Oz, who cites a recent landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found specific foods, not just their calorie content, influence weight gain. “After adjusting for age, baseline

Tel: 713-774-5140

When Medicare pays for home health care

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ome care is a phrase commonly used to refer to a wide range of health and social services. These services are delivered at home to recovering, chronically or terminally ill persons or people with disabilities in need of medical, nursing, social or therapeutic treatment, and/or assistance with the essential activities of daily living.

Medicare will help pay for your home care if all four of the following are true: 1. You are considered homebound. Medicare considers you homebound if you meet the following criteria: • You need the help of another person or special equipment (walker, wheelchair, crutches, etc.) to leave your home or your doctor believes that leaving your home would be harmful to your health; and • It is difficult for you to leave your home and you typically cannot do so. 2. You need skilled care. This includes skilled nursing care on an intermittent basis. Intermittent means you need care as little as once every 60 days to as much as once a day for three weeks (this period can be longer if you need more care but your need for more care must be predictable and finite). This can also mean you need skilled therapy services. Skilled therapy services can be physical, speech or occupational therapy;* 3. Your doctor signs a home health certification stating that you qualify for Medicare home care because you are homebound and need intermittent skilled care. The certification must also say that a plan of care has been made for you, and that a doctor regularly reviews it. Usually, the certification and plan of care are combined in one form that is signed by your doctor and submitted to Medicare. • As part of the certification, doctors must also confirm that they (or certain other providers, such as nurse practitioners) have had a face-to-face meeting with you related to the main reason you need home care within 90 days of starting to receive home health care or within 30 days after you have already started receiving home health care. Your doctor must specifically state that the face-to-face meeting confirmed that you are homebound and qualify for intermittent skilled care. • The face-to-face encounter can also be done through tele health. In certain areas, Medicare will cover examinations done for you in specific places (doctors’ offices, hospitals, health clinics, skilled nursing facilities) through the use of telecommunications (such as video conferencing). 4. You receive your care from a Medicare-certified home health agency (HHA). *If you only need occupational see more clearly,” he says. Sleep More to Slim Down

over a four-year period were French fries, potato chips, sugary drinks, meats (unprocessed red meat and processed meats), sweets, and refined grains; the foods most associated with shedding pounds were yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.”

The old saying ‘you snooze, you lose’ couldn’t be more accurate

Sudhir Mathuria Licensed Professional Health Life 360 6776 Southwest Freeway Suite # 178 Houston TX 77074 713-771-2900 www.MyMedicarePlanning.com

therapy, you will not qualify for the Medicare home health benefit. However, if you qualify for Medicare coverage of home health care on another basis, you can also get occupational therapy. Even when your other needs for Medicare home health end, you should still be able to get occupational therapy under the Medicare home health benefit if you continue to need it. If you have questions about billing issues for home health care you should contact 1-800MEDICARE. If you qualify for the home health benefit, Medicare covers the following types of care: • Skilled nursing services and home health services. Skilled nursing services and home health services provided up to seven days a week for no more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per week (Medicare can cover up to 35 hours in unusual cases). Skilled therapy services Physical, speech and occupational therapy services that can only be performed safely by or under the supervision of a licensed therapist, and that are reasonable and necessary for treating your illness or injury Medical social services. Medical supplies. Medicare pays in full for certain medical supplies provided by the Medicare-certified home health agency, such as wound dressings and catheters needed for your care. Durable medical equipment. Medicare pays 80% of its approved amount for certain pieces of medical equipment, such as a wheelchair or walker. You pay 20% coinsurance (plus up to 15% more if your home health agency does not accept “assignment”— accept the Medicare-approved amount for a service as payment in full). To choose right Medicare Supplemental Plan, Medicare Advantage Plan OR Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, contact Sudhir Mathuria @ 713-771-2900.

can increase risk for obesity more than fourfold,” Dr. Oz says. “If you don’t eat right when you wake up, your body senses a famine is coming and slows your metabolism to com-

These results aren’t exactly ground-breaking, but they confirm what weight-loss experts have been recommending for years. To stay slim and healthy, fill up on high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats Delay Dessert You don’t need to completely eliminate dessert (Dr. Oz says it’s perfectly okay to indulge your sweet tooth in moderation), just try not to indulge immediately after dinner. “Avoid sweets directly after a meal since sugar disrupts the absorption of nutrients,” Dr. Oz says. The best time for a sweet treat is about two hours after you finish your meal. And when it comes to what you eat, try the good doctor’s go-to dessert: dark chocolate. “The flavonols found in cocoa improve circulation and increase blood flow to the brain, which helps you

Delay dessert! (Photo: The DragonTree) when it comes to shedding pounds. According to Dr. Oz, depriving your body of sleep can speed up the aging process and deter your weight-loss efforts. “The brain craves carbohydrates when you’re tired, so you could unknowingly sabotage even the best laid plans,” he says. Make Breakfast Mandatory You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day! “Skipping the first meal of the day

pensate. Then, when your body is presented with food later, it’s ravenous and wants to pack it in, leading to bingeing with a slow metabolism—a recipe for weight gain.” Your plan of action: Dr. Oz suggests automating your first meal of the day by eating the same breakfast (like an egg-white omelet or steelcut oatmeal), or cycling through a small variety of breakfast foods each and every morning. (-HealthandFitness.com)


BEAUTY & FASHION

VOICE OF ASIA 19

Rihanna set to launch make up brand

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OS ANGELES, CA - Rihanna is set to launch her cosmetics company Fenty Beauty by Rihanna this Autumn, and the brunette beauty is ‘’super excited’’ to unveil the project this year.

