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February 20, 2009
A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
Issue: VIII-2 February 20, 2009
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Chief Editor's Note
Since most of the GOPIO rank and file were in India to attend GOPIO Convention and the Pravsasi Bharatiya Divas, the February 2009 issue has been delayed. Thank you for your patience and support of GOPIO. 
Thomas Abraham
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) concluded its successful Convention 2009 in Chennai from January 6th through January 7th 2009 at The Trident Hotel in Chennai, India, in conjunction with Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009.
On January 6th, GOPIO held its Executive Committee Meeting at which several operational and procedural matters, by-laws changes, proposals and updates were discussed and decisions reached. The Meeting was chaired by President Inder Singh and was followed by GOPIO General Council Meeting chaired by Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman. GOPIO Council and Chapter Reports were provided by: Sunny Kulathakal, Regional Vice President, Middle East; Noel Lal, Vice President Pacific/Oceania; Rohitas Batta, GOPIO of Sydney, Australia who also covered reports from other chapters headed by Jagdish Lodhia (Sydney South-West) and Umesh Chandra (Brisbane); Harold Ramdhani, President GOPIO Suriname; Dr V P Nair, GOPIO Singapore; Radha Krishnan, President GOPIO Detroit, USA; Dr Prabhu Kulkarni, President GOPIO Ireland; Samduth Permala, Chairman, Association of People of Indian Origin, Mauritius. Chapter reports submitted by Rajindre Tewari, President GOPIO-Netherlands; Sangeeta Ahuja, President of GOPIO Connecticut, USA; Sat Sukdeo, President of GOPIO Upper New York, USA; Raj Mehta, President of GOPIO Central New Jersey, USA were acknowledged. Council reports were given by Prashant Gupta, Chairperson of GOPIO.Connect and Munish Gupta, Chairperson of GOPIO Media Council.
On the evening of January 6, GOPIO held its Awards Banquet with presentation of GOPIO Community Service Awards at the Trident Hotel in Chennai. The Chief Guest Hon. Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) presided over the gala event. Minister Ravi assured the overseas Indians "to invest in India in the full confidence of making profit." He also urged the Indian Diaspora to increasingly engage themselves with India's growth story. Other dignitaries included special guest Hon. G K Vasan, Minister of State for Statistics and Program Implementation and former Governor and Union Minister Hon. M M Jacob.  GOPIO Community Service Awards were presented to Baroness Shreela Flather, UK; Deputy Speaker NJ State Assembly Upendra Chivukula, USA; Deputy Mayorof Durban Logie Naidoo, South Africa. Noted scientist author and GOPIO life member Dr. Mani Bhaumik spoke on Spirituality in the Age of Science.

GOPIO CONVENTION 2009 CHENNAI - dignitaries, panel and awardees  
Photo Top - Head Table at the Awards Banquet, From L. to R. Baroness Shreela Flather, Americai V. Narayanan, Minister G.K. Vansan, GOPIO President Inder Singh, Minister Vayalar Ravi, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and M.M. Jacob.
Photo Middle - Panelists at the first Conference session, From L. to R.: Prof. Mohan Gautam, Anand Mulloo, Sunny Kulathakal, kANCHAN bANNERJI, Madusudan B. Mehta, Umesh Chandra and Judge Ajit Swaran Singh
Photo Bottom - Award recipients with the minister and GOPIO officials. From L. to R.: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Logie Naidoo, Baroness Shreela Flather, Minisrer G.K. Vasan, Americai V. narayana and Upendra Chivukula

The 2008 issue of Asia Who's Who 2009 was released by Jasbir Sachar, UK. Master of Ceremonies was Ashook Ramsaran, Secretary General of GOPIO International. Lord Diljit Rana, GOPIO Executive Vice President, delivered the Vote of Thanks.
On January 7 four (4) intensive conference sessions on Critical Issues of Interest and Concern to NRIs and PIOs were held. There was excellent attendance and attendee participation at all the sessions. That combined to produce a very comprehensive and successful Convention 2009 that was well attended and produced tremendous positive feedback and interaction among the participants and attendees.
Session 1 addressed the crucial topic of NRI/PIO Parents Coping at Home and Abroad. The session was chaired by Sunny Kulathakal, GOPIO Vice President, Gulf Region. Speakers included Judge Ajit Swaran Singh (New Zealand); Prof. Mohan Gautam, Co-Chair GOPIO Academic Council (The Netherlands); Madhusudan B. Mehta, President, NRI Parents Association (Gujarat, India); Anand Mulloo, Author (Mauritius); Umesh Chandra, Publisher, Indian Times (Brisbane, Australia). Judge Ajit Swaran Singh stated that parents "must maintain their own culture while adapting to the local environment of the adopted country." He also pointed out that there are inter generational differences to raise kids, particularly in an alien land.
Session II dealt with NRI/PIO Contributions to Homeland Projects and was chaired by Americai V. Narayanan, GOPIO Conference Chairperson and Chairman, ICM Computer Consultants (Chennai, India). Panelists included Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Malaysia); Prof Chandrashekhar Bhat, University of Hyderabad (Hyderabad, India); Dr. Ajit Singhvi, Vice President, AAPI - NRIs/PIOs Role in Medical Services in India; Dr. Surendra Kaushik, Prof. of Finance at Pace University, New York, USA; and Prashant Gupta, Chair, GOPIO.Connect (India).
