‘It Took Us A 100 Years, But We Have A Spot At The Table,’ Dr Jasmeet Bains

California District 35’s newly-elected Assemblymember is elated. “It’s an amazing feeling, a very big moment for me and for the community,” she told indica. “We have been here for 100 years and finally, our community gets a spot at the table.”

Jasmeet Bains, a medical doctor from Bakersfield, is that newly-elected Assemblymember – the first South Asian and Sikh American woman in the state legislature. The district’s mid-term election, held on November 8, took exactly two weeks to be decided. In the end, Dr Bains – a Democrat – won 60.5% of the votes to defeat her challenger, another Democrat Leticia Perez, who won earned 39.5% votes. The oath ceremony will be held on December 5 in the state capital Sacramento.

“I have mixed emotions,” Bains, who works at Bakersfield Recovery Services as its medical director, said. “While it is a proud moment, I also wonder why it took over 100 years for our community to be represented.”

She said after breaking this barrier, she will have to make ensure these barriers don’t return. “I cannot be the last.”

She credits the South Asian and Indian American community for her victory. “It is because of their work that made it possible for her to win today.”

Picture : FB

Bains says that one factor that loomed large in the community not getting adequate representation was fear. “The Sikhs mostly migrated to this place to escape persecution. There was always a fear towards a government that held us back. Growing up we were told to be professional and there was never any talk about politics,” she said.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Bains grew up in city of Delano, California. As the eldest sibling, she used to help her father Devinder Bains, who owns an automobile dealership in Bakersfield. She credited her parents for the values they instilled in her.

As an elected representative, Bains said, her top priority for the district will be to resolve the drugs problem and mitigate the impact of the economic downturn. She said workers in her district come from diverse and hard-working families trying to pursue the American dream.

“If we want a healthier community, we want to make sure we foster a healthier economic climate with safer neighborhoods and more awareness about fentanyl,” she said. “Health is our biggest issue. Access to jobs, access to healthcare, access to health insurance, that’s how we will promote a healthier community.”

Bains is clear that District 35 has a labor issue. “We definitely need to do a lot of work on the front lines so that our people have strong jobs, and at the same time, we need to ensure workers’ safety; make sure people have appropriate benefits. Farm workers, law enforcement, firefighters… these are the people that make our community safe. We need to make sure they are taken care of.”

Bains said that she got support from diverse voters – from young kids to grandparents, South Asian Hindus, Muslims, Hispanic leaders – “everyone came out and supported me. We need more, this is just the beginning.”

The doctor is close to her parents and talks about them with reverence and respect. Bains said it was her decision to run, but “like most Indian parents, when it comes to politics, there was a sense of fear about what would happen or how I will be treated.” She said it is natural for parents to worry, “but they never discouraged; they just did not know what would happen.”

She added, “My parents know I am a hard worker. They saw me grow up selling cars and now, I am a doctor and an Assemblymember-elect. They know I will give it my all… my 100%.”

Devinder Bains, Jasmeet’s father, also spoke to indica and shared his feelings of pride for his daughter. “She has made history here in the US, for India, for the Punjabi community, and for all the minorities.”

Bains Sr, who moved with his wife to the US from India in 1978, said Jasmeet being the eldest of the siblings, would always act like a leader. “She would discipline them as well. She has had those qualities from her childhood. She is a born leader,” he told indica.

He said Jasmeet was not just active in class, she also gave back to the community. “She would go and help under-served communities,” he said. “She has visited Kolkata, Panama, Africa and Mexico as part of her Global Healthcare Group. She would take a team of future doctors and train them, so that they understand issues and concerns before they get into this profession.

Devinder recalls that a few months before the primary election, Jasmeet told her parents at the dinner table, “Mom, Dad, I’d like to run for office”. I jokingly said yes, run, run but run against it. Stay away from politics because politics is a dirty game. We are not politicians and you are a physician and you are trained to go and help the community.”

“But she reminded me of my own words, ‘If you want to make a change in the world, you need to change yourself first’. That surprised me, and I realised that my daughter, this young lady, was speaking with such passion. I told her that if you want to do it, I will give you all my support.”

Devinder shared how Jasmeet earned the Latino vote by speaking to them in Spanish. “Her opponent was a Latino, but even then, she broke that language barrier and endeared herself to the community.”

Like most Indian fathers, Devinder said he and his wife are constantly worried about Jasmeet’s matrimonial prospects. “We ask her all the time, but we left her alone during to the campaign. But now that she has won, we will start asking her again,” he laughs. (Courtesy: Indica News)

FB Appoints Sandhya Devanathan As The New India Head

Facebook parent Meta has announced the appointment of Sandhya Devanathan as the Vice President of Meta India. The appointment of Sandhya Devanathan as the new India head follows several high-profile departures in its key overseas markets.We are appointing Sandhya Devanathan as the Vice President of Meta India,” a statement on Meta website stated.

“Devanthan will focus on bringing the organization’s business and revenue priorities together to serve partners and clients, while continuing to support the long-term growth of our business and commitment to India. She will transition to her new role on January 1, 2023 and will report to Dan Neary, Vice President, Meta APAC and will be a part of the APAC leadership team. She will move back to India to lead the India org and strategy.”

Picture : Meta

Devanathan, who joined the firm in 2016 and helped build the company’s Singapore and Vietnam businesses, has been elevated to head and VP of Meta India. In 2020, Devanathan moved to lead the company’s gaming efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.

In her new role “Devanathan will focus on bringing the organization’s business and revenue priorities together to serve its partners and clients, while continuing to support the long term growth of Meta’s business and commitment to India,” Meta said in a statement.

“India is at the forefront of digital adoption and Meta has launched many of our top products, such as Reels and Business Messaging, in India first. We are proud to have recently launched JioMart on WhatsApp, which is our first end-to-end shopping experience in India,” the statement continued.

Meta Platforms appointed Sandhya Devanathan as its India head days after Ajit Mohan quit to join rival Snap Inc. WhatsApp’s India head Abhijit Bose and Meta Platforms’s public policy director in India Rajiv Aggarwal also resigned earlier this week.

Devanathan’s appointment comes at a time when Facebook is facing regulatory challenges in India with government tightening laws governing Big Tech companies.

The company has for years faced criticism for doing little to curb the spread of fake news and hate speech in India.

Devanathan is a global business leader with 22 years of experience and an international career in banking, payments and technology. Sandhya Devanathan will transition to her new role on January 1 next year and will report to Dan Neary, Vice President, Meta APAC and will be a part of the APAC leadership team. She will move back to India to lead the India org and strategy.

Nancy Pelosi Steps Down, Paving Way For Young Leaders To Lead Democratic Party

After leading the Democrats for the last two decades, the House Speaker has announced that she will step down next year from her spot at the top of the party, closing a momentous run for the most powerful woman in U.S. history while clearing the way for a younger generation of up-and-coming lawmakers to climb into the leadership ranks.

“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor. “I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”

Pelosi said she will continue to represent her San Francisco district in the House.

Picture : Rolling Stone

In her remarks, Pelosi warned that democracy is “majestic, but it is fragile” and said voters in 2022 sent a message to Congress that they would not support those who supported violence or insurrection. She also applauded the chamber for becoming more diverse over the course of her 35-year career. When she first entered Congress in 1987 there were 12 women in the Democratic caucus and now there are 90. “And we want more,” she said.

Her decision comes a day after Republicans officially won control of the chamber in the 2022 midterms, and three weeks after the violent assault on her husband, Paul, at their San Francisco home.

The GOP is expected to have a razor-thin majority after the “red wave” never materialized on Election Day. Democrats defied historical expectations and performed better in governor, Senate and House elections than anticipated.

There has been a quiet desire among rank and file Democrats to elect a younger slate of leaders to replace Pelosi, who is 82, and the two other top House Democratic leaders, Rep Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who are also in their 80s.

Following Pelosi’s announcement, Hoyer, who is currently the House Majority Leader, said he will not run for a

Picture : Washington Post

leadership position in the next Congress. “Now is the time for a new generation of leaders,” Hoyer said in a statement, adding that he would support Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jefferies for the top leadership role.

At the top of the list is Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California. All three serve in lower-tier leadership roles now and are interested in moving up the ladder.

Jeffries, who is 52, Clark, who is 59, and Aguilar, who is 43, would make an African American, a white woman and a Hispanic the new faces of the party. Reps. Ami Bera and Tony Cárdenas, both of California, have already announced campaigns to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democrats’ campaign arm, for the 2024 election.

“I know because I’ve seen her in action during my career as Senator, Vice President, and now as President,” Biden said in a statement following her announcement. “Because of Nancy Pelosi, the lives of millions and millions of Americans are better, even in districts represented by Republicans who voted against her bills and too often vilify her,” the statement reads. “That’s Nancy — always working for the dignity of all of the people.”

Rajan Sawhney Appointed Minister Of Immigration And Multiculturalism Of Alberta, Canada

Indian-Canadian Rajan Sawhney has been appointed as the Minister of immigration and Multiculturalism of Alberta, Canada.

Sawhney was born and brought up in Calgary, while her parents hailed from the village of Wadala, on the outskirts of Jalandhar. She has previously served as the Minister of Community and Social Services in the Executive Council of Alberta, and has been serving as the Minister of Transportation for almost a year. Sawhney has long been an engaged community volunteer who helped raise funds for social causes. Before going into politics, she worked in the oil and gas industry for over 20 years.

Sawhney was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta on April 16, 2019, as the MLA for Calgary-North East.

Born and raised in north east Calgary, Sawhney is a mother of 4, an activist, and an engaged community volunteer. Rajan attended the University of Calgary, earning a degree in Economics and Political Science as well as an MBA.

Rajan worked in the oil and gas industry for over twenty years in a variety of different roles in economics and business development. Prior to her election, she served as the Vice President of Business Development for Fracture Modeling Inc.

As an active volunteer, Sawhney is passionate about community engagement initiatives. She has played a key role in leadership with several non-profit organizations and has also spearheaded several programs and events designed to spread awareness and raise funds for worthy causes. For her community engagement work, Rajan was recognized as a Community Builder by the YWCA for Canada 150.

Rajan Sawhney was sworn in as Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism on October 24, 2022.

Jasmeet Bains Is First Indian-American Woman California State Representative

Jasmeet Kaur Bains [above center], a Democrat and daughter of a Sikh immigrant made history, November 8 when she became the first woman of Indian and South Asian origin to be elected to the California Assembly. She won the District 35 seat in a closely contested election.

Jasmeet Kaur Bains, a family physician from Bakersfield, made history by becoming the first Indian-origin Sikh woman to be elected to the California Assembly.

In a Democrat vs Democrat race for the 35th Assembly District in Kern County, Bains took an early lead over her opponent Leticia Perez.

According to the Kern County Election Results website, Bains led the race on Wednesday with 10,827 votes, or 58.9 per cent — while Perez trailed significantly with 7,555 votes, or 41.1 per cent.

Bains is a medical director at Bakersfield Recovery Services, a non-profit that treats adults suffering from addiction.

In her campaign pitch, she said she would prioritise healthcare, homelessness, water infrastructure and air quality.

Bains watched election returns with nearly 100 family members, friends and supporters at Tony’s Firehouse Grill and Pizza, a restaurant in the northern Kern County city of Delano, where she grew up.

“It’s an exciting night… I’m encouraged by the early returns and couldn’t be more grateful for the support we’ve received across Kern County,” she wrote in a text message to the Bakersfield Californian.

“I love being a doctor,” Bains said, explaining why the decision to enter the Assembly contest was not an easy decision.

“If I want to be the physician that I always dreamed of being, I need to make sure that we have the correct legislation in place,” she told Bakesfield Californian.

The 35th Assembly district stretches from Arvin to Delano and includes much of East Bakersfield.

The daughter of immigrant parents from India, Bains watched her father build a business, starting as an auto mechanic and ultimately owning successful car dealerships. After college, Jasmeet worked with her father before pursuing her career in medicine.

When the pandemic hit, Bains was on the frontlines, establishing field hospital sites to treat Covid patients. She has also spearheaded landmark mental health and addiction treatment programmes.

She was awarded the 2019 Hero of Family Medicine by the California Academy of Family Physicians, and the 2021 Beautiful Bakersfield Award from the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. (IANS)

Indian-American Nabeela Syed Makes History In US Midterm Polls

“My name is Nabeela Syed. I’m a 23-year-old Muslim, Indian-American woman,” she announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

“We just flipped a Republican-held suburban district.”

She added: “And in January, I’ll be the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly.”

And as it invariably happens with these path-breakers, she has notched a few more firsts along the way: first Indian-American elected to the Illinois state House — man or woman of any faith — and along with Palestinian-American Abdel Nasser Rashid, the first Muslim elected to the state legislature.

Syed wears a hijab, and some publications noted it.

Kesha Ram, who is now serving in the Vermont state Senate, probably holds the record for being the youngest Indian-American ever elected to a state legislature. She was only 21 when she was elected to the state’s legislative body. She ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor in 2016. She belongs to the family of Sir Ganga Ram, the builder of modern Lahore who has a Delhi hospital named after him.

Syed was born in Illinois, but not much else could be ascertained about her family, other than that her parents, or one of them at least came from India.

Syed’s campaign website says she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in political science and business administration, where she served as the President of a pro-bono consulting organisation assisting local businesses and non-profits.

“It doesn’t seem real, but I am a state representative-elect now and I will be the youngest member of the General Assembly,” she told ABC News.

The 2022 midterm will go down in history as responsible for giving the US the first Generation Z member of the US Congress — Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old Democrat elected to the House of Representatives from Florida. President Joe Biden joined the national celebration of his election by congratulating him in a phone call.

Syed frames her election as part of this effort by youngsters to claim their place in politics, rather than wait for their turn, euphemism for waiting for someone to retire.

“It is so important for us to have a seat at the table, for us to have a voice in the legislative process,” Syed went on to say in the ABC interview.

“People say wait your turn or there is no space for you. We made space,” she added. (IANS)

Aruna Miller Elected Maryland’s Lt Governor

Indian-American Aruna Miller has been elected Lieutenant Governor of Maryland in the midterm elections in which the Democrats wrested the top spots in the state from the Republicans. She and the candidate for Governor Wes Moore won 59.3 per cent of the votes in Tuesday’s election.

They make history in the state, Miller as the first Indian-American or Asian American Lieutenant Governor, and Moore as the state’s first African-American Governor.

The Hyderabad-born Miller is also the first Indian-American to be elected a state Lieutenant Governor, although two Republicans from the community have been elected Governors, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

The 58-year-old immigrated to the US from India when she was seven.

In a series of tweets, Miller wrote: “Ever since I came to this country in 1972, I’ve never stopped being excited for the promise of America. I will never stop fighting to make sure that promise is available to everyone.

“And this promise begins with a commitment to deliver a Maryland where we Leave No One Behind.”

Thanking her voters, Miller said she wants to build a Maryland where people feel safe in their communities and in their skin.

“Before I ask you for anything, I want to thank you for everything. Thank you for being here today and for being a part of this moment. We need you. We need your hope, we need your stories, we need your partnership, and I can promise you this, we’re only just getting started.

Picture : OPB

“Maryland, tonight you showed the nation what a small but mighty state can do when democracy is on the ballot. You chose unity over division, expanding rights over restricting rights, hope over fear. You chose Wes Moore and me to be your next Governor and Lieutenant Governor,” she added.

Miller had served two terms as a member of the state’s House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the legislature, starting in 2010.

She tried to run for Congress in 2019 but lost the Democratic primary election for selecting the party’s candidate.

Miller has also served as an executive director of India Impact, an organisation that mobilises voters and candidates for offices and supports Asian American candidates.

Miller is married to her collegemate David Miller and they have three adult daughters.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology she worked in California, Hawaii and Virginia before moving to Maryland, where she was employed by the department of transportation of Montgomery county.

Governor Larry Hogan, a critic of former President Donald Trump, and Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford did not run for re-election.

The Republican Governor candidate Dan Cox is a Trump loyalist and he collected only 37 per cent of the votes, underperforming like many of the candidates backed by Trump. (IANS)

Deepika Padukone Launches Self-Care Brand 82E

A pioneering advocate of mental, physical, and emotional well-being, actor Deepika Padukone launches her self-care brand, 82E (pronounced Eighty-two East) on Thursday. The brand will offer premium, high-performance products that make the practice of self-care a simple, effective, and enjoyable part of everyday life.

The name is inspired by the meridian that runs longitudinally through India and defines the standard time of the country. Eighty-Two East reflects the global Indian icon’s journey and experience as a modern woman who is rooted in India but global in her outlook.

The brand will launch with skincare as its inaugural category this month. Eighty-Two East’s skincare products are formulated by in-house experts, and each product combines an Indian ingredient with a scientific compound into a powerful formula. The products have been thoughtfully designed to make skincare a delightful ritual.

The brand takes pride in being India’s first celebrity-owned self-care brand that is backed by global institutional venture capitalists. On the occasion of launching her very own self-care brand, Deepika Padukone, Co-founder, of Eighty-Two East, says “Wherever I am in the world, practicing simple acts of self-care consistently, helps me stay grounded and enables me to feel my most centred. With Eighty-Two East, I hope to inspire us all to connect with our truest, most authentic selves through consistent and humble self-care practices. The first step in that direction is our range of skincare products that have been rigorously sourced, carefully crafted, and clinically tested so you can build simple, joyful, and effective everyday rituals to care for the health of your skin.”

The launch marks Padukone’s foray into full-fledged entrepreneurship, expanding her mission to leave behind a distinguished legacy and to inspire people to live authentic lives beyond her professional endeavors as an actor, producer, and mental health advocate. (IANS)

Indira Viswanathan Peterson: Enriching Sanskrit, Tamil Literature, Art & Culture and Social History of South Asia

Indira Viswanathan Peterson is Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies at Mount Holyoke College, and a leading scholar of Sanskrit and Tamil literature and Hinduism, as well as South Indian literary, social and cultural history and performing arts, especially classical music and early modern drama.

On Nov. 19, 2022, she will receive New England Choice Awards for Art and Culture at Hilton Woburn Hotel in Woburn, MA.

Her interests include translation, European–Indian culture contact, and comparative literature. Among her books are Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton, 1989), and Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi (SUNY 2003).

Picture : TheUNN

Other publications include: George Michell and Indira Peterson, The Great Temple at Thanjavur: A Thousand Years. 1010 – 2010 (2010); Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in modern South India, co-edited with Davesh Soneji (2008); and Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India, co-edited with Martha Selby (2007). Dr. Peterson was the editor of Indian literature for The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces (Expanded 6th Edition, 1995), and The Norton Anthology of World Literature (2002).

Indira Peterson is completing Tanjore Renaissance: King Serfoji II and South Indian Modernity, an intellectual and cultural biography of the royal polymath and innovator Serfoji II.

Here is a Q/A with Prof. Peterson:

INDIA New England News: Tell us about your upbringing. How did it contribute to what happened to you later in life?

Indira Viswanathan Peterson: I am a Tamil-speaking south Indian who grew up in cosmopolitan Bombay, where I became fascinated by diverse languages, cultures, religions, and cultural encounter. My Delhi grandfather taught me Sanskrit. I read widely in my paternal grandfather’s library. My father exposed me to German and Russian cultures. These were formative influences in my choosing literature and cultural history as the subjects of my scholarship and teaching.

INE: Walk us through your journey. How did you end up in New England?

IVP: I landed in New England as a 17-year-old in 1967, as an American Field Service high school exchange student in Concord, MA. I was delighted to immerse myself in New England history and culture. I completed a BA in English at Bombay University, then did a PhD in Sanskrit and Indian studies at Harvard. Serendipitously, I was appointed as a professor of Indian literature in the five college consortium in Western mass. I joined Mount Holyoke college in 1982, and retired from teaching in 2016. I am a dyed in the wool New Englander.

INE: Who is the mentor –or are the mentors—who influenced you?

IVP: My mother, grandmothers and aunts, strong and capable women, are role models for me. My father Dr. R. Viswanathan, a pioneering oceanographer and chemist, showed me that the pursuit of knowledge is boundless. My school and college teachers in Bombay were models of dedicated teaching. P.V. Shankar urged me never to give up singing. My grandfather S. Venkataramanan started me off in Sanskrit, and at Harvard, Professor Daniel Ingalls made me a scholar of Sanskrit.

INE: What was a life changing moment for you?

IVP: Pursuing a PhD at Harvard in the early 1970s was eye-opening. Harvard was a candy store for the humanities, and I seized as many candy bars as I could, exploring Greek, German, Russian, comparative religion, linguistics and folklore as the scaffolding for the study of Sanskrit literature. Those explorations showed me how exciting research could be. I never stopped asking questions, something which has kept my research and teaching fresh for me, and I hope, for my students as well.

I would like to mention the two people who changed my life through their loving presence. My husband Mark was my soulmate. He revealed to me the unity of art and science. Our beloved daughter Maya made us better persons and made the world a better place with her shining life.

INE:  How did the Indian American diaspora support you in your journey?

IVP: When I first arrived in Cambridge in 1967, you could count the number of South Asians even at the universities on your fingers at least metaphorically speaking. We became close friends because there were so few of us. We bought spices in Belmont and watched Hindi films at MIT. Over the years it has been wonderful to see the growth of the Indian American population in New England. I have formed lasting bonds with students from India and south Asia alongside Indian American students at Mount Holyoke college, a nurturing ground for fruitful friendships. I have learned much from the so different yet so familiar experience of my Indian American students. Recently I had the privilege of working with a gifted team of young Indian American performers of Karnatic music. I was bowled over by their cultural poise and creativity. I could not be prouder of our young diaspora.

INE: What life lesson do you want the community to walk away with?

IVP:  My own experience and ideal lead me to suggest this one: Embrace and rejoice in the exciting and irreducible diversity and plurality that form the core of Indian as well as Indian American communities. (Courtessy: INDIA New England News)

Miss World 2021 Runner-Up Shree Saini Implanted With New Pacemaker

Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, 26, wrote.

Indian-American model Shree Saini, who was declared the first runner-up at the Miss World 2021 pageant, recently revealed that she is undergoing heart surgery for a new pacemaker implant as her “current pacemaker batteries have died”. A heart patient, Shree, who got a pacemaker at the age of 12, went on to share that she has to “undergo a total of eight pacemaker replacement surgeries” in her lifetime.

“I would so greatly appreciate your prayers. There will be no visitors allowed at the hospital. I want to thank everyone who has been there for me. For those who may not know, I was born with a complete heart block, where my upper and bottom chambers did not communicate with each other. My block led me to me having a very low heart rate and feel terribly fatigued,” she mentioned in a note on Instagram.

“The pacemaker paces my heart to beat at a normal rate. It does this by using the pacemaker to send electric shocks to my heart which allows it to beat at a normal rate. Average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, now 26, penned.

Adding that she is sharing her story to “encourage people to have a greater sense of hope even in their hardships”, she wrote, “Let’s rise up from our challenges with a victor, not a victim mindset.”

Picture: Beauty Pageant

Shree, who was also adjudged Ambassador Beauty With Purpose at the 2021 Miss World, thanked her well-wishers for their constant support. “I still remember being a kid and being so confused, scared while waiting for my initial surgery. I do remember the teachers and peers who were there for me. I will forever be grateful for people who cared, reached out with comforting words and whose love filled me with strength. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I am the sum of God’s blessings, parents’ unconditional love and the blessings of so many people. So grateful for scientists, doctors for creating this remarkable pacemaker technology, that literally allows me to live today!”

About the size of a pocket watch, artificial pacemakers are implanted under the skin through an incision in the chest. The device is connected to the heart through leads or wires that deliver electrical signals that regulate the heart’s activity. “Pacemakers are small machines placed to generate heart beats. When your heart beats slows down to less than 50-60 beats, with or without heart conduction tissue, it indicates damage to your heart’s wiring system, or in cases of heart failure where a patient’s heart do not beat in tandem to produce a good pulse or output, then the doctor recommends these small machines to improve the quality of life, said Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, consultant cardiac surgeon, Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, adding that ECG and Holter monitoring tests help to determine the need of pacemakers.

According to the expert, two types of machines are widely used — single chamber and dual chamber — depending on the number of heart chambers affected. “Periodic check up, every year, is required to check for battery. Your doctor will recommend the type of machine better for you,” he said.

Dr Pankaj Batra, senior interventional cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Faridabad, told indianexpress.com that the PPI or Permanent Pacemaker Implantation procedure takes about an hour to be completed. “Permanent pacemaker insertion is considered a minimally invasive procedure. Transvenous access to the heart chambers under local anesthesia is the favored technique. It is not a surgery,” said Dr Batra, adding that “in case of congenital heart defects, pacemakers may be preferred for a long life.”

A National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) review also suggested that the primary purpose of such a device is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart’s natural pacemaker is not fast enough, or there is a block in the heart’s electrical conduction system. “Modern pacemakers are externally programmable and allow the cardiologist to select the optimum pacing modes for patients on a case-to-case basis,” explained Dr Batra and further said that replacement is usually done after 10 to 15 years using a “minor procedure”.

While pacemakers can be temporary in cases of a heart attack, permanent pacemakers are used to control long-term heart issues. “Pacemaker can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting. A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle,” mentioned the NCBI review. Agreed Dr Batra and mentioned that pacemakers are needed to “improve the quality of life”, and with minimal heart-related issues. (Courtesy: The Indian Express)

AAHOA Organizes HerOwnership Conference

AAHOA championed its goal to elevate women in hotel ownership at the inaugural 2022 AAHOA HerOwnership Conference & Retreat last week. Nearly 300 attendees gathered at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront to learn about ownership opportunities and create their path to success. The two-day event included a fantastic lineup of panels and speakers, including Executive Coach and Communications Expert Diane Ripstein, who delivered an upbeat and inspiring keynote speech on the steps women can take to become influential leaders.

Attendees heard from AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake, who empowered the women in the room with techniques to master the art of negotiation. Many women in all stages of their careers still feel uncomfortable with negotiation, but it is essential to doing business in the industry. I thank Laura Lee for helping women become better negotiators.

G6 Hospitality, Choice Hotels, Marriott International, Wyndham’s Women Own the Room, Red Roof, My Place, and Sonesta were also present, spotlighting their support and initiatives to advance women in hotel ownership.

In his address, Neal Patel, AAHOA Chairman, said, “It was an honor to be in a room full of leading women and know that AAHOA is playing an active role in opening doors for women in the industry. The HerOwnership Conference & Retreat was possible thanks to the vision, hard work, and dedication of Female Director Eastern Division, Lina Patel, and Female Director Western Division, Tejal Patel, alongside our fantastic AAHOA team, Officers, local ambassadors, members, speakers, and sponsors. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a huge success. What a way to continue our strong start for Q4 2022! Together, let’s continue to elevate women in our industry by ensuring their voices are heard, their skills are utilized, and that there’s a seat at the table for all.”

Sonal Shah Named CEO Of The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization, has announced the selection of Sonal Shah to serve as its second chief executive officer. Shah will take over for co-founder and founding CEO Evan Smith beginning in January 2023. At the Tribune, Shah will lead the organization into its next phase of growth, overseeing strategy, fundraising and operations, while editor in chief Sewell Chan will continue to run all news operations. Smith will transition into a new role as senior adviser, effective early next year.

Sonal Shah will be taking over the nonprofit news organization from Evan Smith, who has run The Texas Tribune since he co-founded it in 2009. Shah has extensive experience in social innovation and nonprofits, and is currently an interim executive vice president at United Way. She also founded Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, as well as The Asian American Foundation. Previously, she worked as the director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Obama administration.

