USCIS Announces Work Visas Validity To Be Extended From 180 Days To 540 Days

Under the new temporary rule announced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service early May, certain categories of work visas will automatically extend validity of their work authorization from 180 days to 540 days starting May 4, 2022.

As per USCIS’s guidelines, “This rule temporarily amends existing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to provide that the automatic extension period applicable to expiring Employment Authorization Documents (Forms I-766 or EADs) for certain renewal applicants who have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, will be increased from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date stated on their EADs.”

This new rule brings hope to some of the thousands of Indians working in the U.S. As Partner and Attorney Min Kim of Chugh LLP explains, “The temporary rule should primarily help foreign nationals with an EAD incidental to a filed and pending AOS application as EAD adjudications have routinely taken much longer than 180 days given the unprecedented backlogs at the Service Centers in recent months.”

Now, an AOS applicant, or an eligible H-4 spouse, or L-2 spouse among other eligible EAD applicants, can be assured that there will be minimal concern of an employment-gap in their work authorization as they await their renewed EAD cards to arrive, Kim explains.

But he does remind those in line that, “Once again, the expansion of the auto-extension rule does not make more people eligible for this benefit, but for those who do fall in the bucket of eligible EAD applicants, it helps stabilize their ability to remain in the U.S. and continue to work.”

Background For last several years USCIS processing delays have caused the spouses of H, L and E visa holders to quit their jobs and wait over a year in most cases for their employment authorization document renewals caused by USCIS processing delays.

These are doctors, nurse practitioners, engineers, teachers, media professionals, et al, who could have continued serving our communities but could not for no fault of theirs.

Kimberly Hernandez, 21, of Arlington, Va., stands in the center of Mount Pleasant Street as the march heads toward the White House on Thursday. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Sarah L. Voisin

They did everything by the book, filed their papers six months ahead of time, and continued to look at processing times which increased from 90 days in pre-Covid era to 1.7 years in current times.

In March 2022, USCIS announced it wishes to implement premium processing to reduce some of the backlog. While USCIS will begin premium processing for various categories in October 2022, the announcement came with a start date in 2025 for H, L and E visa categories. Why this differential treatment with the spouse of visa holders?

A welcome change with a caveat The new temporary rule is welcomed by employers and attorneys but does nothing much for the community affected most by USCIS’s processing delays – certain spouses of high skilled immigrant visa holders from highly populated countries like India and China, under H, L and E categories. These visa holders still need a valid I-94 to benefit from USCIS’s new temporary regulation which means they must have a valid underlying visa.

Nevertheless, Managing Partner and Attorney Diya Mathews of Chugh LLP gives a qualified welcome to the change and questions the delays.

“The extension of another 180 days for pending EAD applications is a welcome move by the DHS. However, this is still simply a stop-gap measure. DHS needs to look into why the adjudication of a 765 application, especially when it’s a renewal, should take as much time as it currently does. Is DHS really so backlogged that it cannot ensure that EAD adjudications in under 6 months?”

Things were different at one point in the past. “It used to be that if your EAD application was not adjudicated in 6 months, you could go to the local Field office and get an interim EAD,” Mathews recalls.

H4 EAD visa holders from across the country met with staff at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C. in 2019, to advocate against rescinding employment authorization. Photo: courtesy Neha Mahajan/Skilled Immigrants In America.

“That provision has been taken away. We have clients who now have to jump through the hoops so they don’t lose their jobs navigating this byzantine EAD adjudication system,” she notes.

And Department of Homeland Security apparently has a mechanism for expediting deserving cases, “but it’s the rare case that actually meet their criteria for expedited processing,” Mathews says adding that while these interim measures are helpful to a limited extent, DHS needs to address the underlying issues and work on improving the case processing times for these applications.

The H, L and E visa holders have two options: They step outside of United States and reenter with their visas stamped,

Wait for their visas to be approved by USCIS which at the moment is neck deep with over 1.5 million pending work permits.

Recently, USCIS Director Ur Jaddou noted that there are 1.5 million work permits requests pending approval.

Since the beginning of Covid, U.S. consulates and embassies across the world are not yet working in full capacity and dates are periodically released by State Department. It is a simple case where demand is higher than the supply. Social media support groups on WhatsApp and Telegram are filled with folks anxiously looking for a date to get their visa stamped!

Artwork By Sraddha Karthik, A High Schooler From Florida To Be Displayed At The US Capitol

In a proud moment for Indian Americans, the artwork of a community student from Florida is all set to be displayed at the US Capitol. Sraddha Karthik, a Grade 11 student from a Tampa high school in Florida, has been declared the winner of the annual Congressional Art Competition at the Tampa Museum of Art where high school students from across Hillsborough County competed for a spot to showcase their work in the US Capitol.

This year, Sraddha Karthik, who came to the United States at the age of one along with her parents from Chennai, bagged the top prize with her graphite drawing “Pensive Gaze” created with intricacy and precision, said a media release issued by Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Ms Karthik’s self-portrait tackles perception versus reality.”I wanted to see if I could draw myself as I am and not how I think I am,” she said.

She used different shades of graphite to create depth and dimension for her artwork, the release said. Karthik, the statement said, has been drawing since she was 7 years old when her parents registered her for an art class. “I don’t have as much time as I used to before high school, but I do try to fit in art as much as possible because it’s really helpful for me to express myself,” she said.

Art will add depth to MS Karthik’s career in architecture, which she plans to pursue after high school, said the Congresswoman’s office.

This wasn’t Ms Karthik’s first art competition – she’s been competing in the Salvador Dali Museum annual art competition since eighth grade, and her artwork has been chosen to be displayed every year, it noted. “It was a very talented display of art at this year’s event – this honour could have gone to anyone in the competition!” she said of Castor’s art competition.