Session III was on the subject of Business and Investment Challenges and Opportunities in a Global Financial Crisis Scenario and was chaired by Lord Diljit Rana, House of Lords, UK  and Executive Vice President of GOPIO. Speakers included: Hon. Upendra Chivukula, Deputy Speaker, New Jersey State Assembly (USA); Logie Naidoo, Deputy Mayor, Durban, South Africa, who spoke on Business Opportunities in South Africa; Ambi Venkataraman, Luxemburg, on Business Opportunities in EU and Dr. Prabhu Kulkarni, Ireland, on Energy and Chemical Industry. Dr. Kulkarni stated that "atomic energy, solar and wind energy sources will play a major role in the near future".
A book titled "Mauritius - An Unfinished Journey - Volume I" bywell known PIO author Anand Mulloo of Mauritius was released on January 7, 2009 during the GOPIO Conference Sessions.
Session IV addressed the subject of Current Issues and Concerns Confronting NRIs/PIOs and was chaired by T. S Krishnamurthy, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India. Panelists included Jay Banerjee, Re/Max Rouge River Realty Brokerage and Overseas Indian National Congress of Canada. Jay Banerjee stated that "we must have a central uniform system, so NRIs can transact with confidence".

Books Presented at GOPIO 2009 Convention in Chennai 
Photo Top - Jasbir Sachar presents Asia Who's Who 2009 to dignitaries and GOPIO officials
Photo Bottom - Anand Mulloo presents his new book to Lord Dilji Rana and Dr. Mani Bhaumik presents his new book to Minister Ravi
At the conclusion of the convention, GOPIO passed a set of Resolutions that reflect critical current issues of interests and concern to NRIs and PIOs. These include the following:
Parental abduction of children
Right to information for NRIs and PIOs
Abuse by pharmaceutical companies
Terrorism: safety of life and property
Disparities among various states for land use & title transfer registration fee
Issues of NRI investment in properties & disputes
GOPIO acknowledged the following conference sponsors:
Dr. Mani Bhaumik, a physicist, internationally bestselling author, celebrated lecturer, entrepreneur, and a philanthropist. Dr. Bhaumik's new book, The Cosmic Detective is an ideal primer designed for popularizing cosmology to people of all ages and backgrounds, especially the young.   UNESCO shall distribute Dr. Bhaumik's book, The Cosmic Detective to the 300 VIPs and 400 selected global students at the opening ceremony of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (, on January 15, 2009 in Paris, France.
Hirco Group, India's largest residential builder and leading developer of mixed-use townships for the country's increasingly affluent middle class. Hirco's master planned communities feature modern residences; world-class office parks for Indian and international companies; exciting retail and entertainment destinations; 5-star hotels and convention centres; recreational facilities; schools; hospitals; supermarkets; and restaurants and cafés. Hirco currently has 66.4 million square feet in development at our Hiranandani Palace Gardens mixed-use township projects in Chennai in southeast India and Panvel in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. For more information, contact US Sales Office: 1-888-628-4080 Email -
The seventh edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was inaugurated on the morning of January 7th in Chennai with its pomp and glory by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) was initiated in 2003 and since then, it has evolved into an annual conference of the Indian Diaspora. The theme of PBD 2009 was "Engaging the Diaspora - The way forward" and the event was organized by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in partnership with the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The Chief Guest at the Diaspora meet was Surinamese Vice President Ramdien Sardjoe, marking the second time a Surinamese has been the chief guest since the beginning of the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas PBD) in January 2003.
Inaugurating the 7th Indian Diaspora convention, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "I am happy to announce that henceforth Overseas Citizen of India card holders who are qualified professionals - doctors, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, architects and chartered accountants - will have the benefit of practicing their professions here in our country."  Expressing his happiness at the launch of a new initiative called "The Global Indian Knowledge Network", he said, "This Network will connect people of Indian origin from a variety of disciplines to users at the national, state and local levels in India. My hope is that the Network will facilitate transfer of knowledge and serve as a "virtual think tank" to generate new ideas on issues such as development, education and health-care."  In concluding his inaugural address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "We feel proud of the great achievements of the people of Indian origin around the world. Till now, at these gatherings, we have celebrated the spirit of adventure and enterprise of the global Indians. This year, let me add, that we have made contact with a distant pravasi that you have all grown up hearing about - Chanda-mama!  I hope your conference gives us more ideas on how we can work together for India's progress and your welfare. With these words, I once again welcome you all to this magnificent Conference.
Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, said that Global Indian knowledge network would serve as a knowledge bank for the vast network of people of Indian origin who can get their specific questions answered with the help of professionals all around the world.
The plenary session on health and education attracted the maximum attendance. In his keynote address, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia said "India hasn't seen proper growth in terms of health and education in rural areas. Thus, there is a need to involve the private sector, with non-profit motives." Hemant Kumar Patel, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPIO) said that special priority should be given to diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular, maternal health and fetal/child health. GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham asked Govt. of India to reevaluate some of the rules governing FCRA and customs regulations which are becoming big hurdles for NRIs/PIOs and their NGOs to participate in health and education areas. Dr. Abraham listed several other measures for the central government and state governments to make it easier for NRIs/PIOs to participate in the social development sector.
