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|GOPIO CONGRATULATES NEW PRESIDENT OF INDIA HON. PRATIBHA PATIL
GOPIO expresses its congratulations to newly elected Hon. Pratibha Patil as the new President of India, noting as well that the election of Hon. Pratibha Patil is historic as the first female President of India. President Patil was chosen its first female president Saturday, July 21, 2007 in an election hailed as a victory for women in a country where gender discrimination is deep-rooted and widespread. The newly elected President Patil is a lawyer, congresswoman and former governor of the northern state of Rajasthan and will hold the mostly ceremonial post. Several notable women have held in prominent positions of power, most notably Madame Sonia Gandhi and her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi who was elected to the more powerful position of prime minister in 1966 women.
President Patil had the support of the governing Congress party and its political allies, and had been expected to win. "It is a special moment for us women, and men of course, in our country because for the first time we have a woman being elected president of India," said Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who selected and was one of the first to congratulate her. While India has had several women in positions of power most notably Gandhi and her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, who was elected to the more powerful position of prime minister in 1966 women still face rampant discrimination.
"This is a victory of the principles of which our Indian people uphold," President Patil said, as she acknowledged her election as President to Hundreds of delighted Congress Party supporters.
|ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE OF INDIA OFFERS PROGRAMS FOR NRIs and PIOs
Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, set up in 1983, is a National Resource Organization committed to entrepreneurship education, training and research. The Institute has been conducting several international programs for a variety of target groups to develop managerial talent, proficiency in computer skills, skills of entrepreneur trainer-motivators in small business promotion and micro enterprises and micro finance related activities and sensitivity to gender centric issues. The Institute has also successfully carried out the prestigious task assigned by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, to set up Entrepreneurship Development Centers in Cambodia, Lao-PDR, Vietnam. The Institute is offering the following international programs, sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India during the year 2007-08.
Use of English Language in Business Communication (September 24 - November 2, 2007)
Participants undergoing the program will be
- Equipped with the basic mechanics of English language to be able to articulate their points for business purposes;
- Able to lead better in business, with enhanced communications skills;
- Able to expand their business territories on account of skills to comprehend business systems and procedures across the globe;
- Equipped with knowledge, skills & attitude needed for self development.
Entrepreneurship and Business Promotion (January 7 - February 15, 2008)
Participants will acquire skills to
- Identify and analyze constraints and barriers to entrepreneurship development and devise appropriate strategies;
- Initiate, plan and implement entrepreneurship development activities for creation of small enterprises;
- Sensitize the environment for extending timely assistance and support required for establishment of small business ventures.
Business Development Services Providers for Micro Enterprise & Micro Finance (January 7 - February 15, 2008)
The participants will
- Understand the role, importance and contribution of micro-enterprise and micro-finance for sustainable economic development;
- Acquire knowledge and develop skills and behavioral attributes to plan, initiate and implement ME & MF projects effectively;
- Be able to appraise methodologies for providing escort services (Business Development services) for ME & MF.
Computer Applications for SMEs (February 18 - March 28, 2008)
The training program is designed, keeping in mind the needs of participants associated with the SME sector. The participants on completion of the program will be able to;
- Understand applicability and use a variety of advanced functionalities of office productivity suite, MS Office 2003 Professional;
- Use Project Management Software
- Create smart applications using macros, queries and report objects
- Use Visual Basic for Applications as a programming tool.
Industrial and Infrastructure Project Preparation & Appraisal (Feb. 18 - March 28, 2008)
The training program will facilitate the participants
- Understand the process of business ideas generation and formulation, screening for pre-feasibility studies
- Identify data requirements and analyzing their suitability for preparation of industrial and infrastructure project feasibility studies,
- Understand the stages of feasibility report preparation and practically applying various techniques used and integrating the data gathered into a full-fledged business plan.
- Understand the process of assessing a promoter on entrepreneurial competencies.
The Government of India supports the program by offering fellowships to cover the following:
-AC accommodation on twin sharing basis
For availing fellowship support and getting nomination forms, participants are requested to contact the concerned Indian Embassy or Mission located in their vicinity. Filled in nomination forms are to be submitted with Indian Missions only. For details, please see EDI Web site www.ediindia.org
The programs mentioned here are sponsored Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India. People, whether S/he is an NRI or PIO, from 156 countries in Asia, East Europe, Africa and Latin America are Invited to share the Indian developmental experience acquired over six decades of India's existence as a free Nation.
To get more info and a list of the countries, from where people can apply, contact Ms. Lalitha Krishnan, Manager (Planning), EDI, Phone: +91-79-23969163, E-mail email@example.com.
|COMPREHENSIVE US IMMIGRATION BILL COLLAPSED IN THE SENATE
A comprehensive immigration bill crafted by a bipartisan group of US Senators that would have enhanced border security, created a guest worker program, given many illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship, slashed employment-based green cards, increased H-1B visas, and tightened the family reunification provisions of the current law was defeated in the US Senate on June 28, 2007. Although the bill had the full blessing of the White House, the opposition by a majority of Republicans killed the legislation. They claimed the bill would provide amnesty to nearly 12 million illegal residents of this country.
