October 31, 2014
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
||October 31, 2014
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INDIAN AMERICANS EXTEND WARM WELCOME TO PM NARENDRA MODI
INDIAN AMERICANS EXTEND WARM WELCOME TO PM NARENDRA MODI
Over 20,000 Indian Americans and American friends including 30 Congressmen and Senators gathered at the Madison Square Garden to extend a warm welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 28, 2014. The program was organized by the Indian Community Foundation headed by Chicago area based physician Dr. Bharat Barai and was supported by over 300 Indian community groups including GOPIO and its US chapters.
"Today, I say thanks to everyone," said Modi, adding, "and I assure you I will never do anything to let you down." His thank-you note came with a few goodies.
One, holders of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards would be given visas for their lifetime.
Two, people staying in India for a long period would not have to report to police stations periodically any more.
Three, measures will be initiated to end problems faced by those with non-Indian American spouses. PIO and Overseas Indian Cards would be merged into one shortly.
Four, US tourists will be given visa on arrival.
Five, outsourced consular services will be expanded.
Also present were many US lawmakers, many of whom were in the middle of their own re-election campaigns.
The Union home ministry, in deference to the declaration made by Modi while addressing the Indian Diaspora at the Madison Square Garden in New York, issued a notification making PIO cards valid for lifetime and doing away with the requirement of police reporting/registration by those holding these cards.
"In pursuance of the announcement made by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, at Madison Square Garden in New York on September 28, 2014, ministry of home affairs has issued a notification on September 30, 2014 to the effect that Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card shall be valid for life time and the PIO card holder shall be exempt from police reporting/registration, " said the home ministry notification.
Photo above: Audience at Prime Minister Modi's community reception at the Madison Square Garden in New York
GOPIO WELCOMES INDIA'S PM MODI TO USA WITH SPECIAL INDIA ABROAD SUPPLEMENT
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), in collaboration with the Indian American Global Chamber of Commerce (IAGCC), produced a special 24-page GOPIO Supplement which was included in India Abroad Special Edition of September 26, 2014 commemorating the visit of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States.
The GOPIO Special Supplement titled: "GOPIO Welcomes Hon. PM Narendra Modi to USA" included excerpts from Prime Minister Modi's speeches, messages from diplomats, officials and well wishers; articles pertaining to the Indian Diaspora in the USA and globally, its successes and contributions; information on GOPIO; as well as enhancing the partnership between India and USA. The objective of the special GOPIO supplement was to add to the prominence of the
Prime Minister's visit and highlight the
Indian-American community's support for the Indian Prime Minister and India's new government.
This India Abroad Special Edition including the GOPIO Special Supplement was widely distributed in printed form by mail and at the Indian American community reception on September 28, as well as digitally and on-line in USA and internationally. It was also presented to PM Modi by India Abroad CEO Rajeev Bhambri on September 28 at the Pierre Hotel and to MEA Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj along with GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran on October 1 in New Jersey.
GOPIO PRESENTS MEMORANDUM OF COMMUNITY ISSUES TO MEA MINISTER SUSHMA SWARAJ
On October 1, 2014, GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran held discussions with Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs (MEA) and Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) on global Indian community issues and matters of interest and concern. The meeting was held at the Royal Albert Palace in Edison, New Jersey (USA) preceding the community meeting held by Dr. Bharat H. Barai, President of the Indian American Community Foundation which planned the massive community reception at Madison Square Garden for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Among the several matters discussed, two (2) important issues and suggestions include the following:
While the life time visa is most welcome, the proposed OIC Card can cause unnecessary burdens and confusion especially among PIOs in smaller multi-ethnic societies. The current PIO and OCI cards are well accepted, widely used and GOPIO advocates that the differentiation be retained.
- GOPIO proposes that the annual PBD needs to be invigorated for renewed relevance and increased global participation, and that GOPIO should be included in the planning and event management along with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
Photo above: Rajeev Bhambri (CEO, India Abroad); Minister Sushma Swaraj (MEA, MOIA); Ashook Ramsaran (GOPIO); Vijay Jolly (Global Convener BJP Overseas Affairs)
VISA OUTSOURCING AGENCY DISCUSSES COMMUNITY CONCERNS WITH GOPIO OFFICIALS
VISA OUTSOURCING AGENCY DISCUSSES COMMUNITY CONCERNS WITH GOPIO OFFICIALS
Cox and Kings Ltd., the outsourcing agency for Indian visa, OCI and PIO cards reached out to the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin to brief GOPIO officials and update them on the services they are providing. There has been wide criticism of their services after they took over from the earlier agency, BLS International. At an earlier GOPIO-CT community interaction meeting in July with Indian Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay who was accompanied by his fellow Consuls Mr. Ajay Purswani(Passport/Visa) and Mr. DhirendraSingh (OCI/PIO and Community Affairs), many issues and problems were brought to the
attention. These included complaints with previous outsourcing agency BLS International and the new agency Cox and Kings. One main complaint was, Cox and Kings can't be reached over the phone and their tracking systems did not work well. Other complaints included the outsourcing agencies losing passports, not sending the documents back by mail or FedEx even though it was paid for, unusual waiting time at their offices, waiting in the street for hours to get into the office, discourteous security, etc. People in attendance requested the consuls to streamline these processes at Cox and Kings.
Cox and Kings Ltd. held meetings with GOPIO officials in New York and Washington DC. The officials present at the New York meeting on Sept. 13th included its Associate VP for Corporate Communications Thomas Thottathil from Mumbai, US Operations head John Nair and New York Regional Head Sumit Sharma. GOPIO was represented by its Founder President Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO-CT Immediate Past President Shailesh Naik, GOPIO-CT Vice President Varghese Ninan, GOPIO-CT Treasurer Viresh Sharma and GOPIO Founding Life Member Ramesh Kalicharan.