Rihanna (File photo) The 29-year-old singer has been working on creating a beauty empire, which will be available to buy at Sephora stores in Europe, Australia as well as America, and she is ‘’super excited’’ about unveiling her project to her fans later this year. The brand has taken to social media to share details about the upcoming reveal. Speaking in a video shared to the Fenty Beauty Cosmetics Instagram account, the ‘Work’ hitmaker - who has launched a number of fashion and footwear collections under her Fenty x Puma label - said: ‘’As you guys may have heard already, I am working on creating a new beauty line Fenty Beauty . And I can’t wait for you guys to see what I’ve been working on ‘’And I am super excited about it.’’ The beauty house has teased a ‘’holographic lip colour’’ will be the ‘’first product’’ to be released when the first collection drops. Alongside a picture of woman wearing pale pink lipstick, it read: ‘’A close-up on the holographic lip color which is set to be the first product released under the long-awaited makeup label Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. This product will be available to purchase at Sephora stores this fall.(sic).’’ And the brand are recruiting a global make-up artist and other members of staff to join their International Fenty Beauty Artistry Team. ‘’Bring your resume, online application, headshot, and three portfolio images for an on-site audition. (-AFP)

Indian designer gears up to shine at New York Fashion Week

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EW YORK, NY - Indiaspopup.com, a premier online destination for luxury designer wear showcased Prema Badiani’s “Root Cause” collection at the Indian Consulate in New York City.

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The venture is part of the state prison department’s various rehabilitation programmes for prisoners. The Poojappura Central Prison here, known for a number of unique and successful initiatives ranging from food business to garment making, will soon open a beauty salon, where people can avail quality beauty services at lower rate, Jail Superintendent S Santhosh said.

“We are very proud of the craftsmanship and creativity of our Indian Designers and hope to make a major dent in the global fashion market,” said Dr. Shweta Reddy, Founder of Indiaspopup.com. The event was held at the consulate as part of the New York Fashion week and helped open an avenue for an entire community of Indian Textile makers.

“Mine is a lifestyle brand, born out of passion for creation and design, inspired by the rich heritage of India. It’s an exclusive blend of luxury, opulence, intricate craftsmanship, exquisite embroideries with fresh cuts and the finest quality of fabrics and global designs that define modern Indian couture”, said Badiani. Badiani has also joined hands with NGO Hearts@Work foundation led by the successful entrepreneur Viral S. Desai who has been persistently making tremendous efforts with his various initiatives in the field of environmental awareness to bring in the 360-degree sustainability in the society. The brand is honored to announce an association with the ‘Clean India, Green India’ initiative. On their platform, Indiaspopup features several super talented designers including Falguni & Shane Peacock, Rohit Ghandi, Rahul khanna, Varun Bahl, Anupama Dayal , Gaurav Gupta and of course

Kerala prison to open beauty salon for public ? HIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Feb 17 (PTI) - Inmates at a central prison here will don the garb of beauticians soon.

Based out of New York, Indiaspopup.com, promotes talented Indian designers by showcasing their work on an international level and Badianis collection was the first in a series of such events.

Her label “Premal Badiani “ has become synonymous with sophisticated drama, feminine motifs, unabashed grandeur and contemporary structure. Her enthusiasm for fashion resonates in her designs, resplendent with signature layering, dazzling embellishments, intricate draping and exquisite attention to detail. Driven by artistic, modern and luxurious design and style, couture-like quality and a high level of customer service, her label holds an impeccable customer appeal.

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

An unused old quarters building, located near the jail, would be given a facelift and turned into an air-conditioned and well-furnished parlour, exclusively for men, he said. It would be the second such beauty parlour manned by prison inmates in the state, after the ‘Phoenix Freedom Xpressions’, the salon opened at the Central Prison in northern district Kannur recently, he said. “We are planning to open the salon by April-May.

Fashion Designer Premal Badiani displays her creation of evening gown at New York Fashion Week. (Photos: Jay Mandal/On Assignment)

Training for inmates in this regard will begin soon. The instructors from two polytechnics in the city will impart training in the beautification course,” Santhosh told PTI. “In the initial phase, at least 20-25 inmates will be given training and employed at the salon on shifts. We have given priority to those who have some knowledge in basic beautification skills like hair cutting, shaving, beard grooming and so on,” he said. “Public can avail all cosmeticsrelated services offered in ordinary parlours, ranging from hair cut, hair wash, hair dyeing, shaving and spa to facial, pedicure and manicure at the ‘jail salon,” he said. “We are also planning to open a separate wing for senior citizens at the parlour.Old persons, who are suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes, will get special care and services like pedicure, manicure and foot massage by our trained inmates,” he said.

Fashion Designer Premal Badiani and Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, Consul General of India to NY at a reception, hosted at the Indian Consulate to celebrate New York Fashion Week. shopping a great experience for all. Premul Badiani. Designs which are carefully chosen are put together on a single platform to make

The event also featured select Mirza Ghalib wines from the Sufi Wine Group.

Pakistani fashion goes on display at London Fashion Week brought forward. He said the aim of all Pakistani designers through this project was to produce collections that break boundaries and create a global appeal for Pakistani fashion and also tell the story about Pakistan’s creative and aesthetic side.

