July 1, 2009A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
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GOPIO INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHES 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION EFFORT IN NEW YORK
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) and its chapters in the New York area inaugurated its 20th anniversary convention effort at the World's Fair Marina Banquet Hall in Queens, New York on June 5th evening. The chief guest at the event was Indian Consul General Prabhu Dayal. The program started with a welcome by the convention convener and GOPIO Secretary General Ashook Ramsaran.
"This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the formation of GOPIO - 20 years of remarkable and unprecedented achievements by GOPIO representing the interests and concerns of over 25 million people living outside of India. We encourage all of you to be part of this wonderful event at GOPIO's 20th Anniversary Convention, to know about it, its significance and how it matters to every one of us in the Indian Diaspora, to feel connected with a sense of belonging and to participate fully," said Ramsaran.
GOPIO Chairman in his remarks said that GOPIO was formed at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New York in August 1989 when there were widespread violations of civic and human rights of NRIs/PIOs as well as the issue of Indians being outside the political mainstream. "In the last 20 years, there have been substantial improvements in civic and human rights violations, although we have seen violence against Indian students in Australia recently, which GOPIO has condemn and call upon Australian Government to take immediate action," said Dr. Abraham.
Consul General Dayal said that GOPIO has made substantial contribution to sensitize the Indian government on issues such as the PIO Card and Overseas Indian Citizenship and that Govt. of India takes seriously GOPIO's suggestions on various issues and common interest. "NRIs and PIOs and particularly Indian Americans have contributed toward better relations with India and the countries they live in, as we saw the passage of US-India Nuclear Deal through the US Congress with the Indian American community," said Dayal.
After the inaugural ceremony, Ramsaran introduced his team. The Co-conveners are Sangeeta Ahuja, Darshan singh Bagga, Lal Motwani and Nohar Singh.
Photo below: GOPIO 20th Anniversary Convention organizers at the launch. From L. to R.: Ashok Ramsaran, Sangeeta Ahuja, Consul General Prabhu Dayal, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Lal Motwani and Darshan Singh Bagga.
Photo above: Consul General Dayal, panelists and GOPIO Officials at the GOPIO 20th Anniversary launch, From L. to R.: Prof. Arvind Pangariya, Joydeep Mukherji, Sangeeta Ahuja, Sreedhar Menon, Consul General Dayal, Dr. Thomas Abraham
A panel discussion titled "India and the Global Economy: Prospects and Challenges for the UPA II" followed the inauguration. The panelists were Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy, Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs and Mr. Sreedhar Menon, Former Deputy President of American Express Bank Ltd. and currently Chairman, Viteos Fund Services, Inc. It was moderated by Mr. Joydeep Mukherji, Former India Analyst and Currently Director, Latin American Sovereign Ratings, Standard & Poor's.
In his opening remarks, Mukherji said that the NRI/PIO economic output could be between $300 to $500 billion which is a substantial number compared to the GDP of India which is over trillion dollars. However, India's GDP is growing much faster now than that of the NRI/PIO economic output.
On a question what can be expected from Manmohan Singh administration, Dr. Pangariya said that after the elections, the expectations are high from the new government. In terms of economic liberalization, the govt. has to take series of steps to liberalize insurance and banking sector. Dr. Pangariya was also very positive on the selection of some of the ministers and noted the selection of Mr. Kapil Sibal as Minister for Human Resources Development and Mr. Kamal Nath as Minister of Infrastructure. Pangariya also felt that the Indian businesses have to have exit policy when the businesses are not doing well similar to Chapter 11 in the US.
Mr. Menon on the hand said that the new government needs an agenda to protect ourselves from terrorism as a high priority. He also felt that infrastructure has to be improved and govt. has to work on reducing the budget deficit.
On a question on the relation with Obama and Manmohan Singh administrations, Dr. Pangariya said that the US has gone soft on Pakistan even though terrorism threat has increased from that country. "There are other pressing issues such as climate treaty which are to be agreed and both countries have to look forward to some long term strategies of cooperation," Dr. Pangariya added.
On the same question, Mr. Menon said that it is still too early to know what is going to happen. "However, there are many strategic cooperation between the two countries emerging, in technology sharing such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, in military and in trade." Mr. Menon was bullish on the US-India relation.
Dr. Maya Chadda, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University in her concluding remarks said that at the recent Indian election, the two political grouping have emerged in the center as well as in the states which would provide political stability for the country.
Following the panel, audience participated in lively discussion.
The convention organizers also announced the convention theme and the two major conferences taking place at the 20th anniversary celebrations. The convention theme is "People of Indian Origin: Strengthening Global Connections."The conference themes are: Business Conference (Aug. 21): "India and the Indian Diaspora in the Context of Global Economic Challenges" and the Diaspora Conference (Aug. 22): "The Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium." There will also be a meet of youth and young professional at the convention.
GOPIO-CT President and a Co-Convener of the convention Sangeeta Ahuja concluded the evening meeting.
More details of the convention are available at www.gopio.net or contact the Convention Convener Ashook Ramsaran at 718-353-1900, E-mail email@example.com
|VAYALAR RAVI TAKES OVER AGAIN AS MINISTER FOR OVERSEAS INDIAN AFFAIRS
Mr. Vayalar Ravi has again sworn in as Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs in the new cabinet headed by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. After the swearing ceremony, Minister Ravi held a press conference at which he said that the Indian government was seriously considering "an institutionalized mechanism" to prevent racist attacks on Indians abroad. Ravi said that his immediate task was to protect the Indians in Australia as a number of Indian students have faced allegedly racial attacks there.
