Gurbir Grewal confirmed as NJ State Attorney General

New Jersey now has the nation’s first Sikh Attorney General. There was no opposition when the New Jersey Senate voted to confirm former Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal as the state’s top law enforcement officer on January 16th.

Shortly after Gov. Phil Murphy was elected as the new governor, he began nominating people to serve in his cabinet, including Grewal as New Jersey’s 61st attorney general. The state Senate unanimously voted to confirm Grewal to the post in a 29-0 vote, just hours after Murphy was sworn into the gubernatorial seat.

“I am honored and humbled to assume the role of attorney general at this critical time for our state and country,” Grewal said in a statement. “I am grateful to Gov. Murphy and the Senate for the trust they have placed in me and I look forward to continuing my service to the state of New Jersey. There’s much to do, and I can’t wait to get started,”

Judiciary committee chairman Nick Scutari says he’s confident Grewal is the right person for the job. “I’m very impressed with your qualifications and your temperament for the position and your understanding going in. I think you have as much experience and knowledge of the office as anyone that’s ever taken the oath of office to lead one of the largest departments in the state of New Jersey.”

Senator Gerald Cardinale says Grewal is an independent thinker who won’t be bullied into doing something he doesn’t agree with. “I have every confidence that you’re going to advise this governor of what he can do, what he can’t do, and maybe what he should not do.”

Grewal told lawmakers he wants to focus on several things as Attorney General. “Better coordination on the opioid epidemic across the 21 counties, improving police-community relations, and to look for opportunities for affirmative litigation to protect the interests of the state in environmental issues and consumer protection issues.”

Grewal is a former assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey, serving in the criminal division, and he served as a prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York. In addition to his work as a federal prosecutor, Grewal has also worked in private practice, including at Howrey LLP. While at Howrey LLP, he counseled clients on a range of matters including securities, trademark, antitrust and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues; represented individuals and companies in government investigations and criminal proceedings; conducted internal investigations for public corporations; and conducted civil trials.

Grewal graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in foreign service degree from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1995. He obtained his law degree from the College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law in 1999.

As attorney general, Grewal, a 44-year-old Democrat, will enforce environmental and consumer protection laws, represent the state in legal disputes, and lead any of Murphy’s legal efforts to challenge policies from the Trump administration.

Aadhaar for Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs)

Consulate General of IndiaNew York

Aadhaar Card enrolment is presently available to residents in India. Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholders who stay in India for a long time (over 182 days in twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment) and have an Indian address can also enroll for Aadhaar Card in India. Non Resident Indians (NRIs), although they are citizens of India, are not eligible for Aadhaar Card if they have not stayed for more than 182 days or more in the last 12 months. Upon completion of 182 days of their stay in India in the last 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment, NRIs can apply for Aadhaar Card.

“As per Section 139AA of the Income-tax Act, 1961, every person who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number shall, on or after the 1st day of July, 2017, quote Aadhaar number— (i) in the application form for allotment of permanent account number; (ii) in the return of income. The above provisions apply to persons who are eligible to get Aadhaar. Under section 3 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, only a resident is entitled to get Aadhaar. Therefore, the provisions of Section 139AA quoted above regarding linking of Aadhaar to PAN or the requirement of quoting the Aadhaar number in the return shall not apply to a non-resident, who is not eligible to get Aadhaar.”

Shayna’s initiative, called Making Colors Matter to raise funds for the Blind

She is just 11 years old and Shayna Vidyanand is determined to make a difference to the lives of the underprivileged. This young Indian-American artist recently took the first step in this direction when she raised US$4,350 through the sale of her paintings to help provide vision to the poor. She donated the funds to Sankara Eye Foundation, which will use them towards 150 eye operations in rural India.

After reading an article about how a kid made an impact by donating his birthday gifts to Steph Curry’s foundation, Shayna Vidyanand decided to do the same with her initial works of art.

This private art exhibit, she said, was the first of her “Making Colors Matter” initiatives, with which she plans to help more and more people with her art. Vidyanand, who is fluent in Kannada, Tamil and English, started painting only a year ago. Her art is inspired from her exposure to a wide range of world cultures and her diverse surroundings.

She studies various forms of art from multiple teachers, painting oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas and has recently started sketching with pencils. The gifted artist loves to experiment with colors in her paintings and is typically bold with it. Shayna’s father Ramgopal Vidyanand said that she has always been a “very compassionate person to the less fortunate.”

Most People Believe the Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Trump Are True

More than six in ten Americans believe the various allegations of sexual misconduct raised against President Donald Trump, according to a new CNN poll released Friday morning. Of those surveyed, 61% said they believed reports that Trump has in the past made “unwanted sexual advances against women” were mostly true. Even more — 63% of respondents — said that the allegations warranted a congressional investigation.

The White House has repeatedly denied sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump. Unsurprisingly, the results of the survey fell largely along partisan lines. Nearly 90% of Democrats surveyed said they believed the reports, compared to 18% of Republicans. Pollers also asked if Trump should resign the presidency in light of the accusations: 50% of all asked said yes, but only 10% of the respondents who said they leaned Republican answered in the affirmative, compared to 79% of those who said they leaned Democrat.

The poll, conducted last week, also reflected shifting long-term ideological trends in the U.S. 64% of those who answered said they believed the country would be better governed if more women were elected to public office, up from 57% in 1999 and just 28% in 1984. Only 8% of those interviewed in last week’s survey said that sexual harassment was “not very serious” as a national problem; in 1998, during the height of the scandal surrounding President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, more than one in five Americans said they weren’t concerned about it.

Vaishnav Samaj of Midwest and VYOE Sponsored 2017 Toys for Tots Event

Chicago IL: On December 11, 2017, Vaishnav Samaj of Midwest (VSM) and Vallabh Youth Organization – Education (VYOE) sponsored their first Toys for Tots event at Shreejidwar Haveli (located at 440 W. Fullerton Ave., Addison, IL).  The event was attended by Hon. Evelyn Sanguinetti (Lt. Governor of Illinois), Hon. Tim Schneider (Illinois State GOP Chairman), Hon. John Dabrowski (Bloomingdale Township Assessor), Hon. Nimish Jani (Schaumburg Township Trustee), Seth Lewis (State Senate Candidate) and Dr. Bhavna Sharma-Lewis (District 76 Superintendent).

It was a very successful and well-attended event by the members of the Vaishnav community with collection of 150 toys for donation.  VYOE students and parents provided warm welcome to the guests.

 Dr Umang Patel welcomed all the energetic students attending VYOE Sunday school, volunteers, Board of trustees and invited dignitaries. He thanked volunteers of VYOE for achieving phenomenal success of recruiting over120 students in Sunday school, in span of just two years.

Next speaker Hon. Nimish Jani (Schaumburg Township Trustee), introduced and thanked all the honorary guests for coming and blessing the special event on this cold Sunday. First He introduced Hon. Evelyn Sanguinetti (Lt. Governor of Illinois), in his introductory speech, he compared the startling success of Honorable Mrs. Evelyn Sanguinetti to the achievement of Indian diaspora. “Her Honor also arrived in this country as a poor child of Cuban Refugee parents and climbed the ladder of success due to burning desire, determination, hard work, charming personality, and succeeded in achieving one of the highest elected position in the Illinois Government today, namely Lt. Governor”.

Lt. Governor started the address with warm greeting of ‘Namaste’, thanked VSM and VYOE for organizing the Toys for Tots drive and contributing to the greater community. She particularly thanked Nimish Jani for educating her and educating her and other dignitaries with Vaishnava Samaj Hindu faith philosophy, Tour of shreeji-dwar haveli (temple) and giving her auspicious beautiful gift of ‘shawl’.

Next speaker Mr.Timothy Sneider, Chairman of Republican Party of Illinois. Started address with greeting “Jayshrikrishna” He taught students for achieving sincere lasting pleasure, contentment and ultimate ‘Nirvana’ in one’s life by Giving rather than receiving gifts. “Like what you are doing it today by donating these toys gift to needy boys and girls, rather than and keeping toys for yourself”.

Hon. John Dabrowski (Bloomingdale Township Assessor) thanked the organization for inviting them and demonstrating the outstanding work the group’s accomplishment. He wished all the success for the future endowers.

VSM leadership (Dr. Umang Patel, MD -Chairman and Mr. Jyotin Parikh, R.Ph -President) and VYOE leadership (Mrs. Paragi Patel, R.Ph -President VYOE Chicago and Dr. Vivek Shah, PhD -Lead VYOE Chicago) were the lead coordinators of the event with support from VYOE teachers, volunteers and parents.   The toys were donated by the children of VYOE was in alignment with Pujya Shri Vrajrajkumarji Mahodayshri’s message that sharing is the most important principle of being a Vaishnav.   VYOE also organized the presence of Santa Claus during the event in which the children took their pictures with the Santa.

The presence of the distinguished leaders provided evidence on the growth and expansion of the local Vaishnav community over the last two decades.  As an example, the Diwali and Hindu New Year event at the Haveli this year was attended by over three thousand individuals. Other special guests present were Seth Lewis (State Senate Candidate) and his wife Dr. Bhavna Sharma-Lewis (District 76 Superintendent).

Shreejidwar Haveli is a non-profit religious organization.  It is dedicated to serve the religious and cultural needs of the Hindu community since 2005 and is one of cornerstone Haveli of the Midwest region. VYOE is a Global non-profit organization that offers a unique learning program to develop an appreciation for India’s rich cultural heritage, a sound value system and a variety of life skills to the children for a more productive and well-rounded life.

Towards a World without Nuclear Weapons: Challenges and Perspectives


Address By Ambassador Sergio Duarte – TRANSCEND Media Service

Thank you for the invitation to address this important and timely meeting. As a retired officer of the Brazilian Foreign Service, it is with special pride and honor that I return to this institution, where I spent a large part of my forty-eight years in the diplomatic career.

I was asked to provide a bird’s eye view of the three main topics of this Seminar, namely the contribution of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and ABACC to the security of Latin America and the world, the prospects for the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the impact of the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I shall try to discharge the nearly impossible mission of dealing with these issues in the twenty minutes allotted to me but first may I be allowed to make a few general comments.

Seventy-one years have elapsed since the first Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 1 on dealing “with the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy”. It called for the elimination of nuclear weapons and all other weapons adaptable to mass destruction. Over those seven decades, the international community has successfully outlawed chemical and bacteriological weapons, but the problems related to the use of nuclear energy still defy humankind and have grown ever more complex. The high hopes of decades past based on the use of the atom to provide a clean, reliable and inexhaustible source of electric energy have been obscured by environmental and safety concerns due to disastrous accidents in civil nuclear facilities, coupled with the still unresolved question of the safe disposal of waste. The international security issues related to the military use of the explosive power of atomic fission and fusion proved even more intractable. There are still close to 15.000 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine States. 4.150 of those are deployed with operational forces and about 1.800 are kept in a state of “operational alert”. We are not told much about the status of the remaining ones.

Nuclear weapons started to proliferate in 1945 with the first experimental detonation of an explosive device intended to be used in war. Today, the horizontal dimension of nuclear proliferation seems to have been brought generally under control. However, vertical and technological proliferation continue unabated in the form of the relentless development of ever more sophisticated and destructive nuclear weapons. The economic aspect of the current “modernization” trend is particularly disturbing. Recent projections by the Arms Control Association estimate the cost of the nuclear weapons program in the United States alone over the next thirty years at somewhere around 1.35 trillion dollars, adjusted for anticipated inflation. By way of comparison, the cost of the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations just two years ago was set at a similar figure – 1.4 trillion dollars.

It is fair to recognize that over the past seven decades the international community has managed to achieve a certain degree of conceptual advancement and even some substantive progress in matters related to the control of nuclear weapons. Several agreements are now part of the corpus of positive international law and have helped to establish some important principles and rules in this area.

For instance, Latin America and the Caribbean States have been in the forefront of the quest for international regimes aimed at preventing the spread of – and at eliminating – nuclear weapons. One year before the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – the NPT – was endorsed by the General Assembly the countries in our continent undertook to use the nuclear material and facilities under their jurisdiction exclusively for peaceful purposes and at the same time prohibited the testing, use, manufacture, production and acquisition of such weapons in our region. This example was later emulated by four other inhabited areas of the world. Nuclear weapon free zones now encompass the entire African continent and large parts of Oceania as well as of Southeastern and Central Asia, spanning 113 nations plus Mongolia. Similar zones free of nuclear weapons have been proposed for the Middle East, Northeast Asia and the Arctic regions. The South Atlantic has been declared a zone of peace and cooperation.

OPANAL, the agency established to ensure compliance with the obligations contained in the Treaty of Tlatelolco, has played an important role in fostering nuclear cooperation among Latin American and Caribbean countries and has actively sought partnerships with other nuclear free zones. OPANAL has consistently worked to strengthen the rather flimsy assurances given by the nuclear weapon States in the two Protocols attached to the Treaty.

Twenty-five years ago Argentina and Brazil signed the Guadalajara Agreement creating the Argentine-Brazilian Agency for the Accounting and Control of nuclear materials – ABACC in the Portuguese/Spanish acronym. A few months later the Quadripartite agreement involving Brazil, Argentina, ABACC and the IAEA came into being. The creation of the Common System of Control of Nuclear Materials permitted not only the reinforcement of confidence  through the mutual inspection of nuclear activities but also joint projects that enhance the strategic dimension of the bilateral relationship such as the current development of the Brazilian Multipurpose Reactor and of the Argentine RA-10 reactor. In a joint editorial published in July last year to commemorate the anniversary of ABACC, the Ministers of External Relations of the two countries stressed that the dynamics of Brazil-Argentina cooperation highlights not only the uniqueness of their bilateral relations but also their contribution to the region and the world at large with regard to security and non-proliferation. Our experience today serves as a model of how impasses could be overcome in other regions.

The Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is of course another landmark agreement. It is considered as the cornerstone of the multilateral non-proliferation regime. Over the 47 years since its entry into force the NPT has attracted near-universal membership. The unique conditions prevailing in the world in the 1960’s enabled the two superpowers to negotiate this agreement and steer its passage through the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee and the General Assembly. Such conditions are no longer present today. Most States have come to realize that their own security and that of the world at large would be better served by ensuring the absence of nuclear weapons, not only in their own territories but everywhere else. International peace and security cannot remain forever hostage to a precarious balance of terror.  The system of safeguards established by the NPT together with the IAEA has been so far instrumental in preventing the alarming predictions about horizontal proliferation from becoming reality, but the Treaty was ineffective to bring about nuclear disarmament. The obligation contained in Article VI of the Treaty remains unfulfilled.

For several disturbing reasons, the forthcoming Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT assumes great importance. Tensions between the two major nuclear powers, as well as in other regions, have increased since the failed 2015 Review Conference. A new and acute focus of stress emerged in Northeast Asia as the DPRK stepped up its nuclear weapon program and both Pyongyang and Washington engaged in mutual accusations and provocations to the point of explicitly threatening each other’s total destruction. A nuclear confrontation would entail catastrophic consequences for the whole world. Alarming signs are seen in some States where sectors of public opinion openly advocate the acquisition of indigenous nuclear capabilities. The agreement between the P5+1 and Iran, known under the acronym of JPCOA, is under severe strain and many fear for its sustainability. The use of nuclear devices by extremist groups became a frightening possibility. Last, but not least, for over twenty years now the Conference on Disarmament has been unable to achieve agreement even on a program of work, raising questions about its usefulness and permanence.

The first Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference took place last May. As in previous similar occasions, its outcome did not produce any agreed result. A second session will be held in April next year. The third – and last – session, in 2019, is supposed to deal substantively with the issues at hand. Yet, experience shows that substantive questions are left to be discussed at the Review Conference itself, and then again not always in a constructive, let alone productive mood. Five out of the nine Review Conferences so far have failed to achieve agreement on a Final Document. Many Parties believe that the “strengthened review process” agreed in 1995 as part of the package that permitted the indefinite extension of the NPT has outlived its usefulness.

Another reason for concern is the fact that the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), remains in a legal limbo. This instrument was adopted over twenty years ago but is still not formally into force due to the lack of signature and/or ratification by eight of the 44 States specified in its Article XIV. Nevertheless, the CTBT set a standard of behavior that has been observed by all States in the 21stcentury with the only exception of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This treaty is a powerful measure to prevent proliferation and it is hard to understand why some of the States already possessing nuclear weapons still resist transforming their self-declared testing moratorium into a legal obligation under international law.

The ominous trends described above bring into question the artificial division of the world established by the NPT. The world community is split between two blocks of States with different and largely opposing agendas. One group values nuclear weapons and regards them as essential for their own security and that of their allies, and even for the security of the whole world. The other considers such weapons militarily ineffective, morally indefensible and abhorrent on humanitarian grounds. In their view, the mere existence of nuclear weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

While both groups agree on the desirability of achieving nuclear disarmament their diametrically opposed positions on matters related to security reflect a basic disagreement. The former argues that nuclear weapons have been responsible for keeping peace and stability since the end of World War II. This argument neglects recurrent strife and instability in many parts of the globe and does not take into account the inherent dangers and risks resulting from the use or misuse of nuclear weapons, by design or by accident. Although not discarding the possibility of using atomic weapons in the circumstances they deem adequate, nuclear armed States still insist that their main purpose is to deter aggression. Having established what they consider an exclusive and indefinite right to retain their arsenals, they adamantly deny every other nation similar means of safeguarding their own security. Even as they agree on disarmament as an “ultimate objective”, nuclear States and their allies maintain that the conditions for progress do not exist at present. Those States contend further that the way to move forward is to seek agreement on partial measures that seem feasible to them. One such measure, defined by their proponents as the “next logical step” would be a prohibition on the production of fissionable material for weapons purposes. In fact, as proposed, a ban on the production of fissionable material would be redundant from the point of view of non-proliferation and innocuous from the point of view of disarmament, for the simple reason that non-nuclear weapon States are already prohibited under the NPT from acquiring atomic weapons and the envisaged ban would leave intact the huge stocks of that material amassed by the nuclear weapon States. The other group contends that the conditions for progress have never been clearly spelled out, leading to the conclusion that the real intention is to postpone indefinitely any engagement in meaningful negotiations of concrete measures of nuclear disarmament. All attempts to start action in this direction at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva have met with strong resistance from the nuclear weapon countries. Indeed, the word “disarmament” seems to have disappeared from the lexicon of the armed States and their allies.

Rising concern over the humanitarian and environmental consequences of any use of nuclear weapons coupled with frustration over the lack of tangible results in nuclear disarmament prompted several States, including Brazil, to push forward a proposal to negotiate a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. As we know, this instrument was successfully negotiated and adopted last July at the United Nations. Fifty-three States so far have signed and three have already ratified it.

The negotiation of that treaty was also fiercely opposed with varying degrees of vehemence by the possessors of nuclear weapons. Among other alleged defects, these States pointed out: a) that the concept of the Treaty fails to take into consideration the global security environment; b) that it would be ineffective; c) that the process of its negotiation was divisive, rather than consensual; d) that the prohibition is not a substitute for reductions in current arsenals; e) that it undermines the NPT, and finally, f) that a progressive, step-by step approach is a more suitable path to achieve nuclear disarmament.

To counter these contentions supporters of the Treaty point out: a) that the ban was not conceived in isolation of the existing security conditions and that its adversaries neglected to attend the preparatory conferences where their concerns could have been voiced, and preferred instead to indict the process from the start and boycott the negotiations; b) that in fact past efforts have been ineffective in producing a clear, legally binding commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons; c) that the new treaty does not create divisions among States but simply calls attention to the longstanding gulf that has been exacerbated by the perceived disregard of the nuclear weapon States for their obligations; d) that the Treaty will obviously not result in the automatic abolition of arsenals but will make the need for nuclear disarmament more visible and hasten multilateral action; e) that rather than undermining the NPT, the Treaty provides a path for its Parties to fulfill their legal obligation to pursue negotiations in good faith and bring them to a conclusion, as clarified by the ICJ in 1996. This is what is meant by in the expression “leading to their elimination” contained in the General Assembly mandate for the negotiation of the new instrument; and finally, f) the “step-by-step” approach favored by the nuclear weapon States and their allies over the decades has not resulted in a single multilateral measure of nuclear disarmament and has, in effect, served to justify the maintenance of the status quo.

Opponents of the Treaty contend further that it offers no solution to the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program. This argument ignores, perhaps deliberately, that the most pointed approaches so far attempted to deal with the DPRK as an emerging nuclear weapon State have not been successful either.

Despite the enthusiasm of its supporters and the disparagement of its opponents, it is too early to assess the impact of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty on the current debate on the ultimate achievement of nuclear disarmament. The history of the negotiation and the language of the final version of the Treaty show an endeavor to take every precaution in order to avoid any incompatibility between this instrument and the NPT. In the months after the opening of the instrument to the signature of States at the United Nations it will be possible to gauge the extent of international support to the Treaty. Upon ratification, individual countries will be able to consider the adoption of national legislation containing measures that can have an impact on the policies and practices of nuclear weapon countries. States will need to find a workable convergence between the existing normative basis and the new prohibition embodied in the Prohibition Treaty in order to ensure increased security for all nations and not for just a few armed ones and their allies.

May I conclude by recalling that the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene a UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament no later than in 2018 in order to evaluate progress and advance further the elimination of nuclear weapons. The current 72nd Session of the General Assembly is expected to decide on the holding of a preparatory meeting for this High-Level Conference as well as on further work on a Fourth Special Session on Disarmament. This coincides with the preparatory cycle for the 2020 NPT Review Conference. The very articulate and thorough Final Document of the First Special Session in 1978 needs to be updated. Recent UN High Level Conferences produced important multilateral progress on issues like climate change, oceans and migration. States should avail themselves of the opportunity to participate in a process aimed at bringing new impetus to the non-proliferation and disarmament debate and at promoting concrete progress towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, with the active support of civil society organizations.

Sergio Duarte, a Brazilian Ambassador (ret.), is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development  Environment

Mona Patel and Samir Lakhani among “CNN Hero of the Year”

Two Indian Americans, Mona Patel and Samir Lakhani, have been selected among 10, to be honored at the “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” on Sunday, Dec. 17. In 1990, Patel was struck by a drunken driver at the age of 17 when she was walking to class at Cal Poly University and “flew up about 12 feet” when she was pinned between the “car and a metal railing” which “smashed my leg and my foot,” she told CNN.

Weeks later, when Patel got out of the ICU, she underwent her first amputation. It was the start of seven years’ worth of surgeries in attempts to salvage the rest of her leg. She however went on to earn a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, and became a social worker.

Today, Patel’s nonprofit, the San Antonio Amputee Foundation, aims to help amputees rebuild their lives. The group offers peer support, education and recreation opportunities, as well as financial assistance for basic home and car modifications and prosthetic limbs.

She also leads health and fitness programs and sponsors amputees to participate in tennis tournaments and endurance climbs. In 2015, led by Patel, a group of amputees climbed to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Patel had to undergo her first amputation when she got out of the ICU weeks later, which was just the start of “seven years’ worth of surgeries in attempts to salvage the rest of her leg.” Since then she has earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, and became a social worker, though she has come a long way as she has continued to struggle physically with her disability.

In 2014, while then a college student, Samir Lakhani was volunteering in a Cambodian village and saw “a mother bathing her newborn in a basin filled with laundry powder and water” which he will never forget.

He then realized that his hotel was throwing away barely-used bars of soap after their customers left and thought if he recycled them and gave it to people who were actually in need of them then it would save the soap and give it a second life.

So while attending the University of Pittsburgh, Lakhani started the Eco-Soap Bank which is a nonprofit that recycles discarded bars of soap from hotels in Cambodia and distributes it to people in need. Today, the organization has four recycling centers across the country, providing jobs to 35 local women.

The used bars are sanitized and remolded into new bars or melted down into liquid soap and so far, more than 650,000 people have benefited from the group’s soap and hygiene education.

“What I love most is that we are killing three birds with one stone. We are keeping waste out of landfills, employing locals and spreading soap all over the country,” Lakhani told CNN This will be the 11th year that CNN honors 10 people who work to improve the world through their emotional stories. People can vote for “CNN Hero of the Year” online and the winner will receive $100,000 for their cause.

Fake Calls Leading to Possible Identity Theft

The Indian Consulate in New York has been receiving calls/e-mails from Indian Passport holders regarding fake calls from persons pretending to be US Immigration/Police authorities requesting for details of Passports/Travel documents.

These are hoax calls with the eventual aim of getting details of the applicant’s Passport number/date of issue etc. and could lead to Identity theft as well as other fraud. Sometimes the fraudsters may mimic the telephone numbers of the Consulate or other authorities.

Indian Passport holders are requested to exercise extreme caution and not to give any information on telephone unless sought in written from an identifiable Authority. The details may only be shared by written communication and copy endorsed to the Consulate at [email protected]. If such call has already been received and details have been shared, please report to the nearest Police Station and keep Consulate informed about the calls along with the Passport details shared with such callers.

GOPIO Invites nominations for annual awards 2018

 GOPIO International is planning to hold its annual Community Service Awards (CSA) Banquet on the evening of January 8, 2018 at the Gul Hotel, Manama, Bahrain as the concluding event of GOPIO Biennial Convention 2018. The GOPIO Community Service Awards (GOPIO CSA) are given for outstanding community service, public service and/or significant charitable or philanthropic contributions of benefit to the community. Nominations of suitably qualified candidates are requested for consideration by GOPIO’s CSA 2018 Selection Committee. Please see attached file for more for details of GOPIO CSA criteria, format for submission of nominations and deadline for submission by clicking the file, GOPIO Community Service Awards (GOPIO CSA) Criteria and Nomination Form
Nominations are to be submitted using the prescribed form with supporting documents by December 5, 2017 to Chair, GOPIO CSA 2018 Selection Committee
NRI Achievers Group in association with Global Organization of People of Indian Origin is going to organize “The Indian Women Achievers Sammaan 2017” to felicitate the achievements of exceptional women role-models from diverse fields who have succeeded against mighty odds.  These pioneers have broken the glass ceiling for the new generation of aspiring women by setting an example with hard work, perseverance and innovation.
GOPIO is inviting nominations from the women of Indian origin irrespective of their country of residence from across the globe. Those who deserve to be considered for the selection, kindly send their detailed profile along with photographs and documentary proofs. A jury from GOPIO and NRI Achievers Group will shortlist the selected candidates who will be honored at the after the GOPIO Biennial Convention Inauguration on Jan. 6th, 2018. NRI Achievers Group and GOPIO e reserve all the rights of selection & rejection. No claim can be made whatsoever. Nomination may be sent yourself or by a colleague at

FIA raises concerns over OCI, PIO & Aadhar with CG Sandeep Chakravorty

The Board of Trustees and Executive Team of Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), led by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Past Presidents & Executive Committee met with Consulate General Sandeep Chakravorty and his team on 29th November 2018 to raise the concerns that Indian American community has related to OCI, PIO & AADHAR card. FIA discussed various questions including apprehensions that people have with regards to converting PIO to OCI by the 31st December, 2017 deadline. They also brought up the $265 fees that will charged from January 1st, 2018.
Consulate General of India will be hosting International Women’s Day in association with FIA on March 8th, 2018. President elect Mr. Srujal Parikh thanked Consulate General for a productive conversation on the issues that Indian American community has. FIA Chairman Mr. Ramesh Patel informed Consulate General about the visa camp and other outreach programs that FIA will be organizing in 2018.
The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of the tristate area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is one of the largest esteemed umbrella organizations in the Indian community. Established in the year 1970, the FIA has blossomed into a commendable organization that has become an effective mouthpiece and mobilizer for the community. Contact-Head Office: 37-05 74th-St, 2nd Floor, Jackson Heights, New York 11372
Email: [email protected]

Modi remains popular: PEW Research

Indians’ approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their satisfaction with both their country’s direction and the state of its economy have grown in recent years. Three years into Modi’s five-year tenure, the honeymoon period for his administration may be over but the public’s love affair with current conditions in India is even more intense.

