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June 12, 2012

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

Issue: XI-9 June 12, 2012
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GOPIO Health Council has proactively taken its mission on the road to improve the health and well-being of People of Indian Origin! Successful Diabetes Awareness seminars in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley and White Plains, New York have paved the way for additional Diabetes and Heart Disease Awareness workshops to be held in the future. These will be co-sponsored by GOPIO Health Council, local GOPIO Chapters, and other relevant Indian organizations.


The latest seminar titled "A Health Awareness Program" held in Long Island, New York on June 10, 2012 was a resounding success attended by 90+ PIOs and community leaders. This session was co-sponsored by GOPIO Long Island Chapter in collaboration with the India Association of Long Island and AAPI (American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin). Moderated by GOPIO Health Council Chair Sangeeta Ahuja, the panel of health expert speakers included Dr Sunil Mehra, MD - Director of ICU and Pulmonary Medicine; Dr Prem Goel, MD - Cardiologist and Internal Medicine; and Rita Batheja, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Indian American Dietetic Association.


The drivers for this initiative are the startling statistics that indicate that People of Indian Origin (PIO) are at a higher risk to develop Diabetes and Heart Disease than their fellow Americans. Amongst the 3 million Asian Indians in the USA, 1 in 5 has Diabetes, and 1 in 3 has Pre-Diabetes! The US-PIOs have a significantly higher risk of heart diseases, particularly heart attack rates that are estimated to be 1.5 - 4 times greater than the white American population. Important health problems faced by this US-PIO community are: Cardiovascular Diseases - particularly Heart Attacks, Diabetes, Hypertension and Metabolic Syndrome.


According to Sangeeta Ahuja, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Chair GOPIO-Health Council, "Diabetes is a Metabolic Disorder resulting in High Blood Glucose. 85-95% of all Diabetics are Type 2, which is the most common form and is often diagnosed in adults over 45. The awareness is very low everywhere in the world, and less than half the people with Diabetes are diagnosed.  It is a silent killer with hidden symptoms. It can remain undetected and diagnosis is often made due to associated complication or incidentally through abnormal blood sugar test. With rise in obesity and sedentary life style Type 2 is increasingly being diagnosed in children and young adults."



GOPIO Health Council's campaign to raise awareness of these "silent killer" diseases was kicked off in 2010 with a pilot seminar in Queens, New York in partnership with the Kerala Center. This was followed by a first-of-a-kind Health Summit co-sponsored by the New York Tri-State Chapters and covered a broad set of Health related topics including alternative wellness therapies. In 2012, this GOPIO Health Initiative is going on the road, directly to the PIO community near their home-fronts in the form of locally sponsored seminars.


The first seminar in this GOPIO Health Awareness series, focused on Diabetes, and was held this spring on April 14, 2012 at the Sunnyvale Temple in the Silicon Valley, California. Sangeeta Ahuja put together an outstanding team of speakers for this program that included Dr. Harmesh Kumar, Clinical Neuro-Psychologist and Dr. Karim Hussain a Cardiologist. This program was organized by Mr. Jeevan Zutshi, GOPIO Area Coordinator-Western Region, Mr. Ajay Jain Bhutoria, President: GOPIO Silicon Valley and Mr. Raj Bhanot from Sunnyvale Hindu Temple. "The speakers provided practical information in this interactive session", said Ritu Maheshwari who attended the program at the Sunnyvale Temple. "We have been organizing such health awareness programs in this region for the past three years and they are very well received" said Jeevan Zutshi. 


The second GOPIO Health seminar was held on April 24, 2012 at the Royal Palace restaurant hosted by Mr. Jagdish Mittar, the establishment owner in support of the Hindu Temple community. With standing room only capacity, attended by over 80 PIOs from Westchester, Connecticut and Northern New Jersey, this event was a resounding success! The panel of speakers moderated by Sangeeta Ahuja included Dr. Dhayan Naik, Dr. Rehan Ahmad, Dr. Ramesh Naik, and Dr. Seema Rathi. The Diabetic and Heart Healthy diet choice recommendations at this session were put to practical test following the talk by the dinner menu offerings enjoyed and appreciated by all who attended.