"The government of India has taken the matter seriously. My immediate task is to ensure the safety of Indians there. I have asked for a report from the Indian High Commission in Australia," Ravi told reporters after assuming the office. "I can assure that the ministry will do all it can for the families of the victims," he said.
Ravi, who held this important portfolio in the previous cabinet too, said a 100-day plan for the ministry would be finalized soon.
He said memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on employment and social security with some European and Gulf countries were pending and would be finalized soon.
"Pending MoUs on employment and social security with various countries including Bahrain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg would be signed immediately," the minister said.
Ravi said he was happy to be back with this ministry as he would have an opportunity to work for people in India and abroad.
|INDIAN STUDENT GROUPS DEMONSTRATE IN AUSTRALIA AGAINST VIOLENCE - GOPIO OFFICIALS MEET LAWMAKERS ON THE ISSUE
During the last few weeks, about 20 students have been beaten or attacked with a screw driver or similar weapon, mostly in Melbourne (Victoria) and some in Sydney (New South Wales). The attackers allegedly hurled racist abuses which were initially denied by the Victorian police but later confirmed that some of the attacks were "clearly racist". One student has died while another is still in critical condition. The continued violence forced the Police Chief Commissioner to launch a new sweep against crime in the worst-hit areas in Melbourne, using helicopters, mounted police, dogs and transit police. Indian student groups demonstrated in Melbourne and Sydney against the violence last month.
The repeated violent attacks caused major concerns at the highest governmental level. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his deep concern in a telephone call with the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd who later said that he would do "everything possible to maximize security" and step up safety measures for international students.
The attacks on students became a major cause of worry for parents in India. Many students have been pressured by their parents to return to India. Some have preferred safety over education and have decided to quit their studies and go back to join their families in India. Several students from India who had secured admissions have sent their cancellations.
Australia's education industry has boomed in recent years to become the country's third largest export earner after coal and iron ore. According to Forbes, Australia has a $15.5bn business with foreign students. There are over 450,000 international students in Australia enrolled in universities and vocational institutes of which 75,000 students are Indians - the second highest after the Chinese. Indian student enrolments in vocational education and training (VET) have shot up during the last three years. They are widely using admission into vocational courses to gain permanent residency (PR) status. As per the data compiled by the Australian Education International, over 52,000 Indian students are enrolled in these programs, the highest number from any country. The number of Indian students pursuing higher studies in Australian universities has, however, not changed much.
The violence against the students and lack of protection from the law enforcement agencies can affect the popularity of Australia as an education destination for Indian students. The Australian education officials are becoming increasingly concerned at the potential damage the ongoing violence could cause to the third biggest export earner for Australia, after coal and iron ore. Following a wave of savage attacks on Indian students that have caused global outrage, the Australian government has set up a taskforce comprising ofsenior officials from the department of foreign affairs and trade, the department of education and workplace relations, the department of immigration and citizenship and the attorney-generals' department to deal with the problem. Universities Australia, a body comprising of 38 Australia's universities, has adopted a 10-point action plan for student safety.
The Australian authorities plan to launch a telephone helpline for Indian students facing discrimination and violence. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, with the help of Indian missions, is planning to formulate a data bank on the students. Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said that the data bank would include details on the total number of Indian students in a country, their place of stay and job conditions of the part time employed students, etc.
GOPIO Australia Coordinator Amarinder Walia, GOPIO Regional Vice President Noel Lal and GOPIO chapter presidents Harry Walia and Jagidh Lodhia met Mrs. Sujata Singh, India's High Commissioner in Canberra and discussed the ways of helping students. They have organized fund raising for Rajesh Kumar who suffered 30% burn wounds in Harris park petrol bomb incident and are also providing legal aid where necessary. They are in communication with the local MP's, office of the Prime Minister and Premiere of New South Wales and are involved with community confidence building exercises. They are in the process of setting up a GOPIO website to facilitate job network for the students and employers. The website can also be used for reporting incidents which GOPIO volunteers would follow up with the police and authorities.
Australian government has now started measures to control the damage. Australia's secretary of the department of education, employment and workplace relations, was in India in June and met with high ranking officials and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and assured him that a regulatory mechanism would be in place to ensure proper wage for students engaged in part-time jobs. A high-level delegation comprising of representatives from Australian universities, vocational institutes, state governments, state police and foreign office will reach New Delhi on July 4. The delegation will be led by the head of international education Colin Walters and will do an extensive tour of cities. They will meet state governments, students and parents to reassure them that Australia is really a safe destination for Indian students. This will be the biggest such delegation from Australia, indicating the importance this issue has taken.