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ONDON: Six Pakistani fashion designers displayed their collections at the prestigious London Fashion Week and won praise from fashion-watchers. Maheen Khan, Munib Nawaz, Sonya Battla, Hamza Bokhari of Jeem, Zuriya Dor and The PinkTree Company were brought to London for the show, over the weekend, by the British Council Pakistan as part of the globally run Fashion DNA Project in collaboration with Fashion Scout and London Fashion Week.

Maheen Khan said that she had placed emphasis on highlighting tra-

Santhosh also said the salon initiative is part of a number of rehabilitation programmes and correctional measures taken up by the Prison Department. “Beauticians have huge demand outside.It is one of the highly paid jobs now. Due to shortage of skilled beauticians, migrant labourers from other states are now employed in many of our parlours.So, our trained inmates will surely get job when they go out of prison, after completing their tenure,” the official said. The making and sale of chappatichicken curry combo, cafeteria, organic vegetable farming, manufacturing of shirts are among some of the successful rehabilitation initiatives by the Kerala Prison Department. Poojappura Central Prison is one of the oldest prisons in the state.

The capsule collections by the six Pakistani designers was styled by Rebekah Roy and it was aimed at offering an insight into the burgeoning fashion scene in Pakistan showcasing contemporary design, culture and textiles to the London Fashion Week audience. Designer Munib Nawaz told Geo News that for nearly eight months, Pakistani designers worked day and night to produce their work for the London Fashion Week. “It was hard work and we all ensured that we project our work and designs to the global audience in the most befitting manner. As you saw during the catwalk session, all Pakistani designers won huge praise from the audience and we couldn’t have asked for more. The British Council provided us with the great opportunity and we are thankful indeed. It’s also recognition of Pakistan’s talent and widening fashion scene.” Fashion critic and designer Mohsin Saeed told Geo News that Pakistani artists and designers are doing all they can to tell the world about the real Pakistan. He said it was unfortunate that Pakistan was in the western news for all the wrong reasons but there’s another side to Pakistan and that untapped side needs to be projected and

A design for men by Munib Nawaz (Photo: Style Free Fashion) A 3-piece set of blue jamewar sharara with plain blue slip and tissue coat on top by Pakistan’s Coco Chanel, Maheen Khan. As the very foundation of Pakistan’s fashion history and as a young woman entrepreneur in the 70s she has designed through the country’s best and worst times, always staying on top of her game, devoted to her industry. (Photo: Oniita.co.uk)

ditional fashion of Pakistan’s northern areas as well other parts. She said that Pakistan’s fashion beauty is second to none and has great appeal in the western market. She said that Paki-

tani designers were able to present an eclectic range of Pakistani fashion and packed-to-capacity was a proof how much anticipation existed about the Pakistani show. (-The Nation)


VOICE OF ASIA 20

ONLINE .COM voiceofasiaonline.com

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FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Tel: 713-774-5140

China’s huge debt poses big Haldiram trumps McDonald’s, Unilever with traditional Indian fare headache for central bank by Julien Girault

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EIJING, China | AFP - Chinese banks lent more money in January alone than the annual GDP of South Africa, as borrowers rushed to take advantage of government policies intended to stimulate the economy with easy credit. But the free-for-all has had unintended consequences, creating a tottering tower of unsustainable debt, with Beijing now trying to tighten monetary policy and reduce access to credit without bringing the entire edifice crashing down. Chinese debt exceeded 270 percent of the country’s GDP by the end of 2016, stoked by multiple interest rate cuts as well as the growth of the unregulated “shadow finance” credit sector which involves lending to already indebted companies. Thanks in part to the easy credit, China’s economy -- a key driver of global growth -expanded by 6.7 percent last year, with a construction boom and increased public spending on infrastructure. But the world’s second largest economy is now saddled with an unwieldy debt load, Andrew Fennell of ratings agency Fitch said in a January 23 note, adding that “China’s stable growth reflects stimulus, not sustainability”. Standard & Poor’s also warned that “reliance on credit-fuelled growth poses the downside risk of a hard landing for the economy.” - ‘The risk is immense’ The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, helped stimulate the out of control lending with multiple interest rate cuts between the end of 2014 and 2016, lowering the cost of credit.

The abundance of cheap cash has had unexpected consequences: the cost of garlic jumped 80 percent last year on speculation, investors poured money into bitcoin and real estate prices in some parts of the country have gone through the roof.

previously hasty expansion of banks’ balance sheets make the financial system vulnerable to too abrupt a change,” she said.

Last year the average price per square metre jumped 14 percent in Beijing, 38 percent in Nanjing and a staggering 49 percent in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Authorities are also worried about the intensifying risk of corporate defaults, particularly in the unregulated “shadow finance” sector that covers loans to heavily indebted manufacturers and property developers.

