Dr. Manju Sheth: An Inspiring Role Model For Women

A physician by profession, having a passion for media and commitment to serve the larger humanity, with special focus on women’s empowerment, Dr. Manju Sheth is a Board Certified Internist, currently serving patients at Beth Israel Lahey Hospital.in the Boston Region in Massachusetts.

Dr. Sheth wears many hats to her credit. A multi-tasker and with full of energy, Dr. Sheth says, “If you want to do something in life then you will find a way.” It has not been easy to be “a physician, mother, media personality, and be involved in our vibrant New England community and the media world, but each of my involvements is truly important to me, and I give my full heart and energy to each of them. I always remind myself, that anything worth having has to be worked for.”

Recalling her childhood, growing up in India, and about her ambitions in life, Dr. Sheth says, “Growing up in a close-knit family, I had a wonderful childhood with two great parents and two wonderful brothers.” Dr. Sheth is proud that “I have made my mom’s dream a reality by becoming an accomplished Doctor.”

Dr. Sheth had a passion for writing from school days onwards. “I always loved to write and was also the editor of my school magazine and wrote for local magazines as well. Although journalism was not the most popular career for women in India, especially in those days, “it remained a big passion for me. I have always been intrigued by people’s stories. And once I was well settled in my medical career, I decided to pursue my passion for media as well. The media world has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people, and bring a platform to unique and powerful stories.”

Having endowed with the gift of writing, Dr. Sheth is known to be a natural storyteller and “I truly believe that every life has a story and a dream. I’m always looking to hear stories of everybody’s life, in everyone that I meet, and then I look to find the right platform and the right medium to showcase it.” Her popular “Chai with Manju” celebrity series is one of the most read news features in the New England region, where she featured celebrities and spiritual leaders such as Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Kennedys and the like.

Dr. Sheth was the co-founder and CEO of INE MultiMedia, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting and supporting charitable organizations, art, culture, education and empowerment through workshops, seminars and multimedia. Dr. Sheth is a former trustee of the Indian-American Forum for Political Education. Dr. Sheth is very dedicated to the education of the community about health related issues, and is also the producer and chair of the annual free mega Health & Wellness Expo.

“I am a very genuine person, what you see is what you get,” says Dr. Sheth about herself. “There is nothing fake or unauthentic in what I do. I am very creative with a big vision, always looking to create & conceptualize the next exciting project. I am also a very positive person and make conscious effort to not have any negativity around me because I believe that negativity & conflicts crush creativity.”

Dr. Sheth has been a big advocate for empowerment of women and she has invested her time, energy and efforts all her life more than any other cause. “I’ve always had a passion for women empowerment, and I bring that to all the projects and opportunities I pursue,” she says. She has served on the board of ATASK (Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence) and as the Chairperson of Saheli, a prestigious Boston based organization, whose mission is to empower South Asian women to lead safe and healthy lives.

Having served on spreading awareness on women’s rights, Dr. Sheth says, “My biggest focus right now is the new Women who win # Dreamcatchers platform where we showcase dreams, passions & life lessons of a women’s journey on our website, womenwhowin100.com and on multiple social media platforms. And this initiative keeps me stay motivated each and every day.”

Born out of combination of her passions for both media and women empowerment, this noble initiative was co-founded by Dr. Sheth, her daughter, Shaleen Sheth, and her close friend, Deepa Jhaveri. The new global media platform is founded with the “mission to empower women across all ages, industries, and backgrounds, bringing women from around the world together daily with our inspiring, relatable, and relevant original stories,” Dr. Sheth explains. “With thousands of members and daily readers, our membership and our readership spans over 80 countries, and across the United States on our multiple social media channels.

How does this new platform reach and inspire women across the world, especially during the Covid pandemic? The new and unforeseen challenges did not deter the creative energy of Dr. Sheth. “We wanted to bring positivity and inspiration, reminding women to continue chasing their dreams and make it a reality. Through story-sharing and skill-sharing ,we equip our readers and members to pursue their next dream. By voicing their story on our platform, they see that their dream is achievable, and there is a whole network of women and mentors around the world encouraging them and celebrating each other. And, I am truly excited for this new journey,” describes the women’s leader.

She served as the president of Indian Medical Association of New England in 2013. Upon her election to be the president of Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE) Dr. Sheth said, “My goals for the group in the coming year include strengthening ties with the research and academic medical community, deepening IMANE’s many charitable, social and professional activities and organizing a collaborative health expo that will bring various hospitals and health care providers together with the Indian community.” At the end of her presidency, she had accomplished her goals and was highly praised for her leadership.

She has played an important role as the Director of the annual Woman of the Year award show, a  Flagship Event of India New England News, which recognizes and honors South Asian women of New England for the past eight years , She is the co-producer and creator of New England Choice Awards along with Upendra Mishra, This is one of the most popular and much awaited shows in New England, which has honored Nitin Nohria Desh and Jaishree Deshpande, and many others who have given back to the larger society.

Describing herself as “a visionary with a mission,” Dr. Sheth, a diehard optimistic person, says, “Once I am convinced on a mission to accomplish something, I give my one hundred percent to the cause. I am also quite a perfectionist .I do tend to work 24/7 as I get closer to my big events & am often reminded by my family & friends to take a break .”

Calling herself a “diehard mystery buff,” Dr. Sheth who was trained in Medicine in London, says, “I have been in love with British mysteries as well as mystery shows.” Having a background with varying interests and diversities has been a huge blessing. “I am a Sindhi from Delhi married to a Gujrati and went to college in Kolkata,” says Dr Sheth. “I am also very good cook. And I love cooking great Sindhi,Guju & Bengali food is my specialty. Spending time with family& friends, of course is the most important thing in life.”

What motivates her to do what she has been doing all her life? Imbibed with the desire to give back to the world that has given her much, Dr. Sheth says, “I just like to make things better than what they are. Whatever I am doing in life, whether it’s seeing my patients, cooking, doing a social or media project, I have to do it better than the last time. I have to do be a better person in the evening than I was in the morning. It’s my inherent need for constant improvement that motivates me.”

Although Dr. Sheth and her accomplishments are well known in the New England region, she says, “My greatest achievement in life is being a mother and raising my beautiful daughter. She is everything that a mother could dream off in a child. She’s smart, kind, compassionate and she has a lot of gratitude for the opportunities that life has brought her.”  One of the first things that she taught her daughter as well was her favorite quote is that “if you reach for the moon then at least you land among the stars.”

Dr. Sheth is grateful to all who have made her what she is today. She believes that so many people whom she has met in life have inspired her and taught, and motivated her dream big and give her best to all the noble causes and dreams. “Gratitude is important for me .I never forget any kindness or someone going out of their way for me in life,” says Dr. Sheth. She expresses her gratitude to her “mom and my grandmother, and in the public sphere, it is Oprah. I like her ability to empathize with people and always land on her feet no matter what is thrown at her in life.”

Recognitions and awards came her way as her noble works came to be recognized by the larger society. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognized Dr. Sheth for her contributions to the medical community and her empowerment and promotion of other successful women of South Asian descent throughout Massachusetts. YWCA Boston, one of the nation’s oldest organizations which has been striving to create racial, gender and social equity in Boston for 150 years, inducted Dr. Sheth along with Mindy Kaling in its list of 150 Boston Women of Influence Series recently. She has been widely recognized for her community services, and was voted Woman of the Year in 2011 as well as among the top 50 most influential Indians in New England.

Dr. Sheth is married to a physician, Dr. Dipak Sheth, and has a 22 year old daughter Shaleen. Her message for everyone is: “Always do the right thing. I feel that somehow life works out if you follow this principle. And pick a journey of your choice and be your best .I am not a fan of mediocrity.”

Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman and Woman of Color as Vice President of USA

The greatest democracy on earth took over 250 years to elect a female to be the Vice President. And, justifiably so, the first woman, who has made the cut, breaking the barriers and the glass ceilings that prevented any female from being elected to the office, is none other than the first time Senator from California, an first Indian American and Black American candidate, Kamala Harris. When Joe Biden, President-Elect gives his first speech to Congress, his first words promise to be memorable: “Madame Vice-President”.

The historic 2020 election, held among a pandemic that has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, did not deter the nearly 150 million Americans from casting their ballots, the highest ever voter turn out in any US election, helped win Biden-Harris ticket to the White House on November 3rd, 2020.  With millions of votes still to be counted, the Biden-Harris ticket has received the most votes ever – more than 75 million – in the history of America’s elections.

When Kamala Devi Harris enters 1 Observatory Circle, the official home of the Vice President in January 2021, she will have achieved many firsts: The first woman, the first person of Indian descent, the first African-American, the first with Jamaican heritage, the first daughter of immigrants to hold that office

Joe Biden, who has been declared the winner of the 2020 US presidential election by the media, marveling at her string of firsts, said on Saturday: “Once again, America has bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. It’s long overdue.”

Her multi-racial background gives her a degree of identity fluidity to navigate American society riven by race and ethnicity. Harris’ lightning fast political rise and her triumph marks a high point for women of color in politics at an anxious time in American society. Harris, 55, is a California senator, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. She is also a former prosecutor, whose grilling of Trump’s appointees and unflappable cool has transported her to Democratic Party stardom.

Harris won her first election in 2003 and became San Francisco’s district attorney. In 2010, she became the first woman of color to be elected California’s attorney general. Harris was elected to the US Senate in 2016. The historic nature of Harris’ candidacy has underlined her every stump speech, and Harris handled the pressure with a certain confidence that comes from years of tough questioning and tons of preparation.

Surrounded by the unmistakable aura of a historic campaign, the Harris candidacy has had some remarkable moments since August. First came Harris’ introduction to America, during the Democratic National Convention. There, Harris framed the election as a race that hinges, among other things, on the fighting spirit that her mother taught her.

“There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother. She’d say, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’” has become Harris’ favorite pull out on her mother Shyamala Gopalan, a woman who paved the way for Harris’ path-breaking candidacy.

Shyamala Gopalan came to the US from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met Donald Harris who had come from Jamaica to study economics. “They fell in love in that most American way — while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.”

In all her best moments of political oratory, Harris finds ways of weaving in echoes of her mother’s fight song and the civil rights movement, just like she did during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. The Shyamala Gopalan stamp on Kamala Harris’ candidacy is at once powerful and unmistakable. Harris grew up between Oakland and Berkeley in California and spent time in college towns in the Midwest before attending college on the US East Coast. Harris’ father, in an essay, describes his elder child Kamala Harris as “ever the adventurous and assertive one”.

Harris is the embodiment of the American dream with the amalgam of all those unique identities and adding to that her White Jewish husband, Douglas Emhoff, and step-daughters to complete the American mosaic.

“Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?” Harris said at the Democratic National Convention in August. “They will ask us, what was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did.”

Born in the US to immigrants, cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan from India and economics professor Donald Harris from Jamaica, Harris has leapt in a generation to a position that puts her a heartbeat away from the presidency. Harris wrote in her memoir, “The Truths We Hold”, that she was raised in “a place where people believed in the most basic tenet of the American Dream: that if you worked hard and do right by the world, your kids will be better of than you were”.

While the African-American identity became the dominant one and, in fact, the one that boosted her chances to the get the vice presidential nomination, Harris wrote: “Our classical Indian names harked back to our heritage and we were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture. “My mother, grandparents, aunts and uncle instilled us with pride in our South Asian roots. “I was also very close to my mother’s brother, Balu, and her two sisters, Sarala and Chinni (whom I called Chittis, which means ‘younger mother’ (in Tamil),” she recalled.

In her memoir, Harris wrote that the lesson she inherited from her mother that “it was service to others that gave life purpose and meaning” came from her grandmother Rajam, who had not completed high school but was a fiery protector of victims of domestic abuse.

In her victory speech on Saturday night, she said of her mother: “When she came here from India at the age of 19, maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”

Joe Biden Elected 46th President of the United States

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the corona virus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office. America has chosen Democrat Joe Biden as its 46th president, turning at a time of national crisis to a man whose character was forged by aching personal tragedy and who is pledging to restore calm and truth after Donald Trump‘s exhausting and manic single term.

After four full days of waiting patiently for the slow march of vote counting to work itself out, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph R Biden, 77, pulled off one of the great political turnarounds in America by defeating Donald Trump in the US 2020 election. When he is sworn in on January 20, 2021, Biden will be 78. Exactly 160 years ago around this time, Abraham Lincoln was elected US President.

The Associated Press called the 2020 election for Democratic nominee Joe Biden after calling the race in Pennsylvania, giving the former vice president more than the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees a United States,” Biden said.

Biden’s victory was the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats and others who have resisted Trump. It was celebrated by an emotional outpouring in cities coast to coast that ended with a tailgate-style victory party in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Del. The election took four days to be resolved after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, and was clinched by the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.In a prime-time speech to flag-waving supporters outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Biden made no mention of Trump’s intransigence, instead offering an olive branch to the president’s supporters and imploring all Americans to “put away the harsh rhetoric” and end “this grim era of demonization.”

“To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy,” Biden said, before referring to the Book of Ecclesiastes. “The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.” Before introducing Biden, Harris acknowledged the history-making reality of her election, saying she stood on the shoulders of trailblazing women and would do her best to join their ranks.

The current occupant of the White House continues to project a defiant public posture, though. White House insiders, although deflated, have been sending signals that Trump has no plans to concede until every last fight is finished. Five states are yet to report final results. Trump is fuming, he remains defiant and continues to allege “fraud” in Pennsylvania and other battlegrounds. His children have chimed into the overall White House meltdown, in terms that generally occupy the wide arc between what’s “legal” and “illegal”. While President Trump is contesting the outcome of the election, experts see no clear path to reversing the results, since Biden has won too many electoral college votes and is too far ahead in key states for legal challenges to make much of a difference.

Biden is a sharp contrast to Trump, both in the personal and political realm. The last three days in particular have shown Americans glimpses of that very difference. Biden spent every day since November 3 trying to ease tensions and delivering his messages with little outward show of anxiety. The disciplined nature of the campaign extends to plans for the lame duck phase of the Trump presidency. Two full days before the final results came, the Biden campaign unveiled its transition website, underscoring its quiet confidence in what was to come.

Former President Barack Obama released a statement that served as testimonial to the character of his former vice president and asked Americans to set aside their political differences and give him a chance.  “When he walks into the White House in January, he’ll face a series of extraordinary challenges no incoming President ever has — a raging pandemic, an unequal economy and justice system, a democracy at risk, and a climate in peril,” Obama wrote. “I know he’ll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote.”  The former President asked every American to “give him a chance and lend him your support.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy to Chair COVID Task Force of the Biden Administration

Dr. Vivek Murthy, former US Surgeon General of the United states under Obama administration will chair the COVID Task Force, the Biden-Harris transition team announced on Monday, November 9th. It’s been reported that the members of its COVID-19 advisory board, and met with them for several hours in a virtual conference before President-elect Joe Biden made remarks stressing the importance of mask wearing as a continued “weapon” in the fight against COVID-19. The other Indian American on the panel is Dr. Atul Gawande, Professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School, and has served as a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration.

“As we work toward a safe and effective vaccine, the single most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19: wear a mask,” Biden said, as he held up his own mask. “The head of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus.”

President-elect Joe Biden has turned to three prominent physicians to lead his coronavirus task force who have collectively signaled that they will approach the pandemic far differently than the Trump administration, which they have criticized for mixing politics with science.

A top Biden aide announced that the two co-chairs of the incoming administration’s task force: Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, and David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Murthy and Kessler were outspoken during the 2020 campaign about the need for the FDA to avoid the perception of political interference in evaluating and approving a Covid-19 vaccine.

The message was a stark contrast to the position taken by the Trump administration, which has not fully supported public health measures including mask wearing and social distancing, despite the advice of public health experts. Biden’s plea sets a distinctly different tone for how his administration will approach the pandemic and the role that scientific advice will play in guiding federal, and ultimately state, policies in addressing COVID-19.

A statement announcing the board members stressed that the goals of the board will include working with state and local health officials “to determine the public health and economic steps necessary to get the virus under control, to deliver immediate relief to working families, to address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, and to reopen our schools and businesses safely and effectively.”

The other members include Rick Bright, a virologist who formerly headed the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under the Trump administration, and who has advised the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Defense on public-health preparedness. Bright filed a whistle-blower complaint last spring stating that his warnings about the dangers of COVID-19 were dismissed and alleging that he was removed from his BARDA position after noting the lack of solid evidence supporting the benefits of hydroxychloroquine, which Trump touted. His appointment to the board is a signal that the Biden team is prioritizing science in guiding its pandemic response.

Biden noted that global health leaders are also part of the board, in order to “restore U.S. global leadership to fight this pandemic.” For example, included are Dr. Luciana Borio, vice president at In-Q-Tel, a technology-focused company that provides tech-based solutions to security issues, and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations focusing on biodefense and managing public health emergencies; Borio has previously worked in the FDA’s office of counterterrorism and emerging threats. There is also Loyce Pace, executive director and president of the Global Health Council, who has worked with patient and scientific advocacy groups in the U.S. and around the world.

The team also includes a physician on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, a professor at University of California, San Francisco. And the board is rounded out by former government advisors such as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, who has advised the White House Office of Management and Budget and the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Atul Gawande, professor at Brigham and women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who advised the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton Administration; Dr. Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who served on the CDC’s immunization advisory committee; and Dr. Eric Goosby, a professor at University of California San Francisco who served as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Envoy for tuberculosis for the U.N. Secretary General; as well as state public-health experts such as Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine who served in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the center for infectious disease research and policy at the University of Minnesota who worked in the Minnesota Department of Health as an epidemiologist.

Murthy, 43, who served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States during Obama Administration from December 2014 to April 2017, said Americans need a leader who works with the people for the progress of the country. “Our job is to speak the truth about public health even when it’s controversial or perceived as political. So here’s the truth. Our nation absolutely has what it takes to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic that’s claimed tens of thousands of our loved ones. We have the talent, resources and technology. What we’re missing is leadership,” Murthy said during the Democratic Party Convention in August this year. “Our nation absolutely has what it takes to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed thousands of our loved ones,” said Murthy.

 Dr. Murthy’s commitment to medicine and health began early in life. The son of immigrants from India, he discovered the art of healing watching his parents – Hallegere and Myetriae Murthy – treat patients like family in his father’s medical clinic in Miami, Florida.

Having worked with Biden, Murthy said he has seen who Biden is “with no cameras around, how he sits with people and their pain and holds them in his heart.”  Biden pours over COVID briefings, asks smart questions and lets science guide his way, just as he did when managing the Ebola crisis, Murthy said.  Murthy underlined that Biden is a leader that America needs today.

Evelyn Sharma is India’s face of a new fashion system

The first week of October witnessed the world’s most concerned fashion (CFS) industry experts gather at the Paris Fashion Week’s Circular Fashion Summit. Organised by lablaco in association with Microsoft’s AltspaceVR, Unity Technologies, Oculus, and Unilever to pioneer the redesign of events for the first ever virtual reality summit in fashion, Station F in Paris and attended by companies such as Hermes, Chanel and Balenciaga.

Evelyn Sharma, actor and ambassador to ‘reusable, up-cycled’ fashion’ represented India at this one of a kind Circular Fashion Summit that reconstructed the Grand Palais in Paris, famous for hosting spectacular fashion shows, in virtual reality. Fashion week leaders from Shanghai, Paris, London, Milan and New York united for the first time in virtual reality at the Circular Fashion Summit.

It featured names such as Burak Cakmak, Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, Shaway Yeh, founder of yehyehyeh and former Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast, Pascal Morand, Executive President of Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council and  Carlo Capasa, President and CEO of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana

Speaking post the event, Evelyn Sharma shared  “ it was  an exciting opportunity to learn more about collective action on issues of innovation, digitization, greater sustainability and social diversity in the fashion industry.”

“As the fashion industry readjusts its rules to a new world order to survive, Circular Fashion Summit comes at a timely moment to give the platform to key stakeholders for their insights into what is next. What better way to do this than have the conversation in a parallel universe in virtual reality where social distancing rules don’t apply,” added Burak Cakmak, Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design.

The goal of the CFS was to  initiate measurable action to sustain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, to reduce social inequality, advance innovation in the fashion industry, and promote responsible consumption.

“Now more than ever have we felt the readiness of the market and the opportunity to truly accelerate the digitization and transition of the fashion industry towards a global circular economy powered by collective action and technology.” — Lorenzo and Yun, Co-Founders of lablaco and CFS.

Evelyn Sharma is an actor who runs Seams for Dreams in India. Seams For Dreams is founded on the philosophy that every piece of fabric can and should be reused instead of being discarded into landfills. Seams for Dreams  aims to give clothes a second life and new purpose through reusing, recycling, and upcycling. 


AAPI Hails Appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy to Lead Covid Task Force by President-Elect Joe Biden

(Washington, DC – November 10, 2010) : “Dr. Vivek Murthy’s appointment by President-Elect Joe Biden to co-chair the Task Force on Corona Virus is highly critical, timely, and much needed,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today. While praising the appointment of the Task Force to be the very first major announcement by the new administration led by President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, Dr. Jonnalagadda described the choice of Dr. Murthy to chair and Dr. Atul Gawande as a member of the Task Force, as “cementing the reputation physicians of Indian origin have across America.” President-elect Joe Biden has turned to three prominent physicians to lead his coronavirus task force who have collectively signaled that they will approach the pandemic far differently than the Trump administration, which they have criticized for mixing politics with science. A top Biden aide announced on Sunday, November 8th the two co-chairs of the incoming administration’s task force: Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, and David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Murthy and Kessler were outspoken during the 2020 campaign about the need for the FDA to avoid the perception of political interference in evaluating and approving a Covid-19 vaccine. “America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and is expected to continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate action,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. ‘That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. The announcement of the Task Force by Biden promises the chance to change that in the coming weeks and months.” “President-Elect Biden has made the right choice in naming the two highly qualified physicians of Indian origin to serve on the most important panel to combat the pandemic and suggest ways to fight and contain the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI’s BOT. Dr. Vivek Murthy, co-chair, was the U.S. surgeon general from 2014-17, who commanded public health force that dealt with Ebola, Zika and Flint water crisis. Dr. Atul Gawande. Professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School, has served as a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration. “We are proud of Dr. Vivek Murthy and his many accomplishments and look forward to supporting him throughout the process, as the nation and the entire world seeks to find best possible solutions to tackle the pandemic that has taken the lives of over a million people around the world and nearly 240,000 in the US alone,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, that represents over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin in the United States. Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, stated that with Dr. Murthy leading the Task Force on the pandemic, he is “looking forward to bringing the experience and perspective of real experts and doctors to the table. His ethics, quiet leadership style and impeccable credentials make him the smart choice for this leadership role.” “Dr. Vivek Murthy represents the next generation of Indian American physicians,” Dr. Amith Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said.  “Dr. Murthy was America’s youngest-ever top doctor, and he was also the first surgeon general of Indian-American descent, when appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014.”  “Dr. Vivek Murthy’s appointment to the Task Force brings new energy in the fight against Covid-19. We at AAPI, look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy and his team to end this deadly pandemic,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI.   Murthy, 43, who served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States during Obama Administration from December 2014 to April 2017, said Americans need a leader who works with the people for the progress of the country. Dr. Murthy’s commitment to medicine and health began early in life. The son of immigrants from India, he discovered the art of healing watching his parents – Hallegere and Myetriae Murthy – treat patients like family in his father’s medical clinic in Miami, Florida. Indian American Doctors have lobbied earnestly to have Dr. Murthy confirmed as the US Surgeon General under Obama administration. “The feeling of de ja vu was pervasive, of a triumph over injustice with a hard fought battle by the Indian community during his confirmation, with AAPI playing a major role that secured the prize of the highest position occupied by an Indian American, and that too by one from our second generation,” said Dr. Jahagirdar, who had led a delegation of AAPI leaders to be at the historic oath taking ceremony of Dr. Vivek Murthy as the US Surgeon General at Fort Myer in Virginia across from Washington DC on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.  “The oath ceremony, a proud moment for Indian Americans, was led by Joseph Biden, Vice President and currently President-Elect, held in a large hall like a school stadium, with flags in abundance rigged in from the ceiling and leaning in from the sidewalls,” recalls Dr. Suresh Reddy, the immediate past President of AAPI, who was present at the oath ceremony in the nation’s capital. “I am proud of our community of Indian physicians for all the progress that we have made over the years, and I know that AAPI has been a critical force in making this process possible. The advice you shared and assistance you kindly offered were important pieces of this journey,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated in a letter to Dr. Jayesh B. Shah, a past president of AAPI, who along with AAPI’s Legislative Affairs Chair, Dr. Sampat Shivangi and several others had led several delegations to US Senators, lobbying for his confirmation. For more information about AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org  


“I Will Govern As An American President,” Joe Biden Stakes Claim To White House

“I will govern as an American president,” Democratic Party candidate Joseph Biden said. “There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America,” as protracted vote counting continues into the weekend in the US Presidential Election held  on November 3rd,   which is considered by most as historic. “We’re going to win this race with a clear majority,” Biden said late Friday, speaking alongside his running mate, Kamala Harris, in his home state of Delaware. “What’s becoming clear each hour is that record number of Americans, of all races, faiths, religions, chose change over more of the same,” he said.

However the Democratic candidate – speaking in his home state of Delaware running mate Kamala Harris by his side on Friday night – stopped short of officially declaring victory in the presidential election. Joe Biden has staked his claim to the US presidency claiming that he has the electoral college votes for a victory, declaring, “We the people will not surrender.”

Biden’s paths to the White House are expanding. Combining the latest wins with Nevada and Georgia would take him past the tape. While all indications suggest that Mr. Biden has succeeded in defeating Mr. Trump, it’s still close enough in four states — Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia — that the contest remains unresolved.

As of early Saturday morning, the Associated Press had called races in most states, allotting to Biden 264 electoral votes, and to Trump, 214. A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to secure the presidency. Joseph Biden pulled ahead of President Trump by more than 28,000 votes in Pennsylvania, where a victory would give Biden the electoral votes he needs to win the presidency. He also widened his leads in Nevada and Georgia. The state of Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes — if President Trump fails win it, he cannot reach the crucial 270 necessary to secure the presidency.

Aides to the president have warned him that he has few legal options to contest the election results, but Trump still wants to try, according a former campaign adviser who remains in touch with key players told the media. “It’s dawning on him,” the former adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity to comment on private conversations. “He never thought he could lose … and those of us who are in Trump World, we actually never believed he could lose,” the former adviser said.

Biden’s speech took on a certain decisiveness in tone as confidence grew with the Democratic party, with back to back wins in Wisconsin and Michigan. These wins are part of the Democratic effort to reclaim a key part of the “blue wall” that slipped away four years ago. It also narrows Donald Trump’s path to reelection. Biden, 77, has told associates that he considers his two terms as vice president and his knowledge of how a White House operates from the inside as crucial advantages in building out a government. And he has made it plain in public and private that a diverse team is central to his mission.

Meanwhile, Biden’s advisers accelerated their transition planning as election results showed him with an advantage in battleground states that could hand him the presidency, with the first senior officials in a potential Biden White House possibly named as early as next week. In Wilmington and Washington, Biden’s advisers and allies are ramping up their conversations about who might fill critical posts, both in the West Wing and across the agencies, guided heavily by Biden’s plan to assemble what would be the most diverse cabinet in history.

Biden, who ran from Day 1 on a message of bringing the country together, is said to be interested in making a bipartisan gesture as he plans a prospective government after a divisive election whose results President Trump has tried to undermine. Biden is looking to fill out his possible White House staff first, with cabinet posts not expected to be announced until around Thanksgiving, according to more than a half-dozen people familiar with the planning process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the transition.

Biden’s team quietly began raising money for his transition operation in May and has raised at least $7 million to pay for its efforts. The Biden camp has prepared for multiple scenarios in case Trump refused to concede and his administration would not participate in a transition. So far, officials in Trump’s government have worked in good faith, according to Biden officials, who said they hoped and expected that cooperation to continue

According to New York Times, among those expected to play a key health care role in a Biden administration is Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general under President Barack Obama, who has privately advised Biden for months on the pandemic and is expected to play a large public role as a face of the potential Democratic administration’s response to the virus, dispensing advice on mask-wearing and social distancing.

At the center of Biden’s transition planning is Ted Kaufman, his former chief of staff in the Senate, who was appointed to replace Mr. Biden as a senator after he became vice president, as well as Jeff Zients, a former Obama administration official. Parts of the cast that had Mr. Biden’s ear throughout the presidential campaign — Anita Dunn, a senior adviser; Steve Ricchetti, another former vice-presidential chief of staff; and Mr. Klain — are among those guiding the formation of a would-be government. Senator Kamala Harris of California, his running mate, is generating names and speaks regularly to Mr. Biden. In Mr. Biden’s policy orbit on the campaign, Jake Sullivan and Antony J. Blinken are widely seen as the most influential figures, and both are expected to hold senior posts in a potential administration.

The Biden operation is preparing for Trump to potentially put up transition roadblocks. The transition team has already assembled a staff of more than 75 officials, with plans for that number to balloon to roughly 300 transition staff members by Inauguration Day in January.

Jenifer Rajkumar, Zohran Mamdani Elected to NY State Assembly

Jenifer Rajkumar and Zohran Mamdani, both of Indian heritage have been elected to the New York state Assembly on Tuesday — making them the first South Asians voted into the lower house of the state Legislature. Representing the Democratic Party from Queens, NY, Jenifer Rajkumar won 66 percent of votes and Zohran Mamdani won 72 percent. Mamdani, 29, who will represent Astoria, a multiethnic neighborhood in Queens, beat incumbent Aravella Simotas in the Democratic primary this year and faced no Republican opponent in the general election. Rajkumar, 38, who will represent parts of Queens that are largely made up of immigrants, won her primary in the state election cycle and defeated Republican Giovanni Perna on Tuesday. The 2010 census reported that more than 300,000 South Asians lived in New York City — about a third of the total Asian American population — but the community hasn’t had an elected desi representative before this year. Mamdani, a housing advocate, is among several progressive, Democratic Socialists of America-backed newcomers in New York politics who have unseated entrenched incumbents. Mamdani, an Indian American who was born and raised in Uganda and refers to himself as Indian Ugandan, is the son of the renowned filmmaker Mira Nair. He also used to work as a foreclosure housing counselor at Chhaya, an advocacy group based in Queens. Rajkumar, who won her primary over Democratic incumbent Michael Miller — who repeatedly voted against legalizing same sex-marriage — is an Indian American lawyer who previously ran for the Assembly in 2016. She previously served as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s director of immigration affairs and as special counsel for the New York State Department. Early in the year, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. — who is also Indian American — endorsed her. Only one other person of Indian descent has been elected to any government office in New York before Mamdani and Rajkumar: Kevin Thomas, who was elected to the state Senate from Long Island in 2018. Thomas, who along with John Liu became the first Asian American state senators, has advocated for official recognition of the Hindu festival Holi and has invited Muslim religious leaders to offer the Senate’s opening prayer. Queens is home to the largest concentration of South Asians in New York City, and yet no candidate has ever been elected from the heavily South Asian neighborhoods of Jackson Heights or Jamaica. The city’s 24th Assembly District is 26 percent South Asian, but it hasn’t yielded a single South Asian victory even though several candidates have run in the past. Gerrymandering has been a major obstacle to South Asians’ getting elected in New York, said John Albert, a founding board member of Taking Our Seat, a Queens-based organization working to increase South Asian political representation. Despite its large numbers, the community dominates no political district. Rajkumar said, “In Queens, district lines were drawn such that South Asian areas were cut into different parts.” Rajkumar said she believes she won because her campaign cut across community and ideological lines. “We won big not only in the South Asian community but in Latino, Irish and Italian neighborhoods,” she said. Albert said having Rajkumar and Mamdani in office during the redistricting process will be a boon. “They will both have a seat at the table as legislative districts are drawn, impacting district lines for a decade,” he said. “I hope they will use their position to pay close attention to areas outside of their own district where South Asian votes may be diluted through gerrymandering.” Mamdani, who won his primary by 300 votes, ascribed the lack of South Asians in the Assembly to “racism … what else?” His goal was to build a “multiracial coalition of the working class,” and he criticized the single-party Democratic machinery in New York as an impediment. “Indians, if we lack anything, it’s definitely not ambition and desire to run for office,” he said, pointing to the many others who have tried before. “For the fact that the party institutions that have held power have not picked and propelled someone from the community to do so shows that they haven’t had value for that.” Mamdani is not only the first Indian but also the third Muslim ever elected to the Assembly. Muslims make up 9 percent of the city’s population — about 800,000 people. Sangay Mishra, an assistant professor of political science at Drew University and author of “Desis Divided: The Political Lives of South Asian Americans,” said the problem is broad and systemic. While doing field work in New York, he said, he came across Bangladeshi and Indian groups that were trying to break into Democratic politics but failed. “The Democratic Party’s internal structure is completely controlled by certain groups,” Mishra said. “And there is very little space for new groups to enter into that machine.” Indian Americans overwhelmingly vote Democratic — 77 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and, according to one survey, 72 percent planned to vote for Joe Biden this election. But Albert, of Taking Our Seat, said the community should take “an equal measure of the blame for a lack of elected officials. There should be more unity within the South Asian community when it comes to fielding candidates for office,” he said. “Election time exposes long-standing rifts in the South Asian community based on religion, language and nation of origin which must be overcome.”

Battle For US Senate To Be Decided In January

As Americans woke the morning after Election Day and raced to their favorite news source, they quickly learned that both the presidential election and the U.S. Senate still hung in the balance. By Saturday morning, an anxious nation was still waiting, although Joe Biden was one state away from attaining 270 electoral votes and with it the Presidency.

However, the U.S. Senate is still undecided, with 48 seats so far claimed by both Democrats and Republicans. (The Democrats’ tally includes the two Independent Senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who caucus with the Democrats).

The Senate’s balance of power teeters on the fulcrum of four uncalled races. Although the outstanding seats favor Republicans narrowly holding on to control in the chamber, it is not a foregone conclusion. Friday evening brought news that the second Georgia Senate race was also headed to a run-off, under Georgia election law, meaning the final fate of Senate control will not be known until January. Read on for the latest.

The balance of power in the US Senate will be decided in January, when Georgia will hold run-off elections for both its Senate seats.  No candidate in either race has polled 50%, as required by state election law. The run-off elections will take place on 5 January, two days after the new Senate is due to convene. The Republicans currently have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate. So far, the Democrats have managed a net gain of one seat.

The Democrats had high hopes of gaining the four seats they needed to take control, but many Republican incumbents held their seats. If however the Democrats can gain both seats in Georgia, a traditionally Republican state, this would lead to a 50-50 tie in the Senate.

The result will effectively put them in control of the chamber if Joe Biden wins the White House, given the vice-president’s power to cast tie-breaking votes. In one of Georgia’s Senate races, incumbent Republican David Perdue had 49.8% of the vote and Democrat Jon Ossoff had 47.9%, according to media reports. “If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we’re ready, and we will win,” Mr Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry said on Thursday. But the Ossoff campaign predicted that “when a run-off is called and held in January, Georgians are going to send Jon to the Senate”.

In Georgia’s other Senate race, Democrat Raphael Warnock won 32.9% and will go into a run-off against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who trailed him with 26%. Loeffler was appointed to the Senate last year to fill a seat left vacant when her predecessor retired.

Of the 35 Senate seats being contested, 23 were Republican-held and 12 were Democrat. The Democrats had hoped to gain several seats, but one of only two wins came in Colorado, where former Governor John Hickenlooper defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner.

They also won a seat in Arizona, where former astronaut Mark Kelly defeated Republican incumbent and former fighter pilot Martha McSally. But this gain was cancelled out when Alabama Senator Doug Jones lost to Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville. In Maine, the moderate Republican incumbent Susan Collins staved off a fierce challenge from Democrat Sara Gideon. Democrats have not had control of the Senate for six years.

Although Georgia has long been considered a red state (it hasn’t voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1992), this year’s election has revealed there is an emergent plum color in the Peach State. Its 16 electoral votes are still unclaimed. While former Vice President Biden led President Trump by more than 95,000 votes (about 0.1%) as of Saturday morning, Georgia’s Secretary of State has indicated a recount is likely.

The January Georgia Senate showdowns will command an incredible amount of renewed attention and spending from both parties. Should the Democrats pull out a win in both Georgia Senate races, a party-line vote would then result in a 50-50 stalemate in the chamber. Importantly, the Vice President can cast a deciding vote in the Senate. Mike Pence has done so at least 13 times since 2017, a privilege that appears likely to soon be given to Kamala Harris.


Priyanca Radhakrishnan sworn in as New Zealand Minister

Priyanca Radhakrishnan became the first Indian to be sworn in as a Minister in New Zealand as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled her new cabinet. The 41-year-old has been sworn in as the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Radhakrishnan, born in Chennai and brought up in Singapore, has her roots at Paravur, Kochi, where her grandfather was a medical professional as well as a Communist.

A two-time MP from Auckland, she reached New Zealand to pursue her higher studies, following which she a Kiwi national hailing from Christchurch and since 2004 she has been in active politics with the Labour Party.

Radhakrishnan, who is from the 2017 intake of new MPs, is a minister outside of the Cabinet. She lives in Auckland with her husband.

Announcing the names of the new ministers, Prime Minister Ardern said: “I am excited to be bringing in some new talent, with the first-hand experience in the areas that they will be working in, and reflecting the New Zealand that elected us on the 17th of October. Within this lineup, I’m playing to people’s strengths,” she said.

“This is a Cabinet and an executive that is based on merit but also happens to be incredibly diverse,” Ardern said, days after her centre-left Labour Party won a landslide victory in the country’s general election.

The new executive was sworn in on Friday, which was followed by the Cabinet’s first meeting. “Much of what we’re focused on is making sure we’ve got our economic recovery hastened,” the 40-year-old prime minister said.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan shot into prominence and became a household name in Kerala during last Onam when she came live with Ardern to extend her greetings on the occassion. Radhakrishnan continues her love with Malayalam songs and she said her most admired singer is none other popular Keralite playback singer K.J. Yesudas.

Vikas Khanna Among 6 Remarkable Game Changers for Providing Inspiration During a Challenging Year

India-Born Chef Vikas Khanna was among the Six Extraordinary Asians honored by Asia Society, NY for dropping everything to feed millions in India at a time of great need and suffering. Asia Society recognized six extraordinary honorees at the seventh annual 2020 Asia Game Changer Awards, a celebration of individuals and groups who saved lives, changed lives, and lifted spirits during a most challenging year, in an inspiring virtual ceremony on Thursday October 22nd, 2020.

The honorees came from a wide range of professions and locations. They included BTS, global superstar musicians from South Korea; Vikas Khanna, celebrity chef and philanthropist from India; the celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma; South Korean entertainment impresario Miky Lee; philanthropists Joe and Clara Tsai; and tennis champion Naomi Osaka. The evening also featured a special message from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as a tribute to the frontline health care workers who proved to be so consequential in treating patients infected with COVID-19.

India-born Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna has been feeding people since he was a child. But not until 2020 did it become a matter of life or death. In April, while quarantining in his Manhattan apartment, Khanna, host of MasterChef India, monitored news out of his homeland and watched, with horror and helplessness, as a virus-fueled humanitarian crisis unfolded.

Millions of Indians needed food. Khanna desperately wanted to help, but how? Khanna turned to Twitter, where he has more than 2.3 million followers, and issued a heartfelt plea for information on communities in need. “I wanted to show that solidarity still exists,” he said. Khanna received a torrent of responses, and #FeedIndia was born.

Khanna partnered with India’s National Disaster Relief Force for logistical and on-the-ground support and his movement soon received aid from grain companies, tech firms, and offers of industrial kitchen space in Mumbai. By late-August #FeedIndia had delivered more than 30 million dry food packets and cooked meals to hundreds of cities throughout India. “I feel like the past 30 years … have prepared me for this moment,” said Khanna, a member of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders network. “This has been the most gratifying [time] in my culinary career.”

Few individuals epitomize the mission of Asia Society better than Vikas Khanna, who rose from humble origins in India to become a Michelin-starred chef in New York. Khanna was selected as an Asia Game Changer for helping feed millions of people in his native country whose lives were turned upside down by the pandemic.

“Asia Society is one of the most important organizations which unites East and West, and I’ve always been proud of its work,” he said in receiving the award. “Standing here and accepting the Game Changer Award in 2020 has been one of the proudest moments of my life.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed similar sentiment through a special message presented during the ceremony. “I would like to exercise gubernatorial prerogative and nominate another Game Changer from the people of the state of New York: and that is the Asia Society itself,” he said. “The Asia Society performed a vital role for the state when we needed it the most. [They] helped us in the midst of the most crucial period in dealing with the pandemic, when New York State feared our hospital system would be overwhelmed and we were having difficulty staffing our hospitals.”

Asia Society’s 2020 Asia Game Changer Awards honorees were chosen for their responses to the year’s twin traumas of COVID-19 and racially motivated violence. In partnership with Citi, Asia Society annually honors game-changing leaders from a broad geographic range and varied backgrounds; this year’s honorees have saved lives, changed lives, and lifted spirits all across the globe.

“In this time of profound global challenge, our 2020 Game Changers shine a beacon of love and courage across our divided globe,” said Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran. “They have met the moment, and they have inspired the world. We are honored to bring them to our signature global event.”

The virtual event will also feature a special message by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a performance from Yo-Yo Ma, and a special moment to honor frontline health care workers in the U.S. and Asia.

Republican Senators Confirm Amy Coney Barrett To The Supreme Court

The Republican-led US Senate has voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, just about a week before Election Day and 30 days after she was nominated by President Trump to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Monday, October 26th.

With the confirmation of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, Republicans have solidified the conservative majority on the court as it is set to consider several high-profile cases in the coming months, and forcing Democrats to conseider expanding the number of Justices on the Court to counter the conservative majority.

Barrett was confirmed by a vote of 52-48 on Monday evening, after Democrats exhausted the procedural maneuvers undertaken to delay her confirmation. Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins, voted against confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court. All the Democrats voted against her, including red state Senators Doug Jones of Alabama, who is up for reelection this year, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Barrett’s confirmation has left Democrats concerned about the fate of the nation’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision allowing women to have access to abortions. The court will be hearing a case on the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate in November. Barrett could also end up weighing in on a general election-related case involving the man who nominated her, should the results of the race between President Trump and Joe Biden come before the Supreme Court.

The only Republicans who voted against the cloture motion on Sunday were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. On Saturday, Murkowski previewed her intentions, saying she planned to vote against moving the nomination forward procedurally but would vote to confirm Barrett on Monday. “While I oppose the process that led us to this point, I do not hold it against her, as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill and humility,” she said. Collins faces a tough reelection battle and said after Ginsburg’s death in September that whoever wins the presidential election should fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

While Senate Democrats tried to slow down the confirmation process of Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee with various procedural maneuvers, the fact that Republicans control the Senate has always meant a Barrett confirmation was all but promised.

“The Senate is doing the right thing. We’re moving this nomination forward, and, colleagues, by tomorrow night we’ll have a new member of the United States Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Sunday.

Democrats railed against the advancement of Barrett’s nomination so close to Election Day, after the Republican-led Senate in 2016 refused to hold hearings for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nearly eight months before that year’s election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., labeled the nomination process a “cynical power grab.”

“Nearly every Republican in this chamber led by the majority leader four years ago refused to even consider the Supreme Court nomination of a Democratic president on the grounds … that we should wait until after the presidential election because the American people deserved a voice in the selection of their next justice,” he said on Sunday.

“My colleagues, there is no escaping this glaring hypocrisy. As I said before, no tit-for-tat convoluted, distorted version of history will wipe away the stain that will exist forever with this Republican majority and with this Republican leader.”

Barrett’s nomination cleared a procedural hurdle Sunday afternoon when the Senate voted to end debate on the nomination, days after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted a vote to advance Barrett’s nomination.