It’ll be her first visit to Washington, DC, when she goes for her national showcase this summer. Her artwork will then be displayed in the US Capitol for one year alongside winners for congressional art competitions from throughout the country, the media release said.

The Tampa Museum of Art provides an incredible venue for one of the top high school arts competitions in the country. I am grateful to our parents, teachers and especially students who have turned to arts for encouragement and connection as we mend from the pandemic. Reflective artwork has been a prominent theme and I look forward to welcoming Sraddha to Washington, DC, this summer to represent our talented and diverse community,” Castor said.

Microsoft To Invest Rs 15,000 Crore In Hyderabad Data Center

Software giant Microsoft will set up its largest data centre in India at Hyderabad with an investment of Rs 15,000 crore. The Telangana government and Microsoft on Monday jointly announced the data centre investment which will be Microsoft’s largest data centre region in India.

Microsoft will make the investment over a period of 15 years into the new data centre region spread across three sites – Chandanvelly, Ellikatta, and Kottur. The software giant already has its India development centre in Hyderabad, which is its largest in the world outside its headquarters in the US. The new data center in Hyderabad will deliver advanced data security and cloud solutions that will help enterprises, start-ups, developers, education, and government institutions.

The announcement was made in the presence of Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and Telangana’s Information Technology Minister K.T. Rama Rao and Principal Secretary, ITE&C, Jayesh Ranjan. The event was also attended by Microsoft’s Executive Vice President, Jean-Philippe Courtois and Microsoft India President, Anant Maheshwari.

The Hyderabad data centre region is another addition to the existing network of 3 regions in India across Pune, Mumbai, and Chennai, which have been operational for more than five years.

K.T. Rama Rao called it an iconic moment in the development story of Telangana. “This will be one of the largest FDIs that Telangana has attracted; Will indirectly support local business growth and facilitate job creation across IT operations, facilities management, data and network security, network engineering and much more,” he tweeted.

Through the data center region, Microsoft will enable opportunities for local businesses to innovate with Microsoft Cloud services in Hyderabad and across Telangana.

Telangana and Microsoft have earlier entered an MoU that will positively reinforce the state government’s capabilities to enhance its citizen service capabilities. Given the state’s technology driven growth agenda around key sectors like agriculture, healthcare, education, law enforcement and mobility, the Microsoft data centre in the region will push up the local growth.

“Today’s commitment to the people and businesses of India will position the country among the world’s digital leaders. A Microsoft data centre region provides a competitive advantage to our digital economy and is a long-term investment in our country’s potential. The cloud is transforming every industry and sector. The investment in skilling will empower India’s workforce today and into the future,” said Chandrasekhar.

“Microsoft and Telangana go a long way back with Hyderabad hosting one of the largest Microsoft offices in the world and I am happy to see the relationship grow,” said Rama Rao.

Maheshwari noted that cloud services are poised to play a critical role in reimagining the future of business and governance and enabling overall inclusion in the country. “The new data center will augment Microsoft’s cloud capabilities and capacity to support those working across the country. It will also support new entrepreneurial opportunities while meeting critical security and compliance needs. The new data centre region is a testament to our mission to empower the people and organisations of India to achieve more,” he said. (IANS)

USCIS To Protect Immigrant Children, Abused, Neglected, Abandoned

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new policies that will provide better protection to immigrant children who are victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar parental maltreatment.

“Today, we are taking action to help immigrant children in the U.S. who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned and offer them protection to help rebuild their lives,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “These policies will provide humanitarian protection to vulnerable young people for whom a juvenile court has determined that it is in their best interest to remain in the United States.”

The new policies include updating regulations to clarify Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) eligibility criteria such as updating an age-out provision to protect petitioners who turn 21 while their petition is pending. Additionally, USCIS is updating regulations for evidentiary requirements to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program and ensure that eligible victims of parental abuse, neglect, or abandonment receive SIJ classification and a pathway to apply for lawful permanent residence (LPR) status.

USCIS may consent to a grant of SIJ classification when the petitioner has provided evidence of court-ordered relief from parental abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis under state law, as well as evidence of the factual basis for a juvenile court’s determinations. The regulations also make clear that petitioners cannot be required to contact their alleged abuser while USCIS makes a decision in their SIJ case. An SIJ petitioner may have an attorney, accredited representative, and/or trusted adult present, if an interview is scheduled, but only attorneys and accredited representatives are entitled to make a statement during such interviews.

In addition to issuing the updated regulations, USCIS is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to consider deferred action and related employment authorization for noncitizens classified as SIJs who are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status to LPR status solely because a visa is not immediately available. Deferred action and employment authorization will provide invaluable assistance to these vulnerable noncitizens who have limited financial and other support systems in the United States while they await an available visa number.

This Policy Manual update is effective May 6, 2022, and applies to eligible noncitizens classified as SIJs before, on, or after that date, based on an approved Form I-360, Petition for Ameriasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

TiE Boston Kicks Off Silver Jubilee Celebrations With Fireside Chats With 13 Founders

TiE Boston celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2022, traversing the prosperous path of generating and nurturing entrepreneurs, in an ever-changing landscape of technology and finance, and mentoring entrepreneurs through unprecedented pandemic times.

What started as TiE Atlantic in February 1997 as the dream of 13 Founding Members and only the second TiE Chapter, has now grown into an unparalleled network of successful, serial entrepreneurs who are deeply engaged and committed to giving back to the community by providing mentorship, tactical advice, and expertise to rising entrepreneurs.

In 2022, TiE Boston offers a full slate of programming to cover the entire cycle of entrepreneurship, from mentoring young entrepreneurs and student entrepreneurs, to taking business to scale through its ScaleUp program that was recognized as the most innovative TiE program worldwide in 2021, investing in companies through its Angels program, and encouraging diversity through Women’s Initiatives.