At the same time, empty apartment buildings have mushroomed across other cities where builders are struggling to find clients willing to invest in their speculative ventures. The “monetary policy has only inflated the real estate bubble,” economist Zhong Pengrong, CEO of Shiye, told AFP. “If the market collapses, the risk is immense,” he said. Although a dozen municipalities have recently tightened rules on apartment purchases, overheating persists, with home loans accounting for a record one-third of bank lending in January. Hamstrung by the need to prop up growth while also reining in speculation, the PBOC has sent mixed signals on monetary policy. It injected additional liquidity into the financial system before the Lunar New Year, when demand for cash is traditionally strong. Then in early February the bank raised short-term rates in the money market by 10 basis points for the first time in four years. Societe Generale analyst Wei Yao said the bank was attempting a precarious balancing act. “The high debt level and the

“The tightening cannot be too harsh.” - Thirst for liquidity -

Social financing -- a broad measure of credit including that offered by non-bank entities -- soared to 3.740 trillion yuan ($545 billion) in January, double that in December, according to the PBOC. These unregulated schemes include company-to-company lending, which jumped 20 percent in 2016 to $1.92 trillion, according to data firm CEIC. Commercial banks have traditionally been reluctant to loan money to small and medium-sized businesses, regardless of interest rate cuts, leaving owners with little choice but to turn to “shadow financiers” to quench their thirst for liquidity. A jump in interest rates is unlikely to affect the demand for this kind of lending, meaning there is no immediate solution in sight. Under these conditions, analysts say, it will likely take a long time to get China’s debt monster under control as the country attempts to re-balance its economy. “China economy is a bit like a high-speed train,” Zhang Fayu, economist and manager for assets management firm Million Tons Capital in Shanghai, told AFP. “It must slow down well in advance before turning.”

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aldiram’s, a business venture which started with a small shop in Rajasthan’s Bikaner, is now the biggest snacks maker in India, with an annual turnover of Rs 4,000 crore.

Desi Haldiram’s beats Nestle Maggi, Domino’s with Rs 4,000 cr revenue

The Indian snack major is now twice the size of Hindustan Unilever’s packaged food division or Nestle Maggi and larger than the India turnover of the two American fast food rivals Domino’s and McDonald’s put together, the Economic Times reported on Monday. Haldiram’s, said to be worth Rs 5000 crore, is the second largest Indian food brand after Parle and the leader in traditional snacks market, dominating five of its rivals — Balaji Wafers, Prataap Snacks, Bikanervala, Bikaji Foods and DFM Foods, the report said. A member of the company’s founding family attributed the growth to strict quality control and new in-house products.

Snack-maker Haldiram’s grew 13 per cent. clocking a combine revenue of more than Rs 4,000 crore in FY16 (File photo) “We also understand Indian palate well and that comes handy while launching new products,” Kamal Agarwal, 43, was quoted as saying in the report. The company sells its products through three branches,

Haldiram Snacks and Ethnic Foods for the northern region, the Nagpur-based Haldiram Foods International for the western and southern markets, and Haldiram Bhujiawala for the eastern market. (-Hindustan Times)

Gold plunges Rs 180 ($2.69) on global cues, easing demand

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napping its three-day rising trend, gold slumped by Rs 180 to Rs 29,700 per 10 grams today on weak global cues and easing demand from local jewellers. Silver prices also dropped by Rs 300 to Rs 43,150 per kg on reduced offtake by industrial units and coin makers. Marketmen said apart from

a weak trend overseas, fall in demand from local jewellers and retailers at current levels weighed on gold prices. Globally, gold fell 0.02 per cent to USD 1,234.30 an ounce and silver declined 0.06 per cent to USD 17.93 an ounce in Singapore. In the national capital, gold of 99.9 and 99.5 per cent purity tumbled by Rs 180 each to Rs 29,700 and Rs 29,550 per

10 grams, respectively. It had gained Rs 255 in the past three sessions. Sovereign, however, held steady at Rs 24,500 per piece of eight grams. Tracking the yellow metal, silver ready fell by Rs 300 to Rs 43,150 per kg and weekly—based delivery declined by Rs 265 to Rs 42,670 per kg. (-The Hindu)

Bill Gates says robots should be taxed like workers by David Z. Morris

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n a new interview with Quartz, Microsoft founder Bill Gates makes a rather stunning argument—that robots who replace human workers should incur taxes equivalent to that worker’s income taxes. “Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed . . . If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.” Gates argues that these taxes, paid by a robot’s owners or makers, would be used to help fund labor force retraining. Former factory workers, drivers, and cashiers would be transitioned to health services, education, or other fields where human workers will remain vital. Gates even suggests the policy would intentionally “slow down the speed of that adoption [of automation] somewhat,” giving more time to manage the broader transition. The idea of what amounts to a tax on efficiency would seem

anathema to much conventional economic wisdom. For decades, the dominant line on automation has been that displaced workers shift into more productive roles, in turn growing the total economy. But that thesis has begun to show cracks—as Gates puts it, “people are saying that the arrival of that robot is a net loss,” demanding greater active engagement with job retraining and other programs that target impacted communities. (Though the effectiveness of job training programs is still somewhat debatable). While Gates resolutely comes down in favor of government’s role in managing automation’s impacts, he offers two points that should be at least slightly compelling to free marketeers. First, Gates says, the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence in the next 20 years will be a much more concentrated version of the steady, incremental displacement that was common throughout the 20th century. The market alone won’t be able to deal with the

speed of that transition—and, Gates further suggests, much of the potential for putting free labor to better use will be in the public sector. Second, and probably even more importantly, Gates says automation won’t be allowed to thrive if the public resists it. “It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm . . . And, you know, taxation is certainly a better way to handle it than just banning some elements of it.” In other words, Gates believes that if automation doesn’t clearly benefit all members of society, it could generate some sort of neo-Luddite movement that would restrain technology much more severely than any tax.If you don’t believe him, just look around. The widespread belief that globalization’s benefits were poorly or unfairly managed has led directly to a political resurgence for fans of walls and tariffs. The same dynamic could repeat itself if automation isn’t rolled out wisely. (-Fortune)

