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April 15, 2013

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

Issue: XII-3 April 15, 2013
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Crown Prince and the First Deputy Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has offered support to GOPIO (Global Organization of People of  Indian Origin) in conducting its Biennial Convention in Bahrain by the end of this year.


He made the offer when GOPO Executive Vice President Mr. Sunny Kulathakal met him during his recent visit to Cochin. Prince Salman promised necessary support and cooperation of the Kingdom to make the event a grand success. Although the GOPIO Executive Committee has not made a decision on the venue of the next convention, if it is held in Bahrain or Dubai, it will be the first time that  a GOPIO convention is being held in any of the Gulf Countries during its existence  for the past 25 years.


Prince Salman lauded the work of Sunny and Elizabeth Kulathakal in producing the Gulf Who's Who Directory for the past 35 years. Especially he appreciated the interviews of nearly 200 top dignitaries from different areas of activities regarding the VISION 2030 of Bahrain in 2012 edition of the Directory. He urged Kulathakal, the Managing Director of Sunliz Publications, to update the Directory  with views from more people so that the whole world will know that Bahrain is doing its best to help its citizens  with a  VISION  up to 2030.


External Affairs Minister H.E. Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa told the Kerala Chief Minister  Oommen Chandy that Kulathakal's 'lovely and informative book' serves the  Kingdom of Bahrain very well for the past  several years.


Prince Salman took special interest in seeing a photograph of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy  during 1961 handing over the Presidentship of All Kerala Balajana Sakhyam, the largest Childrens' Organisation in Asia to Kulathakal.


Baharain Crown Prince inKochi with Kulathakal and Kerala CM ChandyPhoto above: Sunny and Elizabeth Kulathakal showing GOPIO book to Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. Seated next to him is Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Bahrain External Affairs  Minister  Sheikh Khalifa (right).





The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)-Connecticut Chapter honors outstanding achievers of the Indian American community and those provide service to the community and/or India or the society at large. This year's awards Banquet will be held at the Italian Center in Stamford on Saturday, April 20th at 6 p.m. The chief guest is the Active Consul General of India Dr. Devyani Khobragade. Others attending the program include New Jersey Assembly Deputy Speaker Upendra Chivukula, Connecticut Assemblyman Dr. Prasad Srinivasan and former CT Lt. Governor Michael Fidele.


Dignitaries at GOPIO-CT Awards Banquet 2013, Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Upendra Chivukula, Prasad Srinivasan and Michael Fidele  

   From l. to. Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Upendra Chivukula, Prasad Srinivasan and Michael Fidele


This year, GOPIO-CT has selected AmeriCares, the nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world for Service to India Award.


In 2006, AmeriCares deepened its commitment to India by establishing a local presence in Mumbai.AmeriCares India responds to emergency medical needs and delivers medical aid to health care providers in 26 Indian states and union territories. The organization conducts on-site disaster preparedness workshops for emergency medical personnel and community-based health education programs for disease prevention. AmeriCares India continues to expand its reach with free mobile medical clinics that provide access to health care in the Mumbai slums.


Three Indian Americans are other award recipients. Dr. Ramamurti Shankar, John Randolph Huffman Professor of Physics and Professor of Applied Physics Yale University, New Haven will be recognized for his contribution toBasic Sciences. Prof. Shankar has done some outstanding work in Quantum Physics and has written several books in Physics and Maths. Dr. Shankar joined Yale University in 1977 and has been a visiting professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, Princeton, Berkeley and MIT. Prof. Shankar works on the application of Quantum Field Theory to particle, statistical and condensed matter physics in which he has over 100 publications.


