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March 12, 2014

A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)

Issue: XIII-2 March 12, 2014
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NOTE: GOPIO News is a FREE bi-monthly newsletter of GOPIO International, based in the USA. We need your help in reaching out more NRIs/PIOs around the world. Please go to the bottom of the news bulletin and click the FORWARD button and type e-mail addresses of your friends and relatives. One could also subscribe this newsletter by visiting and type in the e-mail address. All preivous issues of GOPIO News are provided at GOPIO News Archives. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter in future, please click SafeUnsubscribe at the end of this newsletter.


GOPIO is a community supported non-profit organization taking up issues of the Indian Diaspora and attempting to unifying the community in its common causes. Support GOPIO by becoming a Life Member or chapter member. Once can become Life Member online by visiting



The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) will be holding its 25th (Jubilee) Anniversary in Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago, with a 2-day gala celebration on 27th to 29th May, 2014 preceding the annual Indian Arrival Day commemoration in that country. GOPIO International Trinidad & Tobago Chapter will be the convention host, along with a well organized convention team which includes GOPIO's regional and international chapters, executives, councils and life members, as well as businesses, government, organizations and academic supporters.


Hosting of GOPIO 25th (Jubilee) Anniversary in Port of Spain has been enthusiastically endorsed and supported by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago, prominent persons of Indian origin and several chambers of commerce, businesses, organizations, academicians and academic institutions, media and others.


The strong relationship between GOPIO and Trinidad & Tobago began with the formation of GOPIO in 1989 with high level representation of several prominent persons from Trinidad & Tobago, as well as other countries of the Caribbean region. This relationship blossomed to continuing participation in GOPIO at the highest levels at GOPIO's major events and GOPIO's many visits to Trinidad & Tobago over the years. In addition, the International Chapter of Trinidad & Tobago is among the most active and vibrant of GOPIO's many chapters globally, addressing current and critical community issues such as spousal abuse, alcoholism, education, children and health concerns. GOPIO is proud to have hosted Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on 12th January, 2012 at special reception/dinner in Kolkata during her visit to India as the chief guest at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2012.


GOPIO chapters in the Caribbean region are: Trinidad & Tobago; Guyana; Suriname; St Vincent; Belize; Guadeloupe and Martinique, with others in formation in Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados. Recently, GOPIO has held and collaborated on several major conferences in the Caribbean region: Trinidad & Tobago (2011); St Vincent (2012); Suriname (2013); Guyana's 175th Indian Arrival Day Commemoration (2013); and Belize (2014). Minister Vayalar Ravi (India's Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs) visited Trinidad & Tobago and other countries in the Caribbean region in 2007, 2011 and 2013.


The program outline is as follows:


Program Outline


27th May

Welcome Reception & Dinner

28th May

GOPIO meetings

Business-to-Business meetings

28th May

Dinner & Cultural Evening

29th May

GOPIO All-Day Conference:

Economic Opportunities

Social Issues & Diaspora Sessions

29th May

Awards Banquet and Gala

30th May

Participation: Indian Arrival at Nelson Island

30th May

Participation: Indian Arrival Commemoration

30th May

Participation: NICC Cultural Evening

31st May - onwards

Tourism & Visits -

Tobago, Barbados, Aruba, Guyana, etc.


"We feel privileged and are fully prepared to host GOPIO 25th (Jubilee) Anniversary in 2014 in Port of Spain in grand style that is fitting and well deserved", said Ena Maraj, president of GOPIO International Trinidad& Tobago Chapter, who initiated the proposal to host the event.


Dr. Arnold Thomas, GOPIO International Coordinator (Caribbean Region) remarked that, "It is important to highlight this region of the Indian Diaspora, along with the many benefits and unique advantages of holding GOPIO's 25th (Jubilee) Anniversary in Port of Spain".


"We are planning a huge, historic 25th Jubilee Anniversary in Port of Spain never done before and will become memorable in GOPIO and the Indian Diaspora", said Deo Gosine, grand patron.


Ease of travel to and from Trinidad & Tobago regionally and internationally, excellent infrastructure, communications and accommodations, as well as enthusiastic support and encouragement from all sectors, helped to substantiate this proposal for Trinidad & Tobago as the perfect, most suitable venue and setting for GOPIO to celebrate its Jubilee in 2014. More details are forthcoming via newsletters and postings on GOPIO's website on:

Program Details

CSA Recognition

Registration- no cost for registration

Travel & Visa


Trinidad and Tobago is an independent island nation located just off the northern coast of South America, with a population of over 1,300,000 of which 45% are people of Indian origin whose ancestors were brought there as indentured sugar plantation laborers with the first arrivals on 30th May, 1845.