Alibaba makes another big push into brick-and-mortar retail

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hina’s Alibaba Group Holding said it formed a strategic partnership with Bailian Group, the largest retailer by store numbers to join the e-commerce giant’s drive to use big data to improve and profit from brick-and-mortar sales. The deal, which does not include any financial investment in Bailian, is the latest in Alibaba’ s still nascent efforts to capture a bigger share of the retail market as online sales growth slows. It has also spent $4.6 billion on a minority stake in appliances retailer Suning Commerce Group, is leading a $2.6 billion bid to take department store and shopping mall operator Intime Retail Group private and has bought a stake in grocery chain Sanjiang Shopping Club. News of the agreement sent shares in Bailian Group firms surging but analysts cautioned it may take several years before

returns from using big data can make a significant difference to earnings. “There is a big push right now across brands to try and figure out how to mix physical and online shopping but gains so far have been limited,” said Shanghai-based retail analyst Ben Cavender at China Market Research Group. The two firms will initially cooperate on supply chain technology using Alibaba ‘s big data capabilities and will integrate Alipay payments with Bailian Group’s existing membership program. Bailian operates 4,700 outlets in 200 cities including supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies - more than double the stores owned by Suning, Intime and Sanjiang combined. An Alibaba spokesman declined to comment on how many stores will be involved in the new partnership. A Bailian

spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Alibaba , which has an active user base of around 500 million, has said it wants to tap China’s entire $4.8 trillion retail economy by developing data-driven management tools for retailers and brands. China’s e-commerce market is expected to average around 18% annually until 2020, according to consultancy Bain & Company, compared with an average rate of 35% during the preceding four years. And while e-commerce has seen phenomenal growth in China, brick-and-mortar sales still accounted for 84% of total retail sales in China last year, Bain said.Among Bailian Group firms, shares in Shanghai Bailian Group were up by the 10% daily limit in afternoon trade. Lianhua Supermarket Holdings rose 7% and Shanghai Material Trading climbed 5%. (-Fortune.com)


SPORT

VOICE OF ASIA 21

Cricket

Ranji cricketer Harmeet Singh arrested

South Korean organisers opened a domestic ticket lottery on the February 9 anniversary. They said there were more than 18,000 applications in the first two hours but have 1.18 million tickets to sell, about 30 percent destined for the foreign market.

The former U19 cricketer drove his car onto the platform of Andheri station in Mumbai causing inconvenience to passengers during peak hours (Photo: AFP) said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He is from Punjab. He lives in [the northern Mumbai suburb of] Malad. He seems new to Mumbai. As of now it looks like he did it by mistake. We see no other reason behind it. He has been arrested,â&#x20AC;? he added. Harmeet, 24, was a part of Indiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Under-19 World Cup-

winning squad in 2012 after which, he played for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL 2013. His name also cropped up during the spot-fixing scandal that year, but was eventually cleared by the court. He currently represents Jammu & Kashmir in the Ranji Trophy. (-Cricbuzz)

Shahid Afridi quits: Cricketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Peter Pan lays his bat down Shahid â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Boom Boomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Afridi was never about elegance, always about adrenaline and pure entertainment by Anindya Dutta

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s it happens, I stumble upon a rerun of one of the India vs Pakistan encounters at Sharjah from 1999, while flipping channels on television this Sunday morning. 18-year-old Shahid Afridi is bowling to a young Sourav Ganguly with captain Mohammad Azharuddin at non-strikerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s end. Wasim Akram has just finished an over from the other end. Imran Khan is in the commentary box. I am left shaking my head in awe at the longevity in the sport of the man who never aged. As an Indian fan, I grew up with the Indo-Pak rivalry in cricket at the forefront of the imagination of the youth of both countries. The 1978-79 tour of Pakistan when Kapil Dev made his debut, and the charisma and exploits of Imran Khan captured the hearts of Indian women, was a watershed moment. It was the start of a rivalry that was to make the Ashes pale in comparison (at least in the subcontinent), and forever redefine what was important in the minds of sport-lovers in both countries. It did not matter how India did in a tournament or against any other team in the world as long as the team beat Pakistan. And across the border, the sentiment was reciprocated. And yet, just like for The Ashes, and indeed in any great rivalry, there was huge respect for the individuals in the other team involved in the game. Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir, Majid Khan, were all to become household names in India. A few years later, when despite Krishnamachari Srikkanthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magnificent century in an ODI at Calcutta, Saleem Malik and Ijaz Ahmed were to bludgeon their way to victory in front of a disbelieving crowd that included a younger yours truly, there was stunned admiration for the feat from an appreciative crowd rather than the hostility that can sometimes be on view in recent times. The rivalry intensified with the regular ODI matches being played at Sharjah in front of subcontinental crowds and telecast live in both countries.

In a message to accompany official invitations to the Games, IOC president Thomas Bach said the Olympics â&#x20AC;&#x153;will be a moment for Korea to amaze the world.â&#x20AC;?

Koreans are not interested in the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Winter Olympics. South Korean organisers marked the countdown by unveiling a weatherproof torch inspired by traditional Korean white porcelain for the Olympic relay. It is designed to keep the flame alive in the high altitudes and strong winds of the mountainous venue.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pyeongchang will transform into a hub for Asian winter sports. For the first time, the magic of Olympic sport on snow and ice will come to Korea,â&#x20AC;? he added.

In Los Angeles, the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bid to stage the 2024 Olympics, set up a curling sheet in the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s huge Koreatown district, home to the largest Korean population outside of Korea.