The discussion were cordial and Cox and Kings agreed with GOPIO officials that there were problems after the take over from BLS because of the backlog of over 18,000 passports in New York alone and similar numbers in other centers. They have sorted out many of the issues, changed security guards and now want to work with the community to remedy these problems. They said that the long lines are no more there and that Cox and Kings has streamlined many of the issues.
Photo above - Cox and Kings delegation meeting with GOPIO officials in New York, from l. to r.: John Nair, Ramesh Kalicharna, Thomas Thottathil, Cherian Mathai, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Shailesh Naik, Sumit Sharma, Varghese Ninan, Sikander Mallick and Viresh Sharma
Cox & Kings delegation also met GOPIO-Metro Washington Chapter officials Dr. Zafar Iqbal (President), Mr. Ajay Singh (Vice-President), Board Members Dr. Satish Mishra and Mr. Anand Poojary, and Dr. Renuka Misra, International Coordinator, GOPIO on September 6th
. Issues raised included apathy towards customers, untraceable documents, customer unfriendly website, non-responsive telephone service, and most importantly ill-informed staff. The delegation members presented their views acknowledging community's grievances and informed us that their company had a vast experience and their continued business for over 250 years was basically due to customers' satisfaction. According to them, they inherited the responsibilities from the previous vendor
in a disarrayed condition. In the short period of 3-4 months, most of the backlog has been cleaned up and major complaints have been rectified. They also promised to implement the suggestions given by GOPIO for extended hours and opening of offices on weekends, hiring more professionals, training of staff answering telephone calls, making their website more user friendly to applicants, and arranging town hall type meetings with the community.
GOPIO will monitor services provided by Cox and Kings and will work with them to sort out any remaining issues. GOPIO has appointed its Associate Secretary Jaswant Mody to receive any complaints from the community at email@example.com with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo above - Cox and Kings delegation meeting with GOPIO officials in Washington DC Capital Region, from l. to r.: Dr. Satish Mishra, Mr. Thomas C. T., Mr. Rocky Rikhi, Dr. Renuka Misra, Mr. Ajay Singh, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Ms. Neelu Singh, and Mr. John Nair
|GOPIO CHAPTERS CELEBRATE INDIA INDEPENDENCE DAY WITH FAIR, FESTIVALS AND FLAG HOISTING
THE INDIA DAY FAIR 2014 IN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
GOPIO (Group of Person of Indian Origins) Queensland held its marquee annual event, India Day Fair, on 10th August 2014, at the prestigious venue of Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre, to celebrate Indian Independence Day.
GOPIO Queensland presented this celebration in a unique manner showcasing Indian culture,
food, music and clothing in a festival-like atmosphere. The function started with the auspicious "Gayatri Mantra" by DJJS (Divya Jyothi Jagran Sansthan) group. VIPs arrived to a "traditional Indian way of reception using garlands and tilak".
The event was attended by various dignitaries including Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Honorary Consul of India in Brisbane, Mrs Archana Singh, Minister Glen Elmes (Minister for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Queensland Premier), MP Freya Ostapovitch MP for Stretton, Desley Scott MP and shadow minister for community services on behalf of leader of opposition, Mrs Anastacia Palaszuk, Paul Stewart, Assistant Commissioner of Police for Queensland, David Forde, Jim Verghese - CEO of Springfield Land Corporation and many well-known faces from business and society.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who has been attending all the marquee annual events since 2010 since the inception, officially opened the function. He spoke of the contribution which the Indian community is making to Brisbane and Australia. He spoke of Hyderabad as one of the sister cities
of Brisbane as well about the G20 summit to be held in the city towards the end of the year. He said that he is looking forward for Hon. Indian PM Narendra Modi's visit to G20 summit.
Minister Glen Elmes and Honorary Counsel for India in Queensland Mrs Archana Singh, along with GOPIO Queensland chapter President Yousuf Alikhan, raised the flags of Australia and India, with the national anthems of both the countries being sung in unison by the huge crowd. Yousuf welcomed each and everyone to the event and talked about the organisation (GOPIO) in general and the major events being held in the region ranging from taxation, superannuation to leadership development workshops and social and cultural events remembering Girmits. Yousuf said, "The main outcome of this harmonious, multi-cultural and multi-racial event is to promote multiculturalism, improve cultural tolerance and promote community harmony. It provides an opportunity to showcase the cultural and regional diversity of India to the wider Queensland community."
Minister Glen Elmes in his address spoke about the bond which the Diaspora had with India and how happy he and his ministry was to provide the grant for this iconic event. He had this to say about the event: "The India Day fair which is run by GOPIO is an amazing event which shows off the Indian culture to the wider Queensland community. Proud to have attended every single one of these events since becoming the Minister and look forward to the 2015 event."
Honorary counsel Mrs Archana Singh spoke of Independence struggle and what it meant for the nation and its Diaspora all over the globe. She spoke of the areas of development and progress being made by Indians globally.
On behalf of leader of opposition, Mrs Anastacia Palaszuk, Desley Scott MP and shadow minister
for community services, spoke of the contribution and local integration of the community. The patron of GOPIO Queensland, Maha Sinnathamby, was represented by Jim Verghese (CEO of Springfield Land Corporation). He delivered the patron's message and spoke on Mahatma Gandhi's statue project (to be inaugurated by Indian PM Mr. Narendra Modi while he is in Brisbane for G20 convention in November). Jim also talked about the life and principles of Gandhi to applause from the crowd.
Photo - Dignitaries GOPIO-Queensland India Day celebration
GOPIO Queensland presented "Lifetime Community Services Award" to Dr. Thakor Patel and was presented to him by Professor Sarva Danam Singh. Dr Patel's involvement included Radio 4EB, FICQ, ICA, apart from serving the community through his Kedron Park based medical services.