Australia had instituted "White only" policy in 1901, at the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Asians and colored races were considered aliens and subject to deportation. After WWII and particularly since the 1970s, immigration to Australia was no longer based on a person's color, nationality, or creed. A large influx of Indo Fijians migrated to Australia after the coup in Fiji. About 45,000 Anglo-Indians made Australia their home after India gained independence in 1947. According to the High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora, Indian population in Australia in 2001 was 190,000. The current population of NRI/PIO community is estimated at 260,000.
|GOPIO's 20TH ANNIVERSARY CONVENTION - ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT PROGRESSING VERY WELL
GOPIO's Global Convention 2009 will re-examine and re-evaluate GOPIO's role during the last 20 years with respect to goals and aspirations of 25 million people of Indian origin (PIO) living outside of India. Conference topics include: human Rights, political participation, economic trends, socio-cultural and Diasporic related issues and concerns, inter-generational conflict, challenges and opportunities for the future. The Convention theme and program details are as follows:
August 20-23, 2009
Crowne Plaza Hotel LaGuardia Airport, New York City
104-04 Ditmars Blvd., East Elmhurst, New York 11369, USA
(call for special discounted room rates for GOPIO Convention)
"People of Indian Origin: Strengthening Global Connections"
Two conferences under the broad theme.
Business Conference (Aug. 21): "India and The Indian Diaspora in the Context of Global Economic Challenges"
Diaspora Conference (Aug. 22): "The Indian Diaspora: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium"
Thursday, August 20th
Day 2:00 - 4:00pm GOPIO Executive Committee Meeting
Chaired by Inder Singh, President, GOPIO Int'l.
Day 4:00 - 6:00pm GOPIO Executive Council Meeting
Chaired by Dr Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO Int'l.
(Country & Regional Reports to be Presented)
Eve 7:00 - 9:00pm Welcome Reception/Dinner
Friday, August 21st
Day 9:00am - 6:00pm GOPIO Business Conference
Eve 7:00pm - 9:00pm Reception, Convention Inauguration & Cultural Program
Saturday, August 22nd
Day 9:00am -10:00pm GOPIO General Council Meeting & Elections
Day 10:00am - 6:00pm GOPIO Diaspora Conference, Senior Citizens Conference
and Meeting of the Next Generation
Eve 7:00pm - 11:00pm Banquet & Cultural Program
Sunday, August 23rd
Day 10:00am - 12:00pm GOPIO General Council Meeting (Cont'd)
Hotel and Conference Center - Crowne Plaza Hotel LaGuardia Airport, New York City
Tel: 1-718/457-6300 (call to make reservation, mention GOPIO Convention for discounted room rates of $119 for double room)
GOPIO Executive Council Meeting and Reception on August 20th and Banquet August 22nd World's Fair Marina Banquet Hall
, Flushing, New York
(near Citifields, one mile from Crowne Plaza Hotel at LaGuardia Airport) MEETING OF THE NEXT GENERATION TO BE HELD
As part of the convention, GOPIO YOUTH AND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS MEET will be held at the convention. Contact Vishnu Mahadeo firstname.lastname@example.org or Sharon Banta email@example.com or Anita Bhat firstname.lastname@example.org. BECOME CONVENTION SPONSOR OR AN EVENT SPONSOR
It is a great opportunity to place your ads in the convention souvenir brochure. To become a sponsor or place an ad., contact Convention Convener and GOPIO Secretary General: Ashook Ramsaran 1-718-969-8206, e-mail: email@example.com. Conference Registration
Pre-registration to August 15: $130/person, August 16 -- 20: $150/person, One day fee: $75/person, Banquet Only: $65/person. Conference Only: (8/21 or 8/22): $20/person (Coffee/tea breaks incl, not lunch). Full registration fee includes two cocktail receptions/dinners, two lunches, continental breakfasts, banquet and coffee breaks.
Please send in your registration to GOPIO International, Attn. Ashook Ramsaran, Convenor, PO Box 560117, New York, NY 11356, USA, Tel: 718-939-8194, Fax: 1-718-353-2404 email: firstname.lastname@example.org GOPIO Officers:
Chairman: Dr. Thomas Abraham; President: Inder Singh; Executive Vice President: Lord Diljit Rana; Regional Vice President North America: Dr Piyush Agrawal; Secretary General: Ashook Ramsaran Convention Team:
Dr. Thomas Abraham, Sudha Acharya, Dr .Piyush Agrawal, Ritesh Agrawal, Anand Ahuja, Sangeeta Ahuja, Darshan Bagga, Rafeek Baksh, Sharon Banta, Anita Bhat, Marina Budhos, Dr. Maya Chadda, Ravi Dhingra, Bhanu Dwarika, Ram Gadhavi, Dr Sushila Gidwani-Buschi, Deo Gosine, Rekha Gupta, John Joseph, Prasad Kambampaty, Ramesh Kalicharran, Ram Lakhina, Bina Mahabir, Gary Mahabir, Vishnu Mahadeo, Robert Mahesh, Prince Markose, Dr. Raj Metha, Jaswant Mody, Chandra Morgan, Ashook Motwani, Dr. Jagat Motwani, Lal Motwani, Stanley Raj, Dr. Rohini Ramanathan, Yesu Persaud, Rajeshwar Prasad, Netram Rambudhan, Ashook Ramsaran, Jasbir Sachar, Dr .Asha Samant, Dharmatma Saran, Dr. Parmatma Saran, Dr. Rupam Saran, Shabana Sharif, Inder Singh, Nohar Singh, Prakash Singh, Pritha Singh, Dhiraj Solanki, Satruhan Sukdeo, Dr. Najma Sultana, Mohinder Taneja, Thambi Thalappillil and Raju Thomas.