GOPIO Health White Plains Seminar on Diabetes Awareness.4.25.2012

Photo above: Seminar organizers with speakers, from l. to r.: Novo Nordisk Representative, Dr. Dhayan Naik, Lori Hardy, Sangeeta Ahuja, Usha Bhagirath, Dr. Seema Rathi, Dr. Rehan Ahmad


Watch YouTube videos of the seminar by clicking the following links:

GOPIO-Health Diabetes Awareness Seminar, New York, April 25, 2012. Sangeeta Ahuja Welcomes -

GOPIO-Health Diabetes Awareness Seminar, New York, April 25, 2012. Dr. Rehan Ahmad Speaking,

GOPIO-Health Diabetes Awareness Seminar, New York, April 25, 2012. Dr. Dhayan Naik Speaking,  

GOPIO-Health Diabetes Awareness Seminar, New York, April 25, 2012. Dr. Ramesh Naik Speaking,

GOPIO-Health Diabetes Awareness Seminar, New York, April 25, 2012. Dr. Seema Rathi Speaking.

GOPIO-Health Diabetes Awareness Seminar, New York, April 25, 2012. Sangeeta Ahuja Concludes -


Medical demographics show that Indians have an increased genetic susceptibility to Diabetes. If left uncontrolled it is a major cause of premature death, blindness, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, amputation, kidney failure and Dialysis. Most experts on South Asian Health mention that the US Risk assessment tools underestimate the risk for Asian Indians. Lower cutoffs and stricter goals are required for treatment and prevention of these diseases for Asian Indians. "There is reduced quality of life due to depression, social isolation and a huge financial burden. Without timely diagnosis and adequate treatment, complications and morbidity from Diabetes rises significantly, since it can remain undetected for a long time," says Sangeeta Ahuja. Hence an aggressive approach is needed to test among Indians and to promote awareness about this disease.


The good news studies indicate that 80% of Type 2 is preventable by healthy dietary intake, maintaining a healthy weight. Increased physical activity and improving living environment so that one can manage stress, 5-7 % weight loss, intake of a healthy diet. Exercise and medication if needed can prevent or delay pre-Diabetes from progressing to Diabetes.  GOPIO-Health is committed to help promote this objective through its focus on increasing awareness about Diabetes, Cardiac health and Stress management amongst the PIO community all over the world.


The Health Council is looking for qualified speakers, collaborating organizations and sponsors in all major cities of the world to bring the awareness programs to the PIO community. Contact GOPIO Health Council Chair Sangeeta Ahuja at 203-320-9744, or e-mail or visit:










The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) inducted four (4) new life members and one (1) associate member at the conclusion of GOPIO Upper New York chapter's celebration of its 4th anniversary which was done in grand style with a huge attendance on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at the posh World's Fair Marina Restaurant & Banquet Hall in Flushing, New York.


Ashook Ramsaran, president of GOPIO International, conveyed greetings from GOPIO International and commended GOPIO Upper New York chapter for being a very active chapter addressing its community's needs and interests. Dr Thomas Abraham, former president and current Executive Trustee of GOPIO Foundation, recounted GOPIO's engagement with Guyanese and Caribbean PIOs and now in prominent positions in GOPIO - including Ashook Ramsaran as GOPIO's president and Netram Rambudhan as treasurer of GOPIO International.


"Life membership is the core of commitment to GOPIO", stated Ramsaran as he presented GOPIO life membership certificates and GOPIO pins to the new inductees. Ably assisting in the ceremony was: Dr Thomas Abraham; gold life member Nohar Singh; Anita Bhat, USA director of GOPIO Youth Council; Aminta Kilawan, Co-Chair of GOPIO Human Rights Council.