Test events at Pyeongchang have started while work on some hotels and other infrastructure is still going on. A high speed train from the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main Incheon airport is only due to start operating in December. Some countries have said there is not enough accommodation for athletes and officials.

Sponsors and Games ambassadors were also brought into the campaign with one longstanding Swiss sponsor of the Games setting up a one year clock outside Seoulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s city hall.

IOC coordination commission chairperson Gunilla Lindberg said that with only a year to go, â&#x20AC;&#x153;we can feel the excitement growing and the support of the whole of the Republic of Korea for these Games.â&#x20AC;?

Skiing superstar, Lindsey Vonn, a Pyeongchang envoy, is hoping to make her Olympic swansong at the event. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Olympics are something that motivate me and that I really work hard for. I was obvi-

An opinion poll released this week said 49 percent of South 11,185 runs and 540 wickets from 523 international matches later, Shahid Afridi will announce his retirement (Photo: AFP) to sleep during the long lunch, mentally exhausted. Kapil wakes them up, gives them an inspiring speech, and leads India to victory by dismissing Pakistan for 87 in a remarkable match for the ages. But at the time, the hero of our story, Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi is only five years old and holding a kidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bat for the very first time. It will be 1996 when we first get to see Afridi in action. And what a beginning that is. He will not be needed to bat against Kenya in his first match, but in his first innings as a batsman, batting at No. 3 in Pakistanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second match of the tournament against Sri Lanka at Nairobi, he will score a century in 37-balls to announce his arrival to the world. He will in the process break Sanath Jayasuriyaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 6-month old record in 11 fewer balls, and for good measure, he will score 41 of those 100 runs off 11 balls from the very same Jayasuriya. Now that is a debut innings to remember! Unbelievably, he will continue being the one permanent fixture of Pakistan cricket through all its ups and downs over the next 21 years. A period when between match fixing scandals, jail terms for its cricketers, public and media spats between player and player, between players and the Board, and the loss of home advantage because of terror and safety related issues, the only permanence in Pakistan cricket, other than Afridi, would be the pendulum swings in performance between sheer brilliance and utter rubbish. And 11,185 runs and 540 wickets from 523 international matches later, Afridi will announce his retirement in style as only Afridi can, just after scoring a brilliant 28-ball 54 in the Pakistan Super League T20 tournament.

Organising committee president Lee Hee-Beom has made calls for arch-rival North Korea, which boycotted the 1988 Seoul Olympics, to take part. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are preparing for a scenario in case North Korea participates in the Pyeongchang Olympics,â&#x20AC;? Lee told reporters, according to the Yonhap national news agency. Lee also acknowledged that a corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-Hye has made companies reluctant to sign sponsorship deals, leaving organisers with a budget gap of hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Notwithstanding this, Shahid Afridiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s achievement is truly extraordinary.

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Throw into this mix the fact that he represented Pakistan.

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No other country among the major cricket-playing nations has gone through quite the upheaval that Pakistan has in the past decade, and more. And yet, through all this Afridi has kept his head down and continued representing his country with pride and success. Shahid â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Boom Boomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Afridi was never about elegance, always about adrenaline; and pure unadulterated hormone-inducing, blood-pressure-raising, heart-stopping entertainment. What made it even more special was that it was not boring and predictable. Even when you saw Afridi on the ground, he had not necessarily come to play. He could as nonchalantly throw away his wicket with a nothing shot at the start (or indeed at any point) of his innings, as he could hit a century at record-breaking speed, demoralising the opposition. India bear witness to a number of these assaults. None more memorable than Kanpur 2005, when with the series tied 2-2 and chasing 250 for a win, Afridi came in and won the match virtually singlehanded, scoring a century in 45 balls to hold the record for both the fastest and second-fastest centuries in ODI at the same time.

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You could never say that Afridi did not provide you entertainment. (-Cricketcountry)

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He could spend 5 overs bowling absolute rubbish and get carted around the park for 60 runs. And he could then come back and pick up 7 for 12 in an unplayable spell of leg-break and googly bowling on a pitch that gives no assistance, as he did in Guyana against the West Indies.

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It is a fact that Kallis made

South Korea is also hoping that political tensions with China, over the basing of US missiles in the country, and North Korea ease in coming months.

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Let us stop and think about those numbers for a moment. Other than Jacques Kallis, who is clearly the outstanding allrounder in modern Cricket, and one of the best ever, Afridi is the only player to have made more than 10,000 runs and taken more than 500 wickets in his international career.

ously disappointed that I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t got to Sochi because if my knee injury so Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m looking forward to Pyeongchang,â&#x20AC;? she told Eurosport television at the world championships in Switzerland.

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more than 25,000 runs and took 577 wickets and is in a class of his own. Kapil Dev came the closest to this exclusive group, with over 9,000 runs and almost 700 wickets from only 356 matches. But then, Kapil retired well before the advent of T20 cricket.

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March 1985 springs to mind. Imran scythes through the Indian batting line up taking 6 for 14 in his 10 overs in one of the most hostile bowling spells in ODI history. The Indian team famously (and literally) goes

â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is more than what we expected,â&#x20AC;? said Pyeonchang Organising Committee spokesman Sung Baik-You. A series of events were still staged around the world to push the name of the small Korean mountain town more into the limelight however.

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While Pakistan had the better of India for much of this period, amid weary jokes in India about the futility of even playing in Sharjah on Fridays when clearly Allah was on Pakistanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s side, India too had her moments.