For the Indo-American community the bill was a mixed bag of good and bad provisions. The compromised bill would raise the cap on high-tech H-1B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 a year. These visas would mostly go to people in India and China. It would have also decreased the waiting period for the spouses of legal residents. However, the elimination of several key family based categories such as siblings and adult children of US citizens and green card holders would have been painful for people who want to unite with their families. This provision of the bill was strongly opposed by many Asian American groups, including the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA). The NFIA attempted to get this bill amended to preserve the Family Reunification provisions of the current immigration policy. The NFIA also opposed the portion of the bill that would lead to heavy enforcement under the guise of national security, stripping residents of their basic rights.
There are an estimated 280,000 Indians who live in the United States on illegal basis. Most of these people have overstayed their visa or entered the country illegally. This group of people would have benefited by the hope of becoming citizens someday under the new bill. Illegal workers already in the US as of January 2007 who have no criminal record could apply for legal status, paying a $5000 fine and $1500 processing fee. Within 8 years, the head of the house will return to his/her home country to apply for permanent residency, but only after the 4 million applicants already being processed.
From all accounts, it appears that the immigration reforms are dead for this session of the Congress. No attempt is likely to be made until 2009 to reform the faulted immigration policy. The Indian American community is not unhappy at the demise of this bill. There is a need for community leaders to remain alert for any future efforts to change immigration policies of this country.
Reported by Dr. Rajen Anand, Washington, DC.
|BILL CLINTON ADDRESSES TANA CONVENTION - OVER 10,000 ATTEND
Over 10,000 people attended the 16th Biennial Convention of Telugu Association of North America on July 5-7 held in Washington DC, July 5-7. It was addressed by former President Bill Clinton, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Other dignitaries included Andhra Pradesh Minister for Heavy Industries J. Geeta Reddy, and the Union minister of state for HRD, Daggupati Purandhareshwari, besides business leaders and film stars.
TANA was started in New York in 1978 at the First Conference of Telugus organized by the then convener Dr. Ravindra Nath Guthikonda, who also served as the convener of the First Convention of Asian Indians in North America held in 1980 in New York and which resulted in the formation of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA).
Clinton, in his keynote address at the Telugu conference opening, referred to talk in the US about outsourcing to India. "What about in-sourcing?" he asked, referring to the Indians settled here who contributed significantly to the US economy. Clinton further said that India was becoming more and more important in the world. He cited the example of an AIDS medicine whose prices US manufacturers had to cut drastically because of competition from Indian pharma companies.
Clinton's presence at the conference was made possible by K Krishna Prasad, a Detroit businessman, who presented a $1 million check to the Bill Clinton Foundation. Prasad, also a conference sponsor, has been encouraging Telugus to make their presence felt in US politics. Telugus held a separate fundraiser for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in the New York City on July 5, raising about one million dollars.
Andra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who could not be present since he had recently visited the US, in his message to TANA delegates asked NRIs to set up businesses in his home state, assuring them that their proposals would be cleared within a fortnight from a 'single window'.
Naidu too looked for more NRI involvement in the state. "They should pool resources, adopt villages and develop them," he said. Naidu also announced that he had raised $1 million for NTR Trust, which will use the funds for uplift of the poor. He is its managing trustee.
The business forum themes at the convention included biotech/pharma, IT, entrepreneurship/venture capital and real estate. They drew Telugu business and technology leaders from India and abroad.
The convention also attracted second generation Telugu professionals. Three hundred of them had pre-registered for matchmaking.
Yadla Hema Prasad was the conference convener. At the conference, presidency of TANA passed from Bandla Hanumiaiah to Prabhakar Chowdhury from Houston.
The next TANA conference will be held in 2009 in Orlando, Florida.
|GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
IRELAND MINISTERS TO JOIN GOPIO-IRELAND INAUGURATION
The all Ireland Chapter of the GOPIO will be officially inaugurated on Sunday at 6.30 p.m., 29th July, 2007 in Dublin. The newest GOPIO Europe unit will cover all 32 counties of island of Ireland. GOPIO Ireland chapter will be unique since it will unite PIO and NRI communities from two states with different cultural traditions in a single organization to reflect changing political climate in Ireland after a long troublesome period.
Inauguration will take place in the magnificent St Patrick's Hall in the historical Government building of Dublin Castle. The St Patrick's Hall has been a venue for a number of major EU meetings during Irish Presidency of the European Union in the past. It was also the birth place of Anglo-Irish agreement that culminated in devolution and the power sharing government in Northern Ireland.
The Chairman of the GOPIO International Dr. Thomas Abraham will be present at this event. Ireland's Minister for Trade and Commerce John McGuiness will be the Chief Guest. The Chief Whip of the Irish Parliament Tom Kitt is the Official host of the event.
Similar to other GOPIO chapters, GOPIO Ireland will be a non-partisan secular organization engaged in promoting the well being of people of Indian origin and enhancing their contribution and cooperation in the island of Ireland.
Lord Diljit Rana of Malone, Executive vice-president of GOPIO international is also chairman of GOPIO Ireland and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Prabhu Kulkarni, India Director of Asia Trade Forum of the Irish Exporters Association is the chapter president, E-mail: Prabhu.email@example.com.
Dr. Satish Kumar, Lecturer, School of Geography, Archaeology & Paleoceology, Queen's University Belfast is Hon Secretary, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Those interested to attend the inaugural bash may contact any one of the officers.
GOPIO CHAPTER INITIATED IN ST. VINCENT'S
A GOPIO chapter has been initiated in St. Vincent's in the Caribbean, the island nation with a population of 118,000 of which approximately 6% are of Indian Origin.