The new inductees were:

Life Membership: Satruhan Sukdeo, currently president of GOPIO Upper New York chapter

Life Membership: Netram Rambudhan, currently treasurer of GOPIO International

Life Membership: Jhairam Persaud, currently vice president of GOPIO Upper New York chapter

Life Membership: Naidoo Veerapen, currently Co-Chairman of GOPIO Cultural Council

Associate Membership: Sunita Rambudhan, currently with GOPIO Upper New York chapter


New Life Members of GOPIO being inducted, May 5, 2012

Photo (l-r): Aminta Kilawan, Co-Chair of GOPIO Human Rights Council; Ashook Ramsaran, President of GOPIO Int'l; Nohar Singh, GOPIO Gold Life Member; Naidoo Veerapen, Co-Chair of GOPIO Cultural Council; Jhairam Persaud, Vice President of GOPIO Upper York chapter; Netram Rambudhan, Treasurer of GOPIO Int'l; Satruhan Sukdeo, President of GOPIO Upper York chapter; Dr Thomas Abraham, former Chairman and current Executive Trustee of GOPIO Foundation.




On May 12, 2012, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin - Central Jersey (GOPIO-CJ) in association with the Rotary Club of Plainsboro (RCOP), NJ and DCH Brunswick Toyota, NJ hosted a free health camp in New Brunswick Middle School in New Brunswick, NJ. Free Health, Nutrition advice and Dental checkups were provided to the under privileged community in and around New Brunswick, NJ. There were eight different stations setups to provide complete health checkup starting from checking Blood Glucose levels, General Health, Dental care and Nutrition advice. Many families living in and around the New Brunswick area came to the camp and availed the free checkup and advice.About 150 people attended the camp.


Dr. Rajeev Mehta, the outgoing President of GOPIO-CJ took the lead in organizing the camp with assistance from Dr. Sergio Sanchez, Dr. Abbas Bangalawala, Dr. Shaila Karandikar, Dr. Rao H. Andavolu (Morristown Pathology Associates) and Dr. Asha Samant's students from the UMDNJ dental school.

Talking about the event Dr. Rajeev Mehta, said that in the coming years, GOPIO-Central jersey should consider doing bigger health camps in partnership with other chapters on a rotating basis in under privileged areas where there is great need for such camps.

Photo below - GOPIO Central Jersey organizers with health care professionals.

GOPIO Central Jersey Health Camp - Health Care Volunteers and Organizers 

Photo above - UMDNJ dental students with other young volunteers at the Health Camp


Contact: Dinesh Mittal, President, GOPIO-Central Jersey,




GOPIO Cultural Council joined hands with IAAC on this historical occasion of its 12th Annual New York Indian Film Festival as a screening partner of the Bollywood movie ''DELHI IN A DAY'' at the Tribeca Cinema on Saturday, May 26th.


Though it was the Memorial Holiday weekend, the event was a sold out! GOPIO planners did a massive email blitz, in an effort to garner support for this project. Many GOPIO supporters went down to Tribeca to watch the movie.


Ms. Sudha Acharya, Prof. Sushila Gidwani, the founding members of GOPIO, Mrs. Sangeeta Ahuja, the international chair of GOPIO Health Council and her husband, Paul Ahuja also attended the screening.


Dr. Najma Sultana, one of the founding members of GOPIO and current co-chair of GOPIO Cultural Council helped to organize the screening in partnership with IAAC. 


"Delhi in a Day" is a thriller story about a Nouveau-rich family friend and their idealist English young man who went to Delhi and settles as a house guest. Eventually, he finds out that all his travel money which totals almost 3 lakhs of Indian rupees, has disappeared from his room. The family points finger towards the household help as the culprits and gives them an ''ultimatum", to replace the lost money within 24 hours or "face the consequences.''


"Delhi in a Day" is produced by the young charismatic director, Prashant Nair. Nair also made a short film, Max& Helena, which received numerous awards. In this feature film, Prashant Nair focuses on socio-economic class structure in India.


The movie, also deals with foreign tourist romance with India. The Indian extended-family structures, prestige and status of an upwardly mobile family and the stress and challenges they face in raising a young daughter.


As the title surmises, ''Delhi in a Day'' is enchanting yet serious, according to Dr. Sultana. She also added that working with IAAC was a delight. Mr. Nair thanked GOPIO for partnering with IAAC in screening the film in its annual NY Film Festival. GOPIO sends best wishes to this young and talented director who has a very promising future.  


GOPIO Cultural Council joins hands with IAAC, Director Prashant Nair with Dr. Najma Sultana 

Photo above: Director Prashant Nair with Dr. Najma Sultana, Co-Chair GOPIO Cultural Council at the Tribeca Theater on May 26th 2012. 