The 13 founders of TiE Atlantic (TiE Boston), in 1997, were:

Sushil Bhatia, Ashok Boghani, Ash Dahod, Samir Desai, Desh Deshpande, Radha Jalan, Ashok Kalelkar, Ramesh Kapur, Ranganath Nayak, Mahendra Patel, Dinesh Patel, Jit Saxena and Rahul Singh. The founders covered a broad spectrum of professions including technology, medicine, consulting and manufacturing.

Desh Deshpande

Mr. Deshpande, one of the founders and the first President of TiE Boston said, “TiE started 25 years ago in Boston when Entrepreneurship was in a nascent stage. Twenty- five years later it is amazing to see its impact. It has nurtured many entrepreneurs who contribute billions of dollars to the Massachusetts economy and hire thousands of people. TiE is even more relevant today to keep the economy growing and create opportunities for every resident of the state that has been innovative for the last 400 years.”

Samir Desai

The second President and a founding member of TiE Boston, Mr. Desai adds, “I remember the early days and am very proud of everything that we have jointly accomplished in the last 25 years! The impact of TiE Boston is tremendous and continues to grow.”

Founding member, Ms. Jalan, says, “As a woman entrepreneur in the 90s, TiE gave me an incredible sense of networking and community. I am proud to have started some Women’s Initiatives for TiE Boston and feel a great sense of pride on seeing how well they have integrated women entrepreneurs into the ecosystem.”

Radha Jalan

Besides establishing a network of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals, TiE Boston members also boast of creating several successful companies. TiE companies globally have created over $250B in wealth with TiE Boston being a major contributor.

TiECon East, successfully held annually as New England’s largest conference for entrepreneurs, is TiE Boston’s marquee event open to the public and hosts key speakers from the ecosystem of successful entrepreneurs.

Anu Chitrapu

Presently, the TiE Boston Board comprises of President Anu Chitrapu, and 11 Board members: Thomas Arul, Asha Dixit, Anupendra Sharma, Emily Ladd-Kravitz, Venkat Maroju, Zenobia Moochhala, Sangeeta Moorjani, Shirish Nimgaonkar, Kiran Uppuluri, Geetha Sreedhar, and Darshana Zaveri.

On the occasion, TiE Boston President Ms. Chitrapu says, “The 25th Anniversary is a rallying point for our Chapter, and we’re planning to use this momentum for tremendous growth across all our programs in the years ahead.”

To commemorate the 25th Year, TiE Boston has planned several events to acknowledge the founders, sponsors, members and program participants. The first is a series of fireside chats with each of our founders. This ‘Entrepreneurial Pioneers’ series of fireside chats will kick off with its inaugural event on Thursday, February 17th. Register here for the Fireside Chat with Dr Radha Jalan, moderated by Geeta Aiyer. A grand Gala for members will be held in the summer of 2022. Over the course of the next few months, TiE Boston will bring together its Founders and current Charter Members to explore the history of TiE Boston, the road ahead, and unchartered paths decidedly taken by entrepreneurial change makers and trailblazers.

TiE Boston connects tomorrow’s founders with today’s entrepreneurs, executives and venture capitalists. Founded in 1997 by entrepreneurs who immigrated from the Indus region, TiE Boston champions inclusion in innovation by blending the fundamentals of entrepreneurship with traditional Indian values that place importance on community, mentorship, and long-term relationships. TiE Boston is one of the region’s largest and oldest organizations supporting the Massachusetts entrepreneurial ecosystem, focused on supporting entrepreneurs throughout their lifecycle — from ideation to creation, through growth, wealth creation and ultimately, support of future founders. The TiE Boston community encompasses students, founders, experienced entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists. Its programs foster trusted, long-term relationships between its participants — span education, mentoring, networking, and funding.

Reach TiE Boston by email at [email protected] with questions. TiE Boston’s Interim Executive Director, Rowena Kay Mascarenhas, oversees the strategic planning, operations and programs, while Archish Mittal manages memberships and partnerships, Dean Walsh manages the TiE ScaleUp program, and Vivek Soni manages the TiE Angels program. For more information about TiE Boston, visit

One Third Of US Population Experiences Warmer Temperature

More than a third of the American population is currently experiencing rapid, above-average rates of temperature increase, with 499 counties already breaching 1.5C (2.7F) of heating, a Guardian review of climate data shows.

The US as a whole has heated up over the past century due to the release of planet-warming gases from burning fossil fuels, and swaths of the US west, north-east and upper midwest – representing more than 124.6 million people – have recorded soaring increases since federal government temperature records began in 1895.

Though the climate crisis is convulsing the US, it is doing so unevenly. Hotspots of extreme warming have emerged in many of America’s largest cities, and places as diverse as California’s balmy coast to the previously frigid northern reaches of Minnesota, while other places, particularly in the south, have barely seen their temperatures budge.

“The warming isn’t distributed evenly,” said Brian Brettschneider, an Alaska-based climate scientist who collated the county temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). “Many places have seen dramatic changes, but there are always some places below the average who will think, ‘It didn’t seem that warm to me.’ The impacts differ depending where you are.”

Ventura county in California has heated up more than any other county in the contiguous US, according to the Noaa data, experiencing a 2.6C (4.75F) increase in total warming in the period from 1895 to 2021. Meanwhile, counties that include many of America’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston, have all seen their average temperatures rise far beyond the national average, which stands at about a 1C (1.8F) increase on pre-industrial times.

Mark Jackson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service based in Oxnard in Ventura county said the county’s temperature increase was “a remarkable number, it’s a scary number when you consider the pace we are looking at”. Jackson said the county had seen a large increase in heatwaves, including a spell above 37C (100F) last summer that “really stressed” the local community.

Ventura county, which hugs the Californian coast north-west of Los Angeles, is known for a pleasant Mediterranean climate cooled slightly by the proximity of the ocean. But Jackson said that recent heatwaves have seen warm air flow down from mountains in the nearby Los Padres national forest to the coast, while the ocean itself is being roiled by escalating temperatures. “It’s been really remarkable to see it get that hot right up to the coast,” he said.

