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August 20, 2014

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

Issue: XIII-6 August 20, 2014
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The Reserve Bank of India has allowed foreigners and Non-Resident Indians to take out currency worth Rs 25,000 out of India to facilitate their travel requirements. They can also bring Indian currency up to Rs. 25,000 into India every time they visit. Earlier the limit was at Rs 10,000 and was available only for Indian residents. 


The bank has also increased overseas remittance limit to $125,000 per year. Last year, the limit was reduced to $75,000 due to free-fall of rupee against the dollar. Some other foreign exchange related restrictions have also been relaxed.



West Bengal's Kalyani University is starting a Bengali Diaspora research centre that will not only shed light on the problems the community faces abroad but will also seek to restore them to their roots.


Brainchild of university's vice chancellor Ratan Lal Hangloo, the Bengali Diaspora study centre will have MPhil and PhD courses to begin with lectures by eminent researchers, particularly those researching on Bengalis abroad, will be a major part of its activities.


"The centre will have both academic and cultural focus on the Bengali Diaspora. It will also help bring them closer to their roots," Hangloo told IANS.


The hub is expected to start functioning by the end of this year, with an international seminar as one of its first events.


"There are a lot of Bengalis settled abroad and they are facing problems. They feel disanchored from their roots and face identity issues. This centre will also act as a platform to ventilate their grievances," Sumit Mukherjee, dean of arts at the university told IANS.


Mukherjee is slated to head the centre as its director.


Source: IANS


India's Consul General in New York, Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay visited Connecticut last month calling on to Stamford Mayor David Martin, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and Congressman Jim Himes . Ambassador Mulay briefed the elected officials on the Indian election and the new government's initiative to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) in defense and insurance. He also highlighted the cooperation between the cities in America and India including possible cultural and educational exchanges.


Ambassador Mulay and Congressman Jim Himes with GOPIO-CT Officials

Photo above: GOPIO-CT officials with India's Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and Stamford Mayor David Martin, From l. to r.: Stamford City Director of Economic Development Thomas Madden, Dr.Thomas Abraham, Paul Ahuja, Sangeeta Ahuja, Ashok Vasudevan, Mayor David Martin, Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Shelly Nichani, Shailesh Naik and Viresh Sharma


While discussion with Stamford Mayor Martin, it was proposed to have sister city relation with Pune. A similar proposal emerged while meeting Norwalk Mayor Rilling to have sister city relation with Norwalk and Mysore. Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the India Caucus, had travelled to India several times before his election as a Congressman. He said that he would visit India pretty soon.


Ambassador Mulay and Stamford Mayor Martin with GOPIO-CT Officials

Photo above: GOPIO-CT officials with India's Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and Congressman Jim Himes at the Stamford meeting, From l. to r.: Shelly Nichani, Viresh Sharma, Ashok Vasudevan, Congressman Jim Himes, Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Anita Bhat and Dr. Anil Diwan


Ambassador Mulay joined a community reception and interactive meeting at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Stamford. Ambassador Mulay was accompanied by his fellow Consuls Mr. Ajay Purswani (Passport/Visa) and Mr. Dhirendra Singh ( OCI/PIO and Community Affairs). At the program organized by GOPIO-CT, Ambassador Mulay spoke to a standing room crowd at the community reception on the new business/investment opportunities in India after the new government came into power.


In the interactive session on the issuance of Visa/Passport/OCI/PIO card documents, many issues and problems were brought to the attention Consuls Ajay Purswani and Dhirendra Singh. These included complaints with previous outsourcing agency BLS and the new agency Cox and Kings. One main complaint is, Cox and Kings can't be reached over the phone and their tracking systems does not work well. Other complaints included the outsourcing agencies losing passports, not sending the documents back by mail or Fedex even though it was paid for, unusual waiting time at their offices, waiting in the street for hours to get into the office, etc. People in attendance requested the consuls to streamline these processes.


It was also brought to the notice of the consuls that the application process itself was very cumbersome. There are too many forms to fill up, need for several photos and several copies of affidavits with photos. It was suggested to use online filing with digital photo or use a couple of photos on the forms.. Other issues discussed included, rules on renunciation of old passport and particularly for those who had become American citizens long time back, reapplying for OCI cards at the age of 20 and 50 and rules governing OCI card, if the passport is expired. Many times were told at the immigration counters in India that they had to get new OCI car d. The consul told the audience that one needs to take the old passport where the visa is stamped.


Consul Dhirendra Singh told the audience that for those holding OCI cards after the age of 20 and 50, one needs to reapply for OCI card only when the current passport is expired. Consul Ajay Purswani said that in case of an emergency one could visit the consulate to get a visa. Ambassador Mulay and Consuls said that the services from the previous outsourcing agency BLS International were inadequate. They are monitoring the new agency Cox and Kings on their services now.


At the community interactive session, GOPIO-CT President Shelly Nichaniwelcomed the gathering. He said that GOPIO-CT has organized several interactive sessions with elected officials, academics, writers and prominent people.


