October 5, 2011

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

Issue: X-12 October 5, 2011
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GOPIO is a community supported non-profit organization taking up issues of the Indian Diaspora and attempting to unifying the community in its common causes. Support GOPIO by becoming a Life Member or chapter member. Once can become Life Member online by visiting



The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) invites everyone to attend and participate at GOPIO's Biennial Convention 2011scheduled to be held in Iselin, New Jersey, USA from November 18 - 20, 2011.


A planning meeting to kickoff the covnention organization was held on Saturday, October 1st at the Royal Albert Palace in Edison, New Jersey. Over 30 peopole attended this meeting which was organized by Dr. Piyush Agrawal, GOPIO's USA Coordinator and Vice President (North America) of GOPIO International. It was addrssed GOPIO Founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr. Thomas Abraham. In attendance were GOPIO chapter presidents and life members including GOPIO-Edison President Arvind Sood, GOPIO Central Jersey President Dr. Rajeev Mehta, GOPIO Trenton President Dr. Greesh Sharma, GOPI Upper New York President Sat Sukhdeo,  GOPIO-CT President Shailesh Naik and GOPIO Cultural Council Co-Chiar Jaswant Mody.


GOPIO International Convention Launch in Edison, New Jersey, Oct. 1, 2011
 Photo above: Participants at the Convention Planning Meeting held on October 1st in Edison, New Jersey.


GOPIO's conference on November 19, 2011 will evaluate, assess, debate, discuss and deliberate on the current, critical issues of interest and concern that confront persons of Indian origin of more than 25 million people living in many countries outside of India. The overall theme is "Issues and Concerns of the Indian Diaspora" and will examine issues of: Consular services, property, taxation and related issues; NRI marriages and abuses of marriage laws; issues related to health, women and youth; challenges and opportunities for political and economic empowerment and successful adaptation in adopted countries.


Program Outline

Friday, November 18, 2011

11:00am            GOPIO Executive Meeting (Not Open to the Public)

2:00pm             GOPIO General Council Meeting: Country, Chapter and Council Reports (Open to the Public)

6:00pm             Reception & Dinner

Saturday, November 19, 2011

9:00am             GOPIO Meetings

10:00am            Session I: (Inaugural Session) Issues and Concerns of the Indian Diaspora

11:00am            Session IIA: Consular Services, Property, Taxation & Foreign Accounts Disclosures

                        Session IIB: Indenturedship, Indianness & Kolkata Memorial

1:30pm             Session IIIA: Health, Nutrition & Wellness for the Indian Diaspora

                        Session IIIB: Issues of Abuses, Inter-Generations & Women

3:15pm             Session IV: Challenges & Opportunities for Political & Economic Empowerment

and Successful Adaptation in Adopted Countries

4:45pm             Session V: Conclusions, Resolutions

6:00pm             Reception/Banquet

Sunday, November 20, 2011

10:00am            GOPIO Executive & General Council Meetings


Speakers: Suitably qualified speakers are invited to participate. Please contact Conference Program Chairperson Ashook Ramsaran at (tel +1- 917-519-5783).


Registration: Registration fees for all events nominal $125 per person ($200 per couple) except registered delegates from outside USA & Canada. Choice of all events or selective events per registration fees schedule. Register on line via PayPal or payment by checks. Make checks payable to GOPIO International at a US bank. Contact Registration Chairperson Jaswant Mody at (tel +1-732-236-7084).


Sponsorships:Sponsors and supporters are invited to participate. Contact General Convener Dr Piyush Agrawal, at (tel +1-954-648-6494). Refer to sponsorship rates at


Venue: Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, 515 US Highway 1 South, Iselin, New Jersey 08830 USA. Tel: 1-732-634-3600 (Toll-free: 1-800-468-3571).


Accommodation: Rooms at $99 USD per night (including breakfast) at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel. Tel: 1-732-634-3600 (Toll-free: 1-800-468-3571).




Dr Piyush Agrawal, General Convener at (tel +1-954-648-6494)  

Arvind Sood, Co-Convener at (tel +1-732-277-6313)

Dr Rajeev Mehta, Co-Convener at (tel +1-732-463-7929)

Dr Greesh Sharma, Co-Convener at (tel +1-267-467-4878)

Jaswant Mody, Chair, Registration at (tel +1-732-236-7084)

Inder Singh, Advisor at (tel +1-818-708-3885 )

Ashook Ramsaran, Advisor at (tel +1- 917-519-5783)

Dr Thomas Abraham, Advisor at (tel +1-203-329-8010)




GOPIO Chairman Inder Singh met with US Congressman Howard Berman on September 1, 2011 soliciting his help for relief on penalties under Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) and Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) schemes. Singh informed the congressman that the letters sent to the US President and IRS Commissioner did not receive any positive response from the Commissioner. Copies of both letters were provided to the Congressman Berman.