GOPIO-UNY will be hosting its Annual Golf Outing for 2012, which will be held on 16th June, 2012 at the Split Rock Golf Course, Bronx, NY. Tee time starts at 12.00 noon and all golfers are requested to be the court at least one hour before the tee time. Golf Chairmen are Sat Sukdeo and Jhairam Persaud.   
      Venue: Split Rock Golf Course, 870 Shore Road, Bronx, NY 104564.

      Price: $110.00 per golfer, includes Golf Fee & Cart, Box Lunch and
                 presentation dinner.    
                 $ 35.00 for cocktail hour and dinner for non golfers.

The event includes a cocktail and dinner with an unlimited supply of draft beer and soft drinks. The cocktail and presentation dinner will kick off at 5.30 pm. 

Prizes will be awarded to the winner and runner-up of the game. The winner will be selected based on the golfer who has the longest drive and closest to the pin. A Sportsman of the Year award will also be presented to a deserving person. Golfers will have to be confirmed at least 6 days before the game.

GOPIO UNY is requesting those parties interested in 'hole' sponsors, which caused a minimal fee of $20.00. Sponsors will then have the option of distributing their business cards and/or other promotional materials. Also, a small gift will be presented to each hole winner. This token is to be donated by each hole sponsor. Thus far, GOPIO UNY has secured two 'hole' sponsors, for the ninth hole and the first hole. 




World Affairs of Stamford held a special event where Indian and Pakistani UN ambassadors spoke on "Indo-Pakistani Relations: An Emerging Economic Power Zone?" Several OPIO-CT members joined the event held at the worldwide headquarters of MasterCard in Purchase, New York.


The panel was moderated by Leonard A. Gordon, Professor of History, City University of New York and Senior Research Associate at Southern Asian Institute, Columbia University. After brief remarks by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the UN and Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Gordon raised many questions to both ambassadors. Both ambassadors conveyed that both their countries want more bilateral trade and so as to improve the relations between their countries. Many questions were also asked by the audience. 


GOPIO-CT officials with Indian and Pakistan Ambassadors to the UN

Photo above: GOPIO-CT officials with Indian and Pakistani Ambassadors: From l to r: Shelly Nichani, Safia Mehta, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, Ambassador Abdulla Hussain Haroon, Ritu Johorey, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Shailesh Naik and Pravin banker




More than 1,700 people attended the Democratic State Convention held on June 2nd at the George Masson University in Fairfax, Virginia. The convention attracted political heavyweights, including, Senator  Mark Warner, Jim Webb, Governor Tim Kaine, Congressmen Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran and Bobby Scott, who all spoke at the event. 


Jay Bhandari, President of GOPIO Virginia, won the prestigious position of National Delegate at large to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He was the only male candidate of Indian origin.  Approximately 1700 state delegates voted and selected 10 male and 13 female candidates.  The counting took almost seven hour. The result was declared by VA Democratic Committee chair, Brian Moran in the presence of Debbie Wasserman Schultz,Chairwoman of the DNC US House of Representatives.


Jay Bhandari at Virginia Democratic Convention 

Photo above: Jay Bhandari (first row in the middle) at the Virginia Democratic State Convention


Mr.Bhandari is a long time democrat and grass-root worker, who dedicates alot of his time and effort in projects that help to uplift and improve the lives of the people in his community and further afield. He also represents the Indian American and Asian American Pacific Islanders communities in the State of Virginia. He was appointed onto the Citizens Advisory Committee by the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He worked tirelessly as a volunteer during the 2008 Democratic Presidential campaign, as well as, the VA State Elections for Governor, Attorney General, Delegates, and Senators, Etc.


Julie Agrawal and Lovely Lal are also winners, among the Female Delegates.


The Indian community of Washington DC Metro area is proud of Mr. Bhandari's election and congratulated him on his achievement. Many Community activists and leaders including Sunny Wycliffe, Ram Singh, Satish Korpe, Zafar Iqbal (President of GOPIO DC) and many others congratulated Mr. Bhandari on winning the election. Many Organizations such as NCAIA, ICCC and GOPIO that Mr. Bhandari is part of, also expressed their excitement on this achievement.