The 48-year-old judge’s confirmation solidifies the court’s conservative majority, potentially shaping the future of abortion rights and health care law for generations.

During a campaign event in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Vice President Pence said he wanted to return to Capitol Hill in time for Monday’s vote. “As vice president, I’m president of the Senate,” Pence said. “And I’m gonna be in the chair because I wouldn’t miss that vote for the world.”

He ultimately did not attend the vote in person. His presence would have been purely symbolic anyway, as it was not expected that Pence would have needed to cast a tie-breaking vote. Democrats had pushed back against Pence’s plan in light of recent positive coronavirus tests of two top staffers in Pence’s orbit, and they had similar concerns about Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., two of whose staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Loeffler’s spokesperson on Saturday said the senator had tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday.

Immediately following her confirmation, the White House held an event to celebrate, this time, with attendees spread out and mostly masked, unlike the event to celebrate Barrett’s nomination. Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath to Barrett, with President Trump standing in between Thomas and Barrett. 

“I am grateful for the confidence you have expressed in me, and I pledge to you and to the American people that I will discharge my duties to the very best of my ability,” Barrett said after she was sworn in.

Kevin Rudd is President and Chief Executive Officer Of The Asia Society

New York; October 22, 2020–The Board of Trustees of Asia Society today announced that The Honorable Kevin Rudd, currently President of the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI), will serve as the institution’s eighth President and CEO. He will succeed Josette Sheeran, who had previously announced her intention to step down from her role at the end of this year. Rudd will continue in his role as President of ASPI and will assume his new position on January 1, 2021.

As ASPI’s first President, Rudd, a distinguished China scholar and leading voice on Asian affairs, has led the institute in aggressively pursuing its mission to find common ground on major policy challenges confronting the Asia Pacific in security, prosperity, sustainability, and the development of common norms and values in the region. From ASPI’s beginning, Rudd has established the institute as a top global think tank in the span of 4 years, ranked in the top 2% of think tanks in the U.S. and the world, with a distinctive voice and place in the global dialogue.

Prior to joining Asia Society, Rudd served as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister (2007-2010, 2013) and as Foreign Minister (2010-2012). He is a fluent Mandarin speaker and leading international authority on China. He began his career as a China scholar, serving as an Australian diplomat in Beijing before entering Australian politics. As Prime Minister, he led Australia’s response during the Global Financial Crisis, seen by the IMF as the most effective stimulus strategy of all member states. Rudd co‑founded the G20 to drive the global response to the crisis.

Rudd succeeds Josette Sheeran who announced she is stepping down after more than seven years as President and CEO of Asia SocietySociety – during which she worked with the Board of Trustees to build the institution into the powerful, global organization it is now. 

Over the course of her tenure, Sheeran led a capital campaign that secured more than $100 million to advance Asia Society’s substance, reach, and impact. She also helped launch the Asia Society Policy Institute, and the highly impactful Asia Game Changer Awards; and brought together the institution’s centers around the world into a global, connected Asia Society with a shared vision and brand. Sheeran also led Asia Society’s pivot to innovative global digital programming, outreach, and events.

“We are thrilled that Kevin has accepted the Board’s invitation to take the helm at such a critical moment for the institution. He has peerless experience and institutional knowledge, and we know that he will be an effective partner to the Board and to the global staff of Asia Society,” said John Thornton, Co-Chair, Asia Society Board of Trustees. “We are grateful to Josette for a tremendous seven years at Asia Society. She has broken new ground for us – financially, culturally, and globally – and helped position the institution to move forward with great impact.”

“Kevin is the right leader to help us deliver on our action plan. He is a true statesman and an inspirational leader – widely respected and uniquely experienced. Josette has positioned us well for the future and leaves Kevin with a strong and globally-recognized institution,” said Chan Heng Chee, Co-Chair, Asia Society Board of Trustees.   

“I am honored that the Board has chosen me for this important and impactful role. Asia Society today is among the smartest, leading-edge, and distinguished institutions of its kind and I have been lucky to already have played a small part in its success. I am grateful to Josette for her many years of partnership and collaboration and I am eager to continue my work with the incredible global staff at Asia Society,” said The Honorable Kevin Rudd, incoming President and CEO of Asia Society.

“I have known and worked with Kevin for many years – he is a leader dedicated to scholarship, strategy and action to address the world’s most pressing challenges. From the front lines of war, to helping the world navigate the complexities of the US-China relationship, he has the capacity and commitment to help identify urgently needed solutions,” said Josette Sheeran, President and CEO of Asia Society. “The Board could not have made a better or more considered choice than Kevin to carry Asia Society forward.  He is the thoughtful and dynamic leader we need for this moment, and I am 100% confident in his future.”

Asia Society is the leading nonpartisan, nonprofit global organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.

Founded in 1956, Asia Society is an educational institution based in New York with state-of-the-art cultural centers and gallery spaces in Hong Kong and Houston, and offices in Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington, D.C., and Zurich.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda Given Excellence in Leadership Award During IAPC’s 7th Annual International Media Conference

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), was conferred the Excellence in Leadership Award during the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC 2020) organized by the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) on 18th 2020. Dr. Jonnalagadda was chosen for the prestigious award by IAPC for his great leadership of AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the US, especially during the Pandemic. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Jonnalagadda, said, “Wanted to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Indo American Press Club for selecting to receive the Excellence in Leadership Award. As you are aware Wanted to congratulate IAPC for your contributions, especially during the Covid pandemic for being the heroic warriors who work hard and go beyond to report accurately of the challenges humanity faces. Thank you all for reporting and sharing the news about the challenges  and accomplishments of Indian Americans  and in particular those in the Healthcare industry. Congratulations to all of my coawardees.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda assumed office as the  37th President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) on Saturday, July 11, 2020, and committed himself to “make AAPI stronger, more vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power,” . AAPI is the largest Medical Organization in the United States, representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States, serving the interests of the Indian American physicians in the US and in many ways contributing to the shaping of the healthcare delivery in the US for the past 39 years. “AAPI must be responsive to its members, supportive of the leadership and a true advocate for our mission,” he said. Dr. Jonnalagadda was born in a family of Physicians. His dad was a Professor at a Medical College in India and his mother was a Teacher. He and his siblings aspired to be physicians and dedicate their lives for the greater good of humanity. “I am committed to serving the community and help the needy. That gives me the greatest satisfaction in life,” he said modesty.  Ambitious and wanting to achieve greater things in life, Dr. Jonnalagadda has numerous achievements in life. He currently serves as the President of the Medical Staff at the Hospital. And now, “being elected as the President of AAPI is greatest achievement of my life,” As the President of AAPI, the dynamic physician from the state of Andhra Pradesh, wants to “develop a committee to work with children of AAPI members who are interested in medical school, to educate on choosing a school and gaining acceptance; Develop a committee to work with medical residents who are potential AAPI members, to educate on contract negotiation, patient communication, and practice management; Develop a committee to work with AAPI medical students, and to provide proctorship to improve their selection of medical residencies.” Dr. Jonnalagadda wants to emphasize the importance of Legislative Agenda both here in the US and overseas, benefitting the physicians and the people AAPI is committed to serve. According to him, “The growing clout of the physicians of Indian origin in the United States is seen everywhere as several physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administration across the nation.” He is actively involved with the Indian community and member at large of the Asian Indian Alliance, which actively participates in a bipartisan way to support and fund electoral candidates. His vision for AAPI is to increase the awareness of APPI globally and help its voice heard in the corridors of power.  “I would like to see us lobby the US Congress and create an AAPI PAC and advocate for an increase in the number of available Residency Positions and Green Cards to Indian American Physicians so as to help alleviate the shortage of Doctors in the US.” .   A Board-Certified Gastroenterologist/Transplant Hepatologist, working in Douglas, GA, Dr. Jonnalagadda is a former Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Georgia. He was the President of Coffee Regional Medical Staff 2018, and had served as the Director of Medical Association of Georgia Board from 2016 onwards. He had served as the President of Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage 2007-2008, and was the past Chair of Board of Trustees, GAPI. He was the Chairman of the Medical Association of Georgia, IMG Section, and was a Graduate, Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy (advocacy training).   “AAPI and the Charitable Foundation has several programs in India. Under my leadership, we will be able to initiate several more program benefitting our motherland, India,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. The solemn Award Ceremony by IAPC was led by Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Chairman of Parikh Media and an active leader of AAPI. The virtual ceremony was organized, among others, by Dr. Joseph Chalil, IAPC Chairman; Korason Varghese, Award Committee Chair; & Dr. P.V. Baiju, IAPC Board Member. Dr. Vinod K. Shah, Managing Director of MedStar Shah Medical Group, CEO of Health Prime, and former President of AAPI, was conferred with the prestigious Karma Shrestha Award. WHEELS Global Foundation, a charitable initiative by the Indian Institute of Technology alumni, was conferred The Sathkarma Award. Ranjani Saigal, Executive Director of Ekal Vidyalaya, and Dean Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, were given The SathKarma Award. Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, the author of the book Beyond Covid-19 Pandemic and former Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia, received the Excellence in Literature Award. Chancellor of the University of California San Diego, Pradeep Khosla, was awarded the Excellence in Technology & Education Award. The Humanitarian Award was given to Dr. Sunil D. Kumar, Broward Health Medical Center, and former President of AKMG. Satish Korpe, the past President of the Indian American Forum for Political Education, and Madhavan B. Nair, former President of FOKANA, received the Community Service Award. Lalit K. Jha, Chief US Correspondent for Press Trust of India (PTI), was given the IAPC Media Excellence Award. The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization headquartered in New York, was formed in 2013 with the ideals of providing a  common platform to journalists of  Indian-origin living in the United States and Canada committed to professionalism and well-being of the larger society.  IAPC is also committed to recognize and honor the outstanding entities and individuals in the community that creates a social impact and excel in their field of profession, culture, service, and business.

IAPC Confers Lifetime Achievement Award On Karma Shreshta, Dr. Vinod K. Shah By Ajay Ghosh

Dr. Vinod K Shah, an Eminent Cardiologist, Managing Director of MedStar Shah Medical Group, CEO of Health Prime, and former President of AAPI, was presented with the prestigious Life Time Achievement Award or the “Karma Shreshta Award” during a solemn virtual awards ceremony organized by Indo-American Club (IAPC) during the 7th annual International Media Conference on October 18th, 2020.

Dr. Vinod Shah has spent the past half a century, serving the larger US population, contributing to the Indo-US relations, towards education, transforming healthcare delivery and investing in the growth of the community. His hard work and commitment to noble causes led to the United States House Majority Leader and twenty-term Congressman Steny Hoyer calling Dr. Shah “one of the most decent, honorable and honest men that I have ever met.” 

Apart from being a well-known Cardiologist in Southern Maryland and Washington, D.C., Dr. Shah has worked very closely with many community organizations serving as a member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte Hall and board member of St. Mary’s College. As the President of AAPI, he has worked closely and relentlessly with the members of the US Congress to develop and promote Indo-US relations and fight for the rights of foreign medical graduates. An advocate for physicians, his ultimate passion has been to provide the best healthcare for patients with an emphasis on the early detection and prevention of diseases.

A true visionary and reputed for his excellence in healthcare, education, leadership and social services, Dr. Shah received his medical degree from Bombay University, completed his cardiology training at Georgetown University Hospital. Dr. Shah moved to rural Southern Maryland 45 years ago with his wife, Dr. Ila Shah, a Pediatrician and his brother, Dr. U.K. Shah, a Gastroenterologist, and together they founded Shah Associates, the largest private multi-specialty practice in Maryland.

Born in 1941 in Ranpur in Gujarat, India, as the eldest of nine siblings in a middle class family, Dr. Shah obtained his medical degree from Bombay University and moved to the United States in 1967. He completed prestigious fellowships in cardiology at the Georgetown University Program at the VA Hospital. He then chose to settle in a small community that was woefully underserved by the healthcare system: as one indicator, the local residents had access to a cardiologist for just four hours a month.  

When Dr. Shah arrived to his current home in 1974, the local hospital in rural Southern Maryland did not have one full-time specialist physician dedicated to the residents who lived there. Today, top quality physicians are available to serve the once-underserved population of the County. At 78, Dr. Shah continues to work tirelessly to improve the health and quality of life of the nearly 70% of St. Mary’s County 110,000 residents whose lives he has touched. He sees patients and administers multiple private and public healthcare-related organizations to improve healthcare access to all of Southern Maryland. 

Dr. Shah has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to both his adopted country and his country of birth. Since 1981, he has been involved with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), a professional group with more than 80,000 physicians and 200 chapters which supports practitioners and highlights the distinctive contributions of Indian culture to American medicine. Dr. Shah served as the Legislative Chair, advocating for policies beneficial to both the state of healthcare in the US and to physicians trained in India. 

Dr. Shah has consistently used his personal connections with US Lawmakers to advocate for an increase in the number of medical schools and residencies, with the dual goal of improving access to care nationwide and allowing more qualified and deserving graduates, such as those from India, to practice in the US. As the President of AAPI, Dr. Shah facilitated trips to India with both Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and a number of Members of Congress, including the current House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. In addition to general cultural exchange, Dr. Shah helped bring about the creation of a sister state relationship between Maryland and Maharashtra, with the purpose of encouraging research and investment in life-saving medical technology.  

Dr. Shah has been highly involved in both domestic and international aid work, working to establish thirty clinics in the US and seventeen clinics in India to provide primary care for those who cannot afford it. He and his wife, Ila, are active members of Rotary International, through which they have run a dozen outreach missions, providing artificial limbs and surgery for victims of polio. Dr. Shah coordinated a Women’s Wellness project in Kutch from 2012 to 2014, which provided thousands of screenings and hundreds of surgeries. He also organized a Global Health Care Summit in New Delhi in 2009, where representatives of numerous nations shared perspectives on a variety of healthcare initiatives, working together, for example, to support the Indian Ministry of Health in its systematic efforts to combat tuberculosis. 

Educated decades ago, Dr. Shah is well-versed in the use of modern technology.  “Access to healthcare is a significant problem in the US,” Dr. Sha says, “Utilizing technology, and creating a center of excellence that focuses on data driven processes and procedures has helped to save many lives. I have provided exceptional healthcare to an underserved population. I have created thousands of jobs, and improved the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of people. “I have created an outsourced service line that impacts both people in the US as well as in India,” Dr. Sha says.

Towards Indo-US Relations, Dr. Shah says, “I have been instrumental in working with US Lawmakers to bridge relations with India. Having lived in Washington, DC. Region for the last 50 years, I am well acquainted with the need to educate and lobby US lawmakers regarding India. I serve as a liaison to bring an extraordinary relationship between Indian and the United States.”

Philanthropic Giving to both US and Indian educational and medical facilities has been a passion for Dr. Sha and his family.  “Through a private foundation my wife and I supported qualified medical students from underserved areas in India,” Dr. Shah says. “Today 60+ students have graduated and are practicing in their medical fields. To help accommodate students, our company’s charitable arm supports the construction of dormitories to house students near Vidyanagar. In addition, through the work of Rotary International, we have raised over a million dollars for multiple matching grant projects in India including polio corrective surgery, cataract surgery, women’s health, and clean water.” 

 With the help of the physicians among his extended family, Dr. Shah has profoundly enhanced access to medical care for the people of the State of Maryland across the socio-economic spectrum. Dr. Shah used his resources to create a number of state of the art multi-specialty facilities which provide integrated care to thousands of patients. He runs an annual Health and Wellness Fair providing free comprehensive care to indigent patients. Dr. Shah also founded Health Prime International, a company which provides back-office and recordkeeping services to physicians. Not only does the company ease the administrative burden on its physician clients, but it also has created more than 600 jobs in India, and its advanced data analytics allow doctors to better understand their patients’ needs and provide better preventative care. 

As the AAPI President, Dr. Shah traveled throughout the country to raise awareness about serving the needs of the US population especially in underserved areas. “My work has led to the creation of jobs, the creation of government policies and procedures to support healthcare, and has assisted Indian medical graduates to obtain medical residency in the US. I have helped to create a competent workforce in medicine that will continue to benefit our patients is thankfully my legacy.” 

As the Legislative Chair and AAPI President, “I often visited both Capitol Hill and The Indian Embassy, to promote Indo-US relationship as a goodwill ambassador. I have traveled with US Lawmakers across the US and beyond to introduce them to Indian society, and the strength of Indian Culture. I am confident that my contributions to further the relations between these two nations will lead to a greater understanding of each other and a more united front in the world.”

His literary skills came to be recognized around the world, when he penned the publication of “Antarnaad – Introspection,” created with images of India’s past, present and future with the purpose of educating younger generations in both India and the US as well as US lawmakers as to the strength of democracy. The accompanying documentary film he had produced describes the compelling story of The Golden Era, Islamic Invasion and British India, and was followed by Freedom Movement, Partition, and the Post-Independence India with emphasis on human weakness, corruption, license Raj, and the revolt by the people leading to the Promised Land.
  Awards and recognitions came his way as people around the nation recognized his commitment to the lager good of the nation. Hon. Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland, appointed Dr. Shah as a member of the Maryland Quality and Safety Commission in Healthcare in 2008.  He was award the Outstanding Physician of the Year 2010 by The Council of Rural Maryland for developing health care infrastructure in a physician deprived area. He received the Lifetime Achievement Aware 2015 for Excellence in Healthcare St Mary’s Hospital. 

Dr. Shah was recognized by Hon. Steny Hoyer, US House Majority Leader, for outstanding contributions to community in 2007.  He was accorded the prestigious Presidential Award, American Association of Physician of Indian Origin in 2019. In 2008, Dr. Shah was given the Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Rotary International, and the Service above Self Award by the Rotary International in 2000. Dr. Shah was given the Presidential Award for Outstanding Humanitarian Service by AAPI at the Global Health Summit, Mumbai, India 2019.   

In short, Dr. Vinod K. Shah has shown a boundless dedication to professional, diplomatic, and charitable service both in the United States and in India. He has improved the lives of thousands of physicians and patients, and facilitated momentous policy decisions on the local, national, and international levels. His contributions to the larger society are immense and are an inspiration for generations to be inspired and to emulate.

Bachchan On 78th Birthday, Thanks Fans For “Generosity, Love”

On his 78th birthday on Sunday, October 11th, megastar Amitabh Bachchan thanked his fans, whom he lovingly calls his extended family and said that their love is the greatest gift for him. Amitabh took to Instagram, where he posted a photograph where the word “thank you” was written in many languages along with a picture of the cine icon with folded hands. As caption, he wrote: “Your generosity and love be the greatest gift for me for the 11th .. I cannot possibly ask for more.”

Speaking about his work, Amitabh is all set to star in a new multi-lingual mega project co-starring Telugu superstar Prabhas and actress Deepika Padukone. The yet-untitled film is slated to release in 2022. The multi-lingual film is backed by the South Indian production house Vyjayanthi Movies, popular for projects such as “Mahanati”, “Agni Parvatam” and “Indra”.

This is the first time Prabhas collaborates with Big B or Deepika. The two Bollywood stars have earlier worked together in the films “Aarakshan” and “Piku”. Big B’s other upcoming projects are Nagraj Manjule’s “Jhund”, the Emraan Hashmi co-starrer “Chehre”, and Ayan Mukerji’s action fantasy drama “Brahmastra”, co-starring Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Mouni Roy and Telugu superstar Nagarjuna.

Meanwhile, British-Indian Saurav Dutt has released his book, “Dear Mr Bachchan,” a book exploring the unique career of the star, who is also a cultural phenomenon and a global brand ambassador. The book explores the reasons behind the longevity of his stardom and how his screen persona continues to inspire many in India and around the world. It is available worldwide through Amazon, and released exclusively in India through Pothi.com.

Dutt’s book follows a 12 year-old boy from the poorest district of Mumbai, his cinematic obsession with the star and his dreams to help bring his family out of poverty, often emulating the angry young man of “Zanjeer,” the tragic anti-hero of “Deewaar” and the entertainer of “Amar Akbar Anthony.”

The boy even gets the chance to meet his idol, but is forced to come to terms with the reality of his aspirations, the complexities of a modern India, a judgmental society as well as following his own journey to overcome adversity. The book is an illuminating analysis of the nature of Indian, Asian and global stardom and overcoming one’s own challenges.

Dutt, who released a tribute to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the House of Lords in England on its centenary in April last year, said, “Amitabh Bachchan is a superstar in the truest sense of the word. His name and face have taken over the hearts of minds of people around the world for over 50 years. I’m hoping this uplifting story will be a real treasure-trove for fans and newbies alike, exploring an industry where fashions change every Friday, and understanding why and how Amitabh Bachchan has been synonymous with cinematic entertainment for so long.”

The novel will not be purely about the star but talks to modern India, and how poverty, class and religion fit within the shape of the dreams of this rising superpower nation, as well as about the virtues of Bachchan himself, which the boy in the novel wishes to emulate.

Dutt added, “Most of Mr. Bachchan’s virtues — like professionalism, determination and a never-say-die attitude — are traits that one can follow to achieve the ‘Excellence’ to which everyone aspires. I wanted to talk about the farming crisis in India, how someone like Amit-ji sails through different phases of life — the good, the bad and the ugly, about how hopes and dreams—especially in today’s India—require unwavering determination, willpower, patience and a disposition to take it all in one’s stride.”

This story, therefore, is not just about Bachchan, but also about a young, vibrant and ambitious India, encapsulated through the character of a boy who is told by everybody that success is not for people like him.”

 Saurav Dutt is an author, political columnist and human rights campaigner. His acclaimed debut novel “The Butterfly Room” explored issues of domestic violence and homophobia within South Asian communities and has been showcased to leading political figures and human rights campaigners. His work for human rights and charity campaign work has taken Dutt to speaking engagements at the World Economic Forum, Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization (IKWRO), Houses of Parliament and TEDx. He has been featured on BBC television and radio, Sky News and TIME magazine. He resides in the United Kingdom and Kolkata.

Louise Gluck, Austere Poet Of Human Trauma And Renewal, Wins Literature Nobel

Acclaimed American poet Louise Gluck, who draws on classical mythology, family life and nature in her precise and spare rendition of certain traumatic facets of the human condition such as pain and loss — both personal and public — but also longing and self-realisation, was on Thursday awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2020.

The New York-born Gluck, 77, is the 16th woman to win the prestigious prize, and the first American to receive it since singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in 2016. The Swedish Academy cited “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal” in selecting her for the prestigious prize.

Gluck, who overcame her anorexia affliction, disrupted education and lack of academic qualification, and writer’s block to emerge an important voice in American letters over her over half-decade career, has at least 12 volumes of poetry and several collections of essays on poetry to her credit. Her most recent published work was “American Originality: Essays on Poetry” (2017).

Publishing her first collection of poems “Firstborn” in 1968 to some positive feedback, she subsequently complained of writer’s block but said it slowly dissipated after she started teaching poetry in a Vermont college. It was her second volume “The House on Marshland” (1975), which brought her to prominence, and showcased “her distinctive voice”, as per American critic Daniel Morris. Assessing her work, Nobel Committee Chairman Anders Olsson said her poetic oeuvre is “characterised by a striving for clarity”.

“Childhood and family life, the close relationship with parents and siblings, is a thematic that has remained central with her. In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self,” he wrote on the Nobel Prize’s website.

However, as Olsson, and many scholars have noted, that while Gluck draws on her own life for her work, she is not a “confessional poet”, like, say, Sylvia Plath, and her verse eschews ethnic, religious or gender categories of identity politics, or a definite classification.

Gluck, instead, prefers to use prominent figures from Greco-Roman mythology such as Dido, the Queen of Carthage whose unrequited love for Aeneas doomed her, Persephone, the Greek goddess of Spring and abducted by the Lord of the Underworld, the gloomy Hades, to be his bride, and Eurydice, who almost came back from the land of dead due to her suitor’s persistence.

Then, her book-length six-part poem “October” (2004), drawing largely on Greek mythology, deals with the 9/11 attack. But, Gluck also uses non-human narrators, with her work “The Wild Iris” where garden flowers talk to a gardener and a deity about the nature of life.

Poem “The Red Poppy” goes: “The great thing/is not having/a mind. Feelings:/oh, I have those; they/govern me. I have a lord in heaven/called the sun, and open/for him, showing him/the fire of my own heart, fire/like his presence…., while in “Snowdrops”, on rebirth and redemption in changing seasons, goes: I did not expect to survive,/earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect/to waken again, to feel/in damp earth my body/able to respond again, remembering/after so long how to open again/in the cold light/of earliest spring -…”

But it is not always gloom and pain in Gluck’s poetry. She can sometimes also display a trenchant wit, as Olsson points out, the collection “Vita Nova” ends: “I thought my life was over and my heart was broken./Then I moved to Cambridge.”

Currently an Adjunct Professor of English and Rosenkranz Writer in Residence at Yale University, she is the recipient of a host of prominent literary awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 1981, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1993 for “The Wild Iris”, and the National Book Award in 2014 for “Faithful and Virtuous Night”. She was also Poet Laureate of the United States (2003-04)

Mayur Gupta, Raja Rajamannar and Vineet Mehra Among Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs of 2020

Forbes magazine Oct. 1 unveiled its eighth annual World’s Most Influential CMOs list, honoring the top marketers worldwide, with three Indian Americans named among the 50 honorees.

Forbes used data from news reports, websites and social networks to measure influence, and worked with research partners Sprinklr and LinkedIn for the 2020 list, it said. Among the group were Mayur Gupta, Raja Rajamannar and Vineet Mehra. Gupta, at No. 14 on the list, is the former CMO at Freshly.

As Gupta explained to Forbes in April, when he was still CMO of the meal-delivery company, Freshly pulled back on a lot of its usual marketing and is instead relying on organic traffic and word of mouth while also switching from a top-of-funnel strategy to something more focused on partnerships and customer engagement, Forbes notes in its report.

It also partnered with Nestlé to donate $500,000 to Meals On Wheels to serve senior citizens across the country, the magazine wrote.

“We felt that during this time even though we’re still a growth-stage company, we had the responsibility to take care of people who are highest at risk,” Gupta had said, according to the report. Gupta departed Freshly in May and is now chief marketing and strategy officer at media-company Gannett.

At No. 18 was Rajamannar, the chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard. In an April thought piece in Mastercard’s LinkedIn newsletter “Marketing Sense,” Rajamannar explained how he believes brands should respond to Covid-19, the report notes.

Among his directives: “In these uncertain times, brands can be either destroyed or elevated. The outcome depends on their response. Brands’ considerations must reach beyond businesses. In these trying times, marketers need to identify how their brand can best convey compassion.”

Long one of Forbes’ World’s Most Influential CMOs known for his innovation and industry leadership, Rajamannar actively shared his expertise with peer CMOs during the pandemic, it said.

“As I have said before, and it is even more relevant today, marketers need to operate like general managers—general managers that have a deep knowledge in marketing,” he said in an interview with Brand Equity.

Mehra, the global CMO and chief customer officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, is No. 43 on the list. Committed to democratizing health and wellness, per Mehra, he prioritizes data-based, personalized shopping and experiences for Walgreens and Boots customers, Fobres wrote.

In an interview with tech partner Microsoft, he said, “The recent events around the racial equality movement are showing there are ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in our society. Your postal code, in some cases, dictates your health outcome more than your genetic code,” according to the report.

“We have pharmacy deserts in America. We have food deserts. We have areas without access to health care. But imagine if we knew who you were, we could offer those experiences to you in multiple ways,” he continued. “We can offer up an experience to deliver it direct to your door. And we’ll set up delivery lockers in certain neighborhoods where people can pick things up.”

The eighth annual special report that assesses measures of influence—defined as the impact a chief marketer’s actions and words have on his or her internal organization’s motivation and performance, corporate brand perception, broader marketing and advertising trends and, ultimately, corporate financial performance, including stock price — this year also evaluated influence as impact on corporate, industry or community response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the racial-justice movement. 

This year, 427 global CMOs were eligible for consideration. To be eligible for evaluation, CMOs or their brand must have appeared on at least one major brand or marketing list in the past year. To make the Top 50, a CMO must be in the top 20 percent of CMOs on at least three different indicators of personal, industry or internal influence, or show extraordinary impact visibility on the conversation around Covid-19 or Black Lives Matter.

Priyanka Chopra’s Memoir ‘Unfinished’ Unveiled

Priyanka Chopra, 38-year-old actor, took to Instagram to share an intriguing short clip featuring the posters of her films. The video that starts from a monochromatic picture of her parents, showcases some iconic characters essayed by the actor over the big screen. The video is created in form of a film reel which plays horizontally, in the same fashion as a movie plays in a cinema hall, with the sound of the reel rolling up and down. The clip featuring the posters chronicle the journey of the actor from the very beginning. It puts on display the poster of ‘The Hero: Love Story of A Spy’, ‘Fashion’ ‘Mari Kom’, ‘Dostana’, Barfi, ‘Bajirao Mastaani’, ‘Quantico’ and ‘Baywatch.’ It also summaries the journey of the actor from Bollywood to Hollywood.

Alongside the clip, Priyanka wrote, “This is my story. #unfinished.” It was in June 2018 that the star first announced of making her memoir, and had said that it “gives you an indescribable sense of accomplishment” when you tick off something from your “bucket list”. ‘Unfinished’ will be a collection of personal essays, stories, and observations by the actor, producer, singer, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Chopra.

Priyanka Chopra is an Indian actor and singer who has appeared in many movies and TV dramas. The actor is also the winner of Miss World 2000 pageant. Priyanka was born on 18 July 1982 in Jamshedpur, Bihar to Ashok Madhu Chopra, both physicians in the Indian Army. Priyanka is one of the most popular personalities in the country today.

The actor began working on ABC thriller series Quantico, making her the first South Asian woman to headline an American network series. Priyanka made her Bollywood debut in The Hero: Love Story of a Spy co-starring Sunny Deol and Preity Zinta. She got critical acclaim for her roles in films like Fashion and Barfi. She has won National Film Award for Best Actress for portraying a troubled model in Fashion. Priyanka also starred in commercially successful movies like Don starring Shah Rukh Khan. Priyanka is also the recipient of Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, by the government of India in 2016. Priyanka has become a multifaceted personality with her forays into the various divergent of the entertainment industry.

Puneet Ahluwalia In Virginia State Lieutenant Governor’s Race “I Wasn’t Born An American, My Wife And I Are Americans By Choice”

Indian American Puneet Ahluwalia is the type of candidate the multi-cultural state, Virginia needs to be part of the leadership on the Beltway State, Virginia. “I wasn’t born an American, my wife and I are Americans by choice,” says, Ahluwalia, who is part of the crowded 11-way race to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor in 2021.

With five Democrats and four Republicans launching campaigns for their party’s nomination and several more potential candidates exploring bids, the race has become highly competitive.

Ahluwalia, a McLean businessman who emigrated from India, said he is running as a jobs creator who’d push to extend Northern Virginia’s economic success to the state’s struggling rural and urban areas, such as parts of Richmond and Hampton Roads. Ahluwalia, 53, said he’s opposed to some of the pandemic restrictions Northam imposed on businesses.

A Sikh whose wife is Muslim, Ahluwalia said he strongly supports gun rights, citing a 1984 massacre in Delhi when Sikhs were singled out and killed in revenge for the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards. “Armed minorities are harder to repress,” he said.

Virginia’s part-time lieutenant governorship comes with just two duties: presiding over the state Senate and taking over for the governor if he can no longer carry out his duties. But the post is considered a steppingstone to higher office, particularly governor. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former governor, all occupied the lieutenant governor’s seat before advancing in their political careers.

Several of the new Democratic candidates said they want to bring new focus to the lieutenant governor’s job, arguing that there should be more advocacy for core Democratic goals, including workers’ rights, racial equity and environmental justice from the office that is second in line to lead the state should the governor suddenly leave office or become unable to serve.

The Republican candidates said they want to reimpose pragmatic governance in the Democratic-controlled state, arguing that Virginia has veered too far to the left on policies related to law enforcement and the economy.

In his message to the electorate, the Indian American candidate, Ahluwalia says, “We want all Americans-including our own children and your’s – to enjoy the freedom and opportunity that have so blessed Nadia and me. We have operated and managed small businesses for many years. We have succeeded, we’ve failed, and we’ve succeeded again. We have also seen our businesses destroyed by rioters and looters.”

On the current political turmoil facing the nation, Ahluwalia says, “When the law breaks down though, the people hurt most are people of color. Where’s Ralph Northam? Where’s Justin Fairfax? All they do is blame Trump, then fade into the background. That’s not leadership. It’s finger-pointing. No more excuses.”

Taking a dig at the current leadership in his home-state, the India-born candidate, says, he runs to bring about a positive change in values: “The policies of progressive Democrats have trapped too many Virginians in poverty, a failed education system, and hopelessness. Virginia can enjoy a brilliant future, but it means holding the line on taxes, reducing unfair regulations, and standing up to those who attack our free enterprise system. Progressives think we Virginians work for them. It’s not true. And it’s time we take back our state and the values we share: hard work, personal responsibility, and love for neighbor. That’s why I’m running for Lieutenant Governor. I hope you’ll join me.”

A Coffee Table Book, Chronicling The History Of AAPI, Released During AAPI’s Mini Convention In Chicago Dr. Ranga Reddy, Chair, AAPI History Task Force & Past President Of AAPI Honored For Being the Historian Of AAPI

A Coffee Table Book, chronicling the history of AAPI was released during the MINI Convention and the Fall Governing Body Meeting of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin on Saturday, September 26th, 2020 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, Chicago, IL. Arun Kumar, Consul General of India in Chicago, along with Dr. Suresh Reddy, Immediate Past President of AAPI and Dr. Ranga Reddy, Chair, AAPI History Task Force & Past President, 1997-98, who is the author of the book, released the book in the presence of AAPI delegates from around the nation.

“This coffee table book is dedicated to all the “First Ladies” who have sacrificed innumerable hours of their family time for the sake of AAPI,” Dr. Suresh Reddy, while releasing the Book,  said. “My sincere gratitude and appreciation to all of the leaders of AAPI, and in particular to Dr. Ranga Reddy for being the “Shrusti-Kartha” of this book. He chronicled the history of AAPI. Spending thousands of hours in the past 25 years, making sure this book saw the light of the day. He wrote the biographic sketches of each past President with inputs from most of them. It is an honor and privilege for me to be included in this club of the Past Presidents of AAPI.”

Dr. Ranga Reddy, who was honored during the Convention, in his remarks, stated, “The journey to the land of opportunities by Physicians of Indian Origin began in the early 1960s and the 1970s and began establishing themselves across the United States. It was tough and challenging for the pioneers to establish practice and find suitable job opportunities in the US. Faced with instances of overt as well as subtle discrimination in Residency recruitment and License Reciprocity, physicians of Indian Origin organized themselves in several states to fight the unfair treatment.”

 “It was a passion for history” that made this historic moment a reality, said Dr. Ranga Reddy, Medical Graduate of Kurnool Medical College, where he had obtained MBBS and M.S Degrees. Dr. Ranga Reddy had his Training in Anesthesiology at SUNY in New York. Starting his career at St. Louis University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, he later on, moved to Springfield, Illinois to join practice in Memorial Medical Centre, where he served as the Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Ranga Reddy served AAPI in various capacities including as its President and as a member of the Board of Trustees. During his Presidency “One Member One Vote” policy was introduced for electing the leaders making the process truly democratic.

During his Presidency, in order to comply with AAPI’s 501 (3) C status, AAPI’s Political Action Committee was replaced with Legislative Affairs Committee. He led efforts to create AAPI’s Patron Trustee Membership to support AAPI Charitable Foundation and raised over $600,000 during his Presidency. The Annual Convention held in Dallas, highlighted participation of the second-generation physicians into AAPI for the first time.

In India, Dr. Ranga Reddy started an AAPI Charitable Clinic in a remote village called Ellayapalle to provide medical services to the indigenous people. He promoted “Adopt the Primary Health Care Center of Your Native Place” in Andhra Pradesh. He co-sponsored a water project with Nandi Foundation to supply clean water to the villagers.

Dr. Ranga Reddy was invited to the White House in 1995 by President Bill Clinton on behalf of AAPI Leadership. He is the recipient of the AAPI Distinguished Service Award, Distinguished Public Service Award by American Telugu Association and Leadership Award by the Association of International College of Physicians.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, current President of AAPI, while summarizing the history and the growth of AAPI, said, “Over the past 37 years, AAPI has grown and is now the largest ethnic medical society in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 Indian American physicians and Fellows. AAPI has come to be recognized as a vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged organization, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increased membership, enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power.”

GOPIO-Manhattan Chapter Launched

During a solemn virtual ceremony, which was live webcast around the world, GOPIO-Manhattan Chapter was launched, with a new team led by Shivender Sofat as the President assuming charge of the GOPIO-Manhattan Chapter on Thursday, September 24th, 2020. Attended by several community and business leaders from around the New York region, Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, inaugurated the new Chapter.

 The program, compered by Co-Secretary Dr. Lisa George with Co-Host Bhavaya Gupta, started with American National Anthem by Shruti Sen followed by Indian National Anthem by Jaya Sharma. Since Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Anniversary was being celebrated throughout the world, in commemoration, his favorite bhajan Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye was sung by Jyoti Singh

Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, Chief Guest, said, “It’s a privilege to be able to join you all in inaugurating the GOPIO-Chapter, which will strengthen GOPIO, the NRI community and the Consulate in New York.” Ambassador Jaiswal congratulated the leadership of GOPIO, which he said, “has played a stellar role in shaping Indo-US Relations. We are proud of your achievements.”

Showering praises on the Indian Diaspora in the US, the Senior Diplomat from India said, the success stories of every Indian American is “a great source of strength to the people in India. GOPIO has played an important role in fostering this relationship, he said. While assuring whole-hearted support to GOPIO, he urged GOPIO to “connect with the youth both in India and the USA.”

Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman GOPIO International, in his introductory remarks said, “GOPIO was born in 1989 and today, it has over 100 chapters across the world, contributing to the larger community. GOPIO chapters also serve the local communities in need, by sponsoring soup kitchens and giving scholarship to needy students. During the Covid-19 period, GOPIO chapters have been making financial contributions and replenishing food items at the food pantries serving the needy. Some chapters also provided N-95 medical masks to frontline workers, he said.

Summarizing the long-felt need for a GOIPIO Chapter in the Business Capital of the US, Dr. Thomas Abraham said, “In Manhattan, there are a large number of Indian-American young professionals who move to the city from all over the country. Also, many parents are moving to Manhattan to be closer with their grownup children who work in New York City. We have been receiving enquiries from those who move to the city to join a GOPIO chapter and we want to make that happen.

Shivender Sofat. President, GOPIO-Manhattan, said, GOPIO was started in NYC and now we are back in action reviving the organization in the city, where 60 to 70 percent of NRIs have a connection. Describing some of the programs GOPIO-Manhattan has envisaged, the President of the Chapter said, “Motivate our Indian Diaspora community to participate and help in local charitable and social service activities including soup kitchens and walkathons benefitting local charities; Organize seminars and symposium on subjects of interest to the Indian Diaspora community; Host elected officials from New York and India with interactive sessions; A welcome networking reception and dinner for all new students from India who join colleges and universities in New York city; and, Build an Indian American Youth and Young Professionals network and organize program for them.”

Prof. Arvind Panagariya, a Padmabhushan Recipient, former Niti Ayog Vice Chairman and a Faculty at Columbia University, while according a warm welcome to the new Consul General in New York, shared his greetings to the new OIffice Bearers of the GOPIO Chapter in NYC. He applauded Dr. Thomas Abraham and called him “a Pillar of the Indian Community globally.”

Prof. P. Somasundaran, a Padmashri Recipient and Faculty at Columbia University, in his address, complimented GOPIO, which he said, “is a brainchild of some creative people.” Referring to the extreme challenges, particularly climate change, chaos and political violence, he said, “We need the comfort and support of each other. Current pandemic has shown how important and critical it is to stay united and for all of us to work together.”

New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, described the launch of the GIPIO Chapter in Manhattan as “awesome” and thanked “GOPIO for bringing us together as one family.” He praised the Indian Diaspora for its great contributions to the larger American community. “I am so proud to be the first Indian American Senator in NY,” he said. Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Indian American candidate for NY State Assembly called upon the Indian Diaspora to stand united to promote India and its heritage in the United States. 

Dr. H.R. Shah, a Padmashri Recipient and Chairman, TV Asia, while offering whole hearted support, extended his heartfelt greetings to GOPIO and the officers of the New Chapter. He called upon the 5.7 Million Indian Diaspora to play an active role in the local communities and in politics. He called upon GOPIO to “encourage the new generation and motivate them to join politics and serve the community.”

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, a Padmashri Recipient and Chairman and Publisher, Parikh Worldwide Media, in greetings, congratulated GOPIO and the leadership of Dr. Thomas Abraham “for his vision” and wished the best to the new Chapter team for the leadership. Stating that he has been associated with GOPIO since its inception, he described GOPIO to be “a home away from home.”

Neeta Jain, a Democratic leader from Queens and national delegate for Biden, who is running as a City Council member, shared about her 30 years of fight for “equality and cultural recognition, which is ongoing.” Dr, Navin Mehta, Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, NYC, praised Dr. Thomas Abraham, who is “always with full of energy.” Extending wholehearted support to GOPIO, said, New York City has much potential and “we can do so much together.”

Sunil Hali, Publisher & Promoter of Indian Eye Newsweekly, Radio Zindagi and Divya Bhaskar NA Edition, described the launch of a new Chapter in NYC as “an extraordinary moment in NRI history.”

Indian American Global Chamber of Commerce President Rajeev Bhambri said that GOPIO Manhattan will fill in a void for providing service to our community and extended all help through his media outlets.

Others who facilitated GOPIO included Poet Anoop Bhargava and Global Indian Trade and Cultural Council Chairman Harinder Singh Panaser,

GOPIO-Manhattan activities and services to be provided were explained by its board members and committee chairs including Youth Initiative Coordinator Mukul Gupta, Vice President Dr. Vimal Goyle (Supporting food pantries/soup kitchens), Executive VP Prof. Rajasekhar Vangapaty (Welcoming and Hosting Students from India) and Siddharth Jain (Reaching Out Indian American College Students). Treasurer Braj Aggarwal outlined the membership details and appealed everyone to become members. Membership form is available online at https://forms.gle/r7qpsX3QPndNMV1dA.

GOPIO-Manhattan’s charitable and social service activities got a boost when Philanthropist Sreedhar Menon committed $10,000 for the next two years. Others in attendance were India’s Deputy Consul General Shatrugna Sinha. Consul for community Affairs A.K. Vijayakrishnan, GOPIO Vice President Ram Gadhavi, SACSS Executive Director Sudha Acharya, GOPIO-New York President Beena Kothari, GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani and GOPIO Central New York President Patsy Leopald.  The hour and a half long program concluded with greetings by GOPIO International Coordinator-at-Large Dr. Asha Samant and vote of thanks by GOPIO-Manhattan Board Member and Legal Advisor Megha Bhouraskar.

GOPIO International is Pan-Indian community organization for NRIs and PIOs with over 100 chapters spread in 35 countries. In the New York area, GOPIO has chapters in New York (Central NY and Queens & Long Island), in New Jersey (Central and North) and in Connecticut. These chapters organize programs tailored to the Indian community, motivating the community to participate in civic and local community activities, and provide services to the larger society. GOPIO-Manhattan is already registered as in New York State a charitable organization and has accorded non-profit 501 (c) (3) status by the IRS.   For more information and participation, contact GOPIO-Manhattan President Shivender Sofat, Tel: 731-988-6969, E-mail: [email protected]

Community Mourns Death of SPB, Popular Indian Playback Singer

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, an Indian singer who delivered songs for more than 1,000 movies in a smooth and vibrant voice and in a multitude of regional languages, died on Sept. 25 in Chennai, India. He was 74. The cause was complications of Covid-19, according to a statement from MGM Healthcare, where he had been hospitalized.