GOPIO Chairman Inder singh Meets Congressman Berman on the US tax issueInder Singh sought help from the congressman on the following issues:


a.   The current limit to report about someone having a foreign bank account is $10,000. The limit of $10,000 was fixed several years ago, and if cost of living index is applied, that amount could be as high as $50,000. He urged raising the limit to $25,000 as most of the cases will automatically get resolved. 

b.   Waive the penalties if the money has been sent for supporting parents or members of the extended family and is less than $25,000;

c.   Waive the penalties for the inheritance or the money in the foreign banks prior to migrating to the United States;

d.   Exempt the temporary workers, such as H1B and L1 visa holders as they did not know anything about the US Tax laws, their accountants never told them about such laws and their employers, while offering employment never mentioned about compliance of such laws in the offer of employment.

e.   That even if a penalty were to be imposed, it should be on the income rather than the highest balance from 2003 to 2010. Some people have sent money for buying property, for investment or children's education. Once the money has been invested, the balance left is small. IRS should not charge penalty on the highest balance. After all, it was not money laundering but genuine transfer of money.


Congressman Berman assured Inder Singh that he would have his staff look into various situations and extend help where possible and practical.


For more information, please contact GOPIO International at +1-818-708-3885, Email: 









GOPIO Toronto chapter will be hosting its first national event on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 at the Metropolitan Center, 3840 Finch Avenue East, Toronto starting at 5:00pm.


The events would include topics such as Canada India FREE Trade and how it will affect the Canadians; Challenges in owning property in India; Role and Contribution of Indian Diaspora in the Dawn of Global Entrepreneurship.


Latest Bollywood songs and dances, provided by Bollywood singer, Shweta Subram and her troupe. Top Toronto D.J. will provide music for the Dance Lovers.


Reception starts at 5.00 p.m. and will provide ample opportunities to network for business and to make new friends. Arrive early to secure the best seats in the house. This exclusive event is offered at a nominal cost of $25. ($40.00 at the door). Attendance is limited, so register early.


For hotel reservations and participation, contact: Jay Banerjei, Program Coordinator at 647-273-1119 (alt 647-979-3220) email




On August 13, on a picture perfect Saturday morning, almost 200 members of the Indian-American community gathered at Stamford Government Center to celebrate the 64th anniversary of India's Independence. The festive event was organized by the Connecticut Chapter of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, GOPIO-CT, which included hoisting of Indian and American flags, recognition of recent Indian High School graduates and singing of Indian patriotic songs by GOPIO youth members.


The event in its fifth year is becoming increasingly popular with Indian Americans from across Fairfield and Westchester Counties of Connecticut.


The American Stars and Stripes and the Indian tricolor were hoisted by Hon. Mayor Michael Pavia and Dr. Jean Jacob, A Platinum Life Member of GOPIO International. The Indian-American youth attired in their colorful traditional Indian outfits lead singing of American and Indian national anthems.


Mayor Pavia proclaimed August 13 India Independence Day. India became an independent nation on August 15, 1947. Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Pavia praised the Indian-American community and its contribution. He also praised GOPIO-Connecticut for organizing the event. He said that Stamford is a mosaic that encourages all cultures and invited the city to join the Indian community in the celebration.


Mayor Pavia and the GOPIO-CT recognized and honored three Stamford Indian High School graduates from the class of 2011. Anika Advani, valedictorian of the class, plans to study finance and international business at New York University's Stern Business School. Eesha Mathur will attend Georgia Institute of Technology to study biomedical engineering and Atisha Vaghji is planning on attending school of architecture at the University of Connecticut Stamford branch.


President of GOPIO-CT, Shailesh Naik, said the flag raising is a time when Indian people from all over Fairfield and Westchester counties can come together to celebrate their culture.   He said that the land that gave us the number zero and fractions, is rediscovering itself. More importantly, it is working towards achieving freedom from poverty, deprivation, discrimination and inequality of opportunity. Naik in his welcome address quoted Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister at his first Independence Day speech in 1947, "Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge... At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom."


Louella D'Silva, board member of GOPIO, said. "The event provides us an opportunity to keep our roots alive. It's great to meet fellow Indian families".


A bake sale was organized by the youth group to raise monies for Akshya Patra foundation and was completely sold out.


For further information and upcoming events, visit


Photo below left - Children singing Indian and American national anthems. Photo below right - GOPIO Platinum Life Member Dr. Jean Jacob raising Indian glag

GOPIO-CT Independence Day Celebration in Stamford 

GOPIO-CT officials with Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia at the India Independence Day Flag Hoisting ceremony in Stamford on August 13th, From L. to R.: Prakash Chakravarti, Ritu Johorey, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Jean Jacob, Stamford mayor Michael Pavia, Harry Arora, Shelly Nichani, GOPIO-Ct President Shailesh Naik, Louella D'Silva, Anita Bhat and Meera Banta



For more information, contact Shailesh Naik, President, GOPIO-CT, Tel: 914-409-2552, Email:




GOPIO-Waikato (New Zealand) Chapter celebrated India Day in Hamilton on August 13th. The theme was INDEPENDENT WE LIVE - UNITED WE STAND. The program highlights included patriotic songs, Desh Bhakti poems and dance cultural items followed by lunch with -South & North Indian Cuisine served by Zyka Restaurant at Victoria Street in Hamilton (New Zealand). Labour Party Member of Parliament Sue Moroney shared the joyous occasion with people of Indian origin.