Nearly nine-in-ten Indians hold a favorable opinion of Modi, comparable to their view of him in 2015, after a year in office. Roughly seven-in-ten say they have a very favorable view of the prime minister, again similar to public views in 2015.

These are among the main findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 2,464 respondents in India from Feb. 21 to March 10, 2017.

Modi’s overwhelming popularity extends across India. At least nine-in-ten Indians in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and in the western states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh hold a favorable view of the prime minister. The same is true for more than eight-in-ten in the eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal and the northern states of Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Since 2015, Modi’s popularity is relatively unchanged in the north, has risen in the west and the south and is down slightly in the east. Modi remains by far the most popular national figure in Indian politics tested in the survey. His favorable rating is 31 percentage points higher than that of Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, and is 30 points more than that for Rahul Gandhi, who led the Congress ticket in the last Lok Sabha election.

The public’s positive assessment of Modi is buoyed by growing contentment with the Indian economy: More than eight-in-ten say economic conditions are good, up 19 percentage points since immediately before the 2014 election. And the share of adults who say the economy is very good (30%) has tripled in the past three years.

Overall, seven-in-ten Indians are now satisfied with the way things are going in the country. This positive assessment of India’s direction has nearly doubled since 2014. Support for Prime Minister Modi is a partisan affair. Backers of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) express stronger support for the prime minister than do backers of the rival Indian National Congress party (INC), as might be expected. The 2017 partisan gap in favorable approval of Modi is 32 percentage points, larger than the 20-point divide in 2015 but relatively unchanged from 2016.

The Indian public, happy with its prime minister, believes the national government is doing the right thing for the country. More than eight-in-ten (85%) voice trust in the national government, including 39% who express a lot of trust. BJP supporters (90%) are more trusting of the government than Congress backers (76%).

The public is also quite satisfied (79%) with the way their democracy is currently working. This includes 33% who are very satisfied. Again, this is a partisan issue. BJP supporters (84%) are significantly more satisfied with Indian democracy than are Congress backers (65%).

Many Indians do not express an opinion about international affairs. One-third or more of those surveyed express no opinion about other countries or Prime Minister Modi’s handling of relations with prominent players on the world stage.

About half of Indian adults hold a favorable view of the United States, down 21 percentage points since 2015. Only 40% express confidence in President Donald Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs, down 34 points from their faith in his predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2015. Both declines began in the last year of the Obama administration and continued in 2017. The falloff in support for the U.S. has been greatest among Congress party supporters. The decline in confidence in the U.S. president has been roughly comparable among both BJP and Congress adherents. At the same time, Indian assessment of Americans (56%) remains positive and largely unchanged since the last time this question was asked.

SIAEA announces new scholarship in honor of Bansi Shah

The Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA) Scholarship Program is introducing a special Grand Scholarship in addition to the ten scholarships which are given annually to Indian American students pursuing degrees in the fields of Engineering and Architecture.

The Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA) Scholarship Program is introducing a special Grand Scholarship in addition to the ten scholarships which are given annually to Indian American students pursuing degrees in the fields of Engineering and Architecture.

The announcement of this year’s Grand Scholarship worth $5,000, comes after the demise of the program’s former president Bansi Shah who passed away in August. Shah was a very popular, friendly and a strong community leader, who took the Society of Indo American Engineers and Architects to greater heights and worked in the construction business, IT sector, security systems and real estate.

The Bansi Shah Memorial Trust-Foundation will award one Indian American student a $5,000 scholarship along with awarding ten Indian American students, a scholarship worth $2,000 each.

To qualify for a scholarship, a student must have the following: Must be enrolled as a full time student in a college or university, who is working towards an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree or is enrolled in a master’s program in an Engineering or Architecture related field.

Preferences will be given to students who are in their third or fourth year of college as well as graduate students, Merit and need based. The student must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and be able to provide transcripts certifying the above, which will be attached to the application.

As scholarship checks will be made payable to the institution and not to students individually, a preference will be given to institutions located within the Tri-State region, though students outside of the Tri-State region are also eligible to apply. Students must be a member of SIAEA; membership forms can be sent with the scholarship application.

The Scholarship Application Form must be submitted by Dec. 1 with a permanent email address, NOT a student email address. Previous scholarship recipients are NOT eligible to apply again.

Awardees must be present to receive the Scholarship Awards during SIAEA Annual Gala on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 16 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. Scholarship Applications can be submitted to: [email protected] or mailed to:

SIAEA Scholarship Committee
P. O. Box 596, Tarrytown, NY 10591
Attn: Ketan Shah, Chair

Justice Dalveer Bhandari of India beats Britain to win at International Court of Justice

Justice Dalveer Bhandari of India was elected by over two thirds of the world’s nations at the United Nations to be a member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after a hard-fought battle with the UK last week, which is considered a victory for India and all Indians. His election, hailed as a diplomatic win for India, was more than a matter of prestige for India.

The 70-year-old was elected to the world court securing 183 of the 193 votes in the United Nations General Assembly and all 15 in the security council after Britain pulled out its candidate, Christopher Greenwood.

“The election this time was more eventful in the sense that it went on and on. And my re-election is more a victory of all Indians and the country,” Bhandari told the media from New York a few hours after the polling.

Britain decided to withdraw its candidate, Christopher Greenwood, after it became clear that besides European partners such as Germany and France, the United States too had informed its mission at the UN that it faced a deadlock and loss of face due to growing support for the Indian candidate, Dalveer Bhandari.

The former Supreme Court judge was talking about 11 rounds of voting spread over several days, as the UK did everything possible to push Greenwood’s candidature. “This is the first time that I witnessed election to the world court in the general assembly. Last time I was appointed against a seat that fell vacant,” said Bhandari, who joined the ICJ in 2012.

His second term begins February 2018 and he will be with the ICJ for nine years. “My re-election will ensure representation of Indian legal system and civilization at the world court,” said Bhandari, whose orders as an SC judge ensured that those living below the poverty line got a bigger share of food grain.

Bhandari, who started out as a lawyer in the Rajasthan high court, was also instrumental in states setting up night shelters for the homeless. The ICJ is hearing India’s plea against the death sentence awarded to former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court. The next hearing in the case, which has worsened ties between the two neighbors, is in December. Asked about the impact his re-election would have on the case, Bhandari said, “No comments. The issue is pending in the world court.”

The 15-member ICJ is the UN’s top judicial organ that settles disputes between countries. Five judges are elected every three years and serve for nine years. Bhandari is the fourth Indian to be a permanent ICJ judge. The other three were Sir Benegal Rau, Nagendra Singh and RS Pathak.

Asia Game Changers honored at Asia Society Gala

Asia Society honored nine extraordinary individuals and organizations at the 4th annual Asia Game Changer Awards last week in New York, recognizing those who have made a positive and transformative difference in Asia and throughout the world. The Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to His Highness the Aga Khan, a religious leader and philanthropist, who has embodied the values of the Asia Game Changer awards through his six decades in public life.

“Any leader of a global community prays for one thing: peace,” Aga Khan said, following an introduction from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sharon Rockefeller. “So men and women can live in safety and build with strength and courage and wisdom.”

The Aga Khan’s award capped off an evening honoring those from a wide range of ages, professions, and nationalities. It was little surprise, then, that Dev Patel — the telegenic star of films such as Lion and Slumdog Millionaire — began his acceptance speech by describing his awe of the other honorees. “I feel like I have impostor syndrome being among all these individuals,” he said.

It was a night that, as Game Changer presenter and former First Lady Laura Bush noted, recognized the power of young girls and women to change the world. Consider Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 15-year-old Mongolian girl who shattered gender barriers by excelling in the traditionally male-dominated sport of eagle hunting. Or the young Sonita Alizadeh, who, after fleeing her native Afghanistan to escape an arranged marriage, achieved widespread recognition for rapping about female empowerment.

Alizadeh performed a special English-language version of her rap in front of an astonished crowd. But it was only one element of what became a joyfully musical evening. Wu Tong, her fellow Asia Game Changer, performed a gorgeous song on the sheng, an ancient Chinese instrument he popularized through his involvement in the internationally celebrated Silk Road Ensemble. And the night concluded with a three-person performance by the Aga Khan Music Initiative Ensemble that brought the audience to its feet.

The Asia Game Changer Awards also recognized two exceptional leaders from the world of business. Jean Liu, a co-founder of Didi Chuxing, was honored for revolutionizing the car service industry in China. And Japan’s Tadashi Yanai, whose Uniqlo brand rose from humble beginnings to become a global retail force, received an Asia Game Changer award for his philanthropic efforts in helping his country recover from the devastating Fukushima tsunami in 2011.

A person who stole the show last night wasn’t even a person at all — but a muppet. During the presentation of an Asia Game Changer award to the Sesame Workshop, whose educational programming has made a tremendous difference in promoting literacy in Asia’s poorest countries, the organization’s Executive Vice President Sherrie Westin brought along Zari, a new muppet from Afghanistan, who has become a source of inspiration in a country where two thirds of girls do not attend school. “I’m so excited to be here!” Zari said. “I love to learn.”

UNHCR to get Mother Teresa Award 2017 for social justice

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been named as the recipient of the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, 2017 as an acknowledgement of its exceptional work worldwide, it was announced here on Thursday.

The UNHCR provides humanitarian aid to innumerable people internally displaced by conflicts and helping stateless people all over the world, said Harmony Foundation Chairman Abraham Mathai, which has instituted the only official award in memory of Mother Teresa, who attained sainthood in September 2016.

“The UNHCR has and continues to showcase to the world the true essence of humanitarianism through the life-changing works it does globally. We salute its committed, compassionate and courageous humanitarian work in dangerous and challenging regions of the world,” Mathai told IANS.

Referring to Harmony Foundation’s theme for 2017 – Compassion Beyond Borders, he said UNHCR epitomizes the theme so beautifully with the sheer bravery of its workers and volunteers who tirelessly work in crisis areas globally.

Instituted in 2005, the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice will be presented to the UNHCR at a function here on December 10, celebrating the unique legacy and global imprint of the woman known as the Saint of The Gutters during her lifetime, said Mathai.

As part of the awards ceremony, a Harmony International Conference to create awareness and action in the international community will be organized that day, with the participation of leaders from different fields.

Some of the past awardees include The Dalai Lama, Malala Yousefzai, Medicine Sans Frontiers, Anna Hazare, Colin Gonsalves, among many other individuals and organisations working in different fields in India and globally, said Mathai.

US to give $500,000 to any NGO that promotes religious freedom in India

The Department of State said that through its $493,827 India program, it seeks to “reduce religiously-motivated violence and discrimination in India”. The US has announced a grant of nearly $500,000 for a non-governmental organisation to come up with proposals to develop early warning systems for “reducing religiously-motivated violence and discrimination” in India.

The US State Department also announced a similar grant for Sri Lanka. The Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in its notice of funding opportunity, said through its $493,827 India programme, it seeks to “reduce religiously-motivated violence and discrimination in India”.
The State Department said the NGOs applying for the grant should come out with proposals to develop and implement early warning systems to mitigate large-scale violence and implement conflict mitigation programmes between minority and majority groups.
The applicants also need to come out with ideas for successful programme activities to counter hateful or discriminatory public messages with positive messages.
They should also have proposals to educate civil society and journalists about legal protections for religious freedom, particularly for members of religious minorities; document and report religious freedom violations to authorities; and educate law enforcement on human rights standards.
Among other proposals could be ideas to engage law enforcement to better protect rights of religious minorities, including preventing incidents of discrimination and violence and holding perpetrators accountable, the State Department said.
The State Department did not respond immediately to a set of questions on the necessity of such a grant amounting to nearly $500,000. Recipients of grants for India and Sri Lanka would be announced after screening of applications.
According to the information available on the State Department website, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor supports over 28 democracy, human rights and labour programmes in South and Central Asia (SCA).
Current funding for these programs in South and Central Asia exceeds $17 million. Program topics include media innovation and development, gender advocacy and equality, and improving protections for political, labour and human rights.
India is not among the countries listed by the State Department as recipient of these funding programs. The countries currently receiving grants from US in the region are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
For Sri Lanka, the State Department notice of funding opportunity said it seeks to ensure that authorities at all levels of government in Sri Lanka effectively implement national laws and policies protecting religious freedom.
Non-Buddhist religious groups have reported discriminatory restrictions imposed by local government officials on religious minorities, the State Department said. In its latest International Religious Freedom report, the State Department said Christian and Muslim activists stated the government was not doing enough to protect them against religiously motivated attacks.
There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytise, it said.
There was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation. Hindus threatened and assaulted Muslims and Christians and destroyed their property, it added. During his confirmation hearing last month, the new US Ambassador-designate to India, Ken Juster said that human rights and religious freedom would be one of his priority areas during his assignment in New Delhi. Juster was confirmed by the Senate last week.

Gandhi Statue unveiling at World Headquarters of Lions Internationalin Chicago – Deepak Kant Vyas Foundation and Consulate of India

Asian Media USA ©
Chicago IL: Consulate General of India under the leadership of Consul General Ms. Neeta Bhushan would be  unveiling larger than life size bronze sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi at World Headquarters of Lions International in Oak Brook, Illinois on October 30, 2017.
Gandhi Sculpture is 5.1” high. It is made of bronze and has been designed by world renowned artist Philip Jackson from Europe and installed on white marble pedestal with Inscription “Mahatma Gandhi”. The total height of the sculpture is 7.1” together with the pedestal while its total weight is about 2200 lbs.  The Consulate in coordination with Redberri Earth Foundation and Mr. Deepak Kant Vyas family Foundation is planning for permanent installation of the sculpture at an appropriate location in Chicago to mark the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi is fondly called “Father of the Nation” by India. He was a legendary figure who led India to independence through the means of peace and non-violence . Albert Einstein had once said about him “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” Mahatma Gandhi had inspired several world leaders including Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela. His philosophy has been a beacon of hope and peace around the world.
Gandhi Statue will be on display at Lions Clubs International World Headquarters. Lions Club is one of the largest service based organization in the world and is celebrating its centenary year in 2017 under the leadership of Mr Naresh Agarwal from India who is currently the President.

AAHOA Applauds House Passage of the Save Local Business Act

 WASHINGTON, Nov. 8—AAHOA President and CEO Chip Rogers applauded the passage today of H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act. H.R. 3441 clarifies the legal definition of the joint-employer standard under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act in response to a 2015 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that ambiguously expanded the previous definition.
“Today’s passage of H.R. 3441 marks a monumental step forward in the fight to restore clarity for America’s small business owners, including AAHOA’s 17,000 hoteliers,” Rogers said. “Since the NLRB’s 2015 joint-employer decision, AAHOA members have written thousands of letters and held hundreds of meetings with their elected officials, urging swift action to reinstate the long-standing, unambiguous, joint-employer definition.”
“Prevalent uncertainty has run rampant throughout the franchising and hospitality industries since the 2015 ruling, and is a detriment to local job creators, local jobs and local economies in every single congressional district. If enacted, H.R. 3441 would restore the commonsense definition of joint employer, a move that would allow AAHOA members to focus on expanding their businesses and creating new jobs.
On behalf of AAHOA, I commend the leadership of Chairwoman Foxx, Congressman Byrne, and the bipartisan group of lawmakers whose vote today signaled commitment to protect and defend local businesses and the American dream. We strongly support immediate action by the Senate in moving companion legislation with urgency, and look forward to working with Senate leaders to that end.”
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners’ association in the world. The more than 17,000 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 in the United States. As an association, AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

John Kapoor, Billionaire and Founder of Insys, arrested in alleged opioid scheme

On the same day President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, the co-founder of a prominent opioid medication manufacturer has been arrested on fraud and racketeering charges. John Kapoor, former CEO of Insys Therapeutics, has been charged with conspiring to push the company’s signature drug for unacceptable uses through a series of bribes and kickbacks.

Subsys, as the drug is known, transmits the extremely powerful narcotic fentanyl in spray form, allowing it to be placed beneath the tongue for fast, potent pain relief. It is meant only for treating cancer patients suffering from severe pain.

But according to prosecutors, Kapoor and several other former high-ranking executives at the company conspired to bribe doctors to write “large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer.” They also allegedly “conspired to mislead and defraud health insurance providers who were reluctant to approve payment for the drug when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients.”

Kapoor, 74, of Phoenix, Ariz., was charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain, the attorney’s office said in a news release.

The entrepreneur, who currently serves as a board member at Insys, was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law. He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Phoenix Oct. 26 and then at the U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass., at an unspecified date in the future.

Six other former Insys executives and managers had allegations levied against them, all of whom were indicted in December last year. “The medication, called ‘Subsys,’ is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense breakthrough pain,” the attorney’s office statement read. “In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer,” it added.

The indictment also alleges that Kapoor and the six former executives conspired to mislead and defraud health insurance providers who were reluctant to approve payment for the drug when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients, doing so by setting up a “reimbursement unit,” which was dedicated to obtaining prior authorization directly from insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, the attorney’s office said. An attorney for Kapoor told CBS News that Kapoor “is innocent of these charges and intends to fight the charges vigorously.”

Explosive Fact-finding Investigation of Pehlu Khan’s murder shows high-level Police cover up of murderers

By Indian American Muslim Council

IAMC is pleased to have been an active supporter of the momentous fact-finding investigation of the gruesome mob lynching of dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, and the subsequent cover-up by Rajasthan police. The investigation’s report was endorsed by IAMC and several human rights organizations in India, US and UK and is making waves in India for its shocking expose of police complicity in cow terrorism.

The report’s release was the culminated of a four-month investigation by independent journalist  Ajit Sahi. During the press conference organized at the Press Club of India in the nation’s capital New Delhi, human rights defenders and activists referred to the report’s findings as a watershed moment in the struggle to bring Pehlu’s killers to justice. The report highlights the role played by the Rajasthan Police in systematically sabotaging the case against the perpetrators of Pehlu’s cold-blooded murder and facilitating their “exoneration.”  The report is a powerful declaration by human rights defenders that the pursuit of justice will not be deterred. Widespread coverage of the report and the press conference has again brought Pehlu’s brutal killing, and the subsequent cover-up by the Rajasthan police back into the national conversation in India.

The report has exposed blatant acts by the Rajasthan police and government institutions that has led to an intentional miscarriage of justice, with the killers not being arrested despite six of them being named in Pehlu’s “dying declaration.”
The report and its impact on mainstream discourse in India has given a boost to Indian civil society as well as the Indian Muslim community to stay the course in demanding justice and equality before the law within the framework of the Constitution of India. Additionally, it has encouraged all in the pursuit of justice to push forward with other cases of lynching such as those perpetrated against Hafiz Junaid and Mohammed Akhlaq.
The press conference with India’s top human rights advocates exposed the high level coordination and strategy used by cow vigilantes (gau rakshaks). It also demonstrated complicity between criminals and fanatics and individuals at the highest levels of state law enforcement machinery.
The press conference and the ensuing social media campaign following the report’s release has put Indian Muslim issues on the global radar and influenced mainstream discourse in a positive direction. IAMC remains committed to the struggle for peace, pluralism and justice.

Indo-American Press Club hosts 4th International Media Conference in Philadelphia

IAPC renews its commitment to well-being of media fraternity and reaffirms its resolve to be a positive change agent in the society

By Ginsmon Zachariah

Philadelphia: “Media is the strongest weapon of the present age,” said Mr. P. Sreeramakrishnan, Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, in his inaugural address of the 4th International Media Conference hosted by the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), at the Radisson Hotel and Convention Center in Philadelphia on October 7th, 2017.  He lauded the Non Resident Indians in the United States as the US is the home to the largest number of Pravasis associating with exemplary journalism and other professions in the media industry.

The Indo-American Press Club formed in 2013 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. With hundreds of members in the 11 local Chapters across North America, IAPC has come to be an effective and credible platform for Indian American journalists and media professionals to associate and network with a sense of belonging.

According to its officials, 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 fourth International Media Conference, IAPC renewed its commitment to the well-being of media fraternity and reaffirmed its resolve to be positive change agents in the society. The Media Conference held over the weekend with over 250 delegates and guests had productive seminars, discussions, debates, roundtables, youth forum, business session and some entertainment programs.

Dr. Babu Stephen, the Chairman of IAPC in his presidential address mentioned that America is a country that provides everything to those who can work hard, and as dedicated media professionals, IAPC members must try to uphold the right values. He added that the IAPC is still in the growing mode and could envisage and execute many projects for the betterment of the community.

New Jersey Councilman Sterley Stanley congratulated the profound efforts of IAPC during the last four years, even though the media industry as a whole is going through a challenging phase. IAPC Founder and Former Chairman Ginsmon Zacharia talked about the growing power of IAPC and its initiatives to train the youth to be active participants in mainstream journalism.

During the seminars, topics such as current trends in media, the safety of journalists in India, Pravasi issues and concerns were discussed. Panelists included prominent media personalities like C.L.Thomas (Media One), Mangad Ratnakaran (Asianet News), Pramod  Raman (Manorama TV News), J.S. Indukumar (Jai Hind TV),  Dr.Francis Cleetus ( Rashtradeepika), Sunil Kuzhampala (Deepika),  P.T.Chacko (KPCC Media Coordinator) Pradeep Pillai (The New Indian Express) and Saji Dominic, (Media Advisor).

The informative presentation on Immigration by Attorney Onkar Sharma was another highlight of the Conference. Yet another attraction was the ‘Youth Forum’ where Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan and Former Education Minister of Kerala, M.A. Baby presented certificates of appreciation to children for their talents and their participation in the conference. The workshop encouraged youngsters to step into mainstream writing and journalism.

At the closing ceremony and gala banquet, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan, CPM Polit Bureau member M. A Baby, State Representative Scott Petri along with several community leaders were present. M.A.Baby said that the media industry is being engulfed by the power of vested interests and is losing its credibility, and IAPC must stand for true and unbiased journalism in the days to come. IAPC excellence awards were presented to those who made significant contributions to media and to community leaders for their services to the society. IAPC souvenir 2017 was released by the Speaker. Vice-Chairperson Vineetha Nair, Executive Vice President Korason Varghese, General Secretary Eapen George, Treasurer Biju Chacko, New York Chapter President Mathewkutty Easo, Philadelphia Chapter President Reji Philip, the National coordinator from Canada Ashly Joseph and other executive members of IAPC addressed the audience.

Varun Dhawan to Feature at Madame Tussauds

Actor Varun Dhawan is the latest Bollywood celebrity who will have his wax statue featured at the Hong Kong branch of Madame Tussauds. The 30-year-old actor is the youngest Indian to have made to the list and said getting his wax idol is one of the coolest things he has done.

He took to Instagram to make the announcement. “#MADAMETUSSAUDS coming soon. This is probably one of the coolest things that I have done. Getting my own statue is something I didn’t expect this early on in life.

“Thank you Madame Tussauds for making me the youngest Indian to make it to your elite list. #dontstopbelieiving,” the “Badrinath Ki Dulhania” star wrote, alongside a picture which shows him giving his measurements for the statue.

The official Twitter account of the wax museum posted an update saying, “Bollywood superstar @Varun_dvn is having his world-first figure in @TussaudsHK. He will unveil his figure in Hong Kong in early 2018 too!”

Next year, Varun Dhawan will join other stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan in the Bollywood Superstar Collection. Madame Tussauds Hong Kong also features wax figures of world leaders such as PM Narendra Modi, Mahatma Gandhi, among others.

Men and Women Are Not That Different with Respect to Age Preferences of Sexual Partners

Source Newsroom: Academy of Finland

Newswise — The difference between men and women with respect to their age preferences, when it comes to sexual partners, is smaller than earlier believed. A recent study shows that also men become interested in older and older women as they themselves age.

While earlier research has indicated that even older men prefer young women, a recent study by Jan Antfolk at Åbo Akademi University suggests that this is only partly true. It is true that men, more than women, tend to maintain a sexual interest in younger partners. Contrary to what has been reported from earlier studies, most men and women are also sexually interested in partners their own age throughout life. Most sexual activity occurs between partners of approximately the same age.

Homosexual and bisexual men and women differ very little from their heterosexual counterparts. The only exception from this is that homosexual men are somewhat more likely than bisexual and heterosexual men to have sex with partners younger than themselves.

The study was conducted in Finland and included 878 adult men and 1789 adult women. The study was recently published in Evolutionary Psychology.

Link to the on-line publication:

The study is a part of the research project Intra-Genomic Conflicts and Social Decision-Making in Humans. The project is financed by the Academy of Finland (project number 298513).

Pratham Gala In Chicago raises $260,000 for children in India

Prominent business leaders, dignitaries and members of the local Indian-American community gathered in downtown Chicago for the annual Pratham Gala on September 9. Held at the elegant Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Center, the event was attended by 300 guests and raised $260,000 for Pratham’s award-winning education programs.

“A small amount will make big difference in a child’s life forever,” said Allstate Executive and Chapter President Suren Gupta. “Many people are astounded to learn that Pratham can educate a child with a mere $25 because its low-cost programs provide scalable and effective solutions for improving children’s reading and math skills in just six to eight weeks.”

It is estimated that 100 million Indian children cannot read or write.

Guest of honor Martin Radvan President, Mars Wrigley Confectionery and President, Wrigley Company Foundation shared their “sustainable in a generation” plan and was honored for the impact of the Foundation’s partnership with Pratham in educating 100,000 children in Uttar Pradesh’s mint farming villages.

In his keynote speech, Genpact Presdient and CEO N V “Tiger” Tyagarajan stressed the importance of educating girls: “It’s my firm belief that when you educate girls and women in society, the society changes. Women have this tremendous power of actually changing the sociocultural fabric of countries.” Pratham’s Second Chance program gives women who have dropped out of school an opportunity to finish their education and stand on their own feet.

A distinct multicultural flavor was reflected in the evening’s program, which included comedian Anish Shah and tantalizing food from India Garden, and in the fashion, a mix of ethic Indian and Western formal.

Gala co-chairs Alwar Narayanan and Smruti Rajagopalan delivered a memorable night with the support of the chapter Board, local volunteers and the following sponsors: Allstate Insurance Company, Ernst & Young LLP, General Electric, Genpact, Infosys, McKinsey & Company, Mondeléz International, Salesforce Inc., Vinakom Inc., United Airlines, and Mars Wrigley Confectionery.