Mr. Bhandari no doubt will continue to work hard, diligently and dedicatedly to provide a strong voice for his community and the people he represents. GOPIO International wishes him well and all continued success. 





Six Indian scientists, including two Indian Americans, with exceptional expertise in their respective fields, were recently announced as newly elected Fellows of the prestigious Royal Society for 2012.


The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world's most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine.


Prof. Varinder Kumar Aggarwal, Professor of Synthetic Chemistry, University of Bristol - Aggarwal is distinguished for his outstanding contributions to the field of asymmetric synthesis, particularly applications of ylide chemistry where he is the world leader. His productivity and breadth make him one of the foremost organic chemists of his generation and one who is very widely recognized internationally.


Prof. Shankar Balasubramanian, FMedSci, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Cambridge Research Institute - Balasubramanian is an internationally recognized leader in the field of nucleic acids who is distinguished for pioneering contributions to chemistry and its application to the biological and medical sciences. He is a principal inventor of the leading next generation sequencing methodology; Solexa sequencing that has made routine, accurate, low-cost sequencing of human genomes a reality and has revolutionized biology. His work on the intervention of nucleic acid function has revealed a number of molecular mechanisms that can be exploited, e.g. to modulate the biology of cancer.


Prof. Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, The University of Texas at Dallas - Vidyasagar has made outstanding contributions to control and systems theory and statistical learning. He developed the feedback linearization approach to nonlinear control, and provided a general separation principle for nonlinear control. His notion of inverse dynamics feedback converted highly nonlinear equations describing robot motion into decoupled linear equations, and he extended the theory of rigid robots to flexible robots.


Prof. Chandrashekhar Bhalchandra Khare, Professor of Mathematics, University of California at Los Angeles - Khare is an extremely original mathematician studying the relationship between Galois representations and modular forms. He and Wintenberger proved Serre's conjecture on the modularity of mod p Galois representations, a conjecture that was widely considered completely out of reach even after Wiles' work on Fermat's Last Theorem. This conjecture in particular implies the modularity of all odd rank two motives over the rationals.


Prof. Tejinder Singh Virdee, Professor of Physics, Imperial College London - Virdee is primarily distinguished for the design, construction and exploitation of the huge CMS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Virdee devised a new technology for the large CMS electromagnetic calorimeter and one of his earlier innovations was employed for the hadron calorimeter. The superb performance of CMS since high energy collisions began at the LHC is testimony to his foresight, expertise and appreciation of the complex interplay of techniques which are needed for such success.




The U.S. Senate recently confirmed the nominations by President Barack Obama of two Indian Americans - Deepa Gupta of Illinois, as a member of the National Council on the Arts; and Anuj Chang Desai of Wisconsin, as a member of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.


Desai who teaches Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School will join as Member, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. Before joining the University of Wisconsin faculty in 2001, Desai practiced law at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.


Desai is the sixth Indian American to be named to a top administration job this year alone. Obama has more Indian Americans serving in high places than any other previous US administration.


Gupta is a program officer for Media, Culture and Special Initiatives at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, where she manages the Foundation's grant making in arts and culture in Chicago and the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.


Gupta earned her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has an A.B. in Public Policy and Biology from the University of Chicago.




Indian-American attorney Himesh Gandhi was elected May 12 to an at-large seat on the city council in Sugar Land, Texas. 35-year-old Gandhi received 2,468 votes (52.11 per cent)


Gandhi's focus is to "strategically move Sugar Land forward through financial accountability, quality development and public safety with an emphasis on the fundamentals of city services.


"I am humbled and honored that Sugar Land residents came out and showed their support by voting for me," says Gandhi. "I am excited and ready to dive into the business of our city and work with fellow Council Members on the policies and decisions that drive Sugar Land and will keep it a great city."


He currently serves on Sugar Land's Planning and Zoning Commission and has also served on the Sugar Land 4B Corporation, the Building and Standards Commission and the Redistricting Committee.


A graduate of Clements High School, Gandhi has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Houston Baptist University and a law degree from South Texas College of Law.