GOPIO Waikato celebrates Independence Day

Photo above: Anubhav Yadav, Jaskirat Bindra, Jaswinder Singh,, Suman Kapoor, Sue Moroney, Richa Khattar,Somnath Gupta,  Tarun Pragji,Minakshi Pragji, Pradeep Kapoor




GOPIO Virginia chapter celebrated 65th Independence Day of India on a grand scale. The program was held on Sunday August 14th at Bombay Tandoor Restaurant in Northern Virginia. . More than 100 people gathered to celebrate the Festivity with joy and fun. Chief Guest of the program was Datta Padsalgikar, Community Affair Minister at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC. Special guests were Virginia State Senator Chap Peterson, VA House of Delegate Mark Keam and Maryland State Delegate Sam Arora.


The program started with 'Vande Mataram', Sung by Sumangala Bhandari. Flower bouquets were presented to the Guest by Vibha Jhalani, Renuka Sharma, Anshu Matalia and Attorney Sheena Gil. Program was MC'd by famous TV host Nilima Mehra.


In his welcome speech, GOPIO Chapter president Jay Bhandari congratulated everyone and briefly gave the history of India's Freedom from British rule on August 15, 1947, becoming a sovereign nation.  He told the audience that many people sacrificed their life to achieve the freedom. He mentioned the names of great leaders such as the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Maulana Azad, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Chandra Shekar Azad, Shahid Bhagatsingh and many more for their contributions and sacrifice. Bhandari also mentioned that India is now capable of making almost everything from needle to aeroplanes and rockets to nuclear energy to life saving drugs. He also introduced the guest and recognized the community leaders present in the program. Joint Secretary Pradeep Sharma gave the brief information about the mission, activities and achievements of GOPIO VA chapter. 


Chief Guest Datta Padsalgikar congratulated every one and told that India has progressed a lot in 65 years and its GDP rate is above 8%. The relations between India and America as a strategic partners are of great importance. The trade between the two countries is now grown very fast. We have 100,000 students from India in US for higher study. He thanked the Community for working hard to maintain and to grow US-India friendship. 


Senator Chap Peterson was very impressed about the relations between India and US. He said that Virginia and Washington DC's growth has large contributions from Indian and Asian community.


VA Delegate Mark Keam who was also the chief guest last year for the charter presentation ceremony of GOPIO Virginia said that India and Korea both have Independence Anniversary and both countries have similarities in many ways. Both countries believe in peace and prosperity and are good friends and working for the betterment of the humanity. He extended his full support and cooperation for safety, security and education for the future generation.


On this occasion a felicitation was given to Dr. Surya Dhakar of Richmond and Vice president of GOPIO Virginia for his nomination in the Dental Council of Dentistry by Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell. Chief guest Datta presented a bouquet to him.


GOPIO-Virginia Independence Day 

Photo above: Singers, speakers, dignitaries and GOPIO-Virgina officials at the Independence Day Celebration


A mesmerizing musical program comprises of patriotic songs was presented by "Sur Sargam Sanch Musical Group" members VIbha Jhalani, Renuka Sharma and Sumangala Bhandari. Tabla was played by Ganesh and Key Board by Sri Kumar. Audience had given a standing ovation when the group sung the patriotic song "A Mere Vatan Ke Logo Tum Khub Lago Nara, Ye Shubh Din Hai Ham Sabaka, Lahrao Tiranga Pyara".


Many community leaders and dignitaries attended the function including Ranveer Singh Counselor at the Indian Embassy, Debupriya Datta Science & Technology Counselor at the Embassy, Pannalal from State Bank of India, Dr. Prakash Ambegaokar of Bridging Nations, as well as senior community activists Ram Singh, Kumar Singh, Sunil Singh, Renuka Mishra, Walton Dawson and Yogendra Gupta. 


The program was ended with a delicious Indian Dinner after vote of thanks and National Anthem "Jan Gan Man". 




Gopio-Detroit headed by Radha Krishnan joined hands with India League of America (ILA) to celebrate the India Independence Day on Sunday, August 14th. ILA is the umbrella organization of Indian Americans in the Detroit area collaborating with about 65 regional/language-based, professional, cultural and religious organizations in Detroit area. As in previous years, it was a whole day event starting with a procession by dozens of organization leaders, walking to the musical and rhythmic beats of the drums. The attendees aligned themselves under the banners of the different Indian organizations in Detroit area and the parade was led by the officers of ILA and other associations, community and business leaders, politicians, lawmakers and government officials, both local and State.


As in the past, the organization officials were highly successful in obtaining many sponsorships from the local businesses such as Ford Motor Company, The General Motors, DTE Energy, MacDonald's , Mercedes-Benz of Ann Arbor and BMW of Ann Arbor to name a few. The event brought in about 110 vendors of Indian clothes, jewelry, other Indian artifacts etc. from different states in USA who kept open their colorful booths for about ten hours.