Established in the slums of Mumbai in 1995, Pratham is now one of India’s largest non-governmental education organizations, having affected the lives of more than 50 million underprivileged children in the past two decades.

Death of Indian American teen in Connecticut is still a puzzle

It will be almost one year since Indian American Jeffny Pally was killed in front of the fire department at the University of Connecticut where she was studying to become a nurse.

According to earlier reports, Pally was returning from an off campus party on the night if Oct. 16, 2016 when she ended up plopping herself against the garage door in front of the University of Connecticut’s Fire Department.

Approximately 20 minutes later, firefighter Dana E. Barrow Jr., received a call and rushed to the scene, not knowing that he was going to run over Pally, who had fallen backwards as he opened the garage door and found her lying lifelessly on the ground when he returned 30 minutes later.

State Police said that Pally’s autopsy confirmed that her death was caused by increased consumption of alcohol as her blood alcohol level was .25, which is three times the state’s legal limit, along with blunt-force trauma caused by the vehicle running over her.

However, new surveillance footage obtained by the Hartford Courant suggests otherwise.

According to a police report, Barrow was cleared of committing a crime as investigators reviewed the video and wrote multiple times that the SUV’s tire “contacts, pushes and travels over Pally,” “traveled over the pedestrian” and “traveled up onto and over Pally,” concluding that Barrow was “not knowingly involved in a motor vehicle collision.”

The report adds that Barrow also “felt a bump, but kept driving to the call, figuring he would check when he got back.”

Tolland State’s Attorney Matthew Gedansky also told the Hartford Courant that he too reviewed the surveillance video before concurring that Barrow committed no criminal or motor vehicle violations.

“The video is consistent with [Barrow’s] statement that he thought he ran over equipment that was often left around the fire house area,” Gedansky said. “Another factor was that he was going to what he thought was a dorm fire.”

However, Michael Walsh, the Pally family lawyer who gave the Hartford Courant access to the surveillance video, in which it shows that Barrow had a chance to investigate what, was in the SUV’s path before choosing to drive over it.

“There was at least a moment –a moment or two – where the driver of that vehicle perceived an obstacle in his path. He hesitated. He went through a thought process. And he decided to go over that obstacle,” Walsh told the Hartford Courant adding that he has filed a lawsuit against the University of Connecticut and Barrow.

“Regardless of what call he was responding to, taking the one, two, three seconds to essentially open the door, pop out, and look – I don’t understand why that wasn’t done. I don’t understand why the police didn’t look at that,” he added.

The Hartford Courant report continues to unfold the story of the tragic night: Pally arrived at her friend’s dorm room between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m., where her and her friends were drinking alcohol prior to attending an off-campus party hosted by members of her sorority and the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

The group got a “sober ride” ” to the off-campus house, which was about two miles away, at around 10:30 p.m. where about 150 were already partying and the fraternity had stocked up on 30-can packs of beer.

Pally stayed at the party about two hours and then got into an Uber car with a bunch of her friends, to return to her dorm room shortly after 12:30 a.m.

A witness told the police that Pally was so intoxicated by then that she kept trying to text a friend who was already in the car.

Pally and another student were then dropped off to their dorm a friend who was still in the Uber car saw both of them walking in the darkness toward the dormitory building.

Surveillance video then shows that Pally arrived at the fire department at about half a minute past 12:44 a.m., where she seemed to be unsteady on her feet as she swaying back and forth as she types on her iPhone eventually making her way to the edge of the building to lean against a windowed garage door and drops to a sitting position.

A few minutes later, it is seen that her head slowly falls to her knee and she remains motionless until 20 minutes later, Barrow receives a call from a dorm as pranksters begin shooting off a stolen fire extinguisher inside a dormitory, triggering multiple alarms inside the firehouse.

At about half a minute past 1:13 a.m., Barrow opens the garage door to pull out the Chevy Tahoe SUV, causing Pally to fall back however, the video shows that she is lying diagonally across the threshold and Barrow slowly drives forward stopping three seconds later as the SUV’s front passenger tire comes into contact with Pally’s body.

After another second, the vehicle then labors to mount the obstacle in its path. Four seconds pass as the front tire slowly climbs over Pally and pushes her forward. The SUV’s right rear tire then rolls over the teen, the vehicle visibly bouncing as it clears her body.

“I felt a bump as I was pulling out. I was not sure where the bump came from. I thought it was a little unusual, but there have been times that our vehicles have run over equipment left on the ground in the bays,” Barrow told investigators in his written statement to police adding that he did look back in a mirror as he left the station and “saw something on the ground which looked like bunker gear which is stored in the bay. I thought I would take care of it when I got back from the call, because we had 5 smoke detectors going off, and I needed to respond to the fire.”

Less than a minute after Barrow left, a dispatcher glanced at a monitor providing a live feed of the surveillance camera and noticed the garage bay door was open, so she pressed a button to close it. “I did not notice anything out of the ordinary or anything that caught my attention,” she told police. “I was just looking to see if the door was closed.”

State police determined in their report that Pally had been pushed 19 inches by the SUV, which was far enough so that she was no longer blocking the path of the overhead door, allowing it to close properly.

About 25 minutes later, another dispatcher was looking at the monitor, trying to make out a shape in the dark by the garage and said “oh, that’s funny. That kind of looks like a leg,” to which her colleague replied saying “I don’t know; it looks like a shadow.”

Meanwhile, Pally’s boyfriend had texted her, sent a FaceTime request, a Snapchat message and even called her within a 10-minute period.

When Barrow returned from the prank call at about 1:51 a.m., he use his side mirrors to angle the SUV backwards toward the open garage and slowly moved the car closer and closer until he saw something on the ground.

“I noticed that it was a person because I saw a leg,” said Barrow, who was then seen getting out of the Tahoe and kneeling over Pally noticing that she was not breathing and also could not find a pulse.

He later told investigators that her eyes were “wide open and glossy” and that he “saw her mid part of her belly that had either dirt or tire marks on it.”

Barrow returned to the SUV to radio for help and then went into the firehouse, where dispatchers described him as distraught, in shock and remember him saying “I think I killed someone.”

When Barrow returned to Pally’s body, seconds later, paramedics and others came running out of the firehouse, they attended to Pally for 16 minutes but were unable to save her, she was presumed dead at 2:10 a.m.

Along with a blood-alcohol content of .25 percent, Pally’s autopsy showed that she had five broken ribs and injuries to her lungs, liver and the left ventricle of her heart.

Investigators recreated the scene from that night in numerous ways and concluded that “from the line of sight reconstruction it was concluded, that Barrow COULD NOT see Pally in her seated or supine position.”

“The goal in my career is the safety of the kids at the school. I can’t believe this happened to me,” said Barrow, who retired from the University of Connecticut’s Fire Department six months after the incident, he had been there since 1990. Six, Kappa Sigma fraternity members were also arrested in June and the fraternity has been suspended from the campus.

Indian-origin men plead guilty in US call center scam

Four Indian-origin men have pleaded guilty to charges of their involvement in a multi-million US dollar telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme in the US perpetrated by India-based call centres.

Nisarg Patel, 26, of New Jersey, Dilip Kumar Ramanlal Patel, 30, of Florida and Rajesh Kumar, 39, of Arizona each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offences. The pleas were entered before US district judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas.

All three have been in federal custody since they were arrested in October 2016. In a related case, Dipak Kumar Sankalchand Patel, a resident of Pennsylvania, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He has been in federal custody since his arrest in May this year.

Nisarg, Dilip and Rajesh and 53 others, besides five India-based call centers have been charged for frauding American people through a money laundering scheme in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas in October last year.

According to admissions made in connection with their pleas, the three men and their accomplices perpetrated a complex scheme in which people from from call centers located in Ahmedabad called people living in the US, posing as officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, the accused targeted and threatened people in the US with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay money, which the accused alleged they owed to the US government.

Those who agreed to pay money to the scammers were instructed how to make the payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. After the payment, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the US to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.

In connection with his guilty plea, Nisarg admitted that beginning in around June 2013 and continuing through December 2015, he acted as a domestic runner in the criminal scheme, liquidating victim funds for conspirators from India-based call centers and organisational co-defendant ‘HGLOBAL’.

He communicated about the fraudulent scheme with various India-based co-defendants via telephone, email and WhatsApp text messaging. Dilip Kumar admitted that he to had served as a runner, liquidating victim scam funds per the instructions from his accomplices in India, who were running the fake call centres.

He communicated via phone and email in furtherance of the criminal scheme with his India-based associates, including by sending lists of re-loadable card numbers to be activated and loaded with funds siphoned off from the victims.

Kumar also operated as a runner, laundering scam proceeds from reloadable cards and purchasing money orders using those funds in and around south-central Arizona at the direction of both domestic and India-based co-defendants. He admitted to using fraudulent identification documents, including drivers’ licenses, to receive wire transfers of money directly from victims of the fraud scheme.

 “Is the World Integrating or Disintegrating?”

“Is the world integrating or disintegrating,” was addressed by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.  The venue was the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board High-level dialogue: Is the world integrating or disintegrating? Geneva, September 12, 2017.

“The increasing economic inter-dependency among nations captured by the ‘globalization’ rubric has been driven by a combination of technology, policy, business behavior, and public attitudes,” according to the Archbishop.  He went on to say: “The present degree of global and regional challenges requires strong cooperation and solidarity among States, regions and international organisations, as no actor alone can positively cope with issues such as economic crisis, inequalities, future of work, climate change, social exclusion and migration.”

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva UNCTAD Trade and Development Board High-level dialogue: Is the world integrating or disintegrating? Geneva, September 12, 2017.

“Mr. President, The Delegation of the Holy See welcomes the opportunity of this High-level dialogue and the note prepared by the UNCTAD Secretariat which focuses on “the possibility of a new normal in global trade relations, provides an overview of regional trade agreements (RTAs) in developing countries and addresses the role of regionalism in economic development”.

The increasing economic inter-dependency among nations captured by the ‘globalization’ rubric has been driven by a combination of technology, policy, business behavior, and public attitudes. While all of these factors help to explain economic growth generally, they have contributed especially to global integration through trade, finance and migration. The present degree of global and regional challenges requires strong cooperation and solidarity among States, regions and international organisations, as no actor alone can positively cope with issues such as economic crisis, inequalities, future of work, climate change, social exclusion and migration.

Regional integration has long been a tool in trade promotion; increased trade flows and evolving commercial links within Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) have been forged between regions in the last two decades. In developing countries, trade agreements help determine national trade policy and potentially amplify the impact of trade on development. RTAs have the potential to promote higher standards in terms of labour, environment, transparency and other progressive reforms and non-economic policy objectives. RTAs have become the instrument of choice to increase trade. Since 1995, 445 regional trade agreements covering goods and/or services have been reported to the World Trade Organization1 and to date “all WTO members […] have an RTA in force”2. In the last decade, a new approach to RTAs has seen their evolution into mega-regionals and multiparty agreements. Furthermore, a growing number of bilateral, regional and interregional trade agreements incorporate provisions that address social and developmental concerns, such as labor policy considerations, sustainable development and environmental protection. All of these considerations must be based on the dignity of the human person. Following this premise both individual actors and multilateral institutions can work together with the goal of reaching the common good.

Mr. President,

The Nairobi Maafikiano highlights the importance of regional integration in promoting inclusive growth and sustainable development through, inter alia, strengthening regional economic cooperation among developing and developed countries. Regional integration can be an important catalyst to reducing trade barriers, implementing policy reforms, decreasing trade costs and increasing developing country participation in regional and global value chains”. Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that modern business and free trade, “even if they have reduced poverty for a great number of people, often have led to a widespread social exclusion.”3

Trade is unbalanced and unjust when it complements the landscape of social exclusion and inequality – when it transgresses anyone’s dignity anywhere in the world; when it neglects the common good of the whole of humanity; when it worsens the distribution of income; when it fails to create sustainable employment; when, worse, it takes advantage of human trafficking and modern slavery; and when in effect it bars the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable from participating in economic life. Such a trading system cannot be justified when it protects or even enhances the ability of large corporations to cut corners, avoid paying taxes and discard workers rather than supporting the ability of the poor and marginalized to earn a decent living and live in dignity. It cannot be defended when it runs roughshod over basic human rights, refusing to hear the cries of the poor who toil long hours for scandalously low pay in unsafe working conditions. It cannot be defended when it treats the natural environment as yet another resource to be plundered, rather than a precious gift to be stewarded prudently and wisely, including with self-restraint.

Regional Trade Agreements can help developing countries to gradually adjust to the increased degree of free trade competition. However, we must recall, as Pope Paul VI affirmed, that “free trade can be called just only when it conforms to the demands of social justice.”4 In this sense, we have to identify the inequalities of the economic system and start fixing them. RTAs should be seen and used as powerful tools of solidarity and subsidiarity, but not as a substitute of the wider multilateral framework. Member States can enhance the facilitating role that cooperation within and among RTAs can have in areas where policy coordination and coherence is most needed to increase synergies between trade and the Sustainable Development Goals, such as “reducing trade policy uncertainty; avoiding the extremes of trade protectionism at regional and multilateral levels; promoting the structural transformation of low-income and/or commodity-dependent developing countries; devising regulatory measures and standards, for example in the areas of health, the environment and competition policy, that enhance and do not undermine the trade flows of developing countries; and formulating policy measures to achieve inclusive trade, for example for small and medium-sized enterprises, women and youth”5.

RTAs and multilateralism must be centered on the integral development of all human beings. Economic policies must respect the dignity of every person and negotiations must promote the common good. If not, the roots of the last, devastating crisis will not be cut. If the current problems are not addressed, the economic situation will ultimately worsen the global political landscape, fueling fears and tensions worldwide.

In conclusion, Mr. President,

UNCTAD can play a fundamental role in shaping a new spirit in global trade relations. What the world needs now, more than ever, is a new culture of fair multilateral relations based on cooperation and international solidarity. This should be the permanent role of UNCTAD, to be an opportunity and a place for a renewed and effective dialogue on development. Multilateralism, if promoting a human-centred approach to the economy, and RTAs, if aimed at improving the common good, can promote a just trade and will strongly help the human family build a better world and fairer societies. Thank you, Mr. President.”

Sushma Swaraj in New York to attend UN General Assembly meet

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrive here today to represent India at the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) session with a packed schedule of super diplomacy among an array of world leaders.

During her week-long stay, Swaraj, leading a high-powered Indian delegation, is expected to hold about 20 bilateral and trilateral meetings with leaders attending the session.

Swaraj, was received at the airport by the Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna, and India’s permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin.

She would kick off her official engagement later today with a trilateral meeting with her American and Japanese counterparts Rex Tillerson, and Taro Konorespectively.

Aimed at lending momentum to cooperation between the three countries, the meeting also turns significant amid China flexing its muscles in the region.

In a day jam-packed with consecutive meetings, Swaraj will also participate in a high-level meeting on UN reforms, hosted by the US and chaired by president Donald Trump.

India is among the 120 countries who have supported the reform efforts of the UN Secretary General.

India has said that the UN reforms need to be “broad- based and all-encompassing” and the changes should not be restricted to its Secretariat only.

In a preview of the Swaraj’s engagements during her week-long stay in the US, Akbaruddin had said that issues of climate change, terrorism, people centric migration and peacekeeping are other key focus areas for India this year.

Swaraj will also participate in a special panel of selected countries by the UN Secretary General on climate action, he said earlier. She will address the UNGA onSeptember 23.

The minister is scheduled to have a series of meetings today including that with Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and her Bolivian counterpart Fernando Huanacuni Mamani.





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Amol Sinha Named Executive Director of ACLU-NJ Chapter

Amol Sinha, an attorney who has been an advocate for people wrongfully convicted has been chosen as the new executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. Amol Sinha, who grew up in New Jersey, will be the first person of color to lead the organization. He said his initial plans call for setting up meetings throughout the state to listen to the needs of residents, organizations and community groups.  He wants them to know that the ACLU-NJ will be there to collaborate with them to make the state better.

“We should be out in communities and letting people know that we are here for them, and I’m certain there are folks that either have a misunderstanding of what we do, or don’t understand it, or aren’t aware of us at all and I want to fix that,” he told the media.

Sinha was director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Suffolk County chapter and recently led state advocacy campaigns to address wrongful convictions nationwide at the Innocence Project. The son of Indian immigrants, Sinha grew up in Lawrenceville. In a statement, Sinha says the issues South Asian communities face are “emblematic of civil rights issues.”

In his first 100 days on the job, Sinha plans to primarily listen.

“In the first few months, my plan is to travel across the state, listen to the needs of people here, meet with as many organizations, community groups, and people as possible, and make the ACLU completely accessible,” Sinha said. “I want people across the state to know that we’re here as a partner, to collaborate together to make New Jersey better and more welcoming than it already is.”

For Sinha, taking the helm is a homecoming, not just to his home state, but to an organization that has always anchored him. Sinha’s first role as a new lawyer – after interning for the national ACLU while a student at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law – was as director of the Suffolk County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. He said the job posting had an unforgettably fluid yet empowering description: “Be the face of the NYCLU.”

Neeti Sundaresh launches Nationwide Bone Marrow Drive for Father

Employment and labor attorney Neeti Sundaresh has launched a hunt to find a matching bone marrow donor to save her father’s life who is battling blood cancer. But in the process, the Ohio-based Indian American lawyer could end up saving many more lives.

In her quest for finding the right donor for her father, she has created ‘Swab for Sundaresh,’ a series of blood marrow donor drives throughout Ohio and other parts of the U.S.

Her father, Dr. Sundaresh, devoted his life to taking care of children as a pediatrician in Cleveland, and only recently retired in December 2016, Sundaresh wrote on the Facebook page @Swabforsundaresh, adding that he is a loving husband, father and grandfather and loves to golf, travel and spend time with his family.

Dr. Sundaresh was diagnosed with high risk MDS, a failure of his bone marrow, and was given a very grim prognosis in June 2017. His only hope for a cure is to undergo a transplant from a matching donor. He currently has no matches in the donor registry, she explained, since his best chance of finding a match is within the South Asian community.

“We just need that magic match,” she was quoted as saying by the news site. “If there’s no match for dad, we can save another life.” She also wants to inform the South Asian community about the lack of diversity in tissue and organ donor banks, reported“This is a big public-health issue and people aren’t aware,” Sundaresh said. “There is a real need, as the South Asian community is underrepresented in the registries,” she wrote. Registration can be done through

Long Island celebrates India Day

On a beautiful Tuesday Morning Theodore Roosevelt Building, Nassau County Executive office was preparing for India Independence Day Program on August 15, 2017 at 9.00AM. Program was organized by Indian American Forum, IDPUSA and IALI. The Ceremonial chambers was decorated with India Tricolors. Mr Steve Labriola welcomed everyone on behalf of Nassau County Executive Mr Edward P Mangano. Emcee Sunita Manjrekar welcomed and started the program with American National Anthem sung by Manjari Pareikh and Indian National Anthem sung by Anuradha Khanna.  Bobby Kumar Kalotee, Chairman of Human Right Commission, introduced the members of Retired Indian Veterans members, members of Huma Right s Commission and several other elected officials.

Patriotic Songs presented by Dr Bhavani Srinivasan, Anuradha Khanna from Kala Kendra and Budh Prakash Jasuja and Dhol music by Royal Sharma India Day Awards presented to Dr Bhavani Srinivasan, the Past President of Suffolk Pediatric Society, Past president of AAPI QLI, IALI and is the regional director mid-Atlantis region for National AAPPI Jyoti Bhatia Gupta known for volunteer services and musical performances Subhash Kapadia well known businessman from Jackson Heights and well known for his community services Dr Azad Anand.

Member of Board of Trustees IAF, well known Radiologist t for his outstanding contributions and services Peter and Dorothy Bheddah well known Philanthropist, and serving the community for past more than 30 years Subedaar Ajit Singh Subhanpur is a proud veteran of Indian Army and was involved in three wars Several Community leaders and distinguished members graced the occasion.

Indu Jaiswal Chairperson of IAF welcomed and thanked everyone for coming and supporting. It is very important that such programs must continue to celebrate Indian Heritage and culture in USA. Thanks to all our volunteers, Supporters and sponsors.

Gurpreet Singh sentenced for citizenship fraud, will lose status

Gurpreet Singh, an Indian-American man from Watertown, New York, will lose his citizenship after serving his prison sentence because of fraudulent information he gave at the time of his naturalization process. Gurpreet Singh, 37, was sentenced July 11, in federal court in Syracuse, N.Y., to three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, following a jury trial in January where he was convicted of knowingly obtaining U.S. citizenship through unlawful naturalization.

Because of this conviction, Singh’s U.S. citizenship will be revoked by law, announced Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Grant C. Jaquith, in a press release.

The trial evidence showed that Singh, who is originally from India, repeatedly affirmed to United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) authorities that he had not committed any crimes for which he was not arrested.

Immigration authorities later learned that the defendant sexually abused a 9-year-old child during the same time-period he was applying for U.S. citizenship. Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Singh deliberately failed to report his criminal activity to USCIS because he knew that USCIS would not have approved his naturalization application if the agency had known about his crimes.

Singh pleaded guilty in New York state court to a single count of sexual abuse of a minor child, after he had become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Singh was arrested by the City of Watertown (New York) Police Department the day after his naturalization ceremony in April 2012.

While on supervised release following his prison term, Singh will be required to register as a sex offender and will be prohibited from having direct contact with children under the age of 18 (other than his own) and from going to places where children under 18 are likely to congregate, such as parks, libraries, and schools, without prior permission of a probation officer, the press release said.

Stardust promotes girl child campaign with Global Indian Icon Awards in New York City

With the launching of a campaign to support girl child, Stardust magazine, an icon of India’s entertainment, music, and fashion news, held its inaugural Global Indian Icon Awards at the New York Plaza Hotel, on July 13th, to celebrate some global Indian achievers.

While offering its support to the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save Girl Child, Educate Girl Child) – a social campaign that aims to generate awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls, the premier entertainment magazine, launched in 1971, brought together global icons who, in turn, pledged to eradicate female feticide and promote women empowerment, in India.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao was launched by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on January 22, 2015, and aims to eradicate female feticide in India. Stardust Stardust honored the global Indian icons with a special magazine dedicated to their success stories and unveiled the issue with the awardees adorning the front cover.

Stardust Icons included, Poonam Khubani; Ali Velshi; Dr. Hetal Gor; Sant Singh Chatwal; Indra Nooyi; Meera Gandhi; Sanjukta Dutta; Meety Bagga; Asma Gulzar; Dr. Kamini Rao; S V Anchan; Jani Vishwanath Jaggtiani; Avin Agarwal; Sanjay Joshi; Ujjwala Raut; Lawrence Paul; Shaik Faazil; Deepak Chopra; Vikas Khanna; Sanjana Jon. Stardust Super Icons were Raj Nayak; Anuj Gandhi; Sonu Sood; Gulshan Grover; Neetu Chandra; Divya Khosla Kumar.

The event witnessed two fabulous fashion shows, displaying the collections of Asma Gulzar, founder of Aida Couture – The Fashion Hub; and Sanjana Jon. Lulia Vantur was the show stopper for Jon’s show. Bollywood actress Neetu Chandra also gave a dapper performance to a medley of Bollywood’s actress Rekha’s songs.

Mika Singh made a surprise guest appearance and rocked the stage with his Punjabi swag. Some other celebrities seen at the event, included former Goldman Sachs Board member Rajat Gupta, entrepreneur Sant Singh Chatwal, new age guru and author Deepak Chopra, chef Vikas Khanna, actors Gulshan Grover and Sonu Sood, and India’s top model Ujjwala Raut, who divides her time between Mumbai and New York City. The awards show concluded with a note of blessing by Swami Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Swaraswatiji.

Rajat Gupta apologizes for ‘Errors and Misjudgments’

In perhaps his first public address since he was convicted of insider trading, Rajat Gupta, an IIT Delhi alumnus and former managing director of McKinsey, apologized for his “errors and misjudgments.”

“I genuinely ask for your forgiveness and understanding,” Gupta told the audience, adding, “I have regrets that five years of my life was taken away from me where I could have made, hopefully, many more contributions to philanthropic causes.”

Gupta was addressing the the Santa Clara Convention Center on June 17 on the future of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, clean energy and other hi-tech topics as Indian Institute of Technology alumni from across the Bay Area — mostly Indian American entrepreneurs and IT professionals — came together for the second annual IIT Bay Area Leadership Conference.

About 800 of the Bay Area’s roughly 12,000 IITians attended the event, which is organized annually by the IIT Bay Area Alumni Association, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote collaboration within the IIT community and create a platform for venture capitalists, job seekers and business persons to interact with each other.

Addressing his fellow IITians, he said he was determined to emerge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually stronger, and expressed his gratitude to his friend, Dr. Deepak Chopra, for standing by him through these tough times. Gupta said Chopra had helped him deal with this catastrophe with dignity, grace and humility.

Tragic stabbing death in in Queens, fundraising to send body back to Punjab

An Indian-American man confessed to police that he had stabbed his cousin to death on June 26, though the motives are not yet clear. A Richmond Hill man was arraigned on murder and weapon possession charges after he confessed to fatally stabbing his cousin inside an apartment they shared earlier this week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.
Sharanjit Singh was stabbed by his cousin and roommate Lovedeep Singh in the early hours of that morning, at a home in Queens and could not be revived after being taken to the hospital.
Lovedeep Singh, 24, told police officers who arrived at the scene that he stabbed his cousin and roommate, Sharanjit Singh, 26, in the neck and torso when the two had an argument inside their third-floor apartment at 94-28 117 St., near Atlantic Avenue, around 2:30 a.m. Monday, authorities said.
The victim was rushed to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the NYPD.
Investigators later recovered a knife at the scene, police said. Singh, who does not have any prior arrests, was arraigned Monday night and ordered held without bail, officials said.
“The defendant is accused of senselessly stabbing to death his cousin and roommate,” Brown said in a statement. “This is a family tragedy for all concerned.”
It’s unclear what the men were fighting about, police said. If convicted, Singh faces up to 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said. He is due back in court on June 30.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told Daily News Lovedeep Singh, the cousin, made a statement to police. “I’m guilty, I’m the one who killed him,” Boyce quoted Lovedeep Singh saying. The 24-year old is being held on murder and weapons charges without bail, according to the news report.
Coming from a small town in India four years ago looking for opportunities to help his parents at home, the page says the young man was hardworking and loved to drive, and had lived in London, U.K. before moving to the U.S.. While alive, he drove multiple cab hailing services for the last 6 months since he got his driver’s license.

Prof. Lakshman Rajagopal Wrongfully Suspected of Child Trafficking By Delta

Lakshman Rajagopal, an Indian American professor at Iowa State University, was accused of child trafficking June 20, as he and his toddler son – who is Caucasian – attempted to board a flight in Atlanta, Georgia.

Professor Lakshman Rajagopal had just arrived in Atlanta after a 6 AM flight from  Des Moines when he was stopped by Delta employees.  He says he was told child trafficking has been a big issue and airlines have been told to keep an eye out for possible cases.  Rajagopal, a single father,  says a flight attendant alerted the pilot of suspicious activity because he looked nervous when he requested a different seat for more room for him and his toddler son.  The pilot then called the Atlanta airport where two employees were waiting on his arrival and questioned him.  Rajagopal described the interview questions, “We have some questions for you, who’s this, who are you traveling with and where are you going? What’s your relationship with this child? I said, well he’s my son.”