Mr. Rakesh Narang, President and Founder of Wire & Plastic Machinery Corporation, New Haven, CT will be recognized in the category of Entrepreneurship and Business Acumen. Under Mr. Narang's leadership, Wire & Plastic Machinery Corp. has grown to become the world's largest supplier of second-hand wire and cable manufacturing equipment. Narang is a recipient of the Charles D. Scott Distinguished Career Award, which is awarded to individuals in the wire and cable field who have served the industry for a minimum of twenty-five years and have demonstrated outstanding professional acumen and personal attributes. Narang is an active supporter of various Indian and othercommunity organizations in the New York Tri-State area including Hindu Cultural Center of Connecticut, Hindu Samaj Temple of Mahwah, New Jersey and Children's Hope India, The towns of Bonham, Texas and Attleboro, Massachusetts have recognized Mr. Narang for his extraordinary contributions to the local economy and the creation of hundreds of manufacturing jobs. Mr. Narang received an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor's Degree from the Delhi College of Engineering.


For Community Service, GOPIO-CT has selected Mr. Suresh Sharma, Founder of Milan Cultural Association, Hartford, CT. Sharma founded Milan tocreate visibility of Indian American community for mainstream America, with a passion for the first generation to leave behind for the younger generation a legacy not of diversified regionalism but of cultural heritage and unity in diversity, so that the younger generation feel proud to be Indians. Suresh also developed "P.G. BETTER LIVING," a free monthly e-magazine dedicated to synthesizing  Eastern ethos, values and beliefs with the western lifestyle  of adults, young and children as they seek to meet their personal, political, social, cultural, spiritual, health, financial and physical needs particularly their "pain points", to inculcate attitude of conscious, virtuous, peaceful and contended living


GOPIO -CT Awardees, Prof. Ramamurti Shankar, Rakesh Narang and Suresh Sharma  

From l to r. Prof. Ramamurti Shankar, Rakesh Narang and Suresh Sharma


The awardees will be honored at GOPIO-CT's Seventh Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 20th at the Italian Center, Stamford. The program includes dignitaries, entertainment and a DJ. For reservation or to buy tickets, call Anita Bhat 203-524-2935 or send an e-mail to



Guyana's Indian Commemoration Trust (ICT), in collaboration with GOPIO Guyana, the Indian High Commission and Guyana's Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport, in organizing a series of historic events commemorating the 175th Anniversary of the first arrival of Indian laborers in Guyana which took place on May 5, 1888. People of Indian origin in Guyana numbering over 400,000 have continuously observed Indian Arrival Day as a significant date in their history that connected them to Mother India, same as those in other countries where Indian laborers were taken and later domiciled. The commemoration of 150th Anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Guyana was a major event held on May 5, 1963 with the late Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, then Vice President of India, heading a large contingent from India comprising officials, artists, academicians and others. The 175th Anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Guyana is being planned to be an equally significant commemoration.


The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has expressed favorable response to requests from GOPIO and the Indian High Commissioner in Guyana for support of these events, constructing (2) Kolkata Memorial replica and leading a large sized delegation from India to participate in these historic events.


Program Guide Sat, May 4, 2013 (Georgetown):

  • Lunch at Monument Gardens
  • Seminar at Monument Gardens:
    • o    History of Indians in Guyana
    • o    Contributions of Indians  to Guyana's progress
    • o    Perspectives from other ethnic groups
  • Unveiling of Memorial (Kolkata Memorial replica)
  • Cultural Presentation
  • Reception & Dinner at Pegasus Hotel

Program Guide Sun, May 5, 2013 at Highury:

  • History of Indians Arrival
  • Unveiling of Memorial (Kolkata Memorial replica)
  • Cultural Presentation
  • Lunch

Program Guide Sun, May 5, 2013 (Georgetown):

  • Cultural Presentation - Dances (Monument Garden)
  • Reception & Dinner

Contact: Sasenarine Sankar, President of GOPIO Guyana at; Dr. Yesu Persaud at; Pradeep Samtani at





The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), The Indian American Kerala Center and World Malayalee Council joined hands together to organize a reception and a talk by GOPIO Media Council Chairman Issac John Pataniparambil on Sunday, April 7th at the Kerala Center in Elmont, New York. The topic was Indians in the Middle East - Issues and Prospects.


John is the Associate Editor of Khaleej Times, the oldest, and one of the most popular newspapers in the Middle East. He is also involved in the Indian community as the Chairman of World Malayalee Council and serves as Chairman, Gulf Arts, Literary and Leadership Academy (GALA), a non-profit organization committed to promoting and recognizing Indo-Arab arts, literature, culture, and leadership. In 1998, Issac co-founded Kala Bhavan Global along with the legendary priest Fr. Abel to promote traditional arts forms of India among children of the Indian community in the Gulf and serves as its President.