The program was coordinated by GOPIO Founder President Dr. Thomas Abrahamand was attended by GOPIO International President Ashook Ramsaran





GOPIO International has made several new appointments for various positions. Please click the links below:

GOPIO Team Members 2014-'15




Seven Indian Americans received Congressional recognition and Award of Excellence at GOPIO (Global Organizations of People of Indian Origin) Virginia 5th anniversary for their valuable contributions and accomplishments in five different fields.


Aziz Haniffa, editor of India Abroad, received Lifetime Achievements for Excellence in Journalism, Dr. Partha Pillai received Lifetime achievement award for Community Service.  Dr. Korok Ray, Asst. Professor in George Washington University School of Business and former Senior Advisor, White House Council of Economic Advisors received the Award for Excellence in Education and Research in Economics. Dr. C.M. Prasad & Dr. Surya Dhakar for Excellence in Medicine; Ravi Chaudhary, a member of President Advisory board for Asian American & Pacific Islanders, and Natwar Gandhi for Public Service and Finance.


The awards were presented by Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of India Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Gerry Connolly's Chief of Staff, Mr. James Williamshaw, on behalf of the Virginia Congressman, in the presence of more than 200 prominent Indians and Americans. 


Dr. Korok Ray delivered the keynote speech regarding the economies of India and US and what the future holds. Editor Aziz Haniffa highlighted the contributions of Indian youth in America and encouraged them to keep the culture alive. Chief guest Taranjit Singh Sandhu emphasized the India US relations and contributions of Indian Americans in the progress of both the countries and scope of strategic partnership.


President of GOPIO, Mr. Jay Bhandari welcomed and congratulated the award winners. GOPIO is a global organization having chapter in  US, Canada, England, Germany, Australia, Nederland, Caribbean and many more countries. The mission of GOPIO is to enhance, educate and empower people of Indian origin, resolve issues of concern and help and support them to grow economically, socially and politically. In Virginia, GOPIO does a lot of charity work including feeding homeless people, free medical service to the poor and financial aid to low income students.


GOPIO-Virginia 5th Anniversary Awards Dinner.6.13.2014

Photo above: From (R to L) Founder President Jay Bhandari, Congressman Rep. James Williamshaw, Aziz Haniffa (Journalism), Chief Guest DCM Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Dr. Korok Ray (Education and Research in Economics), Dr, Parthasarathi Pilai (Community Service), Dr. C.M. Prasad (Medicine), President Appointee Lt. col. Ravi Chaudhary (Politics and Public Service), Dr. Surya Dhakar (Medicine) and  Pradeep Kumar. 


Program was followed by entertainment program including "Bharat Natyam", Rajasthani folk dance, Bhangra and fusion dance performance, by University students. Program was emceed by Priyal Gandhi and vote of thanks delivered by Pradeep Kumar. 





At a packed Stamford Italian Center, the Connecticut Chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) honored five Indian American achievers and those who provided service to the community or the society at large. Several dignitaries attended the event including India's Consul General in New York Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Rep Jim Himes (D, CT 4th District), Stamford Mayor David Martin, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Upendra Chivukula and Connecticut Assemblyman Dr. Prasad Srinivasan.


The program started with a welcome by GOPIO-CT president Shelly Nichani who said the chapter initiated several new programs including a cancer walk fundraiser, participation in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Stamford, interactive sessions with elected officials in addition to the regular programs such as sponsoring and volunteering in soup kitchens, India Independence Day flag hoisting and Diwali celebration.


Stamford Mayor David Martin extended a warm welcome to everyone and complimented GOPIO-CT for its outstanding community work.


This year, GOPIO-CT had selected U.S. Representative from Connecticut 4th District Congressman Jim Himes as Friend of India. A member of India Caucus, Jim has been a supporter of Indian American community. Congressman Himes had travelled several times to India while working for Goldman Sachs. As a Congressman Himes is committed to provide all children in America, access to a first-rate public school, affordable and effective health care, a decent and safe home, and a supportive community. An undergraduate from Harvard, Jim earned a Rhodes Scholarship, and attended Oxford University in England.


Three Indian Americans were honored for their achievements in business and profession.  Dr. Subbarao Bollepalli, MD FAPA, was honored for his achievement in medicine. Dr. Bollepalli is a leading psychiatrist in the State of Connecticut. He retired as a Colonel from United States Army Reserve, which was activated during the Iraqi War. He is a member of the Governing Council of Connecticut Medical Society (CSMS). He is currently the President of Connecticut Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPI). His interests include philanthropy, social service, spiritual reading and playing tennis.