The singer was hospitalized at a private hospital in Chennai after testing positive for COVID-19 and was keeping unwell for quite some time now. From Rajinikanth to Kamal Haasan, music maestro AR Rahman to Lata Mangeshkar, celebrities across India took to social media to mourn the death of the singer.

Meanwhile political leaders across the country — President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, DMK President M.K. Stalin, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, PMK Founder S. Ramadoss and Chief Ministers of several other states mourned the singer’s death. Actor Rajinikanth tweeted: “Balu sir … you have been my voice for many years … your voice and your memories will live with me forever … I will truly miss you …”

 “With the unfortunate demise of Shri S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, our cultural world is a lot poorer,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India wrote on Twitter. “I have no words to say. There can be one and only Balu Sir. I have sung a couple of songs with Balu Sir in Tamil movies. In those days the recording used to be live and it was interesting. He encouraged me a lot. Some months back I had met him. He enquired about my family and me,” playback singer Jency said.

The legendary singer who has recorded over 40,000 songs in 16 languages over a period of five decades, died on Friday afternoon due to cardio-respiratory arrest at the M.G.H. Healthcare. Earlier in the day, hundreds of people stood in a long queue to pay homage to the singer as well as celebrities from the movie world at the farm house.

On August 5, in a Facebook post, the 74-year-old SPB said that he was suffering from a very mild attack of coronavirus and had got himself hospitalized to take rest. He had said that though the doctors had advised him to stay at home and take rest, he decided to be in a hospital, as at home his family members would get concerned.

He hoped to get discharged from the hospital in two days. But it was not to be. For a brief period, he showed some improvement in his health condition and had tested negative for coronavirus on Sept. 4. But on Sept. 24 the hospital said his condition was extremely critical. Since then, the indications about Balasubrahmanyam were not good. He was placed on ECMO and other life support systems. The singer’s family members were present at the hospital.

Director Bharathiraja, after visiting the iconic singer at the hospital, told the media at this time of grief he was not able to say anything. It was movie director Venkat Prabhu who first tweeted about the singer’s death. Prabhu tweeted “#RIPSPB 1:04pm” announcing the sad news.

For more than four decades Mr. Balasubrahmanyam, better known as “S.P.B.” or “Balu” to his fans, was a major presence as a playback singer, who sings tunes that are later lip-synced by actors in India’s movie musicals. His best-known songs were in the languages of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi.

“I often sit with the lyricists and ask them what they meant to convey so that I get the emotional crux of the song,” he once said in a newspaper interview about having to be expressive in so many languages. “If I think I cannot pronounce something well, I opt out of the song.”

Mr. Balasubrahmanyam was also a music producer and character actor. He won the National Film Award, one of the country’s most prestigious entertainment prizes, six times. He also received two of India’s top civilian honors: the Padma Shri in 2001 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011.

Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam was born on June 4, 1946, in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, a state in southeastern India. His father, S. P. Sambamurthy, was a singer and stage actor; his mother, Sakunthalamma, was a homemaker.

Mr. Balasubrahmanyam once said that he became a singer by accident. He was studying engineering in college when he won a singing competition, which opened doors for him in the Telugu-language film industry as a playback singer. His first movie performance came in 1966.

Encouraged by his initial success, he went on to perform in a band; one member, Ilayaraja, also became well-known. He broke into Bollywood in 1981. He later collaborated often with the composer A.R. Rahman, who won two Oscars for his work on the hit movie “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008).

Mr. Balasubrahmanyam often spoke of the inspiration he received from Mohammed Rafi, one of the most popular Indian singers in the 1950s and ’60s. “I was so bewildered by the talent with which he was singing,” he said on his YouTube channel in 2019.

He is survived by his wife, Savitri Balasubrahmanyam; his daughter, Pallavi Balasubrahmanyam; his son, S.P.B. Charan; and two grandchildren.

6 Indian-Origin People On 2020 TIME100 List

Six Persons of Indian-origin have made to the prestigious 2020 TIME100 List of the world’s most influential people. They are: Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Cambridge; Ayushman Khurana, Indian actor, singer, and television host; Sen. Kamala Harris, Vice Presidential running mate of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden in the United States; Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi; Alphabet CEO and Google head Sundar Pichai; and Bilkis, Shaheen Bagh’s ‘dadi’.

Other people in the TIME 100 List are: Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Angela Merkel, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and William Barr. To coincide with the launch of its annual list of the world’s most influential people, TIME is also hosting 2020 TIME100 honorees for a special three-part series of consecutive TIME100 Talks, TIME’s series of virtual conversations that convenes influential leaders across fields to encourage cross-disciplinary action toward a better world. This series of TIME100 Talks is airing on September 23, 24 and 25 on Time.com and across TIME’s social media platforms.

“The TIME100 is more than a list. It’s a community of hundreds of leaders from across the years and around the world whose visions can guide us and whose achievements can bring us hope,” said TIME executive editor and editorial director of the TIME100 Dan Macsai. “We look forward to convening this community for this special series of TIME100 Talks.”

Thousands of people participated in last year’s widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh. Three feisty grandmothers also took part in these demonstrations surrounded by young women with prayer beads in one hand and the national flag in the other.

One of the Shaheen Bagh grandmothers (Dadi), 82-year-old Bilkis who became the face of the Shaheen Bagh protests in India, has featured among Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential personalities in the world. While she is happy about the praises garnered, she also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has now featured four times in the magazine’s influential personalities’ list.

In the latest influential people’s list released by Time Magazine, Bilkis has been placed in the ‘Icon’ category. Bilkis told IANS, “I am very happy that I have been honored with such respect. Although I did not expect this but who knows whom God gives recognition?”

“I have only read the Quran and never went to school. But today I am happy, congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too. He is also my son. I did not give him birth but that does not mater. God bless him with a long life and always give him happiness,” Bilkis added. “Our fight first is with corona, the disease must be eliminated from the world only then something can be thought of the world after that,” the 82-year-old added.

Grandmother Bilkis, who emerged as the face of the NRC-CAA protests, originally hails from Hapur. Her husband died nearly 11 years back. At present, she lives in Shaheen Bagh with her sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren.

Bilkis’ family is also happy that her name has featured alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Time Magazine’s 100 ‘Most Influential People’ in the world list.

The TIME coverage included a brief write-up on Khurrana by actress and friend, Deepika , Padukone. In a statement Khurrana said, “I’m truly humbled with the recognition that TIME has bestowed on me. As an artiste, I have only looked to contribute towards bringing a positive change in society through cinema and this moment is a huge validation of my belief system and my journey. I have always believed that cinema has the power to bring about change by triggering the right conversations among people and society. Hopefully, through my content choices, I have been able to contribute towards my country and countrymen.”

After dabbling for some years in theatre and television, Khurrana made his Bollywood debut with the Shoojit Sircar directed ‘Vicky Donor’. He went on to act in critically acclaimed and commercially successful films such as Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho, Article 15, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, and Bala.

His latest work is featured on Amazon Prime Video’s dramedy Gulabo Sitabo, where he shared screen space with Amitabh Bachchan for the first time.

Other Indians featured on the list include Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, London based doctor Ravindra Gupta, who found a cure for AIDs and Bilkis – Shaheen Bagh ‘Dadi’ who has been a vocal critic of the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which opponents contend singles out Muslims by not mentioning them among those favored for citizenships status.

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, A Legendary Bollywood Singer Leaves a Lasting Legacy Of Enchanting Songs

One of India’s most renowned film singers, SP Balasubrahmanyam, the legendary singer passed away at the age of 74 due to Covid related complications. The mortal remains of famous playback singer and Padma awardee S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, popular as SPB or Balu in the movie world, was laid to rest with police honors at his farmhouse in Chennai on Saturday, September 26th. At about 12.30 p.m. SPB’s body was lowered into a dug up pit bringing to end a great musical era. Speaking briefly to the media outside the MGM Healthcare Hospital, his son S.P. Charan said Balasubrahmanyam passed away at 1.04 p.m. and thanked the hospital officials for the treatment and service. The singer’s body was taken to his residence after embalming for public homage in the evening. The singer was hospitalized at a private hospital in Chennai after testing positive for COVID-19 and was keeping unwell for quite some time now. From Rajinikanth to Kamal Haasan, music maestro AR Rahman to Lata Mangeshkar, celebrities across India took to social media to mourn the death of the singer. Meanwhile political leaders across the country — President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, DMK President M.K. Stalin, MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, PMK Founder S. Ramadoss and Chief Ministers of several other states mourned the singer’s death. Actor Rajinikanth tweeted: “Balu sir … you have been my voice for many years … your voice and your memories will live with me forever … I will truly miss you …” “I have no words to say. There can be one and only Balu Sir. I have sung a couple of songs with Balu Sir in Tamil movies. In those days the recording used to be live and it was interesting. He encouraged me a lot. Some months back I had met him. He enquired about my family and me,” playback singer Jency said. The legendary singer who has recorded over 40,000 songs in 16 languages over a period of five decades, died on Friday afternoon due to cardio-respiratory arrest at the M.G.H. Healthcare. Earlier in the day, hundreds of people stood in a long queue to pay homage to the singer as well as celebrities from the movie world at the farm house. The singer’s family performed the last rites. The mortal remains were brought to the farmhouse on Friday evening. On Friday, a large number of people gathered at his residence here to have a last glimpse of the singer and pay their respects. Later in the evening, his body was taken in a van to his farmhouse at Thamaraipakkam. Enroute several people stood on the pavement and bade SPB a tearful goodbye. On August 5, in a Facebook post, the 74-year-old SPB said that he was suffering from a very mild attack of coronavirus and had got himself hospitalised to take a rest. He had said that though the doctors had advised him to stay at home and take a rest, he decided to be in a hospital, as at home his family members would get concerned. SPB hoped to get discharged from the hospital in two days. But it was not to be. MGM Healthcare in a statement said: “In a further setback this morning, despite maximal life support measures and the best efforts of the clinical team, his condition deteriorated further and he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest. With profound grief, we regret to inform that he has passed away on September 25 at 13.04 hours.” The hospital said, Balasubrahmanyam was on life support measures since Aug 14 for severe Covid-19 pneumonia. On August 5, in a Facebook post, the 74-year-old SPB said that he was suffering from a very mild attack of coronavirus and had got himself hospitalized to take rest. He had said that though the doctors had advised him to stay at home and take rest, he decided to be in a hospital, as at home his family members would get concerned. He hoped to get discharged from the hospital in two days. But it was not to be. For a brief period, he showed some improvement in his health condition and had tested negative for coronavirus on Sept. 4. But on Sept. 24 the hospital said his condition was extremely critical. Since then, the indications about Balasubrahmanyam were not good. He was placed on ECMO and other life support systems. The singer’s family members were present at the hospital. Director Bharathiraja, after visiting the iconic singer at the hospital, told the media at this time of grief he was not able to say anything. It was movie director Venkat Prabhu who first tweeted about the singer’s death. Prabhu tweeted “#RIPSPB 1:04pm” announcing the sad news. 

Indian Lyricist, Writer Javed Akhtar to be Honored with 2020 Richard Dawkins Award

Indian writer, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar will be presented next month with the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award. Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, will present Akhtar with the award at an Oct. 24 virtual ceremony.

“Their work has inspired and enlightened millions of people around the world and across generations. Their passionate advocacy for reason and their unapologetic questioning of religion and superstition have broken taboos and changed the cultural landscape,” the Center for Inquiry said in a news release.

In a virtual ceremony hosted by Dawkins from the UK and streamed live over Zoom, Akhtar will formally accept the Richard Dawkins Award for 2020, followed by an extended, unscripted conversation between the two, the release noted. This 90-minute live event will take place Oct. 24 at 11 a.m. ET.

“We are excited to honor such a distinguished luminary for his work challenging religion and promoting critical thinking, but this event means something even more,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry.

“It’s an opportunity to bring the wisdom and insight of both of these remarkable individuals to new audiences,” Blummer added. “Viewers in India will get to hear directly from Richard Dawkins, one of the world’s most famous and respected scientists and a leading voice for atheism, and western viewers will be introduced to the eloquence and courage of Javed Akhtar.”

Akhtar has written some of India’s most popular and acclaimed films, earning multiple awards for screenplays and lyrics. As a poet and social commentator, Akhtar has advocated for education and equal rights for all, and called for the rejection of religious fundamentalism and superstition, his bio notes.

He has been honored with India’s prestigious Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri for “distinguished service of a high order,” and nominated to the Rajya Sabha of India’s Parliament. 

The Richard Dawkins Award is presented annually by the Center for Inquiry, home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and given to a distinguished individual from the worlds of science, scholarship, education or entertainment who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truth wherever it may lead.

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty Honored During AAPI Mini Convention In Chicago

“It is amazing how quickly these two years have passed by. With the help of Dr. Annu Terkonda I helped revive the Indian Medical Council of St Louis (IMCStL), that had been dormant for more than 8 years to become one of the most vibrant chapters of the American Association of Physician of Indian Origin (AAPI), culminating in hosting the National AAPI governing body meeting during our upcoming Diwali Gala,” said Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, President of IMCStL 2018 and 2019, and currently the National AAPI Secretary said, after receiving an Award recognizing his contributions to the growth of AAPI and the revival of Indian Medical Council of St Louis.

Dr. Suresh Reddy, Immediate Past President of AAPI honored Dr. Amit Chakrabarty during the Mini Convention held in Chicago on Saturday, September 26th, 2020. Dr. Amit Chakrabarty was among the several AAPI leaders and others honored during s solemn ceremony for their contributions and achievements, especially during the pandemic. Dr. Reddy thanked Dr. Amit Chakrabarty for his stewardship and working hard to make this Chapter one of the finest in the nation.  

“We had the honor and pleasure of hosting leaders of National AAPI as our guests during their Governing body meeting. I was privileged to have dedicated a committee members to help make this event one of the best AAPI has ever witnessed and donated over $20,000 to the national AAPI in addition to bearing the entire cost of hosting the Governing Body Meeting,” Dr. Amit Chakrabarty said.

It’s been a very long journey with American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) for Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, from being an ordinary member of the largest ethnic medical society in the United States to a Regional Leader, currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of national AAPI, and now leading the organization as the Secretary of national AAPI, that he calls as his second family and has come to adore.  “Since my membership to AAPI In 1997, for more than two decades I have been a dedicated foot soldier for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin,” Dr. Amit Chakrabarty a Consultant Urologist, Poplar Bluff Urology, Past Chairman of Urologic Clinics of North Alabama P.C., and the Director of Center for Continence and Female Pelvic Health.

In his endeavor to play a more active role and commit his services for the growth and expansion of AAPI that represents the interests of over 100,000 Indian American physicians, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, the Alabama-based Indian American Physician wants this noble organization to be “more vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power.”

A physician with compassion, brilliance, and dedication, Dr. Chakrabarty has excelled in every role he has undertaken. Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, who was honored with the National AAPI Distinguished Service Award 2018 and the President’s Award for Services in 2019 by the Indian American Urological Society, says, “I consider myself to be a leader and shine in the fact that I can get people motivated.  I lead by example that motivates people.  I am fun loving and have always striven to brush off any obstacles that come in the way.”


Justice Ginsburg, An Iconic Jurist Leaves Behind A Legacy Of Unparalleled Courage To Stand Up For Equality For All

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, who became a much younger generation’s unlikely cultural icon, died due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020 at her home in Washington. She was 87.

In her 27 years on the bench, Ginsburg transformed American society through the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, expanding women’s rights and later LGBTQ+ rights. A quiet and brilliant jurist, Ginsburg was devoted to the law, always doing justice to the views on the other side of the issue while articulating her argument — especially in her pointed dissenting opinions.

Justice Ginsburg was a master wordsmith, using her power with words to fight for justice, freedom, and a clean environment. The second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg’s pointed and powerful dissenting opinions earned her late-life rock stardom. Justice Ginsburg was a fighter.

She fought not only — and famously — for equal rights based on gender, race, and sexual orientation, but also for the environment. She championed the rights of citizens to take action in court to prevent environmental harm. She defended the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and authored several of the opinions that gave EPA the power and responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases. But most notably, she always defended an individual’s right to equality and dignity, and to determine the course of their own lives.

After the 2010 retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, whom Justice Kagan succeeded, Justice Ginsburg became the senior member and de facto leader of a four-justice liberal bloc, consisting of the three female justices and Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Unless they could attract a fifth vote, which Justice Anthony M. Kennedy provided on increasingly rare occasions before his retirement in 2018, the four were often in dissent on the ideologically polarized court.

Later in her career, the champion of gender equality declared her support for the #MeToo movement, recounting this experience, and said it was “about time” for women to be able to stand up against sexual harassment. “For so long, women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it,” she said in 2018. “But now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment, and that’s a good thing.” Ginsburg was instrumental in changing the law, filing lawsuits against her university employers for pay discrimination and discrimination on the basis of sex.

As news spread of Ginsburg’s death Friday night, a shrine of memorabilia emerged outside a Collegetown apartment. And the next afternoon, a crowd of masked students gathered on the Arts Quad for a vigil.

“We can’t help but look to someone like R.B.G. and say, ‘This is an icon. This is a role model,’” Cosimo Fabrizio ’22 said. “She is someone I aspire to be, if not in a career path, in her commitment to making this country a more equitable, just society.”

The octogenarian became a kind of rock star, known for her powerful dissenting opinions and transformative influence. Two movies came out about the justice in 2018, young girls dressed in R.B.G. costumes for Halloween and the image of a severe Ginsburg with oversized glasses and her frilly lace “dissenting” collar appeared as stickers, t-shirts and even tattoos.

As Justice Ginsburg passed her 80th birthday and 20th anniversary on the Supreme Court bench during President Barack Obama’s second term, she shrugged off a chorus of calls for her to retire in order to give a Democratic president the chance to name her replacement. She planned to stay “as long as I can do the job full steam,” she would say, sometimes adding, “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president.”

As a young mother, Ginsburg was unable to get a job in a law firm after graduating from Harvard Law School.  As one of four liberal justices on the highest court, her death raises the prospect of President Trump trying to expand the court’s conservative majority.

The Republicans-led US Senate should take her wishes into consideration as we honor her, noting that shortly before she died she dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, that: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, most Republican senators rallied behind a new idea — a new justice should not be voted on, or even given a hearing, until after a new president and Congress had been seated.[4] This was nine months before the election and it meant that President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was never given consideration. We are now only a few weeks away from an election, and any rush to confirm a nominee would be the height of hypocrisy. 

We are dealing with multiple crises in the country: climate disruption, a pandemic, a reckoning on racial justice, economic turmoil, and widespread voter suppression. A sham confirmation process should not be the top priority. We should respect Justice Ginsburg’s final wishes. We should take action as she took action to speak truth to power and stand up for what’s right. We should honor her brilliant ability with words by sending a message to demand our senators wait to fill her seat until after the inauguration.

Sonia Raman To Coach NBA Team

Described as “MIT’s all-time winningest coach,” Sonia Raman, possibly one of very few Indian American basketball coaches at a major institution, was just appointed assistant coach to the Memphis Grizzlies, (@memgrizz) who tweeted Sept. 11, 2020 – “JUST ANNOUNCED: We’ve hired Sonia Raman as an assistant coach.” Sonia, who is the head coach of the women’s basketball team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), becomes the fourth person of Indian-origin to work as a coach in the NBA, joining Vin Bhavnani (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Roy Rana (Sacramento Kings) and Adi Vase (Fitness coach with Golden STate Warriors). Sonia, who coached MIT for 12 years will join head coach Taylor Jenkins’s staff on November 1. She comes in place of Niele Ivey, a former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star who left to take up head coach’s role at University of Notre Dame. Sonia is the 14th woman coach in NBA history and the seventh to join the league since 2019. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff,” she was quoted as saying by the Grizzlies in a release. “I can’t wait to get to Memphis and get started with Taylor, his staff and the team’s emerging young core,” she said. “I must also give a truly special thank you to MIT and the women I’ve had the honour of coaching for the past 12 years. I wish the program continued success.” Sonia has had a very successful stint at MIT as she took the team to three Division III finals and was also voted coach of the year in her region. Eighteen of her players have earned New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) All-Conference accolades, including four Rookie of the Year honours. Prior to her arrival at MIT, she was the top assistant coach at Wellesley College. During her six-year tenure, she scouted opponents, assisted with practice and game planning, managed individual player skill and leadership development, and served as the Blue’s primary recruiter. “We are beyond excited to welcome Sonia to the Memphis Grizzlies,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins is quoted saying in the announcement posted on the NBA website. “She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game, as well as a strong passion for the game. She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.” “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff. I can’t wait to get to Memphis and get started with Taylor, his staff and the team’s emerging young core,” Raman said. “I must also give a truly special thank you to MIT and the women I’ve had the honor of coaching for the past 12 years. I wish the program continued success.” Sonia began her intercollegiate coaching career with a two-year stint as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Tufts University. A four-year player and a captain for the Tufts, she graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and went on to receive a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 2001. Sonia, who served as an ambassador in the Massachusetts area. was in September 2017 selected to serve on the Coaches Council for the Alliance of Women Coaches, which aims to empower women coaches, at all levels, by providing support, resources, events and programs which address the needs and interests of its members. 

Yoshihide Suga Is Japan’s New Prime Minister

Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, takes the reins of the world’s third-largest economy this week, he inherits a domestic agenda swamped by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s biggest economic slump on record and the postponed Tokyo Olympics. The leader of one of America’s closest allies also steps into a tense geopolitical climate amid rapidly deteriorating U.S.-China relations. Yet experts say this new premier is largely untested in the foreign policy arena. “Suga is more domestically-oriented and several questions have been raised about his propensity to deal with foreign relations and international issues,” says Donna Weeks, professor of political science at Musashino University in Tokyo. Suga takes over from the country’s longest-serving prime minister, 65-year-old Shinzo Abe, who resigned due to health reasons. Abe, who became an internationally recognizable statesman during his second tenure as prime minister, made wooing President Donald Trump a top priority. He was the first foreign leader to meet Trump after the 2016 election, and invited Trump to be the first foreign leader to meet Japan’s new emperor in 2019.During Trump’s 2019 visit to Japan, Abe’s pandering made headlines. They played a round of golf (stopping to take a smiling selfie in between holes), ate a hamburger lunch, sat at ringside seats at a sumo competition and then tucked into a Japanese barbecue dinner. When Abe announced in late August that he was stepping down, Trump was quick to comment on Twitter. He called Abe “the greatest Prime Minister in the history of Japan,” adding that Japan’s “relationship with the USA is the best it has ever been.” That begs the question: what will a new prime minister mean for U.S.-Japan relations? Trump’s foreign policy has often been defined by his personal relationships with world leaders, and Abe appears to have fostered among the closest ties to the volatile American President. Suga, Abe’s longtime chief cabinet secretary, is largely expected to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps when it comes to foreign policy. But he may not be able to replicate the Trump-Abe bromance, not least because he admits he lacks the diplomatic skills. “Prime Minister Abe’s leadership diplomacy was truly amazing. I don’t think I can match that,” Suga said on Sept. 12, adding that he will continue to consult with Abe on foreign relations. Still, Suga’s role as Abe’s right-hand man for the last eight years means he has a strong understanding of how to manage the relationship with the U.S., says Yoshikazu Kato, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute. “Suga is less outgoing than Abe, but he knows what he has to do—at least until November,” Michael J. Green, senior vice president for Asia and the Japan Chair at the Washington D.C-based think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), tells TIME. “One of [Suga’s] most important jobs for the near term will be managing the constant insults and unpredictability of President Trump.” The benefits of Abe’s U.S. charm offensive are also up for debate. Trump still imposed aluminum and steel tariffs on Japan, strong-armed Abe into a one-sided trade deal and proposed to quadruple the $2 billion Japan pays for hosting U.S. troops in the country. And Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a big regional trade deal that Japan had promoted as a way of containing China’s growing influence. Still, Suga is not a completely unknown quantity in Washington, and has already built relationships with some top U.S. officials. He met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tokyo in 2018, and visited Washington D.C. last May, meeting Vice President Mike Pence (at the time, Suga’s visit sparked speculation that he was being groomed for a bigger role). Experts say Suga will be closely watching the U.S. election to determine what a Biden presidency might mean for Japan. “Japan is greatly interested in the U.S. election because Mr. Biden’s direction toward China affects Japan greatly,” says Mieko Nakabayashi, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. “Japan wants the U.S. to deter China’s military aggression in Asia.” 

In Unanimous Vote, Diane Gujarati Confirmed for Federal Judge Position in New York

Diane Gujarati, a prosecutor with decades of experience in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, was confirmed unanimously by the US Senate on September 10th as the newest district judge in the Eastern District of New York.

Gujarati, an Indian American prosecutor with decades of experience in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, by a vote 99-0 in favor of confirming Gujarati. The Senate Judiciary Committee on June 27 had advanced the nomination of Gujarati for the post.

Initially announced last May as President Donald Trump’s 14th wave of judicial nominees, the slate of nominees cleared the Judiciary Committee in September but did not receive a confirmation vote in the full Senate before the end of the last Congress.

Trump re-nominated the prospective judges in April. Gujarati, of New York, is the daughter of an Indian father and Jewish mother. The attorney has been nominated by the president to serve as a district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Gujarati is deputy chief of the criminal division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where she has served as an assistant United States attorney for the past 19 years.

She has also served as an adjunct professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law until earlier this year.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Gujarati practiced for three years as a litigation associate in the New York City office of Davis Polk & Wardwell, LLP, her bio notes.

Upon graduation from law school, Gujarati served as a law clerk to Judge John M. Walker Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Gujarati had previously been nominated by former President Barack Obama to the same post for which Trump nominated her for April 8.

Obama, at the time, said, “I am pleased to nominate Diane Gujarati to serve on the United States District Court bench,” said Obama (see India-West article here: https://bit.ly/2WXQZtj). “I am confident she will serve the American people with distinction.”

The Indian American’s nomination from Obama expired in early 2017 and then Trump in May 2018 nominated her again for the same post. The seat for which Gujarati has been nominated covers parts of the city as well the suburbs on Long Island.

The nomination by Trump shows both her legal standing as well as the administration’s difficulty in finding candidates within its ideological spectrum who will be able to win Senate support, according to a news release at the time of Trump’s initial nomination.

Three vacancies remain in the Eastern District following Gujarati’s confirmation, and all have active nominees, according to Law.com. The nominees are Hector Gonzalez, a partner at Dechert; Saritha Komatireddy, deputy chief of general crimes in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York; and David C. Woll Jr., a principal deputy assistant secretary for community planning and development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Swami Agnivesh Leaves Behind A Lasting Legacy of Social Activism and Education

Swami Agnivesh, a great Indian secular Sannysin and social activist for the down trodden, has just passed away at the age of 80. The social activist and Arya Samaj leader died at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi  on Friday, September 11th, 20202. He was suffering from liver cirrhosis and was critically ill. As per reports, the social activist had been on the ventilator support since Tuesday after suffering multiple organ failure. “On September 11, his condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest at 6 pm. Resuscitation was attempted but the stalwart passed away at 6:30 pm. ILBS joins the country in mourning the loss of this beloved leader,” the hospital said in a statement.

Swami Agnivesh was born Vepa Shyam Rao on September 21, 1939 in a Brahmin family at Srikakulam in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He lost his father at the age of four. Agnivesh grew up following traditional Hindu rituals. While attending college in Kolkata, he discovered the Arya Samaj movement, which emphasizes the ancient Vedas, the oldest scriptures in Hinduism, over later traditions. It “was all very universal, very transformative,” he said. The monk’s spiritual life feeds his political and social rebellion – each one a long process of transformation.

What he called his “inner evolution” continued as he taught at Kolkata’s St. Xavier’s College, where he worked alongside Jesuits. “I was very critical of Christian missionaries. I’d accuse them of trying to convert our poor tribal people and try to instigate a Christian state here,” he says. Yet his views shifted as he got a glimpse of their simple way of life: “A small bed. Minimal eating.”

He became a monk, and was seen, clothed head-to-toe in saffron, is a truly eclectic figure – clothed and steeped in tradition, yet defiant of it in many ways. “The priest is a follower and the prophet is a rebel and revolutionary,” Agnivesh showed by his own life’s example. “That’s what attracted me to this path – the prophet and the revolutionary character.” Earlier in life, Agnivesh served as lecturer in management at St Xavier’s College in Kolkata and for a while practiced law as a junior to Sabyasachi Mukherji who later became the Chief Justice of India.

As Swami Agnivesh, the global chief of the breakaway denomination of the Arya Samaj, the man from Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh fought for more than half a century to reclaim the sanctity and honor of the bhagwa, or ochre-saffron of the ascetic, from charlatans and political opportunists who had used it successfully to propel religious nationalism to power in India. He challenged them on their turf, and defeated them more often than not. They learnt not to confront him face to face, even if they continued to occasionally nip at his heels, or, in later days, troll him in paid packs.

It was in Haryana he discovered a modern form of slavery – the phenomenon of bonded labor. He was best known for his Bonded Labor Liberation Front, he had founded in 1981 and served as its President (2004–2014) and had campaigned against bonded labor. This writer had the privilege of working with the Bandhua Mukti Morcha and had worked in educating the children in Stone Mines on the outskirts of Delhi, bordering Haryana state in India in the 198s. Swami Agnivesh was an active and leading member of the National Fishermen’s Forum, where this writer had the opportunity to work with the fisher people across India, fighting for their rights as traditional fishermen against the exploitation through deep sea fishing by international ships.

Swami Agniveshs was elected to the Haryana Assembly in 1977, serving as the state’s education minister for a couple of years, before resigning in protest against the Haryana government’s inaction against police who had opened fire at workers protesting bonded labor.

The 80-year-old activist founded a political party, Arya Sabha, that was based on the principles of the Arya Samaj in 1970. Swami Agnivesh was also an advocate for dialogue between religions. Much of his activism has focused on tolerance, at a time when there is fear both inside and outside India that religious freedom is diminishing sharply, particularly for Muslims.

In May, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom designated India a country “of particular concern,” noting “government action … created a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities.” For years, Agnivesh has led efforts to defuse tension after Hindu-Muslim clashes, and denounce leadership he considers responsible for failing to halt attacks – including that of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He was involved with several social movements including Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption’s campaign in 2011 to implement the Jan Lokpal Bill. The Arya Samaj leader had extensively worked in various areas of social activism including campaigns against female foeticide and the emancipation of women. Even as he was part of peace initiatives in Kashmir and with the Maoists, Agnivesh was no stranger to controversy. Once an integral part of the Anna Hazare-led anti corruption crusade, Agnivesh left the movement after a video surfaced allegedly showing him speaking to a Minister from the Congress government.

In July 2018 Swami Agnivesh was brutally assaulted, allegedly by BJP Yuva Morcha workers chanting “Jai Sri Ram”, in Jharkhand’s Pakur, where he was supporting tribal communities’ protest against land acquisition by the state. The BJP, which was in power in Jharkhand at the time, condemned it and insisted the attackers weren’t associated with the party, but added it was not a surprise given “Swami Agnivesh’s ‘track record'”.

International wards and honorary positions sat easy on his frame. He had been the international chair of one of the United Nation’s committees on Modern Forms of Slavery.

Condoling his demise, lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan alleged that his liver got damaged after he was attacked by ‘a BJP/RSS lynch mob two years ago in  Jharkhand.’ Prasanth Bhushan described Agnivesh’s death as “a huge tragedy” and added that the ascetic as “a true warrior for humanity and tolerance. Among the bravest that I knew… willing to take huge risks for public good.”

“The demise of Swami Agnivesh is a huge tragedy. A true warrior for humanity&tolerance. Among the bravest that I knew, willing to take huge risks for public good.Was brutalised in Jharkhand by a BJP/RSS lynch mob 2 yrs ago. Liver got damaged. RIP Agnivesh ji (sic),” Bhushan said on Twitter.

James Kottoor, editor of ccv, stated, “Yes, he was a Sannyasin, not for flaunting saffron robes like the RSS-Sank fraternity, but  totally against their narrow nationalist Hindutva agenda, and fighting against it all the time.”

Veteran actress Shaban Azmi expressed grief over the death of Swami Agnivesh. “Very saddened by the passing away of #Swami Agnivesh due to multi-organ failure. Influenced by Liberation Theology he worked to rescue and rehabilitate bonded laborers and was a force to reckon with in the eighties. RIP (sic),” she tweeted.

“I am shocked and saddened by his passing. A man of vigour and conviction, he never looked, sounded or behaved his age! The country is diminished by his passing & I mourn with the millions whose rights he fought to uphold. Om Shanti,” Shashi Tharoor said.

“My deep condolences upon the passing away of veteran Arya Samaj leader, crusader against bonded labor and my old friend Swami Agniveshji. May the departed soul rest in peace,” Kailash Satyarthi, who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigns against child labor, said.

(Picture Caption: After having recovered from being attacked in Jharkhand in 2018, Swami Agnivesh met with Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto, activist John Dayal and Father Felix of the Catholic Archdiocese Commission for Interfaith Dialogue. Credit: John Dayal via Facebook)

Belleza Med Spa and Clinic in Chicago Inaugurated

Belleza Med Spa and Clinic Ribbon Ceremony took place on Thursday September 10, 2020 with the Chamber of Commerce of west Ridge Park.  We are excited to have launched this new venture within the community and look forward to many great years ahead!!


Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce of west ridge Park and Alderman Deborah Silverstein for welcoming us into the community and being part of our new venture. 


Thank you to Rohit Joshi for the religious ceremony and all the blessings, Thank you to all of the great supporters to our friends and family that made this day so special. 


Dr. Rani Yousefzai:

With 20 years of experience in leading and directing thriving different healthcare companies Dr. Rani Yousefzai builds and retains high performance teams by hiring, developing and motivating skilled professionals in healthcare. She is Dynamic health care entrepreneur who creates strategic alliances with organization leaders to effectively align with and support key business initiatives. 


 Her academic achievements include:

  • Nursing, Bachelors in Architecture interior design, masters in health care administration, doctorate in wellness studies and doctorate in community development.

Her Achievement highlights are:

  • She has been honored as the Top 20 Women of Excellence in 2018.
  • She has been presented with the World Civility Award as a World civility Ambassador.
  • She has been awarded the ‘Civility Golden Rule’ Award as a human rights activist in recognition of her work to promote equality and principle.
  • She has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence for commitment and dedication to the Arab American Community.

She is a women’s rights activist and leads organizations to secure equal rights for women and remove gender discrimination in all fields. She is also an active member of many different ethnic organizations including the St. James Armenian Church, and she sits on the committee board of Multi-ethnic coalitions of elected officials.

She believes the key to success is to keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.


Belleza Med Spa and Clinic is a full Med Spa 

Where we offer Hair laser removal with the latest state of the art laser hair machine, we do BOTOX, Fillers, Chemical peels, I-Lipo, PRP hair growth treatment and Stem Cells we also have Our own VIP room for Manicure and pedicure. We offer a weight loss program that is a monitor of an MD that is licensed to see all patients where our program is alter for each and every patient depending on the patient’s needs.


“The staff was very informative and straightforward.  I wanted a service for my feet and the staff was straightforward with me and advised me not to waste my money due to my particular situation.  I really appreciated her honesty and did not try to take advantage of my needs for monetary gain. In addition, the doctor was friendly and informative as well. He will recommend what is best for you and not just give you anything to take your money if it won’t benefit you. My results were immediate and lasted longer than he anticipated” said Kimmiy smith.

Dr. Ashish Jha Leaves Harvard to Head Brown School of Public Health

Ashish K. Jha, who served as director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and Global Health Professor and was frequent commentator in the media on COVID-19, has left Harvard to serve as the Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, according to a report by the Harvard Crimson newspaper.Dr. Jha is the 3rd Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown. Jha began as an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2004. He has also worked as a practicing general internist at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System, the Crimson said.

Jha was approached by former University President Drew G. Faust to head the Harvard Global Health Institute, where he began as director in 2014. The institute brought together a multidisciplinary team of researchers and affiliated faculty members from across Harvard’s schools, including the Law School, Business School, Medical School, and School of Public Health, according the Crimson.

“This is an unprecedented time to be joining you. In the midst of the largest public health crisis in a century, this is a moment to recast and reinvigorate public health. And we at the Brown School of Public Health are uniquely able to do so. In this moment of challenge, we have the ability to bring bold thinking and fearless research to this pandemic, to issues central to our school, and, importantly, to make clear the significance of public health in our community, our country, and around the globe. I am so excited about the opportunities ahead and look forward to working with all of you to meet them,” Dr. Jha said on the Brown University website.

As dean, Jha will oversee the School of Public Health’s academic departments, research centers, doctoral and master’s programs, and undergraduate concentrations, Brown University said in a press release. Key responsibilities include developing and executing strategies to expand sponsored research funding and elevate the school’s profile and impact locally and globally. Integral to his role will be cultivating a diverse and inclusive academic community, providing administrative oversight and ensuring the school’s fiscal strength.

In addition to his role leading the Harvard Global Health Institute, Jha is a professor of global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and has served as the school’s dean for global strategy since 2018. He is also a practicing general internist at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

His background as a practitioner providing care for individual patients, a scholar focused on national and global public health systems, and a global health advocate engaged on major issues such as the impact of climate change on public health, makes him an ideal leader to advance academic excellence and provide strategic direction for the school.

Jha said that the potential to build on the School of Public Health’s strengths and work with students, faculty and staff to position it as a leading public health school born in and built for the health challenges of the 21st century is exciting, especially in the context of Brown’s collaborative academic culture. And Brown’s track record of partnership with health care leaders and agencies in Rhode Island — through the School of Public Health, the Warren Alpert Medical School and other academic departments — is another essential factor in ensuring the role of public health educators and researchers in fulfilling the University’s mission, Jha added.

“The most significant public health problems of our time demand a multi-disciplinary approach, and faculty and students at Brown live that in addressing major challenges,” Jha said. “Brown is also deeply embedded in Rhode Island’s communities. The fact is, as Brown demonstrates, academic institutions function best when they partner with public health agencies and individuals to test ideas. It’s not a standard model for every university but it is for Brown, and that’s part of what makes me so enthusiastic about this new and important opportunity to be part of a community making a difference, locally and globally.”

With sponsored funding from sources such as the National Institutes of Health, the Gates Foundation, the Climate Change Solutions Fund and the Commonwealth Fund, Jha’s research focuses on improving the quality of health care systems with a specialized focus on how national policies impact care. He has led some of the seminal work comparing the performance of the U.S. health system to those of other high-income countries to better understand why the U.S. spends more but often achieves less in population health.

Jha co-chaired an international commission that examined the global response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 and what could be done to strengthen the approach to pandemic preparedness and response. He has written extensively on the importance of international agencies like the World Health Organization and how they can be made more effective in infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola, Zika and now Coronavirus.

He has published more than 200 empirical papers and writes regularly about ways to improve health care systems, both in the U.S. and globally. In addition to his academic appointments at Harvard, he served in a number of roles at the federal level, including as special assistant to the secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2013. Jha was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2013.

Jha will lead Brown’s School of Public Health as it continues to build national influence in impacting urgent health challenges and improving equity in health care through its research and teaching. Initially a department of Brown’s medical school, the school launched in 2013 and became fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health in 2016. With more than 250 faculty and 400 undergraduate and graduate students, the school is home to 13 nationally renowned research centers and receives more than $60 million in external research funding annually.

Jha earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1992 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1997, before training in internal medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. He completed his general medicine fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and received his master of public health in 2004 from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As dean, Jha will report directly to Locke and serve as a member of the Provost’s Senior Academic Deans committee and of the President’s Cabinet. 

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Says, Joe Biden Will Help Heal The Nation

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday asked India to end its reliance on polluting, financially volatile and costly fossil fuels and invest in clean, economically resilient solar power. Addressing TERI’s Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture virtually from New York due to Covid-19 restrictions, the UN chief asked all G20 countries, including India, to invest in a clean, green transition. “Today, as we endure the twin crises of Covid-19 and climate change, this effort has never been more important. “Worldwide, the pandemic has exposed systemic fragilities and inequalities that threaten the basis of sustainable development. A rapidly heating world threatens even more disruption and exposes even further our world’s deep and damaging imbalances. “Today’s young climate activists understand this. They understand climate justice. They know that the countries most affected by climate change have done the least to contribute to it,” he said in his lecture titled ‘The rise of renewables: Shining a light on a sustainable future’. “As we look to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, we must commit to doing better. That means transforming our economic, energy and health systems — to save lives, create stable, inclusive economies and stave off the existential threat of climate change. I want to talk to you today about how to bring that vision to life — and about India’s role in that vital effort,” said the UN Secretary-General.He said that India has all the ingredients for exerting the leadership at home and abroad envisioned by Darbari Seth, who co-founded TERI. “The drivers are poverty alleviation and universal energy access — two of India’s top priorities. Scaling up clean energy, particularly solar, is the recipe for solving both, he said.Investments in renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency during the recovery from the pandemic could extend electricity access to 270 million people worldwide — fully a third of the people that currently lack it. These same investments could help create nine million jobs annually over the next three years. Investments in renewable energy generate three times more jobs than investments in polluting fossil fuels. With the Covid-19 pandemic threatening to push many people back into poverty, such job creation is an opportunity that can’t be missed. Praising India, he said it is already pushing ahead in this direction.Since 2015, the number of people working in renewable energy in India has increased five-fold.Last year, the country’s spending on solar energy surpassed spending on coal-fired power generation for the first time. India has also made significant progress towards universal access to electricity. Yet despite an access rate of 95 per cent, 64 million Indians are still without access today. There is still work to do, and opportunities to be grasped. Clean energy and closing the energy access gap are good business. They are the ticket to growth and prosperity, he said. Yet, in India, subsidies for fossil fuels are still some seven times more than subsidies for clean energy. Continued support for fossil fuels in so many places around the world is deeply troubling. “I have asked all G20 countries, including India, to invest in a clean, green transition as they recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. This means ending fossil fuel subsidies, placing a price on carbon pollution and committing to no new coal after 2020,” said Guterres. “In their domestic stimulus and investment plans in response to Covid-19, countries such as the South Korea, the UK, and Germany, as well as the European Union, are speeding up the decarbonisation of their economies. “They are shifting from unsustainable fossil fuels to clean and efficient renewables, and investing in energy storage solutions, such as green hydrogen. And it is not just developed economies stepping up,” the UN Secretary-General said. “Many in the developing world are leading by example — countries such as Nigeria, which has recently reformed its fossil fuel subsidy framework. While I am encouraged by these positive signals, I am also increasingly concerned about several negative trends,” he said. Recent research on G20 recovery packages shows that twice as much recovery money has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy. “In some cases, we are seeing countries doubling down on domestic coal and opening up coal auctions. This strategy will only lead to further economic contraction and damaging health consequences,” Guterres warned. “We have never had more evidence that pollution from fossil fuels and coal emissions severely damages human health and leads to much higher healthcare system costs. Outdoor air pollution, largely driven by high-emitting energy and transport sources, leads to damaging pulmonary diseases — asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer,” he said. Quoting scientific studies, he said this year researchers in the US concluded that people living in regions with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die from Covid-19. If fossil fuel emissions were eliminated, overall life expectancy could rise by more than 20 months, avoiding 5.5 million deaths per year worldwide. Investing in fossil fuels means more deaths and illness and rising healthcare costs. It is, simply put, a human disaster and bad economics, he said. “Not least, because the cost of renewables has fallen so much that it is already cheaper to build new renewable energy capacity than to continue operating 39 per cent of the world’s existing coal capacity. This share of uncompetitive coal plants will rapidly increase to 60 per cent in 2022. In India, 50 per cent of coal will be uncompetitive in 2022, reaching 85 per cent by 2025,” Guterres said. This is why the world’s largest investors are increasingly abandoning coal, he added. Urging all countries, especially the G20 countries, to commit to carbon neutrality before 2050 and to submit — well before COP26 — more ambitious nationally determined contributions, Guterres asked India to be at the helm of the ambitious leadership. Applauding India’s decision to take forward the International Solar Alliance in the form of One Sun, One World, One Grid, he said he was inspired by the Indian government’s decision to raise its target of renewable energy capacity from the initial 2015 goal of 175 gigawatts to 500 gigawatts by 2030.