 GOPIO Convention organizers Dr. Arnold Thomas,

Photo above: GOPIO Convention organizers, From l. to r.: Dr. Arnold Thomas, Ena Maraj and Deo Gosine

For more information, please contact;

Trinidad & Tobago

Ena Maraj (Convener):

Dr. Arnold Thomas (General Convener):

Deo Gosine (Grand Patron):




At the GOPIO Biennial Convention, those who have provided outstanding community service will be recognized at the finale banquet on May 29th evening. GOPIO is seeking nominations of suitably qualified candidates from the NRI/PIO community for consideration by GOPIO's 2014 Selection Committee. For more details and format for submission of nominations, please visit

Nominations are to be submitted using the prescribed form with supporting documents by April 4, 2014 to Chair, GOPIO 2014 Selection Committee at



Passengers flying into India will have to declare Indian currency exceeding Rs 10,000 being brought by them, according to new Custom Rules which has been implemented from March 1, 2014.

Besides, they will also be asked to declare number of baggage, including hand baggage, while entering into India, said the new rules notified by the Finance Ministry on February 10th.

Earlier rule appearing in the Govt. of Indian website showed that international passengers could not carry any Indian currencies to India and they also have to carry Indian rupees while leaving India. GOPIO Convention in New Delhi had passed a resolution which was submitted to Prime Minister's office to change that rule to allow NRIs/PIOs as well as international passengers to carry limited amount of Indian rupees.

According to new rules under Customs Baggage Declaration (Amendment) Regulations, 2014, an Indian citizen would need to fill up the immigration form only when he or she goes out of the country. There will be no immigration form for Indian citizens returning from abroad.

All passengers coming to India will be filling up a new 'Indian Customs Declaration Form' which will seek details that will be different from the detachable perforated strip which is a part of the immigration card at the moment.

The 'Indian Customs Declaration Form' carries additional fields for declaration of dutiable and prohibited goods, which will help authorities in checking customs duty frauds and keep a record of gold jewelry and bullion being brought into the country, customs officials said.

For the first time, travelers would be asked to specifically declare any prohibited articles, gold jewelry (over free allowance), gold bullion and Indian currency exceeding Rs 10,000 in the new form, they said.

A passenger will have to give details of countries visited in the past six days and mention the passport number on the new form, which was not there earlier.

Old fields like declaration of satellite phone, foreign currency exceeding $5,000 or equivalent, aggregate value of foreign exchange including currency exceeding $10,000 or equivalent, meat, meat products, dairy products, fish or poultry products and seeds, plants, fruits, flowers and other planting material have been retained in the new format.

The passengers will also have to give details of baggage, including hand baggage, being carried by them in a separate column on the form.

India has 19 international airports in Srinagar, Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Nagpur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai, Calicut, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Port Blair.


Following up on a large number of complaints from frustrated India travelers, the Indian Embassy in the US has announced on Feb. 5 that it is accepting bids to replace BLS International, its current outsourcing service that accepts and processes visa applications.


A new company is scheduled to service the U.S. by the end of May 2014, which is expected to establish centers in New York, Houston, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta; the number of centers may increase if the need arises.


GOPIO Passed Resolution to Remove BLS International


GOPIO and other Indian community organizations have been campaigning to remove BLS International for the last six months. At the GOPIO Delhi Convention, GOPIO passed a resolution to that effect as follows:


Unreasonable & Unrealistic Harassment of NRIs & PIOs by BLS International


Issue: The procedures established by the Government of India and the services provided by BLS International to support the Consular Services are so poor that it brings shame and suffering who wish to travel to India. 


Whereas GOPIO commends Government of India for organizing these PBDs in a fabulous manner by spending millions of dollars; and,


Whereas GOPIO commends the well-intentioned Government of India to serve the Indian Diaspora through these PBDs; and,


Whereas the members of the Indian Diaspora need to make travel arrangements to visit India and need consular services for their VISAs, OCI Cards, and/or Renewal of Indian Passports; and,


Whereas the Government of India has procured the services of BLS International to expedite the consular services provided by the Indian Mission abroad; and,


Whereas the services provided by the BLS International are so poor and the behavior of BLS personnel so terrible that the Indian Missions abroad, and, the Government of India are getting a worse public opinion and press; it is indeed shameful.


Therefore, be it resolved that GOPIO request Government of India replace BLS International with an efficient and competent service agency that can facilitate the workload of Indian Missions and serve the Indian Diaspora with respect, dignity, decency and efficiency.