While announcing the appointment, Jim Schachter is the chair of The Texas Tribune’s board of directors and the president and CEO of New Hampshire Public Radio, stated: “It’s been a privilege for the board to find someone who embodies all of the qualities and qualifications we identified The Texas Tribune needing in its next leader. Our north star was to find an executive with a passion for the work we do here at the Trib, and a leader with both a deep understanding of the functional and financial needs of a mission-based organization and a track record of high-impact leadership. We’ve found just such a CEO.

“Sonal brings to the Tribune an extraordinary record in fundraising and strategic leadership. A veteran of Google, Georgetown University, Goldman Sachs and the United Way, she has built a career driving social impact and civic engagement. In Sonal, the Tribune will have a business leader who can build on the successes of the past 13 years and work with the staff, board and all our stakeholders on behalf of readers to establish the organization’s path to thriving over the next decade (and beyond),” he added.

“Over my more than 25-year career, the throughline tying together all of my nonprofit, public and private sector experience has been one word: impact. My passion for civic engagement, innovation and the intersection of policy and technology is what drives everything I do, and I am thrilled to bring my experience and expertise to The Texas Tribune. This news organization is truly second to none. With a world-class journalism staff, unmatched reporting and a critical mission, I know that the sky is the limit in terms of what we can continue to build and achieve here for Texans and beyond. Texas is my home, it is where I grew up and I can’t imagine a more important place to be,” said Sonal Shah, incoming chief executive officer of The Texas Tribune.

Founded in 2009, The Texas Tribune’s mission is to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide interest. With nearly 4 million monthly unique visitors and more than 175,000 newsletter subscribers, The Texas Tribune is an established leader in digital-first journalism, devoted to informing Texans through in-depth investigations and rigorous enterprise, breaking news and beat reporting backed by data and statewide events. Since its inception, the Tribune has raised more than $112 million and now boasts more than 10,000 paying members.

One of the foremost global leaders on social impact and innovation, Shah has started and led social impact efforts in academia, government, and the private and philanthropic sectors for over 25 years. Currently, she serves as interim executive vice president, worldwide network advancement, at United Way Worldwide. 

Previously, Shah founded The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) in Houston, and also founded and led Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. She served as director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Obama administration, as an international economist at the Department of the Treasury, and as national policy director for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. In the private sector, Shah led technology initiatives and impact investing globally at Google and Goldman Sachs. Shah grew up in Houston, where she graduated from Alief Hastings High School, and went on to earn a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in economics from Duke University.

Neema Roshania Patel, Washington Post Editor, Dies At 35

Neema Roshania Patel, a founding editor of The Washington Post news site for millennial women, The Lily, and most recently an editor with the Next Generation audience development team working to cultivate a younger and more diverse readership, died Oct. 24 at a hospital in Washington. She was 35.

The cause was gastric cancer, said her husband, Akshar Patel.

After working for print, online and broadcast outlets, Ms. Roshania Patel joined The Post in 2016 as a digital editor before helping launch The Lily the next year. As deputy editor, she helped build The Lily into a website focused on original and curated material for and about women and helped grow the brand in newsletters and social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter.

On the podcast “Motherly,” Ms. Roshania Patel called The Lily “a stopping place on the internet where we could bring together the best stories on women and gender.”

Amy King, The Lily’s founding editor in chief, who is now creative director and deputy managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, called Ms. Roshania Patel a “vibrant” colleague who “found our greatest stories and gave visibility to people and ideas who had long been ignored.”

Among the projects Ms. Roshania Patel shepherded, King said, were the “Anxiety Chronicles” mental health series and a book club that featured literature by female authors, often women of color.

King said Ms. Roshania Patel spent months working on a project called “The Jessicas,” which looked at the most popular name for girls born in 1989 and examined their lives and evolving identities as they turned 30. She found 10 diverse subjects, worked with freelancers to tell the stories and oversaw a documentary short that was included in film festivals.

Ms. Roshania Patel spent a year and a half as the top editor of The Lily before moving to Next Generation, a new initiative, in October 2021.

Phoebe Connelly, senior editor of Next Generation, wrote of Ms. Roshania Patel in an email: “What stood out immediately was her desire to collaborate – to take what she had learned running The Lily and infuse it into every department, every article and every project.” She also partnered with the Style section to introduce new advice columnists to The Post.

In April, Ms. Roshania Patel wrote an op-ed for the Poynter media training center about the importance of diverse sourcing – by age, gender and ethnicity, among other categories – to attract and keep a younger demographic of potential subscribers.

“Younger audiences want to see their experiences and the experiences of their peers reflected in the journalism they consume,” she wrote. “They want to see how policy affects the lives of everyday people. And they want to feel personally connected to what they read. Diverse sourcing makes us more trustworthy arbiters of the news.”

“If we don’t include a diverse range of voices we are narrowing those lanes and not reflecting the world we should be covering,” she added.

Neema Prabhu Roshania was born in Maplewood, N.J., on Sept. 28, 1987, to immigrants from India. Her father was an electrical engineer for Metallix, a precious metals recycling company, and her mother also worked for the firm as an accounts manager.

After working for her high school newspaper, she received a bachelor’s degree in economics and journalism from Rutgers University in 2009.

In addition to internships at the business journal NJBIZ and the financial news network CNBC, she spent a few years as a researcher and writer in Washington with Kiplinger’s business newsletters and, from 2013 to 2016, she was a community news editor with WHYY, the public radio station in Philadelphia.

She married in 2014. In addition to her husband, survivors include a son, Abhiraj Patel, both of Kensington, Md.; her parents, Prabhu Roshania and Mira Roshania, of Winterville, N.C.; and a sister. She attended BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in Beltsville, Md.

Ms. Roshania Patel told Motherly that journalism appealed to her mostly as an excuse to satisfy her curiosity about the world and was a career that gave her permission and confidence to ask questions of strangers and get answers. “I felt like it was something I would never get bored of,” she said.

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Appointed As C20 Chairperson

Ahead of assuming presidency of the G20 in December 2022, the Indian government has appointed renowned spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi as the chairperson of the country’s Civil 20 (C20), an official engagement group of the Group of 20 (G20).

Amma as she is fondly known, will serve as the chair of the India C20 Engagement Group , which consists of Sri M from Satsang Foundation as a participant; Sudha Murthy , President of the Infosys Foundation as a participant; Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini as secretary, and Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari as institutional par

C20 is a group of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) around the world to voice non-government and non-business people’s aspirations to G20 world leaders. India will assume the Presidency of the G20 for one year from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023. The pinnacle of events is September 9-10, 2023 when the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place in New Delhi at the level of Heads of State and Government, it said. But in advance, India will host more than 200 meetings across the country, an endeavour that involves intense work by ministerial meetings, working groups, and engagement groups.

Upon accepting her role as Chair of India’s C20 engagement group, Amma expressed she was grateful to the Indian government for arranging such a high-level representation of the voices of the common people. “Hunger, conflict, extinction of species, and environmental destruction are the most important issues facing the world today. We should put in sincere effort to develop solutions,” Amma said in the initial C20 online meeting. 

If scientists of all fields—computer science, mathematics, physics, engineers, etc—would all work together, then we would be able to create more innovative methods of predicting environmental catastrophes, and thereby we would be able to save so many lives, she said. “Often, we see a lack of multi-disciplinary and integrated effort. This is the need of the hour,” Amma said She explained that poverty in rural areas is a key issue to address in terms of moving ahead as a society overall, especially since it is the people there who grow most of our food. 

The G20 consists of 19 countries plus the European Union, and India has been a member since its inception in 1999. Overall, the G20 accounts for about 80 per cent of gross world product (GWP), 59-77 per cent of international trade, two-thirds of the world’s population, and roughly half of its land area. 

Under the auspices of the G20, C20 engages more than 800 civil societies, representatives, and networks of various countries, including organisations from countries who are not G20 members, to ensure that people of all strata of society are heard at the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Representation of CSOs among G20 member nations began in 2010 and was launched as an official G20 engagement group in 2013.

Women-Led Counter Revolution In Iran Triggers Solidarity In US, Europe

By, Farnoush Amiri And Michael Blood

(AP) — Chanting crowds marched in the streets of Berlin, Washington DC and Los Angeles on Saturday in a show of international support for demonstrators facing a violent government crackdown in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of that country’s morality police.

On the U.S. National Mall, thousands of women and men of all ages — wearing green, white and red, the colors of the Iran flag — shouted in rhythm. “Be scared. Be scared. We are one in this,” demonstrators yelled, before marching to the White House. “Say her name! Mahsa!”

The demonstrations, put together by grassroots organizers from around the United States, drew Iranians from across the Washington D.C. area, with some travelling down from Toronto to join the crowd.

In Los Angeles, home to the biggest population of Iranians outside of Iran, a throng of protesters formed a slow-moving procession along blocks of a closed downtown street. They chanted for the fall of Iran’s government and waved hundreds of Iranian flags that turned the horizon into a undulating wave of red, white and green. “We want freedom,” they thundered.

Shooka Scharm, an attorney who was born in the U.S. after her parents fled the Iranian revolution, was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in English and Farsi. In Iran “women are like a second-class citizen and they are sick of it,” Scharm said.

Iran’s nationwide antigovernment protest movement first focused on the country’s mandatory hijab covering for women following Amiri’s death on Sept. 16. The demonstrations there have since transformed into the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement over disputed elections. In Tehran on Saturday, more antigovernment protests took place at several universities.

Iran’s security forces have dispersed gatherings in that country with live ammunition and tear gas, killing over 200 people, including teenage girls, according to rights groups.

The Biden administration has said it condemns the brutality and repression against the citizens of Iran and that it will look for ways to impose more sanctions against the Iranian government if the violence continues.

Between chants, protesters in D.C. broke into song, singing traditional Persian music about life and freedom — all written after the revolution in 1979 brought religious fundamentalists to power in Iran. They sang one in particular in unison — “Baraye,” meaning because of, which has become the unofficial anthem of the Iran protests. The artist of that song, Shervin Hajipour, was arrested shortly after posting the song to his Instagram in late September. It accrued more than 40 million views. “Because of women, life, freedom,” protesters sang, echoing a popular protest chant: “Azadi” — Freedom.

The movement in Iran is rooted in the same issues as in the U.S. and around the globe, said protester Samin Aayanifard, 28, who left Iran three years ago. “It’s forced hijab in Iran and here in America, after 50 years, women’s bodies are under control,” said Aayanifard, who drove from East Lansing, Michigan to join the D.C. march. She referred to rollbacks of abortion laws in the United States. “It’s about control over women’s bodies.”

Several weeks of Saturday solidarity rallies in the U.S. capital have drawn growing crowds. In Berlin, a crowd estimated by German police at several tens of thousands turned out to show solidarity for the women and activists leading the movement for the past few weeks in Iran. The protests in Germany’s capital, organized by the Woman(asterisk) Life Freedom Collective, began at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten park and continued as a march through central Berlin.

Some demonstrators there said they had come from elsewhere in Germany and other European countries to show their support.

“It is so important for us to be here, to be the voice of the people of Iran, who are killed on the streets,” said Shakib Lolo, who is from Iran but lives in the Netherlands. “And this is not a protest anymore, this is a revolution, in Iran. And the people of the world have to see it.”(Follow AP’s coverage of Iran at: https://apnews.com/hub/iran)

Women Are More Empathetic And Sensitive To The Feelings Of Others: Dalai Lama

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has greeted Giorgia Meloni on becoming the Prime Minister, Italy’s first woman premier, saying women are more empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of others.

“Over the years,” the Dalai Lama wrote to her, “I have had the pleasure of visiting your country many times and have been touched by the affection and friendship shown to me by Italians from all walks of life. I am also grateful to those Italian brothers and sisters who have consistently supported the Tibetan people’s aspirations for freedom and dignity.”

“I would like to say that I am pleased to see that the new Prime Minister of Italy is a woman, because I believe, and there is scientific evidence to demonstrate it that women are more empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of others. Consequently they show greater warm-heartedness and concern for others’ well-being.”

“These are very challenging times for Italy and the whole of humanity. In today’s highly interdependent world, individuals and nations can no longer resolve the problems they face alone. We are reliant on the wider community to survive, therefore we need to show greater kindness and compassion to one another.”

His Holiness ended his letter by wishing Meloni every success in meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in fulfilling the wishes of the people of Italy and the world. (IANS)

Woman Can Have A Satisfactory Sex Life After Menopause

Menopause is the natural biological process characterized by the cessation or stopping of a woman’s menstrual cycle, marking the end of fertility. The general onset is observed in middle-aged women, i.e., between 40 to 50 years of age. As aging advances, the reproductive cycle slows down and prepares to stop. Ovaries begin to age and produce fewer reproductive hormones altering the menstrual cycle. The body undergoes several associated changes in response to fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormonal disturbances stimulate several physical, psychological and emotional changes having varied outcomes as the body adapts to the changing hormonal environment.

Physical Changes:

Irregular Menstruation

Weight gain

Hot flashes and night sweats

Urinary incontinence

Drier and thinner skin and hair

Emotional Changes :

Mood swings

Anxiety and depression

Stress and tension.

Anger and irritability.

A lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating.

Other Associated Changes

Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Changes in libido (sex drive)

A loss of energy and insomnia.

Memory lapses

Headaches

Sexual Well-being during and after menopause

All women experience menopause differently, and many women experience changes in their sex life as they go through menopause. The loss of estrogen and testosterone following menopause induces multiple changes in a woman’s body and influences sexual function. Also, lower levels of estrogen can cause a drop in blood supply to the vagina, which can affect vaginal lubrication, causing the vagina to be too dry for comfortable sex. Moreover, other menopausal symptoms like bladder control problems, sleep disturbances, depression or anxiety, stress, medications, and other health concerns also affect the sexual well-being of the women experiencing menopause.

While the hormonal alteration of menopause may modify the physical and emotional aspects of sexual well-being, specific measures can assist in overcoming adversities and improving sex life. These include:

Raising libido

Changing your attitude towards sex along with talking to your partner about the same is a good way to start. A welcoming attitude towards conversations around sex especially after a certain age is looked at as taboo. So it’s important to change that mindset for yourself and well as for your partner.

Good foreplay- helps increase lubrication

Frequent vaginal intercourse- helps maintain blood supply

Find alternative methods to increase intimacy

Besides the suggestions mentioned above, below suggestions will also aid you to ensure your sexual wellness stays intact –

Manage your depression. Depression is increasingly common in midlife and may notoriously dampen desire. Seek medical help if you notice any symptoms of depression.

Opt for alternate medication. Certain drugs used for treating old-age ailments like diabetes and hypertension may also adversely affect sexual well-being. Ask your physician to help find an alternative medicine if your medication lowers your libido.

Stay healthy. It is essential to stay fit and healthy through regular exercise and healthy eating as it improves your overall health, which boosts your sexual well-being.

Relieve your stress and anxiety. Job pressures, family responsibilities, lack of privacy, and worries about children or aging parents build stress, negatively affecting overall well-being.

Limit Alcohol. Although a glass of wine might enhance your libido, heavy drinking may act reversely on your sexual health.

Keep a check on your health conditions. Diseases affecting blood flow and nerve function, like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, may reduce sexual responsiveness. Thus it is important to seek timely medical assistance.

Quit smoking

Dealing with pain

Treat vaginal atrophy. Your physician may advise water-based and longer-lasting silicone-based lubricants to make penetration less painful. Topical estrogen in the form of a cream, a suppository, or a ring can be used to treat vaginal atrophy as it releases the hormone to help plump vaginal tissues and aid lubrication.

Get physical therapy. Physical therapy in the form of exercises and massage may help relax and stretch tissues in the pelvic area and reduce the pain.

Orthopedic problems may cause pain and limit your sexual activities- changes in positions may help.

Although sexual problems can be hard to discuss, it is always good to to consult your doctor. Your doctor may refer you and your partner to a health professional specializing in sexual dysfunction. The therapist may advise sexual counselling individually, with your partner, Collaborative measures involving medical aids, professional guidance, and counseling can help deal with these biological changes and enhance the quality of life. So, even though there may be some physical and mental hardships during menopause, a woman can still enjoy satisfactory sex life. (IANS)

With $3 Million Grant SAKHI Launches South Asian Safe Families Initiative

SAKHI, one of the oldest women’s organizations in the U.S. serving the Indian-American community, announced October 12, 2022, that it has received a “groundbreaking” $3 million award from The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Foundation, with which it plans to launch the South Asian Safe Families Initiative.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Sakhi said in a press release, which made the $3 million grant spread over the next 10 years, particularly appropriate, noting, “this milestone investment will deepen multigenerational healing for South Asian families experiencing gender-based violence.”

Calling it “The largest gift of its kind to any South Asian American social service organization,” Sakhi said the South Asian Safe Families Initiative will focus on supporting South Asian families “through a culturally rooted approach.”

The trauma experienced by the children and families of survivors is multigenerational, Sakhi noted.

“This bold initiative will take the conversation of healing from a siloed, individual experience to one that will bring families closer together and the restorative ripple effects of this investment will be felt for generations,” Kavita Mehra, executive director of Sakhi for South Asian Women is quoted saying in an earlier press release.

“The South Asian Safe Families Initiative aims to radically transform models of healing for survivors of trauma—for generations to come,” the organization said.

Describing Tulsi Gabbard Leaving Democratic Party As “Unfortunate,” Dr. Sampat Shivangi Says, Gabbard May Join Republican Party, Likely VP Candidate In 2024

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, announced October 11, 2022, she is quitting the Democratic Party because it is dividing the country along racial lines. “I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic Party – which is now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness,” Gabbard said in a press release and on a YouTube video.

Tulsi Gabbard said, she is leaving the Democratic Party, denouncing it as an “elitist cabal of war mongers,” while calling upon other “common sense independent-minded Democrats” to exit with her, media reports said.

“I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic Party that is now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racialising every issue & stoke anti-white racism, actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms, are hostile to people of faith & spirituality, demonize the police & protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans, believe in open borders, weaponize the national security state to go after political opponents, and above all, dragging us ever closer to nuclear war,” Gabbard said, ABC News reported.

Gabbard represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District from 2013 to 2021 as a Democrat, and in 2020 she mounted an unsuccessful bid for the party’s presidential nomination. In in a video posted to Twitter on October12th, she claimed that the party she’s exiting stands for the “powerful elite,” not the people, ABC News reported. “If you can no longer stomach the direction that the so called woke Democratic Party ideologues are taking our country. I invite you to join me,” she said.

Chief among the reasons her 20-year stint as a member of the Democratic Party will be cut short, she said, is her fear that “President (Joe) Biden and Democratic Party elites have pushed us to the precipice of nuclear war, risking starting World War III and destroying the world as we know it”. 

Gabbard who is an Iraq War veteran has served in 3 deployments to the Middle East and Africa. She currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves working as a Civil Affairs Office.

Gabbard was first elected to public office in the Hawaii State House of Representatives when she was 21 years old, enlisted in the Army National Guard following the 9/11 attacks, and volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the 29th Brigade Combat Team where she served in a medical unit, noted a press release from her office.

After returning home in 2006, Gabbard worked in the U.S. Senate as a legislative aide to the late Senator from Hawaii Danny Akaka, who was Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. She then volunteered for a second Middle East deployment as a Platoon Leader.

“I believe in a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Unfortunately, today’s Democratic Party does not. Instead, it stands for a government of, by, and for the powerful elite.” She urged like-minded people to also leave the Democratic Party.

She recently launched a podcast, “The Tulsi Gabbard Show” where she also announced her decision to leave the Democratic Party. Sections of the Indian-American community welcomed her election as the first Hindu to be in the lower house, and she was a frequent invitee to events organized by them.

“It is unfortunate that Democrats are losing a star of the party and a nation,” said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, National President of Indian American Forum. “A US Presidential candidate is leaving her party of several decades, is shocking. Her differences of opinions and strategies with Clintons is an open secret, which ultimately culminated in her departure.  It is not a surprising that she was seen more on Fox News, is no co incident. Many knew her inklings and it was matter of time for her departure from Democratic Party which is no surprise at all.” 

Describing his long association with Gabbard, Dr. Shivangi, a veteran Republican Party leader and physician by profession, said, “I knew her well. She was the only Hindu congresswoman in US Congress a strong supporter of India and close friend of Modiji and India.  It was my honor and proud moment for me to introduce and announce her candidacy as US national Democratic Party Presidential candidate in Los Angels , California. 

Stating his thoughts on Gabard’s future plans, Dr. Shivangi said, “It has been speculated that she may join US Republican Party and opt for top post including as a VP if not a Presidential candidate.  Time will tell.”

Sarah Thankam Mathews In 2022 National Book Awards Shortlist

Indian-American author Sarah Thankam Mathews is among the finalists for the 2022 National Book Awards, which will be announced on November 16 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Mathews’ debut novel ‘All This Could Be Different’, is listed in the fiction category and tells the story of a young queer immigrant who creates a community for herself while grappling with the oppressive demands of capitalism.

“I simply will never be over this,” Mathews tweeted after her name was announced by The New York Times earlier this week.

Mathews grew up between Oman and India, and moved to the US at seventeen. Her work has been published in places including AGNI, SSENSE, and Best American Short Stories.

She was a 2020 Margins Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and the recipient of a Rona Jaffe fellowship at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

“Sarah Thankam Mathews has written one of the buzziest, and most human, books of the year,” the Vogue said. “…an extraordinary novel, spiny and delicate, scathingly funny and wildly moving. Sarah Thankam Mathews is a brilliant writer, one whose every ringing sentence holds both bite and heart,” Lauren Groff, author of Matrix, said.

The twenty-five Finalists for the 2022 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature were announced with the New York Times. The five Finalists in each category were selected by a distinguished panel of judges, and were advanced from the Longlists announced in September with The New Yorker.

Between the five categories, there are six writers and one translator who have been previously honored by the National Book Awards: Gayl Jones, a 1998 Fiction Finalist; Scholastique Mukasonga, a 2019 Translated Literature Finalist; Sharon Olds, a 2002 Poetry Finalist; David Quammen, a 2018 Nonfiction Longlister; Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani, the 2018 Translated Literature Winners; and Jenny Xie, a 2018 Poetry Finalist. All five of the Finalists for Young People’s Literature are first-time National Book Award honorees. Six of the twenty-five Finalist titles are debuts.

Publishers submitted a total of 1,772 books for this year’s National Book Awards: 463 in Fiction, 607 in Nonfiction, 260 in Poetry, 146 in Translated Literature, and 296 in Young People’s Literature. Judges’ decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and Board of Directors, and deliberations are strictly confidential.

The Winners will be announced live on Wednesday, November 16 at the invitation-only 73rd National Book Awards Ceremony & Benefit Dinner, in person at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, and broadcast live for readers everywhere. 

Two lifetime achievement awards will also be presented as part of the evening’s ceremony: Art Spiegelman will be recognized with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Neil Gaiman, and Tracie D. Hall will receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

AAHOA Director of Corporate Communications Melissa Stern’s Survivor Story for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, AAHOA Director of Corporate Communications Melissa Stern shares her survivor story in a recent podcast interview. Back in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Melissa was diagnosed with cancer. In this interview, she talks about making a career change, overcoming breast cancer during a global pandemic, and sharing advice based on what she’s learned.

“Cancer changes you. I’ve become a completely different person than who I was before I was diagnosed, and it makes you reconsider what is important in life…I just thought I want to spend every moment that I can of my free time with my family and friends and doing the things that I truly enjoy doing. Obviously, I still work full time but in a different capacity where…I feel like I have more freedom and flexibility to do what I love to do.”

Listen to the full interview  and learn more about Melissa’s battle with cancer and advice for others who’ve received a scary diagnosis. 

Watch Melissa’s cancer journey in this news story.

Lata Mangeshkar Music College Launched On Her 93rd Birth Anniversary

In a fitting tribute, the ‘Bharat Ratna Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar International Music College & Museum’ was inaugurated at the Kalina Campus of the University of Mumbai, here on Wednesday — on the 93rd birth anniversary of the melody queen who passed away on February 6, officials said.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis did the honours in the presence of a large number of ministers, political leaders and music personalities like Usha Mangeshkar, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Meena Khadilkar, Adinath Mangeshkar, Ashok Patki, Sonu Nigam, Anup Jalota, Pankaj Udas, Mayuresh Pai, Taufiq Qureshi, Lalit Pandit, and others.

With this, the University will offer the first six certificate courses of one-year each in Hindustani classical music, Indian flute, tabla, sitar, harmonium/keyboard and sound engineering will be launched with an initial intake of 150 students.

In August this year, the Maharashtra government had handed over a 7,000-square metre plot owned by the Directorate of Libraries in the Kalina campus of Mumbai University for the music college.

However, as a temporary measure, till the college gets its own building and other amenities, it will function from the P.L. Deshpande Academy, Shinde had said.

Lata Mangeshkar desired to start such a music college in memory of her father, Master Dinanath Mangeshkar, and the former Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s former Minister Aditya Thackeray had shown her the plot which she had liked.

After her demise, the ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray had announced that a world class music college would come up in memory of ‘Lata didi’, as she was known during her lifetime.

Later, the government had set up a 14-member expert advisory board for the college courses which included Chairman Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar, Adinath Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadkar, Mayuresh Pai, Zakir Hussain, A.R. Rahman and other personalities.

To start with, the teaching posts will be on an emoluments basis and clerical/ typist jobs will be filled on an external basis, machinery, equipment and other requirements will be purchased, all at a cost of nearly Rs 1.75 crore per month.

This fulfils a commitment made by the state government to start the global music college from the current academic year in memory of Lata Mangeshkar. (IANS)

Giorgia Meloni, First Female Premier To Lead Government In Italy

(AP) — A party with neo-fascist roots won the most votes in Italy’s national election, setting the stage for talks to form the country’s first far right-led government since World War II, with Giorgia Meloni at the helm as Italy’s first female premier, media reports stated.

Italy’s lurch to the far right immediately shifted Europe’s geopolitics, placing Meloni’s euroskeptic Brothers of Italy in a position to lead a founding member of the European Union and its third-largest economy. Italy’s left warned of “dark days” ahead and vowed to keep Italy in the heart of Europe.

Right-wing leaders across Europe immediately hailed 45-year-old Meloni’s victory as sending a historic, nationalist message to Brussels. It followed a right-wing victory in Sweden and recent gains by the far-right in France and Spain.

Still, turnout in the Italian election Sunday was a historic low of 64%, and pollsters suggested voters stayed home in protest, disenchanted by the backroom deals that had created the country’s last three governments and the mash-up of parties in outgoing Premier Mario Draghi’s national unity government.

By contrast, Meloni was viewed as a new face in the merry-go-round of Italian governments and many Italians appeared to be voting for change, analysts said.

The victory of Meloni’s just 10-year-old Brothers of Italy was more about Italian dissatisfaction with the decades-long status quo than any surge in neo-fascist or far-right sentiment, said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs.

“I would say the main reason why a big chunk of (voters) … will vote for this party is simply because it’s the new kid on the block,” she said.

The election’s sharp swing to the right, “confirms that the Italian electorate remains fickle,″ said London-based political analyst Wolfango Piccoli, noting that an estimated 30% of voters went for a different party than their choice in 2018 elections.

Meloni, whose party traces its origins to the postwar, neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, tried to sound a unifying tone, noting that Italians had finally been able to determine their leaders.

“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone. We will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people,” said. “shechose us. We will not betray it.”