MS Dhoni Retires From International Cricket

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, former Indian cricket captain who led Team India to victories in the ICC WT20 (2007), ICC World Cup (2011) and ICC Champions Trophy (2013), has announced his retirement from international cricket. Dhoni, who had retired from Test cricket at the end of 2014, last played for India in an international match in the semi-final loss to New Zealand in the 2019 ICC World Cup. 

The announcement came in trademark Dhoni style as he informed his fans about his decision on social media. The boy from Ranchi, who made his ODI debut in 2004, changed the face of Indian cricket with his calm demeanor, sharp understanding of the game and astute leadership qualities.

One of the most admired and respected cricketers, Dhoni is also among the most successful captains in world cricket. It was under his leadership that India lifted the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011 after having led India to triumph in the ICC World T20 in its maiden edition of the tournament held in 2007 in South Africa. With India winning the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 in England, Dhoni became the first and is still the only captain till date to have won all three ICC Trophies.

Dhoni’s first big impact on international cricket was in an ODI against arch rivals Pakistan, as he made mincemeat of the neighbours’ bowling attack and bludgeoned his way to 148 at Vizag, after getting promoted to No 3 in the batting line-up. But the moment of truth arrived in 2007 as Dhoni led a bunch of youngsters to the maiden WT20 title in South Africa, after a nail-biting final against Pakistan.

His quicksilver thinking as captain in limited overs cricket caught everyone’s eye and Dhoni was handed over Test captaincy after Anil Kumble called time on his career. A golden period of dominance at home ensured Dhoni led India to the number 1 ranking in the longest format for the first time.

While his heroics in the limited-overs formats are well documented, it was also under his leadership that India became the No. 1 Test side in 2009 and the team stayed at the top for over 600 days. He has led India to victory in 21 home Test matches, the most by an Indian captain.

Leaving behind a rich legacy that will be difficult to replicate, Dhoni holds the record for most international matches as captain (332). Unarguably the quickest man behind the wicket, Dhoni has 195 international stumpings, the most by any wicket-keeper.

Sourav Ganguly, President, BCCI: “It is the end of an era. What a player he has been for the country and world cricket. His leadership qualities have been something, which will be hard to match, especially in the shorter format of the game. His batting in one-day cricket in his early stages made the world stand up and notice his flair and sheer natural brilliance. Every good thing comes to an end and this has been an absolutely brilliant one. He has set the standards for the wicketkeepers to come and make a mark for the country. He will finish with no regrets on the field. An outstanding career; I wish him the best in life.”

Jay Shah, Honorary Secretary, BCCI: “MS Dhoni is one of the greats of the modern era. I understand it’s a personal decision and we respect that. ‘Mahi’ as we all fondly refer to him, has had an exceptional career in international cricket. His captaincy has been both inspiring and commendable. He is leaving the game richer from the time he joined. I wish him all the very best for IPL and his future endeavors.”

Dhoni ends his ODI career with 10,773 runs, scored at an average of 50.57 in 350 matches. He has 10 centuries and 73 half-centuries to his name. Dhoni also represented India in 90 Test matches and 98 T20Is. He still remains India’s most successful captain across all formats in terms of matches won

Indian classical music maestro Pandit Jasraj passes away at 90 in New Jersey

Pandit Jasraj, the doyen of Indian classical music, passed away at the age of 90 in New Jersey, the US, on Monday. “With profound grief we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji breathed his last this morning at 5.15 EST due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA,” a statement issued by his family read. The renowned vocalist, who has a planet named after him — Panditjasraj — placed between Mars and Jupiter, was a recipient of the highest civilian honours like Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. His death was condoled by dignitaries such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind, among many other personalities from the world of music. Born in 1930 in Haryana, the celebrated classical singer presented the Mewati Gharana to the global music connoisseur. With a career spanning 80 years, Pandit Jasraj’s oeuvre ranged from the world stage to Indian film music. His rendition of “Raga Ahir Bhairav” was used in Ang Lee’s global hit of 2012, “Life Of Pi”, and he also sang “Vandana karo” in the 1966 film “Ladki Sahyadri Ki”. Pandit Jasraj’s other soundtrack contributions are his Jugalbandi with Bhimsen Joshi in the 1973 film, “Birbal My Brother”, and “Vaada tumse hai” in the 2008 horror film, “1920”. In an interview with IANS earlier this year, Pandit Jasraj had said that: “I don’t feel that my relationship with music is of only this lifetime. The student in me has always been a constant and active part of my musical journey and has kept me always hungry to learn. “I feel fortunate to belong to a generation and witness very exciting times in classical music. Right from the pre-Independence era, where Maharajas were the biggest patrons of classical music and being a court musician was a privilege, to the 1950s and 1960s when All India Radio played a pivotal role in shaping one’s career graph, to the importance of recording labels which carefully curated the talent, followed by travelling worldwide to perform for varied audiences who found our classical music soulful and attractive. And from the rise of mass media in India with the growth of television to the present day modern platforms of social media and digital world which have brought music lovers much closer to their favourite musicians.” Legendary singer Asha Bhosle, among millions of other followers and admirers, who have expressed deep sympathy at the demise of the iconic Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj, who passed away at the age of 90 in the US on Monday. “I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate demise of Pandit Jasraj ji. I have lost someone who was extremely fond of me, I have lost a big brother. Sangeet ka sooraj doob gaya (the sun of music has set). He was a vocalist par excellence and I knew him for so long, from even before his marriage to V Shantaram’s daughter. He used to praise me a lot and he always used to say, ‘main tujhe gaana sikhaunga (I will teach you how to sing)’,” recalled Bhosle. Bhosle also recalled an interesting anecdote from the US trip when she met Pandit Jasraj. “On that same trip, we went out for dinner, and Jasraj ji, who was a staunch vegetarian, kept requesting me to turn vegetarian for health reasons. I will always remember his childlike demeanor,” she said.

Kamala Harris Is Joe Biden’s Running Mate In 2020 US Election

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has named Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate – the first black woman and Asian American in the role. After months of speculation and a seemingly endless cast of candidates through the revolving door, rhe former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, has announced that his running mate will be the US senator from California.

Harris, 55, becomes the first Black woman on a major presidential ticket in U.S. history and providing him with a partner well suited to go on the attack against Republican President Donald Trump. Harris, a former prosecutor and state attorney general in California, is well known for her sometimes aggressive questioning style in the Senate, most notably of Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said on Twitter.

With social unrest over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans rocking the country for months, Biden had been under increasing pressure to select a woman of color as his running mate. Harris is also the first Asian-American on a major presidential ticket.

In Harris, a senator from California who made her own run for the White House before ending it and endorsing Biden, he gains a deeply experienced politician already battle-tested by the rigors of the 2020 presidential campaign as they head into the final stretch of the Nov. 3 election.

Harris, who became only the Senate’s second Black woman in its history when she was elected in 2016, will be relied on to help drive the African-American vote – the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency. Four years ago, the first dip in Black voter turnout in 20 years contributed to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s upset loss to Trump. Biden served as vice president for eight years under President Barack Obama, the first Black U.S. president.

As a presidential candidate, she also took Biden to task in a nationally televised debate over his past stances on mandatory busing for students as a means to desegregate schools. Some Biden advisers have told Reuters the attacks made them question whether she would be a trusted working partner because of her political ambitions.

While that exchange failed to boost her White House hopes, the Biden campaign will now look for her to train her prosecutorial fire on Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Harris is scheduled to debate Pence on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, who will turn 78 in November and be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. Biden’s age also has led to broad speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024. Some of his allies were concerned that would make her a bad fit for the No.2 job and questioned her loyalty.

Biden publicly committed to choosing a woman as his No. 2 in a March debate after discussing the matter with his wife Jill and had considered other former presidential rivals such as Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

Harris has become a key ally for Biden at a time when race has been thrust to the forefront of the campaign. Her defenders say she has always been reform-minded – and point to her record in the Senate, where she has championed a police-reform bill and an anti-lynching bill, among other measures. Harris herself has said she became a prosecutor in order to bring a more progressive approach to the office.

The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris has knocked down barriers throughout her career. She was the first woman to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney, elected to that office in 2003, and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general, elected to that office in 2010.

Biden considered several Black women in addition to Harris, including former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and U.S. Representative Val Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Florida. Biden also considered Asian-American Senator Tammy Duckworth and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina.

Historically, the vice presidential nominee has been the one to take the lead in criticizing the opposing ticket, although Trump has largely shredded that tradition. Brian Brokaw, a California political consultant who managed Harris’ campaigns for attorney general and Senate, said Harris fits that role well. “She is someone who can really make Republicans quake in their boots,” Brokaw said.

A woman of color has never been appointed to a presidential ticket by either of the two main American political parties. No woman has won the US presidency either. Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates – Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither made it to the White House.

Former US President Barack Obama – whom Mr Biden served as vice-president for eight years – tweeted: “She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake.  “This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing.”

Harris will debate Trump’s running mate, Vice-President Mike Pence, on  October 7th in Salt Lake City, Utah. Harris will be confirmed as Biden’s running mate at the Democratic convention that begins on Monday, August 17th, where Biden will also be formally nominated to challenge Trump.

Indian Americans have a stake in the Biden VP pick

It’s Harris’s potential ability to get moderates, independents and even some in the center-right, to cross over and vote for Biden. On some important issues to moderates, she’s resisted the urge to move to the far left. While she initially stumbled toward the right answer, she eventually got there on abolishing private health insurance, saying her health plan wouldn’t go that far.

She’s also said she wants to reorder Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but not abolish it entirely, another issue that matters to some moderates.

She’s stopped short of saying we should defund the police, instead saying we should reimagine the way we allocate our funds to communities.  On guns, another polarizing issue, Harris would ban imports of so-called assault weapons, but has not said the ban would extend to existing ones.

Harris came out aggressively against Trump’s tariffs and trade war with China, policies that a wide swath of voters, including independents, disapprove of.  To be sure, there’s plenty in Harris’s record for staunch conservatives to be squeamish about — she voted against a bill that would limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, to name just one thing.

The California Democrat was born in Oakland, California, to two immigrant parents: an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father.  After her parent’s divorce, Harris was raised primarily by her Hindu single mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist.

She grew up engaged with her Indian heritage, joining her mother on visits to India, but Harris has said that her mother adopted Oakland’s black culture, immersing her two daughters – Kamala and her younger sister Maya – within it.  “My mother understood very well that she was raising two black daughters,” she wrote in her autobiography The Truths We Hold. “She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as black girls and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women.”

Senator Harris’ early years also included a brief period in Canada. When Ms Gopalan Harris took a job teaching at McGill University, Ms Harris and her younger sister Maya went with her, attending school in Montreal for five years.

She attended college in the US, spending four years at Howard University, one of the nation’s preeminent historically black colleges and universities, which she has described as among the most formative experiences of her life.  Harris says she’s always been comfortable with her identity and simply describes herself as “an American”.

In 2019, she told the Washington Post that politicians should not have to fit into compartments because of their color or background. “My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it,” she said. After four years at Howard, Harris went on to earn her law degree at the University of California, Hastings, and began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

She became the district attorney – the top prosecutor – for San Francisco in 2003, before being elected the first woman and the first black person to serve as California’s attorney general, the top lawyer and law enforcement official in America’s most populous state.

In her nearly two terms in office as attorney general, Ms Harris gained a reputation as one of the Democratic party’s rising stars, using this momentum to propel her election as California’s junior US senator in 2017.

Since her election to the US Senate, the former prosecutor gained favour among progressives for her acerbic questioning of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General William Barr in key Senate hearings.

When she launched her candidacy for president to a crowd of more than 20,000 in Oakland, California, at the beginning of last year, her 2020 bid was met with initial enthusiasm. But the senator failed to articulate a clear rationale for her campaign, and gave muddled answers to questions in key policy areas like healthcare.

Harris has often said that her identity makes her uniquely suited to represent those on the margins. Now that Biden has named her as his running mate, she might get a chance to do just that from inside the White House.

As Tax Collector, TK Mathew Wants To Serve The People In Hillsborough County With Honesty & Integrity

Imbibed with the strong commitment “to serve the people in Hillsborough County as the Tax Collector with honesty & integrity,” TK Mathew, a 20-year veteran businessman who has lived in Hillsborough County since 1991, is seeking office for Hillsborough County Tax Collector.

Having worked in the office and having witnessed “inefficiency, unnecessary waste of tax payers time & money” at the County level, Mathew believes that those who live in Hillsborough County pay for top-quality service and they deserve to get it. “I would like to increase the efficiency and transparency in government/especially Tax Collector’s office operations,” says the young Indian American candidate who is running on a Republican Ticket.

Mathew’s message “to my fellow citizens is very simple: I’ll make our Tax Collector’s office the best in the country. I’ll save your money, time and I’ll protect your personal information from the cyber threats.”

Mathew has worked under Tax Collector Doug Belden and is familiar with the ins and outs of the Tax Collector’s office operations. He knows the issues and he knows how to fix it for the constituents of Hillsborough County. He understands the issues from a customer’s perspective, business owners’ perspectives and a bureaucrat’s perspective. These unique qualifications have prepared him to take on the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s services to the next level, with high efficiency and high quality in every aspect of the office’s operations making the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office the most modern, fast and efficient agency in America.

Mathew has the experience, the vision and the passion to realize his goal. “My experiences and exposure to private sector business is a valuable asset and I learned the issues of Tax Collector’s office while I had worked under the current Tax Collector and I know how the office functions and the ways to address the many challenges we face in providing the best services to the people of this great County.”

In addition, as the Tax Collector, Mathew plans to hire and train best qualified individuals to minimize wait times and provide quality customer service. He wants to implement better employee training techniques including quarterly training sessions to all employees on customer relations and interaction. “I would like to offer a better salary & benefits package which is equal to or better than the private sector employers for similar work because our employees deserve better and our citizens need quality customer service too,” he says.

A visionary, Mathew hopes to work with other agencies within the Hillsborough county government to open satellite offices in different parts of the County. He also intends to provide Hillsborough county’s almost 100,000 veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers with expedited service as a thank you for their service to our fellow citizens and to our County.

Recognizing the difficult phase in history the US is going through, Mathew says, “It’s very unfortunate, that a few people are taking advantage of the situation. We should look in to the facts behind it and expose the truth to stop spreading the hatred.” 

Mathew has been very active in the local community and has supported several charity related activities. Mathew dedicated two years of his life at the service of the needy working abroad on charitable missions.

It’s been a long journey for Mathew in being nominated to be the GOP candidate in Hillsborough County. Says, “Florida is a very important state for the Republican Party, especially the Hillsborough County. It’s a very competitive landscape. The GOP leadership “recognized my leadership, energy and capacity to bring people together to vote and support the Party as we enter into the final days of the most important election in our life time. The party recognizes my unique experiences as an advantage and I’m well qualified to bring in unique leadership which is necessary to bring everybody together and achieve my goal of serving our citizens.”

Mathew has the support of the entire Party. Senator Joe Gruters, from the state of Florida has endorsed Mathew and has congratulated him, offering the help & support from the Republican party of Florida. Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, and a member of the Florida Senate, Gruters co-chaired the campaign for President Trump in Florida and has served as the co-chairman of the 2016 Republican National Committee.

Mathew is the only Republican Party nominee for the Tax Collector. With no opponent from the Party, Mathew will not need to fight in the Primary. Mathew will be facing the winner from the Democratic Party Primary, who are on the ballot: April Griffin (D) and Nancy C. Millan (D).

A person with deep faith in God and with strong values and traditions, Mathew has been married for 15 years and the couple are blessed with two sons.

Mathew is of the opinion that the “elected officials are called to utilizing the technology, opportunities and all available resources as per the needs of the community we are called to serve.”  Mathew believes, he is “the best qualified person ever to run for this office because of his experience with both government sector and private sector experiences along with domestic and international exposure with people from different background and cultures.”

Vishal Gupta and Fellow Researchers Help Reopen the Greek Economy

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers announced an AI-based project, nicknamed “Eva,” that uses data to support decision-making by the Greek government as it reopens the tourist industry vital to its economy amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Vishal Gupta and Kimon Drakopoulos from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California; Hamsa Bastani from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; Jon Vlachogiannis, founder of AgentRisk; and the Greek government came together earlier this summer to build the machine-learning platforms.

Son of New York-based Dr. Jagdish Gupta, a veteran AAPI leader and a current member of its BOT,  Vishal Gupta is an Assistant Professor of Data Sciences and Operations, developing new algorithmic approaches to data-driven decision-making in settings where data and/or resources are scarce, with applications in healthcare, revenue management and business analytics.

Greece is home to approximately 11 million people, but it has welcomed more than 33 million visitors annually in recent years, with tourism accounting for close to 20% of the country’s employment.

Gupta, Bastani, and Drakopoulos collaboratively developed Eva’s underlying algorithms, emphasizing learning from real-time data, and wrote its implementation. Vlachogiannis is the software architect of the machine learning pipeline, which allows seamless and secure access to anonymized data from disparate Greek government databases in near real-time. Recently, Drakopoulos has been embedded with Greek public health and policy leaders, overseeing Eva’s deployment and liaising with the rest of the team as they continue to tailor Eva to Greece’s unique circumstance.

“One of the most exciting elements of Eva is its ability to learn, improve and evolve. Adapting in real-time is crucial in this pandemic, where the situation on the ground can change dramatically in a day or two,” said Gupta.

 “The AI system developed by Bastani, Drakopoulos, Gupta, and Vlachogiannis has been an asset both for preparing the opening of the country to visitors from all over the world, as well as for allowing flexibility in decision making regarding our COVID-19 strategy,” said Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s Civil Protection and Deputy Minister for Crisis Management, who heads the COVID-19 Response Taskforce for the country.

“Tourism is vital to the Greek economy and in times of a pandemic controlling the flow of visitors is extremely delicate both operationally and from a public health point of view,” continued Hardalias. “The developed solution has allowed the Greek Government to make crucial decisions with confidence due to the ability to continuously monitor the epidemiological characteristics of all countries that we accept visitors from. It is great to see how science can complement our national response to this challenge in keeping the local population and our visitors safe.”

Eva combines real-time testing data with information from a simple form that visitors complete 24 hours before arrival to build a risk profile for each visitor. Based on that profile, Eva suggests which visitors should be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and which can safely be admitted without testing. Crucially, Eva uses past data and optimization to simultaneously improve its own risk predictions while also identifying sick visitors before they enter the country, all subject to Greece’s current COVID-19 testing capacity.

How it works

The system provides several benefits for travelers and decision makers by leveraging data to enhance public safety:

  • Efficiency: With as many as 40,000 people per day arriving at points of entry around the country, Greece cannot test everyone who might bring coronavirus into the country. Using data to assess risk factors focuses testing on the riskiest travelers, enhancing public health and safety while responsibly allocating valuable testing resources.
  • Convenience: A streamlined operations including the pre-arrival form, expedited testing, and seamlessly connected databases minimizes disruptions to travelers. Most travelers are not subject to additional screening, and, those who are, are usually on their way to enjoying Greece within 24 hours without wasting valuable vacation time.
  • Responsiveness: By leveraging real-time data to allocate resources, Eva’s analytics support rapid decision-making, allowing policy-makers to quickly respond to unexpected super-spreader events or flare-ups.

“For me, this is about not only applying my work in data science to help the people of Greece,” said Drakopoulos, “but also the people of the world who love to travel and worry about the safety of doing so.”

Bastani added, “New testing results are continuously incorporated into the dynamic learning algorithm, giving Eva a distinct advantage over static COVID-19 screening policies. This is an exciting step forward in evidence-based policy-making.”

No screening procedure can possibly find every infected visitor. Eva dovetails with Greece’s existing contact-tracing system to catch anyone who slips through the cracks. Overall, Eva’s risk-profiles, test allocations and other data analytics form a real-time dashboard, visually representing the latest information to the Greek Government to inform decision-making.

“In addition to a day of hope for those who love travel and long for a path out of the pandemic, this is also a huge day for data science, machine learning and algorithmic support for good governance,” said Vlachogiannis.

Kimon Drakopoulos is an assistant professor of data sciences and operations, whose research focuses on epidemics modeling, social networks, and information economics.

Consistently ranked among the nation’s premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world’s leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 6,000-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. For more information, visit www.marshall.usc.edu.

Vishal Gupta, an Assistant Professor of Data Sciences and Operations at USC Marshall and an Affiliate Faculty at the USC Center for AI and Society, currently serving as an Associate Editor for Management Science in the “Big Data Analytics” department.

Before joining USC, Vishal completed his B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy from Yale University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with honors, and completed Part III of the Mathematics Tripos at the University of Cambridge with distinction. He then spent four years working as a “quant” in finance at Barclays Capital focusing on commodities modeling, derivatives pricing, and risk management. Eventually, realizing how much he missed working towards a larger mission of impact, Vishal left the private sector to complete his Ph.D. in Operations Research at MIT in 2014 under Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas.

Vishal’s research focuses on data-driven decision-making and optimization, particularly in settings where data are scarce. Such settings are common in applications that center on personalization/customization and adapting to changing environments in real-time. Consequently, Vishal’s research spans a wide variety of areas including risk and revenue management, education, healthcare, and business analytics. He has received a number of recognitions for his work including Finalist for the Pierskalla Best Paper competition, Finalist for the Service Science Best Paper competition, and Finalist for the George Nicholson Best Student Paper competition.


Jagruti Panwala: Chairwoman of AAHOA, World’s Largest Hotel Owners Association

Pennsylvania hotelier Jagruti Panwala is the new chairwoman of AAHOA, the world’s largest hotel owners association. Panwala became chair during the association’s 2019 Convention and Trade Show which was held at the San Diego Convention Center. Panwala is the first woman to lead the association in its thirty-year history.

“I am humbled and honored to serve the more than 18,500 hoteliers of AAHOA as Chairwoman. As an association, our success is a collective effort, and we will continue to build on AAHOA’s thirty years of industry leadership. We are at the strongest point in our association’s history. I am confident that we will continue to grow by inviting more hoteliers into the fold, expanding our vast educational offerings, and bringing industry partners and hoteliers together.”

Over the next year, Panwala said she will focus on bolstering AAHOA’s advocacy efforts at the state and local level, building out the association’s political action committee, and encouraging more hoteliers to seek leadership roles within AAHOA and the hospitality industry. “We must speak with a collective voice against those who seek to harm the foundations upon which our industry is built. America’s hoteliers face significant challenges. Short-term rentals are seeking special laws, such as secret tax agreements, that fly in the face of free enterprise. Unscrupulous lawyers intent on exploiting small business owners continue to abuse the ADA by filing frivolous lawsuits against hoteliers. We will fight for a level playing field with short-term rentals and work with a diverse coalition of hoteliers and disability rights advocates to address drive-by lawsuits. AAHOA will continue to advocate for smarter laws and regulations that benefit hoteliers, guests, and our communities.”

In her inaugural address to AAHOA members, Panwala thanked AAHOA’s founders, past chairs, and members for their decades of dedicated work. “You are responsible for all that AAHOA is today and will become in the future.”

Chairwoman Panwala joined AAHOA in 2001 and served on the AAHOA Board of Directors as Female Director Eastern Division. AAHOA members elected her as Secretary in 2016. She is the President & CEO of Wealth Protection Strategies. Panwala is an AAHOA Certified Hotel Owner (CHO). She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and holds a degree in economics and finance.

“We are fortunate to have our new Chairwoman, Jagruti Panwala, leading the way as AAHOA enters its fourth decade as the voice of America’s hotel owners,” said AAHOA Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey. “Her success in the hospitality and financial services industries is a testament to the determination and relentless pursuit of excellence with which she approaches her work. From testifying before Congress to collaborating with brand executives and industry partners, Jagruti’s knowledge of the hospitality industry and understanding of hoteliers’ needs will serve our association well.

AAHOA Announces 2018 Award Winners

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney addressed America’s hoteliers on Saturday, April 27, during the closing night of the 2019 AAHOA Convention and Trade Show. In his remarks, Mulvaney touted his longtime relationship with the association and its members, the effectiveness of AAHOA’s advocacy efforts, and the strength of the American economy. Mulvaney’s relationship with AAHOA dates to his time in the South Carolina state legislature and as a restaurant franchisee. Mulvaney is a 2017 recipient of AAHOA’s “Friend of the Hotelier Award,” the association’s top advocacy honor.

“America’s hoteliers were honored to welcome our good friend Mr. Mulvaney to highlight the celebration of AAHOA’s thirtieth anniversary at our 2019 Convention,” said AAHOA Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey.

The celebration of achievement and excellence was a common theme as AAHOA reflected on its thirtieth anniversary during the 2019 AAHOA Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, Calif. On Friday, April 26, the association honored hoteliers for their contributions to the hospitality industry, and representatives from RLH Corporation announced the 2019 winner of the Bright Innovations Award. Winners received their awards on the main stage during the general session. The winners are:

AAHOA Award of Excellence: Jan Gautam
Outstanding Woman Hotelier of the Year: Deepa Patel
Outstanding Young Professional Hotelier of the Year: Ankit Panchal
IAHA Independent Hotel of the Year: Lexen Hotel North Hollywood
Outreach Award for Philanthropy: Bhupen Amin
Political Forum Award for Advocacy: Arti Patel
RLH Corporation 2019 Bright Innovations Award: Roshan Patel

“Every year, we honor hoteliers who go above and beyond in their contributions to the hospitality industry,” said Immediate Past Chairman Hitesh (HP) Patel. “It is incumbent upon us to recognize the excellence in our midst, and I cannot think of a better stage on which to do so than in front of thousands of AAHOA members at Convention.”

Earlier in the session, Outreach Award for Philanthropy winner Bhupen Amin addressed the general session about giving back to one’s community and the multitude of ways, big and small, that a hotelier can make a difference through charitable efforts.

“We have an amazing membership that is constantly raising the bar for what success and distinction as a hotelier means. I congratulate all our award winners and look forward to seeing how they influence our industry and shape expectations for innovation and achievement,” said Interim President and CEO Rachel Humphrey.

“As a franchisee and tireless advocate of small businesses, Mr. Mulvaney understands firsthand the challenges and opportunities facing America’s hoteliers. We are fortunate to have such a strong champion for regulatory relief and tax reform in the White House,” said AAHOA Chairwoman Jagruti Panwala.

 AAHOA is the largest hotel owners’ association in the world. The nearly 18,500 AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

Kanchana Poola Given Life Time Achievement Award at IAPC Induction Ceremony

Kanchana Poola, a community leader and philanthropist, best described as the unassuming power-house of the Indian community, was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Induction Ceremony of the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) last month on Long Island at the at the popular Antun’s by Minar in Hicksville, NY.

Kanchana Poola served as the President of New York Tamil Sangam (NYTS) for several years and currently serves as an advisor of the decades old Sangam. She is a Life member of FeTNA and has been associated with American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association. She has contributed generously to several noble causes in India and in the United States.

A recipient of numerous honors, Kanchana was honored in New Jersey by the community organization Golden Elephants Events group for her dedicated service to the Indian community in USA, her unconditional support to educational institutions run for orphanage children in Tamil Nadu and to other notable charities as well. Kanchana was one of the ten women selected in NY/NJ/CT tri-state area to receive the award known as “Woman of Achievement Award.”

Kanchana was honored for her tireless service to the Tamil community living in USA especially in the New York area. Kanchana was the first woman president of New York Tamil Sangam (NYTS) – the first ever Tamil Association started in North America forty years ago for the cause of Tamils living in New York.  Her contributions to the Tamil community towards art, literature, culture and the language are countless. Kanchana was one of the main driving forces behind the successful completion of the three-day celebrations of Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America in July 2006 at Manhattan Centre in New York City. Kanchana was the longest serving Woman President of NYTS proving her able leadership qualities with exemplary service to the community.

Kanchana and Jagadeesan Poola have contributed to the Harvard Tamil Chair Fund.  They are Co-Chairs of The Asian Era and Aksharam magazines. In her acceptance speech, Kanchana Poola said her father instilled in her the value of giving —  for education, for the poor and the needy. The Poola couple were also honored by the NYTS.

During the solemn ceremony attended by community leaders, diplomats, political leaders and hundreds of community members, a new Team led by Sunil J. Koozhampala as the President of IAPC assumed charge for the coming year.

Sunil J. Koozhampala took the oath of office as IAPC President along with his Executive Committee for 2019. New Board members were also inducted and executive committees for New York Chapter & Philadelphia Chapter installed. Sunil is the publisher and MD of Rashtra Deepika Ltd and Deepika, a reputed Malayalam newspaper from Kerala. He also has hospitality interests in the US and Costa Rica. He called IAPC founder chairman Ginsmon Zacharia a visionary leader.

In its mission to offer a common platform for media professionals of Indian origin and improve their working conditions, Indo-American Press Club received encouragement from over 250 community leaders and dignitaries as it celebrated 6 years of growth & expansion and held a induction ceremony for its 2019 team.

Others who were honored at the colorful ceremony included:

* Dr. Neeta Jain, Democratic Party and Civic Community leader

* Mr. Devadasan Nair, Consul Community Affairs, Indian Consulate, New York

* Mr. Ashok Vyas, Program Director of ITV Gold

* Mr. Ven Parameswaran, Senior Columnist, Writer & Critic

* Mr. Varkey Abraham, Business Entrepreneur

* Guruji Dr. Dileepkumar Thankappan, Renowned Yogacharya

* BCB Bank – Manager Roopam Maini

* Mr. Mohan Nannapaneni, Co-Founder of non-profit organization TEAM Aid.

* Sujeet Rajan, Executive Editor, Desi Talk  and News India Times

The Indo-American Press Club was formed in 2013 with lofty ideal of providing a common platform to journalists of Indian origin living in the United States, while fostering closer bonds and cooperation among an extensive network of journalists across the nation, who are committed to professionalism and have the well-being of the larger society, For more details, please visit: https://www.indoamericanpressclub.com/

SAKHI to honor Champions of Gender Equality

On Friday, May 3, 2019, Sakhi for South Asian Women (Sakhi), New York City’s first South Asian American women’s organization and an award-winning nonprofit that combats domestic and sexual violence in NYC’s South Asian community, will celebrate 30 years of service and advocacy at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at its gala Honoring the Power Within.

ACLU Artist Ambassador, best-selling author, and Top Chef host/executive producer Padma Lakshmi will serve as the gala’s Honorary Chair. Sakhi will recognize ‘me too’ movement founder Tarana Burke and philanthropist Indrani Goradia.

Sakhi’s 30th Anniversary Honored Guests Padma Lakshmi, Honorary Chair, best-selling author and host/executive producer of Bravo’s Top Chef Tarana Burke, Honoree, ‘me too’ founder, activist, and advocate Indrani Goradia, Honoree, philanthropist, advocate, and founder of Indrani’s Light Foundation Eve Ensler, Award Presenter, author of Obie Award-winning The Vagina Monologues, Tony Award-winning playwright, author, performer, and activist Amanda Nguyen, Award Presenter, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, founder and CEO of Rise Mayuri Veda, Special Remarks, thriver and peer advocate Padma Lakshmi, ACLU Artist Ambassador for immigrants’ rights and women’s rights, best-selling author, and host/executive producer of Bravo’s Top Chef is serving as the Honorary Chair of the gala.

Ms. Lakshmi says that, “Sakhi is fulfilling an important role in the Asian-American community, supporting those who need it most. The work they do is vital.” Two in five South Asian women experience domestic violence compared to one in four in the general population. Through crisis management, safety planning, job training, counseling, and more, Sakhi works with South Asian survivors of violence and sexual assault to achieve safety and independence.

Sakhi will honor two champions of gender equity and justice: Tarana Burke and Indrani Goradia. Honoree Tarana Burke is the founder of the viral ‘me too’ movement.

Time magazine included her on their 2018 Time 100 list as one of the world’s most influential people. For over 25 years, Ms. Burke has worked to increase access to resources for communities affected by sexual violence and racial injustice. Like the #metoo movement, Sakhi works with South Asian survivors of violence to take control of their lives and see themselves not as victims, but as agents of change. Ms. Burke says, “‘me too’ was born from a need to center black and brown girls in the movement to end sexual assault. Sakhi has been a model for gender justice, a resilient community partner, and I couldn’t be more humbled to stand with them as they celebrate their 30-year journey.”

Ms. Burke will be introduced by Amanda Nguyen, the founder and CEO of Rise and a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work on behalf of survivors of sexual assault. Sakhi also works with different communities and institutions to end domestic violence. Sakhi leads grassroots workshops that destigmatize taboos around domestic violence in South Asian communities and trains doctors, law enforcement officers, and other frontline providers to treat South Asian survivors with greater cultural sensitivity.

Honoree Indrani Goradia is an example of the power of collaboration. Ms. Goradia is an activist, philanthropist, and founder of Indrani’s Light Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the level of care for domestic-violence survivors. In 2013, Ms. Goradia joined forces with global health organizations, the PSI Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lift women and girls out of poverty. Ms. Goradia says, “As an advocate and survivor, I have dedicated my life to uplifting the voices and power of survivors across the globe, and I am deeply honored to receive this award for Sakhi for South Asian Women’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Indrani’s Light and Sakhi are inextricably linked in a movement fighting for justice for all survivors of violence.” Ms. Goradia will be introduced by Tony Award-winning playwright Eve Ensler. Ms. Ensler wrote the best-selling play The Vagina Monologues, which won an Obie Award and has been published in 48 languages and performed in more than 140 countries. “It is an honor to bring together these powerful leaders in the movement to end violence against women for Sakhi’s 30th anniversary celebration,” says Sakhi’s Executive Director, Kavita Mehra.

“They share our belief in uplifting the voices and power of survivors of violence and are role models for all of us at Sakhi. As one of the first South Asian women’s organizations in the country, and the first to break the stigma about gender-based violence in the South Asian community, we’re proud of the progress we’ve made. As we embrace a new chapter of our history, we’re urgently looking to our friends and supporters to help us expand our services to meet the rising needs facing South Asian survivors of violence in New York City. We raise nearly half of our annual budget at our annual gala. This year we have an ambitious goal of raising $600,000, which will support Sakhi’s critical work in crisis intervention, mental health counseling, as well as help us launch our new transitional-housing program.” For more information, including gala ticketing and sponsorship information: www.sakhi.givesmart.com

Sakhi for South Asian Women (Sakhi) exists to end violence against women. Sakhi unites survivors, communities, and institutions to eradicate domestic violence to work together to create strong and healthy communities. The organization uses an integrated approach that combines support and empowerment through service delivery, community engagement, advocacy, and policy initiatives. Founded in 1989 by a group of five South Asian women—Anannya Bhattacharjee, Mallika Dutt, Tula Goenka, Geetanjali Misra, and Romita Shetty—who were from diverse professional fields such as banking, film, law, and public health, Sakhi, meaning “woman friend,” was created to fill a critical need—in spite of an abundance of religious and cultural centers, professional associations, and ethnic-specific groups within New York’s large South Asian immigrant population, there was no place for women to address the silenced subject of domestic violence. Through efforts to serve survivors and mobilize community members to condemn abuse, Sakhi has changed the conversation on domestic violence in the community. Margaret Abraham, author of Speaking the Unspeakable: Marital Violence Among South Asian Immigrants in the United States, has noted, “What Sakhi did was bring together issues around ethnicity and gender, which were previously not discussed in our communities. They shifted domestic violence from a private family problem to a public social

TIME’s List of 100 ‘Most Influential People’ 2019 Released

Indian-American comedian and actor Hasan Minhaj has been named in Time magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people in the world. Also named in the coveted list are lawyers Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In Minhaj’s profile for Time, The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah writes about the first time the two met in 2014. It was on the sets of the Comedy Central show “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

“We were both fresh-faced kids trying to find our voice in the fast-paced world of late-night television,” Noah writes. “Fast-forward five years later, Hasan is still as fresh-faced as ever, but his voice booms across screens around the world, thanks to his groundbreaking Netflix show ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’.”

Noah goes on to say that “after hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and releasing his stand-up special ‘Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King’ in 2017, the opportunity for a late-night show of his own wasn’t just obvious, it was necessary. We’ve needed Hasan’s voice since Donald Trump came down that golden escalator and turned immigrants and Muslims into his targets.

He continues: “See, Hasan is a first-generation, Indian-American Muslim. But Hasan also loves the NBA, struggles with a “crippling” sneaker habit and speaks fluent hip-hop. ‘Patriot Act’ is the manifestation of Hasan’s whip-smart commentary, charisma and sincerity. It’s also a consistent reminder that Hasan is America. And America is Hasan.”

On his six-month-old 32-episode Netflix show, Minhaj, 33, has been taking on socially relevant topics including the Indian elections, student loan debt crisis, Amazon’s plan for world domination and immigration enforcement in the Trump era.

But the episode that got the most attention was his takedown of Mohammad bin Salman, which Netflix pulled from the Saudi Arabian market at its government’s request. “The Patriot Act” is also nominated for a Peabody Award in the entertainment category.

Also featured in among Pioneers are Katju and Guruswamy, who led the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ community in India and were lead lawyers representing the petitioners seeking to decriminalise homosexual activity between consenting adults, which was punishable by up to 10 years in jail according to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Along with being a Supreme Court of India judge, Guruswamy is the B.R. Ambedkar Research Scholar and Lecturer at Columbia Law School.

The “two amazing public-interest litigators,” were honored by Priyanka Chopra, who writes: “Armed with a well-planned strategy that went beyond their well-researched legal arguments, Arundhati and Menaka became beacons of hope for the Indian LGBTQ+ community. Their perseverance and commitment led an entire community to a historic win by humanizing their struggles and giving them the freedom to love.”

Chopra says Arundhati and Menaka have helped take a giant step for LGBTQ+ rights in the world’s largest democracy. In their committed fight for justice, they have shown us that we as a society must continue to make progress, even after laws are changed, and that we must make an effort to understand, accept and love. It is who we are as people.”

Ambani, who’s listed among Titans is the richest Indian. This year, he retained the top spot in the Forbes annual list of 100 richest Indian tycoons, According to Forbes, his wealth increased to $38 billion from $22.7 billion last year. Writing his profile, Anand Mahindra, chairman of business conglomerate the Mahindra Group says “Ambani’s father Dhirubhai was a visionary in Indian business, whose Reliance Industries conglomerate pioneered ways of targeting global scale,: adding, “But Ambani’s vision is now even more ambitious than that of the father whose blessings he unfailingly invokes at the launch of each initiative.”

Mahindra says the scale of Reliance Jio mobile-data network, which has already connected over 280 million people in India with low-cost 4G “is impressive by any standard. But what is truly jaw-dropping is the way it will allow Reliance to potentially dominate a staggering array of new businesses.”

Pakistan Prime Minister is listed among leaders like President Donald Trump and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Journalist Ahmed Rashid says “Pakistan is at a critical crossroads, and the man in charge is the closest it has to a rock star.” Khan captained the team that won the 1992 Cricket World Cup, built a cancer hospital in Lahore, then a university for kids who could never have dreamed of attending one.

Khan, who Rashid says entered politics 20 years ago, is now “Prime Minister of an impoverished nation that cannot pay its bills and is dependent on handouts from rich neighbors like China and the Arab Gulf states.” Rashid says that despite all the criticism, Khan “still generates the broadest hope among young and old that he can turn Pakistan around, and help make South Asia an ocean of peace rather than a state of permanent conflict.”

Dharmatma Saran & Shree Saini Win At The Global Beauty Awards

Dharmatma Saran, Chairman and Founder of Miss/Mrs. India Worldwide and Shree Saini, the reigning Miss India Worldwide, won awards as the Director/Producer and Best Title Holder respectively at the Second Global Beauty Awards held on April 7 at Snoqualmie Casino in Seattle, Washington State. The Global Beauty Awards has been acclaimed as the Academy Award (Oscar) of beauty pageant industry. The event was attended by beauty pageant leaders from around the world. Sarah Rose Summers, the reigning Miss USA, was Emcee for the gala event.
Dharmatma Saran who is the pioneer in starting Indian beauty pageants in the USA and the world was honored for creating Miss India USA thirty eight years ago and also the only international Indian pageant – Miss India Worldwide with affiliates in over 40 countries. “He provides exceptional opportunities to his winners,” said the citation, “many of whom have gone to become Bollywood celebrities and the Who’s Who of the Indian community worldwide.”
Dharmatma Saran in his acceptance speech thanked Maureen Francisco and David Van Maren, Producers of the awards, for this honor. He also thanked Ekta Saini for nominating him  and his wife Neelam Saran who has been a source of strength in his thirty eight years of pageant journey. Saran got this award out of 15 other influential nominees from around the world.
Shree Saini, the reigning Miss India Worldwide, was awarded as The Best Pageant Titleholder, out of 15 nominees from all over the world. The citation for Shree said ” As Miss India Worldwide, Shree saini has spoken at hundreds of events in over 70 cities, 11 states and 5 countries, al while being a full-time college student. She has collaborated with Governor, the Secretary of State, College Presidents, Mayors, and dozens of nonprofits, and her work has been published in over 500 newspapers.” Shree in her acceptance speech thanked her parents and Dharmatma Saran, Chairman of Miss India Worldwide, for their continued support.
Beautiful, compassionate, talented, ambitious, gentle, humble, determined and dedicated to achieving the lofty goals she has set before herself at a very young age, Shree Saini is a woman with a golden heart. Shree from the state of Washington was born in India. She immigrated to the United States as a toddler.
A woman with a noble mission, what the 22-year-old University of Washington student, is aspiring to achieve in her life, is to create awareness on a number of pressing social issues through her organization, and through her web-portal.  “I began my nonprofit at age 15. I work on raising awareness and raising funds for several nonprofits including anti-human trafficking and anti-bullying,” the young visionary says. “I am very passionate about my non-profit and want to lead a life of service,” she says. “I want to help end human trafficking and work to promote the importance of emotional well-being in our society.”
Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC) that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, is a pioneer in entertainment, holding Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and worldwide.
In 1990, Dharmatma Saran, decided to take the pageant one step further to an international level and started The First Miss India Worldwide Pageant to identify and honor beauties of Indian origin the world over and the show graduated to become the top most international Indian pageant on the earth. “For the first time ever, Asian-Indian communities from all over the world came together in New York for this event,” says Saran with a sense of pride. “To the best of our knowledge, no other ethnic organi­zation has ever conducted a pageant of this magnitude on an international level.”
The pageant was an instant success and was acclaimed as the most glamorous Indian function in the world. “When Miss India New York started in 1980, I had perhaps not even in my wildest dreams imagined that in less than twenty years, we would fledge out to be a mass movement with affiliates in over 40 countries, let alone that we would one day have a live internet webcast and broadcast our most prestigious function, the Miss India Worldwide, to an audience of over 300 million people!”
The pageants aim to honor achievement, to celebrate our culture in many ways, among them, the ability to meet people, make friends, to respect and be respected, to continually strive to improve standards, and to live a life as close to the laws of nature.
In line with other prestigious international pageants, IFC started staging Miss India Worldwide in various parts of the world. In 1997, the pageant was organized in Bombay to salute India on its 50th anniversary of Independence. In the year 1998, the pageant was organized, in associa­tion with UTV International, in the exotic and beautiful city of Singapore, South Afrcia, Malyasia, UAE, Surinam and several other states in the US.
In addition, she uses the many social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, among others, to enhance her life’s mission. Through Shree Saini YouTube page, she wants to spread her message by creating short videos of discussions on social issues, college life, raising awareness of important organizations and human rights, as well as anything to help the community.
Shree won the Miss India USA after many years of focus and practice, participating and winning in several pageants. Shree has competed in a number of pageants within the Miss America organization. She was the first runner-up at Miss Moses Lake 2014, Miss Seattle 2016 and Miss Seattle 2017. She also won the Miss Seattle People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2017, and Miss Congeniality, Highest Fundraiser, Director’s Award. All her pageant exposure has served as a platform for what she truly loves, in spreading awareness against bullying and other social issues. As Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, says, “Shree has used her platform to spread her story of perseverance, tolerance and heart health.”
Miss India USA was started by the New York-based community leaders Dharmatma Saran and Neelam Saran, under the banner of the India Festival Committee around 36 years ago, Miss India USA is the longest running Indian pageant outside India. “It has evolved over the years. Earlier, the participants of pageants presented their talent around Bollywood dance and songs and classical dances. But now pageant participants come out with their own innovations,” Dharmatma Saran said.
Saran contributions to Indian culture has been appreciated and recognized by various organizations around the world and he has been acclaimed as “India’s cultural ambassador to the world.” He has traveled with his wife Neelam to various countries to start Indian pageant. Recently he was awarded Bharat Gaurav Award held at the headquarters of United Nations in New York.