He describes his experience with Delta as humiliating. “After my experience, I don’t know if I want to fly Delta. Also, on the 28th I have to go back to Iowa and I’m kind of scared to go to Iowa and scared to go on a flight to Iowa.” Rajagopal added, I’m not against Delta but I feel like this is a good example with how people still have a problem with color.  I didn’t think my behavior was suspicious because at 6 AM, with a toddler, a single parent, how am I supposed to look? I don’t think I’d look excited,” he said.

Delta has reached out the Professor Rajagopal and offered him a five-hundred dollar voucher to use within a year.  They’ve also said they will use his situation as a way to improve their security training with employees. Rajagopal said, “I told them if I was white, this would not be a problem because a white person with a white child would be fine.”

Declare St Teresa’s birthday ‘Compassion Day’: NGO to UN

The International Day of Compassion aims to commemorate Mother Teresa’s work among the poorest of the poor. An India-based NGO has urged the United Nations to declare August 26, the birth anniversary of St Mother Teresa, International Compassion Day.

In a statement, Harmony Foundation President Abraham Mathai said compassion is the need of the hour and what better way to have the world observe International Day of Compassion than by celebrating it on the birth anniversary of Mother Teresa, “whose life symbolised compassion and hope”.

“The Harmony Foundation has decided to celebrate August 26 as the International Day of Compassion to commemorate Mother Teresa’s work among the poorest, hungry, homeless, crippled, lepers and the most unwanted people of society shunned by all. We have written to the UN to likewise declare the day in honor of her selfless services,” Mathai said.

The NGO said it will work towards a world of “compassion without border” by launching acts of compassion in India and abroad on August 26. “We are galvanizing school and college students, community members from the rural areas to Mumbai to prepare a Care Package for Kashmiri refugees in Mumbai and Syrian and South Sudanese refugees around the world. The package would comprise a small toy, school stationery, dental care items and other essentials,” he said.

It has identified NGOs in Jordan and South Sudan and is reaching out to other governments, aid agencies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help with the logistics of taking the Care Packages to the intended beneficiaries.

Additionally, in collaboration with several organizations, the NGO is planning long-term sustainable solutions for refugee children, their education, health and rehabilitation. Since 2005, Harmony Foundation has been hosting Mother Teresa Memorial Awards annually — the only award in her name approved by the Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata, founded by her in 1950 — to outstanding people from all over the world who excel in various humanitarian endeavors.

Some of the past recipients of the award include The Dalai Lama and Pakistani girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, The White Helmets, Zeenat Shaukat Ali of Pakistan’s Wisdom Foundation and Kashmir’s Rukhsana Kausar.

Mother Teresa was canonized as a Saint on September 4 2016, by Pope Francis. Senior citizens of Chicago meet to highlight blindness in India

ICE re-arrests Indian man after New Jersey county frees him

Maulik Gajjar, an Indian citizen, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers after he was  released from the custody of Middlesex County, New Jersey on June 19th. Aurelio Hernandez Cortez, a Mexican citizen was also arrested the same day in the same fashion.
The federal immigration enforcement agency had previously lodged detainers on the two individuals while they were in the county’s custody, but the county failed to honor the requests, ICE said in a statement.
On May 22, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on Gajjar with the Middlesex County facility, but on the same day, the correctional facility released him from custody without notifying ICE, the federal agency said. Gajjar is currently facing state criminal charges.
Gajjar was one of nine people arrested in 2012 for allegedly conducting a foreign student visa fraud scheme. On June 7, ERO Newark officers arrested Gajjar outside his residence in Iselin. Cortez does not have lawful status in the United States, ICE said, and he will remain in ICE custody pending deportation proceedings.
“As a nation, we must protect the integrity of our immigration system and the removal of illegal aliens, especially those with a criminal history, this is one of ICE’s top priorities,” John Tsoukaris, ERO Newark field office director, is quoted saying in the press release. “ICE shares the county’s ultimate objective to protect public safety and national security while simultaneously preserving the critical community police bond. As such, county jails that fail to work with ICE put their communities at risk.”
In fiscal year 2016, ICE removed or returned 240,255 individuals. Of this total, 174,923 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 65,332 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority were convicted criminals.

Christians faced widespread harassment in 2015, but mostly in Christian-majority countries


Vice President Mike Pence recently drew attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, telling a summit in Washington, D.C., that “no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ.” In the same speech, Pence singled out “the suffering of Christians in the Middle East,” promising that the U.S. would act to protect Christians in that part of the world.

Some of the vice president’s statements on Christian persecution comport with data from a recent Pew Research Center report on global religious restrictions in 2015. Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa. But the report also shows that this widespread harassment is due in part to the huge size and broad geographic dispersion of Christians around the world, and that the Middle East is just one of a number of regions where Christians have faced harassment.

(The Center’s recent report tracks harassment against religious groups around the world, but it does not attempt to estimate the number of victims in each country. As a result, it does not speak to the intensity of harassment in each country.)

Christians were harassed by governments or social groups in a total of 128 countries in 2015 – more countries than any other religious group, according to the report. But there also were 2.3 billion Christians in 2015, more than any other religious group. Large populations of Christians are present in all but a few parts of the world: Roughly two-thirds of the world’s countries, for example, have Christian majorities.

By contrast, smaller religious groups may not have been harassed in as many countries simply because they are not present in as many countries. For instance, because of their dense concentration in a small number of countries, 99% of Jews and Hindus lived in nations where members of their groups were harassed. And despite being one of the most geographically dispersed religious groups, 97% of Muslims lived in countries where harassment of Muslims occurred in 2015. (By comparison, 78% of Christians lived in places where Christians were harassed.)

Due in part to the large number of Christian-majority countries, Christians were actually harassed mostly in Christian-majority countries. In some of these countries, the Christian majority was itself harassed, often by the government. For example, in Nicaragua – where an estimated 59% of the population is Catholic – the Catholic Church reported that the government monitored its emails and telephone conversations and granted financial support for churches based on the clergy’s political affiliation. The church also reported that the Nicaraguan government used Catholic traditions and symbols when promoting political agendas, saying it undermined the church’s religious authority.

In other Christian-majority countries, Christian minority denominations were targeted. For example, in Eritrea – where Eritrean Orthodox Christianity is the dominant faith – Jehovah’s Witnesses reported being unable to obtain official identification documents because of their faith. In addition, the majority of religious prisoners in Eritrea in 2015 were Protestants, namely Pentecostals and evangelical Christians.

While Christians were harassed in countries far beyond the Middle East and North Africa, they faced significant harassment in this region, too. In Syria, for example, Christians reported that tolerance within society was on the decline as extremist groups gained influence.

And in Egypt, Christians were killed for having converted from Islam or simply because they were Christian. For example, in January and February 2015, two Christian men were killed – one of these murders was claimed by the Islamic State – in the North Sinai city of Arish, according to a Christian advocacy group with a presence in the region.

BRICS to lead efforts to eradicate hunger, poverty by 2030

With the clock ticking toward the 2030 deadline for meeting the international goals to eradicate hunger and poverty, five of the world’s most important emerging economies are well positioned to take a leading role in helping to achieve these objectives, according to the United Nations.

The five countries, known collectively as the “BRICS” (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), form an important economic block, the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on June 16 reported.

They account for more than 40 per cent of the world’s population and over 20 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Together, they produce more than one-third of global cereal production. Last year, Russia became the largest wheat exporter in the world.

“The BRICS countries play an important political role in the international arena. Developing countries around the world look to your successes in economic development over the past few decades as an example to follow,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO’s Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, during the 7th Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture, in Nanjing, China.

“Your experiences provide a path that can help us all meet our global collective commitments, namely those of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and the Paris climate accord.”

Kadiresan pointed out that, despite trends towards urbanization, poverty in the world today is primarily rural. As a result, accelerating rural development will be key to achieving the SDGs.

“The question is how can we do this? Our experiences in countries in different parts of the world have shown that it can best be done through a combination of agricultural growth and targeted social protection, but also through growth in the rural nonfarm economy,” she said.

“Agriculture can be a driver of sustained and inclusive rural growth. In low-income countries, growth originating from agriculture is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating from other sectors of the economy.”

Equally important is that all the tools, approaches and technologies developed “must be useful and accessible to poor family farmers in developing countries” so that they can increase production and productivity.

Achieving agricultural growth would also require investments in research and development, and the BRICS countries could play a leading role in this, as all five countries have strong agricultural research systems that are working on many of the challenges faced by developing countries, such as feeding a growing population in a sustainable way, according to FAO.

“Biotechnology would also play a key role in these advances, as would agro-ecological approaches. Climate-smart agriculture will be essential to adapt to the uncertain changes facing our farmers, and it will rely heavily on cutting-edge research.”

Information and Communication Technologies are becoming more widespread by the day, and they offer a promising approach to address many of the challenges smallholders face with regard to information on prices, weather forecasts, vaccines, financial services, and much more.

Agricultural growth, as important as it is, cannot eradicate hunger and poverty all by itself – social protection programs can also play a key role in rural development, the UN specialised body says.

These programs have important poverty reduction and health benefits, and can also strengthen the confidence of family farmers, encouraging them to become more entrepreneurial, it explains. “Brazil’s Fome Zero and India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are global references in this regard.”

Kadiresan stressed that it is important not to overlook the key role played by the rural non-farm economy in fostering rural development. “As economies transform, most farm households obtain significant income from activities other than farming. The income from these activities provides not only a higher standard of living, but also a more stable one in many cases. Governments play a key role in encouraging this transformation by investing in rural health and education,” she said.

“While these investments are typically not within the Ministry of Agriculture’s mandate, we must support such investments, as they are in the interest of our rural constituents. Where would any of us be today without the opportunities provided by our former teachers and a strong educational system?”

International trade could also serve as an effective instrument in promoting food security and act as an adaptation tool to climate change. When an inevitable bad harvest occurs, as it does in every country at some stage, timely imports can help to rebalance the domestic food economy.

Young mom says, she did not check for breathing before dumping baby in trash

Nausheen Rahman, 29, an Indian American woman from Staten Island, New York – who is facing murder charges for throwing her newborn baby in the trash shortly after giving birth – said she did not check for breathing before dumping the baby in trash.

Nausheen Rahman reportedly told officers in testimony taped shortly after she was arrested March 13, 2016, that she should have checked for signs of breathing in her infant son. “I was like ‘okay, he’s not crying, is he dead?’ “

The medical examiner has deemed the death a homicide, and Rahman has been charged with second-degree murder and concealment of a human corpse. She has denied the allegations.

“It was just my state of mind at the time. I’m like ‘What happened here?’ Then, I’m like, ‘What should I do?’ I was really scared, nervous. I was scared of my dad. ‘What’s going to happen?” And things like that,” Rahman told detectives, as reported by Staten Island Live.

“When I picked it up to put it in the bag, that’s when I saw he’s not breathing,” said Rahman, reportedly incriminating herself by saying she intended to put a live baby into a bag. She told detectives she had immediately gone downstairs in her house after delivering the baby, to get a black garbage bag.

According to reports, Rahman had hidden the pregnancy from her mother and father. Immediately after she was arrested, she asked law enforcement officers: “Are you going to tell my parents?”

An autopsy determined the newborn still had air in its lungs, meaning it was alive at birth. There were also signs that the infant had moved after birth. The pre-trial hearing will determine whether Rahman made her statements voluntarily or was coerced by police.

The young woman told police the father of the baby wanted nothing to do with her, and that she did not know what to do with the newborn infant. Rahman’s parents had been arranging for her marriage to another man. Asked if she had considered an abortion, Rahman said: “There was no plan on that. There was no intention of getting rid of it.”

Missing Cornell student  found dead

An Indian American student was found dead here after he went missing earlier this week, police said. Aalaap Narasipura, 20, was an electrical engineering student at Cornell University and was missing since May 24, ABC News reported.

Cornell University Police said Narasipura’s body was recovered May 19 from Fall Creek, a gorge located near Ithaca Falls. The circumstances of Narasipura’s death remain under investigation, but police said they don’t suspect any foul play.

State and local authorities from multiple agencies searched Narasipura’s residence, academic spaces and regular routes of travel as well as adjacent natural areas and gorges around the Ivy League university.

They did not find any evidence of his whereabouts until coming across his body in Fall Creek, police said. Earlier in the week, police had released a photo and description of Narasipura seeking more information in the case. Narasipura was set to graduate this December, according to the report.

“He was an active member of the Ultimate Frisbee team, enjoyed taking photos and planned on continuing at Cornell to pursue a Masters of Engineering degree,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life at Cornell.

“On behalf of the Cornell University community, I extend our deepest condolences to Aalaap’s family and friends as they grieve this tragedy,” Lombardi said.  “They are in our thoughts as we all come to grips with the enormity of this loss,” he said

He described Narasipura as an “ambitious student” who was scheduled to graduate early this December. “He was active on the Ultimate Frisbee team, enjoyed taking photos, and planned to continue at Cornell to pursue a Master of Engineering degree,” he said in a statement.

Huma Abedin files for divorce from Anthony Weiner ending 7 yrs of marriage

Huma Abedin filed for divorce from Anthony Weiner on May 19, the same day the disgraced congressman pleaded guilty in connection with his sexting case.

Abedin, of Indian and Pakistani descent, and Weiner were married on July 10, 2010, while she was working as a close aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Weiner had been in Congress since 1998 and had come in second place in a bid for the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor in 2005.

Abedin’s lawyers filed the papers, captioned “Anonymous vs. Anonymous,” in Manhattan Supreme Court just hours after a weepy Weiner walked into nearby federal court — still wearing his wedding ring — and pleaded guilty to sexting with a minor.

Abedin had originally filed for an uncontested divorce, but then soon amended her papers to say “contested” — suggesting that Weiner decided at the last minute not to sign on the dotted line. Now, the two will likely face a long, costly court battle, experts predicted.

Not so much over money — Abedin, a longtime close aide to Hillary Clinton, is apparently between jobs, and Weiner has lost at least four jobs in the six years since his first sexting scandal. Experts said the fight will be over visitation for their 5-year-old son, Jordan.

Given Weiner’s guilty plea in federal court, it’s a fight in which Abedin holds the cards — though as the moneyed spouse, she may have to pay at least Weiner’s legal bills for the years it takes to hash out an agreement.

On May 19, he pleaded guilty to a sex charge, tearfully apologizing for communications with the teen that he said destroyed his “life’s dream in public service.” Weiner, who could go to prison, pleaded guilty to a single count of transmitting sexual material to a minor. He admitted exchanging online messages with the girl beginning in January 2015 and engaging in obscene communications that included “sharing explicit images and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct.”

“I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” he said. The 52-year-old paused repeatedly as he fought back tears and tried to compose himself. He said he knew the texting was “as morally wrong as it was unlawful.”

“She certainly has a leg up now on any custody battle, said Manhattan divorce lawyer Michael Stutman. Manhattan divorce attorney Suzanne Kimberly Bracker added of Weiner, “He pleaded guilty — no judge will allow him to have unsupervised visitation.

INOC Telangana Chapter hosts event for Telangana Congress Working President -Shri Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka in New Jersey

The Indian National Overseas Congress hosted a event for the Telangana Congress Working President and former deputy speaker of Telangana – Shri Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka in New Jersey at Paradise Restaurant on Friday – May 12th. The event was organized by the Telangana Chapter and coordinated by Shravan Poreddy and Roy Manthena. The event was attended by over 200 people.

The event started off with Roy Manthena explaining the purpose of hosting the meeting and talking of the contributions of the Congress Party to India since last 70 years. The next speaker was NATA (North American Telugu Association) President Rajeshwar Gangasani who spoke of his association with the Congress Party and some of the policies of the Congress Government in Telangana that perculated to the rural areas. Dr.Rajender Reddy Jinna spoke of the role of Indian National Overseas Congress and how it has contributed to the Congress Party in India. Shravan Poreddy spoke on the struggle of Telangana and said that the movement of telangana has been hijacked by some leaders from the present ruling Party in telangana for their own benefit.

Rajender Dichpally (National General Secretary of Overseas Congress) urged Bhatti Vikramarka in taking the services of NRI in helping the Congress Party in Telangana and also nuturing good leaders from the NRI’s for the next elections. He assured him that the NRI’s will campaign in behalf of the Congress Party in the next elections in 2019.

Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka spoke on how Telangana was achived when he was deputy speaker of telangana assembly and how difficult it was to achieve the formation of telangana state. He said that this would not have been possible but for the role and support of Smt.Sonia Gandhi and this was acknowledged by everyone including the present Cheif Minister of Telangana. He was however disappointed with the present administration for not keeping many of its promises and indulging in mass corruption. He was confident that the people will see through the various omissions and commissions of the present Government in Telangana and will vote the Congress back to power in telangana in 2019. He assured that he will encourage a lot of NRI’s to join public life in telangana on behalf of the Congress Party.

Photo 1 (Caption) : Group photo at the event hosted by Indian National Overseas Congress for Shri Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka – Working President of Telangana Congress

Photo 2 (Caption) : Rajender Dichpally (National General Secretary) Speaking at the event.

Photo 3 (Caption) :Shri Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka (Working President of Telangana Congress) speaking at the event.

Mata Ki Chowki celebrated by thousands of devotees at Hari Om Mandir

Chicago IL: Saturday, May 6, 2017 will always be remembered in the history of Hari Om Mandir as a day of Blessings and Miracles!!! A Special Mata Ki Chowki was organized by a Generous Sponsor Suga Builders, who had invited a group of very talented Musicians and Singers from Mumbai, India, named Melody Express, to perform that evening. True to their name, the 3 Singers – Sunny Jadhav, Dhanashri Bhavaria and Vinod Sutaria regaled the audiences with their melodious voices and nonstop devotional songs for three hours.

The highlight of the evening was the blessings showered from Heaven Above!!! A special Helicopter was arranged to shower Flowers on the Tall Hanuman Statue that stands upright, at the Temple Entrance. Hundreds of devotees gathered outside, eagerly awaiting the Chopper to come around, all eyes glued to the sky above, and chanting “Jai Shree Ram, Jai Hanuman”, finally the Red Helicopter descended close above the statue and started to shower Rose Petals on one and all!!! The plane made four circles around, showering loads of flowers. Finally, the pilot also tried to throw a Garland around Hanuman Ji’s neck, but due to the windy conditions, the garland fell at the Feet of Hanuman Ji. That was indeed Amazing! Awesome! Magical! Enchanting! Wonderful! Mesmerizing!  Every soul present there, felt exceptionally blessed that day, to have witnessed something so Divine!!!!

After such a glorious start to the evening, the Congregation Hall of Hari Om Mandir was full to capacity, people occupying every inch of space to get a glimpse of the singers & performers. The Group of artists also presented episodes from Indian Mythology, who portrayed different characters like Sudama, Radha Krishna & Gopis, Maa Durga along with Her Sher, Shiv Ji with His Damru etc. etc. People were overjoyed with the whole show and danced their hearts out to sing & dance with them.

Another feature of the evening, highly appreciated by the young parents in the gathering, was a Magic Show organized for the kids, in the Basement of the Mandir.  A Magician, A Face Painting Artist and a Balloons Master engaged almost 100 children with their tactics and kept them busy…which worked out best for both – Adults & Children!

Suga Builders, established in 1991 specializes in national franchises as well as new home construction. The company is extended throughout Chicago with its main office in Naperville and construction projects are branched throughout Illinois. It delivers high quality performance through real world experience, innovation and exceptional customer service. It believes in providing quality results through creativity, style and professionalism.

Asian Media Editor, Prachi Jaitly, spoke with some of the guests and heard nothing but praise for the entire program. “We felt as if we were sitting at Vaishno Mata’s Darbaar”, said Prachi Jaitly. People were full of love and admiration for the host of the event Mr. Jasbir Suga.

“Mr. Jasbir Suga is the epitome of honesty, humility and hard work and today’s event is one of the prime examples of that”, said one of the guests.  Big or small, Suga Builders has been supporting almost all Indian American community events for years. Each and every known face of Indian American community was present there to reciprocate the love and support that they have always received from Suga.

Osmanians from All Over the USA Converge in Chicago for the Centenary Celebrations of Osmania University

May 15th, 2017: Chicago: People love their alma mater as much as their mother. This was proved beyond an iota of doubt in the Centenary Celebrations of Osmania University organized by Glory of Hyderabad on May 14th, 2017 at Shalimar Banquets, Chicago. Around 700 Osmanians, including youngsters, veterans, and super veterans from New York, Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota, Indiana, etc. attended the celebrations with gaiety and fervour. An innovative exhibition, an inspiring documentary, and an informative souvenir turned them emotional and made them recall their eventful times in the University and their loving teachers and great friends. They fondly remembered H.E.H. Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad and founder of the University and its illustrious alumni, including former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, former Lok Sabha Speaker Shivraj Patil, distinguished film personality Sham Benegal, former Governor RBI, Dr. Y V Reddy, etc.

Her Excellency Neeta Bhushan, Consul General of India in Chicago said that alumni of Osmania University, who are spread far and wide globally, are its greatest strength. She said that the organisation of the centenary celebration in Chicago was of special significance as Chicago was also known for its academic excellence. She called upon the alumni of Osmania University to cultivate a culture of giving back which is one of the most constructive and rewarding ways they can contribute to the betterment of their alma mater. “There is, therefore, a need to diversify and enrich the efforts to bring the alumni and alma mater closer together“, she added.

Professor S Ramachandram, Vice Chancellor of Osmania University said that the University has emerged as a pace setter reflecting the agenda for higher education and carved out a niche as an icon of higher learning with international outlook and global outreach. He said that the University has become the most preferred destination for higher studies for foreign students and added that students from across the globe are pursuing their studies in the University. He said that such high profile educational institutions as IIMs, IITS, ISB, IISc, JNU, UoH, BHU, IIITs, etc., have made India a force to reckon with in the domain of professional education. He advised Indian Americans to send their children to India for pursuing their education so that they reap the dual benefit of high quality education and exposure to Indian values.

Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy underscored the need for greater collaboration between the universities of India and the USA. “They have their respective competitive advantages and their networking in the fields of teaching, research, and consultancy will prove to be a win-win proposition“, he opined.

Mr. Hardik Bhatt, CIO, office of the Governor, Illinois said that Illinois and Telangana States have signed an MoU to share expertise in the domain of planning and execution of smart cities and hoped that Osmania University, like University of Illinois, will be a key partner in Illinois’ smart state initiative.

“Glory of Hyderabad, Chicago, has the rare privilege of being the only organization outside of India to host first historic event of Centenary Celebration of Osmania University“, said Mr. Mir Khan, President, Glory of Hyderabad, with a sense of pride.

A highlight of the program was the honoring of the following Osmanians for their notable accomplishments on this auspicious occasion: Mr. Hassan Chishti- Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Community Service & Literary Contribution; Dr. M M Taqui Khan- Distinguished Osmanian & Scientist of International Repute Award; Mr. Syed Hashim Ali-Award for Distinguished Contributions as Civil Servant & Vice Chancellor (posthumously); and Professor S Ramachandram-Award for Distinguished Service to Osmania University. In addition, Her Excellency Neeta Bhushan, Mr. Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Mr. Hardik Bhatt were presented awards for their Distinguished Community Services.

Reminiscing about their student lives in the University, the Osmanians said unanimously, “Osmania University equipped us with a rare fusion of core competencies and time tested values, and thereby empowered us to prove our mettle across the globe and keep the flag of the University flying high”.

The highly acclaimed singers, Nipa Shah, Hitesh Master Nayak, and Rajesh Chalam, performed live and mesmerized Bollywood music lovers. They kick started the scintillating evening with the most haunting melodies, followed by a wave of soulful numbers, and captured the hearts of the audience.

On this occasion, Siasat Calligraphy Exhibition was inaugurated. The visitors went around the Exhibitions and appreciated the rare calligraphy exhibits. An Exhibition of Osmania University was also inaugurated which was of help to visitors to understand the exciting journey of Osmania University during the last 100 years.

The memorable evening concluded with a sumptuous dinner which was relished by one and all. Earlier, Ashfaq Syed, Chairman Steering Committee, Glory of Hyderabad welcomed the gathering. Mr. Sami Siddiqi, Member, Steering Committee proposed a vote of thanks.  Mr. Mohammed Faheem, Member of the Steering Committee was the Master of Ceremonies.

United Airlines cancels Indian-origin man’s flight

An Indian-origin man in the US has said that United Airlines cancelled his flight for filming a dispute involving an employee of the airlines.

Navang Oza, 37, said the incident happened earlier this week when he complained to a United Airlines agent about a $300 charge for his luggage while he was checking in for a flight to San Francisco from New Orleans, the New York Post reported.

Oza said he paid $125 to check the same bag on the first leg of his trip.

Unable to get an explanation, Oza said he decided to do what many other frustrated passengers have done and film the dispute.

Oza posted an unedited clip of the lengthy interaction with the ticket counter worker in New Orleans.

“You do not have my permission to videotape,” the United Airlines employee says in the video shared on Twitter. Next, she instructs an agent to “cancel the reservation”.

About a minute after ordering his trip cancelled for taping her, the United agent is seen recording Oza.

“I was shocked because I didn’t know she had the right to cancel my flight because I started recording,” Oza told news station KNTV.

The California resident said that he ultimately re-booked his flight on a different airline. Oza said he wants United to pay for that trip.

U.S. consumer watchdog’s prepaid-card rule survives Congress challenge

A major challenge to the U.S. watchdog for consumer finances fizzled last week, as Congress missed a deadline to repeal the agency’s new rule on prepaid cards. Late last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule requiring greater disclosures and overdraft limits for the cards sold by companies such as Mastercard Inc. and Greendot and frequently used in place of paychecks.

The timing made the rule eligible for Congress to repeal it under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), but lawmakers only had until Thursday to kill the regulation by passing a disapproval resolution in both chambers with simple majorities.

Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia, one of the agency’s biggest critics, had introduced a resolution that he tried to speed through his chamber, but congressional aides and advocacy groups said he could not gather enough votes.

Perdue has repeatedly said the CFPB, created in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Streetreform law to protect individuals against fraud, oversteps its authority. Earlier this week he said he intends to keep up pressure on the agency.

The resolution’s failure indicates that future regulations from the CFPB, reviled by many Republicans, may have shots at survival. The agency is led by Democrat Richard Cordray, was created by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and was originally conceived by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leader in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

The CFPB was expected to soon finalize restrictions on the fine print in contracts known as “mandatory arbitration clauses” that require consumers to give up their rights to class-action lawsuits as a condition of buying a service or product. But the rule’s fate has been caught in limbo. Congress is expected to kill it swiftly with a CRA resolution once it is official.

While the first half-dozen CRA resolutions flew easily through Congress, repealing a wide spectrum of Obama-era regulations, the final resolutions faced a tougher time. One limiting methane emissions from oil and gas production on public lands failed on Wednesday. All told, Congress killed 14 regulations since Feb. 1.

