GOPIO Color Logo
Issue: VII-8 September 25, 2008
GOPIO NEWS
September 25, 2008
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
INDIAN GOVERNMENT TAKES MEASURES TO PROTECT DESERTED NRI WIVES
NFIA TO HOLD 15TH BIENNIAL CONVENTION IN SEATTLE
INDIAN NURSES IN SOUTH AFRICA WINS BINDI BATTLE
NAYA ZAMANA - A MAGNIFICIENT INDIAN CULTURAL SHOW IN GUYANA
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
NRIs/PIOs ACHIEVE
NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs and PIOs
GOPIO LIFE MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTER FORMATION
EDITORIAL BOARD
Quick Links

NOTE: GOPIO News is a FREE bi-monthly newsletter of GOPIO International, based in the USA. We need your help in reaching out more NRIs/PIOs around the world. Please go to the bottom of the news bulletin and click the FORWARD button and type e-mail addresses of your friends and relatives. One could also subscribe this newsletter by visiting www.gopio.net and type in the e-mail address. All preivous issues of GOPIO News are provided at GOPIO News Archives. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter in future, please click SafeUnsubscribe at the end of this newsletter. 

 
INDIAN GOVERNMENT TAKES MEASURES TO PROTECT DESERTED NRI WIVES
 
Per a recent press release, Government has decided a series of measures such as compulsory registration of marriages, proper identification and tracking system, fast tracking of cases through family courts, more effective serving of notices and summons, and higher funding for defense of cases in foreign countries to deal with problems faced by Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands.
 
In an inter-ministerial meeting presided by Mr. Vayalar Ravi, it was decided that all marriages solemnized in India should be compulsorily registered and pro-forma for registration of marriages should be uniform in all states and should contain all relevant information that would help in identifying the persons. In the case of overseas Indians, the pro-forma must have social security number, passport particulars, ID card / labour card etc. to build a proper identification and tracking system. Ministry of Law and Justice would prepare an appropriate pro-forma and take it up with the State/UT Governments.

The meeting decided that States/Union Territories should pass on information regarding court orders against accused NRIs to Emigration Authorities to prevent such people from leaving India against court orders. Appropriate instructions may be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the States/Union Territories to ensure that FIRs in such marriage disputes/problems are registered without any delay.

The litigations related to overseas Indian marriages would be taken up by fast track courts which should be brought within the scope of the existing family courts. Also, the provisions on serving of notices, summons, enforcement of maintenance orders be made part of the mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) especially with USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where problem of desertion of Indian women by overseas Indians is acute. MOIA would consider negotiating bilateral agreements with foreign countries with a view to protect the interests of Indian women victims of overseas Indian marriages.
 
The inter-ministerial meeting also decided that the National Commission for Women will, henceforth, be the coordinating agency at the national level to receive and process all the complaints related to Indian women deserted by overseas Indians.
NFIA TO HOLD 15TH BIENNIAL CONVENTION IN SEATTLE
 
The National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA), an umbrella organization of over 200 organizations in the United States will hold its 15th biennial convention at Bell Harbor Convention Center in Seattle (Washington State) on November 21-23. Delegates from member associations from all over the United States will converge for three days to discuss, debate and deliberate contemporary issues facing the community. Ambassador Ronen Sen will deliver a keynote address. Other confirmed special guests include veteran actor Tanuja from Bollywood, famous movie director, Madhur Bhandarker, Samir Ahuja from the Sports Museum in New York, Consul General Sushmita Thomas (San Francisco), Shalini Govil-Pai of Google Dinesh Kesker, Senior V.P Boeing, and Shenaz Hussain, herbal cosmetologist.
 
The convention will be inaugurated on Friday November 21 at 9:30 A.M, followed by a series of Seminars on contemporary issues facing the community on both Friday and Saturday. A business Expo will be held in conjunction with the convention. Also planned is an Indian American Leadership Summit to which prominent leaders of the community are being invited. Anjali Sachdev, the convener and Regional Vice President of NFIA, Pacific North, has also planned two special projects in conjunction with the convention: exploring a sister city relationship between cities in the State of Washington and dedication of a Memorial Peace Park with a life size Statue of Mahatma Gandhi. 
 
A gala banquet will be held on Saturday evening, at which the outstanding accomplishments of individuals will be recognized and honored. On Sunday, an NFIA business meeting will be conducted at which the organization will elect new officers. All persons, businesses, and organizations with interest in India and the Indian American community are welcome to attend the 3 day convention. Further information may be obtained by telephone to Anjali Sachdev at (425) 818-5152 or by email to rashmee@rashmee.com.

INDIAN NURSES IN SOUTH AFRICA WINS BINDI BATTLE
  
According to an IANS story, married South African Hindu nurses have won the right to continue wearing the traditional red dot, or the bindi, on their foreheads after intervention by the provincial health minister.  Officials at the state-run Addington Hospital in Durban had earlier prohibited the wearing of red dots as part of a new dress code.
 