Contact: Jannis Dean, Email: email@example.com
GOPIO-CONNECTICUT ORGANIZES HEALTH SEMINAR AND CHART 2007 PROGRAMS
GOPIO-CT (USA) organized the third health series seminar titled "Know Your Heart and Know Your Options," on July 19th at the
Stamford Marriott. The speakers were Dr. Radhika Jasthi and Sangeeta Ahuja. The program was sponsored by Bayer HealthCare, Diabetes Care Division.
GOPIO-CT has scheduled several other programs this year. On August 5th, GOPIO-CT and Uniquely U. College Essay Consultants are hosting a free Informational Seminar on "Maximizing Your College Essay For The New 2007-2008 Common Application" for high school students. The seminar will be held at Meera Restaurant on 227 Summer Street, Stamford, starting at 11:00 am. Guest Speakers are Maxene Fabe Mulford who is one of the foremost practitioners of Aristotelian-based narrative theory and Anand Ahuja who is vice president of strategy at JP Morgan Chase in New York..
In this seminar, the speakers will offer unique tips on how to create an essay template detailing why each of the schools to which you are applying is a "perfect match" for you. The seminar will also showcase some successful college essays and how applicants should begin to think about their own.
On August 1th, GOPIO-CT will celebrate India's Independence Day starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Government Center in Stamford Connecticut. The celebration will include flag hoisting followed by National Anthems. It will be followed by a lunch and speakers at Meera Indian Cuisine.
Contact Sangeeta Ahuja at (203) 329-9744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOPIO-LONDON TO EXPLORE HOSTING FOURTH GLOBAL INDIAN ENTREPRENEURS MEET
GOPIO-London is hosting a luncheon meeting at the Nehru Center (8 South Audley St, London) on July 27th starting at 12 noon. GOPIO International will be represented by its Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and Executive Vice President Lord Diljit Rana. The meeting will explore the possibility of holding the Fourth Global Indian Entrepreneurs and Businessmen (and Businesswomen) in 2008 in UK.
Contact: Raj Lakha, President, GOPIO-London, +44 1474 329985 (T), +44 7768 685397 (M), E-mail: email@example.com
GOPIO EXECUTIVE QUOTED IN NEW BOOK "INVADING THE SACRED: AN ANALYSIS OF HINDUISM STUDIES IN AMERICA"
GOPIO Executive Vice President Lord Rana, Member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, in his published commentary on the New Book "Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America", stated that, "Phobias are mostly caused by a lack of understanding of the past. This book offers a better understanding of the Indian Culture". This commentary appears on the newly released book edited by Dr. Krishnan Ramaswamy, Prof. Antonio de Nicolas and Aditi Banerjee.
The book brings together essays by many well-known scholars and seeks to facilitate a nascent grassroots movement to challenge the systemic misrepresentation of Indian culture and philosophy by certain American academicians. Invading the Sacred is a product of an intensive multi-year research project that uncovered shoddy and biased scholarship driven by certain power cartels. This book narrates the Indian Diaspora's challenges to such scholarship, and documents how those who dare to speak up have been branded as 'dangerous'. This raises serious questions about intellectual freedom in the American academy.
Lord Rana continues, This groundbreaking book documents the rise of Hinduphobia in sections of the American academy and highlights the danger it poses to other parts of the world. Leaders and thinkers in the UK should learn from this book and invite debates and discussions with the Hindu community and other minority communities to expose and counter Hinduphobia in the greater endeavor to create a truly diverse and pluralistic society".
For more information, visit www.invadingthesacred.com
DR. HIMANSHU JAIN RECEIVES WORLD'S TOP PRIZE IN GLASS RESEARCH
Prof. Himanshu Jain, T.L. Diamond Professor of Materials science and Engineering and director of the International Materials Institute for New Functionalities in Glass (IMI) at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., received the Otto Schott Research Award on July 2, at the International Congress on Glass in Strasbourg, France.
The biennial award, which carries a cash prize of 25,000 Euros, is the most valuable prize for glass research. Jain, a professor of materials science and engineering at Lehigh, is sharing the award with Walter Kob of the University of Montpellier in France.
Jain is being cited for "outstanding work towards advancing fundamental understanding of the movements of atoms inside glass."
The Donors' Association for the Promotion of Science in Germany, which administers the Schott award, also noted Jain's research into unique light-induced phenomena in glass, his studies of the corrosion of glass in nuclear environments, and his work with sensors, infrared optics, waveguides, photolithography, nanolithography and other photonic applications of glass.
Jain was taking a boat ride to the Isle of Skye off Scotland's west coast 20 years ago when he first conceived of the connection between jellyfish and atoms in glass. Watching the hundreds of jellyfish in the Sea of the Hebrides, Jain couldn't help noticing what many before had observed - that the invertebrates were not swimming but wiggling as they drifted in the water. The fluctuations of the jellyfish caused Jain to wonder anew at the movements of atoms in glass. When the temperature of a glass is lowered to 4 degrees Kelvin, or near absolute zero, he says, these atomic movements slow from a lively hop to a virtual standstill.
When he returned from Scotland, Jain thought more deeply about the nuclear-spin relaxation studies that he had conducted with colleagues in Germany and the dielectric measurements of super-cold glass that his former adviser had recently reported. Observing the super-cold glass in the lab, he detected a weak signal with unique characteristics, indicating that some atomic movement was still occurring.