A husband and wife team in business, Ashok and Meera Vasudevan, were selected to receive entrepreneurship award. Ashok is 'corporateur' turned entrepreneur who has co-founded with his wife Meera, Preferred Brands International, which makes Tasty Bite, a leader in the specialty food industry. He is the CEO of Tasty Bite and serves also on the Board of several NGOs both in India and the US. He is the Adjunct Professor of International Entrepreneurship of Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, India. Ashok attended the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Bajaj Institute Bombay and the Harvard Business School. Meera Vasudevan is a co-founder and Principal of ASG-Omni, a strategy-consulting firm that designs and develops entry strategies for large US corporations looking to do business in India. She has also worked closely on social research projects with the Indian government and UNICEF. She has a Bachelor in English with post-graduate qualifications in Marketing from the University of Madras and INSEAD, France.


Arati Sureddi received an award for young achievers. Arati is the Founder of Lotus Alliance, a social enterprise addressing human trafficking and forced labor through the responsible tourism industry. She has also helped in launching the Not My Life Awareness Initiative, whose goal is to increase awareness of human trafficking among individuals who are in a position to influence policy and advocate for change. She is a graduate of Boston University's School of Management.


Prasad Chirnomula, an avid restaurateur, received a special award for promoting India cuisine to American society by helping community groups through media.Chirnomula creates delectable and imaginative food in each of his four Thali restaurants and Mexican in his latest venture - Oaxaca Kitchen. In addition to running his five restaurants, Chef Prasad leads tasting tours of India, hosts private tasting dinners, teaches cooking classes and offers his services at multiple charity events for such groups as the American Liver Foundation, Varli, James Beard House, the American Red Cross, Share Our Strength, the Connecticut Food Bank and the Food Bank for New York City. He has studied at the Food Craft Institute of Poona, including culinary arts and hotel management.


Connecticut Senator Blumenthal in a message complimented GOPIO-CT for its outstanding community service and advocacy work and presented certificate of appreciation to all award recipients.


The program ended with an entertainment by Bollywood dancers, dinner followed by DJ Tony.


GOPIO-CT 2014 Awardees with Plaques Attached Photo: GOPIO-CT award recipients, from l. to r.: Prasad Chirnomula, Congressman Jim Himes, Dr. Subbarao Bollepalli, Arati Sureddi, Meera Vasudevan and Ashok Vasudevan





GOPIO Queensland president, Mr. Yousuf Alikhan has strongly condemned the recent racist attacks on staff and owner of an Indian restaurant in Ipswich.  He said acts like these have no place in our multicultural, multi-racial Australia that we all love and cherish.


Alikhan said that stray incidents like these committed by some misguided, ill-informed lowlifes not only create discord and disharmony in the community but tarnish the image of Australia overseas.  It also negates the good work done by community leaders like Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs Mr. Glen Elmes. 


GOPIO Queensland has applauded the authorities for acting swiftly and apprehending the miscreants. He urged the authorities to punish the guilty with the full force of the law.


Alikhan also called upon the good people of Ipswich to show their disapproval to such despicable acts by patronising the effected restaurant. 


Contact: Ashutosh Raina, Media Coordinator and PRO, GOPIO Queensland, E-mail:





The Global Organization of Indian Origin Upper New York Chapter (G-UNY), in collaboration with the Association of Artists & Writers (AAW), organized a very successful New York book launch of "Reaching for the Stars - The Life of Yesu Persaud", the autobiography of Dr. Yesu Persaud of Guyana. The event was held on Saturday, June 28 starting at 6:00pm at the Royal India Palace, in Richmond Hill, New York. Dr Yesu Persaud is a founding life member of GOPIO at its inception in 1989, served as President of GOPIO of Guyana chapter and as Executive Vice President of GOPIO International. Dr. Persaud was accorded honorary doctorate degrees from University of Warwick (UK) and University of West Indies (Trinidad), the prestigious Government of India Pravasi Samman Award and recently GOPIO's Jubilee Recognition at GOPIO's 25th Anniversary Convention in Trinidad & Tobago.


The event was sponsored by: Zara Realty (George Subraj), supported by Demerara Distilleries Ltd (Nalini Tewari, DDL-USA area manager), and emceed by prominent radio and television producer Richard Mahase. In attendance were several GOPIO members: Ashook Ramsaran, president of GOPIO International; Ramesh Kalicharan (founding life member of GOPIO); Nohar Singh (gold life member of GOPIO) and Naidoo Veerapen (life member of GOPIO), Dev Chedda (vice president of G-UNY); Patsy Leopold (secretary of G-UNY); Premnauth Singh (vice president of G-UNY); Swami Askernanda, Swami Doobay and several other prominent members of the Indo-Caribbean community. Many former staff members of DDL-Guyana assisted in the planning and coordination: Mohan Budhia, Savitri Persaud, Kavita Sookraj, Nadia Ganesh. Netram Rambudhan (treasurer of GOPIO International) coordinated the registration; program and brochure printing were done by Louie Arjun. The event was well attended by family, friends, associates and well wishers.


