Turmeric Is Key To Indigestion Treatment

A promising solution for indigestion may already be lurking in your kitchen spice rack, as indicated by a recent study. Published in the medical journal BMJ, this study, which unveiled its findings on Monday, investigated the response of over 150 individuals with dyspepsia (commonly referred to as indigestion) to three different treatments: the medication omeprazole, turmeric containing curcumin, and a combination of the two.

Omeprazole is a widely used drug known for its effectiveness in treating specific heart and esophageal conditions by reducing stomach acid levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The participants’ symptoms, which encompassed stomach pain, bloating, nausea, and an early sense of fullness, were assessed at the 28th and 56th day of the treatment. This evaluation utilized the Severity of Dyspepsia Assessment, a questionnaire designed to gauge the severity of indigestion.

The study’s outcomes revealed no significant distinctions in symptom alleviation among the groups receiving omeprazole, turmeric, or the combination of both treatments.

Picture: Business Insider

Dr. Krit Pongpirul, the lead author of the study and an associate professor in the department of preventive and social medicine at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, remarked, “In addition to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin/turmeric could be a viable option for treating dyspepsia with comparable efficacy to omeprazole.”

Turmeric has a longstanding history of medicinal use in Southeast Asia for addressing stomach discomfort and various inflammatory conditions. In the United States, it has primarily served as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant dietary supplement for alleviating conditions such as osteoarthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

However, this clinical trial marks the first instance in which curcumin/turmeric has been directly compared to omeprazole in the treatment of dyspepsia, according to Pongpirul.

Turmeric’s Impact on Indigestion and Ongoing Questions

The exploration of turmeric’s influence on indigestion is a logical step since its constituent, curcumin, has been extensively studied in various inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis, according to Dr. Yuying Luo, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of gastroenterology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Some studies have even shown that curcumin can be beneficial when used alongside other medications.

Nevertheless, Luo raised a few queries regarding the new study. She pointed out that the scale employed by the researchers to assess symptoms is not the most commonly used one for gauging indigestion improvement. She also expressed a desire to see more frequent symptom measurements.

“I don’t think this single study alone provides sufficient grounds for me to make a recommendation. Proceed with caution,” she cautioned. However, she added that given the extensive ongoing research on the compound’s impact on various inflammatory conditions, more insights may emerge soon.

Luo emphasized the importance of consulting with a healthcare professional before increasing turmeric consumption in your diet for improved digestion. She highlighted a few case studies indicating liver injury associated with curcumin and the necessity of ensuring that turmeric does not interact adversely with any other medications you may be taking.

Pongpirul echoed these sentiments, stating, “Consumers should be aware of side effects of curcumin extracts such as allergy and bleeding risk, especially for those who take anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications.” He added that curcumin and turmeric are generally considered safe when consumed in the typical amounts found in food.

Typically, turmeric spices contain around 3% curcumin, as per a 2009 study. The 2-gram dose administered in this study is relatively low when compared to the curcumin extracts commonly found in supplements, according to Pongpirul. Therefore, if one of the treatments, turmeric or omeprazole, proves to be equally effective in reducing the risk of side effects, taking both may not be necessary.

While Luo awaits further studies before recommending turmeric as a treatment, she suggested discussing the option with your healthcare provider in conjunction with your current medications. However, she advised giving each alternative two to four weeks to assess their full impact, noting that not all patients respond identically to medications, which is a common challenge in treating disorders.

Biden Supports World Bank For A Bigger Role On The Global Stage

World leaders have issued a call for the expansion of the World Bank to enhance its lending capacity. However, the bank has underscored that this expansion hinges on securing funding from the private sector, as reported in a recent statement.

The President of the World Bank, Ajay Banga, conveyed that the institution’s focus has broadened beyond poverty eradication to encompass pressing global challenges such as pandemics, climate change, and food security. In an exclusive interview with CNBC’s Tanvir Gill during the Group of 20 (G20) leaders’ summit in New Delhi, Banga emphasized the need for private sector involvement. He stated, “There’s no way there’s enough money in the multilateral development bank, or even in governments… that can drive the kinds of changes we need for this polycrisis. Getting the private sectors’ capital and ingenuity into the game is going to be very important.”

Banga further elaborated on the bank’s efforts to boost its lending capacity, stating, “We are digging deep to boost our lending capacity, but we are going further, creating new mechanisms that would allow us to do even more.” He shared these insights during the G20 leaders’ summit, highlighting the bank’s commitment to expanding concessional financing to assist more low-income countries in achieving their goals. Additionally, he mentioned a creative approach to fostering international cooperation in addressing shared challenges.

At the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden echoed the sentiment that the World Bank cannot tackle these challenges alone. Biden called on G20 leaders to provide increased support to the World Bank and other multilateral development banks over the next year, with the goal of enhancing the institution’s capacity to aid low and middle-income nations.

To achieve this objective, Biden requested Congress to allocate more than $25 billion in additional financing for the World Bank. This financial injection is expected to empower the bank to further assist developing countries in their pursuit of development and economic objectives. The White House noted that this initiative would strengthen the World Bank and enable it to provide resources at the scale and speed required to address global challenges and meet the urgent needs of the poorest countries.

The World Bank, originally established in 1944 to support post-World War II reconstruction in Europe and Japan, has evolved significantly over the years. It began with just 38 member nations and has since expanded to include a majority of the world’s countries.

Biden’s administration has previously emphasized the need to provide developing countries with alternative funding sources to reduce their reliance on China and support their recovery from the effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine. As part of this effort, the administration sought $3.3 billion to bolster development and infrastructure finance provided by the World Bank.

In addition to increasing resources for poverty reduction in developing countries, the expansion of the World Bank also aims to assist these nations in transitioning to renewable energy sources. President Banga expressed his vision of securing funds for renewable energy initiatives, which could potentially attract private sector investments at ratios of one-to-one, two-to-one, or even three-to-one. He highlighted the enthusiasm of investors to engage in renewable energy projects in developing countries, emphasizing their confidence in the profitability of ventures related to solar, wind, and geothermal energy.

Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have pledged to strengthen their partnership to support countries facing challenges related to debt, sustainability, and digital transformation. In a separate interview with CNBC’s Martin Soong at the G20 summit, the IMF’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, emphasized the evolving landscape of global lending institutions. She stressed the importance of addressing the pressing issue of mounting debt, with approximately 25% of emerging market debt approaching distressed levels. Georgieva highlighted the increasing number of low-income countries experiencing or nearing financial distress.

Georgieva further emphasized the complementary roles of the World Bank and the IMF, explaining that the World Bank possesses deep sectoral expertise that the IMF does not. The IMF’s strengths lie in advising on fiscal policies to facilitate the transition to a digital economy, assessing new types of risks, including those associated with cryptocurrencies and climate change, and utilizing data to inform policymakers on current and future concerns.

In conclusion, the call for the World Bank’s expansion to confront global challenges beyond poverty eradication has garnered support from world leaders, including President Biden. The key to realizing this expansion lies in securing private sector funding. As the institution evolves to address a broader array of global issues, it aims to provide increased concessional financing to low-income countries while fostering international cooperation.

The World Bank’s expansion also aims to support developing nations in their transition to renewable energy sources. Moreover, the partnership between the World Bank and the IMF is set to strengthen, with a focus on addressing debt-related challenges and promoting synergies to tackle global issues effectively. These developments reflect the changing landscape of international financial institutions and their commitment to working together for the greater good.

Republicans Launch Formal Impeachment Inquiry Into President Biden

In a surprising turn of events, Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday last week that he was instructing House Republicans to initiate an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Speaking from the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy delivered a concise formal statement, stating, “Today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” McCarthy chose not to field questions from the assembled reporters.

McCarthy’s previous stance had suggested that there would be a full House vote to initiate an impeachment inquiry, as had been the practice in previous instances. However, as of Tuesday, it appeared that McCarthy did not have the necessary support to hold such a vote. A spokesperson for McCarthy confirmed that there would not be a vote to kickstart the impeachment inquiry.

This move had been foreshadowed by McCarthy for several weeks. Part of the motivation appeared to be an effort to appease staunch GOP members and gain access to financial records and documents related to President Biden and his son, Hunter. McCarthy elucidated his rationale on Tuesday, saying, “This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather the full facts and answers for the American public. That’s exactly what we want to know—the answers. I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.”

The individuals selected to lead the impeachment inquiry were also disclosed by McCarthy. He designated House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith for this role.

Picture: NPR

House Republicans had been engaged in investigations for several months, attempting to establish links between President Biden and his son’s business dealings. However, no concrete evidence of wrongdoing by the president had been uncovered. McCarthy revealed that House Republicans, during the August recess, had come across what he termed as “serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct.” When viewed collectively, these allegations painted a picture, in McCarthy’s words, of “a culture of corruption.”

Speaker McCarthy emphasized the gravity of his decision, stating, “I do not make this decision lightly. Regardless of your party, or who you voted for, these facts concern all Americans.”

Responding to McCarthy’s call for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden, White House spokesperson Ian Sams commented, “House Republicans have been investigating the President for 9 months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. His own GOP members have said so. He vowed to hold a vote to open impeachment, now he flip-flopped because he doesn’t have support. Extreme politics at its worst.”

Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, expressed his perspective on McCarthy’s actions, saying, “McCarthy has shown he will do anything to hold on to his gavel,” including launching an impeachment inquiry “based on repackaged, inaccurate conspiracies about Hunter Biden and his legitimate business activities.”

After leaving the House floor, McCarthy spoke to reporters once more, reiterating the importance of initiating an impeachment inquiry as a means to access more information. When asked if he believed President Biden had committed an impeachable offense, McCarthy replied, “All I’ve said is an impeachment inquiry allows us to get answers to get questions that are out there. Don’t you think the public wants answers?”

Former President Donald Trump had privately discussed an impeachment inquiry into President Biden with House Republicans, according to sources. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of Republican leadership, spoke with Trump and updated him on the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon, according to two sources.

Senate Republicans are scheduled to be briefed by Reps. Jordan and Comer during their lunch on Wednesday, confirming the seriousness of the matter. This briefing will be the first direct exposure to the evidence that Jordan and Comer claim to have uncovered, which could be pivotal for senators seeking more information about the House’s findings before making decisions on supporting further actions.

In a joint statement, Comer, Jordan, and Smith expressed their support for the impeachment inquiry, asserting, “The House Committees on Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary, and Ways and Means will continue to work to follow the facts to ensure President Biden is held accountable for abusing public office for his family’s financial gain. The American people demand and deserve answers, transparency, and accountability for this blatant abuse of public office.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, one of seven Senate Republicans who voted in 2021 to remove former President Donald Trump from office due to his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, endorsed the use of an impeachment inquiry to gain access to more information regarding President Biden’s business dealings. Romney explained, “The fact that the White House has been singularly silent and has coddled Hunter Biden suggests an inquiry is not inappropriate. That’s very different than an impeachment, an actual impeachment would require the evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor that has not been alleged. But inquiring is something the president and the White House could have avoided.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings for years, emphasized the distinction between an inquiry and an impeachment, stating, “An inquiry is an inquiry, it’s not an impeachment. And it seems to me it will open up an avenue to get a lot of information that we feel we’ve been stonewalled.”

Regarding the impeachment inquiry’s timing, this development arises as McCarthy aims to prevent a potential revolt from conservative hardliners and avert a government shutdown.

The House resumed its session on Tuesday, facing an impending September 30 deadline to pass a spending measure to keep the government operational. House Republican leaders are currently considering the passage of a continuing resolution, or a short-term funding extension, to provide additional time for negotiations on a comprehensive appropriations package.

However, members of the House Freedom Caucus, the same group that previously opposed McCarthy’s bid for the speakership and his debt limit agreement with President Biden, have indicated that they would not endorse a continuing resolution unless it includes specific provisions related to border security and the “weaponization of the DOJ.” Additionally, the group opposes further aid to Ukraine, potentially setting the House at odds with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

In the midst of this tension, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly threatened to initiate a motion to vacate against McCarthy. Such a motion would compel a vote to determine McCarthy’s continued tenure as speaker. McCarthy downplayed the threat when speaking to reporters on Monday evening, stating that Gaetz “should go ahead and do it… Matt’s, Matt.” Gaetz reiterated this warning during a floor speech shortly after McCarthy’s announcement regarding the impeachment inquiry, describing McCarthy’s move as a “baby step” in response to pressure from House conservatives.

Another Planet May Have Rare Oceans And A Possible Sign Of Life

Water might be present on the surface of an enormous celestial body located approximately 120 light-years away from Earth, as per recent discoveries made by the James Webb Space Telescope. This space-based observatory, renowned for its advanced astronomical capabilities, has unearthed intriguing clues indicating that the exoplanet K2-18b could possess essential characteristics conducive to the existence of water and potentially life.

K2-18b is situated in close proximity to the cool dwarf star K2-18, occupying what scientists refer to as the “habitable” or “Goldilocks” zone around the star. This zone is deemed suitable for supporting liquid water and, consequently, life. In terms of mass, K2-18b is approximately 8.6 times that of Earth. An extensive analysis of the observations made by the Webb telescope has disclosed the presence of substantial quantities of methane and carbon dioxide in the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

The detection of these carbon-based molecules, coupled with a limited presence of ammonia, suggests the potential existence of an atmosphere rich in hydrogen encompassing an oceanic world, according to a statement from NASA. Carbon, recognized as the fundamental building block of life on Earth, has sparked significant interest among scientists exploring extraterrestrial environments.

Picture: Waay-tv

This intriguing journey into the possibility of water and life on K2-18b began with the Hubble Space Telescope, which initially detected indications of water vapor in the exoplanet’s atmosphere. This discovery, detailed in a September 2019 study, served as a catalyst for intensified investigation into K2-18b’s unique attributes.

The Webb telescope, with its capacity to detect infrared light that escapes human perception, embarked on a quest to precisely identify the elements present within the planet’s atmosphere. The most recent findings from these observations also suggest the potential presence of a distinctive molecule known as dimethyl sulfide on K2-18b.

Dimethyl sulfide on Earth is exclusively produced by living organisms, primarily phytoplankton in marine environments, according to NASA. However, researchers remain cautious in their assertions, emphasizing that further investigation is necessary to confirm the existence of dimethyl sulfide on K2-18b. Moreover, even if the presence of this chemical compound is corroborated, it does not guarantee the existence of life forms on the exoplanet.

Despite the absence of definitive claims regarding alien life on K2-18b, this new evidence serves to broaden our comprehension of exoplanets resembling K2-18b. The insights gleaned from the examination of its atmospheric composition indicate that it might belong to a category known as “Hycean exoplanets.” These hypothetical celestial bodies are characterized by high temperatures, extensive oceanic coverage, and hydrogen-rich atmospheres.

The existence of liquid oceans on Hycean exoplanets offers the potential for sustaining life, although there are lingering uncertainties about their habitability. A study published in The Astrophysical Journal in August points out that these planets could undergo a severe greenhouse effect, potentially rendering them inhospitable.

It is important to note that there are currently no confirmed instances of Hycean exoplanets. Furthermore, K2-18b is an extraordinary entity within our own solar system, which makes planets resembling it poorly understood, as acknowledged by NASA. The scientific community is actively engaged in debating the nature of their atmospheres, as highlighted in a NASA news release.

Nonetheless, scientists involved in the analysis of the recent observations of K2-18b emphasize the significance of unraveling its mysteries. Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer and professor of astrophysics and exoplanetary science at the University of Cambridge, who is the lead author of the forthcoming scientific paper detailing these findings, suggests that while further research is required to substantiate the presence of dimethyl sulfide and its implications, the results constitute a promising step in comprehending Hycean worlds. Madhusudhan articulated, “Our ultimate goal is the identification of life on a habitable exoplanet, which would transform our understanding of our place in the universe. Our findings are a promising step towards a deeper understanding of Hycean worlds in this quest.”

In pursuit of this quest for knowledge, researchers intend to leverage the capabilities of the Webb telescope to conduct additional investigations of this distant exoplanet. These subsequent efforts aim to validate and expand upon the newly uncovered insights. Savvas Constantinou, a doctoral student of astrophysics at the University of Cambridge and a co-author of the latest study, noted, “These results are the product of just two observations of K2-18 b, with many more on the way. This means our work here is but an early demonstration of what Webb can observe in habitable-zone exoplanets.”

In summary, the James Webb Space Telescope’s observations have ignited tantalizing possibilities regarding the presence of water and potentially life on the exoplanet K2-18b, situated in the habitable zone of the star K2-18. While this evidence offers promising insights into the composition of its atmosphere, researchers remain cautious about making definitive claims regarding the existence of life on this distant celestial body. Nonetheless, the pursuit of knowledge regarding exoplanets like K2-18b continues to drive scientific exploration and expand our understanding of the universe.

G20 Summit Showcases India’s Fence-Sitting Foreign Policy

As the Group of 20 summit commenced, India’s Foreign Minister, S. Jaishankar, emphasized India’s role in promoting geopolitical harmony amidst the backdrop of intensifying great power rivalry. During the conclusion of contentious negotiations over the joint leaders’ declaration in New Delhi, Jaishankar acknowledged the challenge of leading a “very broad, very diverse” group of member states and stated, “There’s a spectrum of views and interests out there that we have tried to harmonize to produce the declaration.”

The focal point of this “spectrum of views” revolved primarily around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with G20 officials striving to find common ground. Since the commencement of the conflict in early 2022, India had consistently advocated for a peaceful resolution while refraining from overtly condemning Russia. India shares a long history of partnership with Russia and depends on the country for weapons and affordable oil shipments.

While the G20 traditionally serves as a forum for economic and developmental discussions, recent years have witnessed the intrusion of geopolitical concerns into its agenda. As the summit approached, analysts anticipated difficulties in reaching a consensus on the statement’s wording, especially with the U.S. advocating for a clear denunciation of Russia’s invasion.

Ultimately, the declaration produced was largely influenced by India’s discreet diplomatic efforts, reflecting the host country’s balanced foreign policy approach. The declaration refrains from direct condemnation of Russia and instead includes a general summary of the United Nations’ principles, emphasizing the avoidance of force for territorial acquisition by states. It also acknowledges the human suffering and adverse impacts of the conflict in Ukraine. This stance marked a contrast from the previous year’s declaration, which expressed strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression and demanded its unconditional withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.

Another significant outcome of the summit was the African Union’s admission as a full member of the G20. This accomplishment was part of India’s concerted efforts to engage with developing countries in what it terms a “multialignment” strategy. In a world where the U.S. and China vie for global influence, India is seizing the opportunity to emerge as an alternative, focusing on the Global South and representing it in a polarized international order. This position echoes India’s stance during much of the Cold War when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru helped establish the nonaligned movement, representing the “Third World” as a neutral force amid competing ideological blocs.

While some Asian countries like Japan and South Korea are strengthening their ties with the U.S. in response to China’s rise, India is pursuing a policy of hedging its bets. India’s role in mediating disagreements among G20 members regarding Russia’s Ukraine war could be seen as a pivotal moment in its ascent as a dealmaker and champion of a more flexible international order.

Harsh V. Pant, a professor of international relations at King’s College London and vice president of studies and foreign policy at the Observer Research Foundation, noted, “In some ways, the Global South approach that India has favored has [caught on], and that’s one metric of success. As major powers contest and compete, India will be more favorably positioned as a country that has channels of communication open with different stakeholders.”

Supporters of India’s “multialignment” foreign policy highlight its economic benefits. India has procured discounted Russian crude oil following Western sanctions on Russian oil exports. This affordable oil has significantly contributed to India’s economic growth, with K.C. Ramesh, executive director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, India’s largest oil company, affirming its positive impact.

Despite criticism from Western nations regarding its oil imports from Russia, India’s relations with the U.S. and the West have remained intact. In fact, India has witnessed a surge in exports to the U.S. over the past two years, with the U.S. surpassing China to become India’s largest trading partner in 2022, according to data from the Indian Commerce Ministry. Harsh V. Pant observed, “Despite Ukraine, India’s ties with the U.S. and West have not really suffered. You see greater acceptance of the logic of India’s position today.”

Vincent Magwenya, a spokesperson for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, commended India for setting an attractive example for developing countries. He remarked, “We have expressly stated that we are not aligned to any particular global power, so what India has done is very much in line with our own foreign policy.”

Despite championing the cause of the Global South, India remains part of the U.S.-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which includes Australia and Japan. Additionally, India is a member of the China- and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, emphasizing its commitment to engaging with partners globally based on national interests. In an interview with Nikkei Asia before his participation as a special guest at the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “As a member of the Global South, our interest in any plurilateral setting is to serve as a bridge between diverse voices and contribute to a constructive and positive agenda.”

The compromise regarding the language concerning Russia’s Ukraine invasion aligns with India’s broader diplomatic pattern, prioritizing tangible benefits such as trade and infrastructure that directly enhance domestic prosperity over ideological commitments and shared values in international relations. Praveen Donthi, senior analyst for India at the International Crisis Group, noted the divergence between the so-called rules-based international order and India’s pragmatic approach. He emphasized that India positions itself as a narrative shaper, a voice of the Global South, and an independent force pursuing multialignment.

Alongside the leaders’ statement on Russia’s Ukraine invasion, Prime Minister Modi worked on several deals during the G20 summit. This included a railway and ports project aimed at connecting the Middle East and South Asia, offering an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative. The project involves various partners, including the European Union, the U.S., and Saudi Arabia, demonstrating India’s proactive approach to regional connectivity and economic cooperation.

The Challenges of India’s Diplomatic Role

In the aftermath of a recent leaders’ declaration, Indian officials have found themselves fielding questions regarding a notable shift in language compared to the previous year’s G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. While last year’s statement explicitly mentioned Russia in the context of the ongoing war and its impact on global stability, the current declaration, issued from New Delhi, takes a different approach. When asked about this divergence, India’s External Affairs Minister, Jaishankar, offered a succinct response: “I can only say Bali was Bali and New Delhi is New Delhi. Bali was a year ago, the situation was different. Many things have happened since then.”

This shift in rhetoric reflects India’s evolving role on the global stage, as it joins other non-Western countries in presenting an alternative vision of international relations. According to Sarang Shidore, director of the Global South Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, this new vision seeks to forge “alternative, more equitable pathways to development that plug existing gaps in the U.S.-led order.” It’s a vision that resonates with many nations in the Global South, offering an alternative perspective on global governance.

However, not all experts in international relations are convinced that India’s newfound prominence will be sustainable. The ongoing war in Ukraine and the intensifying superpower rivalry between the United States and China have placed India in a position where it is courted from all sides. Yet, the durability of India’s current status remains uncertain unless it can establish relationships founded on shared values and principles rather than short-term expediency.

Sumit Ganguly, an expert on Indian foreign policy at Indiana University, points out that while Jaishankar and Prime Minister Modi are skillfully leveraging their relationships with global powers, the lack of durable ties based on values and shared beliefs may prove detrimental in the long run. In essence, building genuine friendships, rather than transactional alliances, should be India’s focus.

India’s need for true allies becomes particularly evident in light of escalating tensions with China, centered around the Himalayan border. The violent clashes in 2020 resulted in casualties on both sides and underscored the seriousness of the border dispute. In the face of an increasingly assertive China, India’s strategy of deliberate nonalignment stands in stark contrast to the recent foreign policy approaches of other Asian powers, such as Japan and South Korea.

Picture : CSIS

Japan and South Korea, despite historical tensions stemming from Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, have taken steps to deepen their security ties with each other and with the United States. They emphasize the importance of a “rules-based international order,” a stark contrast to India’s nonaligned stance.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, known for his strict adherence to rules and principles, cites common values of democracy and global trade as the basis for deeper cooperation between Japan and South Korea. The two nations also face shared threats from China and North Korea, which continues to advance its weapons programs. In an unexpected turn, Yoon took part in a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden in which they agreed to share real-time information on North Korean missiles. Such cooperation would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

The emphasis on alliances among democracies is closely tied to growing concerns about China’s intentions and actions. As Park Hwee-rak, a professor of political science at Kookmin University in Seoul, points out, China has failed to convince South Korea and other neighbors of its commitment to democracy and regional leadership. Consequently, the U.S. appears to be the only reliable partner for democracies like South Korea, which cannot be replaced by China.

Turning our focus back to India, the G20 summit held significant importance for Prime Minister Modi. It allowed him to project an image of a strong and influential India just ahead of general elections. Modi’s investment in the G20 summit was, in part, aimed at presenting an India that diverges from the daily struggles experienced by many of its citizens. Despite longstanding expectations of India becoming Asia’s economic powerhouse, some analysts argue that Indian policymakers have failed to foster a robust middle class, and the country still lags behind in key measures of well-being, including access to food and medical care.

Critics of Modi’s leadership argue that his control over the country is characterized less by harmony and more by division and fear. In the weeks leading up to the G20 Summit, India was marred by incidents such as a mob setting fire to a mosque near New Delhi and violent clashes in Manipur. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has been among those criticizing Modi for failing to quell such violence, alleging that his politics of Hindu supremacism have fueled social unrest.

Despite Modi’s rhetoric about spearheading an alternative diplomatic approach and bridging the gap between the Global South and industrialized nations, his primary focus appears to be harnessing foreign policy for domestic political gains. As noted by the International Crisis Group’s Donthi, the government excels at offering intangible benefits such as boosting India’s global prestige while constantly strategizing to secure electoral victories.

India’s evolving role on the global stage, as seen through its participation in the G20 summit, signifies a departure from previous diplomatic approaches. While India’s nonaligned stance and emphasis on alternative visions of international relations may hold appeal for some nations, the sustainability of its newfound prominence remains uncertain. Building lasting relationships based on shared values and principles, rather than mere expediency, will be key to India’s success in the complex world of international diplomacy.

“Can’t Prosecute Journalists For False Reports”

Shielding right to free speech of journalists, the Supreme Court of India said it would be “egregious” to prosecute journalists for false statements in their reports and protected the three Editors Guild of India (EGI) members from arrest in the FIRs lodged against them for a controversial report on media coverage and government handling of ethnic clashes in Manipur.

The court stated that prosecuting journalists for false statements in their reports would be “egregious” and that even if the report was false, journalists cannot be prosecuted under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.

A Meitei NGO, which had lodged the FIRs against the EGI members, opposed the journalists’ plea for revoking the FIRs alleging that the report was full of falsehoods propagated by the Kuki side which deepened the ethnic divide and fuelled violence.

A bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud said, “It would be egregious to prosecute journalists under Section 153A of IPC (promoting enmity between communities) for false statements in their reports. The report may be right or wrong. But that is what free speech is all about.”

The CJI added, “Your [the NGO’s] entire complaint is a counter narrative of the government. Assuming that the EGI report is false, it is not an offence under Section 153A. A false statement in an article (by a journalist) is not an offence under Section 153A. There are falsehoods in articles published across the country every day, do we prosecute all journalists under Section 153A?”

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said, “My only worry is that any organisation now can put up a fact-finding committee, file a report and place it alongside the counter views and then come before the SC seeking quashing of the FIR. With this (kind of report), we may not be able to control the narrative building by both sides. Anyone or a team of people can go, put out a particular view and then say it would put counter views alongside the report.”

The CJI said, “The Army wrote to the EGI and complained of biased or one-sided reporting of the ethnic violence. The Army invited them. They went to the ground and submitted a report.”

The bench asked the Meitei NGO’s counsel Guru Krishna Kumar to file its response to the EGI’s plea for quashing of the FIR after EGI counsel Shyam Divan repeatedly said that lodging of FIRs had a chilling effect on free speech of journalists.

It’s noteworthy that in April 2018, the Modi government stated, it will deny government access to journalists who publish fake news, the information ministry had announced. Journalists found guilty of writing or broadcasting fake news will have their government accreditation withdrawn for a limited period or permanently, depending on the frequency of violations, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said

Journalists and opposition parties described the new rules as an effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to control the press.Critics labelled this an attack on the freedom of the press in the world’s largest democracy.

Picture : Reddit

Is Using The 14th Amendment To Disqualify Trump Is Anti-Democratic?

Efforts to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment are gaining momentum, but they are met with resistance from election officials and legal scholars who express concerns about the anti-democratic nature of such actions.

Two conservative members of the Federalist Society recently supported the idea that Trump could be disqualified, leading to two substantial challenges to his eligibility. In Colorado, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a lawsuit on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters in state court. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the organization Free Speech for People initiated a legal challenge on behalf of a group of voters in the state’s Supreme Court. Both lawsuits argue that Trump would be ineligible to hold federal office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that a candidate can be disqualified if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or provided “aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” unless granted amnesty by a two-thirds vote of Congress. Trump has vigorously opposed these efforts, labeling them as “election interference” and asserting his innocence.

Despite mounting challenges in various states like Michigan, Virginia, and Connecticut, where secretaries of state are urged to remove Trump from the ballots, New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, a Republican, emphasized that he lacks the legal authority to do so. He stated, “There is nothing in our state statute that gives the secretary of state discretion in entertaining qualification issues.”

Several Republican officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, have also spoken out against disqualifying candidates through partisan actions. Raffensperger, who faced pressure from Trump during the 2020 election, warned against using the 14th Amendment as a means to bypass the ballot box. Sterling stressed the importance of trusting the voters and the potential danger of setting a precedent by interpreting the Constitution in a way that removes candidates.

Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson echoed this sentiment, writing in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the decision on Trump’s eligibility ultimately rests with the courts. She emphasized that, unless a court rules otherwise, Trump will be on the Republican presidential primary ballot in Michigan in 2024.

The interpretation of the term ‘insurrection’ is a central issue in these debates. While Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was originally used to disqualify individuals who held roles in the Confederacy after the Civil War, some legal scholars question whether the events of January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, constitute an insurrection within the constitutional definition.

Gerard Magliocca, an expert on the 14th Amendment from Indiana University, raised questions about whether the Capitol attack equates to the scale of the South’s armed rebellion. He also noted that because Trump has never been criminally charged for inciting insurrection or rebellion, some opponents argue that this weakens any case for disqualification under the 14th Amendment.

Michael McConnell, a professor at Stanford Law School, emphasized that interpreting the term “engage” in the context of insurrection might require more than mere verbal support. He pointed out that Trump was not physically present at the Capitol when the violence occurred and that his speech alone might not be sufficient evidence of direct involvement.

Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia elections official, anticipates that courts would consider the absence of a criminal conviction as a significant reason against disqualification. He explained that if someone were convicted of insurrection, that would be a different scenario, but it does not apply to Trump’s case.

On the contrary, McConnell argued that Trump’s ineligibility under the 14th Amendment does not necessarily hinge on a criminal conviction for insurrection. He stated that it is not a requirement for Section 3 to apply, citing historical examples where individuals were disqualified after the Civil War without criminal charges or convictions.

Efforts to disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment are gaining traction in various states, but they face opposition from election officials and legal scholars who raise concerns about the interpretation of the term ‘insurrection’ and the potential precedent-setting nature of such actions. The debate over Trump’s eligibility is likely to continue in the courts, with the ultimate decision resting on legal interpretations and judgments. Efforts to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment are gaining momentum, but they are met with resistance from election officials and legal scholars who express concerns about the anti-democratic nature of such actions.

Concerns Surrounding Trump’s Ballot Access

Efforts to bar Donald Trump from running in state primaries face substantial practical hurdles, including potential countersuits and unsympathetic courts. Even if these efforts were to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, success is far from guaranteed. Moreover, it’s essential to recognize that the ongoing challenges pertain to Trump’s participation in primary elections, which are distinct from the actual presidential election. Primaries determine the nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties, not the president.

Professor McConnell from Stanford University highlights the complexity of this issue, stating, “Even if a state like Colorado were to prevent Donald Trump from participating in the primary election for the presidency, there is no mechanism to prevent the Republican National Convention from nominating him as their candidate. So, even if these groups were to succeed legally, it remains unclear what tangible impact it would have.”

He also underscores the speculative nature of these actions, emphasizing that the high degree of confidence exhibited by some individuals is unwarranted. This situation presents a unique challenge, with historical precedents dating back over a century, leaving many uncertainties. In essence, we find ourselves navigating uncharted territory in the realm of election law.

\While concerns about Trump’s participation in primary elections persist, it’s crucial to remain cognizant of the practical obstacles that lie ahead. These efforts are met with legal complexities, and their ultimate impact remains uncertain in the broader context of American presidential elections.

Global Indian Council (GIC) inducted the Women Empowerment team.

Women Empowerment  is one of Global Indian Council’s 16 centers of excellence. Hosted by the chairperson Sosamma Andrews. stated, “Countries should act to empower women and should take steps to eliminate inequalities between men and women as soon as possible by promoting the fulfillment of women’s potential through education, skill development, and employment, giving paramount importance to the elimination of poverty, illiteracy, and ill health among women”.

The meeting commenced with both National Anthems sung by Riya Alexander.

All the women empowerment committee members self introduced each other.

Global General Secretary Sudhir Nambiar, in his welcome address, explained the functioning of GIC.

Global President PC Mathew made the Presidential address and also conducted the Oath Ceremony of the members of the newly inducted Center of Excellence.

Cochair Dr. Alice Mathew. while emphasising the significance of Women Empowerment said “if she can have her PhD at the age of 60, we all can do great things”.

Picture: TheUNN

Dr. Anna George, guest of honor and dynamite key note speaker, who is also the President of indian nurses association shared the story of God took a day off to create women. When you start an important job in life we take enough rest. That important job was to create a woman etc.

Dr.Tara Shajan, GIC Global Treasurer and NYC city director of nursing felicitated the entire COE.She said “Let’s celebrate the achievements of women and work towards breaking barriers, fostering leadership, and ensuring their voices are heard”.

At his felicitations by cabinet member Tom George Kolath extended his congratulation to all the members of Center of Excellence Women empowerment. He mentioned “Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process”.

NY chapter president Dr. Anil Paulose said, we as Indians traditionally come from a patriarchal society. Women didn’t have similar freedom and privileges as men, but that has changed quickly. He presented some statistics as good sign,  when we connect the Women Empowerment.

CoE Business Excellence Chair Dr. Raj Mohan Pillai emphasized the importance of women’s empowerment, quoting the story of his energetic mother in a successful family business.

Cochair Dr. Jobey Jacob being a paediatrician  she appreciated GIC’s involvement in these area and offered all her support.

Sunitha Flowerhill, Shyla Pillay( Australia), and Santy Mathew (Kerala) also conveyed their appreciation for the team. In addition, Leela Marett, (Fokana), Dr. Shyla Roshin, Sumodh ( Pampa Assn. President), Divya Warrier, Saju Thomas, Komal Khatri, Andrews Kunnupurath ( GIC Brand Ambassador, NY), Dr. T P Narayanankutty (GIC Margialized Community Chairman) joined to felicitate the Newly inducted team.

Sivakumar, Indian Railway loco-pilot and environmentalist mentioned how women empowerment is important.

Indu Jaiswal Congratulated this COE and mentioned this center is going to enlighten not only the GIC but the entire community.

Members if the GIC Cabinet and Executive Committee also feucitated the team of Women Empowerment.

Usha George, Cochair of health and wellness CoE did the Vote of Thanks and mentioned “The full participation and partnership of both women and men is required in productive and reproductive life, including shared responsibilities for the care and nurturing of children and maintenance of the household activities”

Amala Benny, as Emcee, introduced the speakers and coordinated the meeting.

17 September, 2023: The State of Things set in Mare D Albert, Mauritiu

If things had been the way they normally were, Mother would have stopped by the old purohit and chatted with him. He would have greeted her with a namaskar, she would have taken both hands and clasped them in a prayer stance to show respect, and then the formalities would have ended. Mother would have asked the purohit how his family was doing, the purohit would have asked Mother how her son was managing. The purohit would have shared some shlokas for Mother to reflect on, Mother would have offered to bring him some of the gateau she was learning to make from the recipes on French television. They would have smiled at each other, shared an « au revoir » or an « à la prochaine. »

But now the purohit was no longer at the temple, and Mother stared dejectedly at the new purohit who chanted under the murti of Hanuman, not exchanging with him a single glance.

« C’est très dépressif. »

Mother took a far look to the other side of the pink wall to see that it was Deepika. Deepika, the wife of that vile dentist who often showed off his Chevrolet bought from Quebec. Deepika, that woman who wore a flower dress that revealed all her cleavage, yet had the nerve to put kum kum on her head after genuflecting to the murti, showing it off. Deepika, that sixty-something who swore like an Arab from Marseilles.

Of course Mother came towards her to exchange kisses on the cheeks.

« Bonsoir. »

« Bonsoir. »

« Comment vas-tu, mon amis? »

« Très bien. Et toi? »

It was all pleasantries, all niceties. It pained Mother to even fake a smile towards a woman who had done nothing but wrong her, and it pained her equally to see how well Deepika smiled in her direction. Did she not even feel guilt for the time after the Sankranti puja when she told everyone that Mother’s son was gay? No, this wasn’t a naive smile. No, there was a sense of justice and pride in her demeanour. Most likely she had felt like it was a rumour that had ought to be spread.

And then Deepika said, de nouveau « C’est très dépressif, what has happened to the pastor. »

Mother said « Oui, » only because she was not sure what to say. Mother and the purohit had had an exceptionally close relationship, and she still felt upset knowing that his life had since turned upside down, over a rumour, as well, about his supposed sexual involvement with an underage girl. But Mother did not trust Deepika, and she was not going to share her opinion on the circumstance.

Deepika pressed « Do you know what has happened to him? »

Mother said « Non. Do you? »

« Non. But it is all so sad. »

« Oui. »

Deepika looked left and right to see if anyone was coming from either sides of the wall. When she saw that it was only the two of them, Deepika came a little closer to whisper « You know he deserved it. »

Mother felt her muscles tense from her neck to her shoulders. Anger coursed through her body.

She felt like she could spit down Deepika’s blouse and get away with it.

Deepika went on « He was a paedophile. A paedophile! In our community, can you imagine? And you shared so many secrets of your life with him? I wondered what it was you said… »

Mother smiled, wrinkling her eyes so that her crow’s feet were like arrows pointing against her.