Umesh Chandra, GOPIO International Coordinator for Oceanic region, the program coordinator, did a fantastic job in introducing the dignitaries and having the program start as per schedule. Most of the local Indian community organisations were represented and took part in the customary parade showcasing traditions, costumes and representations of varied regions and cultures of India. The attendance by the organisations surpassed each of the years in terms of numbers and different colours and cultures of India.
The morning to dusk quality cultural entertainment included live band and dance performances by some of the best local and national dance groups. The cultural performance was a mix of artistes from Brisbane as well as from different parts of Australia. The lead group - Jalwa Dance group - had come all the way from Melbourne. Apart from 4 different and sizzling dance items, they performed a specially choreographed segment "Colours of India". This segment was a brain child of GOPIO Queensland committee members and featured dances from different regions of India. Fire dance was an awesome item from the same group and applauded by the crowd.
Photo - Cultural performances at GOPIO-Queensland India Day Celebration
Another well-known local group - Brisbane Babas Band - also performed throughout the day. Their bhangra and Punjabi numbers has crowd rush out of their seats and dancing to the music in front of the stage. People from all walks of life could be seen throwing their arms and bodies to mad rush of the bhangra music.
Sheen Kashmiri dance group, performed to the Kashmiri lyrics of famous Bollywood song, Bhumbro Bhumbro. Other local performances included groups - Dance Masala, Bollycise, Lavni Dance group, Shere Punjab, Bollywood Dhamaka, Orioz and many others.
SEVENTH INDEPENDENCE DAY MUSHAIRA AND KAVI SAMMELAN HELD IN WASHNGTION DC
"The beauty of Ghalib's poetry is that your appreciation of his poetry grows more as you listen to it", said Mr. N. K. Mishra, Minister, Community Affairs, Embassy of India. He was addressing the gathering assembled at the 7th Annual Independence Day Mushaira-Kavi Sammelan and release of a recently published book, The Treasure: A Modern Rendition of Ghalib's Love Poetry by Surinder Deol. He said that his study of Ghalib was limited, but he remembers one "sheyr" distinctly that reflects the depth of Ghalib's understanding of all facets of human life, including religious philosophy: "Ghalib ne yeh kah kar tor di tasbih /Gin kar kyon naam loon us ka jo bey-hisab deta hai." He thanked organizers for arranging an event which brought poets and audience of both Urdu and Hindi languages under one roof.
The function was organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), Washington, DC and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), Washington-Metro at the Auditorium of Fairfax County Library in Herndon, Virginia on August 30, 2014.
"This book is a welcome addition to the slim corpus of Ghalib in English translation, not only because it has a sure method, but also because it does not sacrifice the essential Ghalib", said Professor Satyapal Anand presiding the book release ceremony. Dr. Anand appreciated the hard work and dedication of Mr. Deol.
"Surinder Deol's rendition of Ghalib's poetry into English is a reflection of his in-depth understanding and sincere love for Ghalib's multifaceted poetic compositions", said Dr. A. Abdullah commenting on the book.
Author Surinder Deol described how and why he got interested in bringing Ghalib's work to English readers. He explained why Ghalib became so popular though there had been so many other great poets in the Subcontinent. One of the reasons was that you can find expression of innovative thoughts full of metaphors and similes, and also a wide range of topics and subjects in his poetry, Deol added. He wanted Ghalib's work be recognized universally.
Greeting the author, poets, dignitaries, and audience, coordinator of the program and president of GOPIO-Washington, Metro, Dr. Zafar Iqbal said that the goal of this program was to provide a forum where people could get together transcending political, religious, regional, and geographical boundaries promoting Ganga-Jamuni culture of the Subcontinent. He mentioned that in the recent years, a number of authors and poets were recognized through this program. Some of them are: Professor Satyapal Anand, Dr. A. Abdullah, Dr. K. Mohan, Mr. Raj Kumar Raaz, Mr. Anadi Naik, Mrs. Rashmi Sanan, and Mrs. Daler Deol Aashna. "Success of events led to the organization of first bi-lingual (Urdu-Hindi) poetry recitation program at the Embassy of India in 2012 with our help", he added. He thanked Shri. N. K. Mishra, Minister for Cultural Affairs, Embassy of India for supporting these programs.
Photo in the left- Book Release at the program, from l. to r.: Dr. Zafar Iqbal, N. K. Mishra, Dr. A. Abdullah, Mr. Surinder Deol (author), and Mr. A. Rahman Siddiqui; Photo in the rights, l. to r.: Dr. A. Abdullah, Ms. Kirana Nath, Mr. A. Rahman Siddiqui, N. K. Mishra, Mr. Baqar Zaidi, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Ms. Vandana Singh, Dr. Renuka Misra, Dr. Vishakha Thaker, and Mr. Aziz Qureshi.
Welcoming the audience on behalf of AAA, association's president, Dr. Fazal Khan mentioned that the association has been engaged in organizing literary and cultural events, as well as collaborating with other community associations for the last 40 years. This year, the association has planned special events to celebrate 40 years of its service to the community.
Dr. A. Abdullah, the most adored conductor of poetry recitation sessions, mentioned in his introductory remark that the increasing number of participants and audience in these programs is a testimony to the desire of people to share the common heritage. "Hindi and Urdu are twin sisters, who have different attire and are marching forward side by side in India and all over the world," said Dr. Abdullah.
The Mushaira session was presided by Abdurrahman Siddiqui and participating poets included A. Abdullah, Aziz Qureshi, Baqar Zaidi, Daler Deol Aashna, Gulshan Madhur, Kiran Nath, Mohammad Hussain Imam, Rakesh Khandelwal, Razi Raziuddin, Satyapal Anand, Vandana Singh, and Vishakha Thaker.
On behalf of AAA, Washington DC and GOPIO-Washington Metro, GOPIO International Coordinator Dr. Renuka Misra thanked poets, distinguished guest and audience for their time and participation.