Rev Seopaul Singh (Secretary General of AAW) and Jhairam Persaud (president of G-UNY) welcomed the attendees, followed by remarks by Ken and Tony Subraj (Zara Realty), prominent historian Dr. Basdeo Mangru (CUNY). Dr. Tyran Ramnarine (AAW), himself a well known historian and writer, gave wonderful critique, with reading of excerpts and selected passages of the book. After which Dr. Persaud spoke on his life from humble beginnings and "reaching for the stars", the book was formally launched and book singing took place. Roopnaraine Persaud (AAW) expressed thanks and appreciation, followed by dinner and special El Dorado cream with dessert.

Dr_Yesu_Persaud_-_NYC_Book_Launch_June_28_2014 Photo above: l to r, Jhairam Persaud (president of GOPIO Upper New York), Rev Seopaul Singh (Secretary General of AAW); Dr. Yesu Persaud; -UNY); Swami Askernanda; Dr. Basdeo Mangru; Dr. Tyran Ramnarine (AAW)





GOPIO-LA organized a women oriented seminar called Women's Awareness at Haveli restaurant in Artesia, CA on Sunday August 3rd 2014. The seminar attracted over 100 people, mostly women.  The seminar theme was 'Health and Wealth' and was organized to share information and create awareness, particularly among women, in the areas of nutrition and finance.


Five speakers Aparna Hande (RN), Deepi Singh (Former Director of Nutrition at Kaiser Permanente), K. Shivaprakash (Manager of State Bank of India CA), Anne Tahim (CPA), and Anju Garg (Joint Secretary of GOPIO-LA and an Entrepreneur) were the main speakers for the event. The topics included Diabetes, Nutrition in Diabetes, Banking and Women, Check list of Financial Do's and Don'ts, and Improving Protein Quality in Vegetarian Diet. All speakers gave very informative and impressive presentations and the program culminated with live cooking demo by Anju Garg and assisted by Shana Rajput. The live cooking demo included healthy recipes like low fat Paneer veg. fajitas, and quinoa and kale salad.


Kewal Kanda, president of GOPIO-LA welcomed and thanked the audience for their participation.  GOPIO-LA Vice President Navin Gupta and treasurer Rajinder Dhunna introduced the speakers. The audience feedback was extremely positive. The audience feedback suggested organizing more seminars with variety of themes and GOPIO-LA plans to do just that in future for community enrichment and community development.

GOPIO-LA Women's Seminar Photo above: Seminar speaker Anju Garg who is also joint secretary of GOPIO-LA  and audience at the GOPIO-LA program.





GOPIO Sydney Inc is organizing an event, "Heritage India Festival 2014" to showcase the rich and diverse Indian culture by way of Indian Arts, Music, Dance, Culture and Cuisine to promote the cultural identity of Indian Diaspora as well as cultural diplomacy for better Indo-Australian relations. As part of this festival, the chapter will honour people who have made outstanding contribution to Indo-Australia relations by way of culture, trade, social, political or diplomacy.

Besides their strategy of showcasing the art forms from most states, Bhupinder Chhibber, the president of GOPIO Sydney feels exuberant while emphasizing the fact that they are involving and sourcing the upcoming local talent and not bringing any established artists from overseas. The local talent is encouraged to participate and invited to contact for participation, rehearsal and or audition. Their sponsors who run their arts academy have taken the cudgels on themselves to take care of this aspect

This event is being organized for September 7, 2014 at Sydney Baha's Centre, 107 Derby St Silverwater 2128. A plethora of cultural activities are arranged by various cultural and linguistic groups of Diaspora, most of these have either regional or Bollywood tones, none of them have really tried to embark on the idea to showcase rich and diverse cultural forms and ethos from most of the states of India. GOPIO Sydney has taken a lead in this direction.

This event will have different dance forms like kuchipudi, bharatnatayam, odissi, garba, kathak, peacock dance, rajasthani, lavni, sikkim, gidha and bhangra. Sumptuous Indian meals and snacks will be on sale by independent caterers to appeal to the taste buds of the attendees. 

The tickets have been made available from major Indian grocery outlets across Sydney. Many prominent ethnic Indian media have joined hands as media partners to spread the word. The support from the business community is encouraging - they are vying with each other to extend their support and asking for sponsorship opportunities.





On the evening of the 14th of August 2014, GOPIO Sydney North West Chapter was privileged to arrange the launch of books on the first arrival of Indians in Australia at the Parliament House of NSW. The history was researched and written by Len Kenna & Crystal Jordan. The four volumes of the series titled "Are Indians an Ethnic Minority" launched by the Consul General of India, Sydney, Mr. Sunjay Sudhir, were as follows:


         1.         Volume Two: Camels & Trailblazers

         2.         Volume Three: Horses & Walers

         3.         Volume Four: Hawkers

         4.         Volume Five: A Pictorial History


The books hold a collection of independent research conducted by Len Kenna and Crystal Jordan over 25 years. They have combined an incredible amount of information and photos on Indians in Australia since their first arrival in Australia. National Anthem of both Australia and India were played before starting the book launch event.