"This is unacceptable. As government we shall respect and protect religious and customary rights at all times," KwaZulu-Natal Health Minister Peggy Nkonyeni Nkonyeni told the website news24.co.za. Nkonyeni Friday said the hospital had made the rules prohibiting Hindu nurses at Addington Hospital from using the symbolic bindis, as well nose rings and mangal sutra necklaces without consulting the provincial authorities.
 
Although nurses would not comment for fear of recrimination because civil servants may not talk to the media, they privately told IANS that they had sought the intervention of the minister before taking their plight to the Human Rights Commission. "I felt extremely vulnerable and it affected my work after I was forced to take off my marriage string for the first time since I got married 23 years ago," one senior nurse told IANS.
 
The matter drew even more attention than one at a local high school where the mother of a Hindu girl persisted in the constitutional court and won her claim that her daughter's cultural rights had been infringed when the school ordered her to discontinue wearing a nose ring.
NAYA ZAMANA - A MAGNIFICIENT INDIAN CULTURAL SHOW IN GUYANA
 
Over the years, 'Naya Zamana' has grown to become a rich cultural landmark in the diversified cultural landscape of Guyana. Organized by the young members of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, the show harnesses unique talents from across the South American country to bring the very best to the dazzling stage of the iconic National Cultural Center (NCC).  'Naya Zamana,' which is an evening of classical Indian dances at the National Cultural Centre, in meticulously choreographed by Dr. Vindhi Persaud and Samantini Persaud. 
 
President Bharrat Jagdeo delivered brief remarks before the opening of 'Naya Zamana' 2008 a few Saturdays ago, congratulating  the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha for organising such a culturally rich program. He also lauded praises for the organisation's creativity and persistence in assisting to promote the Indian culture in Guyana over the years.
 
The President stated that our ancestors successful paved the way for the younger generation, though at great danger. "The colonial authorities consistently tried to dehumanise the people who came here by changing their religion, their language and their art forms, because they saw that as a way of controlling them. But they did not succeed; so we have today, this wonderful culture that they have contributed to this land and that has become part of the Guyanese culture," he said.
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS

 

 
GOPIO AND LOS ANGELES INDIAN COMMUNITY HOST RECEPTION FOR INDIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION
 
An Indian parliamentary delegation headed by Vayalar  Ravi, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs & Overseas Indian Affairs, on a goodwill tour of the United States of America, visited Los Angeles on September 19-20, 2008. The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and Indian community of Los Angeles area hosted a gala dinner reception at Anaheim Plaza hotel on September 20, 2008 to meet with the members of the delegation which included Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Finance,  Mrs. Suryakanta Jaiwantrao Patil, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs & Rural Development, sixteen members of Lok Sabha, and Ambassador Susmita Thomas, Consul General of India, San Francisco. More than 120 Indian community activists and prominent Indian Americans attended the reception to meet, greet and interact with the visiting law makers from their motherland.
 
Inder Singh, President of GOPIO International and host of the dinner reception, in welcoming the delegation members, assured them that the NRIs/PIOs may be living outside India but India very much resided in them and the visit of the delegation reminded them of their deep and inherent bond with the motherland.
 
Inder Singh said that Indians started coming to the US over one hundred years ago. They faced many problems and challenges, suffered prejudice, bigotry and humiliation, lived in shanty homes and slept under the open sky. They did not have right of citizenship which could entitle them to buy farm land or home. After a long and hard struggle, the US Congress granted right of citizenship to Indian nationals in 1946.
 
The Indian community in the United States is now over three million strong and is considered an affluent community. Indian Americans have higher levels of education, large majority of them are professionals, and several are well-to-do businessmen. Some hold high positions in Government, many in large corporations, and a handful of them are heading multinationals. There are over 40 thousand doctors, many university professors, some are deans, and a few are chancellors and presidents of the universities. They are also involved in the political process of their new country, Bobby Jindal is a governor of a State, eight of them are legislators in different states, and Kumar Barve is a majority leader in Maryland. A large share of hospitality industry, as much as 40% is owned by Indian Americans.  In effect, Indian Americans contribute significantly to the country of their adoption - the United States of America.  And they also have been contributing their due share in India's emergence as an economic power and technology giant and they have added a special glitter to the resurgence of India.
 
In introducing Minister Vayalar Ravi, Inder Singh said that with Mr. Ravi in the Indian cabinet, NRIs/PIOs feel that there is someone who looks after and fights for the overseas Indian community.

GOPIO Reception for Minister Vayala Ravi 
From L. to R.: Minister Vayalar Ravi, Inder Singh, Consul Generala Susmita Thomas, Suryakanta Jaiwantrao Patil, Minister Suryakanta Jaiwantrao Patil and Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal
 
Minister Ravi while addressing the gathering, said that since taking over as the minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, he has taken many decisions benefitting the overseas Indians. The Overseas Citizenship of India scheme, establishment of Indian Facilitation Center, PIO university, formation of Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of PIOs, Internship program for Indian youth, and Scholarship program for university education for PIO children are just a few of the many schemes and programs which his ministry has initiated and implemented.  He also informed about a new foundation which is in the process of being set up and that shall facilitate charitable giving by the NRIs/PIOs for starting schools in their villages and for similar projects.
 