During the two-day event, many concurrent sessions were organized. At the session on "Building Bridges: Diaspora Philanthropy", Union Minister for Panchayati Raj and Development of North-Eastern Region, Mani Shankar Aiyar called upon delegates to re-establish linkages with communities for better development in India. Raj Loomba, a philanthropist from the UK and Regional Vice President of GOPIO International delivered the keynote address. Secretary, Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs, K. Mohandas announced the launch of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF - OI). "The objective of the foundation is to bridge overseas philanthropists with recognized Indian Organizations, enabling public private partnerships and accountability to the donor," Mohandas said. GOPIO Int'l President Inder Singh asserted that if the proposed India Development Fund can facilitate charitable giving for philanthropic work in India, more funds can start coming for various projects in villages.
The Regional Working Session on Caribbean was chaired by Ashook Ramsaran, Secretary General of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), while G. K. Vasan, Minister of State for Statistics & Programme Implementation, was the Chief Guest. Other speakers included Dr. Prem Misir, advisor to Guyana President Jagdeo and Anand Ramlogan of Trinidad and Tobago.
R. L. Lakhina, from The Netherlands, Former Chairman, GOPIO International spoke at the  Plenary session  on "India as an Emerging Power : The Diaspora Factor". Lord Diljit Singh Rana of UK and Executive Vice President, GOPIO International spoke on "Building Bridges: Education & Diaspora Knowledge Network". Dr M K Gautam, Vice Chancellor and President European University of West and East Netherlands and Co-Chairperson, GOOPIO Academic Council spoke on "Indian Diaspora : Preservation of Language and Culture".
The following are some of the other highlights of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas:
There were nearly 1,500 delegates from 48 countries. Maximum number of 270 delegates came from Malaysia followed by 127 from the US. Government shall start issuing Smart card to all Indian workers immigrating from June 1, 2009. Several books were launched at the PBD, including the colorful 'At Home in the World'.
PBD 2009 concluded with thirteen prominent Indians abroad recognized with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards by President of India Pratibha Patil at the concluding Valedictory Session of the meet. This year's awardees are as follows:
Ramdien Sarjoe - Vice President of Suriname
Angidi Veeriah Chettiar - Vice President of Mauritius
Dr. C.K. Prahlad - Management Guru and Author, Professor of Management at University of Michigan, USA
Dr.  Sumit Ganguly - Author and Columnist and Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, USA
Soman Baby - Community leader and Associate Editor, Gulf Daily News, Bahrain
Deepak Obhrai, Member of Canadian Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minsiter for Foreign Affairs
Ylias Akhbaraly - Businessman and Philanthropist, Madagascar
G. Vadiveloo - Only Indian to be elected as President of Malaysian Senate
Ram Lakhina - Community leader and former chairman of GOPIO. Initiator of Foundation ofr Critical Choices for India and Netherlands India Chamber of Commerce and TRade
P.N.C. Menon - Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist, Sultanate of Oman
Parmananthan Prema Naidoo - Community Activist against apartheid in South Africa and community leader, South Africa
J.R. Hangaramani - Founder, Indian Business and Professional Group, Abu Dhabi
Baroness Shreela Flather - Member, British House of Lords, UK and community activist
An Indian American Task Force comprising of nine organizations (NFIA, USINPAC, IAFPE, IAFF, GOPIO, IAFPAC, USIF, AIA, NCINPAC) descended to Washington DC on January 27, 2009. There were more than 175 people coming from all across the United States converge to the Capital Hill to advocate a strong action on the part of US Congress to help eliminate all terrorist activities in the world. The brutal attack by terrorists on Mumbai on January 26, 2007 prompted the formation of this Task Force.
Mr. Ram Narayanan and Mr. Mukesh Advani did the ground work to put together this group and were its Co-Coordinators. The members of the Task Force formed groups of 7-10 people and went to see previously assigned Lawmakers and/or their legislative Assistants. There were 55 appointments set for January 27. Four additional appointments were set by the NFIA on January 22. Dr. Piyush Agrawal, GOPIO Vice President for North America coordinated GOPIO participation along with GOPIO-NY President Lal Motwani and GOPIO-Wahsington DC President Dr. Renu Misra
The Task Force members also met with a number of Think Tanks (American Enterprise Institute, American Heritage, Center for American Progress, American Jewish Committee, and American Values) on January 26, 2009.
The purpose of these meetings was to impress upon the lawmakers the need to eliminate terrorists camps in Pakistan, bring the identified culprits of the mayhem in Mumbai to justice and find ways to help prevent further terrorist attacks any where in he world.
The response from all lawmakers was a very positive one. All of them spoke strongly against the brutality of attack in Mumbai.
The evening Reception was attended by over 300 people (packed to capacity), including the members of the Task Force, local community leaders, various lawmakers and their staff members. 
Several congressmen attended the event. Congressman Berman, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee promised to offer a bill linking military aid to Pakistan with the condition to eliminate all terrorism originating from that country.
Berman said "this wasn't just a terrorist attack about a border dispute in Kashmir -- this was a frontal assault on values of democracy and pluralism and modernity.