« It is ironic you are implying what you are implying. You know that our purohit was the first person I talked to when I found out about my son. Do you know what he did? No, he did not spread rumours or make fun of me behind my back, like you would have liked. He came to my home and held my hand as I sobbed uncontrollably for hours. He helped me control my breathing. He reminded me to repeat my shlokas. He did not pass judgement. He did not even talk until I was ready to speak. He is that kind of a man. He is calm and giving to everyone. It is not just me who feels this way. Vatsala has known the man since childhood and says he never behaved inappropriately with anyone. Our neighbour Naveen says that he loaned some money to his family and never accepted any payment back. If you came to the temple more often, you would know none of us believe these accusations. But you…yes, you certainly would believe in these rumours… »

Mother had to stop herself from saying more. The blood was pumping so hard in her neck that she could feel it twisting her muscles. Her back was so tense that any abrupt movement was causing it to ache.

And Deepika wasn’t worth it. Mother knew that Deepika had spread the rumours about Son’s sexuality because she was a bitter contentious woman, who never appreciated Mother even when she went out of her way to include her in her friend circle, and for many years.

Mother continued « I give my faith and trust to those who put in their time with me. I stand with the people who have stood up for me. If he says he never touched the girl, I believe him. It is as simple as that. »

Deepika said « That is fair. I personally believe in the girl and her parents, as I do in Viveka and Ananda, who said they were touched in the same way. But you are allowed to believe what you believe. » She tugged down at her blouse, liberating herself of some of the sweat of the heat.

Mother said « Oui. » A new bhajan was being sung. It prompted Mother to remember all the times she would listen to her purohit as these devotional songs played in the background. She could smell the incense just as she could smell the sweat that came off her purohit’s skin. She felt lost in the calm of prayer. She breathed, cleared her throat, and told herself that if she wanted to respect what her purohit had taught her, it was best to move on. For the sake of changing the topic, Mother asked « What are your plans for the rest of the day? »

Deepika’s response was interesting. Mother rarely initiated small talk with Deepika, and she certainly never asked her about her plans for the day. Deepika looked perplexed, her eyes calculating what it was that Mother was trying to get at. When Deepika couldn’t find an answer, her glance turned uncertain. She merely reversed the question to Mother. « Well, what are your plans for the rest of the day? »

« Nothing » Mother said without a pause. She had no shame in admitting it. It was the truth. Their house was just on the other side of this potholed bend of a road. Every day, she walked to the other side of it, did puja at the temple, came back, and spent the rest of the day at her window, cooking, cleaning, staring out into the sea.

Deepika looked like she was cooking up all sorts of things in her head. She probably wanted to tell Mother that her husband and her were off to Port Louis to have a fine five-star meal, or that she was going to be visited by loved ones, or even a youngster whom she was having an affair with.

Or, perhaps Deepika’s life was just as boring as Mother’s. She remembered how a few years ago Deepika would chase her to hang out, wanting to do just anything with anyone in a group of friends who were really just tolerating her.

Mother cleared her throat. « I know we haven’t talked much in a while. I didn’t like how you tried to drag my son’s name through the mud. »

Deepika was not responding, so Mother tilted her head and continued « You used to hang out with me and my friends. I remember this. Well, after what you said, my friends did not talk to me for some months. It was hard. But now, we are back to speaking. Time heals, as does friendship. It is quite nice. Do you have any friends like that? »

Mother smiled. It was not an intentional or put-on smile. It was one that arose naturally as she mused over the situation. She asked with genuine curiosity « Why did you want to start a rumour about me? Why did you want me to suffer so badly? »

Deepika was unable to form an answer. It would have been easy for Mother to keep going, to retaliate, to point out that Deepika was lonely and envious of Mother’s friends. But Mother had her smile, and she found it enough. She looked outside the door of the humble, pink cottage that the mandir was stored in. The clouds were pewter, the sea was grey, and it was quite windy.

Mother knew that Deepika lived in the same subdivision as her. She said « It is going to rain soon. I think I will get going. » She made no pretence of inviting her along.

Deepika faked a head bob, tilting her head back and forth the way an Indian from the subcontinent would, as Mother took her leave.

It was the first time Mother had allowed herself to finish a conversation with Deepika on her terms. And for that, despite the wind and the abnormal chill that the clouds had brought over the pavement, she found herself smiling on.

Menendez Accused of Brazen Bribery Plot, Taking Cash and Gold

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Democrat, faced serious charges on Friday, accused of accepting substantial bribes, including gold bullion bars, to leverage his influence both domestically and internationally.

A three-count federal indictment unveiled a audacious scheme that unfolded during clandestine dinners, through text messages, and on encrypted calls, much of it focused on increasing U.S. support for Egypt and assisting New Jersey businessmen.

Mr. Menendez’s spouse, Nadine Menendez, is alleged to have acted as an intermediary, relaying messages to American-Egyptian businessman Wael Hana, known for his close ties to Egyptian military and intelligence figures. In one text message to an Egyptian general, Mr. Hana referred to Senator Menendez, who wielded significant influence over military sales, financing, and aid, as “our man.”

In a robust response to the charges, Senator Menendez expressed confidence that the matter would be “successfully resolved once all of the facts are presented.”

The charges filed on Friday paint a picture of a mingling of New Jersey’s rough-and-tumble backroom politics and delicate Middle Eastern security concerns. These allegations represent the latest chapter in a long political career that took Senator Menendez, the child of Cuban immigrants, from the Union City, New Jersey, school board to the hallowed halls of the Senate. His career has been marked by accusations of corruption and an earlier federal indictment that resulted in a hung jury.

These new charges not only jeopardize Mr. Menendez’s considerable political influence but also his personal freedom.

Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, a close Democratic ally, called for Senator Menendez’s resignation, a call echoed by numerous political leaders across the state. Senator Menendez, however, rebuffed these demands, asserting in a statement on Friday evening, “I’m not going anywhere.”

In accordance with Senate Democratic rules, Senator Menendez did notify Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York that he would step down as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Picture : NYT

The indictment goes beyond allegations of corruption related to foreign aid. Senator Menendez is accused of using his position to manipulate criminal investigations involving two other New Jersey businessmen, one of whom had long been a fundraiser for him. In furtherance of this goal, the Senator recommended that President Biden nominate attorney Philip R. Sellinger as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, believing that he could influence Sellinger’s handling of the fundraiser’s case. However, Sellinger, who ultimately assumed the role, remained unswayed by Senator Menendez’s efforts, according to prosecutors.

Additionally, Senator Menendez stands accused of interfering in an investigation by the New Jersey attorney general’s office by offering “advice and pressure” in an attempt to persuade a senior prosecutor to show leniency in the case of two associates of an individual who gifted Ms. Menendez a Mercedes-Benz convertible. The prosecutor deemed Senator Menendez’s actions “inappropriate” and declined to intervene, as stated in the indictment.

In return for these actions, the indictment alleges that the Senator and his spouse received cash, gold, contributions toward a home mortgage, the luxury car, and other valuable items. The day after a trip to Egypt in 2021, Senator Menendez reportedly conducted an internet search inquiring “how much is one kilo of gold worth.”

During a news conference announcing the charges, Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, contended that Senator Menendez’s actions were intended to benefit a select few.

Williams noted that Senator Menendez’s Senate website explicitly outlined the types of services he would not provide due to their impropriety, including influencing private business matters and interfering in judicial matters and criminal trials.

“Constituent service is part of any legislator’s job – Senator Menendez is no different,” Williams remarked. However, he added, “Behind the scenes, Senator Menendez was doing those things for certain people – the people who were bribing him and his wife.”

Shortly after the news conference, Senator Menendez issued a vehement one-page rebuttal of the charges, attributing them to unidentified “forces behind the scenes” that have consistently attempted to silence him and undermine his political career.

“The excesses of these prosecutors are evident,” he asserted. “They have misrepresented the standard work of a congressional office. Moreover, not content with making false accusations against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had prior to our meeting.”

David Schertler, Ms. Menendez’s attorney, affirmed that his client had not violated any laws.

“Mrs. Menendez denies any criminal wrongdoing and will vigorously contest these charges in court,” Mr. Schertler stated.

These charges against Senator Menendez, aged 69, and others come after a lengthy investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan, nearly six years following his previous trial on unrelated corruption allegations, which resulted in a hung jury.

James Smith, who leads the New York FBI office, expressed on Friday that the conduct outlined in the indictment “erodes the public’s trust in our government system and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of honest and dedicated public servants who faithfully carry out their duties every day.”

The businessmen named in the indictment, which was unsealed in Manhattan federal court, include Mr. Hana, a close friend of Ms. Menendez who founded a halal meat certification company; Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer and a fundraiser for Senator Menendez; and Jose Uribe, involved in the trucking and insurance sectors.

The 39-page indictment levels charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud against the Senator, his wife, and the businessmen. It further accuses Senator Menendez and his spouse of conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official right, signifying their use of his official position to coerce individuals into providing something of value.

In a recent indictment, Ms. Menendez once boasted that her actions would elevate Mr. Hana’s status above that of the Egyptian president.

Back in 2018, when Ms. Menendez, aged 56, and Mr. Hana were in the early stages of their relationship, they orchestrated meetings and dinners with Egyptian officials, with the involvement of Mr. Menendez. During these encounters, the Egyptian officials presented requests related to foreign military sales and financing, among other matters. In exchange for Mr. Menendez’s commitment to facilitate such transactions, the indictment revealed that Mr. Hana promised to employ Ms. Menendez in a role where she would perform minimal or no work.

Following one meeting with Egyptian officials, Mr. Menendez managed to obtain sensitive, nonpublic information about the staffing and nationalities of individuals serving at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt from the State Department. This information was considered highly confidential, and its disclosure could pose security risks. Mr. Menendez shared this information via text with Ms. Menendez, who then forwarded it to Mr. Hana. Subsequently, Mr. Hana transmitted it to an Egyptian official.

Around the same time, during a dinner engagement, Mr. Menendez disclosed additional nonpublic details regarding United States military aid. Shortly afterward, Mr. Hana communicated with another Egyptian official, informing them that the embargo on small arms and ammunition to Egypt had been lifted, enabling sales, including sniper rifles.

The indictment further exposed the close rapport cultivated by Ms. Menendez and Mr. Hana between her husband and Egyptian officials. On one occasion, Mr. Menendez convened a meeting in his Senate office with Ms. Menendez, Mr. Hana, and an Egyptian intelligence officer to address a human rights issue impacting aid to Egypt. Later that evening, the group reconvened for dinner at a Washington steakhouse.

In 2019, Mr. Hana established IS EG Halal, his company. Within a year, the Egyptian government designated it as the sole entity authorized to certify the preparation of halal meat according to Islamic law for imports to Egypt from any part of the world.

When a high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture voiced concerns about this monopoly’s impact on U.S. interests, Mr. Menendez personally contacted the official. He insisted that the U.S.D.A. cease its opposition to IS EG Halal’s exclusive status as a halal certifier, as detailed in the indictment. The halal company served as a source of revenue for Mr. Hana, allowing him to fulfill the bribe payments he had committed to.

The indictment also highlighted the involvement of Mr. Daibes and Mr. Uribe, the other businessmen facing charges in this case, in providing payments to Ms. Menendez.

In 2019, Ms. Menendez expressed frustration to her husband regarding an expected check that had not arrived. She texted Mr. Menendez, stating, “I am soooooo upset,” and mentioned that Mr. Hana had not left her an envelope. She inquired about whether she should contact Mr. Daibes, to which Mr. Menendez responded, “No, you should not text or email.”

Shortly afterward, Ms. Menendez reached out to Mr. Daibes, leading Mr. Hana’s company to issue a $10,000 check to a consulting firm owned by Ms. Menendez.

During a search of the Menendez’s residence in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and a safe deposit box registered in Ms. Menendez’s name, investigators discovered $550,000 in cash. A significant portion of this money was concealed within clothing, closets, and a safe. Some of the cash was stored in envelopes bearing the fingerprints or DNA of Mr. Daibes or his unidentified driver.

In addition to the cash, investigators located over $100,000 worth of gold bars, with photographs of some of these bars included in the indictment.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Hana commented that, following an initial review of the charges, they found them to be without merit. Mr. Daibes’s lawyer, Tim Donohue, expressed confidence that Mr. Daibes would be completely exonerated from all charges. As of now, there has been no response from Mr. Uribe’s representative.

Senator Menendez, his wife, and their three co-defendants are scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court soon, as confirmed by Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the Southern District.

This isn’t Senator Menendez’s first legal encounter. In 2015, he faced bribery charges in New Jersey, involving a purported scheme with a wealthy eye doctor to exchange political favors for gifts valued at nearly $1 million. These gifts included luxurious Caribbean vacations and campaign contributions. His corruption trial in 2017 ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. The judge later acquitted Mr. Menendez of several charges, and the Justice Department dismissed the rest.

Friday’s indictment reverberated across Washington and New Jersey, with calls for Senator Menendez to step down emerging from members of his own party and Congress. Notably, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a close ally of Mr. Menendez, has remained silent on the allegations and resignation demands.

Senator Menendez is already facing at least one Democratic challenger in his bid for a fourth Senate term, with the Republican mayor of Mendham Borough, N.J., also announcing her intention to compete for the seat. If Senator Menendez were to resign, as Governor Murphy has proposed, the governor would appoint a replacement.

Governor Murphy commented on the charges, stating, “These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system. The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state.”

 

New York Climate Week Made One Thing Clear: Climate Action is Complicated

When reporting on unfolding news events, one of the primary challenges lies in crafting a coherent narrative amidst the complexities of reality. In New York this week, a convergence of government officials, corporate leaders, and civil society figures gathered to discuss the pressing issue of climate change. This assembly, known as New York Climate Week, is not a conventional conference but rather a series of meetings and ancillary events coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly. While some may question the efficacy of such gatherings,
they offer valuable insights into the perspectives and strategies of those engaged in tackling climate-related challenges.

The landscape of climate action is undeniably intricate and multifaceted. On one hand, the transition towards a more sustainable future is making notable progress. Investment in clean energy has surged in recent years, and despite resistance to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, corporations continue to invest in decarbonization. On the other hand, a complex web of political and economic obstacles has cast a shadow over efforts to enact more ambitious climate policies. Corporations, once enthusiastic about making substantial commitments to combat climate change, have encountered the stark reality that implementation is far more challenging than making announcements.

TIME

Oliver Bäte, the CEO of the German financial services firm Allianz, articulated this predicament at the United Nations, stating, "The long era of robust economic growth, low inflation, and
geopolitical stability is over. Suddenly, fighting climate change has become an ever greater challenge." These hurdles are disconcerting for those concerned about the escalating threat of
rising temperatures and the attendant risks to humanity. However, an alternative perspective suggests that these challenges signify the full-scale initiation of the energy transition, and our
response to them will be pivotal.

To comprehend this dual narrative, it is beneficial to examine the actions of both the private sector and government independently.

In the private sector, a growing cohort of companies has made bold pledges to achieve decarbonization in the coming decades. These commitments garnered acclaim upon their initial announcement. However, the time has come for these companies to translate their promises into tangible results. Many businesses began with the low-hanging fruit, such as procuring renewable
energy and enhancing energy efficiency. Nonetheless, achieving the necessary emissions reductions to fulfill their commitments often demands substantial effort. This entails devising novel business models and products rather than simply refining existing ones. Concurrently, rising interest rates and disruptions in supply chains stemming from the pandemic have complicated matters. Companies are now competing for limited supplies of low-carbon materials, exemplified by manufacturers vying for a restricted quantity of low-carbon steel. During discussions in New York, corporate executives underscored their commitments while expressing a sense that the current political and economic climate has impeded progress. The political landscape presents a similar labyrinth of challenges. Some heads of state arrived in New York to announce fresh commitments to combat climate change. Others advocated for combining ambition with realism, with pragmatism emerging as a central theme, as exemplified by the official from the United Arab Emirates tasked with leading this years’s U.N. climate conference. Conversely, some leaders chose not to attend at all, as demonstrated by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who declared this week that the UK should temper its climate efforts. In a way, these setbacks are a natural consequence of progress. Political and business leaders must collaboratively navigate these hurdles to sustain momentum. It’s a task that no conference or summit can fully resolve.

Why India’s Women’s Reservation Bill Is a Major Step Forward

India took a significant stride towards gender equality this week as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a special parliamentary session, unveiled a bill that aims to reserve one-third of
seats in the more influential lower house and state legislative assemblies for women. Modi, while introducing the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, or Women’s Reservation Bill, declared this momentous occasion, saying, “This is a historic moment, this is a moment of pride for us.”

A similar bill was initially proposed in September 1996, with successive Indian governments attempting but failing to pass it into law due to strong opposition from conservative heartland
parties. In 2010, Mulayam Singh Yadav, a leader of the socialist Samajwadi Party, voiced the sentiment of wanting reservations for women from minority and backward classes before endorsing such a bill: “We are not anti-women.”

After 27 years in the making, the Women’s Reservation Bill achieved near-unanimous approval in the lower house on Wednesday, before smoothly passing through the upper house late Thursday. The bill now awaits the President's signature to become law.

“U.N. Women applauds the passage of the bill," stated Kanta Singh, a country representative from the international agency, describing it as “one of the most progressive and transformative pieces of legislation that would bring women into the highest decision-making bodies." As per Reuters, women currently occupy a mere 15% of seats in the lower house, with only 82 out of 550 seats held by women. This number further decreases in the upper house, where women occupy just 12% of the seats, accounting for 31 out of 250. A 2015 Report on the Status of Women in India by the Ministry of Women and Child Development highlighted the dismal representation of women in parliament and state assemblies, especially in senior decision-making positions.

MINT

Apart from parliament, India has seen only one woman Prime Minister and two female Presidents since gaining independence in 1947. Furthermore, only 15 women have served as Chief Ministers. This record has placed India, often referred to as the world’s largest democracy, near the bottom of the global list concerning gender parity in legislatures. The country ranks 141
out of 185 in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap Report.

Nevertheless, there has been a seven-fold increase in the number of women contesting elections since the 1950s. However, economist Shamika Ravi, a member of the Indian government’s Economic Advisory Council, notes that most women run as independent candidates and often face significant barriers to entering politics or assuming leadership roles, including the need for substantial campaign funding and political party backing.

Ravi believes that the new bill, which establishes a legally-binding target for the number of women lawmakers by 2029, will incentivize political parties to be more gender-inclusive and appoint more women to leadership positions.

This legislation comes at a time when women in India have been actively engaged as voters, constituting nearly half of India's 950 million registered voters—a number that has consistently grown over the last two decades. Studies have indicated that women tend to vote differently from men. For instance, in a 2005 hung election in the northern state of Bihar, Ravi found that women supported a new set of candidates, signaling a desire for change, while men generally voted for the status quo.

Supporters of the bill argue that quotas for women have already yielded positive results at the local level after their introduction in 1993. Ambar Kumar Ghosh from the Observer Researcher Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, notes that women now occupy around 44% of seats in local assemblies, showcasing significant progress in women’s political empowerment at the grassroots level. This achievement, Ghosh says, places India among the world’s leading nations in facilitating women's political empowerment at the local level, surpassing countries like France, the U.K., Germany, and Japan.

This landmark bill comes just months before India's next general elections, scheduled for May 2024, during which Modi will seek his third term in office. Its passage in the lower house sparked an eight-hour debate, with opposition parties, led by the Indian National Congress, engaged in a heated battle over who deserves credit for this historic legislation.

Sonia Gandhi, a former leader of Congress, asserted the bill as “ours”and stated,”I must say it be a victory for the Congress Party if the bill is finally passed.” Economist Shamika Ravi views this contention positively, suggesting that it signifies broad ownership of the idea of women’s  reservation, potentially leading to increased opportunities for women from various political parties during election time.

How the U.N. Plans to Shape the Future of AI

The United Nations General Assembly convened this week in New York, and during the proceedings, the U.N. Secretary-General’s technology envoy, Amandeep Gill, organized an event titled “Governing AI for Humanity.” The purpose of this gathering was to engage in discussions regarding the potential risks associated with AI and the complex challenges of fostering international cooperation in the realm of artificial intelligence.

Secretary-General António Guterres and Gill share the belief that establishing a new U.N. agency will become necessary to facilitate global collaboration in the management of this influential technology. However, the precise objectives and structure of this new entity have yet to be determined. Some observers express skepticism, noting that ambitious initiatives for worldwide cooperation often struggle to garner the support of influential nations.

Gill has previously spearheaded efforts to enhance the safety of advanced technologies. He chaired the Group of Governmental Experts for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, a forum where the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots aimed to convince governments to prohibit the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems. Unfortunately, this campaign failed to gain traction, particularly with major global powers like the United States and Russia. Now, Gill is leading an even more ambitious endeavor to promote international collaboration in the field of AI.

The pace of AI development has been astonishing in recent years, and experts anticipate that this progress will continue at an accelerated rate. The repercussions of AI innovation extend far beyond the borders of the countries where it is developed, prompting leaders and technologists to advocate for global cooperation in addressing AI-related issues.

In July, at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General Guterres made the case for the United Nations as the ideal platform for fostering such cooperation. The next step in establishing a U.N. AI agency is the formation of a High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, the membership of which will be announced in October.

Gill, who previously served as the executive director of the U.N. High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation from 2018 to 2019, assumed the role of tech envoy in June 2022. In August of the same year, the tech envoy’s office initiated the selection process for experts to serve on the High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, inviting nominations from the public.

A separate call for nominations, reviewed by TIME, was circulated among member states and outlined the terms of reference for the Body. These terms specified that the Body would comprise up to 32 members from diverse sectors, ensuring a mix of genders, ages, geographic representation, and areas of expertise.

Picture : Reuters

In an interview with TIME on August 30, Gill revealed that his office had received over 1,600 nominations through the public call for nominations. When combined with nominations from member states, the total number is expected to exceed 2,000. Gill explained that, in collaboration with other U.N. organizations, his office will create a shortlist from which the Secretary-General will select the final 32 members. The Body is scheduled to convene for the first time in October.

The terms of reference, as seen in the document shared with TIME and confirmed by Gill, outline the Body’s responsibilities. It mandates the Body to produce an interim report by December 31, 2023, presenting a high-level analysis of options for the international governance of artificial intelligence. A second report, due by August 31, 2024, may provide detailed recommendations concerning the functions, structure, and timeline for a new international agency dedicated to the governance of artificial intelligence.

Aki Enkenberg, the team lead for innovation and digital cooperation at Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, expressed reservations about specifying that the Body should offer recommendations regarding a new international agency. Enkenberg argues that much of the necessary international governance for AI could be facilitated by existing U.N. bodies, suggesting that an assessment of potential gaps in the U.N. system should have been conducted before proposing the establishment of a new agency. Gill countered this by denying that the terms of reference predispose the Body to advocate for a new agency.

When questioned about whether the advisory body’s size might make it unwieldy and potentially allow the secretariat to exert undue influence over the report’s content, Gill emphasized that the secretariat has no intentions of swaying the Body’s findings.

Looking ahead to September 2024, the U.N. will host its Summit of the Future. By that time, Gill hopes that the findings of the High-Level Advisory Body will provide member states with the necessary information to determine whether and how they should support the establishment of a U.N. AI agency. Gill views this summit as an opportune moment for leaders to make decisions on this matter, describing it as a “leaders-level opportunity.”

In a blog post released in May, top executives from OpenAI, the organization responsible for ChatGPT, raised the notion that a future AI governance system might resemble the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They argued that as AI systems become more sophisticated, there may be a need for an international authority to ensure their safe development and deployment. The post stated, “Any [superintelligence] effort above a certain capability (or resources like compute) threshold will need to be subject to an international authority that can inspect systems, require audits, test for compliance with safety standards, place restrictions on degrees of deployment and levels of security.”

The IAEA, established in 1957, conducts inspections to prevent non-nuclear weapon states from developing nuclear weapons and supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy through technical cooperation.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed support for the idea of an AI agency akin to the IAEA, stating in June, “I would be favorable to the idea that we could have an artificial intelligence agency …inspired by what the international agency of atomic energy is today.”

However, replicating the IAEA model for AI governance is just one possibility. A paper published in July by researchers from Google DeepMind, OpenAI, and various academic and nonprofit institutions laid out four potential forms an international AI body could take, each not mutually exclusive.

One proposal is to establish an IAEA-like agency that develops industry-wide standards and monitors compliance with those standards. Another option is to create an organization resembling the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which facilitates expert consensus on technical AI issues. The report also suggests an international partnership between public and private sectors, ensuring equitable access to beneficial AI, similar to the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, model for vaccines. Lastly, the report mentions the possibility of international collaboration on AI safety research, akin to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Dr. James Gill, who led the interview with TIME, noted that the High-Level Advisory Body must decide which model, if any, is most appropriate. He believes that the fourth option, an international research effort, could involve a U.N. agency in addressing potential AI risks.

However, some experts argue that establishing an IAEA-like agency for AI might face resistance from policymakers. This is because it would necessitate countries like the U.S. and China to grant international inspectors full access to their advanced AI labs to mitigate unforeseen risks.

Bill Drexel, an associate fellow at the Center for a New American Security, highlights that current levels of international cooperation on managing potentially hazardous technologies are at a historic low. He suggests that it might require a significant AI-related incident to generate the political will needed for a substantial international agreement. In the interim, setting up an international body, either through the U.N. or via smaller multilateral or bilateral groups, with minimal obligations on participants could lay the groundwork for more substantial cooperation if the need arises.

Gill, drawing from his expertise as a nuclear historian, concurs with this approach. He emphasizes that while the history of the IAEA might not be directly applicable, there’s a possibility to establish international controls should AI risks become more pronounced.

An alternative governance model, with the potential for future expansion, is proposed in a white paper from August, authored by researchers from academic, nonprofit, and Microsoft. It suggests the creation of an International AI Organization (IAIO) to collaborate with national regulators on setting standards and certifying jurisdictions instead of individually monitoring AI companies. Under this model, governments would enforce these standards by permitting only those companies operating in jurisdictions that meet these standards to access their domestic markets. They would also restrict exports of AI components, such as computing chips, to countries failing to meet these standards.

Robert Trager, one of the lead authors of the white paper, believes that jurisdictional certification makes this arrangement less intrusive, making it more appealing to powerful countries. Given the global nature of AI safety risks, it’s crucial for countries developing advanced AI systems, particularly the U.S. and China, to be part of any international agreement.

Sihao Huang, a researcher at the University of Oxford focusing on AI governance in Beijing, argues that a narrow focus on shared issues, such as assessing models for biosecurity risks, will be necessary for China’s participation in an international agreement.

However, Russia’s stance remains resistant to the idea of supranational oversight bodies for AI. Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N., expressed opposition to such bodies during a U.N. Security Council meeting in July.

Although the International Civilian Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization, which served as inspiration for the IAIO, are U.N. agencies, Trager suggests that the U.N. is not the only potential host for such governance efforts. He argues that multiple models could involve a wide range of stakeholders in AI governance.

Bill Drexel emphasizes that international cooperation can be slow and inefficient. Instead, he suggests considering bilateral or more limited multilateral forums for governing advanced AI systems, allowing for scalability with the expansion of involved companies.

Gill maintains that the U.N., as a universal intergovernmental organization with experience in managing new technologies, is well-positioned to host a treaty or organization for AI governance.

While previous attempts to manage AI internationally, like the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, may have faltered due to idealism, Trager insists that the global community must continue trying to address AI governance. He acknowledges the complexity of the world but sees a window of opportunity for meaningful progress.

Why the INDIA Alliance Is Right in Boycotting Pro-Government Media

The INDIA opposition alliance has revealed a list of 14 news television anchors whose shows their representatives will boycott. While no specific reason was initially provided, several opposition leaders have referred to this group as the “WhatsApp group of the BJP Media Cell.”

The arguments against this boycott encompass various concerns, notably those related to press freedom and historical references to the “Emergency” era. It’s important to examine the available evidence that suggests certain anchors and TV stations function as extensions of the government.

On June 19, 2020, Arvind Gunasekar, a correspondent for NDTV, tweeted the contents of a note provided by the government to journalists as “talking points” following an all-party meeting regarding the Chinese intrusion issue. This meeting featured Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that there had been no intrusion by China in eastern Ladakh.

The talking points presented by the Modi government aimed at shaping media headlines, emphasizing India’s support for the Prime Minister and downplaying Congress’s efforts to create divisions. Channels adhered to these instructions, evident in the subsequent Times Now prime-time debate titled “All parties unite behind India but Sonia Gandhi won’t slam China?” and Republic TV’s debates with headlines like “Unarmed with fact, Congress insults Army” and “Is there a ‘special relation’ between the Congress and China?”

During the months of May, June, and July, Times Now conducted 33 prime-time debates critical of the opposition, while none critiqued the actions of the Narendra Modi government. Similarly, Republic TV held 47 debates criticizing the opposition and none addressing the government’s actions or the economic recession. This period coincided with a 21-day consecutive increase in petrol and diesel prices.

On June 16, India reported the loss of 20 soldiers in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh during hand-to-hand combat with Chinese forces. Concurrently, daily Covid-19 infections surged from 2,300 cases on May 1 to over 57,000 daily cases by July 31. However, the focus of the “debates” remained skewed.

Subsequently, the Indian Journalism Review published another note that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had circulated to television channels, directing their focus. The note highlighted PM Modi’s leadership in pushing back China and promoting the concept of Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). Times Now and Republic TV responded with debates echoing these sentiments.

Analysts, including political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot and data analyst Vihang Jumle, examined Republic TV’s content in a study published at the end of 2020. They concluded that Republic TV’s debates consistently favored the Modi government, BJP ideology, and policies while neglecting crucial issues like the economy, education, and health. The study found that almost fifty percent of Republic TV’s political debates criticized the Opposition, with none supporting it.

To revisit the initial question—what evidence suggests that certain anchors and TV stations function as extensions of the government—the evidence is quite clear for those willing to seek it. The opposition’s decision to boycott these anchors and shows appears justified, given their perception of a rigged media landscape. One can only hope, although optimism is limited, that this action serves as a corrective measure for the media’s current state of affairs, which has had detrimental effects on the nation.

USA to host 2024 ICC Mens T20 World Cup

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has revealed that the United States will be the inaugural host of the T20 World Cup, with venues in Grand Prairie, Dallas, Broward County, Florida, and Nassau County, New York, all playing pivotal roles.

In a landmark decision made by the ICC Board in November 2021, both the United States and the West Indies were jointly selected to co-host this prestigious tournament. The tournament will feature not only the three designated stadiums in the US but also additional venues like George Mason University in Washington for pre-event matches and training.

To accommodate the anticipated high attendance during the matches, the ICC plans to deploy modular stadium technology. An official ICC release reveals that they have initiated the process to construct a modular stadium with a seating capacity of 34,000 in Eisenhower Park, a dedicated sports and events facility located in Nassau County, New York.

Pending final approvals, modular stadium solutions are poised to augment seating, media facilities, and premium hospitality amenities in Grand Prairie and Broward County.

ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice shared his excitement about the selection of venues for what promises to be the most extensive ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to date. He commented, “We’re thrilled to unveil the three USA venues that will host a portion of the largest-ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, featuring 20 teams competing for the coveted trophy. The USA represents a strategically vital market, and these venues provide an exceptional opportunity for us to make a significant impact in the world’s largest sports market.”

Picture : ICC Cricket

Regarding the deployment of cutting-edge technology, Chief Executive Allardice expressed, “We are tremendously enthusiastic about the prospect of utilizing modular stadium technology to showcase world-class cricket in a location that has not previously hosted an ICC global event, affording cricket enthusiasts in the USA the unique opportunity to witness the world’s top talent in their own backyard.”

He went on to elaborate, “This technology has been successfully employed at prior ICC events to expand venue capacities, and it is routinely utilized in other prominent sports worldwide. In the USA, it will enable us to enhance the size of the venues in both Dallas and Florida, ultimately creating what promises to be a remarkable venue in New York.”

This development marks a historic moment for cricket in the United States, as the nation prepares to embrace the sport on a global stage. The ICC’s choice of American venues and state-of-the-art stadium technology reflects their commitment to making this T20 World Cup a memorable and groundbreaking event for cricket fans in the United States and around the world.

India stops new visas for Canadians, asks Ottawa to downsize missions as spat worsens

India has taken a significant step in the ongoing dispute with Canada, suspending the issuance of new visas for Canadian citizens and calling for a reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence within India. This development follows accusations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, linking India to the murder of a Sikh separatist. The situation has led to heightened tensions between the two countries, resulting in diplomatic expulsions and travel advisories.

The Indian Foreign Ministry expressed its willingness to investigate specific information related to the allegations but noted that Canada has not shared any such information thus far. This move to suspend new visas for a Western country is an unprecedented action and represents a low point in India-Canada relations.

This decision came shortly after Canada’s high commission in India disclosed plans to “adjust” its staff presence due to threats received by some diplomats on social media platforms. The nature of these threats was not specified, and India has assured full security and support for foreign diplomats within its borders.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi cited “security threats” to staff at Indian consulates in Canada as the reason for suspending new visa issuances to Canadian citizens. However, the exact nature of these security threats was not detailed. In response, Canadian Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc asserted that Canada is a safe country and stated that the security situation would be regularly reviewed.

Canada has been a significant source of foreign tourists to India, with 350,000 visitors in 2019. However, this number decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recent escalation in tensions began when Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Canada was investigating “credible allegations” of Indian government involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June. The Indian government vehemently denied any connection to the alleged murder, and Canadian officials have not provided specific reasons for their suspicions regarding India’s involvement.

Both countries have engaged in tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats and issued reciprocal travel advisories as a result of this dispute. India has expressed its readiness to examine any specific information but has not received such information from Canada. The issue has also been discussed with key allies in intelligence sharing, including the Five Eyes alliance comprising the United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, with these countries expressing concerns.

In response to questions regarding the impact of this dispute on global standing, Bagchi stated that Canada should be concerned about damage to its reputation rather than India. He pointed out India’s concerns regarding Canada’s reputation as a safe haven for terrorists, extremists, and organized crime and highlighted India’s previous requests for action against over 20 individuals.

India has not provided specific details of acts of terrorism carried out by Sikh separatists against its interests in Canada.

Canada has a significant Sikh population, with around 770,000 individuals identifying as Sikh in the 2021 census. Although the Sikh insurgency in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s has largely dissipated in India, small groups in various countries, including Canada, continue to support the separatist demand for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.

The dispute also poses a threat to trade ties, with talks on a proposed trade deal frozen in recent weeks. Canada is India’s 17th largest foreign investor, and Canadian portfolio investors have invested substantial sums in Indian financial markets. Additionally, India has been the largest source of international students in Canada since 2018, with their numbers rising by 47% in 2022 to nearly 320,000.

Industry estimates suggest that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Canada and India could potentially increase two-way trade by as much as $6.5 billion.

US Senator Menendez charged with bribery, says he will not resign

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and his spouse have been hit with charges of accepting bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, potentially complicating the Democrats’ efforts to maintain their narrow Senate majority in the upcoming elections.

Menendez has temporarily stepped down from his role as the chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee until the case is resolved, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer emphasized Menendez’s right to due process in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan has alleged that Menendez, aged 69, received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars in exchange for leveraging his power and influence as New Jersey’s senior senator to benefit Egypt’s government and obstruct investigations into the businessmen.

Menendez has been a significant ally to President Joe Biden in the administration’s efforts to regain U.S. influence globally, garner support for congressional aid to Ukraine, and counter the rise of China.

Calls for Menendez’s resignation have come from prominent Democratic figures, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, as well as other Democratic state officials and members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Murphy, who would appoint a temporary replacement if Menendez resigns, stated, “The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state.”

However, Menendez has firmly stated that he has no intention of resigning. He asserted, “It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere.”

Prosecutors are aiming to have Menendez forfeit assets, including his New Jersey residence, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz convertible, and approximately $566,000 in cash, gold bars, and funds from a bank account. The indictment includes images of gold bars seized from Menendez’s home and envelopes filled with cash discovered in jackets bearing his name in his closet. Prosecutors claim to have found over $480,000 in cash in his residence.

 Damian Williams, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, pointed out that Menendez’s website clearly states that as a senator, he cannot exert influence to favor individuals or intervene in private business matters. Williams stated, “Behind the scenes, Senator Menendez was doing those things for certain people – the people that were bribing him and his wife.” He confirmed that the investigation is ongoing.

Menendez countered the allegations, asserting that prosecutors had misrepresented routine legislative work. He stated, “The excesses of these prosecutors are apparent. The facts are not as presented.”

Nadine Menendez, aged 56, who has been married to the senator since 2020, has denied any wrongdoing. Her lawyer stated that she would vigorously defend against the allegations in court.

This investigation marks the third time that Menendez has been scrutinized by federal prosecutors, though he has never been convicted. In January 2018, federal prosecutors in New Jersey dropped a case in which Menendez was charged with accepting private flights, campaign contributions, and other bribes in exchange for official favors. A trial in 2017 on these charges ended in a jury deadlock. He was also investigated in 2006.

Senate Democratic rules stipulate that any member charged with a felony must relinquish their leadership position, with the option to resume it if found not guilty. Senator Ben Cardin is expected to step in as foreign relations chairman, as he did after Menendez was indicted in 2015. Menendez, currently in his third term, has expressed his intention to seek re-election next year.

While an investigation could potentially complicate the Democrats’ efforts to expand their narrow 51-49 seat majority in the 100-member Senate, it’s worth noting that New Jersey has not elected a Republican senator since 1972.

Menendez, of Cuban American heritage, has been a staunch opponent among Biden’s fellow Democrats regarding any softening of policies towards Cuba and Venezuela. He has also been one of the Senate’s most vocal critics of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, particularly opposing major weapons deals for the kingdom.

Criminal charges against members of the 100-seat Senate are relatively uncommon. Former Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was found guilty of corruption in 2008, but the conviction was later overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct. Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested for lewd conduct in a bathroom in 2007 and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.

In addition to Menendez, his wife, Bob and Nadine Menendez, the businessmen involved in this case – Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes – are scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court on September 27 to face charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

Both Bob and Nadine Menendez also face one count each of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. While they could potentially face up to 45 years in prison if convicted, any sentence would ultimately be determined by a judge and is likely to be much shorter.

According to the indictment, Hana, originally from Egypt, arranged meetings in 2018 between the senator and Egyptian officials, during which officials pressured Menendez to approve military aid that the U.S. had withheld due to concerns about Egypt’s human rights record. In return, Hana, aged 40, placed Nadine Menendez on the payroll of a company he controlled, which had exclusive rights to certify halal meat shipments from the U.S. to Egypt.