GOPIO has been providing a common platform for people of Indian origin since its inception in 1989. GOPIO membership is open to all people of Indian origin. For more information or to volunteer for the convention activities, please contact: GOPIO Secretary General & Convention Convener Ashook Ramsaran at 718-353-2404 email: email@example.com or GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org or GOPIO President Inder Singh at GOPIO-Intl@sbcglobal.net
|FORMER PRESIDENT KALAM DELIVERS KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT GOPIO-FICCI CONFERENCE IN LONDON
On June 9, 2009, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India delivered keynote address at GOPIO-FICCI joint conference, entitled "Is a New Global Order Emerging? The Potential Role of India." Dr Kalam, known as the 'People's President', spoke about the powerful potential of India, its role in the scientific and business communities and the launch of his own project - the World Knowledge Platform. Other speakers included Indian High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, GOPIO International President Inder Singh, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) President Harsh Pati Singhania, Lord Diljit Rana, Lord Richard Newby, Lord Meghnad Desai, FICCI Secretary General Dr. Amit Mitra, and international human rights lawyer Dr. Bonita Meyersfeld.
The event, chaired by Lord Navnit Dholakia, considered the future role of India in the new global order. The conference aimed to engage a select community of business and political leaders to strategize both about the economic vitality of Indian commerce and its long-term potential to enhance global income and eradicate national poverty. The panelists, including economists, business leaders and lawyers, provided commentary on the potential of political and economic leadership of India and its responsibility to eradicate poverty at home and abroad. Lord Desai concluded that there is a pause in the economy, which Dr. Mitra identified as an opportunity for upsurge in meaningful development, sustainable growth and, coupled with a motivated new government in India, an empowered India in a new global order.
Photo below: GOPIO-FICCI Conference in London. From L. to R. Lod Navnit Dholakia, GOPIO President Inder Singh, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Indian High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee and FICCI President Harsh Pati Singhania President Kalam in Belfast. From L. to R.: GOPIO Executive Vice President and Honorary Consul of India for Northern Ireland Lord Diljit Rana, Dr. Kalam, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness and Indian High Commissioner Shiv Shanker Mukherjee
The conference was held at the Nehru Center, London and attracted members of the Indian community and many students of Indian origin in the fields of politics, science and international relations.
On June 10, 2009, Dr. Kalam spoke at GOPIO organized luncheon in Belfast, Northern Ireland where over 100 people including GOPIO Int'l president Inder Singh and GOPIO Ireland president Dr. Prabhu Kulkarni of Dublin had come to attend the event. Lord Diljit Rana, GOPIO Executive Vice President, and resident of Belfast was the host of the gala function. The former president was also given an honorary degree by Queens University Belfast, whose Vice Chancellor Peter Gregson noted that "Few people so clearly personify the term 'Renaissance Man'."
|INDIA EVENING HELD AT THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK
Columbia University in New York City was the venue for a rare convergence of two international groups of colloid and surface scientists from June 14 to June 19, 2009 at its Morningside campus. The triennial 13th International Conference on Surface and Colloid Science originating from the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists will occur jointly with the annual 83rd Colloid and Surface Science Symposium originating from the American Chemical Society. This confluence brought together top researchers and technologists spanning the wide range of topics that come under the umbrella of colloid and surface science; such as behaviors in particulate systems and at interfaces, and the application of this knowledge to a host of industrial technologies including: biomedical, material science, nano-engineering, water treatment, oil recovery, mineral processing, papermaking, and energy and environmental stewardship.
Conference General Chairman Prof. P "Som" Somasundaran of Columbia University said "This was the Olympics in Surface Science, the largest conference event in colloids and surfaces since two major societies have joined together to organize the conference in the greatest city, i.e. New York, in an academic environment of Columbia University."
"We were planning for 600-800 attendees. We had 1400 delegates from 40 countries for the week long conference and symposium," Dr. Somasundaran added. The current recession had not made any dent into this conference.
Photo below: Indian dancers of Kalashri School of Arts aliong with Irish and Hip Hop dancers at the India Evening at the conference
Photo above: ICSCS2009 conference organizers complimenting the dancers and choreographers. Standing from L. to R.: Indian Evening sponsor Dr. Andrei Durkhin of Dispersion Technology, Irish Dance Choreographer Elaine Greenan, Kalashri School of Arts Director Bina Menon, Conference Chair Dr. Ray Farinato of Kemira Water Solutions, Conference General Chair Dr. P. Somasundaran of Columbia University and GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham of Innovative Research and Products.
"Being held in a city with a great diversity, we organized entertainment each evenings with a theme with Korean drum dancers welcoming the delegates on the first day evening followed by American contemporary dances on Monday, Indian dancers on Tuesday and Brazilian dancers on Wednesday," said the Conference Executive Director Dr. Thomas Abraham.
"It was a taste of New York and its great diversity to the delegates from around the world," added Dr. Abraham.
The India Evening with Western Fusion was put together by Ms. Bina Menon, Director and Choreographer of Kalashri School of Arts located Parsippany, New Jersey. Over 35 Indian dancers were joined by other Western dancers performing Irish, Hip-Hop and Swing.The 40 minutes program included Indian semi-classical dances followed by Western fusion dances and ending in a grand finale with everyone dancing to the tune of Slumdog Millionaire.