GOPIO ORGANIZES INTERACTIVE SESSION WITH FORMER GOVERNOR JACOB
 
Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International joined hands with the Indian American Kerala Center at Elmont, New York for a reception and interactive session with former union minister and governor M.M. Jacob in New York. Mr. Jacob was on a private visit to New York. Several organization representatives participated in the deliberations at the Center. Kerala Center President Jose Chummar welcomed everyone and complimented Mr. Jacob for his commitment to help the overseas Indian communities. Chummar also said that Mr. Jacob was the longest serving Governor in India spanning twelve years.
 
The meeting was chaired by GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham who said that Mr. Jacob has been serving as a advisor to GOPIO and has been involved with GOPIO since it was formed in 1989 in New York. Many in the audience brought out issues of concerns to NRIs and PIOs. These included voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India, NRI representations in Lokh Sabha and Rajya Sabha of Indian Parliament as well as in the legislative assemblies and closer interactions for NRI senior citizens with senior citizens in India. Kerala Center Founder and GOPIO Life member Mr. E.M. Stephen said that a small community such as Anglo Indians were given representation when the Indian constitution was adopted. "With a large number of Indian citizens living outside India, it is time that Indian Parliament adopts a constitutional amendment to give representation for NRIs in Lokh Sabha and state legislative assemblies," Stephen added.
 
Mr. Jacob suggested that GOPIO should reach out to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to recommend a constitutional amendment for direct appointment of NRIs to both houses of the Indian parliament as well as legislative assemblies. The voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India can be accomplished by creating a few constituencies for NRIs through a constitutional amendment.
 
Mr. Jacob was also overwhelmed for the clearance of US-India nuclear deal through Nuclear Suppliers Group. Jacob said that India can meet its energy needs only through all different energy sources including hyudroelectric, thermal, nuclear and the non-conventional energy sources such as wind mill and solar. He appealed to the audience to participate actively in India's development.
 
GOPIO - METRO WASHINGTON BENEFITS GROUP SERVING MENTALLY HANDICAPPED
On Sunday August 17, 2008, at the 62nd India's Independence Day Celebrations in Clifton Virginia (a suburb of Washington DC) a "Surprise Item" was unveiled by GOPIO Metro Washington DC during the cultural showcase of India. Dr. Renuka Misra, President of GOPIO - Metro Washington DC offered a donation check to Thakur Hari Prasad Institute (THPI) for mentally handicapped in Rajamundry, Hyderabad, India for its expansion. THPI has been serving the mentally challenged, autistic and less privileged population for over 30 years. It is a well recognized institute in India. 

Dr. Misra presented the donation check to Mr. Vijay Thakur, Director THPI, who was one of the distinguished guests in the audience. She applauded the humanitarian efforts of THPI. Before presenting the check to Mr. Vijay Thakur, Dr. Misra said "what could have been a better day than Independence day of India to honor, recognize, help and support someone in our motherland THPI".    
GOPIO - Washington DC also sponsored and actively helped the India Cultural Coordination Committee (ICCC) and Indian Community of Metro Washington in organizing the 62nd India's Independence Day Celebrations. The mela comprising of over 25 booths representing a wide variety of services and technology outlets as well as food and garments stalls was organized by the GOPIO - Washington DC President Dr. Renuka Misra as the mela Chairperson and her committee.  
 
GOPIO Metro DC officials with Shatrugan Sinha, MP
GOPIO Metro DC organising commitee members with digntaries. From L to R: Poonam Bansal, Kumar Singh, Dr. Renuka Misra, Shatrughan Sinha MP, Dr. Sambhu Banik and Sanjay Sinha, Minister of Community Affairs Indian Embassy. 

Several GOPIO members actively took part in the festivitis as well as in arranging a reception for the "chief guest" the Bollywood star & political leader Mr. Shatrughan Sinha, M.P on the occasion. Drs. Ramesh Pandey, Renuka Misra, Gopal Bhatnagar, Zafar Iqbal and Mr. Kaleem Kawaza greeted a large number of visitors to "GOPIO Metro Washington Booth" set up in the mela to familiarize the community about GOPIO activities. Promotional GOPIO DC Membership at the discounted price was offered to the public in the celebration of the Independence Day. Visitors received GOPIO literature and membership forms/invitations. It was well attended with successful effort attracting new GOPIO members.
 
GOPIO SYDNEY CHAPTER HONORS SPORTS ORGANIZERS
 
GOPIO Sydney and GOPIO North West Chapters awarded trophies at the Annual Kabaddi Tournament on 24thof August at Blacktown Olympic Park, Athletics Precinct. Dr Rohitas Batta, President, GOPIO Sydney and Mr Amarinder Bajwa, President GOPIO North West, along with Mr Mahavir Arya and Mr Harry Walia, presented trophies to Mr Sukhwant Singh Kang, President Australian Kabaddi Federation and Mr Bhupinder Singh, President Dashmesh Sports Club, Sydney. 

