||October 18, 2008
October 18, 2008A Publication of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)
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US AND INDIA SIGN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT - INDIAN AMERICANS PLAY MAJOR ROLE IN THE BILL PASSAGE
US President George Bush substantially stood by the pledges and assurances made in course of the civilian nuclear deal he conceived and promoted with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh three years ago, even at the risk of angering the US lawmakers and non-proliferation hard-liners.
In remarks at a brief but elegant White House ceremony on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 while signing the nuclear deal bill into domestic law, and in a separate statement issued thereafter, Bush reiterated the primacy of the bilateral agreement between the two countries, saying the bill was an important enabling legislation that allowed him "to bring the 123 Agreement into force and to accept on behalf of the United States the obligations contained in the Agreement."
It was a sparkling day for US-India ties at the White House East Room, as Bush cranked up the warm fuzzy feeling while signing the bill, including wishing India on for the upcoming Diwali festivities. He strode into the room accompanied by vice-president Dick Cheney, and with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Senators Christopher Dodd and John Warner, Congressmen Joseph Crowley and Eliot Engel, American Ambassador David Mulford, a few other senior lawmakers, and Indian envoy Ronen Sen lined up behind him, delivered a nine-minute address that must have brought relief at the midnight hour in New Delhi and raised the pitch of US-India ties. Also present were American Ambassador to India David C. Mulford and former US Ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill.
There were two other striking observations that Bush made in remarks outside the formal statement issued later. He said by undertaking new cooperation on civil nuclear energy, "India will be able to count on a reliable fuel supply for its civilian reactors," a more oblique reiteration of universal fuel supply assurances contained in the 123 Agreement. In addition, he said "India and the United States will cooperate more closely to keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of extremists and terrorists."
Bush's remarks were punctuated by applause from 150 Indian-American movers and shakers who played a major role in campaign and passage of the bill through the House and Senate of the US Congress.
Photo below left: President Bush sign the US-India nuclear bill. Standing in the back are: Congressman Joseph Crowley, Congressman Eliot Engel, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senator Christopher Dodd, Senator John Warner, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen and Vice President Dick Cheney. Photo Right: President Bush speaks at the signing ceremony.Photo above left: Seated in the front row, AAPI President Dr. Sanku Rao, Sante Chary, GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham and Nilesh Mehta. Phot Right: President Bush speaks to audience, predominantly Indian Americans and administration/congressional officials./staff.
Ashok Mago, a Texas realtor who lobbied for the deal from the beginning was beside himself with delight. "You may or may not agree with President Bush's domestic and or foreign policies but one thing we all can agree on that no other US president has done for India what this president has done," he said. "Some presidents looked good others might have made you feel good but this president has done good."
GOPIO Regional Vice President for North America Dr. Piyush Agrawal was an active coordinator with other community groups from day one of this effort. Dr. Agrawal could not be present at the signing ceremony due a family emergency.
The final administrative aspect of the deal was done on Friday, October 10th when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee signed the bilateral instruments of the 123 Agreement sealing the landmark and operationalisation of the US-India civil nuclear deal.
"This is a historic event for the US and India," said Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the GOPIO International who was present at the signing ceremony at the White House. Abraham further added, "This nuclear agreement will be beginning closer cooperation between US and India in science and technology, trade, investment, defense and education areas. All major Indian groups joined together for the passage of the bill. GOPIO, in its part, mobilized the Indian American communities and organized town house meetings with elected officials in many constituencies."
|NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER CLARK INAUGURATES GOPIO CHAPTERS
A gala dinner banquet at the 5-star Stamford Plaza Hotel in Auckland on October 4, 2008 was a historic occasion for GOPIO International when Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, officially launched GOPIO New Zealand.
Besides the chief guest Helen Clark, her two cabinet colleagues, Education Minister Chris Carter and Trade Minister Phil Goff were the guests of honor. Other dignitaries attending the function included, Parliament Member Lockwood Smith, India Trade Group Chairperson Dr. Richard Worth, Human Resource Commissioner Joris de Bres, Deputy Chief of Mission Kunal Roy of Indian Embassy, Judge Ajit Singh and former chief commissioner of the Families Commission Dr. Rajen Prasad. GOPIO International President Inder Singh specially went from USA and Regional Vice President Noel Lal flew from Australia to participate in the event. Many prominent members of the Indian community from New Zealand also attended the gala event.