The invitation from the Indian Embassy to vendors implicitly states: "The agencies would be expected to provide courteous and efficient service at all times. The Embassy / Consulates General reserve the right to monitor the quality of service provided and impose necessary corrective measures on the agencies in terms of their contractual obligations.


BLS International began its services in the U.S. in July 2013 and quickly gained a reputation for its lackadaisical approach to processing visa, Overseas Citizen of India and Person of Indian Origin applications. 





Of the 137 million objects owned by the Smithsonian, only a handful represents the history and experience of the roughly 3.3 million Americans with roots in the Indian subcontinent. So in 2008, the institution decided to stage the exhibition "Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation," which opened on Thursday, February 27th.


Indian Americans have been recognized as a model minority, celebrated for their achievements in different fields, and feted for their contribution to American society. They own some of the most-prized records in the United States, from the best-educated ethnic group to earners of the highest per capita income, nearly twice the national average. But their history in the United States going back two centuries has been a spottily-recorded mystery, although the first ones arrived on these shores in the 1790, just a over a decade after American independence.

Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC plugged this gap significantly, rolling out the first-ever exhibition chronicling the heritage of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans and the contribution they have made to the American melting pot.

With dozens of historical and contemporary images, including photographs, films, and artifacts, the exhibition documents tales of discrimination, resistance, and achievement, starting with the struggles for citizenship in the first half of the 20th century, professional contributions from the 1960s and beyond, organizing for labor rights, women's rights and labor rights and cultural contributions through food, music, dance and in the entertainment industry in recent years.

The vivid images and stories include Indian labor in the building of US railroads and in farms and lumber mills in the 19th century, to the well-known journey of Swami Vivekananda to America later in the century. There are lesser-known milestones such as the Indian debut in Hollywood through the child actor Sabu Dastagir in the 1930s, pre-dating the entry of a raft of Indian-Americans into the entertainment industry.

Early recorded Indian contributions to science and technology include the effort of Yellapragada Subba Rao and Nobel laureate Hargobind Khorana to the more recent achievements of technology pioneer Vinod Dham that is now part of the Indian-American folklore in Silicon Valley.

The Indian-American political rise is captured in a striking photograph of Congressman Dalip Singh Saund (the first Indian-American elected to the US House of Representatives) with President Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, although the community's political awareness is reflected from the very beginning with the arrival refugees on board the ship Komagatamaru and the subsequent founding of the Ghadar Party.

Indian labor building US railroads and Swami Vivekananda with friendsPhoto above left: Indian labor in the building of US railroads, right: Swami Vivekananda hanging out with friends and hosts in USA



The community's spiritual input into American consciousness is seen in another photo showing Swami Satchidananda addressing the Woodstock music festival in 1969, where Pandit Ravi Shankar also played.

Smithsonian's Masum Momaya, who has curated the exhibition, said at a media preview that the title and the theme "Beyond Bollywood" was chosen intentionally "to attract visitors and show we intended to go beyond stereotypes." As with any group, she said, we are a lot more than popular stereotypes suggest, "And my intention as a curator has been to focus on cultural, political, and professional contributions that the Indian-Americans have made to shaping US history."

The exhibition, which is also funded by more than $1 million in contributions from the Indian-American community besides Smithsonian's own input, has opened to the public and will run for at least a year, before it goes on the road as a travelling show for five more years.


Credit: Times of India 




GOPIO-CT organized a tax seminar titled "2014 US Tax Planning and Tax Saving Tips - International Tax Session - India US Tax Issues, on February 22nd at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Stamford. Topics included the following: US individual tax planning & saving tips for 2013; US tax planning for small business 2013; International tax changes - FBAR, FATCA and IGAs; Cross-border transactions; Indian tax law changes and Global tax optimization. The speaker was Cecil Nazareth who is a partner with Nazareth CAs & CPAs.


Nazareth emphasized on filing FABR and OVDI, especially for those who have deposits in the Indian banks. He also recommended to the audience to file a tax in India, even if one does not have much income there. A part of Nazareth's presentation on FBAR and OVDI is uploaded in the YouTube at


GOPIO-CT officials with seminar speaker Cecil Nazareth

Photo above: GOPIO-CT President Shelly Nichani presents a book on Global Indian Diaspora - GOPIO Making an Impact to Cecil Nazareth. From l. to r., Ashok Nichani, Shailesh Naik, Nichani, Nazareth, Santosh Gannu, Anju Simon and Dr. Thomas Abraham


Contact: Shelly Nichani, President, GOPIO-CT Chapter, E-mail:




For the Fourth consecutive year the team of GOPIO Sydney North West Chapter has delivered donations to school children in India.