GOPIO Sydney Officials with Kabady Team Winners
GOPIO Sydney and GOPIO North West officials with Kabaddi tournament winners.
 
Dashmesh Sports Club had organized this event. The club is well acclaimed in promoting Kabaddi in Australia and also generate sports awareness among Indian community youngsters.  Commendable efforts were put up by the Chairman of the Club, Mr K S Bajwa and the Secretary of Dasmesh Club, Mr Albel Singh Kang along with other office bearers of the club. Among the dignitaries present were Hon Richard Amery, MP, State Member for Mount Druittand Hon. Mr. Leo Kelly, Mayor of Blacktown City Council. Also present were media giant Mr Rajwant Singh of Punjab Express and various community and business leaders.
 
GOPIO-CT AND CONN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ORGANIZE SEMINAR TO HELP MINORITY BUSINESSES
 
HOW TO FINANCE AND SUSTAIN A BUSINESS AND PREOFESSIONAL PRACTICE was the theme of a seminar workshop organized by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin - Connecticut Chapter (GOPIO-CT) and Connecticut Development on August 21, 2008 at the Hampton Inn and  Suites in Stamford. It was initiated by CT Development Authority (CDA) with a meeting in June at its headquarters inviting the various minority groups. Connecticut has been witnessing a marked change in its demography with Hispanics and Asian American groups as the fastest growing communities.
 
The program started with a welcome from the program chairman Mr. Bhom Banta. The seminar was moderated by GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham who is also a board member of GOPIO-Ct. In his remarks, Dr. Abraham said that the Indian American community is the second fastest growing group in CT after Hispanic community and has been contributing to the economy of Connecticut in engineering and sciences, information technology, health science and hospitality industry. "While Indian American community has been involved in launching small and medium sized businesses, the community could also play a role as conduit to the investments from India, which has been emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world next to China,"{ said Dr. Abraham.
 
In her opening remarks, Ms. Yvonne Davis, President of Davis Communications and a consultant to CDA said the Connecticut has been opening up for new business especially from the minority groups.
 
CDA President Marie C. O'Brien spoke on opportunities for small business in CT and CDA's vision and commitment to small business. She urged the participants to take advantage of the services provided by CDA.
 
CDA Executive Director Antonio Roberto made a presentation on the programmatic function of the CDA and its purpose for economic development and small business. CDA Senior Vice President John Lobon, who also coordinates CDA supported UTBANK, spoke on minority business development and investment. URBANK, is a small program since 1992. Lobon said, "The traditional bank program has to test the market, however, URBANK program provides more tools such that if there is a deficiency in the credit area, URBANK provides the lender an additional comfort level."
 
Dr. Fred MeKinney, President of CT Minority Supplier Development Council (CMSDC) gave a brief introduction to his group and spoke on the service they provide. Dr. KcKinney appealed to participants to join CMCDC and take advantage of its network to promote one's business.
Speakers with GOIO-CT Officials 
GOPIO-CT and Conn. Development Authority program in Stamford. From L. to R. Dr. Thomas Abraham, Antonio Roberto, Marie C. O'Brien, Shelly Nichani, Yvonne R. Davis, Bhom Banta, Sangeeta Ahuja, John Lobon and Dr. Fred McKinney.
GOPIO-CT President Sangeeta Ahuja in her welcome remarks said, "In order to get a fresh focus on the events planned by GOPIO-CT the committee frequently asks the members what they would like and this informative program is a testimonial to the members involvement in planning the activities of our chapter". GOPIO Vice President Shelly Nichani gave the concluding remarkes and requested everyone to participate with CDA and CMCDC and make use of the opportunities offered by both these bodies.
 
The seminar was fully subscribed and those participated got more than what they expected. One participant Naresh Vittal said, "What GOPIO-CT arranged in association with the Conn. Development Authority and the Conn. Minority Supplier Development Council, was a  well structured and  relevant introduction to the support available for small businesses within Connecticut. Equally important, it raised awareness both ways, in turn making both these bodies more aware of the Indian American community and its involvement in small business."
 
GOPIO CHAPTERS ELECT NEW TEAMS
 
и         Sydney North West Chapter
 
GOPIO Sydney North West chapter elected new team of officers as follows:
 
Harmohan S (Harry) Walia, President  (harrywalia123@yahoo.com.au)
Amarinder Bajwa, Vice President
Gurbax Singh, Secretary
Gurinder Singh, Asst. Secretary; and
Pranil Chand, Treasurer
 
и         Suriname Chapter
 
On August 12, 2008 GOPIO of Suriname Chapter elected a new slate of  officers which is constituted  by the following persons:
 
Harold R. Ramdhani, President  (harold.r.ramdhani@ramsholding.sr)
Shanti Malhoe, Vice President
Soegriem Baldew, Secretary
Vijai Ramlackhan, Treasurer.
 