Later, the senator sought to influence the U.S. Department of Agriculture to refrain from taking any action that would interfere with the company’s monopoly status, according to the indictment.

“We are still reviewing the charges but based upon our initial review, they have absolutely no merit,” a spokesperson for Hana stated in response.

The Egyptian embassy in Washington has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Prosecutors allege that Uribe, who worked in the trucking and insurance industries, provided Nadine Menendez with $15,000 in cash to assist in purchasing a Mercedes-Benz convertible. This occurred after her husband had asked an official at the New Jersey attorney general’s office to resolve fraud investigations into Uribe’s associates favorably.

Daibes, a real estate developer, reportedly gave Menendez gold bars and cash after the senator attempted to influence a federal criminal case in New Jersey involving Daibes, who had allegedly obtained loans under false pretenses. Daibes pleaded guilty and received a probationary sentence.

Attorneys for Uribe and Daibes have not immediately responded to requests for comment.

Under Pope Francis, the College of Cardinals has become less European

In the world of the Roman Catholic Church, the appointment of cardinals plays a critical role in shaping the future leadership and direction of the faith. Pope Francis, since his election in 2013, has not only exercised this power to select cardinals but has strategically altered the geographical balance of power within the College of Cardinals, moving it away from its traditional European stronghold and toward regions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

In late September, a momentous ceremony will unfold in Vatican City as 18 new voting cardinals are installed. This event marks a pivotal moment in the composition of the College of Cardinals, which will soon have 136 members under the age of 80, eligible to participate in the election of the next pope. A comparison of the regional distribution of voting cardinals reveals the transformation that has occurred since Pope Francis assumed his role a decade ago:

– The Asia-Pacific region’s share of voting-age cardinals will rise from 9% in 2013 to 18%.

– The Latin American-Caribbean region will experience a modest increase from 16% to 18%.

– Sub-Saharan Africa will see its representation grow from 9% to 13%.

– Europe’s presence will significantly decline from 52% to 39%.

– North America’s influence will diminish slightly, falling from 12% to 10%.

– The Middle East-North Africa region will have the smallest share, decreasing from 2% to 1%.

It’s worth noting that this count of 136 voting cardinals excludes Patrick D’Rozario, who has held his cardinal position since 2016 but turns 80 just one day after the upcoming September 30th ceremony.

Analyzing Pope Francis’ Cardinal Selections Over Time

Despite these significant shifts, Pope Francis, an Argentine and the first non-European pope since the eighth century, has still appointed more cardinals from Europe than any other region. Among the 98 voting-age cardinals named by Francis during his papacy (including the 18 cardinals-elect), the breakdown is as follows:

– Europe holds the majority with 38%.

– Latin America and the Caribbean represent 20%.

– The Asia-Pacific region comprises 19%.

– Sub-Saharan Africa contributes 13%.

– North America has 7%.

– The Middle East-North Africa region accounts for 2%.

Collectively, cardinals selected by Pope Francis will constitute a substantial 72% majority among the 136 voting members of the College of Cardinals after the September 30th ceremony. The remainder were appointed by Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II.

Taking a closer look at the geographical origins of the new 18 voting-age cardinals to be installed on September 30th reveals a diverse composition:

– Nine cardinals will represent European countries, including France (2 cardinals-elect), Italy (2), Spain (2), Poland (1), Portugal (1), and Switzerland (1).

– Four cardinals will hail from Latin America and Caribbean nations, including Argentina (2), Colombia (1), and Peru (1).

– Three cardinals will represent countries in sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa, South Sudan, and Tanzania.

– Two cardinals will come from Asia-Pacific countries: China and Malaysia.

Cardinals and the Global Catholic Population

Vatican data from 2021 indicates that Europe is home to 21% of the global Catholic population. Despite this proportion, Europe remains significantly overrepresented among voting cardinals, constituting 39% of their ranks. In contrast, the Latin America-Caribbean region, which accounted for 41% of the worldwide Catholic population as of 2021, possesses only 18% of the voting cardinals. This disparity underscores the evolving dynamics within the Catholic Church’s leadership structure, influenced by Pope Francis’ strategic selection of cardinals.

Pope Francis’ efforts to shift the balance of power within the College of Cardinals reflect a broader vision of inclusivity and representation, acknowledging the growing significance of regions outside Europe in the global Catholic community. As these changes continue to take root, they are likely to have a lasting impact on the future leadership and direction of the Roman Catholic Church.

Nurse Practitioners Sue California for the Right to Use “Doctor” Title

Three nurse practitioners who hold doctorates of nursing practice are taking legal action against the state of California, asserting their right to be addressed as “doctor.” They argue that a longstanding California statute, which exclusively permits California-licensed allopathic and osteopathic physicians to use the titles “doctor” and “Dr.,” violates the Constitution. This statute, in place since at least 1937, was initially intended to prevent patient confusion regarding their healthcare providers’ educational backgrounds.

Physicians, on the other hand, oppose this claim, emphasizing that the extent of physician education and practical training surpasses that of nurses. They argue that the law is essential to prevent patient confusion about the qualifications of those treating them. Furthermore, physicians contend that surveys corroborate patients’ preference to reserve the titles “doctor” or “Dr.” exclusively for MDs and DOs.

Picture : Nurse Journal

The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies, along with the California Medical Association (CMA), have submitted an amicus brief in support of the state’s request for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Riverside Division to dismiss the lawsuit, Palmer et al. v. Bonta et al. They urge the court to uphold the law’s constitutionality, citing precedent. A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for September 18.

The amicus brief argues, “Physicians today are educated and trained differently and more deeply and robustly than any other professional healthcare provider; and industry practice and the law continues to place physicians at the center of medical care.” It asserts that the public still perceives physicians as the cornerstone of healthcare and closely associates the terms “doctor” or “Dr.” with them.

Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, President of the AMA, emphasized the importance of clarity and transparency in healthcare providers. He pointed out that patients face increasing difficulties in identifying their physicians when non-physician healthcare professionals use titles traditionally associated with physicians. Laws such as California’s “truth-in-advertising” law have been instrumental in preventing confusion and protecting patients from potential harm.

Dr. Ehrenfeld stated, “It is imperative that we follow precedent and keep these laws in place to ensure patients have the basic information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare.”

The AMA’s stance aligns with its commitment to combatting scope creep and preserving the role of physicians as leaders in patient care. The AMA emphasizes that patients deserve care led by physicians, who are among the most highly educated, trained, and skilled healthcare professionals.

Physician training includes leadership skills, the ability to coordinate healthcare teams, problem-solving for complex medical issues, the identification of critical diagnoses, and timely treatment decision-making. Physicians are trained not only for routine matters but also for handling intricate medical cases. Furthermore, most physicians undergo extended training, such as three-to-seven-year residencies, post-residency fellowships, or other subspecialty clinical training. They must also fulfill continuing medical education requirements and often meet the American Board of Medical Specialties’ criteria to maintain board certification.

In contrast, the amicus brief argues that nurse practitioners’ training falls short of a physician’s education and training. Nurse practitioner programs cover less material than medical school, are less science-oriented, and lack comparable depth.

The legal battle between nurse practitioners and physicians in California raises essential questions about the appropriate use of the title “doctor” in the healthcare profession. It hinges on whether nurse practitioners with doctorates of nursing practice should be allowed to use this title, as they believe they have earned the right to do so, or if the law should continue to restrict its use to allopathic and osteopathic physicians to prevent patient confusion. This lawsuit’s outcome will likely have significant implications for healthcare providers and patients in California and potentially beyond.

Indian Medical Graduates Can Now Practise In US, Australia, Canada

The National Medical Commission (NMC) in India has achieved a significant milestone by obtaining the prestigious World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) Recognition Status for a period of ten years, as announced in a statement from the Union Health Ministry.

This recognition from WFME carries substantial implications, allowing Indian medical graduates to pursue advanced training and professional practice in countries that require WFME recognition, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Under this accreditation, all 706 existing medical colleges are now WFME-accredited, and any new medical colleges established over the next decade will automatically gain WFME
accreditation. This development positions India as an appealing destination for international students, owing to its globally acknowledged educational standards.

Beyond the international appeal, the NMC's attainment of WFME recognition promises to elevate the quality and standards of medical education in India by aligning them with the highest
global benchmarks and best practices.

Furthermore, this achievement is expected to enhance the global recognition and reputation of Indian medical institutions and professionals. It will facilitate academic collaborations and
exchanges, fostering continuous improvement and innovation in medical education while nurturing a culture of quality assurance among medical educators and institutions.

The World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) is a worldwide organization dedicated to improving the quality of medical education on a global scale. Its mission centers around
advancing healthcare for all by promoting the highest scientific and ethical standards in medical education, as highlighted in the Health Ministry’s press release.

The press release also underscores the crucial role of the Education Commission on Foreign Medical Education (ECFMG) in the United States. The ECFMG is the primary governing body
responsible for overseeing policies and regulations concerning the licensing of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in the United States.

To be eligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLEs) and apply for residency programs, all IMGs must be certified by the ECFMG. Typically, this certification
occurs after completing the second year of a medical program and before attempting the USMLE Step 1 examination.

In 2010, the ECFMG introduced a new requirement, originally scheduled for implementation in 2023 but postponed to 2024 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This requirement mandates that
“beginning in 2024, individuals seeking ECFMG Certification must be enrolled in or have graduated from a medical school accredited by an accrediting agency officially recognized by the
World Federation for Medical Education (WFME).”

The WFME recognition process involves a fee of Rs 4,98,5142 ($60,000) per medical college. This fee covers the expenses associated with site visits by assessment teams, including their
travel and accommodation.

To put this into perspective, the total cost for all 706 medical colleges in India to undergo the WFME recognition process would amount to approximately Rs 351.9 crore ($4,23,60,000).
Notably, the NMC’s achievement of WFME recognition applies to all medical colleges under its jurisdiction.

In conclusion, the National Medical Commission’s attainment of WFME Recognition Status is a significant milestone for the Indian medical education system. It not only opens doors for Indian medical graduates to pursue opportunities abroad but also promises to elevate the quality of medical education in the country to international standards. This achievement is a testament to
India’s commitment to excellence in medical education and its aspiration to be a global hub for medical studies.

The Highest Paid CEOs of S&P 500 Companies in 2022

The S&P 500, a renowned benchmark index in the U.S. stock market, hosts some of the world’s most valuable companies. Naturally, the CEOs of these firms command substantial compensation packages. But what exactly do these packages consist of? And do these CEOs consistently receive the compensation they are promised, or does it fluctuate with the stock market’s ups and downs?

Today, we present an infographic based on data sourced from The Wall Street Journal. It highlights the top-earning CEOs of S&P 500 companies in 2022 and delves into the components of their compensation.

The 20 CEOs with the Highest Compensation

The compensation packages for CEOs of S&P 500 companies encompass more than just base salaries. They typically include bonuses, stock awards, and various incentives. Let’s take a look at the highest-paid CEOs of S&P 500 companies in 2022, along with the sectors they represent.

 

  1. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), led the pack with an impressive compensation package valued at approximately $226 million. This staggering sum exceeded Google’s median employee compensation by over 800 times. Pichai’s package comprised an annual salary of $2 million, a $6 million security allowance, and stock awards valued at $218 million.

 

  1. Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, saw his awarded pay package soar to $139 million in 2022, up from nearly $14 million the previous year. This substantial increase included stock awards initially valued at $116 million.

 

  1. Tech giants Apple and Broadcom also featured prominently. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, received a compensation package worth $99 million in 2022, while Hock Tan, President and CEO of Broadcom, was awarded $61 million.

Other notable CEOs on the list included Peter Zaffino of global insurance giant AIG and Netflix’s co-CEOs, Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings. Hastings experienced a $10 million increase in his compensation in the preceding year but stepped down from his role in January 2023.

A Halt in the Rise of Median CEO Income

Over the past decade, the median pay for CEOs across S&P 500 companies has doubled. In 2021, this figure reached a peak of $14.7 million. However, in 2022, the median CEO compensation package plateaued for the first time in ten years, dipping slightly to $14.5 million.

Compensation That Reflects Market Performance

Compensation packages linked to market valuations mean that these CEOs may receive more or less than their designated pay. This discrepancy arises because most stock awards are not immediately granted upon announcement; rather, they vest over time, making them susceptible to fluctuations in share prices.

In 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) introduced new disclosure regulations, requiring companies to report the realized value of executive pay packages, aptly named “compensation actually paid.” According to The Wall Street Journal’s report, many of the highest-paid S&P 500 CEOs in 2022 received considerably smaller pay packages due to market swings.

For instance, Sundar Pichai ultimately received approximately $116 million as the value of Alphabet’s stock decreased when his grants vested. Similarly, Michael Rapino received nearly $36 million, even though his stock awards will continue vesting over the next five years.

It’s worth noting that, in 2022, several CEOs of energy companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, outshone many of the top-paid S&P 500 CEOs. This was largely due to the surge in their companies’ stock prices during that year.

Conclusion

The compensation of CEOs at S&P 500 companies is a subject of great interest and scrutiny. While these executives command significant pay packages, the actual amounts they receive can fluctuate substantially based on market conditions. The introduction of new disclosure rules by the SEC sheds light on the realized value of executive pay, highlighting the impact of market dynamics on CEO compensation. As we move forward, it will be interesting to see how these trends evolve and whether CEOs’ earnings continue to mirror the performance of their companies’ stock.

Picture : Visual Capitalist

 

UNESCO Just Added 27 New World Heritage Sites for 2023

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed 27 new additions to its prestigious World Heritage Site list on Monday. These newly designated sites encompass a wide array of culturally significant areas, including revered temples in Cambodia, ancient tea forests in China, and historic European towns. Moreover, the committee expanded several existing heritage sites, such as the Andrefana Dry Forests in Madagascar, Vietnam’s Cat Ba Archipelago in Ha Long Bay, and additional sections of the ancient Hyrcanian Forests in Azerbaijan.

The World Heritage Committee convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to deliberate on the selection of these sites. Committee members had to make their choices from a pool of global nominations
submitted over the course of 2022 and 2023.

To earn a coveted spot on this prestigious list, a natural or cultural site must possess exceptional universal value and fulfill at least one of ten other specific criteria for selection. These criteria
include representing a ” masterpiece of human creative genius ” or showcasing ” areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.”

Additionally, the recent meeting of the committee saw the addition of several Ukrainian sites to the Endangered List due to the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine. Notable entries on this list
include Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral and its associated monastic structures, along with the historic city center of L’viv. UNESCO expressed concerns about the vulnerability of these sites to direct attacks and the collateral damage caused by bombings in these cities.

Pattadakal, Karnataka, India – April 24 2013: The temples and shrines at Pattadakal temple complex, dating to the 7th – 8th century, the early Chalukya period.

The committee’s session is scheduled to continue until September 25, potentially allowing for the addition of more sites to the World Heritage roster. Here is a comprehensive list of the latest

UNESCO World Heritage Sites added in 2023:
1. Koh Ker archaeological site in Cambodia
2. Santiniketan, West Bengal, India
3. Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er, China
4. Mongolia’s Deer Stone Monuments
5. Korea’s Gaya Tumuli burial mounds
6. Türkiye’s archaeological site of Gordion
7. Germany’s Jewish medieval historic center of Erfurt
8. Architecture of the town of Kaunas, Lithuania

9. Guatemala’s National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj
10. Old town of Kuldīga, Latvia
11. Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca
12. The Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor of the Silk Road
13. Ethiopia’s Gedeo Cultural Landscape
14. Iran’s Persian Caravanserai
15. Canada’s Tr’ondëk-Klondike region
16. The Czech town of Žatec and its tradition of Saaz Hops
17. Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan
18. “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route in Azerbaijan
19. Djerba in Tunisia
20. India’s Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas
21. Indonesia’s Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta
22. Bale Mountains National Park in Ethiopia
23. The Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua in Congo
24. Volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and pitons of Martinique
25. Viking-age ring fortresses in Denmark
26. The Maison Carrée of Nîmes, France
27. Russia’s Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University
These remarkable additions to the UNESCO World Heritage List showcase the rich tapestry of cultural and natural heritage found across the globe. Each site represents a unique facet of human
history, creativity, and the natural world, underscoring their outstanding universal value for future generations.

UNESCO Announces Inclusion of 13 New Sites in World Heritage List

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – The 45th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, held from September 10 to 25, 2023, saw representatives from 21 member states come together to make significant additions and extensions to the World Heritage List. These decisions aim to provide legal protection to ancient and unique sites in various countries, including China, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Azerbaijan, and the Palestinian Territory of the West Bank. Additionally, several Ukrainian sites in Kyiv and Lviv have been added to the List of World Heritage in Danger. Below are details of the newly included sites:

1.Palestine – Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan

Tell es-Sultan, situated in the Jordan Valley, holds evidence of human activity dating back to the 9th-8th millennium BC. The site reveals Neolithic religious practices and urban planning from the Early Bronze Age, showcasing the evolution of a complex Canaanite city-state in the Middle Bronze Age.

2.Iran (Islamic Republic of) – The Persian Caravanserai

This property encompasses 54 caravanserais, providing shelter, food, and water for travelers in ancient Iran. These caravanserais showcase diverse architectural styles, adaptations to climate, and construction materials, representing invaluable examples of Iranian heritage.

3.China – Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er

Developed over a thousand years by the Blang and Dai peoples, Jingmai Mountain in southwestern China is a traditional tea production area. It features traditional villages surrounded by old tea groves, forests, and tea plantations, with Indigenous communities preserving a unique cultivation method aligned with the mountain’s ecosystem and climate.

4.Azerbaijan – Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and Köç Yolu Transhumance Route

The Khinalig Cultural Landscape, located in northern Azerbaijan, is home to the semi-nomadic Khinalig people. Their unique culture centers around seasonal migration between summer and winter pastures along the 200-kilometer-long Köç Yolu (Migration Route), encompassing high-altitude summer pastures, agricultural terraces, and more.

5.Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor

The 866-kilometer-long Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor in Central Asia played a pivotal role in Silk Road trade between the East and West from the 2nd century BCE to the 16th century CE. It served as a melting pot of cultures, religions, sciences, and technologies, with people from diverse backgrounds contributing to its rich history.

6.Germany – Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt

Erfurt’s medieval historic center comprises the Old Synagogue, the Mikveh, and the Stone House, illustrating the coexistence of the local Jewish community with the Christian majority during the Middle Ages, from the 11th to the mid-14th century.

7.Denmark – Viking-Age Ring Fortresses

Built between 970 and 980 CE, these five circular forts constructed by the Vikings share a common design. Positioned near key land and sea routes, they were designed for defense and symbolize the power and centralized rule of the Jelling Dynasty in late 10th-century Denmark.

8.Canada – Tr’ondëk-Klondike

Tr’ondëk-Klondike, in northwestern Canada, witnessed how Indigenous people adapted to the profound changes brought about by the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 19th century. It showcases interactions between Indigenous communities and white settlers, as well as the adaptations made by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people.

9.Republic of Korea – Gaya Tumuli

This property comprises archaeological cemetery sites with burial mounds from the Gaya Confederacy, which existed in southern Korea from the 1st to the 6th centuries CE. The unique political system and cultural evolution of the Gaya Confederacy are evident in the distribution of cemeteries, burial types, and grave goods.

10.Mongolia – Deer Stone Monuments and Related Sites of Bronze Age

These ancient deer stones, located in central Mongolia, were used for ceremonial and funerary practices from about 1200 to 600 BCE. They are often found in complexes alongside large burial mounds and sacrificial altars, reflecting the cultural heritage of Eurasian Bronze Age nomads.

11.Cambodia – Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar

Koh Ker in Cambodia is a sacred complex of temples, shrines, sculptures, inscriptions, and ruins. It served as one of the capitals of the Khmer Empire and showcases distinctive urban planning, artistic expression, and construction techniques.

12.Ethiopia – The Gedeo Cultural Landscape

Located on the steep slopes of the Ethiopian highlands, the Gedeo Region is characterized by agroforestry practices, sacred forests, and megalithic monuments. It highlights the rich traditional knowledge of forest management and rituals associated with the Gedeo religion.

13.India – Santiniketan

Founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1901, Santiniketan in rural West Bengal is a boarding school and arts center rooted in ancient Indian traditions. It represents a unique approach to pan-Asian modernity, incorporating elements from across the region’s ancient, medieval, and folk traditions.

14. Latvia – Old Town of Kuldīga

Kuldīga’s old town in Latvia is a well-preserved example of a traditional urban settlement that evolved into a significant administrative center of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia from the 16th to 18th centuries. Its architecture reflects the rich exchange between local and traveling craftsmen from the Baltic Sea region.

UNESCO’s latest additions to the World Heritage List are a testament to the cultural, historical, and natural diversity of these remarkable sites, underscoring the importance of their preservation for future generations.

UNESCO Just Added 27 New World Heritage Sites for 2023

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed 27 new additions to its prestigious World Heritage Site list on Monday. These newly designated sites encompass a wide array of culturally significant areas, including revered temples in Cambodia, ancient tea forests in China, and historic European towns. Moreover, the committee expanded several existing heritage sites, such as the Andrefana Dry Forests in Madagascar, Vietnam’s Cat Ba Archipelago in Ha Long Bay, and additional sections of the ancient Hyrcanian Forests in Azerbaijan.

The World Heritage Committee convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to deliberate on the selection of these sites. Committee members had to make their choices from a pool of global nominations submitted over the course of 2022 and 2023.

To earn a coveted spot on this prestigious list, a natural or cultural site must possess exceptional universal value and fulfill at least one of ten other specific criteria for selection. These criteria include representing a “masterpiece of human creative genius” or showcasing “areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.”

Additionally, the recent meeting of the committee saw the addition of several Ukrainian sites to the Endangered List due to the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine. Notable entries on this list include Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral and its associated monastic structures, along with the historic city center of L’viv. UNESCO expressed concerns about the vulnerability of these sites to direct attacks and the collateral damage caused by bombings in these cities.

The committee’s session is scheduled to continue until September 25, potentially allowing for the addition of more sites to the World Heritage roster. Here is a comprehensive list of the latest UNESCO World Heritage Sites added in 2023:

  1. Koh Ker archaeological site in Cambodia
  2. Santiniketan, West Bengal, India
  3. Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er, China
  4. Mongolia’s Deer Stone Monuments
  5. Korea’s Gaya Tumuli burial mounds
  6. Türkiye’s archaeological site of Gordion
  7. Germany’s Jewish medieval historic center of Erfurt
  8. Architecture of the town of Kaunas, Lithuania
  9. Guatemala’s National Archaeological Park Tak’alik Ab’aj
  10. Old town of Kuldīga, Latvia
  11. Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca
  12. The Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor of the Silk Road
  13. Ethiopia’s Gedeo Cultural Landscape
  14. Iran’s Persian Caravanserai
  15. Canada’s Tr’ondëk-Klondike region
  16. The Czech town of Žatec and its tradition of Saaz Hops
  17. Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan
  18. “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route in Azerbaijan
  19. Djerba in Tunisia
  20. India’s Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas
  21. Indonesia’s Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta
  22. Bale Mountains National Park in Ethiopia
  23. The Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua in Congo
  24. Volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and pitons of Martinique
  25. Viking-age ring fortresses in Denmark
  26. The Maison Carrée of Nîmes, France
  27. Russia’s Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University

These remarkable additions to the UNESCO World Heritage List showcase the rich tapestry of cultural and natural heritage found across the globe. Each site represents a unique facet of human history, creativity, and the natural world, underscoring their outstanding universal value for future generations.

 

Tributes paid to India’s parliament at special session

Indian legislators, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have paid their respects to the country’s historic parliament building in anticipation of their move to a new facility. These
members of parliament made their remarks during the inaugural day of a special parliamentary session convened by the government, set to span a week.

Although the new parliament building was inaugurated by Mr. Modi in May, it had not yet been used for any legislative business until now. The session will transition to the new premises on Tuesday, following an event dedicated to celebrating the legacy of the old parliament.

This unique session occurs amidst criticism from opposition leaders who argue that the government has not been transparent about the full agenda for the week. The government has announced that eight bills are slated for discussion during this session. However, it’s important to note that this agenda could potentially change or expand as the week progresses.

Opposition figures have raised questions about the necessity of this special session to discuss these bills, given that MPs are already scheduled to convene later in the year for the customary winter session of parliament. Traditionally, Indian lawmakers meet for regular parliamentary business three times a year, encompassing a budget session, a monsoon session, and a winter session.

Prime Minister Modi initiated the special session on Monday by commemorating the parliament’s legacy since 1947, when India gained independence from British rule. The government has organized numerous events to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. During his speech, Modi described the departure from the old parliament as an “emotional moment”, highlighting the building’s rich history and its continued inspiration for future generations. He stated, “The biggest achievement of this parliament is that it has kept people’s faith in democracy alive” while also mentioning India’s successful Moon landing and hosting of the G20 summit.

Some opposition leaders shared their personal reminiscences of the old parliament while taking swipes at Mr. Modi’s government, alleging that it avoids answering questions and targets
political rivals.

In preparation for the special session, Mr. Modi had indicated that its duration might be “short” but would include “historic decisions” Special sessions are relatively rare occurrences in Indian parliamentary history. According to legislative expert Chakshu Roy, they are typically convened “for specific occasions, like commemorating parliamentary or national milestones.”

The announcement of this session last month had triggered criticism from opposition leaders,who raised concerns about the government's secrecy regarding the agenda. It also sparked intense speculation, with some pundits speculating that the government might call for early elections or consider changing the country's name from India to Bharat (following a controversy over a possible name change).
Other speculations included the possibility of the government introducing a landmark bill reserving seats for women in state legislatures and parliament. In response, some opposition
lawmakers held protests outside parliament on Monday, advocating for the introduction of such a bill.

However, the government has yet to confirm any of these speculations. Last week, after weeks of opposition criticism, the government released a “tentative agenda” for the session, which included four bills for debate. Among them was a controversial bill that would alter the process for appointing India's chief election commissioner.

Opposition parties have strongly objected to this bill, characterizing it as “undemocratic” and asserting that it would diminish the independence of the Election Commission and its officials. However, it’s worth noting that this particular bill was not part of the list provided to opposition leaders during an all-party meeting on Sunday.

The 10 Most Important AI Trends For 2024 Everyone Must Be Ready For Now

The pace of artificial intelligence (AI) advancement and its integration into our daily lives is expected to accelerate significantly in 2024. As companies unlock its potential, individuals harness it to enhance productivity, and lawmakers grapple with regulatory concerns, AI is poised to become increasingly ubiquitous in various aspects of our existence. However, it is crucial to address challenges related to trust, bias, accessibility, and regulation to fully unlock AI’s potential as we progress through the next decade.

“Hopefully, 2024 will see us making headway towards solving some of the thorny issues around this technology. Though barriers to entry due to cost and ease of use may have crumbled in recent years, there are still issues around trust, bias, accessibility, and regulation,” notes an industry expert.

Picture : Analyst Insight

Advancements in Generative AI Beyond Chatbots and Images

The next generation of generative AI tools is expected to surpass the capabilities of chatbots and image generators that captivated and occasionally unnerved us in 2023. These advancements will extend to generative video and music creators, which are becoming more powerful and user-friendly. We anticipate these tools will be integrated into creative platforms and productivity applications, much like the integration of ChatGPT technology this year. Additionally, new and exciting applications will emerge, including generative design tools and voice synthesizers. Distinguishing between real and computer-generated content will become an increasingly valuable skill.

Ethical Considerations in AI Development and Deployment

The disruptive potential of AI necessitates its responsible development and utilization to minimize harm. Known issues such as bias, lack of transparency, potential job displacement, and concerns about control will continue to be addressed in 2024. The demand for AI ethicists will rise as businesses demonstrate adherence to ethical standards and implement appropriate safeguards.

AI’s Role in Enhancing Customer Service

AI is poised to transform customer service by automating routine tasks and freeing up human resources for complex, critical issues. AI can triage initial contact calls, provide personalized solutions to common problems, and generate reports summarizing customer interactions. A survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group indicates that 95 percent of customer service leaders expect AI bots to serve customers within the next three years.

Augmentation of Human Intelligence in the Workplace

In 2024, the ability to augment human intelligence and capabilities for faster, more efficient, and safer job performance will be a valuable workplace skill. Professionals across various domains, such as legal, medical, and coding, will use AI to streamline tasks like summarizing case law, generating medical notes, and writing software. Students and job seekers will also benefit from AI in organizing notes, conducting research, and crafting resumes and cover letters.

Integration of AI into Apps

The integration of generative AI features into software and applications will continue in 2024. Major players like Bing, Google, Office, Snapchat, Expedia, and Coursera have embraced chatbot functionality to enhance customer experiences. Concerns over data protection and customer privacy will gradually be addressed as AI providers adapt their services to meet market demands. For instance, Adobe has integrated generative AI into its Firefly design tools, addressing concerns about copyright and ownership.

Low-Code and No-Code Software Engineering

The use of low-code and no-code tools for application development is expected to increase, with generative AI tools like ChatGPT enabling rapid application creation and testing. While coding and software engineering jobs won’t disappear in 2024, opportunities will abound for individuals with creative problem-solving skills and ideas.

Diverse Job Opportunities in AI

The AI job landscape in 2024 will expand to accommodate various roles beyond traditional computer science. Prompt engineers, AI managers, project managers, trainers, and ethicists will play critical roles in the AI workforce. Technical roles like AI engineering and DevOps will also see growth, offering exciting career prospects.

Quantum AI’s Emerging Role

Although not an immediate concern for everyone, quantum computing, capable of accelerating certain compute-intensive tasks, will find applications in AI. Quantum algorithms, which leverage qubits that exist in multiple states simultaneously, offer increased efficiency for problems like optimization. In 2024, expect progress in applying quantum computing to power larger and more complex neural networks and algorithms.

Upskilling for the AI Era

Understanding AI’s impact on your profession and acquiring the ability to leverage AI tools effectively will be crucial for career advancement in 2024. Forward-looking employers will integrate AI skills into education and training programs. For those seeking self-improvement, numerous online resources are available, many of which are free.

AI Legislation and Regulation

As AI’s game-changing potential becomes evident, legislators are beginning to address regulatory frameworks. China has already implemented laws to curb non-consensual deepfakes, while the EU, US, and India are developing their own regulations. In the UK, a bill is proposed for 2024, and the EU anticipates an act in place by early 2025. These legislations aim to strike a balance between safeguarding citizens from negative AI impacts and fostering innovation and commerce. Debates over the boundaries of regulation will likely be a prominent political discourse in 2024.

In conclusion, 2024 promises to be a pivotal year in the evolution of artificial intelligence. While AI’s integration into various aspects of our lives accelerates, addressing ethical concerns, enhancing customer service, upskilling the workforce, and navigating regulatory challenges will be critical for realizing its full potential in the years to come.

NARI SHAKTI VANDAN ABHINIYAM:Women’s Reservation Bill Passes In Lok Sabha.

Justice for Indian women is elevated and recognized. The Women’s Reservation Bill, a significant Constitutional Amendment Bill that provides 33% reservation to women in Parliament and State Assemblies, passes in Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha manually voted, 454 MPs voted in favor of the bill, and two MPs voted against it. ( except for raising the salaries and privileges of MPs, there always will be opposition to everything. Fortunately, only two were against this bill!).

It was introduced in the Lok Sabha yesterday during the ongoing special session of Parliament.

Taking forward the resolution of women-led development, our government today passed a prominent Constitutional Amendment Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to expand the participation of women in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas.”

The salient features of this Bill are as follows:

The Women’s Reservation Bill is named Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, the first bill tabled in the new Parliament building.

The bill has proposed that the reservation would continue for 15 years and that there would be a quota for SCs and STs within the reserved seats for women.

The reservation will come into effect after a delimitation exercise and will continue for 15 years.

As per existing law, the next delimitation exercise can only be conducted after the first census to be taken post-2026, which means that the bill cannot become law until at least 2027. Some reports have suggested that the women’s quota may be implemented by the 2029 Lok Sabha elections.

Once the bill becomes an Act, of the total seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of Assembly, 33% will be set aside for women belonging to these communities.

The number of women members in the Lok Sabha will rise to 181 from 82 currently once the women’s reservation bill comes into force, law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said.

Rotation of seats reserved for women in Lok Sabha, legislative assemblies, and the assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi would take effect after each subsequent exercise of delimitation, to be determined by the parliament, according to the bill.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill noted that the true empowerment of women will require greater in the decision-making process.

“The women of India will now have a role to play in policymaking,” says Home Minister Amit Shah on the Women’s Reservation Bill. Of course, it is bringing a drastic progress in the women empowerment in India.

ZEE5 Global announces the much-awaited sequel of the successful romantic thriller series Duranga

~ Directed by Rohan Sippy, the second season will witness a face-off between Amit Sadh and Gulshan Devaiah’s characters ~

Global, 21st September 2023: ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, announces the second season of the much-awaited series, ‘Duranga’. The official adaptation of the Korean show, ‘Flower of Evil’, Duranga S1 went on to become a much-loved romantic thriller series. It kept the audiences hooked to their screens with the constant twists and turns. Now the second season will see the return of Gulshan Devaiah, Drashti Dhami, Barkha Sen Gupta, Rajesh Khattar reprising their respective roles and it will see Amit Sadh play a critical lead role.

Produced by Goldie Behl’s Rose Audio Visuals and directed by Rohan Sippy, Duranga S2 will witness the real Sammit Patel [Played by Amit Sadh] wake up from coma and go after Abhishek Banne [played by Gulshan Devaiah] who has been living as Sammit Patel. Amit Sadh will be seen portraying a critical role, challenging Gulshan Devaiah to put everything at stake to protect his family. These three central characters’ aims will collide during this season and keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global said, “The success of the first season of Duranga served as a testament to the increasing appetite for thrillers on the platform. We are happy to now announce the much-awaited second season of the series for our viewers. We are confident that this season will raise the bar for romantic thrillers for viewers across the globe.”

Producer Goldie Behlsaid, “I am grateful for the overwhelming reaction to season 1 of Duranga. I am even more excited for season 2 which is sharper, stronger and has far more twists and turns. Season 1 ended on a cliffhanger where we saw the character of Amit Sadh coming out of a coma. Season 2 takes off from there but in a far more complex and entertaining manner. It’s been a pleasure collaborating with Rohan Sippy, Drashti Dhami, Gulshan Devaiah and Amit Sadh; all brilliant at their craft. A heartfelt thank you to ZEE5 Global and Nimisha Pandey who have been excellent to work with. I cannot wait for the audience to savour this season”.

Director Rohan Sippysaid, “I’m very thankful that I got an opportunity to work once again with Rose & ZEE5 Global, this time to take a successful franchise like Duranga forward. The cast and crew have worked very hard in all departments to add even more excitement and emotional engagement this time around, and we can’t wait to share it with the audience very soon!”.

Watch the romantic thriller series ‘Duranga 2 coming soon on ZEE5 Global

Viewers can catch ZEE5 Global’s unmissable slate and stock up on their yearlong entertainment by subscribing to the Annual pack and grabbing the limited-time special offer price.

Users can download the ZEE5 Global app from Google Play Store / iOS App Store. It is available on Roku devices, Apple TVs, Android TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs and on www.ZEE5.com

About ZEE5 Global

ZEE5 Global is the digital entertainment destination launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a global Media and Entertainment powerhouse. The platform launched across 190+ countries in October 2018 and has content across 18 languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, including six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic. ZEE5 Global is home to 200,000+ hours of on-demand content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Health and Lifestyle content in one destination. In addition, ZEE5 Global offers features like 15 navigational languages, content download options, seamless video playback and Voice Search.

ZEE5 Global Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZEE5GlobalCorp

ZEE5 Global LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ZEE5 Global/

ZEE5 Global announces the World Digital Premiere of hit Kannada campus comedy ‘Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare’

Medical bills

The Biden administration has unveiled new proposals to remove medical bills from credit reports. White House officials on Thursday said they are pursuing the effort to lessen Americans’
medical debt burden as millions of people contend with the higher cost of living and historic inflation. Medical debt has lowered people’s credit scores, which affects their ability to buy a
home, get a mortgage or own a small business, Vice President Kamala Harris said in a call with reporters announcing the initiative. If the rule is finalized, consumer credit companies would be
barred from including medical debt and collection information on reports that creditors use to make underwriting decisions.

Vivek Ramaswamy has better chance at presidency against Trump than Nikki Haley:Poll

Ramaswamy has a better chance of winning the primary against Trump as compared to Haley but the results were reversed if the Indian Americans were to contest Biden

The latest Harvard/CAPS Harris Poll, a monthly collaboration between the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and the Harris Poll and HarrisX, revealed that if it came down to a one-on-one between Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy against former President Donald Trump, Ramaswamy had a better chance at winning.

Picture : ABC News

If the Republican party primary is down to two choices, Nikki Haley and Donald Trump, 38 per cent of the respondents said they would vote for the former while 62 per cent  chose Trump. For the same question but with Ramaswamy and Trump as choices, the results were 40 and 60 per cent respectively.

For the same question, Trump held the maximum amount of votes, i.e. 30 per cent, with DeSantis in position two with 7 per cent of the votes, followed by the two Indian American candidates.

The results of Haley and Ramaswamy’s favorability among voters was flipped if they were to compete against President Joe Biden. In head-to-head presidential matchups, Biden would lose the election to Haley by 4 per cent, and Ramaswamy trails behind Biden by 2 per cent, as per poll results.

Human Brain Acts Like Super Computer: Advanced Calculations in Human Perception

Researchers have revealed that the human brain naturally conducts complex calculations, akin to high-powered computers, through a process known as Bayesian inference. This innate ability enables us to swiftly and accurately interpret our environment by blending prior knowledge with new evidence. The study underscores how the structure of our brain’s visual system is inherently geared to perform Bayesian computations on the sensory information it receives, offering potential breakthroughs in fields ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) to therapeutic strategies in clinical neurology.