Near-final results showed the center-right coalition netting 44% of the parliamentary vote, with Meloni’s Brothers of Italy snatching 26% in its biggest win in its decade-long meteoric rise. Her coalition partners divided up the remainder, with the anti-immigrant League party led by Matteo Salvini winning 9% and Forza Italia of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi taking around 8% of the vote.

The center-left Democratic Party and its allies had around 26% support, while the populist 5-Star Movement — which had been the biggest vote-getter in the 2018 parliamentary election — saw its share of the vote halved to 15%.

While the center-right was the clear winner, the formation of a government is still weeks away and will involve consultations among party leaders and with President Sergio Mattarella. In the meantime, Draghi remains in a caretaker role.

The elections, which took place six months early after Draghi’s government collapsed, came at a crucial time for Europe as it faces Russia’s war in Ukraine and related soaring energy costs that have hit ordinary Italians as well as industry.

A Meloni-led government is largely expected to follow Italy’s current foreign policy, including her pro-NATO stance and strong support for supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself against Russia’s invasion, even as her coalition allies take a different tone.

Both Berlusconi and Salvini have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. While both have distanced themselves from his invasion of Ukraine, Salvini has warned that EU sanctions against Moscow are hurting Italian industry. Berlusconi has even excused Putin’s invasion as an event foisted upon him by pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas.

A bigger shift and one likely to cause friction with other EU nations is likely to come over migration. Meloni has called for a naval blockade to prevent migrant boats from leaving North African shores, and has proposed screening potential asylum-seekers in Africa, not Europe.

Salvini has made clear he wants the League to recapture the interior minister post, where he once imposed a tough anti-migrant policy. But he may face an internal leadership challenge, with Meloni’s party outperforming the League even in its northeastern stronghold.

On relations with the EU, analysts note that for all her euroskeptic rhetoric, Meloni moderated her message during the campaign and has little room to maneuver, given the economic windfall Italy is receiving from Brussels in coronavirus recovery funds. Italy secured 191.5 billion euros, the biggest chunk of the EU’s 750 billion-euro recovery package, and is bound by certain reform and investment milestones to receive it all.

That said, Meloni has criticized the EU’s recent recommendation to suspend 7.5 billion euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding, defending autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban as the elected leader in a democratic system.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen praised Meloni for having “resisted the threats of an anti-democratic and arrogant European Union.”

Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox opposition party, tweeted that Meloni “has shown the way for a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations that can cooperate on behalf of everybody’s security and prosperity.”

Meloni is chair of the right-wing European Conservative and Reformist group in the European Parliament, which includes her Brothers of Italy, Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice Party, Spain’s far-right Vox and the right-wing Sweden Democrats, which just won big there on a platform of cracking down on crime and limiting immigration.

“The trend that emerged two weeks ago in Sweden was confirmed in Italy,” acknowledged Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, calling Monday a “sad day for Italy, for Europe.”

“We expect dark days. We fought in every way to avoid this outcome,″ Letta said at a somber news conference. “(The Democratic Party) will not allow Italy to leave the heart of Europe.”

Thomas Christiansen, professor of political science at Rome’s Luiss University and the executive editor of the Journal of European Integration, noted that Italy has a tradition of pursuing a consistent foreign and European policy that is bigger than individual party interests.

“Whatever Meloni might be up to will have to be moderated by her coalition partners and indeed with the established consensus of Italian foreign policy,” Christiansen said.

A Business Expo, Mashtal, By Dawoodi Bohra Women Held

The Dawoodi Bohra community of Chicago hosted a two-day event, the Women Entrepreneurs Expo – or “Mashtal” – at their masjid, Burhani Park Complex, at Willow brook, IL from 10am to 6pm, Saturday September 10 & Sunday September 11, 2022.

The Dawoodi Bohras of Chicago have lived and worked peacefully here since the 1950s. They are Muslims who hail from South Asia under the leadership of His Holiness Dr Mufaddal Saifuddin; over 1,000 families worship at Al-Masjid-al-Badri in Willowbrook, IL.

The word “Mashtal” means nursery.  The expo seeks to nurture the business ventures of Dawoodi Bohra women, enabling them to use their talents and skills to develop small-scale businesses.  The word “Bohra” means traders, and Mashtal taps into this deep-seated tradition. And their message is, “Mashtal – Nurture Your Venture!” Their aim is to develop small scale and household businesses of women within the community to use their skills to support their families and help them achieve excellence in their respective fields.

Over 50 committee members, primarily women, came together for over 6 months of planning. Several committees were formed to distribute this immense amount of work including Decor, Food, Accommodations, IT/AV, PR, Marketing, Sponsorships, Infrastructure & Construction, and Flow Management.  Because Mashtal is an international event, the Chicago core committee was in constant communication with the central Mashtal department in Mumbai. Members of His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s family attended the event.

US Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy, Representative Jim Durkin, DuPage County Elected Officials, the Mayors of Willowbrook and Glendale Heights were amongst many local VIPs who attended the formal opening ceremony. The names of some of the VIPs present: Karen Yarbrough, Cook County Clerk, Bob Berlin, DuPage County State Attorney, James Mendrick, DuPage County Sheriff, Greg Hart, DuPage County Board Member, Frank Trilla, Mayor of Willowbrook, Chodri Khokhar, Mayor of Glendale Heights, Linda Painter – DuPage County Forest Preserve Commissioner, Greg Boltz – Downers Grove Assessor, Michele Bauman, Avon Township Supervisor, Asif Yusuf, Oakbrook Trustee, Suresh Reddy, Oakbrook Trustee, Theresa Sullivan, Naperville Councilwoman, Quin O’Brien, Gurneee Trustee, Saba Khan, Morton Grove Trustee; Shia Imami Esmaili community President Imran Dhatwani & Mrs Dhatwani, Mr. Sadruddin Noorani, Ms. Madison Signor on behalf of Congressman Sean Casten.

Mashtal Chicago also arranged free seminars ranging on topics such as the practicalities of breast feeding to strategies for a successful career to women’s mental health and tips on overcoming exhaustion.  DIY projects for children to enjoy and a variety of food stalls with Indian street food and traditional barbeque fare were available. Members of the public experienced a wide range of vendors of clothes, beauty products, jewelry designers, and home décor, as well as realtors and travel agents.

Most of the women-owned businesses at the expo were operated by members of the USA community of Dawoodi Bohrs, but women-owned businesses from India, Pakistan, Dubai, and Canada also attended. Ongoing environmentally friendly projects were on display with demonstrations on how to reuse, reduce, and recycle. There were exciting prizes in a fun filled raffle. Overall, there were 70+ stalls, of which about 40 were local vendors, 12 out of country, 30 out of state!

The VIP Reception was emceed by Shabbir Karimi. As is the tradition, the program began with a recitation from the Holy Quran by 11-year old Tameem Al-Qamari, a Hafiz, followed by a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, by Rashida Moosabhoy and Amatullah Morbiwala.

Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy applauded the tremendous efforts put forth by the Bohra community women; he said, “Count me in as an ally, resource and partner in everything that you are doing!”

Mansoor Broachwala, on behalf of Dawoodi Bohra Community, welcomed all the guests to the first ever Mashtal Expo in the Midwest area, and expressed his hope to make it a recurring event. He spoke about Maulatona Khadija, wife of the Prophet Mohammed. a successful businesswoman in her own right 1400 years ago, from whose strength and entrepreneurial spirit Dawoodi Bohra women community worldwide draw inspiration to this day.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough said, “A lot is going on out there in the world, but the one thing we have to strive for in the world is peace. Peace, a simple word, but it seems tough for us to get there. So I wish all of you peace today from me from the Cook County Clerk’s office.” She presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the Bohra community from Cook County.

Greg Hart, running candidate for DuPage County Chairman, was also invited to speak. DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick in his speech, praised the community for being very quiet, with zero crime. State Attorney Bob Berlin, who has served DuPage for the past 30 years, shared that 60 percent of all the attorneys in his office are women and he firmly believes in empowering women and fostering a culture of women empowerment.

On Sunday, Sep 11, the Honorable Tariq Karim, Consul General Pakistan in Chicago and Mrs. Aasma Karim were special guests at Mashtal. He said, “First of all I am really thankful to organizers … and all others who have contributed to this event – Mashtal.” He shared that he appreciates the two themes, business and women, because both are critically important for us. He too spoke about the role of Prophet Mohammad’s wife Khadija as an inspiration. He commended the entrepreneurial spirit of the women of the Bohra Community.

He recalled the hosting of Ashara by the Bohra Community in Karachi during the time when Pakistan had started its War on Terror initiative, and the event helped with the opening of business and trade between India and Pakistan and other neighboring countries. Using the platform, he also took the opportunity to appreciate all the Flood Relief efforts and help from the community. He appealed to all Pakistani Americans and the Muslim community at large to come forward and to continue to help the victims of flood affected areas in Pakistan. He reiterated the constructive and productive role of Pakistan’s Bohra community in Pakistan’s success.

The team worked tirelessly to promote the event through social media (IG, Facebook, and Twitter), Flyers, WGN news, and word of mouth. The expo was hosted by Burhani Women’s Association Chicago and Taalebaat ul Mumenaat, the organizations of women students and young adults.

Priyanka Advocates Child Rights At UNGA, Shares Stage With Malala Yousafzai, Amanda Gorman

Actress Priyanka Chopra, who became the Global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2016 and has been associated with the organization for almost 15 years, spoke about children’s rights at a recently held conference at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

She took to her Instagram to share the pictures and videos from the event where she can be seen advocating for the cause and posing with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and US poet Amanda Gorman.

She captioned the set of pictures and videos with a long note: “Walking through the gates of the United Nations this morning to speak at UNGA for the second time, as a proud representative of @unicef, gave me real pause.”

Shedding the light on the agenda of the UN for the year 2022, she further wrote in her note: “At the top of this year’s agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals. Today was all about action, ambition, and hope. It was about what we must do together to make the SDG’s a reality, and we don’t have a moment to lose. A special thank you to Secretary-General @antonioguterres for having me today.”

She also spoke about the importance of education for children – something which is a birthright of every child, “The second moment I had the privilege of participating was the Transforming Education Summit. It’s hard to believe that nearly 2/3 of children across the low- middle- and high-income countries cannot read and comprehend a simple story. The system has failed them.”

“As the US Secretary of Education @seccardona put it so candidly, education is the great equalizer, but if we continue to do what we have done, we are going to get what we have gotten. We owe every child this basic birthright, an equal chance to learn and reach their full potential (sic),” she added.

She concluded her note with the words of Gorman, with whom she posed along with Malala, “And as the incredible Amanda Gorman said, “I dare you to shape our fate. Above all, I dare you to do good, so that the world might be great.”

Giorgia Meloni, First Female Premier To Lead Government In Italy

(AP) — A party with neo-fascist roots won the most votes in Italy’s national election, setting the stage for talks to form the country’s first far right-led government since World War II, with Giorgia Meloni at the helm as Italy’s first female premier, media reports stated.

Italy’s lurch to the far right immediately shifted Europe’s geopolitics, placing Meloni’s euroskeptic Brothers of Italy in a position to lead a founding member of the European Union and its third-largest economy. Italy’s left warned of “dark days” ahead and vowed to keep Italy in the heart of Europe.

Right-wing leaders across Europe immediately hailed 45-year-old Meloni’s victory as sending a historic, nationalist message to Brussels. It followed a right-wing victory in Sweden and recent gains by the far-right in France and Spain.

Still, turnout in the Italian election Sunday was a historic low of 64%, and pollsters suggested voters stayed home in protest, disenchanted by the backroom deals that had created the country’s last three governments and the mash-up of parties in outgoing Premier Mario Draghi’s national unity government.

By contrast, Meloni was viewed as a new face in the merry-go-round of Italian governments and many Italians appeared to be voting for change, analysts said.

The victory of Meloni’s just 10-year-old Brothers of Italy was more about Italian dissatisfaction with the decades-long status quo than any surge in neo-fascist or far-right sentiment, said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs.

“I would say the main reason why a big chunk of (voters) … will vote for this party is simply because it’s the new kid on the block,” she said.

The election’s sharp swing to the right, “confirms that the Italian electorate remains fickle,″ said London-based political analyst Wolfango Piccoli, noting that an estimated 30% of voters went for a different party than their choice in 2018 elections.

Meloni, whose party traces its origins to the postwar, neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, tried to sound a unifying tone, noting that Italians had finally been able to determine their leaders.

“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone. We will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people,” said. “shechose us. We will not betray it.”

Near-final results showed the center-right coalition netting 44% of the parliamentary vote, with Meloni’s Brothers of Italy snatching 26% in its biggest win in its decade-long meteoric rise. Her coalition partners divided up the remainder, with the anti-immigrant League party led by Matteo Salvini winning 9% and Forza Italia of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi taking around 8% of the vote.

The center-left Democratic Party and its allies had around 26% support, while the populist 5-Star Movement — which had been the biggest vote-getter in the 2018 parliamentary election — saw its share of the vote halved to 15%.

While the center-right was the clear winner, the formation of a government is still weeks away and will involve consultations among party leaders and with President Sergio Mattarella. In the meantime, Draghi remains in a caretaker role.

The elections, which took place six months early after Draghi’s government collapsed, came at a crucial time for Europe as it faces Russia’s war in Ukraine and related soaring energy costs that have hit ordinary Italians as well as industry.

A Meloni-led government is largely expected to follow Italy’s current foreign policy, including her pro-NATO stance and strong support for supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself against Russia’s invasion, even as her coalition allies take a different tone.

Both Berlusconi and Salvini have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. While both have distanced themselves from his invasion of Ukraine, Salvini has warned that EU sanctions against Moscow are hurting Italian industry. Berlusconi has even excused Putin’s invasion as an event foisted upon him by pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas.

A bigger shift and one likely to cause friction with other EU nations is likely to come over migration. Meloni has called for a naval blockade to prevent migrant boats from leaving North African shores, and has proposed screening potential asylum-seekers in Africa, not Europe.

Salvini has made clear he wants the League to recapture the interior minister post, where he once imposed a tough anti-migrant policy. But he may face an internal leadership challenge, with Meloni’s party outperforming the League even in its northeastern stronghold.

On relations with the EU, analysts note that for all her euroskeptic rhetoric, Meloni moderated her message during the campaign and has little room to maneuver, given the economic windfall Italy is receiving from Brussels in coronavirus recovery funds. Italy secured 191.5 billion euros, the biggest chunk of the EU’s 750 billion-euro recovery package, and is bound by certain reform and investment milestones to receive it all.

That said, Meloni has criticized the EU’s recent recommendation to suspend 7.5 billion euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding, defending autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban as the elected leader in a democratic system.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen praised Meloni for having “resisted the threats of an anti-democratic and arrogant European Union.”

Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox opposition party, tweeted that Meloni “has shown the way for a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations that can cooperate on behalf of everybody’s security and prosperity.”

Meloni is chair of the right-wing European Conservative and Reformist group in the European Parliament, which includes her Brothers of Italy, Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice Party, Spain’s far-right Vox and the right-wing Sweden Democrats, which just won big there on a platform of cracking down on crime and limiting immigration.

“The trend that emerged two weeks ago in Sweden was confirmed in Italy,” acknowledged Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, calling Monday a “sad day for Italy, for Europe.”

“We expect dark days. We fought in every way to avoid this outcome,″ Letta said at a somber news conference. “(The Democratic Party) will not allow Italy to leave the heart of Europe.”

Thomas Christiansen, professor of political science at Rome’s Luiss University and the executive editor of the Journal of European Integration, noted that Italy has a tradition of pursuing a consistent foreign and European policy that is bigger than individual party interests.

“Whatever Meloni might be up to will have to be moderated by her coalition partners and indeed with the established consensus of Italian foreign policy,” Christiansen said.

Priyanka Advocates Child Rights At UNGA, Shares Stage With Malala Yousafzai, Amanda Gorman

Actress Priyanka Chopra, who became the Global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2016 and has been associated with the organization for almost 15 years, spoke about children’s rights at a recently held conference at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

She took to her Instagram to share the pictures and videos from the event where she can be seen advocating for the cause and posing with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and US poet Amanda Gorman.

She captioned the set of pictures and videos with a long note: “Walking through the gates of the United Nations this morning to speak at UNGA for the second time, as a proud representative of @unicef, gave me real pause.”

Shedding the light on the agenda of the UN for the year 2022, she further wrote in her note: “At the top of this year’s agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals. Today was all about action, ambition, and hope. It was about what we must do together to make the SDG’s a reality, and we don’t have a moment to lose. A special thank you to Secretary-General @antonioguterres for having me today.”

She also spoke about the importance of education for children – something which is a birthright of every child, “The second moment I had the privilege of participating was the Transforming Education Summit. It’s hard to believe that nearly 2/3 of children across the low- middle- and high-income countries cannot read and comprehend a simple story. The system has failed them.”

“As the US Secretary of Education @seccardona put it so candidly, education is the great equalizer, but if we continue to do what we have done, we are going to get what we have gotten. We owe every child this basic birthright, an equal chance to learn and reach their full potential (sic),” she added.

She concluded her note with the words of Gorman, with whom she posed along with Malala, “And as the incredible Amanda Gorman said, “I dare you to shape our fate. Above all, I dare you to do good, so that the world might be great.”

A Business Expo, Mashtal, By Dawoodi Bohra Women Held

The Dawoodi Bohra community of Chicago hosted a two-day event, the Women Entrepreneurs Expo – or “Mashtal” – at their masjid, Burhani Park Complex, at Willow brook, IL from 10am to 6pm, Saturday September 10 & Sunday September 11, 2022.

The Dawoodi Bohras of Chicago have lived and worked peacefully here since the 1950s. They are Muslims who hail from South Asia under the leadership of His Holiness Dr Mufaddal Saifuddin; over 1,000 families worship at Al-Masjid-al-Badri in Willowbrook, IL.

The word “Mashtal” means nursery.  The expo seeks to nurture the business ventures of Dawoodi Bohra women, enabling them to use their talents and skills to develop small-scale businesses.  The word “Bohra” means traders, and Mashtal taps into this deep-seated tradition. And their message is, “Mashtal – Nurture Your Venture!” Their aim is to develop small scale and household businesses of women within the community to use their skills to support their families and help them achieve excellence in their respective fields.

Over 50 committee members, primarily women, came together for over 6 months of planning. Several committees were formed to distribute this immense amount of work including Decor, Food, Accommodations, IT/AV, PR, Marketing, Sponsorships, Infrastructure & Construction, and Flow Management.  Because Mashtal is an international event, the Chicago core committee was in constant communication with the central Mashtal department in Mumbai. Members of His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s family attended the event.

US Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy, Representative Jim Durkin, DuPage County Elected Officials, the Mayors of Willowbrook and Glendale Heights were amongst many local VIPs who attended the formal opening ceremony. The names of some of the VIPs present: Karen Yarbrough, Cook County Clerk, Bob Berlin, DuPage County State Attorney, James Mendrick, DuPage County Sheriff, Greg Hart, DuPage County Board Member, Frank Trilla, Mayor of Willowbrook, Chodri Khokhar, Mayor of Glendale Heights, Linda Painter – DuPage County Forest Preserve Commissioner, Greg Boltz – Downers Grove Assessor, Michele Bauman, Avon Township Supervisor, Asif Yusuf, Oakbrook Trustee, Suresh Reddy, Oakbrook Trustee, Theresa Sullivan, Naperville Councilwoman, Quin O’Brien, Gurneee Trustee, Saba Khan, Morton Grove Trustee; Shia Imami Esmaili community President Imran Dhatwani & Mrs Dhatwani, Mr. Sadruddin Noorani, Ms. Madison Signor on behalf of Congressman Sean Casten.

Mashtal Chicago also arranged free seminars ranging on topics such as the practicalities of breast feeding to strategies for a successful career to women’s mental health and tips on overcoming exhaustion.  DIY projects for children to enjoy and a variety of food stalls with Indian street food and traditional barbeque fare were available. Members of the public experienced a wide range of vendors of clothes, beauty products, jewelry designers, and home décor, as well as realtors and travel agents.  

Most of the women-owned businesses at the expo were operated by members of the USA community of Dawoodi Bohrs, but women-owned businesses from India, Pakistan, Dubai, and Canada also attended. Ongoing environmentally friendly projects were on display with demonstrations on how to reuse, reduce, and recycle. There were exciting prizes in a fun filled raffle. Overall, there were 70+ stalls, of which about 40 were local vendors, 12 out of country, 30 out of state!

The VIP Reception was emceed by Shabbir Karimi. As is the tradition, the program began with a recitation from the Holy Quran by 11-year old Tameem Al-Qamari, a Hafiz, followed by a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, by Rashida Moosabhoy and Amatullah Morbiwala. 

Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy applauded the tremendous efforts put forth by the Bohra community women; he said, “Count me in as an ally, resource and partner in everything that you are doing!”

Mansoor Broachwala, on behalf of Dawoodi Bohra Community, welcomed all the guests to the first ever Mashtal Expo in the Midwest area, and expressed his hope to make it a recurring event. He spoke about Maulatona Khadija, wife of the Prophet Mohammed. a successful businesswoman in her own right 1400 years ago, from whose strength and entrepreneurial spirit Dawoodi Bohra women community worldwide draw inspiration to this day.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough said, “A lot is going on out there in the world, but the one thing we have to strive for in the world is peace. Peace, a simple word, but it seems tough for us to get there. So I wish all of you peace today from me from the Cook County Clerk’s office.” She presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the Bohra community from Cook County.

 Greg Hart, running candidate for DuPage County Chairman, was also invited to speak. DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick in his speech, praised the community for being very quiet, with zero crime. State Attorney Bob Berlin, who has served DuPage for the past 30 years, shared that 60 percent of all the attorneys in his office are women and he firmly believes in empowering women and fostering a culture of women empowerment.

 On Sunday, Sep 11, the Honorable Tariq Karim, Consul General Pakistan in Chicago and Mrs. Aasma Karim were special guests at Mashtal. He said, “First of all I am really thankful to organizers … and all others who have contributed to this event – Mashtal.” He shared that he appreciates the two themes, business and women, because both are critically important for us. He too spoke about the role of Prophet Mohammad’s wife Khadija as an inspiration. He commended the entrepreneurial spirit of the women of the Bohra Community.

He recalled the hosting of Ashara by the Bohra Community in Karachi during the time when Pakistan had started its War on Terror initiative, and the event helped with the opening of business and trade between India and Pakistan and other neighboring countries. Using the platform, he also took the opportunity to appreciate all the Flood Relief efforts and help from the community. He appealed to all Pakistani Americans and the Muslim community at large to come forward and to continue to help the victims of flood affected areas in Pakistan. He reiterated the constructive and productive role of Pakistan’s Bohra community in Pakistan’s success.

The team worked tirelessly to promote the event through social media (IG, Facebook, and Twitter), Flyers, WGN news, and word of mouth. The expo was hosted by Burhani Women’s Association Chicago and Taalebaat ul Mumenaat, the organizations of women students and young adults.

Devika Bulchandani Named Global CEO Of Ogilvy

Devika Bulchandani has been appointed Global Chief Executive Officer Ogilvy, aglobal leader in creative marketing that “inspires brands and people to impact the world.” In this role she will be responsible for all aspects of the creative network’s business across 131 offices in 93 countries and spanning its Advertising, Public Relations, Experience, Consulting, and Health units. She will also join WPP’s Executive Committee as she takes on her new role.

Devika Bulchandani said: “David Ogilvy changed the industry 74 years ago when he founded this iconic agency. As we write the next chapter in the history books of Ogilvy, we will do it together with our clients, using creativity to push the boundaries of what’s possible. I am honored and humbled to take on this role, and to do it with all our incredibly talented people all over the world.”

The Indian origin Devika most recently served as Global President and CEO of Ogilvy North America. She takes the helm from Andy Main who is stepping down as Global CEO and will serve as a Senior Advisor until the end of the year.

Over the last two years the creative network has deepened and grown relationships with current clients while winning new business with brands including Absolut, Enterprise Holdings, World of Hyatt, TD Bank, FEMA, New York Philharmonic, and Audi of America. Ogilvy also played a key role in WPP being named as The Coca-Cola Company’s Global Marketing Network Partner.

Recently Ogilvy earned the coveted position of Network of the Year at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the first time since 2016 and secured the same honor from The One Show and Campaign magazine. Additionally, Ogilvy also became the only agency network to secure top rankings on both WARC’s Creative 100 & Effective 100 lists.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Over the last two years, under Andy’s leadership, Ogilvy has seen a transformation in its creative and business performance. This stems from the consistently outstanding quality of work from Ogilvy’s teams around the world, the investment in attracting and developing talent across the business, and the strong and more diverse leadership team Andy has built. With the agency’s transformation a year ahead of the schedule we originally envisioned, Andy has decided that now is the right time to seek a new challenge and he is moving on with my personal thanks and best wishes.

“Devika is a champion of creativity who brings passion, purpose, and an uncompromising focus on generating impact to everything she does. In partnership with Andy and Liz Taylor, she has been instrumental in Ogilvy’s recent growth and development. Her love for our industry, deep understanding of clients’ needs, and track record of delivering growth for agencies and brands, make her the perfect choice to lead Ogilvy to even greater success.”

Andy Main said: “When I joined Ogilvy, my goal was to build on the company’s incredible heritage, raise its ambitions, and deliver growth for our clients through work that has impact. Our progress is a testament to all the talented people across the network and our amazing clients for whom I have the deepest gratitude and respect. David Ogilvy spoke about the importance of hiring giants and Devika is truly one of the giants in the industry. It has been an honor being a part of this company’s rich history and I know Devika will continue accelerating the momentum our team has built.”

Prior to joining Ogilvy, Devika spent 26 years at McCann in various leadership roles including President of McCann North America. As a leader who believes in the power of creativity to make a positive impact on society, Dev’s proudest achievements have occurred at the intersection of the social causes she champions and brand-building efforts on behalf of clients. She was the driving force behind Mastercard’s long-running “Priceless” campaign as well as “True Name,” a first-of-its-kind feature launched in 2019 that empowers transgender and non-binary people to display their chosen name on their Mastercard. Known for ideas that capture the cultural zeitgeist, Dev also helped launch “Fearless Girl,” an iconic and beloved symbol of women’s equality; the campaign became one of the most awarded campaigns in the history of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Next month Dev will be honored by New York Women in Communications (NYWIC) at the 2022 Matrix Awards, which honors women who are making a difference, building community, and inspiring the next generation of female leaders in their field. She has previously received a range of other honors including, NY Power Woman by Moves Magazine; US Advertising Agency Head of the Year by Campaign Magazine; Working Mother of the Year by She Runs It; and ADCOLOR Innovator. She has been the recipient of multiple 4As Jay Chiat Awards for strategic planning. Dev serves on the board of the ERA Coalition. She is also a founding member of Times Up Advertising and serves on the boards of the Ad Council, the 4A’s, and the Advertising Club.

Ogilvy inspires brands and people to impact the world. We have been creating iconic, culture-changing, value-driving ideas for clients since David Ogilvy founded the company in 1948. We continue building on that rich legacy through our borderless creativity—operating, innovating, and creating at the intersection of talent and capabilities. Our experts in Advertising, Experience, Public Relations, Health, and Consulting work fluidly across 131 offices in 93 countries to bring forth world-class creative solutions for our clients. Ogilvy is a WPP company (NASDAQ: WPPGY). For more information, visit Ogilvy.com

Goan-Origin Suella Fernandes Braverman To Be Next UK Home Secretary

Indian origin UK Attorney General Suella Braverman is tipped to replace Priti Patel as UK Home Secretary in the Liz Truss cabinet.