Neeta Bhushan Rids Indian Consulate of Corruption

CHICAGO – A high profile Indian Foreign Service Officer, Neeta Bhushan is a woman of steel. Currently she is the Consul General of India at Chicago. Her legacy as CG will be that corruption shall not revisit Chicago’s Indian Consulate, and it shall forever remain a “guardian” to the NRIs.

“Consulate is your guardian,” she had announced to the community the very 1st day on her arrival to this Chicago posting. Now 3-years later, one sees a transformed Consulate. Its doors stay open to public. From all over, the NRIs look up to it for support, guidance and advice. Organizations seek “legitimacy.” Destitute women seek solace. This unique achievement is truly a feather in her cap; it’s something that her predecessor miserably failed at.

A great organizer, she put into effect numerous great initiatives all through. Many of these shall go into annals of history for having far reaching positive consequences for India. Transfer of ?600 crore worth of the state-of-the-art ‘Seed Development Technology’ to India’s Andhra Pradesh is one such example. The research facility is coming come up at Kulnoor. Neeta Bhushan was singularly instrumental in getting this high profile pact through. Not only it included the transfer of seed genetics, but the techniques at ‘genetic modification’ as well. India, now a seed-importer, will soon be exporting seeds world over, including to US, over and above its national seed demands.

NB is her initialism. NB means Neeta Bhushan. It also means ‘Neat Business.’ As if the Pied Piper of Hamlin, the economist in Neeta Bhushan drove entire Midwest commerce India-wards. The trade from the 9 US states that she commands shot up to 7036 Million US Dollars. It increases as we read. Illinois alone, where she is headquartered, contributes $2482 Million to this. Her neighbor at Chicago, the Boeing, is supplying 205 aircraft to SpiceJet in India; and another 75 to Jet Airways. Neeta Bhushan’s domain, Midwest, is America’s hub of Meat and Food Industry. It be emphatically mentioned that 53,445.78 Kilos of poultry meat and 21627 units of live poultry have been exported to India. These figures form a roaring introduction to Neeta Bhushan’s endeavors that have resulted in reduction of the trade deficit between US and India.

From the very onset, Neeta Bhushan started with a bang! Yoga Day was her very first signature event that startled the community. Organized in a huge arena, the day-long celebrations were attended by who’s-who of the Midwestern United States. These included several Congressmen, Senators, Corporate Magnets, and Religious leaders. On her behest, a Local Chicago leader reinforced the Yoga Day with a 15-minute long live interview on significant National Public Radio.

In the history of Indian Embassy, Neeta Bhushan has the singular honor of hosting the Presidential visit to Chicago. She hosted the sitting Vice President of India while ensuring full-fledged protocol and impregnable security bubbles. The arrangements involved a series of impossibles that don’t event meet an ordinary eye. It needs an emphatic mention that Neeta Bhushan’s behind-the-scene set-ups contributed big time towards the flawless conduct of the first ever World Hindu Congress that was held in Chicago. Delegations from over 18 countries had sent participated that included a dozen of International leaders; one a ‘Head of a State.’

On Commerce front, the India Business Conference that Neeta Bhushan organized has been a trendsetter for the local leadership-aspirants. Its roaring success with over 450 businessmen in attendance was a road-map for reluctant business organizations to do things the right-way. In a span of few hours, Consul General Neeta Bhushan delivered an introduction to almost all Indian states and their industries, and also have American corporate houses participate in Panel Discussion to seek their way of doing business with India.

Much to the awe of many, Neeta Bhushan has been omnipresent. That way she has been a community person. There has been no organization, whose event Neeta Bhushan has not attended. Such has been her zeal, as I would find her presiding-over over three functions a day, after attending the full day of her office. More so, none has ever been denied her audience. A regular visitor to the Universities and Academic Institutions, Neeta Bhushan has handled the academia with a astute diplomatic skills.

Neeta Bhushan is an eagle-eyed officer. She knows the community threadbare. She wont delegate the accountability to the experience-lacking untrustworthy. But same time she wont annoy them. She knows how to message whose ego, and when. She could maintain a delicate balance amongst the perpetually warring factions of the community. Her this officer-attribute has resulted in Neeta Bhushan being center of attraction all over the Midwest. She has been the favorite of the elderly and the students alike.

Memory be the measure, Neeta Bhushan has been the most photographed amongst the Consul Generals. Her friendly persona has helped her make deep inroads into region’s Politco-Bureaucratic circles. No wonder she could set a new trend by hosting India’s national functions at Chicago’s venues be it Millennium Park or Harris Theatre pro bono.

But her affable persona shrouds an iron-lady. Neeta Bhushan carries an iron hand with a velvet glove on it. Rather than looking the other side, she would catch the bull by the horns and pin it down. One can define her as a “No Non-sense Officer.” And rightly so! After all she hails from a family of legendary bureaucrats. That way she inherited Administration skills as a ‘Sense of Fact’ from her IAS father. When the need arose, she put these to use as her second nature. Neeta Bhushan was quick to catch the chronic corrupt practices from within the Consulate, pinpoint the responsibility, and execute remedial measures. Such was the wrath of her actions, that the offenders tended to take refuge in the lap to local disparaging rowdies. The Result: Consulate rid of malpractices; and Neeta Bhushan victorious in her stance.

With over 25 years experience in her haversack, Neeta Bhushan is a diplometese personified. Pauses and silences are part of her vocabulary. She masters non-answers, and answers alike. She wont answer when its not needed to. But when she does, her responses are extensive, elaborate and accurate.

She is a prolific speaker. In her speeches she supports her arguments with extensive statistics and data. Neeta Bhushan has been the most sought after in the region as a Key Note Speaker. Recently, she was the keynote speaker at the prestigious Allen Lerner Lecture Series at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Besides, she has also addressed Booth School of Business at University of Chicago; University of South Dakota; and the Purdue University. Alongside US Senator Dick Durbin, US Senator Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and several Congressmen, Neeta Bhushan had the honor of breaking ground for Chicago-located Fermi Lab’s new accelerator project (See the top banner photo). This PIP-II Particle Accelerator project comprises construction of a 4-story Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment a mile below the earth’s surface with significant components manufactured and contributed by India. This tech know-how will assist India in its domestic accelerator program especially Indian Spallation Neutron Source Initiative.

All said and done: ‘Sagacious’ is her one word definition. Sagacious she is, didactic not. What could be a her teaching, I pondered! ‘Carry the ordinary along, but don’t settle for the ordinary,’ I deduced.

IAPC Confers Life Time Achievement Award on Kanchana Poola IAPC receives full-throated support of Indian community at Induction Ceremony

Kanchana Poola, a community leader and philanthropist, best described as the unassuming power-house of the Indian community, was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Induction Ceremony of the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) on March 31st here on Long Island at the at the popular Antun’s by Minar in Hicksville, NY.

During the solemn ceremony attended by community leaders, diplomats, political leaders and hundreds of community members, a new Team led by Sunil J. Koozhampala as the President of IAPC assumed charge for the coming year.

Sunil J. Koozhampala took the oath of office as IAPC President along with his Executive Committee for 2019. New Board members were also inducted and executive committees for New York Chapter & Philadelphia Chapter installed. Sunil is the publisher and MD of Rashtra Deepika Ltd and Deepika, a reputed Malayalam newspaper from Kerala. He also has hospitality interests in the US and Costa Rica. He called IAPC founder chairman Ginsmon Zacharia a visionary leader.

In its mission to offer a common platform for media professionals of Indian origin and improve their working conditions, Indo-American Press Club received encouragement from over 250 community leaders and dignitaries as it celebrated 6 years of growth & expansion and held a induction ceremony for its 2019 team.

Kanchana Poola served as the President of New York Tamil Sangam (NYTS) for several years and currently serves as an advisor of the decades old Sangam. She is a Life member of FeTNA and has been associated with American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association. Kanchana and Jagadeesan Poola have contributed to the Harvard Tamil Chair Fund.  They are Co-Chairs of The Asian Era and Aksharam magazines. In her acceptance speech, Kanchana Poola said her father instilled in her the value of giving —  for education, for the poor and the needy. The Poola couple were also honored by the NYTS.

Others who were honored at the colorful ceremony included:

* Dr. Neeta Jain, Democratic Party and Civic Community leader

* Mr. Devadasan Nair, Consul Community Affairs, Indian Consulate, New York

* Mr. Ashok Vyas, Program Director of ITV Gold

* Mr. Ven Parameswaran, Senior Columnist, Writer & Critic

* Mr. Varkey Abraham, Business Entrepreneur

* Guruji Dr. Dileepkumar Thankappan, Renowned Yogacharya

* BCB Bank – Manager Roopam Maini

* Mr. Mohan Nannapaneni, Co-Founder of non-profit organization TEAM Aid.

* Sujeet Rajan, Executive Editor, Desi Talk  and News India Times


IAPC, which was founded by a group of Kerala origin group of media persons, felt overwhelmed by the presence of crème de la creme from other communities as well–Tamil, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Telugu, Punjabi…. you name it.  The official business of induction ceremonies was interspersed with presenting plaques to the evening’s honorees, speeches by the Guests of Honor and entertainment.

 “The ceremony was a sure sign of the strong support from the Indian community,” said Ginsmon Zachariah, Founder Chairman of IAPC. “The presence of IAPC leaders, past and present, leaders of various community organizations as well as many accomplished people in their fields, not to speak of the media professionals, were in attendance, was indeed encouraging for the member sof IAPC to move forward with courage and pride.”

Indeed, IAPC already has 12 chapters and has become the fast growing syndicate of print and electronic media professionals of Indian origin working in USA, Canada and Europe. It is committed to enhance the working conditions of journalists, offering educational and training opportunities to its members.  It has hosted 5 International Media Conferences in USA, with topnotch media professionals coming from as far as India and Australia.

The incoming General Secretary Mathewkutty Easow in his welcome speech said:  “Like any other successful organization, IAPC is forging ahead with 7 “P’s” – Purpose, Pathway, Passion, Perseverance, Positivity, Patience and Principles to become a source of pride to its members and envy to other organizations.”

Kamlesh Mehta, IAPC Board Member and Publisher of The South Asian Times, called IAPC a strong platform for Indian ethnic journalists who are not well paid and do not enjoy benefits like a pension plan. He asserted that IAPC is working toward providing some security to them with support from the community.

Neeta Jain, Democratic District Leader of NY’s 25th assembly district (Part B) and Civic Community Leader, in her acceptance speech said that the media’s role is important because “your pen and words can make a big change in the world.”

Devadasan Nair, Consul – Community Affairs with the Indian Consulate in New York gave this advice to IAPC in his speech: “Media shall always bring the truthful and right news to the public. IAPC should attract and include media persons hailing from all regions of India and it shall grow to be an internationally renowned organization.”

From the Guests of honor, Dr. Toshiya Hoshino, Japan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, in his address highlighted the strong ties between Japan and the US and Japan being a partner country of India. Deepak Misra, Minister, Permanent Mission of India to the UN, graciously attended the entire proceeding of the evening.

Congressman Tom Suozzi and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino sent messages of good wishes to IAPC. Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator, was held up with the state budget work.

As for the prominent attendees, here are just a few names: Bobby Kumar, Bhuvana Rao, Dr. Raj Bhayani, Jagdish Sewhani, Nagendra Gupta, Shaker Nelanuthala, Sunil Hali, Sharanjit Singh, Dr Raj Uppal, Lalit Aery, Arvind Vora, Rajesh Shah, Sunil Modi, Rizwan Qureshi, Dr. Thomas Mathew, Thomas Koovalloor, Sibi David, Gunjan Rastogi, Beena Kothari, Bina Sabapathi, Nilima Madan, Pinki Jaggi, Dilip Chauhan, Ravi Bhooplapur, Andy Bhatia, Shiv Dass, Arjen Bathija, Dave Sharma, Indu Gajwani, Rashmi Sinha,  Roopam Maini, Davendra Vora, Anand Ahuja, Dr M.N. Krishnan & Sashikala, Dr Bala Swaminathan, Dr & Mrs Kasinathan, Gobind Munjal, and Dr Syed Yousuf.

Dr. Parikh complimented IAPC for its six-year journey during which it has moved “from strength to strength,” and thanked the organization for honoring two people from his organization. He complimented IAPC for going from strength to strength over 6 years.

Air India’s Regional Manager – Americas Bhuvana Rao told ITV Gold in an interview at the event  that the Indian media plays a constructive role as it contributes to bringing the Indian community together as well as India and US closer as partners.

A coffee table book titled ‘Global Religions’ compiling seven issues of the interfaith journal, One World Under God, was released at the event. It is published by Global Interfaith Foundation, which was started last year by Darshan Singh Bagga, a real estate developer, and is edited by Parveen Chopra, the Managing Editor of  The South Asian times.

Scintillating  entertainment was  provided by a group displaying Chenda Melam drum art of Kerala, and  Soormay bhangra group.  Dance performance was given by Sowparnika Dance Academy headed by Ms. Malini Nair.

Vineetha Nair, Director IAPC Board, kicked off the meeting and handed the mike to young emcees Jinu Ann Mathew and Andrew G Zacharia. The vote of thanks was given by Biju Chacko, National Secretary. IAPC Chairman Babu Stephen Could not attend because of family emergency.

Nikki Haley nominated to Boeing’s Board of Governors

The Boeing Company board of directors has nominated Nikki Randhawa Haley to be elected as a director at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders on April 29.

According to a press release from the company on February 26th, the multi-national announced that Haley, 47,  former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the first female governor of South Carolina, and a three-term legislator in the South Carolina House of Representatives, has been nominated to be on its BOG.

“Ambassador Haley brings to Boeing an outstanding record of achievement in government, industry partnership, and successfully driving economic prosperity for communities in America and around the world,” Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, is quoted saying in the press release.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to Boeing’s continued success as a cutting edge industry leader and a great American company,” said Ambassador Haley. “Not only is Boeing the largest aerospace company in the world and America’s biggest exporter, it also understands the importance of teamwork and building community through its network of suppliers in all 50 states and around the world,” Haley added in her statement.

“Boeing will benefit greatly from her broad perspectives and combined diplomatic, government and business experience to help achieve our aspiration to be the best in aerospace and a global industrial champion,” Muilenburg added.

A graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Haley was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004, the first Indian-American to be elected to that House, and serving three terms before being elected Governor of the state between 2011 and 2017. The second Indian-American to be elected governor in U.S. history, Haley also became the first Indian-American to hold a cabinet level position in U.S. administration. She served as U.N. ambassador from January 2017  to December 2018.

‘Sudani from Nigeria’ bags five awards at Kerala State Film Awards

‘Sudani from Nigeria’ bagged five awards at the 49th Kerala State Film Awards 2018.  The film directed by new-comer Zakariya Muhammed bagged the prizes for the best popular film, best debut director, best actor (Soubin Shahir), best screenplay (Zakariya Muhammed and Muhsin Parari) and best character role for female (shared by Savithri Sreedharan and Sarasa Balussery).  The best actor award was shared by Soubin Shahir and Jayasurya (‘Captain’ and ‘Njan Marykkutty’).  ‘Kanthan – the Lover of Colour’ directed by C Shareef was selected as the best film.  The awards were decided by the 10-member jury headed by Kumar Sahni.

The film released in March 2018 has bagged several awards earlier too, including the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Award for the best Malayalam film at the International Film Festival of Kerala 2018.  Director Zakariya Muhammed got the prestigious Mohan Raghavan Award 2017-18 for the best debut director and the award for the best director at the first Fez International Film Festival held in Morocco in February 2019.  The film won five awards at the Cinema Paradiso Club Awards 2019 for the movie, script, cinematography (Shyju Khalid), editing (Noufal Abdullah) and best actress in a character role (Savithri Sreedharan).  The film was screened at the Indian Panorama section at the 49th International Film Festival of India held in Goa and at the Cinema of the World Section at the 17th Dhaka International Film Festival.  Shyju Khalid and Sameer Thahir produced the film while music was composed by Rex Vijayan and Shahabaz Aman.

Malappuram has not been painted well in the Malayalam film arena so far.  Malappuram which is a Muslim-majority district was always referred to as ‘Malappuram kathi (dagger)’, ‘bomb’, a place where women are oppressed etc. in the mainstream cinema.

But ‘Sudani from Nigeria’ released in 2018 has changed the negative definition of Malappuram and Muslims in Malayalam cinema.  The film tells the story of a local football team manager and his player from Nigeria.  The film received critical applause as well as good box office performance.

The hero of the film is Majeed, a Sevens football (played by seven members in a team, common in Malabar with its own tournaments) team manager played by actor-director Soubin Shahir.  He has a few African players (commonly called as Sudanis) in his team and one of the players – Samuel Abiola Robinson from Nigeria- has to take rest for a month after an accident.  And he is taken to the house of Majeed, the team Manager, who is already struggling to make both ends meet.

Majeed’s mother and a neighbour take care of the foreign player despite not knowing each other’s language.  The story revolves around the problems and situations they face  like Majeed’s step-father who rarely visits the family because he knows Majeed doesn’t like him; Samuel (fondly called ‘Sudu’ short for Sudani) whose family lives in a UN refugee camp in Ghana after fleeing the civil war in Nigeria;  the educated girl who refuses to marry Majeed who is not that learned; the care that each character gives to the ailing Samuel; the police interrogation when they come to know via a newspaper article about the foreigner living in the village etc.

One most heart-touching scene is the way the two women (Majeed’s mother and the neighbour) react to the news of the death of Samuel’s grandmother – they say ‘Inna lillah’(the Muslim way of invoking Allah during a calamity), arrange a prayer session with the clerics recite the Qur’an and visit the mosque at Mampuram to pray for the deceased.

Another is the neighbor Beeyumma waiting for her son to come back home, which is drawn from real life where a mother of the same name (at Parappanangadi) is awaiting the release of her son Zakariya who is an under-trail for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Bengaluru blast case from prison. The film truly portrays the real Malabar – be it the love and care, passion for football, involvement in social affairs etc.

“Period. End of Sentence” by Sneha and Suman wins Oscar

Period. End of Sentence, featuring Sneha and Suman, won an award at the Oscars on Sunday, last week deals with the stigma of menstruation in India. Period. Kathikhera, a small village in Hapur district, hogged the limelight on Monday after a documentary, Period. End of Sentence, which tackles the stigma of menstruation in the country, created history at the 91st Academy Awards after winning in the best documentary short category.

Indian film producer Guneet Monga is elated about winning an Oscar for her co-production “Period. End of Sentence”, which highlights the stigma around menstruation. She says the accolade adds more power to her mission to “change the world”.

The 26-minute film follows girls and women in Hapur in northern India and their experience with the installation of a pad machine in their village. The film, backed by Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, is about women in India fighting against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation and delving upon the work of real life ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganathan.

“Thank you to the Academy for the highest honour and for recognising the efforts of the young girls from Oakwood school in LA to Kathikera in UP in helping us shatter the glass ceiling,” Monga said in a statement.

The film was nominated along with Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat and A Night At The Garden in the category. Winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Short was not an easy task for the makers of India-based documentary Period. End of Sentence as it required hard work and struggle of 20 years, said Sneha and Suman, who have featured in the short film.

 “This was not a day’s struggle, the award bears testimony to 20 years of hard labour. Shabana, Usha, Shashi, Shushila and Anita. Our unit team included seven workers — Sneha, Rakhi, Sushma, Rinki, Preeti, Ruksana and Arsi. It would have been difficult to make this film and fight for this cause without them,” Sneha told ANI.

“We have received success today on a topic on which we can’t even talk about in public. Periods, which are looked down upon in the society, we have been able to work towards raising awareness about it. Our aim is not just to sell sanitary napkins. Our aim is to make people accept cleanliness during periods. We want all women to understand this and take care of their hygiene. If our voice reaches to a single girl, then we feel we have received success,” Suman added.

The 26-minute short documentary, co-produced by Guneet Monga and directed by 25-year-old Rayka Zehtabchi, follows a group of women in Hapur, India who lead a quiet revolution as they fight against the stigma of menstruation that is deeply rooted in society.

For generations, the women of the village did not have access to sanitary pads, which lead to health issues among them. When a sanitary pad is installed in their village, the women learn to manufacture and market their own pads, naming it ‘FLY.’

Sneha’s family also expressed their joy over the win. Sneha’s brother Kapil while speaking to ANI, said, “It is based on my sister’s life, but not just my sister, everyone related to the film should get credit for the film’s win. The director and actors of the film, all deserve the award. It’s a very happy moment for all of us.”

Sneha’s friend and co-worker Sushma also expressed her happiness and said, “I am feeling very happy and proud. We come from a small village and we didn’t know about this earlier. We had worked very hard on this and so we are feeling very proud. We are very happy that the movie based on our company and our work has got an award.”

Besides them, Bollywood too erupted with happiness. From Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra, Vicky Kaushal and Neha Dhupia to Dia Mirza and Mini Mathur, various B-Town celebrities took to Twitter to congratulate the film’s team on the big win.

 “Periods are normal and in no way do they stop us from achieving anything. This has been more than 10 years of work of Action India, run by Gauri Chaudhary, on educating reproductive rights on the ground in many villages. Feminist Majority Movement and Girls Learn International have been pushing this cause in the US,” she added.

The 26-minute documentary is based on the work being done by two village women, Sneha (22) and her sister-in-law Suman (37), who dared to raise the issues of periods and menstrual hygiene in a conservative society and installed a sanitary pad making machine in their house.

The two women also set up a sanitary pad vending machine in the village where other women also learned to manufacture and market their own pads. They named their brand ‘FLY’.

Sneha and Suman themselves feature in the documentary that has been directed by 25-year-old Rayka Zehtabchi and co-produced by Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, which has backed films like The Lunchbox and Masaan.

“It is an honour for the entire country and Hapur district. I congratulate the villagers for extending their support to us,” said Sneha’s father and Suman’s father-in-law Rajendra Tanwar.

“Sneha and Suman are currently in the US to attend the Academy Awards ceremony and have shared their success with the family over phone,” said a beaming Tanwar.

Suman and Sneha are associated with a women’s welfare group Mahila Sabla Sangh. Two years ago, NGO Action India approached them to educate women and girls about menstrual health and hygiene, and making sanitary napkins was a part of the project.

“Sneha and Suman decided to take up the project and agreed to install a sanitary pad making machine in their house. It was installed in a small room. Even the family members were not aware about the work they were doing initially,” said Tanwar.

They started contacting girls and women of the village to educate them about the importance of sanitary napkins in maintaining proper health.

In this conservative village, with a population of 4,500 where Gujjar community is dominant, Sneha and Suman developed a support group and succeeded in convincing a few village girls and women to work with them.

Directed by award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi, the film is created by The Pad Project, an organization established by an inspired group of students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher, Melissa Berton.

Monga has a message for girls all around the world. “Every girl in India or anywhere around the world needs to know this and hear this loud and clear. Period is an end of a sentence, but not a girl’s education.”

“Mandakini Kakar from Sikhya was on the floor working with the film and is the voice of the film too. And thank you Stacey Sher and Lisa Taback for supporting this massive dream. And thank you Netflix (for) truly putting us on the map.” She wants “every girl to know that each one of them is a goddess. Now, that we have an Oscar, Let’s go change the world.”

Dr. Raj Bhayani Receives Outstanding Service Appreciation Award for his Contributions to AAPI An Accomplished Neurosurgeon, Social Activist, Entrepreneur, and Leader: Committed to Serving Humanity

Dr. Raj Bhayani, an accomplished neurosurgeon, social activist, entrepreneur, leader, and the first ENT surgeon in India, was honored with the Outstanding Service Appreciation Award for his contributions to AAPI during the historical 12th Global Health Summit (GHS) held in Mumbai on December 29th, 2018.
Dr. Bhayani, the Co-Chair of AAPI GHS 2018, had completed training in Neurosurgery and had a Fellowship in Facial Plastic & Micro vascular Surgery in India. He is currently practicing in New York, has come a long way since he began his professional practice in New York decades ago.
Dr. Bhayani is grateful to American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), which he has come to love and adore in recent years. He says, “AAPI has given me the opportunity to work with people of high intellect. It has helped me develop relationships with many, without which I would not have I have met many people whom I look upon as role models. And, AAPI helps me grow as a person and continues to mentor me in several ways.”
Dr. Bhayani says, having worked in the inner circles of AAPI, he has come to recognize “AAPI as the most united, strong, vibrant and transparent organization. We do have differences of opinion, which is the beauty of democracy in AAPI. When needed, AAPI members have always come together to support AAPI and its many initiatives. We have always connected and have given our best for common causes.”
Having contributed tremendously with every noble cause AAPI has initiated, Dr. Bhayani says, “I have worked closely with the organizing committee of the Global Healthcare Summit by raising $9 Million, being instrumental in bringing the President of India to the Summit in Mumbai. I have worked closely and for the success of the many charitable programs AAPI has initiated, including the TB Free India, Sevak Project and many others.”
Dr. Bhayani has held several positions in AAPI and has grown with the organization. He has served as a past president of AAPI Metro New York City. He has served successfully as the Convention Chair of National AAPI Convention in 2017 Atlantic City with a record profit of more than $300,000. He had served as the AAPI Leadership Conference Co-Chair 2018 and 2017, AAPIQLI Convention Chair 2015, AAPI QLI Diwali Gala Chair 2018 and a member of the Board of Trustee AAPI NYC METRO. Dr. Bhayani has been an active member of AAPI CPR Council; AAPI Publication Committee; AAPI ADOPT A VILLAGE PROGRAM ; and the Co Chair of AAPI India n Day parade in New York.
He currently serves as the AAPI IT Committee Chair 2018-19, and has been instrumental in bringing out the AAPI Weekly newsletter from the President’s Desk. He is the President Elect AAPIQLI, one of the largest Chapters of AAPI.
His accomplishments in the professional world are well known. During the duration of his medical profession, more than 50 research papers have been published and presented by him, which has resulted in inclusion of his name in the Marquis ‘Who’s Who in America in Medicine and Healthcare’ acknowledging his achievements in the medical field.
Not satisfied with his professional accomplishments, Dr. Bhayani has devoted his life to being actively involved in the philanthropic sector. He currently serves on the boards, and is an active member, of over 20 communities and associations that are involved in philanthropic activities. In addition, he has also served on the Board of Trustees of Save Life Foundation, which has helped in the implementation of Good Samaritan Law and Road Safety Bill to help road side accident victims and to improve road safety in India.
Passionate about giving back to the larger society, Dr. Bhayani says, “Inspired by many individuals, who lead by example. Cause is the driving than actual person.” His life has been an example of how to give back to the community, which has given him much.  “Even since childhood, I had the desire to be someone, who wanted to contribute to the common good.”
Recently, he was the chief organizer for ‘Football for Nation’ initiative, in Delhi, by bringing Parliamentarians and Film stars together to play a game of football to raise funds for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Besides, his significant contributions in organizing several health and blood donation camps as well as fund raisers for Aksharpatra, helping millions of kids with Mid-day meal program in India, have earned him great respect and appreciation in the society. He is grand Patron for India Day Parade for celebrating India’s Independence Day in New York.
Imbibed with this passion, Dr. Bhayani did not have to look for opportunities. They actually came his way. “In the society we live in, there are ample of opportunities to do good,” he says. “I always look upon in my friends who do larger good, and have tried to join them or find noble causes that I can support or initiate, with the objective of doing little acts of kindness. I believe small acts of kindness by many of us can achieve tremendous impact on humanity than individual acts.”
The unassuming Dr. Bhayani was instrumental in organizing Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s historic address to the Indian – American community at Madison Square Garden, during his maiden visit to New York in September 2014.
A distinguished Guest Speaker, as a proponent of the Honorable Prime Minister’s vision for India, on popular regional TV shows in USA, Dr. Bhayani is one of the foremost members of the Indian community who has worked tirelessly in increasing awareness of the Prime Minister’s initiatives in the USA, which in return has resulted in the remittance of funds to India for the implementation of these initiatives. His work is an exemplary example of his commitment towards India’s progress.
His outstanding support to the society in his roles as a physician, a leader, and as a philanthropist have not gone unnoticed. Dr. Bhayani has received dozens of awards, recognition and scholarships. He has been felicitated on several platforms and his list of accolades includes Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Samman Award at House of Lords in London, Bharat Gaurav Puraskar and Delhi Ratan Award, Hind Ratan Award, Asian American Heritage Honoree of the year 2016, New York City as well as State Proclamation Award. He has also been awarded ‘United States Congressional Achievement Award’ and is also the recipient of the ‘Most Influential Leader in Indian Community in United States’ recognition award. He has received USA Triologic Society award for his research papers. He has held various leadership positions in the healthcare field and leading hospitals in New York heading the ENT and Facial Plastic Surgery divisions.
Working with AAPI in the past decades towards the realization of its mission in various capacities, Dr. Bhayani has held several responsible positions and has worked tirelessly and with devotion in various capacities. Having shown his exceptional leadership and organizational qualities, now, aspiring to play even a greater role in AAPI by joining the national Executive Committee.
The dynamic person that he is, Dr. Bhayani wants to play a more active role in national AAPI.
Having achieved success and recognition professionally, Dr. Bhayani has come to a stage in his life that his skills, talents, resources and his life cane be devoted to do larger good for people here his adopted country, and back home in India. Dr. Bhayani believes that towards this mission in life, AAPI provides him with “a platform to achieve my goal in life.’
When elected as a member of the national leadership, Dr. Bhayani wants to work towards, “Making active in 10 years of medical school. Recruit and engage young generation. Increase AAPI membership. Enhance our relationship with Pharma companies and help make them AAPI as a valuable partner. Work closely with US Legislators for meaningful outcome, including stronger voice for achieving AAPI’s legislative agenda. Make AAPI financially strong. Create alliances with strong organizations similar to AAPI.
Dr. Bhayani says, “I bring to AAPI my decades of experiences, networking, relationships. I am able to meet and connect with and help connect people from different walks of life, including high profile people from different categories. My ability to raise money and the financial support I have brought to AAPI are known to all.”
Dr. Bhayani, with a proven record of commitment and dedication, says, “I believe I am hard working and result oriented. I speak less and let my work speak for itself. My work should resonate my character. I have tremendous affinity for youth. I am a team player. Determined. Trustworthy. And, always, dependable.”
 “You have seen how I connect with the new generations. I am able to motivate, inspire, and encourage young generation, and instill in them confidence to be leaders. I believe, the future of AAPI is in strengthening the role of next generation and integration and deeper involvement of YPS and MSRF.”
Dr. Bhayani, who has been through many challenges, when he had initially as a young physician immigrated to this land of opportunities decades ago, is now committed to mentoring young physicians who have recently come into the United States. “I would like to encourage nurture and mentor younger physicians, professionally in career as well as in leadership,” he says.
AAPI’s voice must be heard in corridors of powers, Dr. Bhayani says. “I will like to work with Dr. Vinod Shah, Dr. Ajrawat and Dr. Suresh Gupta for the success of AAPI’s Legislative agenda.”
Some of the initiates Dr. Bhayani wants to strengthen are: to make India TB Free; Addressing the Opioid crisis; Creating a CPR Ad-hoc Committee; Anganwadi Projects in the state of Madhya Pradesh; Charitable Clinic in Varanasi; and Give me water project in West Bengal. “In order to meet our objectives we need a strong team with long term vision and commitment. I believe under leadership of current leaders of AAPI and active participation of AAPI members, AAPI will reach new heights,” he says.
Dr. Bhayani has come to recognize that many leaders of AAPI with their vision, commitment and dedication have brought AAAPI to its current glory. Tremendous work has been done by current and past AAPI leaders over the 38 years since foundation of AAPI to reach today’s height and glory. However, AAPI continues to face many challenges and concerns. It is therefore, now more than ever, we need to work together with steadfast resolve and determination.
“Since my association with AAPI, I have seen with awe and inspiration, how this noble organization has grown over the past 37 years.  AAPI has a very strong future with its  highly educated, skilled and dedicated membership and leadership. AAPI has a greater role to play in the national arena. And, AAPI is ready to march on and I am there to be part of this great organization and all its diverse and talented membership to make this noble organization a great force with a stronger voice to accomplish its many lofty goals.”

Gitesh Desai receives Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award 2019

Gitesh Desai was reading an email from India’s Ministry of External Affairs but before the words could sink in, he got a call from Houston’s Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray congratulating him. Desai was one of the 28 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardees of 2019. The normally eloquent Desai says he was “struggling for words” during his conversation with the Consul General.

Desai was presented the prestigious award by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind at a special ceremony in Varanasi on 23rd January. He had “goose bumps while walking on the dais” to receive the award. He was also felicitated at his alma mater University of Baroda and in his hometown Jambusar in Gujarat.

A cherished recognition, Desai plans to hang the framed certificate in his living room. Desai came to the US in 1980 with an engineering degree from India, but the lack of practical experience, a US degree and fluency in English proved to be major roadblocks in getting a job.

In exasperation, he finally told an interviewer at Jack D. Gillum, an engineering company, “Henry Kissinger was an unknown person too until Nixon gave him a chance. Engineering formulas don’t change whether they are applied in India or the US. Just give me a chance.”

Desai got the job and soon proved himself.  He rose quickly through the ranks in every one of the four prominent companies he’s worked for – Jack D. Gillum, Stone and Webster, KBR and presently Wood where he is Senior Principal Engineer. He’s racked up a combined experience of 35 years in engineering and construction projects and has worked on assignments that were individually worth $12 billion. His present boss describes him as “a solutions oriented, goal driven problem solver.”

This description of Desai would be proved right once again in a completely different setting. Three months after he took the helm as President of Sewa International Houston Chapter, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. His own house was flooded with 5 feet of water for two weeks. Desai gathered his passport, laptop and with the clothes he was wearing, walked out of the house and moved into a hotel. He began coordinating rescue and relief efforts from the hotel’s lobby and was in the forefront mobilizing 1250 volunteers who rescued 687 people stranded in their homes. Sewa International collected over one million dollars in donations including a $400,000 grant from the Mayor’s Fund for relief and rehabilitation efforts, the first ever such grant to any Indian American organization in the US.

Desai lost most of his belongings, personal memories, paintings and some rare books in the flooding but the three things, he says, he didn’t lose were “his positivity, hope and health” for which he is grateful. He stayed in a hotel for one year and has only recently moved back home occupying the second floor as the first floor still “looks like a war zone.”

Growing up in a traditional family environment, Desai was greatly influenced by his grandmother. In the 1940’s, she initiated several programs for women empowerment, opened four stores and, in a revolutionary move for those times, hired widows to run them. He comes from a family of freedom fighters and social reformers where Gandhiji’s influence ran deep. Desai recalls spending hours on the charkha spinning thread. The family encouraged wearing khadi, a practice that can still be seen in the natty khadi jacket and kurta churidar he sports at any Indian event.

At 11, Desai joined a Gujarati medium Gandhian boarding school where he learned “discipline and self-reliance.” The genesis of his activism was first seen in the 1974 Navnirman Andolan in Gujarat. As a student leader, Desai led students to protest against the rampant corruption which led to the toppling of the government. In 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared emergency. Desai protested and was detained in prison for two weeks. After his release, he moved to Mumbai and then Dubai as he was on the Government’s Black list for his involvement in the protests against the Emergency.

The over 6 feet broad shouldered Desai is a familiar face in Houston.  He was on the Boards of the Indo American Charity Foundation, the Toastmaster’s Club, City of Houston’s General Appeals Board and President of the Indo American Political Action Committee. He led a delegation to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. lobbying for accountability, and transparency in the US financial aid to Pakistan to ensure it wasn’t being used to fund terrorist activities against India. In another delegation, he lobbied for a US-India Civil Nuclear Deal and successfully blocked a killer amendment against it in the US Congress.

Desai is also a certified yoga teacher. He loves reading, listening to Hindustani classical music and oil painting. But nothing beats driving down to Dallas every other weekend to spend time with his two grandchildren.

35th Annual Dance Pe Chance’ 2019 – 70th Republic Day Celebrations

The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of the tri-state, one of the oldest and the largest nonprofit Umbrella Organization of the Indian Diaspora celebrated India’s 70th Republic Day in grandeur with its annual show “Dance Pe Chance” promoting the 2nd generation of the Indian Diaspora while promoting the culture and heritage at the Union County Arts Center, in Rahway, New Jersey.

The packed show was a cultural extravaganza as the students from various dance schools of four different states participated in festive spirit to prove their mettle at the “Dance Pe Chance” dance competition. Nine dance schools performed in front of a sold-out auditorium in four categories: Minor, Junior, Senior and Adult. Aum Dance Creations, Arya Dance Academy, Aatma Performing Arts, B2Z Dance School, Dancing Shiva, Natraj Dance Studio, Nirmiti School Of Dance, Simply Dance, Pranavam School Of Dance are among the schools that participated.

 The event commenced with the National Anthem of US and India, during his welcome address FIA President Alok Kumar triumphantly welcomed the spectators and applauded the children parents and choreographers. He also dedicated the  35th year of this cultural performance competition to children who with this year total surpassing an accumulated total of over 18000 children that have participated in this cultural dance competition that spans 3 decades.

The community event also honored the dignitaries in attendance, judges, guests and the traditional ceremony of oath for the FIA’s incoming executive committee of 2019 – Alok Kumar President; Himanshu Bhatia, Executive Vice President; Saurin Parikh, Vice President; Amit Yadav, General Secretary; Amit Ringasia, Treasurer; Srujal Parikh, immediate Past President and Mardavi Patel, Joint Secretary. The oath was administered by Deputy Consulate General New York Shatrughan Sinha who was on hand, acknowledged and welcomed the incoming FIA Executive team. He expressed his appreciation for the role FIA has played in the community for 49 years and how working CGI-NY and FIA working in sync is pivotal and progressive beneficial for the Indian diaspora here in the Northeast.

DCG- Sinha also administered the oath to two new members added by FIA to the Board of Trustees, Jayesh Patel Past President & Ankur Vaidya, two-term Past President both long-time FIA veterans.  Vaidya addressed the gathering on behalf of Chairman Ramesh Patel and recognized the support of the FIA Board that currently holds a line of distinguished community leaders including Ramesh Patel, Padma Shri H R Shah, Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Albert Jasani, Ram Gadhavi, Dipak Patel, Chandrakant Trivedi, Pravin Pandhi and Yash Paul Soi.

FIA also honored and had as a Guest of Honor Emmy Award-winning travel show host and PBS Travel celebrity Darley Newman who graced the event with her presence.  Ms. Newman applauded the performances and efforts including costumes and props displayed by the participants.

Participants were judged by an array of talented personalities including Palvesha Latiwala, decorated dancer and the CEO of Bombino Express, Smt. Gomathi Manoj, decorated  Bharatanatyam artiste, teacher and Artistic Director of Soundarya Natya Kalalaya and Nirali Vakharia, Director and founder of Natraj Nrityala School of Dance. The event was sponsored by Pyar.com, BCB Indus American Bank, Movers.com, RWJ Barnabas Health, The South Asian Times, Air India, Cox & Kings, SBI New York, New York Life, Bombino Express, Akbar Restaurant, Universal Relocations, TV Asia, Parikh Worldwide Media, Hotstar, The Indian Panorama, EBC Radio and Printzazu.

FIA added variety and diversity by including a ‘grownups or adults’ category that showed the 3 glitz-filled performances by majority the participating moms.  There was also a spectacular martial arts form – Tae Kwan Do performance by Kim’s Tae Kwan Do which was compiled by Tae Kwan Do Master J D Kim. Concluding the event, FIA honored all the dancers, choreographers and judges with Prize-Winning amounts, mementos, and certificates. In addition to other offerings extended to participants by the FIA.

 The List of Winners:

Minor Category

Best Costume:- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Singham, Mamta se bhare

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

Best Choreography:- Arya Dance Academy

Song: Singham, Mamta se bhare

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

Technique:- Dancing Shiva

Song : Song from Lagaan

Choreographer: Jeanie Beri & Neal Doshi

3rd prize:- Aum Dance Creations

Song : Sridevi Medley

Choreographer: Rina Shah, Anu Mysore

2nd prize:- Dancing Shiva

Song : Song from Lagaan

Choreographer: Jeanie Beri & Neal Doshi

1st prize:- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Singham, Mamta se bhare

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

Junior Category

Best Costume :- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Shah ka Rutba, Gajanan, Vande mataram

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

Best Choreography :- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Shah ka Rutba, Gajanan, Vande mataram

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

Technique :- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Shah ka Rutba, Gajanan, Vande mataram

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

3rd prize:- Aatma Performing Arts

Song : Kanna Nidurinchara, Soja Zara, Gulaab Gang

Choreographer: Amit Shah, Serena Ortiz, Sapna Advani

2nd prize:- Aum Dance Creations

Song : Garba/Raas  – Kamariya, Chogada, Dholi Taro, Raangtaali, Dholida, Nagada Sang Dhol

Choreographer: Rina Shah, Anu Mysore

1st prize:- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Shah ka Rutba, Gajanan, Vande mataram

Choreographer: Arya Instructors

Senior Category

Best Costume :- Aatma Performing Arts / Arya Dance Academy

Song : Pyar kiya toh darna kya , Dil cheez kya hai / Albela Sajan, Jai Jai kara, Jai Hanuman

Choreographer: Amit Shah, Sapna Advani, Swarali/ Arya Instructors

Best Choreography :- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Albela Sajan, Jai Jai kara, Jai Hanuman

Choreographer:  Arya Instructors

Technique :- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Albela Sajan, Jai Jai kara, Jai Hanuman

Choreographer:  Arya Instructors

3rd prize:- Aum Dance Creations

Song : Balleilaka, Suno Gaur Se,Satyamev, Maa Tuje Salaam

Choreographer: Rina Shah, Anu Mysore

2nd prize:- Arya Dance Academy

Song : Albela Sajan, Jai Jai kara, Jai Hanuman

Choreographer:  Arya Instructors

1st prize:- Aatma Performing Arts

Song : Pyar kiya toh darna kya , Dil cheez kya hai

Choreographer: Amit Shah, Sapna Advani, Swarali

The top performance in all aspects in all categories ‘Best of the Best’ Judges Choice:- AUM Dance Creations (Junior Category)

Miss India New England 2019 brings out personality and tradition

The 7th annual ‘Miss India New England’ 2019 held on January 19, was a unique blend of talent and a celebration heritage providing a platform to bring out both traditional and modern elements of Indian society.

Participants included women and girls of Indian origin from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Each had to complete four rounds – Evening Gown, Ethnic Dress, Talent, and On-stage Question. There were three categories of  contestants -Miss India, Miss Teen or Mrs India, a press release from organizers said.

Those crowned for the top spots included – Sivani Jonnalagadda, Miss India New England 2019; Mihika Abraham – Miss India Teen New England 2019; and Mrs India New England 2019 Deepa Jayavelu. The pageant was directed and produced by Ruchika Arora who is also state director of Miss India USA.