During the Indian winter of January Harmohan Singh Walia of GOPIO Sydney North West personally delivered shoes to 177 children of Government middle school and warm clothes to 45 Anganwari (preschool) children, village Wara Poh Windia, Zira, Punjab. 

Meanwhile an active member of the team Sumit Joshi distributed warm clothes to 219 school children and a water cooler to Govt. school, village Chundiala, Distt. Ambala, Haryana.

GOPIO Sydney North West team held the Annual Caring & Sharing Charity event in 2013 to raise funds for under privileged school children in India. The event held, on the 2nd of November at Bowman Hall, was sold out.

The voluntary team members of GOPIO Sydney North West consisted of Ravi Singh, Prof. Balkar Singh Kang, Aman Singh, Neeru Singh, Sumit Joshi, Tia Singh, Baljit Pelia, Raj Singh, Paramjit Multani and Harmohan Singh Walia actively participated in the fund raising event.


GOPIO-Sydney Northwest helping school children in IndiaPhoto above, from, l. to r.: Harmohan Singh Walia with Baldev Singh (Ex-Sarpanch), Sakatar Singh (current Sarpanch), Gurpreet Kaur (Headmistress), Ravinder Kaur (In-charge Primary wing) and some prominent persons of the village with school children; Warm clothes are being distributes by Harmohan Singh Walia at Anganwari (Pre-school) Wara Poh Windia (Zira); Warm clothes and a water cooler distributed by Sumit Joshi at Govt. School, Chundiala (Distt. Ambala), Haryana




On February 4, 2014, GOPIO (Global Organization of People of Indian Origin), Houston Chapter at its General Council meeting held elections for positions in the GOPIO Executive Board for the next two-year term in accordance with GOPIO's By-Laws. The results of the elections are as follows:


President:  Ms. Mitra Panchal, Vice President:  Mr. S.K. Trehan, Secretary: Ms. Uma Mantravadi (to continue), Treasurer: Mr. Som Nair (to continue).


GOPIO Houston Team for 2014-'15Photo above: GOPIO-Houston Team, Seated: Exe. Board members L-R: Som Nair, S.K. Trehan, Mitra Panchal and Uma Mantravadi, Standing: Advisors L-R: Koshy Thomas, Sam Kannappan, Mehesh Shah and Chad Patel


Tax Seminar


Despite their hectic schedule and time constrains, six leading CPAs from Houston: Mike Jain, Kershaw Khumbatta, Atul Kothari, Mahesh Desai, Swapan Dhairyawan and Imtiaz Munshi were in attendance serving on a panel for a free tax seminar held on Saturday, February 22 at India House. This timely and informative seminar was organized jointly by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, (IACCGH) and GOPIO-Houston to help provide up-to-date information and guidelines on tax filling for 2014. These annual tax seminars have proven to be extremely successful each year and this year also the event was packed to capacity with over 170 attendees. Prominent CPA Ajit Thakur served as the moderator for the panel of experts.


Earlier, Jagdip Ahluwalia, IACCGH Executive Director and Surender Trehan from GOPIO-Houston welcomed the participants.


A wide range of presentations included: 'Changes to 2013 Tax Laws. Individual and Business,' by Kershaw Khumbatta, 'FBAR and declaration of foreign assets,' by Mahesh Desai, 'Changes for 2014 Individual taxes,' by Mike Jain, 'Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Program and Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act,' by Swapan Dhairyawan, 'Obamacare,' by Imtiaz Munshi, and 'Individual Tax planning techniques,' by Atul Kothari. All speakers gave a great insight on their topics and provided valuable practical tips to handling taxes. The Q & A session moderated by Ajit Thakur followed the seminar. The program ended with Vote of Thanks by Jagdip Ahluwalia and presentation of plaques to the panelists.


Tax seminar organized by GOPIO-Houston and IACCGHPhoto above right: A section of the audience at the seminar; right: Panelists, seminar moderator, volunteers and executives of IACCGH and GOPIO-Houston


For more information, contact GOPIO HOUSTON CHAPTER at or





MIT scientist Sangeeta Bhatia has developed a cheap, simple, paper test that can detect cancer, circumventing expensive approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy. 

The diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person has cancer, MIT said in a statement announcing the amazing breakthrough, adding that while this approach has helped detect infectious diseases, the new technology will allow non-communicable diseases to be detected using the same strategy. 

Dr. Bhatia, John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor at MIT and a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, explained that the paper test essentially relies on nanoparticles that interact with tumor proteins called proteases, each of which can trigger release of hundreds of biomarkers that are then easily detectable in a patient's urine. 