Ed Royce who raised his voice at what happened in Mubai, told the audience that he would offer a bill to force Pakistan to hand over the criminals to the International Court  for trials.
Other Congressmen who attend the event included Gregory Meeks, Donna Edwards, Jim McDemott, Joe Wilson and Sheila Jackson Lee.
Shanti Bhavan School has drawn attention of the excellent social work being carried out in Tamil Nadu to assist children from Dalit families. Shanti Bhavan has recently made academic history in India.  In a significant development, an entire batch of students from Shanti Bhavan Residential School near Hosur that appeared for the 2008 examinations conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi (ISCE) excelled by securing first classes, while seven of them went several steps ahead by notching up distinctions.
Just who are these children? How did they achieve this feat?
Mahatma Gandhi often summed up the plight of the families of these children as "The lowest and the least, the last and the lost."  The school which finds a mention in Tom Friedman's book 'The World Is Flat' is the result of one man's relentless dream to give the poorest children from some 40 villages in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka a chance to compete with the brightest and the best. Dr. Abraham George, the Indian-American philanthropist who found like-minded committed individuals to work at Shanti Bhavan has since invested almost all his earnings worth several millions of US dollars, in keeping with his dream of building an excellent school that would give its students a chance to compete on merit with those of their more fortunate peers.
According to Veerappan, a proud father who works as a labourer, Shanti Bhavan has transformed his child's life and that of his family. He says he now dreams of the day when his family can live a life with dignity and economic stability.
Yet another father who works as a mason observed, "We may build such campuses for the big companies, but it's heartening to now hope that our children can get a chance to work inside those buildings."
The ISCE results have proved that children from even the most deprived backgrounds can excel academically with hard work provided they are offered the opportunity to have a quality education. George firmly believes that the Shanti Bhavan model is one of the best ways to break the vicious cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, the present economic crisis around the world has impacted his ability to support the institution, and he is reaching out to others to join him in ensuring that the children's dreams are not shattered.
"First deserve then desire," if that is the order of the day, then who are better than Shanti Bhavan's promising students illuminating their lives from the abject darkness of poverty to bright prospects through a deserving charitable education.
For further information, visit


GOPIO General Council, in a meeting in Chennai on January 6, 2009, decided to celebrate GOPIO's 20th anniversary by holding a convention in New York. GOPIO was formed at the First Convention of People of Indian Origin held in New York City in August 1989. The convention committee to organize the convention from August 21 - 23, 2009, will be formed and more details shall be made available in the next GOPIO News.

December 24, 2008. GOPIO Connecticut's Youth hosted their Third Annual Youth and Young Professionals Networking Session at the Hampton Inn and suites in Stamford, Connecticut. The event attracted 42 youth and young professionals from across Connecticut and New York.
Mr. Ravilochan Pola President annd CEO from Kotak Mahindra Inc. spoke about Indian and western work values in a financial setting. He spoke about the current financial markets and provided some examples of what companies look for while hiring candidates. The Kotak Mahindra Inc. is a Mumbai-based company and also has an office in White Plains, NY.
GOPIO-CT YOuth and Young Professionals Networking, December 24, 2009 
Photo: GOPIO-CT youth and young professionals at the youth mentoring lunch. The coordinators were Ankur Ahuja (exteme left and Sharon-Priya Bant (second from right in the front row)
Rahul Tejwani, a graduate of Penn State '04, spoke about his experiences traveling to various countries and earning credits through the Semester at Sea Program and the incredible exposure that provided him to other cultures. Surbhi Sood, a sophomore at Stamford High who attended the event said "I never knew a program like this existed and is seriously considering it for when she goes to college; it sounds pretty cool." 
The event was coordinated and moderated by Youth co-chairs Sharon-Priya Banta and Ankur Ahuja. Sharon-Priya is currently studying in New York City and Ankur is studying medicine in England. 
"The annual workshop facilitates networking opportunities and new friendships among the youth in the Connecticut and New York," said Anita Bhat, GOPIO board member who assisted with organizing the event. 
GOPIO NZ, in a joint meeting of all GOPIO chapters in Auckland, has decided to periodically organize free consultation for Diabetes, Blood pressure, Diet issues, etc.  Dr Ajit Singh, member GOPIO Auckland South, agreed to provide free consultation beginning early March.
GOPIO Youth Co-Chairperson Sonu Luthera plans to start Awards Night recognizing, rewarding and honoring excellence among Indian students graduating from high school. He has already made 25 young people to be members of the youth wing of GOPIO NZ. More info about recognizing, rewarding and honoring Indian students graduating from high school, may be obtained by writing to or by visiting
The recent flooding has caused enormous damage and suffering in various parts of Fiji and particularly areas around Nadi and Ba. All GOPIO chapters in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand are involved in the FIJI Relief Fund. GOPIO Auckland East Chapter has already sent NZ $1000.00 while GOPIO Botany Downs and GOPIO North Shore are also actively raising funds for relief and recovery efforts. GOPIO Auckland Central Chapter has committed to build suitable homes for the needy in FIJI, in association with Rotary Club of Nadi & Lautoka, at an approximate cost of NZ$4000.00 each. The chapter members plan to build at least 3-4 homes at this stage. GOPIO NZ president, Harish Bajaj urges every one receiving the newsletter to support this cause.  Mr. Bajaj can be contacted by email at
GOPIO-Norway celebrated its fifth anniversary in November 2008.  GOPIO-Norway Founder President Mohan Singh Varma welcomed the members and guests including Indian Ambassador Banbi Roy and Head of the Chancellery Shrilanji.