Ashok Gadgil has won this year's $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation for his pursuit to blend research, invention, and humanitarianism for broad social impact. He was recognized for his "steady pursuit to blend research, invention and humanitarianism for broad social impact," the Lemelson-MIT program said. "His substantial efforts to benefit those less fortunate inspire everyone around him to want to do more for mankind."


A physicist by training, his inventions include safe drinking water solutions, a utility-sponsored energy efficiency program and fuel-efficient stoves for displaced persons in Africa. The Lemelson-MIT program estimates his inventions have benefited at many as 100 million people in four continents.


"The award is a tremendous validation and encouragement of what I have been doing for a long time, to bring science and technology to people at the bottom of the economic pyramid," Gadgil told Mass High Tech.


Gadgil's innovations range from safe drinking water solutions and a utility-sponsored energy efficiency program to fuel-efficient stoves for displaced persons in Africa. His solutions, which integrate science with cultural needs, have helped some 100 million individuals in dozens of countries across four continents.


He designed UV Waterworks, which uses ultraviolet light to kill deadly pathogens. The technology, disseminated by WaterHealth International, produces safe and clean drinking water at just two cents per 10 liters. The technology has provided safe drinking water to approximately five million people in Ghana, India, Liberia, Nigeria and the Philippines to date, with plans for expansion to Bangladesh.




With 99.5% marks in his Grade 12 exams, India-born Rohan Sampath became the ICSE topper worldwide. Born in Mumbai, Rohan scored 100% in mathematics, 100% in physics, 100% in computer science and 98% in English, becoming the highest scorer in the history of the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) examinations.


"My first reaction was disbelief. I thought it was a typo. I didn't expect it," Rohan, a science student of Dubai Modern High School, said in an interview.


Rohan has chosen to attend Stanford University and study either economics or engineering. Private tuition classes have no place in Rohan's study mantra, defying a trend among a majority of Indian families.  






Baroness Sandip Verma, Minister for Women and Equality launched Women Empowered (WE) in London. A social initiative, it aims to empower women to make the best of their individual skills and talents and help them achieve their personal and professional goals.


Under the Atrium at the Bright Courtyard Club in Baker Street, 120 attendees came together to share inspirational stories of their lives and successes. The launch was attended by high profile guests like Mayor of Amersham Cllr Mimi Harker OBE, Seema Malhotra MP, MOBO Awards Founder Kanya King MBE, Dr Kamel Hothi; Business & Community Director at Lloyds Bank Group among several others.


Baroness Verma said, "The launch of WE shows that work still needs to be done to get a fair deal for women in society. No society can move forward whilst treating more than half of its population as unequal." She pledged her support to inspire those women who do not have easy access to professional networks.


Co-Founder Mona Remtulla said, "WE aims to provide women with a forum, a platform and a network where they can find support, mentoring and inspiration. WE will support them through the journey by putting them in touch with organizations that can nurture their ideas and mentors who can assist in achieving those goals."




The valuable contributions of people of Indian origin (PIOs) throughout North America are showcased in a second book in the series, Roshni, the Light of South Asia: North American Edition. The book details profiles and interviews with 56 people of Indian origin in the United States and Canada who have found creative and effective ways to give back to the community. It features leaders in their fields as medical journalist and author Dr. Sanjay Gupta; political commentator and author Fareed Zakaria; technology entrepreneur Naveen Jain; Cirque du Soleil performer Raj Bhavsar; yoga celebrity Bikram Choudhury and many more.


Roshni Media is in the process of accepting nominations for a third book, Roshni, the Light of South Asia: the Global Indian which will highlight the achievements of people of Indian origin in all far-flung corners of the world.


The Roshni books are the brainchild of award-winning writer and educator Dr. Rashmee Sharma. "A distinct lack of South Asian documentation irked me for years...It's my hope via Roshni to reach the first and future generations by building a bridge to communicate pride, strength and sacrifice of the first generation immigrants. My intent is also to focus on enlightening and making younger generation proud of our heritage and culture," Dr. Sharma said.


Roshni honorees are nominated by peers and the public who admire them. Anyone can nominate a potential Roshni honoree using the convenient form at





The IRS first introduced its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) in 2009. The program aimed to help people hiding offshore accounts to get current with their taxes. While the penalty if discovered by an IRS audit was as high as 50% of highest aggregate balance in foreign accounts along with imprisonment, the 2009 OVDP was offered with a penalty of 20% and waiver of imprisonment. In 2009 alone, the IRS announced collections of USD 3.4 billion vide its OVDP.