In attendance were a mixed audience of members of GOPIO, several members of the New South Wales Parliament, descendants of Indian Hawkers and members of the general public. Ms. Aman Singh served as the MC.


Mr Harmohan Singh Walia, Chairperson, GOPIO's Bylaws, Policies & Procedures said in his opening comments, "It is an inspiring story that needs to be told, a story, a history really, about the first arrival of Indians in Australia. These books provide a compelling inside account of the unique founding history of first arrival of Indians in Australia."


The Hon. Peter Primrose MLC spoke to the audience followed by Len Kenna, one of the authors, who spoke about the early history of Indians in Australia. Len presented books to Bhago Shergill, the daughter of Gunda Singh Bains, an Indian Hawker at Mildura, Victoria, whose family history is mentioned in the books. Len included a request for the Australian Indian Community to embrace their rich history in Australia. Then the Consul General spoke at length about the contents of the books.  Another descendant, Baljinder Singh Nanda, spoke about his grandfather, Mehnga Singh (Indian Charlie), whose family history is also mentioned in the books.


An unexpected surprise was the presence of Mr. Daryl William Maguire, MP for Wagga Wagga, and Parliamentary Secretary NSW, who spoke at length of his family history which included his Great Grandfather Sunda Singh, who was a Hawker in Australia and later a successful farmer and businessman in Swan Hill, Victoria.  

Book on Indian Arrival Released in Australian Parliament Photo: GOPIO-Northwest Sydney officials with authors and Consul General Sunjay Sudhir at the book launch. From l - r: Harry Walia, HE Sunjay Sudhir, Consul General of India, Sydney, Len Kenna, Crystal Jordan and Aman Singh


The ceremony concluded with people viewing and purchasing the books and a social gathering with a cup of tea and light refreshments.





The Metro Washington, DC, Chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO-Metro DC) sponsored a Yoga in Dance program at a capacity filled auditorium of a community center in Rockville, MD on Saturday, July 26, 2014.  It was a real delight to watch the strenuous, yet highly precise sequences of dances with facial expressions and movements of hands and feet with music. 


Classical dance in India has traditionally been viewed as a form of Yoga. Yoga, is one of intense Sadhana, or spiritual discipline, which demands complete physical and mental concentration for the practitioner. These dance forms are rooted in spirituality, the ultimate goal being Mokshya, or spiritual liberation for the performer and the audience alike. When examining a traditional Odissi repertoire, one can see the process through which the artists achieve their ultimate goal of spiritual liberation. 


Ten members (five male dancers, three female dancers, Guru Bichitrananda Swain and Jaydev Das) of The Rudrakshya Institute of Art and Dance, Orissa performed Indian Classical Dances in Odissi style for over two hours presenting seven different items. These items included: Mangalacharan, Chandrika Kamodi, Mohan Murali Chhailo, Taal Tarang, Shiva Panchal, Samudita Madane Abhinaya, and Mokshya. 


On behalf of the organizers, Dr. Renuka Misra, GOPIO International Coordinator for North America, presented bouquets to the troupe members. The program was organized by Mr. Pratap Das, president of the Indian Performing Arts Promotions (IPAP). The APAP was established by members of the GOPIO-Metro DC in 1996 to promote performing arts activities in Metropolitan Washington area.


GOPIO-Metro Dc Officials Misra and Iqbal with the Odissy Dance Troup  

Photo above: Dr. Renuka Misra (standing 4th from left) and Dr. Zafar Iqbal (standing last from left) with troupe members 




A delegation of GOPIO Sydney North West chapter was led by Harmohan Singh Walia, met with new Consul General Sunjay Sudhir to share chapter's success in the last few years. The delegation included chapter team members Prof. Balkar Singh Kang, Ravi Singh, Sumit Joshi, Baljit Pelia and Neeru Singh. 


Mr. Walia gave a presentation on the computer and explained previous activities of the chapter and GOPIO International. The team of the chapter has been working together for over five years now and in that time the chapter had provided basic amenities, such as warm clothes, shoes, uniform etc. to over 1000 unprivileged school children and also installed clean water facilities at two remote schools in India. The team has also supported a local old-age facility 'RAINS', gave donations for the victims of 2013 Blue Mountains Bush fire and provided financial assistance to a widow in Sydney.


GOPIO Chapter Meeting with CG Sunjay Sudhir Photo above: GOPIO-Sydney Northwest officials with Consul General Sunjay Sudhir. Grom l. to r. Sumit Joshi, Ravi Singh, Prof. Balkar Singh Kang, Consul General Sudhir, Harmohan Singh Walia, Neeru Singh & Baljit Pelia


In the meeting, Mr. Sudhir discussed the team's vision/goals and also stressed on building a consensus about burgeoning community needs of Indians living in Sydney. They agreed that Indians in Sydney should get-together on important community issues; and organisation like GOPIO can help to raise awareness through their events and social networking. That's why social get-togethers through community events are very important.