Braverman would become the third minority home secretary, after Priti Patel and Sajid Javid. Suella Fernandes Braverman traces her roots to Goa.

Braverman stood against Truss in the leadership contest but her ‘anti-woke’ stance and opposition to the European Convention on Human Rights is set to see her promoted from Attorney General to Home Secretary, Daily Mail reported.

Her main task will be to crack down on Channel crossings by illegal migrants and to make sure those who do reach England are deported to Rwanda, which current Home Secretary Priti Patel has failed to do.

During her leadership campaign in July, the attorney general said it was ‘unacceptable’ that a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights had scuppered the first attempt at a Rwanda deportation flight, Daily Mail reported.

Suella Fernandes Braverman’s father Christie Fernandes of Assagao and Nairobi (he married an Indian from Mauritius) stepped off the plane just weeks before Enoch Powell delivered his bilious “Rivers of Blood” speech warning of cultural ruin that would ensue if Indian subjects from Kenya were allowed to settle in the UK, Herald Goa reported.

Suella Fernandes’ mother, Uma Fernandes, a nurse and a local Councillor and was a Parliamentary candidate. Her father, Christie Fernandes, (ex- Nairobi – Dr Ribeiro School – Class of ’63 and Assagao, Goa) a local activist, Goan Voice reported.

She was Chairman of Cambridge Conservatives whilst studing at the University there. She was a post-graduate student at the Paris Sorbonne and speaks fluent French and Spanish. (IANS)

Queen Elizabeth, Longest-Reigning British Monarch Dies At 96

Queen Elizabeth II, who served as the beloved face of the United Kingdom and source of strength for seven decades, died on Thursday, Sep. 8th, 2022 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace announced. The Queen’s oldest son Charles has now become King Charles III.

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” the royal family said in a statement posted on its official Twitter account, referring to Charles as the new King for the first time.  The King said in a statement that the Queen’s death was “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.”

The Queen was last seen in public on Tuesday, two days before passing away, when she formally appointed Liz Truss as the UK’s new prime minister. A photograph from the audience showed the monarch smiling, standing in the drawing room in Balmoral, carrying a walking stick. Truss is the 15th — and the last — British Prime Minister to be appointed by Elizabeth.

There have been concerns over the Queen’s health ever since a brief hospital stay last October. She has experienced episodic mobility issues, which have at times caused her to withdraw from official engagements.

The royal was preceded in death by her husband, Prince Philip, who spent more than seven decades supporting the queen. The Duke of Edinburgh, Britain’s longest-serving consort, died in April 2021 at age 99. Elizabeth and Philip were married for more than 70 years and had four children: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Queen Elizabeth is succeeded immediately by her eldest son, Prince Charles, 73, who has now become the monarch. Charles’ firstborn son, Prince William, 40, is now next in line to the world’s most famous throne, followed by his firstborn son, Prince George, 9.

From the small, curly-haired girl known to her family as “Lilibet” to the gracious, bespectacled great-grandmother who favored broad-brimmed hats, deliberate bright fashion and sensible shoes, the queen was always a favorite with her subjects both at home and in her many visits to Commonwealth nations around the world.

Born April 21, 1926, at her maternal grandfather’s London home and named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the future queen was educated privately at home, along with her younger sister, Margaret Rose. Even as a child, she was considered sensible and well-behaved.

In a broadcast to the British Commonwealth on her 21st birthday, she pledged, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

When her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth’s father became King George VI, and she was next in line for the throne. Elizabeth was on a trip with her husband to Kenya when she received word of her father’s death on Feb. 6, 1952, at age 56. The cause of death was cancer.

On their immediate return to London, Elizabeth, now the queen regnant, and Philip moved into Buckingham Palace, which was to remain her main residence for the rest of her life.

When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952, some Britons were so thrilled by the young queen they declared it was a second “Elizabethan Age.” Following her coronation at Westminster Abbey, she became known for trying to modernize the monarchy and make more personal contact with her subjects — from garden parties to inviting 100 couples from around Britain who shared her wedding date to join the festivities at her 25th anniversary.

Elizabeth II would come to embody not only the British monarchy but a tradition of doing one’s duty and maintaining a stiff upper lip. If she appeared smiling and cheerful in public, the queen also encountered her share of adversity — from wars to the divorces of three of her four children; the 1997 death of her glamorous daughter-in-law, Princess Diana; and the 1992 fire that severely damaged Windsor Castle, one of her official residences. The constant throughout her life appeared to be a sense of duty and self-discipline.

Queen Elizabeth, the longest-lived British monarch, reigned through 14 American presidents, and just as many British prime ministers, proving herself a savvy stateswoman and a constant leader on the world stage.

“I cannot lead you into battle,” the Queen, summing up her role in a 1957 Christmas broadcast, once told her subjects. “I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else: I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”

The queen, who traveled on more than 271 state visits during her reign, was sometimes the only female on the stage with world leaders, and she always stayed mum on her personal political opinions, proving her mastery of “soft diplomacy.”

As recently as 2021, she met with world leaders at a Group of 7 summit meeting in Cornwall in June, and hosted President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, at Windsor Castle afterward.

In addition to being sovereign of the United Kingdom and 15 Commonwealth realms, she was also the head of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries, that includes India.

Camilla, The Queen Consort Will Wear The Kohinoor Crown

Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who will be Queen Consort when he accedes to the throne, will receive the Queen Mother’s famous Kohinoor crown. Following King Charles III’s ascension to the throne after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, his wife Camilla, will from now on be known as Queen Consort, which indicates that she is the spouse of a king, instead of title of queen because members who marry into the royal family can’t inherit the throne.

The last Queen consort was Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, who became known as the Queen Mother after King George VI died and her daughter ascended to the throne. Camilla’s new title expands her role at his coronation, which will likely not come for several months, as per standard royal tradition.

The Kohinoor is a 105.6 carat diamond steeped in history. The diamond was found in India in the 14th century and changed many hands over the course of centuries. In 1849, after the British annexation of Punjab, the diamond was ceded to Queen Victoria. It has been part of the British Crown Jewels since then – but continues to be the subject of a historic ownership dispute among at least four countries, including India.

The Kohinoor diamond is currently set in a platinum crown created for Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother) for the 1937 coronation of King George VI. It is kept on display in the Tower of London. UK-based Daily Mail said in an exclusive report that the priceless platinum and diamond crown will be placed on Camilla’s head when Prince Charles becomes King.

Previous royal tradition dictated that the title would be given to the king’s wife, but Charles’ divorce from Princess Diana in 1996 complicated the matter. At the time of their separation, the Church of England strongly opposed divorce. Public admiration for Diana was (and remains) strong, causing many to feel that Camilla should not have taken the title out of respect for Diana.

But, the Queen put questions about Camilla’s title to rest in February, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of her reign. In a statement, the Queen Elizabeth II announced that it was her “most sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.” It was the first time the Queen had acknowledged Camilla’s role in the monarchy in this way.

“We are deeply conscious of the honor represented by my mother’s wish,” Charles said, in response to his mother’s statement in February. “As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout.”

“We are deeply conscious of the honor represented by my mother’s wish,” Charles said, in response to his mother’s statement in February. “As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout.”

Royal experts agree that this decision was coordinated to ease Charles’ transition to the throne, especially amid a complicated reputation in the public. “It seems increasingly clear to me that as much as he can claim to be working in the tradition of his mother, carrying out her vision, the better for him,” Arianne Chernock, a Boston University professor, previously told the New York Times.

Camilla and Charles faced criticism for years after their affair was confirmed in the press. Diana, who died in 1997, was globally loved and she blamed Camilla for her failed marriage. Some believed this would prevent Camilla from ever marrying Charles—let alone being called Queen. Following their 2005 marriage, Camilla did not take Diana’s title of Princess of Wales, instead opting for Duchess of Cornwall.

And despite a much improved public opinion of Camilla in the 25 years since Diana’s death, there is still much debate as to whether she deserves to take the title. A May 2022 poll found that just 20% of the British public believed that Camilla should take on the title of queen consort, with nearly 40% believing that she should be called the Princess Consort.

Charles also has big shoes to fill now that he is king. YouGov poll results list Charles as the seventh most popular royal family member, with nearly a quarter of Brits saying they disapprove of him. By contrast, Queen Elizabeth II’s approval rating on the day of her passing was at a high of 75%.

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-ruling monarch, died at the age of 96 on Thursday. She was earlier placed under medical supervision due to concerns around her health. The official announcement was made by the Buckingham Palace late in the evening after members of the royal family – the Queen’s sons and grandsons – arrived in Balmoral Castle where she was being looked after. After the end of her 70-year reign, Prince Charles is next in line for the throne and with this, another important change will take place that concerns the Kohinoor diamond.

Liz Truss Is U.K.’s New Prime Minister

Liz Truss became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on Tuesday, Sepember 6th, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II  formally appointed Truss during a formal ceremony as Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday, September 6th during at her Balmoral estate in Scotland, where the monarch is spending her summer, rather than Buckingham Palace in London.

Liz Truss, the former Foreign Secretary of England was elected to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, marking the end of a bitter summer campaigning and the peak of a political career marked by a rapid climb through the upper echelons of British politics and dramatic changes of opinion.

Truss received 57.4 percent of the vote, beating out rival Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former finance minister, who received 42.6 percent of the vote. Truss was largely viewed as the frontrunner during the campaign. Roughly 172,000 dues-paying Conservative Party members cast ballots in the election after the party’s lawmakers nominated eight candidates and narrowed the ballot list to Truss and Sunak.

The 47-year-old Truss, who is currently foreign secretary, beat former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak after a leadership contest in which only about 170,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party were allowed to vote. Truss received 81,326 votes, compared with Sunak’s 60,399.

Truss took over the role from Boris Johnson, who announced his resignation in July as his relationship with Conservative lawmakers soured over his handling of a number of issues. Truss served as foreign secretary under Johnson. “I am honored to be elected Leader of the Conservative Party,” Truss said after the announcement.

“Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead and deliver for our great country,” she continued. “I will take bold action to get all of us through these tough times, grow our economy and unleash the United Kingdom’s potential.”

Truss, who promised to increase defense spending and cut taxes during the campaign, will assume the prime minister role as the country faces skyrocketing energy prices and high inflation. She is confronted with the enormous task ahead of her amid increasing pressure to curb soaring prices, ease labor unrest and fix a health care system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages.

In remarks, Truss doubled down on her plan to grow Britain’s economy by cutting taxes, also emphasizing her belief in “personal responsibility.”

“During this leadership campaign, I campaigned as a conservative, and I will govern as a conservative,” she said. Truss also vowed to take action on the country’s mounting energy issues, characterizing it as a “crisis.”

Annual energy bills for the average U.K. household have already risen by 54 percent this year, and consumers will see another hike in October that brings the gain to roughly 80 percent.

Global oil and gas prices jumped as demand surged from countries recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Supply strains resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have furthered the imbalance of energy supplies and demand, contributing to price gains and fueling fears of a recession.

Britain’s annual inflation rate hit 10.1 percent in July, a 40-year high that outpaces the U.S. and other places in Europe. “I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply,” Truss said on Monday.

The Conservative Party has maintained a healthy majority since the country’s 2019 elections. Johnson has served atop the party since that year but came under increasing pressure to step aside in recent months over a variety of issues, eventually leading to his resignation announcement in July.

Boris Johnson was accused that he attended gatherings in his office and other government buildings in 2020 and 2021 when the country imposed pandemic restrictions on parties, leading Johnson to become the first sitting prime minister to receive fines. Some in his party later called for Johnson’s resignation over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Johnson’s deputy chief whip.

Sunak, Truss’s most formidable opponent in the race, resigned last year amid the scandals, days before Johnson announced he would leave 10 Downing Street.  Truss remained in Johnson’s cabinet and on Monday called him a “friend.”

“Boris — you got Brexit done, you crushed Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin,” she said. “You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”

Keir Starmer, the leader of U.K.’s Labor Party, congratulated Truss on her victory. “But after 12 years of the Tories all we have to show for it is low wages, high prices and a Tory cost of living crisis,” Starmer tweeted. “Only Labour can deliver the fresh start our country needs.”

It was the first time in the queen’s 70-year reign that the handover of power took place at Balmoral, rather than Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony was moved to Scotland to provide certainty about the schedule, because the 96-year-old queen has experienced problems getting around that have forced palace officials to make decisions about her travel on a day-to-day basis.

Truss faces immediate pressure to deliver on her promises to tackle a cost-of-living crisis walloping the U.K. and an economy heading into a potentially lengthy recession.

Throughout her political career, Truss has been compared to Thatcher, who, for many on the right, remains the benchmark for Conservative leaders. Like Thatcher, Truss has come from relatively humble beginnings to dominate a world inhabited largely by men.

Truss was elected to Parliament in 2010. In a relatively short period of time, she has established herself as a political force of nature who pursues her agenda with relentless vigor and unequivocal enthusiasm. She served under three prime ministers in several different cabinet jobs, most recently as foreign secretary.

Since becoming an MP, Truss has gone from being the darling of the liberal Conservative leader David Cameron, who took a personal interest in her career, to the Euroskeptic right’s figurehead.

Truss has been seen by most as the Johnson continuity candidate, and she has enjoyed the backing of many of his loyalists.

Captain Zoya Agarwal, 1st First Indian Woman Fly Aircraft Above North Pole

In 2021, Captain Zoya, an Air India pilot of aircraft Boeing-777, led the first all-women pilot team over the world’s longest air route from San Francisco in the United States to Bengaluru in India, covering the North Pole. Now, Captain Zoya Agarwal, the first Indian woman pilot to fly an aircraft above the North pole, covering a record-breaking distance of around 16,000 Kilometers, made her place in SFO aviation museum for her achievements.

“I was amazed to see that I’m the only living object over there, I am just humbled honestly. I can’t believe that I am a part of a prestigious aviation museum in the USA,” she said. The SFO Museum commemorated her career and her advocacy for promoting women’s empowerment across the world, as she is the first female Indian pilot to be included in their program.

While talking to ANI, Captain Zoya Agarwal informed that she is the only human to have found a place as a pilot in the San Francisco Aviation Luis A Turpen Aviation museum which is commonly known as SFO Aviation Museum.

“I was amazed to see that I’m the only living object over there, I am just humbled honestly. I can’t believe that I am a part of a prestigious aviation museum in the USA,” Captain Zoya told ANI.

Recently, the SFO Museum commemorated the Indian pilot Zoya Agarwal’s extraordinary career in aviation and her advocacy for promoting women’s empowerment across the world, inspiring millions of girls and youth to meet their dreams.

“She is the first female Indian pilot to be included in our program. In addition to her remarkable career with Air India, including her record-breaking flight from SFO to Bengaluru in 2021 with an all-female crew, her positivity about the world and her commitment to helping other girls and women achieve their dreams is deeply inspiring. Being able to record and share Captain Agarwal’s personal history allows SFO Museum to preserve the excitement and the historic nature of her extraordinary career with current and future generations of aviation enthusiasts,” an official from the San Francisco Aviation museum told ANI.

“We are honored by your participation, and we hope to educate and inspire future generations,” the SFO aviation museum added.

Captain Zoya Agarwal also spoke with ANI just after receiving the certificate and being honoured by the SFO aviation museum for her extraordinary career in aviation.

“I can’t believe that I am the first Indian female to be in a museum in the USA, if you ask the eight-year-old girl that use to sit on her terrace, looking at stars and dream about being a pilot. It’s an honour that the US recognised an Indian woman for their museum… it’s a great moment for me and my country,” Captain Zoya said.

Captain Zoya Agarwal is one of the gender equality spokespersons at the United Nations (UN) and she has pioneered encouraging females and youth to fulfil their dreams.

The museum was launched at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in 1980, utilising little more than images on walls as a means to beautify and humanise the Airport’s environment. Since then, it has grown into a dynamic exhibition program with galleries throughout all five terminals and developed an ever-growing collection of objects, now numbering more than 150,000 related to the history of SFO and commercial aviation.

Meanwhile, the participation of women pilots in India has increased rapidly, according to the International Society of Women Airlines, India holds the largest proportion of female pilots in the world. Accounting for around 12.4 per cent of all pilots, compared to 5.5 per cent in the US.

Women Have More Sex Partners Than Men In Several Indian States

The National Family Health Survey which was conducted among 1.1 lakh women and 1 lakh men showed that the number of sex partners on average for women was higher than men in many states and Union territories.

Women on average have more sex partners than men in 11 states and UTs but the percentage of men who had sexual intercourse with someone who was neither their spouse or lived with stood at 4 per cent, much higher than that of women at 0.5 per cent, according to the NFHS data.

The National Family Health Survey which was conducted among 1.1 lakh women and 1 lakh men showed that the number of sex partners on average for women was higher than men in many states and Union territories.

These states and UTs are Rajasthan, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan had the highest number of women who had on an average 3.1 sex partners as against the 1.8 for men.

But the percentage of men who had sexual intercourse with someone who was neither their spouse or live-in partner, in the 12 months preceding the survey, stood at 4 per cent. For women, the number stood at 0.5 per cent.

A marginally larger share of rural women than urban women and those currently married than of those never married, divorced, widowed, or separated said they had sex with two or more partners in the 12 months preceding the survey.

However, according to the NFHS data, a larger population of men (3.6%) than women(0.5%) have had sexual intercourse with those who were neither their spouses nor those with whom they have lived together just 12 months before the survey.

The National Family Health Survey-5 conducted during 2019-21 surveyed 707 districts of the country from 28 States and eight UTs. The national report also provides data by socio-economic and other background characteristics, useful for policy formulation and effective programme implementation.

Most People Have Confidence In Kamala Harris Across 18 Surveyed Countries

By, Aidan Connaughton At PEW Research

A median of 55% of adults in these countries have confidence in Harris to do the right thing regarding world affairs, including half or more who hold that view in 14 countries. Confidence in Harris is particularly high in Sweden, where 77% of adults view her positively.

Trust in Harris is lowest in Hungary, where only 23% say they have confidence in the vice president to do the right thing regarding world affairs. Hungary is also the country where the greatest share did not answer the question (36%).

Confidence in Harris is roughly comparable to international confidence in U.S. President Joe Biden, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. A median of about six-in-ten have confidence in each of those three leaders to do the right thing regarding world affairs – slightly more than the median of 55% who have confidence in the U.S. vice president. Harris’s ratings far outpace those of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is seen positively by a median of 18% of adults, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is seen positively by a median of just 9% across the surveyed countries.

Harris has taken on a variety of internationally focused responsibilities during her time as vice president. Those responsibilities have included a high-profile trip to Europe at the beginning of the war in Ukraine and coordination of relations with Central American leaders to stem the flow of migrants coming to the southern border of the United States.

Confidence in Harris is tied to gender in some countries, with women significantly more likely than men to express confidence in her handling of world affairs. For example, 68% of Canadian women have a positive view of Harris, while only about half of Canadian men (51%) say the same. Significant differences between men and women also appear in Singapore, Australia, Italy, Malaysia, Sweden and the Netherlands.

In some countries, older people are more likely to have confidence in Harris than younger people. This age gap is largest in Belgium, where 73% of those ages 50 and older have confidence in Harris, compared with just 51% of 18- to 29-year-olds. Older people are also more likely to have confidence in the U.S. vice president in Canada, France, Germany and Greece. In Singapore, Poland and Malaysia, the opposite is true: Younger people report more confidence in Harris than older people. Older adults in Malaysia are also less likely to provide a response to the question.

Ideology is also related to views of Harris in some places. In six countries, those who place themselves on the ideological left are significantly more likely than those on the right to have confidence in Harris. Greece is the only country where the reverse is true: 54% of Greeks on the ideological right are confident in Harris, compared with just 32% of those on the left.

In addition to gender, age and ideological differences in some places, views of Harris are closely related to views of the U.S. president.

For example, people in Sweden, the Netherlands and Poland report some of the most positive views of Harris, with around seven-in-ten or more saying they’re confident in her to do the right thing regarding world affairs. People in these countries also report some of the highest levels of confidence in Biden. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people in Hungary are the least likely to express confidence in both Harris and Biden.

AAPI’s Cervical Cancer Vaccination Program Concludes In Hyderabad

“The HPV Vaccination Initiative to prevent HPV related cancers including Cervical cancer was started by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), in collaboration with Tanvir Foundation concluded successfully in Hyderabad with a virtual program attended by leadership of AAPI and local participation by leadership of IMA Telangana on July 17th,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI. “It was heartening to be part of this noble initiative’s concluding ceremony virtually,’ he added. 

The first of a kind program administered free HPV vaccines to the poor and underserved adolescent girls at the local Tanvir Hospital in Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad in India with the objective of preventing HPV related cancers, including cervical cancer, which is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. The initial launch of the program was held on January 9th, 2022, during the 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad at Tanvir Hospital, Hyderabad, India under the leadership of Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Immediate past president of AAPI. “AAPI is happy to initiate the HPV Vaccine Program, We at AAPI, in keeping with our efforts and initiatives to educate, create awareness and provide support on disease prevention,” Dr. Gotimukula, past-president of AAPI said. 

The HPV vaccination program requires two doses of the vaccine to prevent cancer. The 2nd phase of the free vaccination camp was conducted on July 17th, 2022 at Tanvir Hospital, Hyderabad, with the lighting of the traditional lamp by  Dr. Sampath Rao, Presidentn of  IMATelangan, Dr. Raghunandan, President  of IMA North,  Dr. Surendranath, Secretary of IMA Telangana, Dr. Meeta Singh, and Dr. Naunihal Singh of Tanvir Hospital who administered second dose of HPV vaccine to the 100 adolescent girls, completing the vaccination program

AAPI Advisor Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy said, “If vaccination programs are effectively implemented, approximately 90 percent of invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide could be prevented, in addition to the majority of precancerous lesions.”  

Usually, cervical cancer develops slowly over time, and another powerful preventive measure is Pap test screening, a procedure during which cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and examined. The Pap test can both detect cancer at an early stage, treatment outcomes tend to be better. 

 Dr. V. Ranga, Chair, Board of Trustees pointed out: “Once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States, today, screening and prevention have greatly reduced the impact of this form of cancer. Increasing screening and prevention are key components of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer.” Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. 

Dr. Anjana Samaddar, President-Elect of AAPI said, “Cervical cancer could be the first cancer EVER in the world to be eliminated, if: 90 % of girls are vaccinated; 70% of women are screened; and, 90% of women with cervical disease receive treatment. This is an important step towards reaching goal,” she pointed out. 

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, said, “In addition to Cervical cancer, GHS 2022 provided education  on: Chronic diseases which can be prevented- notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, lifestyle changes,  geriatrics, management of neurological emergencies, ENLS, a certification course”. 

“In coordination with the local organizers, AAPI donated the funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses for the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program, and the Secretary of AAPI. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs is aimed at helping save millions of lives in India,” she added. 

According to The American Cancer Society, Cervical Cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test for screening. Expressing confidence, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI’s GHS in Hyderabad, said, “Together we can all bring awareness in the community to prevent Cervical Cancer in India which is 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women!” 

 “Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI provides comprehensive and current reviews and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of various disease states to reduce morbidity and mortality and achieve cost effective quality care outcomes,” said Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI. 

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI believes, “Cervical Cancer is preventable through  HPV Vaccination and Early Pap smears and cervical examinations. Justifiably so, one of our preventive campaign goals has been to provide education and vaccination for prevention of Cervical Cancer in India.”  For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org

UN Report Says, Women In Healthcare Paid 24% Less Than Men

Although women represent 67 per cent of workers in the healthcare sector globally, they are paid 24 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to the first-ever global sectoral gender pay gap report co-developed by the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organization.

The report documents a raw gender pay gap of roughly 20 percentage points which jumps to 24 percentage points when factors such as age, education and working time are taken into account.

It noted that Covid-19 shone a light on the critical importance of health and care workers, who were applauded and celebrated. But the pandemic also laid bare the extent of inequalities, notably the gender pay gap, that workers in this highly feminized sector have been facing for decades.

While much of this gap is unexplained, the UN agencies said it is perhaps due to discrimination towards women. The report also revealed that wages in health and care tend to be lower overall when compared with other sectors, which is consistent with the finding that wages often are lower in areas where women are predominant.

“The health and care sector has endured low pay in general, stubbornly large gender pay gaps, and very demanding working conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic clearly exposed this situation while also demonstrating how vital the sector and its workers are in keeping families, societies and economies going,” said Manuela Tomei, Director of Conditions of Work and Equality Department at the ILO, in a statement.

The report also found a wide variation in gender pay gaps in different countries, indicating that these gaps are not inevitable and that more can be done to close the divide.

Within countries, gender pay gaps tend to be wider in higher pay categories, where men are over-represented, while women are over-represented in the lower pay categories.

Mothers working in the health and care sector also appear to suffer additional penalties, with gender pay gaps significantly increasing during a woman’s reproductive years and persisting throughout the rest of her working life.

A more equitable sharing of family duties between men and women could lead to women making different job choices, according to the report.

Tomei expressed hope that the report will spark dialogue and policy action as there will be no inclusive, resilient and sustainable post-pandemic recovery without a stronger health and care sector.

“We cannot have better-quality health and care services without better and fairer working conditions, including fairer wages, for health and care workers, the majority of whom are women,” she said. (IANS)

Naureen Hassan Appointed President Of UBS Americas

Swiss financial services giant, UBS has confirmed that Naureen Hassan, an Indian American will succeed UBS Americas’ long-time chief, Tom Naratil as the President of UBS Americas in October this year. Currently, Hassan is the first VP and Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. UBS Americas is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based UBS Group, one of the word’s largest wealth managers. 

Tom Naratil, an industry veteran who spent more than two decades at UBS, will step down from his current role as Co-President of Global Wealth Management and President of UBS Americas. Additionally, the financial firm noted that Naureen Hassan will succeed Naratil as the President of UBS Americas while Iqbal Khan will join UBS as the President of Global Wealth Management.

Hassan began her career as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company, and prior to joining the New York Fed, she was the Chief Digital Officer of Morgan Stanley. The details shared by UBS show that Naureen Hassan, who will become a member of UBS’ Group Executive Board on 3 October 2022, will play an important role in the expansion of the company in the region. Hassan will join UBS from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where she has been working as the First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since March 2021.

“I am delighted to welcome Naureen Hassan to UBS as President UBS Americas and to congratulate Iqbal on his expanded role as sole President Global Wealth Management. I also want to personally thank Tom for his leadership and significant contributions to UBS over the past four decades. He’s been a champion of our strategy and transformation and a vocal advocate of our diversity initiatives. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” Ralph Hamers, the Group Chief Executive Officer at UBS, said.

Effective 3 October 2022, Khan will become the sole President of Global Wealth Management at UBS. Khan has been associated with UBS since 2019. In the recent announcement, the Group CEO of UBS highlighted the strategic importance of the Global Wealth Management business for the company’s growth.

“Our Global Wealth Management business and our Americas region are strategically important, and both offer significant growth opportunities for us. I am confident that Naureen and Iqbal will build upon Tom’s success and continue to deliver for our clients and achieve our strategic ambitions,” Hamers added.

Mandovi Menon Among Asia Society’s Class of 2022

Mandovi Menon, creative director, writer, and media entrepreneur from India is among the Asia Society’s 40 young leaders from across the world who will form the newest class of the Asia 21 Young Leaders Network, joining an unparalleled network of over 1,000 individuals in politics, business, arts, education, sustainability, and technology. 

The Class of 2022 features a diverse mix of leaders representing 26 different countries and includes journalists, human rights advocates, entrepreneurs, fiction writers, politicians, and more. Together, they will form an integral part of the Asia Society family as the newest cohort of its signature young leaders initiative, embody the organization’s mission to navigate shared futures, and actively contribute in taking the network to new heights. 