Lawmakers could still vote after this week to repeal rules that Obama finished in the last six months

Sikh-American girl harassed in US, asked to ‘go back to Lebanon’

NEW YORK: A Sikh-American girl was harassed on a subway train here when a white man, mistaking her to be from the Middle East, allegedly shouted “go back to Lebanon” and “you don’t belong in this country,” the latest in a series of hate crimes against people of South-Asian origin.

Rajpreet Heir was taking the subway train to a friend’s birthday party in Manhattan this month when the white man began shouting at her, according to a report in the New York Times.
Heir recounted the ordeal in a video for a Times section called ‘This Week in Hate’, which highlights hate crimes and harassment around the country since the election of President Donald Trump.

Heir said she was looking at her phone when the white man shouted at her saying, “Do you even know what a Marine looks like? Do you know what they have to see? What they do for this country? Because of people like you.”

He told Heir he hoped she was sent “back to Lebanon” and using expletives said, “You don’t belong in this country,” before he left the subway. Heir, a Sikh, said she was born 30 miles from Lebanon, not the Middle Eastern country but a namesake city in the American state of Indiana. Heir said as the man left the train, she saw a young white woman in the train staring at her “with tears in her eyes.”

“What had just happened provided evidence of what I had sensed beneath the surface for a long time – racism that can turn violent and lately does,” she said. The report added that two fellow passengers stepped in to help Heir after the incident on the train. One woman tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she was all right. “That meant something because when you’re a minority, you’re so used to just experiencing things on your own,” Heir said.

Another woman reported the incident to a police officer at a subway station. The report said that as New York City works to respond to a rise in reports of discrimination and harassment, subways have emerged as a source of special concern.

It said the anti-harassment group Hollaback has received nearly double the usual number of reports of harassment on the subway and more than usual involve racist, Islamophobic or anti-immigrant comments since the election of Trump. Heir’s case is a yet another disturbing incident of racial discrimination in which people of South Asian origin have been targets of abuse and hate crime.

Last month, Indian-origin woman Ekta Desai had posted a video online of an African-American man racially abusing her and calling her inappropriate names as she was traveling on a subway train.

Indian American Postal Supervisor charged with embezzlement

Amar D. Patel, from Delran, New Jersey, faces charges that he abused his position as a U.S. Postal Service supervisor to steal cash deposits, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced earlier this month.

Patel, 35, is charged by complaint with knowingly embezzling, stealing, purloining, and converting to his use U.S. Postal Service funds exceeding $1,000, according to the Justice Department.

According to the complaint: in July 2016, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General started investigating shortages in cash deposits reported by the Riverside, New Jersey, Delanco, New Jersey, and Delran post offices. Patel – who was a supervisor at those three offices – had access to deposit bags containing cash acquired during retail operations.

As part of the investigation, agents installed covert surveillance cameras inside the Riverside post office. On Jan. 14, 2017, one of the surveillance cameras captured images of Patel tearing open a sealed deposit bag, removing cash deposits, and placing the funds into his pocket. According to U.S. Postal Service financial records and bank deposit records, the Riverside office’s deposit was short $1,650 on Jan. 14, 2017.

Based on this and other information, Patel is accused of stealing $15,700 in U.S. Postal Service funds on 12 separate occasions from Feb. 20, 2016, through Jan. 14, 2017.

The embezzlement charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Indra Nooyi, Fareed Zakaria among 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients

PepsiCo chief executive officer Indra Nooyi and journalist and author Fareed Zakaria are among six Indian-Americans named recipients of this year’s Ellis Island Medal of Honor. A total of 88 honorees were announced on March 21.  Joining Nooyi and Zakaria are Harman International Industries Chairman and CEO Dinesh Paliwal, cardiologist and a Professor of Cardiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City Dr. Annapoorna S. Kini, Yashvant Patel, Mohan H. Patel, and Pakistani American Dr. Adil Haider.

The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations – NECO is the sponsor of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor that are presented each year on historic Ellis Island to a select group of individuals whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration.

Nooyi has been the CEO at PepsiCo since 2006 and chairman since 2007. She was previously the president and chief financial officer at the company, as well as senior vice president, and senior vice president of corporate strategy and development, reported Connected to India, an online publishing platform serving NRIs and Indian diaspora.

Nooyi has also worked at Asea Brown Boveri, Motorola, The Boston Consulting Group, Johnson & Johnson and Mettur Beardsell Ltd. She earned a Bachelor’s from Madras Christian College, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata and a Master’s from Yale University.

Zakaria is the host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” as well as a columnist for The Washington Post. He has also served as a columnist at Newsweek, an editor at Newsweek International and editor-at-large of Time.

Paliwal has worked and lived in six countries on four continents, including the United States, China, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, and India. Dr. Kini performs over 1,000 minimally invasive coronary interventions annually (the highest number by a female interventionalist in the United States) with extremely low complication rate, less than 0.5 percent.

Kansas proclaims Indian-American Appreciation Day

The US state of Kansas has declared March 16 as “Indian American Appreciation Day” to honour Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was killed in an apparent hate crime. Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his friend Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W. Purinton, a white man who earlier served in the US Navy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe on February 22.

Purinton reportedly got into a row with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled “Get out of my country” and “terrorist” before shooting them. An American, Ian Grillot, was injured in the attack.

“Kansas will remain committed to standing with the Indian community,” Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said at an event to commemorate the life of Kuchibhotla. Brownback issued a proclamation at the event to recognize March 16 as the “Indian American Appreciation Day”, reported The Kansas City Star. “We will always reject acts of violence and harm. We reject hatred in all its forms,” he said in Topeka, the state capital. “This is a deplorable act that happened,” Brownback said. “We will not let it define us as a people.”

The March 16 Proclamation expresses “heartfelt condolences” to Kuchibhotla’s family, and notes that “Kansas values of respect, faith, family, friendship and hard work are shared by our Indian-American neighbors.”  The Indian community, it recognizes, is employed in high-performance jobs and industries such as computer and software engineering; the medical field; the tech sector; education; and many serve in the military and hold local and state government positions.”

“Thousands of Indian-Americans who have called Kansas home over generations have enjoyed tremendous success through their ingenuity, hard work and determination,” the Proclamation says. Gov. Brownback said the perpetrator would be dealt with to the furthest extent of the law. “Acts of hate and intolerance have no place in Kansas and since the state’s founding, Kansans have fought against injustice and senseless hatred,” the Proclamation says. “We will continue to be committed to protecting our families, our neighbors and our guests; and … we welcome all Indians that wish to come to Kansas to live, work and raise a family in our communities and we thank them for contributing to our state’s prosperity.”

New York launch of centennial commemoration of Indian indentureship


The 100th anniversary commemoration of the abolition of Indian indentureship was launched at New York by the Indian Diaspora Council, in collaboration with its global affiliates and partners, at the Consulate General of India in New York on March 3rd.

The theme of the event was ”Centennial of Abolition of Indian Indentureship: Challenges, Progress, Achievements and Charting New Frontiers.” It was an over-capacity participatory event with speakers and invited guests focusing on the commemoration of the centennial of abolition of Indian Indentureship; history of Indian Indentureship; perspectives on the end of an era; challenges, progress and achievement; descendants of Indian Indentureship and the PIOs experience, an IDC press release said.

The tristate area of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as Connecticut and Massachusetts have significant population of PIOs and NRIs who are descendants of Indian Indentured laborers originally from Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, Jamaica, South Africa and other countries.

March 20, 2017 marks the centennial of the official abolition of Indian Indentureship, an era spanning the years 1834-1917, starting immediately after the formal Emancipation of Slaves in 1834. Indian Indentureship was an intense and harrowing period of Indian migration from several Indian states to far way lands of then British colonies around the world.

The history and consequences of Indian Indentureship are deeply embedded in people belonging to Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia, South Africa, East Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, Jamaica, Belize, Grenada, St. Lucia and other countries of the Caribbean, as well as former French colonies of Reunion Island, Seychelles, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.

Commemoration events are held by the IDC and its affiliates in several countries that are impacted by Indian indentureship, including a two-day conference in New Delhi on April 22-23. The New York event precedes the Indian Diaspora World Convention 2017 to be held in Trinidad & Tobago March 17 to 20.

Padma Shri HR Shah honored during IAPC new team inaugural event

The Indian American Press Club (IAPC) held the inauguration of its new Executive Committee on March 4th in New York in the presence of community leaders and officials. H.R. Shah, Chairman and CEO of TV Asia conferred Padma Shri this year, was warmly felicitated at the gala event at Antun’s by Minar.

Professor Indrajit S Saluja, editor-publisher of The Indian Panorama, was sworn in as the new President, taking over from Parveen Chopra, Managing Editor of The South Asian Times and The Asian Era. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos administered the oath of office to the new IAPC office-bearers including George Eapen (General Secretary) and Biju Chacko (Treasurer).

Ginsmon Zacharia, founder Chairman of IPAC who has interests in print and TV, stepped down after shepherding the organization for three years. The new Chairman Dr. Babu Stephen, who assumed charge as the Chairman of Board of Directors, publishes two community newspapers from the Washington DC area: Express India and India This Week, and is the CEO of DC Healthcare Inc, and president of SM Reality LLC.

H.R. Shah, in his speech, dwelt on his initial struggles in media but said he did not give up. Under him, TV Asia is today the largest TV network for the Indian community in America. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government for conferring on him one of the highest civilian awards of India. He also thanked Prof. Saluja for IAPC felicitating him.

Comptroller Maragos underscored the role of media in a democracy and lauded Indian American media for doing a great job to promote interests of the community and serving the great American nation in the best fashion. He also revealed his intention to run for Nassau County Executive.

In his keynote address, Jehangir Khattak, Co-Director, Center for Community and Ethnic Media, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, spoke about how he has been fighting for more government dollars for the ethnic media, including desi media. A book, ‘Musings on Medicine, Myth, and History – India’s Legacy’, by Dr. VK Raju and Dr. Leela Raju was launched on the occasion.

IAPC, with six active chapters in the US and Canada, has organized three successful annual international media conferences in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut over the past three years. A highlight of the conference last year was a presidential debate with representatives from Democratic and Republican sides

US Diplomats recognized after visit to Indian markets in Edison, Jersey City

A group of diplomats from Washington who visited Indian market in Edison and Jersey City in New Jersey were recognized at an event held on March 3rd at TV Asia studios in Edison, New Jersey.

The five U.S. diplomats showcased their Hindi speaking proficiency much to the surprise of the audience of prominent community members and professionals. The diplomats studied Hindi at the Foreign Service Institute run by the State Department, prior to their postings in India.

Michael Rosenthal, Political Unit Chief, Office of India Affairs, U.S. Department of State, who led the group, said that he and his colleagues were due for their posting in India in the coming months. “We are learning Hindi and Indian culture at the Foreign Service Institute run by the State Department”, he told the audience. Thousands of U.S. diplomats attend language and culture classes prior to their overseas postings. Rosenthal said that as a part of his language studies he and his four colleagues visited shops and interacted with businessmen in Jersey City and Edison townships.

Addressing the gathering, Nathaniel Farrer, a member of the group, who spoke in Hindi said he and his colleagues enjoyed watching Hindi movies and often debated about the acting talents of Bollywood actors. “We are yet to agree about who among Amir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan is the better actor”, he joked.

The evening also included an outreach event hosted by the Consulate General of India in New York. The event was facilitated by Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohapatra, deputy consul general, who announced that people of Indian origin, who are living in the U.S. on a refugee status, will soon be able to travel to India with a valid travel visa. Mohapatra said the consulate was working on a 24 hours and seven days a week basis in order to provide timely assistance to individual visa seekers, who were in dire and unique situations. He invited applicants to open houses at the consulate so that their issues could be resolved. The consulate holds open houses every first and third Wednesday of every month.

Picture caption: TV Asia Chairman H.R. Shah speaks at an event hosted at the TV Asia studios in Edison, New Jersey, March 3 (Photo: Gunjesh Desai /

Infosys Founder Narayana Murthy given Thomas Jefferson Medal in Global Innovation

Entrepreneur and founder of Infosys N.R. Narayana Murthy has been chosen by The University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello to receive 2017 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Law, Citizen Leadership and Global Innovation, who included Murthy – the recipient of the Global Innovation medal – founded Infosys in 1981 and grew the Bangalore-based global software consulting company into an IT powerhouse through the design and implementation of its global delivery model for outsourcing services, the foundation said in a news release.

At Infosys, which was listed on NASDAQ in 1999, Murthy served as the chief executive officer from 1981 until 2002, as chair and chief mentor from 1981 to 2011, and as chair emeritus from August 2011 to May 2013.

“In the early ’80s, as a computer engineer, Murthy seized what he saw as great potential in software services and built a company and ultimately an industry that has pioneered major changes in India’s business culture – creating jobs, raising business standards and launching a foundation to help the underprivileged,” said Scott C. Beardsley, dean of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, in a statement. “His innovations and leadership in the creation of a global software and services industry have created true value for humanity.”

In addition to Infosys, the entrepreneur serves on several boards, including at the Ford Foundation, United Nations Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., as well as a member of the University of Tokyo’s Global Advisory Board.

Previously he served as a member of the HSBC board and the Unilever board, as well as the boards of Cornell University, Wharton School, Rhodes Trust and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He has also chaired the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

Among his accolades, Murthy was considered one of the “12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time” by Fortune magazine in 2012, among the most admired global business leaders by the Economist in 2005, one of the 25 best global business leaders by CNBC in 2014, and among the Financial Times’ list of business pioneers in technology in 2015. He was also the first Indian winner of Ernst and Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year award, among many other honors.

Other medal recipients included Loretta Lynch, the first African American female attorney general in U.S. history; Alice Waters, founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project; and Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, founders and directors of Grafton Architects.

The awards, which are presented jointly by the university, which Jefferson founded in Charlottesville in 1819, and by the foundation, the independent, nonprofit organization that owns and operates his Monticello home, will be presented April 13, which is Jefferson’s birthday and also known locally as Founder’s Day.

Indian immigrant sentenced to 9 years for multimillion-dollar identity-theft scheme

Amit Chaudhry said it was family loyalty that brought him in an international identity theft scheme so vast it ensnared a television actress. “I never really dreamt of being a felon,” the 44-year-old from Ashburn, Virginia, said in Alexandria federal court on Thursday before being sentenced to nine years in prison. “This is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.” On Sept. 21 he pleaded guilty to identity theft and money laundering. He faced up to 20 years in prison.

A native of India, Chaudhry helped relatives overseas operate a multimillion-dollar scam that involved laundering money from stolen credit cards and identities through shell bank accounts. He was part of a related scheme advertising cheap travel packages. Customers’ money would be stolen, and their hotel and airfare would be paid for with stolen credit cards. Many of the more than 1,000 victims found parts of their trips canceled after the fraudulent charges were discovered.

The group made over $25 million off fake credit cards, helped by a co-conspirator working at American Express in India. When their charges were challenged, they would use images of fake passports to back them up.

The scheme was uncovered in part because an FBI agent recognized actress Laura Vandervoort in one of those passports. The image was taken from a scene from the television show “V” involving visas, authorities said. Vandervoort, a Canadian, also played Supergirl on the TV series “Smallville” and last year appeared as the character Indigo on the “Supergirl” series.;

The image, authorities said, helped make clear some of the group’s online behavior. Chaudhry’s attorneys said he was acting at the behest of relatives in India. “This was all done out of family loyalty,” defense attorney Danny Onorato said.

GOPIO-CT officials at Columbia University lecture by India’s Niti Ayog

GOPIO-CT officials were invited by Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) to a lecture by India’s Niti Ayog Vice Chairman Prof. Arvind Panagariya on February 6th at the Italian Academy at Columbia University. GOPIO-CT President Anita Bhat, Immediate Past President Shelly Nichani, Treasurer Biru Sharma and Trustees, Dr. Thomas Abraham and Sanjay Santham interacted with Prof. Panagariya before and after the talk. Prof. Panagariya, holder of Jagadish Bhagvati Chair at Columbia University, is currently on leave of absence from Columbia since he took up the position in India. GOPIO-CT had hosted Prof. Panagariya earlier in 2008 after his book “The Indian Emerging Giant” was published.

Beena Kothari to lead GOPIO-NY new team

GOPIO International called up a meeting of GOPIO-New York, which has not been a good standing chapter for the last couple of years, even though GOPIO-New York has been the first GOPIO Chapter. As per GOPIO-Executive Council discussion, GOPIO Vice President in charge of chapters Mr. Ram Gadhavi called a meeting of the GOPIO-New York members as well as others who want to become chapter members. It was held at the Indian American Kerala Center, Elmont, NY. The meeting was chaired by GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. Founder President, GOPIO-New York Chapter, Mr. Lal Motwani briefly shared with the attendees, some of GOPIO-New York Chapter’s accomplishments since its inception in 2003.

Dr. Abraham mentioned the most active GOPIO-Chapter, Connecticut’s “exemplary” accomplishments over the years; this chapter’s focus being civic and community-oriented events and activities. After discussing how to make the chapter active again the following officers were elected with a floor nominations.

President: Mrs. Beena Kothari, Executive Vice President: Mr. Inderjit Singh, Vice President: Mr. Mihir Patel, Secretary: Dr. Rohini B. Ramanathan, Joint Secretary: Ms. Meenakshi Varadnani, Treasurer: Mr. John Paul. Board of Directors: Dr. Yusuf Syed; Mr. Shiva Bhashyam; Mr. Amar Malla; Lal Motwani was endorsed as Honorary Chair of the GOPIO-New York Chapter will Dr. Abraham will serve as an Advisor.  According to reports, GOPIO-New York plans to undertake several activities in 2017.

GOPIO-New York Team for 2017-’18 with GOPIO Intl and Kerala Center officials. Sitting from l. to r.: GOPIO Intl Assistant Secretary Jaswant Modi, Dr. Rohini Ramanathan, GOPIO Intl Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, Beena Kothari, GOPIO Intl. New York Coordinator Lal Motwani, Standing from l. to r. Shiva Bhashyan, Kerala Center Exec. Director E.M. Stephen, Kerala Center President Thambi Thalappillil, John Paul, Amar Malla and Dr. Yusuf Syed

Jaishankar in DC to plan for Modi-Trump Summit

With the Trump administration’s state department in disarray amid reports of being downgraded and downsized, India’s foreign secretary S. Jaishankar was at the White House to meet with National Security Council Advisor H.R.McMaster on March 1st to seek a continuation of ever-improving ties with Washington.

According to reports, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met Donald Trump’s new National Security Advisor, ahead of the possible Summit between India’s premier Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.  Among other things,  safety of Indian immigrants and working professionals in the US was discussed in the meeting. The first personal engagement between Trump and PM Modi is expected to take place in May this year.

“Overall, our sense was that the (US) administration has a very positive view of the relationship and a very positive view of India,” foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who led the Indian delegation, told reporters on Friday after the talks.

“It is natural that any new administration that comes in, takes stock of the progress made, sets new targets and bigger ambitions,” he said. And fixing them is the task that lies ahead for the two sides.

On H-1B, the team, which included Indian commerce secretary Rita Teaotia, told Americans the temporary visa scheme, which is in the crosshairs of several Trump officials including the president himself, will “actually help the American economy to be more competitive”, especially as, and when, the administration brings American companies home. Did it carry? They were met with “a degree of understanding”, Jaishankar said.

The Trump administration urged the Indian delegation in these meetings, and at the highest level in the cabinet, to treat the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian aviation engineer, in a case of hate-crime in Olathe, Kansas, last week as an “act by an individual” and that the “American justice system was at work” and the arrested perpetrator would be brought to justice.

The high-ranking Indian official, considered one of the architects of burgeoning US-India ties, met with Trump’s new National Security Advisor H.R.McMaster even as the new dispensation in Washington is struggling to find its feet. Among his remits is laying the groundwork for the first personal engagement between President Trump and Prime Minister Modi that could take place as early as May by way of a visit, ahead of a possible meeting already on the diplomatic calendar on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg on July 7-8.

Ironing out matters relating to movement of professionals, visa issues, trade barriers, and a defense cooperation agenda, including on the manufacturing front that has already been agreed to by the previous dispensation, are part of the discussions with the new players in Washington, with some familiar faces providing an element of continuity. Jaishankar also met House Speaker Paul Ryan in the familiar Indian outreach that goes beyond the executive to the Congress, where there is bipartisan support for strong ties with India.

The safety of Indian immigrants and working professionals in the U.S following the killing of an engineer from Hyderabad in an apparent hate crime in Kansas featured high in the list of Jaishankar’s talking points going by the statement from Ryan on the meeting, absent a readout from the Indian side. Expressing condolences over the ”senseless murder” of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, Ryan said ”our peoples must stand together,” while calling for building on what he described as a ”critical partnership… by discussing ways to enhance our economic and defense cooperation.”

India, just as many countries across the world, is having to deal with the new reality of a powerful White House and an emasculated State Department, and to that extent, Jaishankar’s experience in Washington, where he was the ambassador before being recalled to New Delhi to become foreign secretary, is seen as an advantage.

Sikhs respond to shooting near Seattle with fear, disbelief

KENT, Washington: Deepak Rai, a Sikh man (who has chosen to remain anonymous) was shot and injured late Friday in Kent, Washington.  According to news reports, the gunman – who is still at large – told him to “go back to your own country.”  In an email to the Sikh Coalition, the local police department has confirmed that the shooting is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

This shooting is the latest in a string of attacks on minorities throughout the country – including bomb threats to Jewish community centers, arson attacks on mosques, and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian-American engineer who was told “get out of my country” before being shot along with two others in Kansas last month.

Fear, hurt and disbelief weighed on the minds of those who gathered at a Sikh temple Sunday after the shooting of a Sikh man who said a gunman approached him in his suburban Seattle driveway and told him “go back to your own country.”

“Everybody who is part of this community needs to be vigilant,” Satwinder Kaur, a Sikh community leader, said as several hundred people poured into a temple in Renton for worship services about one mile from Friday night’s shooting. “It is scary,” she added. “The community has been shaken up.”

Authorities said a gunman approached the 39-year-old Sikh man+ as he worked on his car in his driveway in the city of Kent, about 20 miles south of Seattle. The FBI will help investigate the shooting, authorities said.

Kent Police chief Ken Thomas said the department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime+ . He said no arrests have been made yet after the victim was shot in the arm+ but that he did not believe anyone was in imminent danger.

“This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect,” Thomas said in an email, adding that residents in the city of about 125,000 should “be vigilant” but also not let the shooting hurt their quality of life.

The FBI’s Seattle office said in a statement on Sunday that it is “committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated,” the Seattle Times reported. The shooting comes after an Indian man was killed and another wounded in a recent shooting at a Kansas bar that federal agencies are investigating as a hate crime after witnesses say the suspect yelled “get out of my country.”

The shooting was on the minds of many who gathered at a gurdwara in nearby Renton on Sunday morning for worship. Women in colorful saris and headscarves and men wearing turbans sat on the floor on opposite sides inside the worship space.

As they entered and left the services, many expressed fear that one of their own was targeted and said they’re scared to go to the store or other public places. Some said they have noticed an uptick in name-calling and other racist incidents in recent months. Still others expressed hurt and disbelief at the lack of understanding and ignorance.

“Sikhism teaches about equality and peace,” said Sandeep Singh, 24. “It’s sad to see that’s what it has come to,” he said of the violence. “This is our country. This is everyone’s country.” Gurjot Singh, 39, who served in the Marine Corps and is an Iraq war veteran, said he was dismayed that people think others who look different aren’t equal or don’t contribute equally to the community.
“This is equally my country as it is your country,” he said. “It doesn’t anger me. It hurts me.”

Hira Singh, a Sikh community leader, said there have been increasing complaints recently from Sikhs near Seattle who say they have been the target of foul language or other comments. “This kind of incident shakes up the whole community,” he said, adding that about 50,000 members of the faith live in Washington state.

Kent police have not identified the man or released other information. But India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, identified the victim on Twitter early Sunday, saying, “I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai, a US national of Indian origin.” She said she had spoken to Rai’s father, who told her Rai is out of danger and recovering in a hospital.

Rai told police a man he didn’t know came up to him Friday night and they got into an argument, with the suspect telling Rai to go back to his homeland. He described the shooter as 6 feet tall and white with a stocky build, police said. He said the man was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face. “All of the information that I have available at this time suggests that the information provided by the victim is credible,” Thomas, the police chief, wrote.

Sikhs have previously been the target of assaults in the US after the September 11, 2001, attacks, the backlash that hit Muslims around the country expanded to include those of the Sikh faith. Men often cover their heads with turbans, which are considered sacred, and refrain from shaving their beards. In 2012, a man shot and killed six Sikh worshippers and wounded four others at a gurdwara near Milwaukee before killing himself.

Indian Americans decry increasing hate crimes in the US;

appreciate support from fellow Americans against bias and harassment

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to promoting the shared values of pluralism, tolerance, and respect for human rights, today condemned increasing hate crimes in the US, including those targeting Indian Americans.

On 22 February, Indian engineers Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were shot by suspected gunman Adam Purinton in Kansas, who yelled “get out of my country,” when opening fire at them. Kuchibhotla died while Madasani was injured. Ian Grillot, who was shot while trying to intervene, has been rightly called a “hero” by Indians, including India’s foreign minister, Ms. Sushma Swaraj.

On March 03, a Sikh man was shot and injured in Kent, WA, near Seattle, with the gunman yelling a similar hateful sentiment asking the victim to “go back to your own country.”  Police have confirmed the incident is being investigated as a…

South Asian community joins in solidarity with hate crime victims

The Indian community in the United States has reached out in solidarity with the victims of an apparent hate crime in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian professional, was fatally shot dead and two others were shot at, last week at a bar in Olathe, Kansas.

The shooter yelled “get out of my country” shortly before shooting the two men he thought were Middle Eastern. Both Srinivas (who died) and Alok (who survived) are immigrants of Indian origin. Ian Grillot was shot while trying to defend these two Indian men.

Many community members remain in shock over the shooting in Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City, when a drunk white man allegedly opened fire on two young Indian engineers, screaming racial slurs and telling them “Get out of my country.”

A candle-light vigil for the victims of the hate crime in Kansas was held on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Oak Tree Road, Iselin, New Jersey. The event was organized by the South Asian Community Outreach (SACO) under the leadership of Sam Khan, Chairman, Founder and President of SACO, Dr. Nimisha Shukla and other active members. This was part of SACO’s effort to bring the communities together and stay standing as one in tough times, with the SACO slogans:

“Hate for None, Love for All”. And “Unity in Diversity” were some of the banners members of the community carried at the rally. Attended by hundreds of members from the New York tri-state, representing several organizations, including elected officials, to show their solidarity and diversity. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jew religious organizations’ representatives participated in this protest against the hate.

Sam Khan said, “SACO’s message is that all of us must stand together, because such racist policies embolden bigots in our society and has already led to an increase in hate crimes — and now killings — towards all people of color. A bigot sees no difference between Indians, Iraqis and Yemenis; or Hindus, Muslims, Christian and Sikhs.”