California is in the grip of its most severe drought in 1,200 years and scientists say this is fueling the heat seen in many places in the state – Los Angeles has warmed by 2.3C (4.2F) since 1895, while Santa Barbara has jumped by 2.4C (4.38F) – by reducing moisture in soils, which then bake more quickly.

Higher temperatures are also worsening the risk of wildfires in the state. “We lost everything,” said Tyler Suchman, founder of online marketing firm Tribal Core who in 2017 fled with his wife to escape a huge wildfire that razed their home in Ojai, in Ventura county. “It was harrowing. The winds were blowing like crazy and the hills lining the highway were all on fire, I had never seen anything like it.”

Just 11 months later, a separate wildfire destroyed the couple’s next home, in Malibu, as their neighbor scooped up water from his hot tub in a desperate attempt to tackle the flames. “No one wants us to move next to them now,” Suchman said. “You can see how the area has changed over the 18 years since we moved to Ojai. It’s a beautiful place but regrettably we can’t live there now, the risk is too great.”

Hotspots of above-average warming are found across the US. Grand county in Utah, a place of sprawling deserts, cliffs and plateaus, is the second fastest warming county in the lower 48 states, while every county in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut has warmed by more than 1.5C (2.7F) since 1895.

It’s the more northern latitudes that have experienced the most extreme recent heat, however, with counties in Alaska making up all of the top six fastest warming places since 1970 (comparable temperature data for Alaska does not go back further than the 1920s). Alaska’s North slope, situated within the rapidly warming Arctic, has heated up by an enormous 3.7C (6.6F) in just the past 50 years.

“There really is a climate shift under way in Alaska, everyone can see things are different than they used to be and everyone is concerned about what the future here will look like,” said Brettschneider, who added that even his teenage children had noticed the retreat of sea ice, an elongating fire season and a dearth of cold days.

The warmth is also melting frozen soils, known as permafrost, causing buildings to subside and roads to buckle. “If you drive on the roads near Fairbanks you better have a strong stomach because it feels like you’re riding a rollercoaster,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy.

Other locations traditionally used to severe cold have also seen sharp temperature increases. Roseau and Kittson counties, in northern Minnesota, are both in the top five fastest warming counties in the lower 48 states, with their warming driven by winters that have heated up by around 3.8C (7F) in the state since modern record keeping began.

Winters are warming more quickly than summers because more heat usually escapes the land during the colder months, but it is now being trapped by greenhouse gases. “Some might say ‘well I like warmer winters’ but people are noticing negative impacts, such as changes to the growing season and the loss of cultural practices such as cross-country skiing races,” said Heidi Roop, a climate scientist at the University of Minnesota. “Even small temperature changes have big consequences.”

Globally, governments set a goal in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to avoid a temperature rise of 1.5C (2.7F) above the pre-industrial era. Beyond this point, scientists say, the world will face increasingly punishing heatwaves, storms, flooding and societal unrest.

While certain areas of the US have already passed 1.5C, the important metric is still the global average, Hayhoe said. “In some places a 2C increase is fine but 2.5C is when the wheels fall off the bus, some locations are OK with 5ft of sea level rise because of their elevation while others can’t cope with 5 in because they are low-lying,” she said. “Local vulnerability is very customized. What’s relevant for communities is whether the world meets its targets or not, it’s a collective target for the world.”

That global threshold is in severe peril, with some forecasts warning that 1.5C (2.7F) could be breached within a decade without drastic cuts to carbon emissions. Communities will need to brace themselves for the consequences of this, according to Roop.

“The warming we are seeing is pushing at the bounds of lived human experience, of what we thought was possible,” she said. “We are paying the costs for that and we need to prepare for the changes already set in motion, as well as to prevent further warming.”

The map of US counties on this article was amended on 6 February 2022 to correct the temperature conversions.

Tamil Studies Chair At University of Houston To Receive $2 Million

A Texas nonprofit organization with a mission to promote Tamil language, culture and literature has made a $2 million commitment to the University of Houston to establish an endowment supporting the study of Tamil heritage. The Tamil language is considered the oldest in the world — spoken by more than 70 million people worldwide — primarily in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.

Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc., which is the donor, is a nonprofit that was founded last year with the goal of establishing the Tamil studies chair at the University of Houston and providing a forum for the growing population Tamil-Americans in the United States — approximately 250,000 people.

“As Tamil-American families assimilate into the fabric of the multi-cultural society in this great nation, and as all our children get educated in American Universities, HTSC takes great pride in leading this initiative to expand awareness of the rich Tamil culture, language and literature within an educational setting,” said Sam Kannappan, founding member and board president of Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc.

The initial $1 million pledge will create The Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc. Research Endowment in the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. These funds will support research program costs, equipment and seminars with invited scholars who are experts on Tamil societies and the Tamil diaspora in the United States.

An additional $1 million will rename the endowment The Houston Tamil Studies Chair Inc. Endowed Professorship. The educator who will hold this professorship will be a global research trailblazer with expertise on the rich diversity of Tamil culture and its global diaspora, according to Antonio D. Tillis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“This gift serves as a new resource for global research opportunities for our faculty and students,” said Tillis. “It affords expanding knowledge on a region that has interdisciplinary academic appeal with local and global contexts.”

Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc. was established through the vision of its founding members Sockalingam Sam Kannappan; Dr. S.G. Appan; Sockalingam Narayanan; Perumal Annamalai; Nagamanickam Ganesan; Tupil V Narasiman and Dr. Thiruvengadam Arumugam. They have been leading community fundraising efforts in the Greater Houston area, Texas and beyond.