Organizers with Miss India New England 2019 winner and past winner at Jan. 19 pageant held in Foxborough, MA. (Photo: Miss India New England) of the Miss India New England pageant held

 The Miss India New England pageant is designed to identify and support talented young Indian American people and promote culture, traditions of India in United States for modern generations, the press release said.

The Miss India New England 2019 pageant on Jan. 19, attracted participants from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, who had to compete in four rounds – Evening Gown, Ethnic Dress, Talend, and On-stage Question. (Photo: courtesy Miss India New England)

“The inspirational women introducing themselves on the stage represent strength of Indian American girls/women and community when they talk about their educational background, professional achievements and aspirations” organizers said, thanking all the sponsors, supporters and friends including Neelam and Dr Dharmatma Saran of Worldwide Pageants. Crown sponsors were Tewarie Enterprises.

Deepa Jayavelu, Mrs India New England at the Jan. 19, pageant held in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo: Miss India New England)

List of 2019 Winners:

Miss India New England -Sivani Jonnalagadda

Mrs India New England – Deepa Jayavelu

Miss India Teen New England-Mihika Abraham

Viewer’s Choice NE -Aradhana Surapaneni

Miss India Massachusetts- Ann Varghese

Mrs India Massachusetts- Madhurima Agrawal

Miss India Teen Massachusetts- Trinjan Kaur

Miss India Rhode Island- Sai Kurapati

Mrs India Rhode Island- Medha Rastogi

Miss India New Hampshire- Zaina Ahmed

Mrs India New Hampshire- Preeti Potdar

Mrs India Photogenic- Suruchi Sinha (NH)

Miss India Teen New England 2019 Mihika Abraham. (Photo: Miss India New England)

Teen Awards:

Miss India Teen Catwalk- Aishwarya Narayanan

Miss India Teen Talented- Shruthi Puranik

Miss India Teen Photogenic- Nandini Mandaloju

American Telugu Association elects Parmesh Bheemreddy as new President

ATA, American Telugu Association, a 28 year old Telugu Organization serving the interests of ever burgeoning Telugu Community in USA elected Parmesh Bheemreddy as its new President. Mr. Bheemreddy was sworn in as the President on January 19th at the board meeting held in Lasvegas. Born in Pothireddypadu village of Nagarkurnool district of Telangana Mr. Bheemreddy came to US on a student visa to pursue higher education in Computer Science. Being a software professional himself, established a firm and helped many students and professional from India to settle down in US. Married to a cardiologist Sarita, Bheemreddy is a well-known Community Volunteer, co-founder of Palamuru NRI forum and conducted various charity activities across the district. An avid community activist, Mr. Bheemreddy has been an integral part of ATA since Inception and served in various positions like Secretary for the 12th Convention and as a Convener for the Philadelphia Conference in 2014.

ATA board was sworn in on the occasion as well, raising the Board of Trustees count from 27 to 31. Mr. Bhuvanesh Boojala from DC Metropolitan area was elected unanimously as the President Elect. ATA elected Venu Sankineni as Secretary, Sharath Vemula as Joint Secretary, Ravi Patlola as Treasurer and Arvind Muppidi as Joint Treasurer. ATA Advisory Chair Hanmanth Reddy garu congratulated the new board and wished them luck in its future endeavors.

Presiding over the board meeting, the new president not only vowed to preserve and strengthen the Telugu community across North America but also promised to further promote the literary, cultural, social, educational and rich cultural values of the community strictly abiding by the constitution of ATA. Unveiling his vision, Mr. Bheemreddy quoted that ATA under his leadership will include focus areas like immigration, SAT Training, exchange student onboarding procedures, Medical and Dental camps for Senior Citizens and Visitors, Matrimonial and Emergency Services. Mr.  Bheemreddy was ecstatic to announce that the new ATA Foundation Scholarship program will award 10 scholarships to meritorious students of economically backward classes of $1000 each. Mr. Bheemreddy thanked the outgoing President Karunakar Asireddy, EC and board for its outstanding contribution to ATA and expanding the organization to new areas like Nashville and Boston areas.

Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody get Best Picture nominations at Oscar

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced its list of nominees for the 91st Academy Awards. Television stars Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellie Ross announced the Oscar nominations at a press conference at Samuel Goldwyn theatre in Hollywood, California on Tuesday.

Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite have led all films with 10 nominations each heading to the 91st Academy Awards. With Roma, Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought. Marvel, too, joined the club with Black Panther, the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture. Spike Lee has been nominated for his first directing Oscar 40 years after a writing nod for 1989’s Do the Right Thing.

The lead-up to the nominations has been rocky for both the Academy and some of the movies in contention. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born was snubbed in major categories at the Golden Globes and since then, its chances of scoring big at the Oscars also seem low.

Also read: Is it going to be Marvel’s year at the Oscars? Shortlist in 9 categories announced

The Oscars ceremony has also not finalised a host yet.Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before its February 24 ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.

Here are the nominees in all categories.

Best Picture

Black Panther


Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book


A Star Is Born


Actress in a Leading Role

Yalitza Aparicio, Roman

Glenn Close, The Wife

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book


Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Adam McKay, Vice

Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Sam Rockwell, Vice

Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, Vice

Marina de Tavira, Roma

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs


Can You Ever Forgive Me?

If Beale Street Could Talk

A Star Is Born

Original Screenplay

The Favourite

First Reformed

Green Book




Cold War

The Favourite

Never Look Away


A Star Is Born

Production Design

Black Panther

The Favourite

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns


Costume Design

The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen Of Scots

Film Editing


Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book


Foreign Language Film


Cold War

Never Look Away



Documentary Feature

Free Solo

Hale County

Minding the Gap

Of Fathers and Sons


Documentary Short Subject

Black Sheep

End Game


A Night at the Garden

Period. End Of Sentence

Animated Feature Film

Incredibles 2

Isle Of Dogs


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Animated Short Film

Animal Behavior


Late Afternoon

One Small Step


Live Action Short Film






Original Score

Black Panther


If Beale Street Could Talk

Isle Of Dogs

Mary Poppins Returns

Original Song

All The Stars, Black Panther

I’ll Fight, RBG

The Place Where Lost Things Go, MPR


When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings, Buster Scruggs

Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Christopher Robin

First Man

Ready Player One

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Makeup and Hairstyling


Mary Queen of Scots


Sound Editing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place


Sound Mixing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man


A Star Is Born

Amar Sawhney honoured with TiE Boston’s Lifetime Achievement Award

TiE-Boston’s Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Amar Sawhney, during the annual gala on December 13th  at the annual black-tie gala which was attended by its founding charter members, past presidents and over 250 guests.

TiE Boston, one of the region’s largest business organizations supporting the Massachusetts entrepreneurial ecosystem, said in a statement that the highest honor by TiE-Boston was bestowed on Sawhney, who has founded numerous companies and is credited with creating thousands of jobs and over millions in value for shareholders.

Dr. Amar Sawhney, has founded six companies, including Confluent Surgical (acquired by Covidien), Ocular Therapeutix, Incept LLC and Augmenix, which was recently acquired by Boston Scientific. He has been honored with numerous business and technology awards, including being named one of the “White House’s Champions of Change” by President Obama, the MIT Global Indus Technovator award and the E&Y Regional Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Sawhney is one of the foremost innovators and entrepreneurs in medical technology. He currently serves as the Chairman of Ocular Therapeutix, Inc. and of Instylla, Inc. Previously, he served as Chairman of Augmenix, Inc., which was acquired by Boston Scientific in September 2018 for $600 million. Prior to that, Mr. Sawhney founded Confluent Surgical (acquired by Covidien), Focal Inc. (acquired by Genzyme), and Access Closure, Inc. (acquired by Cardinal Health). His innovations are the subject of over 120 issued and pending patents in biomaterials and bio-surgery.

“We are pleased to honor Dr. Sawhney and the other awardees at this year’s Gala,” said Nilanjana Bhowmik, President of TiE Boston. “Each of these awardees embodies our organization’s values — they have built, innovated and given back to their communities. Each has also assumed a responsibility to create something important — not just companies, but relationships and communities to support innovation and entrepreneurialism on an ongoing basis.”

TiE Boston also recognized its charter members, as well as individuals across numerous categories who exemplified TiE’s values by supporting entrepreneurship with an eye towards giving back to the community.

The colorful event at the Four Seasons Boston highlight the achievements of innovators and entrepreneurs across categories such as venture capital, digital health, B2B & B2C technology and robotics & automation.

These awards highlight the achievements of innovators and entrepreneurs across categories such as venture capital, digital health, B2B & B2C technology and robotics and automation, TiE Boston said in a statement.

The nominating committee selected individuals who have created or shaped a category through a significant contribution in their field of work, deemed “mission-critical” to the innovation economy, and have contributed to the well-being of the community through time, money, mentoring, guidance, etc.

Nilanjana Bhowmick announced the set-up of the TiE Boston Foundation to support and grow the activities of THe Young Entrepreneur (TyE) program with an initial endowment of $500K with nearly $350K already raised. Entertainment for the evening was provided by Avanti Nagral and her band from Harvard University and Berklee School of Music.

The TiE-Boston Board awards the Lifetime Achievement Award when an individual has made a lasting impact in the business community, and a significant contribution to the success of TiE-Boston.

Sawhney, an IIT-Delhi graduate, is always trying to solve unmet needs in medical technology, and in the process has founded numerous successful medical device companies. His inventions include several “first of a kind” surgical sealants to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, including DuraSeal for neurosurgery, FocalSeal for lung surgery, and Mynx for femoral puncture sealing.

“I don’t profess to be a perfectionist, but I am persistent,” says Mr. Sawhney. “When I take on a mission, I ensure that it reaches a logical conclusion, with not only the best possible financial outcome, but also the best outcome for patients and the team.”

His mantra for success is simple. “In my area of focus, which is medical innovation and entrepreneurship, I employ a value system. At the apex is identifying a genuine unmet need, or a worthwhile cause to focus on,” says Mr. Sawhney. “Next comes the right people to onboard for the journey, with the right values.  And finally, we need to be good stewards of capital, to generate value for our shareholders.”

Sawhney grew up in India and came to the United States for higher studies. “My father was in the Indian Air Force, so I grew up in a number of different cities, Pune, Shillong, Allahabad, and Gandhinagar. As a family we were middle class. We never had a lack of what we felt we needed, but we never had much excess either,” recalled Mr. Sawhney. “My father believed in getting us the best education and he did everything within his power to ensure we had every opportunity in this regard.”

His mother was a teacher and she was always very friendly and concerned about the people around her – friends, family, neighbours and her students. “There were always people around us, who supported us, and looked up to my parents. This had a lasting impression on me, that it is not money that matters, but character, compassion, and concern for others,” shares Mr. Sawhney. “These principles are important in my personal life but are equally applicable in my professional life too. I make it a point that the teams we assemble feel like they belong to a family that is engaged in a mission that is greater than any one of us individually. It keeps us grounded, excited, and motivated.”

The history of South India is relatively unknown: Rajmohan Gandhi

Billed as “a masterpiece in every sense of the word”, Rajmohan Gandhi’s upcoming book “Modern South India” is promoted by its publisher Aleph as an authoritative and magnificent work of history about South India that will be read and reflected upon for years to come.

“The sounds and flavours of the land south of the Vindhyas — temple bells, coffee and jasmine, coconut and tamarind, delicious dosais and appams — are familiar to many, but its history is relatively unknown,” Gandhi writes in the 500-page book that traces the history of South India from the 17th century to current times.

But why this historical amnesia? “For one thing, the South is a large area, where, dauntingly, a great deal happened during the 400 years covered in my study. Secondly, while the story of each powerful culture within the South has been studied in depth, few in either the South or the North have attempted an integrated view of the South as a whole. Thirdly, India’s political power has resided in the North, influencing the focus of academia, not merely the media,” the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who has taught political science and history at two IITs, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois, where he currently serves a research professor, told IANS in an email interview.

But South India is not the only major region suffering from neglect, Gandhi maintained, and asked: “Do we have many histories of western or eastern India?”

He pointed out that the Maratha history is rich, so is the history of Bengal, and likewise the histories of Assam, Odisha and Gujarat, but there is a case for broader histories of western and eastern India.

“Yet the expression ‘South Indian’ conjures up images hardly matched by phrases like ‘East Indian’ or ‘West Indian’, which Indians never use. In places in the US, an ‘East Indian’ is an Indian from India, different from a native American, while ‘West Indian’ suggests the West Indies,” he said.

In the book, Gandhi tells the story of four powerful cultures — Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu — as well as the cultures Kodava, Konkani, Marathi, Oriya, Tulu and indigenous that have influenced them. Asked if there was a common thread that binds them all together, he pointed to three elements.

“One geographical and the other linguistic, have given the South Indian peninsula its unity and distinctiveness. Because of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, European countries like Portugal, Holland, England and France impacted the South in ways not experienced by northern and central India. Secondly, the South’s major languages have Dravidian rather than Sanskritic roots, even though their vocabularies have been enriched by borrowings from Sanskrit and elsewhere. Thirdly, the Dravidian/Aryan question resonates, not necessarily divisively, in many southern minds,” he shared.

The 83-year-old public intellectual said that while some may fear “a chasm” between “cultural” and “national” identities, others may celebrate the Indian scene’s variety and richness.

“Fascination with the history of one’s neighbourhood can harmonise with interest in the national story,” maintained Gandhi, who has also written books such as “Why Gandhi Still Matters: An Appraisal of the Mahatma’s Legacy” and “Understanding the Founding Fathers: An Enquiry Into the Indian Republic’s Beginnings”.

One particular portion of the book that arouses interest is related to Tipu Sultan, who has been subject of much controversy in recent times.

He writes: “The eighteenth century saw the growth of the kingdom of Mysore, first under Haidar Ali, a military leader who had briefly served the Nawab of Arcot, and then under his son Tipu Sultan, who annexed parts of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. By now the European presence was growing strong and assertive. And with the fall of Tipu in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the end of the eighteenth century, the British East India Company (now the sole European power in South India) consolidated its holdings in the South.”

Asked about his findings on Tipu Sultan and his take on the controversies, Gandhi said that Tipu had to feature prominently in his account.

“Not because of current controversies around his rule — today’s headlines did not guide my journey into the past. Tipu and his father Haidar were central to the 18th century’s second half. Between them they provided a stable 38-year-rule that not only brought economic progress to a large portion of southern India, it almost foiled Britain’s conquest. Tipu had serious failings. Like most rulers of his time he was tyrannical. His personality included bigotry, which however was mitigated by his remarkable support to the Sringeri Sankaracharya,” he said.

The historian-biographer contended that Tipu’s fall in 1799 changed South India’s story.

“Though the following 10 years saw a string of impassioned rebellions across the South, including the Vellore Mutiny of 1806 and revolts in Kerala spearheaded by Pazhassi Raja (killed in 1805) and Velu Thampi (who killed himself in 1809), the East India Company had conquered the South when it defeated Tipu.

“Historical characters like Tipu, Pazhassi Raja and Velu Thampi deserve a frank study of their lives in their times, not labels handy for squabbles in our times,” he suggested.

“Modern South India: A History From the 17th Century to Our Times” is priced at Rs 799 and is available both online and at bookstores. (IANS)

Dharmatma Saran: “India’s Cultural Ambassador to the World” Imbibing Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin through Miss India Worldwide Pageants

One of the few events I have always looked forward to attend with my family, ever since we moved to New York two decades ago, and would never want to miss, is the spectacular Miss India Pageants organized by India Festival Committee (IFC).
The annual pageants started in a basement in New York in 1980 with the first ever Miss India New York and Miss India USA, has evolved and expanded, now incorporating and having membership from over 40 countries, that promote Indian heritage and providing a platform for people of Indian origin to unite and showcase their talents, skills and beauty.
Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC) that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, is a pioneer in entertainment, holding Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and worldwide.
In 1990, Dharmatma Saran, decided to take the pageant one step further to an international level and started The First Miss India Worldwide Pageant to identify and honor beauties of Indian origin the world over and the show graduated to become the top most international Indian pageant on the earth. “For the first time ever, Asian-Indian communities from all over the world came together in New York for this event,” says Saran with a sense of pride. “To the best of our knowledge, no other ethnic organi­zation has ever conducted a pageant of this magnitude on an international level.”
The pageant was an instant success and was acclaimed as “the most glamorous Indian function in the world.”
“When Miss India New York started in 1980, I had perhaps not even in my wildest dreams imagined that in less than twenty years, we would fledge out to be a mass movement with affiliates in over 40 countries, let alone that we would one day have a live internet webcast and broadcast our most prestigious function, the Miss India Worldwide, to an audience of over 300 million people!”
The pageants aim to honor achievement, to celebrate our culture in many ways, among them, the ability to meet people, make friends, to respect and be respected, to continually strive to improve standards, and to live a life as close to the laws of nature.
In line with other prestigious international pageants, IFC started staging Miss India Worldwide in various parts of the world. In 1997, the pageant was organized in Bombay to salute India on its 50th anniversary of Independence. In the year 1998, the pageant was organized, in associa­tion with UTV International, in the exotic and beautiful city of Singapore, South Afrcia, Malyasia, UAE, Surinam and several other states in the US.
The IFC selects distinguished local organizations in various parts of the world and authorizes them to conduct national pageants in their respective countries. The India Festival Committee, started in 1974 in a most humble way, has come a long way. While seeking to collaborate with internationally reputed groups, Saran joined hands with the Times of India group’s Femina that runs the beauty pageants in India until 1997.
The contestants in all the pageants are of Indian origin, between the ages of 18 and 28, and are citizens, residents, or born in the country which they represent. The pageant consists of four segments – Evening Gown, Ethnic Wear, Talent and Question-Answer. The winners of all the various national pageants from all over the world vie for the glamorous and prestigious title of the Miss India Worldwide.
Saran and the pageant are “very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts in the world.”
In fact, motherland, culture and India are the words repeatedly invoked by most con­testants. Clearly, this pageant was also about roots and identity. “We will never permit vulgarity and bikini wearing in our competitions. We don’t believe in the axiom, shorter the dress, greater will be the chances of winning the prize. We are very conservative in that. We only showcase the best of Indian culture and not the skin. We strongly oppose exhibiting women in a cheap manner on the dais,” Saran said adding that his shows are always meant for the entire family.
In the year 2016, saran introduced, on popular demand, the First Ever Mrs. India Worldwide, which has been received with enthusiasm from around the world. This is a pageant that provides married Indian women around the world with a platform, where they would get an opportunity to “Make a difference in the world.”
Most of these women have set their sights on professions like medicine, public relations and the law. The con­test gave them a chance to take a de­tour and explore their Indian identities through colorful Indian attire and dance. Many of them have set their eyes on Bollywood and Hollywood, and participating in the pageants is a stepping stone for many to climb up the ladder in the world of fashion, silver screen, politics and charity.
Saran has become an internationally well-known leader in promoting pageantry around the world. Support came from most unexpected quarters. Noted actress, social worker, feminist and leader, Shabana Azmi, who is known to blast all beauty pageants, endorsed Saran’s show as noble as it helped funds for the deserving children.
 “The IFC motivates and guides its winners and contestants to take up charitable causes. Many of our past winners have raised substantial amount of money for various charities, especially for handicapped children,” says Saran.
IFC has used the title to raise funds for the poor and the needy. Saran has been successful in combining beauty with char­ity. It was Saran’s dream that beauty works for a good cause. Bela Bajaria, one of his highly successful beauty queens from Los Angeles, has collected $35,000 each year for the Hand and Heart for the Handicapped for many years to help disabled children in US and India. Another successful Miss India Hong Kong collected $100,000 in a charity ball to help the helpless people.
Saran credits the success of the pageantry to his family and a team of hard working people. “I don’t know how I would have fared but for the unstinted support of Air India. Also my friends former News India editor John Perry; President of Jackson Heights Merchants Association V.N. Prakash; TV Asia Chairman Padmashree H.R. Shah, Bombay Broadcasting’s Giri Raj; and all the successive Indian Consuls General have stood with me.” he recalls with gratitude.
 Saran is blessed with an understanding wife Neelam. She has been a source of great strength and support to him from the day one. His two daughters, Neema and Ankeeta have always been of great support and as­sistance.
Saran contributions to Indian culture has been appreciated and recognized by various organizations around the world and he has been acclaimed as “India’s cultural ambassador to the world.” He has traveled with his wife Neelam to various countries to start Indian pageant.
Recently he was awarded Bharat Gaurav Award held at the headquarters of United Nations in New York.
As Farook Khan, Chairman of Miss India-South Africa Corporation, says, “The Miss India-Worldwide Pageant has developed further into a grandiose platform of unity through culture over the few short years it has been in existence. It has become an event which is boundless and this has become a reality due to the foresight and vision of dedicated men and women who came to the United States of America to start a new life and to carry all that India has to and will continue to offer.”
To quote Khan, “At one time, the pageant was regarded as a beauty contest, it no longer suffers from this narrow reputation. It has fledged out to be a mass international movement which honors the perform­ing arts, develops finesse as a way of life and puts into communities a sense of compassion.”
Saran and his dedicated band of men and women have inspired people around the world to participate in a truly remarkable spectacle that enjoys the status of a truly bound­less Festival of good. The Miss India Worldwide is such a hallmark, it is not just a beauty pageant.

Miss India USA: Shree Saini – A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courage

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageBeautiful, compassionate, talented, ambitious, gentle, humble, determined and dedicated to achieving the lofty goals she has set before herself at a very young age, Shree Saini is a woman with a golden heart. Shree from the state of Washington was crowned ‘Miss India USA 2017-2018’ at the pageant held in December last year in New Jersey. And her life has not been the same ever since.

Born in India, young Shree says, she moved to the United States as a toddler. Being uprooted from one’s culture and dear ones was undoubtedly a major challenge. She had to experience hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. Young Shree fought bravely a heart ailment which required her to use a pacemaker. Shree, who had a pacemaker implanted at the age of 12 and was told that she would never be able to dance, is an inspiration for all. “I practice dance almost every day for several hours,” Shree says, pointing to the pacemaker she carries with her all the time.

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageAfter doctors diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect at the age of 12, Saini recalls how she struggled to adapt to the life-changing situation of needing a pacemaker while still in middle school, especially when other students did not treat her kindly as a result.

“I have been the target of brutal emotional bullying. I was ridiculed in the most subtle ways, which is why I so often talk about ‘nonverbal’ bullying. For example, there were many instances where I was left out of events or edited out of pictures, and daily ‘whispered about’ by others. As a result of this treatment, there were many times when I would cry in my school’s restrooms or come home in tears after dance class… yet I persevered.

“My family helped me endure,” she explains. “My mom said, ‘the way people treat you has nothing to do with you, but has everything to do with them.’ She empowered me to step up and be even more compassionate towards those who hurt me, and to never give up on my true belief in always being kind.”

In order to reprogram her brain towards more positive thoughts and reach an understanding of how she could find inner peace in spite of all the negativity, she read extensively. “I read books and essays on achieving a more powerful mindset, responding to acts of hate with compassion, and the true value of emotional fitness and what can be done to address the lack of education around it. From what I have learned, I have formed my personal mantra: ‘Giving powerful responses to life’s struggles while being a positive contributor to every situation.’”

These experiences did not deter young Shree from pursuing her life’s mission.  “My journey went from a silent sufferer to a bitter person and finally an enabled victor,” she says. “If anything, the physical challenges and social pressures fueled her – all the way to the Joffrey Ballet and beyond, including winning the title of Miss India USA.”

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageShree created the website www.ShreeSaini.com to educate people about her experiences. “It was created based on my personal struggles during my high school,” Saini says. Her hope is that it would inspire others to emulate and face the world with confidence and love. Her former tormentors are now her fans. Via social media, she’s received their congratulations – and apologies.

A woman with a noble mission, what the 22-year-old University of Washington student, is aspiring to achieve in her life, is to create awareness on a number of pressing social issues through her organization, and through her web-portal.  “I began my nonprofit at age 15. I work on raising awareness and raising funds for several nonprofits including anti-human trafficking and anti-bullying,” the young visionary says. “I am very passionate about my nonprofit and want to lead a life of service,” she says. “I want to help end human trafficking and work to promote the importance of emotional well-being in our society.”

In addition, she uses the many social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, among others, to enhance her life’s mission. Through Shree Saini YouTube page, she wants to spread her message by creating short videos of discussions on social issues, college life, raising awareness of important organizations and human rights, as well as anything to help the community.

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageShree won the Miss India USA after many years of focus and practice, participating and winning in several pageants. Shree has competed in a number of pageants within the Miss America organization. She was the first runner-up at Miss Moses Lake 2014, Miss Seattle 2016 and Miss Seattle 2017. She also won the Miss Seattle People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2017, and Miss Congeniality, Highest Fundraiser, Director’s Award. All her pageant exposure has served as a platform for what she truly loves, in spreading awareness against bullying and other social issues. As Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, says, “Shree has used her platform to spread her story of perseverance, tolerance and heart health.”

Miss India USA was started by the New York-based community leaders Dharmatma Saran and Neelam Saran, under the banner of the India Festival Committee around 36 years ago, Miss India USA is the longest running Indian pageant outside India. “It has evolved over the years. Earlier, the participants of pageants presented their talent around Bollywood dance and songs and classical dances. But now pageant participants come out with their own innovations,” Dharmatma Saran said.

More than 50 contestants from over two dozen states participated in the three different pageants – Miss India USA, Miss Teen India USA and Mrs. India USA. “I am so incredibly honored, overjoyed, humbled and excited to be chosen as your “MISS INDIA USA 2017”! God’s amazing grace has surpassed all the words I may have to express this fete. I am astonished by the blessings showered over me,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Shree, who was also voted as ‘Miss Congeniality,’ and will represent the USA at Miss India Worldwide Pageant, where all national title holders like Miss India France, Miss India Australia, Miss India United Kingdom etc. will contest for the title of Miss India Worldwide in December this year. Winners of the pageants here have gone on to act in various Bollywood movies.

Indian American beauty pageant winner Shree Saini has been in a public profile for years. She literally can make her choice on how she wants to mold her image and pave the way for her future.

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageShree Saini, an undergraduate student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in public administration and business, wants to “lead a life of service.” When asked between the many engagements around the nation, where she finds the time to study, Shree says, “I study on the plane, while waiting for flights, as almost every weekend, there is an event I need to attend.”

Her passion for education started when she was very young. Even in high school, her drive led Shree to graduate with the highest number of high school credits (46, although only 26 were required). “I know education is vital to solving any of the world’s problems, and have therefore always stayed curious and dedicated myself to obtaining life skills, like public speaking, as well as gaining more knowledge by studying political science at Harvard University, and establishing my own emotional wellbeing startup at Stanford University.”

Pointing to some of the hard work she had to put in, Shree says, the Acting Program she attended at Yale was a very intensive conservatory program for actors comprised of 12+ hours of classes daily, which were then followed by rehearsals. With my heart condition, I had to work extra hard (just as I need to do in dance or as a UW student) in order to match the performance level of other physically-able actors. And, she succeeded through determination and hard work.

Her ambition to learn and conquer what she is set to achieve in life has taken Shree to some of the most prestigious schools across the United States. Saini, who studied journalism at UW and has attended as a visiting student at Harvard, Yale and Stanford, aspires to push legislation through local governments.

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageAfter dealing with her own personal experiences, Saini penciled her thoughts in a journal, which she said helped change her from a victim to an empowered young woman. The journals in her diary turned to newspaper clippings in local papers in Washington. “In a society mainly obsessed with physical fitness, emotional problems are dismissed,” noted the young activist. “Emotional well-being is necessary to have a healthy body and mind,” she says.

Shree Saini is working on pushing through bill nationwide that will help implement emotional well-being classes for K through 12. “The classes will help start at a young age to build self-esteem.” Saini hopes to follow up her undergraduate degree with graduate courses at an Ivy League school, where she intends to study public administration or policy making and nonprofit management.

​A brilliant student and learner, Shree believes that children learn what they live in their own households. “Parents need to radiate kindness, and be generous enough to overlook minor offenses, while still raising responsible kids who will heal our societies.”

Miss India USA: Shree Saini - A life story of inspiration, dedication, determination, ambition, and courageShree gives credit to her parents, Sanjay and Ekta Saini, who have not only supported her dreams, but have gone beyond to help her succeed at every step of the way. Pointing to her mother, Ekta, Shree says, “My mother is my role model, who has been with me, supported me and have encouraged me to work hard and realize my dreams.”

As the reigning Miss India USA, “I believe I will be able to make even more of an impact. During my reign, I am responsible for reaching out to individuals, nonprofits, businesses, and schools to make at least 100 appearances during the next 12 months. At every event, I strive to raise public awareness about the value of emotional fitness. I find I am able to engage audiences by asking them my most powerful question: ‘What is more important to you than your own emotional wellbeing?’ I also share my personal story of receiving a pacemaker at age 12, being brutally bullied, and then having to build myself back up emotionally.” She is committed to live a life of service where she intends to teach people about love, harmony and tolerance.

Shree is now focused on winning the title of Miss India Worldwide. And if good offers come her way, Shree is open to acting in movies, whether it be in Bollywood or Hollywood. Another effective way to showcase her talents and still more importantly, another way to champion and spread her message for a better, just and peaceful world. “Meanwhile, I want to continue working on my nonprofit and become an ambassador of emotional health by continuing to visit s many places as possible,” Saini said.

The Mughal queen who became a feminist icon

Empress Nur Jahan was the most powerful woman in 17th Century India. She played an unprecedented role in running the vast Mughal empire. Historian Ruby Lal explains why the history of her leadership is important to understand today.

She was named Mihr un-Nisa at birth and was later named Nur Jahan (light of the world) by her husband, the Mughal emperor, Jahangir. She was born only a few decades after Queen Elizabeth I, yet she ruled a territory far more diverse than that of her British counterpart.

The Mughals ruled much of the Indian subcontinent for more than 300 years after they came to power early in the 16th century. It was one of India’s biggest and most powerful dynasties. Many of its emperors and royal women, including Nur Jahan, were patrons of art, music and architecture – they built grand cities and majestic forts, mosques and tombs.

And as the dynast’s only woman ruler, Nur Jahan is omnipresent in the folklore of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Stories about her abound in the homes, and near monuments, in Agra in northern Indian and Lahore in northern Pakistan – two major cities in the Mughal era, especially during her reign. Older men and women, tour guides and history aficionados tell stories of how Nur and Jahangir met and fell in love; of how she saved a village tormented by a man-eating tiger – she shot it deadwith a musket from her perch on top of an elephant.

Though people have heard stories about her romance and, infrequently, of her bravery, little is known about her dynamic world, political acumen and powerful ambitions. She was a fascinating woman who came to rule an empire against extraordinary odds.

She was a poet, an expert hunter and an innovative architect. Her design for her parents’ tomb in Agra later inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal. A remarkable leader in a male-dominated world, Nur didn’t come from royalty. Yet she ascended from the emperor’s harem to great heights as an astute politician and the favorite wife of Jahangir, ruling the vast Mughal empire as a co-sovereign.

There is a lot to be said about her upbringing, the supportive network of men and women by her side, the special relationship she enjoyed with Jahangir, her ambition, and her land and its people. The plural, rich and tolerant culture of Al-Hind – the land beyond the river Indus, as the Arabs and Persians called northern India then – allowed different sensibilities, religions and traditions to coexist.

Nur was born in 1577 near Kandahar (in present-day Afghanistan) to eminent Persian nobles who had left their home in Iran amid increasing intolerance under the Safavid dynasty to seek refuge in the more liberal Mughal empire.

Raised in a blend of traditions from her parents’ birthplace and their adopted homeland, Nur first married a Mughal government official and former military officer in 1594. She moved with him to Bengal, a rich province in eastern India, and gave birth to her only child.

When her husband was suspected of participating in a plot against Jahangir, the emperor ordered the governor of Bengal to bring him to his royal court in Agra. But Nur’s husband was killed in a battle with the governor’s men.

The widowed Nur was given refuge in Jahangir’s harem, where other women gradually started to trust and admire her. She married Jahangir in 1611, becoming his 20th and final wife.

Though few women were mentioned in official court records at the time, Jahangir’s memoirs from 1614 onward confirm his special relationship with Nur. And he painted an admiring portrait of her – as a sensitive companion, a superb caregiver, an accomplished adviser, a skilled hunter, a diplomat and an art lover.

Many historians believe that Jahangir was an ailing drunkard who no longer had the stamina or focus to rule, and that is why he gave up the control of his kingdom to Nur. But that is not entirely true.

Yes, the emperor was a drunkard and he smoked opium. Yes, he was deeply in love with his wife. But that’s not why Nur became a ruler to be reckoned with. In fact, Nur and Jahangir complemented each other, and the emperor never felt uncomfortable with his wife’s burgeoning influence as co-sovereign.

Soon after their marriage, she issued her first royal order to protect the land rights of an employee. Her signature in the order read, Nur Jahan Padshah Begum, which translates as Nur Jahan, the Lady Emperor. It was a sign of sovereignty and an indication that her power was growing.

In 1617, gold and silver coins, which bore her name opposite that of Jahangir, started circulating. Court chroniclers, foreign diplomats, tradesmen and visitors soon started to note her unique status.

One courtier described an incident where she surprised many by appearing in the imperial balcony, which was reserved for men only. This was not her only act of defiance.

Be it hunting, issuing imperial orders and coins, designing public buildings, taking measures to support poor women or champion the disadvantaged, Nur lived a life that was unusual among women at the time.

She also led an army to save the emperor when he was taken captive – a daring act which ensured that her name was etched indelibly in public imagination, and in history.

(Historian Ruby Lal teaches at Emory University and is the author, most recently of Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan, published by WW Norton in US; and Penguin India, in India.)

Jayshree Ullal, Neerja Sethi make to Forbes’ America’s Richest Self-Made Women List

Jayshree Ullal and Neerja Sethi have made in into the latest Forbes List, “America’s Richest Self-Made Women” released on July 11, 2018.  In the 4th edition of the annual list by Forbes magazine, these 60 women have a record combined net worth of $71 billion.

Forbes said that net worth of these 60 women is up 15% from $61.5 billion in 2017 and that they have shattered ceilings and scaled new heights, making fortunes in everything from genetic testing to slimming shapewear. The minimum net worth to make Forbes’ fourth annual ranking of these top women jumped 23 percent to a record $320 million. Twenty-four of these women are billionaires, another record, up from 18 last year.

Indian-origin technology executives Ullal is ranked 18th in the list with a net worth of $1.3 billion and Sethi is ranked 21st with a net worth of $1 billion. Ullal, the 57-year-old president and chief executive officer at computer networking firm Arista Networks. The head of Arista since 2008, Ullal, of Saratoga, Calif., owns about 5 percent of the company’s stock, some of which is earmarked for her two children, niece and nephew, Forbes said. The company in 2017 recorded revenues of $1.6 billion.

Arista and Cisco, Ullal’s former employer, have been locked in a multi-year legal battle over alleged patent infringement, which Arista denies. Ullal, the Ernst & Young U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 (see India-West article here), earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from San Francisco State University and a master’s in engineering management from Santa Clara University.

Sethi, the vice president of IT consulting and outsourcing company Syntel, which she co-founded with her husband Bharat Desai in 1980 in their Troy, Mich., apartment, came in at No. 21 on the list. The 63-year-old executive who resides in Fisher Island, Fla., has a net worth of $1 billion. She started out with an initial investment of a mere $2,000 which resulted in first-year sales of $30,000.

In 2017, Syntel, which now employs roughly 23,000 individuals globally – 80 percent of whom are in India – made $924 million in revenues. Sethi earned a bachelor’s in mathematics and an M.B.A. in operations research from Delhi University, and a master’s in computer science from Oakland University.

Topping the Forbes list was Diane Hendricks, the co-founder of ABC Supply, with $4.9 billion. Marian Ilitch of Little Caeser’s fortune ($4.3 billion), Judy Faulkner in the health IT industry ($3.5 billion), Meg Whitman of eBay ($3.3 billion) and Johnelle Hunt of the trucking industry ($3.2 billion) round out the top 5. Other notable individuals in the top 10 include Oprah Winfrey (No. 6, $3.1 billion) and Doris Fisher of the Gap (No. 8, $2.8 billion).

Indian American entrepreneur Amit Bhandari donates $50,000 to Ekal’s Digital Literacy Program

Indian American entrepreneur Amit Bhandari and his wife Arpita of Houston, Texas, have donated $50,000 to Ekal’s Digital Literacy Program, the largest single amount from an individual the charity has ever received.

The $50,000 will be used to create a bus with 10 laptops for the Ekal-on-Wheels Mobile Computer Labs program, according to a press release. The Mobile Computer Labs initiative is working to enhance digital literacy and has helped over 50,000 children become computer literate.

The solar powered bus has pre-installed self-learning software developed by IIT Mumbai and accommodates two students per computer as one trainer, assisted by the local Ekal teacher will provide two and a half hours of training in one village.

The bus, which will serve the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh near Indore, was inaugurated by Amit and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

The Bhandaris are known to give out generous donations to a number of support groups, including the Jain Society of Houston, land for the Gujarati Samaj center in Houston, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey relief work, paying off the loans of a temple in Phoenix and raising $3 million for Magic Bus.

Bhadari is a native of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and though his parents were professors, the family was financially challenged but it did not stop them from supporting a handicapped school along with a helping hand, anywhere it was needed.

Bhadari gained interest in business when he was in middle school and was accepted in the Rotary Student Exchange Program and attended High School in Hicksville, Ohio.

He then attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he studied chemical engineering after which he started working at ExxonMobil.

In 2006, Bhandari started his own company BioUrja, a company that trades in ethanol, petroleum products, crude oil, grains, metal tubing for the oil production sector as well as renewable energy, and is ranked as one of the most successful companies in Texas.

The Bhandaris have one daughter, Aanya and one son, Ansh, both of whom have taken part in various Magic Bus programs.

The Ekal movement was started in 1989 to transform India, one village at a time and today it has a school in 70,000 villages, which offer free schooling, vocational training, digital competence and agricultural education. The Ekal movement has impacted four million children and 10 million families to date.

Aneek Chaudhuri’s White, silent film on rape survivors, to be screened at Film Festival in Melbourne

After being screened at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival’s Marche du Films section, Indian filmmaker Aneek Chaudhuri’s silent film, “White,” that talks about sexual assault on women, is now an official selection for the 2018 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. The festival is set for August 2018.

“Being a part of such an honorable event will fetch more credibility to the film,” Chaudhuri said in a statement. “Since ‘White’ is an independent venture aiming at film festivals, of course we would like to earn more laurel leaves and the Melbourne inclusion in a huge booster for the team.”

In “White,” the Kolkata-based indie filmmaker attempts to tell stories of three women who have survived sexual assaults and are now fighting back to lead a stronger life. “White” conjoins three tales based on a similar theme, however, each woman has her own life and a way of leading it. The film stars Kaushik Roy and Arjaa Banerjee.

“Rape is an issue that is universal; no verbal language is enough to decode the pain and suffering,” Chaudhuri said. “Moreover, I wanted global approach and I believe that a silent film would take away any kind of language barrier from the film; this in turn, would make it approachable by a wider spectrum of audiences throughout the globe.”

The first tale is of a factory girl getting abused at work and her story of survival; the second story follows a single mother and her inability to face her own child after the heinous crime. This is a story of the child’s upbringing in an orphanage and her return to her childhood home after two decades; and the third and the last tale is how a husband accepts a child born out of rape of his wife by another man in the village and gives the child his name.

Samir Shah, 16, Saar Shah, 15, win national title by raising $400,000 for blood cancer research

Samir Shah, 16, Saar Shah, 15,  two Indian American kids have raised over $413,000 in a seven-week campaign for blood cancer research, helping them win the national title of Students of the Year. Beating out a team from Atlanta that raised $350,000, the Shahs’ campaign received more than 800 donations ranging from $2 to $100,000.

The team of the Samir and Saar, Fly4aCure, was the first from Southern Maryland ever to participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s fundraising campaign. Samir Shah goes to The Calverton School, and Saar Shah attends Great Mills High School. Claire Broadhead, a Leonardtown High School student and a leukemia survivor, was the student ambassador for the campaign.

“We owe it to our community,” Samir Shah said of their campaign’s success. “I think the key factor to us being able to do what we did is our community and the connections we had to a lot of people.” “We were both very surprised by the amount of support we were shown,” Saar Shah said. “We were not really expecting the outpouring of support we got.”

“We began working with the LLS in 2010 when our cousin Ami was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, my father, Amish, was diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoma. At that time, I was only 12 and my sister Neelam, 10,” Samir said. “We didn’t understand the significance then but now we have a better understanding of what the LLS has done to provide greater research for new innovative treatments. It has helped our family during our struggle,” he added.

For the two teenagers, raising awareness and money for blood cancer research has been a cause dear to their hearts. Samir Shah’s father, Dr. Amish Shah, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014. A cousin of Saar Shah battled with leukemia for eight years ago. Both were treated and made full recoveries.

The Shah family has been struck with blood cancers twice in the past few years. Their cousin, Ami, battled a deadly blood cancer, acute myeloid leukemia and she is now seven years cancer free. More recently, Samir’s dad, Amish, was diagnosed with primary mediastinal b-cell lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy and celebrates his incredible recovery.

Samir Shah recalled that the campaign reached out to someone who was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, but his family preferred not to talk about it as the treatment was still going on. The family later changed their minds, attended the ceremony and said that “they had hope that there’s a cure,” Samir Shah said.

“We know firsthand how important cutting-edge research and treatments are in the fight against cancer,” said Samir Shah. “We’re honored to be named this year’s Students of the Year, and we’re grateful to have had this opportunity to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that helped our family in our time of need.”

The funds raised through Students of the Year are used for: Research to advance lifesaving therapies like immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine, which are saving lives today; Free blood cancer information, education and support for patients and families; National and local advocacy efforts driving policies that accelerate new treatments and ensure patients have access to care so that they can live longer, healthier lives.

According to LLS, blood cancers, on average, account for more than 10 percent of all new cancer cases diagnosed each year—and they’re the third leading cancer killer in the country, says thebaynet.com. LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer research. While there is no way to prevent blood cancers, LLS is dedicated to finding a cure by relying on donations to fund research projects.

The teenagers said the smallest donation of $2 came from fellow students from Samir Shah’s private high school in Huntingtown.MD. Saar Shah said most donations were generally small, ranging from $25 to $100. Three fifth-graders at Calverton — Sara Chehy, Katie Mathers and Devin McClanahan — participated in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients fundraising program and raised $3,804, according to the Shah family.

The largest donation of $100,000 came from The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. “American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the most dynamic and ethnic organization representing more than 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, while officially launching a campaign against Leukemia and Lymphomas, is pleased to have donated $100,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America on March 10th,” declared Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of AAPI. “AAPI has taken on yet another cause to promote through its active support in educating people about the deadly disease around the world,” Samadder said.

“Continuing with supporting noble causes, AAPI, has taken on yet another cause to promote through its active support in educating people about the deadly disease around the world,” Dr. Vinod Shah, a past president of AAPI, and a well known philanthropist, said. Dr. Shah told this writer, “How proud I am to be part of this noble initiative of these two young children, who are so totally committed to the cause.” Dr. Vinod Shah had matched a$50,000 gift from AAPI, doubling the donation.

 “Coming from a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in medicine across the world. It’s truly inspiring that these two young children have been leading the fund raising efforts for this noble cause, benefitting thousands of people affected by blood cancer,” said Dr. Naresh Parikh, President-Elect of AAPI.

Among the Shah family, Samir said there are about 22 doctors practicing in Southern Maryland, and they have been heavily involved with the organization over the years.  Samir Shah’s parents are both physicians in St. Mary’s, and by their estimate, there have been more than 500 active blood cancer patients diagnosed in the past two years in the tri-county area. In Amish Shah’s practice at MedStar Shah Medical Group alone, there were 400 active blood cancer patients in the past two years, the doctor said in a February interview.