In a message, Dr. Nimisha Shukla said, “And so, weeping tears for Srinivas Kuchibotla, who lost his life to this hatred which is gripping our country, but standing together, clinging together, never forgetting we are together, choosing love over hate, again and again and again, let us shout: WE ARE ONE.”

Sai Kota, cousin of the victim Srinivas Kuchibhotla, along with his other family members, also spoke at the protest and requested everyone to sign the petition against hate crime. Others who had attended and spoke at the protest rally included Middlesex County Freeholder Shanti Narra, County Freeholder Charles Kenny, County Freeholder Kenneth Arm wood, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Edison Councilman Ajay Patil, Pastors Amon Sharon and from different churches, a speaker from a Hindu temple, members of the organization Indian-American Muslim Council, President Minhaj Khan,  New Pakistan PAC Dr. Ejaz Ahmed, Peter Kothari from Indo American cultural society,Manher Shah and  Harshad Patel of IBA, Nilesh Dasondi, Parul Amin , Sanjeev Kapoor  from IAFA, Col Tavathia and Seema Jagtiani from Shradha, Pakistan Day Parade Chairman Dr.Zubair,Members of the TANA Telugu Association of North America, Srujal and Saurin Parikh from FIA, Secretary of the Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas (FOMAA) Jiby M Thomas,  Syriac Kurian, Aniyan George, President of KANJ Swapna Rajesh,  Ajith Hariharan, Saji Paul, Jos Vilayil, Anil Nair, Jay Kulambil, Jithesh Nambiar, Ajayan Venugopal, Sheela Sreekumar, Dr.Smitha Manoj, Anne George, Peter George, Savith Sampath from the Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus, Secretary of NJ World Malalayee Council Jinesh Thampi , community leaders Juned Qazi, Harkesh Thakur from the Jersey City Sikh Temple, and past District Governor of Lions Club Mahesh Chittnis.

6 students charged in death of Indian American run over after party in Connecticut

STORRS, Conn. — Six University of Connecticut students were charged Friday, February 24th with alcohol-related offenses related to the death of a student who was run over by a fire department vehicle after leaving a party last fall.

According to media reports, the students had been hosting an off-campus party at a fraternity-affiliated house Oct. 16 last year during homecoming weekend. One of the attendees was Jeffny Pally, a 19-year-old sophomore from West Hartford.

Police say Pally had been sitting with her back against a garage door of the UConn Public Safety Complex at around 1 a.m. when she was run over by a fire vehicle responding to a call that turned out to be a false alarm. Two additional students have been charged in connection with the false alarm.

Pally’s body wasn’t found until about 30 minutes later when firefighters returned. She died from injuries to her head and torso, the medical examiner’s office determined. The driver of the vehicle hasn’t been charged and the tragedy was ruled an accident.

The charged students are Patrick Callahan, Matthew Moll, Dylan Morose, Austin Custodio, Dominic Godi and Jonathan Polansky. They range in age from 21 to 22 and are from Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Some were charged with permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol.

They were all released pending their arraignment in Superior Court in Rockville on March 8. It couldn’t be immediately determined if they had lawyers.

A university spokeswoman confirmed the students are still enrolled at UConn but said federal student privacy law prevents the university from saying whether any of them face discipline by the school. UConn said all but Godi were seniors, CBS affiliate WFSB reports.

The university noted the Kappa Sigma fraternity recently lost its recognition and housing due to off-campus incidents in September and October unrelated to Pally’s death. The fraternity’s national office also has revoked the local group’s charter.

“Jeffny Pally was a talented, ambitious, promising young woman and her death was a terrible tragedy,” the university said. “The entire university community joins her family and friends in continuing to mourn her loss.”

An arrest warrant revealed Pally had been with her sorority sisters from Delta Gamma during the day, WFSB reports. They were working on a homecoming float and then, she met back up with them later that evening in a dorm where they were drinking before heading to a fraternity party in Manchester hosted by Kappa Sigma.

When police interviewed some of those arrested, they told investigators they did have a fraternity party, but said there was a bouncer hired to check identifications and give wristbands to make sure only those over 21 were drinking.

But, eyewitnesses told police “there were approximately 50 people there and nobody was wearing wrist bands.” Another eyewitness said “nobody asked for identification.” All of the alcohol was provided by the Kappa Sigma house, according to the arrest warrant.

“There were six or seven guys handing out beers in the shed, and at some points there was nobody in the shed,” one eyewitness told police, according to the arrest warrant. “There were six or seven guys handing out beers in the shed, and at some points there was nobody in the shed,” one eyewitness told police, according to the arrest warrant.

That same eyewitness said “after about an hour, the victim and [another girl] were learning on [her] because they were intoxicated.” According to the arrest warrant, Pally’s blood alcohol level was 0.25 that’s more than three times the legal limit.

Eyewitnesses told police Pally left with friends in an Uber and was dropped off in front of her dorm. But, no one said they actually saw her go inside her dorm.

Kappa Sigma recently “lost its UConn recognition and housing based on off-campus incidents in September and October,” but it was “unrelated to Jeffny’s death.”  The national office for Kappa Sigma “evoked the local group’s charter.

Chamber of Commerce honors H R Shah

H R Shah, Chairman and CEO of TV Asia was honored by the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey on February 22 at Hotel Edison in Edison, N.J. Attended by nearly 100 guests, the award was given to Shah for his contributions to the community and for achievements. Shah has also been selected by the government of India to receive the 2017 Padma Shri award.

Among the guests at the event were New Jersey State Sen. Samuel Thompson and James S. Choma, chief development officer of the St. Peters Healthcare System. Also present were Piscataway Township Councilman Kapil Shah, who is also the vice-president of the Chamber and President Priti Pandya Patel, as well as members of the board of the organization.

Patel introduced Shah highlighting his achievements and mentorship of upcoming Indian-American business community and the South Asian community. He was presented a plaque for outstanding achievements and Thompson awarded him a citation praising his work and listing all the non-profit organizations Shah has founded and is a member of their advisory boards.

450,000 Indians may be impacted by Trump directive

Indian immigrants in the U.S. has spiked from about 200,000 in the 1980s to more than 2 million today, as Indian American scientists and engineers fueled the American tech boom. India received more H-1B visas in the U.S. for its temporary high-skilled workers, about 70 percent, than any other country in 2014. And it is reported that as many as half million illegal residents are of Indian origin.

These and several millions of people living in the US illegally will be affected by the Indian Americans A new set of deportation priorities announced by the Department of Homeland Security on Feb. 20 will not immediately target undocumented youth who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protection, but may affect as many as 450,000 Indian residents living in the U.S. without requisite immigration documents.

DHS Secretary John Kelly rolled out two memos that he said are in line with President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on border security and immigration enforcement. The new directives greatly expand the definition of “criminal aliens” to include those who have entered or re-entered the U.S. illegally, committed visa fraud, received public benefits, or received a final order of removal. The memos also grant enforcement officials wide berth to determine as deportable someone who poses a risk to public safety or national security.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer clarified the memo in a Feb. 23 press briefing, noting that people who had overstayed a visa would be considered deportable. “We are a nation of laws, and we have to have a system of legal immigration that is respected,” he said. Previously, deportable criminal aliens were defined as those who had committed felony crimes.

The memos also hasten deportation procedures and allow Customs and Border Patrol to determine at the border whether an arriving alien is eligible for entry – including those who have asked for asylum – without a further hearing or review.

The directives also hasten the process of deportation for those currently awaiting a hearing on their application for asylum. At least 1,500 Indian nationals are being held at Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities around the country – some for longer than two years – waiting for their asylum case to be heard.

President Barack Obama implemented the DACA initiative – also known as the DREAM Act – in 2012. More than 1.7 million undocumented youngsters are currently eligible for the program; about 750,000 are currently receiving relief from deportation, work authorization, and driver’s licenses under the provisions of the initiative.

About 17,000 Indian students are eligible for DACA, but only 3,608 have applied, according to statistics from the Migration Policy Institute. About 3,000 Indian students in California are eligible for DACA, noted the MPI.

Shortly after he was elected last year, Trump set out what immigration activists have labelled “draconian” policies for immigrants, both legal and undocumented. But in an interview with Time magazine last year, the president said he would “work something out” to help immigrants who were brought to the United States undocumented as children.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told the magazine. He did not offer details, but said: “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.” Kelly’s memos make brief mention of DACA recipients, noting they are exempted from the new directives.

South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national South Asian advocacy organization, said in a press statement Feb. 22 that it “resolutely objects” to the new DHS memos. “We believe these memos further relegate South Asian and all immigrant communities to second-class citizenship, questioning our very place in the quintessential nation of immigrants,” stated Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT.

“These policies massively expand and accelerate detentions and deportations, trample upon due process by in many cases removing the requirement for hearings and convictions prior to deportation, deputize local law enforcement to serve as immigration enforcement authorities, and increase the profiling and targeting of immigrant communities already under siege in the wake of recent and controversial executive orders released by this administration,” she said.

“The scale of the president’s anti-immigrant policies is extreme, and the new administration appears hell-bent on targeting and demonizing immigrant communities through orders that actively undermine safety and public trust in law enforcement,” said the Indian American community activist. “Short-circuiting due process is not a crackdown on crime, but a crackdown on rights and our very founding values as a nation, and these measures must be opposed by all communities of color.”

As rumors swirl over President Donald Trump’s Executive Actions on immigration, there’s trepidation among some legal residents from India in the United States. A prime concern: is it okay to travel overseas? What if there are new directives from the White House while on vacation? What if the ‘American Dream’ turns into an ‘American nightmare’, like it did for even Green Card holders from the seven Muslim-majority countries who were shunned at borders, barred from getting back to their home and normal life, targeted with a Travel Ban. Made to feel like social pariahs.


Indian Embassy hosts memorial ceremony for 2 stalwarts of India-U.S. journalism


The Embassy of India in Washington, D.C., organized a memorial ceremony Feb. 21 to condole the passing away of two stalwarts of India-U.S. journalism – Warren Unna, former South Asia Bureau Chief of Washington Post and longtime columnist for the Statesman and T.V. Parasuram, a veteran Press Trust of India/Indian Express correspondent. Unna, 93, died Feb. 9 of congestive heart failure at a retirement community in Mitchellville, Md, while Parasuram, also 93, died at his home in Bethesda, Md., Feb. 13.

The event saw participation of the families and close friends, old India hands among the media and members of the Indian-American community, an embassy press release said.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of India to the United States Navtej Sarna, highlighted the stellar contributions of Parasuram and Unna in the field of journalism and promotion of greater empathy and deeper mutual understanding between the people of India and the world. The Ambassador also drew attention to the passing away of another legendary journalist – Ambassador Sarna also paid trubute to (1961-78).

INOC, USA condemns senseless killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian Techie.

“Any Senseless killing is deplorable and has no place in a civilized society”, said George Abraham, Chairman of the Indian National Overseas Congress, USA, “we strongly condemn this heinous act against an innocent victim and call upon the authorities to prevent any copycat action” he added. Mr. Abraham was referring to the recent shooting death of an Indian techie in Olathe, Kansas for no apparent reason other than bigotry and racism. INOC, USA, a secular organization dedicated to promoting democracy, human rights and pluralism believes that communal and racist remarks must be avoided in order not to spark any disruption of peaceful co-existence amongst the various communities in the USA.

Mohinder Singh Gilzian, President of INOC, USA sympathized with the family and offered condolences to the grieved friends and relatives and appealed that assistance is given to Ms. Sunayana Dumla, the widow of the deceased victim.

Harbachan Singh, Secretary-General of INOC, USA condemned the merciless killing and stressed the critical importance of calm and cool heads to prevail especially now when the world was experiencing some difficult moments, and any harm befalling on victims especially based on racial bias or divide must be strenuously avoided.  It is incumbent on all, especially leaders, to refrain from any act or utterance which could lead to irrational and irresponsible acts of disturbance in the diverse communities we live in.   As it is, building cohesiveness and mutual trust is already a challenging process between the various peoples and that harm directed against any one community is harm inflicted on all the communities.  While it is paramount that the perpetrator be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for this vicious crime, it is equally important that leaders and enforcement authorities take steps to restore confidence and reassurance in the community since many feel that the climate of hostility towards foreigners in U.S. is beginning to erode their sense of security.

Harbachan Singh applauded the community at large for raising funds and rallying around the bereaved families and holding their hand at this hour of grief.  The support of the Indian government is also very much appreciated.

AAPI’s 35th annual convention planned at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, June 21-25, 2017

New York, NY: “It’s very great joy that I want to invite you all to come and be part of the 35th annual American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Convention 2017 to be held at brand new state of the art Convention Centre, totaling an area of about 225,000 square feet the prestigious Harrah’s Resort in the beautiful Atlantic City in New Jersey from June 21 – 15, 2017,” Dr. Ajay Lodha, President, AAPI, declared here today.

The convention is expected to be addressed by the US President, by senior world leaders, US Senators, Nobel Laureates, Governors, Congressmen, and celebrities from the Hollywood and Bollywood world.

“The annual convention this year is being organized by AAPI’s New York Chapter. Elaborating on the efforts and preparations that have been devoted to put together this unique event, Raj Bhayani, MD, 2017 Convention Chair, said. “We have been working hard to put together an attractive program for our annual get together, educational activity and family enjoyment. I and the Co-Chairs are fortunate to have a dedicated team of convention committee members from the Tri-State region helping us. We are expecting a record turnout and hence I would encourage early registration to avoid later disappointment.”

According to Dr. Lodha, the organizing committees have been working hard to make the AAPI Convention of 2017 rewarding and memorable for all with Continuing Education Meetings, National and India based Health Policy Forums, Youth Seminars, New Physician and Resident Student meetings. Physicians attending this convention will benefit not only from cutting edge CME, but also the camaraderie of their alumni groups and share in our common heritage. Social events are all being planned meticulously so that maximum benefit can be accomplished.

“Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospital staff. The AAPI Convention offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” Dr. Gautam Samadder, President-Elect, pointed out.

With 125,000 square feet of total meeting space, Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center and other halls of 50,000 square feet with no pillars, the largest meeting facility of its kind from Baltimore to Boston, with excellent view of stage by every attendee, and having ample space for exhibition booths display with recognition by our members, the Resort is truly one of its kind in the world.

In addition to the exhibition hall featuring large exhibit booth spaces in which the healthcare industry will have the opportunity to engage, inform and educate the physicians directly through one on one, hands on product demonstrations and discussions, there will be focused group and specialty Product Theater, Interactive Medical Device Trade Show, and special exhibition area for new innovations by young physicians.

“The vast shopping arcade and exhibition booths will display of various booths representing real diamond/colored stone jewelry, artificial jewelers, exquisite clothing of various types, finance, travel, food, pharmaceuticals, and newer technology. The elegantly made souvenir will offer equal opportunity to display members’ articles and research work,” Dr. Naresh Parikh, Vice President of AAPI, highlighted.

“Alumni meetings for networking, match-making, also an AAPI-India Strategic Engagement Forum to showcase the AAPI initiatives in India like Trauma Brain Injury Guidelines, MoU on TB Eradication in India and recognition of AAPI award winners will make this Convention unique,” Dr. Suresh Reddy, Secretary of AAPI, said.

The Convention offers 12 credit hours of cutting edge CMEs as per AMA guidelines by well renowned thought leaders in their respective areas, being organized by Drs. Jagat Narula and Atul Prakash.  Spiritual session is to be led by renowned Brahmakumari Shivani Didi. The Women’s Forum will feature well renowned women leaders, politicians, academicians, artists, sports women, and is being coordinated by Drs. Purnima Kothari and Udaya Shivangi.

According to Dr. Manju Sachdev, Treausrer of AAPI, “The A-Z Package is available for $599 for AAPI members, includes all meals , entertainments,  general events, fashion shows, spiritual sessions, Women’s Forum and 12hrs of CME. Do take advantage of early discount before prices go high. Standard Room rate is $159 per night, plus taxes with free parking and wifi. Suites are available at discounted negotiated prices for registered participants of the convention.”

Madhu Aggarwal, MD, Chair, AAPI BOT, says, “The CEO Forum, which is by invitation will have CEOs of leading healthcare firms, who will give their thought process on the development of medical science and current changes, especially with the ongoing national discussions on the repairing/repealing of the Healthcare delivery in the nation. Also, for the first time, AAPI is inviting CEOs preferably with their innovative technologies in the field of medicine.”

“The AAPI Research Symposium is an exciting venue to learn about and present new and exciting research as well as case reports and discussions,” says Dr. Aaditya Desai, MD
YPS President and an organizer of the contest. “Presenting before the Indian physician community adds a personal feel to the event that provides an additional sense of pride.   I have presented at many renown national meetings at this point in my career, but my parents were particularly proud of my accomplishments with AAPI,” added Atul Nakhasi, MD, MSRF President.

The Convention will also offer special emphasis on Integrative Medicine (AYUSH) and Medical innovations. AAPI Talent show at the Harrah’s newly built elegant Theatre will provide a perfect setting for our AAPI delegates to display their talents. Being put together by Drs. Seema Arora and Amit Chakrabarty, the competitive session for the AAPI members will be judged by well renowned artists and philanthropists, has attractive prizes.

The dazzling Fashion Show will be one of a kind by famous fashion designers from the nation. The extravaganza mouth watering ethnic cuisine with everyday “Theme Menus” with variety of display of best of the culinaries will be a treat for the young and the old.

Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation and the world. Known to be a leading ethnic medical organization that represents nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian Origin in the US, and being their voice and providing a forum to its members to collectively work together to meet their diverse needs, AAPI members are proud to contribute to the wellbeing of their motherland India and their adopted land, the United States. The convention is forum to network, share knowledge and thoughts, and thus, enrich one another, and rededicate ourselves for the health and wellbeing of all peoples of the world.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. Do not miss on the Early Bird Special. We look forward to seeing you in Atlantic City, New Jersey!” said Dr. Ajay Lodha.  For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:   and

Record 27 US lawmakers to visit India this month

Washington may be wracked by internecine political battles, but when it comes to India, love is in the air. A record number of 27 US lawmakers will visit India this month in two separate delegations, it was announced at a Congressional reception on Tuesday, reflecting one of the rare bipartisan mandates in a fractious town – support for stronger ties with New Delhi.

One delegation of 19 lawmakers will visit New Delhi and Hyderabad from February 20 to 25 to discuss US-India strategic ties under the aegis of Aspen Institute. Another CoDel (Congressional Delegation) of eight members will visit New Delhi and Bangalore from February 20 to 23. Together they will constitution the arguably the largest group of US lawmakers to visit any country at one time.

There have been previous such large visits to India, most notably in 2013 when 21 lawmakers visited for an Aspen Congressional program to examine policy challenges for US in South Asia. But the fact that this is happening at time Washington is riven with rancorous partisanship in the early weeks of the Trump administration is not lost on anyone, least of all the lawmakers themselves.

At a Capitol Hill reception “to celebrate India’s engagement with the 115th US Congress,” Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic Whip, spoke of the bipartisan support for the India relationship and emphasized cooperation on security issues between the two countries, while Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher zoned in on the importance of addressing the threat arising from extremist radical terrorism.

Others, such as Texas’s Pete Olsen had business opportunities (particularly energy exports from his home turf of Houston) on the mind. But the overwhelming sentiment was one of goodwill towards a fellow democracy with a large market.

The Congressional sorties are also seen as an important building block leading up to a visit to US later this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Instead of rushing to Washington DC as leaders of many US allies and friends have done (leaders of Britain, Japan, Israel among them), New Delhi clearly prefers a slower, more deliberative process involving a wider canvas, backed by grassroots and legislative support.

“The visit would let these lawmakers first hand see for themselves the political vibrancy of India, the economic reforms that are happening, and also for them to identify potential areas of engagement,” Navtej Sarna, India’s new ambassador to the US who came to Washington just days before the November 8 election, told the gathering.

Sarna has had a brief meeting with President Trump at a reception for foreign ambassadors, even as Indian officials have quietly begun connecting with their US counterparts as the new administration begins filling in posts vacated by previous Obama appointees. The Trump administration has appointed Brig. Robin Fontes, till recently the Defence Attache at the US embassy in New Delhi (and the first female attache at that) as the new new Senior Director for the South Asia region at the National Security Council.

Importantly, the CoDel visit also comes at a time the Hill has a record five lawmakers of Indian-origin, a fact that Congressman Ami Bera, Democratic Chair of the House India Caucus said is a testimony to the remarkable strides that the Indian-American community has made and the growing closeness between the two countries that is based on shared values.

AAHOA and “Hotel Management” Partner to Offer Hotel ROI Conference

ATLANTA, GA – The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and “Hotel Management” have joined forces to create and produce a series of one-day conferences collectively known as Hotel ROI.

Offered exclusively to hotel-industry professionals, Hotel ROI will be held in seven U.S. cities in 2017. The conferences are designed to both share insights and spark discussion on issues critical to hotel ownership, investment, and development. Hotel ROI deviates from the traditional conference model of panel discussions and exhibit halls, instead creating an open and inclusive atmosphere that promotes lively, productive discussion.

Data provided at Hotel ROI is market specific to ensure that takeaways are fully relevant and immediately actionable. “We are thrilled to partner with Hotel Management, one of the most widely read publications in hospitality, to offer Hotel ROI to AAHOA members,” said AAHOA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “Over the course of just one day, these conferences will provide high-level ideas and insights that are virtually guaranteed to make every attendee a more successful and effective hotelier.”

Describing AAHOA’s role in lodging, Rogers said. “As the largest hotel owners’ association in the world, we, all of us, are in a unique position of leadership and responsibility. You see we made an industry that is thriving. And it is thriving in no small part because of the incredible efforts made every day by the very people in this room,” Rogers said. “However, we also share a responsibility. An obligation to serve millions of Americans every day in their home away from home. By every measure, we are meeting and exceeding our obligations.”

Citing the latest industry data—like the fact that the travel and tourism industry is responsible for over 8 million jobs in the United States—Rogers detailed how the lodging industry helps to prop up the country as a whole. “While these numbers are impressive, think about what it means in the lives of those who actually make our industry what it is,” he said. “You see the millions of jobs it helps create, and the billions of dollars of economic effect. It ultimately means that kids get to go to college, families get to take vacations, and the American Dream is realized in all corners of our country.”

Hotel ROI launches in Houston on April 24, followed by Los Angeles (June 22), Chicago (Aug. 10), Baltimore (Aug. 24), Pittsburgh (Sep. 14), Atlanta (Sep. 27), and Charlotte (Oct. 11). For more information, please visit

Founded in 1989, AAHOA ( is the largest hotel owners association in the world, with more than 16,000 small business owner-members. AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States.

Sidd Bikkannavar, NASA scientist detained at US border

Sidd Bikkannavar, a U.S.-born Indian American NASA scientist was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials and was not permitted to enter the country unless he unlocked his PIN-protected work phone. Sidd Bikkannavar, who works in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was detained Jan. 30 upon returning to the U.S. from Santiago, Chile, the Verge reported.

Bikkannavar said he was pressured to give the CBP agents his phone and access PIN. Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device.

Seemingly, Bikkannavar’s reentry into the country should not have raised any flags. Not only is he a natural-born US citizen, but he’s also enrolled in Global Entry — a program through CBP that allows individuals who have undergone background checks to have expedited entry into the country. He hasn’t visited the countries listed in the immigration ban and he has worked at JPL — a major center at a US federal agency — for 10 years. There, he works on “wavefront sensing and control,” a type of optics technology that will be used on the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

“CBP officers seized my phone and wouldn’t release me until I gave them my access PIN for them to copy the data. I initially refused since it’s a JPL-issued phone and I must protect access.” He added, “Just to be clear — I’m a U.S.-born citizen and NASA engineer, traveling with a valid U.S. visa.”

Bikkannavar was yet to receive an explanation for why he was stopped at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. “I don’t know what to think about this,” Bikkannavar recently told The Verge in aphone call. “…I was caught a little off guard by the whole thing.”

Shekar Narasimhan, Maulik Pancholy  AAPIs members resigns in protest of Trump’s policies

Shekar Narasimhan and Maulik Pancholy are among the members of the President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who have announced to resign from the job in an open letter to the president that they have resigned from their posts.

Other  commissioners who have resigned included Nina Ahmad, Lian Cheun, Diane Narasaki, Bo Thao-Urabe and Paul Watanabe from January, as well as Tung T. Nguyen, Mary Okada, Michael Byun, Kathy Ko Chin, Jacob Fitisemanu Jr., Daphne Kwok, Dee Jay Mailer, Linda Phan and Sanjita Pradhan. The reason behind the resignation was the president’s policies that have “adversely affected Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” the outgoing commission wrote.

“February 19, 2017, will be the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 which led to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II,” Pancholy said in a statement. “Protecting civil rights and fighting against bullying were pillars of our commission’s work. We cannot serve under an administration that seeks to exclude members of our society or take away their rights, especially the Muslim community, which is very much part of our AAPI community.”

The letter, addressed to Trump, stated that, following not receiving a response to a letter sent Jan. 13, “Although the commissioners’ term ends (Sept. 30, 2017), we can no longer serve a president whose policies aim to create outcomes that are diametrically opposite to our principles, goals and charge.”

The commissioners said that under previous administrations — namely Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — the charge to commissioners has been to help the federal government better serve AAPIs by engaging our communities, identifying needs and priorities, and increasing access to the government.

“The commissioners have engaged with AAPIs throughout our country, from all walks of life, and across the political spectrum,” they continued. “Since your inauguration, the executive orders you have issued and policies you promulgated have greatly impeded the ability of the federal government to serve all who live here.”

The letter concluded, “AAPIs are an integral part of the mosaic of our great country and have been since the 1500s. We share the same dreams as other Americans for a stronger, brighter and more inclusive America.

Pancholy, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014. The Indian American film, television and stage actor is widely known for playing the role of Jonathan for six seasons on NBC’s award-winning series “30 Rock.”

Narasimhan, also appointed in 2014, has been the managing partner at Beekman Advisors since 2003 and chairman of Papillon Capital since 2012. Previously, he was the managing director at Prudential Mortgage Capital Company from 2000 to 2003 and the chairman and CEO of The WMF Group Ltd. from 1988 to 2000.

Narasimhan is the co-founder of the Emergent Institute in Bangalore, a nonprofit institution training entrepreneurs to build social ventures. He received a B.S. from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and an M.B.A. from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

“We urge you and every member of your administration to respect all Americans by protecting civil rights and civil liberties for everyone, promoting broader dialogue and understanding, and keeping the federal government accessible to all people living in the United States — regardless of their status as citizens, immigrants or refugees,” the letter stated.

“Terrorist acts have much wider implications far beyond national frontiers:” Amb. Syed Akbaruddin tells UN members

“Threats of attacks on an international stock exchange, a major dam, a nuclear power plant, possible sabotaging of oil/gas pipelines, air safety systems of airports, or potential blocking of an international canal or straits have much wider implications and pursuant complications far beyond national frontiers,” Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations said at the world body. He was addressing UN Security Council at an Open Debate on “Threats to International Peace and Security caused by terrorist acts: Protection of Critical Infrastructure” today, 13 February 2017.