Key Points:

  1. Human Brain’s Utilization of Bayesian Inference: Human brains employ Bayesian inference, a statistical technique, to effectively merge prior knowledge with incoming data, facilitating efficient environmental interpretation.
  2. Inherent Brain Structure for Bayesian Computations:The research suggests that our brain’s visual system possesses an intrinsic structure and connections that enable it to carry out Bayesian computations naturally.
  3. Broad Implications for Multiple Fields:This discovery holds significance in diverse domains, including AI, where replicating these brain functions can revolutionize machine learning, as well as in innovative therapeutic approaches in neurology.

In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from the University of Sydney, University of Queensland, and University of Cambridge developed a specialized mathematical model that closely mirrors the brain’s functioning when processing visual information. This model encompassed all the necessary elements for conducting Bayesian inference.

Bayesian inference is a statistical method that combines prior knowledge with fresh evidence to make informed guesses. For instance, if you possess knowledge of what a dog looks like and encounter a furry, four-legged creature, you might use your prior knowledge to infer that it’s a dog.

This inherent capability empowers individuals to interpret their surroundings with remarkable precision and speed, in contrast to machines that can struggle with basic CAPTCHA security measures when asked to identify objects like fire hydrants in a set of images.

Dr. Reuben Rideaux, the study’s senior investigator from the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology, remarked, “Despite the conceptual appeal and explanatory power of the Bayesian approach, how the brain calculates probabilities is largely mysterious.”

“Our new study sheds light on this mystery. We discovered that the basic structure and connections within our brain’s visual system are set up in a way that allows it to perform Bayesian inference on the sensory data it receives.”

“What makes this finding significant is the confirmation that our brains have an inherent design that allows this advanced form of processing, enabling us to interpret our surroundings more effectively.”

The study’s findings not only validate existing theories about the brain’s utilization of Bayesian-like inference but also introduce opportunities for further research and innovation. The brain’s natural capacity for Bayesian inference could be harnessed for practical applications that benefit society.

Dr. Rideaux stated, “Our research, while primarily focused on visual perception, holds broader implications across the spectrum of neuroscience and psychology.”

Picture : ScienceABC

“By comprehending the fundamental mechanisms that the brain employs to process and make sense of sensory data, we can lay the groundwork for advancements in fields ranging from artificial intelligence, where emulating such brain functions can transform machine learning, to clinical neurology, potentially offering new strategies for therapeutic interventions in the future.”

The research team, led by Dr. William Harrison, made this breakthrough by recording brain activity in volunteers as they passively viewed specially designed displays meant to evoke specific neural signals related to visual processing. Subsequently, they formulated mathematical models to compare various competing hypotheses regarding how the human brain perceives visual information.

Chuck Schumer says Musk, Gates express nned to regulate AI

The nation’s largest technology leaders tentatively endorsed the concept of government oversight for artificial intelligence during a unique closed-door gathering in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. However, reaching a consensus on the nature of regulation and the political path to legislation remains a formidable challenge.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who convened this private session on Capitol Hill as part of his initiative to regulate artificial intelligence, disclosed that he posed a fundamental question to the nearly two dozen tech executives, advocates, and skeptics present: Should the government have a role in supervising artificial intelligence? He reported that “every single person raised their hands, even though they had diverse views.”

Among the topics under discussion were the potential establishment of an independent agency to oversee specific aspects of the rapidly advancing technology, methods for enhancing corporate transparency, and strategies for maintaining the United States’ competitive edge over nations like China.

Picture : NBC

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, emphasized the importance of having a “referee” in the field of AI, characterizing the discussion as a “very civilized discussion, actually, among some of the smartest people in the world.” While Schumer welcomed the input of these tech executives, he emphasized that he may not necessarily follow their advice as he collaborates with fellow senators on the challenging endeavor of imposing some level of oversight on this burgeoning sector.

Schumer asserted that Congress should maximize the benefits of AI while minimizing its potential drawbacks, including bias, job displacement, and doomsday scenarios. He noted, “Only government can be there to put in guardrails.”

Prominent tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai attended the meeting. Musk believed that this gathering “might go down in history as being very important for the future of civilization.”

However, before any regulatory framework can be established, lawmakers must first reach a consensus on whether to regulate AI and what form that regulation should take.

Historically, Congress has struggled to effectively regulate emerging technologies, and the tech industry has largely operated without significant government oversight for decades. Previous attempts to enact legislation related to social media, particularly in terms of privacy standards, have failed.

Schumer, who has made AI a top priority, acknowledged that regulating artificial intelligence is one of the most complex challenges Congress has faced. He cited its technical complexity, rapid evolution, and far-reaching global impact as reasons for the difficulty.

The release of ChatGPT less than a year ago has spurred businesses to implement new generative AI tools that can create human-like text, program computer code, and generate novel multimedia content. This has heightened concerns about potential societal harms and has led to calls for greater transparency in data collection and usage.

Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who co-led the meeting with Schumer, stressed the need for Congress to proactively address AI’s positive developments while addressing concerns regarding data transparency and privacy.

During the meeting, participants, including Musk and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, raised existential risks associated with AI. Zuckerberg brought up the issue of closed versus “open source” AI models, while Gates discussed addressing hunger. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna expressed opposition to certain proposals favored by other companies, which would necessitate licenses.

The potential establishment of a regulatory agency was a significant topic of discussion. Schumer acknowledged that this remains one of the most pressing questions to be addressed. Musk, in particular, expressed confidence in the likelihood of creating such an agency.

Outside the meeting, Google CEO Pichai expressed general support for Washington’s involvement in AI regulation, emphasizing the importance of government’s role in innovation and safeguarding the technology.

However, some senators criticized the closed-door nature of the meeting and called for tech executives to testify in a public forum. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, for instance, opted not to attend, characterizing it as a “giant cocktail party for big tech.” Hawley has partnered with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to introduce legislation requiring tech companies to seek licenses for high-risk AI systems.

Critics also expressed concerns that the event may have disproportionately prioritized the interests of large corporations over the broader public. Sarah Myers West, managing director of the nonprofit AI Now Institute, noted that the combined net worth of the attendees exceeded $550 billion, making it challenging to represent the broader public adequately.

In the United States, major tech companies have expressed support for AI regulations, though consensus on the specifics remains elusive. Similarly, while members of Congress agree on the need for legislation, divergent opinions on the appropriate course of action persist.

Partisan differences have emerged, with some lawmakers focusing on the risk of overregulation while others prioritize addressing potential AI-related risks. These divisions often align with party affiliations.

Some concrete proposals have already been put forth, including Senator Amy Klobuchar’s legislation that would require disclaimers for AI-generated election ads featuring deceptive content. Schumer indicated the need for swift action before the next presidential election.

Senators Hawley and Blumenthal have proposed a broader approach, which would establish a government oversight authority with the power to assess certain AI systems for potential harms prior to granting licenses.

While figures like Elon Musk have raised concerns akin to those seen in science fiction about losing control to advanced AI systems, Deborah Raji, the sole academic participant at the forum, emphasized real-world harms already occurring. She stressed the importance of balancing perspectives and priorities as senators work toward new legislation.

Some Republicans remain cautious about mirroring the European Union’s approach, as the EU recently implemented comprehensive rules for artificial intelligence. These rules classify AI products and services into four risk levels, ranging from minimal to unacceptable. A group of European corporations has urged EU leaders to reconsider these rules, arguing that they could hinder the ability of companies within the 27-nation bloc to compete internationally in generative AI usage.

Ravindra Jadeja Is 2nd Indian To Achieve ODI All-Round Feat

In their final Asia Cup Super 4 match, Team India continued their remarkable performance against Bangladesh in Colombo. Opting to bowl first, India dismantled an erratic Bangladeshi batting order, reducing them to 59/4 in 14 overs. Although Bangladesh briefly rallied with captain Shakib Al Hasan (80) and Towhid Hridoy (54) providing resistance, Shakib’s dismissal just after the drinks break in the 33rd over triggered yet another collapse. In the very next over, Ravindra Jadeja dismissed the new batter, Shamim Hossain, achieving a significant milestone in his ODI career.

This dismissal marked Jadeja’s 200th wicket in the ODI format, placing him in an elite group alongside the legendary former Indian captain, Kapil Dev, as the only two Indians to have both 200 wickets and over 2000 runs in ODIs. Among international cricketers, Jadeja joined the esteemed ranks of Sanath Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi, Shakib Al Hasan, and Daniel Vettori, all of whom have accomplished this remarkable feat.

Jadeja’s achievement also made him the seventh Indian bowler to reach the coveted 200-wicket milestone in ODIs. In this illustrious list, he joins Anil Kumble (337), Javagal Srinath (315), Ajit Agarkar (288), Zaheer Khan (282), Harbhajan Singh (269), and the aforementioned Kapil Dev (251).

Picture: TV News

Kapil Dev, with a career spanning 253 wickets and 3783 runs in 225 ODI matches, was a true pioneer, becoming the first Indian bowler to reach the 250-wicket mark in ODIs. In contrast, Jadeja’s bowling record stands at 200 wickets in 174 ODI innings, with an average of 36.83 and an economy rate of 4.89.

Moreover, Jadeja’s contributions with the bat in ODIs have been equally noteworthy. He has accumulated 2578 runs from 123 innings, boasting an impressive average of 32.22 and securing 13 half-centuries.

In their final Super 4 clash against Bangladesh, Team India chose to rest several key players, including star batsman Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Hardik Pandya. Despite these absences, India secured their spot in the final, where they will face Sri Lanka, who clinched a thrilling 2-wicket victory in a last-ball finish against Pakistan in their previous match.

How Hunter Biden Charges Will Impact Biden

In the realm of politics today, there exist two distinct Americas, each harboring its own set of grievances and suspicions. One segment is deeply distressed and appalled by the 91 federal and state criminal charges looming over the former President, Donald Trump. They perceive this as the result of a vast conspiracy masterminded by what they view as a politicized Department of Justice under President Joe Biden’s leadership.

Conversely, the other America firmly believes that this very Department of Justice has spent an unfair five years relentlessly pursuing Hunter Biden, the President’s son, for alleged misconduct related to his tax affairs and his past struggles as a self-proclaimed, repentant drug addict. In essence, both sides of the political spectrum contend that the department responsible for upholding the nation’s laws has fallen under the sway of its ideological opponents and has become irreversibly entangled in politics.

In response to the news of Hunter Biden’s indictment on three federal gun-related charges, his legal counsel fired back by accusing the prosecutor of yielding to “improper and partisan interference” from Republicans who support Donald Trump. On the other side of the aisle, Andy Biggs, a conservative member of Congress, suggested that these charges were merely a smokescreen to create the illusion of impartiality within the justice department. He stated, “Don’t fall for it. They’re trying to protect him from way more serious charges coming his way!” via X, previously known as Twitter.

While Hunter Biden’s legal issues are undoubtedly a personal setback for his father and family, their implications extend far beyond their immediate circle. Republicans have long regarded the President’s son as a potential vulnerability. Exploiting this vulnerability not only has the potential to provoke a strong reaction from Joe Biden but also serves as a means to divert attention from their own challenges regarding legal issues surrounding Donald Trump.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that a substantial portion of Democrats, when asked, do not express enthusiasm about Joe Biden’s candidacy for the 2024 presidential race. For some, Hunter Biden’s troubles provide yet another reason to push for the 80-year-old President to make way for the next generation.

Picture : TIME

All these dynamics collectively signify that the outcome of Hunter Biden’s case will be a pivotal factor in what promises to be a tumultuous election year. However, Republicans find themselves in a somewhat precarious position. While it is true that the three felony charges related to firearms are serious, and further charges might surface in connection to Hunter Biden’s tax matters and foreign dealings, none of it currently appears to approach the scale and quantity of alleged crimes associated with Donald Trump.

Hence, any attempt by Republicans to weaponize Hunter Biden’s legal issues might inadvertently invite comparisons between the two cases. Additionally, Democrats are likely to emphasize that Hunter Biden is not a candidate for any public office, let alone the presidency of the United States.

An intriguing aspect of Hunter Biden’s legal situation is that his lawyers appear to believe that the previously collapsed plea deal from July could potentially be revived. They also suggest that recent expansions of Second Amendment rights by various courts might factor into his defense. After all, there is nothing in the Constitution that bars individuals with a history of drug addiction from bearing arms. This irony isn’t lost, given the general stance of most Democrats on gun control.

The indictment against Hunter Biden was unveiled just days after Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden—a move that the White House promptly dismissed as a political maneuver. McCarthy cited “serious and credible allegations” related to the Biden family’s business dealings and the President’s conduct. Republicans are hopeful that this new inquiry will implicate the President in allegations of power abuse and corruption.

However, to date, seven months of investigations into Hunter Biden have yielded only fragments of information from former business associates, an FBI informant, and a couple of IRS agents. Nothing substantial has emerged that could be considered a smoking gun. It remains uncertain whether, as subpoenas start flying, the slim Republican majority in the House would secure an impeachment vote if the inquiry reaches that stage.

What is undeniably clear is that the once well-defined boundary between the political and legal systems has become increasingly blurred. According to Randy Zelin, an adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School, “Somebody woke up one day and said, boy I have a new toy and that is called the federal criminal justice system, where I’m going to use the criminal system to punish people who don’t agree with my politics.” He goes on to express deep concern about how this ongoing battle is tearing the country apart.

Vivek Ramaswamy Wants End To H-1B Visa System

Calling the much sought-after H-1B visa system “indentured servitude”, Indian-American GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has pledged to get rid of it if voted to power in 2024, Politico reported.

Having himself used the system 29 times in the past to hire highly-skilled professionals for his pharma company, Ramaswamy said that the temporary worker visas system is “bad for everyone involved”, and the US needs to eliminate chain-based migration.

“The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual meritocratic admission. It’s a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I’ll gut it,” the Politico quoted the 38-year-old entrepreneur as saying.

“The people who come as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants who make skills-based contributions to this country,” Ramaswamy, born to immigrant parents from Kerala, added.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 29 applications for Ramaswamy’s former company, Roivant Sciences, to hire employees under H-1B visas from 2018 through 2023, the report said.

“As the largest organization of members currently on H1B visa stuck in green card backlogs, we completely agree with @VivekGRamaswamy & others willing to speak the truth: H1B visa is, in fact, indentured servitude that only benefits the company that sponsors the visa, but is bad for everyone else. We agree — it is time to gut H1B,” US-based non-profit, Immigration Voice, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Stating that Ramaswamy has grabbed headlines for his restrictionist immigration policy agenda, the Politico said that “his rhetoric has at times gone farther than the other GOP candidates, as he calls for lottery-based visas, such as the H-1B worker visas, to be replaced with ‘meritocratic” admission’”.

He has also said that he would deport US-born children of undocumented immigrants.

The H-1B visa allows companies and other employers in the US to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

Every year the US gives 65,000 H-1B visas open to all and 20,000 to those with advanced US degrees. Indians are the biggest beneficiaries of the H-1B visas getting about 75 per cent of them, according to the US government.

In July 2023, Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced legislation proposing to double the annual intake of foreign workers on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 130,000.

Earlier this year, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the US Senate to reform and close loopholes in the H-1B visa programme, created to complement America’s high-skilled workforce. (IANS)

FIA-Chicago Holds Indian Independence Day Event

The Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago (FIA) hosted a Spectacular and Grand celebration, “Ae Mere Watan” to commemorate India’s 77th Independence Day – Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav with patriotic fervor on 15th September 2023 at the most upcoming and sought after, state of the art banquet hall, The Matrix Club, at Naperville, IL. The FIA led by Founder President & Chairman Sunil Shah, and Current President Vinita Gulabani, Past President Neil Khot, Founder and Past President Onkar Singh Sangha and the entire Board of Directors created an atmosphere of patriotism with an India centric program that enthralled the attending guests during the first half, followed by a musical extravaganza, the Sahir Ludhianvi Show, Directed by Milind Oak and facilitated by Madan Kulkarni and produced by Niche’ entertainment during the second half, post a sumptuous and delicious dinner.

The program started with a Bharat Natyam dance by Board member Bharatnatyam exponent and choreographer Pika Munshi. Then Sunil Shah & Vinita Gulabani were invited for a welcome address. Then Larry Herman, Mayor Oakbrook was invited to speak and present awards, along with Sunil & Vinita at the FIA Team Recognition Ceremony where all the hardworking FIA Team members received a Medal of Excellence and an Appreciation Certificate.

Asian Media USA

The auspicious tradition of lamp lighting ceremony was also held by the FIA Leadership and the entire Board. along with Larry Herman and other dignitaries present. A beautiful rendition of the American and Indian National Anthem was presented by Samaira Bongale and Sahiba Sidhu respectively. Famous Chicago Singer Nipa Shah also sang the Ae Mere Pyare Watan song.  There was also a beautiful Welcome Dance by Team Laya choreographed by Priyanka Parekh.

Chairman and Founder President Sunil Shah in his welcome speech, said, “Because of the unforeseen circumstances we had to celebrate Independence Day in September. But the fervor, love for motherland & tribute to martyrs is not limited to one day, month but it’s to be celebrated every day. “ He thanked the team members, Advisory Board members & sponsors for their ongoing support. And he welcomed & appreciated the dedication and commitment of President Vinita Gulabani.”

Dignitaries welcomed on the stage were Scott Wehrli, Mayor Naperville, followed by FIA Advisory Board: Aishwarya Sharma,  Ajieet Singh, Anil Loomba, Asha Oraskar, Bhupendra Beri,  Brij Sharma, Hitesh Bhatt, Jasbir Suga, Keerthi Reevori, Manish Gandhi, Nag Jaiswal, Pinky Thakkar, Pradeep Shukla, Suresh Bodiwala, Syed Hussaini, Vinoz Chanamolu,  Yogi Bhardwaj. The FIA Past Presidents were also invited and acknowledged: Sunil Shah, Onkar Sanga, Rita Singh, Dhitu Bhagwakar, Mukesh Shah, Neil Khot, Ninad Daftari, Gurmeet Singh, Hitesh Gandhi. All the organizations, including the State and Regional  organizations were  also appreciated for their participation and support.

The prestigious FIA Community Leadership Awards were presented to: Vinita Gulabani, Chintan Patel, Pinkyben & Dinesh Bhai Thakkar, Santosh Kumar MAFS, Dr Asha Anil Oroskar with OROCHEM, American Dog Movie /Neil Khot, Rajeev Sharma, Dr Alamdar Badar, Jane Lee Remax, Venkat Talari, Eggholic Bhagyesh Patel & Lav Patel, Brij Sharma, Dr Bhupinder Beri, Sona Shah, Harry Mohan, Syed Hussaini, Ajeet Singh IABC, Manoj Mulki Rani Foods, Sanjay Vishnu Panjwani / All About Furniture, Global Eye – Dr.  Vijay Prabhakar, DABUR / BADSHAH- Rickie Singh.

FIA Appreciation awards were presented to FIA Team Members: Dhitu Bhagwakar, Mukesh Shah, Hemendra Shah. Media Appreciation Awards were presented to: Vandana Jhingan, Suresh Bodiwala, Harry Sidhu, Prachi Jaitly and Phani Krishna, Desi Talk & Hi India.

A medley of patriotic songs was presented by the talented FIA singers: Pratibha Jairath, Geetanaji Maru, Jitendra Bulsara, Swapnil Sahu, Ravi Tokala, who regaled the audience with their singing. The Grand Finale was truly Grand in every sense of the Word, Sahir – A Tribute to the legendary Bollywood poet & Lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, a show directed by Milind Oak, narrated by Nachiket Devasthali and supported by the amazingly talented singers: Abhilasha Chellam, Rasika Ganoo and Dhawal Chandwadkar, along with their team of musicians. The event was well attended by about 550 plus people including the who’s who of the Indian Community. The singers par excellence and Sahir team took to the stage after the dinner and enthralled the audience until midnight for almost three hours belting out the most famous and melodious Sahir songs. Everyone present praised the talented artists and said that they would love to come back and attend again! The FIA would like to thank all the vendors who set up booths and provided the food samples.  The Emcees to the event were Richa Chand, Anu Malhotra, Pratibha Jairath, Suchitra Kukreja and Chandini Duvuri.

Biden Administration’s Initiatives Lead to Surge in Student Loan Forgiveness Approvals

The Biden administration has reported a significant increase in student loan forgiveness approvals, benefiting hundreds of thousands of borrowers, thanks to initiatives aimed at enhancing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF is a crucial federal student loan forgiveness program that can erase a borrower’s federal student loan debt after 120 “qualifying payments,” equivalent to ten years. However, the PSLF program has long struggled with poor administration, insufficient oversight, resulting in errors, rejections, and approval rates that never exceeded single-digit percentages.

But following a series of reforms initiated by the Biden administration, the approval rates for student loan forgiveness under PSLF have seen a remarkable surge. The U.S. Department of Education stated in a Tuesday announcement, “The Biden-Harris Administration has already approved… $45.7 billion for 662,000 public servants through improvements to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).” Furthermore, additional loan forgiveness is expected as these initiatives continue to unfold.

The first of these PSLF improvements, known as the Limited PSLF Waiver, was introduced in 2021. This one-time initiative relaxed the criteria for qualifying PSLF payments, expanding the scope of what could be counted toward loan forgiveness under the program. Previously, only payments made on Direct federal student loans under a 10-year Standard or income-driven repayment (IDR) plan were eligible for loan forgiveness. However, the Limited PSLF Waiver extended eligibility to include almost any period of repayment on any federal student loan, dating back to October 2007, when PSLF was initially established.

The IDR Account Adjustment, an ongoing program, subsequently extended many of the benefits of the Limited PSLF Waiver. While much attention has been given to student loan forgiveness for borrowers on 20- or 25-year repayment plans, it’s important to note that the IDR Account Adjustment can also benefit PSLF borrowers. This adjustment further broadened the range of payments and situations that can count toward student loan forgiveness. It even allows for the crediting of some periods of deferment, forbearance, and recent defaults for borrowers engaged in qualifying employment. The Education Department is implementing this adjustment gradually, and borrowers are receiving PSLF credit and associated loan forgiveness approvals throughout early 2024.

For some borrowers, the federal Direct consolidation program may be necessary to qualify for or maximize the PSLF benefits under the IDR Account Adjustment. Fortunately, there is still time to consolidate loans to take advantage of this adjustment, with the consolidation window closing on December 31, 2023.

On July 1, the U.S. Department of Education implemented new PSLF regulations, intended to provide more enduring benefits to borrowers seeking loan forgiveness through the program. These new rules partially formalize certain aspects of the temporary waiver and adjustment initiatives. They permit specific periods of deferment and forbearance to be counted toward loan forgiveness under PSLF. The reforms also ensure that borrowers can retain some PSLF credit after consolidation, a change from the past where consolidation would erase a borrower’s PSLF credit. Moreover, borrowers now have the option to “buy back” past periods that might not have previously qualified for loan forgiveness.

The new regulations additionally simplify and expand the definition of qualifying PSLF employment, particularly for non-full-time employees, specific contracted workers in limited scenarios, and adjunct faculty. Furthermore, the regulations relax the definition of a qualifying payment, allowing borrowers to make prepayments or lump-sum payments in certain circumstances.

The Biden administration’s initiatives have had a profound impact on student loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. These efforts have led to a substantial increase in approvals, providing substantial relief to borrowers burdened by student loan debt. The Limited PSLF Waiver, IDR Account Adjustment, and new PSLF regulations collectively represent a concerted effort to address the historical challenges associated with the PSLF program, making it more accessible and beneficial to a broader range of borrowers.

Srimati Radha Rani and Sri Krishna Play by ISKCON Youth

Once, during the month of Kartika on the occasion of the Deepavali festival at Giriraja-Govardhana, the Vrajavasis were busily absorbed in decorating their cows and other animals with various kinds of ornaments. The gopis also brought various ornaments from their homes to decorate the cows. Sri Radhika and Her girlfriends sat on the madhavi terrace near the Malyaharini-kunda making several kinds of beautiful pearl ornaments. Meanwhile Sri Krsna arrived there, having heard of Srimati Radhika’s activities from the mouth of parrot Vicaksana, and asked for some pearls to decorate only 4 horns of His favorite cows Hamsi and Harini. However, Radhika and Her gopi friends laughed at Him proudly saying that their pearls are most precious. They are not ordinary to decorate cows. They are meant only for great queens like them.

Sri Krsna decides to grow His own Pearl garden. He returned home where He asked for some pearls from Mother Yasoda. Then He and His friends planted them near the bank of the Yamuna, and regularly watered them with milk from His own goshala.

In a few days extremely beautiful pearls grew in abundance. All including mother Yashoda , Krsna’s father Nana Baba and all the villagers were amazed. When gopis  saw this astonishing field of pearls , they requested some pearls from Sri Krishna. Now it was Krishna and His friends’ turn to make fun of them and reject pearls to them.

Picture : Asian Media USA

Since the gopis wanted the same quality of pearls, they consulted with a senior friend Nandimukhi and secretly brought pearls from their homes and took pearls from their own jewelry. They began to sow them as Sri Krsna had done. They irrigated the field with an abundance of not only cow’s milk but ghee and butter too as advised by Nandinukhi. After a few days, their pearls sprouted, but to their surprise, only into thorny creepers. The gopis became worried as they brought all the pearls from their homes for planting. They told Sri Krsna what had happened, and asked Him for some of His pearls. But Krsna, the crown jewel of rasikas, took a lot of pleasure in bargaining with them and teasing them to the extent that Srimati Radha just asks Gopis to leave the place and not argue with the cheaters. Finally He lovingly prepared beautiful necklaces from His exquisite pearls for all the Gopis and went to present them along with His sakhas. All the Gopis were extremely happy to receive such wonderful necklaces and wanted to reciprocate to Krishna by preparing delicious food.

Malyaharini-kunda received its name by virtue of this confidential pastime. Our main objective of performing such beautiful pastimes of Krishna are to give the kids an experience of sweet activities of the God. And to show how Lord Krishna, although the Supreme Controller , creator and master of the universe (Bhagavad Gita 10.8) takes pleasure in sweetly playing with His devotees just like we do. He is a person and we are Meade in His image. We enjoy what he enjoys by understanding the sweetness of Krishna, kids can easily take His shelter by remembering Him in challenging times and think of Him as their close loving friend.

The various characters were played by the following kids: Narrator , Anshika – Radha, Radhika – Krishna, Ramakrishna – Chitralekha, Swarna – Vishakha, Mamata – Lalita, Krsangi – Vishal, Advay – Subal, Gaura – Ujjval, ChItanya – Madhu, Devansh – Kanchan lata, Dyuti – Champak Lata, Aadya – Chandramukhi, Ananya – Nandimukhi, Meera – Tungavidya, Radha – Yashoda, Sanya – Malati older Gopi, Dr. Sapna Patel

Janaki older Gopi, Amara dd – Sundar older Gopa, Dayaram Prabhu – Nand Baba, Dushyant Prabhu,

Krishna Temple of Midwest Celebrates Janmashtami

Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Krishna was celebrated on Wednesday 6th September 2023 at ISKCON Chicago located at 1716 W Lunt Ave, Chicago, IL. The appearance day anniversary of Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) was also celebrated on the following day. The two-day celebration was attended by over a thousand Chicagoans from various cultures.

The festival was attended by the Consulate General of India, Somnath Ghosh and his wife, Anindita Ghosh. Mr. Somnath Ghosh urged the devotees to pray to the Lord “to become better devotees to serve mankind.”

Picture : Asian Media USA

Bhailal Patel, one of the notable community leaders said, “This is the first temple of Chicago and was established in 1972 in Evanston.” Sri Sri Kisora-Kisori was the first Deities of Radha Krishna in the Midwest that were brought in 1972 with the inspiration and efforts of Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. The temple also celebrated their 50th anniversary this year in June commemorating the dedication of the devotees for bringing the teachings of Lord Krishna to the West. “Our world today needs this spiritual knowledge to find the deep internal satisfaction and happiness that we are all looking for.” said the temple priest, Nama Ruci das.

The altar was gorgeously decorated with fresh flowers and vases. The main deities on the altar, Sri Sri Kisora Kisori, looked elegant in their embroidered brown and blue dresses. Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra were on the altar to the right and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai were on the left. They wore garlands of roses and blue orchids in the morning and pink lotuses at night. On the right of the altar was a swing for Lord Krishna and a deity of Srila Prabhupada was on a large simhasana (royal seat) across the temple hall.

Picture : Asian Media USA

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham” “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” The festival is a celebration of Lord Krishna’s descent into this world. His Holiness Radhanath Swami, one of the prominent spiritual leaders, said, “Krishna comes into this world out of his compassion for all living beings.” The teachings of Lord Krishna are found in the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. His Holiness Romapada Swami, one of the leaders in ISKCON, requested the devotees to imbibe the teachings given by Lord Krishna by studying the Srimad Bhagavatam.

Devotees celebrated the festival by fasting, bathing the Deity (Abhishek), by performing kirtan and reading from the Bhagavad Gita. The main attractions of the program include Mangala aarti (a ceremonial welcome of the Lord before sunrise), darshan aarti, chanting, drama and Maha aarti at midnight.

The festive mood was enhanced by the melodious songs glorifying the pastimes of Krishna. The devotees wore traditional dhotis and colorful saris and played traditional musical instruments like harmonium, mrdanga and kartal for the pleasure of the Lord. The festival was followed by a sumptuous vegetarian feast for all the guests.

ISNA’s 60th Annual Convention Held in Chicago

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) rolled out its high profile 60th Annual Convention and attracted Thousands of Enthusiastic Participants at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois (5555 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018). “A Multifaceted #ISNA60 Convention was inaugurated by around 40 elected officials and community leaders followed by Friday prayer by thousands of participants.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention is widely regarded as the largest annual gathering of Muslims in America. It attracts thousands of participants and serves as a social and spiritual event for the betterment of our community. In addition to Muslim Americans, the convention attracts people of other faiths, international delegations, and officials from local, state, and federal government, including heads of state said Mir Khan, Chairman, Steering Committee, ISNA.

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“ISNA’s Convention is more than simply a coming together of Muslim community. Our goal is to unite people across different faiths and backgrounds in the spirit of peace and better understanding”, said Safa Zarzour, ISNA President, in his Inaugural Address. Continuing his address, he said that even though the Convention is by Muslims, it is for everyone. “This is not just a Muslim event, but this is an American event”, he stated and added that the Convention provides a platform to Muslims, guests from other faith communities, families, businesses and non-profit organizations to network and exchange ideas. 

This year’s theme, “60 years of service: Navigating the way forward”, he added, was largely centered on how faith can inspire the community to bring positive social change in response to challenges and injustices of all forms. “The Convention was a great opportunity to look back and celebrate our accomplishments and successes as an American Muslim community and at the same also look ahead to address some of the challenges we face as a community in North America”, he concluded with a sense of optimism.

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“ISNA had a rich list of 200 renowned speakers, scholars, community leaders, and public servants to address Convention attendees. Remarks from Congressman Ro Khanna (Rep. California 17th District), Congresswoman Summer Lee, Khizr Khan (Goldstar Father and Presidential Medal of Honor Recipient) Comedian Preacher Moss & other national Muslim entertainers offering their signature acts. Film Festival featuring Muslim American filmmakers tackling relevant issues facing Muslim Americans. One of the largest Muslim Matrimonial events in the US Renowned speakers like Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir & Yasir Qadhi addressing evolving Muslim issues.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, was the keynote speaker during the Community Service Recognition Luncheon which honored Dr.Ihsan Bagby for his lifetime dedication to serving the community. Mazen Basrawi from the white house read a special letter from POTUS, building interfaith relationships and social justice advocacy, said Mr. Azhar Azeez, board member and former President, ISNA. Over 40% convention speakers were females that included well known academics and scholars like Dr. Rani Awad, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Ustadha Lehsa Prime, Ustadha Muslema Perumal, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed and others, Azeez added. Complementing the main ISNA offering of programs, there were conferences hosted by MSA of US & Canada.

ISNA is the largest and oldest Islamic umbrella organization in North America. Its mission is to foster the development of the Muslim community, interfaith relations, civic engagement, and better understanding of Islam at an international level, representing the voices of Muslim Americans, said Basharat Saleem, Executive Director, ISNA. The roots of ISNA were laid in 1963 by the Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada (now MSA-National). In everything that ISNA does, the effort is not just to unite and strengthen the Muslim community and their trust in Allah, but also ISNA is actively building bridges of understanding, communication, reconciliation, and cooperation with the mainstream faith and other communities.

11th Annual IndiaFest Wisconsin India Day Celebrated

In 2023, India celebrated the 77th independence from Britain and IndiaFest Wisconsin celebration marked its 11th year. On Saturday Aug 26th, festivities in Wisconsin began in Menomonee Falls downtown village park, Waukesha county, with the parade by the children and guests invoking deity Ganesh followed by hoisting of the tricolor flag of India. This was followed by the rendition of the national anthems of both countries, India (largest democracy) and the United States (oldest democracy), in the presence of dignitaries and leaders of our community. Ganesh Vandana, devotional and patriotic performances followed.

Lamp is known as ‘Deepak’, ‘Jyot’ or ‘Jyoti’ which represents Agni (fire element). ‘Divine Light’ symbolizes abundance, prosperity, wealth, and knowledge. The lighting of an oil lamp is regarded as bowing down to knowledge. Significance of oil lamp lighting is to remove darkness, ignorance, and unhappiness, spreading Almighty’s grace and divinity by seeking blessings.

Picture : IndiaFestWI

India Day celebration at IndiaFest Wisconsin 2023 was graced by State Senator Dan Knodl, State Representative Paul Melotik, Waukesha County Supervisor Jacob LaFontain, Menomonee Falls Village President Jeremy Waltz, and Chair of Republican Party Congressional District 4 Bob Spindell. Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers, Mayor of Milwaukee Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, US Senator Ron Johnson, State Senator Chris Larson, Consul General of India (Midwest) Somnath Ghosh, Honorary Consul General of Bangladesh Monir Choudhury, Honorary Consul General of Nepal Marvin A. Brustin and Brookfield Mayor Steven Ponto were among the invitees. Both the country’s flags India and the United States were highlighted throughout the celebration, signifying the strong India-US relationship, denoting the largest and oldest democracy of the world with love and respect.

Picture : IndiaFestWI

A number of organizations, including Wisdom Infotech, Trayix, Codeworks, Airport Animal Hospital, West Allis Veterinary Clinic, Elite Bar & Grill, Chicago Association of Rajasthanis in America, Sri Gayethri Foods, Pro-life Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood, Asian American Store Owners Association, supported and contributed to India Day celebration at IndiaFest Wisconsin 2023. Vendors included Chic Sari from Green Bay, Kumar Juice Catering Service from Chicago, Labourers of Christ from Michigan and restaurants and clothing businesses from the broader Milwaukee and Waukesha region. IndiaFest Wisconsin was adorned with Mehendi (henna), threading, sari, kurti shopping, bounce house for children etc. IndiaFest Wisconsin is blessed to have a few individual donors as well.

Although the entire setup done by volunteers got ruined by heavy rain and wind the previous night and all things got soaked, we believe perhaps Bhagwan Shiva protected us and blessed the celebration from up above. The entire celebration on Saturday had no drop of rain and everyone had a great time learning about Indian culture. Help from above was noticed.

Officially, Aug 15th, 2023 was proclaimed as INDIA DAY in Wisconsin by Governor Tony Evers, in Milwaukee County by County Executive David Crowley, and in Waukesha County by County Executive Paul Farrow. Proclamations attached.

Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers proclaimed, “in addition to commemorating India’s independence, India Day provides an opportunity for all Wisconsinites to learn about Indian culture and its incredible diversity of language, region, and religion and to strengthen the bonds between the Indian community and others.”

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson congratulated and stated, “Congratulations on the 11th year of IndiaFest Wisconsin as well as the 77th Independence Day of India! Your dedication and efforts to bring visibility to the Indian Community of Wisconsin is to be commended. Thank you for your commitment to educating the greater Wisconsin community about the rich culture, traditions and heritage of India.”

Senator Dan Knodl applauded efforts of Spindle India, Inc., by stating “I applaud founder Purnima Nath, IndiaFest Wisconsin and the organization Spindle India, Inc., for their tremendous community service over the past decade in strengthening the India-US relationship and bringing visibility to Indian culture and heritage in Wisconsin.”

Since 2018, Spindle India, Inc., worked tirelessly with the Governor of Wisconsin’s office to obtain proclamation for India day in Wisconsin. We thank former governor Scott Walker and current Governor Tony Evers for their support and acknowledgment.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley proclaimed, “Milwaukee County recognizes IndiaFest Wisconsin and Spindle India, Inc., for their invaluable contribution of community service to Milwaukee County and joins all Wisconsinites in celebrating and appreciating India Day, Indian Culture, and the Indian community in Milwaukee County.” Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow proclaimed, “acknowledging the contribution of Spindle India, Inc., towards bringing communities together and bringing visibility of Indian community, culture, heritage, history and civilization.”

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow proclaimed, “acknowledging the contribution of Spindle India, Inc., towards bringing communities together and bringing visibility of Indian community, culture, heritage, history and civilization”.

Honorary Consul General of Nepal Marvin A. Brustin congratulated Spindle India, Inc. for the celebration of India and bringing communities together. Mr. Brustin stated, “As many of you know, India and Nepal share an open border and many common traditions. In my capacity of Honorary Consul General, I have had the privilege of learning more about both these ancient and remarkable cultures, and hope that spirit of openness and cooperation we often see between them will be present here in the US as well, allowing us to continue work together for our respective countries mutual benefit.”

Mayor of Brookfield Steven Ponto applauded the Indian community for placing emphasis on education and also congratulated Spindle India, Inc for its volunteering initiative.

“Spindle India, Inc, is an ultra-small volunteer-run nonprofit organization run in borrowed garage-space with big dreams and goals. Since 2013, Spindle India, Inc., strived hard to bring communities together regardless of the challenges of resources and funding, without cutting any corners. I am grateful to the universe for allowing me to be the custodian of this organization and her vision.”, stated Purnima Nath, Founder of Spindle India, Inc.