Subsequently in 2011, the IRS announced the second OVDP. This time, the highest penalty was 25%. But there were also two lower slabs - 5% penalty and 12.5% penalty, if the taxpayer fulfilled certain conditions. Since these slabs were not offered in the 2009 OVDP, the IRS decided to refund penalties to those individuals who, in 2009, would have been eligible for the lower penalty structures. The penalty refunds are based on certain conditions which set the tone for IRS' policy on this matter.


Conditions for 5% penalty slab:

A taxpayer may fulfill any of these 3 conditions to be eligible for the 5% penalty (that is, if you paid a 20% penalty, you may be eligible to get a 15% refund):

Condition 1: The taxpayer had minimal use of the offshore account 
In order to determine this, the taxpayer must meet all four of the following conditions: (I) did not open or cause the account to be opened; for instance the taxpayer inherited offshore accounts (ii) have exercised minimal, infrequent contact with the account, for example, to request the account balance, or update accountholder information such as a change in address, contact person, or email address; (iii) have, except for a withdrawal closing the account and transferring the funds to an account in the United States, not withdrawn more than $1,000 from the account in any year for which the taxpayer was non-compliant; and (iv) can establish that all applicable US taxes have been paid on funds deposited to the account.


Condition 2: Taxpayers who are foreign residents and who were unaware they were US citizens


Condition 3: Taxpayer paid all taxes in foreign country


To be eligible under this condition, taxpayers must be foreign residents and must meet all three of the following conditions for all of the years of their voluntary disclosure:
(i) taxpayer resides in a foreign country; (ii) taxpayer has made a good faith showing that he or she has timely complied with all tax reporting and payment requirements in the country of residency; and (iii) taxpayer has $10,000 or less of US source income each year.


For these taxpayers only, the offshore penalty will not apply to non-financial assets, such as real property, business interests, or artworks, purchased with funds for which the taxpayer can establish that all applicable taxes have been paid, either in the U.S. or in the country of residence. This exception only applies if the income tax returns filed with the foreign tax authority included the offshore-related taxable income that was not reported on the US tax return.


Conditions for 12.5% penalty slab


Taxpayers whose highest aggregate account balance (including the fair market value of assets in undisclosed offshore entities and the fair market value of any foreign assets that were either acquired with improperly untaxed funds or produced improperly untaxed income) in each of the years covered by the 2011 OVDI is less than $75,000 will qualify for a 12.5% offshore penalty. So if you paid a 20% penalty, you may be eligible for a 7.5% refund.


How to claim a refund


If you participated in the 2009 OVDP and your case was closed with a Form 906 closing agreement, but you believe that you would be eligible for a lower penalty as per conditions above, you can make an application including all pertinent contact information (name, address, SSN, home/cell phone numbers), the name of the Revenue Agent assigned to your case, and a copy of your agreement. You can send this information to the office of the IRS.




Authorities from 40 countries across the world have invited applications from eligible candidates for the "Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC) 2012-13". The last date for submitting applications for the programme is June 10, 2012.


The admission is open only to Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) from the specified 40 countries below. The SPDC programme was launched by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs in 2006 for Diaspora children to study at higher and technical institutions in India.


The scholarship covers a wide range of subjects, including engineering, humanities, commerce, management, journalism, hotel management and agriculture, agriculture/animal husbandry, science, law etc.


List of eligible countries: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Guyana, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Reunion Island, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, U.A.E., U.K., U.S.A and Yemen.




The Indo-Arab Confederation Council, a socio-cultural organization working to strengthen Indo-Arab relationship and welfare of expatriate Indians employed in Gulf countries, will start an Expatriate Guidance Centre to provide direction and guidance for the expatriates in taking up various entrepreneurial ventures.


The centre will also provide assistance for the rehabilitation of Gulf returnees and to set up various investment and industrial projects.




The California Assembly has passed a resolution declaring November 2012 as Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. The passage of the resolution in this regard by the California Assembly has been welcomed by the influential Sikh community of the State.