“Drawing on their personal expertise and leveraging the collective power of the Asia 21 network, the class of 2022 will actively contribute in shaping a more peaceful, prosperous, and secure future for all,” said Asia Society President and CEO Kevin Rudd. “We are delighted to play our part in connecting individuals who share common values and desire to make this world a better place.”

Other members of the incoming class include Hajra Khan, captain of Pakistan’s national football team and founder of the Fortis Sports Academy; Fumino Sugiyama, restaurateur and LGBTQ activist and co-representative of Tokyo Rainbow Pride; Si Thura, executive director of Myanmar’s Community Partners International; Mandovi Menon, creative director, writer, and media entrepreneur from India; Sopheak Chak, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights; Alexandre Chenesseau, managing director at Evercore; Guo Dong, associate director of the Research Program on Sustainability and Management at Columbia University; and James Griffin, minister of the environment, New South Wales, Australia. You can access biographies of all 40 members of the Class of 2022 at AsiaSociety.org/Asia21.

After a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit will resume this year with an in-person convening hosted by Asia Society Japan from December 2 to December 4, 2022. The conference, centered around the theme of “leading in a world of competing values,” will include panel discussions, lectures, and special events in Tokyo, and will feature members of the new class as well as Asia 21 alumni. They will share best practices in leadership and explore opportunities to work collaboratively across borders and sectors to create positive impact. The sessions will also address diversity, equity, and integration through art, education, policy, leadership opportunities, and entrepreneurship.

According to LinkedIn, Mandovi is a creative director, writer and media entrepreneur who is passionate about using innovative storytelling to spark meaningful change. She believes that expressing creativity freely, with integrity, is at the heart of building a more inclusive world.

She is best known for having built multiple digital platforms and campaigns of repute over the past decade, which continue to create social impact and shape Indian youth culture significantly. In 2013, she co-founded her first media company, Homegrown—a pioneering platform that changed the way we speak to and about young Indians. Under her leadership, the platform earned a reputation for diverse, original storytelling that wasn’t afraid to take on the taboo, while continuously tackling pressing issues like juvenile justice, women’s rights, and sexual health. She conceptualised and led many digital campaigns and IPs for development sector clients like UNICEF, Dasra, & No Country For Women, as well as leading brands like Nike, adidas, HDFC Life and Puma (amongst others) during her time here.

Since moving on, she’s built three other first-of-its-kind media platforms, two of which focus specifically on children’s rights. One is Apalam Chapalam—a multi-lingual storytelling channel that caters to urban, underprivileged children in lockdown. In under a year, stories have been watched 200000+ times, and reached thousands of children in need. The second is ‘The Minor Project’—a dynamic public dialogue initiative to help end violence against children for Unicef India and Leher NGO. The third is a contemporary print publication from India called ‘The Dirty Magazine,’ where she helps create its vision as its Creative Director (Culture) & Features Editor.

Mandovi also continues to pursue various independent projects developing branding, identity & strategy for clients, as well as her own work as an artist and children’s book writer. She has a series of commissioned children’s stories and poetry due to be published in the coming year.

As a creative leader, she’s been honoured on Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30 list, Vogue Global Network’s ’50 Young Trailblazers Around The World,’ Lured Magazine’s ’15 Creatives Defining the New India’ amongst many other well-known publications for her work in Media, Communications and Culture-Building in India. She’s also regularly tapped as a credible source for how youth culture & youth identity is evolving in India today.

Vatican Names 3 Women To Office That Vets Bishop Nominations

Pope Francis on Wednesday named three women to serve as members of the Vatican office that vets bishop nominations, in another first for women to have a say in Catholic Church governance.

The new members are Sister Raffaella Petrini, who already holds a high-ranking Vatican position as the secretary general of the Vatican City State, which runs the Vatican Museums and other administrative parts of the territory.

Also named was Sister Yvonne Reungoat, former superior general of the Daughters of Mary the Helper, a religious order also known as the Salesian Sisters; as well as a laywoman, Maria Lia Zervino, president of a Catholic women’s umbrella group, the World Union of Female Catholic Organizations.

The dicastery’s members, who include cardinals, bishops and now women, meet periodically to evaluate proposed new bishops whose names are forwarded by Vatican ambassadors.

The Dicastery for Bishops oversees the work of most of the church’s 5,300 bishops, who run dioceses around the world. The dicastery’s members, who include cardinals, bishops and now women, meet periodically to evaluate proposed new bishops whose names are forwarded by Vatican ambassadors. The ambassadors usually come up with three candidates for each opening after consulting with local church members.

The pope still makes the final call and can bypass candidates proposed by his ambassadors and then vetted by the dicastery. But the addition of women into the consultation process is nevertheless significant and a response to calls to break up the all-male clerical hierarchy of the Holy See and demands that women have a greater say in church decision-making.

Church doctrine reserves the priesthood for men, given Christ’s apostles were male. Women have often complained they have a second-class status in the church, even though they do the lion’s share of its work running schools, hospitals and passing the faith from generation to generation.

Pakistan Is 2nd Worst Country On Global Gender Gap Index

Pakistan has been ranked as the second-worst country in terms of gender parity, placed 145 out of 146 states, in the latest Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, Dawn reported.

The report ranks 146 countries, of which the top five are Iceland, Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden, while the five worst ones are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran and Chad.

According to the report, the global gender gap has been closed by 68.1 per cent in 2022. “At the current rate, it will take 132 years to reach full parity. This represents a slight four-year improvement compared to the 2021 estimate (136 years to parity).”

However, the report noted that in the trends leading up to 2020, the gender gap was set to close within 100 years.

Pakistan was among the five countries with a gender gap greater than 5 per cent, with the other countries being Qatar, Azerbaijan, China and India, Dawn reported.

The report stated that Pakistan has closed 56.4 per cent of the gender gap in 2022 — the highest overall level of parity the country has posted since the report launched in 2006.

Pakistan was also ranked as the second-worst country in the region. According to the report, Bangladesh, which is ranked 71 globally, is the top country in the region, followed by Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Dawn reported.

South Asia has the widest gender gap on the economic participation and opportunity subindex, having closed only 35.7 per cent of it, the report stated. While the overall score improved compared to last year, “considerable country divergences” downgraded South Asia’s ranking among regions.

“Highly populated countries are for the most part driving variation within this subindex. For example, increases in the share of women in professional and technical roles were most notable in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. On the other hand, the shares in Iran, Pakistan and Maldives regressed, with less impact on overall regional performance.”

South Asia has one of the lowest regional gender parity scores for the health and survival subindex, at 94.2 per cent, the report stated.

“In this subindex, only Sri Lanka has closed its gender gap, while Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are among the worst-performing countries globally.

South Asia has the fourth-highest regional performance on the political empowerment subindex, having achieved 26.3 per cent of gender parity. The movement stems in part from the reduction of gender gap scores in countries where women’s share of years in political leadership for the past 50 years is reduced, for example in India, according to the report, Dawn reported. (IANS)

Reema Rasool From Long Island Runs for U.S. Congress on Democratic Ballot

Just as the first Muslim American female, Kamala Khan aka Ms Marvel, uses her super powers to take the world by storm in the Marvel Comic Universe on Disney+, real-life Muslim American superhero Reema Rasool fights against inequality and advocates for justice on behalf of her almost 800,000 constituents on the Northern Shore of Long Island and Northeast Queens. 

Rasool is a first generation American, the daughter of Drs. Shama and Ayaz Rasool, who immigrated to NY-3 from Srinagar, Kashmir in 1974. A life-long NY-3 resident, Rasool is a serial entrepreneur and successful business woman who advocates for small business owners. A mother of two teenage boys, Rasool is the FIRST Muslim American woman on the ballot for the Nassau County Democrats on Long Island, where she ran for the Oyster Bay Town Board in 2021.

Rasool is a graduate of New York University and the founder of South Asian Young Women Entrepreneurs (SAY WE), a national not-for-profit trade association that educates, supports, and advocates for women in business. Rasool is also the founder and principal of LUXE Consulting Groupe, an international financial marketing firm that specializes in the niche field of U.S. infrastructure investments by foreign nationals. LUXE has offices in India and the UAE.

Rasool is running for Congress to lower taxes, support small business owners by redefining the tax code, fight for education equity for children, keep communities safe, and ensure healthcare for all. The Democratic Primary for New York’s 3rd Congressional District is slated for Tuesday, August 23, 2022. Rasool is running against FIVE other candidates. To better understand her campaign platforms, please click HERE.

Kanchana and Jagadeesan V. Poola Honored as The South Asian Times-Couple of the Decade By Mayor Bill de Blasio

Kanchana and Jagadeesan V. Poola have been declared as “The South Asian Times-Couple of the Decade” during the 35th Annual Federation of Tamil Associations in North America (FeTNA) Convention in Queens, New York on July 2nd, 2002.  FeTNA is an umbrella organization of all Tamil Sanghams in North America.

Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the award and acknowledged the couple for their social, cultural, and philanthropic deeds for the larger society in the USA. 

Kanchana Poola, a community leader and philanthropist, best described as the unassuming power-house of the Indian community, along with her husband, Jagdish, a highly successful businessman, were honored for their accomplishments, and service to the larger Indian American community. 

During the solemn ceremony attended by community leaders, diplomats, political leaders and hundreds of community members, including the President of FeTNA V. Caldwell, President-elect Bala Swaminathan, NYTS President Ram Mohan, NYTS leaders Ranga Purushothaman, K Kumaraja, The SA Times-Person of the year 2020 Ravi Bhooplapur, Eric Kumar, Anusuya, Amudha, and Anand Poola along with Nimmi and Kamlesh Mehta on the glittering stage of St. John’s University. The guest also includes Members of Parliament in India from Tamil Nadu. Over 1700 delegates attended the convention.

Kanchana Poola, who had served as the President of New York Tamil Sangam (NYTS) for several years, currently serves as an advisor of the decades old Tamill Sangam. She is a Life member of FeTNA and has been associated with American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association. 

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

“We are pleased to announce Smt. Kanchana and Shri Jagadeesan V. Poola as “The South Asian Times-Couple of the Decade” recognizing and honoring their exemplary and significant contributions to the community at large over the years. This week the South Asian Times also came up with a Special Section featuring the ‘Couple of the Decade’,” Kamlesh Mehta, Publisher of the South Asian Times said.

Nimmi Mehta presented flowers and Rajasthani bandhej saree to Kanchana Poola, and Kamlesh Mehta presented a shawl and flowers to Jagadeesan Poola as they welcomed them for the honor. Ex-Mayor De Blasio presented the plaque to Couple of the Decade. Mr. and Mrs. Poola gracefully accepted the recognition thanking The South Asian Times, FeTNA, New York Tamil Sangham, and Ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Kamlesh Mehta, in his vote of thanks, appreciated FeTNA for providing the facility, Ex-Mayor DeBlasio for taking the time out, Eric Kumar and Mrs. Totee for extending the help in organizing the event and the Founding Editor Parveen Chopra for the special feature and profiling the Couple of the Decade.

Ketanji Brown Jackson, 1st Black Woman Is Now A US Supreme Court Justice

Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday, June 30th as an associate justice to the United States Supreme Court, making history as the first Black woman on the highest court in the nation.

Jackson, 51, joins the court as its 116th member amid a time of heightened scrutiny of the court over recent decisions and the American public’s low confidence in the Supreme Court.

“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God. I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation,” Jackson said in a statement.  

In April, she was confirmed 53-47 by the Senate to the high court after a series of contentious hearings, where Republicans tried to paint her as soft on crime and Democrats praised her judicial record. During the confirmation hearing, she vowed to be fair and impartial as justice in deciding the law. 

“I have been a judge for nearly a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my duty to be independent very seriously. I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath,” she said in her opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I know that my role as a judge is a limited one — that the Constitution empowers me only to decide cases and controversies that are properly presented. And I know that my judicial role is further constrained by careful adherence to precedent.”

President Joe Biden, who nominated Jackson but was not in attendance during her swearing in as he returned from the G7 and NATO summits in Europe, said in a statement later Thursday that “her historic swearing in today represents a profound step forward for our nation, for all the young, Black girls who now see themselves reflected on our highest court, and for all of us as Americans.”

Standing on the shoulders of her role models

Born in Washington, DC, on September 14, 1970, Jackson was raised in Miami, where she attended high school and participated in debate tournaments. Her love for debate led to her Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1992 and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1996. She was also supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review.

After college, the Harvard Law graduate not only clerked for Breyer but also Judge Bruce M. Selya, a federal judge in Massachusetts, and US District Judge Patti Saris in Massachusetts. She also worked as an assistant special counsel for the United States Sentencing Commission from 2003-2005 before becoming an assistant federal public defender and later vice chair and commissioner of the commission. In 2013, she was confirmed a United States District Judge under then-President Barack Obama before being confirmed a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2021. 

As a judge in DC — where some of the most politically charged cases are filed — Jackson issued notable rulings touching on Congress’ ability to investigate the White House. As a district court judge, she wrote a 2019 opinion siding with House lawmakers who sought the testimony of then-White House Counsel Don McGahn. Last year, she was on the unanimous circuit panel that ordered disclosure of certain Trump White House documents to the House January 6 committee.

A former federal public defender, Jackson sat on lower US courts for nearly a decade. As a judge, some other notable cases she has in her record are a 2018 case brought federal employee unions where she blocked parts of executive orders issued by then-President Donald Trump, and a case where she ruled against Trump policies that expand the categories of non-citizens who could be subject to expedited removal procedures without being able to appear before a judge.

Jackson penned more than 500 opinions in the eight years she spent on the district court.

During her Senate confirmation hearings, Republicans heavily scrutinized Jackson’s record, asserting she was too lenient in sentencing child pornography cases in which Jackson and Democrats forcefully pushed back on the accusations. At one point during the hearings, Jackson became visibly emotional and wiped away tears as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, talked about her path to the nomination and the obstacles she has had to overcome.

“My parents grew up in a time in this country in which Black children and White children were not allowed to go to school together,” Jackson told Booker after the senator asked what values her parents had impressed upon her. “They taught me hard work. They taught me perseverance. They taught me that anything is possible in this great country.”

After her confirmation to the high court, Jackson marked her historic nomination in a speech at the White House in which she celebrated the “hope and promise” of a nation and said her confirmation “all Americans can take great pride” in.

“I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity, but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America. Showing others through their determination and, yes, their perseverance that good, good things can be done in this great country,” Jackson said. Quoting the late poet Maya Angelou, she continued, “I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave. I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”

She has emphasized her family and faith, saying her life “had been blessed beyond measure.” She has been married to Patrick, whom she met in college, for 25 years and they have two children, Leila and Talia. (Courtesy: CNN.COM)

Khushi Patel From UK Is Crowned Miss India Worldwide 2022

Khushi Patel, a biomedical student from England was crowned Miss India Worldwide 2022 during a glittering ceremony of the longest-running Indian beauty pageant outside of India, on Sunday, June 25th, 2002 at the Royal Alberts Palace in New Jersey, organized by the India Festival Committee (IFC), which has been running the competition for the past 29 years.

Vaidehi Dongre of Michigan was declared the first runner-up, while the second runner-up title went to Shrutika Mane of Australia. The top 12 competitors at the pageant were the champions of other international competitions.

Patel, a biomedical sciences major with a psychology minor, expressed her happiness at having won the Miss India Worldwide 2022 competition. The model, who also has a clothing company, intends to participate in numerous charity events and support developing nations throughout the course of the upcoming year.

The Miss Teen India Worldwide 2022 title went to Roshani Razack from Guyana, while Navya Paingol, a University of Michigan, Ann Arbor student was the first runner-up. The second runner-up award went to Chiquita Malaha of Suriname. School teacher Swathy Vimalkumar of Connecticut won the Mrs. India Worldwide title.

Patel, who is majoring in biomedical sciences and minoring in psychology, expressed her happiness at winning the Miss India Worldwide 2022 competition. The model also has a clothing company, and “intends to participate in numerous charity events and assist third-world countries over the next twelve months,” as reported by the Press Trust of India. Over the next one year, the model, who also owns a clothing store, plans to do a lot of charity events and help third-world countries.

This year’s pageant was hosted three years after the last one, which was held in September 2019 at the Leela Hotel in Mumbai. “Pandemic has changed the way we think and live,” said IFC chairman Dharmatma Saran.

Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC) that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, is a pioneer in entertainment, holding Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and worldwide.

In 1990, DharmatmaSaran, decided to take the pageant one step further to an international level and started The First Miss India Worldwide Pageant to identify and honor beauties of Indian origin the world over and the show graduated to become the top most international Indian pageant on the earth. “For the first time ever, Asian-Indian communities from all over the world came together in New York for this event,” says Saran with a sense of pride. “To the best of our knowledge, no other ethnic organi¬zation has ever conducted a pageant of this magnitude on an international level.”

The pageant was an instant success and was acclaimed as “the most glamorous Indian function in the world.”

The annual pageants started in a basement in New York in 1980 with the first ever Miss India New York and Miss India USA, has evolved and expanded, nowincorporating and having membershipfrom over 40 countries, that promote Indian heritage and providing a platform for people of Indian origin to unite and showcase their talents, skills and beauty.

The pageants aim to honor achievement, to celebrate our culture in many ways, among them, the ability to meet people, make friends, to respect and be respected, to continually strive to improve standards, and to live a life as close to the laws of nature.

The IFC selects distinguished local organizations in various parts of the world and authorizes them to conduct national pageants in their respective countries. The India Festival Committee, started in 1974 in a most humble way, has come a long way. While seeking to collaborate with internationally reputed groups, Saran joined hands with the Times of India group’s Femina that runs the beauty pageants in India until 1997.

Most of these women have set their sights on professions like medicine, public relations and the law. The contest gives them a chance to take a detour and explore their Indian identities through colorful Indian attire and dance. Many of them have set their eyes on Bollywood and Hollywood, and participating in the pageants is a stepping stone for many to climb up the ladder in the world of fashion, silver screen, politics and charity.

Saran has become an internationally well-known leader in promoting pageantry around the world. Support came from most unexpected quarters. Noted actress, social worker, feminist and leader, Shabana Azmi, who is known to blast all beauty pageants, endorsed Saran’s show as noble as it helped funds for the deserving children.

The IFC motivates andguides its winners and contestants to take up charitable causes. Many of our past winners have raised substantial amount of money for various charities, especially for handicapped children,” says Saran.

Saran and the pageant are “very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts in the world.”

“AAPI has created a great track record, initiating several programs benefitting AAPI members and the larger community,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Declares in Her Farewell Address

(San Antonio, TX. June 26, 2022) “This year, AAPI has created a great track record,” declared Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the immediate Past President of AAPI in her farewell presidential address on the final day of her Presidency during the 40th annual convention of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in San Antonio, TX on June 25th, 2022. “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said.

During a solemn ceremony, she handed over the presidency to Dr. Ravi Kolli as the next President of AAPI, the largest Ethnic Medical Organization in the United States, representing over 120,,000 physicians of Indian Origin, who have grown stronger and have become a powerful force and stronger voice  in the United States making a unique identity for themselves. Dr. Gotimukula gave the gavel to Dr. Ravi Kolli during the presidential induction ceremony attended by over 1,000 AAPI delegates and distinguished guests.

In her inaugural address a year ago, Dr. Gotimukula, the leader of the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, had said: “I like to hope. I am a passionate people-person with a smiling calm personality. I strive to be an empathetic team leader and good listener, always seeking and doing my best in achieving the set goals. Thanks  Dr. Gotimukula had promised “to make AAPI a premium  healthcare leader, working towards reforms to the current healthcare system to help reduce the healthcare costs. I want to build a strong support system to protect the IMG physicians and their issues and help with physician burnout. I will further the existing educational goals and charitable goals and engage member physicians to support these goals.”

At the end of her Presidency, this soft spoken, gentle and visionary leader, Dr. Gotimukula, the only 4th woman president in the four decades old history of AAPI, has been proud that under her presidency, AAPI has been strengthened and grown, and reached newer heights.

Education has been a key area where Dr. Gotimukula’s focus has been during her year-long Presidency. “More than 45 CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members.” She thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts. In addition, AAPI members were offered Financial educational sessions on ways to wisely invest and improve their financial health. Thanks to our sponsors who supported these sessions. Dr. Sunita Kanumuri and team  were instrumental in organizing Healthcare Reforms Webinars, addressing health equity and disparities and physician burnout.

“Latte with Legislators” has been a new and pioneering program under Dr. Gotimukula’s leadership. Senator Dick Durbin, the High Ranking Senator from Illinois along with Rep. Mary Newman, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthy, Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Don Young, Rep. Alma Adams, and Rep. Frank Pallone addressed the AAPI members exclusively and answered questions on healthcare reforms and ways to make healthcare affordable, addressing the Medicare payment cuts for physicians, IMG issues of Green Card Backlogs, etc. Dr. Suresh Reddy and Dr. Sumul Raval organized these productive sessions for members.

“The Leadership Seminar on “Advocacy as a Critical Component of Patient Care: Why Physician Advocacy Matters and How to Succeed it” was addressed by Clarence Brown, MD, and Erin O’Brien, was coordinated by Dr. Meher Medavaram and the Illinois State Medical Society,’ said Dr. Gotimukula. The AAPI Women’s Committee organized two-panel discussions with motivational speakers on the “Domestic Violence Awareness” and “Women’s Health and Wellbeing,” which were coordinated by Dr. Seema Arora and the entire women’s committee.

Under her leadership, AAPI had two Family CME Trips: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania in July 2021, and to Peru in April 2022. “Both were beautiful rejuvenating breaks for our hardworking physicians and their families. We provided a total of 10 CME credits to the attendees during these trips,” Dr. Gotimukula said.

The Global Health Summit held in Hyderabad in January 20022 has been a major achievement under Dr. Gotimukula, focusing on “Prevention is better than Cure.” The GHS included a well-organized CEO forum with a panel of eminent healthcare leaders from the US and India, reinforcing the need for preventive care rather than disease management, to control the non-communicable diseases which are the biggest silent killers.

Dr. Gotimukula said, “AAPI presented a report to the Prime Minister of India with an emphasis on initiating an “Indian Preventive Health Task Force” with the development of Annual Preventive Healthcare Screening Guidelines for early disease detection and prevention, emphasizing disease prevention as more vital than disease cure. GHS organized panel discussions on medical education reforms to help establish Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Palliative Medicine specialty PG courses in every medical college and to change the examination pattern from essay questions to all MCQ testing. The Women’s Forum with the theme ‘Women Who Inspire’ with inspirational speakers who came from both continents was outstanding under the leadership of Dr. Udaya Shivangi and Dr. Dwaraknatha Reddy Duvvuru.”

Dr. Gotimukula led AAPI leadership was able to establish Collaboration and multiple medical organizations – ACP – FSMB – ECFMG – NMC (India) – IMA (India)  GAPIO – UNICEF – Red Cross Society – CWC – Lifestyle Medicine – MDTok – Apollo 2nd Consult. “These connections and collaborations are vital for us to stay connected and make a powerful impact on our communities,” Dr. Gotimukula  assured.

A major theme under Dr. Gotimukula  has been initiating programs and activities that benefit not only AAPI members, but also the larger society. “It’s been an immense satisfaction to me leading AAPI’s charitable activities this year with service as one of our motto Dr. Gotimukula said. “Despite the Covid challenges of Delta and Omicron waves, in spite of limited resources, AAPI blood donation drives were done in over 30 cities with several of them organizing multiple events. . The same cities remained motivated and doing another round of blood donation drives. With the Red Cross Society partnership, we can reach many more cities in near future and continue the good work.”

Dr. Gotimukula had special emphasis on “Adopt a village” Rural Preventive Healthcare Screening Initiative in India, where free health screening camps with free physician consultations were done in 29 Indian rural villages in the middle of Delta and Omicron waves with additional 25 villages are pending to get initiated soon in all states. In her efforts for “Free for Life” Fight Human Trafficking in India, AAPI raised and donated $75,000 during the Fall Fund Raising Gala with the AAPI Nashville host chapter at our Fall GB meeting, Dr. Dotimukula said.

During the Global Health Summit in January 2022, an Awareness and Prevention Initiative for Cervical Cancer in India was conducted. AAPI donated 100 free HPV vaccinations to needy children in India. During the Spring GB meeting and Gala an awareness for Women’s Breast Cancer was conducted. Spring Fundraising gala along with IAMA/ IAMA CF-supported free Mammograms for underserved women in Chicago was also completed. AAPI supported “H2H Foundation” (Founded by Padma Shri Padma Bhushan, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar) to perform heart surgery for the poor and needy children. Each surgery costs $2,000. Fundraising for this event is done during the AAPI convention in San Antonio to support 25 – 50 needy below poverty kids born with congenital heart disease.

Continuing the efforts towards the Covid-19 Fund – Post-Covid Relief Activities, AAPI has raised over $5 million during the delta wave in India. “The ongoing Covid-19 relief work in India is in progress, donating lifesaving equipment to support critically ill patients – Biochemical Analyzers, Ventilators, Oxygen Flow Meters, and Oxygen Plants,” Dr. Gotimukula pointed out. “The funds will continue to support Covid patients in rural hospitals. AAPI is prepared to support and help any deadly Covid wave in near future in India.”

Describing it to be a “historic 40th annual convention celebrating 40 years of AAPI and India’s 75 years of Independence in collaboration with the Indian Consulate / Embassy with invited dignitaries from the US and India,” Dr. Gotimukula expressed gratitude to “the entire AAPI leadership and members for their participation in AAPI activities, making AAPI stronger than ever and bringing a strong impact to the communities we live in and globally as well.”

The leadership team under her Presidency included: Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI; Dr. Anjana Samaddar , Vice President; Dr. Satheesh Kathula Secretary; Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI. Dr. Kusum Punjabi served as the Chair of BOT. Dr. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, who has been serving AAPI as the Vice President in the current year also did not face elections, as she automatically becomes the President-Elect of AAPI for the coming year. Dr. Ravi Kolli will have a dynamic and diverse team comprising of Dr. Anjana Samaddar as the President-Elect, Dr. Satheesh Kathula as the Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram as the Secretary; Dr. Sumul Raval as the Treasurer; Dr. V. Ranga – as the Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala – President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ammu Susheela, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. Dr. Gotimukula will continue to guide AAPI as the Immediate past President of AAPI. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Dharmatma Saran Plans Miss/Mrs./Teen India Worldwide 2022 In New Jersey

Imbibing Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin through Worldwide Pageants, under the dynamic leadership of Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC), the 29th annual Miss India Worldwide, the 5th Mrs. India Worldwide and the 2nd Miss Teen India Worldwide is being organized at the Royal Alberts Palace in Edison, New Jersey on Friday, June 24th, 2022.

To be attended by dozens of talented and adorable young women of Indian origin from around the world, the pageants will be a treat to the hearts and souls of all participants, showcasing their talents, skills and love for art, music, philanthropy and Indian culture.

The young beauty queens will come together on stage to celebrate Indian culture and traditions during the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, after a weeklong intense practice with celebrity Bollywood choreographers Sandip Soparrkar and Aleysia Rau, New York City Tour and pre-contests.

The annual pageants started in a basement in New York in 1980 with the first ever Miss India New York and Miss India USA, has evolved and expanded, now incorporating and having membership from over 40 countries, that promote Indian heritage and providing a platform for people of Indian origin to unite and showcase their talents, skills and beauty.

Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC) that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, is a pioneer in entertainment, holding Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and worldwide.