Photo above: Sunny Kaushal, Acting Pres Downtown Chapter; Alkesh Sharma, Acting Pres Auckland West; Ashok Bhatia, Pres Auckland Central; Naresh Shukla, Pres Auckland East; Harish Bajaj, President of GOPIO New Zealand; Prime Minister Helen Clark; GOPIO Int'l President Inder Singh; GOPIO Oceanic Regional Vice President Noel Lal; Rohini Jagmohan, Pres Northshore; Rakesh Gupta, Pres Botany Downs; Manjit singh, Pres Pukekohe; Davinder Rahal, Pres Auckland South; Kumar Bajaj, Co-Chair Cultural, representing Wellington North chapter.
In welcoming the prime minister, Inder Singh thanked her for voting, as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, in favor of India. He urged the prime minister to ensure enforcement of law and order as recent attacks on four Indian retail stores has shaken the confidence of the community.
Inder Singh thanked host Harish Bajaj for his leadership, dedication and commitment in initiating multiple GOPIO chapters. He also thanked Ashok Bhatia, Davinder Singh Rahal, Dr. Karan Sahrawat, Manjit Singh, Naresh Shukla, Rajiv Pandey, Rakesh Gupta, Rohini Jagmohan, Virinder Aggarwal, and Suman Kapoor for their leadership of their respective chapters. The prime Minister complimented GOPIO International for starting New Zealand chapters thereby linking the Indian community with the Global Indian diaspora. She gave certificates to all the ten chapter presidents and complimented them for their leadership initiative.
Indians in New Zealand trace their beginning to the arrival of two brothers Bir Singh Gill and Phuman Singh Gill who went to New Zealand in or about 1890 from Australia. Today, New Zealand has about 120,000 NRIs/PIOs, about 3% of the New Zealand population of 4 million. Governor General Anand Satyanand is a New Zealand born PIO and is the first Asian to hold that high position.
|MINI PBD IN SINGAPORE WAS A SUCCESS
Leaders from India and Singapore have urged members of the Indian Diaspora and business leaders from across the globe to seize the opportunities offered by a booming India to boost trade and investment. At a glittering inaugural ceremony of the mini Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), India's Minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi said the 30 million-strong Indian diaspora across the globe was making their presence felt economically, socially and politically in the countries where they were present.
Addressing more than 700 delegates attending the inaugural event, Ravi recalled that Indian NRIs had reached out and helped India when it was in the throes of its worst economic crisis in the early 1990s. He urged members of the Indian diaspora and the international business community to contribute and benefit from the boom in the Indian economy.
"The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas underlines the passion that the Indian and Singaporean governments share in encouraging international trade and investment for the mutual benefit of all the countries involved," Ravi said.
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar, who was the chief guest at the inaugural event, said holding the PBD in Singapore was a reflection of the excellent bilateral relations shared by the two countries.
"Singapore is uniquely aware of the synergies in the region," Jayakumar said, adding that Indian businesses should use Singapore as a hub for reaching out to the entire Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific region.
The conference was organized by the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), along with the two governments.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered the inaugural address while Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong met delegates over a luncheon session. In the afternoon Minister Mentor and the founder of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew held an interactive session with participants at the conference, while President S.R. Nathan was the chief guest at a gala finale dinner. A special guest at the conclave included Mauritius Prime Minister Navindchandra Ramgoolam.
Singapore's Senior Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said the conference was "stimulating, at times amusing, but never boring". The PBD (Singapore) had been a very positive experience, enabling the Indian diaspora to network and develop links to leverage the enormous potential unleashed by the sharp growth of the Indian economy," Iswaran said.
Earlier, India's Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal made an impassioned plea to the countries in the region to opt for sustainable development to counter the three challenges facing humankind: food security, energy security and health security.
The conference was also the occasion for the launch of Singapore's first newspaper for the Indian community. Titled "Tabla", the tabloid is aimed at the 200,000-strong Indian diaspora living in the city-state.
Nearly 3,500 Indian companies are registered in the city state and are using it not only for business in Singapore but in the broader Asia-Pacific region.
|EIGHT INDO-CANADIANS ELECTED AS MPs
Eight Indo-Canadians, including seven sitting MPs have been elected to the Canadian Parliament in the just concluded elections that saw Prime Minister Stephen Harper-led Conservative Party winning, albeit short of a majority.
Tim Uppal, who won from the Alberta province will join for the first time the other Indian-origin MPs who have been re-elected.