Photos: Audience at the Independence and Mushaira program.
Contact: Mr. Zafar Iqbal, President, GOPIO-Washington Metro, email@example.com
INDIA'S INDEPENDENCE COMMEMORATED BY GOPIO IN MARTINIQUE
India's Independence 2014 was commemorated in Martinique by GOPIO Martinique and several other Indo-Martinique organizations. These included GOPIO Martinique president Lucienne Sacarbany, board member Dr. Diana Ramassamy and others Dr. Ramassamy is a professor of history and is Présidente de la fédération des associations indiennes.
In 1851 the Martinique authorities, seeking to replace former slave laborers who had abandoned plantation work on being given their liberty, recruited several thousand laborers from the Indian French colonial settlements of Madras, Pondichéry, Chandernagor and Karaikal.
Workers were offered free passage and pay in exchange for serving a five-year period of labour. Despite initial experiences of racial discrimination and labour exploitation, many of the immigrants were subsequently well-integrated into the population, and by the late 20th century the laborers' descendants were broadly assimilated into Martiniquais culture. The past two decades have seen Indo-Martiniquais people increasingly asserting the distinctively Indian aspects of their heritage (a phenomenon known as "indianité"). People of Indian descent have paid renewed attention to the history and culture of India, and local groups have established contact with peoples of Indian descent from throughout the Caribbean and further afield. One token of this has been the recent revival of a traditional Hindu annual "mela" on
the island, sustained by the Hindu temples and shrines that were introduced by the migrant laborers and remain operational today
GOPIO Martinique became a full chapter on November 28, 2013 following the visit and meetings by GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran in July 2013. This followed the group's visit to GOPIO regional conference in St Vincent (June 2, 2012). GOPIO Martinique with a contingent of 5 persons participated in GOPIO's 25th Anniversary Convention held in Port of Spain, Trinidad on May 27-30, 2014. GOPIO is developing a proposal with GOPIO Martinique for an Indian Arrival Monument at place of the first arrival (similar proposal being developed with Ishwar Ramlutchman for South Africa) and those installed in Kolkata (2011), Guyana (2013) and Trinidad (2014).
Photo above: Lucienne Sacarbany is shown in the center; Diana Ramasammy left of Lucienne Sacarbany
|GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
GOPIO PARTICIPATES IN INDIAN CONSULATE RECEPTION FOR US CONGRESSWOMAN GRACE MENG
The who represents New York's 6th Congressional District, and the first Asian from New York to be elected to the US Congress. It was a very successful and well attended reception, one of many which Amb. Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Indian Consul General in New York, organizes for elected officials. In attendance was a full cross section of the Indian American community as well as members of the American Jewish Council (AJC).
After the welcome remarks by Amb. Mulay, GOPIO President Ashook Ramsaran introduced Congresswoman Meng who is well known to Ramsaran and a staunch advocate and supporter of the East Asian and South Asian communities, "representing the dreams, aspirations, hopes and needs of the changing demographics of New York - in fact, the USA in general". Amb. Mulay and Ramsaran presented Congresswoman Meng a community recognition plaque prepared by GOPIO, as special recognition and appreciation for outstanding service to the Indian-American Community. A special presentation of GOPIO's "Global Indian Diaspora" book was made by GOPIO life members in attendance.
Congresswoman Meng spoke about her background as the daughter of immigrant parents, her interest and agenda on immigrant matters, in particular East Asian and South Asian, and her interest in visiting India soon. She is member of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans; member of Asian Pacific American Caucus, member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Small Business and is a ranking Member on The Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce. Congresswoman Meng initiated legislation for
Amendment to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the desecration of cemeteries among the many forms of violations of the right to religious freedom - which President Obama signs into law. She sponsored legislation for the goals and ideals of International Mother Language Day in bringing attention to the importance of
preserving linguistic and cultural heritage through education; Early Childhood Education Professional Improvement Act of 2013;
Legislation Seeking to Create Student Aid Forms in Languages Spoken by Queens Residents Passed by House; and several other significant legislation.
Photo (l-r):Naidoo Veerapen (GOPIO), Sudha Acharya (GOPIO), US Congresswoman Grace Meng, Indian Consul General Amb. D. Mulay, Ashook Ramsaran (GOPIO), Mridul Pathak( GOPIO)
GOPIO TRI-STATE NY/NJ/CT REGIONAL MEETING AUGUST 24, 2014
A regional GOPIO Tri-State New York-New Jersey-Connecticut meeting was held on August 24, 2014 at Jewel of India Restaurant, North Brunswick, New Jersey. The meeting was organized by the GOPIO Chapters of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and coordinated by Dr. Renuka Misra, International Coordinator, North America. Attendees included chapters' officials and members, Life Members and GOPIO International officials. It was hosted by GOPIO Central New Jersey (Dinesh Mittal, president) and assisted by Dr. Rajeev Mehta, Chair, GOPIO Health Council, GOPIO Life Member. J. Nami Kaur, Secretary, GOPIO International and Jaswant Mody, Associate Secretary, GOPIO International, provided site assistance along with members of GOPIO Central New Jersey.
Materials Distributed at the meeting included: GOPIO Executive Council & Administrative Listing; GOPIO International By-Laws; GOPIO Council Policies & Guidelines; GOPIO Council Listings & Nomination Forms; GOPIO Chapter Policies, Guidelines, Functions & Responsibilities, Good Standing Criteria; Target Chapters and Life Memberships per GOPIO Region; GOPIO Chapter Meetings and Coordination; GOPIO International & Chapter Membership Forms; Write-up: GOPIO's 24-Pg Supplement in India Abroad - PM Narendra Modi's Visit to USA.