In 1990, Dharmatma Saran, decided to take the pageant one step further to an international level and started The First Miss India Worldwide Pageant to identify and honor beauties of Indian origin the world over and the show graduated to become the top most international Indian pageant on the earth. “For the first time ever, Asian-Indian communities from all over the world came together in New York for this event,” says Saran with a sense of pride. “To the best of our knowledge, no other ethnic organi¬zation has ever conducted a pageant of this magnitude on an international level.”

The pageant was an instant success and was acclaimed as “the most glamorous Indian function in the world.”

“When Miss India New York started in 1980, I had perhaps not even in my wildest dreams imagined that in less than twenty years, we would fledge out to be a mass movement with affiliates in over 40 countries, let alone that we would one day have a live internet webcast and broadcast our most prestigious function, the Miss India Worldwide, to an audience of over 300 million people!”

The pageants aim to honor achievement, to celebrate our culture in many ways, among them, the ability to meet people, make friends, to respect and be respected, to continually strive to improve standards, and to live a life as close to the laws of nature.

In line with other prestigious international pageants, IFC started staging Miss India Worldwide in various parts of the world. In 1997, the pageant was organized in Bombay to salute India on its 50th anniversary of Independence. In the year 1998, the pageant was organized, in associa¬tion with UTV International, in the exotic and beautiful city of Singapore, South Afrcia, Malyasia, UAE, Surinam and several other states in the US.

The IFC selects distinguished local organizations in various parts of the world and authorizes them to conduct national pageants in their respective countries. The India Festival Committee, started in 1974 in a most humble way, has come a long way. While seeking to collaborate with internationally reputed groups, Saran joined hands with the Times of India group’s Femina that runs the beauty pageants in India until 1997.

The contestants in all the pageants are of Indian origin, between the ages of 18 and 28, and are citizens, residents, or born in the country which they represent. The pageant consists of four segments – Evening Gown, Ethnic Wear, Talent and Question-Answer. The winners of all the various national pageants from all over the world vie for the glamorous and prestigious title of the Miss India Worldwide.

Saran and the pageant are “very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts in the world.”

In fact, motherland, culture and India are the words repeatedly invoked by most con¬testants. Clearly, this pageant was also about roots and identity. “We will never permit vulgarity and bikini wearing in our competitions. We don’t believe in the axiom, shorter the dress, greater will be the chances of winning the prize. We are very conservative in that. We only showcase the best of Indian culture and not the skin. We strongly oppose exhibiting women in a cheap manner on the dais,” Saran said adding that his shows are always meant for the entire family.

In the year 2016, saran introduced, on popular demand, the First Ever Mrs. India Worldwide, which has been received with enthusiasm from around the world. This is a pageant that provides married Indian women around the world with a platform, where they would get an opportunity to “Make a difference in the world.”

Most of these women have set their sights on professions like medicine, public relations and the law. The contest gave them a chance to take a de¬tour and explore their Indian identities through colorful Indian attire and dance. Many of them have set their eyes on Bollywood and Hollywood, and participating in the pageants is a stepping stone for many to climb up the ladder in the world of fashion, silver screen, politics and charity.

Saran has become an internationally well-known leader in promoting pageantry around the world. Support came from most unexpected quarters. Noted actress, social worker, feminist and leader, Shabana Azmi, who is known to blast all beauty pageants, endorsed Saran’s show as noble as it helped funds for the deserving children.

“The IFC motivates and guides its winners and contestants to take up charitable causes. Many of our past winners have raised substantial amount of money for various charities, especially for handicapped children,” says Saran.

IFC has used the title to raise funds for the poor and the needy. Saran has been successful in combining beauty with char¬ity. It was Saran’s dream that beauty works for a good cause. Bela Bajaria, one of his highly successful beauty queens from Los Angeles, has collected $35,000 each year for the Hand and Heart for the Handicapped for many years to help disabled children in US and India. Another successful Miss India Hong Kong collected $100,000 in a charity ball to help the helpless people.

Saran credits the success of the pageantry to his family and a team of hard working people. “I don’t know how I would have fared but for the unstinted support of Air India. Also my friends former News India editor John Perry; President of Jackson Heights Merchants Association V.N. Prakash; TV Asia Chairman Padmashree H.R. Shah, Bombay Broadcasting’s Giri Raj; and all the successive Indian Consuls General have stood with me.” he recalls with gratitude.

Saran is blessed with an understanding wife Neelam. She has been a source of great strength and support to him from the day one. His two daughters, Neema and Ankeeta have always been of great support and assistance.

Saran contributions to Indian culture has been appreciated and recognized by various organizations around the world and he has been acclaimed as “India’s cultural ambassador to the world.” He has traveled with his wife Neelam to various countries to start Indian pageant.

Recently he was awarded Bharat Gaurav Award held at the headquarters of United Nations in New York. As Farook Khan, Chairman of Miss India-South Africa Corporation, says, “The Miss India-Worldwide Pageant has developed further into a grandiose platform of unity through culture over the few short years it has been in existence. It has become an event which is boundless and this has become a reality due to the foresight and vision of dedicated men and women who came to the United States of America to start a new life and to carry all that India has to and will continue to offer.”

To quote Khan, “At one time, the pageant was regarded as a beauty contest, it no longer suffers from this narrow reputation. It has fledged out to be a mass international movement which honors the perform¬ing arts, develops finesse as a way of life and puts into communities a sense of compassion.”

Saran and his dedicated band of men and women have inspired people around the world to participate in a truly remarkable spectacle that enjoys the status of a truly bound¬less Festival of good. The Miss India Worldwide is such a hallmark, it is not just a beauty pageant.

Sopen Shah Nominated By President Biden As U.S. Attorney For Wisconsin

Sopen Shah has been named as a US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, which includes Madison, and other areas in the state and will be based in Milwaukee.  As per a White House statement, Shah and the other nominees were chosen for their “devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all,

Shah was among the attorneys nominated by the bipartisan Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, headed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh. She would succeed Scott Blader as the Madison U.S. attorney. Blader, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, resigned in 2021. Longtime Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim O’Shea is currently in charge of the office on a temporary basis.

Shah is a 2015 graduate of Yale Law School and an associate attorney in the Madison office of the law firm of Perkins Coie, where she specializes in business litigation and in appeals, issues and strategy, according to the firm’s website. Last year, she represented the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in a voting case which, in a span of three weeks, went from U.S. District Court in Madison to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Shah also served as a law clerk for Judge Debra Ann Livingston on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge Amul R Thapar on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Shah has been a Counsel at Perkins Coie LLP since 2019. Previously, she was a deputy solicitor general of Wisconsin from 2017 to 2019. If Shah is confirmed by the US Senate, she would be only the second woman to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Madison after Peg Lautenschlager, who led the office during the presidency of Bill Clinton, from 1993 to 2001.

Elizabeth II’s 70 Years As Queen Of England And Head Of The Church Of England

If you want to understand a nation, listen to its national anthem. “The Star-Spangled Banner” urges Americans to look out for the flag that waves over “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” “La Marseillaise,” the anthem of republican France, calls its citizens to arms. But the UK’s national anthem is a prayer, urging God to “save” — grant long life to — the queen.

It’s a clear sign that in Britain, the head of state, the country and faith are inextricably linked. This week “God Save the Queen” has been ringing out across Britain as the country has marked the 70th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth II, the longest-serving English monarch.

When Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952, Britain was still being rebuilt after the end of World War II and its heavy bombing campaigns; Winston Churchill was prime minister and the country still had an empire. The young queen’s coronation suggested a new era — as the millions of television sets purchased to watch the live broadcast of the ceremony from London’s Westminster Abbey signaled.

But the coronation itself was steeped in tradition and confirmed the continuing intertwining of the monarchy and religion. The ceremony can be traced back more than 1,000 years and involves the anointing of the monarch who commits his or herself to a life of service to God and the people through sacred promises. One of those, to uphold the Protestant religion, is also a reminder of the religious divisions of the past.

The queen’s two titles of Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, given to her at her accession, also owe their existence to Reformation history. Defender of the Faith was first bestowed on Henry VIII by a grateful pope for the English king’s rebuttal of the teachings of Martin Luther, a title that Henry defiantly held onto even after breaking with Rome to found the Church of England. He made himself head, while his daughter, the first Elizabeth, called herself Supreme Governor of the Church of England, saying Jesus Christ was its head.

Today, the role of Supreme Governor indicates the British monarch retains a constitutional role regarding the established Church of England but does not govern or manage it. The modern Elizabeth has left that to the bishops, although she addresses general synods and has a role as a listener and guide to her primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But while Defender of the Faith has been over the years an inherited title and little more, Elizabeth II appears to have embraced it and made it her own, speaking out very openly in recent years about her own Christian faith and explaining how it has provided the framework of her life.

She has done this mostly through the medium of her annual Christmas message, a tradition begun by her grandfather, George V, in 1932, and continued by her father, George VI. Her early Christmas Day broadcasts were platitudinous — the holidays as an occasion for family was a frequent theme. In 2000, however, she spoke of the Millennium as the 2,000-year anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, “who was destined to change the course of our history.”

She went on to speak very personally and frankly about her faith: “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.” Similar sentiments have been aired at Christmas ever since.

God did get significant mention along the way. In 1947, when she was 21 and six years from becoming queen, Elizabeth broadcast a public commitment, saying: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service … God help me to make good my vow.”

As she planned her coronation with dress fittings, selecting music and getting the crown jewels from their display in the Tower of London, there were also sessions with then-Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher, who provided her with a book of special prayers — a volume she keeps to this day among her most treasured possessions.

The spiritual foundations of the British monarchy are to be found in Scripture’s ideas about humility and wisdom being the great virtues of kings. Then there are the Gospels, with accounts of Jesus, the servant king, who has come to serve others. Key passages on this theme, from the Gospels of John and Matthew, are read at a Maundy Thursday service where the queen distributes gifts to elderly people, an ancient ceremony meant to imitate Christ serving his disciples by washing their feet.

The queen also leads the nation at regular services honoring the war dead, or offering thanksgiving for her jubilees, but worship is not, for her, only a public show. She has attended church regularly throughout her life and is said to have an uncomplicated, Bible and prayer-book based faith.

That love of the Bible was something she shared with the American evangelist Billy Graham, whom she invited to preach for her on several occasions (though the close friendship the Netflix series “The Crown” suggested between them seems far-fetched). She relies on the deans of Windsor — the clerics who run St George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married — for spiritual solace.

Her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh, and her son, Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, always displayed a more intellectual curiosity about religion, including a great interest in both other Christian denominations and other faiths. Over the years, as Britain has become increasingly diverse, Elizabeth has expressed an increasing openness as well. She has encouraged members of all faiths to be present at great church occasions during her reign and in the annual Commonwealth Day service held at Westminster Abbey. She regularly meets different faith leaders, including five popes — a remarkable turnaround for a monarchy that once broke so spectacularly from Rome — though she has not gone so far as to ask other religious leaders to play any sort of role for her, such as be a chaplain.

There has been talk of disestablishment of the Church of England, even in Anglican circles, with some concern it privileges one religious group above others in an increasingly diverse nation. Disestablishment would unravel the connection between the monarch, the Church of England and the state, which survives in Britain since the time of the Reformation. Change would mean the removal of Church of England bishops from the House of Lords, although there has been little call for this from other faiths. Rather, they prefer representation of faith at the highest levels of the British Parliament.

But that issue of privileging seemed apparent when the queen spoke at Lambeth Palace in 2012, suggesting the Church of England might act as a sort of umbrella under which other faiths might shelter, by saying Anglicanism “has a duty to protect the free practice of all other faiths in this country.”

The importance of other faiths was expressed Friday morning at the Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, where not only leaders of Christian denominations but of other faiths were present, including Buddhists and Jews.

One major difference at today’s thanksgiving service compared to previous ones for her reign’s major anniversaries was the frequent references to looking after God’s creation. In the twilight years of her reign, she is coming to share Prince Charles’ interest in the environment, but placing it firmly within her Christian concerns.

Attention is inevitably turning now to the next reign, with speculation about how much of an Anglican ceremony the next coronation will be. The Church of England will undoubtedly take the lead, but just as Princess Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral combined tradition and innovation, as Commonwealth Day services have done for years, the next coronation will most likely offer that blend, too.

Charles once said he would become Defender of Faith, rather than Defender of the Faith, expressing concern that he needed to recognize the changing religious nature of Britain. He has since retracted this, indicating he will adopt the traditional title. Even so, he has engaged frequently with other faiths, particularly Judaism and Islam.

His interest in Islam has in part been aesthetic, with a particular appreciation for Islamic art and architecture, but he has also commented on its metaphysical, holistic view of the world and humanity’s place in it, even as he has also expressed concerns about the radicalization of young people. While this interest in Islam and an awareness of the growing population of Muslims in Britain has led to his support for Islamic organizations, such as the Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, in more recent years he has reined back on it a little and instead become far more outspoken about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The Prince of Wales has undoubtedly been innovative in his work, creating charities that work with young people, and championing the environment. But he likes tradition, too, be it church music or the Book of Common Prayer. All signs are that his coronation will be like the man, with an innovative sheen on ancient tradition and a sincere regard for faith in diverse Britain.

 Catherine Pepinster is the author of “Defenders of the Faith – the British Monarchy, Religion and the Next Coronation,” published by Hodder and Stoughton.

Pamela Kwatra From New Jersey Honored With The Lifetime Achievement Award

Pamela  Kwatra, a trailblazer and the only Indian American woman recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor award in 2008, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during a solemn awards ceremony jointly organized by The Consulate General of India in New York and The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), the largest organization of Indian descent journalists operating in North America , at the Indian Consulate, New York, NY on Saturday, May 21st, 2022.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was the guest of honor at the IAPC Induction Ceremony and the Awards Nite Gala presented the award at the Grand Ballroom of the Consulate in New York, which was attended by several community leaders, elected officials, diplomats, media personnel and professionals.

Calling her a “highly accomplished leader” Mayor Bill de Blasio praised her contributions to the larger American society and to the Indian American community. Mayor Bill de Blasio showered praises on Ms. Kwatra for taking up on herself a key role in his election campaign that no other individual has been able to do.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, while congratulating Pam Kwatra on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, described her as “a trailblazing businesswoman, a community leader, and a political force with executive chops. No wonder she worked on important projects in my administration at my request. I also came to know that her involvement with the community spans across culture, art & literature – preserving and promoting abroad the rich and varied culture of India.”

While extending his greetings to IAPC, the Mayor said, “Congratulations are due to IAPC for doing a good job, to Kamlesh Mehta, its new Board Chairman, new committee members and all the honorees. We will continue to support this media organization.”

Eric Kumar, a major supporter to IAPC introduced Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In his address, he described how closely Mayor Bill DeBlasio worked with the Indian American communities and made a law to support Ethnic Media.

Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India, who was the chief guest presented the award to the other awardees with the Lifetime Achievement Award, including  Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI.

The awards ceremony was part of the Induction Ceremony of IAPC’s new office bearers, including Chairman Kamlesh C Mehta and Secretary Ajay Ghosh of IAPC Board of Directors, and members of the IAPC National Executive Committee led by President Aashmeeta Yogiraj and General Secretary CG Daniel.

In her acceptance Speech, Ms. Kwatra said, “I am truly honored to be chosen by the Indo-American Press Club for the Life Time Achievement Award. Your presence and this special occasion, receiving this honor makes its truly a memorable moment and I want to thank Kamlesh ji and the entire IAPC office bearers for bestowing this honor on me today, and wishing you, all the very best.”

While urging the media to a more active role, Ms. Kwatra said, “While the political and racial differences divide us, the role of the media is all the more important in keeping us all aware of and educating us about the need for a just and equitable world.”

While commenting on one of the hot button issues that is deeply diving the nation, Ms. Kawatra said, “We are concerned about the media reports about the Supreme Court draft to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, based on the Constitution that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose abortion without excessive government restriction. We are worried about women being denied the right to her own health needs.”

She called upon Media to play a very critical role, “especially in these challenging timers, as the world is faced with the once in a century health crisis with the ongoing pandemic.  Organization such as the IAPC can play a major role in helping heal and unite the nation. Wishing you all the very best. Congratulations to all honorees today and best wishes to the new leadership of IAPC.”

Pam Kwatra has a proud record of civic-social and professional accomplishments and recognition. She was the first woman to launch an Indian American advertising, marketing and PR company, Kripari Marketing in 1992. Pam always keeps the interest of the community and society above personal interest. She has supported numerous community projects for decades and has personally supported many Indian victims of domestic violence in the US.  A member of and leader of several Indian American organizations,  active in politics and grass root organizations, Ms. Kwatra is a graduate of Delhi University.

Under “South Asians 4 Better New York” (SA4BNY) founded by her, she has held fundraisers for Gov. Cuomo, Public Advocate “Tish” James, Congresswoman Grace Meng, District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, John Liu, and NYC Council candidate Ali Najmi. Her involvement with the community also spans across culture, art & literature – preserving and promoting the rich and varied culture of India, abroad.

Ms. Kwatra has served on NYC boards like Mayor’s Fund, City Center of Music & Drama Inc., New York City Ballet, David H Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. She was also nominated to the NYC Democratic National Committee 2016 Convention. Pam has launched several successful cultural programs and dance dramas at the United Nations. She also organized two book reading events at the UN – Kiran Bedi’s biography and Kathleen Kennedy’s “Failing America’s Faithful”.

She is the recipient of “Mother Teresa Award” in 2011 in India. Special Recognition at the event was given to: Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York for his vision, dedication and community service; Mayor Bill De Blasio, Former Mayor Of New York City, for Excellence in Public Service and Leadership; Dr. Prabhakar Kore, Member of Parliament, India, for his distinguished services in Education and Public Services; and Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator For excellence in Community Service and leadership.

The induction ceremony was attended by elite members and community leaders, including, Padma Shri Dr. Nori, Kenny Desai of FIA,  Girish Patel of BAPS, Girish Shah of Jain Samaj, Babu Stephen, former Chairman of IAPC, Shashi Malik of Long Island Association. Harish Thakkar of the American Indian Association, Ravi Bhooplapur of Xavier University,  Dr. Neeta Jain, Nilima Madan, Darshan Singh Bagga, Arvind Vora of Shanti Fund,  and Vipul Dev, the Consular  at CGI.

At AAPI’s Popular Women’s Forum Trailblazing Titans To Share Their Tales

“During the 40th annual convention in San Antonio, Tx leading women leaders in pharmaceuticals, academic and private settings will inspires us with how they tackled the hurdles,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the only 4th Woman President of AAPI in the four decades-long history, a Woman Leader, who has made huge contributions to AAPI in her own unassuming manner, while taking AAPI to newer heights.

Organized by the Texas Chapter of AAPI, the 40th Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions of the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) will be held from June 23-26, 2022 in the historic city of San Antonio, Texas

The Women’s Forum organized by The Convention Committee led by Dr. Chaithanya Mallikarjun, Chair with its Members: Dr. Heta Javeri, Dr. Ruchi Kaushik, Dr. Hetal Gadhia, and Dr. Dharam Kaushik, has put together a galaxy of successful women, who will share with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world.

Dr. Chaithanya Mallikarjun, Chair of Women’s Forum Convention Committee, while announcing that the much anticipated Women’s Forum will be held on Saturday June 25th said, “The Women’s Forum will have a panel of “Women Who Inspire” from all walks of life who have achieved extraordinary feats in each of their phenomenal lives. This exhilarating forum has been organized with the objective of bringing together some of the most accomplished women under one roof who are role models for all other women around the world.”

The confirmed panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum include: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme) who has been a part of over 50 new medicines successfully launched including vaccines in the US and globally; Dr. K. Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

Dr. Seema Arora, Chair, AAPI National Women’s Committee, a Past Chair Board of Trustees of AAPI, said, “The Women’s Forum will have a panel of “Women Who Inspire” from all walks of life who have achieved extraordinary feats in each of their phenomenal lives. This exhilarating forum is being organized with the objective of bringing together some of the most accomplished women under one roof who are role models for all other women around the world.”

Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Advisor to AAPI Women’s Forum underscored the importance of the Women’s Forum in AAPI Convention and how it has evolved and today it’s one of the much sought after event, with distinguished panelists on the Forum. “The Women’s Forum is where successful and powerful women come and share their life’s dreams, challenges and this empower and inspire other women. Today’s Forum is about how career changes by women affect t them and the larger society.”

Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and past President of AAPI said in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the US. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 40 years. For more details, please visit:  https://aapisummit.org/www.aapiusa.org

Priyanka Chopra Blasts ‘Shameful’ Indian Body Spray Ad Promoting Rape Culture

A television commercial for a male body spray has been taken off the air in India, after critics said it made light of gang rape.

Bollywood celebrities including Priyanka Chopra, Richa Chadha and Farhan Khan are among those to have lambasted the commercial for Layer’r Shot, a brand of male fragrance, calling it “shameful,” “disgusting” and “incredibly tasteless.”

Its controversial advert shows four men appearing to stalk a frightened-looking woman in a store before cutting to one of the men saying, “We’re four, there’s one, who takes the shot?”

Only when the woman turns round does it become clear they are talking about the body spray — which one of the men then takes from a store shelf and uses.

The commercial caused a storm on social media, where critics including various celebrities blasted its innuendo as making light of rape.

Many said the timing of the advert made it particularly insensitive, as it was broadcast just a week after a case in which a 17-year-old was allegedly raped by five men in the southern city of Hyderabad — the latest in a series of high-profile crimes against women and minority groups across the country.

“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls and promoting a rapist mentality among men. The advertisement is cringeworthy and should not be allowed to be played on mass media,” wrote Swati Maliwal, chairwoman of the Delhi Commission for Women, to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday.

Within 24 hours, the ministry had taken the commercial off the air and asked Twitter and YouTube to remove it from their platforms.

In an email to Twitter, the ministry said the videos were “detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency and morality” and violated the digital media ethics code.

In a statement Monday, Layer’r Shot apologized for the television advertisements, saying that they “never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments or feelings or outrage any woman’s modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some.”

The brand said it had voluntarily asked all its media partners to stop broadcasting the advertisements from Saturday with immediate effect.

Even after the commercial was taken down, it continued to cause a controversy. Actress Richa Chadha was among those registering her disgust, calling the makers of the commercial “filth.” “Creatives, script, agency, client, casting… does everyone think rape is a joke?,” Chadha tweeted.

Responding to Chadha’s Tweet, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra called the ad “shameful and disgusting” and said she was glad that the ministry has taken it down. Film writer and director Farhan Khan also slammed the advertisement.

“What incredibly tasteless and twisted minds it must take to think up, approve and create these stinking body spray ‘gang rape’ innuendo ads. Shameful,” tweeted Khan, who is also a United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.

Actress Swara Bhasker said both the perfume brand and its marketing agency had been “tone deaf” given the alleged gang rape of the teenager in an upscale part of Hyderabad last Saturday.

The case has shocked the state of Telangana, of which Hyderabad is the capital. Telangana’s home minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali said on Saturday that “strong action will be taken against all the offenders, irrespective of their background.”  It was “a ghastly incident,” the minister tweeted on Saturday.

Sudha Acharya Honored By New York’s Queens Borough President At AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

Sudha Acharya, Executive Director of South Asian Council for Social Service was honored by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards at the office’s first ever in-person AAPI Heritage Month celebration on May 19th. The celebrations held at Queens Borough Hall was attended by several and community members, who enjoyed diverse performances and remarks from local leaders.

Sudha was honored for her leadership and positive impact on the AAPI community as part of her work with SACSS, along with fellow AAPI leaders: the Coalition of Asian-American IPA, Nurse Potri Ranka Manis, and Peter Yoon, President of the Korean American Association of Greater New York.

Sudha Acharya has been active in the community for forty years. Twenty-one years ago, she co-founded SACSS and led the organization’s growth from a one-room organization with two staff to a thriving community center with more than 20 staff.

Acharya’s work has been recognized with many awards, including the Union Square Award, the India Abroad Gopal Raju Award for Community Service, and the Change Maker Award from Domestic Harmony Foundation. She has a Master’s Degree in English Literature and Financial Management.

“Her 35 years of active work in the community tells a story of grueling work towards betterment of the South Asian immigrant population and ensuring their basic needs to food and information don’t go unrepresented,” wrote SEEMA, a magazine that profiled her work recently.

Acharya has served in the city and state level health coalitions, and held many leadership positions. These include being president of the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (FIA), and chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA).

SACSS responds to the needs of South Asians and all immigrants, many of whom do not speak English, are unaware of services available to them, and experience isolation after arriving in the US. Acharya represents the interests of these immigrants and advocates at the City and State level for them.

SACSS currently focuses on healthcare access and literacy, senior support, civic engagement, and food security, offering services in 18 languages. In 2016, SACSS started the first food pantry to serve culturally appropriate food. Under Acharya’s leadership, SACSS was one of the most influential organizations that kept thousands of people fed and connected to critical services during the pandemic.

Acharya represents the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) at the United Nations, where AIWC has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Acharya works at the international policy level on issues affecting women’s physical, economic, and social well-being. The staff at SACSS speak 18 languages, 12 of those being South Asian. “If one family comes out satisfied, they spread the word. And that’s how we grow. This year, we have
already assisted 30,000 families,” Archaya told the media.

The ASHA Workers Won A Huge WHO Honor. They’d Like A Raise, Too

India’s task force of over a million female health-care workers has won a prestigious award from one of the highest institutions in global health. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a cash prize. “Awards don’t fill stomachs,” says Archana Ghugare, 42, a health-care worker from Pavnar, a village in the state of Maharashtra.

Ghugare works as an ASHA, short for Accredited Social Health Activists. It’s a program run by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides health care to rural and low-income communities in the country. They are not medical professionals but are entrusted with a long list of crucial health-care responsibilities, from advising new mothers about breastfeeding to raising awareness about COVID vaccines.

On May 22, the ASHA workers were named one of six recipients of the World Health Organization’s Global Health Leaders Awards — sharing the honor with such luminaries as the late Dr. Paul Farmer. The annual prize, created in 2019, recognizes individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to global health.

But while an honor is satisfying, the pay for these workers is not. They earn around $60 a month on average and have few benefits. In recent years, the government has raised monthly pay by a few tens of dollars, but workers say this is still too low. Many ASHAs, as the workers are known, and those in the global health community hope this moment can put pressure on the government to bump up their salaries, among other job improvements.

Indeed, pay equity has been an ongoing issue. Over the past two years, ASHAs across India have held several protests, including one during the pandemic in 2020, demanding better wages and safer working environments.

“Let’s hope the award draws attention to their working conditions,” tweeted Jim Campbell, director of the WHO’s Health Workforce program.

Despite their dissatisfaction with pay, many ASHAs take great pride in their work. True to the spirit of their acronym (asha means “hope” in some Indian languages), the workers represent hope for better health care, particularly for many of India’s underserved populations.

NPR spoke to three ASHAs about their day-to-day tasks and aspirations — and their reaction to the WHO honor.

‘We aren’t asking for much’

Ramrati Chauhan, a community health worker from the city of Palwal, keeps a diary of inspiring stories about the people she’s helped. She reads it when she feels disheartened about her job.

Ramrati Chauhan, a 42-year-old ASHA from the city of Palwal in Haryana state, says she gets very attached to the pregnant women she assists.

One time, a woman suddenly went into labor. Chauhan, who is not a midwife, couldn’t reach the woman in time to get her to a hospital — and the woman lost her baby due to complications. “I felt deep remorse” for not being able to help her, says Chauhan.