"Californians of Sikh heritage deserve to be recognized for their significant contributions to our state. They came here around 100 years ago and have made their mark in agriculture, trucking, medicine, and technology," said Assemblyman Dan Logue.


Some 20 eminent Sikhs community members were present in the Assembly when the resolution was passed without any opposition.


Prominent among them were Pashaura Singh Dhillon, who had initiated the move, Gurjatinder S Randhawa (chairman NRI Front USA), Charanjit Singh Bath, M S Sandhawalia, Gurdip S Nijjar, Nirmal Singh, Dr Onkar Singh Bindra.




Expat Ride, a book by Mohammed Saifuddin, addresses many concerns of NRIs residing and working in Gulf countries.


The Indian government is trying to bring NRIs under the tax net, through introduction of the New Direct Tax Code, in place of old Income Tax Act. Concerns of the Indians in Gulf about this issue are dealt by the author. 


The book reveals that the resident Indians not only outnumber the NRIs in wealth, but they are almost double in numbers and their net worth is much higher than NRIs. 

In 2011, the ministry of overseas Indian affairs established the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) in the 43 Indian missions across the world, in the countries that have a significant number of Indians. The "Expat Ride" author explains how the Indian Consulate General in Dubai has used this fund to get release of Indian prisoners from various jails. Lauding the consulate, the author suggests similar steps by the Indian missions in other Gulf countries.


Those Indians who are seeking jobs in Gulf countries are much prone to exploitation by the agents at the recruitment stage itself. To curb the ill deeds of these agents, the Indian government has made some amendments in the Emigration Act 1983 by a Gazette notification in July 2009. The author describes these changes and how it will affect the intending immigrants.


After facing almost two decades of brain drain, the much developed India is now attracting its brilliant minds to return back and settle down. The author discusses this trend in an article "reverse brain drain". 


"Expat Ride" is a useful source of information for the people interested in exploring the real life of expatriates in Gulf countries. This is a first attempt to write a book on the subject of Indians in Gulf countries.




Overseas blue collar Indian workers in the Gulf region have been asked to avail benefits of the recently launched pension and life insurance fund ( PLIF) scheme by India to ensure their financial and social security. The scheme was launched as a pilot project in Kerala.


Minister for Overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi said the scheme is meant to enhance the social security net and rehabilitation plans of poor Indians working abroad and has several important features.


"Besides providing life insurance cover, the scheme, jointly managed by LIC, UTI and Bank of Baroda, is aimed for workers holding ECR (emigration check required) passports. It will help them save for old age and provide financial security," said Minister Ravi. 


PILF is meant for Indian workers aged between 18 and 50 years who have a work permit or employment contract and whose passports carry the 'Emigration Clearance Required' stamp. The pension will commence after they cross the age of 60.


Initially, a worker has to pay Rs 5,000 to become a beneficiary of this plan. The government will contribute Rs 2,000 from its kitty. If the person is a domestic help, the amount would be Rs 3,000.




Several Britons with origins in the Indian sub-continent pledged to adopt a healthier lifestyle to prevent heart disease during a campaign event in west London.


The campaign organized by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and a community group is targeted at Asians who have a high incidence of heart disease and diabetes in Britain.


The event held at Southall - which has a large population of Indian origin - was organized in association with the community group Ajivan, led by senior Indian journalist Vijay Rana.


Addressing the gathering, Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston said, "If we don't change our attitude and be more aware of such health issues then our next generation is going to see the same happening to them."


Dr. Onkar Sahota, the newly elected Member of the London Assembly for Ealing and Hillingdon, emphasized that Asians urgently needed to think about their unhealthy lifestyle and address the tendency called 'central obesity', one of the main indicators of heart disease.


"Asians have thin arms and thing legs and large tummies. They need to reduce their abdominal girth by reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods and by taking up more exercise," he 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, 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, GOPIO International (Guyana-New York, USA) and Nilofar Pardawala (Portland, Oregon, USA)

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

Contributors of this issue: Ashook Ramsaran (President, GOPIO Intl.), Jay Bhandari (GOPIO-Virginia), Sat Sukhdeo (GOPIO-Upper New York), Sangeeta Ahuja (GOPIO Health Council Chair)


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


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