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL SEEKS FEEDBACK FROM ITS CHAPTERS AND REGIONAL AND COUNTRY COORDINATORS
GOPIO International is in the process of updating its list of email addresses of GOPIO chapters (presidents and members of the executive committee), Council chairs and co-chairs, and life members. Those who are receiving this notice are requested to send name of the president/executive member/life member/council chair or co-chair along with email address and telephone (landline and mobile) before the end of July, 2009 at the following email address: GOPIOemail@example.com.
All Regional VPs, Regional Coordinators and Country Coordinators are urged to send the list of GOPIO chapters in good standing and the name of the delegate(s) who will be representing the chapter at GOPIO conference in New York from Aug 20-23, 2009. If a chapter has not paid its annual chapter fee or has arrears of the previous years, it can be still be sent so as to reach before the end of July, 2009 at the following address:
3818 Gleneagles Dr.
Tarzana, CA 91356, USA
Chapters with standing can only participate as delegates to the GOPIO Executive Council meeting and election for the new team held during the upcoming convention.
GOPIO-CT JOINS CACER WALK AND HOLDS YOUTH AND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS GATHERING
On a sunny Sunday, June 7th, members of GOPIO Connecticut chapter along with the Hampton Inn & Suites team led by Shelly Nichani, joined thousands of walkers for Stamford Hospital's annual Hope in Motion Walk, Run & Ride event benefiting the Bennett Cancer Center. An estimated 4,000 people participated in the event, which celebrates cancer survivors, reminds us of the fight against cancer, and pays tribute to those who've lost the battle to cancer.
Since 1996, the "Hope in Motion" - Walk, Run & Ride event has raised funds to support the vital programs and services offered to patients and their families at the Bennett Cancer Center. In 13 years, the event has raised a over $6 million for the cancer center. All the funds raised through Hope in Motion go directly to support the programs for cancer research and support.
GOPIO-CT will match the funds contributed by the members who participated in this event, including Sangeeta Ahuja, Dharam Paul Ahuja, Anita Bhat, Shelly Nichani, Shailesh Naik, Yash Kandelwal, Saad Akhtar, Mohan Yadav and Sonal Vora. "It was totally worth it," said Sonal. "It is so gratifying to know that we can be helping out while having such a good, healthy brisk walk with friends."
"It is such a wonderful way to spend the morning; this is the second year of participation for GOPIO-CT. There were kids' activities, clowns, healthy snacks and lots of freebies. It feels great to be involved and support causes for our community," said Sangeeta Ahuja, President of GOPIO-CT.
Photo below: Some of the GOPIO-CT participants at the cancer walk fundraiser
Photo above: GOPIO-CT Youth and Young Professionals meeet
GOPIO-CT Youth and Young Professionals Group organized a summer get together on Saturday, June 20th at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Stamford. The program was coordinated by the group's co-chairs Sharon Banta and Ankur Ahuja. Attended by about two dozen members, everyone had a wonderful time. The participants had an interactive session and exchanged notes on college admissions, preparing for medical schools admission and prospects for employment after college. They also discussed involving youth and young professionals in fund raisers for charitable activities such as soup kitchens in Stamford and nearby towns.
For more information on GOPIO-CT and upcoming events, call GOPIO-CT President Sangeeta Ahuja at 203-329-9744, or visit www.gopio-ct.org
AUSTRALIA APPOINTS INDO-AUSTRALIAN PETER VARGHESE AS HIGH COMMISSIONER TO INIDA
Australia has named its intelligence chief Peter Varghese, an Indian-Australian and a close aide of Premier Kevin Rudd as its new High Commissioner to India. Varghese, the current head of the Office of National Assessments (ONA), will take over in August from John McCarthy, who has served in the job since 2004. He will also hold concurrent accreditation to Bhutan.
Varghese served as Australia's High Commissioner to Malaysia from 2000-2002. He also served in Australian missions in Vienna, Washington and Tokyo.
The announcement comes at a sensitive time in relations, with the billion-dollar student market under threat due to a spate of recent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney. More than 80,000 Indians are currently studying in Australia.
In making the announcement, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia's engagement with India was expanding rapidly in recognition of the country's growing economic and strategic importance and influence.
Australia and India also engage closely on strategic and defence matters, Mr Smith said.
"Military engagement occurs across the full range of activities, including ship visits, service-to-service level talks, professional exchanges and research and development collaboration.
"In 2008 Australia and India decided to step up strategic cooperation by holding annual talks between the chiefs of our defence forces, and by strengthening intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation," the foreign minister said.
India is also Australia's fastest growing export market with energy and minerals the main drivers but also education services.
OBAMA NOMINATES INDIAN AMERICAN AS BELIZE ENVOY
US President Barack Obama has nominated one of his eminent Indian-American bundler, Vinai K Thummalapally as the next American Ambassador to Belize.
Bundler is a term used in American electoral parlance for those supporters who raise more than $50,000 for the presidential elections.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Thummalapally heads an optical recording manufacturing company MAM-A. Originally from Hyderabad, he came to the US in 1974. He is reported to have raised more than $100,000 for the Obama presidential campaign last year.