Deepak Obhrai, Ruby Dhalla and Gurbax Singh Malhi, besides Navdeep Bains, Ujjal Dosanjh, Nina Grewal and Ratan Singh are the members who have been re-elected.
In 2006, 10 Indo-Canadians were elected to Parliament compared with three Arabs and five Chinese though Chinese are the largest visible-minority group in Canada. South Asians comprise 3.1 per cent of the population but have 3.3 per cent of the 308 seats in the House of Commons in Canada, where Punjabi is now the fourth most common language, after English, French and Italian.
Two sitting Indo-Canadians who lost election were Wajid Khan and Rahim Jaffar.
GOPIO INTERNATIONAL AND CHAPTER NEWS
|GOPIO-SINGAPORE ORGANIZES STREET CRICKET TOURNAMENT 2008
Cricket is a very popular game in many countries. In West Asia it has a viewer ship of about 1.5 billion. The major matches are played at well-built stadiums but day-to-day cricket is played in the streets and gullies outside homes and shanties and hence it is known as "street cricket" or "gully cricket". Even though the rules and format of street cricket and conventional cricket are almost alike, what makes the difference is the usage of modified cricket balls and improvised rules in street cricket to meet non-standard conditions of each street or ground.
GOPIO Singapore first muted the idea of street cricket in 2007. The first tournament was held in Nov 2007 when 8 teams participated. The second Street cricket tournament 2008 was held during Sat 13th and Sun 14th Sept 2008 and had 8 final participants.
In the finals Kannada Sangha won the toss and elected to bat and scored 128 runs in 20 overs and there was a brilliant batting by Vinayak who scored 45 runs to give Kannada Sangh a big total. NAS chasing a massive total got off to a good start and their initial run rate matched that of Kannada Sangha but started lagging in run rate towards the end of the match. There was a lot of expectations from the Captain of NAS Muthu to hit a few sixes as he had done in the earlier matches but the Kannada Sangha bowling was too tight and in the end they scored only 112 runs and lost by 16 runs.
Photo below: GOPIO-Singapore officials and organizing committee members with Street Cricket Challenge Shield and Trophies
Photo above: The winners & runner up teamThere were prizes for a) man of the match for each of the 7 seven matches, b) Best fielder of the series, c) Best bowler of the series, d) Best batsman of the series, e) Best player of the series, f) Best lady player of the series.
The winning team and runners up each got a team cup and individual cups for all the participants. In addition GOPIO revolving cricket shield was presented to Kannada Sangha. On the first day there were 300 spectators. And at the finals there were more than 500 spectators. Chairmen of many organizations especially the sports loving Singapore Indian Association and Ceylon Sports club gave good moral boost. Many non-Indian Singaporeans also participated.
Contact: Dr. V P Nair, President, GOPIO, Singapore, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOPIO-CT HOSTS PROF. ARVIND PANAGARIA, AUTHOR OF "INDIA: THE EMRGING GIANT"
With nearly 9 percent annual growth in recent years, India is emerging as a major economic power in its own right, making Indian economy as one of the most successful emerging economies of the world. And there are several lessons that can be learned from India's economic development by the rest of the world.
To discuss the underlying transformative reasons for the ongoing accelerated growth and its implications for India and the rest of the world, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin - Connecticut Chapter (GOPIO-CT) and Stamford Chamber of Commerce hosted Prof. Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York on Thursday, September 25, 2008.
In his eloquent address, Prof. Arvind Panagariya shared with the audience how his book evolved over the years from his doctoral thesis as a student at Stanford University into its current format, documenting the causes behind the sustained high growth level achieved by the Indian economy.
Describing that the success story of the Indian economy, especially since the 1990s, has been documented in great detail in his book, Prof. Arvind Panagariya presented his original evidence. Prof. Panagariya detailed nearly a dozen indicators to show that the growth level experienced by the Indian economy is real and is expected to continue in the next few years. Chief among the indicators were the progressively growing trade balance in favor of India, direct foreign investments into India, fast growing remittances, the phenomenal growth of the IT sector, Telecom sector, Automobile Industry, Textile Industry, and the increase in the number of Indian Billionaires.