Indianz Global Association & GOPIO Waikato, New Zealand joined together for celebration of 60 Anniversary of Universal declaration of human rights, a brain child of Waikato Interfaith Council. It took about 5 months of planning and great efforts of various community groups to have such a spectacular full day event on December 10, 2008.
The program started in the morning at 10.30 a.m. with inauguration of museum exhibition "Walk With Me" depicting refugee experiences-attended by dignitaries such as Ms. Rosylene Noonan, Chief Commissioner of Human Rights New Zealand. School children then presented a performance of Kapa Haka followed by  a Walk / March with banners/ peace Messages was taken to city centre Civic Square, this was attended by various community  organizations and City of Hamilton dignitaries including  councilors, presidents of community groups Commissioner Noonan. At the Civic Square, school children read the lines of declaration human rights which was followed by Commissioner's remarks and a poem on human rights by GOPIO Waikato President Suman Kapoor. A brief moment of silence was observed to mark condolence for victims of Mumbai Attacks.
The evening session program started 7 p.m. at Hamilton City Council lounge. A charter of rights was presented to Hamilton Deputy Mayor Pippa Mahood followed by speeches and a cultural item.
Dr. Sid Gautam, Professor of Economics, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Methodist University in North Carolina and a Founder Member of GOPIO International along with his wife Indira Gautam were hosted b GOPIO Waikato on December 10th. His speech and interactive session followed was greatly admired and was very well received. Dr. Gautam congratulated the efforts made by people of Indian origin in a not so big place such as Hamilton  for such a great cause to promote GOPIO and pan Indian activities. Dr. Gautam spoke on relevant current information for economic and human values, from the U.S. and other countries vis a vis to Newzealand. A supportive view & efforts of GOPIO advocating the area of human rights was well presented. Dr. Sid was introduced to the wider audience by President of GOPIO Waikato Suman Kapoor.
Contact: Suman Kapoor, GOPIO Waikato,
Three GOPIO Chapters of Sydney area joined together organizing a fundraising dinner in a cruise to support victims of FIJI Indians affected by the recent devastating floods. PIOs and members from broader Australian community overwhelmingly supported this event to generate funds for the flood victims in FIJI. The cruise event was successful and people enjoyed the Bollywood dances presented by Platinum Bhangra Group of Hainder Kaur & Maninder Singh and also by the Indonesian/ Balinese dances by Sisca Hunt and accomplices. People were enthralled by the exceptional performances by Mr Rajesh Batra and Mr Vijay Jogia. Invigorating Bhangra dances brought the audience to their feet and not to mention the veg/non-veg food (served onboard by daughters of Mr Arya) left people enjoying their evening. The event was much appreciated by the participants.

GOPIO Sydney Chapters' Fundraiser for Fiji Flooding 
Photo: DJ and Audience at the fundraiser cruise
GOPIO team has successfully pulled together this event and have contributed these funds to the tune of $7500 to Mr Noel Lal, Vice President of GOPIO Oceania. The funds would be disbursed to the needy in Fiji soon. All the three chapters in Sydney had jointly put together their strengths and created this event. It would be a regular event in future. The event was successfully delivered under the flagship of Mr. Amarinder Bajwa and Mr. Mahavir Arya. GOPIO-Sydney Northwest President Harry Walia welcomed everyone to the fundraising event. GOPIO-Sydney Southwest President Jagdish Lodhia apprised the audience the activities of GOPIO in Sydney and the efforts by the GOPIO community to support Indians in Fiji. GOPIO-Sydney President Dr. Rohittas Batta delivered a vote of thanks. Mrs Lucky Singh served as the Master of Ceremonies with her affectionate and authentic trait.
GOPIO Sydney Chapters are planning to organize blood donation camps for the victims of Victorian Fires.
Contact: GOPIO-Sydney North West President Harmohan Singh Walia, E-mail:; GOPIO-Sydney President Dr. Rohittas Batta, E-mail:; GOPIO-Sydney Southwest President Jagdish Lodhia, E-mail:
Citigroup's Chairman Vikram Pandit has vowed to take a token salary of $1 and no bonus until the ailing banking giant returns to profitability. Pandi and seven other executives from the American financial institution appeared before the US House Financial Services Committee. Pandit said taxpayers were right to expect a return for their investment, adding that the bank will pay $3.4 billion in annual dividends on the debt.
GOPIO Ireland President Dr Prabhu Kulkarni was presented Prestigious Lampitt Medal in recognition of his service to the UK based 125 year old International Society of Chemical Industry (SCI).  The Award was presented at black tie Dinner held in Society's head quarters in Belgrave Square in London on October 30th, 2008.
President Obama Picks Sanjay as Surgeon General
President Barack Obama has offered the job of surgeon general of the United States to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an Indian American neurosurgeon and health affairs correspondent for CNN and CBS. Dr. Gupta will have to go through a Senate confirmation. The Michigan-born son of parents who were born in India, Gupta has always been drawn to health policy. He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for Hillary Clinton. His appointment would give the administration a prominent official of Indian descent and a skilled television spokesman.