John said that many countries in the Middle East are implementing the ruel of 10% to 30% of employment to their nationals and that has begun an exodus of workers from India and other countries. Saudi Arabia had started implementing the rule deporting those are staying illegally since the last two years. However, the country has temporarily stopped.

 Issac John Ptaniparambil with officials of GOPIO, the Kerala center and World Malayalee Council Photo: Issac John in the center with program organizers from GOPIO, the Kerala Center and World Malayalee Council.


John was also very optimistic about the Indian economy and contributions of NRIS and PIOs to the Indian economy. Currently, 30% GDP of Kerala is contributed by non-resident Keralites.


"There is always uncertainty of about the future for the working class in the Middle East," said John. However, he added that no economy in any of the Middle Eastern countries can mange without Indians and other nationalities.


John invited GOPIO to host the next GOPIO Convention in Bahrain or Dubai.




GOPIO Life Member and long time supporter of GOPIO and its activities, Mridul Pathak, was recently appointed Director, Diaspora Development. Mr. Pathak will report to the president of GOPIO International and will assist with establishing a pro bono legal team in the USA and gradually into other countries. He will also assist with interfacing with other groups and associations to further advance GOPIO's objectives in the global Indian Diaspora.


GOPIO official Mridul Pathak In announcing the appointment, GOPIO International president Ashook Ramsaran stated that Mr. Pathak will be assisting with new initiatives for GOPIO's growth and expansion while advancing promotion and awareness of GOPIO's activities. Mr Pathak, with his vast range of contacts, will also assist with fund raising for GOPIO and make recommendations for other areas of development and improvement.


In January 2011 Mr Pathak coordinated, obtained all funding and managed the exclusive reception and dinner for Trinidad & Tobago's Prime Minister Hon Kamla Persad Bissessar in Kolkata during the visit to the Kolkata Memorial.




GOPIO Sydney organized a "Caring Cruise for Senior Citizens" on Sunday April 7th, as part of its ongoing activities for the promotion of the welfare of the Indian community in Australia. This has been an ongoing activity for several years now and is held in recognition of the sterling contributions made by senior citizens towards their families and to society at large.


The cruise ship "Rosemary" took the 170 people around the Woolwich Warf area. The Opera House and Circular Quay were on board to provide great entertainment amidst the breath-taking backdrop of the magnificent Darling Harbor. The cruise lasted for five hours amidst a sunny day. 

President of GOPIO Sydney, Ms Lucky Singh, welcomed all aboard the ship.  Along with DJ Upkar, Anand Arora belted a few Bollywood oldies which everyone enjoyed. Scintillating dances were provided by Usha Bariya and Satpal Dhingra. There was also musical games and Trivia hosted by Raj Bhandari.   


Special thanks to the sponsors of the event, including, Minto Cellars, Woodville Road Cellars, Milan Bazaar, Patel Brothers and Laju Bhojwani. The three course meal was provided compliments of Maya-da-dhaba. There was lots of food and drinks. 


Thanks to Anuj Kulshreshthha, Hemu Negi and Kabir Singh for capturing the event on tape.


Bhupinder Chhibber, Secretary of GOPIO Sydney gave a vote of thanks at the end. Everyone had a great time.


The entire GOPIO Sydney team must be complimented for organizing such a fabulous cruise. They were able to raise $1,390 which went towards 18 months old Twisha Makwana's surgery in the USA.

Scenes for Caring Cruise for Senior Citizens by GOPIO-Sydney  

Photo above - Scenes from Caring Cruise for Senior Citizens by GOPIO-Sydney




In collaboration with several Indian-American organizations, groups and media, GOPIO is planning a community welcome reception and dinner for the incoming Indian Consul General in New York, Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay, to be held on Friday, April 26, 2013. It is being planned as a combined community event by GOPIO chapters and many of the Indian-American organizations in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Tri-state area Amb. Mulay has just completed his term as Indian High Commissioner in Maldives.