Panagariya said, the GDP growth experience of India could be summarized into four phases: (i) 1951-1965 (4.1%), (ii) 1965-1981 (3.2%), (iii) 1981-1988 (4.8%), and (iv) 1988-2006 (6.3%). The growth debacle during 1965-1981, he attributed to the policies and plans by Prime Ministers, Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Panagariya pointed out that during 1965-75, the world economy grew more rapidly and generated growth opportunities for developing countries. During the same period, India stood in sharp contrast to similarly placed countries at that stage. With savings and investment growing substantially, the decline in growth indicated lack of productivity growth. Finally, the tightening of controls in this period, including through the enactment of the Urban Land Ceiling Act, the amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act and bank nationalization, had an adverse effect on growth in the long run, he concluded.
The accelerated growth level was due to the compelling reasons that the Indian economy faced in the early 1990's and the foresight of the successive governments led by Narasimha Rao, Atal Beharee Vajpayee and the current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said. Highlighting some of the policy initiatives that have been undertaken in the last twenty years and how they contributed to the upward shift in the growth rate, he illustrated the ways that government policies have promoted economic growth and offered insightful discussions of such key topics as poverty and inequality, tax reform, telecommunications, agriculture and transportation, and the government's role in health, education, and sanitation.
One of the side effects of economic reforms launched in 1991 was the rapid increase in income inequality with the rich getting richer faster than ever before. Poverty reduction starts with growth, he said, and added that the number of people lifted out of poverty in the last 20 years is far greater than those in the 40 years preceding it.
Admitting that the economic growth experienced by the Indian economy has not been experienced by the vast majority of Indians, he said, there are limits to poverty alleviation through greater agricultural employment, currently at around 60% of the total labor force. India has now contributed, along with China and Russia, 40% of the global growth. Nevertheless, to maintain this growth momentum, India's growth strategy would need a reorientation with focus on agriculture. Thus, for effective poverty eradication, agricultural employment needs to shift to industry or services, he claimed. Even the improvement of so-called capabilities of the poor through health and education cannot be undertaken without growing incomes and revenues, he said. Dr. Panagariya said that India should focus more on poverty alleviation than inequality since excessive focus on inequality shifts the center of attention to the people who create wealth.
Earlier, Sangeetha Ahuja, president of GOPIO-CT, while greeting the nearly a hundred participants at the event held at UCONN Campus in Stamford, CT, applauded the efforts of the "dedicated, committed and enthusiastic" organizers/team members of the GOPIO-CT Chapter for organizing such wonderful events for the community. She thanked HSBC, The World's Local Bank, Landmark Square, Stamford, and UCONN for supporting the event.
Dr. Thomas Abraham, chairman of GOPIO International, while introducing Prof. Arvind Panagariya, said, after China, India is the 2nd fastest growing economy and is the focus of attention around the world. Indian economy has several advantages over many other nations, he said. For instance, India has the largest number of English speaking people and with its nearly three Million Indians u=in the United States, "we are the fastest growing immigrant group in the US, after Mexico."
The program chairman and Vice President of GOPIO CT Shelly Nichani in his welcoming comments said that GOPIO-CT has joined hands for the first time with Stamford Chamber of Commerce to organize this program to reach out the main street American community. The program ended with concluding remarks by Sara Tierno.
Contact: GOPIO-CT President Sangeeta Ahuja, E-mail: email@example.com.
Photo below: GOPIO-CT officials with Prof. Arvind Panagariya. From L. to R.: GOPIO-CT Vice President Shelly Nichani, Paul Ahuja, GOPIO-CT Treasurer Louella D'Silva, Sara Tierno, Jaspreet Kaur (HSBC Bank, Event Sponsor), Prof. Panagariya, GOPIO-Ct President Sangeeta Ahuja, GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Meera Banta, GOPIO-CT Associate Secretary Anita Bhat and GOPIO-CT Secretary Shailesh Naik Photo above: GOPIO Central Jersey and Plainboro Rotory Club members at the free Health camp at Durga Mandir in Princeton, NJ (from left to right): Aarti Mittal, Dinesh Mittal, Dinesh Pandyan, Suresh Reddy, Andy Iyengar, Nishith Mehta, Rajeev Mehta, Darshan Doshi, Madhavan Nair, Jaswant Mody
ROTARY CLUB OF PLAINSBORO AND GOPIO-CENTRAL JERSEY CONDUCT A FREE MEDICAL CAMP AT THE DURGA MANDIR
Rotary Club of Plainsboro (RCOP), NJ, and Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, Central Jersey (GOPIO) conducted a FREEHealth Camp on Saturday, September 27, 2008 between the hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Durga Mandir, 4240 Route 27, Princeton, NJ 08540.