"What we saw at this extremely low temperature was clearly something different," says Jain. "We proposed that a group of atoms was sitting in one place but wiggling like a jellyfish, which does not swim but instead has small fluctuations of movement."
Jain initially called the phenomenon the "jellyfish" fluctuations for the AC (alternating current) conductivity of ionic solids at low frequency and low temperature.
He later coined the term "jellyfish fluctuations of atoms in solids." His theory met with resistance but has since gained acceptance and is described today in some textbooks on materials and their behaviors.
Jain's studies of the movements of atoms in glass have been conducted in Germany and the U.S. Jain's jellyfish model, which has been validated in computer simulations, represents a fundamentally new perspective. It also has important applications, Jain says, to cell phones, satellites and other devices that contain glass and rely on microwave frequencies.
The Donors' Association also commended Jain for the breadth of his international collaborations. Jain has worked with engineers and scientists and even dentists in Germany, France, the Czech Republic, India, Ukraine, Japan, Greece, Portugal, Egypt, China, the UK and the U.S.
The Otto Schott Research Award has been presented since 1991, biennially and alternating with the Carl Zeiss Research Award, to recognize excellent scientific research and to encourage cooperation between science and industry. Both awards are administered by the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Science in Germany.
The award is named for Friedrich Otto Schott (1851-1935), a German chemist who invented borosilicate glass, which is known for its high tolerance to heat, chemicals and sudden temperature changes.
A graduate of Benares Hindu University and Columbia University, prior to joining the faculty of Lehigh University in 1985, Dr. Jain worked as a researcher for six years at the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, and the Nuclear Waste Management Division of Brookhaven National Laboratory.
TWO BRITISH INDIANS AMONG TOP 100 WIELDING POWER IN UK MEDIA
Two British Indians, Arun Sarin, Vodafone chief executive, and Zarin Patel, group finance director of BBC, are among the top 100 people who wield most power in the British media industry.52-year-old Arun Sarin who is at 33rd spot issued a stark warning to the mobile phone industry over the threat posed by the Internet and rival new digital platforms.Vodafone, Europe's largest mobile phone company, signed deals with three of the web's biggest brands earlier this year allowing its customers to access MySpace, YouTube and eBay on their handset.With voice and text revenues increasingly under pressure, new entertainment and Internet services are finding favor among the big mobile phone companies.
"Sarin has done some big content deals in the last 12 months," said one of the panelists. "This is going to be the year of the mobile phone, and not just because of the launch of Apple's iPhone. Mobile video is going to take off and mobile advertising is starting to kick in as well."
The second person is 49-year-old Zarin Patel is in charge of the finance at BBC with a total income of 4 billion pounds. Following the corporation's below-inflation license fee settlement, it is up to her and director general Mark Thompson to make the figures add up.
Unveiling a shake-up of the BBC last year, Thompson said Patel and her department was "already in the middle of a revolution based on all the right themes, simplicity, clarity and speed."
INDIAN AMERICAN ARUN VARSHNEYA RECEIVES GLASS AWARD
Dr. Arun Varshneya, professor of glass science and engineering at the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, was awarded the President's Award during opening ceremonies of the XXI International Congress on Glass July 2 in Strasbourg, France. The award, which has been presented every three years since it was established in 1994, is to "recognize outstanding lifetime contributions to the international glass community."
Recipients are selected for their achievements in one or more of the following areas: scientific discoveries, engineering developments or applications, scholarship, artistic accomplishments, industrial/academic leadership, and communications within the international glass community. Varshneya was cited for his achievements in four areas: commitment to education, contributions to glass science research, contributions to glass technology applied research, and entrepreneurship for economic development of the region.
DR. FRANCIS VALIYAVEETIL SELECTED AS A PEW SCHOLAR
Francis I. Valiyaveetil, PhD, was selected as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences ON June 19th by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the University of California at San Francisco. Each Pew scholar receives $240,000 for four years to support their research.
Dr. Valiyaveetil is an Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology with research interests in biological chemistry at Oregon Health and Science University. Pew Scholar grants are awarded to 20 promising researchers each year to provide financial and professional support to those who excel in their field of biomedical research.
FIRST CARIBBEAN INDIAN ARTIST MUSIC AWARDS HELD IN NEW YORK
The first ever Caribbean Indian Music Awards event was held on July 15 at the famous Club Tobago in Richmond Hill, New York to honor local artistes in the performing arts, chutney and filmy songs. The historic red carpet event was organized by the Dheeraj Cultural Foundation in association with Achievers, Inc.
Popular Kathak dancer and head of the Dheeraj Cultural Foundation, Guyanese-born Mr. Dheeraj, said that the idea of the awards show was born about five months ago. He, along with many other like-minded people in the West Indian community, worked assiduously to put together this spectacular awards package, which was reminiscent of the Bollywood Musical Awards show. Many community leaders, including prominent civic leader and businessman Ramesh Kalicharran, turned out to support this once-of-its-kind event. Mr. Kalicharran remarked that "this program recognizes the sterling contributions made by the local artistes to promote the this unique culture was long overdue"
There were many categories up for nomination namely, filmy songs, chutney, TV talk show hosts, DJs and radio talk show hosts. The event culminated with a scintillating cultural presentation showcasing a mixture of talents in the community. Performers, such as Anand Yankarran, Sharon Ghanny, Neal Mohammed, the Jumping Jack Danny and the little dancing princess, Nikita wowed the packed audience.