Interested organizations, groups and media are requested to assign one representative to be part of the planning team to GOPIO Secretary, J. Nami Kaur, at





US President Barack Obama nominated Renee Ramaswamy, a Bharatanatayam exponent, to the prestigious National Council of the Arts for a five year term. Ramaswamy founded the Ragamala Music and Dance Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1992 and has been popularising this classical Indian dance form in America. Ranee is to be a Member of the National Council on the Arts for a term expiring September 3, 2018.


Since 1984, Renee has been a disciple of Alarmel Valli, one of India's greatest living masters. Renee has worked with celebrated artists such as poet Robert Bly, jazz musician Howard Levy and legendary composer/ violinist L Subramaniam.


Among her many grants and fellowships are 13 McKnight Artist Fellowships, a Bush Fellowship, and an Artist Exploration Fund grant from Arts International. Her work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project, and the Japan Foundation. In 2011, she was chosen as the McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist. Ranee and co-Artistic Director Aparna Ramaswamy were named the 2011 'Artist of the Year' by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.




Three NRIs and a Nottingham-based organisation have been honoured by the Indian High Commission for their outstanding work in promoting Hindi in the UK. The awardees are Mahendra Kishore Verma of York University, Dr Krishna Kumar, Chairman of Gitanjali Multilingual Literary Circle, Birmingham, Kavita Vachaknavi, internationally renowned blogger and Kavya Rang, a global association of poets, writers, Nottingham, UK. High Commissioner Jaimini Bhagwati presented them with shields, shawls and citations on World Hindi Day 2013.


Mahendra Kishore Verma, who received the John Gilchrist UK Hindi Shikshan Samman, said he was happy to receive the recognition.


Dr Krishna Kumar, a graduate from IIT, Madras, made an impassioned plea for promoting Sanskrit, Hindi and regional languages in India after he received the Dr Harivansh Rai Bachhan UK Hindi Literary award.


Kavita Vachaknavi who received the Acharya Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi Award for journalism suggested that the High Commission should have a website in Hindi.


Jai Verma, Chair of the Kavya Rang, Nottingham, who received the Frederick Pincott UK award for dedication to Hindi Propagation said Hindi should not only be the "rashtrabhasha" in India but a recognised language at the United Nations.


Usha Verma and Krishna Kanhaiya received cash grants from the High Commissioner for their books "Sim Card tatha anya kahaniyan' and 'Kitaab Jindagi Ki' respectively.


Deputy High Commissioner Dr Virendra Paul and Minister (Coordination) in the High Commission S S Sidhu were present at the award ceremony held at the India House.




Leading NRI businessmen Srichand Hinduja and Gopi Hinduja, Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Hinduja Group, have emerged as the richest Asians in Britain in 2013. The London-based Hinduja brothers have come out top this year with net wealth assessed at 12.5 billion pounds - up 3 billion pounds on the 2012 figure.


According to the list, "While other organisations have been cutting costs at a time of recession, the Hindujas splashed out USD 1.1 billion (725 million pounds) on buying Houghton, the US lubricant and specialised chemicals group that has been a market leader in its field.


The report said, "The Hindujas have always made a big effort with their philanthropic work and in building up a close relationship between Britain and India, not only in business but also in the cultural and educational fields."


Anil Agarwal, Chairman of Vedanta, is listed number 3 in the list with a fortune worth 3 billion, down 200 million pounds from last year.


Leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul is listed as 95th in the 'Asian Rich List' brought out by the Eastern Eye Newspaper, a publication of the Garavi Gujarat Group headed by Ramniklal Solanki. Lord Paul has wealth worth 845 million, up 170 million pounds from last year.


Naresh Goyal, Chief of Jet Airlines, is 12th in the list with a fortune worth 440 million, up 165 million pounds over last year.


Rami Ranger, winner of four consecutive Queen's Awards for enterprise in international trade between 2009 and 2012, is 42nd in the list with a fortune worth 125 million, up 32 million pounds over last year.