GOPIO Sydney North West chapter is organizing 5th Annual Caring & Sharing Dinner n' Dance event on 20th September 2014 at Roselea Community Centre at Carlingford. 




Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Jay Bhandari, President of GOPIO Virginia chapter as the Commissioner of Commonwealth of Virginia State Public School Authority for a 6 year term.


Talking to media, Mr. Bhandari told that he was very proud to represent the Commonwealth  of Virginia.  "I am humbled by the hundreds of phone calls, emails and messages from the community for this appointment expressing their feelings and happiness,"  added Bhandari who is the first Indian American to be appointed in this position. 


Jay Bhandari has been a successful community activist and political leader for the Indian community in numerous capacities. He is the past President of Association of United Hindu & Jain Temples of Metro Washington area, which is a congregation of 15 Temples in the tri-state Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. He was Director of Jaina International and has also served as President of Jain Society of South Florida, Chair of Public Relation at Jain Society of Metro Washington, former Treasurer of Indian American Forum for Political Education Virginia and Secretary of Rajasthali Association.


Bhandari said that although Virginia Public Schools are among the best Schools in the nation, he would love to see them ranked at the very top. 


"Students are the future of the country and the economy of this country, and today's learner is tomorrow's leader," Bhandari added.


Bhandari hopes that the students are given access to the best education, integrated with modern technology and innovations from an early age. 


"My mission is also to help the Indian American community especially in Commonwealth to prosper and improve their quality of life," said Bhandari who hopes to bring the Indian American Community to the mainstream.





Mathematicians of Indian- and Iranian-origin are among the four winners of the 2014 Fields Medal, widely considered the Nobel Prize for Mathematics that has been broadly dominated by white males since it was instituted in 1936.

The award going to Princeton University's Manjul Bhargava, a Canadian-American maths wizard was no surprise; although he is the first person of Indian origin, he was the hot favorite in pre-award polls among peers.


The sensational co-winner is Maryam Mirzakhani, a female Iranian mathematician who teaches at Stanford University. It is the first time a female mathematician has won the Fields medal; all 52 previous winners have been men in a field traditionally dominated by the male of the species.

The two other winners this year are Artur Avila from Brazil and Martin Hairer from Austria. Avila is also the first Brazilian and Latin American to win the medal. The prize money is $15,000.

Bhargava's PhD thesis, is said to have helped in the "determination of the asymptotic density of discriminants of quartic and quintic number fields." Although a Canadian-American who was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Bhargava is no stranger to India or to Indian mathematicians. Indeed, his mother, Mira Bhargava, is herself a rare female mathematician, teaching at Hofstra University.


Manjul has also collaborated with many Indian mathematicians, and his work with fellow Princeton scholar Arul Shankar, his PhD student, won them the Fermat Prize in 2011. Manjul's own PhD advisor was Andrew Wiles, famous for proving Fermat's last theorem.

Bhargava was awarded the 2012 Infosys Prize in mathematics for his "extraordinarily original work in algebraic number theory, which has revolutionized the way in which number fields and elliptic curves are counted." That came on top of almost every other top prize in maths, from the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize in 2005 to the American mathematical Society's Cole Prize in 2008. So the Fields Medal comes as no great surprise to the mathematical community in the US or in India.

That's not all. Before you think all he does is crunch numbers, Bhargava is also an accomplished tabla player (tutored by Zakir Hussain) and has the number on Sanskrit, which he learned from his grandfather Purushottam Lal Bhargava, was the head of the Sanskrit department of the University of Rajasthan, during family visits to Jaipur.





One of the most endearing and enduring qualities of Fiji born Dr Ajit Swaran Singh is his commitment to serve his profession, community and society in an exemplary manner. His vision and values exemplify his success. Dr Singh has made enormous contributions to the legal profession and in the fields of community education, campaign against family violence, youth leadership and legal education in Fiji.


Dr. Singh was inducted into the Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame in May this year. The Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Award was presented to Dr. Singh by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. Dr Singh was chosen from amongst 35 nominees for the prestigious Kiwi Indian Hall of Fame Award, which is now in its second year. The Prime Minister Key, was the Chief Guest at the award function at the Pullman Hotel. It was also graced by other dignitaries, including Indian High Commissioner Ravi Thapar, MPs Todd McClay, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Phil Goff, David Shearer, Dr Rajen Prasad and Winston Peters.


Born in Labasa, Fiji, Dr Ajit Singh is 62 years of age. He attended primary and secondary schools in Labasa. His father, late Sardar Swaran Singh, was a sugar cane farmer and the local president of the National Federation Party. During his Labasa Secondary School days, he spent considerable time with his uncle, late Sarvan Singh, Barrister & Solicitor & Member of Parliament, who motivated him to study law. In 1970, he came to New Zealand to study law at the Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with LL.B (1974) and LL.M (Hons) (1976) degrees.