Topics of discussion and major action items included: Renaming GOPIO chapters in accordance with GOPIO By-Laws; Revamp or discontinue failing or inactive GOPIO chapters; Life Members to be Affiliated with Nearest GOPIO Chapter; Need to Attract Youth to GOPIO with Inclusivity & Relevant Programs; Membership Feedback, Recommendations and Suggestions; Support for GOPIO's 24-Page Supplement in India Abroad for PM Narendra Modi's Visit to USA. Commentaries and feedback: "An excellent beginning for a regional meeting with a very good agenda; more similar meetings should be held more often, in this and other regions of USA and globally; more time should be allocated for agenda items discussion and responses".
Photo (l-r): Dr. Rajeev Mehta (Chair, GOPIO Health Council), Ashook Ramsaran (president GOPIO International), Dinesh Mittal (president GOPIO Central New Jersey), Dr. Renuka Misra (GOPIO International Coordinator, North America), Jhairam Persaud (president GOPIO Upper New York), Shailesh Naik (former president GOPIO Stamford Connecticut)
GOPIO PRESENTS COMMUNITY ISSUES MEMORANDUM TO MOS MINISTER KIREN RIJIJU
On September 13, 2014, GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran presented a list of community issues and matters of interest and concern to Shri Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Ministry of Home Affairs. The dinner meeting was held at the Indian Consulate in New York, organized by Indian Consul General Amb. D. Mulay. The memorandum is based on various input, suggestions and recommendations received from GOPIO's chapters, membership and other organizations among the Indian American community in the United States and globally. Development of this memorandum was also based on our extensive knowledge, experience and interaction within GOPIO, resolutions at various conferences, as well as with other individuals and groups in the Indian community regionally, nationally and globally.
Some of the critical issues and suggestions include:
- OCI Card Uniformity for all - Problem of reissue when passports are renewed to age 20 and once over age 50 while ages 20-49 carry old passport with U-Visa along with new passport.
- Acceptance of Alternate Documentation for PIO Card - For Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), especially descendants of indentured laborers, who are unable to obtain original documents due to poor records in countries where Indian laborers migrated from 1834-1920.
- Proposed OIC Card - Can cause unnecessary burdens and confusion. The current PIO and OCI cards are well accepted, widely used and differentiation must be retained. Refer Economic Times article below.
- NRI Tax beyond 60-day stay in India - Waiver needed for families, retirees and emergencies.
- Uniformity of information, policies and practices - Visas, OCI cards, passports and surrender of passports by all ministries, high commissions and consulates.
- Reciprocity from India re US Immigration Bill - Needed permission for spouses of temporary workers to work legally.
- Research Visa - Burdensome and unnecessary requirement for special permission for OCI/PIO Card holders to conduct research in India.
Photo (l-r):J. Patel, Rajeev Bhambri (India Abroad), Ashook Ramsaran (GOPIO), Indian Consul General Amb. D. Mulay, Mridul Pathak ( GOPIO), Anil Shah, MOS Min. Kiren Rijiju (MHA), Mrs. Rina Rijiju, Malini Shah, Mrs. Anil Shah
JASWANT MODY DESIGNATED TO ASSIST WITH PASSPORTS, VISAS, OCI/PIO
GOPIO Life Member and Associate Secretary Jaswant Mody (New Jersey, USA) has been designated by GOPIO president Ashook Ramsaran to receive and coordinate requests for assistance with passports, visas, OCI/PIO card applications and expediting for emergencies and delays covering the 9 states under the jurisdiction of the Consulate of India in New York. All such requests would be channeled to the Consul, OCI, PIO & Community Affairs at the Indian Consulate of India in New York.
Due to the difficulties experienced previously and the transition to a new outsourcing to Cox & Kings, there are urgent requests made directly to GOPIO. This appointment of Jaswant Mody is intended to streamline the requests made directly to GOPIO and to coordinate resolution through the Indian Consulate of India in New York with jurisdiction covering 9 states. GOPIO is planning to designate others in the various Indian consular regions in USA.
Contact Information: Mr. Jaswant Mody, Associate Secretary, GOPIO International
GOPIO CENTRAL JERSEY ORGANIZES HEALTH CAMP
On September 7, 2014, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin - Central Jersey (GOPIO-CJ) in association with IHCNJ hosted a free health screening and prevention camp at the Durga Mandir in Princeton, NJ. Health and nutrition advice, eye and general physical exams, cardiac evaluations and EKGs, cancer screening and education, dental checkups, and basic blood tests were provided free of cost to the underprivileged communities in Central Jersey. Several hundred families living in and around the Princeton, Plainsboro and South Brunswick areas came to the health camp at Durga Mandir and availed the free checkup, blood tests, and advice.
At the end of yet another successful event, Dr. Rajeev Mehta (past President of GOPIO-CJ and Co-Chair of GOPIO Health Council) and Dr. Tushar Patel (leader of the medical team at the health camp), said that in the coming years, GOPIO-Central Jersey would consider doing bigger health camps in partnership with other GOPIO chapters on a rotating basis in under privileged areas where there is great need for such camps. Mr. Dinesh Mittal, the president of GOPIO Central Jersey thanked all those who had participated in the Health Camp, and stated that he was in full agreement with the medical leadership.
Photo: GOPIO-Central Jersey Health Camp in progress at Durga Mandir, Princeton, NJ
Contact: Dr/ Rajeev Mehta, firstname.lastname@example.org
GOPIO-CT JOINS DIVA AMERICA TO CROWN MISS INDIA CONNECTICUT
Diva America Inc hosted the fourth biannual Miss India Connecticut Pageant on September 21, 2014 in Hartford, CT, at the Bushnell Theater from 4pm to 7pm with the theme "Shakti - Strength of a Woman". This year's pageant was hosted by India Association of Greater Hartford and joined by GOPIO-CT and other community groups in Connecticut. It was a sold-out event with 1,000 people attending the show. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Seggara extended a warm welcome to the pageant and released the souvenir brochure.