Bharat Masrani, who is in charge of Canada's top financial institution TD Trust's US personal and commercial banking operations, will take over as the CEO as of November 1, 2013. Masran is the first person of Indian-origin person to become CEO of Canada's top financial institution. Currently Sarabjit Marwah is the highest-ranking Indian in corporate Canada as the number two in Scotiabank in Toronto. The 56-year-old Masrani was born in Uganda to Indian parents has been with TD Trust since 1987, started his career as a Commercial Lending Trainee where he rose to Account Manager, Commercial Accounts in 1988. He progressed through a number of positions and responsibilities before assuming the role of Vice President and Head, Corporate Banking Canada.


In 1996, Masrani was appointed TD's Vice President and Country Head for India and then to Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance and Co-Head in Europe in 1997. In 1999 he also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of TD Waterhouse Investor Services in Europe. Prior to his current position, Masrani was Vice Chair and Chief Risk Officer, Corporate Office, TD Bank Financial Group. Masrani earned his Bachelor of Administration with Honours in 1978 and then his MBA in 1979 from York University's Schulich School of Business. He currently lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife Shabnam and two children.


The TD's Board selected Masrani for the top job because of his excellent execution of his boss Ed Clark's strategies in the US where acquisitions of many banks, including those of Commerce Bancorp for more than $8-billion and some Florida banks, made TD Trust as one of the top ten banks in the US. In fact, the bank has more branches in the US (over 1,300) than in Canada (1,100). Outgoing CEO Ed Clark said, "Bharat brings a continuity of strategy, culture and values. I am extremely confident in the future of TD." TD Trust chairman Brian Levitt said, "As we look to the future, the Board is confident that Bharat's leadership, breadth of experience and global business insight will serve him well".




Raj K Aggarwal, an Anglo-Indian pharmacist and businessman, has been commissioned as the first Indian diplomat in Wales at a special ceremony. India's High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Jaimini Bhagwati presented the Commission of Appointment as Honorary Consul of India in Wales at a function held at the India House last evening.


Aggarwal was officially commissioned in the presence of the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, Wales Police Commissioner Alun Michael and distinguished guests including Lord Bikhu Parikh and Labour MP Virendra Sharma.


Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said, "today is a historic day in terms of relationship between Wales and India. We share so much...including Wales languages which has its origin in Sanskrit. India is an exceptionally important trading partner and Tatas provide 1000s employment in Wales."


Speaking on the occasion, he pledged to uphold, defend and promote the interests of both countries, "India and Wales are my pride and joy. The citizens of India and Wales have strong ties and share the same affection for good food, drink and music....Talents like (poet) Dylan Thomas/Tom Jones...Ravi Shankar, Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshker."


Aggarwal said, over 2,500 Indian students study in 12 Welsh Universities creating strong mutual relationships, and added that Universities like the Russel group Cardiff University are world class. Bhagwati, High Commissioner of India, complimented Raj Aggarwal for his efforts to build up Wales-India ties.




Indian-American Srikanth Sri Srinivasan has moved closer to become the first South Asian circuit court judge in the history of the United States. A year after he was nominated by US President Barack Obama on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced its decision to hold his confirmation hearing.


Srinivasan, 46, born in India and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, is currently serving as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the US. Srinivasan is a highly respected appellate advocate who has spent a distinguished career litigating before the US Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals, both in private practice and on behalf of the United States for both Democratic and Republican administrations.


Signatories of the letter, including Paul Clement, Ted Olson, Ken Starr, and Walter Dellinger, wrote, "Sri has a first-rate intellect, an open-minded approach to the law, a strong work ethic, and an unimpeachable character. Sri is one of the best appellate lawyers in the country." The Washington DC Circuit is often considered the nation's second-highest court, but it has twice as many vacancies as any other court of appeals, and its workload has increased by over 20 per cent since 2005, he said.




Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrician at John Hopkins Hospital, received the Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award, for her dedicated, ground-breaking research in finding a cure for pediatric AIDS. Among the country's most promising HIV/AIDS researchers, she was the only recipient of the award for this year from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Dr. Persaud said that she will use the $700,000 over a five-year period to better understand drug-resistant HIV in children both in the USA and abroad.