"When we invented this new class of synthetic biomarker, we used a highly specialized instrument to do the analysis," said Dr. Bhatia. "For the developing world, we thought it would be exciting to adapt it instead to a paper test that could be performed on unprocessed samples in a rural setting, without the need for any specialized equipment. The simple readout could even be transmitted to a remote caregiver by a picture on a mobile phone." 

Cancer rates in developing nations have climbed sharply in recent years, and now account for 70 percent of cancer mortality worldwide. Early detection has been proven to improve outcomes, but screening approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy, used in the developed world, are too costly to be implemented in settings with little medical infrastructure. 

The MIT nanoparticles are coated with peptides (short protein fragments) targeted by different matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These particles congregate at tumor sites, where MMPs cleave hundreds of peptides, which accumulate in the kidneys and are excreted in the urine. 

In the original version of the technology, these peptides were detected using an instrument called a mass spectrometer, which analyzes the molecular makeup of a sample. However, these instruments are not readily available in the developing world, so the researchers adapted the particles so they could be analyzed on paper, using an approach known as a lateral flow assay - the same technology used in pregnancy tests.     




Dr. T.V. Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada has written a new book, "The Warrior States: Pakistan in the Contemporary World," released by Oxford University Press on Feb. 3. In this new book, Dr. Paul tackles what may be the world's most dangerous powder keg and untangles a fascinating riddle-why can't Pakistan progress? 


Paul identifies the fundamental source of Pakistan's lack of progress in his book as "a geostrategic curse and the hyper realpolitik ideas that the country's elite hold in creating and maintaining a semi-feudal society," according to a press release. 


Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been the center of major geopolitical struggles-the U.S.-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars. No matter how ineffective the regime, massive foreign aid continues pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region. 


The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch far-reaching domestic reforms that would promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions.


In his book, Paul tackles the questions: Why has Pakistan emerged as a "failing state," a state that cannot provide minimum law and order, control various competing societal forces, and survive economically without external support?


He also asks: Why does it remain a heavily militarized warrior state with narrowly defined national security concerns while several military-ruled countries in Asia and Africa have become democratic?


In an effort to "encourage the Pakistani elite and informed public to think hard on the nation's strategic and economic choices that were made in the past 65 years and the consequences that they have generated internally and externally," Paul executes a thoroughly researched argument that clarifies the true cause of Pakistan's failure to process, added the publicist's notes.


Credit: India West




Getting a flat tire is never convenient. In a war zone, it can be deadly and very dangerous. While special operations vehicles have been loaded with extra armor to protect troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the tires remain vulnerable to attacks by improvised explosive devices (IED). The unique carbon fiber multiple hoop tire design by American Engineering Group may be the key to a new Zero Pressure Tire that could keep military vehicles running faster and longer after an attack.


Indian American Abraham Pannikottu owned American Engineering Group (AEG) has received a $1 million Phase II project grant from the US Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a tire that will continue running even after being shredded by roadside bombs or gunfire. Though military vehicle tires are now equipped with run-flat inserts, the DOD wants to upgrade to a zero pressure tire that's better at carrying heavier loads and can quickly move soldiers out of harm's way.


When engineers at American Engineering Group began working on tire designs, they settled on a flexible multiple carbon fiber hoop structure - which functions like air inside a tire. Along with carbon fiber multiple hoops for strength, the design allows shrapnel and high-caliber bullets to pass through the tire. During project phase I testing in 2011, the tire continued to run well - keeping the same functional road performance - even after receiving several rounds of gun shots.


Zero pressure tires have been around for a long time, with major drawbacks such as bumpy rides and overheating. The American Engineering Group (AEG) prototype dissipates heat and has the tire flexibility and strength to support the heavy military pick-up weight while providing a relatively smooth ride.


In a 5,000-square-foot lab in Akron, Ohio, AEG works on different combinations of polymeric elastomeric materials to make the multiple carbon fiber hoops that are bonded to the carcass of the tire. Finding the right combination of hoop dimensions and materials is the challenge. A softer material provides good durability and flexibility but wears out sooner. A harder material lasts longer but also generates more heat.


Eventually, zero pressure tires will be tested by the military at Proving Grounds to demonstrate results of mine blasts and handling during obstacle encounters. Since the tire is still under development, there's no price tag. AEG is expected to develop a tire that costs the same or less than current military tires.


"AEG's motivation and driving force for this project are that AEG gets the privilege to be of help to save lives of our soldiers," said Abraham Pannikottu, Operations Manager at AEG who is also a Life member of GOPIO.