The typical huge attendance of more than 25,000 people made the event appear like a "mini-India". India Day has been the largest event in Michigan which has been show-casing to the American public, governments and media the Indian culture, food, performing arts and business under one roof and the same day.


The daylong event includes un-interrupted cultural shows by the children from the different Indian organizations in Michigan, intercepted by short speeches by Mayors, Congressmen and other politicians and Government officials. Different Indian restaurants serving delicious Indian food attract not only the Indian population but the mainstream American public as well.


The event has been a feather in ILA's cap. and ILA can continue to take pride in organizing one of the best and glorious events in the whole country, year after year. This year the India Day committee was led by the ILA president Iqbal Singh, India Day chair Ramesh Gudapuri, and ILA past present and GOPIO-Detroit president Radha Krishnan.




GOPIO Waikato hosted Dr Pushpa Wood, Education Manager from the Retirement Commission on 30 June, 2011 at Celebrating Age Centre Hamilton (New Zealand). Dr Wood conducted a workshop session with key community leaders who are actively involved in working with senior citizens in the region. Dr Wood is President of GOPIO WELLINGTON chapter.


'Financial literacy issues for the senior citizensin the ethnic communities' with special reference to senior citizens of Indian Origin an open discussion   about the issues encountered in work and community involvement, as well examples shared by the community leaders. The group also identified the type of information and education needed to improve the financial literacy levels. There is an opportunity for the Indian community to take some leadership in organising some targeted financial literacy programmes.


One of the main spin-offs of this gathering was that a number of follow-up sessions have been organised by various organisations including Refugee Support Services. GOPIO Waikato has taken a lead role in initiating discussions on such an important yet 'little talked' about topic.








Harvard student Isha H. Jain, daughter of Drs. Himanshu and Sweety Jain (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA) was on the cover page of the October issue of Glamour magazine being selected to the magazine's Top 10 College Women for her lifelong work in the biological fields and involvement in Harvard's National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science. Jain was prompted to enter Glamour's competition by her pre-frosh host at MIT, who was also a winner of the award. Jain said her interest in science was sparked by role model and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, whose articles inspired Jain as a seventh grader.


After her application was considered based on a variety of qualifications including merit, leadership, and service, Jain underwent a long interview process last spring.


The chemical and physical biology major performed her first experiment in the fourth grade, testing candy to figure out why some is chewy and some is hard. Since then, her accomplishments have only gotten sweeter: At 16 she won $100,000 for her research on bone growth in zebra fish at the Siemens Science Competition. Isha has coauthored six published scientific papers, and she helped direct Harvard's National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science. Isha's dream is to research disease mechanisms, and help find cures.




Nine Indian Americans accounted for half of the 18 bright young people recently named 2011 Davidson Fellows who exemplify the extraordinary work that can be accomplished by students in the United States when given opportunities to excel. 

Based on their achievements in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, music and literature, four of the Indian American students will receive $25,000 while the other five will receive $10,000 scholarships from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a national non-profit organization headquartered in Reno, Nev., that supports profoundly gifted youth. 

The $25,000 scholarship recipients are Arjun Aggarwal, 16, of Columbia, South Carolina; Siddhartha Jena, 17, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Caleb Kumar, 15, of Blaine, Minnesota; and Sunil Pai, 17, of Houston, Texas. 

The $10,000 scholarship recipients are Cheenar Banerjee, 16, of Rochester, Minnesota; Jayanth Krishnan, 17, of Mahopac, New York; Anirudh Prabhu, 16, of West Lafayette, Indiana; Shalini Ramanan, 17, of Richland, Washington; and Raja Selvakumar, 15, of Alpharetta, Georgia. 

Priyanka Menon, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, received honorable mention for her work on "Indo-US Relations Through Philosophy and Literature." 

To win his $25,000 scholarship in the category of technology, Aggarwal created GNut-III, an Anthropometric Interactive Robot with Vision, Intelligence and Speech. He found the lack of an economically efficient and functional human robot has prohibited researchers from continuing to expand the field of robotics. To counter this, the GNut-III is economically efficient and functional for testing robotic algorithms. 

In the science category, Jena demonstrated that the immediate effect of elevated cholesterol is dysfunction of active water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide transport by the red blood cells. 

Using a spectrofluorometer and Zeta Sizer, he showed that exposure of red blood cells to two compounds, ONO-RS-082 and glyburide, results in an amelioration of cholesterol's detrimental effects. 

Also in the science category, Kumar developed an algorithm that automates the diagnosis of bladder cancer. The software is accurate, quick and inexpensive compared to current methods, and has the potential to provide faster, cheaper and more precise diagnoses of cytological diseases. 

In science as well, Pai constructed an inexpensive, nanotechnology-based system to determine quantum energies of superoxide. By examining oxygen in the liquid phase instead of the gas phase, his potentiostat system can determine the quantum structure for the electron attachment reaction of oxygen to superoxide. This will offer new insights into biological and environmental processes. 