Photo above: Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy releasing the souvenir brochure of the Miss India Connecticut pageant; From l. to r: Hartfor Mayor Pedro E. Seggara, Diva Director Dr. thomas Abraham, Grand Sponsor Hasu Patel, Gov. Dannel Malloy, DiVA President Anita bhat, Diva Vice President Meera Banta, Tejal Vallum, Harfor India Association President Mukesh Desai and Shaku Patel.
Over the next three hours, the audience was entertained and enthralled by the talent demonstrations and colorful dresses worn by the 15 Pageant contestants, dance performances, knockout medleys from local artists, and hilarious stand-up comedy. Bollywood choreographer Rajeev Khinchi stole the show with his dramatic choreography and Bollywood dances. Ms. Malavika Vidwans, president of Sneha, a non-profit service organization empowering women, inspired the audience with her mission. This was lead-up to the grand finale of seven groups of classical and folk dancers with over 70 artists performing on the stage.
The Miss India CT Pageant 2014 winner is Nidhi Bhimani, who is also recognized as Miss Best Dress, will have the opportunity to attend Bolliwood Film Producer and Director Subash Ghai's Whistling Woods International internship for one year. The Pageant first runner-Up is Devisha Patel and second runner-up is Shivani Jonn. Other special award winners are: Janessa Patel - Miss Smile; Vinali Patel - Miss Catwalk; Nisha Singh - Miss Photogenic; Siddhi Patel - Miss Congeniality; Shivani Jonn - Miss Talent; and Krushangi Maisuria - Miss Best Dressed and Rozana Tamis - Miss Face Book.
Mrs. Anita Bhat, President and CEO of Diva America Inc. who also serves as the Chairperson of GOPIO-CT Trustees, said that Miss India Connecticut was the first beauty pageant to introduce BMI (Body Mass Index) as one of the selection criteria for the contestants.
"We believe that the Fashion Industry influences our next generation in its attitude towards health and fitness. To target the Fashion Industry, we have introduced BMI and we hope that by bringing this awareness, we can help reduce obesity, anorexia, bulimia, low self-esteem and depression amongst the next generation. If we succeed in bringing about this change in other beauty pageants, it will be historic!" Anita Bhat said.
Photo - Miss India CT Pageant Winners, from l. to r. First Runner-Up is Devisha Patel, Winner Nidhi Bhimani and Second Runner-up is Shivani Jonn.
|NRIs AND PIOs ACHIEVE
OBAMA NOMINATES INDIAN-AMERICAN RICHARD RAHUL VERMA AS US ENVOY TO INDIA
President Obama has nominated Indian-American Richard Rahul Verma as the new ambassador to India, the White House announced on Thursday.
Verma, a former assistant secretary of state, is currently a senior counselor at the Steptoe & Johnson law firm and the Albright Stonebridge Group, a business advisory company led by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.
The New Delhi post has been vacant since the departure of the previous ambassador Nancy Powell, after a disastrous stint during which India and US hit a new low following a bitter spat over diplomatic privileges and protocol.
Remarkably, Verma is the second Indian-American to put in charge of job that involves India. The current Assistant Secretary of State for South and South Central Asia, a region that also involves India, is also an Indian-American, Nisha Desai Biswal.
Verma graduated from Georgetown University (LLM), Lehigh University (JD), and American University (BS), and is considered a leading practitioner in the fields of national security law, international regulatory compliance and public policy.
On the executive side, he has worked mainly with Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and on the legislative side he has worked with Senator Harry Reid for many years. He has also worked extensively on US export controls and economic sanctions.
Verma also has some military experience, having served in the United States Air Force as an Air Force judge advocate.
INDO-AUSTRALIAN HARI HARINATH IS NAMED CHAIR OF THE COMMUNITY RELATIONS COMMISSION'S ADVISORY BOARD
Former Chairman of Cricket NSW, Dr Hari Harinath OAM, has been named the new Chair of the Community Relations Commission's (CRC) Advisory Board. Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello announced Dr Harinath's appointment with seven part-time Advisory Board Members.
The make-up of the new Advisory Board truly reflects the changing face of multicultural NSW.
The newly appointed board members are Devpaal Singh, Steven Widders, Ken Hong, Cathy Guo, David Knoll AO, Margaret Piper AM and Dr Eman Sharobeem.
They have been recruited through a skills-based assessment process and will be led by Dr Harinath, a distinguished individual who has been a leader within the Indian Australian community for many decades. Dr Harinath has been a medical practitioner in Sydney for nearly 40 years and has served as a senior cricket administrator for 30 years.
He is a current CRC Advisory Board Member as well as Chairman of Parramasala and a NSW Centenary of Anzac Ambassador.
The other members include Devpaal Singh an Engineering/Law student at Sydney University of Indian background who is currently President of the Sydney University Sikh Society and National Communications and Marketing Director of Sikh Youth Australia. He will be one of the two youth Advisory Board Members.
INDIAN AMERICAN VANITA GUPTA APPOINTED TO KEY US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT POST
Indian-American Vanita Gupta, a top lawyer from American Civil Liberties Union, has been appointed to head the civil rights division of the US justice department, becoming the first South Asian to hold this post.
US President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Gupta to serve as the permanent Assistant Attorney General of Civil Rights in the coming months.
"Vanita has spent her entire career working to ensure that our nation lives up to its promise of equal justice for all," said Attorney General Eric Holder after he announced that Gupta will serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
Gupta succeeds Molly Moran, who will become Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.
She begins at the department on Monday, October 20.
"Even as she has done trailblazing work as a civil rights lawyer, Vanita is also known as a unifier and consensus builder. She has a knack for bridging differences and building coalitions to drive progress," Holder said.
Gupta, who was most recently the Deputy Legal Director of ACLU, has expertise on federal and state policing issues, immigration, and criminal justice reform.