So when the woman became pregnant again, Chauhan made sure to visit her every day for the entire nine months of her pregnancy — and counseled her repeatedly about childbearing do’s and don’ts. There were complications during that delivery too — but this time Chauhan was there to get the woman to the hospital on time, and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

“When I pass their house now, the woman points to me and tells her son, ‘That’s your mother too. She saved your life,’ ” says Chauhan. Chauhan says she writes down important moments like these in a diary to read when she feels disheartened about her job.

“We have to struggle [with the government] to get a raise of even $20 to $25” a month, she says. She currently makes about $100 a month. Payment varies across states and depends on how many additional duties a worker carries out.

And when the pandemic first started, she says the government didn’t give her much safety equipment — even though she had to check on people who had tested positive for COVID. “We sewed our own masks,” she says.

The WHO award isn’t a first for ASHAs, says Chauhan, adding that local governments and municipalities have honored them several times. True recognition, she says, would be if the government recognizes ASHAs as full time workers instead of volunteers, and provides them with a steady salary, pension and other benefits.

“We aren’t asking for much,” Chauhan says. “Only what is commensurate with our hard work.”

‘People trust me because I’m an ASHA worker’

When the ASHA program began in 2005, the health workers were envisaged as volunteers working about 2 to 3 hours a day and a bit extra on some days, according to the National Health Mission, a program that’s part of India’s Ministry of Health. But over the years, ASHAs say their responsibilities have increased multifold.

At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Archana Ghugare says she was working 14 hours a day. And even today, she’s got a full workload. She’s been going door-to-door to identify people in the community who have a variety of medical needs, from pregnant people to kids under the age of 14 eligible for COVID vaccinations.

“If the government is getting so many things done from us, shouldn’t we get something in return?” asks Ghugare. Payments are frequently late, she says, sometimes by as much as 6 months. She’s worried about how she’ll pay for the education of her two daughters, one of whom has a speech and hearing disability.

In tough times Ghugare tries to remember why she started doing this job in the first place. Several years ago, a dying HIV-positive woman told Ghugare her last wish — for Ghugare to take care of her young daughter. After the woman’s death, Ghugare didn’t adopt or raise her, but gathered donations from villagers to fund the girl’s education. Now she’s 22 and studying to be a nurse, says Ghugare. “People trust me because I’m an ASHA worker, and that trust shouldn’t be broken,” she says.

‘We are being exploited’

Veena Dyani says there’s so much work she has to do as an ASHA that she sometimes asks her older children to help her complete her paperwork.  Veena Dyani, a 37-year-old ASHA from Nainidanda at the foot of the Himalayas, has a packed schedule.

Her day typically starts at 4 a.m. After preparing meals for her three older children and her in-laws who live with her, she sets out for home visits. Routine duties include weighing newborns and handing out vitamin and folic acid tablets to pregnant women.

To do her job, she sometimes has to enlist the aid of others. In the hilly jungles around Dyani’s remote village, there’s risk of attacks by wild animals. So whenever she has to walk through the woods to visit households on the other side, she pays a villager from her own pocket to accompany her for safety.

And if her kids don’t have schoolwork, they help out, too. At the end of the workday, Dyani has to organize the data she’s collected on her patients — what ailments they have, what treatments they need and demographic details, for example. Her children, ages 15, 17 and 20, sometimes write the data in notebooks to be submitted to her bosses.

Lately, her boss has been asking her to file this information online and take photos of the health-care meetings she holds in the community.

This frustrates her. “How [are we supposed to] do this online work? Not all ASHAs have money to buy a good enough smartphone,” says Dyani, who uses a basic cellphone. Only some states provide ASHAs with smartphones. Many years ago a politician in her state had promised to provide tablets to the ASHAs — but that hasn’t happened, she says.

To make matters worse, the last time she received a payment, about $65, was in February. She’s a widow, so she really needs the money to support her family.

“We are being exploited,” she says, adding that she could probably make more as a day laborer. But she sticks around, she says, because she likes the work.

When news of the WHO award broke, her WhatsApp group of ASHAs lit up with congratulatory messages. Recognition or no recognition, she says she will continue to do her job — and raise her voice for her rights. “The ASHA herself [can’t] lose hope,” she says.

Deepika Padukone In A Fusion Saree At Cannes 2022

The red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival is one of the most glamorous in the world of showbiz and Deepika Padukone, who was a jury member this year, had multiple occasions to showcase her sartorial picks. And so for the final leg of her this year’s Cannes festivities at the closing ceremony on Saturday, May 29th the actress made it count and how.

For the closing ceremony, the actress showed up in a ruffled white saree by Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla. She accessorized with an equally stunning pearl necklace. Her kohl rimmed eyes, contoured cheeks finished off the look.

Deepika Padukone, who is serving on the jury of the 75th Cannes Film Festival, said in an exclusive interview to ‘Variety’ that it “gives me goosebumps every single time I walk into the Palais and we leave — it gives me goosebumps because every single person on that seat is there to celebrate cinema”.

Deepika was familiar with the work of some of her fellow jurors, including Asghar Farhadi and Rebecca Hall, but not all. “I wasn’t entirely familiar with all of them, as is the case with all of the jurors,” Deepika told IANS. “I think what all of us did was to actually read up on our fellow jury members and watch some of their work. So, even when you deliberate, you understand where they’re coming from, or what kind of cinema speaks to them.”

The actor sees being on the Cannes jury as a natural progression of her journey, but at the same time being invited came as a surprise to her. “They (the festival management) seem so convinced about why they made that decision. And it makes me sit back and think sometimes maybe I’ve not given myself enough credit,” she said, adding: “If I’ve landed here today, without even realising it, I must be doing something right.”

The actor has just wrapped Siddharth Anand’s “Pathaan”, alongside Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham, and is working on “Project K” by Nag Ashwin. Next up is the Indian remake of “The Intern”, alongside Amitabh Bachchan, which she is also producing via her KA Productions along with Warner Bros. and Sunir Kheterpal for Athena.

Cannes, meanwhile, is going to become a regular mid-year holiday destination for Deepika and her husband, Bollywood star Ranveer Singh, reports ‘Variety’. Her jury service allows them access to the jury box in future years.

“We just come here for two weeks, nobody needs to know,” Deepika said. “Watch movies, sneak in, sneak out. We’ll be like kids in a candy store.”

Actress Deepika Padukone has worked towards normalizing mental health to enlighten everyone that mental illness is not always critical, but can be the reason our daily lives includes so much stress.

The actress now features in a Yoga Campaign, Yoga Make Space, leveraging an initiative which revolves around mental health and fitness. adidas and Deepika together celebrating what brings different people to the mat, no matter their background, ability, or reason to practice.

The Yoga Make Space collection has been consciously crafted, inspired by the elements of nature and aims to support through every move and practice, with apparel for women and men.

When did you start practicing yoga?

Deepika: I started practising yoga with consistency about two years ago after what felt like a deep inner calling. At around the same time, I was also offered a movie where I was given the role of a yoga instructor. In short, it was an inner calling mixed with the professional requirement that eventually pushed me to look for the right instructor and get going on my yoga journey.

What is the connection between nature and practising yoga?

Deepika: The beauty of yoga, apart from its numerous benefits, is that you can practice it in absolutely any space, in any part of the world. We often talk about being self-reliant. Yoga is one such practice. All you need is your mind and your body.

What are your thoughts on the benefit of practising yoga?

Deepika: I have, over the years, been exposed to many different types of workouts, exercises and practices. However, practising yoga, makes me feel the most centred, balanced and grounded. Feeling alive and connected from within, like I am in control, is something I have never experienced in any other practice, except for in yoga.

What does ‘make space’ means to her?

Deepika: adidas’ Yoga Make Space has not only given me a chance to talk about fitness but it is also giving me a space to discuss mental health which society still feels afraid of. When I hear the term ‘make space’ it reminds me of postures that I hold for a minute. Sometimes more. And when you truly tune in, you feel your body opening up and oxygen running into your bloodstream. That, for me, is making space within my body.

Geetanjali Shree’s “Tomb Of Sand” Becomes First Novel Translated From Hindi To Win International Booker Prize

Geetanjali Shree’s ‘Tomb of Sand’, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell, has won the International Booker, the first novel translated from Hindi to win the coveted
£50,000 prize.

Shree and Rockwell winning the prize not only marks the award’s first Hindi winner, but also the first time a book originally written in any Indian language has won, reports the Guardian.

Titled ‘Ret Samadhi’ (Rajkamal Prakashan) in Hindi, the book centers around a north Indian 80-year-old woman who slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband and then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life. Her determination to fly in the face of convention – including striking up a friendship with a transgender person – confuses her bohemian daughter, who is used to thinking of herself as the more ‘modern’ of the two.

To her family’s consternation, she insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, and a feminist.

For someone who stormed the Hindi literary scene with her debut novel ‘Mai’, as a writer, it becomes part of one’s unconscious and subconscious to look, hear, smell, and see stories around you, in you. “So there is some, still inarticulated, but full life, circulating inside you all the time. And the moment happens, not quite by your choice when the muse bends over you and something begins to unravel and pen comes to paper.

Many variables come together and a work emerges, triggered by any small or big thing. In the case of ‘Ret Samadhi’, the image of an old woman lying with her back turned to everyone in a joint family and apparently with no interest in living any longer, set me off. My curiosity grew as to is she turning her back on the world and life or preparing to get up into a rejuvenated, reinvented new life! From there the novel took off. It was a long journey full of fun, pain, joy, anxieties, the works,” Geethanjali said in an earlier interview.

The author is clear that writing must never be extraneously motivated or influenced. “I write to express as best as I can, as creatively and sensitively as I can, and that is the only expectation I am propelled by. I let no one tell me what, when, how I must write.”

Adding that awards, praise and are extraneous to this basic activity, and are incidental, she said: “Of course, if they are positive, it adds a new dimension to my happiness and fulfilment, but, they are not and never will be my impetus.”

Shree, whose works have been widely translated into different languages including French, German, Korean and Serbian, feels that translation is dialogue and communication. It is never a fixed, frozen and complete exchange. “It is ongoing, live and enriching – some things are explained better, some remain confounding, just as in any communication. Some things may also get lost, but some things also get added. Just as when two people talk, they enrich each other and enlarge each other’s way of seeing, being, and experiencing, so is also the communication underway in translation.

The gains of it are immense. One cannot fear it for the risks that may be in there too. Communication is worth it, risky or not! Dialogue, which is what translation is, is the best thing in human life and the way forward.”

Stressing that it is extremely important that the author and translator share a rapport, Shree said: “You need a rapport which establishes that both of you share the same wavelength, sensibility, values. If a fanatic, narrow-minded, purist picks up my book for translation, it is, without doubt, a recipe for disaster.”

Speaking about her process, the author, who has also been actively associated with theatre – in 1989, a group of theatre artists, writers, musicians and painters got together to form ‘Vivadi’, said: “My writing is the process. Except that I must work regularly and for long hours, there are no rules about it. I have no set formula and like to let the dynamics of unfurling a beginning and issues it throws up take over and take me across a variegated terrain.”

Deriving her characters from the physical world and space within — “a mix of both. And such a mix that even if they relate to recognisable things/people somewhere, they are fictional,” she feels that there is a need not just for translations into English but also and as much for translations across South Asian languages.

“Is English going to be the only language in which all other literature has to be accessed? One, what about those who are not well versed in it; two, we surely want a multilingual, multicultural scene where many languages are in dialogue with many others, not English alone becoming the overarching big language and all others aspiring to get access within it.”

The author, who has also finished another novel, said: “For some years it has been sitting on my table, ready and waiting. One of these days I will pick it up and hand it to the publisher.”

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President Of AAPI Presented With The Lifetime Achievement Award By IAPC

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President Of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during a solemn awards ceremony jointly organized by The Consulate General of India in New York and The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), the largest organization of Indian descent journalists operating in North America , at the Indian Consulate, New York, NY on Saturday, May 21st, 2022.

Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India, who was the chief guest presented the award at the Grand Ballroom of the Consulate in New York, which was attended by several community leaders, elected officials, diplomats, media personnel and professionals.

Other awardees who were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award included:  Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, and Pamela Kwatra. The event, which was attended by several dignitaries, including former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Dr. Prabhakar Kore, Member of Parliament, India;  Kevin Thomas, New York State Senator; and several other elected officials.

The awards ceremony was part of the Induction Ceremony of IAPC’s new office bearers, including Chairman Kamlesh C Mehta and Secretary Ajay Ghosh of IAPC Board of Directors, and members of the IAPC National Executive Committee led by President Aashmeeta Yogiraj and General Secretary CG Daniel.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula is the only 4th Woman elected to be the President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin in its nearly four decades-long history.

A resident of San Antonio, TX, Dr. Gotimukula  is a board-certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist, practicing since 2007, and is affiliated with Christus Santa Rosa, Baptist and Methodist Healthcare systems in San Antonio.

In her acceptance Speech, Dr. Gotimukula shared with the audience about the many initiatives AAPI has taken up during the past one year. Under her dynamic and inspiring leadership, “AAPI has grown and reached new heights. The Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad, held under challenging Covid situations has been historic in nature. The Blood Donation Drive in 75 Cities across the US commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence has been highly praised by all,” she said.

Her goals on “Prevention is better than Cure” are resonating in India through the “Adopt a Village” preventive healthcare screening initiative of non communicable diseases. A report from AAPI was submitted to the Indian Government to establish the “Indian Preventive Health Task Force “ to help frame screening guidelines for all non communicable diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension, cancer screening etc., sje said.

Under her leadership, several new programs have been initiated, benefiting AAPI members and the larger communities in the United States and India. Dr. Gotimukula urged the media to focus on the many positive things that are happening around the world, rather than focus on negativity that destroys human freedom, liberty and unity.

The closing ceremony included scintillating dances traditional folk dances and fast moving Bollywood dances by The Arya School of Dance and was followed by a sumptuous dinner. The hybrid event was also streamed simultaneously on social media platforms.

WHO Honors 1 Million ASHA Volunteers

India’s one million all-women ASHA volunteers were honored by the World Health Organization on Sunday, May 21st for their “crucial role” in providing direct access to healthcare facilities in rural areas and their indefatigable efforts to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in the country. They were praised for their contributions in providing basic health care services to the rural population of India.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced the group of over a million government volunteers, as one of the six recipients of the World Health Organization Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards recognizing their outstanding contributions to advancing global health, demonstrated leadership and commitment to regional health issues.

Dr Tedros decides on the awardees for the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards. The ceremony for the awards, which were established in 2019, was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly.

“Among the honorees is ASHA, which means hope in Hindi. The more than 1 million female volunteers in India were honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty get access to primary health care services, as shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. PM Modi also hailed the selfless service of the Asha Volunteers and congratulated them as their efforts were recognized by WHO.

Accredited Social Health Activists — or ASHA volunteers — are Indian government’s affiliated health-care workers who are the first point of contact in rural India. Most of them gained spotlight during the peak of the pandemic in India for conducting door-to-door checks to trace coronavirus patients. ASHA – means ‘hope’ in Hindi. These health workers provide maternal care & immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases; community health care; treatment for hypertension & tuberculosis & core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation & healthy living.

Americans’ Views On Abortion, 1995-2022

While public support for legal abortion has fluctuated some in two decades of polling, it has remained relatively stable over the past several years. Currently, 61% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by religious affiliation, 2022

About three-quarters of White evangelical Protestants (74%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

By contrast, 84% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 66% of Black Protestants, 60% of White Protestants who are not evangelical, and 56% of Catholics.

Views on abortion by party identification, 2022

Six-in-ten Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (60%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 80% of Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by political party and ideology, 2022

Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases than to say that it should be legal (72% vs. 27%). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 60% say abortion should be legal, while 38% say it should be illegal.

The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners support legal abortion (90%), as do seven-in-ten conservative and moderate Democrats (72%).

Views on abortion by gender, 2022

Majorities of both men and women express support for legal abortion, though women are somewhat more likely than men to hold this view (63% vs. 58%).

Views on abortion by race and ethnicity, 2022

Majorities of adults across racial and ethnic groups express support for legal abortion. About three-quarters of Asian (74%) and two-thirds of Black adults (68%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 60% of Hispanic adults and 59% of White adults.

Views on abortion by age, 2022

Among adults under age 30, 74% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do  62% of adults in their 30s and 40s. Among those in their 50s and early 60s, 55% express support for legal abortion, as do 54% of those ages 65 and older.

Views on abortion by level of education, 2022

Two-thirds of college graduates (66%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 63% of those with some college education. Among those with a high school degree or less education, 54% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 44% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Source:  The PEW Survey conducted March 7-13, 2022. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Data from 2019 and later come from Pew Research Center’s online American Trends Panel; prior data from telephone surveys. See report for more details on changes in survey mode. Question wording can be found here, and information on the Pew Research Center’s polling methodology can be found here. White, Black and Asian adults include those who report being one race and are not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race. Estimates for Asian adults are representative of English speakers only.

Aishwarya Rai’s Cannes Designer Says, ‘Petal’ Dress Represents Hope, Birth, And Beauty

For her second walk on the red carpet on the second day of the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Paris, Bollywood icon Aishwarya Rai Bachchan chose a shell pink and silver Gaurav Gupta couture gown.

Inspired by the birth of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, the gown celebrates pure artistic couture and creates an unforgettable fashion moment on the red carpet. Keeping the hair and make up minimal, the Bollywood actress choose to wear her tresses to one side and kept her look natural.

Gaurav Gupta, who designed Aishwarya’s dress, which featured a mermaid-style silhouette and a shell-shaped structure on its back, has now revealed the thought process and the hard work that went into designing the unique dress.

He said that he wanted to create something special for Aishwarya, as Cannes 2022 marked her 20th year at the festival. The designer said that with Aishwarya’s gown, he wanted to share a message of hope, birth, and beauty after the tough times the world has faced in recent years.

Gaurav told PTI, “We wanted something which denotes hope, birth and beauty.

After all the world has gone through in the past few years, we wanted to celebrate life and art.” The designer also noted that the gown was his interpretation of Italian also Sandro Botticelli’s famous painting Birth of Venus, with the shell like structure behind the shoulder symbolising Venus’s rise from the scalloped shell.

He said, “Aishwarya is a complete woman and a beautiful person. As I got to know her through the process, I discovered a wonderful, spiritual person who is really connected to her soul and is elegant. That purity in the absolute sense of beauty inspired me to think of the concept of the Birth of Venus.”

The designer reported that it took 20 days and over 100 craftspeople to create the outfit as they made sure not to disappoint ‘one of the most beautiful women in the world.’ He added that Aishwarya herself was involved in the creative process right from the beginning.

Talking about Aishwarya’s stardom at the festival, Gaurav said, “The frenzy, the love, that Aishwarya receives here, it’s almost madness. People couldn’t stop screaming her name out loud and the fanfare was insane. So just to see that frenzy, it fills you with joy… She is a phenomenon in Cannes. It’s like a real-life film in itself.”

After attending the Cannes Film Festival, Aishwarya returned to Mumbai with her husband Abhishek Bachchan and daughter Aaradhya Bachchan on Saturday night. She will next be seen in Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan.

Recently, musical sensation Cardi B. also choose to wear the Indian designer’s creation in her latest music video and single release.

Indian-American Women Launch Digital Platform To Screen Films

A group of Indian-American entrepreneurs launched a video conference platform, where filmmakers from Hollywood and Indian cinema can screen their own cinematic content.

The USP of this initiative, ‘We Must Meet’ is that it can live stream political events, Town Halls, sports events, and concerts, which can be accessed by up to 30,000 people at the same time.

‘We Must Meet’ content will comprise international as well as regional projects. It will be driven by an annual subscription model and is being launched in India and globally.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, former US President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign adviser, has announced her involvement with ‘We Must Meet,’ a new digital platform launched by a group of women of Indian descent. The technological initiative is said to be the first video conferencing platform that can also function as an OTT platform, allowing Hollywood and Indian filmmakers to screen their own cinematic content.

Elaborating on the platform, Manju Mason, who has conceptualized ‘We Must Meet’, said in a statement: “The software has been entirely developed in the United States and is community-based. It will change the way people will meet and host business meetings.”

The platform is powered and managed by the technology company Iotum. The company announced that We Must Meet is soon going to launch We Must Meet Theme Parks, Boutique Hotels, resorts, and restaurants under the same brand.

The move comes at a time when India’s OTT market is growing fast and has the potential to become the largest in the world.

Google Picks Archana Gulati As India Policy Head

Alphabet Inc’s Google has hired a new public policy head in India, Archana Gulati, who previously worked at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s federal think-tank and the country’s antitrust watchdog, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

A number of Indian government officials have been hired by Big Tech companies which are battling tighter data and privacy regulation, as well as competition law scrutiny, under Modi’s federal government.

Gulati is a long-term Indian government employee, having worked until March 2021 as a joint secretary for digital communications at Modi’s federal think tank, Niti Aayog, a body that is critical to government’s policy making across sectors.

Before that, between 2014 and 2016, she worked as a senior official at India’s antitrust body, the Competition Commission of India, according to her LinkedIn profile.

A Google India spokesperson confirmed the development to Reuters, but did not elaborate. Gulati did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The source declined to be named as the hiring decision was not public.

India’s antitrust watchdog is currently looking into Google’s business conduct in the market of smart TVs, its Android operating system as well as its in-app payments system.

Last year, Meta Platforms Inc hired Rajiv Aggarwal – who spent years working in India’s federal and state governments – as its head of policy.

Another former Indian antitrust and federal government official, Anand Jha, in 2019 joined Walmart as India public policy officer. He currently manages government relations for Blackstone in India.

A French Nun Who Enjoys Chocolate And Wine Is The Oldest Living Person

A 118-year-old nun living in a nursing home in southern France has become the world’s oldest living person, according to the Guinness World Records.

Sister André is also the oldest nun ever, according to a statement released by Guinness on Monday, April 25th.

Born as Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister André has dedicated most of her life to religious service, the statement said. Before becoming a Catholic nun, she looked after children during World War II and then spent 28 years caring for orphans and elderly people at a hospital.

Sister André, who lives near the French city of Toulon, is also the world’s oldest Covid-19 survivor. The Guinness World Records statement said she tested positive for the virus at the beginning of 2021, but recovered fully within three weeks, just in time for her 117th birthday.

In an interview with the French TV channel RMC Story on Tuesday, Sister André appeared to have mixed feelings about becoming the new oldest living person.

“I feel I would be better off in heaven, but the good Lord doesn’t want me yet,” she said, calling the title a “sad honor.” However, she also expressed her joy at being “pampered” by her family.

Sister André enjoys chocolate and wine — and drinks a glass every day — her nursing home, Résidence Catherine Labouré, confirmed to CNN.

When she turned 118 earlier this year, the elderly nun received a handwritten birthday note from French President Emmanuel Macron — the 18th French president of her lifetime — according to a tweet from the nursing home. There have also been 10 different Popes presiding over the Catholic Church since she was born.

Sister André became the world’s eldest following the death of Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman previously certified as the world’s oldest person, who died at the age of 119 on April 19.

World’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, died in Japan aged 119. The title of oldest person ever recorded also belongs to a French woman. Born on February 21, 1875, Jeanne Louise Calment’s life spanned 122 years and 164 days, according to the Guinness World Records statement.

Rachna Sachdeva Nominated As Ambassador To Mali

President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American diplomat Rachna Sachdeva Korhonen as his envoy to Mali, the White House said on April 15th.

A career member of the US Foreign Service, Korhonen currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary and the Executive Director of the combined Executive Offices of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

She has previously had assignments at the US Embassy in Kuwait and the US Consulate General in Mumbai. She was the Consul General and Principal Officer of the US Consulate in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.

She also led the Management Section of the US Embassy in Colombo, and, in Washington, she served as a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Management.

Among her other assignments, Korhonen was the Supervisory General Services Officer and Senior Human Resources Officer at the US Embassy in Riyadh, and the Political Chief of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kirkuk, Iraq.

A New Jersey native, Korhonen has a bachelors in Computer Science and Mathematics and worked in the corporate sector before joining the State Department.

Korhonen’s is the third nomination of an Indian American to the office of Ambassador. Biden has also nominated Puneet Talwar to Morocco and Shefali Razdan Duggal to the Netherlands.

Youth Icon’s Fight For Rights Among India’s Destitute

Pooja Shukla, 25, a socialist candidate, has lost her maiden elections to the provincial parliament in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. But Shukla is no loser.

A day after the results were announced on March 10, Shukla was back to a rousing reception in her constituency in North Lucknow to thank her supporters for polling 1,04,527 votes for her.

She was with the people again on March 18 on Holi, the festival of colour held annually to celebrate the end of winter and in anticipation of new beginnings.

Shukla told the IPS that she was hoping to win. Of course, she is disappointed, but electoral defeat would not stop her from continuing her struggle to get economic and social justice for the people of her constituency.

Although Shukla belongs to the upper caste community of Brahmins, she has worked hard to develop a personal connection with a cross-section of those who live in North Lucknow, one of the city’s nine constituencies. Lucknow is the capital of UP, the country’s largest, but economically and socially, it is one of its least developed states. More than 400,000 voters are registered in North Lucknow, nearly half of whom are impoverished women.

The constituency is home to Muslims, upper-caste Hindus and thousands of impoverished people belonging to communities who have been living for decades in makeshift shanties, often on the bank of open drains. Some are daily wage earners, and others are without paid work.

Shukla won hearts because she has knocked on every door in North Lucknow and continues to spend time with citizens.

“I have visited every single home in every single neighbourhood in North Lucknow. I will continue to do so as I really care for members of all communities that reside within my constituency,” Shukla adds.

This first-time contestant had faced Dr Neeraj Bora, a seasoned politician from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing party. Despite the formidable challenge, Shukla was leading on the day the votes were counted. She was ahead before her rival finally defeated her by 33,985 votes until noon.

Out of 403 seats in the UP-state parliament, the socialists won 111 seats. The Samajwadi Party (SP) of socialists came a distant second to BJP’s 255 seats, but the party has emerged as the largest opposition party in UP.

This was a golden opportunity to strengthen democracy by converting the numbers won by the SP into a viable opposition to the ruling party, Shukla believes. A well-meaning, vocal opposition is needed, she says, when the ruling party seems to want to wash its hands of all its social responsibility in favour of outsourcing businesses and privatising even essential services like education, health, and employment opportunities.

“Democratic values strengthen when the opposition to the ruling party is strong,” says Shukla, who believes that elections are held to elect representatives who will provide affordable homes, education, and health facilities to voters.

Shukla feels that socially conscious people don’t have to be Marxists to dream of justice in society. The desire to want to see all citizens cared for fairly and equally by the state is a desire of all decent human beings.

Shukla was the youngest candidate in the polls, nursing a constituency that is a sprawling, chaotic cluster of college campuses, traffic jams, markets spilling from every corner and rows of slums with open drains that overflow and swallow up lives during rainfall.

Her dream is to invite educationists to open model public schools for the majority of the poor people in her constituency. She wants low-cost houses for the poor and free health services. She says that time is on her side. She will find many more opportunities to contest elections.

“To win elections is important for me as I want to be a lawmaker and make sure that people-friendly legislation is passed in parliament to protect the interest of the most vulnerable in the country,” Shukla says.

Until she makes it to parliament, she plans to work tirelessly to raise literacy in her constituency and lower the poverty rate. She wants clean drinking water, cleaner drains, and better roads. Women’s safety is her priority, as is a regular and fair wage for the many communities of artisans like potters and weavers.