Based in Colorado, MAM-A is the CD-R and DVD-R specialist in manufacturing. Prior to his role at MAM-A Inc, Thummalapally served as the plant manager for Mitsui Advanced Media Inc, which also manufactures recordable optical discs.
Thummalapally has also served in several other similar roles in his 31-year career, including as General Manager for WEA Manufacturing, as a Managing Partner of Clines Office Products, and as Manufacturing Manager of Disc Manufacturing, Inc.
He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from California State University and completed post graduate courses in Business Administration, the White House said.
Among other important Indian-American bundlers for Obama were Deven Parekh of Insight Venture from New York, Karim Alibhai of Genco from Florida, Jatinder Bedi of The Indian Reporters from Chicago, Sunil Puri of Illinois from First Rockford Group and Balvinder Singh of A-One carpets from Illinois.
INDIAN AMERICAN FARAH PANDITH IS CLINTON AIDE FOR MUSLIMS
An Indian American Kashmiri-origin Farah Pandith, has been appointed as special representative to Muslim communities in the US State Department.US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appointed Pandith as in charge of a new office that is responsible for outreach with Muslims around the world, according to a notice of the State Department.
According to a notification from the US State Department, Pandith and her staff will carry out Clinton's efforts to "engage with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and organizational level."
Pandith previously was an adviser on Muslim engagement at the State Department, serving as a senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. She has also served on the National Security Council as the coordinator for US policy on outreach to Muslims, and worked at the US Agency for International Development on assistance projects for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories.
Pandith, immigrated to the US in 1969 with her parents from Srinagar.
KAVYA SHIVASHANKAR IS SPELLING BEE CHAMPION
Kavya Shivashankar, Olathe, Kansas is the winner of the Scripps Spelling Bee 2009 championship held Grand Hyatt in Washington DC on on May 28, 2009 which was televised live on ABC. This is second year in a row that a PIO kid has been crowned the top speller of America. Last years's winner was Sameer Mishra. The winning word was Laodicean, meaning lukewarm or indifferent. Besides the Spelling Bee 2009 cup, Kavya took home over $40,000 in cash and prizes. For the 13-years-old Kavya, this was her fourth attempt at winning the top honors in the prestigious Spelling Bee Competition.
Kavya enjoys practicing her violin, bicycling, swimming, and learning Indian classical dance. She names Nupur Lala, the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion, as her role model and the inspiration for her spelling career. She has plans for her future career as well: She looks forward to becoming a neurosurgeon. Kavya participated in the 2006, 2007, and 2008 national finals-tying for 10th, 8th, and 4th place, respectively.
This is the ninth occasion since 1985 that a desi kid has won the prestigious Spelling Bee championship.
Of the six other desi kids, Aishwarya Pastapur from Springfield, IL won the third prize. Overall, desi kids fared extremely well in this year's Spelling Bee with 15 desi kids made it to the semi-finals.
In terms of the success of desi kids at the Spelling Bee, Balu Natarajan of Chicago was the first Indian-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee (1985). Since 1985, eight other Indian-Americans have won the Spelling Bee: Rageshree Ramachandran (1988), Nupur Lala (1999), George Thampy (2000), Pratyush Buddiga (2002), Sai Gunturi (2003), Anurag Kashyap (2005), Sameer Mishra (2008) and now Kavya Shivashankar (2009).
THREE SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN SCIENTISTS NAMED TO THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
The US National Academy Sciences has named 72 new members and 18 foreign associates. Of them, three are South Asian origin. They are Prof. Rafi Ahmed at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Director, Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University in Atlanta; Dr. Rakesh Jain. Prof. Of Tumor Biology and Director of Edwin I. Steele Laboratory, Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston; and Dr. Dinshaw Patel, Chair in Experimental Physics and Member Structural Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City.
TWO PIO STUDENTS ARE AMONG TOP WINNERS IN INTEL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AWARDS
The Intel Foundation has announced top winners of the world's largest pre-college science fair, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held on May 10-15 in Reno, Nevada. Amoing the winners are Tara Anjali Adiseshan, 14 (Charlottesville, VA) and Preya Shah, 17 (East Setauket, NY). The winners were selected from more than 1,563 young scientists from 56 countries, regions and territories for their commitment to innovation and science.
Adiseshan, one of three grand award winners, took home a $50,000 scholarship for identifying and classifying the evolutionary relationship between sweat bees and the nermatodes (microscopic worms) that live inside them. Adiseshan proved that because the two have such ecologically intimate relationships, they also have an evolutionary relationship. She also won the Best of Category in the Animal Sciences Division and took home an additional $5,000 scholarship plus an Intel laptop.
Shah designed a cancer-combating drug that targets only cancer cells while leaving alone normal tissues biotin, a vitamin consumed in large quantities by cancer cells. Shah believes that her work represents a new generation of chemotherapy agents. Shah won the Seaborg SIYSS, the second most coveted award at ISEF. Shah also won Best of Category for Chemistry and will receive and additional $5,000 scholarship plus an Intel laptop. She also received a $8,000 scholarship from the US Navy and Marine Corps, and a $4,000 scholarship from the American Chemical Society. Earlier in march 2009, Shah took eighth place in the Intel Science Talent Search contest and received a scholarship of $20,000.