Contributed by Bina Mahabir
INDIAN AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR COUPLE DONATE $2 MILLION TO IIT KANPUR
India West (July 13, 2007) reports that Rajendra and Neera Singh of Telcom Ventures (Alexandria, VA) have donated $2 million to their Alma Mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to support a business school in their name. Raj graduated from IIT Kanpur in 1975 while Neera graduated in 1981.
INDIAN AMERICAN SUBRA SURESH IS MIT'S NEW DEAN OF ENGINEERING
Dr. Subra Suresh, Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DSME) has succeeded Prof. Thomas Magnanti as the new dean of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). An alumnus of IIT Chennai, Suresh holds faculty position in DSME, Mechanical Engineering, Biological Engineering, and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
|NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs AND PIOs AROUND THE WORLD
US SENATE OPENS WITH HINDU PRAYERS
On Thursday, July 12th, for the first time in U.S. history, the United States Senate opened with a Hindu prayer by an Indian American Hindu priest Rajan Zed of Reno Nevada. Zed was invited as a guest chaplain through the introduction of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Zed ended his prayer with shanti, shanti shanti -- peace, peace, peace -- bringing the Hindu wish for peace to the heart of the U.S. capital. After the prayer Reid stressed the importance of peace, especially with the ongoing international war on terror. He urged people to "think of Gandhi, a man who gave his life for peace."
The historical decision to tender an official invitation to Rajan Zed to recite a prayer from the Rig-Veda, the Upanishads and the Srimadbhagvad-Gita was a wonderful act of acceptance and tolerance and a step toward true and healthy globalization. Zed previously offered opening prayers at a March session of the Nevada State Assembly and one in May of the Nevada State Senate.
He recited a Vedic hymn, the meaning of which is, "I open my prayer with an invocation to the divine -- whatever it may be and however we may conceive it." He also chose a prayer from the Tattriya Upanishad, inviting the welfare and prosperity of all.
The character of these hymns and prayers is universal. They are devoted to the welfare of all, not restricted to any particular human community or the followers of any religious community. Still, the Vedas and Upanishads are the holy scriptures of the Hindu religious community. Their recitation in the halls of government of the United States is definitely a unique example of religious acceptance, forbearance and tolerance.
This is the first such instance since the formation of the powerful Upper House in 1789. According to the US Senate web site, 'Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation on Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. During the past 207 years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as sovereign lord of our nation.'
However, just as Zed was about to begin the prayer, a few Christian fundamentalists protested and began screaming, while holding the Bible aloft, "Lord Jesus, protect us from this abomination." Officers from the Sergeant of Arms' office ejected one after the other (three were taken away) from the Senate gallery which looks down on the floor.
Reported by Dr. Ravindra Kumar, former Vice Chancellor, CCS University, Meerut, India.
AIR INDIA TO LINK NEW YORK AND SILICON VALLEY TO INDIA WITH DIRECT FLIGHTS
On July 10th, Air India celebrated the commencement of New York to India non-stop service at a glittering banquet and entertainment at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. With the delivery of new Boeing 777 Long Range planes at the rate of one every two months starting July-August, Air India will go head to head against US carriers such as Continental, American and Delta, which already have direct, non-stops between the two countries.
The first of Air India's new 777s will fly non-stop between New York's JFK and New Delhi starting August, and the second will link JFK to Mumbai. The third route to be introduced later this year or early 2008 will link San Francisco, hub for Silicon Valley, with Bangalore, India's Silicon Plateau.
According to Air India's chairman and managing director V Thulasidas, Air India would also introduce direct flights between Washington DC and New Delhi, and Chicago and Hyderabad in due course. The airline is also examining linking other Indian cities such as Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Kochi and appropriate US cities.
MIRA NAIR INITIATES NEW AIDS PROJECT
Film maker Mira Nair has launched an AIDS awareness project called Jaago to highlight the spread of the disease and its danger to society. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project will use the powerful medium of Indian cinema to inform people about AIDS and its impact. It will involve the showing of short films on the impact of the disease during movie screenings.
Nair had proposed the idea to get the message across to people. "I proposed that I would get together the most cutting-edge, commercial, populist film directors from different regions of India, who would each use iconic movie stars who are recognized in our country, who would each make a dramatic tale of 15 minutes in length," Nair said.
Each director in the project was given 'the freedom to do what they needed to do'.
The internationally acclaimed film producer and director who directed the film 'Salaam Bombay' added that the films can translate everywhere, and that if the project is a success, she plans to get four more directors to do another series.
"They can really translate anywhere, China, Africa, anywhere. If these four films succeed, then next year we can get another four directors (to do another series)," she added.
GUYANESE PIO VISITS FAMILY'S ANCESTRAL VILLAGES IN UTTAR PRADESH
Guyanese born educator and political analyst Vishnu Bisram and his family have found their paternal and maternal families in Uttar Pradesh after a lengthy search of the archives in Guyana and with assistance to locate the families in Uttar Pradesh. Bisram's grandfather had journeyed from India to then British Guiana as an indentured laborer and remained in Guyana upon completion of his contract term. The paternal family members were located in Jokhara Village in Azamgarh District, and the maternal family members in the Kusmi Village from Ghazipur District. Bisram and his US based family completed the trip to their ancestral villages on July 16, 2007.