AEG started its operation in Akron, Ohio in 2000. The companyhas patents pending for the Zero Pressure tire technology. This tire company will help with manufacturing of commercial tires. As for commercial applications of the zero pressure design for run-flat tires, AEG is focusing its current efforts on the pick-up truck. However this technology eventually could be used on all-terrain vehicles, as well as mining and construction vehicles.


Indian-born Abraham has a mechanical engineering degree from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (Surat, Gujrat). He later completed graduate studies in polymer science at the University of Akron. He has written several research articles on engineering applications of rubber. His group is also working on new innovative product such as US National Football League Helmet and Implantable Cost-effective Titanium Hip & Knee.


In 2006 Pentagon honored Pannikottu & his engineering group for designing an airless tire for the Stryker armored vehicle. This Pentagon award was for exceptional performance that exemplifies the goal of bringing innovative technologies to the soldier.




Prof. Suprakas Sinha Ray (42) recently bagged one of the most prestigious international awards for polymer processing. Ray, director of the CSIR/Department of Science and Technology (DST) National Centre for Nanostructured Materials (NCNSM) received the Morand Lambla Award (MLA) from the International Polymer Processing Society (IPPS) at its 29th conference in Nuremberg, Germany.


Prof. Ray joined South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 2006. At the time, there was little research activity in his field and he was tasked with putting together a group of researchers in the field of nanotechnology in 2007; the team has grown to about 50 staff members.


In remarking that centre had started from nothing in its 6-yr history. Prof. Ray's team is one of the most active research groups, thanks to unbelievable support from the CSIR and the DST. Nanotechnology in polymer science is used to improve the properties of plastics, to make them tougher, more   impermeable and less flammable.


"One of our big projects is to develop optimal nanostructure materials to reduce the weight of a car. Conventional composites (used for the dash board, etc.) consist of 30% to 40% fillers, for example, glass fiber, but if we use nanotechnology, the composite can be stronger with only 3% to 5% filler, reducing the total weight. Due to the rising fuel costs, every manufacturer works towards fuel efficiency and the way to do this, is by reducing weight'


For this Award, the 7 member jury looked at the researchers' work over several years, with impact over the last five years being most important. They also consider quality of publications & impact factor of journals where it was published. 


Another prestigious recognition Ray had enjoyed was that he was rated one of the world's top 50 high impact chemists in 2011 out of approximately a million chemists who were recorded in journal publications indexed by Thomson Reuters. After receiving his PhD at the University of Calcutta, India in 2001, he completed three years of postdoctoral research at the Toyota Technological Institute in Japan.


When the CSIR offered him a job, Ray and his wife, Jayita Bandyopadhyay (MSc in nuclear physics and a PhD in chemical engineering) had been living in Canada where he was a postdoctoral scientist at the chemical engineering department of the University of Laval in Québec City.




Indian-American attorney Vince Chhabria, who has represented San Francisco in defense of its health insurance law, adoption rights of same-sex couples and other major cases, has won Senate confirmation for a federal judgeship. Chhabria, 44, who presently serves as the deputy attorney of San Francisco City, will become California's first federal judge of South Asian descent.


The Senate vote on March 5 was 58-41, with four Republicans joining Democrats in approving President Barack Obama's nomination of Chhabria. A University of California Berkeley Law School graduate, he fills the last of three vacancies on the Bay Area's 14-member U.S. District Court.


"While I had high expectations when I started here nine years ago, I never dreamed I would be lucky enough to work on so many exciting cases, for so many dynamic clients, with so many dedicated and high-caliber public lawyers," said Chhabria.


He began his legal career by clerking for Judge Charles R. Breyer of the US district court for the Northern District of California from 1998 to 1999.


The South Asian Bar Association of North America and the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California have applauded Chhabria's historic confirmation to the U.S. district court.


The lone Indian-American member of the US House of Representatives, Ami Bera, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus chair, Judy Chu, and CAPAC chair emeritus, Mike Honda, also applauded Chhabria's confirmation.




Dr. Sanjay Madria, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is a recent recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's Golden Core Award. The Golden Core Award is a plaque awarded for long-standing member or staff service to the society.


Madria's research revolves around resource management, data management, security and handling attacks in wireless sensor networks, mobile ad hoc networks and cloud computing. In the Web and Wireless Computing Lab, the Indian American researcher has small miniature devices called motes that can self-organize themselves to create a wireless sensor network and can send data to a given base station. While Madria received his B.S. degree from Delhi University, he earned his master's degree as well as his doctorate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. 


Two Indian American professors have received a 2014 IEEE Technical Field Award in their respective fields.