IndiaFest Wisconsin showcased ancient Indic culture, heritage and civilization through demonstrations of traditional clothing, music, dance, food, displays, decor, explanations, and art forms. Many local talents from across the broader Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine area displayed art forms through music and dance. Kathak Dancer Natalia Armacanqui of Kallpa House of Spirit Dances from Madison and students from Milwaukee’s Aparna’s Dance Studio performed traditional, devotional, classical (Bharatnatyam) and contemporary dance forms. Mahijit Virdi, Abhijit Virdi, Manoj Tripathi from greaterMilwaukee and Racine counties and Special guest Dr. Neelima Sharma from India renditioned Bollywood’s old and contemporary music numbers. For the first time, IndiaFest Wisconsin illustrated a unique experience of the Folk Fusion of Indian and South American (Ecuadorian) Instruments by Victor Murillo from Ecuador, Indrajit Banerjee from India on Sitar, an eons-old Indian stringed instrument, and Jason McKinsey on Drums and tabla from Texas. Contemporary Bollywood music was performed by the Bollywood Orchestra of Archana Gauswami and Ajay Patel from India. IndiaFest Wisconsin was enriched by performers from various countries, India, Nepal, America, Ecuador and so on.

IndiaFest Wisconsin showcased the culture, history, and heritage of India’s ancient Indic civilization through art forms, food, music, dance and decor Ancient Indic culture is promoted through displays of traditional clothing, explanations, and displays of arts. First time IndiaFest Wisconsin showcased Folk Fusion of Indian and South American (Ecuadorian) Instruments by Victor Murillo, Indrajit Banerjee (Sitar, an eons-old Indian stringed instrument) and Jason McKinsey (Drums and tabla). Contemporary Bollywood music was performed by the Orchestra from India.

A few volunteers were kind enough to lend a few hands during their busy schedule to bring this festival in the land of Wisconsin are MaryJo Thompson, Gerald Knoch, Jenn Dedrick, Shubhra Prasad, Bharat Prasad, Ashita Verma, Jayanti Roy, Arnab Bag and Aparna Bag. These volunteers are not paid for whatever time, energy they dedicated for the cause of promoting Indian culture, heritage and civilization through IndiaFest. Without the help of their time and energy IndiaFest Wisconsin would not have been possible.

IndiaFest Wisconsin is an opportunity to get a glimpse of the warmth, breadth, and depth of India, launched by Spindle India, Inc, a nonprofit organization, founded by Purnima Nath. IndiaFest Wisconsin is an inclusive platform that transcends religion, region, language, culture, community, borders and political bias to promote true diversity, equality, and the value of inclusion and coexistence, that is a fundamental principle of ancient Hindu culture of India (Bharat = Hindustan).

Founder and Chairwoman of Spindle India, Inc., Ms. Purnima Nath, who serves as volunteer President and produces IndiaFest Wisconsin to promote Indian culture and heritage says, “in America, people do not know much about Indian culture beyond a few popular food items such as curry, samosa, or naan. We are more than that. Inventions, discoveries, ideologies, acceptance, tolerance, oldest-living surviving ancient civilization which has not been accepted by the world yet. Sadly, there are many misconceptions about India, the Indian community, and the ancient Indic civilization in the United States. Through such avenues and platforms, we can break barriers of cultural differences and communicate about the oldest-living-surviving Indian civilization through education and learning, and connecting with a broader community that fosters understanding. We hope this opens up the possibility of opening doors to potential wider acceptance of our community and incredible culture.”

How The ‘Model Minority’ Myth Led One Indian American Family To Unravel

Prachi Gupta’s family appeared to embody the quintessential American Dream from an outsider’s perspective. Her father, a doctor, her mother, a devoted homemaker, and Prachi and her brother Yush were both high-achieving individuals. They enjoyed the comforts of a spacious five-bedroom home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Gupta was raised with the belief that their prosperity was a testament to their diligent work ethic and adherence to Indian cultural values.

However, beneath this façade, Gupta reveals a different, more tumultuous narrative in her new memoir titled “They Called Us Exceptional.” She describes how her father’s temper and strict rules created a turbulent atmosphere at home, causing Gupta to grapple with the stark contrast between her family’s inner dysfunction and the picture-perfect image they presented to the world.

Gupta discusses the impact of this dichotomy on her identity, stating, “If you believe that success and achievement are integral to your core identity, any challenges, traumas, or hardships you face are internalized as personal failures. This compels us to conceal anything imperfect about ourselves.”

In her memoir, Gupta delves into how each member of her family coped with the turmoil at home in their own way. Her mother chose to tolerate her husband’s manipulative behavior despite enduring mistreatment. Gupta herself rejected the toxic dynamics she had once accepted, leading to her estrangement from her family. Her brother, on the other hand, learned to bury his emotions, ultimately embarking on a path that, according to Gupta, led to his tragic demise.

Gupta’s book is a deeply personal exploration that combines her own narrative with historical insights and cultural analysis. It sheds light on how the weight of the “model minority” stereotype contributed to the unraveling of her family.

CNN recently interviewed Gupta to discuss the motivation behind her book, the tragic event that inspired it, and the authenticity of the American Dream. Below is an edited excerpt of their conversation:

What inspired you to write this book?

“In 2017, my brother Yush passed away. At the time, we had been estranged for two years, but prior to our estrangement, we had shared an incredibly close bond. He was only 18 months younger than me, and for most of our lives, we were best friends. His unexpected and untimely death, caused by complications after cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery, initiated my journey into writing this book. I needed to comprehend who he had become and the decisions that had led him down this path.

Part of the reason for our estrangement was my strong feminist beliefs and his adoption of men’s rights views. When he passed away, I wrote an essay titled ‘Stories About My Brother,’ which was published on Jezebel in 2019. The response to this essay was overwhelming. I heard from immigrant mothers who were unaware of the challenges their children were facing and decided to discuss mental health with them. Sisters who shared complicated relationships with their brothers found solace in my words, and Asian American men indicated that they were heading down a similar path as my brother but reconsidered their choices after reading my essay. Men from various backgrounds confessed that they had battled depression without ever acknowledging it before.

Realizing the shared struggles and isolation that so many people experienced, I felt compelled to share my complete story. There was much more to tell about how the culture we live in encourages us to distance ourselves from our true selves and communities in pursuit of success and achievement. I believe that if my brother and I had been exposed to this narrative earlier in life, our relationship might have endured, and he might have made different decisions that could have saved his life.”

Why did your and your brother’s paths diverge so dramatically in adulthood?

“We grew up in the same household but had vastly different experiences. Our family adhered to traditional gender roles, and this created a divide between my brother and me. I witnessed the injustice of these roles and how I was treated differently due to my gender. He absorbed messages about masculinity and the expectations placed on men. He learned not to express his emotions, avoid discussing feelings, and felt pressure to be a provider.

These differing expectations, coupled with our dysfunctional family dynamics, pushed us further apart as we grew older. I questioned the family system and sought to understand why things were the way they were, while he leaned into his traditional role. This friction became the source of our estrangement, and we were unable to reconcile our differences.”

You documented many painful events in your book as they were happening. Did you always intend to write a book about your family?

“I always felt a need to document what was happening in some way. Writing was my means of making sense of the world around me. I grew up in a volatile household where reality could change in an instant. My father would alter facts, and suddenly, I’d be told that certain events didn’t occur, despite my clear recollection of them. I constantly questioned my sanity, and writing served as a way to preserve my memories. Documenting everything felt essential to my survival. However, I never initially planned to write a memoir or a personal account. My intention was to use these observations to create fictional narratives in the future.

After Yush’s passing, I didn’t want to relegate him to a hypothetical concept. I wanted to honor his memory and shed light on the real harm caused by the ideologies he had embraced. These pressures are genuine, and they have genuine repercussions on our bodies, lives, and relationships. We often discuss these issues abstractly, but they played a role in my brother’s tragic end. I wanted people to understand that these pressures are real and have real consequences.”

In your book, you often avoid using terms like “abuse” or “domestic violence” to describe what happened in your family. Can you explain why?

“Yes, that was intentional. I found empowerment in labeling these dynamics as abusive and toxic because it helped me distance myself from them. However, these situations are far from black-and-white or straightforward. Experiencing such situations is disorienting, especially when the person hurting you is someone you deeply love. It’s not easy to simply categorize it as ‘abuse’ and move on.

I also wanted to convey what it feels like to be in such a situation. When we use terms like ‘abuse’ or ‘domestic violence,’ everyone has a different mental image. Many people primarily associate physical abuse with these terms, but psychological and emotional abuse exist on a spectrum. We lack effective ways to discuss these forms of abuse and their consequences.”

Your book is framed as a letter to your mother. Why did you choose this format?”After Yush’s death, I wanted more than anything to reconnect with my parents. I wished to keep Yush’s memory alive through our relationship. However, this proved challenging.

I often contemplated mortality following his passing and didn’t want to leave my mother in the dark about who I truly am, on my terms. I wanted to explain to her why our relationship remained distant and clarify that it had nothing to do with my love for her. It was a difficult conversation to have in person, so I felt compelled to write it down.”

Have your parents read the book?

“I’m not certain. I did send them a letter before the book’s publication, but I’m unsure whether my mother has read it or not. I agonized over this decision but ultimately felt that it was necessary. After my brother’s death, I needed to find meaning in his passing. (Courtesy: TIME)

India Rebuffed Requests For More Press Access Ahead Of G20 Summit

Reporters accompanying President Joe Biden to the G20 summit in India did not have the opportunity to ask questions to President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in New Delhi. The White House confirmed this decision despite repeated requests for increased press access.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained that this meeting was unique because it would take place at the prime minister’s residence, unlike the typical bilateral visits to India where meetings are held in the prime minister’s office. He mentioned that Prime Minister Modi had set specific protocols for the meeting.

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Sullivan acknowledged that the administration had pushed for a pool spray of the meeting, as is customary when President Biden hosts foreign leaders at the White House. He humorously remarked, “We spend our lives asking for pool sprays and other things” for reporters.

Prime Minister Modi, who has faced criticism from press freedom organizations for his government’s crackdown on independent reporting, has rarely taken questions from the press since assuming office.

During a state visit in June, Modi agreed to participate in a news conference at the White House after extensive negotiations between the two sides. Initially, Indian officials were hesitant about the White House’s insistence on holding a news conference.

The Biden administration has been keen to highlight the President’s willingness to address press freedom and humanitarian issues under Modi’s rule. During Modi’s visit in June, six Democratic lawmakers boycotted his address to Congress, citing concerns about India’s treatment of Muslim minorities.

However, President Biden warmly welcomed Prime Minister Modi to the White House during the visit, hosting a formal state dinner in his honor, emphasizing the shared commitment to democracy between the two nations.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the administration was making every effort to ensure media access to the President during his trip to India for the G20 summit. Several officials, including Sullivan, White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt, Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer, and Deputy Assistant to the President Kurt Campbell, contacted their Indian counterparts to advocate for increased press access, but their efforts were apparently unsuccessful.

Jean-Pierre noted, “We have reached out, we have made the request multiple times and at different pressure points.” She emphasized that the administration had been working diligently to ensure a smooth trip for everyone involved and left it to the Indian government to respond.

She added, “Look, we are all trying to do our best, at the behest of the president, to get this done – and so we’re gonna keep working on it.”

Instead of addressing reporters after the G20 summit’s conclusion in New Delhi, President Biden will hold a news conference in Vietnam, where it is deemed “easier” for him to take questions from reporters.

Jean-Pierre explained the decision by stating that it was logistically simpler to hold the press conference in Vietnam and that it would not change anything, as it would have been a solo press conference by the President regardless.

Regarding formal engagements with world leaders during the G20 summit, Sullivan indicated that there would likely be few formal meetings. He said, “I can’t confirm any (bilateral meetings), and to be honest with you, I think you will not see, because of the way the schedule was structured, a significant number of formal engagements with other leaders.” Instead, most of the interactions with other leaders would be informal and on the margins, rather than formal sit-down meetings.

Indian American Judge Moxila Upadhyaya Presides Over Trump Arraignment

Former US President Donald Trump appeared in federal court on August 3, facing charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Former US President Donald Trump appeared in the US District Court in Washington in connection with charges of his alleged attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The charges were filed as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the matter.

Trump is facing a total of four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. The former President appeared before Indian American Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya, who presided over his third arraignment.

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Judge Upadhyaya served as a law clerk to Eric T. Washington, former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. She also practised complex commercial and administrative litigation at Venable LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. Upadhyay dedicated her pro bono efforts to representing indigent clients in post-conviction proceedings.

Throughout her career, Upadhyaya has been actively involved in the legal community. She served as the co-chair of the D.C. Bar Litigation Section Steering Committee and contributed to organizations such as the D.C. Access to Justice Foundation and Council for Court Excellence. Her commitment to upholding the law and ensuring access to justice has made her a respected figure in the legal sphere.

Judge Upadhyaya, who traces her roots to the Gujarat state of India received a Bachelor of Journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Latin from the University of Missouri. She went on to earn her J.D. from the American University, Washington College of Law, where she earned accolades for her trial work and was a valued member of the Administrative Law Review.

Rise of Indian Americans

The rapid rise of Indian Americans from politics to administration, entrepreneurship to technology, medicine to hospitality, science to academia has put the global spotlight like never before on the high-achieving four million-plus strong diaspora.

The community happens to be the most educated with the highest median income in the US, with an average household earning of $123,700 — making them the top earners in the US among other Asians in the country.

As the profile of the Indian American community — now the second-largest immigrant group in the US — has grown, so too has its economic, political, and social influence, according to a recent Carnegie Endowment study.

In 2010, only 18 per cent of Americans saw India as “very important” to the United States, according to The Chicago Council survey.

Now, India is perceived by Americans as their seventh favourite nation in the world, with 70 per cent of people viewing India favourably in 2023, says a Gallup survey.

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Much of how America views India today can be attributed to the success of this community, which according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has played a significant role in the all-round development of the nation they live in and also strengthened the India-US relationship.

The fifth largest economy of the world, India today is seen in the US as a strong bilateral partner sharing common democratic values with broad-based and multi-sectoral cooperation in sectors like trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, etc.

American businesses heavily rely on highly-skilled workers from India to fill the gaps in IT and engineering sectors via the H-1B visa programme. These visa holders create prospects for US citizens, by enabling companies to invest in domestic operations instead of sending jobs abroad.

As US Ambassador Eric Garcetti recently said: “India is a place where dreams become reality every day. Our counties have so much in common. Indian dreams and American dreams are two sides of the same coin.”

Addressing the 2019 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, then Foreign Minister late Sushma Swaraj had noted that while the Indian diaspora started migrating centuries ago, it was the migration of the educated, highly-skilled and dynamic young Indians that brought laurels to India.

The dominance of Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, and Parag Agarwal in the IT sector has strengthened the image of India in the US as a technology powerhouse and a source of quality human resources.

With US Vice President Kamala Harris sitting atop the political ladder, the US House of Representatives has five Indian Americans — Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal and Shri Thanedar.

There are close to 60 Indian-American CEOs in Fortune 500. Even though Indians are just 1 per cent of the American population, they are more than 10 per cent of the Fortune 500 CEOs with the likes of Laxman Narasimhan (Starbucks) and Raj Subramaniam (FedEx).

The US now has 20,000 Indian-American professors and at least a third of companies in the Silicon Valley that come for funding, and have an Indian American co-founder, according to Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami.

According to foreign policy experts, it is the success of this community, which has dramatically changed the US perception of Indians and India, with its ability to spread Indian soft power, lobby for India’s national interests, and contribute economically to their mother country’s rise.

As part of “soft diplomacy”, Indian-Americans played a pivotal role in the fructification of the historic Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005.

The community also urged the political establishment — right from the Oval Office down to statehouses — to send aid worth at least half-a-billion dollars to India during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

India’s Rising Population & Its March Towards World’s Second Largest Economy

(IPS) – This year, India surpassed China as the world’s most populous nation. China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2035, but its population will likely continue to decline, while India’s will continue to grow.

India is projected to surpass 1.5 billion people by the end of this decade, reaching 1.7 billion people by 2064. Goldman Sachs analysts recently predicted India will be the world’s second-largest economy by 2075.

India’s population growth is widely touted as an economic opportunity to be seized, a chance for India to press its advantage as the most populous nation on Earth, with the greatest proportion of working age people.

For example, there have been recent calls for India to take the helm as a world leader in steel production. Demand for steel is expected to surge as India’s population grows, and more steel production capacity could boost India’s economy.

But there is more to population growth than just bigger markets and workforces. The same population growth that drives up demand also puts immense pressure on environmental, education, and health infrastructure.

For example, it will increasingly strain access to clean water, threatening drinking water safety and sanitation for communities. It could also lead to shortages in teachers and schools, and scarcity of medical professionals and health facilities.

So, as India’s population grows, it’s imperative that we balance its economic development with the well-being of its people. Sabina Dewan, a senior visiting fellow at the Center for Policy Research, says population growth could be a “tremendous productive force for the economy” but economic growth “hinges on providing good quality, productive, and well-remunerated jobs.” As Wilson Center scholar Jennifer Sciubba put it, “We’ve got 1.4 billion people in India, and it’s up to India to decide whether or not that becomes a resource or a burden.”

How population growth ultimately impacts people depends on how government, civil society, and society as a whole address its challenges and capitalize on its benefits. One key aspect of this is upholding people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

As India’s population expands, the number of people of child-bearing age will continue to grow, and the stakes of SRHR will get higher. Studies show access to comprehensive SRHR services is key for health and well-being and helps women and girls reach their educational and economic goals. It also enables them to delay and space childbearing, moderating population growth and easing pressure on natural resources and infrastructure.

Currently, women and girls in India do not have sufficient access to SRHR services. Two million adolescent Indian women have an unmet need for modern contraception. A staggering 78% of abortions among adolescents are unsafe, leading to an elevated risk of complications.

And as India’s population grows, it also raises the stakes of gender discrimination and achieving gender equity. Without sufficient investment in the health and rights and women and girls, population growth is likely to exacerbate existing gender disparities.

But when women gain access to more education, economic opportunity, and family planning resources, it leads to greater economic participation and prosperity. Research finds such programs can help lift people out of poverty, improving their standard of living and contributing to a more inclusive economy.

In order to leverage the demographic dividend from population growth, in addition to manufacturing, transportation, energy, and digital infrastructure, India’s government should invest in its people.

It should focus on skill development and quality education programs that include women and girls, with emphasis on vocational training and technical education to equip the workforce with the skills the rapidly changing job market demands.

India’s rapid population growth is neither a blessing nor a curse, neither utopian opportunity nor dystopian destiny. Instead, it’s a blend of challenges and possibilities. The outcome for people depends on the actions we take and the investments we make.

Conventional investments like ramping up steel production may raise India’s GDP, but won’t by themselves make people happier or healthier, or lead to greater productivity and prosperity in the long run.

For that we’ll need a comprehensive approach, including policies and investments that prioritize SRHR, gender equity, education, and health. That’s the pathway towards beneficial economic growth, sustainable development, and a more balanced, prosperous future.

Taira Bhargava is a Stanback Reproductive Health Research fellow at the Population Institute in Washington, DC. Hailing from New Delhi, India, she is a rising junior at Duke University, studying Human Biology and Environmental Science. (IPS UN Bureau)

357 Churches in India Set On Fire With the Support of the Authorities

(ZENIT News) The Thursday, 20th July the monsoon session of India’s parliament was disrupted by politicians demanding an emergency debate on a video footage of two women being led naked by a mob in Manipur – before they were gang raped, according to reports.

The event occurred on 4th May, the day after the uprisings which spiraled into violence against the Christian-majority Kuki and Naga ethnic groups broke out, but the footage only surfaced on the web (Wednesday, 19th July).

Although reports have not confirmed that the women were Christian, they belong to the Kuki ethnic group. Last week, senior BJP politician R Vanramchhuanga resigned over his party’s failure to condemn violence against Christians.

In his resignation letter, dated 13th July, Vanramchhuanga wrote that even though 357 churches and other buildings belonging to Christian organizations had been destroyed by Meitei militants in Manipur that BJP leaders from local and national governments had not spoken out against the targeting of Christians.

Christians belonging to the Meitei ethnic group were also targeted during the attacks. The vicious persecution in India’s Manipur state – where hundreds of churches have been destroyed – has entered a new stage as a video showing women being paraded naked went viral.

Vanramchhuanga, the former BJP vice president in Mizoram which neighbors Manipur, expressed the view that there was political support for the violence against religious and ethnic minority groups.

He wrote: “I do believe that massive demolition of Christian Churches in Manipur was supported by the state and central authorities”.

Earlier India’s PM Narendra Modi responded to parliamentarians’ outrage over the footage of the two women by condemning the incident. He said: “I assure the nation, no guilty will be spared. The law will take its course with all its might. What happened with the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven.”

According to the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum: “The gang rape of the women happened after the village was burnt down and two men – one middle-aged and another a teenager – were beaten to death by the mob.” The incidents occurred in B Phainom village in Kangpokpi District.

Fednow Instant Payment Service For Banks Launched

(AP) — The Federal Reserve launched a new instant payment service Thursday. FedNow allows banks and credit unions to sign up to send real-time payments so they can offer customers a quicker way to send money between banks.

FedNow, which was first announced in 2019, published a list of banks and credit unions that are already signed up to the service. However, it might take longer for customers to be able to use the service with their bank.

Here’s what you need to know about FedNow.

HOW DOES FEDNOW WORK?

FedNow offers instant payment services for banks and credit unions to transfer money for their customers. Unlike other private money-transferring services like PayPal or Venmo, FedNow services are not offered to customers directly through a third-party app or website. The services will only be available through banks or credit unions. However, once banks have adopted FedNow, they’re expected to make it available on their websites and apps.

Once a bank offers the FedNow services, customers will be able to send money instantly. The service is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Among the banks that will offer the FedNow services soon are Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

WHY DID THE FED CREATE FEDNOW?

By creating FedNow, the Fed is making it quicker and more accessible for people to send and receive online payments. The Fed is also catching up with other countries that already have real-time payment systems like FedNow, including England, China, Sweden and India.

FedNow will also equip banks with tools to identify and combat fraud attempts. These tools include the ability for banks to flag suspicious accounts and limit the amount and frequency of payments by those accounts.

WHO CAN USE FEDNOW?

Customers, including individuals and businesses, whose banks or credit unions offer FedNow services will be able to send and receive money in real-time. If, for example, a customer wants to send money to a friend, both people have to bank with institutions that offer FedNow services.

WHAT ARE SOME SCENARIOS WHERE I CAN USE FEDNOW?

Given the speed of transactions, this service can be beneficial for customers in many ways.

Here are some examples:

— If your employer sends your paycheck through FedNow, the paycheck will be able to clear in seconds rather than days.

— If you forgot to pay your rent until the last minute, you will be able to send the money late at night without waiting to have it cleared the next business day.

WHEN WILL FEDNOW BE AVAILABLE TO ME?

FedNow is now live but it might take months or years for customers to be able to use this service, it all depends on when your bank makes it available.

WILL MY PRIVACY BE PROTECTED WITH FEDNOW?

The Federal Reserve and the FedNow service cannot access people’s bank accounts and it doesn’t have the authority for additional surveillance, according to Fed officials.

WILL FEDNOW REPLACE VENMO, PAYPAY OR OTHER SERVICES?

There are key differences between the FedNow service and apps such as Venmo and PayPal. FedNow is a service offered directly to banks and not to customers, which means FedNow does not have an app or website where customers will be able to send money to each other.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FEDNOW AND ZELLE?

AND ZELLE?

While both FedNow and Zelle allow customers to make online transactions, there are some key differences. Zelle is a private app that works with some financial institutions while FedNow is backed by the Federal Reserve and is envisioned to be adopted by the majority of banks in the country.

Zelle lets you send and receive money instantly but the money might not be available for customers until days after the transaction. With FedNow, the Fed says the money will be available within seconds. Zelle has a customer-facing platform that allows customers to send money through their app while FedNow will not directly interact with customers but rather offer the services to banks.

WILL FEDNOW REPLACE CASH?

Fed officials have stressed FedNow is unrelated to the notion of a government-run digital currency, which social media users also falsely claim would lead to the elimination of cash.

“The Federal Reserve has made no decision on issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) & would not do so without clear support from Congress and executive branch, ideally in the form of a specific authorizing law,” the agency wrote in a series of tweets in April “A CBDC would not replace cash or other payment options.”

IOCUSA Leaders Interact With K. Raju, National Coordinator- SC, ST, OBC And Minority Department Of AICC

IOCUSA leaders met with Shri. K. Raju, who is the National Coordinator of the Indian National Congress for SC/ST/OBC and Minority Affairs and exchanged views on how to improve the messaging to the Diaspora while increasing the reach of the organization. Mr. Raju, formerly an IAS officer, resigned from service in 2013 to join the Congress party. Prior to his resignation from service, he served as Additional Secretary, Govt of India at the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Smt. Sonia Gandhi.

IOCUSA team headed by President Mr. Mohinder Singh Gilzian and Vice-Chair George Abraham briefed him on the activities of the IOCUSA and assured him of our support and commitment as the Congress party is at the forefront of fighting for the cause of the common man. The meeting also assessed the deteriorating situation in India as regards democracy and religious freedom.

Raju applauded the grand reception organized for Rahul Gandhi and said, “Rahul Gandhi spoke to the Diaspora from the depths of his heart.” He also urged the Diaspora to make use of the technologies available to counter the false messaging and propaganda emanating from the BJP circles.

Phuman Singh, Chairman, Punjab Chapter, Rajeswar Reddy Gangasani, President, Telangana Chapter, Sharath Chandra and  Baldev Randhawa also participated in the discussions.

Comedian Rajiv Satyal Set to Tape Hollywood Special

(Los Angeles, CA) International veteran comedian Rajiv Satyal is recording his long-anticipated full-length standup special.  It’s taking place at The Bourbon Room in Hollywood on Thursday, July 27.

Satyal’s 2-min video, I AM INDIAN, has been viewed over 100 million times across online platforms.  The video was used to introduce Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Shanghai and in Dubai.  Satyal emceed Modi’s 2015 speech in San Jose in front of 17,000 people.

The Burbank-based comedian has been busy hosting his online talk show, What Do You Bring to the Table?  Between that and his red carpet interviews, he has chatted 1:1 with Deepak Chopra, Malala Yousafzai, Marisa Tomei, Paul Reiser, Hasan Minhaj, Lilly Singh, Kumail Nanjiani, Matt Walsh, and Danny Pudi.

In 2009, Satyal was the first person to perform an hour of standup comedy anywhere in India.  He has now performed in 11 states across India.  Satyal is the only person ever to perform standup comedy on all seven continents.

In fact, Satyal has interviewed more high-profile South Asian American celebrities than anyone and has done a lot of work in the South Asian community, hosting many charity events for Pratham, the Hindu American Foundation, and 23 events for Akshaya Patra.

For a year, he has brought the community together with his monthly Entertainment Meet-Ups that assemble creatives and businesspeople in the Industry.

Satyal’s team is confident in their plan to submit this 75-min set to streamers NetflixAmazon, and Max.  After all, in May, Satyal filmed a special for Dry Bar Comedy, one of the hottest outlets in standup.

Because Satyal has worked in offices, in cubicles, on factory floors, on TV sets, and on stages, he possesses a deep understanding of everything from current events to history to social justice issues to leadership to romantic relationships.  It’s like he’s got a permanent 5-TB hard drive wired to his head.

Satyal tapped his vast network and enlisted 35 of his closest friends (including Russell Peters, Maz Jobrani, et al) to help him assemble a 90-sec promo video.

Two of LA’s hottest DJs will spin before and after Satyal’s set to keep the event moving.  Satyal elaborated, “Post-pandy… OK, in non-Zoomer language:  after the pandemic, it seems like the right time.  Dress up:  you might end up on camera.  It’s gonna be a party.  It’s about relieving and reliving.

This allows parents responsible for kids at home to relieve their babysitters and allows non-parents to relive their college years by raging on a Thursday.  Well, irresponsible parents, too. Like me.  What I bring to the table is that, once you walk out of the room — hopefully at the end of the show and not in the middle — you feel like you really got to know me.”

Still a few tickets left.  Get yours now before they run out.

  • Rajiv Satyal will perform “Let Me Be Clear” at The Bourbon Room.
  • Location:  Near Hollywood and Vine.  6356 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028.  
  • One night only:  Thursday, July 27, 2023.  
  • Doors at 7:00 PM, Showtime at 8:00 PM.  DJ at 10:00 PM.  
  • Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.  
  • Venue is 21+.  
  • All info/tickets:  com.
  • All assets are here on Dropbox.
  • Additional info and pics at com/bio

Over 150 US Senators and Representatives Expected at ITServe Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day on July 18th-19th, 2023

(Washington, DC — July 6, 2023) “Following the success of our virtual Capitol Hill events in 2021 and 2022, ITServe Alliance is excited to host its first-ever in-person Capitol Hill Day in Washington, DC on July 18th-19th, 20023,” said Siva Moopanar, Director of ITServe Alliance Policy Advocacy Committee (PAC). “The conference will have participation by over 150 US Representatives and Senators, including influential committee chairs and members, whose decisions impact our businesses.”

Established a year ago, ITServe Connected PAC’s major goal has been to educate lawmakers and the greater community, using digital and traditional methods on the benefits of the H1-B program and eliminate misconceptions by meeting, collaborating, and lobbying with Congressmen and Senators to work together to help write and amend laws that are favorable to our members’ business interests.

ITServe Alliance has been consistently working to protect the needs of its members,” said Sateesh R. Nagilla, Connected PAC Board Chair. To that end, ITServe Alliance has been Lobbying with the Lawmakers on behalf of its members on Capitol Hill and with the US Administration.  Capitol Day will be the perfect way for ITServe Alliance to use its collective voice to communicate with policymakers on the issues that are important to our members.

According to the organizers, a Congressional Reception is planned to be held on July 18th from 5 pm to 7 pm. The daylong event on July 19th from 9 am to 5 pm will feature Capitol Hill Meetings with interactive sessions with US Congressmen and Senators.

A major objective of Capitol Hill Day is to showcase to the lawmakers some of the significant contributions of the ITServe members to the country’s economy through Technology & Innovation, local employment, and STEM education. The event will also address key concerns faced by small businesses, including high-skilled immigration reform.

Stressing the need for and importance of ITServe, Vinay Mahajan, President of ITServe said, “ITServe Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day will serve as a powerful platform in educating policymakers on the issues that are important to our members and the business community, ensuring our needs and views are reflected in policy debates and outcomes.”

ITServe’s vision has been to empower local communities by creating, retaining, and fostering employment opportunities within the United States. Moreover, ITServe is committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and actively contributes to local communities nationwide, particularly in the realm of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.

Among the several initiatives, ITserve has supported the HIRE ACT Bill (High Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment), introduced in Congress in December 2022. Innovation, STEM education, and avoiding brain drain are the highlights of the Bill. It has advocated to have the STEM graduates with U.S master’s Degrees and/or Ph.D. holders from the H1-B CAP quota removed and make it unlimited to retain the top talent & innovation in the Country.”

Another area, where ITServe has focused is the STEM Program to promote the “American Ingenuity Account” to fund State-administered grants for STEM education and worker training.  Enhancing the current H1-B CAP limits – from   65,000 to 130,000 per year has been a major area where ITServe has placed its efforts in the past years.

Urging ITServe members to be active and work collaboratively in making this important event successful, Vinod Babu Uppu, ITServe Governing Board Chair said, “It’s our collective voice. I call upon every member to be part of this important event, advocate for ITServe, and make our voices heard in the corridors of power. Also, if you have a relationship with a member of Congress or their staff, please enter that information too.  Through your help we will be able to accomplish our goals through grassroots and advocacy.”

Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect of ITServe, while summarizing the importance of Capitol Hill Day said, “ITServe Alliance is consistently working to protect its members’ needs. To that end, ITServe Alliance, through its PAC team, is advocating on Capitol Hill and with the Administration.  ITServe Alliance will use its collective voice to communicate with policymakers on important issues to its members.”

ITServe Alliance comprises of small and medium-sized businesses that fulfill the growing demand for highly skilled professionals in America. Its members play a crucial role in developing and maintaining essential IT systems for corporations, governments, and various organizations. For information on ITServe and its many noble initiatives, please visit: www.itserve.org

Rep. Shri Thanedar Co-Sponsors Bill To Eliminate Visa Backlogs, Advocates For Merit-Based Immigration

Indian-American Congressman Shri Thanedar has announced his co-sponsorship of the to address the long-standing Green Card backlog and create a merit-based immigration system. The bill, introduced by Congressman Larry Bucshon and Raja Krishnamoorthi, seeks to recapture unused employment-based Green Cards and exempt them from per-country caps. With an estimated 1.6 million individuals in the employment-based Green Card backlog, the bill aims to alleviate hardships for skilled workers, including many Indians, while meeting the demand for immigrants in American businesses.

“Proud to co-sponsor the H.R. 1535 Eliminating Backlogs Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation which increases employment-based immigration visas. Immigration needs to be merit-based, not dictated by arbitrary caps,” Thanedar tweeted on Thursday.

The Congressman had earlier said that the long Green Card backlog is creating hardships for skilled workers, including Indians, at a time when American businesses need more immigrants.

According to estimates, there are only six available workers for every 10 job openings in the US.

The bill, introduced by Congressmen Larry Bucshon and Raja Krishnamoorthi on March 10, would recapture the unused employment-based Green Cards accumulated over the past three decades, going back to 1992 when the current Green Card allotment system took effect.

Unused Green Cards are the ones left unissued due to bureaucratic delays and slow USCIS processing.

In addition, the bill would exempt these recaptured Green Cards from the 7 per cent per-country cap.

As a consequence of numerical limits, per-country caps, and administrative delays, the employment-based Green Card backlog reached 1.6 million by the end of Fiscal Year 2022, according to National Immigration Forum.

The US sets aside 140,000 employment-based green cards for skilled, unskilled, and professional workers from all around the world every year.

In addition to the numerical limit, Congress has put a limit on the maximum number of Green Cards that can be allocated to nationals of a particular country.

As per the existing federal law, individuals from any one country cannot be issued more than 7 per cent of the total number of Green Cards each year.

The existence of these per-country caps means that individuals from countries with high numbers of Green Card applicants, such as India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines, face backlogs lasting years or even decades.

I Lived As A Monk And Studied Zen For 20 Years—Here’s The No. 1 Thing People Miss When They Talk About Happiness

Many of us are taught to believe that we need to be in perfect control of our lives in order to be successful or accepted. But that mindset made me unhappy for years.

Growing up nonbinary, I spent a lot of time escaping to an imaginary world where I controlled everything, including what other people thought of me. I constantly chased this idea that if I could just get that boyfriend, that job, or that money and acclaim, I could finally relax and be happy.

To break this toxic mental habit, I did something drastic: I moved to the woods and lived amongst a community of Buddhists, and have since spent 20 years studying Zen Buddhism.

At the monastery, I learned a valuable lesson about happiness that people often overlook: We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we treat ourselves. Allowing ourselves to feel happy, no matter what our life looks like, is the key to real happiness.

Why struggling for control won’t make you happier

When you hold on to the need for control, you start to feel responsible for all outcomes of your life. But can you really control what people think of you, or who does or doesn’t give you a chance, or who you’ll date, or where you’ll get a job?

You might have some say in these things, but so much of life is unpredictable — and that’s part of what makes it beautiful. Unpredictability connects us all.

Another problem with the need to control is that it makes you constantly chase after a life you aren’t living, making it hard to appreciate the one you already have.

For example, right now, you might be worried about about finding the perfect partner. In a few years, it might be finding the perfect job.

How to let go of the desire to control

If you free yourself from the need to control everything, you can experience more happiness and gratitude in the present.

Here are some ways to get started:

1. Stop and reflect.

Think about all the ways you’re focusing on an imaginary future instead of the present.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you sometimes let your need to control the future get in the way of you enjoying the present moment? When do you tend to do that, and why?
  • It is essential to honor your dreams, but how can you put some of that energy into the most important things in your life today?
  • What can you be grateful for right now?

2. Redefine unrealistic expectations you set for yourself.

Find that voice in your head that keeps reminding you of the need for control. Tell that voice, in no uncertain terms, that you are not living to impress it.

Can you imagine living a life where that inner voice is irrelevant? Instead, can you direct that energy towards something that will give you a sense of joy or peace?

3. Allow yourself to be happy in the present moment.

Close your eyes, take three slow breaths, and give yourself permission to feel happy.

If you find yourself struggling, think about why that is. I’ve found that when people think about giving up control and letting life guide them, fear can get in their way.

There will always be stressful situations that need your attention, like taking care of the people in your life. But you can let happiness in by shifting your focus from future-oriented fears to the present.

You deserve to roll with the life you’ve got. You deserve to flow with the unexpected and not “have it all together.”

(Jeffrey Marsh is one of the world’s foremost commentators on nonbinary identity and activism. His short-form videos have garnered over one billion views. Jeffrey’s ”How to Be You″ was the first nonbinary memoir, and he is the first nonbinary author to sign a book deal with any “Big 5″ publisher worldwide. His  latest book, ”Take Your Own Advice,” is out now.)

In “A Choice Of Love,” Dr. Vijay Koli Takes Readers On A Poignant Journey Through The Life Of An Immigrant Girl Caught Between Two Contrasting Worlds

In “A Choice of Love,” a debut fiction, released around the world on major media platforms, Dr. Vijay Koli, a retired physician by profession takes the readers on a poignant journey through the life of an immigrant girl caught between two contrasting worlds. Set against the backdrop of orthodox Indian Tambram (Chennai, India) culture and the allure of the Western world, the protagonist grapples with the conflicting values of her upbringing and the freedom offered by her adoptive country.

Vijay N. Koli, a retired primary care physician and the author of the fiction says, “This is about the children of immigrant families going through trials and tribulations integrating into another culture.”

Avanti, the protagonist, emigrates to America as a teenager as her father aspires to greener pastures. She grew up in a world of unquestioning obedience. A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, she excels as an accountant.

Karthik, another character in the book, is a physician in training for Cardiology. He is an amicable guy, who is adored by his community for his helping nature to other kids. Born and brought up in America, he is a product of the American culture. Sameer, the other character in the fiction is a businessman, who, despite spending his formative years in New York, enjoys only the Indian way of life.

The fiction begins with how the protagonist’s parents get married. Her mother insists that she pursue Bharatanatyam, while her father is focused on her studies. As a teenager, she is exposed to dating and meets individuals with various backgrounds. The crucial moment comes when she has to choose between someone chosen by her family and the love of her life.