Past President of GOPIO of Suriname Chapter Amb Krishna Nandoe is currently serving as GOPIO Vice President, Caribbean Region.
NRIs/PIOs ACHIEVE
  
GUYANA CELEBRATES YESU PERSAUD'S HON. DOCTORATE
 
Scores of dignitaries and eminent entrepreneurs turned out at the Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana to honor Dr Yesu Persaud who was recently awarded an honorary doctorate for honorable causes by the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. 
Professor David Dabydeen, who chaired the proceedings, noted that Dr. Persaud's beginning was very humble. Despite his modest foundation, he has served in a number of eminent positions which include Chairman of Demerara Distillers, Founder and Chairman of Demerara Bank, Chairman of the Trust Company Guyana Limited, Chairman of the Institute of Private Enterprise and Development (IPED) and Chairman of the Private Sector Commission of Guyana. He also served as President of the Guyana Manufacturers Association, Vice President of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Association, and a member of the Advisory Group to the Caribbean's Chief Trade Negotiator, Sir Shridath Ramphal, on CARICOM international negotiations. He has also been an Associate Fellow of the University of Warwick's Centre for Caribbean Studies for the last 10 years.
 
"Yesu Persaud is a splendid example of progress from poverty to stellar achievements," said Dabydeen. Dr Persaud is one of Guyana's leading businessmen and philanthropists who is renowned for his support of human rights, his outstanding contributions in business and Indian history and culture, and his role at conceiving the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED). "His notion of helping people to help themselves is the most effective way of eradicating poverty." Dr Persaud is the recipient of several international and national awards including the Gandhi Organisation Plaque for his contribution to promoting Indian culture in Guyana, the Cacique's Crown of Honour for the development of new industries in Guyana in 1983, and the Glory of India Award and Certificate of Excellence by the India International Friendship Society in 2005.

Dr Persaud is a founding life member of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and served in several international positions including that of Executive Vice President. He is presently Chairman of GOPIO of Guyana chapter. In 2006 India honored him with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for his outstanding contributions in business and Indian history and culture. Dr Persaud is a founding member of Guyana's Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) which was later converted into the Indian Commemoration Trust, and he is single-handedly responsible for creating the Monument Garden which marks the arrival of the first batch of Indian indentured laborers to Guyana in 1838.
 
INDIAN AMERICAN SETS RECORD IN ROBOT ASSISTED SURGERY
 
Indian-American urologic surgeon Ashok Hemal and colleagues have performed more robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery to repair abnormal openings between the bladder and vagina known as fistulas than any other team in the world. So far, Hemal and his team have successfully operated on a total of seven patients - the highest number anywhere in the world to go through the robot assisted procedure.
 
"There was less blood loss with this procedure than with conventional surgery and there is the potential for a faster recovery," said Hemal, director of the Robotic and Minimally Invasive Urologic Surgery Programme at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre. "The results were outstanding and suggest the robot-assisted surgery is an attractive option for fistulas that would normally require abdominal surgery," he said.
 
This type of fistula can result in frequent urinary tract infections and the leakage of urine from the vagina and can be mistaken for continence. All women had previously undergone unsuccessful surgeries to repair the problem. In most cases, the patients in the report would undergo abdominal surgery requiring a large incision.  Instead, centimeter-sized instruments and a small camera were inserted through five small incisions in the abdomen.
 
Fistulas in other areas can often be repaired with a vaginal approach or with laparoscopic surgery, which uses a camera and small incisions - but is not robot-assisted. "Robot-assisted surgery has promise to bridge the limitations of laparoscopic surgery and allow more women with fistulas, urinary incontinence or prolapsed pelvic organs to benefit from a minimally invasive approach," said Hemal in a forthcoming report. His co-authors are Surendra Kolla and Penkaj Wadhwa, both from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
 
BRITISH INDIAN BALWANT GREWAL AND FOUR OTHERS HONORED IN LONDON
 
Prominent NRI entrepreneur Balwant Grewal, affectionately known as Bobby, who recently raised 250,000 GB Pounds for charity through his marathon 800-km walk was awarded in London along with four others for their outstanding contributions to the society.  72-year old Bobby, Chairman of the India Association, a registered charity, was presented with the award by Mark Price, Director Barclays Commercial, at the Joint Celebration of the 61st Independence days of India and Pakistan organized by the 'Pakistan India and UK Friendship Forum' at the SAS Radisson Hotel in London
 
The funds raised from his recent walk from Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to the Houses of Parliament in London was donated to St Marks Research Institute in Harrow for Bowel Cancer Research. Bobby has been passionately involved in Charity work for many years and in 2004-05 walked from Amritsar to Kanyakumari covering a distance of 4,000 km, raising 100,000 pounds which he donated to the Northwick Park hospital in Harrow, to assist research into cancer and HIV.
 
Other recipient of the award was Muniza Bashir, mother of late melody Queen, Nazia Hassan who conquered the hearts of Indians and Pakistanis alike with her music. Mohammad Sarwar, UK's first Muslim MP, Mrs Adeeba Malik an activists fighting for ethnic rights and David Wardrop, who chairs the Westminster Branch of the United Nations Association were also facilitated.
 