Four other Indian American students received the Best of Category awards for a $5,000 scholarship and laptop. They are: Anartya Mandal of Brighton, MA; Asoka Rajendra of Sterling, VA; Nilesh Tripuraneni of Fresno, CA and Shaunak Bakshi of Manhasset, NY.
|NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs AND PIOs AROUND THE WORLD
BRITISH INDIAN SCIENTIST AUTHOR FIGHTS LIBEL
A Britain-based scientist and bestselling author of Indian origin is fighting a libel case after he criticized the alternative medical system of chiropractic as unscientific. Top scientists have come to his defence.
Simon Singh, who has penned the popular science books "Fermat's Last Theorem", "The Code Book" and "Big Bang", had little idea of what was in store when he wrote an article for the Guardian newspaper in April 2008.
"The article discussed the history of chiropractic and (its) founder's belief that manipulating the spine could treat 95 percent of all diseases because disease was supposedly caused by blockages in the flow of innate energy along the spine and through the nervous system," writes Singh.
"In particular, I wrote about the likely risks of chiropractic treatment and whether or not there is any evidence that it is effective for various childhood conditions, including asthma. I thought it was quite an interesting, important and well-researched article, but unfortunately the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) claimed I had defamed their reputation and threatened to sue me for libel."
Though the newspaper offered to publish the BCA's version, the association maintained that it would rather sue the author himself, according to Singh's blog.
Singh, whose parents immigrated from Punjab to Britain, holds a PhD in particle physics from Cambridge University and has received the MBE honor for services to science education and communication.
He realized that given the British libel laws, he would have to spend a fortune to defend himself and stand to lose in financial terms regardless of the legal outcome. "In other words, a good outcome would be bad, and a bad outcome would be catastrophically bad."
Moreover, in libel cases, it is the defendant who carries the burden of proof. But instead of tendering an apology, Singh decided last year to fight on as experts said "we had a valid defence and stood a good chance of winning the case.
"Moreover, the article was about an issue of public interest, namely, childhood health and the effectiveness of particular treatments for some serious conditions. Hence I was not prepared to apologize for an article that I still believed was important for parents to read and which I believed was accurate and legally defensible."
There was a primary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice last month to decide on the meaning of Singh's article. The verdict was not in his favor, making the next stage of legal fight more difficult.
Meanwhile, as the science media and bloggers discussed the case, Singh has received offers for financial support from hundreds of people. Besides, leading scientists have come to his aid.
On June 4 Singh announced he was applying to appeal the pre-trial ruling and launching a support campaign to defend "the right of the public to read the views of scientists and writers".
The statement of the Keep Libel Laws Out of Science campaign has been signed by over 100 people from the worlds of science, journalism, publishing, literature and law, expressing support for Singh and calling for a review of the libel law.
Supporters include leading biologist Richard Dawkins of the University of Oxford and David King, former chief scientific adviser to the British government, as well as well-known authors Martin Gardner, Martin Amis, Alain de Botton, Hari Kunzru and Monica Ali.
Within a day, 4,000 people signed in support of the statement - available on Singh's website (senseaboutscience.org.uk). It is to be sent to the British government every time it gets 1,000 signatures online.
SWISS-INDIAN CUISINE COMPANY CROSSES SALES OF ONE MILLION MEALS A YEAR
Over a million ready-to-warm-and-eat-meals a year are sold by the Zurich-based Swiss-Indian cuisine company, King's Kurry, through its co-operation with the Anna's Best series at the Migros supermarket chain in Switzerland as well as the Edeka supermarket chain in Germany.
King's Kurry has just signed for its sixth restaurant and that is due to open in the Summer. All the restaurants are in Zurich at present. The vision of King's Kurry (or KK as it is popularly known) is to become the top Indian cuisine brand in Europe.
The company was founded in 2002 by Mr. Ranjeet Guptara, and now has some 50 shareholders. Visit the company website at http://www.kingskurry.ch.
BOOKS ON INDENTURESHIP PUBLISHED IN THE CARIBBEAN
The theme of this year's edition of the Indian Arrival Day magazine produced by the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council is "A pictorial survey of books on Indentureship in the Caribbean."
After the abolition of African slavery, Indians came to the Caribbean to work as indentured laborers from 1838. They came to work in sugarcane plantations in the British, French and Dutch colonies under a semi-slave contract system known as indentureship. By the time indentureship ended in 1917, about 400,000 Indians had come to Trinidad, Guyana/Guiana, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and other Caribbean islands.
A survey of the literature reveals that approximately 85 books have at least one chapter on Indian indentureship in the Caribbean. The first book was written by Joseph Beaumont and published in 1871. It is entitled The New Slavery: An Account of the Indian and Chinese Immigrants in British Guiana. Beaumont was appointed Chief Justice in 1863 and attempted to alleviate exploitation and abuse of both Chinese and Indian labourers by applying the laws that were designed to protect them.
About 80 years later, the second non-fiction book on Indian indentureship in the Caribbean was written by Dwarka Nath and published in 1950, entitled A History of Indians in British Guiana. Unlike Beaumont,Nath was an Indian and a senior immigration agent in colonial Guyana. Nath ranks among 75 Indian historians to have written at least a chapter on the subject.