With a tender exploration of identity and the complexities of belonging, the author masterfully portrays the inner turmoil faced by the protagonist as she navigates the path to self-discovery. In this heartfelt tale, the author poses the age-old question: What does it truly mean to make the right choice?

Elaborating the objective of writing such a fiction, Dr. Koli says, Many come to America—A land of opportunities to fulfill their dreams. America is at its best as anyone can apply the ‘can-do’ spirit. “The protagonist in the novel is floated between home and the outside world, suppressing her feelings. Away from home, her behavior was congruent with the locals, influenced by her peers. Deep inside, she was a proud Indian who cherished South Indian Tambram culture.”

According to Dr. Koli, “It may appeal to the Indian diaspora, who can relate to it. It may intrigue young adults in India and abroad as the story spans three generations. It is a contemporary romance fiction.”

A CHOICE OF LOVE is a novel looking into the troubled life of an immigrant girl who faces two different cultures: orthodox Indian culture vs. the Western. She is raised in the authoritarian Tambram family in Tamil Nadu. She emigrates to America in her early teens. Her family values clash with that of her adoptive country. She represents a typical immigrant child navigating the trials and tribulations of daily American life. Trying to find her niche, she faces the dilemma of making the right choice for her life partner.

Dr. Koli, who enjoys traveling, reading, speaking, and volunteering, while speaking about future plans and any more books in the making, says: “Yes. My next book with be ‘A DAY ON THE TRAIN TO NOWHERE.’ It is a compilation of short 4-5 stories. The travelers in the train  share their personal experiences only to find a common thread connecting their lives. It will be published in 2024.” .

Dr. Koli, who was born and raised in Mumbai, India, got his medical degree in Russia, and completed his residency in England and Scotland before settling in the United States. He led several medical organizations throughout his career, notably as the President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

Dr. Koli lives with his retired physician wife in San Antonio, TX.  He has performed with his wife folk Danes of India in various countries for three decades. In his younger days he played tabla for the local and visiting artists. He has two children; Anuradha, an executive in Gensler, an International Architecture firm, and Abhijeet, a cardiologist married to a child psychiatrist. He is blessed with two adorable grandchildren.

India-US Partnership Is The Biggest Success Story Of Mutually Beneficial Collaboration: Dr. Sampat Shivangi

“India-US Partnership is the biggest success story of mutually beneficial collaboration of the two great nations, the United States and India, especially in the backdrop of falling relations between the US and China,” said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, a physician, an influential Indian American community leader, and a veteran leader of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

The world order has changed since the Ukraine war, said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, National President of Indian American Forum and the Legislative Committee Chairman of AAPI, after he had attended the Luncheon hosted by the Vice President Kamala Harris in honor of the visiting Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi on Friday, June 23rd, 20203.

Describing how the growing friendship between the greatest and the largest democracies of the world is mutually beneficial to both nations, Dr. Shivangi said, “The US needs a democratic giant cabot. It cannot find a better nation than India, the fifth largest economy and aspiring to be the third largest economy, as ben stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his historical address to the US Congress last week.”

Dr. Shivangi pointed out the way, President Biden, who was very much aware of negative propaganda against India regarding its treatment of the minorities, did not seem to have raised the issue with the Indian Prime Minister during their meetings in Washington. While Mr. Modi unequivocally defended India’s democratic values and the equal rights accorded to all of its citizens, President Biden “stood solidly behind India and signed historic treaties that include collaborative efforts to produce jet engines for fighter planes in collaboration with GE and HAL, a warning sign to China after a post-QUAD understanding.”

Dr. Shivangi justified President Biden calling China’s President a dictator immediately after the US Secretary of State returned home after so-called successful bilateral meetings between Blinken and his counter parts in Chiba.

Lauding the great achievements and contributions of the powerful Indian American community, Dr. Shivangi said, “They are reciprocal in supporting the several Treaties India and the US signed. The presence of the thousands of Indian Americans at the White House lawns was a testament to the strength and its support in developing newer and stronger ties between the two greatest democracies of our times. US government was quick to assess and make efforts to strengthen such a phenomenal transformation of relations.”

“In a changing world order, post-Ukraine invasion, India and Indian Americans explore the possibility of reduction in defense supplies from Russia to India a steady friend and partner of India for many decades,” the veteran AAPI leader told this writer. Between 2016 and 2020, India accounted for nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of Russia’s total arms exports and Russia accounted for roughly half (49 per cent) of Indian imports, the CRS report said.

With India being in a tough neighborhood, Dr. Shivangi pointed out how Russia is unable to provide for the Indian defense requirements. “In this context, a treaty signed between India and the US to supply drones and Jet engine production in India is a great way to move forward and the Indian diaspora welcomes it with open arms.”

A conservative lifelong member of the Republican Party, Dr. Shivangi is the founding member of the Republican Indian National Council. Over the past three decades, he has lobbied for several Bills in the US Congress on behalf of India through his enormous contacts with US Senators and Congressmen.

A close friend to the Bush family, he was instrumental in lobbying for the first Diwali celebration in the White House and for President George W. Bush to make his trip to India. He had accompanied President Bill Clinton during his historic visit to India. Dr. Shivangi is Dr. Shivangi has worked enthusiastically in promoting India Civil Nuclear Treaty and recently the US India Defense Treaty that was passed in US Congress and signed by President Obama.

Dr. Shivangi has actively involved in several philanthropic activities, serving with Blind foundation of MS, Diabetic, Cancer and Heart Associations of America. Dr. Shivangi has initiated a number of philanthropic works in India including Primary & middle schools, Cultural Center, IMA Centers that he opened and helped to obtains the first-ever US Congressional grant to AAPI to study Diabetes Mellitus amongst Indian Americans.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas Sanman Award in 2016 in Bengaluru by the Hon. President of India, Shri Pranap Mukhejee. He was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New York in 2008. He is married to Dr. Udaya S. Shivangi, MD, and the couple are blessed with two daughters: Priya S. Shivangi, MS (NYU); Pooja S. Shivangi who is an Attorney at Law.

AAPI Welcomes Prime Minister Modiji to the US

“We proudly and heartily welcome the historical state visit by the Honorable Sri Narendra Modi ji, Prime Minister of the Republic of India to the United States and to the White House hosted by President Biden and First Lady Mrs. Jill Biden,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President and Dr. Vishweshwar Ranga, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Association of Physicians Of Indian Origin (AAPI) in a joint statement issued here.

Describing the meeting of leaders of the “two powerful and responsible democracies of the world joining together for global peace and prosperity as the greatest success story of our times,” the AAPI leadership called the Indo-US relationship as being “founded on eternal values and noble vision that honors human freedom, dignity and harmony and respect for all diverse cultures and civilizations.”

Pointing to how “India has contributed mightily throughout the millennia to the wisdom and knowledge of humanity and civilization and embraced multitudes of diverse cultures historically providing haven and inclusion for peaceful assimilation constituting the unique nation of Bharat that is India,” the statement said, “India has been the champion and leader of freedom, democracy, responsible and fair development of the global population. India has continuously succeeded defying many negative attitudes and flawed judgments and is now a global leader using its power and influence responsibly and wisely. It is living up to the adage that with great power comes great responsibility.”

While maintaining cherished values of inclusion, freedoms, rule of law, acceptance, and tolerance of diverse opinions and visions, India relentlessly pursued self-reliance proudly in all economic and development spheres of activities such as education, healthcare, technology, infrastructure, transportation, environmental stewardship, women’s and indigent welfare, India has accomplished a cultural and spiritual renaissance and emergence on the world stage being a positive influence and guidance to young minds yearning for deeper meaning and purpose of life, AAPI pointed out.


“India continues to be the greatest wellspring of human resources in every field of science, technologies, and arts and humanities enriching the entire world,” the statement said.

Highlighting how the Indian Diaspora has been the proud ambassadors of our motherland wherever and whenever the need has risen, AAPI emphasized the fact that “We participate peacefully and prominently in all our civic, social, and community responsibilities with dignity and honor befitting our heritage and roots.”

India’s accomplishments in the 75 years of her Independence is nothing but “most stunningly remarkable while preserving and protecting our democracy and constitutional republic,” AAPI said.

In 1947, the life expectancy of an average Indian citizen was around 32 years, and it has increased to 70.19 years in 2022, which is over a 100 percent increase (life expectancy is one of the most important and most used indicators for human development). In the 1940s, the Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) was 2000/100,000 live births, MMR has declined to 103 in 2017-19. Regarding medical education there are now 612 medical colleges in India as compared to 28 in the 1950s with over 92,000 seats. In 1951, India had only 50,000 doctors for a total population of 360 million population. The number of doctors today has reached nearly 1.2 million for a population of 1.3 billion almost reaching the WHO targeted doctor-patient ratio.

referring to some of the major initiatives of AAPI benefitting their motherland, India, the statement stated, AAPI also has been championing the TB elimination campaign in India for many years through its CETI initiative and planning to join hands Ni-Akshay Mitra Initiative officially soon. AAPI has been doing Adopt a Village preventive health screening in the past year in 75 villages in India to commemorate the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and has completed screening over 10,000 rural citizens in over 62 villages so far.

American Association of Physicians of India origin AAPI has formed 41 years ago and is now the largest ethnic medical organization in the USA representing more than120,000 medicals professional in the USA and is deeply engaged in medical education in India through its mentorship activities with medical students in India and annual Global Healthcare Summit program bring together medical experts and academicians from the USA and India to interact with medical students and postgraduates in India with educational seminars and workshops at the summit.

“At AAP, we continue to engage in serving our motherland and feel proud of India’s progress under the able and noble, resolute and responsive leadership of Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi ji,” Dr. Kolli and Dr. Ranga added.

More than 70 US lawmakers urge Biden to raise ‘areas of concerns’ with Modi

Yashwant Raj (IANS)–

More than 70 Democratic members of the US Congress on Tuesday urged President Joe Biden in a joint letter to raise “areas of concern” in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

President Biden and Prime Minister Modi are scheduled to hold a private meeting on Wednesday night, followed by further meetings.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Modi at a state dinner later on Thursday.

“As longtime supporters of a strong US-India relationship, we also believe that friends can and should discuss their differences in an honest and forthright way,” the lawmakers said in the letter, adding, “That is why we respectfully request that — in addition to the many areas of shared interests between India and the US — you also raise directly with Prime Minister Modi the areas of concern.”

They added: “Credible reports reflect troubling signs in India toward the shrinking of political space, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organisations and journalists, and growing restrictions on press freedom and internet access.”

The joint letter was led by Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-American leader of the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives, and Senator Chris Van Hollen, who went to school in India for a few years.

They were joined among others by Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin; and Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Grace Meng, Elissa Slotkin, Seth Moulton, Linda Sanchez and Maxwell Frost.

The lawmakers also cited US reports to underscore their concerns.

“The State Department’s 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in India documents the tightening of political rights and expression. Similarly, the State Department’s 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom in India details the worrisome increase in religious intolerance towards minorities and religiously motivated violence by both private and state actors.”

They further cited Reporters Without Borders to say that “India, a country that has been known in the past for its vibrant and independent press, has fallen significantly in the rankings for press freedom”.

They added, Access Now, which tracks curbs on internet access, rates India as first in terms of the most internet shutdowns for the fifth year in a row.

The lawmakers welcomed Prime Minister Moi’s visit and wrote, “We want a close and warm relationship between the people of the United States and the people of India. We want that friendship to be built not only on our many shared interests, but also on shared values.”

They also made clear, perhaps in view of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent visit to the US, “We do not endorse any particular Indian leader or political party – that is the decision of the people of India – but we do stand in support of the important principles that should be a core part of American foreign policy.”

The lawmakers urged Biden that “during your meeting with Prime Minister Modi, you discuss the full range of issues important to a successful, strong, and long-term relationship between two great countries”.

The Incredible “Everyday Elite” Runners of India

Season 2: Episode 1 Everyday Elite: Deepak Chhillar

There are many Iconic runners who inspire so many of us to take sports seriously. As we kick-off Season 2 of our Incredible” Everyday Elite” runners of India, join us on a wonderful journey as we dive deeper into the stories that give us such profound insights. It is with great pride that we open our Second season with the iconic and charming runner, Deepak Chhillar. Having started his running journey and serious training under the capable Asian Champion Sunita Godara he calls himself a ‘lifestyle runner’ who enjoys running. He believes that age is just a number and anyone can unlock their athletic prowess with disciplined training and hard work.

“Running is the best gift that I have received because it has changed my lifestyle, and I feel great about it,” says Deepak Chhillar who works as a Business Manager in a pharmaceutical company in Delhi, live in Bahadurgarh, Haryana.

Founder of Bahadurgarh Runners Group (BRG). Although Deepak had been active in sports since his school and college days, his physical activities took a backseat as his professional life took over. Soon, amidst all responsibilities and professional commitments, his routine started getting monotonous, and that is when he decided to start running. Life has never been the same after he took the decision. It’s more than six years since he has started running and Deepak has never looked back. At the helm of the famous Bahadurgarh Runners group BRG, he is a much-beloved icon spreading awareness about fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Within his running group, he is known as a ‘Mentor de Fitness’ AKA ‘Pacer Baba’ mentoring newbies and helping them attempt maiden first half and full Marathons and guiding many others to break their personal records. As an Everyday Elite, he shows with each running challenge that with a calm state of mind one can guide the entire focus of the body to help achieve any desired goal. Always leading by example and shining a beacon light on Amazing bucket list runs you won’t hear him ever complain about the pain that was endured or the blistered feet.

His athletic journey can safely be coined as new paradigm for superior sports performance within the running community. Not only does this focussed mindset help him finish each run in the most extraordinary fashion but also he also gains acute insight into the areas that he would need to improve upon on his next running endevour. Above every other quality mentioned, Deepak exudes humility and his positive candour leaves an instant inspiring effect on any fellow runner. A hardworking and “All in” runner he is relentless and displays daily his lifelong dedication to perfecting his training. As an Everyday Elite he is acutely aware of the importance of building strong relationships with like-minded people and folks who have his back. His eyes would light up with enthusiasm and delight while talking about his many amazing running shenanigans. He says running has helped him become fitter both mentally as well as physically and says it keeps him more active and enthusiastic throughout the day. His social circle has also become bigger and better, and he finds himself among a passionate and athletic group.

      

  

Deepak has participated in many events across all over India, HMs, FMs, Ultra runs including two 12-hour Stadium runs and 24-hour marathons events under the prestigious Tuffman and NEB banners. With each marathon event, we can see the incredible determination in each step “As he eyes crossing the finish line in his own unique extraordinary fashion”. He has conquered various 100km runs including some high-profile marathon challenges like the 300km Hell Race Challenge 2020, and 200km Sher-Punjab Title 2020. The memorable Noida ultra 65km run and the triumphant 70km at the Trail-a-thon.
As an Everyday Elite has an inane sense of overcoming odds with just a little bit of shift in his mental self talk even when in the brink of losing. He is the face of many Marathon and Running challenges across the country especially the most popular 100 days  of running. Deepak agrees that these Challenges played an important role in turning him into a more disciplined runner. He was the Flag Marshal at  Vandematram Run on 26 January 2020  and the Torch bearer at the Faridabad Half Marathon 16 Feb 2020.

Deepak is also popular and much loved as a Pacer and Ambassador of various prestigious marathon events in not only New Delhi but cities all over the country. He is the face of many running event in myriad cities like Jaipur, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Mohali, Kota, Manesar, Gwalior, Bairach, Noida, Indirapuram, Dehradun, Lucknow. As an  Everyday Elite, he knows that not one day is an easy or rest day, each day has to be approached with a daily commitment to be the best version of his fit self. Most of the times these runs are easy for him and the finish lines just seems to gravitate into his hands easily, all thanks to his consistent training. However, that simplicity and ease in training does not make him change his approach to viewing each training day and each event as chance to perform his very best.While way too many athletes give up their goals after they fail a few times our “Everyday Elites” wins their battles each and every time in his mind much before they even land their first step on the track.Personal goals apart he feels that pacing at various events and helping achieve their personal best is hugely gratifying for him. He believes that even if one person is motivated to give the best of themselves in his pacing bus, it is enough satisfaction for him as a pacer. Till date, he says that he feels the most elated and satisfied after his pacing assignments. He feels that pacing is not just about finishing on time, he also acts as a live clock to help runners. He has been aptly named “Pacer Baba”
and is beloved within the running community.

   

An Everyday Athlete is not afraid to fail and Deepak understands that nothing will happen if one does not get out there and try again. With his pacing support, he leans in on this insight and
helps his fellow runners. He is aware that it is the blood and sweat that has made his determination and zeal shine through. He has always been aware of success that waiting for him at each of his finish lines. Right there, lies the true superpower that makes Deepak our incredible “Everyday Elite”. He famously quotes” Not everyone can run, and those who do, not everyone can pace. So if you are a PACER, THEN ZINDA HO TUM”

 

 

 

Running for Deepak is a complete package which includes a healthy lifestyle, disciplined routine, and confidence demeanour.” With his stress under control, he claims running has trained him to live a life free of procrastination and manage time better. Rather than calling himself a “Run Addict”, Deepak would prefer to say that running has now become a wonderful “Habit”. As a phenomenal athlete, Deepak’s prowess is a unique combination of fundamental soundness in running form, speed, power, and unquenchable competitive desire. Deepak not only clocks admirable
mileage weekly but his characteristic charm and personality has earned him the title of one of the most affable and approachable Mentors. His honesty, humility, and smiling countenance as he slays each of his running goals makes his legacy complete, a runners life, filled with hardwork, success, and limitless possibilities.

12th Annual U.S. Congressional Awards Gala Celebrates Global Community Heroes

The the highly anticipated 12th Annual U.S. Congressional Awards Gala, an extraordinary event that honors the remarkable achievements of individuals who have made a significant difference in our world, anchored by the esteemed U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis will be held on June 18th. This year’s gala promises to be an unforgettable evening filled with celebration, inspiration, and recognition.

This Annual U.S. Congressional Awards Gala is popularly known as the Global Community Oscars hosted by the American Multi Ethnic Coalition (AMEC) and the 7th Congressional Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force (MEATF), will take place on Saturday, June 17, 2023, at the Yellow Box, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, IL 60540, USA from 6.00PM. This event has gained international recognition and will be telecast live across 32 countries, reaching a vast audience around the globe.

U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th CD-IL), renowned for his outstanding leadership and commitment to public service, will serve as the anchor for the 12th Annual U.S. Congressional Awards Gala. Joining him as co-anchors are U.S Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (8th CD-IL) and U.S. Congressman Jonathan Jackson (1st CD-IL), whose dedication to community empowerment has been instrumental in shaping positive change. Moreover, Dr. Vijay G. Prabhakar, the President of AMEC and the Founder of MEATF, will be present to add his invaluable insights to the proceedings.

This prestigious awards ceremony will feature 32 categories that pay tribute to individuals who have exemplified exceptional leadership, passion, and dedication in various fields. From championing social causes to spearheading educational reforms, these individuals have leveraged their influence to bring about transformative change and empower communities worldwide.

The 11th Annual U.S. Congressional Awards Gala was an immense success, attracting over 1,200 distinguished guests. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the press and media for their unwavering support, which played a pivotal role in the event’s resounding triumph. As we gear up for the 12th edition, we kindly request your continued cooperation in covering this year’s gala to ensure its resounding success.

Diwali Is Now A Public School Holiday In NYC

The New York state legislature has passed a bill to make Diwali a school holiday in the city. Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar introducing the bill said, “It is long past time to honour” the “vibrant cultural heritage” of the South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist communities by making Diwali a School Holiday.

Both the Senate and the Assembly voted the bill before they ended their session early Saturday morning, June 10, 2023, and it now goes to Governor Kathy Hochul for her expected signature to make it law.

An estimated 200,000 students from these communities will be able to celebrate the Festival of Lights in their own way, free of school.

“As the first Hindu-American and South Asian-American woman elected to state office in New York, I take special pride in advocating for new American communities, including those that celebrate Diwali,” Rajkumar said.

Two earlier attempts to pass the legislation in 2021 and 2022 did not succeed.

The bill overcame a last-minute hurdle after the bill’s sponsors, Rajkumar and State Senator Joseph Adabo dropped a proposal to have Diwali replace the Brooklyn-Queens Day holiday and leave it to the discretion of the city.

Diwali may instead replace an obscure holiday, Anniversary Day, to maintain the required 180 days of class required every year.

In February, New York City Council passed a resolution proposed by Councilwoman Linda Lee to make Diwali a school holiday, but it needed state-level approval.

New York Mayor Eric Adams has supported the legislation, unlike his predecessors, as has Schools Chancellor David Banks.

The New York Legislature also passed a bill to make the Lunar New Year a state-wide school holiday.

Grace Meng, a member of the US House of Representatives, who has introduced a bill to make Diwali a federal holiday, said, “The New York State Legislature’s approval of these two measures is a wonderful reminder and celebration of the great diversity that exists in our state, and underscores how this diversity should be reflected in the holidays observed by our residents”.

In an earlier acknowledgement of the significance of Diwali, New York City suspended in 2006 a parking regulation for Diwali, putting it on par with other religious holidays.

The City Council voted to override a veto by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to add the Festival of Lights to the list.

Suspension of the regulation against parking on a certain side of the roads on certain days is to ensure that those celebrating the holiday do not have to move their vehicles amid the festivities.

Extracts from statements made by NY and NYC leaders on passage of the Diwali school holiday for Big Apple public schools :

New York City Mayor Eric Adams: It is long overdue to say to our Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist students and communities that, we see you, we acknowledge you. The inclusiveness of this city is extremely significant and this is our opportunity to say that in a loud way. So I thank you Assemblywoman for your tenacity, your vision, your determination. … As the largest school system in the country, New York City schools’ designation of a Diwali holiday will set an example for districts nationwide.

NY Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar: For over 2 decades, the South Asian and Indo-Carribean community has fought for this moment. And tonight I say to you– Nothing can stop a community whose time has come.  … Tonight we proudly say that Diwali is not just a holiday—it is an American holiday.  And that the South Asian community is part of the American story.

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein said : I would like to commend, congratulate and thank the sponsor [Assemblywoman Rajkumar] for all her hard work on getting this passed. This was an uphill climb from the beginning, but through sheer force of will you’ve brought us to this moment.

Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman said, To the populations in Queens—especially, particularly Jamaica, Queens where I represent—I am thankful that these children…will be able to be celebrating in this great diverse City and State.

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party: I want to congratulate the sponsor [Assemblywoman Rajkumar]. She worked so hard, she hustled, and she got this through. So congratulations to you. Congratulations to all of us in making this a historic moment.”

Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky : The population of South Asians in Westchester County has grown a great deal in recent years. One of our school districts, the Ardsley School District, recently made Diwali a holiday for those students, and I suspect that it won’t be long before Diwali…will become statewide.”

Assemblyman Anil Beephansaid, “I stand here today, not only as an Assemblyman, but as someone who has personally celebrated Diwali as a child. With the passage of A7769, New York has taken a monumental step towards inclusivity and cultural recognition. As a former Hindu, I vividly remember the feeling of being overlooked, wondering why the holidays my family cherished were not acknowledged. Today, I proudly embrace my heritage and the Hindu and Sikh communities I represent.

Senator Joseph Addabbo, the bill’s Senate sponsor: I am thankful for my colleagues in the Senate who supported the passage of my bill (S7475) designating Diwali a school holiday in New York City before the Senate legislative session ended. … I admire the significance of Diwali, to show how light can overpower darkness, good can overcome evil, a message celebrating positivity and encouragement. (Courtesy: Desi Talk)

WHO AM I ?? WHAT AM I ??

“So I am a beef-eating Hindu Brahmin, married to a South African of no religious affiliation. I am a trained Bharat Natyam dancer and I also love hip-hop, belly-dancing and jazz ballet. I studied Sanskrit and Tamil as second languages along with Hindi which I still struggle to speak with correct grammar and pronounciation, making English my first language. Tamil is my mother tongue. I love Yoga, I love chanting Sanskrit shlokas but over and above all of that, I am a woman and an Indian.

My culture – and I mean mine personally – is one of lovely contradictions. No one can tell me I am not Hindu. No text can tell me how exactly to be one. No, the Ramayana is a story, not the “Word” like the Bible or the Quran. In fact, I prefer the Mahabharata any day. My mother is a pure vegetarian, my father is not. He taught me that the sunrise, a little bird song, a tall tree are all God. He taught me that the observer, me and the observed, the universe are intimately entwined. He taught me if we do not see ourselves in others, then there is no beauty to being human.

So when dangerous nitwits try and circumscribe me into narrow boxes with their filtered jingoistic take on Hinduism, it makes me wonder what kind of people they are, and do they even see India the way I do? Let me say that I am not going to romanticize my view of India. I see the poverty, the helplessness, the garbage, the corruption, the violence.

I wake up to stories of an old Muslim man killed by a mob on the suspicion he was eating beef. His younger son was also beaten badly. His older son is an engineer in the IAF.

I wake up to news that a khap panchayat, that lovely bastion of patriarchal kangaroo court justice, ordered the rape of two sisters because their brother married outside his caste.

Caste. Paint it whichever way you like, it’s a sick degrading practice, as much an apartheid as the old system in South Africa, the country in which I now live. I have seen more racism in India than I have here in South Africa. I was called a “madrasi” casually by people who would be shocked if you told them they were parochial idiots.

 

I have alternately been asked how I am not dark as all madrasis are and also been told by an acquaintance that her summer holidays made her as dark as me. On work for a shoot at the Taj Mahal, the ticket window guy argued that my camera person had to pay the foreigner rate because he was Korean. My camera person was from Manipur. I was flatly told we were lying as Indians did not look like him. It’s not just North India but also South India that has all these issues. So, no, I have no romantic view of India.

But I have also seen another India, travelled in it, lived in it, been told stories about it. In that India, I have been fed without having to ask, been welcomed without questions, seen unbelievable dignity in the face of all odds. I remembered a story of how the great Bismillah Khan was once on a train and when it stopped at a station, he heard a most haunting melody, a raga he could not identify.

It was a young boy walking through the train playing the flute. He stopped near the ustad, and the ustad was mesmerized by the tune. And just as suddenly as the boy came, he left. The ustad was convinced he had been in the presence of divinity. He swore the young boy who played for him was none other than Lord Krishna. Ustad was on his way to the kumbh mela to perform, in a profoundly Hindu festival. When he did perform, he played the raga he heard the boy play and that raga was called Kanhaira by him.

My Hinduism is simple. It is “aham brahmasmi” or “the core of my being is the ultimate reality, the root and ground of the universe, the source of all that exists.” There is only one supreme being and it is the super consciousness, from which we all sprang and into which we will all be absorbed. Just as a seed carries the secret of a mighty tree within, we carry the supreme conciousness. When that is the central philosophy of Hinduism, where the microcosm and the macrocosm are linked in an infinite beautiful cycle, how can I ever accept what the extreme right wing would like to see as Hinduism?

When Hinduism, a way of life, a philosophy that roots itself in a bedrock of tolerance, is twisted into narrow rules and regulations trapped by bars of hate, I cannot and will not accept it. When my Hinduism, asks me to believe in Athithi devo bavah, or “the guest is God”, when it asks me to find God in myself because tatvamasi is the heart of the matter and therefore makes me find the divine in others, how can the rule makers separate us into individuals instead of humanity?

My Hinduism is stories I danced to. When Bhakt Jayadeva wrote the Geeta Govindam while writing of the love between Radha and Krishna, he spontaneously composed a line, “dehi pada pallava mudharam” or “Krishna asked Radha to place her lotus-like feet on his head.” Appalled by this thought that had come to his head, Jayadeva left the house to go bathe and clear his thoughts. A few minutes later, much to his wife’s surprise, he came back and sat down and wrote and left again.

 

A few minutes later he came back again. He sat down and then with great anger asked his wife how she could have written the words that were such an insult to God, his wife, most puzzled, said that he himself had just come back and written them and that’s when Jayadeva knew it was Krishna himself who had done so. God was saying that in the presence of love, even God is the lesser. Yet, today, we hate, hate so much. That is not my Hinduism.

In our culture we will ignore that Charvaka is an ancient Hindu philosophy that embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects the Vedas, Vedic ritualism and supernaturalism. It encourages questions and arguments. Established by Brihaspati, one of our most venerated sages. Yet we will murder professors and social workers who subscribe to it. Our Gayatri mantra, asks for the benevolent light of the sun, the life giver, to inspire our intelligence, to inspire our understanding and to banish ignorance and bathe us in enlightenment. Where is any of that now?

In our culture, we will ignore that all meat was consumed by Hindus in the Vedic times and erase that part of history. Indeed that over 60% of India eats meat is rejected. I reject that Hinduism. That narrow confined box.

You can call me a pseudo sickular liberal presstitute. I will just bow and say namaste, which means “I greet the divine in you.”

 

(Swati is an accomplished director, editor, writer and presenter. She is a wildlife and conservation journalist/film-maker.)

Supreme Court Sides with Google in Terrorism-Related Lawsuits, Raises Questions on Section 230 Immunity

The US Supreme Court has ruled that social media companies cannot be sued by victims of terrorist attacks for the content posted by users on their platforms, stating that a law, known as Section 230, provides the companies with immunity. The case involved victims of the 2015 coordinated terror attacks in Paris and the 2016 Istanbul nightclub bombing, where relatives of the victims had sought damages from Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said the families’ “claims fall far short of plausibly alleging that defendants aided and abetted the Reina attack.”

A federal law allowed Americans who were injured in foreign terrorist attacks to file lawsuits seeking damages from organizations that supported the perpetrators. However, the social media companies enjoyed protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally exempts platforms from being sued over user-generated content.

The families of the victims had argued that YouTube channels used by the attackers in the Paris and Istanbul attacks would not have been so popular and influential without Google and Facebook’s algorithms promoting the content and driving users to it. They claimed that the companies assisted in the growth of the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for both attacks.

According to Reuters, more than 30 lawsuits have been filed against social media companies since 2016 over their alleged inability to stop radical organizations spreading their message and avoiding scrutiny, particularly since most of the platforms do not proactively monitor the content posted on their services.

“Questions about the scope of platforms’ immunity under Section 230 are consequential and will certainly come up soon in other cases,” Anna Diakun, staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said following the ruling.

The family members were keen for social media companies to step up their monitoring of extremist content to prevent similar attacks from occurring. Responding to the court ruling, they vowed to continue to fight. A lawyer for the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in Paris, said in an email, “We lawyers see this decision as just another hurdle we need to navigate. It took decades to topple Big Tobacco, we’ll eventually rein in reckless and greed driven Big Tech as well.”

Following the decision, Google’s General Counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado stated that the company will “continue our work to safeguard free expression online, combat harmful content, and support businesses and creators who benefit from the internet.” However, critics of this decision had hoped that social media companies would have been held more liable for their role in facilitating the spread of extremist ideologies on their platforms.

Last year, a US appeals court had supported the social media giants, citing the communication act of 1934, which, in some cases, interprets them as intermediaries rather than “publishers” of user-generated content. Tech firms, including Reddit, Microsoft, and Facebook warned of the consequences if the Supreme Court overturned Section 230. Kent Walker, Google’s top lawyer, claimed that “If we undo Section 230, that would break a lot of the internet tools.” Critics also raised the question of how citizen journalists and whistleblowers whose posts revealed corporate or government crimes would be protected if tech giants were unable to gain immunity under the legislation.

Proponents of holding social media giants responsible have pointed to the recent example of Twitter banning the account of former US President Donald Trump after he posted material that was deemed to be incitement to riot. Many have argued that it has taken far too long for social media companies to have taken any meaningful action to police their platforms, and more needs to be done. The ruling is a sign that the US government is unlikely to rapidly change the position that social platforms are rightly protected under the First Amendment.

Rahul Gandhi to Visit USA for Rally and Speeches, Coinciding with PM Modi’s Official State Visit

Former Wayanad MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is set to visit the United States on May 31 for a ten-day tour. Sources confirmed that on June 4, he will hold a rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden, which is set to attract around 5,000 NRIs. Additionally, he is scheduled to attend a panel discussion and speech at Stanford University in California, where he will meet with politicians and entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to visit the US on June 22 for an official state visit. PM Modi will be welcomed by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a State Dinner at the White House.

Mr. Gandhi made headlines after his recent speeches in London, where he was critical of the Indian government, raising concerns about the state of Indian democracy. Speaking at a convention organized by the Association of Journalists in London, Mr. Gandhi said, “Everybody knows, and it’s been in the news a lot, that Indian democracy is under pressure and attack… we are facing an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy.” The remarks were seized upon by the ruling BJP, who called for an apology. Meanwhile, the Congress Party called for the establishment of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the Adani Group of companies.

In April, Mr. Gandhi was disqualified from his post as a Member of Parliament, following his conviction in a defamation case. According to the Indian Constitution, he was disqualified in accordance with Article 102(1)(e), read with Section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Despite this setback, Mr. Gandhi’s visits to the US and the UK have garnered significant attention, both at home and abroad. His speeches have underscored the ongoing debate about democracy and governance in India, highlighting concerns about press freedom, judicial independence, and the role of opposition political parties.

As Mr. Gandhi prepares to embark on his latest visit, the focus once again will be on his speeches and their potential impact on India’s domestic politics. While he is expected to highlight the challenges faced by opposition leaders and parties, he will also face scrutiny from both his political opponents and his own party. Regardless of the outcome, his visit is certain to be closely watched by observers on both sides of the political divide.

Siddaramaiah Named Karnataka Chief Minister, DK Shivakumar Appointed Sole Deputy as Congress Leadership Resolves Deadlock

On Thursday, the Congress central leadership revealed that Siddaramaiah is set to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka, with DK Shivakumar appointed as his sole deputy. Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot invited Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar to be sworn in alongside their team members at Kanteerava Stadium Bengaluru on May 20 at 12:30 pm.

This announcement resolved a period of uncertainty, confirming that Siddaramaiah would lead the state while DK Shivakumar, the state party chief, would serve as his only deputy. Here are the key developments in the formation of the Karnataka government:

  1. The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) formally elected Siddaramaiah as its leader and Karnataka’s Chief Minister, after which he staked his claim with the governor, who then invited him to form the government.
  2. A gathering of newly-elected Congress MLAs, MLCs, and MPs occurred at Indira Gandhi Bhavan in Bengaluru, attended by AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala and two other central observers – former Maharashtra CM Sushil Kumar Shinde and AICC General Secretary Jitendra Singh.
  3. Surjewala reported that Shivakumar proposed a resolution to elect Siddaramaiah as the new CLP leader, which was unanimously endorsed by all members.
  4. Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar received a warm reception upon arriving in Bengaluru that evening.
  5. Top Congress leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi, engaged in extensive discussions with Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, eventually resolving the deadlock over Karnataka’s top position.
  6. Reports suggest that Sonia Gandhi, who was on vacation in Shimla, played a key role in mediating the situation. The stalemate ended after she spoke to Shivakumar, a Gandhi family loyalist, on Wednesday night. According to PTI, she also asked Shivakumar to consult with Kharge and Rahul to resolve the issue.
  7. The final decision was made at Kharge’s residence on Wednesday night and followed up with a meeting at AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal’s residence the next morning.
  8. Intense negotiations continued until early Thursday, with both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar presenting their cases to party leaders. Shivakumar insisted on being made Chief Minister due to the party’s impressive victory in the state under his presidency, prolonging the leadership dispute in Karnataka.
  9. Citing sources, PTI reported that Rahul Gandhi informed Shivakumar that the individual with the majority of MLA support would become Chief Minister, and others must comply, indicating Siddaramaiah’s appointment and Shivakumar’s concession.
  10. To secure his position as the second-in-command in the Karnataka government, Shivakumar was named the only Deputy Chief Minister.

Sameer Wankhede, Former Anti-Drugs Official, Accused of Bribery and Possessing Disproportionate Assets in NCB Report

The Narcotics Control Bureau’s report suggests that Sameer Wankhede, the former anti-drugs official responsible for arresting Aryan Khan, Shah Rukh Khan’s son, in a drug case, took numerous trips abroad with his family and possessed extensive property disproportionate to his income. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) based their First Information Report on this report, obtained by NDTV, accusing Wankhede and others of demanding a ₹ 25 crore bribe from Shah Rukh Khan’s family, threatening to otherwise implicate Aryan Khan in the alleged drug bust.

According to the NCB’s vigilance department report, Aryan Khan and Arbaaz Merchant’s names were added at the last minute while other suspects’ names were removed. Despite recovering rolling paper from one suspect during the raid, she was released, the report states.

The report highlights a series of custody lapses involving Aryan Khan, suggesting that Sameer Wankhede intentionally compromised the situation to allow independent witness Kiran Gosavi in the Mumbai cruise raid to engage in misconduct and violate Central Civil Services laws.

CCTV footage from the NCB office obtained by a probe team had become corrupt. The submitted DVR and hard copy from the night Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office by the Mumbai team differed, according to the report.

The report also notes that between 2017 and 2021, Sameer Wankhede took six trips abroad with his family to countries such as the UK, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa, and the Maldives, totaling 55 days. However, he claims to have spent only ₹ 8.75 lakh, barely covering airfare costs.

The report lists several expensive watches and properties owned by Wankhede that are disproportionate to his known income sources. This includes a Rolex watch sold to him at a significantly reduced price, four flats in Mumbai, and 41,688 acres of land in Washim.

Wankhede stated that he spent ₹ 82.8 lakh on a fifth flat in Goregaon valued at ₹ 2.45 crore. The report also mentions a ₹ 1.25 crore flat bought by him and his wife before their marriage, with the source of funds remaining unclear.

Wankhede and his wife’s Income Tax returns reveal an annual income of ₹ 45,61,460, which does not account for their foreign trips and other assets.

Codex Sassoon, Oldest Complete Hebrew Bible, Sells for Record $38.1m at Sotheby’s New York Auction

Sotheby’s, the art and book auction house, witnessed a historic moment when Codex Sassoon was sold for $38.1m, making it the most valuable manuscript ever sold at an auction. The 800-year-old Hebrew Bible is said to be the oldest surviving example of a single manuscript containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible with punctuation, vowels, and accents. It is considered as the bedrock of Western civilisation and Oded Golan, an Israeli antiques seller, said that “the Bible is the foundation document of Western culture and by extension, world culture and the emergence of the nation-state.” The Codex Sassoon was bought by US lawyer and former ambassador Alfred Moses for the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel, to preserve the historical significance of a manuscript that is part of Jewish heritage.