Gupta anchors the medical affairs program "House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta" on CNN. His role as journalist and physician has sometimes overlapped. During the 2003 Iraq invasion, Gupta was embedded with a navy unit called Devil Docs and, while covering its mission, performed brain surgery five times, the first of which was on a two-year-old Iraqi boy.
Gupta is a member of the staff and faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He regularly performs surgery at Emory University Hospital and at Grady Memorial Hospital, where he serves as associate chief of neurosurgery.
Gupta joined CNN in 2001. As chief medical correspondent for the health and medical unit, he is a lead reporter on breaking medical news, provides regular health and medical updates for "American Morning," and reports for CNN documentaries. Based in Atlanta, Gupta also contributes health stories to, co-hosts "Accent Health" for Turner Private Networks, provides medical segments for the syndicated version of "ER" on TNT and writes a column for Time magazine. He also anchors the global health program "Vital Signs" for CNN International and is featured in a weekly podcast on health issues called "Paging Dr. Gupta".
Preeta Bansal Named General Counsel
President Obama has appointed a leading Indian-American lawyer Preeta Bansal as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of Management (OMB) and Budget at the White House. Considered to be part of the Obama's inner circle, Bansal was earlier mentioned as possible Solicitor General in the Obama Administration. Bansal was a Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP in New York City.
Since 2003, Bansal has also been a Commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, serving as Chair from 2004-2005. In that capacity, Bansal participated in US diplomatic missions to Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, Hong Kong, and South Asia, and presided over a nationally acclaimed Commission study on DHS's procedures for expedited removal of US asylum seekers.
From 1999-2002, Bansal was Solicitor General of the State of New York, where she helped supervise the legal positions of 600 attorneys in the New York Attorney General's office.
From 1993-1996, Bansal served as a counsellor in the Office of Policy Development and Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, and as a Special Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel.
Bansal received a J.D., magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and an A.B., magna cum laude from Harvard-Radcliffe College. She was a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.
She has been a Commissioner on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Election Modernization Task Force and serves on numerous non-profit boards.
Eboo S. Patel Appointed to Interfaith Council
President Barack Obama has included an Indian American Eboo Patel in a revamped White House office for faith-based and neighborhood programs, expanding an initiative started by the Bush administration to support charitable organizations delivering social services. Patel has been the founder and executive director of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Corps,. He has been named to a 25-member President's Advisory Council composed of religious leaders and scholars from different backgrounds.
"The revamped office will work on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs," said Obama.
The new office will be a resource for nonprofits and community organizations, both secular and faith based, looking for ways to make a bigger impact in their communities, learn their obligations under the law, cut through red tape, and make the most of what the federal government has to offer.
Rashad Hussain Appointed Deputy Counsel to President Obama
President Obama has appointed Rashad Hussain, as the Deputy Associate Counsel to the President.  Hussain was born in 1978 to Indian immigrant parents living in Plano, Texas. He earned his JD from Yale University and his MPA from Harvard University. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he holds bachelor's degrees with highest distinction in both philosophy and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which he completed in two years. Rashad also holds an MA from Harvard University in Near Eastern languages and civilizations. He finds his heritage central to his identity as an Indian American and his career goals, especially in light of events in recent history.
Rashad has worked extensively on Capitol Hill, both as an intern in the office of former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt during the summer of 2000 and as a legislative aide on the House Judiciary Committee, where he worked for a year and a half between his time at Harvard University and Yale University. He has been clerking for Judge Damon Keith on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Detroit, MI.
Nick Rathod Joins the White House
President Obama has appointed Nick Rathod as Deputy Associate Director of the White House Office of Inter Governmental Affairs. Rathod, a civil rights attorney and one of the founders of South Asians for Obama, was in the transition team where he had served as director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
At the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Rothod and his colleagues will work with governors and mayors all over America on issues that are important to their states and cities and work with them on moving the agenda forward.
Rathod had earlier served in the New York governor's office and as senior manager of state and regional affairs at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
Mona Kaleem, a fourth year medical student at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington DC has received the Malcolm X Award. Dr Ewart F Brown, Jr, premier of Bermuda and leader of the Progressive Labor Party, awards the $20,000 annual prize to a medical student who has demonstrated a sincere interest in the policies which affect the health of minorities in the United States.
Kaleem was selected for her leadership in healthcare organizations targeted at minorities and the uninsured, including the American Medical Student Association, Student Sight Savers, the MCC Medical Clinic and a free community clinic run by medical students at Howard. 
Kaleem has contributed to over 12 studies in pathogentics of neurodegenerative disorders, and in 2006 was awarded first prize at the Howard University College of Medicine Research Competition for her investigation of novel candidate genes in late onset Alzheimer's disease. She has participated in medical missions to India along with her mother Dr. Tahoora Kawaja, an internist in Baltimore, Maryland.  This spring Kaleem will volunteer at the V N Desai Municipal General Hospital in Mumbai with Child Family Health International Program. She will graduate from medical school in 2009 and plans to pursue a residency in ophthalmology.