The IEEE Andrew S. Grove Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to solid-state devices and technology, was presented to Dr. Sanjay Kumar Banerjee, a Cockrell Regents Chair professor of electrical and computer engineering and director, Microelectronics Center at the University of Texas, Austin, "for contributions to column-IV MOSFETs and related materials processing."


Dr. Balaji Prabhakar, a professor at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., received the IEEE Innovation in Societal Infrastructure Award "for his demonstration of the innovative use of information technology and distributed computing systems to solve long-standing societal problems, in areas ranging from transportation to healthcare and recycling."


The award recognizes significant technological achievements and contributions to the establishment, development, and proliferation of innovative societal infrastructure systems through the application of information technology with an emphasis on distributed computing systems.


Credit: India-West




Indian-origin Ashok Varadhan has been appointed co-head of the Goldman Sachs' securities division, the largest and most profitable of the global investment bank's four units.


Varadhan, 41, is currently the head of macro trading in Goldman's Securities Division and will join Isabelle Ealet and Pablo Salame as co-head of the Securities Division.


In an internal memo, Goldman's Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said Varadhan has been an "effective voice on a number of firmwide, regional and divisional committees", including the management committee, growth markets operating committee and firmwide risk committee.


"As a long-tenured leader in the Securities Division, Ashok has demonstrated dedication to our clients and a deep understanding of our business," Blankfein said.


As co-head of the securities division, which generates the most revenue and profit for Goldman, Varadhan would build on Goldman's client franchise across its fixed income, currency and commodities and equities businesses.


A Duke University graduate, Varadhan joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 in Swaps Trading and after heading the dollar derivative trading, he ran North American interest rate products and became global head of foreign exchange in 2007.


He was named managing director in 2000 and partner in 2002.


He is the son of eminent Indian-American academician Srinivasa Varadhan, a Chennai native who is Professor of Mathematics at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.


The senior Varadhan was awarded the Abel Prize, considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize and awarded for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics.


The securities unit is the largest of Goldman's four divisions and people who have co-headed the unit previously have gone on to assume top-ranking positions at the bank.


It includes the bank's fixed-income, currency and commodities operations as well as its equities unit.


Varadhan serves as Vice Chairman of the US Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors of DUMAC, which manages Duke University's endowment. 





Shunna 'Sonny' Pillay quoted famous South African playwright and actor Athol Fugard saying 'I went out to the world to see what I was made of'. This is exactly what Sonny lived up to when he recently returned to his country of birth from his homes in Connecticut and New York to perform besides internationally renowned South African musician Hugh Masekela for the musical Panzee.


He speaks of himself and his contemporary friends such as Miriam Makeba and the aforementioned Masekela. In the fifties, Pillay was the only PIO amongst three friends began playing gigs at hotels. Everything from black American music to what was happening in Paris had an impact on what their improvised jazz and this genre of music welcomed Pillay within open arms. At one occasion, they performed something that the predominantly 'white audience in SA was not accustomed to and the 'house came down'.


Pillay became an overnight success as the only Indian in African jazz - something of an oddity given that in his company at the time were luminaries such as Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Maseko and Ben Masinga. He was made famous by the black press. For quite a while thereafter he lived on the edge. The Union of SA Artists sent him to London in the 70's where a multimillion dollar deal fell through. Being gravely ill with TB, Pillay was at his lowest ebb. A while later, Pillay met Carole Manchester, a Yankee, and lived a blissful life for 33 years.


Pillay lost his dad when he was three years old, and as the only male, grew up in a home full of women. His talents was spotted by a Pompie Naidoo, owner  of Goodwill lounge where he was encouraged to follow his dream, which was in singing and music, which he did.


South Africa says 'welcome home' to one of her unsung PIO musical sons.





Indians are among the most enterprising of Britain's migrant communities, a new data analysis report here has found. 


As many as 456,073 migrants have launched a small or medium-sized business in Britain, according to the think tank Centre for Entrepreneurs and due diligence platform DueDil. 


The report titled'Migrant Entrepreneurs: Building Our Businesses, Creating Our Jobs', found that migrant entrepreneurs are behind one in seven of all UK companies and that Irish, Indian, German, American and Chinese make up the top performing nationalities. 

Ireland leads the charge with 48,854 founders running their own businesses across the UK, followed by India with 32,593 and Germany with 30,755. 

Around half a million people from 155 countries have launched businesses in the UK and these migrant-founded companies are responsible for creating 14 per cent of all jobs, it said. 

"The majority of the public appreciate the value of migrant entrepreneurs, yet our politicians and media send out negative signals that risk alienating this vital group of job creators," said Luke Johnson, Centre for Entrepreneurs chairman and serial entrepreneur. 