"I visited the two villages with my sister and her husband and it was quite emotional meeting our family there for the first time after so many generations", said Bisram who now resides in the USA. "We sponsored a bhoj or feeding in both villages involving over 200 people each in each village on separate days. My brother-in-law Jagjeet Persaud found his maternal relatives in Mau District and he also visited two separate villages during this trip. Altogether they visited four villages and donated money and gifts to the poor and elderly. The villagers were quite excited and happy about their presence, and they were glad to know they have relatives outside of India, especially in America, observed Bisram.
Bisram said that finding the relatives were made possible through assistance from journalists in the nearby villages in India. The ship documents (also known as passes) were given to indentured laborers and information on the passes were used to trace the villages. They spoke with elderly people who told them they were informed by their parents that people left the left the villages a long time ago. "Our newly found families are poor villagers, yet they seem content and humble. They lack some of the basic necessities but went out of their way to make us feel comfortable", observed Bisram. "Overall, we are very excited that we found our relatives; on their side, they would like to obtain help so that their lives can be uplifted as well", noted Bisram.
Tracing Our Roots was initiated by GOPIO at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 205 in Mumbai where GOPIO's Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran chaired the Tracing Our Roots session. GOPIO is actively engaged in discussions with groups and governments in several PIO countries to access, preserve and document the arrival records so that current future generations can have the means to trace their roots to the ancestral villages in India. Currently, GOPIO is collaborating on a proposal to the Government of India's Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for a global database of all Indians who left India from 1830 thru' 1920.
Contributred by Vishnu Bisram
DENMARK STOPS ADOPTION OF CHILDREN FROM INDIA
Denmark has temporarily put a stop to adopting children from India. One of the two of Denmark's adoption agencies in Denmark was recently said to have adopted 2 kids from the city of Pune, without having verified the parental consent. That practice is a violation of the Danish Adoption Act that states that the consent of the original parents is a must before an adoption can proceed.
A Pune agency is the Indian counterpart that supplies children for adoption to such foreign adoption agencies and makes several thousand dollars per single adopted child. The legal limit in India for accepting donations per an adopted child is $3500 while it is reported charges were sometimes in the range of $12,000. In addition, dozens of kids were abducted and provided to foreign adoption agencies every year. While the Indian media has steadily written about this practice , Denmark has now taken the first step towards regulating this shady business.
CANADIAN SIKH COMPENSATED BY WONDERLAND
Wonderland, Paramount Canada's amusement park, has paid an unspecified amount to a Sikh man who was denied to drive a go-cart because he refused to wear a helmet. The case dates back to 2001 when the turbaned Sikh Gurcharan Dran was not allowed by Wonderland to the ride because of helmet regulations. Enforced by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, helmet wearing is mandatory across Canada during go-carting for insurance reasons.
Having been denied to ride without a helmet, Dran had taken the issue to the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2001. He had challenged the regulations on helmet use on religious grounds. With him having reached a settlement with Wonderland for an unspecified amount last October, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has also recommended to the authorities that the Sikhs be given exemptions from helmets for go-kart. In addition to paying Dran the monetary compensation, the amusement park has also asked the regulatory authorities -- the Ministry of Government Services and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority -- to exempt Sikhs from the helmet for go-kart rides.
Though the Sikhs can claim victory, many insurance groups may not insure amusement parks fearing that rides without helmets could lead to injuries, raising insurance pricing. The turban versus helmet issue between the Sikhs and Canadian authorities dates back to the early 1990s when Vancouver-based Baltej Singh Dhillon became the first turbaned Sikh to join the RCMP after fighting a bitter battle for his right to wear a turban. While British Columbia and Manitoba allow turbaned Sikhs to drive without helmets, Ontario does not. A case of a Sikh man charged with riding without a helmet is pending here and will come up in court later in the year.
JET AIRWAYS TO START US-INDIA FLIGHTS FROM AUGUST 5TH
More than two years after announcing its intentions to fly into the "Land of Opportunities", Jet Airways on August 5, 2007 would become the first private Indian carrier to enter the U.S. market. And for the Jet Airways chief, Naresh Goyal, it is a dream come-true, especially so after overcoming so many hurdles including the allegations that he and his company had some connections with the terrorist network. Now all that is a thing of the past as the US Department of State and Homeland Security has cleared him and the Jet Airways from all those charges and thus permitting the airlines to fly its commercial planes into the US. "I am delighted to be here today. New York or USA is most important for us," Goyal told the New York media at a function held here to formally announce the launch of Mumbai-Brussels-Newark daily flights from August 5.
At a time when there is a near scramble among other airlines to launch non-stop flights, Goyal said he was not in the race and instead would try and create a niche for Jet Airways. "We are not going for non-stop flights right now. One stop brings in more money than non-stop," he said at the end of an hour-long impressive presentation at a luxurious hotel in Manhattan. The Jet Airways flight will operate between the New York's Newark Liberty International Airport and Mumbai International Airport on new Boeing 777-300ER wide-bodied jets. Flights depart Newark International Airport at 8-25PM and arrive in Mumbai at 11.30PM the following day; they return from Mumbai at 2.10AM and arrive in New York JFK at 11.55AM. the same day.