Pyeongchang looks to make Games buzz for countdown

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;He is said to have brought the car on to the platform from a road, which has been laid to bring in raw material for construction work at the station,â&#x20AC;? an official of the Andheri RPF,

Olympics

AUSANNE, Switzerland | AFP - Olympic chiefs on Thursday launched a campaign to spread the word about the Pyeongchang Winter Games on the one year countdown to the event amid fears of empty seats spoiling the show.

UMBAI - Former Indian Premier League player Harmeet Singh, who also represented Mumbai in the Ranji trophy, was arrested on Monday (February 20) for having driven his car onto platform No.1 of Andheri station, in north-west Mumbai. The incident occurred around 7:20 am on Monday morning, which caused severe chaos and inconvenience to passengers during peak hours, following which, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) confiscated his car and arrested the cricketer. A senior official confirmed the news, adding that he was booked under sections 147 (trespass), 145 (b) (commits nuisance and act of indecency), 154 (endangering safety of passengers) and other relevant provisions of the Railway Act.

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

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HOROSCOPE

VOICE OF ASIA 22

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Your Horoscope for the Week of February 24, 2017 READ YOUR COMPLETE HOROSCOPE

by Hardik Vyas, Astrologer Cell : 832-298-9950

ONLINE WWW.VOICEOFASIAONLINE.COM

Aries (A,L,E) 21 March to 20 April

Libra (R,T) 23 Sept to 22 Oct

You may need to face issues in your personal life. You can’t continue to avoid the obvious. New ideas may rekindle your interest to work with a team. On a good team, praise and criticism should be equally valued assets. Put your ideas on paper and together you’ll be able to come up with a perfect solution. A friend will figure some changes prominently. Physical appearance and material wealth are only part of your charm. Your generosity will allow you to share the spotlight with those concerned.

Normally you allow others more room, but you need to make sure that everybody is on the same page. It’s not that you are inflexible, but some assurance. If a smile and a handshake make you suspicious, maybe your intuition is working overtime. A solid presentation of your ideas will generate instant success for you. Your word will be accepted as the unwritten law. What’s obvious to you may be brilliant to others. Your future is looking better all the time. Weigh the options you have and ask yourself if it’s worth the trouble.

Taurus (B,V,U) 21 April to 20 May

Scorpio (N,Y) 23 Oct to 21 Nov

Your sense of humor will take control and make life interesting again. Try your best to get along with the majority and everything should run smoothly. If you sense a reluctance from others, don’t push it. If you like to help others, you can expect to have a rewarding time, this week. If you feel your patience is slipping away, you should avoid confrontation, at all costs. Invite someone special to visit an important place with you. Share a fantasy, that way, you will be in charge of the illusion.

A long-term relationship will prove once again to be a source of security and delight for you. Your feelings have been mixed and you’ve been keeping them hidden. Loved ones will sense your mood and question you. It’s important that you keep your cool and explain how you feel. Conversations could get out of hand if you are too quick to assume what others think. Ask the questions and you’ll get the truth. You’ll feel unsettled if you say something before you know how they really feel.

Sagittarius (BH,F,DH,TH) 22 Nov to 21 Dec

Gemini (K,CHH,GH) 21 May to 20 June Show self-motivation. You may be able to turn a loss into a gain. An old project, or even an old love, may come back into your life. Approach it differently this time. Be certain that you want what you’re going after. This is your chance to make a new start. Just make sure you do it on your terms. You’ve got to be motivated by your own passion, not by someone else’s desires for you. You don’t have to be a total control emotions, but you must be in charge of your own feelings.

Try to avoid the usual pitfalls and begin to make yourself happy. You need to express both your fears and your fantasies. Once you admit to the limitations you have, you’ll be able to communicate your dreams and perhaps even make some of them come true. The world is far too exciting for petty or personal issues to interfere. Your energy will attract the attention of others. They’ll stand up and take notice of you. Many may want your friendship, but few are willing to pay their dues.

Capricorn (KH,J) 22 Dec to 20 Jan

Cancer (D,H) 21 June to 22 July Nothing remains the same. You may feel very uncomfortable at first, but once you express yourself clearly, you’ll feel more at ease. You’ll do well at abstract thinking which will help you to put up with the challenges of change. Your outlook will improve and your luck will start to change. Be open to new areas of your personal life opening up. If you are looking for an honest relationship, you may just meet your match, this week. Ideas that seemed crazy at first may prove to be your solution.

Even though you may feel as if you are under a microscope, having others around could prove to be a plus. Someone close to you may understand what you’re going through and offer you an alternative. Your creative skills will be required. Great ideas will come and go very easily. Your emotional well being hinges on keeping a positive flow to everything you do. Sure, you could whine and complain, but what good would that do. Even though you hate to wait, you cannot rush into things.

Aquarius (G,S,SH) 21 Jan to 19 Feb

Leo (M) 23 July to 22 August The more flexible you are now, the less rigid your problems will become. A good conversation with those concerned will help you to understand the things that were said. Think on a smaller scale and you’ll be able to see things differently. Another native may show you a glimpse of your future. Acceptance will come if you have the will to improve your imperfections. Now that you’re on the right track and there should be no reason to worry. You’ll have a vision which will make things clearer.