"Given the huge contribution of migrant entrepreneurs, we are calling upon the media and politicians to join us in celebrating those who come to our country and launch businesses," he added. 

The report coincides with a BBC revelation that the UK government held back a politically sensitive migrant impact report that suggested the impact of extra migrants on the country's workforce is weaker than what government has claimed. 

According to the "Migrant Entrepreneurs" report, the entrepreneurial activity among the migrant community was found to be nearly double that of UK-born individuals, with 17.2 per cent having launched their own businesses, compared to 10.4 per cent of those born in Britain. 

They are also, on an average, eight years younger than indigenous entrepreneurs at 44 years-old compared to 52. 

This is despite the extra challenges they face, including access to finance and cultural and language barriers. 

A YouGov survey undertaken for the report found that a significant proportion of the general public believe migrant entrepreneurs make a positive contribution to the UK (44 per cent) and a majority support the government's efforts to attract new migrant entrepreneurs (50 per cent). 

This is despite the fact the public view immigration in a generally negative light and support a reduction in net immigration (68 per cent).


Credit: IANS




A group of 105 US lawmakers has urged the Pentagon to lift the presumptive ban on the Sikhs serving in the military by easing restrictions on beard, turbans, and other religious accoutrements. 

"Given the achievements of these soldiers and their demonstrated ability to comply with operational requirements while practicing their faith, we believe it is time for our military to make inclusion of practicing Sikh Americans the rule, not the exception," the lawmakers said in a letter to US defense secretary Chuck Hagel. 

Led by Congressmen Joe Crowley, vice-chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, the 105 members of the US House of Representatives requested that the US armed forces update their appearance regulations to once again allow Sikh Americans to serve while abiding by their articles of faith, such as wearing a turban or beard. 

They said the Sikhs have served in the US army since World War I, and are permitted to serve in the armed forces of Canada and the UK, as well as key partner India. 

The three Sikh Americans who have been granted individualized accommodations to serve in the US army wear turbans and maintain beards in a neat and conservative manner, both in accordance with operational requirements and their Sikh religious beliefs. 

They are also able to wear protective equipment, including helmets and gas masks, in conformity with safety requirements. 

Sikh Coalition applauded lawmaker's move calling for an end to the presumptive ban on devout Sikh service in the US military. 

"Today's letter from Congress is a big step forward in our campaign to ensure equal opportunity for Sikh Americans in the US military," said Rajdeep Singh, director of Law and Policy for the Sikh Coalition. 

"Sikhs have proven time and again around the world that they are excellent soldiers. It's time for the Pentagon to realize that Sikh Americans are here to stay and that policies of exclusion are inevitably going to fail," Singh 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.


GOPIO Individual Life membership is open to all who believe in the mission of GOPIO. The one- time fee is $5,000 for Platinum Life Membership, $2,500 for Gold Life Membership and $1,500 Silver Life Membership and half the amount for each category for those from developing countries and India.


GOPIO is looking forward to opening chapters in all major cities of the world so as to network people of Indian origin all over the world. If you do not have chapter in your city, please visit GOPIO website ( and get details of chapter initiation (visit Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more. For more information, contact:


GOPIO Chairman - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: +1-818-708-3885, E-mail:


GOPIO President - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York, USA, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail:


GOPIO Executive Vice President - Sunny Kulathakal, Bahrain, Tel: +973 39441956 or +91 9845756692, E-mail:


GOPIO Senior Vice President - Dr Piyush Agrawal, Weston, Florida, USA, Tel: +1-954-684-6494,


To become a Life member of GOPIO, one can sign up online at or fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO International, PO Box 560117, New York NY 11356, USA.



Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Founder President and Chairman Emeritus of GOPIO Intl. and Executive Trustee, GOPIO Foundation (Stamford, CT, USA)

Editor: Nami Kaur, Secretary, GOPIO International (New York, USA)

Co-Editors: Bina Mahabir (Co-Chair GOPIO Media Council, Guyana-New York, USA), Nilofar Pardawala (Portland, Oregon, USA) and Kishor Kapitan (GOPIO Durban, South Africa)

Webmasters: Prashant Gupta (Hyderabad, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)   

Contributors of this issue: Ashook Ramsaran (President, GOPIO International), Harmohan Singh Walia (GOPIO's Committee on Bylaws, Policies and Procedures, Sydney, Australia),  Shailesh Naik (Immediate past President, GOPIO-CT, USA)
GOPIO NEWS welcomes NRI/PIO related stories from all over the world. Be a volunteer correspondent or reporter. 


Contact Dr. Thomas Abraham, Tel: 203-329-8010, E-mail:


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