“Through this generous gift, we are able to enrich our academic programs and introduce our students to Tamil’s special and unique culture,” said Eloise Brice, vice president for University Advancement.

The gift is part of the “Here, We Go” Campaign, the University of Houston’s first major fundraising campaign in more than 25 years. The University has raised more than $1 billion to address key priorities, including scholarships, faculty support and strengthening the university’s partnership with Houston, and momentum continues as UH moves beyond its original billion dollar goal.

Kannappan made a few remarks and thanked the Tamil Nadu State Government for contributing one crore rupees ($140,000) to the chair. Caldwell Velnambi, president of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, and a member of the HTSC board, spoke about FetNA and invited the UH executives to the annual FeTNA convention.

HTSC is committed to raising $2 million by the end of 2026 to set Houston Tamil Studies Chair Inc., a Texas nonprofit with the primary purpose of setting up a Tamil Studies Chair at the University of Houston, Nov. 11 made the first payment of $500,000 to the University of Houston as part of a series of payments to set up the Tamil Studies Chair.

The event was attended by Dr. Renu Khator, Indian American Chancellor and president of UH; Dr. Eloise Dunn Brice, vice chancellor and vice president of UH; Dr. Daniel P. O’Connor, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; and Kim Howard, senior director of Advancement, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, according to a press release from Tupil Narasiman.

HTSC was represented by its board comprising president Sockalingam (Sam) Kannappan, Tupil Narasiman, Thiruvengadam Arumugam, Perumal Annamalai, N. Ganesan, Sockalingam Narayanan, Caldwell Velnambi. Consul General Aseem Mahajan also attended the event, which was live streamed.

Khator offered a few remarks about the achievements of UH in terms of raising a significant amount of funding for the university in recent years, adding that UH is one of the top 50 universities in the U.S., the release noted. She said she was pleased to note that HTSC’s setting up a Tamil Chair is the first Indian language chair being set up in Texas and particularly at UH.

Kannappan made a few remarks and thanked the Tamil Nadu State Government for contributing one crore rupees ($140,000) to the chair. Caldwell Velnambi, president of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, and a member of the HTSC board, spoke about FetNA and invited the UH executives to the annual FeTNA convention.

Is Sonia Gandhi Returning To Lead Congress Party Actively?

In her address to the powerful Congress Working Committee on Saturday, October 16, 2021, Congress president Sonia Gandhi indulged in some plain speak, saying she is a “full-time and hands-on party president”. Reacting to comments by some G-23 leaders that the party needs an active president, Sonia said, “I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands on Congress President.”

“In the last two years, a large number of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones have taken on leadership roles in taking party policies and programmes to the people — whether it be the agitation of farmers, provision of relief during the pandemic, highlighting issues of concern to youth and women, atrocities on Dalits, Adivasis and minorities, price rise, and the destruction of the public sector,” the Congress president said during her opening address.

She added, “Never have we let issues of public importance and concern go unaddressed. You are aware that I have been taking them up with the Prime Minister as have Manmohan Singh and Rahul ji. I have been interacting with like-minded political parties regularly. We have issued joint statements on national issues and coordinated our strategy in Parliament as well.”

She further said, “I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media. So let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC.”

Kapil Sibal, one of the G 23 leaders, had said during a press conference last month: “In our party, at the moment, there is no president, so we don’t know who is taking these decisions. We know and yet we don’t know.”

On the eve of the meeting, several Congress leaders, including members of the Group of 23 who have been seeking sweeping changes in the party structure, argued that the party should not go in for polls now.

Gandhi, while referring to organizational elections for electing a new president, said, “The entire organization wants a revival of the Congress.  But this requires unity and keeping the Party’s interests paramount. Above all, it requires self-control and discipline.”

She added, “I am acutely conscious of the fact that I have been interim Congress President ever since the CWC, asked me to return in this capacity in 2019. We had thereafter, you may recall, finalized a roadmap for electing a regular President by June 30th 2021.  But the second wave of Covid-19 overtook the country and this deadline was extended indefinitely by the CWC in its meeting held on May 10, 2021.  Today is the occasion for bringing clarity once and for all. A Schedule for full-fledged organizational elections is before you.”

Leading upto the first meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in five months on Saturday, the chances of the party announcing organizational elections, including to the post of party president, seemed bleak. On the eve of the meeting, several Congress leaders, including members of the Group of 23 who have been seeking sweeping changes in the party structure, argued that the party should not go in for polls now and should focus on the forthcoming Assembly elections in five states.

“There is again election in some states. There will be continuously elections in one or the other state or group of states till 2024. I think the party’s priority should be to win these elections or consolidating our position, instead of thinking of these issues. There are challenges before the party and there are bigger challenges before the nation… There are issues of democratic values, the issue of weaker sections, unemployment… economy is in a very bad shape. All these things are very dear to the Congress. I think we should focus on these issues and on winning elections in the states. Everybody realises this… But anyway, if the party feels there should be elections, we are ready for elections also,” CWC member Harish Rawat told The Indian Express.

Some of the leaders of the G-23, however, added that the CWC can decide the timeline for holding the membership drive, which was last held in 2016-17, in the run up to the organisational elections.

“We have not had a membership drive for five-six years. So how can we hold organisational elections? We will have to hold the membership drive first. But the coming Assembly elections are the priority. We can discuss the schedule (for organisational elections). But first the membership drive will have to begin at some point of time,” a G-23 leader said.

Dubai To Allow Indian Expats With Expired Residence Visa To Return

In a move that brings relief to thousands of Indian expats, Dubai announced it will allow them to come back even if their residence visas have expired. Also allowed to return were residence visa holders from Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. Anyone holding an expired Dubai residence visa now has time to return until November 10. A large number of Indian expats had flown back to the country earlier this year when the second wave of Covid-19 was rampant, and were then unable to return to the UAE as the flights were suspended.