Throughout the campaign, what moved Saar Shah the most was the recognition ceremony designed for those affected by blood cancer during a kite festival, hosted by their team at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds on March 17 that drew about 1,200 people. “Seeing all those names and hearing about a number of peoples’ stories, it really does seem everybody has some kind of connection to blood cancer in some way,” Saar Shah said.

The two teenagers said they plan to continue to host the kite festival around March every year. They also plan to sit on the nonprofit’s leadership council next year to help guide the new crop of students participating in the campaign. They said the advice they would give to future participants is to get the community involved with a variety of events and to start planning early.

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Karthik Nemmani is Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion

Karthik Nemmani, was declared champion of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee, winning on the word “koinonia” and surviving what was arguably the most intense competition in the contest’s 93-year history.

The 16 spellers took the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in Maryland to battle it out for the title of champion on Thursday, May 31st night. “I’m just really happy,” he said moments after his victory. “This has just been a dream come true.”

The 14-year-old emerged the top speller from a record-shattering 515 contestants at the national bee, compared with 291 last year, after organizers expanded eligibility with a new wild-card program. Nemmani also continued a longtime trend by becoming the 14th champion or co-champion of South Asian descent the bee has had in 11 consecutive years, The Washington Post reported.

The top three winners of the contest are of South Asian origin and representing the Dallas region, with Modi and Kodali finishing second and third, respectively. Paluru of West Lafayette, Ind., tied for third with Kodali.

The 16 finalists ranged in age from 11 to 14 and include nine girls and seven boys. The winner of the bee receives $40,000 and a trophy from the Scripps Bee, a $2,500 cash prize (and a complete reference library) from Merriam-Webster, trips to New York and Hollywood. For finishing second, Modi won a $30,000 prize. Kodali and Paluru won a $15,000 prize for taking third place.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has been around for nearly a century, and if not for a new rule put in place this year, the 2018 champion would not have even been a finalist. An important factor set Nemmani apart from most of this year’s competitors: While some had been on the national stage earlier and others had won regional bees, the McKinney, Texas teen had neither a regional win nor a county win. A wild card entry landed him on the national stage — and he did what he knew best: spell.

Indian American kids accounted for the final six spellers, including Nemmani, Modi, Kodali, Paluru, Navneeth Murali and Sravanth Malla. The five spellers who scored the highest on the test were among the 16 finalists: Nemmani, Modi, Sravanth Malla, 14, of Haverstraw, New York.; Shruthika Padhy, 12, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.; Aisha Randhawa, 12, of Corona, California.

Entering the finals, Shruthika Padhy, a 12-year-old from Cherry Hill, N.J., was considered the favorite by many. However, Padhy, who tied for 22nd place in 2016 and tied for 7th in last year’s bee, was bounced from the competition at 12th place when she misspelled “paillasson.”

According to reports, Nemmani, who was competing at his first national bee, displayed the poise of a veteran, seeming to sail through his words: “condottiere” (knight or roving soldier available for hire), “miarolitic” (of igneous rock), “cendre” (a moderate blue), “ankyloglossia” (limited normal movement of the tongue), “grognard,” “passus,” “shamir” (tiny worm capable of splitting the hardest stone) and “jaguey” (an East Indian tree).

When it was down to two contestants, him and 12-year-old Naysa Modi, Nemmani remained calm as Modi misspelled “Bewusstseinslage”. He then knocked out “haecceitas” (the status of being an individual) before receiving the word that would clinch his win: “koinonia”, meaning the Christian fellowship or body of believers.

Earlier, Nemmani, of McKinney, Texas, had finished third in the regional spelling bee in the Dallas area, finishing behind Modi, 12, of Frisco, Texas, and 11-year-old Kodali, of Flower Mound, Texas. “I had confidence but I didn’t really think it would happen,” he said. “I’m just really happy, this is a dream come true.”

Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, presented the championship trophy to the winner. “Karthik showcased not only broad knowledge of the English language but also incredible poise under pressure,” said Symson of Nemmani, an 8th grader at Scoggins Middle School. “This is a grueling competition that takes years of preparation and then challenges the participants all week long. Karthik handled it with grace and maturity. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a national treasure, and we take great pride each year in seeing the inspiration it brings to audiences across the U.S. – and the world.”

Reliance Entertainment, Imtiaz Ali partner to form WINDOW SEAT FILMS, LLP

Anil D. Ambani owned Reliance Entertainment and one of India’s most celebrated filmmakers, Imtiaz Ali, today announced the formation of Window Seat Films, LLP, a 50:50 Joint Venture for production of movies. This is Reliance Entertainment’s 5th creative partnership with leading Indian filmmakers to form a production company.

An incredibly talented and successful writer, director, Imtiaz has received wide appreciation and acclaim from audiences and critics alike, in addition to blockbuster success at the box office. He has won several awards over the years since the release of his first film in 2005.

Starting with “Socha Na Tha” Imtiaz has made several films with newcomers and superstars alike. His filmography includes “Jab We Met”, “Love Aaj Kal”, “Rockstar”, “Tamasha”, “Highway” and “Jab Harry met Sejal”. Some of his films have achieved a sort of cult status with the youth in India and abroad.

This creative & business mix will benefit from the artistic abilities of Imtiaz, and the global marketing and distribution capabilities of Reliance Entertainment.

Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, Vice Chairman, Reliance Entertainment, said, “We are proud to have Imtiaz as our partner. He is a person of deep simplicity and humility despite his enormous successes, and we are looking forward to making great movies together.”

Commenting on the partnership, Imtiaz Ali said: “There is a common vision that Window Seat Films & Reliance Entertainment share in terms of the content that we’d like to make, the kind of stories we’d like to tell and the way we’d like to collaborate in running this partnership. Working under this partnership is like working for myself. ”

Reliance Entertainment has produced, distributed and released more than 300 films in multiple Indian languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, etc.

Reliance Entertainment already has creative partnerships with Phantom Films (Anurag Kashyap, Madhu Mantena, Vikas Bahl and Vikramaditya Motwane), Rohit Shetty Picturez, Plan C Studios (Neeraj Pandey) and Y NOT Studios (S. Sashikanth).

Reliance Entertainment is the media and entertainment arm of Reliance Group and is engaged in the creation and distribution of content across film, television, digital and gaming platforms. Internationally, Reliance Entertainment has partnered since 2009 with iconic film producer and director, Steven Spielberg, in the formation of DreamWorks Studios, and thereafter, Amblin Partners.

This relationship has produced several highly successful films such as The Help, War Horse, Lincoln, The Hundred Foot Journey, The Girl on the Train, A Dog’s Purpose, Bridge of Spies, and The Post.

5 Persons of Indian Origin Receive 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor

Five Persons of Indian Origin, including four from the United States, and one from Canada were among the 84 prominent immigrants who received the prestigious 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a ceremony in New York on May 12nd. The Medal has been officially recognized by Congress as one of the nation’s most prestigious awards; it is annually memorialized in the Congressional Record.

Software pioneer Vanu Bose, who was honored posthumously after succumbing to a sudden pulmonary embolism last year; Moon Express founder Naveen Jain; Ethan Allen chairman and Kashmiri activist Farooq Kathwari; and Sikh activist Bhai Sahiba Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, and Peter Dhillon, the ‘cranberry king’ of Canada, were the recipients of the International Ellis Island Medal.

According to reports, all the honorees and their guests were ferried to Ellis Island for the awards ceremony. Fireworks illuminated the night skies above the Statue of Liberty – the symbol of the American immigrant dream – in New York Harbor after the medals were presented.

“The Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their salute to tolerance, brotherhood, diversity and patriotism,” said the organization in a press statement. “Honorees may be native-born or naturalized, but most importantly, they are individuals who have made it their mission to share their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity with those less fortunate.”

According to the NECO website, “the Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity. They recognize individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America. As always, NECO remains dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of America’s greatest symbol of its immigrant history, Ellis Island.”

Farooq Kathwari, the chairman, president and CEO of Ethan Allen, said, “It is an honor for me to receive this esteemed award. I am a proud American by choice, a citizen of a country that offers equality and freedom of expression. I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to use what I have learned for the benefit of others.”

Kathwari is a member of the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee, the advisory board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, chairman emeritus of Refugees International, an advisory member of the New York Stock Exchange, co-chairman of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, a director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University and a member of the International Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace.

Vanu Bose: Bose, who died unexpectedly at the age of 52 on Nov. 11, 2017, was a software pioneer best known for bringing mobile service to remote areas in the U.S., India, and Africa, among other regions. Bose was the son of Amar Bose, founder of the Bose Corporation, which pioneered high-quality audio.

Vanu Bose founded Vanu, using his research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company’s technology enables multiple networks to operate on the same devices. Vanu, Inc. has also developed cellular antenna systems that require relatively small amounts of energy and can run on solar power. The reduction in power needed for these networks has allowed the firm to help build out networks in rural areas around the world, from India to Rwanda to Vermont, and to address what Bose called the “great need for communication” in those areas, noted MIT in an obituary for Bose last November. Last year, the company used its technology to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. “To be unconnected is to be left behind, and we don’t want anyone to be left behind,” said Bose, as noted on the company’s Web site.

Naveen Jain made history in 2016 when Moon Express, a for-profit venture, received approval to embark on the first commercial space mission beyond Earth’s orbit. Former President Barack Obama granted Jain rights to essentially mine the moon.  “We are thrilled to have the support of the U.S. Congress allowing Moon Express to mine precious resources on the moon for the benefit of humanity,” said Jain in a press statement. “We applaud the leadership shown by the House in passing this pivotal legislation and look forward to President Obama signing the bill into law.”

Bhai Sahiba Inderjit Kaur Khalsa is known throughout the world as the Bhai Sahiba (chief minister) of Sikh Dharma. She is followed by more than 25 million Sikhs around the globe. Khalsa was born in India in 1935 and immigrated to the U.S. with her husband, the late Yogi Harbhajan Singh. She was given the title of Bhai Sahiba by the Sri Akal Takhat Sahib in 2004, the Jewel of the Nation in 2005, Ambassador of Peace in 2006, the Pride of India award in 2007, named the New Mexico Governor’s Representative to India in 2007, and the Jewel of the Punjab in 2017, according to her biography. She is the founder of the Miri Piri Academy, a boarding school in Amritsar. “Bibiji” – as she is commonly known – is also the founder of the organization Create Inner Peace and has authored numerous of books on Sikh education.

Peter Dhillon: Dhillon, the “cranberry king” of Canada, is the president and CEO of the Richberry Group, the largest Canadian supplier of cranberries to Ocean Spray. The company annually supplies Ocean Spray with more than 20 billion pounds of cranberries; Dhillon also serves as Ocean Spray’s chairman of the board.

At the University of British Columbia, he established the Rashpal Dhillon Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Endowment and the Rashpal Dhillon Track & Field Center in his father’s memory. He has also established the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics in partnership with the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

The medal was created in 1986 by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, whose founder is the transportation magnate William Denis Fugazy. “From successful businessmen, to pioneering physicians, to artists who enrich our lives through art and music and those who dedicate their lives to the advancement of our community through philanthropy, service to humanity are among those honored with this award every year. In 2017, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Fareed Zakaria, Author and host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” show, Harman International Industries chairman CEO Dinesh Paliwal, Dr Annapoorna S Kini, Yashvant Patel, and Mohan H Patel were honored with the award.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle declared husband and wife

Prince Harry and his actress bride Meghan Markle married on Saturday in a dazzling ceremony that blended ancient English ritual with African American culture, infusing the 1,000-year-old British monarchy with a blast of modernity.

In a medieval chapel at Windsor Castle that 39 English kings and queens have called home since 1066, Harry and Meghan exchanged vows watched up close by royals and celebrities, and from afar by a global TV audience of many millions.

Wearing a veil, diamond tiara and a sleek dress with a long train, the American actress was accompanied up the aisle of St George’s Chapel by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, before she and Harry exchanged vows and were proclaimed husband and wife.

The couple kissed on the steps of the 15th Century chapel, before delighting the sea of well-wishers, some of whom had camped for days to witness the spectacular show of British pomp and pageantry, by touring Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage.

Prince Harry’s vows at the wedding are as follows: “I Harry, take you, Meghan, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God, I make this vow.”

Among the guests were Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams and Sir Elton John. India’s very own representative, Priyanka Chopra was at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. She made her first public appearance after arriving in London, donning a plaid suit from Alberta Ferretti. “I do think Meghan being a part of the royal family is a big step in the direction of so many things; of women, of feminism, of diversity, of race, of the monarchy versus everyone else. It’s a beautiful step in the right direction,” Priyanka Chopra had said earlier.

Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, became the sixteenth Royal Couple to celebrate their Marriage at Windsor Castle since 1863. The newly-wed royal couple had a tour of the city center of Windsor in a traditional horse-driven Ascot Landau carriage.

More than 100,000 fans cramped the narrow roads of Windsor, about 20 miles (30 km) west of London. Security was tight and visitors had to pass through police search points set up around the castle, home to 39 English monarchs since 1066.

Harry said he had never heard of his future wife or watched her TV series, and she said she knew nothing of the prince. But after just two dates, he whisked her off to Botswana for a holiday, camping under the stars. “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect,” Harry said when their engagement was announced last November.

Harry’s gilded upbringing is in stark contrast with Markle’s. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and her parents divorced when she was six. After a number of minor roles in films and on TV, she won the role as Rachel Zane in “Suits”. She ran a successful lifestyle blog, thetig.com, and has worked as a humanitarian campaigner. In 2011, she married film producer Trevor Engelson but they divorced in 2013.

“We can break the barriers down, it can be done,” said 40-year-old black Briton Yvonne Emanuel, one of the 100,000-strong crowd that thronged Windsor’s streets. The ceremony was typical of royal weddings in many ways. The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor while Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the couple man and wife, beneath the banners of the knights of the Order of the Garter, the world’s oldest chivalric group dating back to 1348.

The British remain broadly supportive of the monarchy albeit with a sense of mild irony about the pomp and pageantry that accompanies it, though many have deep respect for Elizabeth, after her 66 years of service. Harry, along with brother William and his wife Kate, are at the forefront of an effort to modernize the monarchy by talking openly about their innermost feelings.

The union of Harry, a former royal wild child and sixth-in-line to the British throne, and 36-year-old Meghan, a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white, was like no other the royal family has seen before.

The newlyweds will also be officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Queen Elizabeth bestowed those titles on them.

LIU Confers Honorary Doctorate Degree on ASR’s President & CEO Rao Anumolu

Long Island University (LIU), one of the largest private universities in the United States, conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree on Rao Anumolu, ASR’s Founder, President & CEO, during LIU’s 2018 Commencement ceremonies on May 11, 2018.

Rao Anumolu is the President & CEO of Long Island (New York) based ASR International Corporation. He obtained a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and also an MBA degree from Illinois Institute of Technology. He has attended several Advanced Management Courses at Defense Systems Management College, Harvard University and Wharton School of Business Management. He is also an OPM graduate of Harvard Business School (HBS).

Anumolu is the only Asian Indian to have been cited by the US Congress for the contributions made by him and ASR International Corporation towards homeland security in USA. Mr. Anumolu is the recipient of the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. This Medal recognized recipients for outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation and the world. It is the highest civilian award in the US for immigrants – for their contributions in the development of this country. Mr. Anumolu has held senior management positions directing commercial and government programs that included major aerospace design and development projects.

Anumolu founded ASR International Corporation in 1986 in Long Island, NY. ASR is a world renowned high technology company providing Engineering, Information Technology, Training, Project Management, Logistics, and Supply Chain Quality Management Support Services to global Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. ASR is ISO 9001:2015 certified and assessed at SEI CMMI Level 3.

ASR is a world renowned high technology company providing Engineering, Information Technology, Training, Project Management, Logistics, and Supply Chain Quality Management Support Services to global Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

Founded in 1986, ASR is an ISO 9001:2015 certfied company providing world-wide Management and Technical Support Services to Government agencies and many Fortune 500 customers in the Aviation, Engineering, Manufacturing, Marine, Petrochemical, and Renewable Energy sectors. Visit asrintl.com for more information.

LIU is one of the nation’s largest private universities. Since its founding in 1926, LIU has provided high quality academic programs taught by world-class faculty.  LIU offers 500 accredited programs to more than 20,000 students and has a network of over 200,000 alumni that includes leaders in industries across the globe. Visit liu.edu for more information.

Preeta Bansal honored with APAICS Stewardship Award

Indian American Preeta Bansal was honored with the annual Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Stewardship Award at the organization’s 24th annual Awards Gala on Tuesday, May 15.

US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) presented the annual Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Stewardship Award to Bansal, whohad served as a General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to the federal Office of Management and Budget from 2009 until 2011. Bansal is currently the CEO of Social Emergence Corporation and she also teaches at the MIT Media Lab, where she is a Senior Advisor for Social Machines.

“I’m honored to present the APAICS Stewardship Award to Solicitor General Preeta Bansal for her leadership in public service, and for her efforts to empower communities,” said the New York Democrat. “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to honor and celebrate the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Tonight, we recognize and celebrate Preeta for her immense contributions, and for her service and leadership to our community and the nation.”

APAICS Stewardship Award is presented annually to individuals who are leaders within AAPI communities in public service for their commitment to serve communities.

Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Bansal served as a law partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and as the Solicitor General of the State of New York during Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s first term. She also has been a member and past chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

Bansal is originally from Nebraska, she received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1986 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1989.

She also served as a Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review and after graduating from Harvard Law School, she clerked for Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1989 to 1990 and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens from 1990 to 1991.

After running her own private practice in Washington D.C., Bansal worked in the Clinton Administration from 1993 to 1996 as a Counselor in the U.S. Department of Justice and as a White House Special Counsel. Then in 1999, she was recruited to serve in the office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as the Solicitor General of the State of New York after which Bansal was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Bansal is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received the National Organization of Women’s “Woman of Power and Influence Award” in 2006 and was named one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal in its inaugural list in 2008.

In 2006, she was a co-chair for then-Attorney General-Elect Andrew Cuomo’s transition team, and previously served as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the National Women’s Law Center and the New York City Bar Justice Center, and as a Commissioner on Mayor Bloomberg’s Election Modernization Task Force.

Rohit Chopra confirmed by US Senate as FTC Commissioner

The United States Senate voted unanimously on April 26 to confirm five nominees, including Indian American Rohit Chopra, to the Federal Trade Commission, bringing the agency back to full capacity as it conducts a high-profile investigation of Facebook’s data practices, Politico reported.

The other confirmed members are Republicans Noah Phillips, chief counsel for Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Delta Air Lines executive Christine Wilson; along with Democrats Chopra, a consumer advocate, and Rebecca Slaughter, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The FTC members will take over the agency’s investigation of Facebook, which follows revelations that the social media giant allowed Trump-linked Cambridge Analytica to improperly obtain data on tens of millions of the social network’s users.

The FTC works with the U.S. Justice Department to enforce antitrust law and investigates companies accused of deceptive advertising.

Chopra is a senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America. His work there has focused on consumer protection issues facing young people and military families. He is widely regarded for his expertise in the student loan market. (See earlier India-West story here.)

He previously served as assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he oversaw the agency’s work on behalf of students and young consumers. He was also named by the Secretary of the Treasury to serve as the CFPB’s Student Loan Ombudsman.

Chopra later served as Special Adviser to the Secretary of Education to seek enhancements to student loan servicing and to develop stronger consumer protection standards.

US-India strategic ties to grow in 2018

India’s relationship with the United States is expected to continue to grow in the New Year, analysts say. The new US security plan released last week said: “We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in the Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region.” Washington also pledged to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia and India. “We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner. We will seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia and India.”

After US President Donald Trump gave a leadership role to India in his new “America First Security Strategy”, New Delhi voiced appreciation for Washington laying importance to the bilateral relationship.

“We appreciate the strategic importance given to India-US relationship in the new National Security Strategy released by the US,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last week. “As two responsible democracies, India and the US share common objectives, including combating terrorism and promoting peace and security throughout the world,” Kumar said.

In November, India, the US, Japan and Australia held a quadrilateral meeting in the Philippines on the sidelines of the East Asia and Asean Summits to discuss the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.

This assumes significance given China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea and attempts to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean. Kumar said: “A close partnership between India and the US contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as to the economic progress of the two countries.”

Trump’s security strategy also stated that the US would continue to push Pakistan to speed up its counter-terrorism efforts. “We will press Pakistan to intensify its counter-terrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials,” it said.

The India-US relationship is going to get stronger and better under the Trump administration in a wide range of areas, including regional security issues, trade and economy, terrorism, a senior White House official has said.

Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, U.S.-India relations have improved significantly over the past 10 years. Today the two countries have a $115 billion two-way trading relationship, growing foreign direct investment, and an increasingly shared vision of the region’s strategic outlook that has bolstered bilateral defense interests.

Yet the bilateral trade relationship is modest at best. To put things in perspective, bilateral trade relationship between South Korea and U.S. is two times bigger by volume than that between India and the U.S., while Korea’s GDP is 40 percent smaller than India’s. China, with a similar population to India’s, conducts bilateral trade with the U.S. that is six times larger.

“India is a natural ally of the United States, because of the shared commitment to democracy and to counterterrorism, and because the region is so vital to the US security,” Raj Shah, the White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, told a group of India . Shah’s comments came hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump held their second bilateral meeting in Manila on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.

The two countries are going to have a “strong relationship and it’s going to get stronger” under this president, Shah, the highest-ranking Indian-American ever in the White House press wing, told a group of Indian reporters last week.

“India is a natural ally of the United States, because of the shared commitment to democracy and to counterterrorism, and because the region is so vital to the US security,” he said. Shah said that the US-India relationship should stand on its own leg and “not be contingent” on any other relationship.

By designating India as a major defense partner, the United States committed to continue its work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. Furthermore, the United States committed to continuing efforts to facilitate the export of goods and technologies for projects, programs, and joint ventures in support of official U.S.-India defense cooperation and India’s “Make in India” initiative.

Subsequently, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, which included recognition of India as a major defense partner. This act legally recognizes a unique partnership designation by the United States to India and codifies in U.S. law the spirit of the June 2016 joint statement.

Now is the time to act. The Trump administration is eager to raise the bar and willing to get past impediments, with an eye towards finding creative and historic approaches to make progress. The administration, with its recently published National Security Strategy, has clearly stated its intent to expand defense and security cooperation with India as a Major Defense Partner. India, for its part, is positioned well to continue the trajectory with the Modi government remaining on firm political footing with no significant change expected over the next few years.

For both governments, continuing to delay major cooperative decisions, holding out for a better deal, and allowing entrenched antibodies to delay further progress, will only ensure we both fall short of the possible. Meanwhile, the world and our adversaries are not resting nor delaying their investments and preparedness.


Dr. Sudhir Parikh Receives Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha Award

Indian-American physician, philanthropist and publisher, Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir M. Parikh of Parikh Worldwide Media, LLC, was honored with the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj’s top award for a non-resident Indians Feb. 1, in Ahmedabad.
Gujarat Governor O. P. Kohli presented the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha International Personality Award 2017 to Dr. Parikh on behalf of the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj (VGS), at a ceremony held in the Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and attended by more than 300 people from the business world, professionals, academia, and government, as well as leading Gujaratis from United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany.
The Governor also awarded VGS’s Kanjibhai Desai Gujarat Pratibha Award 2017 to Dr. Ashok Vaidya, a Mumbaibased physician engaged in research popularizing Ayurveda and other systems of medicine.
Besides the citation, a memento and shawl, the award to Dr. Parikh included and a check of Rupees 250,000, which Dr. Parikh donated to the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj for carrying on its children and women’s empowerment projects. “You have been doing excellent work in helping underprivileged children and women find a better footing in life. I hope my donation will help further this cause. So please accept this with my deepest regards,” Dr. Parikh said in his speech at the awards function.
Congratulating the award winners, Gov. Kohli praised them for their social work and dedication to uplifting the poor. He exhorted those present to not only to help their children get a higher education but teach them to use their talent in the interest of society at large and repay the debt to the nation.
Dr. Parikh expressed his gratitude and said he was proud to be in the company of other non-resident Indians who have received the award in the past, like U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, and Chicago businessman Sam Pitroda, Raj Mohan Gandhi, Lord Meghnad Desai, and Lord Bhikhu Patel.
“When you think of Gujarat and Gujaratis, it’s the entrepreneurial spirit of the community that comes first to mind. Wherever the community has settled, created roots, they have been admired for their business acumen,” Parikh said. He praised the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj for its work. “Not only are they helping provide a platform for Gujaratis globally, they are ensuring that the next generation stays in touch with their roots, heritage and traditions,” he said.
Parikh, who has received the Padma Shri in 2010, the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman award before that in 2006, as well as the Knight of the Ecumenical Hospitaller Order of St. John Knights of Malta, in 2012, said he cherishes the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj award because “it comes from the topmost Gujarati organization in the world, to a fellow Gujarati.”
Besides his chain of newspapers, Dr. Parikh recently launched the think tank, Parikh Foundation for India’s Global Development, aimed at discussing and spreading awareness about India’s emerging global role, and to discuss U.S. and India policy issues, as well as relations with other countries. He also disclosed that he will soon launch a new television news and entertainment channel in the U.S.
“He has done a lot of services not only for the Gujarati community but humanity at large,” Vakharia, president of the VGS, told Desi Talk, referring to Dr, Parikh. “He helped at the time of the earthquake, the tsunami, and he has done humanitarian work in other countries,” Vakharia added. He also credited Dr. Parikh for furthering U.S.-India relations. “In our view, the United States is the only great power now, and that relationship is very important for any country,” Vakharia said.
Dr. Vaidya, in his speech, dwelt on spiritual development being an intrinsic part of any development work, and Gujarat with its historical links to leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Dayanand Saraswati who were born in Gujarat.
Some other noted guests who attended the ceremony included Krishna Pujara, leader of the National Congress of Gujarati Organizations in the U.K., and eminent architects Hemant Naik and Kalpana Naik from Brisbane, Australia. Himanshu Patel, representative of the Germany Gujarati Samaj, also attended.
Parikh Worldwide Media LLC is the largest Indian-American print media publishing group in the United States, Dr. Parikh’s noted. The group publishes “News India Times,” a national weekly newspaper; “Desi Talk in New York,” a weekly newspaper serving the New York- New Jersey-Connecticut region; “Desi Talk in Chicago,” a weekly newspaper serving the Greater Chicago area and the Midwestern states; “The Indian American,” a national bimonthly feature magazine; “Gujarat Times,” a Gujarati language weekly. It also recently launched the magazine U.S.-India Global Review (usindiaglobalreview.com).

Davos elite tap Shah Rukh Khan for human rights award

Film star Cate Blanchett, singer-songwriter Elton John and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan received awards at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday for their work raising awareness about human rights issues.

Blanchett, an Australian, received a Crystal Award for her work with people who have fled their homes. British singer-songwriter John received his for his charitable work with his AIDS foundation. Indian Khan’s was in recognition of his work championing the rights of children and women in India. The Crystal Awad is given, by the WEF to artists who make a positive change in society.

The awards were presented at a ceremony in the village of Davos, in the Swiss Alps, where some of the world’s top policy makers and executives have begun gathering for the annual meeting.

Blanchett, who has won two Oscars, was named a goodwill ambassador for United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in May 2016. As part of her role, the actor has travelled to Lebanon and Jordan to meet refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict.

She warned of the consequences if more was not done to help people forced to flee their homes. “Lost generations of uneducated, disenfranchised and displaced children not only represent a vast loss of potential but also a threat for future global security and prosperity,” she said. More than a million people have fled parts of Africa and the Middle East to Europe in the last few years.

Nirali Patel named Special Counsel to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

Nirali Patel, an Indian-American staffer for Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr, has been named by FCC chairman Ajit Pai as his special counsel on January 18th. “I’m pleased that Nirali is joining my office as Special Counsel,” said Pai in a statement.  “She has a wide range of expertise and experience in communications law and policy issues and will be an asset to my team,” the Ajit Pai, the Indian American FCC chief added.

As a legal adviser to Carr, Patel advised on media, wireless, public safety, international, consumer protection and enforcement matters, the FCC said in a news release. Added Carr of the outgoing staffer, “She has been an invaluable member of the team, bringing a depth of knowledge and thoroughness to every issue she tackled.”

Prior to that, she served as a deputy chief in the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau.  Before joining the FCC in January 2017, Patel was counsel in the technology, media and telecommunications practice of Hogan Lovells US LLP. Previously, she practiced communications law at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and Sidley Austin LLP. Patel graduated summa cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law and received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ajit Pai has played a crucial role in an administration whose policies stand squarely in the crosshairs of the nation’s emotions. The revoking of the Net Neutrality policy by Pai has been decried by detractors as a corporate shill strategically positioned in the nation’s capital. Charging him with “ruining the internet,” protesters have threatened Pai, his wife and children, covered his house with disparaging signs and taken to the internet with accusations and calls for his removal. Protesters have even established AjitVPai.com, a website that encourages visitors to contact the FCC about Pai’s actions. The site also explains how, without net neutrality, ISPs such as AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon can block or dramatically slow users’ access to some sites.

The expected wave of litigation against the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net-neutrality rules has begun. A group of attorneys general for 21 states and the District of Columbia sued Jan. 16 to block the rules. So did Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, public-interest group Free Press and New America’s Open Technology Institute. Others may file suit as well, and a major tech-industry lobbying group has said it will support litigation.

The rules barred companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps. FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s push to undo them inspired both street and online protests in defense of the Obama-era rules. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the suit, said that the end of the net neutrality rules would hurt consumers and businesses.

Chintu and Chirag Patel are South Asian Times Persons of the Year 2017

Chintu Patel and Chirag Patel, Co-Chairmen of Amneal Pharmaceuticals, were honored as Persons of the Year 2017 for their monumental corporate success and philanthropy by The South Asian Times on Jan 13, 2018 at a gala reception in Syosset, NY.

Joining in presenting the plaques to the duo were Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty, Congressman Steve Israel, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Chintu and Chirag Patel have taken Amneal in 15 years from a family business to fifth largest generics drug company in the USA with $2 billion revenue expected in 2018. They have also set up family foundations called Niswarth and Irada with large humanitarian projects in India.

They were featured on the cover story in The South Times New Year Special issue of January 6-19, 2018. At the event last weekend at the North Shore Synagogue’s grand ballroom, the two Patel brothers were introduced by Kamlesh Mehta, Publisher and Chairman of The South Asian Times.

Assembled at the reception to cheer the honorees as well as celebrate the remarkable success and contributions of the Indian American community were numerous community leaders, entrepreneurs, publishers and officials. Notable was the presence of two Padma Shri honorees Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori and Dr. Sudhir Parikh.

Congressmen Israel and Suffolk County Executive Bellone, while congratulating Chintu and Chirag, who they have known personally, praised the Indian American community’s role in bringing the two great democracies of India and US closer. Amb. Sandeep Chakravorty echoed their thoughts. Steve Israel said “Chintu and Chirag have not forgotten the past while keeping an eye on the future,” reflecting on how they have retained the best of Indian culture and family values while having a long time vision to serve humanity.

Chirag Patel in his acceptance speech talked about the infinite human potential, adding “One side is business success, but the same thing applies to greater purpose in life.” Tremendous growth of Amneal notwithstanding, he said, “We are not stopping, we have multiple projects in bio-technology.”

Chintu Patel said so far they had kept a low profile but a persistent Kamlesh Mehta convinced them to agree to be Persons of the Year 2017 arguing that their story will be inspirational for the community and it also conveys the importance of family values. Chintu said their father, Kanu Patel, is their inspiration who is still active at 75. He also thanked his team at Amneal, which employs more than 5,000 people. Many attendees told Kamlesh Mehta to make Person of the Year an annual event, and felicitate many more Indian American achievers.

Is Nikki Haley considering a Presidential run

Over the past several months, there have been a number of articles in the national press, including The New York Times and Newsweek, speculating whether former South Carolina Governor and the current US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley might consider a presidential run in 2020. Some say her efforts and clear leadership as governor and ambassador to the United Nations have put her in a strong position to possibly become this nation’s first female president.

“Nikki Haley may end up as our first female president,” Fox News’ strategic analyst Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters recently commended current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Haley is definitely solidifying her foreign-policy resume and is earning a reputation as a tough ambassador. Newsweek even pointed out that Haley has had a higher profile than even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, especially earlier in the administration.

Also, the recently-released book penned by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which was released on January 5th,  claims that Nikki Haley is considering a presidential run. The Indian American aspiring leader and ambassador had no response publicly to the book.

Haley, in her time since taking over her new post, to which she was appointed by Trump, has emerged as a close confident of Trump and has been strongly pushing for Trump’s foreign policy agenda at the United Nations, attracting frequent praise from Trump himself.

However, the book portrays Haley in somewhat of a negative light saying that she has presidential ambitions and does not have a good view of Trump. “By October, however, many on the president’s staff took particular notice of one of the few remaining Trump opportunists: Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador,” the book said.

“I work with the president and speak with him multiple times a week; this is a man, he didn’t become the president by accident,” Haley was quoted to have said. “We need to be realistic at the fact that every person, regardless of race, religion, or party, who loves the country, should support this president. It’s that important.”

Entering American politics in 2004, Ambassador Haley assumed office as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from the 87th district and was elected chair of freshman caucus and majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly. She was successfully re-elected in 2006 and 2008.

Being a Republican, Ambassador Haley holds on to the fiscally conservative viewpoint on taxation, which advocates for lower taxes and deregulation of the economy. Being a daughter of Sikh immigrants, she believes immigration laws should be enforced thereby ensuring that immigrants follow legal procedures, which led her to support legislative reforms to address issues of illegal immigration. As a pro-life advocate, she voted for the Penalties for Harming an Unborn Child/Fetus law in 2006 and supported the Pre-Abortion Ultrasound law in 2007.

Ambassador Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010; her election made her the second Indian-American, the first woman and youngest person in U.S. history to serve as governor in the United States. Haley said, “it was a shock to the people of South Carolina. One, I was the first minority [elected in South Carolina]. Two, I was the youngest governor in the country. And three, oh my God she’s a girl.”

In June 2015 her empathetic response to the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina states grounds after the Charleston Massacre, garnered her praise during her governorship. “What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain,” said Haley.

Though her governorship of South Carolina is surely commendable, she has flourished in her new role as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, despite criticisms of her lack of experience in foreign relations and diplomacy. In November 2016, president-elect Donald Trump recommended the former governor as a “proven dealmaker,” adding that “we look forward to making plenty of deals and she will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

Even though Ambassador Haley supports President Trump today, she still holds true to her own beliefs. For example, by encouraging women everywhere to come forward with their traumatic, sexual harassment experiences. “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them.”

A popular twice-elected governor of South Carolina, she’s an experienced GOP politician in an administration packed with outsiders. As the daughter of Indian immigrants, she stands out in an administration run chiefly by white men. Telegenic and poised, she has a knack for the limelight that stands in sharp contrast to the administration’s tendencies toward the rumpled (former press secretary Sean Spicer) or reclusive (Tillerson).

But in her first seven months at the helm of the US mission to the UN, Haley’s differences have gone far beyond optics. Trump campaigned on a foreign policy platform of “America first” — the idea that the US should avoid getting involved in unnecessary conflicts overseas and focus narrowly on national security interests over promotion of democracy and human rights abroad.

But Haley has pursued the opposite course. From her stern criticism of Moscow to her championing of human rights to her calls for Syrian regime change, she’s routinely diverged from, or outright contradicted, Trump’s stance on the biggest foreign policy issues of the day.

As Politico first reported, the Democratic National Committee is already digging into the pasts of Haley, Vice President Mike Pence, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse – Republicans at the center of Washington speculation as presidential contenders if Trump isn’t on the ballot for some reason in 2020.

Haley told CNN’s Jamie Gangel, she “can’t imagine running for the White House.” During our interview, she deflected questions about her future in or out of the Trump administration and said she’s concentrating on “making the American people proud” in her current job.

Rep. Ro Khanna Named ‘Most Valuable House Newcomer’ by The Nation

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., representing the 17th Congressional District which includes much of Silicon Valley, was named by The Nation as the “Most Valuable House Newcomer.”

The Indian American congressman was sworn into office in early January after defeating longtime incumbent Mike Honda, another Democrat, in the November 2016 election.

In making the selections of Khanna on the 2017 Progressive Honor Roll, The Nation wrote, “Capitol Hill’s steadiest champion of congressional oversight on war-making, Representative Barbara Lee always needs allies. She got a great one when Khanna arrived in January. Lee’s fellow California Democrat jumped into a leadership post with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (as did two other outstanding newcomers, Washington’s Pramila Jayapal and Maryland’s Jamie Raskin) and emerged as a savvy champion of net neutrality.”

The Nation went on to write, “But the law-school instructor made his boldest mark as an advocate for the restoration of constitutional checks and balances. Khanna decried the use of tax dollars to “bomb and starve civilians” in Yemen and—working with CPC co-chair Mark Pocan and libertarian-leaning Republicans—drafted legislation to block US support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal assault on that country.

According to The Nation, “In November, Khanna and his allies forced a debate on the issue, getting the chamber to vote 366–30 for a nonbinding resolution stating that US military assistance for the Saudi war was not authorized by Congress. That was a small step. But with support growing for Lee’s effort to overturn the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which has served as an excuse for military adventurism, Khanna says the Yemen vote signals that the project of “re-orienting our foreign policy away from our Saudi alliance and away from neocon/neoliberal interventionism” is finally beginning.”

In addition to Khanna being named to the honor roll, The Nation’s 2017 list included U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as Most Valuable Senator; most valuable reading of the constitution was U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, as the most valuable Senate watchdog; U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., as the most valuable House progressive; and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., as the most valuable House speech, among many others with progressive values.

TiE-Boston Honors Entrepreneur Venkat Srinivasan with Lifetime Achievement Award at its 20th Anniversary Gala

TiE-Boston, which celebrated its 20th anniversary at a black-tie gala attended by its founding charter members, past presidents and over 300 guests, on December 18th, bestowed its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to entrepreneur and philanthropist Venkat Srinivasan, who has founded eight companies and is credited with creating 1,800 jobs and over $2 billion in value for shareholders.

“I am honored and humbled that TiE-Boston selected me for this award,” said Srinivasan. “I salute TiE and the many charter members for fostering entrepreneurship so passionately.  Entrepreneurship is a key solution to society’s many challenges.”

“Venkat embodies the true spirit of TiE by building good companies, empowering employees and entrepreneurs, and giving back to solve big problems and help society at large,” said TiE-Boston president Praveen Tailam in a statement.

“He has been associated with TiE for a long time and has always inspired budding entrepreneurs by investing his time and capital, and is well-respected by fellow charter members for his philanthropic work,” Tailam added

The other awards were bestowed in the following categories: Distinguished Service to Philanthropy: Sekhar Naik; Health Innovator of the Year: Derek Haas; Rising Entrepreneur of the Year: Allis Tweed-Kent; Charter Member of the Year: Rishi Bhalerao; and Volunteer of the Year: Arjun Venkatachalam.

The gala also held a “Fireside Chat” between Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Venkat Srinivasan. The TiE-Boston Board awards the Lifetime Achievement Award when an individual has made a lasting impact in the business community, and a significant contribution to the success of TiE-Boston.

Since 1997, TiE-Boston has been supporting entrepreneurs by offering education, mentorship, networking, and funding opportunities. What makes TiE unique is that the organization connects entrepreneurs with each other and other stakeholders in the ecosystem, including seasoned serial entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, service providers, and early customers. TiE-Boston is a chapter of TiE-Global, the largest global not-for-profit organization fostering entrepreneurship. TiE-Boston members leverage the global network of members from 61 chapters in 18 countries. TiE has 12,000 members throughout the world, and has contributed over $250B in wealth creation. For more information, and to become a member of TiE-Boston, visit boston.tie.org.

Ginsmon Zacharia: Many Hats To Wear

Successful Media Leader, Community Activist; and Cultural Ambassador
It was in 2007; I met Gins for the first time. Gins called me and said, “I want to meet you. Can you tell me when you have some time for me?” I did not know him nor did I hear about Gins. He told me that he had heard about me that I am a journalist and that he has a plan to start a publication. I was working in the Bronx, NY and he came driving from his home in Long Island to meet with me in the Bronx. We both met for the first time at a local McDonalds during my office lunch break, trying to get to know one another.
Gins told me that he wanted to start an English monthly magazine, targeting the American Indian audience. I was surprised that someone who had immigrated to the United States barely a year earlier, dares to launch an ethnic magazine. I had agreed in principle to be the Chief Editor after discussing the content and the target audience. I did not hear back from Gins for a couple of months since our meeting.
One beautiful morning, I had another phone call from Gins. This time he tells me, “We are ready to launch the magazine. Are you ready to lead it?” Since then, The Asian Era, a monthly magazine has been hitting almost all major American Indian stores, institutions, churches, cultural organizations and individual families every month.
During my long association with Gins, I was surprised by his commitment and total dedication. A matriculate planner, he envisaged and executed every aspect of planning, printing, circulating, fundraising, delivery, and management of the publications. Soon, Gins had three publications. In addition to The Asian Era, he was the publisher of Aksharam, a Malayalam Bimonthly magazine and Jai Hind Vartha, a monthly tabloid newspaper, with multiple editions, read by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe both in print and online. It was often with the help of minimum input from others, he would manage everything. Gins would drive from Pennsylvania to Connecticut delivering copies of the publications weekly or monthly depending on the need.
Gins is also the Director of Jaihind TV USA, which made headlines after it successfully hosted musical reality shows in all major states of North America, a platform of opportunities for young talents to be heard, seen and loved by the vast viewership of the channel. The Channel was a pioneer in its kind and diversity in USA which apart from talent hunts dedicated its airtime to showcase business and industry leaders and closely followed the US presidential election. The weekly program ‘US Diary’ brought to the attention of the authorities, the difficulties and challenges faced by immigrant Indians in the US.
“It’s real passion, if someone dedicates more than 17 years of his life for contributing in the media dictum,” Gins says with pride and confidence. Hailing from Thodupuzha, Kerala in India Ginsmon Zacharia, with an MBA degree in Marketing and a Law degree, chose print and visual media to be his profession and his decision did serve him right.
Ginsmon Zacharia and print media took off like any other but dramatically redefined the industry outlook. Experienced in successfully starting, and establishing Newspapers in the UK and the USA with circulation in Canada too, he strategized unorthodox means to establish and win the hearts and trust of many. Gins find “Ethnic media as a means to express and restore the culture and link with our motherland and our culture.”
Not satisfied with the work he has been doing in the media world, with the objective of bringing all the ethnic media persons under one umbrella, Gins was instrumental in founding the The Indo-American Press Club. Serving currently as the Coordinator of the Indo-American Press Club, an organization he founded and chaired for three years, Gins has been behind the successful team of three International Media Conferences around the country, in addition to several local events by the Club’s many Chapters around the nation.
Gins had initially immigrated to England to pursue his higher education. After graduating and married to his beautiful wife, Siji, Gins decided to relocate and make the United States his home. Recounting his experiences while in the UK, Gins recalls, “In my first year in the UK, I got an opportunity to join a print media, Deepika, the first Malayalam daily news paper in Kerala, established over 130 years ago. The European edition of Deepika targeted the Malayalee community in Europe. And it was at this time; I came to realize that the media is a powerful platform to organize my community and use it as a platform to serve our community.”
And Gins wanted to have a larger Indian audience abroad to work with and to cherish his goal of serving the community through the media. He found the American Indian audience to be a dominant force to reach his message. He realized that having over 600,000 Malayalees and nearly 3 million people of Indian origin in the US gave him an amazing audience to launch an ethnic media platform. Since then, he and his family relocated from the UK to the United States. Having some of his relatives already in the US made that transfer easier initially.
In the past 12 years, Gins has been in the US; the young entrepreneur has seen quite a few changes in the fast-growing Indian American community. “The educated and highly successful Indian community in the US is a vital part in our adopted land. If we coordinate this powerful group, we can make a remarkable influence in our motherland and take an active part of the politics and public policy in our adopted land, thus contributing to the growth of the nation.”
During his short span in the UK, Gins founded and became the first General Secretary of a community organization he had named Liverpool Malayalee Cultural Association (LIMCA). Today, Limca has come to be known around the world as one of the largest and active organizations in the UK, serving the Indian community. Limca had raised the largest fund to help the 2014 tsunami victims among all Malayalee organizations in the UK.
Gins’ contributions have not been limited to the media world. He chaired and presided over several positions and responsibilities in various social, cultural and professional organizations, many of those which he founded, in the USA and the UK. Gins’ work among the American Indian community made him popular, that he elected as the  President of India Catholic Association in 2014. “During my term, we raised funds and helped seven local organizations in Kerala.”
Gins served until 2012 as the Joint Secretary of Kerala Samajam of Greater New York,  the oldest and most comprehensive of all Malayalee associations in the New York region. Gins were the General Secretary of the Indian American Malayalee Chamber of Commerce in 2013, it was “during my term,  I had organized a B2B meet in Kerala in association with the Government of Kerala and Kerala Chamber of Commerce,” Gins says with pride.
A go-getter he always voiced against hesitation and lived to live the mind of Sir Martin Luther King Jr, “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward”. Persistence is his recipe for achievement.
Recognitions and awards came his away. The community loves him, and the Nassau County, Long Island, NY has identified him with accolades for his compelling dedication to socio-cultural causes.
And did many local organizations, including the prestigious Media Achievement Award by The Indian American Kerala Cultural center in October 2017 for his immense contributions to the media world. In his address after receiving the award, Gins dedicated the award to the media world and his fellow journalists. “This is a media award, a Media achievement award. This is never singular, if you ask me. This has the participation of all who accepted my work; it’s a people’s award. So this is not just mine to take home, BUT dear all this I wish to take home!
He has been awarded and has received several citations from many local community organizations as well as from the County, State, Legislature and Rotary Clubs. However, Gins cherishes “being actively part of the ownership of four print publications and a TV channel in the US” to be his greatest achievement.
Gins lives on Long Island, New York with his beautiful wife Siji, sons Andrew, a 14-year-old and Ethen Austin, a five-year-old, and a 9-year-old daughter Brionna Elizabeth.
Success and recognition did not come easily to this young visionary. “There have been many challenges we face when we relocate to another country,” Gins says. “Whatever we attained in our life in 25 years whether it be education, career, or life practices, we need to start all over again and get assimilated into the new world in a shorter period.”