She started her career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and has been active in supporting South Asian communities, including serving on SAALT's Council of Advisors.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) applauded her appointment. "We look forward to working with her in the months and years ahead to address the range of civil rights issues that continue to face our nation," said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT.
Over her career, Gupta has earned a reputation for working closely and collaboratively with law enforcement, departments of corrections and across the political spectrum to advance smart policing and criminal justice reforms.
Through her work with the ACLU, she has been involved in reform initiatives around the country pertaining to federal and state policing, sentencing, drug policy and criminal law. Her recent work has focused on building a bipartisan consensus to end overreliance on incarceration.
Gupta began her career as a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In addition to her work with the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense Fund, she has taught civil rights litigation and advocacy clinics at New York University School of Law.
She received a BA, magna cum laude, from Yale University and JD from New York University School of Law.
Dr. SASENARINE PERSAUD PROMINENT AT READING TOUR OF UK BOOK FESTIVAL
Guyana born PIO Dr. Sasenarine Persaud was featured in a series of eight (8) event reading tour of the UK, focused in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Sasenarine's trip, funded mainly by the British Council, coincided with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. As part of the Games, a poet from each Commonwealth country read and recorded a poem on the BBC's (British Broadcasting Corporation) Poetry Postcard Program. Sasenarine's poem, 'Georgetown' (from his soon to be released book, Love in a Time of Technology). The poem was printed on postcards and distributed throughout the Commonwealth Games. Sasenarine opened his tour with a reading and discussion on poetry and poetics, culture, homelands and exiles at the BBC in Glasgow in front a live audience.
This was followed by an interview and a reading at the Empire Café in Glasgow with an audience of over 200, and with the Scottish Minister of External Affairs and International Development introducing the evening. The Empire Café was formed to look at Scottish involvement with the slave trade and its association with the plantation system in the West Indies. The Empire Café commissioned Sasenarine to write a poem ('Campbellville') which was published by the Café in an anthology, and which led to the Café extending an invitation to visit Scotland. He had the distinction of opening the 2014 edition of the EIBF on August 9, with a solo reading to a packed tent at a reading called "10 at 10". Later in the day he read with three (3) other poets in an event billed as "Voices of the Caribbean Diaspora.
INDIAN AMERICAN RESEARCHER DR. SANGEETA BHATIA RECEIVES MIT'S LEMELSON FELLOWSHIP
Indian American Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia, biomedical engineer and professor at MIT, is the recipient of the 2014 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT. Bhatia creates tiny technologies for medicine and has combined clinical and engineering perspectives to tackle complex health challenges.
Bhatia is recognized for designing and commercializing miniaturized technologies with applications to improve human health. The Lemelson-MIT Prize, celebrating its 20th year, honors outstanding mid-career inventors improving the world through technological invention and demonstrating a commitment to mentorship in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Bhatia is a multidimensional inventor, with a PhD from MIT and an MD from Harvard University, who is poised to impact human health as an engineer, doctor, and scientist. Her collaborative ability to identify and solve clinical problems by connecting miniaturization to medicine is exemplified by Bhatia's passion for applying high-tech solutions to under-resourced settings globally. Bhatia's creative portfolio of inventions addresses complex problems in the areas of drug toxicity, tissue regeneration, cancer therapeutics, noninvasive diagnostics, and infectious disease. A snapshot of the diversity and impact of her work includes:
Bhatia and her team are tackling limitations of the growing biomarker industry with a focus on increased accuracy of disease detection. She designed "synthetic biomarkers" to offer improved sensitivity in detecting diseases including cancer, thrombosis, and fibrosis. The approach uses nanoparticles to deliver enzyme substrates to diseased tissue through a shot, creating synthetic biomarkers that shed in urine and are read in a simple paper-based urine test. The tests have been adapted for global use to support communities with low medical infrastructure, for example in areas that do not support costly cancer-screening approaches such as mammogram and colonoscopy. The incidence of non-communicable diseases in developing nations is on the rise with 5 million cancer deaths per year, accounted for by these regions. A majority of these patients have already advanced to incurable disease by first diagnosis, highlighting the need for improved access to early detection methods. Bhatia is
developing this platform for commercialization with support of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.
Liver cells begin to lose function within hours of being removed from the body. Current tools to predict toxicity use dysfunctional human cells that don't accurately mimic a normally functioning liver. This has made it difficult for scientists to build an artificial organ for patients whose livers have failed, or to develop remedies to fight infections that grow in the liver, including malaria.
Bhatia and her team produced human microlivers that model human drug metabolism, predict drug toxicity, and interact with human pathogens. The human microliver she developed can also replicate the life cycle of liver-stage human malaria for drug screening, an application of this platform that is being developed further in collaboration with the Broad Institute with support from the Gates Foundation. The microliver can improve predictions of drug safety without risking patient exposure; help identify drugs that could eradicate malaria from its reservoir in the liver; and serve as a basis for an engineered liver that could one day replace the need for transplants in liver disease patients.
Bhatia's focus on translation to the clinic demonstrates her commitment to improving human health. Bhatia, in partnership with her students and post-doctoral associates, pursues all available paths to commercialization, from licensing to existing companies to co-founding startups to supporting student-led startups and pursuing industrial collaborations. These efforts have led to the launch of 10 companies and more than 70 products. She is currently a co-founder of Hepregen, offering diverse lines of HepatoPac® products for drug development and toxicity testing, and Zymera, a nanocrystal technology for preclinical in vivo imaging and molecular
Bhatia is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, and a senior associate member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She also holds an appointment at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She is
the John J. (1929) and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She is also a leader, inspiring role model, and passionate advocate for diversity in science and engineering. Bhatia founded the Biomedical Engineering Society Diversity Committee and advises the MIT Society of Women Engineers, a group that oversees Keys to Empowering Youth, an outreach organization Bhatia helped establish that aims to instill young girls with curiosity about science and engineering.