Others may be concerned with adding to your purpose, but you need to focus on your immediate objectives. You’re playing for keeps, so you’ll have little patience for detours or changes in plans. Somebody may try to slip something past you, be aware but don’t let on. Family and old friends are the best company for you right now. You’ll learn an important lesson. Sharing will be necessary. The message will become clear and positive. . Many will vie for your attention and some will insist on becoming a part of your entourage. Your popularity will soar.

Pisces (D,CH,Z) 20 Feb to 20 March

Virgo (P) 23 August to 22 September If you are unsure of your feelings, you need to be more definite with your goals. Lately, you haven’t been paying too much attention to those close to you. Do your best to make them feel more comfortable with the recent changes that have occurred in your lives. You need to be more sensitive to their needs. Try to reach a real understanding on issues that are important to both of you. Leave nothing to chance. By week’s end, plan a candlelight dinner for two. Express your inner most feelings. Music or dancing could have a great impact on both of you.

BD

You need to rise for the challenge. It could involve a friend or an older family member to guide you on the path of success. Don’t try going it alone. Ask for help. Your helpmate will see that there is much to be done & will be not only willing, but also able to contribute to the solution. Show your ability to swing right back from anything. Late in the week, you’ll feel fully absorbed by exciting news from far away. Now it’s your turn to be on a high Celebrate.

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VOICE OF ASIA 23

MANAGEMENT TIP OF THE WEEK

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M

any Americans start to think about their housing needs this time of year. For some people spring aligns with the school calendar, given the time it takes to find the right home, arrange financing and move in time for the next academic year. For others, an income tax refund, coupled with refinancing a mortgage, is the way to fund a home improvement project. So how do you find the right loan products and lender? • Research products and terms. Home loans come in two forms: fixed rate or adjustable rate. Fixed rate loans come with terms varying from 10 to 30 years for consumers who want the security of consistent monthly payments plus a rate that won’t change over the life of the loan. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) typically are offered at a lower rate with an initial term of five to 10 years. “A 30 year fixed rate loan is by far the most popular mortgage product with borrowers, but ARMs can be a good option if you plan on moving or refinancing,” says Craig Evans, Ally Bank’s mortgage executive. “When we start a dialogue with a potential customer, we’ll discuss the various options and suggest products geared toward their specific needs.” • Choose a lender focused on your needs. In a crowded mortgage landscape, it’s important to find loan experts to help you through the process.

For example, the Ally Home Team is on hand to help home buyers through the home loan experience, from application to close, ensuring they regularly answer questions borrowers may have along the way. • Ask your lender what products fit your needs. For example, Fannie Mae’s HomeReady product may be a good option for first-time homebuyers and millennials. Key benefits include down payments as low as 3 percent, plus these loans are priced similarly to standard loan pricing, and flexible sources of funds can be used for the down payment and closing costs. • Establish your limits. Some lenders provide useful tools to get you started, such as Ally Home, a new direct-toconsumer home loan service offered by Ally Bank. Its Affordability Calculator helps you analyze your household income and current financial obligations to estimate how much house you can afford. • Refinance an existing loan. Refinancing is a potential option if it offers a better rate than your existing loan, allows you to lower your mortgage payment, or shortens the term of your existing loan. If you have considerable equity, it’s also a way to consolidate debt or fund home improvements if used wisely. For most people, buying a home is the biggest purchase of their life. Once you find your perfect house, make sure you make the right financing choices to complete the picture.

VOICE OF ASIA

How to Mentor a Perfectionist Check your own perfectionism at the door. Have you struggled with unreasonable personal standards and self-criticism? If so, be particularly cautious about the model you offer mentees, and appreciate the risk of — openly or subtly — endorsing a mentee’s self-defeating perfectionism. Focus your mentoring on affirmation, validation, encouragement, and support. Express value for your mentee, not their performance, first and foremost. When your mentee falls short or believes they have failed, help them to cultivate a sense of curiosity, inquiry, and risk taking about what went wrong and different approaches for moving forward. Firmly but kindly identify perfectionistic thoughts and behaviors in your mentee. Challenge them to learn to recognize and reject such unreasonable demands. You can try doing this through artful questioning, like Peter Falk in his character of Columbo Employ well-timed self-disclosure about some of your own mistakes and missteps. Show your mentee how you learned from each mistake, how each has been an opportunity to grow professionally, and, most important, how you continue to accept and even like yourself as a fallible human being who strives for imperfect excellence. Never pretend about competence you don’t have. It is often helpful to say, “I don’t know that, let’s find out together,” thereby giving your mentee permission to not have all the answers. Use humor often but thoughtfully. In the anxietyridden world of the perfectionist, empathic humor can be medicine for the troubled soul. Push your mentee to be open to the very thing a perfectionist fears the most: imperfection. Elicit agreement from your mentee that they will deliberately make some minor mistakes and refuse to fix them. For instance, ask your mentee to send you an email filled with typos — and to tolerate the anxiety it may create.

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Houston Community College Request for Proposals (RFP) Parking Lot & Parking Garage Cleaning Services Project No. 17-47 (Re-bid) Sealed proposals will be received in Procurement Operations (3100 Main Street,Room No. 11A06, Houston, Texas 77002) until 2:00PM (local time) on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Documents can be obtained at: www.hccs.edu/ district/departments/procurement.

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VOICE OF ASIA 24

FRIDAY, February 24, 2017

Voice of Asia Newsweekly e paper February 24 2017  

Voice of Asia Newspaper is based in Houston since 1987. We reach South Asian and Asian American families in Houston and surrounding cities i...