Dr. Persaud joined John Hopkins in 1997 on the heels of a discovery that demonstrated that "HIV infection cannot be entirely eradicated by highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, because the infection persists in a silent, or latent, reservoir in resting memory cells." Still, this latent reservoir is a permanent "archive" for viruses that are drug resistant. Her goal is to ensure that HIV/AIDS studies in children stay abreast with those in adults. Dr. Persaud who was a medical student at NYU since 1985 did her residency at Columbia Presbyterian. She will use the Glaser grant to study therapies in the United States and Ethiopia.


At the award's ceremony, Dr. Persaud was praised as "one of the best and brightest AIDS researchers in the field today." The soft-spoken doctor had to overcome many difficult challenges before she arrived at this pinnacle of success. She migrated from Guyana at age 16, however, her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. Shortly after that, her mother came to the USA to find work and six years later, Dr. Persaud and her three siblings joined her in her Brooklyn apartment.


After she completed high school and college, only one medical school accepted her - NYU where she worked hard and stayed focus and worked towards her goals. When the prestigious Glaser award was formally announced on Feb. 23 at a research conference in Boston, it dawned on her that the culmination of hard work has led to this great achievement. While looking around at the roomful of notable scientists, she felt as though she really belonged. "That is when I realized that I actually had impacted pediatric HIV in this country."


Dr. Persaud is married and has three young children.




Indian-origin girls in the UK are reported to be becoming top physicists. They seem to leave behind legends like Stephen Hawking, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and scientist Albert Einstein, who were thought to have an IQ of 160. After 12-year-old Indian-origin girl Neha Ramu recently scored an incredible 162 on a Mensa IQ test, another girl has achieved a similar feat. Pooja Ranade, 12, a student of the Royal Latin School, Buckinghamshire, UK, has also scored 162 in the Cattell III B scale in the British Mensa. This is the highest possible score for her age. Pooja, the daughter of Jitendra and Arti Ranade who originally hail from India, also has a keen interest in cooking and sports. The score puts Pooja in the top one percent of brightest people in the UK.





While Holi's origins are in India, the festival has become a tradition celebrated by many in the United States."The festival of Holi, known as the festival of colours, is a time for communities to come together after the long winter months and celebrate the coming of spring," Congressman Joe Crowley said in a statement greeting people on the occasion.


Over the weekend, one of the largest celebrations was held in Houston, Texas that attracted several thousand people including non-Hindu Americans. Running into its fifth annual Holi festival, this year's theme was "Green Holi", which stressed on the use of new herbal and non-toxic colours.


The Bihar and Jharkhand Association of North America scheduled the celebrations in New Jersey. The Barsana Dham in Austin Texas celebrated Holi in the traditional 'Braj way'.





India's Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has said that he is convening a meeting of Ministers of States in India that will be hit by a possible exodus of Indian overseas workers when Saudi Arabia implements the new labor policy of 'Nitaqat'. The Indian government is asking the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to facilitate alternative job opportunities and make arrangements for those wanting to come back. Ravi said he will discuss with states the issue of the government taking care of airfares of deserving Indians returning home. The Saudi law will hit thousands of the 1.5 million Indian workers. Among the states that are worst affected include Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Indian Embassy had been asked to facilitate Indian workers with documentation and other issues if they wanted to shift base or look at job opportunities in neighboring countries.


Ravi said he will meet ministers of nine states, including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab and Rajasthan from where large number of workers went to Saudi Arabia for employment. Ravi admitted the issue was serious. Ravi will visit Saudi Arabia for talks with the government there but the date had not been fixed.




The German government's recent efforts to attract highly qualified workers from non-European Union countries have come as a big boost for Indian professionals who now find many other countries reluctant to lay out the red carpet for them. Germany's blue card scheme offers highly educated and skilled non-EU candidates the opportunity to live and work in Germany and the rest of EU.


Besides IT, there is a huge demand for skills in Germany in engineering and health sectors. According to German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, the largest number of blue cards, 983, were issued to workers from India.