In the category of technology for the $10,000 scholarship, Banerjee developed a method for emotion detection by computers. 

In the science category, Krishnan developed an approach to infer regulatory mechanisms governing changes in gene expression and identified possible proteins that induce cancer. 

In mathematics, Prabhu established the first nontrivial analytic lower bounds for odd perfect numbers. The search for odd perfect numbers is one of the oldest unsolved problems in mathematics. 

In science, Ramanan worked with Bisdemethoxycurcumin, a natural dietary component of the spice turmeric, to test its effectiveness in treating cardiovascular diseases. 

Also in science, Selvakumar developed the Gastro Microbial Fuel Cell. Based on the microbial fuel cell, the GMFC generates electricity using gastrobacteria to be used to power capsular nanobots.




Karna Gupta, a widely respected senior executive with over 30 years experience in the Canadian and international information and communications technology industry, has become the next President and Chief Executive Officer of Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). Gupta's last CEO role was with Certicom Corporation, a Mississauga based encryption technology company. Gupta led Certicom through a significant turnaround and also defended

the company against a hostile takeover bid. He led the ultimately successful transaction which resulted in a friendly acquisition of the company by RIM.


Prior to joining Certicom, Gupta was President for the Real-Time Billing Division of New Jersey-based Comverse Technologies. Under his leadership, Comverse became the de-facto leader in telecom billing in emerging economies. He was also President of Sitraka Mobility, leading that company from start-up to a successful merger in 2001. He also held a number of executive positions with Bell Canada including Vice-President, Product Development and Management.


"The future of our industry in Canada lies with the business leaders who, in spite of a global recession, fierce competition and constantly changing technology, are working hard to build the next great global hitech companies," Gupta said. "In Canada, we need to do a better job of improving their chances for success. ITAC is a respected and influential voice in public policy and is also a dynamic and strong business forum. I am excited to be working with our members to build a strong ICT industry in Canada."




Guyanese born Ashook Ramsaran of the USA was among nine persons of Indian origin honored at a very high profile awards event held on Sunday, August 14, 2011 at the Sutton Hotel in Toronto. Hon Dalton McGinty, Premier of Toronto, released the GLOBAL INDIAN ORIGIN publication profiling the "Top 25 Most Influential Indians in North America" and presented GLOBAL INDIAN ORIGIN recognition honors and appropriately inscribed awards to nine of those profiled as notable recipients. Premier McGinty was assisted by Dr Roseann Runte, president Carleton University in Ottawa. Also participating in this prominent event was Hon Preeti Saran, Indian Consul General in Toronto. The event moderated by actressSupinder Wraich of Toronto, Canada.


Participants included members of the organizing POA Education Foundation, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International, Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) from the Caribbean and India; Non-resident Indians (NRIs); members of the Greater Toronto area and media.


The "Top 25 Most Influential Indians in North America" is another in the series of notable publications from GLOBAL INDIAN ORIGIN. The 25 honorees profiled in "Top 25 Most Influential Indians in North America"are: Mr Vasu Chanchlani (Canada), Dr Ram Charan (USA), Mr Sant Singh Chatwal (USA), Mr Bharat Desai (USA), Mr Gururaj Despande (USA), Mr Bob Dillon (Canada), Mr Ujjal Dosanjh (Canada), Dr Aron Govil (USA), Hon Gov Nikki Haley (USA), Dr Valluvan Jeevnandan (USA), Dr Aditya Jha (Canada), Mr Asa Singh Johal (Canada), Mr Vinod Khosla (USA), Ms Indra Nooyi (USA), Mr Deepak Obhrai (Canada), Mr Vickram Pandit (USA), Dr Sudhir Parikh (USA), Mr Hasmukh P. Rama (USA), Mr Ashook Ramsaran (USA), Dr C S Ranawat (USA), Mr Kuldeep Rai Sahi (USA), Mr Ram Kavitark Shriram (USA), Hon Harinder Takhar (Canada), Ms Sunita Williams (SA).


The citation on the "Indian Diaspora Heritage Award 2011" presented to Ashook Ramsaran states: "In recognition of his outstanding contributions through broader community service and individual achievements in numerous activities".



Ashook Ramsaran being honored in Toronto, CanadaAshook Ramsaran was recognized for his many significant and notable achievements as an active and versatile civic leader in the local New York community as well as the global Indian diaspora community of Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs). Ramsaran is Executive Vice President of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) and CEO of Ramex, Inc an electronics manufacturing company he founded in 1988 and based in New York. Ramsaran's most recent and notably significant accomplishments include India's prestigious 2011 Pravasi Samman Award conferred on him by the President of India on January 9, 2011, and the success of his initiatives and collaboration to establish the Kolkata Memorial which was unveiled on January 11, 2011 in Kolkata, India



Photo above: (l-r) Hon Dalton McGinty, Ashook Ramsaran




Dr Indarjit Singh, OBE (1996), CBE (2009) was honored with a Life Peerage and will sit as an independent Lord in the House of Lords. When asked about his feelings on the award of a life peerage, Dr. Singh commented: "I'm delighted to be the first turbaned Sikh in Parliament. It gives me a new opportunity, to do what I have always tried to do; to work with people of all beliefs to increase tolerance and understanding and work for greater social and political justice in society."