A group of well known Physicians volunteered their time to serve the needy. Some of the physicians who volunteered their time included Dr. Alexander Swan, GP; Dr. Bharati Penupatruni, GP; Dr. Tushar Patel, GP; Dr. Mukesh Patel (Clinical and Non-invasive Cardiology); Dr. Rao AndaVolu (Blood bank Director and Pathologist); Dr. Suruchi Verma; Dr. and Mrs. Abbas Banglawala and several physicians from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Department of Pediatrics (Dr. Maya Ramagopal, Dr. Sunanda Gaur, Dr. Mayoor Bhatt, and Dr. Rajeev Mehta).
More than 100 elderly patients and 30 kids came to the health camp for a free health checkup. The camp was well organized with minimal wait time. All members and Presidents of Rotary Club of Plainsboro and GOPIO of Central Jersey were at the health camp.
Since its charter in 2002, the Rotary Club of Plainsboro has done many social projects including both local and international. Some of the projects that the club will be undertaking in this fiscal year, are serving the needy at Soup Kitchens, Jaipur Limb Project, celebrating Diwali with Elders at an Old Age Home, Toys for Tots, Dictionary Project, Adopting a stretch of highway, etc.
Contact: Dr. Rajeev Mehta, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Visit: www.gopiocentraljersey.org.
GOPIO-SURINAME BIDS FOND FAREWELL TO AMBASSADOR ASHOK SHARMA
GOPIO-SURINAME organized a reception in their honor and to show appreciation for a job well done by Indian Ambassador H.E. Ashok SHARMA and Mrs. Sharma who had finished their turn of duty in the Republic of Suriname and were returning to India on September 30,
GOPIO invited Suriname cabinet ministers, members of the parliament, members of the State Council, Ambassadors, directors of various departments, the Judiciary, very high ranking businessperson, and friends and supporters of GOPIO, for a reception for dinner, drinks, music and dance.
Attended by over 150 people, it provided an opportunity to express GOPIO's gratitude to ambassador and his family for what they have done during their three years tenure. A plaque of appreciation was presented to him by GOPIO Secretary Soegriem Baldew, just after GOPIO's Vice President Shanti Malhoe had in a fluent speech indicated all the Ambassador and his family had done to improve the relations between the two countries.
Contact: Harold Ramdhani, President, GOPIO-Suriname, E-mail: HAROLD.R.RAMDHANI@ramsholding.sr
INDIAN AMERICAN KASHKARI TO OVERSEE $700 BILLION US BAILOUT
The US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has appointed Indian American Neel Kashkari as the interim head for its new Office of Financial Stability to oversee the $700 billion bailout program. Kashkari has been serving as Treasury assistant secretary for international. He is a key adviser on whom Paulson has come to rely on during the financial crisis.
Kashkari's will oversee Treasury's $700-billion program to buy distressed assets from financial institutions. The position is interim and pending for the Senate confirmation. However, it is unlikely the Senate would take a call on the matter before the November elections.
Kashkari, who was one of the originator of the bailout plan, was part of the Treasury team that negotiated the asset-repurchase program with Congress. Now, he would oversee some key decisions on how the rescue program would operate.
Congress has given Treasury the authority to start buying assets, but choices like which asset managers to hire, which securities to purchase and how, still remain, the report said.
Kashkari originally trained as an aerospace engineer and worked on developing technology for NASA before earning an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania. The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker spent much of his tenure at Treasury helping Paulson tackle the fallout of the housing meltdown.
INDIAN AMERICAN SUBASH SINGHAL RECEIVES GROVE MEDAL
Fuel cell pioneer Subhash Singhal, a Battelle Fellow and Director, Fuel Cells at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), received the 2008 Grove Medal for sustained advances in fuel cell technology. Dr. Singhal was presented with the Medal by Lars Sjunnesson, Chairman of the Grove Committee, at the opening of the 2008 Grove Symposium on Fuel Cell Science and Technology in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 8, 2008 and gave the opening plenary presentation.
The medal is named for the Welsh judge, inventor and physicist, Sir William Robert Grove, who is credited for the invention of the fuel cell in 1839.