India’s Lakshmi Puri Among 6 Diplomats Receive ‘Power Of One’ Award At UN

Six top diplomats, including an Indian woman, have been felicitated with the inaugural Diwali “Power of One” award at the UN headquarters here for their contribution to help form a more “perfect, peaceful and secure world”.

The inaugural ‘Power of One’ award was bestowed upon exceptional people who have toiled selflessly to help form a more perfect peaceful and secure world for all of us. The awards were presented on Monday last week on the occasion of the first anniversary of the US Postal Service’s issuing of a forever Diwali stamp last year.

The awardees included outgoing British Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft; Lebanese Ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam who was elected to the International Court of Justice last month and Indian head of the UN Women Lakshmi Puri.

The other awardees were Maged Abdelaziz, the former Permanent Representative of Egypt to the UN; Ion Botnaru, the former Permanent Representative of Moldova to the UN and Yuriy Sergeyev, the former Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations.

Co-organised by the Permanent Missions of Belarus, Georgia and India, the event was co-sponsored by nearly two dozen countries including the US, Britain, France, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Spain, Kuwait and Algeria, a statement said. The event was held at the prestigious Trusteeship Council Chambers at the UN headquarters in New York.

New York-based Batra is credited with the seven years of effort towards the release of a Diwali stamp by the US Postal Service. “In October 2016, we won and got our Forever Diwali Stamp. I personally sold over 170,000 stamps to make the Diwali Stamp the USPS’ #1 Bestseller for Day One in its over 200 year existence,” Ms Batra said.

“I was determined to succeed in my goal to get the USPS to issue a Diwali Stamp, despite knowing many others had tried and given up. I spent nearly 7 years chasing it peacefully, and using only inclusive and respectful means,” she said.

Eminent Indian-American attorney Ravi Batra said the Diwali Foundation USA’s “Power of One Awards” were the “Oscars of Diplomacy” and helped “Good” beat evil and suffering. Speaking on the occasion, Valentin Rybakov, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the UN, said the awardees symbolically illuminate a way forward to a more perfect, peaceful and secure world for all.

Diwali Foundation USA was established this year as an NGO to promote a peaceful and consensus-based process to achieve societal “Good” as befits the high hopes and ideals of humanity enshrined in the UN Charter.

Among others who spoke on the occasion included Frantisek Ruzicka, Chef de Cabinet, President Miroslav Lajcak, 72nd UN General Assembly and Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nation

Jobin Panicker receives Emmy Award

Jobin Panicker of Los Angeles, California won an Emmy® Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Jobin is a television reporter and anchor for NBC (KSEE24 News) in Fresno, California. He won in the area of writing and he has been honored with seven television awards dating back to 2010. Jobin Panicker, son of Orthodox Priest Fr. Yohannan Panicker (Mecherayil Veedu, Kundara, Kerala, India) and late Lilly Panicker. Jobin is married to Jenni Panicker.

Jobin was born in New York but raised in Southern California. His journey as a reporter began at Gonzaga University, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism. While at Gonzaga, he and his wife (then girlfriend) joined the cheerleading squad, thereby securing courtside viewing for every Zags basketball game. From Gonzaga, Jobin traveled east to Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communication. While there, he earned a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. After the ‘Cuse, he set off for the “real world” and started working as a reporter for WBOC-TV in Salisbury, Maryland. Jobin was there one and a half years when he got the desire to head back west He flew home to CA and has settled nicely into Fresno. He is married to a local attorney (his college sweetheart). Jobin plays pick-up basketball games at the gym in his spare time. He and his wife love watching the Zags and the Lakers and going to the park with their shih tzu, Samosa.

John Dayal honored for lifetime contributions to the society

By Sudhansu Digal

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Minority Alliance (OMA) has honored John Dayal, a leading lay Catholic human rights activist and senior journalist, for his lifetime contribution for the cause of religious minorities in India.
The award was given on December 18 by Ramesh Chandra Majhi, Minister for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Caste Development, Other Backward Class and Minority Welfare, Government of Odisha, on behalf of Odisha Minority Alliance (OMA), Bhubaneswar in Bhubaneswar.
More than 300 religious minority leaders, human right defenders, social workers and academicians coming from different parts of Odisha attended the function organized on the occasion of International Minority Day.
OMA, a coalition of religious minorities in Odisha, Eastern India, comprises Christians and Muslims, the state’s major minority groups.
Barendra Kumar, convener of OMA, hailed Dayal as a multi-faced human rights crusader, towering leader of the religious minorities in India. His contributions to the commitment and dedication for the cause of minorities remain unparalleled, he added.
Jugal Kishore Ranjit, co-convener of OMA, said Dayal was the first recipient of the award. The alliance plans to award every year a distinguished person for the cause of the minorities.
Dayal, a former member of the National Integration Council, is the founder general secretary of All India Christian Council, past president and current spokesperson of the All India Catholic Council.
He volunteers to probe atrocities on any communities anywhere in the country and defends the rights of violated minority communities on both print and electronic media, Ranjit noted.
“Moreover, he does not mince his words and writings while defending the cause of the minorities. He leads from the front and remains an inspiration for minority communities,” the OMA official said. Dayal has shown equal commitment in defending the cause of other religious minority communities; be it Sikh or Muslim. “Hence, the Committee honored Dayal so that the next generation continue his mission and spirit in the challenging times ahead in the country,” he added.
Majhi stressed the need for everyone to cooperate in building up society. “It is a good sign that state government has taken initiative to construct 100 hostels for minority students and 25 multipurpose sectors in Odisha,” he pointed out.
The Odisha government, he added, would study the possibility of setting up a State Minority Commission. He invited minority community leaders for consultation to decide special budgetary allocations for the minorities welfare according to their priorities.
Dayal, while acknowledging the honor, stressed the need for sustained and collective efforts to address the issues and concerns of the minorities in India. Today they seem more vulnerable than before, he added.
The Catholic lay leader urged minority leaders to come forward to check attacks on their communities. Odisha has witnessed several such attacks, he pointed out.
“We need to multiply our efforts to foster peaceful co-existence of all communities. Challenges have soared up as religious minorities are under threats in several parts. So, we need to be on guard ourselves as seemingly the discourse is not saner for the minorities,” Dayal said.
Fr. Ajaya Kumar Singh, human rights activist, urged all to work for the realization of constitutional rights that provide them equal and equitable opportunities as equal citizenship.

Gurbir Grewal, 1st Sikh in the nation, to be nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy as NJ state attorney general

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy will nominate Bergen County prosecutor Gurbir Grewal as the state’s next attorney general, NJ Advance Media has learned. Grewal would be the nation’s first Sikh attorney general.

Grewal, an Indian-American Sikh, is Murphy’s first high-level nomination — and a historic one — as the Democrat works to fill out an administration set to take office on Jan. 16. If Grewal is confirmed by the state Senate, which seems all but certain, Murphy said he would become the first South Asian attorney general in New Jersey and the first Sikh to hold the position in any state.

“The American dream is alive and well in New Jersey,” Grewal said at a news conference in Trenton where Murphy made the announcement. Attorney general is one of the most powerful positions in New Jersey government, serving as the state’s top cop and top lawyer. The person in that role leads the 7,200-employee Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the State Police, civil rights enforcement, consumer affairs and civil litigation.

Grewal, 44, is a Glen Rock resident and former federal prosecutor who has led the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office since Republican Gov. Chris Christie tapped him for the role in January 2016. He served in an acting capacity until the state Senate confirmed him to a five-year term and he was sworn into office in January of this year.  Grewal was nominated to serve as Bergen County prosecutor by Gov. Chris Christie in 2016. At the time, Christie praised Grewal’s experience as a federal prosecutor and his diverse background.

Prior to being Bergen County’s top law enforcement officer, he worked as the former chief of the Economic Crimes Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office under former federal prosecutor Paul Fishman. He’s a past president of the South Asian Bar Association of New York and a member of the New Jersey Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association.

Murphy has stressed on multiple occasions since his November election, and repeated Tuesday, that he wants his attorney general to band together with attorneys general from other states to sue to block policies coming out of a Republican-controlled Washington, D.C. The nomination would be sent to the state Senate for approval after Murphy takes office.

Nikki Haley, the lone voice among disgruntled GOP leaders, wants women accusing Trump to be “heard”

Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, is the sole voice in te grand old Republican Party, wanting that women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” a surprising break from the administration’s longstanding assertion that the allegations are false and that voters rightly dismissed them when they elected Mr. Trump.

According to reports, Haley, a former governor and one of the highest-ranking women in Trump’s administration, refocused attention on the allegations against the president by insisting that his accusers should be treated no differently than the scores of women who have come forward in recent weeks with stories of sexual harassment and misconduct against other men.

“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” Haley told NBC in an exclusive interview last week. “And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”

Her remarks are the latest indication that the president’s behavior toward women — more than a dozen have accused him of unwanted touching, forcible kissing or groping — may not escape renewed scrutiny at a time when an array of powerful men have had their careers derailed because of their improper treatment of women, some of which took place decades ago.

President Trump is reportedly furious with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for saying that the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct “should be heard.”

The Associated Press reported on Monday that Haley’s comments angered Trump as the claims against him have resurfaced in recent weeks. More than a dozen women came forward to publicly accuse Trump of sexual misconduct during his presidential campaign. The White House has said that the women are lying. Trump has also dismissed their claims as “fake news.”

The #MeToo movement has engulfed prominent members of both political parties. Democrats have appeared determined to grab the moral and political high ground, largely forcing their accused party members to resign.

Republicans have been more divided: Even as some accused members have stepped down, the party has largely stood by Mr. Trump. And it remains bitterly split over how to respond to the case of Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of molesting an underage girl and attempting to date other teenagers when he was in his 30s.

Some of the women who first accused Trump during the campaign last year have expressed a renewed desire to press their case. Three of them will be interviewed by Megyn Kelly on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday, December 11. So far, though, the upheaval in societal norms about sexual conduct in the workplace has swirled around the president but left him largely unscathed.

Undaunted, the president has used Twitter to mock other men who have been accused, including Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who announced his plans to resign after several harassment allegations. Trump has defended and endorsed Moore, calling the claims against him “troubling” but insisting that he is needed in the Senate to advance the Republican agenda.

Through it all, the White House has repeatedly sought to deflect and discredit any attempt to revisit the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump crudely bragged about kissing women and grabbing their private parts, or to examine again the allegations from the women who came forward weeks before the 2016 election to accuse Mr. Trump of crude sexual behavior.

In recent months, Trump has privately been casting doubt that the “Access Hollywood” tape is authentic, despite publicly acknowledging shortly after its release in October 2016 that “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”

And he has steadfastly denied all of the women’s accusations, calling them “made-up stuff” and “totally fake news.” Asked about the sexual misconduct accusations against the president and whether the women were lying, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that they were and that “the president addressed the comments back during the campaign.”

Fr. Varghese Paul awarded Lifetime Achievement award

Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ has received the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from National and International Compendium (NIC), New Delhi last month. The Award Certificate says: “Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Fr Varghese Paul, SJ, Director, Catholic Information Service Society Ahmedabad, Gujarat For Outstanding Achievements in Chosen Field of
Activity at New Delhi on 2nd November 2017”. The colorful Award certificate is signed by Dr. N.S.N. Babu, Ph.D., Executive Director.

The NIC’s letter dated October 1, 2017 communicating the news says: “The selection of the Awardees is general however based on the information gathered by us through our extensive research, which we make to identity the progressive patten of the dynamic men and women
of India. We also use all the contacts at our disposal for the said purpose”.

Fr Varghese received the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD by Registered Post
as he was unable to go to New Delhi to receive the Award in the Award Distribution function.

Fr Varghese has earlier received JEWEL OF INDIA AWARD form International Institute of Education & Management on 25 July, 2016 in a special Award function held New Delhi. In the same year Fr Varghese Paul also received STAR OF ASIA AWARD Certificate of Outstanding
Achievement on 30th September.

As a bi-lingual writer promoting love and harmony in all his writings Fr Varghese is a widely read author in Gujarati. He has written and published 45 books in Gujarati and 4 in English. His books are also translated in to Hindi, Malayalam and Bangali. His books are published
by big publishing houses like R R Sheth & Co. Mumbai-Ahmeabad, Rannade
Prakashan, Ahmedabad and Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Anand, etc.

His latest book Paryavarnani Samipe on Environmental sensibilities, published by Rannade Prakashan in 2017, was released in public functions at Ahmedabad on July 16 and at Mumbai on Nov 24, 2017. Here are pictures of Award Certificate & of the book realizing function
held at Maniben Nanavati Women’s College, Mumbai.

The Book Realizing Function was held as part of an International Conference on Re-imagining The Text: English Studies and Digital Humanities. The Conference was jointly organized by the College (MNWC) and the Guild of Indian English Writers, Editors and Critics (GIEWEC).
Fr Varghese presented a research paper on YOUTH AND THE DIGITAL MEDIA.

Arjun Ivatury wins Grammy nomination

Arjun Ivatury, an Indian American, more popular as 6ix, has been nominated to the prestigious Grammy award 2017. Ivatury is a record producer mostly known for his work with Maryland rapper Logic, whose hip-hop collaboration with an inspirational message, “1-800-273-8255,” is among this year’s 60th Grammy Awards ‘Song of The Year’ category nominees.
1-800-273-8255,” titled after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number, sheds light on mental health by creating an emotional dialogue between a suicidal caller and a crisis worker who helps the caller find a glimmer of hope by song’s end. The song also features Alessia Cara and Khalid.
Ivatury, Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II and Khalid Robinson, who co-wrote this song on Logic’s new album, “Everybody,” share the nomination. The song has also earned the distinction of being the highest-charting phone number song in Billboard chart history. The song’s video is also up for ‘Best Music Video’ award. The Prince George’s County, Maryland, native, who is steadily forging a career in music, is a medical school dropout.
6ix, otherwise known as Arjun Ivatury is a songwriter and producer based out of Maryland. Check out this adorable interview on how these two guys started to work together and how 6ixdropped out of pre-Med to pursue music and then how Logic talked to his Indian parents to convince him to move to LA.
The 26-year-old told XXL magazine that he was always a fan of music and knew that he was either going to be a doctor or a hip-hop producer. The first-generation Indian American chose the latter and dropped out of the University of Maryland in 2013 where he majored in neurobiology and physiology. A career in music did not seem like a viable option for him until he met Logic in 2010.
Arjun Ivatury a.k.a. 6ix was either going to be a doctor or a hip-hop producer. The PG County, Md. native chose the latter and dropped out of the University of Maryland in 2013 where he majored in Neurobiology and Physiology. The first generation Indian-American found success in his new field after linking with Logic in 2010.
“We actually really met on Twitter when he tweeted me and asked to meet up because he remembered me from a beat battle and asked me to send him a batch of beats. The first batch of beats, he didn’t like any of them. So, I was like, ‘Forget this dude. He’s kind of an ass****.’ I pretty much sent him all my best beats at the time and he didn’t like any of them. I kept sending him more beats and he liked this one beat in particular that went on his first project and ever since then, we’ve become homies,” Ivatury told the magazine.

Study finds Nikki Haley to be best communicator in American politics

United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley is the best communicator in American politics today, according to a technology company that specializes in voice transcription. To their robots, Haley is a better orator than Hillary Clinton and a stronger speaker than former President Barack Obama. And, according to their tests, the former South Carolina governor is far better at getting her message out than her boss, President Donald Trump.
The findings come from Trint, a web application that uses artificial intelligence robots to transcribe what people say. Trint said in a release that they wanted to find out which politicians could be better understood by these robots, and put 14 influential politicians to the test, along with a fictitious one, who was portrayed by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus from the TV show “Veep,” to find out who did best.
Trint then took the audio recordings of their speeches and ran them through its transcription A.I. and used a standard known as Word Error Rate, which measures the accuracy of an A.I.-transcribed text against a 100 percent accurate transcription, to determine the winner.
Sure enough, Haley’s score was almost perfect, with a 99.48 percent accuracy rate and was closely followed by Clinton and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Obama ended up coming in at eighth place while Trump came in 11th and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came in last.
Trint told postandcourier.com that the reason for Haley’s victory was that “she speaks clearly, intelligibly, and is easy to understand. In comparison, politicians who scored lower tended to ‘swallow the last word of each sentence’ and have heavy accents.”

Technology pioneer Vanu Bose dies at 52

Vanu Bose, the Indian American who re-imagined cellular networks and extended service to people living in remote areas of the world, died at the age of 52 on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Concord, Massachusetts, from a pulmonary embolism that he had suffered in a hospital emergency room.

Born into one of Greater Boston’s most prominent technology families, Vanu Bose became an entrepreneur in his own right, founding a company that uses cellular base stations to help provide wireless infrastructure globally, including in sparsely populated areas from Vermont to Rwanda.

“Nobody’s been able to find a way to make rural developing-market coverage economically viable,” he told MIT Technology Review for a profile published three weeks ago.

Dr. Bose was 52 when he died Saturday of a pulmonary embolism, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced. His death comes four years after his father, Bose Corp. founder Amar G. Bose, died at 83.

Bose was the son of Amar Bose, the founder of the Bose Corporation, known for its high-quality audio systems and speakers, but instead of following through with the family business, Bose founded his own company, Vanu Inc.

The company has been able to develop durable cellular sites that could run on solar power by focusing on the radio components of wireless networks, which is used in many rural areas around the world.

Having already taken this technology to Africa, Bose’s latest venture took place in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria by donating more than three dozen cellular base stations, where it was used to help residents locate their family members. “It’s been so motivating for our employees, because everyone watches the news and says, I wish I could do something to help, suddenly we have a way to help,” Bose told the Boston Globe, nearly a month before he died.

“He always wanted to address the needs of people who did not have a voice, either politically or economically,” Andrew Beard, the chief operating officer of Vanu Inc., told the New York Times.

While he was an undergraduate at M.I.T, Bose told an M.I.T. publication, that he was always interested in wireless technology and even assisted his father in writing a paper about modifications to FM radio broadcasting.

Community Connect, a small base station developed by the company, weighing about 20 pounds, is designed to withstand grueling conditions, including temperatures of up to 132 degrees Fahrenheit, and runs on solar power rather than diesel fuel, making it better for both the economy and the environment.

This specific technology allows residents living in rural areas, to make calls or send a text message to friends and family living in nearby towns, as well as have them gain access to medical information, digital banking services and solar lighting systems. He is survived by his wife, Judy Bose, along with his daughter Kamala, 8, his mother formerly known as Prema Sarathy and his sister Maya Bose.

Onkar N Sharma, Kamlesh Mehta inducted to Board of Directors, IAPC

“The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) is happy to welcome Onkar N Sharma, Kamlesh Mehta inducted to Board of Directors of the premier Press Club, formed with lofty ideal of providing a common platform to journalists of Indian origin living in the United States, while fostering closer bonds and cooperation among an extensive network of journalists across the nation, who are committed to professionalism and have the well-being of the larger society,” said Babu Stephen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of IAPC, in a statement.

Onkar N Sharma Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Sharma Law Group, CHTD. He has also been kind enough to be the legal advisor to the Indo American Press Club since March 2017. In the media industry he is well known for running the versatile show ‘Washington Focus’ for more than 15 years under the Darshan TV.

He is also a regular columnist in the weekly newspapers ‘Express India’ and ‘India This week’ that featuring news and trends from the sub-continent, published from the U.S. Capital.

Sharma was never confined to the limits of his professional life battling oddities for clients, he took time to resolve, advice and guide individuals and families through his engagements in open discussion forms, as a columnist for legal troubles in print media and as a generous contributor with many NGO’s.  As a sought after attorney specializing in legal matters pertaining to the Hotel/Motel/Franchising streams his engagements keep him on a tight clock.

Kamlesh Mehta is a Long Island based media entrepreneur, senior Rotarian, community leader, businessman and philanthropist. Hailing from a prominent Jain family in Rajasthan, he started his diamond trading business in Bombay in 1985  before migrating to New York in 1986 to set up an expansive business of rare  gemstones and diamonds.

He delved into the media business in 2008, founding The South Asian Times, an award-winning leading weekly newspaper for the community. Ventures of his Forsythe Media group include The Asian Era, a lifestyle magazine.

In January 2010, Mehta was appointed to the Nassau County administration to the prestigious position of Director of Business and Economic Development, where he served for over five years.

In September 2009 Mr Mehta became the Charter President of the Rotary Club of Hicksville South. He rose in the international organization to serve as Governor of RI District 7255 in the year 2015-16.

He has been honored as a major Rotary donor and has donated profusely to religious centers and social causes.

He is also associated with many community organizations including as founder of Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA), founder of India Day Parade in Long Island that started in 2012 in Hicksville.

He has been nominated to the board of directors of a few businesses and has been recognized with many Lifetime Achievement awards and citations from community organizations and elected officials.

Ginsmon Zachariah, past Chairman of IAPC BOD, said, “We are indeed honored to have his consent to be on the Board of Directors of IAPC 2018. The Indo-American Press Club consists of a cohesive and vibrant group of journalists, media professionals and freelancers working or associating with print, broadcast and online media outlets in North America. It is an effective and credible platform for Indian American journalists and media professionals to associate and network with a sense of belonging.”

According to Zachariah, IAPC represents media persons, who work in diverse ethnic as well as mainstream media world here in the United States, including, print, visual, electronic and web-based. IAPC  has envisioned for itself, a significant role in recognizing and nurturing the true potential of journalists and media professionals in the United States and Canada, while collaborating with media fraternity across the globe. At the recently held 4th annual International Media Conference, IAPC members renewed their commitment to the well-being of their  fraternity and reaffirmed their resolve to be positive change agents in the society.

IAPC has Nine Chapters across the US and Canada, and has been organizing he Media Conferences every year with over 250 participants and guests over two days, consisting of inspiring seminars, discussions, debates, roundtables, youth forums, business sessions and entertainment programs.

IAPC, a registered nonprofit organization, is committed to enhancing the working conditions for journalists, exchanging of ideas, offering educational opportunities to our members and to aspiring journalists around the globe. While striving to have greater coordination and networking among journalists, its motto is to “be the voice of the community of Indian American journalists.” For more information, please visit: www.indoamericanpresslub.com

Madhu Valli, Miss India Worldwide 2017 wants to be “the next biggest bridge between Bollywood and Hollywood”

Madhu Valli, an emerging hip hop artist and a student of criminal law at George Mason University in Virginia, was crowned as Miss India Worldwide 2017 during a glittering pageant that drew crew contestants from around the world at the 26th edition of the beauty pageant held at the Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, New Jersey on Sunday on October 8th. “I want to be the next biggest bridge between Bollywood and Hollywood,” Valli said a day after winning the pageant. She bested 16 other contestants to get the crown from the last year’s winner, Karina Kohli.

Another Indian-American, Sarita Pattnaik, an interior designer from Texas, was declared Mrs. India Worldwide; the mother of two, said she wants to be a social activist and become a voice for women’s empowerment.

Stephanie Madavane from France was declared runner up Sangeeta Bahadur from Guyana took the third spot at the pageant that had contestants from 18 countries. Canada-based Guyanese and humanitarian Sangeeta Bahadur also secured for herself the Miss Congeniality Award.

Valli, 20, released her latest album, “High School,” a day before the pageant. “I want to be the next biggest bridge between Bollywood and Hollywood,” Valli said. She said her dream is to be a recording artist, and music is her passion. Valli started learning vocals at the age of eight. The beauty pageant attracts people of Indian origin from across the world. It provides a platform to showcase how Indian culture has been preserved thousands of miles away, she said.

Organized by New York-based India Festival Committee, Miss India Worldwide is the only international Indian pageant with affiliates in over 35 countries and considered among the top ethnic pageants in the world. Last year, it also launched the Mrs India Worldwide, which provides a platform for married women of Indian origin.Namita S. Dodwadkar of Boston won the first Mrs India Worldwide crown, while Karina Kohli of New York won the Miss India Worldwide title in 2016.

“I definitely want to speak to a lot of young Indian American women about women empowerment and positive self- image,” Valli said. “I love both my countries, India and the US and I always wanted to discover a way to be a leader in both!” she said. The beauty pageant attracts people of Indian origin from across the world. It provides a platform to showcase how Indian culture has been preserved thousands of miles away, she said.

“This past week has been the craziest yet happiest week of my life,” Madhu, centre, wrote on Instagram. “Last night, I walked in as your Miss India USA, but I walked out as your new Miss India Worldwide 2017 with France as my 1st runner-up and Guyana as my 2nd runner-up, both who I love dearly.

“I still can’t believe it. All that was going through my mind throughout the whole week was ‘USA BABY!!’ I love both my countries, India and US and I always wanted to discover a way to be a leader in both! Cheers to dreams that come true and cheers to God, who loves us enough to make those dreams come true.”

Miss India Worldwide draws contestants from India and from among the members of the Indian diaspora residing in other countries. It is conducted by India Festival Committee (IFC), founded and headed by Dharmatma Saran in New York City.

A total of 18 contestants from different countries participated in the international pageant and Fairfax-resident stole the show which also witnessed a stunning performance by TV actress Shiny Doshi. The judges of the event were Fashion Choreographer Sandip Soparrkar, Host Aman Yatan Verma and supermodel/ramp trainer Jesse Randhawa. The pageant started in 1990 and Valli is the eighth Indian American to win the crown followed by the 2016 winner Karina Kohli.

The beauty pageant attracts entrants of Indian origin from across the world, organizers say.. It is yet another forum for Indian living abroad to showcase how they have preserved Indian culture thousands of miles away from their original homeland, organizers believe.

Congratulating the contestants and winners at the pageant, Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Festival Committee that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, said, “We have used the title to raise funds for the poor and the needy. We made the beauty work for a good cause. We are pioneers in organizing Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and other parts of the world, of which the Miss India Worldwide has been acclaimed as the “most glamorous Indian function in the world.” And, of course, the Miss India Worldwide is the only international Indian pageant.

“When Miss India New York started in 1980, I had perhaps not even in my wildest dreams imagined that in less than twenty years, we would fledge out to be a mass movement with affiliates in over 40 countries, let alone that we would one day have a live internet webcast and broadcast our most prestigious function, the Miss India Worldwide, to an audience of over 300 million people!” Saran recalls.

“We are very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts in the world,” he says.

“I sincerely hope that our website will provide all information regarding Indian pageants in the world. We plan to include many more channels, especially of interest to the youth, and believe this will become the one-stop website for Indian youths around the world,” Saran hopes.

Mona Das to run for Washington state’s 8th Congressional District

Mona Das, an Indian American woman from the state of Washington, has announced her plans to run for the Democratic nomination representing Washington state’s 8th Congressional District. If elected, she will replace Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, who is serving his seventh term as the U.S. Representative for the state’s 8th District.

Das said her passion for working for positive change is fueled by the Bernie Sanders movement and the new energy it ignited. “I am honored and excited to be running for Congress from the 8th District and to represent voters in both Eastern and Western Washington,” Das said in a statement. “Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option. Unlike the current representative, my voice will be powerful and inclusive.”

Das is running one district over from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, who was elected last fall to her first term in the House. Interestingly, in the Seattle/Pugent Sound area, eight Indian American women are running for various elected offices, or have been elected, including Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, and Jayapal. Jayapal is the first Indian American woman to serve in the House; Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, is the first Indian American to serve in the Senate.

Das immigrated from India to the U.S. with her parents as a child. She launched her career with international and domestic software companies in the Pacific Northwest. Thirteen years ago, she started her own mortgage company and built it into an award-winning lender in 50 states, serving a population of homebuyers typically ignored by other lenders, according to a Das campaign news release.

“My focus in business has to been to reach out to underserved homebuyers, to educate them, and to champion their home ownership dreams,” she said. “As a community leader, I advocate for those who need a strong voice – immigrants, women and others in our communities who are often overlooked.

“Americans are dissatisfied with government. They want to see more unification, less division,” she said. “In my travels around the district I’ve been hearing that voters have had enough. Enough of absentee leadership. Enough indecisveness. I am a listener, a consensus-builder, a fighter, and I intend to bring it all to this office on behalf of residents in the 8th District.”

Google’s Tez will take India closer to digital transformation: Sundar Pichai

A day after Google launched its new digital payment app “Tez” in India, the company’s Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday tweeted it will help India move closer to digital transformation. “We hope that the launch of @TezByGoogle will help take India one step closer to your vision of @_DigitalIndia,” Pichai tweeted.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who launched the app here had said the idea of “Tez” was discussed by Pichai in January, just after demonetization. “Google saw a great potential in Indian economy and businesses,” Jaitley said, adding that Google’s new digital payments app over the next few months was likely to make major advances in digital transaction volumes.

Built on the Indian government-supported Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Tez allows users, free of charge, to make small or big payments straight from their bank accounts.

The app was built for India, working on the vast majority of the country’s smartphones and available in English and seven Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu).

The app works in partnership with four Banks — Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India — to facilitate the processing of payments across over 50 UPI-enabled banks.

According to D.D. Mishra, Research Director, Gartner, Tez provides promising features which are in-line with the requirements.

“It is too early to say whether it can be a game changer as evolution in this business is going to continue, but yes it has the capabilities to bring some disruption as of now,” Mishra said in a statement.

Moreover, Google’s information about an individual’s preferences can play a good role in enabling business to know their preferences and provide offers with interesting options.

“The mobile wallet industry too, is evolving and we are at an interesting stage in this competition. Eventually, UPI payments will have an upper hand if it continues to remain free and provide better security, convenience and add more Value Added Services,” Mishra informed.

Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma Among Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women in Business’

Indian American Indra Nooyi and India-based bank heads Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma are among those recognized by Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in the word. In the 20th year of the Most Powerful Women in Business list in the U.S., Fortune recognized 26 chief executives controlling $1.1 trillion in market cap. It also featured seven newcomers, one returnee and nine women in the tech industry, it said.

The publication broke the list into two separate areas — a U.S. edition as well as an international one on September 24th. In the U.S. version of the list, PepsiCo chair and chief executive officer Nooyi came in at No. 2, the same position she ranked a year ago.

Fortune said, “PepsiCo filled the long­ vacant role of president in July, sparking talk that the CEO might be heading toward retirement. But Nooyi claims she has no plans to step down, and why should she? While revenue was flat in 2016, profits jumped 16 percent, and the stock has outpaced most of its Big Food brethren as the industry tries to adjust to massive consumer shifts.” Nooyi, Fortune added, has responded by moving the portfolio toward healthier fare. The company recently launched a premium water line and in 2016 acquired kombucha maker KeVita.

The international list featured Kochhar, ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive officer, at No. 5, the same rank she had in 2016. Kochhar, Fortune noted, has led India’s largest private lender for eight years, and under her stewardship ICICI Bank has thrived. In the 12 months ending Sept. 7, 2017, the bank’s market capitalization rose 20.2 percent to nearly $30 billion. Revenue climbed 9.1 percent in 2016, the publication added.

Kochhar also proved a smooth operator during crisis. Her bank was quick to respond last November when the government announced its surprise demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, partnering with retailers and small businesses to facilitate digital payments, according to the magazine.

At No. 21, dropping two spots from the previous year, was Axis Bank managing director and CEO Sharma. This summer, following resignation rumors, Sharma was reappointed to serve another three-year term as the head of India’s Axis Bank, Fortune said.

The announcement capped a tumultuous time for the private lender, India’s third largest, which has reported consistent drops in quarterly profits and was the subject of acquisition rumors, it said. “Now that she has been reconfirmed as CEO, Sharma can focus on beefing up the bank’s digital services, which includes expanding its digital payments app’s reach. In July, she announced that Axis Bank had acquired Freecharge, a digital payments company,” the publication said.

Topping the U.S. edition, just ahead of Nooyi, was General Motors chair and CEO Mary Bara. Rounding out the U.S. edition’s top five were Lockheed Martin CEO, chair and president Marillyn Hewson; Fidelity Investments chair and CEO Abigail Johnson; and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The international edition, in its 17th year, was topped by Banco Santander group executive chair Ana Botin and featured 11 newcomers. The women just ahead of Kochhar at No. 5 were GSK chief executive Emma Walmsley, Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher, and Gree Electric Appliances chair and president Dong Mingzhu.

Indian American Tennis Ace Vijay Amritraj’s story to be made into a biopic

Former Indian American tennis champion Vijay Amritraj’s life story will be told through a biopic. He said that the film will delve into how parents’ love can make a child’s dream come true. A boutique film studio, Cinestaan Film Company, has acquired the rights to make the biopic.

Talking about the biopic, Amritraj said, “Parents love compassion dedication and hard work under the most trying circumstances can make a child’s dream come true even if he or she is nowhere near good enough in anything. I am humbled that a company like Cinestaan Film Company would want to tell my story but this is about mothers, children and overwhelming love.”

He has achieved many firsts as India’s number one tennis champion. Amritraj has also shown his prowess as a sports commentator. The celebrated sportsman, who also had a brief acting career featuring in “Star Trek” and “Octopussy,” was honored with a Padma Shri in 1983. In 2006, he established the Vijay Amritraj Foundation, and was named the UN’s Messenger of Peace.

Interestingly, his son Prakash Amritraj will be producing the film with Cinestaan. “I’ve always felt beyond blessed to have my greatest hero and my father be the same person. While the world knows of his numerous achievements, my brother Vikram and I have always felt if everyone was to know his character and the love that made him; the world could truly be a better place and more seeds of love, inspiration, and hope will be sown,” said Prakash. “I can’t be more excited to bring this story to the big screen.”

Rohit Khattar, the Chairman of Cinestaan Film Company said, “Before Vijay, no Indian sportsman has been celebrated on the world stage in this manner. We all felt so proud as Indians to read about his triumphs overseas and today we, at Cinestaan Film Company are thrilled to help bring his incredibly inspiring story to the screen. Many who know of Vijay’s successes will be in awe when they see the challenges that were presented to him in early life before he achieved greatness, as we were when we heard it first hand from him.”

Raj Shah appointed as Deputy Assistant to President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary

Raj Shah, another Indian American has been moved up the ranks in the White House by President Donald Trump. According to a White House announcement, has shifted one of his top Indian-American White House appointees from a communications position to one where he will be dealing more directly with the press as a second-in-command spokesperson for the administration.

Raj Shah will serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary. He formerly served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director. In a White House staff reshuffle, President Trump made Hope Hicks, his Interim Communications Director, permanent. Trump co-opted Mercedes Schlapp, a conservative columnist and entrepreneur, as his Advisor for Strategic Communications.

Trump also bumped up another Asian-American, Steven Cheung, to the position of Special Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Response. Cheung previously served as Special Assistant to the President and Assistant Communications Director.

Shah proved his mettle at the research and communications director in the Republican National Committee before he came to the White House. At the RNC, Shah was the director of research and deputy director of communications. Best known for having developed the playbook for the GOP to defeat then Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, Shah kept up a barrage of attacks on her through the campaign. When his former boss, Rience Preibus, head of the RNC, was recruited by Trump, Shah moved with him to the White House. The latest reshuffle is a result of a somewhat tumultuous couple of months in the communications wing of the White House, with several resignations and firings.

As an RNC Research Director Shah manned an army of dirt-diggers against Democrats, big and small. In an interview with News India Times when he was at the RNC in 2016, Shah spoke about his ‘laser focus’ on Clinton’s record and the alleged email scandal that rocked the Clinton campaign.

During 2013-2014, Shah was the co-founding partner and managing director of America Rising LLC, a Republican opposition research group, where he developed the organization’s Hillary Clinton opposition research book.

Something about his tenacity and qualifications is apparent from what Priebus said about Shah when he made him director of research at RNC — “Raj will take the helm of a top-notch Research Department as we prepare to defeat Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in 2016 and to hold them accountable for their records. Raj is the expert on the subject of all things Clinton, and his expertise will be an asset to our party.”

Shah’s work with the RNC began when he was just 22-year old , pulling news clips at 5 a.m. fresh out of college after getting his Bachelor of Arts and Government degree from Cornell University. This even though he was born and brought up in an apolitical and religious Jain family of Democrats in Connecticut. He would have followed the then traditional Indian-American career path of medicine or law, but 9/11 happened as he was graduating from High School and his focus changed completely. Now at the White House, he will be directly working with current Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and in her absence, he could be officiating for the daily press briefings on national television.

Trump nominates Kenneth Juster as ambassador to India

Kenneth Juster, who had played a key role in laying the foundations of the India-US nuclear cooperation agreement, has been nominated as the new U.S. ambassador to India.
President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Juster was announced by the White House on Friday evening. It will have to be approved by the Senate. His nomination is a mark of importance that Trump places on building closer economic, trade and strategic relations with India.
Juster, 62, had served as the Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs from January to June under President Donald Trump. He was also the Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security from 2001 to 2005 under former President George.w. Bush.
Juster still holds the position of Acting Counselor of the Department of State. The diplomat represented Trump for the advance work and negotiations for the May G7 summit in Italy.
The New Delhi position has been vacant since January when Richard Varma resigned along with most political appointees of former President Barack Obama’s administration.
The nomination of the new envoy follows Trump’s announcement in his Afghanistan policy speech last week that “another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India”.
He simultaneously delivered Pakistan the sternest warning by a US leader saying that it has “much to lose” if it continues to harbor terrorists.
As the Under Secretary for Commerce, Juster played a key role in developing the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between US and India.
During his tenure, he founded and chaired the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group, and played an important role in developing the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) initiative.
The NSSP laid the foundation for increased civilian nuclear and space cooperation, and high-technology trade and expanded dialogue on missile defense.
For these contributions, the US-India Business Council honored him with the Blackwill Award in 2004.
Between leaving the Bush administration in 2005 and joining the Trump administration this year, Juster had served as the executive vice president of the technology company Salesforce.com and as managing director at the global investment firm Walter Pincus.
Juster is a graduate of Harvard University. He has served as the chairman of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and as a vice chairman of the Asia Foundation.

Murder of Gauri Lankesh; an ominous sign for India’s flailing democracy!

By George Abraham

Gauri Lankesh, a prominent Kannada journalist and a vehement critic of communal politics of the BJP government, was gunned down at her doorstep in Rajarajeswari Nagar in Bangalore by some unknown assailants.  She worked as an editor in Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly started by her father P. Lankesh and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike.

She was known as a fearless journalist and activist who opposed communalization of politics, casteism, and marginalization of minorities in the society. Her forceful advocacy on behalf of  Rohingya people is a true manifestation of her deeply held convictions. Death threats or intimidation from any quarters never stopped her from confronting the ever increasing challenges to the freedom of expression by the media, the fourth estate.

Undoubtedly, journalists, opinion makers, and reporters are being increasingly targeted by Hindu nationalists who are on a crusade to promote their hateful agenda. In the last few years, journalists who appear to be critical of Hindu nationalists have been threatened, berated on the social media, while many women journalists have been threatened with rape and assault.

India has just celebrated its 70th anniversary of its independence. The Democratic Institutions that were created under the Nehruvian vision are increasingly under threat from right-wing forces that are closely aligned with BJP. The fundamental right to express one’s opinion is under assault as either sedition charges are filed against the individuals or the institution that exercise those rights or the law enforcement mechanism is being manipulated to intimidate and silence those voices.

Gauri Lankesh’s death appears to be a meticulously planned and executed to silence a powerful voice. The opposing forces could not match her rationale pointing up the dangers of right-wing politics and its possibly disastrous effect on the secular fabric of the nation. Her harsh criticism of prevailing casteism in the society was often directed at Institutions that still harbor those sentiments and made her more of a passionate activist who had little patience for the status-quo.

This is not the first murder of a rationalist and thinker after the ascension of BJP to the power at the Center. A rationalist professor and thinker M M Kalburgi was murdered in the quaint town of Dharwad. In the neighboring state of Maharashtra, rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar were also shot, and the one thing that united them all was their strident voices against intolerance and hatred of the right wing ideology.

It is no more an exaggeration to say that India is governed under a ‘simulated emergency’ without truly declaring it. Shani Prabhakaran, a television reporter from Kerala, spoke candidly about the treatment of the media by the BJP government at a recent seminar in Chicago sponsored by the India Press Club. According to her, as soon as she finished a television segment analyzing the last three years of the governance by the Modi regime, a questionnaire from Delhi had arrived with a number of questions asking her to substantiate each criticism! Commenting on the recent raids, NDTV’s Prannoy said the following ‘our fight is not against the CBI, I-T or the ED but against politicians who were using these Institutions and ruining and destroying our country.’

The basic responsibility of a journalist is to inform the public free of hype and bias. The fourth estate, as the media is often dubbed, acts as a mirror and a watchdog for the good of the public. However, most of the media in India today are controlled by big corporations whose professional responsibilities of the news outlets they own are intertwined with their business interests. The result is an abject failure in reporting the news with fairness and balance that could prove to be detrimental to a vibrant democratic society.

Never in the history of India, a governing party had made such blatant attempt to eliminate an opposition party (Congress Mukhta Bharat), intimidated and scared Media houses from reporting factual news, invoked colonial-era sedition laws to silence student activists from speaking out or created a hostile environment where these killings go unabated.

Through her sacrifice, Gauri Lankesh has woken up our conscience once again. She had recognized the fact that our hard fought freedom and liberty, once again is in danger. In her death, our flailing democracy will be missing one of its strongest defenders. May I salute this brave soul for her true grit and passion for justice! ‘The power to question is the basis of all human progress’ – Indira Gandhi

(Writer is a former Chief Technology Officer of the United Nations and Chairman of the Indian National Overseas Congress, USA)