Dr Singh is the Vice Chair and founding member of the Inter Faith Network UK, a national body promoting inter faith understanding, and is Head of the Sikh Chaplaincy Service, which works for the pastoral care of Sikhs in prisons.   He is also the coordinator of pastoral care for Sikhs in hospitals and in the Armed Forces, and a trustee of the World Congress of Faiths.


Dr Singh has served on the British Medical Association's Medical Ethics Committee; and was a member of a working group which advised the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for International Development on issues of third world debt and poverty relief. 


Since 1984, Dr Singh has been a regular contributor to 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4's Today Program and has made frequent World Service broadcasts. He worked on mining and engineering projects in the UK, India and Dubai.




Prominent PIOs in Trinidad and Tobago were among 56 persons conferred with various honors by the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at a National Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, August 30, 2011 in Port of Spain. Among the honorees was Dr Kumar Mabahir of University of Trinidad and Tobago, noted anthropologist, historian and diaspora writer, who was awarded the highly prized Humming Bird Silver Medal. Dr Mahabir was honoured for his loyal and devoted service to his country in field of education.


Other PIOs recognized various other categories are: Zalayhar Hassanali, Helen Bhagwansingh, Pundit Hardath Maharaj, Errol Mahabir, Basharat Ali­, Reverend Ralph Umraw, Deonarine Jagdeosingh, am Kapoor Rampersad, Gladys Gafoor, Dr Noel Kalicharan­, Ousman Ali­, sor Surujpal Teelucksingh, Ranjit Ramnarine, Kemchan Ramdath, Addison Masefield Khan, Krishendath Ramoutar, Amarnath Kamal Rampersad, Pundit Hardeo Persad, Esahack Mohammed, Hardeo Ramsingh, Derrick Sharbodie, Patrick Jugmohansingh, Diana Mary Mahabir-Wyatt, and Brenda Gopeesingh.­




The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named 22 new Mac Arthur Fellows for 2011, including Indian American Shwetak Patel. Each recipient will receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years.


Patel is a computer scientist who has invented a series of sensor technology systems for home environments with the goal of saving energy and improving daily life through a broad range of applications. Much of his work to date has focused on the development of low-cost and easy-to-deploy devices that can detect and measure household energy consumption without an elaborate network of expensive instruments.


To allow residents to track their energy usage down to the level of individual appliances and fixtures, Patel's distinctive approach leverages existing infrastructure - such as gas lines, electrical wiring, plumbing, and ventilation ducts - and requires only a minimal number of small, wirelessly connected sensors attached to the central hookup of each of these utility sources. When coupled with a machine learning algorithm that analyzes patterns of activity and the signature noise produced by each appliance, the sensors enable users to measure and disaggregate their energy and water consumption and to detect inefficiencies more effectively.


In addition to the resource conservation applications of his sensor systems, Patel is also exploring their potential for home security or elder care, as they serve the related function of sensing human activity and monitoring movement throughout a building's rooms. While envisioning cutting-edge new tools to address pressing social challenges and to make the buildings we live in more responsive to our needs, Patel devises elegant, simple solutions that dramatically reduce the cost of implementation.


Patel received a B.S. (2003) and a Ph.D. (2008) from Georgia Institute of Technology. Since 2008, he has been an assistant professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington.

MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations or reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavours. The work of MacArthur Fellows knows neither boundaries nor the constraints of age, place, and endeavour. 









The Reserve Bank of India has allowed Indians to lend up to USD 2 lakh in rupee in a fiscal yearto NRIs and PIOs, who are their close relatives, for personal purpose or business activities other than agriculture, real estate or relending business. 

"The extant position has been reviewed and it has been decided to permit a resident individual to lend to a Non- Resident Indian (NRI)/Person of Indian Origin (PIO) close relative...," the central bank said in a notification. 

It said residents can avail of the new rules, subject to the condition that "the loan amount should be within the overall limit under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme of USD 200,000 per financial year available for a resident individual." 

Besides, the loan should be free of interest and with a minimum maturity of one year. 

In addition, the loan should be utilized for meeting the borrower's personal requirements or for his own business purposes in India. 

"The loan shall not be utilized, either singularly or in association with other person, for any of the activities in which investment by persons resident outside India is prohibited," the notification said. 

The prohibited areas include the chit fund business, agricultural or plantation activities, real estate business, or construction of farm houses and trading in Transferable Development Rights (TDRs). 

"For the purpose... real estate business shall not include development of townships, construction of residential /commercial premises, roads or bridges," it added. 

According to the notification, the loan amount is not allowed to be remitted outside India. 