LAKSHMI MITTAL BESTOWED WITH FORBES LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
 
India-born steel tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal, is being conferred the third Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award, which honours persons who excelled in areas of entrepreueurial capitalism and free enterprise, stated American business magazine Forbes on September 8th 2008. Mittal received the award at the Forbes Global CEO Conference, which is being held in Singapore. It is estimated that over 450 business leaders, with a combined net worth of more than 160 billion dollars from across the world, are expected to be attended the event. 


In March this year, in its annual ranking of the world's richest billionaires, Forbes named Mittal as the fourth richest man, with a net worth of 45 billion dollars,  "Mittal will receive the third Malcolm S Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award at the opening dinner tonight from Steve Forbes, Chairman & CEO of Forbes, and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine," Forbes said in a statement.  "The award honors heroes of entrepreneurial capitalism and those who embody and exemplify the ideals of free enterprise," it added.

Born in Rajasthan in India, Mittal founded Mittal Steel Company (formerly LNM Group) in 1976. It later acquired numerous steel companies around the world, including the International Steel Group in the US, to become the world's largest steel producer following merger with Arcelor in 2006.
 
INDIAN AMERICAN WINS 'NOBEL' OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE 
 
An Indian American doctor, Mathew L. Thakur, has been conferred the Society of Nuclear Medicine's Benedict Cassen Prize, often called the 'Nobel' of nuclear medicine.  Thakur, a pioneer in molecular imaging, an emerging technique that helps detect disease at the molecular or cellular level in the human body and thus helps develop personalized medicine, received the biennial $25,000 award during the Society's 55th annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, recently.

He is professor of radiology and radiation oncology/nuclear medicine at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Centre at the university. Thakur has focused on developing and evaluating radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and therapy.
 
"Among the many life threatening diseases, cancer remains the most formidable disease for mankind," Thakur, who holds several patents, was quoted as saying. His current research focuses on finding DNA patches that can help in the early detection of breast and prostate cancer.

At the award ceremony, Thakur delivered the Cassen Lecture on 'Genomic Biomarkers for Molecular Imaging: Predicting the Future.' The Cassen Award, sponsored by the Society of Nuclear Medicine's Education and Research Foundation, is named after the late physicist Benedict Cassen and only eight other researchers have been awarded the prize so far.

Thakur's career, spanning more than 35 years, has benefited millions of patients worldwide.
 
INDIAN AMERICAN DR. RAGHU RAMAKRISHNAN HONORED WITH 2008 INNOVATION AWARD
 
The Association for Computing Machinery Special interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (ACM SIGKDD) has bestowed on Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan the prestigious 2008 Innovation Award for his outstanding achievements in his field. Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan is Vice President and Research Fellow AT Yahoo! Research in silicon Valley where he helps define and execute the strategy behind Yahoo!'s social search platform and contributes his extensive experience in database systems to Yahoo! Research and the company's ongoing development of trusted community technology.
 
"Dr. Ramakrishnan's visionary research on techniques for scaling data mining algorithms to large datasets, and on mining ordered and streaming data has significantly influenced ongoing developments in the industry", said ACM SIGKDD chair Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro on presenting the award to Dr. Ramakrishnan. In accepting the prestigious award, Dr. Ramakrishnan stated that he is "honored to be recognized" with such a prestigious award. He further added that his work " has been carried out in close collaboration with many students and colleagues over the years" and in accepting the award, he is representing all of them.
NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs AND PIOs AROUND THE WORLD
 
US CONGRESS CONSIDERS BILL TO PERMIT UP TO 226,000 IMMIGRANT VISAS
 
The United States Congress is considering a bill to recapture employment-based immigrant visas lost to bureaucratic delays and to prevent losses of family- and employment-based immigrant visas in the future.  It would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish the fiscal year worldwide level of employment-based immigrants at 140,000, plus the previous year's unused visas and the number of unused visas from Fiscal Year 2002 through Fiscal Year 2007.

It would also establish the fiscal year worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants at 480,000 minus the number of certain aliens not subject to direct numerical limitations, plus the previous year's unused visas and the number of unused visas from Fiscal Year 2002 through Fiscal Year 2007. The proposed bill states that such annual level shall not be less than 226,000.

The bill designated as HR5882 has been approved by the House Judiciary Sub-Committee on Immigration and goes to the US Congress for a vote.

COMMON MARRIAGE REGISTRATION FORM TO SECURE NRI BRIDES' FUTURE
 
In view of rising incidents of Indian brides being deserted by their NRI husbands, the Government of India has decided to shortly put in place a system of uniform marriage registration process to curb the practice that has ruined the lives of thousands of women. The registration form is being introduced to easily track overseas grooms who desert their wives and for initiating legal action against them. It will be applicable for marriages registered across the country under any of the three marriage registration acts.
 
The idea was discussed and ratified recently during an inter-ministerial meeting with representatives from the Ministries of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), Law and Justice, External Affairs and National Commission of Women, and is currently awaiting a final clearance from the Ministry of Law and Justice. The number of deserted NRI brides currently stands at over 25,000 according to some government estimates. Over a year after the MOIA launched a scheme to provide legal aid to Indian women deserted by their overseas spouses, the ministry has been flooded with requests from deserted Indian brides seeking to know the whereabouts of their husbands.
 