Reiterating that protection of critical infrastructure is primarily a national responsibility, the Indian envoy told world leaders that given that much of our technologies and base templates for systems around the world are similar, because, “threats serve the purpose of creating disruption on a scale far beyond the immediate area of attack. They affect the population on a much broader scale. They force the multiple stakeholders providing basic services to be on constant guard. Thus, they not only add to the stress on these stakeholders and their societies but also raise the cost of services provided.”

These attacks, have crippling effects not only on daily life in a bustling metropolis but targeted a country of a billion people, he said. “The global nature of information and communication technologies raises the necessity for an international vision and coordination on policy aspects with the aim of enhancing capabilities,” he added.

According to Akbaruddin, increasingly the ideas, industries, markets, resources, services and products we share are interconnected in ways like never before. Increasingly, from the way we trade to the way we invest; the way we travel to the way we eat; indeed the way we think to the way we live – all in some way or the other depend on a spread of complex and sensitive networks. “These interconnections that underpin the provision of essential societal functions have created a new form of vulnerability, giving terrorists the chance to threaten targets that would perhaps otherwise have been unassailable,” he said.

The Indian Ambassador to the UN stated that big urban centers like Mumbai, New York and London have become targets as impact on cities serving as financial hubs affect the economy of the country in multiple ways. He pointed to the fact that the investigations into the heinous terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 revealed the impact its perpetrators wanted to have on the psyche and economy of the whole of India.

Lamenting that despite years of concern, states have addressed few international instruments addressing issues of threats from cyberspace. Current international law is not well positioned to support responses to cyber attacks.  “Security Council decisions that impose binding counter-terrorism duties do not mention cyber attacks,” he pointed out.

Stressing the importance of collaboration among nations, the Indian envoy said, it is “key to moving the perimeter you defend from your front door to the edge of your neighborhood. Critical infrastructure protection from terrorist cyber attacks requires a “global neighborhood watch program” because, as they say, there is safety in numbers. Any effective collaboration requires trust. And currently, there is a trust deficit. The lesson from the past is that, international law on terrorism has largely developed through states reacting to terrorist violence.  We hope this is not the case again and the resolution adopted earlier today is a first small step in an area where much more needs to be done,” he told the world leaders

AAHOA Secretary Selected to Speak on NEWH Panel

ATLANTA, February 9, 2017 – Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) Secretary Jagruti Panwala is scheduled to be speaker on the panelist at the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality (NEWH) Leadership Conference in Denver. The NEWH Conference is held biannually and promotes the development of hospitality industry careers, innovation, and education.

Panwala, a longtime hotelier, will take the NEWH stage as part of the Hotel Remix: Reinventing the Modern Stay Experience panel. The panel will explore hot-button issues in hotel development as well as trends in hotel design and amenities. She will be joined on the panel by Larry Broughton, broughtonHOTELS; John Hogan, Full Service Core Brand Hotels; Joseph Khairallah, Marcus Hotels & Resorts; and Jeanne Starling, MGM Resorts International. Hotel Management Editor at Large, Rouse Media President, and “No Vacancy” podcast creator Glenn Haussman will moderate.

NEWH will be held Feb. 9-11 at The Marriott City Center. For more information, please visit Founded in 1989, AAHOA is the largest hotel owner’s association in the world, with more than 16,000 small business owner-members. AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States.

Jagruti Panwala was elected as the first ever female Secretary of Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) during the four-day annual convention held last year at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Bruce Patel was elected as the new chairman of AAHOA, while Chip Rogers continues to serve as the President of & CEO of the three decades long organization.

Jagruti Panwala succeeded to chair of AAHOA in 2019, a first for the 27-year-old organization founded by hoteliers to fight ethnic and racial discrimination in the U.S. hospitality industry. Begun by fewer than 100 hoteliers in 1989, AAHOA has more than 15,000 members and ended 2015 with $11.4 million in revenue.

Panwala is a businesswoman in Ivyland, Pennsylvania, where she is part of a family hotel company and president and CEO of Wealth Protection Strategies, an investment management business she founded in 1999. She has been active in AAHOA for more than a decade, holding leadership positions since 2011 when first elected female director at large, eastern division. Re-elected in 2014, she has also co-chaired the Women’s Hotelier Committee for five years and served on the strategic planning committee for two years. She testified to Congress against proposed harmful labor laws. Her focus repeatedly has been getting more women, independent and young hoteliers involved. In 2011, she received the prestigious AAHOA Chairman’s Award of Excellence.

She is a second-generation hotelier who migrated from Surat, India, with her parents when she was a teenager. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Panwala said the message she wants to AAHOA members to hear is that getting involved in the association can make a difference in their lives and in their businesses. “I want all of our members to value their membership and to get meaningful benefits from AAHOA.  But to get more out of AAHOA, you must put more into AAHOA – not just by attending meetings, but by taking courses, by serving on committees, and by being an ambassador, for example. I learned that first-hand.

“It’s why I want more members to participate; it’s why I will continue to champion those things that make it worth both your time and your money to be an active member of AAHOA. My new position represents trust by the members that is special and sacred, so I intend to serve in a way that justifies this faith in me – serve in a way that makes all of us proud to be part of the hospitality industry and to be members of AAHOA.”  AAHOA in recent years has leveraged its power and influence on Capitol Hill and is expanding its legislative advocacy to state and local levels.

Ashok Amritraj appointed India Goodwill Envoy for UN Goals

Award-winning Hollywood film producer and Wimbledon tennis player, Ashok Amritraj has been appointed the United Nations in India Goodwill Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Chairman and CEO of the Hyde Park Entertainment Group, Mr. Amritraj is the first Ambassador for the UN in India.

An internationally-renowned iconic filmmaker, Ashok Amritraj has made over 100 films during the span of his 30-year extraordinary career garnering global acclaim as well as worldwide revenues in excess of $2 billion. He has been a pioneering force in bridging India and Hollywood through film and media.

Accepting the honour, Mr. Amritraj said “I look forward to working with the United Nations in India to amplify awareness about the SDGs. It is a tremendous opportunity that brings together my personal desire to serve the country of my birth, and my passion to leverage the power of the media for the creation of diverse, socially-relevant content”.

Welcoming Mr. Amritraj to the UN Family, Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator said, “We look forward to working with Mr. Amritraj as a powerful advocate for the SDGs, and to his support in showcasing innovations and cutting-edge solutions to development challenges that are being generated in India”.

In September 2015, at the UN General Assembly, 193 countries adopted arguably the most ambitious global agenda of our times, The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity and peace. India played an important role in shaping the global agenda and is critical to its success.

Communications and advocacy which engage governments, organizations and rights holders in a constructive dialogue to advance the SDGs is important. UN Goodwill Ambassadors aim to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and to foster engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation of these Goals.

A passionate believer in the power of the media to effect social change, Mr. Amritraj produced and hosted the acclaimed series, ‘Chance of a Lifetime’ in partnership with the UNHQ in which young filmmakers from Asia competed to create original, short stories highlighting issues related to water, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, migration and education. The winners were feted at the Cannes Film Festival.

The United Nations has a long history of close co-operation with the Government of India and today the United Nations system in India includes 26 organisations that have the privilege to serve in the country.

Ashok Amritraj will be in conversation with Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, United Nations Resident Coordinator at the UN Young Changemakers Conclave on Saturday, 28 January, details of which are available at

Tributes paid to Vanitaben Atmarambhai Patel

Chicago IL:  Vanitaben Patel passed away, on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 in Chicago at the age of 80 (August 21, 1936 to January 31, 2017) after 6 years of illness. Her final days were spent surrounded by family and friends. Her funeral was on Friday, February 3rd, 2017 11:00 a.m. until time of cremation 1:00 p.m. at the Countryside Funeral Home and Crematory, 950 South Bartlett Rd , Bartlett , IL .

Vanitaben was an astonishing person, a true matriarch of her extended family possessing all the attributes of Matriarch Mother namely loving, caring, compassionate providing leadership, unconditional love, self-sacrifices to anyone who came in touch with her. Speaking in her memory, one of the close individuals who knew her well for years from India , summarized her life as religious, filled with compassion for all living life. Result of successful careers of her children and grandchildren can be clearly seen, due to her teaching of basic significance of hard work, moral values, honor, simplicity, and ethics.

She is survived by Dr Kamal Atmaram Patel (son), Chhayaben K Patel (daughter in law), Ashka K Patel (granddaughter), Ishika K Patel (granddaughter); Kiran Atmaram Patel (son), Preetiben K Patel (daughter in law), Krushna K Patel (granddaughter), Karan K Patel (grandson); Kunjlattaben C Patel (daughter), Chitrang S Patel (son in law), Phenil C Patel (grandson)

Kamal Patel, with a heavy heart said, “I was very close to my mother for the last seventeen years. These last 6 years were very crucial because of her health. She had recurrent hospitalization, recovering, and gradual declining in health.  She was an inspirational figure for me. We always feel so much pain when we lose our parents, no matter how old or how sick our parents are. We are feeling that pain to day. “

“My mother was very spiritual, strong, kind, and a caring person. She would do anything for anyone. She had a heart of gold, the courage of a lion and love for everyone. Despite all illnesses and hospitalizations, she fought her illnesses and lived a good and positive life. I and my family were very fortunate to spend the last seventeen years with my father and her under the same roof. She cared and worried for everyone throughout her life. May your soul rest in peace. I want to thank all of you for taking your time and coming here for the final tribute and giving us emotional support during this difficult time”.

Narendra Patel from Kadva Patidar Samaj, expressed his feelings about wanting to spend time with Ba in her last moments.  “I could not spend time with her in her last moments. We are all gathered here today for Ba’s last tribute. So, we will talk and pray today about Ba’s achievements of her life. We will pray to God that Ba’s soul will go in heaven and she will rest in peace. “

During the last seventeen years, Dr. Kamal Patel participated in leadership role with the KPS (Kadva Patidar Samaj of Chicago ), FIA, and the Indian Medical Association of Illinois. Through these contributions; Dr. Kamal Patel has established himself as a prominent community leader. Besides this, he participated in lots of community health fare conventions.

In his special message, Kamal Patel MD mentioned, “Many of you attended the funeral for my mother Vanitaben and paid respect and glowing tribute to the departed soul. Our heartfelt  thanks to the more than 300 people who attended her funeral services as well as many more who attended Basnu (Pratha Sabha), called, text messages and email to us. On behalf of large south Asian Diaspora including members of Asian Media USA Chicago, we like to express our condolences. We pray God Almighty to give courage and strength to bear such loss

Ajit Pai, FCC Commissioner, targets net neutrality rules


In his first days as President Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has aggressively moved to roll back consumer protection regulations created during the Obama presidency, media reports stated.

Pai took a first swipe at net neutrality rules designed to ensure equal access to content on the internet. He stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison phone rates down, and he scrapped a proposal to break open the cable box market.

As per reports, as the chairman of the F.C.C.,  Pai released about a dozen actions in the last week, many buried in the agency’s website and not publicly announced, stunning consumer advocacy groups and telecom analysts. “They said Pai’s message was clear: The F.C.C., an independent agency, will mirror the Trump administration’s rapid unwinding of government regulations that businesses fought against during the Obama administration,” The Times wrote.

“With these strong-arm tactics, Chairman Pai is showing his true stripes,” said Matt Wood, the policy director at the consumer group Free Press.

“The public wants an F.C.C. that helps people,” he added. “Instead, it got one that does favors for the powerful corporations that its chairman used to work for.”

Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, was elevated by Trump to the position of chairman after serving as a minority Republican member for the past three years. Known for being a stickler on conservative interpretations of telecommunications law and the limits of the F.C.C.’s authority, Pai said he was trying to wipe the slate clean.

“The biggest target will be net neutrality, a rule created in 2015 that prevents internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against internet traffic. The rule, which was created alongside a decision to categorize broadband like a utility, was the tech centerpiece of the Obama administration.”

On Friday, the F.C.C. took its first steps to pull back those rules, analysts said. Pai closed an investigation into zero-rating practices of the wireless providers T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. Zero-rating is the offering of free streaming and other downloads that do not count against limits on the amount of data a consumer can download.

Hindu mantras to open both Wyoming Senate & House

Both Wyoming Senate and Wyoming House of Representatives in Cheyenne will start their day with ancient Hindu prayers on February third. These invocations will contain verses from Rig-Veda; the oldest existing scripture of the mankind still in common use.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver these prayers from Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate and House. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English translation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, besides Rig-Veda, will also recite from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He plans to start and end the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the Real, Lead us from darkness to Light, Lead us from death to immortality.” Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge the legislators to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc. He was invited by President of European Parliament in Brussels (Belgium) for a meeting to promote interfaith dialogue. He also leads a weekly interfaith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for the last nearly six years.

According to “Dress Code in the Chambers During Sessions” (as described in Management Council Policy 12-03), “Business formal (for men is defined as a suit, or dress slacks, jacket, tie, dress shirt and dress shoes or dress boots. Boots must be polished.) dress is expected on the chamber floor during legislative sessions”. But Rajan Zed’s attire; who wears saffron colored robes, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead; has been reportedly approved by the Wyoming Senate President for February three.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

In the 64th Wyoming Legislature, Eli D. Bebout is President of the Senate, which has 30 members; while Steve Harshman is Speaker of the House of Representatives, which has sixty members. Matt Mead is the Governor of Wyoming, whose nickname is “Cowboy State” and tagline is: “Some things can’t be explained. Only experienced.”

Habib Chaudhry arrested in $200 Million Credit Card fraud scheme

Habib Chaudhry, a New Yorker, has been detained after remaining a fugitive for nearly four years in a case alleging to have been involved in more than $200 million credit card fraud schemes, one of the largest ever charged by the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman made the announcement on January 23, stating that Chaudhry, 49, of Valley Stream, New York, was initially charged by complaint in February 2013 and then by indictment in September 2013. He was expected to make his initial appearance Jan. 23 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court, Fishman said.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court. Fishhman said in a press note, Chaudhry was indicted as part of a conspiracy, led by Tahir Lodhi, Babar Qureshi, Ijaz Butt, and others to fabricate more than 7,000 false identities to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards. Since then, 19 people have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.

The scheme involved a three-step process — the defendants would make up a false identity by creating fraudulent identification documents and a phony credit profile with the major credit bureaus, then pump up the credit of the false identity by providing bogus information about that identity’s creditworthiness, and finally borrow or spend as much as they could without repaying the debts. The scheme caused more than $200 million in confirmed losses to businesses and financial institutions.

The scope of the criminal fraud enterprise required the conspirators to construct an elaborate network of false identities. Across the country, the conspirators maintained more than 1,800 “drop addresses,” including houses, apartments and post office boxes, which they used as the mailing addresses for the false identities.


FBI questions Rutgers student about massive cyber attack


The FBI has interviewed a Rutgers University computer science student who has been identified by a well-known cyber security blogger as the likely author of the malicious code that caused a massive Internet disruption in October. The expert said the student also may be linked to repeated attacks on Rutgers’ computer system starting in late 2014.

While he says he does not know who may have actually launched the massive “denial of service” or DDoS attacks last fall, the security researcher said the coding language used and other anecdotal evidence seemed to point to the 20-year-old-student, Paras Jha, as an author of the malware used to shut down hundreds of computer servers.

The student’s father, Anand Jha, confirmed that federal investigators have questioned his son, but he adamantly denied he had any knowledge of the attacks or was involved in any way.

In an interview with NJ Advance Media at his Fanwood home, Anand Jha said his son is one of the principals at ProTraf, a company he said helps clients avoid online attacks. But he said his son had nothing to do with the attacks that caused widespread disruptions.

“I know what he is capable of,” Anand Jha said. “Nothing of the sort of what has been described here has happened.” He said the FBI has been in touch with his son more than once. Initially, the family believed authorities were trying to help their son, but they now believe the FBI is trying to build a case against him.

“It is tough. He is just a college kid who doesn’t know what is going on,” the father said. ‘The truth will come out.” Attorney Robert Stahl, a former assistant U.S. attorney who has been retained by the family, said the younger Jha has not been charged with any wrongdoing and was innocent. He said the focus on the student largely stemmed from the apparent findings of Brian Krebs, a former Washington Post reporter who writes a highly influential computer security blog.

“The Krebs alleged investigation makes several leaps of logic,” Stahl said. “We’ll be conducting our own investigation and are looking forward to clearing this young man’s name.”

A Rutgers spokeswoman, Karen Smith, said she could not comment on the status of the investigation.

“We continue to cooperate with all appropriate law enforcement authorities in connection with the ongoing investigation of the DDoS attacks,” Smith said. “This is a very serious matter and we will have no further comment while this matter is under investigation.”

Suhag Shukla, Sapreet Kaur among 2017 ‘Faith Leaders to Watch’


Suhag Shukla, Executive Director, Legal Counsel, and co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), has been named one of twelve “faith leaders to watch in 2017” by the Center for American Progress, the Center for American Progress announced Jan. 18. Sapreet Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s executive director in 2009, was the other South Asian featured on the list.

Amid many changes happening throughout the country, the center noted that “faith leaders can fill the critical dual roles of holding political leaders accountable to communities and witnessing the shared vision of a more just nation and world.”

It added, “Both individually and collectively, people of faith, their voices, and their actions will be integral to fighting back against injustice and ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and equity.” Shukla is the co-founder of HAF and currently serves as its executive director and legal counsel.

“I’m humbled to be included alongside other prominent American faith leaders,” the Indian American activist said in a statement. “However, doing this work and being honored in this way is only possible because of the dedication and hard work of the entire team behind HAF, as well as that of our supporters.”

The foundation is an advocacy organization for the Hindu American community. It educates the public about Hinduism, speaks out about issues affecting Hindus worldwide and works with intrafaith and interfaith organizations to advance its mission of religious liberty.

Shukla embodies true religious liberty, ensuring that plurality and the rights of religious minorities are at the heart of religious freedom advocacy, the report said.

Since starting as the Sikh Coalition’s executive director in 2009, Sapreet Kaur has transformed the organization into a large and visible civil rights organization that provides legal defense and advocates on issues of hate crimes, racial and religious profiling, safe schools, employment discrimination, and religious liberty. Shedding a light on the lesser-recognized faith, in 2013, Kaur was the first Sikh to speak at a Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. In 2016, Kaur and her team launched the groundbreaking  Sikh Project, a collection of photographs of diverse Sikh Americans that complicates the narrative and sparks conversation about what it means to be American.

In all of her work, Kaur prioritizes building bridges within the interfaith community, ensuring that the Sikh Coalition’s advocacy work supports not only Sikh civil rights but also the rights of all people. Going forward, Kaur is committed to pushing back on attacks on religious minorities and lesser-known communities and taking a stand against fear mongering and discrimination.

Shedding a light on the lesser-recognized faith, in 2013, Kaur was the first Sikh to speak at a presidential inaugural prayer service, the center news release noted. Last year, Kaur and her team launched the Sikh Project, a collection of photographs of diverse Sikh Americans that complicates the narrative and sparks conversation about what it means to be American.

The gauntlet of leaders to watch represent the best of faith traditions: optimism that the future can and will be more just and strength and perseverance to fight to make it so, the center stressed. Their leadership is desperately needed, and CAP’s Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative looks forward to the inspiration their work will provide in the coming year, it added.

Dr. Sanjay Kumar charged with drug trafficking

Dr. Sanjay Kumar, a 50-year-old Indian-origin doctor in North Carolina has been charged with drug trafficking and money-laundering, according to federal authorities. According to reports,  Kumar was charged with conspiracy to unlawful distribution of opioids such as oxycodone and alprazolam, which can be misused as addictive drugs, the federal prosecutor’s office for Eastern North Carolina announced on Jan. 17.

As per prosecutors, Kumar conspired to illegally dispense Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Hydromorphone and Alprazolam. The charges were filed against him after a grand jury, a panel of citizens that makes the initial determination to prosecute, indicted him. That is the first stage in the U.S. justice system and he will next be tried in court.

If convicted, the maximum penalties for each charged drug count are imprisonment for 25 years and a $1 million fine. Kumar is from Bern in North Carolina. A local newspaper Sun Journal said he was a specialist in physiatry and headed a sports medicine practice.

He was arrested in June at a traffic stop and according to authorities “trafficking levels” of drugs were found when his house was searched with a warrant. According to the newspaper, when Kumar was produced before a judge at that time he said: “I am going to fight all these charges, humbly and boldly.” He has also faced charges of stalking his neighbors, Sun Journal said.

Indiaspora Gala to honor “Fab Five” Indian American Lawmakers

The coming of age of the Indian American community is evident all over with the tiny less than 1% of the US population leading in several areas of American life. With the record number of Indian Americans holding high jobs in the Obama administration, many more are even trying to take an active role in the politics of the country by trying to get elected to public offices across the nation. They are the most affluent and best educated of any immigrant group in the country, according to Pew. They include doctors, engineers, tech entrepreneurs and educators, and form a rich donor base.

Now, many more Indian Americans are entering politics and seeking elected offices, cementing their place at the table of decision makers. The elections held on November 8th this year has sent One US Senator and four Indian Americans to the US Congress.

The Indian American community will honor the successful US Indian American lawmakers at a gala on January 3 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC, according to organizers. The annual Indiaspora Gala, which has in the past celebrated the presidential inauguration, has been changed this year to feature an “Indiaspora 2017 Leadership Conference and Gala.”

The Gala, which coincides with the swearing-in of the 115th Congress, will honor the “Fab Five,” five Indian Americans recently elected or re-elected to the U.S. Congress — Sen.-elect Kamala Harris, Rep. Ami Bera, and Reps.-elect Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — as well as two Indian Americans named to senior positions in the incoming presidential administration: Gov. Nikki Haley and Seema Verma. The Gala is meant to showcase and celebrate the Indian American community’s progress with the theme, “From Success to Significance.”

Nearly a thousand leading Indian-Americans from all walks of life, and eminent people from India, are expected to attend the Conference and Gala. Among them will be about 200 senior political officials (Senators, Congressmen/women, Governors, Ambassadors and Mayors) from various parts of the country.

Michelin Star chef-inspired Indian cuisine, music and dancing will be part of the Gala festivities, according to a press release. Indiaspora will also invite members of the new presidential administration and members of Congress from both parties. In addition, the 2017 Leadership Conference & Gala will showcase elements of Indian culture.

Indiaspora Board member Shekar Narasimhan said, “The Indian American community has come of age as it is an active participant in American civic life, and our ‘Leadership Conference and Gala’ will personify our move from success to significance.”

The daytime session of the event is planned as an intellectually stimulating conference including high-level keynote speakers and panelists discussing events of importance to the Indian American community, such as the future of U.S.-India relations, Indian American success stories that break stereotypes, the increasing popularity of elements of Indian culture in the United States, and the political maturation of the Indian American community.

 Sikh Doctor Stands Up To Employment Discrimination

The Sikh Coalition filed a lawsuit last week in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of Dr. Jaswinder Pal Singh.  The suit alleges that Dr. Singh – an observant Sikh physician and father who keeps a religiously mandated turban and beard – was denied a neurology job after the employer and recruiter inquired into his religious appearance.

The suit further alleges that as part of the 2014 hiring process, the employer, Premier Medical Group, P.C., and its recruiter, Arthur Marshall, Inc., expressed interest and concern about the way Dr. Singh looked. Although in phone interviews the recruiter praised Dr. Singh’s credentials, he was abruptly denied further interviews after he submitted photographs of himself, along with additional information on Sikhs and Sikhism. The job then remained vacant.

“It was very clear to me that I was denied employment because of my ethnic background and religious appearance,” said Dr. Singh. “I contacted the Sikh Coalition because nobody is better at holding companies accountable for their discrimination.”

In 2015, the Sikh Coalition represented Dr. Singh in filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  After the EEOC issued a right to sue notice, we established a legal partnership with the reputable Tennessee plaintiff attorney, Douglas B. Janney III, to file the anti-discrimination lawsuit against the employer, Premier Medical Group, and its recruiter, Arthur Marshall.

“Whether you are a doctor in Tennessee or a truck driver in California, we will always protect and defend your right to practice your faith fearlessly,” said Sikh Coalition Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur.

Last month, the Sikh Coalition announced a massive legal victory on behalf of four Sikh truck drivers who were denied jobs by one of the largest trucking companies in America. This new lawsuit, on behalf of Dr. Singh, seeks to secure a court order requiring that both defendants implement anti-discrimination policies, practices and training to ensure that they do not discriminate against any future applicants.

“No Sikh in any job or profession should ever be denied employment because of their religion,” said Dr. Singh.  “By speaking out and taking action, I know that we will continue to hold employers directly accountable.”

Arvin Batra, Hamza Rizvi die in  accident on Christmas eve tragedy

Arvin Batra of Hicksville and Hamza Rizvi of Bethpage on Long Island, NY were killed early Christmas Eve when Rizvi’s 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee crashed on Woodbury Road in Hicksville around 6 a.m. on December 24.

Arvin Batra, 19, is the son of Ajay Batra, the owner of IVSTV. Hamza Rizvi, is a Pakistani-American.  The young Batra was known as a local entertainer participating in cultural events and television.

The cause of the crash remains to be determined by a police investigation, a CBSLocal news report said. The Nassau County Police Department Second Squad said that the men were traveling eastbound on Saturday, Dec. 24 at 6:06 a.m. when Rizvi apparently lost control of the Jeep, which struck a tree and caught fire near Wilfred Road. Batra and Rizvi were pronounced dead at the scene.

Arvin Batra had St. Johns University and while still a freshman, started ArvinBatraPromotions (later renamed ABNYGroup) and started hosting various parties in New York City, later expanding around the tri-state area. Batra also started a clothing line, Pharaoh Threads, which drew inspiration “from the decadence and prestige of Ancient Egypt and street-hustle culture of New York today to create a line of clothing that symbolizes ambition and royalty,” which according to the profile, was Batra’s “philosophy and attitude to the masses.

The two young men of South Asian origin are being mourned by family and friends. As per reports, a large number of Indian American community members visited Mr. Ajay Batra‘s home in Hicksville” to offer their condolences. Also, many from the Indian American community as also a large number from Pakistani community visited Mr. Rizvi to share the family’s grief over the tragic and untimely death of Hamza.

Detectives continue to investigate the accident and ask anyone with information to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-8477. All callers will remain anonymous.

NRI youth arrested for painting Swastika Graffiti

Jasskirat Saini, a 20-year-old was arrested at Nassau Community College and charged in connection with a string of racist graffiti incidents at the Long Island, New York school over the last two months.

A Daily Caller report said quoting BC7 that swastikas were first found at Nassau Community College on a men’s bathroom Oct. 15 and later that month several more were found. In December there were two more incidents of swastika graffiti. Nassau County police found Saini writing two swastikas Dec. 21 on the exterior of a building and “KKK” on the floor of another. Saini is being charged with aggravated harassment and according to ABC7 the charge is in connection with 110 anti-Semitic drawings.

Police on Long Island say they have arrested a student in connection with a spate of racially-charged graffiti, including swastikas, at Nassau Community College. Nassau County police say 20-year-old Jasskirat Saini, of Plainview, was arrested Tuesday on charges of aggravated harassment.
Police say the man scrawled swastikas and KKK at two campus buildings on Tuesday. Earlier this month, police say swastikas were discovered written in black ink on a handrail and a wall on the campus. And in October, police say swastikas were written on the walls and urinals in various men’s rooms. One location also included an anti-Semitic comment. Saini is expected to be arraigned in Hempstead on Wednesday.