Fly Dubai, the low-cost carrier operating from the emirates, posted on its website: “The GDRFA has extended the expiry date of Dubai-issued UAE resident visas for nationals of India, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda who are stranded outside of the UAE. “This applies to Dubai-issued UAE resident visas which have expired or will expire between April 20, 2021 and November 9, 2021 inclusive.”

However, the airline said that the expiry will not be extended for holders of Dubai-issued visas who have stayed outside of the UAE for more than six months, if they left before October 20, 2020. It was unclear at the moment if the same offer applied to residence visas issued by Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, or other emirates.

The move was later confirmed by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) to Gulf News. In a statement, the GDRFA said: “The procedure will be done according to certain conditions and procedures including that the beneficiaries must be outside the country since the expiry date of residency between April 20, 2021 and November 8, 2021. GDRFA-Dubai will extend the residency visas until November 9.” Once the expats return with expired visa enter the country, the system will give them a 30-day grace period from the date of entry to change their status and renew their visas. (IANS) Boom! United Airlines Just Bought 15 Supersonic Jets That Fly on ‘Sustainable’ Fuel .The airline plans to buy the Overture jets from Boom Supersonic to make its fleet faster and more sustainable.

At ASEI’s 2021 AI Summit, AI For Social Good, Data & Ethics Highlighted

The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) convened an AI Summit with a number of researchers, authors, speakers and experts covering Artificial Intelligence  from multiple perspectives: Augmented Intelligence with Data, AI/ML Solutions for social benefit and Artificial Intelligence Applications for the enterprise & AI Ethics on April 24th, 2021.

Opening the summit, Divya Ashok, who serves as VP of Innovation and Strategy at Salesforce, introduced the AI Summit Chair Piyush Malik who has been working in the Data & AI domain for over 25 years, currently as the Senior Vice President at SpringML, a Google partner startup in Silicon Valley. Piyush gave a bird’s eye view of the AI landscape, the real life and enterprise application opportunities as well as set the stage for the plenary segment where the theme was AI for Society. He recognized  the  contributions of AI pioneer technologists and Turing awardees over the past 7 decades including Prof  Raj Reddy, the first Asian and the only Indian origin person to have won the Nobel prize of computing (i.e. Turing Award for AI) in 1994 long before the current euphoria over AI was commonplace.

  Vilas Dhar,  President and Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation (PJMF), gave a message of support from PJMF to ASEI as we work towards our shared vision for AI – powered yet human-centric ethical endeavor for the benefit of society as we  explore the future of meaningful work through youth empowerment. PJMF is a 21st century philanthropy advancing artificial intelligence (AI) and data solutions to create a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all. Vilas, a biomedical engineer by initial training is an entrepreneur, technologist, and human rights advocate with a lifelong commitment to creating more robust, human-centered social institutions. His message of support for AI for social benefit  and data philanthropy fostered through interactions with ASEI leadership was complemented by the next speaker Dr Sundar Sundareshwaran, AI Fellow at the World Economic Forum (WEF) where PJMF is a supporter.

At WEF, Dr Sundar is co-creating a governance framework with a multi-stakeholder community for the use of Chatbots in healthcare amongst other initiatives which he talked about in detail having an impact in the COVID era.  Sundar  represents Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation in his role at WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He  is a seasoned technologist with research, development, P&L and executive leadership experience. With a Master’s degree in Natural Language Understanding and a PhD in Computer Vision, Sundar has made numerous research contributions in robotics, neural networks, human computer interaction, virtual/augmented reality and autonomous vehicles. His plenary talk at the AI summit gave a broader view of the Policy impact AI is having at the World stage and he welcomed the opportunity for ASEI members to join hands in making the world a better place through fair use of AI rather than fearing from it. On behalf of ASEI, Piyush portrayed the excitement of being able to work with evangelists, policymakers, data and AI professionals and social changemakers at the WEF and PJMF.

In the next section of the summit three  authors spoke about their respective work and the impact each of them are having in the field of AI.  Anyone who has tried to learn GCP or machine learning with Google technologies would have seen Dr Valiappa (Lak) Lakshmanan  in action via his Coursera lessons and courses. Lak as he is popularly known, serves as the Director for Data Analytics and AI Solutions at  Google Cloud. Previously as a Director at the Climate Corporation, he led a team of data scientists building probabilistic estimates of past, current and future weather. Currently with his team he  builds software solutions for business problems using Google Cloud’s data analytics and machine learning products but he is very passionate about AI for Social good on which he spoke at length. Real world proof points and examples in the field of flood control, agriculture, healthcare etc were shared with the summit audience which resulted in a lot of interactive chats and Q&A.

ASEI Michigan chapter president Muthu Sivanantham introduced and facilitated discussion with the next two speakers.  Dr Raj Ramesh, a TEDx speaker who happens to have a doctorate in AI was the next author to speak. He has broad experience with digital transformation and helps  organizations bring together complementary strengths of machines and humans to effect grand change.  His talk featuring interesting doodles and interactive audience participation surveys was patterned on his recent book, “AI & You” and he advised how to co-exist with machines by sharing  how to think, thrive, and transform in an AI driven future.

“AI will present a lot of opportunities in the future.  Sure, some jobs will be replaced, but each of us can leverage our knowledge, passion, and experience to position ourselves at the forefront of this cognitive revolution” – Dr Raj Ramesh at the ASEI AI Summit

The next speaker Ashish Bansal with his cool demeanour brought to light an example of how rubber meets the road in AI though Models in Natural Language Processing. NLP is a topic of increasing attention given the recent popularity of Open AI’s GPT3 model and discussions of “AI creating AI”. Ashish has previously worked in AI/ML  & Recommendation systems  for Twitter and Capital One and currently is a Director at  Twitch. His recent book Natural Language Processing with Tensorflow was discussed in brief as well.