In New Zealand, apart from practising law, Dr. Singh was also a District Inspector of Mental Health and an elected member of the Auckland and New Zealand Law Societies. Dr. Singh also devoted considerable time to the Citizens Advice Bureau. In 2002, Dr Ajit Singh was appointed as a District Court Judge. For 10 years Dr. Singh presided at the Manukau District Court. Since November 2012, Dr. Singh presides as a Judge at the Auckland District Court.





Former Indian civil servant and current Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Alwyn Didar Singh has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham, UK. Dr Singh was named Doctor of the University (DUniv) on June 16, 2014 in the University's historic Great Hall, in the presence of hundreds of graduates and families.


Prior to his role with India's largest business chamber, Dr. Singh was Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. He has also served as Finance Member for the National Highways Authority of India, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and before that he worked in the Ministry of Commerce with responsibilities for foreign trade. Dr. Singh is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Migration of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and received a Community Service award for his service to the Indian Diaspora by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).


An internationally known expert in E-commerce, trade and migration, Dr. Singh has undertaken several studies in the area of ICT strategy and E-commerce for international agencies including the International Trade Centre, the World Health Organization, South Centre, Geneva and the Commonwealth Secretariat, London. He also has three books and several publications to his credit. Dr. A. Didar Singh is already an alumnus of the University of Birmingham, being awarded a Masters in Development Administration in 1996. Prior to this he received a Bachelors and Masters from St. Stephens College, Delhi University and he followed his Birmingham education by completing the first PhD in India on the Policy and Administration of E-commerce at Punjab University, Chandigarh.


On receiving his honorary degree, Dr A. Didar Singh said: "To me this honour is very special. I already have a doctorate degree from my own country - in fact it happens to be the first ever PhD in E-commerce in India. But, this is ever more special as it is recognition and honour from a University overseas and that too from the United Kingdom - in a sense the mother of higher education for the world."





Dr. Vivian Rambihar, a cardiologist and his daughter Dr.  Vanessa Rambihar, a Toronto Family Doctor were in the UK to present a paper at the Association for the Study of Medical Education annual conference. They proposed complexity thinking for educating health professionals for the 21st century, based on a 25 year experience using complexity science in health promotion and medical education, reported at the conference. They advocate, and have used a complexity approach in addressing complex health issues, including the increasing and premature heart disease and diabetes across the Indian Diaspora.


While there, Drs. Rambihar met with UK Cabinet Minister Priti Patel in her Parliament office, in her role as the UK government Indian Diaspora Champion.  Ms. Patel was recently named as Exchequer Secretary, a senior role responsible for Finance and was the first Conservative Asian MP appointed in 2010, and was part of a major change that saw more women appointed to Ministerial posts. They discussed the health crises across the Indian Diaspora, and she agreed with the need for action, to continue discussion and to offer her assistance in this effort. The younger age of many people of Indian origin with heart disease, diabetes, heart attacks and death, was recognized and they agreed that there was need for new local and global strategies at multiple levels to change this.


Dr. V. Rambihar presented MP Patel with a copy of the Global Organization for People of Indian Origin 25th Anniversary Jubilee Magazine, from the celebration of this event in Trinidad in May 2014, where Dr. Rambihar received an award for contribution to health promotion across the Diaspora. Dr. Vivian Rambihar has been the Health Co-Chair for GOPIO, advocating for health for over 25 years, and also presented MP Patel with a copy of his book on the subject, and a paper written with Dr. Vanessa Rambihar on "Time for Health across the Diaspora," available online.





Four India-born Americans were recognized for their contributions to the US along with 36 other people in the annual Great Immigrants tribute in New York on the American independence day.


The July 4 event was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, a foundation started by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant who spearheaded the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century - in 1911 to honour immigrants' contributions.


The Indian-Americans honoured this year are: comedian and actor Aasif Mandvi, Microsoft Corp chief executive Satya Nadella, Carnegie Mellon University president Subra Suresh and former president of the University of West Georgia, Beheruz Sethna.


Born in Mumbai in 1966, Mandvi moved with his family first to Britain, before moving to the US when he was 16. He found fame as a correspondent on "The Daily Show", where he was known for his satire on issues including the Middle East and South Asia.


Born in Hyderabad, Nadella studied electronics and communication engineering at the Manipal Institute of Technology in India before heading to the US in the 1980s.


Suresh, who is an engineer and scientist, was born in Chennai and moved to the US to work on a postgraduate science degree, graduating in 1979. He is the ninth president of the Carnegie Mellon University. From 2010 to 2013, he served as director of the National Science Foundation. Appointed by US President Barack Obama, he led the federal science agency in its mission to advance the fields of science and engineering research.


Sethna was born in India in 1948 and served as the sixth president of the University of West Georgia - the first Indian-American to lead a university in the US.