“The Hebrew Bible is the most influential in history as it constitutes the bedrock of Western civilisation,” Mr Moses said on his statement. “I rejoice in knowing that it belongs to the Jewish people.” The sale price exceeded the previous most valuable manuscript, the Codex Leicester, owned by Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, which was bought for $30.8m in 1994. However, it still fell short of the price set two years ago by hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who purchased a historically significant document, the first-edition printed copy of the US constitution, for $43.2m.

The Codex Sassoon was named after David Solomon Sassoon, who bought it in 1929, and since then, it has been showcased in different museums worldwide. The manuscript was written around 1,100 years ago and is the oldest Hebrew Bible to have survived in its entirety. It became the pinnacle of the private collection of Hebrew manuscripts at David Solomon Sassoon’s home in London. Carbon dating revealed that the Codex Sassoon was created around 900 BC, making it nearly 1,200 years old. The manuscript is considered to have almost complete books of the Hebrew bible appearing with vowel points and notations.

Known for centuries as Aleppo Codex, the standard masoretic text is considered very authoritative; however, it contains only 295 of its original 487 pages, which survived destruction in a fire in Aleppo, Syria, in 1947. The Codex Sassoon, in contrast, is almost complete, missing only 12 pages, which were torn or cut at the edges.

Sharon Mintz, a senior Jewish artefact specialist at the auction house, said, “It presents to us the first time an almost-complete book of the Hebrew Bible appears with the vowel points, the cantillation and the notes on the bottom telling scribes how the correct text should be written.” Centuries of notations and inscriptions reveal that the manuscript was sold by a man named Khalaf ben Abraham to Isaac ben Ezekiel al-Attar, who later transferred ownership to his two sons, Ezekiel and Maimon.

In the 13th Century, the Codex Sassoon was dedicated to a synagogue in Makisin, a town in present-day Iraq near the border with Iran. After the town was destroyed either by the Mongols in the 13th century or by the Timurids at the beginning of the 15th century, the manuscript was entrusted for safekeeping to Salama ibn Abi al-Fakhr. It then disappeared for 500 years, and the Codex Sassoon’s most recent owner was Swiss investor Jacqui Safra, who bought it at auction in London for £2m ($2.5m) in 1989.

The Codex Sassoon holds immense historical and cultural significance for Jewish people and the world’s literary heritage. Its acquisition by the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv reflects the importance of preserving and showcasing cultural heritage for generations to come. The sale of the Codex also underscores the value of ancient manuscripts and artefacts, which contribute significantly, to archaeology, history, and literature.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Inaugurate New Parliament Building on May 28, Featuring Increased Seating Capacity

On May 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the highly anticipated new Parliament building. The four-story structure, designed by Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management and built by Tata Projects Limited, cost an estimated ₹970 crore.

The new Parliament will accommodate 888 Lok Sabha members, up from 543 in the previous building, and 300 Rajya Sabha members, an increase from the previous 250. As the new Parliament lacks a Central Hall, joint sittings of both Houses will take place in the Lok Sabha, which can hold 1,280 Members of Parliament during these sessions.

Previously, joint sessions were held in the Central Hall, seating 436 people with additional seats added during joint sittings. The inauguration of the new Parliament comes two days after the Modi government marks nine years in office, with Prime Minister Modi having taken his first oath on May 26, 2014. General Elections are slated for 2024.

“Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and invited him to inaugurate the New Parliament Building. Construction of the new Parliament building is complete now and the new building symbolises the spirit of self,” stated the Lok Sabha Secretariat. Consequently, the monsoon session of Parliament will occur in the new building.

The current Parliament building, completed in 1927, is nearly 100 years old. The primary reasons for constructing a new Parliament are space constraints and modernization requirements. Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passed resolutions urging the government to build a new Parliament, with the foundation stone laid by Mr. Modi in December 2020.

Originally, construction was anticipated to finish in 2022, coinciding with India’s 75th Independence anniversary. The old Parliament, whose foundation stone was laid in 1921, will be preserved as a heritage asset.

White House Calls Drone Attack Against Moscow As  “Blatant, Bold Lie”

John Kirby, a spokesperson for White House national security has denied claims that the US was involved in an alleged drone attack on Moscow, describing the allegation as a “blatant, bold lie”. Speaking in response to a drone attack on Moscow on Wednesday, which Russia claims showed evidence of an attempted attack on President Vladimir Putin, Kirby refused speculation as to who was responsible for the two drones.

However, Kirby rejected the claim from Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov that the US had worked with the Ukrainian government on the attack, saying: “One thing I can tell you for certain is that the United States was not involved in this incident in any way, contrary to Mr. Peskov’s lies. And that’s what they are, just lies.”

“It perfectly fits in his frame, the framing that President Putin has tried to label this war as,” Kirby said. He pointed to Russia’s increase in attacks in Ukraine, which have included missile strikes that resulted in the deaths of scores of people.

Kirby made it clear that the US is not conducting an investigation into the incident in Moscow, but that officials are monitoring developments.

As been reported by the media, two drones were sighted in the Russian capital, one of which crashed into a government building in what President Putin described as a “provocation”. One drone was detonated and a second was retrieved and publicly displayed by the security services.

The second drone, which was designed to carry a small tank of fuel, a detonator, and ball bearings, was intercepted before it could be armed. The Ukrainian security services denied involvement in the incident.

Dr. Vemuri S Murthy Appointed Advisor To Odisha State Government On CPR Projects

Dr. Vemuri S Murthy, an Indo-US resuscitation expert, faculty member at the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, has been appointed by the Government of Odisha as the State “Advisor on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation” Projects. He is the first ever to be appointed by the Odisha State Government as the Health Advisor from the United States and will be involved with comprehensive Resuscitation- involved State projects.

Heart disease is a major Global Public Health problem. People of Indian Origin are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their Western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age.

In India, heart disease remains the number one cause of death. Nearly 36% of deaths in India are due to heart disease, and 80% of them are preventable. More than 4200 sudden cardiac arrests occur per every one lakh of the population in India annually with a survival rate of less than 10%. Immediate on-the-spot Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) by a bystander and early use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can save millions of lives across the world.

Dr. Murthy initiated a statewide Community CPR training program of “Hands-only CPR with AED” (Automated External Defibrillator) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, on February 2, 2023, inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha, Mr. Naveen Patnaik. The single-day training for 2400 participants included 1000 Odisha police, nursing students, and community members. In addition to Sri Jagannatha Service Foundation and Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations, Odisha, American Heart Association and AIIMS (Bhubaneswar) have also participated in the inaugural program of the First State-endorsed community CPR project in India.

The plan is to train 200,000 people in the state of Odisha by the end of 2025 with the potential to save thousands of lives in Odisha. The participants received Community Bystander informational pamphlets in Oriya and “Healthy Heart” informational flyers from the American Heart Association with participation certificates.

Dr. Murthy, a current Visiting Professor at AIIMS (Mangalagiri) and SCB Medical College, Cuttack, Odisha, also contributed to pioneering Indian Cardiac Arrest Registry research by partnering with Indian peers.

Dr. Murthy, whose mission has been to provide education on the importance of community CPR training and has led trainings in India and the United States thanked the Hon’ble Chief minister for his vision and support for the statewide lifesaver project.

Dr. Murthy was recognized as a “Global Champion of Resuscitation” by the US Congress and is considered a “Pioneer of Resuscitation Training in India” for introducing mandatory resuscitation training in the Indian Medical College curriculum in 2011.

A past President of Indian American Medical Association (Illinois) and Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Murthy has been involved with the American Heart Association in various capacities for more than two decades, such as International and National Faculty, Liaison for AHA-India Projects, member of the International Committee and Advisor to AHA International Training Centers. He was also the Founder (2011) of Chicago Medical Society’s Community CPR Project SMILE (Saving More Illinois Lives through Education).

Dr. Murthy is a longtime life member of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) with distinguished service to the Organization, chairing many committees and actively participating in Global Health Projects of AAPI. He is a recipient of several prestigious National and International Honors and Awards.

Colleen Hoover, 2022 Bestselling Author

“Just keep swimming” to “We finally reached the shore”, the 2022 bestselling author of the books ‘It Ends With Us and It Starts With Us’, Colleen Hoover, gave a great serve for the readers. Her journey from self-published author to bestselling author brought out many addicting storylines and story-plots. The genre of her books falls into the category of new adult and young adult, with readers ranging from teenagers to young adults to adults.

Her books are known for their thrilling romantic plots with twists and turns filled with heartbreaks, mental health struggles, sexual assaults, trauma, and abusive relationships. Many of the young readers waited for Colleen Hoovers ‘It Starts With Us’ at the beginning of 2023. The sudden surge in sales for ‘It Ends with Us was seen to be influenced by its massive popularity on TikTok, which comes under the #booktok subculture. Soon, the rest of Hoover’s books—Ugly Love, Reminders of Him, All Your Perfects, Verity, November 9, and others—reached fame.

But what is mostly overlooked and not addressed about the books are their features of abuse and sexual assaults without trigger warnings and their depictions of toxic men as romantic and desirable. These methods could be misleading and triggering for many young readers. Soon, other readers and communities started to share cryptic notes and thoughts about Hoover’s books. People found some of it questionable and uncomfortable.

The author’s attempt to release a colouring book based on “It Ends With Us” sparked the controversy. But as it turns out, the book was heavily centred on the content of domestic violence and trauma. The readers rose to address the sensitivity of the situation and criticised Hoover’s approach as be ‘tone-deaf.’ Later, Hoover took the issue to her Instagram and apologised for it.

The movie adaptation of her best-selling book, “It Ends With Us,” which will feature Blake Lively as Lily, was announced late in January 2023. The casting for the movie is also getting its fair share of criticism on Tik Tok and Instagram.

IAMC Condemns Indian Minister’s Denial Of Muslim Persecution, Seeks Retraction

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) strongly condemns and vehemently refutes India’s Finance Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nirmala Sitharaman’s claim that Muslims are not being subjected to violence and persecution because their population, “is only growing in numbers.”

Speaking at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), a Washington, D.C. based think tank, Sitharaman claimed that there was a “negative Western perception” regarding India after PIIE President Adam S. Posen asked her how foreign investors’ perception of the country is affected by Western reporting on India’s political climate, including on the persecution of Muslims.

In response, Sitharaman outrightly denied Muslim persecution while backing it with the Hindu far-right conspiracy theory of, “Muslim population growth. [This is] not to even imply that I accept the perception that you’re referring to – India has the second largest Muslim population in the world, and the population is only growing in numbers,” Sitharaman said.

According to the Census data from 2001-2011, the growth rate of the Muslim population decreased to 24.6% compared to 29.5% in the decade prior. Data from India’s National Family Health Survey shows that over the past 25 years, the total fertility rate among Muslims decreased the sharpest out of all religious groups, including Hindus, from 3.6 in 1998-99 to 2.36 in 2019-21.

Sitharaman’s statement echoes the popular Hindu supremacist propaganda claim that the Muslim population is increasing at a rate disproportionate to Hindus. The idea that Muslims are “overpopulating” and “overtaking” Hindus in India is then used by BJP leaders and Hindu militant groups to whip up Islamophobia and violence against Muslim minorities.

“Sitharaman’s use of ‘population growth’ myth to justify the systemic oppression of Indian Muslims is nothing more than a twisted propaganda tactic widely used by the Hindu far-right to mask the reality of Muslim persecution and discrimination in India,” said IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed.

“Her statement is not just a flagrant denial of human rights abuses but also a dangerous attempt to spread disinformation and gaslight the global community about the atrocities committed against Indian Muslims. Sitharaman’s rhetoric must be debunked and condemned to ensure that human rights violations do not go unnoticed or unchallenged,” Ahmed added.

This blatantly false notion is not only a testament to the Sitharaman’s deliberate ignorance but also a willful disregard for the overwhelming evidence presented by numerous authoritative sources, including United Nations Special Rapporteurs, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the US Department of State, the US Holocaust Memorial, and the world’s most prominent human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Most of these reports have noted that over the last nine years, the BJP government has openly promoted a divisive and discriminatory agenda that led to surge in the targeting of Muslims and other minorities.

The government has passed discriminatory laws like the Citizenship Amendment Act, which, combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is designed to render Muslims stateless and has led to widespread protests and violence against the Muslim community throughout India. The beef ban laws, the anti-conversion laws, and the Hijab ban in Karnataka are only meant to marginalize Muslims further.

Hindu militant groups affiliated with the BJP and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), have been given a free hand to commit violence against Muslims, including pogroms, mob lynchings, and attacks on their homes, businesses, and places of worship.

In the past three months alone, at least 10 Muslims were lynched throughout India over the baseless accusations of transporting/ consuming beef or theft. In February, Bajrang Dal militants killed and burned the bodies of two Muslims over suspicion of transporting cattle in BJP-ruled Haryana State.

Furthermore, the government’s complicity in the horrific anti-Muslim pogroms in Delhi in 2020, which resulted in the death of over 50 people, mostly Muslims; the rampant bulldozing of Muslim homes, businesses, and mosques; the ongoing human rights violations in Kashmir and extreme surge in hate speeches calling for Muslim genocide are well-documented.

Two weeks back, the Supreme Court judges called the state “impotent” for failing to curb anti-Muslim hate speeches nationwide.

Just a week before Sitharaman spoke at the PIIE, Hindu extremist mobs during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami stormed Muslim localities in at least 6 Indian states, where they pelted stones, brutalized Muslim residents, torched vehicles, desecrated mosques, looted homes and businesses. These actions demonstrate a clear pattern of persecution and violence against Muslims in India, and Sitharaman’s comments only serve to minimize and trivialize the gravity of the situation.

In 2022, Genocide Watch, an NGO that monitors countries for signs of impending genocide, placed India at Stage 8 (persecution) of genocide on Dr. Gregory Stanton’s 10 Stages of Genocide. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said India was among the top ten likeliest places for new mass killings in the world. USCIRF, a bipartisan, independent commission in the US, has designated India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for three consecutive years over its egregious violations of human rights and religious freedoms of minorities.

IAMC calls on the Indian government to immediately retract Sitharaman’s insensitive and inaccurate comments and take concrete steps to stop Hindu extremist violence against its Muslim citizens. We also call on the international community to hold the Indian government accountable for its actions and to take steps to ensure the protection of the rights of all religious minorities in India.

Assam’s Bihu Establishes World Record

With “the largest Bihu performance at a single venue”, Assam made history and cemented its place in the record books. The massive attempt to break the Guinness World Record involved over 11,000 nasonis (dancers) and dhuliyas (drummers). The record was set around 5.45 pm on April 13 at the Sarusajai Stadium in Guwahati.

Two new Guinness World Records were created at the Sarusajai Stadium in Guwahati, Assam, as about 11,000 drummers and folk dancers performed the traditional Bihu dance in an effort to commemorate Bohag/Rongali Bihu.

Picture : NDTV

The first-of-its-kind performance set two records in the presence of State Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sharma and Guinness World Records Officials. The first record was for the largest Bihu dance performance and the second for the largest performance by traditional folk musicians employing instruments including the “dhol,” “pepa,” “gogona,” and “toka.”

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi appreciated the performers on achieving the historic feat and presented the Guinness record certificates to Sarma on April 14 during his one-day visit to Guwahati.‌‌

“Our festivals are not just cultural extravaganza but are a medium to unite everyone and inspiration to move forward together”, the Prime Minister said. “Rongali Bihu is a festival of heart and soul for the people of Assam. Removes differences and is a symbol of perfect harmony between humans and nature.”

India TV News

Organized by the Assam government with the intention of highlighting the state’s rich cultural history, the performance featured artists from across the 31 districts of the state.

CM Sarma expressed optimism that the event will help to put Assam and its cultural history on the map throughout the world.

The chief minister also stated that the state government has set a goal for two world records: the largest Bihu dance in a single frame and the largest (dhuliya) drummer group. On the occasion, the certificate for the GI tag-recognised ‘Assamese gamusa (a type of towel)’ was also presented to the state government.

Earlier in March, the Guinness World Records had recognized a compilation of 42.9 lakh essays on Ahom commander Lachit Borphukan as the largest online photo album of handwritten notes.

Guinness World Records adjudicator Swapnil Dangarikar handed over the official letter of recognition to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the Janata Bhawan in Guwahati. The certificate for the mega attempt will be handed over later.

Ambassador Sandhu receives ‘Sikh Hero Award’

India’s ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu was conferred the ‘Sikh Hero Award’ along with other eminent Sikh Americans by Sikhs of America at an event organized in Washington DC on April 8, 2023.

Commenting on the honor, the seasoned bureaucrat expressed his gratitude and remembered the tenets of Sikhism. “Delighted to receive Hero Award from Sikhs of America. Spoke about important tenets of Sikhism: seva, brotherhood, equality, inclusion & honesty. Highlighted the strengthening of US-India partnership and tech and infra transformation taking place in India and huge opportunities for the youth,” he tweeted after the event.

Refering to the recent acts by Sikh separists, Sandhu said, “Khalsa, which was created on the Baisakhi day, by Guru Gobind Singh is a uniting and not a dividing force.”

The ambassador also highlighted the Sikh community’s valuable contribution in different sectors including the economy, health and entrepreneurship, according to a release. In his call to Punjab and the youth in Punjab to connect with the multi-dimensional revolution happening in India, he underlined,“The government, people and in particular the youth must take advantage of the expanding partnership with the US in various fields that Prime Minister Modi and President Biden are trying to put in place.”

In his opening statement, the chairman of Sikhs of America, Jasdip Singh Jassee shared the contributions of the recipients of the ‘Sikh Hero Award’ in their respective fields and said that violence has no place in society.

Former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal, entrepreneur and philanthropist Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, former Hoboken Mayor Ravi Singh Bhalla, and entrepreneur Manraj Singh Kahlon were earlier awarded the ‘Sikh Hero Award.’  Late Sikh police officer Sandeep Dhaliwal was also presented the award posthumously.

Indian Consulate and GOPIO Organize ‘Meet & Greet’ for Students from India

The Consulate General of India in New York in cooperation with GOPIO Manhattan organized the ‘Meet and Greet Students from India’ studying in the Northeast to connect them to the community and providing mentoring opportunities as well as to raise awareness of Consular services to students from the Consulate. Students from many universities across the Northeast participated in person and via Facebook Live at the event hosted by the Indian Consulate on march 31st, 2023.

The program started with a welcome by Dr. Varun Jeph, Deputy Consul General with his welcome to the 135+ students in attendance and many more online.  He summarized the event introducing the speakers and the topics that will be discussed by them and informed the services offered by the Consulate to the Students.  He invited the students Consul General of India at New York Mr. Randhir Kumar Jaiswal to begin the evening’s proceedings.

The host for the evening, Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswalcommented, “Namaste to all Young friends. A very warm welcome to the Consulate, your Home and my office.”

He further highlighted there are two sets of students we deal with, one that are here and the others that come here from India.  This Student Meet & Greet is an effort in the direction of you connecting with each other and being there as you grow in this new land of opportunities.  We are the fifth largest economy and climbing to become the third largest economy.  He added that there are 1 million students among the 34 million diaspora are going to play a very important role in that and be the real champions.”

Photo-01: Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal and GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham addressing the students

Consulate official Ms. Satpadi Tagore invited GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham for his remarks.  Dr. Abraham serves as an advisor to GOPIO-Manhattan and started with “Namaskar and addressed the students by reflecting on his journey fifty years ago with an example that a simple phone call back home would cost around $3/minute. There was a concept of host families.  With the advancement of technologies and ease of communication and growth in students, there is no more such need of host families. Starting in 2021 and following session in Oct 2022, and today, we are hosting these sessions to connect you with the community, professional achievers and the Consulate for help with issues or in case of emergency.  He noted the number of students across Columbia, NYU, Pace, SUNY Bufallo, Touro College, UPenn, NJIT and other universities represented in the room.”

Photo 02: Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph, speaker Dr. Bernadine Waller, Bhavya Gupta and Siddharth Jain

GOPIO Manhattan Co Secretary and Chair for the event and emcee Ms. Bhavya Gupta then introduced and invited the panelists for the evening Mr. Akshat Tewary, an immigration attorney, Ms. Sanjyot Dunung, CEO & Founder of Atma Global, Moderator Prof Srikant Jagabathula from NYU, Mr. Anthony Irudhyanathan, President Zillion Technologies and Prof. Rajashekar Vangapaty.

Photo-03: Top, L to R: Mr. Akshat Tewary esq., Ms. Sanjyot Dunung, Prof. Srikant Jagabathula and Mr. Anthony Irudhyanathan, Prof. Rajashekar Vangapaty engaging in a Panel Discussion with students

Mr. Srikanth Jagabathula, Robert Stansky Research Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Tech, Ops, and Stats at the NYU Stern School of Business, moderated the panel starting with giving each speaker a min to talk about their background.  He channeled the conversations across the topics of immigration to job search to internships, teaching assistantships etc. with the fellow speakers and engaged the audience.  He shared his experiences with the students and said, “Wear different hats, multi-task, go out of your comfort zone, explore and discover.”

GOPIO-Manhattan Executive Vice President Professor Rajasekhar Vangapaty spoke about the importance of on-campus job and securing the teaching assistant role while at campus and its importance in job search. He added that “every skill-set you learn in your life will definitely benefit you somewhere in your lifetime. Never get discouraged, if you get hurdles.” He emphasized on the fact that “do not guess the answers. If you don’t know, ask. Whether you’re given or not that’s a different story.”

 Ms. Sanjyot Dunung, CEO & Founder of Atma Global, shared her experiences with the students about her journey from India to England to Chicago as she experienced the culture shifts.  She added that it doesn’t necessarily matter at what age you move to a new country.  The concept of culture shock, learning new values, attitudes, understanding how people do things, can be startling at the very beginning.  She bridged the two cultures with every summer trip to India to retain and touch that Indian cultural experience.  She indulged the panel to assist students in formulating their choices of major and career path.

Mr. Anthony Irudhyanathan, President Zillion Technologies shared his journey as an Entrepreneur in the technology sector, started with $400.  He reflected on his journey and cited his motivation to be here was based on the fact that the Students from India have the chance to be a Game Changer and that he invests in the ideas from Students, a support not available when he started his journey in 1998.  This platform of Meet & Greet is a good opportunity for Students to excel in being a game changer as 60% of top 100 companies have Indians as CIO/CTOs today.  He added “students should immerse within the system, learn and connect with the people.”

Mr. Akshat Tewary, an immigration attorney added “reflected on his journey to the USA in Jan 1986 highlighting the sense of expectation, optimism, growth etc. as the cultural differences between homeland and USA.”

Photo-04: Speakers and organizers at the ‘Students Meet & Greet’.

1st Row l. to r.:  Speaker Akshat Tewary, GOPIO Manhattan EVP & Speaker Professor Rajasekhar Vangapaty, Speaker Srikanth Jagabathula, Speaker Sanjyot Dunung, Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, Speaker Dr. Bernadine Waller and Dy. Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph.

2nd Row l. to r.: Raj Punjabi, GOPIO Manhattan Board Member Siddharth (Sid) Jain, GOPIO Manhattan Board Member Chitranjan Belwariar, GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, GOPIO Manhattan VP Dr. Vimal Goyle, GOPIO Manhattan Board Member & Program Coordinator Bhavya Gupta, GOPIO Manhattan Treasurer Braj Aggarwal &GOPIO Manhattan Member Tara Shajan.

Dr. Bernadine Waller, Columbia University “reflected on the mental health issues ranging from anxiety to depression and all in between.  She highlighted the various reasons the stresses that are faced by Students such as job search, internship search, competitiveness, loneliness etc.  The optimal way to deal with it is “One Bite At A Time.”  She further added that we encourage the students to think of the career, plan for the present, think about the future, but come back to the present.

Mr. Shivender Sofat, President GOPIO-Manhattan, who joined virtually told the importance of mentoring to the students, discussed chapter activities and motivated everyone to volunteer and become members at future events held by GOPIO Manhattan.

Mr. Siddharth Jain, GOPIO Manhattan Board Member concluded with a quote from Rumi:  “It’s your road, and yours alone, others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”

Mr. Jain followed the quote with the vote of thanks to Host Ambassador Shri Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, Dy. Consul Shri Varun Jeph, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Distinguished Panelists, Ms. Satabdi Tagore and the Consulate staff. Other GOPIO-Manhattan officials present at the meeting included President Shivender Sofat (attended virtually), EVP Professor Rajasekhar Vangapaty, Treasurer Braj Aggarwal, VP Vimal Goyle, Board Member & Program Coordinator Bhavya Gupta, Board Member Chitranjan Belwariar, Members Raj Punjabi, & Tara Shajan.

“The students had an excellent time networking with students from different universities as well as with speakers and the Consulate and GOPIO officials and we plan to do a much bigger event next year,’ Dr. Abraham added.

Photo Students from different universities and colleges with Consulate and GOPIO officials and speakers

In accordance with its mission to serve the larger society and those in need, GOPIO-Manhattan Chapter has taken several initiatives in the recent past. A Community Feeding is organized by the Chapter providing vegan or a​vegetarian lunch for the homeless and needy at Tomkins Square Park in Manhattan on the last Monday of every month. The chapter appeals to the community to support the initiative by being a volunteer and/or a sponsor.

Vahdam Launches Authentic Indian Spices In U.S.

Indian wellness brand and leader in organic premium teas retailer VAHDAM® India has launched spices exclusively in the United States. To celebrate the launch, the company has appointed world-renowned Michelin star Chef, restaurateur, and host of MasterChef India, Vikas Khanna as a brand ambassador for VAHDAM® Spices.‌

Commenting on the product, Khanna said, “The farmers in India take pride in the spices they grow, which elevates VAHDAM® India’s spices and their taste above what’s currently available on the market. VAHDAM® India’s Spices can help anyone take their cooking up a notch and it will bring more flavor into all of our lives.”

According to the company, the single origin spices are sourced from Indian regions and states, packaged at state-of-the-art facility in India and shipped directly to consumers. The brand has expanded its partnership with farmers and cooperatives to bring high quality and authentic Indian spices to the consumers.‌‌

Aimed at creating fresher products for an increasingly health-conscious world, VAHDAM® India has expanded its partnership with Indian farmers and cooperatives to bring high quality and authentic Indian spices to consumers to help them achieve their wellness goals.

VAHDAM® India has also welcomed world-renowned, Michelin star Chef, restaurateur, and host of MasterChef India, Vikas Khanna as a brand ambassador to celebrate the launch of VAHDAM® Spices with a variety of new recipes.

With VAHDAM® Spices, the brand is introducing a collection of India’s finest spices, all sourced garden-fresh, packaged at VAHDAM® India’s BRC Certified facility state-of-the-art facility in India & shipped directly to consumers.

All of the spices are single-origin from states and regions known for high quality products. Each batch of spices is tested for purity in accredited labs in Europe to ensure VAHDAM® brings only the healing benefits of Indian spices.

According to a press release, VAHDAM® Spices have zero adulterants, pesticides, color, or toxins. Because VAHDAM® Spices are grown at the top farms, sealed fresh at the source, and brought directly to consumers’ households, they achieve a higher product potency and nutritional value.

“India is a magical ‘land of spices’ and provides the world with the largest variety of delicious spices. However, there is an absence of a home-grown brand, and the broken supply chain ensures that consumers don’t get a fresh product, while farmers do not get the right price for their produce. Additionally, spices are globally grown by spraying copious amounts of pesticides, Moneyinsecticides & toxins to increase farm yield, which causes a serious health risk to consumers,” said Bala Sarda, CEO & Founder of VAHDAM® India.

“We wanted to solve this problem and have spent the last two years building a supply chain of India’s finest organic spice farms with our partners. We made a conscious decision to bring sustainable, clean, and fresh spices to consumers around the world for all their cooking, wellness, and beauty needs.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli Represents AAPI at the White House Celebrating 13th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of the American Association of the Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States was invited to be part of the 13th-anniversary celebrations of the Affordable Care Act on March 13th, 2023, at the White House in Washington, DC.

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“It was such a privilege and an honor to be at the White House representing AAPI, to commemorate 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. It was a memorable day to cherish,” Dr. Kolli described his experience joining with several other healthcare leaders at the White House to commemorate the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama. Other AAPI team members attending the White House ceremony included, Drs. Rupak Parikh, Roshan Shah, Sameer Gupta and Jay Bhat

Surrounded by several healthcare professionals, industry leaders, and heads of federal agencies, President Joe Biden along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi marked the 13th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act in the same room where his predecessor, Obama signed into law the historic Act benefitting millions.

The landmark Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare was signed into law in 2010. The act aimed to provide affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans. The ACA was also designed to protect consumers from insurance company tactics that might drive up patient costs or restrict care. Millions of Americans have benefitted by receiving insurance coverage through the ACA. Many of these people were unemployed or had low-paying jobs. Some couldn’t work because of a disability or family obligations. Others could not get decent health insurance because of a preexisting medical condition, such as a chronic disease.

“Many of you joined us that day after fighting for decades to make it happen, and I remember three words I used at the time, I thought it was –” Biden said, smiling to invited guests in the White House East Room. “I thought it was a big deal. And I stand by the fact, it was a big deal.”

The president touted the progress his administration has made to advance health care policy through legislation, the Affordable Care Act. “Folks, look, we’re making health care more affordable in many other ways as well.” Biden also highlighted recent moves by several pharmaceutical companies to cap the price of insulin. “Well, I value everyone having a decent shot. It is about fairness. It is about dignity. My budget continues to build on the progress we made in the Affordable Care Act.”

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Calling it historic, Dr. Kolli praised the current administration for the efforts to insure millions, providing them with affordable health benefits. Quoting statistics, Dr. Kolli pointed out, “During 2023 open enrollment a record high 16.4 million people signed up, with 4.4 million more people enrolled for health insurance since 2021. A new HHS report shows more than 40 million people are currently enrolled in Marketplace or Medicaid expansion coverage related to provisions of the Affordable Care Act — the highest total on record.”

Dr. Kolli thanked the Biden administration for the Open Enrollment outreach that was tailored to reach audiences that experience lower access to health care through cultural marketing experts to connect more people to resources including Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, African Americans, Spanish and English-speaking Latinos, and in multiple languages.

HHS released a report from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) that shows more than 40 million people are currently enrolled in Marketplace or Medicaid expansion coverage related to provisions of the ACA — the highest total on record.

Referring to studies, Dr. Kolli said, ACA has helped a total of 40.2 million Americans gain coverage related based on 2022 and early 2023 enrollment data, the highest total on record. This represents 9.3 million more people enrolled than in 2021 (a 30% increase) and 27.6 million more people enrolled than in 2014 (a 219% increase, or more than triple). Survey results indicate that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have experienced substantial reductions in the uninsured rate since 2013, the last year before the implementation of the ACA.

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Among the many benefits, Dr. Kolli pointed out that ACA covers many screenings and preventive services, which has been a theme advocated by AAPI: Focus on Preventive Care. “These usually have low copays or deductibles. The hope is that if you are proactive in your healthcare, you can avoid or delay major health problems later. This will benefit healthier consumers having to pay lower costs over time. For example, a diabetes screening and early treatment may help prevent costly and debilitating treatment later,” he pointed out.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high-flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs, and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the world. For more details, please visit: www.appiusa,org

AAPI Announces 41st Annual Convention 2023 During Curtain Raiser In Jew Jersey

(Edison, NJ – March 18, 2023)  “It is with great pleasure that we announce that the 41st Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) will be held from July 6th to 9th, 2003 in the historical city of Philadelphia, PA,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI announced here during a colorful gala on March 3rd, 2023 at the Royal Albert’s palace in Edison, New Jersey.

Inaugurated by India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, and Bollywood Star Bhagyashree among others, prominent among those who were part of the Gala included, Dr. Ravi Kolli, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI, Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI, Dr. Pradip Shah, President of AAPI-NJ, and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, senior advisor to AAPI.

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“The 41st annual convention will be the best in the history of AAPI,” Dr. Kolli said and thanked the Organizing Committee led by AAPI’s National Convenor Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Kavita Gupta. “Our focus will be on mind, body, and spirit,” Dr. Kolli said, with special attention to mental health, removing the stigma, and access to care, artificial intelligence, lifestyle medicine, in other words, “a very comprehensive and very eclectic” program, including health, wellness, lots of cultural programs and the usual high quality Continuing Medical Education seminars.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Convention coordinator noted that AAPI is the largest organization of physicians after the American Medical Association. “We treat one of seven Americans; our Doctors are spread in every corner, and that is our strength,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. Philadelphia was a historic place to hold the Convention because it had the first hospital in America back in 1751, the first medical school in 1752. “We want to put the best Convention forward.” He thanked Consul General Jaiswal and his team.

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Consul General Jaiswal praised AAPI’s contributions, and highlighted India’s latest campaign on making the food grain millet, a global superfood – “for our health and the health of the planet” because it consumes less water and contains essential nutrients. The former Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf also addressed the gathering through video, thanking AAPI for its work and for choosing Philadelphia as the location for the Convention.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh praised the hardworking team and offered all help possible to make the Philadelphia Convention a success. “AAPI has come a long way – from fighting discrimination, to helping India-U.S. relations and engaging in philanthropy,” Dr. Parikh said. “You can always count on me and my media group,” he added. He also thanked Bhagyeshree for her support.

“AAPI is an umbrella organization representing over 120,000 Indian American physicians, 130 local Chapters, who make up 10% of total physicians in the US and nearly 50% of International Medical Graduates, rooted in every corner of the nation, who serve every 7th patient in the US. We are proud of our achievements and our contributions to the healthcare industry and the millions of people we serve,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said.

Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI said, “Exhibitors and Corporate Partners will remain our top priority as we work together to provide a world-class forum for increased interactions between sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees. The ease with which attendees can move between the exhibit hall, conference and ballrooms, and their hotel rooms will ensure maximum attendance and visibility for Sponsors and Exhibitors.”

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Dr. Kavita Gupta pointed to the short trip to Philadelphia from New York and that there would be so many “very distinguished” Doctors would be at the Convention. Dr. Pradip Shah of AAPI-NJ, urged all AAPI members to go to the website to get the details about the Convention and invited everyone “to come and enjoy.”

Bhagyeshree thanked AAPI for inviting her and praised Indian American physicians for their achievements. She said, “After God come physicians … they save lives.” The ‘Red Carpet Dinner Gala’ featured a fabulous fashion show, live music, and other cultural attractions such as traditional and fusion dances, especially by the youth.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Convention offers an exciting venue to interact with leading physicians, health professionals, academicians, and scientists of Indian origin. Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

While urging all AAPI members to make plans and be part of the historic Convention, Dr. Kolli said: “We have a wonderful team planning and organizing the event to make the 2023 annual convention a memorable experience. Please reach out to any one of the representatives from the Philly team for any of your queries.” Please visit www.aapiconvention.org for more details or call the AAPI office at (630) 990 2277 for further information.

Deepika Padukone To Present Award At Oscars 2023

Indian Actress Deepika Padukone is one of the chosen few from the world who will be presenting an award at the Oscars 2023 ceremony.

Deepika joins the likes of Emily Blunt, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Janelle Monae, Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Connelly, Riz Ahmed, Melissa McCarthy among a few others to be part of this honor. The 95th Oscars will air live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2023.

A list of names was shared on The Academy’s Instagram handle. The caption read: “Meet your first slate of presenters for the 95th Oscars. Tune into ABC to watch the Oscars LIVE on Sunday, March 12th at 8e/5p! #Oscars95.”

On the work front, Deepika will next be seen in ‘Fighter’ starring Hrithik Roshan and Anil Kapoor. The film is directed by Siddhant Anand.  She will also be seen in ‘Project K’, alongside Prabhas and Amitabh Bachchan.

With this, Deepika will be the third Indian presenter at the Oscars so far, according to Vogue. In 2016, Priyanka Chopra presented the award for Achievement in Film Editing to Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Deepika shared a picture which included the names of all the award presenters at the 95th Oscars. The list includes Riz Ahmed, Emily Blunt, Glenn Close, Jennifer Connelly, Ariana DeBose, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B Jordan, Troy Kotsur, Jonathan Majors, Melissa McCarthy, Janelle Monae, Questlove, Zoe Saldana, Donnie Yen.

Deepika was also the only Indian on the Cannes Jury for the 75th Cannes Film Festival in 2022 and went on to unveil the FIFA World Cup trophy the same year. The actress has also been signed as the face of Louis Vuitton, the designers who will be behind her Oscars outfit as well.

The 95th Academy Awards ceremony, to be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, will air live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2023 (March 13 early morning, as per Indian Standard Time).

Deepika’s latest outing Pathaan went on to make box office history with over Rs 1000 crore in earnings worldwide. She will be seen next in Fighter opposite Hrithik Roshan, scheduled for a January 25 release next year.

Meet The Women Who Win Board Of Advisors

Women Who Win is excited to announce its newly formed advisory board. We are thrilled to bring this board together to continue our mission in empowering the personal and professional lives of women and girls around the world, We are bringing diverse women leaders across different industries and backgrounds to help drive the Women Who Win mission forward. Each board member represents the deep spirit and multifaceted nature of Women Who Win. Board members come from various backgrounds, from city councilors and state representatives to business innovators, educators, artists, healthcare providers, and community leaders, our Board of Advisors has a strong global footprint.  As we believe in the importance of inclusivity and the power of men and women coming together to empower women, we also included male allies on this board. Meet the board!

Women Who Win is a media platform focused on empowering women . It was Co- Founded by Dr Manju Sheth, Dr Deepa Jhaveri and Shaleen Sheth

Ami Ambani

Ami Ambani has completed her Masters in Business Administration from Bentley College and worked in the capital markets as a Research Analyst, managing clients at Tower Capital And Securities Pvt.Ltd. in Mumbai, India. She is also co-founder of www.mumbaiclasses.com. She now manages her own financial portfolio and is an enthusiast in economics, geopolitics and fitness.  Her passions include reading, cooking, travelling and running. She lives with her husband, Niraj, and two teen sons in Mumbai, India.