Goyal also announced that Jet Airways would start its New Delhi-Brussels-Toronto service from September 5. Jet Airways is building a major hub in Brussels in order to connect Indian and North American cities. In addition to flights to Brussels from Mumbai and Delhi, direct flights between Brussels and Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad will eventually enable travelers to connect seamlessly from five Indian gateways to six North American airports - Newark, JFK, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Asia Sanghai and Hong Kong are due to come on line in 2008 as are Johannesburg and Nairobi.
Jet Airways also wants to start a New Delhi-Brussels-Washington DC service, a market, which has not been tapped yet, Goyal said. Urging people in his own style to fly Jet Airways, Goyal said: "Please fly Jet Airways. If we make mistake in the first flight, do not write us off. Let us know and give time to improve." He was confident that the US market is ready to recognize Jet Airways as one of the most exciting and outstanding pioneers of aviation in the world today.
ONE OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST HINDU TEMPLE OPENS IN CANADA
Swaminaryan Temple in Ontario will be one largest temple in the world. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (temple) was opened for worship on July 22nd in the presence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor David Miller and other dignitaries. The exterior is a confection of creamy hand-carved limestone and sparkling Italian Carrara marble. Pink sandstone decorates the interior spaces.
"Mostly people are proud to have it here," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said, adding it is the pride of Toronto and will help Canadians discover India in Canada. Costing US$ 40 million, it was built using 400 volunteer workers without any public funding. Temple's walls and ceilings are embellished with carved figures, both human and animal, everything from dancing women to elephants and peacocks. These are images of divinity, sensuality and serenity.
Indeed, the temple is a monument to skills largely lost in our mechanized age. Marble from India and Italy and limestone from Turkey were shipped first to a series of villages in India where they were sculpted into their final form. The pieces were then transported to Toronto to be assembled.
Beneath the mandir, is the Indo-Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage. This will be the specifically Canadian addition to what is otherwise a traditional complex, a nod to multiculturalism.
NEW JERSEY PUBLIC SCHOOLS GET FUNDING TO TEACH HINDI
The Edison School District in New Jersey has received a federal grant of nearly $200,000 to introduce Hindi as a foreign language in its schools. Edison has the highest concentration of Indians in the United States. This happened on the eve of the three-day Eighth World Hindi Conference in New York which began on July 13, 2007 and welcomed by Hindi-lovers in the United States of America.
School authorities said Hindi would be introduced as a foreign language in Edison schools from the next academic year beginning September 2008. The federal grant to the Edison School District for this is part of the new initiative by the Bush Administration to increase the number of Americans learning critical-need foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Farsi.
The announcement from Edison School authorities has been welcomed by the residents of Edison, a large number of whom for the past several years were campaigning for this. HindiUSA is an organization that is campaigning for the introduction of Hindi in US schools. Devendra Singh of the HindiUSA said that his organization would help Edison Schoo l authorities in developing the syllabus for various classes and other teaching standards and tools.
Contributed by Bina Mahabir
HEWLETT AND GATES FOUNDATION DONATES $9.1 MILLION TO PRATHAM
Pratham, an organization which supports Indian children's education received a $9.1 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations. The grant supports Pratham's Read India initiative, which is working in conjunction with Indian state governments to help ensure that children between the ages of 6 and 14 achieve basic mastery in these skills by the end of 2009.
The gift to Pratham is the first grant the Hewlett and Gates foundations have awarded in their partnership to improve the quality of education in developing countries. The two foundations previously announced that they will collaborate on a series of grants to improve the quality of education at primary and secondary schools in the developing world.
The grant to Pratham will improve basic learning skills in 100 districts of India, touching 10 million children spread over 10 states for three years. The project, which was launched in January, will be executed in two phases: first "learning to read" followed by "reading to learn." The grant also will support: a rigorous evaluation of the Read India program, the large-scale expansion of a model to rapidly improve learning levels of children in language, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences and life skills, and an evaluation of individual learning outcomes.
According to Dr. Madhav Chavan, Pratham's Co-Founder and Director of Programs, an estimated 50 percent of the children in India cannot read at a minimum level. The Read India initiative, led by Pratham in collaboration with the state governments of India, is a phased programs that will focus on four major components: introducing "learning to read" activities in all schools, creating and supplying reading and learning materials to teachers, involving mothers in their children's learning, and mobilizing youth groups in helping teachers, children, and parents.
The program will be an important step in the efforts to end the cycle of poverty perpetuated by illiteracy and poor education. As part of its mission, Pratham volunteers and supporters are working to ensure that every Indian child is in school and learning well, enabling India to eliminate childhood illiteracy in India and to meet the UN millennium education goals.
Pratham USA President Mahalingham Ramesh said that the organization's goal is to raise $15 million in additional funding in the next two years through major sponsorships and individual donations in order to provide the remaining 500 districts with the necessary resources of staff, volunteers and measurement of results.
DR. RANJIT SINGH SABHARWAL CHAIR ESTABLISHED AT CAL STATE UNIVERSITY
A new chair, "Dr. Ranjit Singh Sabharwal Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies" was set up in California State University, East Bay on June 1, 2007. There are already over a dozen chairs in various universities in California, including two in music, three in Sikh Studies at UC Santa Barbara, Riverside and Santa Cruz. Navin Doshi alone has established two chairs, one in UCLA and another in Loyola Marymont University, Los Angeles.
Professor Sabharwal taught mathematics from 1968 until his retirement at the university. In 2003, he endowed the Sabharwal Family Scholarship Fund for CSUEB mathematics students. After his death, family raised $500,000 from the local Punjabi community to endow a chair in his honor.