THREE PIOs ELECTED TO NEW ZEALAND'S PARLIAMENT
Three Indian-origin politicians, including a woman, have been elected to New Zealand's Parliament in the just-concluded general elections.
Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar and Mahesh Bindra have successfully made it to the 121-member Parliament, the New Zealand Herald reported today.
Delhi-born Bakshi and Pune graduated Parmar fought the elections as the candidates of the ruling National party while Mumbai-born Bindra was elected as the New Zealand First party candidate.
While Bakshi is all set to begin his third term in the Parliament, Parmar and Bindra are ready to make their debut, taking the growing contribution of the Kiwi Indians in New Zealand to the parliament as well.
Bakshi is both, New Zealand's first Indian and first Sikh Member of Parliament. He was first elected in the 2008 elections.
Ranked 48th on National's party list, Parmar will make her way to the parliament as a list MP.
Bindra contested Mount Roskill, and also prepares for parliament as a list MP after being ranked 11th on the New Zealand First party list.
The National party, led by Prime Minister John Key, won 61 seats as compared to 59 in last elections, claiming 48.06 per cent of the total votes cast from 47.31 per cent in 2011.
Following the election results, Bindra says he is the living proof that his party New Zealand First and its leader Winston Peters are not anti-immigration and anti-Asian.
FIVE INDIAN-AMERICANS IN FORBES LIST OF AMERICA'S RICHEST
Five Indian-Americans have been named among the 400 richest people in the US by Forbes, a list topped by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for the 21st year in a row with a net worth of $81 billion.
Founder of outsourcing firm Syntel Bharat Desai, entrepreneur John Kapoor, Symphony Technology founder Romesh Wadhwani, Silicon Valley angel investor Kavitark Ram Shriram and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla are among 'The Richest People In America 2014' list by Forbes.
Forbes said 2014 was another record year for American wealth, when the aggregate net worth of the richest 400 Americans was $2.29 trillion, up $270 billion from a year ago.
"Thanks to a buoyant stock market, the richest people in the US just keep getting richer," Forbes said.
Gates is the richest American for the 21st year in a row, with a net worth of $81 billion. The Microsoft chairman's stake in the software company he co-founded accounts for just under 20 per cent of his total net worth. His friend Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, occupies the number two spot on the 400, a rank he has held since 2001 with a net worth of $67 billion.
Larry Ellison, who just announced that he was giving up the CEO role at Oracle, the software firm he founded, comes in at number three, with a net worth of 50 billion dollars.
Desai and his family rank 255 on the list, followed by Kapoor who is ranked 261, Wadhwani (264), Shriram (350) and Khosla (381).
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now the 11th richest person in the US, and the biggest dollar gainer on the list. His fortune soared to $34 billion, up $15 billion since last year, due to a sharp rise in the price of the social network's shares.
FOUR INDIAN AMERICAN SCIENTISTS WIN ACS AWARDS
Four Indian American scientists are among the recipients of the 2015 National Awards of the American Chemical Society.Thomas J. Colacot from Johnson Matthey has been selected for the ACS Award in Industrial Chemistry, the release said. Abhijit A. Namjoshi, along with several of his colleagues from Dow Chemicals, has been selected for the ACS Award for Team Innovation, a media release said.
Neil K. Garg from the University of California in Los Angeles has been selected for the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award along with nine other scientists; while Joseph Reddy, of Endocyte, Inc., has won the George & Christine Sosnovsky Award for cancer research along with three other scientists.
The recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony on March 24, 2015, in conjunction with the 249th ACS national meeting in Denver, Colorado.
Colacot's ACS Award in Industrial Chemistry in one of the top honors in the field. The award is sponsored by the ACS Division of Business Development and Management and the ACS Division of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. He studied at St. Berchman's College, Changanacherry, Kerala, and IIT, Chennai, and is the first Indian to get the award in industrial chemistry. He also holds an MBA degree and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Currently Global R&D manager in the homogenous catalysis area at Johnson Matthey, a specialty chemicals company, Colacot directs research in U.S., UK and in Indian labs.
FOUR RESEARCHERS NAMED AMONG 2013 ASM FELLOWS
ASM International recently announced that one Indian American, one Indian, and two of Indian origin were named 2014 Fellows of the society, which recognizes them for their distinguished contributions to materials science and engineering and to develop a broadly based forum of technical and professional leaders to serve as advisors to the group.
Those named includes Dr. Mariappan P. Paranthaman of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn.; Javad Mostaghimi, professor at the University of Toronto, Canada; Dr. Priti Wanjara of the National Research Council Canada in Montreal; and Dr. Ashim Kumar Mukhopadhyay, scientist at the Defense Metallurgical Research Laboratory in Hyderabad, India.
Paranthaman was recognized for "the development of novel epitaxial buffer layers on textured templates, enabling high critical current density superconductor films, and developing mesoporous architectures destined for high performance energy storage applications."
While Mostaghimi was recognized for "pioneering developments related to thermal plasmas and thermal spray coatings," Wanjara received her recognition for "distinguished scientific and engineering contributions in the development and application of materials processing technologies for manufacturing materials in the aerospace, automotive, marine, and power generation industries."
Mukhopadhyay was recognized for "sustained and significant technical and scientific contributions in the areas of physical and mechanical metallurgy of aluminum alloys, and for the development and commercial production of these materials for structural application."
OBAMA APPOINTS INDIAN AMERICAN VINAY VIJAY SINGH AS SENIOR ADVISOR TO ITA
Vinay Vijay Singh was appointed by US President Barack Obama as the Senior Advisor, Global Markets, International Trade Administration. Apart from working towards the US Department of Commerce's goal to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for Americans, Singh also plays a key role in US's commitment towards deepening its ties with India and also expanding the countries' economic partnership.