Rita Advani
Rita Advani is a board leader and a senior business executive and entrepreneur. In her professional career, she developed strategies to bring new products and services to market and to expand markets for diverse industries worldwide. In the recent past, her focus has been on health care delivery. She has served as a board member  for one of the  largest independent physician organizations in the state, and is currently the Chair of the Board for an organization that brings nursing and hospice care to patients in their homes. One of the themes that has resonated through her life is learning about aspects of the economy that are different from the sectors in which she worked. As an elected official and as an appointed board member she utilized her experience in the business world to make improvements in the state’s funding formulae for education and the education provided to the children of her municipality. As an early adopter of the cause for renewable energy, she chaired the effort to bring a solar power project to the municipality. She is currently working towards making her condo building resilient to the threat of rising seas. Born and educated in India, Rita has lived in Massachusetts since the 1980’s. She loves photographing and showcasing the beauty of nature, the monuments and peoples she comes across on her travels.
Sonica Arya
Sonica Arya graduated from the Academy of Architecture in Mumbai.  She has worked on a variety of projects ranging from residential homes to outhouses, and commercial projects such as banks and hotels.  She conceptualized, designed and executed the showroom design for the designer jewellery brand “Tanishq” of the Tata Group and has a keen interest in remodelling heritage properties such as those in Matheran, outside of Mumbai. She is an avid reader, an art connoisseur and loves travelling, especially places that have a strong historical, cultural and architectural heritage. She lives with her husband and two teen daughters in Mumbai, India.

Brenda Thompson

Brenda has been employed by Atrius Health for over twenty years and in September 2020 was appointed to the position of Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. She is responsible for the Affirmative Action Plan for the entire organization and is now more involved in her passion of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as it relates to the patient population, the workforce, the workplace, and the community.   Brenda is former Vice President of the National Council of Negro Women – Greater Boston Chapter (NCNW-GBS) . Ms. Thompson Stuckey takes great pride in her work both professionally and personally and tries to mesh the two whenever possible. Ms. Thompson has received three Diamond Awards from Harvard Vanguard/Atrius Health for her individual and team contributions and she also received the YMCA Black Achievers Award.  Ms. Thompson Stuckey was also the first person to receive the Greater Boston Business Council’s Member of the Year Award, and as such the first non-LGBTQ recipient. She received this award for efforts, ideas and results produced to promote an LGBTQ inclusive workforce.

Kay Khan

State Representative Kay Khan represents Newton in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1995, currently serving the 11th Middlesex district. In 2009, she was appointed House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, by then Speaker Robert DeLeo and served in this capacity for 12 years. Representative Khan’s legislative portfolio celebrates and promotes diversity; she is an unshakable advocate for equal rights for all individuals, young and old. Recent legislative successes include; a ban conversion therapy to support of the LGBTQ community, legislation to end child marriage under the age of 18, and expanded access to maternal health care with a commission to study inequities in maternal health. She has spent her entire career in the legislature promoting better outcomes for justice-involved youth and women, additionally, she is an adamant supporter of environmental issues, filing legislation this session relative to the electrification of all new and substantially remodeled buildings statewide.  Representative Khan has lived in Newton for more than 50 years where she and her husband raised their three children and now enjoy their seven grandchildren.

Dr. Rollie Lal

An Associate Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University where she teaches Transnational Security, Foreign Policy, and International Political Economy. Her research focuses on organized crime, terrorism, and religious extremism. Previously she was an Associate Professor at the U.S. Department of Defense and a political scientist at RAND. Dr. Lal received her Ph.D. in International Relations and her M.A. in Strategic Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Dr. Kavita Navani

Dr. Navani practiced medicine in Central Massachusetts as a primary care physician for over 20 years. She also holds an MD in OB GYN from India. She is actively engaged in community service such as the Free health stop organized by India Society of Worcester. As an entrepreneur, she helped with the formation and growth of eClinicalworks, an electronic health record company with headquarters in Westborough, MA. Dr. Navani has provided clinical input to the EHR and is available to help with small and big tasks that require her expertise. Dr. Navani also takes active interest in cancer research and has made charitable contributions to research on improving outcomes from infant traumatic brain injuries. She is a big supporter of Ekal Vidyalaya.

Sangeeta Moorjani

Sangeeta Moorjani considers herself a global citizen. She was born in India, lived in Dubai, UAE until high school, pursued her undergraduate degree and MBA in India, started her career in financial services in Toronto, Canada, and has spent the last two and half decades in Massachusetts. She is an executive leader at Fidelity Investments and has held several senior leadership positions within Fidelity’s Workplace and Personal Investing business since joining Fidelity over 25 years ago Currently, she is the Head of Fidelity’s Tax Exempt business and Retirement Solutions, serving over 500 mission-driven institutions and delivering workplace benefits to their 7.5 million employees.Sangeeta believes the impact of strong leadership in financial services is through helping people make decisions about their financial futures. Her leadership style sparks novel thinking and leads people to take action. Sangeeta has a passion for helping people uncover their full potential and takes pride in coaching and developing high performing teams; and focuses on empowering them through servant leadership. The practice of candid conversations, deep curiosity, and building strong relationshipsis her hallmark approach in achieving associate and senior management buy-in and leading complex and critical businesses. She is an advocate for advancing women’s leadership and promotes Asian cultural awareness and inclusion at Fidelity and beyond. She serves on the board of two non-profit organizations; TiE Boston focused on entrepreneurship and Pratham USA focused on literacy and learning for children in India. Sangeeta enjoys traveling and exploring different parts of the world, with her husband. When not traveling, you’ll find her walking, listening to books or trying a new recipe. She is a proud mom to two young adults and her dog – Yogi.

Anusha Nanavati

Anusha is the Founder, lead architect and interior designer at Anusha Nanavati Design Studio. She did her under graduation from Balwant Sheth School of Architecture, Nmims, Mumbai and her Masters in Sustainable and Environmental Design from Architectural Association school of Architecture, London. Her studio specializes in various residential and commercial projects including schools, restaurants, gyms, offices, baby nurseries and furniture. She has completed multiple projects in India and UK. She has also completed 3 years as an assistant professor at Balwant Sheth School of Architecture, NMIMS, Mumbai. Anusha is also a part of the management commîttee  of their family run Institutes and Hospital : Shri Chandulal Nanavati School and Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai. To know more about her work follow her on her Instagram handle: @andstudioofficial

Krupa Sheth

Krupa is one of London’s leading councilors. Borough of Brent. She serves on the Cabinet in Brent as the Lead Member for Environment, Infrastructure and Climate Action. She was elected as a Councilor for the first time at the age of 20, making her the youngest ever Asian to be elected to Post in the Country. She is currently serving her fourth term as a Councilor, and was one of Women Who Win’s first contributing writers.

Dr. Archana Srivastava

Dr. Archana Srivastava is an artist deeply rooted in the Indian history and culture and has, in the last two decades, experimented with different genres like figures, abstracts, landscapes and portraits. Her work has been shown all the world, such as at Shanghai International Art Fair, FIRA INTERNACIONAL D’ART DE BARCELONA (Fira International Art Fair), and Cannes International Art Biennale. Her designing of publicity material of the anti-AIDS campaign of Government of Maharashtra was considered hard-hitting and impactful. She has received numerous awards over the years, including  ‘Make in India Award’ in ‘Creative Art’ category in New Delhi., “Woman of Excellence Award 2020” by Indian Achievers’ Forum, “Collector’s Vision International Art Award” by Contemporary Art Curator Magazine, and “Power of Creativity Art Prize” by Contemporary Art Curator Magazine. She holds doctorate in “Socio-economic History Of Early-medieval India”. She is based in Mumbai, India. Further, she is the Founder and CEO of ArtSage, her startup with a vision is to help artists by providing resources, giving access to the technology to work at a faster pace, helping them upgrade their skills, giving them platform to sell their artworks, creating awareness about the value of their art in public through workshops and symposiums and enrich their lives as a whole.

Yoshika Sherring

Yoshika Sherring was born in New Delhi, India but considers herself a true Bostonian as she has lived in Boston since she was one.  She attended the Rochester Institute of Technology where she earned her B.S. in Biotechnology and then went on to complete an M.B.A. from Bentley University.  She has worked in the biotech / pharma industry for 20+ years having worked in multiple therapeutic areas on several blockbuster brands.  Her experience spans a cross-section of roles that include Marketing, Business Development and Patient Advocacy after starting her career as a Scientist.  Her passion is engaging with patients to help them live healthier lives.  Yoshika is also Chair for the Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island Marketing & Communications Council.  As a Bostonian, she enjoys all the great things New England has to offer including fresh seafood and won’t eat lobster in any other part of the country!

Kathleen Walsh

Kathleen Walsh is the President and CEO of the YMCA Metro North, an association of YMCAs operating eight health and wellness centers and child care facilities in Lynn, Melrose, Peabody, Saugus, and Stoneham. Walsh provides executive leadership to the $28 million association which serves 69,000 people annually and employs 700 staff members. Through Walsh’s leadership, the YMCA of Metro North advances its charitable mission by expanding access to its healthy living and youth-serving programs by providing more than $1.6 million in financial assistance to its community members each year. Walsh serves as Vice Chairperson with the American Red Cross Northeast Board of Directors, Treasurer of the Mass Alliance of YMCA’s, Thrive Committee Member at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, Former Chairperson of the Lynn Education District Partnership, Board Member of Dept of Children and Family Services in Malden, Member of National Y Shared Services Board, and is a 2023 Fellow with LEADS, a Harvard Business School leadership program. Walsh earned a Master’s of Science from Northeastern University and a B.A. from Providence College. An avid runner, Walsh has completed 61 marathons and was recently awarded a distinguished Hall of Fame alumni award for Cross Country from her alma mater, Bishop Fenwick High School.  She is the proud mother to three young adults –Johanna, Cynthia, and Francis.

We are also honored to welcome two dedicated Male Allies to our Advisory Board, Dr. Dinesh Patel and Dr. Dhrumil Shah

Dr. Dinesh Patel

Dr. Patel was born, raised and educated in India before starting his orthopedic residency training at Mass General Hospital and the HCORP in 1971. In 1976, Dr. Patel co-founded Mass General’s Sports Medicine and Runner’s Clinic. While here, Dr. Patel also created one of the first arthroscopy bio skills laboratories in the country, and integrated the lab with HCORP in order to train new residents in his innovative techniques and retired after 55 years of teaching and practice. He has a series of accomplishments and is a renowned leader in the medical industry, and his contributions in Arthroscopy education have been recognized around the world. He Established Asia’s first center of excellence in healing art Psychomotor skill lab in for Arthroscopy teaching in  Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India He is the co-founder and past President of Indian medical association of New England, and one of the founders of Tie Boston where he was instrumental in establishing the life sciences section. He is a member of Harvard Medical School admission Committee and Senior advisor & teacher to Harvard Med school students He is a member Member and was Chairman of the Board of Registration in Medicine and continued as advisor on many committee’s for many years.  Dr. Patel has been in U.S. news and World reports as one the best doctors. We are honored to bring him onto our advisory board as a male ally.

Dr. Dhrumil Shah

Dhrumil Shah is a family physician and a CMIO at Compass Medical, an independent provider led organization in Southeast Massachusetts. His primary interests and focus areas are Digital health innovation, Data science and Care analytics, Health innovation and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Shah did his Family Medicine training at New Jersey Medical School and subsequently graduated from University of Illinois Chicago completing his Post Masters in Health Informatics. He is actively involved in Health IT space via many of national and regional speaking engagements and collaborative fueling the much needed disruption to redesign Healthcare delivery space. He also leads Greater Boston Chapter of SOPE(Society of Physicians Entrepreneurs) & Past President of IMANE Indian Medical Association of New England.

The Seventh Vision (28 February, 2023)

Mother is like a bubble. She floats from the depths of the ocean upwards towards the surface. When Mother reaches the surface she is like a pearl. She grows bigger, thicker, harder. The pearl cracks, emanates heat, then becomes a dust over the ocean. The dust forms a tract on which Mother can stand. She is nowhere and she is everywhere. She is like a teardrop staining the dryness of land, only she is the substance, and the water is that which expands infinitely around.

Who are you? 

Are you also lost? 

If so, can you help me?

I am at the entrance of Okeanos.

I want to return to Earth. 

The water is a tinged aquamarine. The waves crash and bellow and storm. The voice that Mother has heard echoes but is lost against the salty slaps of the breeze. Mother wonders if the voice belonged to someone real, or was a figment of Mother’s imagination. Mother recalls the name the woman mentioned. Okeanos. The river which circumferences the limits of the earth. And yet Mother smells pungent bream, tastes olive in the air, sees in the distance a far off island with castles and houses and shoreline.

Is she truly at the world’s last border?

She recalls this island upon which she stares at. It is a land of dry dust and pointed shrubs and white painted buildings. She knows where she is at and yet it feels so far. This is because of the storm which tore apart the stitches of time for ten days. The winds howled and tossed the great waters of the world about and cracked the earth apart. Spirits and flames and sunbeams danced at the chaos. And in the midst of that a great voice called out to find his home. That man knew decades of agony, which came from decades of knowing who he was and who he belonged to, but with no discernible path to get back to his loved ones. At the end of this journey the man returned to his land but as a result of great sacrifice.

Mother does know how many serpents or cyclops she would have to slay to return.

She must return. No matter how much she circles the earth she knows which land has given her ancestry, her family, and her sense of self. She has love for the people who have made her life what it is. She knows it is they that she must serve.

But where is the direction homeward, when all she sees is ocean?

Small stars are bathing in the waves. They shoot back and forth from the sky, boiling the water as they emerge. Milky foam bubbles. And in those bubbles are other voices, trying to find their way home.

Where am I? 

How do I return? 

I am a good person who deserves to be back in the world.

I will find the right path as long as you can help me.

Mother is not like Charon. She is no guide of this world. The voices screech and bawl until Mother shuts her ears with her hands. The stars take their orbital shapes, and they throw themselves back into the universe as if they are deserting this earth. Giant whirlwinds swirl in their departure. The waters of Okeanos hiss and crackle and cry.

Mother taps her feet against the surface. Her feet do not quiver or trip. She takes a step forward.

Water becomes salt.

She takes another step forward.

The salt becomes a cake under her feet.

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The Incredible “Everyday Elite” Runners of India

Everyday Elite: Sanjay Panghal

“There are legendary runners, and then there is Sanjay Panghal” #Panghal Xpress #pangale
We start off this years series on the Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India with the Phenomenal Running Icon Sanjay Panghal. Few can match the accolades, awards and championship titles amassed by him and his running group DXR in the last 5 years. No summary of his running trajectory can ever even come close to doing justice to his significant influence on the running game and in bringing in the glamour and panache connected to this “High Endurance Sport”.

An unparalleled and toptier runner, youthful and vibrant Sanjay Panghal is an IAF veteran, currently working as an Inspector in the Delhi Police. A devoted family man with three amazing kids and a lovely wife who has done as many spectacular runs with them as with his running buddies. Over his glittering marathon journey, Sanjay has time and time again achieved perfection in displaying his mastery over the sport by being outstanding, consistent, fast, and gutsy. Sanjay is known to reach exceptional physical peaks in training and in competition. He attributes the power of his mind and mental toughness in his success in achieving his running goals. As a top tier runner of the running fraternity, he believes in the philosophy of consistent training and planning. This has largely contributed to his winning mentality.

When Sanjay started running for his health, 5 years ago, he never imagined he would go on to become a trailblazing flag-bearer and much-beloved icon within the running community. His focus in the initial days of running for sport, was to be fit at age 46. He fondly remembers how keen he was at the Kabaddi and Volleyball tournaments during his stint with the Indian Air Force. However, at that time, it wasn’t easy for him to even get through the warmup without considerable physical effort and strain. He didn’t realize that what started out as a small run journey with a handful of his running buddies would have such a “life-altering” effect on his life path and, most importantly, make him fall in love with running as a sport. It all happened at the eventful time when he was posted at the Traffic unit with the Delhi Police and had little time to take care of his diet. This is when he consciously decided to take control of his health by starting a regular fitness routine. Even in his initial years as a runner, he would always stand out with his typical run style and form. He realised very early in his running attempts that when he set out to chase a running goal and would make consistent efforts daily, the hard work would help him realise his goals each day. He slowly embarked on a growth pattern of healthy habits and running soon became his passion. He boldly initiated consistent training and somehow was always keenly aware that his hardwork would reap him rewards. He started with small realistic goals and as his grit and willpower became stronger with running, he embarked on a remarkable journey where with each marathon he continued carving a niche for himself as a runner worth his mettle.

There has been no looking back since then for this prolific runner. His first trophy(1st Runners-up) was in an effortless 10K (#RunForRivers) at Mumbai, 5 years ago . He was in Mumbai for official work and decided, on a whim, to take part in the run. He finished with flying colours and returned with a well deserved podium and an unshakable confidence in his running prowess. The strength and accolades which followed this debut attempt was the confident jumpstart that his running journey required and the rest, like, they say, is history. Sanjay has emerged as a fiercely strong runner to reckon with, who has always been widely admired within the running community for his running legacy.

With a gold standard of quality and the depth of his concentration, he has triumphed in all the challenges that came his way in the last 5 years. Exhibiting a grit and determination to hone his killer instinct, he kept moving from one challenge to another and it was crystal clear that running was like a soothing elixir for him. He knew that every time he trained, he was advancing his own skill development which is essential for growth for any serious runner. Somewhere during this remarkable journey, his peers nicknamed him “Panghal Express” and it has continued till date. His gravity-defying leaps in skill and technique with each of his runs showed not just his competence and mastery over the sport but also made him an unstoppable runner to look out for. He exudes a towering but approachable personality and his guiding voice of excellence and good sense is “manna from heaven“ to all his fellow runners. With this attitude, he has grown leaps and bounds as a “ Frontrunner “ among  athletes and has more than 50 trophies/podiums that he has aquired during marathon journey. Some hallmark achievements however stand apart like the unimaginable Bronze podium at the World Highest Marathon, Ladakh Marathon 2022. With this achievement nobody could overlook his dimension of athletic excellence and influence on the sport.

 

 

Among his many jaw-dropping efforts at upping his running game was one such smashing performance at the Mt Abu Half Marathon 2019. Not only did he receive the top honours at this event, a first runners-up trophy but also turned the spotlight on himself as a “Titan” within the running community. Soon he approached almost folk-hero status and drew a Peter-Pan like admiration by cub runners and veterans alike. It became clear that joining Sanjay Panghal for any marathon, set the curve of excellence for any newbie runner wanting to prove his mettle. This same admirable ability to make tough spur of the moment decisions, in challenging runs, also saw him head the Delhi Police Cup Team which gave an outstanding performance by consecutively winning a Gold Podium at ADHM, back to back, 3 years in a row, 2018, 2019, 2022. He was at the helm, leading from the front of this award-winning team.

“Paying it forward “..“Action breeds action”

The time that Sanjay was embarking on his own running journey he simultaneously founded the running group DXR (Dwarka Xpress Runners) with his running buddy, Ajeet Yadav, another top tier, legendary runner. Being DXR leadership, Sanjay and Ajeet both knew from the onset that to keep running goals on track one needs to be part of a group where one can run together with others who show a similar growth mindset. Research has shown that runners who have group activities, recorded 78% higher active times that those who ran solo. They knew that the more plans runners made to meet up, they were more likely to show up for fitness activities and be consistent. Groups also pride the safety net cushion that helps one bounce back in the face of failure. The fear of failing is much less when working together in groups. These were key insights which led both of them to actively work towards building and strong army of DXR runners. This is the same strong running family that has been the catalyst in building a strong group of self supported runners.

Five years ago, they never thought that it would be the most game-changing decision that they would be taking. This talented and most humble duo has successfully made running the most sought after activity for any fitness enthusiast, in and around Delhi-NCR. Every group run meet that they plan in Dwarka New Delhi turns into a carnival of fun and admirable running feats of personal bests. The elements of pomp and colour at these events is a huge draw for runners who come from various parts of Delhi-NCR with their families to participate. With their characteristic wit and  fun-loving attitude they make pursuing running for a healthy lifestyle seem like an effortless activity. A clear win-win situation for all members , guaranteed.

 

Their unmatched contribution to the growth of this running group has helped to shape physical life and health of more than 3 5 0 + persons aged between 5 to 80 in just the Delhi – NCR region . Members who get placed in other parts of the world with each passing year and have had to move other cities, continue taking pride in being a part of the group. DXR loyalty is  evident in all members and you would see members donning the DXR Tee and Jacket at various National run events with great pride, some even claiming that it helps them achieve their personal  best on the running track. Team pride and selfless work for the running community are all hallmark traits of all DXR team members. DXR is thriving each day as a self supported running group because of the qualities that  are being passed on by the top leadership. Sanjay feels proud to acknowledge this as his biggest achievement that now the running group DXR has a somewhat legendary status within the  running community. Sanjay and Ajeet sure have a wonderful running family in the form of this vibrant group called DXR.

Sanjay, an enigmatic runner and a champion of his craft, is also deeply involved in Philanthropy. Other than making marathons accessible to all and keeping the morale of the self-supported group high by organising various events with minimal cost for members to participate, the group also spearheads various plogging runs to keep the Dwarka and Delhi-NCR area clean and green .This continued even during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. As the world around them changed drastically, Sanjay and Ajeet ,in their joint leadership capacity, turned the running group open as a platform to reach out and help communities in the Dwarka and Delhi-NCR regions to get the medical help that was required, especially covid related .The group also regularly conducts food drives to feed the needy homeless on the streets of Dwarka.

The group continues to thrive under their experienced leadership and the various events and challenges that are organised by them to keep all the members active and engaged with their fitness goals. Dwarka Xpress Runners celebrated their 5th year anniversary in 2022, October with great pomp and panache. In characteristic DXR style where a running event invariably transforms into a carnival of great strength and pomp. This event also saw the top leadership of DXR taking on the role of Race directors and the success that followed was understandable as it was an event organised by experienced runners for the benefit of the running community at very minimal costs.

Many young and seasoned runners are eager to share the track with Sanjay as he continues as a legendary ambassador, inspiring many to take on running a fitness sport. “The Panghal Express” is now the face of many premier national marathons events like HDOR, NDM, Super Sikh, Universal runners, Hindustan Marathon to name a few . The list is endless. He is a known figure in the “pacing” community for half and full marathons and many athletes around the country have finished many goal-oriented runs by joining his “pacing bus” It is a confidence he exudes not just in his own capability but also instilling the same in his followers. A newbie runner can just get goosebumps watching him run with his group in the wee-hours of the morning usually 5:30 am, pounding the tracks and working hard to finish his daily training.

There is no denying that, Sanjay sir as he is fondly addressed , is the pretty much the “God of running” for any newbie runner . When he comes down to the running track, he invariably commands that respect from everyone around him. Even after 5 years of running and achieving many accolades he reaches the running track with same humility, passion and enthusiasm as he had at the start of his running journey.

Another admirable quality of our “Everyday Elite” Sanjay is also how to stay aggressively focussed on his goals. Even while at the helm of a running group that is growing in leaps and bound every week you won’t see him lose focus of his own journey and individual goals. Not achieving one’s own goals because of lack of effort is just unacceptable to our “Everyday Elites” like Sanjay. Being top leadership of a vibrant and most popular running group in Delhi-NCR, Sanjay has had to deal with setbacks, other people’s opinion, his family commitments, unrest among team members,
Social media , pitfalls of fame, and many other related things. That, however, never takes his focus from why he embarked on this journey in the first place. He keeps his vision and stays true to his beliefs and never let anything from the outside world get inside his mind or head. That is the kind of mettle our “Everyday Elite” wear, just like an armour.

“The Goal is consecutive running , a certain mileage and remaining injury free”

As a prime example of “Everyday Elite” he understands that nothing will work unless he does and that there is no better time to start chasing your dreams than right now. It is clear to him that action breeds activity. He know if one takes initiative and trains consistently then one will surely succeed. He works endlessness with the community to show this in the most obvious way to his running group and his many fans. Being a front runner and visionary he knows that as he got closer to accomplishing his own goals through consistent effort, others too can replicate his run strategy and achieve the same success. It is this generosity in imparting knowledge, in a selfless, compassionate and humble manner, that makes our “Everyday Elite” stand head and shoulders above from other runners. This kind of need to push for consistency in his training in order to solidify his mettle as a strong runner, led Sanjay to embark on the unbelievable running streak journey. Redefining all the existing norms shown by other runners on run streaking, Sanjay demonstrated his own formula of streaking for assured success for any level of running athlete. He proudly claims that 8th of December, 2017 was his last day of rest from running. Once he started he didn’t want to stop. Not only is his contribution to making run streaking, running consecutive days for a set period, a recognisable sport, but he has also successfully put influence on “run streaking” in becoming an admirable and most sought after quality in any runner. Since then his weekly mileage is 100kms(approximately). Subsequently, he went on to accomplish more that 500 half marathons, an unbelievable feat and mind boggling achievement. It still remains a genuine
moment of human achievement within Indian running community.

Now its common place to see many athletes using this streaking technique in accomplishing their running goals and even train for any challenging upcoming marathon events. Sanjay seems to have chartered a roadmap on how an athlete can make oneself accountable to train towards one’s running goals.

Not only has our “Everyday Elite” completed tough runs through the harsh blazing sun, through heavy pouring rain, extreme cold temperatures and extremely high altitudes with poor oxygen levels but has gone to earn a folklore status and is considered unstoppable. Even at an unfortunately time when he was struck down with covid, he kept his minimum mileage from his indoor workout and was regular in sharing daily yoga and proper breathing exercises to his group members. He lowered his mileage and over time he regained his strength and was back soon being active. “Keep going no matter the circumstance” was his mainstay through this challenging time of his life.

Sanjay also is famous as the “Running Poet”, as his run posts usually are posted with typically candid and sublime, Urdu, prose and poetry. Many of his famous introspection runs, as he calls them, are runs after which he shares heartfelt poetry on relevant issues with some gravitas for his followers on strava, Facebook and Instagram. His posts are widely popular and and his poetry is as exceptional and awe-inspiring as his runs and has gained him huge following on social media. His engaged group of followers on Facebook ad Instagram are eagerly lapping up all his
sensational posts regularly.

It may seem to most that the path he has chosen for his run trajectory is out of most people’s comfort zone, Still, he wouldn’t stop. It is clear that running seems to be life itself for him. It would seem that he never lost sight of the impact of his potential streak journey and knew that it would be worth it. Some might say that he might be on a mission “to be the best”, and invariably all his fellow runners who accompany him, are also athletes who resonate a similar passion.He has been streaking now for 5 years and has shown that any goal is possible if one decides to be consistent. Giving up is never an option!

Showing the way and leading with example, Sanjay’s run workout schedule through the week is a very impressive one. A guaranteed game-changer for any runner to get faster and as well as last longer on the run track. He says it makes him feel invincible while following this routine. He is one of the few remarkable athletes who with their non-stop running streak have actually contributed to its popularity. His consistent and dedicated hardwork has brought it to the limelight and made it a mainstream phenomenon in running circles.

He may be busy accomplishing many firsts in his ultra-feats of running, but he always spares time to share tips and routines to novice runners. He believes that the biggest thing is not running consecutively but consecutively running with this mileage and remaining injury free through it all. In these five years he avoided and managed to give all fatigue/accidental injuries a miss. He attributes this to his“ Running Smart” routine. Smart running requires running with mind, Sanjay believes that body has limits not the mind. Most athletic elite are famously known to keep their training schedules as elusive as the holy grail but our “Everyday Elite” Sanjay has no qualms sharing with our readers his weekly run training schedule and he shares it with anyone with smarts to follow it.

His daily runs in a week are different everyday designed to keep challenging his body and ensuring a growth pattern for his fitness schedule. On Sundays there is long competitive run, where minimum 21K with good pace is done. Mondays is the special day he runs barefoot 10K which soothes the foot which have been subjected to Sunday gruelling. Tuesdays are carefully selected for a steady one hour Fasting 10K to give the body and soul some challenge in the form of hunger. Intermittent Fasting continues on Wednesday, with two small meals in 36 hours and a Chitchat/Buddy Run with peers to increase the endurance of body.Thursdays would see him doing a ‘Heart rate controlled’ 10K run which also focuses on aerobic running as well as landing style and breathing pattern. Fridays he keeps for speed workouts 10/12K Tempo/ Intervals/Slow Fast/ Progressive Runs, preparing for upcoming races.Saturdays are rest days where a 10K is just done with minimal efforts by mind and body. Apart from this 5 minutes pre-run exercise/workout and 20-30 minutes post run exercises are mandatory.

“Goal is to have the best running form” Advice for novice runners: “Compete with yourself.”
His advice to all cub runners to run to achieve fitness and compete with oneself and not with other athletes . He keeps emphasising the fact that to run with your body you have to run with the mind first. His advice is to focus on enjoying the running process and to reap its benefits to the maximum. Feeling pride, loyalty, and being humble, while showing grit are the key qualities he expects from newbie runner who joins to train with him and his running group. He understood from the onset the simple formula that is if one dedicates enough of themselves passionately then one could easily reach the top of one’s game. He makes any kind of run challenge seem possible. He shows that with definitive desire we can take action on that daily.

 

Our “Everyday Elite” Sanjay has shown that in order to receive success in running one will have to have to give something important in exchange. Loosely translated, It is one’s time, energy, and focus to running consistency with a goal-oriented focus. His own next run target is to qualify for Boston by performing at his top form at the Apollo New Delhi Marathon 2023.
Sanjay’s run journey seems to make us believe that when the journey gets tough, we have to keep pushing till the good parts start showing. Even today, he is acutely aware that there are better runners than him, and despite all his accolades, someone better would soon come along. Staying humble through these realisations is his hallmark trait. Top that with an unshakeable confidence in his ability, he is easily one of the most amiable and respected athletes within the running community.
Sanjay realises that ‘Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion’. This particular insight gave him the freedom to always try harder and dream a little bigger. He applies it in each and every aspect of his life, not just running. To overcome the barriers that most athletes create for themselves our “Everyday Elite” consciously leaves any fear and insecurity behind and has been creating a legacy of life lessons for the running community. Sanjay’s incredible runs and the challenges that he has embarked on are his legacy. A legacy of coming on the top through action and an unshakable belief in one’s capabilities.

 

 

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Dr. Gopinath Upamaka suddenly passed away at home on February 3, 2023. Dr. Upamaka, lovingly known as Gopi or Doc, was a devoted father, husband and cardiologist. Beloved by all those around him, Gopi changed so many lives.

Born in Hyderabad, India, in 1959, he completed his medical school at Osmania Medical School in 1983 and married the love of his life, Anu also in 1983. He moved to the United States in 1984 and completed his residency at Mt. Sinai and fellowship at Metro General in Cleveland, Ohio. He made the journey to Toledo with his wife and joined private practice as a cardiologist. Anu and Gopi had two beautiful children, Navin and Neelima as they built a wonderful life in Toledo.

Gopi was best known lovingly as one of Toledo’s premier cardiologists, serving his community for over 30 years. He was an integral partner with the original Northwest Ohio Cardiology Consultants and had the honor of being President and Medical Chief of Staff at Toledo Hospital from 2005-2007. His patients, staff and colleagues all loved him.

He is survived by his wife, Anuradha; children, Navin and Neelima; sister, Satya Rao (Siva Yechoor); and brother, Raghu Rao (Kanchana Rao) He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Brahmaji Rao and Girija Rao.

Friends may visit the family on Thursday, February 9, 2023, at the Walker Funeral Home, 5155 Sylvania Ave. (west of Corey) from 8:30 am until 10 am where a Celebration of Life will take place beginning at 10 am followed by a Hindu Ceremony at 12 Noon. Further cremation services will take place at Toledo Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the American Heart Association. Condolences may be shared with the family at:
www.walkerfuneralhomes.comc

UAE Visa Changes And 3-Day Weekend Plan Announced

The UAE has made major changes to visas last week, updating rules on renewals as well as guidelines for people living abroad. At the same time a three-day weekend scheme in parts of the UAE have been declared a success and a new megaproject has been announced.

It has been a busy week in the Middle East with headlines on holidays and visas across the region. Dubai made headlines after police gave a safety warning over a so-called “silent killer”. The emirate also has a new city after a district was renamed.

Public holidays in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and across the GCC are a mixture of religious observances and days of national celebration and recognition.

While public and private sectors in all countries offer holidays for occasions such as Eid, there are specific observances only recognized in certain countries.

It means that keeping track of every country’s public holiday and dates of business can be complex.  Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, has ordered that a district in the emirate be renamed. The city includes four zones, Hind 1, Hind 2, Hind 3, and Hind 4, and spans an area of 83.9km.

Dubai Police warning over ‘silent killer’

Dubai Police has issued a safety advisory on the dangers of accidentally inhaling carbon monoxide (CO), which can be produced by burning fuel in appliances such as stoves, ovens, fireplaces, and heating systems.

Butti Ahmed bin Darwish Al Falasi, director of the Security Awareness Department in the General Department of Community Happiness at Dubai Police, said that carbon monoxide exposures and poisonings occur more often during summer and winter seasons due to the lack of awareness and wrong practices of some individuals.

“In summer, the most common way of getting carbon monoxide poisoning is when the AC of an automobile is on while it’s idle in a closed garage or space without proper ventilation. Meanwhile, carbon monoxide poisoning occurs in winter as people are more likely to use gas furnaces and heating appliances seeking warmth in closed places or structures with minimal airflow. Carbon monoxide is odourless, so it goes undetected by humans and silently kills them.”

UAE changes visa rules for those living abroad

UAE residence visa holders can now apply for a re-entry permit, if they are outside the country for more than six months. Residents will have to specify the reason for staying outside and provide proof as well.

The service can be accessed by residents via the UAE Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) website, under the ‘smart services’ page. Residents can also apply for a re-entry permit via smart service centers or typing centers.

UAE 3-day weekend plan success

Government agencies in Sharjah moved to a four-day working week in January last year. At a meeting of the Sharjah Executive Council (SEC) last week, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah chaired a session where the success of the move was reviewed.

The SEC reviewed a study of the three-day weekend work system and results showed an increase in employees productivity of 88 percent across Government entities. The change to the working week also led to:

  • 81 per cent increase in positive communication between employees
  • 61 per cent increase in the rate of providing e-government services outside of official working hours
  • 74 per cent increase in the attendance rate
  • 76 per cent increase in innovation and creativity
  • 46 per cent decrease in sick leave rate

UAE announces major visa change for all nationalities

The UAE Federal Authority for Identity, Nationality, Customs and Ports Security (ICP) has launched a new service through its smart services, which allows visitors to extend the validity of all types of visas issued to them for 60 days.

However, this service can be availed only once, a report by Gulf Today said, citing the ICP. “They can do this only before entering the country,” ICP said.

The fee to extend a visa validity is reportedly priced at AED200, including AED100 for the smart services, AED50 for the application form and AED50 for the authority and the electronic services offered to customers.

The Loop

Dubai will soon be home to a 93-kilometre, climate controlled highway, titled ‘THE LOOP’. The new highway is aimed at connecting more than 3 million residents using a “healthy mode of transport, access to key services and locations by walking and cycling within minutes,” sustainable architecture firm URB said in a statement.

“It will provide an enjoyable climate controlled all-year environment, to make walking and cycling the primary mode of transport for Dubai’s residents, in line with its new 20-minute city initiative. The aim is to make cycling and walking the primary mode of transport for daily commutes for more than 80 percent of Dubai’s residents by 2040,” the statement added.

THE LOOP project in Dubai is in place to develop a smart cycling and walking infrastructure, however it is still at its research and development phase, URB said. Key facts of THE LOOP include:

  • 93 kilometers
  • 100 percent renewable energy using kinetic power
  • Zero emissions transport system
  • 100 percent recycled water for irrigation
  • Additional amenities for residents
  • Promotes health and wellbeing
  • Vertical farms for food security

Visa Centers To Disappear, And One Can Obtain Visa Without Leaving Home

Visa centers will soon disappear, and it will be possible to get a Schengen visa without leaving home. This result of the procedures of complete digitalization of the process of obtaining visas was presented in the European media. At the same time, according to experts, the process will last several years, but everything can happen shortly – the European Union has already started work.

According to experts, the first step was the adopted law on digitalization of the visa procedure, which the EU Parliament passed. As a reminder, its essence boils down to abandoning “paper” visas and issuing Schengen visas only in digital form (read details here).

The EU authorities are sure that the path of “digitalization” can go even further. “Visa applications will be processed on a single online platform, which will also inform applicants of which country they will be granted a visa for in case of multi-country travel. The new system is also designed to work harmoniously with the ecosystem of EU border management systems and databases. Making the entire process of obtaining a Schengen visa online for travelers who need it to visit any of the 27 member states will not only make life easier for applicants, requiring less effort and cost but will also improve security in the EU,” MEPs said.

At the same time, the experts called the first advantage of the digitalization of Schengen visa procedures that the digitization of the Schengen visa application procedures means that tourists will no longer need to go to the embassy, visa center, or consulate to submit the necessary documents and application form.

They will be able to simply go to the system’s website, fill out all the applications, and then all they have to do is upload the necessary documents to obtain a Schengen visa, including a scanned passport, a recent photograph, a travel insurance amount of EUR 30,000 and other scanned documents. At the same time, the system will, according to the idea, prompt the user if he fills in something by mistake. So far, however, such a site does not exist – even in the mode of the test version.

“Each applicant must submit a completed application form using the EU application platform, including a statement on the authenticity, completeness, correctness, and reliability of the submitted data, as well as a statement on the truthfulness and reliability of the statements made,” the European Parliament also stated.

In-person, tourists only have to appear at a biometrics collection center on their first visa application to be fingerprinted and photographed, but this will only happen once every five years as long as they apply for a visa with the same document.

As soon as the application is processed, information about the results of the application review will be sent to tourists by e-mail. Moreover, they no longer need to stick the visa itself to the passport – it will be issued digitally in the form of a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed by the Country Signature Certification Center (CSCA) of the member state that issued the visa.

What is essential — tourists are assured that the innovation will not only not make the visa more expensive, but will also make it cheaper.

However, so far these are “theoretical explanations”. As stated in the European Parliament, it will take at least five years to create and operate the platform. And given the experience of implementing other systems — most likely even more.

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