Cypress, a city of 50,000 people in Orange County, Southern California elected Dr. Prakash Narain M.D and Doug Bailey as Mayor Pro-Tem and Mayor respectively on December 8, 2008.
Two Indo-Canadians are among 60 prominent Canadians including pop singer Celine Dion who have been given the country's highest civilian award, the Order of Canada.
Toronto-based Bharatanatyam artist Lata Pada and Edmonton-based cardiac surgeon Arvind Koshal are in the list of honor winners released by Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean in Ottawa lat month. The awards will be conferred at a formal ceremony later.
Naming Pada has been given this honor "for her contributions to the development of South Asian dance as a choreographer, teacher, dancer and artistic director, as well as for her commitment and support of the Indian community in Canada. Pada runs the famous Sampradya Bharatnatyam Dance Academy in Toronto suburb of Mississauga."
Koshal has been given the highest civilian honor "for his contributions to the field of cardiac surgery in Canada, notably in performing several innovative techniques, and for his leadership in developing one of the leading cardiac care programs in the country."
Started in 1967 to mark the 100th anniversary celebrations of formation of the country, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding people for their achievements in various fields, dedication to the community and service to the country. The award has three levels in this descending order - Companion of the Order of Canada, Officer of the Order of Canada, and Member of the Order of Canada. A person already made the Member of the Order of Canada can be promoted to the higher level within the award.
An Indian American Manju Ganeriwala is the new treasurer of Virginia. Maharashtra-born Ganeriwala, has served as deputy secretary of finance since January 2006 and has taken over from J. Braxton Powell on Jan 1, 2009 as the person in charge of managing the economic recovery of the state.
"Manju Ganeriwala brings a proven record for financial analysis and management that is in keeping with the high standards that Virginia holds as one of the Best Managed States in the nation," Virginia Governor Timothy M Kaine said announcing her appointment.
As treasurer of Virginia, Ganeriwala will serve as the chairperson of the Treasury Board of Virginia, which has oversight for for $8-10 billion of investments and debt management of the state.
She previously served as deputy director for finance and administration in the Department of Medical Assistance Services from June 2000 to January 2006. She has worked in state government since July 1985.
Born in Akola, Maharashtra, Ganeriwala holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University of Bombay and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
This is the second major appointment of an Indian American in Kaine's administration after Aneesh Chopra, who was made the technology secretary in his cabinet at the beginning of his administration in 2006.
Indarjit Singh, who heads the London-based Network of Sikh Organizations, and Tarun Kapur, executive headteacher, Ashton-on-Mersey and Broadoak Schools, Trafford, were both awarded the CBE, one of the highest honors in British Queen's New Year's Honors annual list.
Singh, a regular voice on BBC radio, was given the award for services to religion and community, while Kapur was honored for services to education.
Other Indian-origin people who were honored with various other awards include Anita Kumari Bhalla, editor of Public Space Broadcasting, BBC; Kuldip Kaur Bharj, senior lecturer in midwifery, Leeds University; Uday Kumar Dholakia for services to business in Leicestershire; Lakhbir Kaur and Lucky Dhillon for services to the Asian media; Asha Khemka, principal of the West Nottinghamshire College; Chitra Bharucha for services to the animal feed industry; Parvin Bhatia, a general practitioner in Richmond, London; Pradip Kumar Datta, founder, Wick Surgical Courses; Jagdish Dave for services to education and to Asian people; and Shiv Pabary, a dentist at Newcastle and Gateshead.
Indian-American physicist Dr. Mani Bhaumik has been chosen as the sole patron for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009; A rare honor for an India born, Los Angeles resident. The International Astronomical Union (IAU), in their announcement, said, "It is proud to have Dr. Mani Bhaumik as dedicated supporter of IYA2009's global activities.''
The IAU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are observing 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's astronomical telescope.
The announcement further said, "Dr. Mani Bhuamik is a physicist, internationally bestselling author, celebrated lecturer, entrepreneur, and a philanthropist. He is a laser physicist who announced the successful demonstration of the world's first efficient excimer laser at the Denver, Colorado meeting of the Optical Society of America in May 1973.
"This is the class of laser that would eventually eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses in many cases requiring vision correction. The procedure popularly known as Lasik takes less than a minute and has helped over fifteen million people worldwide.''
Bhaumik was the first person in India to receive a PhD from the IIT system in 1958 which secured him a Sloan Foundation fellowship to the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). He went on to become a multi-millionaire through his invention of the Excimer laser for eyesight correction and hundreds of other patents.
Bhaumik, best-seller book `The Cosmic Detective' has also been chosen as the official book for the year-long celebrations. The book was released by MOIA Minister Vayalar Ravi at the GOPIO Awards banquet on Jan 6, 2009 in Chennai. Dr. Bhaumik is a life member of GOPIO Int'l.
After nearly two years in negotiation, India and Malaysia finally signed an agreement for the "orderly" recruitment and deployment of workers and the procedures for monitoring recruiting agents and employers. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Malaysian Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam.
Describing the agreement as a "major milestone" in relation between the two countries, Ravi said one of the "important components is to check unscrupulous agents". He added that India had already signed similar labor agreements with all major gulf countries except Saudi Arabia.