"In most cases deserted wives are unable to provide much detail of their husbands. The new registration form will have columns for social security number of the overseas husband, passport details and ID/labour card details," said a highly placed official of the MOIA. The bride and the groom will also have to state that there had been no exchange of dowry, they are not blood relations, and other details in the four-page form. "We are hopeful this will act as a formidable deterrence for even habitual offenders as a database of all the marriages will also be maintained," said the official.
 
The new marriage registration form will have provisions for punishing the signatories for wrong declaration of any of the information as per provisions under the Indian Penal Code. Once the draft registration form is cleared by the Ministry of Law and Justice the registration format will be applicable to all states and union territories. The scheme to provide financial assistance to deserted Indian wives was launched by the government last February and the maximum numberof requests for aid have been received from Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. "A maximum number of the over 275 complaints that we have received is from Punjab. In about 24 cases financial assistance of $ 1000 each was provided by the Indian embassies of Australia, New Zealand and United States to aid in registration and representation for divorce suits," said another MOIA official here, adding, "our efforts are just a trickle so far and much more needs to be done."
 
Officials noted that in most cases the assumption that a NRI groom is always "well off" often leads to parents marrying off their daughters in a rush and in secrecy. MOIA is concerned that the trend pervades class distinctions making even well-educated women victims of this phenomenon.
 
MARATHAWADA ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS OF NRIs
 
The League of Parents of NRIs in Aurangabad have bonded themselves into an organisation to register an association with the charity Commissioner of Aurangabad. Initially 80 NRI parents have expressed their willingness to join the association.
 
On 15th August 2008, NRIPA celebrated Independence day in the presence of Shri C. P. Tripathi, Vice President; BAJAJ AUTO LTD and Trustee of Kamal Nayan Bajaj Hospital. In his address to the members, Shri C. P. Tripathi  indicated that the hospital will consider granting facilities to NRI Parents. He also suggested to have a complex or residential colony for group of NRI Parents at Aurangabad. Maharashtra, India. Ramesh Kapadia, president of NRIPA, stated that members want to have more activities for the benefit of NRI parents in this region.
 
Contact: Ramesh Kapadia, president of NRIPA at  mapnri@gmail.com
 
HOUSING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS IN CALIFORNIA SETTLED
 
India West newspaper reports that a housing discrimination lawsuit in California has been settled for $100,000. According to the non-Indian plaintiffs, Indian tenants were allegedly steered away from better apartments because the owner of the Sunnyvale apartment complex felt Indian cooking "stinks up the place."  The suit, which was settled out of court last month, alleged that Steve Pavlina, owner of Remington Grove, and manager Maria Arias refused to rent the more desirable cathedral ceiling apartments to Indian American tenants, and steered them instead towards low-ceiling apartments, in areas with high concentrations of Indian American residents.
 
"This practice of making certain units 'off limits' to tenants because of their national origin clearly violates California's Fair Employment and Housing Act," Phyllis Cheng, director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, told India-West. "The department found compelling evidence that the landlord rented only less desirable apartments to tenants of Indian national origin," she said.
 
The suit was brought on by a former manager for the complex, Martin Perez, and Project Sentinel, a non-profit tenant-landlord mediation organization. According to the suit, Perez said he was directed by Pavlina and Arias not to rent apartments with cathedral ceilings to prospective Indian American tenants because when "they cook food it stinks up the place," and that cathedral ceiling apartments were harder to clean when Indian tenants left.  Perez said he was directed to tell Indian American tenants that the cathedral ceiling apartments had applications pending and were not available.
 
Project Sentinel sent out three groups of testers in 2005. In each case, the Indian testers were steered away from cathedral ceiling apartments, while Caucasians were offered lease applications for those units. Perez was subsequently fired in August 2005, apparently after renting a cathedral ceiling apartment to an Indian American tenant. Pavlina denied discriminating.
 
INDIAN STUDENTS IN NEW ZEALAND GET EXTRA TIME TO FIND JOBS
 
Indians students enrolled in New Zealand universities can stay for nine months after graduation to find a job. After getting a job, a student can apply for work permit which can lead to permanent residency status.
 
As many as 4300 Indian students were admitted to various courses in New Zealand universities last year.  A total of 3293 Indian nationals were granted permanent residence visas during 2007-2008 while another 11,405 came on work visas.
 
NRIs HEADING TO INDIA FOR SKIN CARE TREATMENTS
 
Health tourism is on the increase in India. Many NRIs are visiting  India for heart surgery, knee transplant and dental care.  Chandigarh gets many patients for cost-effective skincare treatment, such as anti-wrinkle facelift, botox, facial hair removal and treatment for pigmentation.
 
The Indian expertise is generally at par with the best in the West and the same treatment costs much less in India. Also, insurance policies do not cover laser and dermatology treatments which are more expensive in the western countries. The cost for such treatments is a major attraction for the NRIs.
 