In another notification, the apex bank allowed resident individuals to gift up to USD 200,000 per fiscal in rupees to their NRI close relatives. 

The central bank's latest move comes a day after it liberalized the foreign exchange rules and allowed NRIs to hold joint account with Indian residents




London based Indian Overseas Congress has urged Indian government to make Constitutional provision for nominating a representative of non-resident Indians to the country's Parliament.


"NRIs holding Indian passports must have their representative in the Parliament and the Indian Government must make constitutional provision for it," said D L Kalhan, President of Indian Overseas Congress (London) UK. He made the remarks at a reception hosted in honor of Gulchain Singh Charak, permanent invitee to Congress Working Committee and in-charge of Punjab, Chandigarh and Bihar Congress. 

Kalhan regretted that no one was paying any heed to tap NRI voting or the influence they could have back home. Answering a question regarding the demand for NRI representation in Indian parliament, Charak said the matter needed a thorough study and he would take it up with the concerned authorities. 

Virendra Sharma, leading Labour MP; Manjit Lit, Chairman of the IOC; Councillor Sunil Chopra, General Secretary of IOC; Councillor Ajmer Dhillon, senior Vice President of the IOC and Councillor Satpal Parmar, also spoke on the occasion.



Buying a property in India is a decision that most NRIs can take after weighing the pros and cons of various tax and regulatory implications. But getting a property as inheritance is often not a choice, especially for first generation NRIs and PIOs whose parents bequeath to them, property situated in India. In such cases, NRIs must know how to deal with such inheritances.


Columnist Deepa Venkartraghavan has written a series of articles on NRIs guide to buying and selling properties in India and has been posted at Times of India website. The latest article is on NRIs Guide to Deal with Inherited Properties. To read this article, visit the Times of India website at




Liberalising the foreign exchange rules, the Reserve Bank has allowed NRIs to hold joint account with Indian residents, a move that would help increase remittances. The central bank has also permitted sale proceeds of foreign investments in India to accrue to NRE/FCNR accounts after tax deductions, under the Foreign Exchange Management Act. 

Foreign Currency Non-Resident (FCNR) account and Non-Resident External (NRE) account are opened by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) with the Indian banks. 

As per the recommendations of the committee constituted to review facilities available under FEMA, the central bank has taken such steps. 

RBI has allowed residents of India to include non-resident close relative in their resident bank accounts on 'former or survivor' basis. However, such non-resident relative shall not be eligible to operate the account during resident's lifetime, it said in a notification. 

It also permitted NRIs to open NRE/FCNR account with their resident close relative. In this case, the resident relative can operate the account as a power of attorney holder. 

Similarly, the central bank has doubled the slab under which securities worth USD 50,000 per fiscal can be transferred by resident Indians to non-resident individuals 'by way of gift' from the present level of USD 25,000. 

RBI has also allowed resident individuals to include resident close relative in their EEFC (Exchange Earners Foreign Currency) or RFC (Resident Foreign Currency) as a joint account holder.




The Reserve Bank has allowed resident individuals to repay housing loans in rupee on behalf of their close relatives, who are non-resident Indians (NRIs) or People of Indian origin (PIO). 

"..It has been decided that where an authorized dealer (bank) in India has granted loan to a non-resident Indian..., such loans may also be repaid by resident close relative of the non-resident Indian by crediting the borrower's loan account through the bank account of such relative," the apex bank said in a notification. 

However, this repayment facility is restricted to housing loan only, it noted. 

In another circular, the central bank allowed resident individuals to pay for medical expenses of their non-resident close relatives, who are on visit to India. 

Presently, a resident individual can pay bills of their NRI kins for boarding, lodging, travel to and from and within India.




The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi will launch a web-based attestation system of employment documents for recruiting Indian workers for employment in the UAE on August 25 on a trial basis,


The embassy requested all foreign employers wishing to recruit Indian citizens as employees to register themselves on Currently, the job contracts of Indian workers carrying the passports with 'Emigration Clearance Required' stamp [those who have not passed matriculation] have to be attested by the Indian Protector of Emigrants [an Indian authority] and the Indian Embassy. But the unscrupulous agents make separate [fake] contracts for the above mentioned two authorities to get around the rules and regulations. However there was no system to detect the discrepancy between the contracts submitted with the authorities.

The new online attestation system is expected to stop the practice of making fake contracts.




A recently set up special cell takes up parliament members' complaints regarding problems faced by Indian workers aboard, the government announced recently.

"A cell has been set up in the recent past. Any complaints by the MPs are addressed by the secretary," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said replying to questions in the Rajya Sabha regarding 17 Indian laborers stranded in Malaysia.

He was replying to a suggestion for setting up a special cell to address situations where Indian workers face difficulties abroad.

"Usually the workers face difficulties, but they are not able to get in touch with the ambassador there. They then approach their families, which approach MPs or MLAs (legislators) and then we come to the minister," Congress member P.J. Kurien said. 

Some other members also suggested a mechanism to be developed in India, wherein the families of the workers can approach authorities. 