The Malaysian minister said the agreement would allow "orderly recruitment" for workers to get employment in each other's country. Subramaniam noted that the deal would delineate the responsibility of recruiting agents, workers and employers.
A joint working group will be set up, comprising three officials from each country. This group, to meet twice a year, will draw up the administrative procedures to implement and monitor the agreement.
According to Subramaniam, there are officially 133,000 Indian workers in his country. The majority of them - nearly 55 percent- are in the services sector and another substantial number is in the plantation industry.
As per Indian figures, 30,916 workers were given permission to migrate to Malaysia for employment on their emigration check required (ECR) passport in 2007. At the same time, the minister noted that Malaysia had a long-term policy to decrease the proportion of foreign workers in the country's workforce.
'The Balgobin Saga' by Petamber Persaud is a groundbreaking work showing that Balgobin is an 'elusive and often overlooked character in Indian-Guyanese folklore. The mystery that surrounds him is curious given that his story has been in existence since the first arrival of Indians into Guyana in 1838.'
The Balgobin stories form an important aspect of the genesis of the East Indian to these parts, their struggle and healing. They came with their folklore in the glorious tradition of the Panchatantra, Hitopadesa, Upanishads and Purana in their bosom.  And in the time of need, from this very bosom burst forth Balgobin.
Balgobin is often portrayed dim-witted yet he is able to baffle educators, scraping through every test and oral examination by the skin of his teeth. It is believed that Balgobin was invented to stomp the School Inspector. That idea has a lot of credence for the preponderance of tales coming out of the classroom.
Another source whence cometh Balgobin is in the name itself. 'Bal' in Hindi means small. 'Gobin' is the nickname used by Lord Krishna, a mischievous child. So, Balgobin is a small god or a child god. As a mischievous child god, he is the embodiment of our own Balgobin.
This book provides a re-introduction to this lovable character and also shows how Indo-Guyanese used storytelling (Balgobin stories) to deal with the trauma of displacement and challenge of integration. 
The author Petamber Persaud was born in Guyana; he is a journalist, events coordinator, magazine editor, television producer and columnist.
Published by Hansib Publications, UK, 2008.
To boost its economy and also to address the shortage of human resources, Denmark is all set to invite Indian skilled manpower. The country has set up a 'Work in Denmark' centre at the Danish Embassy in India to facilitate job applications from Indian professionals. Denmark is keen to take on a cross section of Indian professionals to "supplement" Denmark's captive talent. In step, a 10-15% growth in bilateral trade between India and Denmark has also been noticed. There have been several new investments from Denmark as well as Indian companies such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Larsen and Toubro (L&T) have been successfully operating in Denmark for the past several years
The ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) is planning to set up a new fund to help Indian workers who return to India after losing their jobs overseas
in the next 12-18 months.
"The government has already announced bail-out measures to address the problems faced by individuals, companies and banks within the country because of the global meltdown. Many Indian workers are employed in countries which are severely hit by the recessionary trend and are returning to India in financial distress. We are trying to support them through the fund that we propose to set up with the help of the state governments. The proposal is being sent to the PM's office soon for clearance," said Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.
As per latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a quarter of the population, or 4.4 million people were born overseas. There has been a massive influx of Asians between 1996 and 2006. During the same period, the number of Indians increased by 70,000. Besides India, the number of people migrating to Australia from other Asian countries, such as China, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines have also increased. Asian-born immigrants now account for 27 per cent of the foreign-born population of Australia.
The number of people from European countries decreased over the same period although Europe still continues to provide the highest number of foreign-born residents to Australia. As many as 92,000 immigrants, 24 per cent of the total, came from the U.K during the last decade.
Norway citizen and holder of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card, Gurcharan Singh, petitioned to Delhi High Court for the alleged harassment by immigration authorities every time he visited India. Despite being a PIO card holder, Singh was detained for several hours as his name was earlier in the "Look Out List".
"Look Out List" is maintained by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and is sent to all airports to control the entry of unwanted elements in the country. The Court accepted the submission from the MEA that the name of Gurcharan Singh was removed from the black list and henceforth he would be allowed a smooth entry into India.
In the new bail-out package passed by the US Congress, firms receiving federal bailout money from hiring people in H-1B visas in place of Americans laid off by them due to the economic meltdown. The H1-B has mostly benefited Indian techies. The measure forms part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, popularly known as the stimulus bill. The Act finally passed by the Congress - both the House of Representative and the Senate makes a provision of $787 billion for reviving the battered US economy. As the banks have announced mass layoffs, the measure would effectively place a moratorium on the H-1B visa program. The measure, as finally approved by the Congress, would require the bailed-out banks to hire only Americans for two years unless they could prove they were not replacing laid-off Americans with guest workers, Sanders said.
The US Army is wooing skilled immigrants to join it, including those who know Hindi and Tamil, by offering them a chance to become citizens in as little as six months, a media report said. For foreigners who live in the US on temporary visas, it often takes more than a decade to get citizenship.
As part of the army's one-year pilot program, to begin in New York City, it will recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil, the New York Times reported Saturday.
Spanish speakers are not eligible. Immigrants, who are permanent residents holding green cards, and have lived in the US for at least two years will be eligible to join, officials said. 

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.


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Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)

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