Final section of the AI Summit was the “Women in Data & AI” segment facilitated  by Vatsala Upadhya and featured a lively and colorful “Ethics in AI” discussion between  Dr Sindhu Joseph, CEO of Cognicor with 6 Patents in AI, and Bala Sahejpal, SVP at DataRobot with Piyanka Jain, President and CEO of Aryng moderating

Issues of bias, reproducibility , transparency and equity and inclusion in  data and AI from people of color perspective was discussed as well as importance of governance and building checks and balances in the development and testing of AI systems was deliberated

Bala is an accomplished leader with over 25 years of experience and a proven ability in leading cross functional global teams for building Data and Analytics solutions delivering enterprise success while securing multimillion-dollar savings for diverse business functions. She shared what made her interested in AI infused  automation and drove her towards joining DataRobot after stints at Cisco/Appdynamics, Juniper and Netapp.

Piyanka has two Master’s degrees, with her thesis involving applied mathematics and statistics. Before founding Aryng, she was the Head of Business Analytics at PayPal-North America.She happens to be a bestselling author of “Behind every Good Decision”  and a regular contributor to Forbes, HBR, InsideHR, TDWI, Experian, Modern Workplace, Predictive Analytics World, etc. Her efforts over the years have driven $1b+ in business impact for her clients. Injecting her 20+ years of Data & Analytics experience during the panel discussion, she said “As AI becomes more prevalent, AI literacy for leaders and AI governance are two ‘must-haves’ to truly capitalize on the power of AI to drive significant business value while staying clear of AI fiasco like Tay”

Recounting the challenges that are faced in the adoption of ethical AI, Dr. Sindhu Joseph, founder, and CEO of CogniCor, which provides a digital assistant platform for financial services, said – “AI is not just scaling solutions, but amplifying the historic biases embedded in our society. Given that the most popular branch of AI namely ML/DL learns its models from historic observations, our inherent biases make their way into the data sets, making a small, select, and often homogeneous group of developers, organizations as guardians of fairness.”

 This session underscored the need for diversity in organizations and in startups developing AI algorithms and attention and investment in branches of AI that have the potential to bring about fairness.

The interactive Q&A sessions and chat texts continued to buzz throughout the nearly 4 hour conference with an engaged audience. The most interesting audience questions and some early bird participants won 10 books courtesy the three  authors and publishers. Proposing the vote of thanks, Raju Sreewastava, CEO of Big Data Trunk announced the list of winners.

The AI Summit showed the attendees the depth of AI/ML experience and thought leadership amongst Indian diaspora & ASEI members and gave a glimpse of the richness of  its collaborations with national and international professional bodies.

As is evident from recent events and newsletters, ASEI has had a fantastic 2021 so far with a large number of activities and new programmes such as MentorConnect, UniversityConnect and YouthPrograms to serve its members’ interests and build the next generation of engineers and technologists.

The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profitorganization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement,community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals,students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guidedby several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, andtransparent organization; providing positive role models, awarding scholarships,and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit,Michigan by a handful of visionaries. Today, the organization  has active chaptersin Michigan, Southern California, Silicon Valley, San Diego, and Washington, DC with more in the pipeline.

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes First Flight on Another Planet

The Ingenuity helicopter has successfully completed its historic flight on Mars and safely landed back on the surface, according to NASA.

The first powered, controlled flight on another planet took place at 3:34 a.m. ET.

Unlike when the helicopter’s fellow traveler, the Perseverance rover, landed on Mars on February 18, there was a bit of wait to know how the helicopter fared in its attempt.

The helicopter team was in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, early Monday morning to receive and analyze the first data from Ingenuity’s flight attempt.

Confirmation of the flight’s success came at 6:46 a.m.

The flight was originally scheduled for April 11, but plans shifted after a command-sequence issue was discovered when the helicopter went through a system of preflight checks with its software. The Ingenuity team received data on April 16 showing that the helicopter successfully completed its rapid spin test after they had made a tweak to the command sequence.

The chopper autonomously flew through the thin Martian atmosphere, with no help from its teams on Earth.

“We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL. “We’ve been talking about our Wright brothers moment on another planet for so long. And now, here it is.”

Images, in addition to the data, also helped the team confirm that the flight was successful.

A lower-resolution black-and-white image from the helicopter’s navigation camera appeared first. The Perseverance rover has already returned several images it captured of the helicopter.

The rover will continue to send back more images and video from several of its cameras. The team has already shared the full video of Ingenuity’s flight, which was captured by Perseverance.

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a statement. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky — at least on Mars — may not be the limit.”

First flight

Ingenuity, which is a technology demonstration, flew for about 40 seconds total on Monday. The 4-pound helicopter spun up its two 4-foot blades, rose up 10 feet (3 meters) in the air, hovered, made a turn, took a photo, and touched back down on Mars.

“Mars is hard not only when you land, but when you try to take off from it and fly around, too,” Aung said. “It has significantly less gravity, but less than 1% the pressure of our atmosphere at its surface. Put those things together, and you have a vehicle that demands every input be right.”

The Perseverance rover helps the helicopter and its mission team on Earth communicate with each other. It received the flight instructions from JPL and sent those plans on to the helicopter. Perseverance is parked at an overlook 215 feet (65 meters) away from the helicopter so it could safely watch the flight and capture images and videos.

During the helicopter’s hover, it captured images 30 times per second to feed into the navigation computer. This made sure Ingenuity remained level and in the middle of its 33-by-33-feet (10-by-10-meter) air field.

Ingenuity used a second higher-resolution camera pointing toward the horizon to capture images while the helicopter was aloft.

Once the helicopter landed on Mars, it sent back data through the rover to Earth.  Håvard Grip, NASA’s chief pilot for the Ingenuity helicopter, said this morning’s helicopter flight was perfect.

“It was a flawless flight,” he said. “It stuck the landing right in the place where it was supposed to go.”