Pakistani Executive Charged In $140 Million Fake Diploma Scheme

The executive of a Pakistani company was charged in a U.S. federal court on Wednesday for his part in an alleged $140 million “fake-diploma mill” scheme, the latest step in a global crackdown touched off by arrests in Pakistan last year, according to a report by Reuters.

Umair Hamid, 30, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scam that impacted tens of thousands of consumers.

Hamid, an executive at software firm Axact, was arrested on Monday, according to a statement by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Hamid’s lawyer could not be immediately identified. An email sent to Axact seeking comment bounced back.

Pakistan had asked U.S. authorities last year to help it investigate Axact, which had been suspected of earning millions of dollars from the sale of bogus university degrees online.
Hamid resumed selling fake diplomas, duping U.S. consumers into paying upfront fees to enroll in fake high schools and colleges even after Pakistani authorities shut Axact down in May 2015, according to Bharara’s statement.

“Hamid allegedly took hefty upfront fees from young men and women seeking an education, leaving them with little more than useless pieces of paper,” Bharara said.

Contemporary Artists Investigate the Plurality of Identity in 21st Century Iran at the Aga Khan Museum

Beginning February 4, 2017, a pioneering and insightful collection of post-revolution Iranian art will be presented for the first time at the Aga Khan Museum. Featuring works by 23 contemporary artists, the world-premiere exhibition Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians showcases the many identities of today’s Iranians through 27 works selected from the private collection of Iranian-British financier and art collector Mohammed Afkhami.

The works of art featured in the exhibition confront such issues of today as gender, politics, and religion — topics familiar to those in the Western world — through quiet rebellion, humour, mysticism, and poetry. These paintings, videos, sculptures, and photographs created since 1998 present a different side of Iran, previously unseen by Western audiences, and yet very familiar in its medium and meaning.

“Despite the sanctions, isolation, and political unrest characterizing Iran in this millennium, the creative forces of Iranian artists have not been dampened,” says Dr. Fereshteh Daftari, curator of Contemporary Persians. “The narratives presented in the exhibition are woven out of genuine obsession and eloquent resilience. This is not the first exhibition on the subject, but it is the first to cast these artists and their works in light of their fortitude.”

Exhibition highlights include: A digital portrait from the Miss Hybrid series by Tehran-based artist Shirin Aliabadi; A fighter jet made from 32 stacked Persian carpets by Shiraz-born artist Farhad Moshiri; A painted fiberglass sculpture standing nearly two metres tall by renowned Iranian-Canadian artist and sculptor Parviz Tanavoli; and, A triptych from the Snow White series, which began just after the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution, by late photographer and filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.

In addition to being renowned for his contributions towards preserving and promoting modern art from the Middle East as a collector, Afkhami is also well known for his art philanthropy – as he is a Founding Member of the British Museum’s ‘Middle East and North Africa Art Acquisition Committee,’ a member of the Guggenheim Museum’s ‘Middle East and North Africa Art Acquisition Committee,’ and a member of the Board of Patrons for Art Dubai.

“A passion for the arts of Iran, tinged with patriotic undertones, is part of Mohammed Afkhami’s family history,” notes Dr. Daftari. “In a little over a decade, Afkhami has acquired some 300 works, many of them now iconic, from 1961 to today.”

Exhibition-related programming includes an Artists’ Symposium, featuring scholars from both Iran and Canada, and performances by renowned Iranian artists, such as singer-songwriter Mohsen Namjoo and Tehran-born singer Soley Vaseghi. The Museum’s restaurant, Diwan, will be offering special menu items that celebrate the textures and flavours of Iranian cuisine.

Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians is curated by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari in cooperation with the Mohammed Afkhami Foundation, and runs through June 4, 2017 at the Aga Khan Museum.

The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, has been established and developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The Museum’s mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage while often reflecting, through both its permanent and temporary exhibitions, how cultures connect with one another. Designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, the Museum shares a 6.8-hectare site with Toronto’s Ismaili Centre, which was designed by architect Charles Correa. The surrounding landscaped park was designed by architect Vladimir Djurovic.

NY Assemblyman Weprin condemns rising hate crimes at South Asian event

New York Assemblyman David Weprin (District 24) condemned the recent rise in hate crimes across the great city of New York and nationwide during a panel discussion at the 24th Assembly District South Asian Advisory Panel on December11.

Besides Weprin, the afternoon panel discussion was also attended by Councilman Barry Grodenchik as well as local leaders from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities and representatives from city agencies and community organizations.

“A hate crime against one of us is a hate crime against all of us, and we must stand together against each one of these incidents” Weprin said. Grodenchik also addressed the audience and noted that there had been an increase in hate crimes against people of all races and religions through the election period in 2016, including incidents of anti-Semitism and crimes against people with a South Asian background.

According to Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), whose district has the largest South Asian population in the city, there has been a spike in complaints about hate-related incidents since the presidential election last month.

The apparent uptick in hate-related incidents hasn’t been limited to just Muslims or those perceived to be of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. Weprin said there have also been an increased number of complaints from the Jewish and LGBT communities, among others.

“Obviously, as far as I’m concerned there’s no tolerance at all for any form of hate speech or hate crimes, whether it be physical or verbal,” he said. “We all have to stand together because a hate crime against one community is really a hate crime against all communities.”

Launched in 2015, the South Asian Advisory Panel, inside the assemblyman’s Union Turnpike office, is composed of leaders in the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities. Organizers said the goal is to foster more dialogue between the South Asian community and their elected officials by offering a direct channel for communication.

Several of the 20 or so community leaders in attendance also inquired about IDNYC, the city’s immigrant-friendly municipal ID card program. There has been some concern that program data could be used as a deportation tool under the Trump administration.

Remarks from the elected officials were followed by presentations from Tanjila Rahman of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Keerthana Nimmala of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families, Ming-der Chang, of New York-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital, and New York City anti-violence project Equal Justice Works Fellow Nishan Bhaumik.

Mayor de Blasio has pledged the city would seek to shield the information from federal officials — something it’s being sued over — and Weprin encouraged people to continue participating in the program.

Some of the topics discussed during the meeting, the advisory panel’s fifth such session, were somewhat routine: traffic problems at an intersection, concerns about bus service near Hillside Avenue. A representative from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs also gave a presentation about free tax services that will be available in coming months.

But the most pressing issue seemed to be hate-related incidents and the aftermath of the presidential election. Nishan Bhaumik, who leads South Asian outreach efforts for the New York City Anti-Violence Project, talked for several minutes about ways people can respond if they see someone being harassed on the streets, or in buses and subways. “You should always consider your own safety first, and figure out if it’s safe for you to interject yourself into the situation,” he said. “Just acknowledging the fact that it happened with that person might help them,” he said.

Pennsylvania Indian American Physician Couple get humanitarian award

Drs. Neelima and Mukul Parikh of Mechanicsburg were recently honored with the 2016 Humanitarian Award from United Way of the Capital Region’s Tocqueville Society for their outstanding commitment to improving lives throughout the region during a special reception, sponsored by M&T Bank, Wilmington Trust, Clarion Hotel Partners and The JDK Group.

The society said that the Indian American physician couple, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., were honored for their outstanding commitment to improving lives throughout the region.

The Humanitarian Award is presented annually to a local leader, or leaders, who meets the criteria of having a commitment to voluntary systems of human services; having a creative approach to serving the community; are outstanding in providing leadership and working with others; provide sustained service over a period of years; are inspirational in encouraging others to serve; their actions have had or will have a major impact on changing and saving lives; and, produce results that are clearly visible and tangible.

Neelima and Mukul have practiced anesthesiology since 1984 at West Shore Anesthesia and Riverside Anesthesia Associates respectively and both have served in leadership positions within their profession.

Since the 1980s, Neelima and Mukul have used their medical talents, as well as their spirit for philanthropy to take medical mission trips to parts of Africa, Haiti, India, the Philippines and Thailand. These trips are financed using personal vacation time as well as personal funds. The couple strives to complete two mission trips a year.

In 2013, Mukul and Neelima founded Operation Medical, a nonprofit organization comprised of trained professionals and volunteers committed to providing high quality medical care and education to the most at-risk communities around the globe. Mukul, president of Operation Medical, along with Neelima, conduct surgeries, help secure financial resources, medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals, and inspire others to join in this life-changing work.

Both Neelima and Mukul are very active with the Hindu American Religious Institute (HARI). Neelima served as the first female president of HARI and on its board of directors. Mukul has served as chair of the board of HARI, where he also taught Sunday school for 25 years and coordinated youth group activities for a decade.

Longtime donors to United Way, Neelima and Mukul have continued to grow their generosity. In 2015, they donated $100,000 to our United Way – the largest gift from individual(s) last year. In 2005, the couple established a private foundation to help support the many educational, health care, religious and community service activities they ardently support.

GOPIO Chicago Host 2nd Annual Business Convention & Gala with Business Leaders

Asian Media USA ©

Chicago, IL: Chicago Chapter of Global Organization for People of India Origin (GOPIO) hosted  2nd Annual Business Convention & Gala on November 13th 2016 at Oak Brook Marriott Hotel, 1401 west 22nd street, OAK, Brook, IL 50423. The event was attended by many corporate executives, State and local Government officials, Asian-American and small & minority business leaders and non-profit organization leaders. The objective of the event was to promote common cultural heritage and create binding relationship among business community.

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India, Chicago, in his inaugural address said that GOPIO Chicago created a platform for all the small and large Indian business owners to do business networking and grow their businesses.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, US Congressman Elect, who was one of the keynote speakers, congratulated GOPIO Chicago Leadership for hosting a Business Conference like this and he will support the Indian Community and GOPIO Chicago to create a business environment that will help to grow Indian businesses especially the startup companies.

Mike Quigley, U.S. Congressman said that businesses are failing mainly on account of lack of proper direction to grow and paucity of required funding to launch new technology products. “I will work with GOPIO Chicago to find a solution for this issue”, he added.

Sam Pitroda, Former Principal Advisor to Indian Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh added that a Business Conference like this is a first step to bring Indian Business owners under one umbrella and conferences like this need to be held in various parts of U.S cities by GOPIO Chapters. “Also need to participate in events like PBD and to expand their businesses to India as well, since India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world’, he added.

Dr. Deepak Vyas, President & CEO, Redberri Corporation shared his views as to how he started his business as a small startup company, the challenges he faced to grow his company and the strategies he used to grow his company to a large corporation.

Dr. Neeti Parashar, Nobel Prize Winning Team Member added that Indians are very bright in the field of Business and Technology, they are very hardworking and are people with a great vision. She shared some of her research experience, challenges she faced after coming from Delhi as an immigrant, and became a professor in Purdue University. “Eventually dedication and hard work helped me being part of the Nobel Prize Winning Team Member on their invention of Subatomic particles in 2013.

Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, Mayor of Oak Brook shared his career challenges as a Cardiologist, Mayor of one of the affluent suburbs of U.S, bringing more businesses and their headquarters to Oak Brook, balancing the budget for the city after maintaining  lower tax rates. He said that Oak Brook is one of the best and affluent suburbs to live in Illinois and he expressed his gratitude to GOPIO Chicago’s Leadership for hosting the event in Oak Brook. Other CEOs who talked on various subjects at the Business Conference were Dr. Anil Oroskar, CEO of Orochem Chemical Corporation and Mr. Manish Gandhi, CEO of Power Plant Corporation.

Gladson Varghese, President, GOPIO-Chicago, while making his presidential remarks, said that GOPIO is one of the largest Indian organizations outside India with Chapters in over 20 countries. “Indians are highly visible in political and business landscapes and several Indian- Americans hold key positions in Fortune 500 Companies and own large businesses. “Because of their affluence and economic power, Indian-Americans are a natural marketing target for many organizations and businesses”, Varghese added.

GOPIO presented awards to the winners in a Ceremony. Sam Pitroda, former Principal Advisor to Indian Prime Minister & Chairman, was awarded as Businessman of the Year, Deepak Vyas, Chairman, Redberri Corporation was awarded as Community Leader of the Year, Congressman Elect, Raja Krishnamoorthi was awarded GOPIO Presidential Award for Excellence and Prerana Mitta, and medical student was awarded Student of the Year.

The event was attended by the following Board members:  Savi Singh, Vikrant Singh, Joe Nedumgottil, Ashfaq Syed, Hemant Trivedi, Sharan Walia, Krishna Bansal, Ram Saini, VinozChanamolu, Girish Kapur, Ninan Thomas, Nambi Vaithilingam, and Vandana Jhingan

The Business Conference was conducted by Board Member Krishna Bansal and Sharan Walia in a professional fashion. The guests were welcomed by Board Member Vikrant Singh and MC for the evening was Savi Singh, Ashfaq Syed thanked all the dignitaries, GOPIO Board members, CEOs of various companies, Media, Sponsors and all the audience for their support for GOPIO Chicago.  The Business Conference ended with Bollywood style entertainment programs including Dances, Music and DJ. At the end of the program, Indian style Dinner and cocktails served to the guest.  Lauding Patchogue-Medford offering yoga, Hindus urge yoga in all New York schools

NYC Council honors Indian community leader Harish Thakkar at NY City Hall

Around the world, millions of people celebrated Diwali festival. Conscious of the valuable contribution made by the Hindu community in NYC, NYC  Council and Democratic district leader Dr.Neeta Jain has invited a cross-section of the Hindu community to celebrate Diwali with him in the Mayor’s office at City Hall on Thursday, 15 November.

To commemorate the event , Council Member Barry Grodenchik presented a proclamation to Indian Commuinty Leader Harish Thakkar. Harish Thakkar has received honors for his community work for various American and Indian American Community organizations, including: Lohana Samaj of USA, BAPS and Association of Indians in America and organising walkathon for cancer research, diabetic society and children diwali  event at Queens public library.

At the event  Indian Community leader Harish Thakkar said,  “Diwali is the most important and significant festival for the people of Hindu religion. It has many rituals, traditional and cultural beliefs event  of celebrating it. It is celebrated all over the country as well as outside the country with great enthusiasm. One of biggest Diwali event in the world out side India happens right here in our NYC City at south seaport in October 1st week for last 29 years.

“I can tell every person here is committed to helping keep this NYC Council Diwali going strong, and it’s really inspiring to see. May we all continue to work together, nurture and support each other and help grow the unique image of NYC City as a dynamic, creative place to live and work. On behalf of Indian American Community I thank NYC Council and newly elected Democratic queens district leader Dr. Neeta Jain for organising this wonderful event,” he added.

In Picture: From right corner  Assemblyman David Weprin,  Council Member Barry Grodenchik , Harish Thakkar, Democratic queens district leader Dr. Neeta Jain,Council Member Rory Lancman and at left corner Councilman Peter Koo

Teen gets 40 years prison sentence for killing Indian American

Trayvon Malik Wilhite, a 19-year-old teenager in Chesterfield County, Va., was sentenced to 40 years in prison on November 15 for his role in the attempted robbery and fatal shooting of convenience store owner Harshad Patel.

Chesterfield Circuit Court Judge David E. Johnson brushed aside defense arguments that the teen deserved some leniency because of his troubled upbringing – he was abandoned by his mother at age 8. The judge focused instead on the “senseless and brutal murder” of convenience store owner Harshad Patel, 55, who was fatally shot dead on January 11 as he prepared to close for the night, reported Virginia Post-Dispatch.

The judge said Wilhite intentionally pointed a gun at Patel, a father of two, and fired as the Indian American store owner ducked for cover, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.

“He shouldn’t have to take cover in his own place of business,” the judge said, according to the Times-Dispatch report, adding that Wilhite mistakenly believed Patel — who was unarmed — was reaching for a gun and blamed the victim for crouching behind the counter to protect himself. Johnson said Wilhite could then have left the store but instead made a premeditated decision to break the law.

Johnson ultimately ruled that Wilhite, who was arrested in January along with Thomas Jennings, III and a 14-year-old boy, later learned to be Wilhite’s younger brother Tyquise, be sentenced to a total of 73 years in prison with 33 suspended for the killing and attempted robbery of Patel.

After the arrest, Wilhite confessed he was the lone shooter in the crime, which was captured on surveillance video.

The video shows Jennings entering the Marketplace #21 convenience store first, followed by Trayvon Wilhite with a pistol in hand. The single shot taken went through Patel’s right arm and through his chest, fracturing a rib and penetrating the upper lobe of his lung before slicing a major artery that supplies blood to the right arm, the report said. Patel was found by a customer who arrived later to buy lottery tickets.

Chesterfield prosecutor Ken Chitty told the court that investigators found no weapon behind the counter or any guns at all in Patel’s store, the Marketplace #21 at 6811 Walmsley Blvd.

At the conclusion of the 90-minute hearing, Johnson sentenced Wilhite to a total of 73 years in prison with 33 suspended in the killing and attempted robbery of Patel, a native of India whom the judge described as a beloved family man and respected business owner. His death shocked and angered many of the victim’s regular customers who lived near his store.

N.J. Township sued for ‘Denial’ of Mosque permit

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Bernards Township, alleging it violated federal law in its denial of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge’s plan to build a mosque. The proposed site is located in a part of the township that, at the time of the society’s zoning request, permitted the construction of places of worship.

“Bernards Township has treated the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge differently than other houses of worship,” U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman said. “(Federal law) ensures that municipalities must treat religious land use applications like any other land use application.

“But here, township officials kept moving the goalposts by using ever-changing local requirements to effectively deny this religious community the same access as other faiths.”

The society, led by the former mayor, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Newark earlier in March, accusing the town’s planning board of breaking RLUIPA. The proposal to build the mosque was mooted in Nov. 2011 when Chaudry, a retired AT&T executive who has also served as the township’s mayor, decided with some friends to open a mosque in the township where he has lived for some 40 years and has been on its board of education and has led a task force to create the town’s community center. But the society could not have its mosque proposal sanctioned by the board as the latter rejected it year after year under one ground or the other.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleged that Bernards Township’s denial of approval for the mosque discriminated against the Islamic Society based on its religion and the religion of its members; applied standards and procedures on the Islamic Society that it had not applied to other religious and non-religious assemblies in the past; and imposed a substantial burden on the Islamic Society’s religious exercise. The complaint also alleged that the township violated RLUIPA by amending its zoning ordinance in a manner that imposes unreasonable limitations on all religious assemblies.

Indian American gets 18 years prison sentence for infant son’s death

Jagsheer Singh, a young Indian American father in Queens, New York, who pleaded guilty to assault and manslaughter in connection with the death of his four-month-old son, who suffered multiple skull fractures, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on November 15th, as per reports by AP.

Prosecutors say Singh, 28-year-old, had been left with his son in December 2014 while his wife, Dr. Reena Malhotra, went to work. The next day the child was taken to the hospital, where an examination showed the skull fractures, brain injury and retinal hemorrhages. The boy died a few days later.

Jagsheer Singh was charged with manslaughter and assault of his son, Nevin Janduher, who had died after suffering multiple skull fractures in December 2014. “As a father, the defendant’s job was to protect and nurture his helpless, innocent son,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “Instead, the defendant assaulted his son, causing skull fractures and widespread brain injury and ultimately resulting in the child’s death. As a result, the sentence to be imposed by the court is more than warranted.”

Singh first told his wife that Nevin fell off a changing table, but doctors found that his injuries were inconsistent with a short fall and that he had suffered “abusive head trauma.” Medical personnel at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, examined the baby and found he had suffered injuries inconsistent with falling off a table. Doctors said that Nevin had suffered non-accidental inflicted trauma.

The infant died several days later on Christmas Eve after being taken to Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Singh is facing up to 18 years in prison when he is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Richard Buchter at Queens Supreme Court on Nov. 4.

Singh was arrested Dec. 21 with first degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The charges were upgraded after Nevin’s death, to second degree murder and acting in a manner injurious to a child under the age of 17.

In March 2015, Queens radiologist Reena Malhotra, Nevin’s mother and Singh’s wife, wrote to Judge Richard Buchter, who was presiding over the case, to ask that her husband be released. She pointed out that Singh was a “loving and caring father. Our family is his world,” she wrote. “He has a big heart, is a God-loving man, and is a responsible person with a calm demeanor,” she said. In September, to honor their nephew’s second birthday, Nevin’s aunts started a gofundme drive to raise donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “We think of Nevin every day,” wrote his aunts.

Gurnoor Singh Nahal, a teen, found dead in garage

Gurnoor Singh Nahal, a California teenager was found dead in the garage of his home after a reported shooting on November 8th. Gurnoor Singh Nahal, 17, a senior at Inderkum High School was driving home from work at his father’s retail at night and about 10 minutes later, Sacramento police received a report of a shooting near his residence, CBS news reported.

Sacramento police reported receiving a call of a shooting at 10:40 p.m. Tuesday in the 5700 block of Kandinsky Way in the town. “All I heard was a gunshot and then after that, there was like somebody crying and then police came,” Singh’s neighbor Emily Thao told NBC Sacramento.

When officers arrived to the scene of the reported shooting, they found Singh laying dead in his garage. He was pronounced dead at the scene. “I saw him laying out on the ground and blood was on his side,” said Uncle, Tejiderjit Singh.

His family believes Singh was followed home from work and that the shooter may have been after the cash that was inside the car; collected from the family business that day. But, the money was never taken.

“We extend our sympathy to his family and friends, and we’re reaching out to provide support,” the Natomas Unified School District said in a released statement. “This is a difficult day for Inderkum and a sad time for the Natomas community.”

Homicide investigators have spent time canvassing the area looking for evidence and have reportedly spoken to potential witnesses. Singh is the sixth teenager killed in Sacramento County this year, the Bee reported.

Several family members and mourners gathered at the home where the shooting occurred, as well as at a neighboring home where relatives of the victim also live.

Ami Bera re-elected to Congress 3rd time

Nearly two weeks after the general elections, Democratic Congressman Ami Bera was declared winner in the Congressional election in California’s 7th district. The Indian American physician won his third term to represent a Sacramento-area district that national Republican leaders had targeted. The district has a nearly identical number of registered Republicans and Democrats.

Bera faced a tough challenge from Republican Scott Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff who raised his profile by criticizing President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. Bera and Jones emerged from Election Night Nov. 8, with the congressman leading by less than a percentage point in the CD 7 race. Jones attended “freshman orientation” in Congress last week, anticipating a possible victory in the hard-fought race.

The Associated Press declared victory for Bera, a Democrat on November 18th, when his lead over his Republican challenger, Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones, widened by more than two percentage points.  As of November 18, Bera had amassed 129, 064 votes – 51.2 percent – to Jones’ 123, 056 votes – 48.8 percent.

The incumbent was a top target for Republicans after his father pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to his son’s campaigns. In early October, Bera trailed Jones, Sacramento County sheriff, by 5 points in a National Republican Congressional Committee poll. Yet, the incumbent’s favorables, a key indicator of how people might vote, remained high. And Jones brought his own issues to the race, with him facing allegations of unwanted sexual advances.

The election had attracted national attention as Ami Bera’s father, 84-year-old Babulal Bera, was sentenced to begin a 10-month prison term for using straw donors to fund his son’s 2010 and 2012 bids for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Ami Bera, who was the lone Indian American serving in the House of Representatives, defeating Republican Scott Jones in his re-election bid from the state of California, he will be joined by three other Indian Americans in the US Congress. Californians elected Kamala Harris as the state’s first new U.S. Senator in 24 years, she also became the first Indian American ever elected to the Senate with her victory.

Fremont attorney Ro Khanna, in his second battle with incumbent Mike Honda and in his third attempt at a congressional seat, has emerged victorious against the eight-term congressman. Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi won the Illinois 8th Congressional District race against Republican Peter DiCianni. Krishnamoorthi and DiCianni were both trying to win the seat vacated by Tammy Duckworth, who won Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat. Pramila Jayapal defeated Brady Walkinshaw Tuesday in Washington’s 7th Congressional District.

“It’s been my honor to serve this community first as a doctor and for these past four years as a member of Congress,” said Bera, in a press statement announcing his win.

“I’m incredibly thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who knocked doors and made phone calls during this campaign because they believe in standing up for women’s access to health care, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and ensuring all of our Veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned. After months of a divisive national election, our job now is to bring our country back together,” said the congressman.

Bera is one of the few Democratic doctors in the 114th Congress. That distinction, along with a public commitment to bipartisan collaboration, has guided the start of his legislative career.

In 1999, he signed on as the chief medical officer for Sacramento County, and five years later he became an administrator and professor at the medical school for the University of California, Davis. As Bera tells it, a lack of progress on some of the more daunting policy questions facing the nation spurred him to become a candidate in 2010. He lost to Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, but won the rematch two years later.

Bera is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a more business-friendly part of his party’s caucus. But he has also tried to build a political identity around No Labels, a bipartisan group that aims to improve how Congress functions. He voted against all the partisan fiscal 2014 budgets that came to the House floor, and he has supported a handful of Republican bills designed to ease federal regulation.

In the 115th Congress, Bera will be joined by four incoming Indian-American members — fellow Californians Sen.-elect Kamala Harris and Rep.-elect Ro Khanna, Rep.-elect Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Rep.-elect Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

Indian American couple indicted on forced labor and human trafficking charges

An Indian-American couple have been indicted on human trafficking charges related to forced labour of foreign nationals primarily from India, authorities have said on November 17th. A federal grand jury charged Satish Kartan, 43, and his wife Sharmistha Barai, 38, with conspiracy to commit forced labour and the commission of forced labor. Kartan was also charged with fraud in contacting foreign labor and Barai was also charged with benefiting from forced labor.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California announced the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Kartan and Barai struck one worker on multiple occasions, including one incident where Kartan grabbed her hands and caused them to be burned over the flames of a gas stove. Moreover, the indictment alleges that the defendants failed to pay another worker and told her that they would call the police if she tried to leave. When she was ultimately able to arrange to be picked up from the defendants’ house, Kartan refused to provide her with the access code to the gated community so that her ride could enter, said the DOJ statement.

The couple from California were arrested on October 21, on a criminal complaint and were released on bond with special conditions that prohibit them from hiring any non-relatives to perform domestic services or child care work for them. The arraignment is scheduled for November 21.

According to court documents, between February 21, 2014, and October 3, 2016, Kartan and Barai hired workers from overseas to perform domestic labor in their homes in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Stockton and elsewhere in the US.

In advertisements seeking workers on the internet and India-based newspapers, the couple made false claims regarding wages and duties of employment, federal prosecutors alleged.

“Once the workers arrived at the defendants’ residences, Kartan and Barai forced them to work 18 hours a day with limited rest and nourishment. The defendants did not pay wages and used force, physical restraint and coercive conduct to get the workers to perform the labor and services,” it said.

Moreover, the indictment alleges that the defendants failed to pay another worker and told her that they would call the police if she tried to leave. When she was ultimately able to arrange to be picked up from the defendants’ house, Kartan refused to provide her with the access code to the gated community so that her ride could not enter, the court papers alleged. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.