Eighteen years after in 1968, two non-fiction works were published independently by Judith Ann Weller and Donald Wood. Weller is the first woman to undertake an in-depth study of the Indian indentureship in the Caribbean in The East Indian indenture in Trinidad. Wood's publication, Trinidad in Transition: The Years After Slavery, is an important contribution to the historiography of indentureship.
Since then about 80 books have been written on the subject, mainly by Indians in the Diaspora, some of them being women. Basdeo Mangru and Clem Seecharan, are the two Guyanese historians who have written the most books on indentureship. Seecharan has four books and Mangru five. They were followed by a Trinidadian, Ron Ramdin who has written three books on the subject. Brinsley Samaroo and David Dabydeen have edited the largest number of volumes on the subject.
Sixteen books on indenturehip were written by women, seven of which are by non-whites. Two books were written by Verene Shepherd, a half-Indian from Jamaica. Shepherd's two books are Transients to Settlers: The Experience of Indians in Jamaica, 1845-1950 and Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean. Another woman, Laxmi Mansingh, co-authored with her husband Home Away From Home: 150 Years of Indian Presence in Jamaica 1845-1995.
Eight of the 85 books on indentureship in the Caribbean are works of fiction. The first of which was published over 132 years ago in 1877, and entitled Lutchmee and Dilloo: A Study of West Indian Life. It is written by Edward Jenkins.The second came 40 years later in 1917, entitled Those That be in Bondage: A Tale of Indian Indentures and Sunlit Western Waters (1917). Its author is Albert Raymond Forbes Webber. Other novels published on the subject are The Dispossessed (1992) by Clement Maharaj, The Promise (1995) by Sharlow Mohammed, Tikasingh's Wedding (1998) by Wilfred D. Best, Chalo Chinidad - Let's Go Trinidad (2003) by Jang B. Bhagirathee, Rama's Voyage (2004) by Ron Ramdin, and Jahajin (2007) by Peggy Mohan.
Both Trinidad and Guyana have produced an equal number of books on indentureship in the Caribbean. However, there is a severe scarcity of books on indentureship from the smaller Caribbean islands and the non-English-speaking territories. There is also, an absence of imaginative books in the form of poems and plays on the subject.
Contact: Dr Kumar Mahabir, Assistant Professor, University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and Chairman, Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council (ICC), 10 Swami Avenue, Don Miguel Road, San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, Tel: (868) 674-6008, Mobile (868) 756-4961, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BANK DEPOSITS OF NON-RESIDENT KERALITES REACH RECORD HIGH
Deposits by non-resident Indians (NRIs) in Kerala banks grew from Rs.29,889 crore in March 2008 to a record high of Rs.37,019 crore as on March 31, 2009, according to the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC). This was revealed at the 99th meeting of SLBC that took place recently.
The total deposits in all banks in the state have gone up from Rs.105,488 crore in March 2008 to Rs.130,350 crore in March 2009 .
The State Bank group bagged the highest share - 42.62 percent - of the total NRI deposits with Rs.15,779 crore. Private sector, which received Rs.10,316 crore, came second, while other nationalized banks accounted for 27.68 percent with Rs.10,249 crore.
The committee said the NRI deposits peaked earlier in March 2007 at Rs.33,330 crore, but fell in 2008 to Rs.29,889 crore.
There are more than two million Keralites settled outside the country of which close to 90 percent are in the Middle East.
US PLANS TO REVAMP IMMIGRATION SERVICES
US President Barack Obama has vowed to revamp and ensure more transparency in the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 90 days, using cutting-edge technologies, which will help Indian-Americans applying for Green Card.
Obama told a select bi-partisan group of Congressmen that the new system would be in place in the next 90 days, in which the USCIS will launch a vastly improved website. He said it will not only reduce the paperwork, but also the backlog and bring in more transparency into the system.
The changes would help thousands of Indian-Americans who apply for permanent residency or Green Card, citizenship approach USCIS for various immigration issues, but have to experience an agonizing wait.
Obama said the new website, will for the first time, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online.
"Anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with -- navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold," Obama said in his remarks before a group of Congressmen whom he had invited to discuss immigration system.
"It is an example of some things that we can do administratively even as we are working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration," Obama added.
|GOPIO LIFE MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTER FORMATION
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 (www.gopio.net) and get details of chapter initiation (visit http://www.gopio.net/chapter_initiative.htm). Process involves sending a letter of intent to start a chapter by a committee of five people or more. For more information, contact:
GOPIO President - Inder Singh, Tarzana, California, USA, Tel: 818-708-3885, E-mail: email@example.com
GOPIO Executive Vice President - Lord Daljit Rana, UK, Tel: +44 28-9807-8787, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
GOPIO Secretary General - Ashook Ramsaran, Fresh Meadows, New York City, Tel: 718/939-8194, E-mail: email@example.com
To become a Life member of GOPIO, visit http://www.gopio.net/membership_form.htm, print and fill up the form and send it with a check to: GOPIO, P.O. Box 1413, Stamford, CT 06904, USA.
Chief Editor: Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO (Stamford, CT, USA)
Editors: Ashook Ramsaran, GOPIO General Secretary (New York, USA); and Munish Gupta, GOPIO Media Chair (Los Angeles, Calif)
Webmasters: Prashant Gupta (Hyderabad, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)
Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Dr Kumar Mahabir (Trinidad and Tobago), Sangeeta Ahuja (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: firstname.lastname@example.org.