Dr. Singhal has previously received several other awards for his outstanding contributions to fuel cell technology, including the American Ceramic Society's Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Award in 2001; an Invited Professorship Award from the Japan Ministry of Science, Education and Culture in 2002; the Christian Friedrich Schoenbein Gold Medal from the European Fuel Cell Forum in 2006, and the Fuel Cell Seminar Award in 2007,
Singhal joined PNNL in April 2000 after nearly 30 years at Siemens Corporation (formerly Westinghouse Electric Corporation), where he led development of solid oxide fuel cell technology from a laboratory curiosity to fully integrated 200 kW power generation systems. At PNNL, Singhal provides senior technical, managerial and commercialization leadership to the laboratory's fuel cell program.
|NEWS OF INTEREST TO NRIs AND PIOs AROUND THE WORLD
INDIA TO OPEN TWO NEW CONSULATES IN THE US
India will open two new consulates in the United States possibly this year, in the cities of Atlanta and Seattle.
The decision to this effect was taken at the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George Bush in Washington, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said in New York after Bush-Singh meeting a day earlier.
Both the size of the community and its commercial interest was the criteria taken into consideration while deciding that the new consulates will be located at these cities, he said. Both Seattle and Atlanta have a large Indian community.
To a question from newsmen whether there are plans to open more consulates, Menon said, the government would like to open as many consulates as possible "but these things take time".
Currently, India has consulates in New York, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco besides the Embassy at Washington.
Menon said Singh and Bush, who share a strong chemistry, expressed satisfaction over the way the relations between the two countries, including the strategic partnership, have progressed under their charge over the last three years.
INDIA AND GERMANY SIGN SOCIAL SECURITY PACT
Indian nationals working in Germany on short-term basis would now be exempted from making any social security contribution as the two countries have agreed to waive off such a practice. India and Germany Wednesday inked the Social Security Agreement which waives off social security contributions by Indian nationals for a period of four years and extendable by another year.
German nationals working in India will also receive similar benefits on a reciprocal basis. The move is also expected to make Indian companies more competitive while bidding for projects in Germany. Till now, the companies were at a disadvantage due to the high rate of social security tax.
"This agreement would make Indian companies more competitive since exemption from social security contribution, in respect of their employees, will substantially reduce their costs," Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said.
The Agreement was signed by K. Mohandas, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and visiting State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Franz-Josef Lersch-Mense and German Ambassador to India, Bernd Muetzelburg.
According to a German official, while working abroad, the employees will only be subject to the social security regulations of their home country. Thus, complicated changes and applications for reimbursements will be avoided in the future.
GUYANA OBSERVES HINDI DAY
On Sunday, September 28, 2008, Guyana observed Hindi Day with a grand ceremony at the Indian Cultural Centre in Georgetown, the country's capital. At the event, Guyanese, particularly East Indians, were urged to improve their Hindi vocabulary which will eventually help them better understand the language.
According to Director of the Indian Cultural Centre, Malti Sahai, the language Hindi is still very alive among large populations in the world, such as Guyana. She noted that the language has a place in the hearts and lives of the Guyanese people, especially since some of the words are being used by persons in their homes, in the places of worship, and also in celebrations.
Sahai felt that if persons improve the vocabulary of Hindi, then they would have a deeper and better understanding of the language. She said that there should be a concerted effort to learn Hindi. She explained that a Hindi word reflects the culture and tradition of the religion.
Since September14, 1949, Hindi has been recognized as the national language of India. The language is spoken in countries across the globe where People of Indian origin have settled. Though Hindi is not officially on the curriculum of the Ministry of Education program, it is being taught to adults and children at mandirs throughout Guyana. This is the main reason why Hindi is still spoken among Guyanese in the country. In many instances, the pandits in communities across Guyana volunteered their time and teach Hindi lessons to the people at their mandirs free of charge.
LAKSHMI GIRLS' HINDU COLLEGE IN TRINIDAD BECOMES A PRESTIGIOUS SCHOOL
Trinidad's Minister of Education has awarded 15 national scholarships in the CAPE/GCE A' Level Examinations to the Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College. The school which is located in St. Augustine across the University of the West Indies (UWI) has seen a steady rise in the number of national scholarships going its way. Lakshmi Girls' is one of five Government-assisted Hindu colleges controlled by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha.
The Lakshmi Girls' school has been re-established as a prestigious school with the awards of the 15 national scholarships as one of the top five secondary schools in the country. It is now third in rank in performance in A' Levels among all seven-year schools in north Trinidad. Lakshmi Girls' is the only non-Christian school in the top 13 to secure national scholarships. An analysis of the statistics clearly reveals that the faith-based or denominational colleges are generally performing better than the government secondary schools.