BHARATVANSHI GAURAV SAMMAN 2007
Recommendations are solicited by the trustees of the ARSP Nyas for the Award of Bharatvanshi Gaurav Samman for outstanding contributions by an NRI/PIO for fostering better understanding outside India and for making a significant contributions in serving the Indian Diaspora. The award consists of citation, shawl, memento and Rs.1,00,000 (One lakh only).
The first award was given to Shri Ranjith Ramnarin of South Africa by Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius, on 25th October, 2005. The 2nd Award was given to Shri Satnarayan Maharaj of Trinidad & Tobago by Shri Inder Kumar Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India, on 23rd December, 2006.
The recommendations should be accompanied with details of the work done by the person and should reach Nyas headquarters at 6-M, Bhagat Singh Market, New Delhi-110001, latest by 15th August, 2007.
NRI ACHIEVERS MAGAZINE LAUNCHED
Lord Swraj Paul, launched a new quarterly magazine "NRI Achievers" which will be published by BIB Media Pvt Ltd. He lauded the achievements of NRIs and complimented the next generation as "more hardworking and persevering than us."
Jagmohan Singh, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, said, "It's a magazine celebrating the triumph and the glory achieved by many Indians on a foreign soil. It aims to not just bring to fore the great Indian success story but also to inspire the young impressionable minds with legends of great accomplishment. Residing in different lands the Indian diaspora have succeeded spectacularly in their chosen professions by the dint of their single-minded dedication and hard work. What is more, they have retained their emotional, cultural and spiritual links with the country of their origin."
POLAND NEEDS INDIAN CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
Poland will be hosting European football championship in 2012. However the country does not have football stadiums fit to stage the championship. So, the country needs to build hundreds of miles of motorway, airports, and hotels to be ready for the major event.
After Poland joined the European Union, between 1 and 2 million Poles are estimated to have left the country including 400,000 who went to UK. There is dire shortage of labor for construction projects. So, Poland is hoping to get bricklayers, roofers, fitters, crane operators, bulldozer drivers, etc from India.
Poland's Labor Minister Anna Kalata recently went to India to sign a memorandum of understanding for workers to come to Poland. Thousands of Indians are likely to take up offers of jobs to build stadiums, roads, hotels and similar projects in Poland connected with the 2012 European championship.
US TO REVERSE DENIALS OF LIMITED NUMBER OF GREEN CARDS
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the US will reserve some denials of work visas, a positive move to resolve the messy immigration tangle. The government will accept at least some applications for work-based green cards that were filed by thousands of skilled workers in early July at the government's invitation and then abruptly rejected, according to the report published on July 16th. .
Tens of thousands of skilled workers, many of them in the US on temporary H1-B visas, responded to an official invitation, in a June 12 "visa bulletin" issued by the State Department, to take the final step in July toward attaining permanent US residency. The news has sent workers, their families and their employers scrambling to compile paperwork and meet other requirements such as medical exams. Normally, eligible employment-sponsored workers wait years for their numbers to be called, according to the report.
Then, July 2, as applications poured into processing centers, the State Department announced in a bulletin "update" that no employment-based immigrant visas were left for the fiscal year ending Sep 30 because of "sudden backlog reduction" by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS announced it would reject applications that it received.
The July 2 decision has provoked outrage among immigration lawyers, foreign workers and their employers. The report quoted people familiar with the situation as saying that officials are working out the final details of a plan that would at least partially rectify the problem. But it isn't clear whether the immigration agency will now accept all applications and process them later, accept only those that have arrived, or come up with some other approach, the report added.
INDIAN ENGINEERING DEGREE TO BE VALID IN THE US
Indian engineering degree will now be accredited in the US and will also be internationally recognized. India has now been inducted into the prestigious Washington Accord - an international agreement between registering bodies of member countries accrediting academic engineering programs at the university level, allowing for engineering tp be practical at a professional level.
The effort for accredit was initiated by All India Council for Technical Education based in New Delhi at the International Engineering Meeting 2007 held in Washington DC in June 2007. The Indian delegation was headed by Prof. Damodar Acharya.
|GOPIO LIFE MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTER FORMATION
GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.
GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one- time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and half the amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.
GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world so as to network people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have chapter in your city, please visit GOPIO website (www.gopio.net) and get details of chapter initiation (visit http://www.gopio.net/chapter_initiative.htm). Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more. For more information, contact:
GOPIO President - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GOPIO Executive Vice President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel: +44 28-9807-8787, Email: email@example.com
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To become a Life member of GOPIO, visit http://www.gopio.net/membership_form.htm, print and fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO, P.O. Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904, USA.
Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)
Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO General Secretary (New York, USA); and Munish Gupta, GOPIO Media Chair (Los Angeles, Calif)
Webmasters: Prashant Gupta (Gurgaon, Haryana, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)
Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Dr. Rajen Anand (USA), Raj Lakha (UK), Dr. Prabhu Kulkarni (Ireland), Dr. Raveendra Kumar (India), Sangeeta Ahuja (USA); Bina Mahabir (Guyana-USA); Vishnu Bisram (Guyana-USA); Pt Indrani Rampersad (Trinidad/USA).
GOPIO NEWS welcomes NRI/PIO related stories from all over the world. Be a volunteer correspondent or reporter. Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, Tel: 203-329-8010, E-mail: email@example.com
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