ARTICLE ON INDIANS IN THE UNITED STATES PUBLISHED
 
An article on Indians in the United States has been published in Indian Express as part of India Independence Supplement recently under the title of "It has been a long Journey" with following editorial comments:
 
"From being attacked in their squalid camps in lumber mills to occupying the top positions in the corporate world, Indian immigrants in America have come a long way. The people, whose average income is among the highest in the country today, were not even recognized as citizens before 1946. Inder Singh traces the journey which can inspire many legends."
 
Inder Singh is the president of GOPIO International and has been conducting research and writing on this subject.
 
One can read the article at: http://www.nriinternet.com/NRI_Columnists/indexcoluminist.htm
 
US DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR TO OPEN GUYANA NIGHT
 
Guyanese-American Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, Deborah Misir, will visit Orlando this month at the invitation of Caribbean Sun newspaper publisher Wesley Kirton to officially declare open a Guyana Night Dinner Theater to be held on Friday, September 26, at the Pegasus Ballroom and Conference Center.
 
Ms. Misir is the highest ranking Guyanese American in the U.S. Government and was a member of the US delegation at the first Washington Conference on the Caribbean held last year June.
As the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, Ms. Misir is charged with providing leadership to the Department's activities in policy analysis, the formulation of legislative proposals, program planning and evaluation, and the analysis of research bearing on the welfare of the workforce of the United States.
 
Ms. Misir has led development of Department policy related to union secret ballot legislation, employment related immigration reform, and OSHA risk assessment procedures. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Misir was an attorney in the White House Counsel's Office, and served in other roles at the Department, including Chief of Staff of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Special Assistant to the Solicitor of Labor.
 
Before joining Secretary Chao's team at the Department, Ms. Misir was an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School and an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.
 
She was honored with a Special Achievement Award for her work on the 9/11 legal team and as counsel to the Justice Department's Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force.
 
INDIAN CABINET APPROVES INDO-FRENCH SOCIAL SECUTIRY AGREEMENT
 
The Indian Cabinet on Thursday approved the recently concluded Indo-French social security agreement and is in talks with other European countries to seek various benefits, pension, exemption from double social security contribution etc. for Indian professionals abroad. Though a certain span of service (it is 10 years for India) is required in any country for pension benefits, the pacts being worked will lead to adding up of stints in India and the other European country for full pension benefits, an official said.
 
The process is on with the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Czech Republic, which have around 75,000 NRIs. Without a bilateral social security arrangement, an Indian professional posted abroad pays double the social security contribution. While the employee's EPF contribution is deducted from salary in India, the person also has to contribute to social security in the country of posting.
 
CHICAGO INDO-US GLOBAL CONSORTIUM ADVANCES HEALTHCARE PROGRAMS IN INDIA
 
The Chicago Indo-US Global Health Consortium was established by a group of Chicago based social service groups with the intent to provide and manage needed healthcare programs in India and other places where such services are needed. The three groups are: Share International Center for Human Health Advancement; Care and Share Foundation; and the Ribbon Foundation.
 
The Indo-US Global Health Consortium has scheduled a recognition event on September 20 at Waterford Banquets in Elmhurst, Illinois. This dinner and musical extravaganza will honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of Human Health Advancement.
 
Dr. Firdaus Jafri, president of Care and Share Foundation, said that the group has "been successfully raising funds and providing support to organizations in the US and South Asia where people are facing challenges of poverty, disaster, homelessness, and ill health".
 
ASIAN WHO'S WHO 2008 DIRECTORY
 
Applications are being accepted from qualified individuals to be included in Asia Who's Who 2008 Directory which is an annual publication listing notable Indians and institutions in the UK and Europe  as well as  USA and Canada. This annual publication is widely distributed and used as a valuable reference guide by businesses, individuals, and government officials.
 
Download and complete form and submit promptly for next publication in October 2008.
 
Contact: website www.asian-whoswho.com or Jasbir Sachar at jsachar@asian-whoswho.com.
 
INDIAN RUPEE: LOWEST IN TWO YEARS
 
The rupee has declined to 45.71 against the dollar by the end of 2nd week of September. That is reported to be the lowest since Oct. 10, 2007.
 
Overseas investors have been unloading Indian stocks as the economic slump is seen spreading from the U.S. to Europe and Asia.  Last year foreign investors bought Indian stocks worth about $20 billion while in the current year they have dumped stocks worth about $8 billion.  The capital outflow and demand for dollars has weakened the Indian rupee against the US dollar.
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: gopio-intl@sbcglobal.net

GOPIO Executive Vice President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel:  +44 28-9807-8787, Email: dsrana@andrashouse.co.uk

GOPIO Secretary General - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail: ramsaran@aol.com

 

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.

EDITORIAL BOARD

 

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. Rohittas Batta (Australia),Bina Mahabir (USA), Dr. Renu Mishra (USA), Sangeeta Ahuja (USA), Harmohan S (Harry) Walia (Australia) and Harold R. Ramdhani (Suriname).
 
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: gopio@optonline.net.
 

Visit GOPIO's Official site at www.gopio.net or www.gopio.com