Germany is also taking active steps to better link with origin countries (such as India) and to provide a better welcome for immigrants," says Thomas Liebig, head of OECD labour market reports. But it's not just highly qualified Indians being attracted to Germany. Late last month, the German government also introduced steps to make it easier for skilled workers from non-EU countries to get their qualifications recognised in the country as the first step towards working there.


This is to address the huge skills shortages in areas such as engineering, train driving and plumbing. The new rules which were passed by the chancellor, Angela Merkel's cabinet are likely to come into effect from July 2013.




Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi gave the figure quoting a World Bank report. India had received over $ 66.13 billion in remittances in the year 2011-12 while in 2010-11, the amount was $ 55.62 billion. The remittances to the country through private transfer of funds have been on the rise in the last few years. India received $53.63 billion in 2009-10 while in 2008-09, the amount was $ 46.9 billion.




Indian embassies in the Gulf region have advised NRIs staying in the region not to carry large amounts of Indian currency while travelling to India. NRIs found carrying large amounts of cash in the form of Indian currency while visiting India have faced problem at airport. In some cases the currency being carried by NRIs has even been found to be counterfeit.


There is misconception that NRIs are allowed to carry Indian currency back to India. According to the statement, only Indian residents are allowed to carry up to Rs 7,500 in Indian currency per person when travelling abroad or returning to India. In all other cases of foreigners, and those Indian nationals who are not residents of India/ Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), it is prohibited under Indian law to either take any amount of Indian currency from India or to bring it into India.




Launch of the electronic postal order would go a long way for Indian-Americans seeking information from the Indian Government and other state governments under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.


A number of Indians living in the US said that RTI has now become accessible to the Indian citizens living abroad after the Postal Department last week launched Indian postal order in electronic format (eIPO).


"With eIPO, I now have the ability to discern conflicting information about governance in India in the news by going directly to the source - the government," Vishal Kudchadkar, a volunteer with the non-profit Association for India's Development (AID) at Los Angeles, told PTI.


"It has been seven long years since we started this campaign for our right to information. It has been a difficult journey and during this time we have had to depend on friends in India to file RTIs on our behalf," said Arun Gopalan, a volunteer with Association for India's Development, Greater Washington Metro area chapter.


"Their non-availability meant a missed opportunity. That will no longer be the case with this new eIPO. It would be ideal if the list of email id of PIOs is also available on this portal and the information exchange is completely digitized, but we will take this for now," Gopalan said.


While the convenience factor is obvious, the more far reaching impact would be the sense of empowerment NRIs are going to feel in nation building.




Noted Indian-American actor-turned-political activist Kal Pen has endorsed ex-White House tech czar Aneesh Chopra's bid for Virginia Lt Governor.


"I know he represents a new and sorely needed approach to government. He will work tirelessly for a state government that works better and fairer for all, and respects and empowers Virginians no matter who they are. I've seen him do this on behalf of the President, and I'm excited to give him a hand as he does this in Virginia," Kal Penn said in an e-mail urging people of Virginia to support Chopra in his maiden electoral venture.


Kal Penn, has a national appeal among the youths in the country and in the November presidential elections, President Barack Obama had tapped him to galvanize young American voters.


Both Kal Penn and Aneesh Chopra worked together in the White House in the first term of the Obama Administration. "I'm excited that Aneesh is tapping into the energy that propelled President Obama and Tim Kaine to victory last November," Kal Penn wrote, adding that he is proud to support Chopra.


If elected, he would be the first Indian-American to hold the top post in Virginia. "I decided to run for Lieutenant Governor because I firmly believe that our state government can be smarter, faster, better, and fairer for all Virginians. This is a message that is resonating across the Commonwealth, and I look forward to engaging with more Virginians on it in the coming months," he said.


Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Chopra has spent his life focusing on education and innovation. He attended Johns Hopkins University and then the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Given his talent, he was tapped by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as his Secretary of Technology. In 2009, Obama appointed him as the nation's first Chief Technology Officer, a post he served with distinction for two years.