Lakshmi Girls' has come a long, hard road to reach this position of prestige. Prior to acquiring its imposing building in 1995, it was a dilapidated structure which forced some teachers to hold their classes in the corridors. Opened in 1966, it is a new school compared to St Joseph's Convent in Port of Spain which was established 130 years earlier in 1836. Naparima College was founded in 1894, and Naparima Girls' High School in 1912. The Presbyterian-run schools were established by Canadian missionaries to facilitate the conversion of Hindu children.
GUYANA PRESIDENT JAGDEO HELPS CELEBRATE RAM LEELA IN TRINIDAD
Ram Leela celebrations in Trinidad have attracted Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo who made a fleeting visit to attend the Hindu Prachar Kendra's Baal Ramdilla on Ragoonanan Road, Chaguanas on Thursday evening.
At the function Jagdeo, received a pair of wooden sandals from his namesake Bharat, played by nine-year-old Narayan Sankar in the Ramdilla, which is a version of Ram Leela staged by children.
Addressing the congregation, Jagdeo said that the Ramayan contained spiritual and moral values and in Ram Leela there was an intimate experience of its teachings. He said that the oral tradition of Ram Leela brought to Guyana by East Indian indentured laborers had died 30 years ago. Jagdeo said his father had taken part in Guyana's Ram Leela and had often spoken about the experience. He applauded the Kendra for its effort in reviving Ram Leela in Guyana.
This year for the first time, students who had studied at the Kendra performed Ram Leela in Georgetown, Guyana in January. Kendra founder Ravi Ji said arrangements were being made to stage Ram Leela in Guyana later this year.
INDO-CARIBBEAN WRITERS CONFERENCE HELD IN NEW YORK
Guyanese-American Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, Deborah Misir, will visit Orlando this month at the invitation of Caribbean Sun newspaper publisher Wesley Kirton to officially declare open a Guyana Night Dinner Theater to be held on Friday, September 26, at the Pegasus Ballroom and Conference Center.
The Indo-Caribbean Council (ICC) organized the first Caribbean Writers Conference at the elegant and classy Villa Rousso in New York. Writers from the Association of Artists & Writers (AAW) responded in numbers to the invitation. AAW Public Relations Officer Rev. Seopaul Singh, worked with ICC-NY General Secretary Roopnarain Persaud to make the conference a success. Mr. Tony Shafeek of First Republic Mortgage Bankers and Mr. Ishri Singh, announcer and TV host, volunteered valuable TV exposure of this historic event. Shri Ramesh D. Kalicharan, International Coordinator welcomed all attendees and declared the conference open. Mr. George Russo of the Villa Russo sponsored the Grotto of the Villa Russo and a healthy fare to all attendees.
While most mouth off about unity, the ICC-NY has forged ahead with the Caribbean Writers Conference to focus several writers and other intellectuals' attention on cpmmon community concerns. Several writers responded to the question "What do you see as a common community concern?" Dr. Gary Ghirdari of the AAW and publisher of The Guyana Journal was asked to summarize the writers' responses to this specific question and to make his summary available in writing to the ICC-NY for identification of solutions to these common community concerns. His summary will form the basis of the second workshop in the series of three.
Representative from the NY Book Expo, Luis E. Castro and a representative from the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Jacqueline Donado in her capacity as Strategic Program Coordinator, attended and contributed to the purpose of the Conference. Writers from the French-speaking Caribbean Community were also invited but none attended. Dr. Taj Rajkumar, District Leader AD 31, Part B, was a guest of honor. He engaged the writers in a spirited dialogue as an educator as well as an elected official. Pdt. Upadahyaya of the Hindu Religious group and Rev. Seopaul Singh of the Christian Religious group presented their group's perspective of community concerns.
|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 (Gurgaon, Haryana, India) and Abu Thomas (New Rochelle, NY, USA)
Contributors of this issue: Inder Singh (USA), Bina Mahabir (Guyana-USA), Sangeeta Ahuja (USA), Harold R. Ramdhani (Suriname), Deosaran Bisnath (Trinidad), Roop Prasad (Guyana - USA), Dr. V.P. Nair (Singapore), Dr. Rajeev Mehta (USA) and Harish Bajaj (New Zealand)
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.
Visit GOPIO's Official site at www.gopio.net or www.gopio.com