That first black-and-white image from the helicopter’s navigation camera is key because “that will help us localize where the helicopter landed,” said Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead at JPL.

“The primary purpose of this project is to get that detailed engineering data that we can see the performance of the vehicle, and then that data can be used by future projects to make even bigger and better helicopters,” Canham said.

The rover captured this view of the helicopter from Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras, afer it safely touched back down on the Martian surface postflight. The airfield now bears a new name fitting for this historic event.

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement.

“While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked. As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration.” It’s fitting that the mission carried a piece of history as well.

A postage stamp-size piece of muslin fabric that covered one of the wings from the Wright brothers’ Flyer 1 is attached to a cable beneath the helicopter’s solar panel.

The first powered, controlled flight on Earth took place aboard the Flyer near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, when Orville and Wilbur Wright flew 120 feet for 12 seconds in December 1903. History was made when the Wright brothers conducted four separate flights on Dec. 17, 1903, and each one was a little longer than the previous one.

Future flights

“The Mars Helicopter project has gone from ‘blue sky’ feasibility study to workable engineering concept to achieving the first flight on another world in a little over six years,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL, in a statement.

After the first flight, Ingenuity will get a “rest day” to charge up using its solar panel. The team will use data sent back by the helicopter this week to plan its next flight, now scheduled for no earlier than April 22.

“Ingenuity itself is extremely healthy at this point,” said Bob Balaram, the Mars helicopter chief engineer at JPL. “In fact, she’s even healthier than she was before this flight. She shook off some of her dust that had been covering a solar panel and is in fact producing even more solar energy than before.”

Balaram said the batteries, communication system, landing gear, computers and motors are also in great shape.

“We have been thinking for so long about having our Wright brothers moment on Mars, and here it is,” Aung said. “We will take a moment to celebrate our success and then take a cue from Orville and Wilbur regarding what to do next. History shows they got back to work — to learn as much as they could about their new aircraft — and so will we.”

The helicopter has two weeks of its experiment justify, and the team is planning four flights that will push the helicopter to fly higher and longer to test the limits of what it can do.

Meanwhile, the rover will remain at the overlook and may switch on its microphones to capture sounds of the future flights. The rover is currently investigating some intriguing rocks near the overlook.

The cadence between flights will get progressively shorter. Ingenuity could fly four days after the first flight, then three days after the second flight and so on. The latter flights could see the helicopter rising as high as 16 feet (5 meters) and performing lateral movements up to 50 feet (15 meters) out and back.

“Once we get to the fourth and fifth flights, we’ll have fun,” Aung said. “We really want to push the limits. It’s not every day that you get to test a rotorcraft on Mars. So we want to be very adventurous.”

India Simplifies Re-Issue Process For OCI Cardholders,GOPIO welcomes the new directives simplifying the OCI Card process

USA based Global organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) whole heartedly welcomes the new directives from the government simplifying the process of maintaining OCI card.  “This will remove the confusion to many OCI card holders on the process of renewing the card at the age of 20 and 50 and one doesn’t have to go through the whole OCI card renewal process again,” said GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. This will also encourage more overseas Indians to become OCIs and it will benefit India, through their travel, business and investment in India.

 “However, GOPIO strongly urges the government to treat OCI Card holders who have invested in business and creating jobs in India at par with Indian citizens and they shouldn’t be termed as foreign nationals by various Govt. agencies while doing business including manufacturing and research in India,” Dr. Abraham added.

The Centre said on April 15, 2021 that the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders will now be required to get their document re-issued only once at the age of 20 instead of multiple times needed currently. According to a Press Information Bureau statement, a person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the card re-issued only once when a new passport is issued after his or her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his or her facial features on attaining adulthood.

If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of re-issue of OCI card, it said. Currently, the OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age, in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant. “With a view to facilitate the OCI cardholders, the government has decided to dispense with this requirement,” it added.

In a decision which is expected to significantly ease the process for re-issue of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, the Modi Government has decided to simplify the process. This decision has been taken on the directions of the Union Home Ministry.  The OCI Card has proved to be very popular amongst foreigners of Indian Origin and spouses of foreign origin of Indian citizens or OCI cardholders, as it helps them in hassle free entry and unlimited stay in India. So far about 37.72 lakh OCI Cards have been issued by the Government of India.

 As per the extant law, a foreigner of Indian origin or a foreign spouse of an Indian citizen or foreign spouse of an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder, can be registered as an OCI cardholder. OCI card is a life[1]long visa for entry into and stay in India with a number of other major benefits attached to it which are not available to other foreigners.

Presently, the OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age, in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant. With a view to facilitate the OCI cardholders, it has now been decided by the Government of India to dispense with this requirement. A person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the OCI card re-issued only once when a new passport is issued after his/her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his/ her facial features on attaining adulthood. If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of re-issue of OCI card.

With a view to update the data regarding new passports obtained by the OCI cardholder, it has been decided that he/she shall upload a copy of the new passport containing his/her photo and also a latest photo on the online OCI portal, each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age. These documents may be uploaded by the OCI cardholder within 3 months of receipt of the new passport.

However, in the case of those who have been registered as OCI cardholder as spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or an OCI cardholder, the person concerned will be required to upload on the system, a copy of the new passport containing the photo of the passport holder and also a latest photo along with a declaration that their marriage is still subsisting each time a new passport is issued. These documents may be uploaded by the OCI cardholder spouse within three months of receipt of his/ her new passport.

The details will be updated on the system and an auto acknowledgement through e-mail will be sent to the OCI cardholder informing that the updated details have been taken on record. There will be no restriction on the OCI cardholder to travel to/ from India during the period from the date of issue of new passport till the date of final acknowledgement of his/ her documents in the web-based system. All the above services of uploading documents will be provided on gratis basis to the OCI cardholders.