The minister first said he will consider the suggestion but later said the overseas Indian affairs ministry was already there to take care of the issue. 

Replying to the question on 17 Indian workers from Jharkhand being stranded in Malaysia after being denied the promised wages, the minister said the workers were with the Indian high commission in Kuala Lumpur and the issue was being taken up by the authorities.




Australia has recorded a drop of almost 63 per cent in offshore international student visa applications from India in the last financial year, according to latest official data. 

The figures also show an overall drop of 20 per cent in the offshore international student visa applications, media reports said on Wednesday. 

The Indian market has been the hardest hit by the fall in offshore applications with a drop of 63 per cent. The June month Immigration Department's quarterly report on the student visa programme revealed that the number of offshore applicants from India dropped from 18,514 in the 2009-10 financial year to just 6875 in the 2010-11 financial year. 

Apart from this even applications from China, Australia's largest source country for international students, also dropped 24.3 per cent.


Melbourne University higher education expert Simon Marginson said the drop showed the sector was still a way off from a recovery. "[There is] no sign that we have yet reached the bottom of the curve," he said. 

Marginson said the steep drop-off in offshore applications was largely because of federal government changes to the visa criteria and skilled migration list. 

"Demand for Australian education in India always was relatively soft and the elimination of the migration-related industry run through education agents, plus the image problems triggered by the violence, has permanently depressed the prospects of recruitment in that country," he said. 

Professor Marginson said the drop in applications from Vietnam - down 31 per cent - and China was of greater concern. 

"China and south-east Asia are our core markets [and] far more worrying is the defection of part of the student market in China and Vietnam, where demand is more education-centerd, and the quality of students coming to Australia has been higher than those coming from India," he said.




As per media report, one half million Indians are issued non-immigration visa to visit America every year whereas 800,000 Americans travel to India each year. Last year, Indian citizens were the largest group of people receiving H1B and L visas. As many as 100,000 Indian students are studying in the US universities.




Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2006 announced the setting up of a multi-disciplinary university with seats for PIO children. The Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) was selected by the Ministry of Overseas Affairs (MOIA) to set up Rs 600 crore university. MAHE Trust had planned to start this university by 2012.


MAHE project was challenged by Charitable Educational & Welfare Society (Kadammanitta), Kerala and Kerala state filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court. As per media reports, MOIA has informed MAHE that the government does not want to proceed with the project at this time,


Most of the universities in India function under the guidelines of University Grants Commission (UGC). MAHE Trust which was authorized to set up the PIO university felt that the proposed PIO University should be established under a new Act of Parliament.


MAHE had already acquired land for the purposed university. The multi-disciplinary university was expected to be self-financed. The university was supposed to reserve 50 per cent of the seats for PIOs, 15 per cent for NRIs and the rest for Indian students. It had planned to offer courses in engineering, information technology, humanities, biotechnology and Masters in Business Administration.


Manipal's long term plan included a medical college with 100 seats, attached to a multi-specialty hospital. Manipal has already been running institutions in Nepal, Malaysia and Antigua in the Caribbeans.




After a long and hard struggle by GOPIO, government of India agreed to issue a 20-year "PIO" visa to overseas citizens of Indian origin. The relentless pursuit by GOPIO to obtain dual citizenship, resulted in the grant of another type of card, popularly known as Overseas citizen of India (OCI). The holder does not have any political rights nor is he considered citizen of India residing overseas. OCI, to a common person, guarantees lifetime visa to visit India and without restrictions.


On January 8, 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his inaugural speech at the PBD 2011, announced to merge the two schemes into one. The Union home ministry manages the OCI scheme and has suggested that nomenclature OCI be changed to OIC (Overseas Indian Card). Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs recommended the name to be 'OICS' (Overseas Indian Card Scheme) which has been recommended to the Cabinet for approval and amendment to the Citizenship Act.


As per the Citizenship of India Act, an OCI card holder is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship five years after obtaining the OCI card provided he resides in India for one year out of the five years.




On July 28, 2011, government officials from different federal agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the Annandale campus of the University of Northern Virginia (UNVA) and took away with them a large number of boxes full of documents and computer hard drives. The raid was conducted by law enforcement agencies on suspected charges of alleged visa fraud.


The investigation by The Chronicle found that the university was exploiting U.S. visa loopholes to admit foreign students. Like Tri-Valley University in Southern California, nearly all the students numbering over 2000 are in the United States on visas, and the vast majority are from India. The Tri-Valley has been closed since then.




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: 818-708-3885, E-mail:

GOPIO President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel:  +44 28-9807-8787,


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


To become a Life member of GOPIO, one can sign up online at 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, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)

Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO Executive Vice President (New York, USA)

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

Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (GOPIO Intl., USA), Suman Kapoor (GOPIO-Waikato, New Zealand), Jay Banerjei (GOPIO-Toronto), Shailesh Naik (GOPIO-CT, USA), Dr. Piyush Agrawal (GOPIO Intl., USA), Ashok Motwani (Mumbai, India) and Radha Krishnan (Detroit, 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