Nagi Naganathan, an alumnus of the National Institute of Technology at Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, has been appointed interim president of the University of Toledo, a public research university in Ohio.A member of the Toledo faculty since 1986, Naganathan who had led the College of Engineering as dean since May 2003 assumed his new position on July 1.


Naganathan's work with industry includes conducting vibration analysis and control studies on heavy-duty truck powertrains for Dana Corporation and as a design engineer with Ashok Leyland Motors.


Joining a small but growing list of Indian Americans heading US academic institutions, he is the author and coauthor of more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He also has been awarded a US patent on the use of piezoelectric devices in active suspension systems.


Naganathan has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, the NIT, Tiruchirappalli, formerly known as Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirappalli.Other awards include Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, UT Outstanding Teacher Award, UT Outstanding Researcher Award, SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, ASME Outstanding Regional Faculty Advisor Award, and TST/TSPE Engineer of the Year.


Naganathan earned his bachelor's degree with honours in mechanical engineering from the NIT, a master's degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University, New York and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University.


He is a tenured professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering with expertise in the areas of smart material systems and structures, robotics, vibrations and control, and microcomputer applications in electromechanical systems.


Under his leadership, the College of Engineering has achieved record high student enrollments, registering an increase in the undergraduate enrolment every fall semester for the last eight academic years, a university announcement said.


Naganathan also has worked to elevate the college's mandatory cooperative experience programme- one of only eight in the US - exceeding 15,000 placements in partnership with more than 1,600 employers in more than 40 states in the US and in more than 30 foreign countries.


He created the Engineering Leadership Institute with philanthropic support from Roy and Marcia Armes, CEO of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and a 1975 UT mechanical engineering graduate, to provide leadership opportunities for students.


Naganathan's interest in collaborations led to new joint degree programmes with the College of Business and Innovation and College of Medicine and Life Sciences in the areas of information technology and biomedical engineering.


The college has grown under Naganathan's tenure with the addition of the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex and the Thomas and Elizabeth Brady Engineering Innovation Centre.


It also has grown in prestige nationally. In October 2006, the engineering graduate programme was listed for the first time in the Princeton Review's the top 20 graduate programmes and US News and World Report has ranked the practice oriented masters programme among the top 50 in the US for the last three years.


Naganathan's research projects have been funded with $6.5 million in grants and contracts from external sponsors, including the National Science Foundation and automotive manufacturers.



DIASPORA BEAUTY PAGEANT - Monica Gill from US is Miss India Worldwide 2014


Miss India US Monica Gill was recently crowned Miss India Worldwide 2014. The second place went to Miss India Switzerland and third to Miss India Bahrain.

More than 40 contestants of Indian origin settled in various countries across the globe between the age of 17 years and 27 years, unmarried and citizens, residents, or born in the country they represent, participated in the Miss India Worldwide pageant.

The finale happened at the Al Raha Beach Resort, Abu Dhabi in UAE where Gill was announced as the winner. She was crowned by Miss India Worldwide 2013 Nehal Bhogaita. Being hearing impaired, Bhogaita is the first differently-abled contestant to have successfully come away with the crown in the competition's history.


This year, all the participating girls arrived in Dubai on Sunday from countries including Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, Kenya, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The pageant included rounds like evening gown, Indian dress, a talent contest and question-and-answer sections.

Surat girl Anugya Sharma represented India at Miss India Worldwide.

The winner took home a cash prize of $8000 and various sponsored gifts, including photo sessions and modelling assignments apart from the crown.


Miss India Worldwide 2014 - Contestants and Winners Photo above left: Monica Gill, Miss India Worldwide 2014 flanked by second runner-up Priya D'Silva on left and first runner-up Cynferth Turrian on right; Photo above right: Contestants proudly displaying the flags of their respective countries.

Miss India Worldwide has been organized by New York based Mr. Dharmatma Saran who is also a Life Member of GOPIO.




On several important occasions, Indian National Flags made of plastic are being used. The plastic Flags are non-biodegradable and present challenges in ensuring the dignity of the Flag during and after the event. In order to ensure the dignity of the Indian National Flat, the provisions in the "Flag Code of India 2002" and "Prevention of insults to National Honour Act 1971" should  be observed.  The community is urged to discontinue use of National Flags made of plastic and other such material.



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 , E-mail:


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)


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

Contributors of this issue:  Ashook Ramsaran (President, GOPIO International), Inder Singh (Chairman, GOPIO International, USA), Harmohan Singh Walia (GOPIO's Committee on Bylaws, Policies and Procedures, Australia), Shelly Nichani (President, GOPIO-CT, USA), Ashutosh Raina (PRO - GOPIO Queensland, Australia), Jay Bhandari (Founder President, GOPIO-Virginia, USA), Zafar Iqbal (President, GOPIO-Metro DC, USA), Kewal Kanda (President, GOPIO-LA, 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:


Visit GOPIO's Official site at or