Shukla has witnessed the police lathi-charge citizens who dared to ask the government for jobs. Social activists have been jailed, kicked around, and beaten in lockdown for participating in protests and questioning the government in UP. There are countless incidents of gruesome crimes perpetrated against women.

Most political parties want women’s votes but are reluctant to share power with them. Therefore, politics in UP today is a constant struggle for any woman who joins the male-dominated world of politics. Shukla’s biggest strength is her belief in herself.

The daughter of a small property dealer, Shukla, learnt to be fearless from Beena, her mother. At first, Beena wanted her to marry a suitable Brahmin boy. However, the constant cry to marry died down after she decided to contest the elections.

Her parents suggested that Shukla choose a more respectable profession like teaching instead. The parents were pained when she was jailed in 2019, and countless criminal cases were filed against her for participating in street demonstrations.

Shukla is the eldest of three sisters, and she feels responsible for her siblings. The family reminded her she was a role model, but she refused to give up her politics. Her determination to remain engaged in public life is less frowned upon now. At least her immediate family members and neighbours are supportive. She is no longer considered a black sheep within the Brahmin community that sees itself as exceptionally respectable.

Shukla has been in the limelight since 2017 when she and fellow students waved black flags at the motor convoy of those in power. She was part of a group of students protesting against the use of Lucknow University funds for a political party event.

She was angry when jailed for protesting peacefully. After 20 days in jail, the University refused her admission for postgraduate studies. Shukla started a hunger strike and forced the University to allow all the students to continue their studies.

Today she is a youth icon. She has emerged as a leader and a role model not just for her siblings but for thousands of other youngsters, students, women and some male members of society.

Shukla says that she stands for a democratic, secular and inclusive India. How will she realise her dream in the cutthroat political culture where all that matters is power and money?

There is no substitute for commitment and hard work, she says with a smile. (IPS UN Bureau Report)

Ketanji Brown Jackson Will Join More Diverse And Conservative High Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will join a Supreme Court that is both more diverse than ever and more conservative than it’s been since the 1930s.

She’s likely to be on the losing end of a bunch of important cases, including examinations of the role of race in college admissions and voting rights that the high court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, will take up next term.

Jackson, 51, is the first Black woman confirmed to the Supreme Court following Thursday’s 53-47 vote by the Senate. She won’t join the court for several months, until Justice Stephen Breyer retires once the court wraps up its work for the summer — including its verdict on whether to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights.

When Jackson takes the bench as a justice for the first time, in October, she will be one of four women and two Black justices — both high court firsts.

And the nine-member court as a whole will be younger than it’s been for nearly 30 years, when Breyer, now 83, came on board.

Among the younger justices are three appointees of former President Donald Trump, and the court’s historic diversity won’t obscure its conservative tilt.

In Breyer’s final term, the conservative justices already have left their mark even before deciding major cases on abortion, guns, religion and climate change. By 5-4 or 6-3 votes, they allowed an unusual Texas law to remain in effect that bans abortions after roughly six weeks; stopped the

Biden administration from requiring large employers to have a workforce that is vaccinated against COVID-19 or be masked and tested; and left in place redrawn Alabama congressional districts that a lower court with two Trump appointees found shortchanged Black voters in violation of federal law.

Jackson’s replacement of Breyer, for whom she once worked as a law clerk, won’t alter that Supreme Court math.

“She’s just going to be swimming against the tide every day. That’s a lot to take on,” said Robin Walker Sterling, a Northwestern University law professor.

But Jackson’s presence could make a difference in the perspective she brings and how she expresses herself in her opinions, said Payvand Ahdout, a University of Virginia law professor.

Jackson, who was raised in Miami, may see the high court’s cases about race “from the lens of being a Black woman who grew up in the South. She has an opportunity early on to show how representation matters,” Ahdout said.

During her Senate confirmation hearings, Jackson pledged to sit out the court’s consideration of Harvard’s admissions program, since she is a member of its board of overseers. But the court could split off a second case involving a challenge to the University of North Carolina’s admissions process, which might allow her to weigh in on the issue.

“Historically, the court goes to some length to try to get as much participation as possible. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the two dealt with separately,” said Ahdout, who was a clerk to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg the last time the court dealt with race in college admissions, in 2016. Just seven justices took part in that case, because Justice Antonin Scalia died before it was decided and Justice Elena Kagan had been involved as a Justice Department official before joining the court.

For now, Jackson might not have much to do. She remains a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington, but she stepped away from cases there when President Joe Biden nominated her to the Supreme Court in February and will continue to do so, a White House official said.

That could reduce the number of times Jackson has to recuse herself from any of her old cases that later make their way to the Supreme Court.

Breyer said in January that he would retire once his successor had been confirmed, but not before the end of the term. With a bare Senate majority, Democrats didn’t want to risk waiting until the summer for confirmation hearings and a vote.

That leaves Jackson in a situation that is “unprecedented in modern times,” said Marin Levy, a Duke University law professor who studies the federal judiciary.

Most new justices begin work a few days after they are confirmed, Levy said. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to the court just a few hours after his tumultuous Senate vote.

Jackson could spend time arranging for her clerks and other staff for the Supreme Court, and closing down her current office.

But she won’t have to find new housing or upend the lives of her husband and children. Her new workplace is less than a mile from the court of appeals.

Veena Reddy Assumes Charge As USAID Mission Director to India

Veena Reddy, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has arrived in New Delhi to take charge as the new Mission Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in India.  In her role as the Mission Director, Reddy will lead USAID’s operations in India and Bhutan.

In connection with her appointment, Reddy stated, “For the past seven decades, USAID has partnered with the people and Government of India to build a peaceful and prosperous society. During that time our partnership has evolved, and I look forward to further strengthening our relationship.  The challenges faced by all during the COVID-19 pandemic have taken an enormous human and economic toll on India and beyond.  I am confident that with the strength and warmth of the U.S.-India partnership, we will continue to move forward on the road to prosperity.”

Interim US Ambassador to India, Atul Keshap expressed his pride and admiration that another Indian American will lead a critical Mission component, reflecting the accomplishments of Indian Americans in all walks of life in America.

Reddy brings with her a rich background in development and diplomacy.  Born in Andhra Pradesh, India, she is the first Indian American to lead USAID in India and Bhutan.

Reddy has had an extensive career as a U.S. foreign service officer, serving as USAID’s Mission Director in Cambodia; USAID’s Deputy Mission Director in Haiti; and in Washington, D.C. as an Assistant General Counsel, covering legal matters for USAID’s programs in Asia and the Middle East.  Before embarking on a career of federal government service, Ms. Reddy was a corporate attorney in New York, London, and Los Angeles.  Reddy holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Columbia University School of Law and an M.A. and B.A. from the University of Chicago.

“USAID is committed to supporting India in achieving its development goals, supporting clean energy and environmental reform, combating climate challenges, improving health, encouraging inclusive economic growth, and bolstering the COVID-19 response,” said a press release issued by the organization.  Recognizing India’s leadership, USAID is working with the Government of India, the private sector, and civil society to test and scale innovative development solutions in India, as well as regionally and globally.

Chai With Manju Celebrates 10th Anniversary

“Chai with Manju” a celebrity series of interviews and features, one of the most watched in the New England region, where she featured celebrities and spiritual leaders such as Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Kennedys and the like, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Over the past decade, Dr. Manju Sheth’s popular show, “Chai With Manju” on digital platforms, including on www.theunn.com with  celebrity interview series, has become one of the much talked about media features, bringing a wide range of exciting guests.

With hundreds of interviews and millions of viewers–first in the print and later in videos—Chai with Manju has spotlighted guests from almost every aspect of life: from musicians and spiritual leaders to academics and entrepreneurs and from politicians and diplomats to local heroes.

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

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

As the celebrity show Sushil Tuli, founder and CEO of Massachusetts-based Leader Bank, said that the Chai with Manju team over these years has done commendable work in bringing to its viewers and readers information, reports and opinions so vital in this age of media on social, business and cultural developments.

“Chai with Manju joins the pantheon of radio/TV programs such as Larry King Live and Fresh Air by Terry Gross,” said Brian Pereira, President, CEO and Board Member of Visterra Inc, and a member of the Board at American India Foundation, known as AIF.  “Ten years have passed in a blink of the eye, and we look forward to be educated and entertained for 10 more years.”

Desh Deshpande, a philanthropist, mentor, a successful serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author of “On Entrepreneurship and Impact”, urged Dr. Sheth to continue her “excellent work and bring us the insights of amazing people in the world.”

“It is a bold step for a doctor to venture into media.  Dr. Manju Sheth jumped in ten years ago and has brought many in-depth conversations with many distinguished individuals to us,” said Mr. Deshpande. “I cannot think of a single distinguished person who has stepped on the Boston soil and have not had Chai with Manju.”

“Chai with Manju has been a significant part of Indian Community in USA and around the world,” Mr. Tuli said. “I would like to congratulate Dr. Manju Sheth on their 10th anniversary of Chai with Manju. Dr. Manju Sheth has always been very enthusiastic about presenting personalities/speakers to keep the community informed about what is happening around us in this world”. Tuli asked Dr. Sheth to continue bringing the good stories and keep expanding viewership. TiE Boston President Anu Chitrapu said that Chai with Manju has evolved into a world-class series during the last 10 years.

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

Chai with Manju is created and hosted by Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, a physician at Beth Israel Lahey Health and Atrius Health, and is produced by Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News, IndUS Business Journal, Life Sciences Times and Boston Real Estate Times.

“Manju’s eclectic selection of interviewees, thorough preparation ahead of the show and deft handling of the conversation has made her show a must-listen for the New England Indian community and beyond,” added Mr. Pereira.

“I want to extend my gratitude to my producer, Upendra Mishra, for always having faith in me and to all my viewers/readers for their love and welcoming me into their homes through my videos,” said Dr. Sheth. “I am so thankful to all the celebrities who have let me have a window into their life with these special interviews. We are looking forward to having a big celebration soon.”

Do Women Live Longer Than Men?

The numbers don’t lie: women tend to live longer than men. The average American man will live to age 76, according to the latest CDC figures, while the average woman in America will live to age 81.

And a woman’s extra years tend to be healthy ones. The World Health Organization’s HALE index, which calculates the number of years a man or woman can expect to live without a major disease or injury, finds that American men can look forward to 67 healthy years, while American women will enjoy 70 years of “full heath.”

This male-female lifespan gap is not a new phenomenon; experts have known about it for decades. It’s also not restricted to Americans. “This gender gap in life expectancy is true for all societies, and it is also true for the great apes,” says Dr. Perminder Sachdev, a professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied human longevity.

Why do women tend to outlive men? Sachdev says there are a few popular theories—some to do with biology, and some to do with behavior.

“Men are more likely to smoke, drink excessively and be overweight,” he says. “They are also less likely to seek medical help early, and, if diagnosed with a disease, they are more likely to be non-adherent to treatment.” On top of all that, he says, men are more likely to take life-threatening risks and to die in car accidents, brawls or gun fights.

There’s evidence that a man’s biology—namely, his elevated levels of the male sex hormone testosterone—may lead him into the kind of trouble that could shorten his life. Research from Duke University has found that elevated testosterone levels are associated with risky behaviors.

Experts say testosterone may abbreviate a man’s lifespan in other ways. “Male sex hormones decrease immune function and increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases,” says Kyung-Jin Min, a professor of biological sciences at Inha University in South Korea.

In a 2012 study published in the journal Current Biology, Min and his colleagues examined the historical health records of 81 Korean eunuchs: men who were castrated as children, and who therefore stopped producing much testosterone. They found the eunuchs tended to live about 14 to 19 years longer than uncastrated men who shared their same socio-economic status.

While the links between testosterone and immune function aren’t clear, Min’s study points to lab research showing that testosterone may block the release of some disease-fighting immune cells. On the other hand, there’s also a good amount of research linking low levels of testosterone to heart disease and poor health outcomes in men, so the relationships between testosterone and a man’s health are complex.

It may well be that a man’s hormones aren’t to blame; instead, a woman’s hormones may offer her some added lifespan benefits.

“Estrogen appears to be protective—it has been shown to have an antioxidant role,” says Sachdev. A 2013 review in the International Journal of Endocrinology found evidence that estrogen can prevent the kind of DNA damage that leads to disease. That review also turned up evidence that estrogen can help maintain normal, healthy cell function.

These sorts of findings help explain the male-female longevity gap. But why would evolution and natural selection instill women, but not men, with these life-extending attributes?

“All this is entirely speculative,” Sachdev says, but it may have to do with a female’s historical role as child-rearer. “Once children are born, men are disposable,” he says. “But the robust body of the mother is important for the survival of the offspring.” A woman’s body has evolved to withstand and bounce back from the physical trauma of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the demands of breastfeeding—challenges to which a male’s body is never exposed. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And for women, that strength may translate to a longer, healthier life.

Youth Icon’s Fight for Rights Among India’s Destitute

Pooja Shukla, 25, a socialist candidate, has lost her maiden elections to the provincial parliament in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. But Shukla is no loser.  A day after the results were announced on March 10, Shukla was back to a rousing reception in her constituency in North Lucknow to thank her supporters for polling 1,04,527 votes for her.

She was with the people again on March 18 on Holi, the festival of colour held annually to celebrate the end of winter and in anticipation of new beginnings. Shukla told the IPS that she was hoping to win. Of course, she is disappointed, but electoral defeat would not stop her from continuing her struggle to get economic and social justice for the people of her constituency.

Although Shukla belongs to the upper caste community of Brahmins, she has worked hard to develop a personal connection with a cross-section of those who live in North Lucknow, one of the city’s nine constituencies. Lucknow is the capital of UP, the country’s largest, but economically and socially, it is one of its least developed states. More than 400,000 voters are registered in North Lucknow, nearly half of whom are impoverished women.

The constituency is home to Muslims, upper-caste Hindus and thousands of impoverished people belonging to communities who have been living for decades in makeshift shanties, often on the bank of open drains. Some are daily wage earners, and others are without paid work.

Shukla won hearts because she has knocked on every door in North Lucknow and continues to spend time with citizens. “I have visited every single home in every single neighbourhood in North Lucknow. I will continue to do so as I really care for members of all communities that reside within my constituency,” Shukla adds.

This first-time contestant had faced Dr Neeraj Bora, a seasoned politician from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing party. Despite the formidable challenge, Shukla was leading on the day the votes were counted. She was ahead before her rival finally defeated her by 33,985 votes until noon.

Out of 403 seats in the UP-state parliament, the socialists won 111 seats. The Samajwadi Party (SP) of socialists came a distant second to BJP’s 255 seats, but the party has emerged as the largest opposition party in UP.

This was a golden opportunity to strengthen democracy by converting the numbers won by the SP into a viable opposition to the ruling party, Shukla believes. A well-meaning, vocal opposition is needed, she says, when the ruling party seems to want to wash its hands of all its social responsibility in favour of outsourcing businesses and privatising even essential services like education, health, and employment opportunities.

“Democratic values strengthen when the opposition to the ruling party is strong,” says Shukla, who believes that elections are held to elect representatives who will provide affordable homes, education, and health facilities to voters.

Shukla feels that socially conscious people don’t have to be Marxists to dream of justice in society. The desire to want to see all citizens cared for fairly and equally by the state is a desire of all decent human beings.

Shukla was the youngest candidate in the polls, nursing a constituency that is a sprawling, chaotic cluster of college campuses, traffic jams, markets spilling from every corner and rows of slums with open drains that overflow and swallow up lives during rainfall.

Her dream is to invite educationists to open model public schools for the majority of the poor people in her constituency. She wants low-cost houses for the poor and free health services. She says that time is on her side. She will find many more opportunities to contest elections.

“To win elections is important for me as I want to be a lawmaker and make sure that people-friendly legislation is passed in parliament to protect the interest of the most vulnerable in the country,” Shukla says.

Until she makes it to parliament, she plans to work tirelessly to raise literacy in her constituency and lower the poverty rate. She wants clean drinking water, cleaner drains, and better roads. Women’s safety is her priority, as is a regular and fair wage for the many communities of artisans like potters and weavers.

Shukla has witnessed the police lathi-charge citizens who dared to ask the government for jobs. Social activists have been jailed, kicked around, and beaten in lockdown for participating in protests and questioning the government in UP. There are countless incidents of gruesome crimes perpetrated against women.

Most political parties want women’s votes but are reluctant to share power with them. Therefore, politics in UP today is a constant struggle for any woman who joins the male-dominated world of politics. Shukla’s biggest strength is her belief in herself.

The daughter of a small property dealer, Shukla, learnt to be fearless from Beena, her mother. At first, Beena wanted her to marry a suitable Brahmin boy. However, the constant cry to marry died down after she decided to contest the elections.

Her parents suggested that Shukla choose a more respectable profession like teaching instead. The parents were pained when she was jailed in 2019, and countless criminal cases were filed against her for participating in street demonstrations.

Shukla is the eldest of three sisters, and she feels responsible for her siblings. The family reminded her she was a role model, but she refused to give up her politics. Her determination to remain engaged in public life is less frowned upon now. At least her immediate family members and neighbours are supportive. She is no longer considered a black sheep within the Brahmin community that sees itself as exceptionally respectable.

Shukla has been in the limelight since 2017 when she and fellow students waved black flags at the motor convoy of those in power. She was part of a group of students protesting against the use of Lucknow University funds for a political party event.

She was angry when jailed for protesting peacefully. After 20 days in jail, the University refused her admission for postgraduate studies. Shukla started a hunger strike and forced the University to allow all the students to continue their studies.

Today she is a youth icon. She has emerged as a leader and a role model not just for her siblings but for thousands of other youngsters, students, women and some male members of society.

Shukla says that she stands for a democratic, secular and inclusive India. How will she realise her dream in the cutthroat political culture where all that matters is power and money?

There is no substitute for commitment and hard work, she says with a smile.

11th Outstanding Women’s Achievements Awards Gala Held On Long Island, NY

Honorable Jennifer Desena, Supervisor Town of North Hempstead, Town Clerk Ragini Srivastava, Senior Council woman Dorothy Goosby, Town of Hempstead, Nassau County Legislator Rose Walker, Glen cove Mayor Pam Panzenback  and  several elected officials, Bobby Kumar Kalotee, Founding Member of IAF, and Community Leaders, joined in the Metropolitan in Glen cove  for Eleventh Outstanding Womens Achievements Awards Gala on a cool Sunday  Evening, March 27, 2022.

Everyone present at the auditorium felt the pride and achievements regarding the theme of the program. The attendance of Honorees and members of Indian American Community filled up the Ballroom, with extremely accomplished and elite members, who is who of the society gathered for one singular purpose, to be the part of and to celebrate 11th Outstanding Women’s Achievements Gala, part of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day Celebrations

IAF (Indian American Forum) led by Indu Jaiswal, known for her strong commitment and dedication to the community cause was the organizing force behind the gala.  This year well known Community Leader Shammi Singh was the Chairperson of the Gala. Shammi Singh was represented by Rohini Singh in her remarks welcomed all the guests congratulated all the honorees and praised their efforts in achieving such success. American National Anthem and Indian National Anthems started the program. Mistress of Ceremonies Aashmeeta Yogiraj Sandhu from JUS PUNJABI. Made the evening enjoyable.

Program started with Ganesh Vandana sung by Vandana Jauhar, Dance performances presented by students of Nartan Rang Dance Academy, well-known Choreographers Swati Vaishnav and Mukthambar Fine Arts Inc., Tribute paid to Late Lata Mangeshkar Jee by Sunita Sadhnani. Chanbir Kaur Sethi, Roopam Maini, Inesha Singh, Rohini Singh and Dr Prachi Dua, Dr Pallavi Manvar Singh and Mrs Ratna Bhalla, coordinated a brief Q&A session with the honorees discussing and emphasizing their accomplishments.

Several Elected officials present congratulated the honorees on their achievements and success, also presented them with citations. congratulated all honorees and acknowledged the efforts of IAF Team. Seven distinguished women who had excelled in their profession and community services were presented with Outstanding Women’s achievements Awards

NISHA KUMAR BEHRINGER is strategic, and shareholder focused Chief Financial Officer, independent Director, and merger acquisitions executive with over two decades track record. She is formerly a Managing Director and the Chief Financial and Chief Compliance Officer of Greenbriar Equity Group L.P. a private equity firm for investments.

KALPANA BHANDARKAR currently residing in Nassau County has nearly twenty years of experience in Health Care and civic engagement.  Kalpana has dedicated her professional career in improving access to Quality health care for people living in low resource setting. Over past several years Kalpana has focused her work with Long Island based organizations, serving as co-chair of the Board of ERASE Racism, an advocacy organization focused on fair housing and equitable education for all residents statewide

NEETA BHASIN is the President of ASB Communications, the power of multicultural marketing company. ASB Communications is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this Year. Neeta Bhasin has served the Community through her TV shows, NEETA BHASIN SHOW on social media since last two Years. She started Event Guru Worldwide, the company that created history in 2013 by conceptualizing and producing the 2nd biggest event after New Tear’s eyeball drop-in Times square> DIWALI at Times Square

BEENA KOTHARI having lived in Long Island for over 30 years. Her association, interactions contributions with Indian and American communities has been very extensive, valuable, and memorable and inclusive of all. She has several accomplishments within various social and cultural nonprofit leadership capacities. She firmly believes sin VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM meaning the world in ONE Family.

DR PREETI MEHTA is the founder of Digestive Disease Care, one of the Largest Gastroenterology [ practices expanding from Queens to Nassau and Suffolk, she is well renowned in the field of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Charitable work and giving back to the communities’ top priorities of Dr Mehta., She supports Charities dedicated for children and women education

RAGINI SRIVASTAV Town Clerk. Town of North Hempstead. Is serving her first term as Town Clerk of Town of North Hempstead, a time honored and historic function for the township since its founding in 1784.Town Clerk Srivastava is proud of The Town of North Hempstead and the unique characteristics of our villages and services

MALINI RUDRA is a junior at Williams College. She is 21 Years old, graduated from Syosset High School, she is Co-Captain of the Williams College Golf Team, which is ranked no 1 in NCAA Div. 111 Athletics. Malini has tremendous success in Golf. She won or placed top 5 in numerous tournaments locally as well a nationally Since 7th grade Malini was selected as part of the Syosset Girls Varsity Team, she is winner of Several Golf Championships. Malini also serves as a Board member of the Children’s Hope Teen Chapter and helped raise funds for under privileged in Long Island. Malini acknowledged the award with a video message. She was playing in a Golf Tournament in California.

Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby from Town of Hempstead was all in praises for the efforts of Indian American Forum and Indian American Community. She congratulated all honorees and stressed the importance of role women are playing in this world.  Citations of behalf of Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County Legislator Ms. Rose Walker, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Suffolk County Executive Steve Vallone. Were presented to all Honorees

Among those present during the event were Bobby Kumar Kalotee Founder of IAF and Chair of Nassau County Human right Commissioner, Board of Trustees, Dr Azad Anand,  Dr Urmilesh Arya, Dr Bhupendra Patel, Mr Mohinder Singh Taneja, Board members Beena Kothari, Bina Sabapathy, Jyoti Gupta ,Indu Gajwani  Anu Gulati,, Roopam Maini, Chanbir Kaur Sethi, Rohini Singh, Anuj Rihal, Inesha Singh, Dr Prachi Dua, Dr Pallavi Manvar Singh, Ratna Bhalla, Anju Sharma, Sanju Sharma Mr Sunny Thakkar , Jasbir Jay Singh, Indu Gajwani, Bina Sabapathy and  Gala Chairperson Shammi Singh, Volunteers, sponsors , Media Partners  and Many others helped in making the event a grand success.

It was indeed a highly successful evening, showcasing and honoring outstanding women achievers, who are successful in business, cultural, professional, education, medical. Community and social services.

Talking To Maya

Maya Varadaraj and Maya Shah will discuss Varadaraj’s latest solo exhibition, Accident Of Birth  on Saturday, April 9th, at 4:00 PM, at the Aicon Gallery and live on Instagram.

Varadaraj’s exhibition explores experiences as a South Asian woman brought up in a Hindu family, and how various biologies, societies, histories, and families inform womanhood.

Maya Varadaraj is an interdisciplinary artist, receiving her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design before completing a Master’s Degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Varadaraj’s work has been exhibited internationally at Vitra Design Museum, Museo Del Disseny Barcelona, Nature Morte, Sapar Contemporary, Salone De Mobile, Mana Contemporary, and Medium Tings among others. She has been featured in publications such as Juxtapoz, Platform Magazine, and We Make Money Not Art.

Maya Shah is an art advisor, curator, and cultural producer based in New York City. Trained as an architect, her collaborative design work as Project Director for the International Design Clinic, has been exhibited in the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale and the Museum of Modern Art as part of “Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanism for Expanding Megacities”.

As a specialist in Modern, Contemporary, and Emerging Art, Maya has held leadership roles at auction houses and art advisory firms in Philadelphia and New York City. She currently works with a vetted team of specialists in direct support of artists, collectors and institutions, providing a wide range of management, advisory, and curatorial services.

According to Maya Varadaraj, “This exhibition is a love letter to myself, my life, my family, and the moments that have led me here.  My work is analytical, though in this case, I’ve turned my focus inward. Experiencing all the aspects of womanhood, its glory, and its upset, has me analyzing the characteristic pain and tribulations tied so critically to being female. As women, our intense ordeals could, perhaps, be explained by our biologies, societies, histories, and families. In my particular case as a South Asian woman brought up in a Hindu family, a lot of my experiences can be made reasonable through philosophies from Eastern thought. Karma, for example, the belief that actions from the past or ancestral baggage lead to present experiences.

“An unexpected event last year shrouded my life in loss. This event was not the hardest loss I’ve ever felt, but it was certainly the most unique. Looking for solace, I recalled moments of joy, comedy, and memories that might give meaning to this inexplicable loss. These intangible moments became intertwined and indistinguishable from my reality – this occurrence of loss then, as a consequence, was not unimaginable. It became a sequential part of my life, my family history, and the culmination of this series of work.

“I mined my family photographs, selecting moments that could have been catalysts for my present life – a visualization of my karma if you will. Images of my parents as children, a survey of female family members, my grandfather active and alive. I pull these characters out of their setting and reposition them to serve me in my search for meaning. I use text to communicate with versions of these characters that no longer exist, but still play a vital role in shaping my identity. In these images, histories emerge in clothes, hairstyles, gestures, and habits. To determine the reasons and circumstances that have come to be. So here it is, an analysis of my Accident of Birth…”

50% Of Women Face False Positive Mammograms After 10 Years Of Annual Screening

Newswise — A study led by UC Davis Health has found that half of all women will experience at least one false positive mammogram over a decade of annual breast cancer screening with digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography). The risk of false positive results after 10 years of screening is considerably lower in women screened every other year. A false positive is when a mammogram is flagged as abnormal, but there is no cancer in the breast. The study was published today in JAMA Network Open.

It also showed that repeated breast cancer screening with 3D mammography only modestly decreases the chance of having a false positive result compared with the standard digital 2D mammography. Other factors more strongly linked to a lower false positive risk included screening every other year and having non-dense breasts. Older women were also less likely to have a false positive result.

“The screening technology did not have the largest impact on reducing false positives,” said Michael Bissell, epidemiologist in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences and co-first author of the study. “Findings from our study highlight the importance of patient-provider discussions around personalized health. It is important to consider a patient’s preferences and risk factors when deciding on screening interval and modality.”

False positive mammograms are common

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women in the U.S. Early detection using screening mammography is a key strategy to lower the risk of advanced breast cancer and death from this disease.

A false positive result is a positive screening mammography assessment that leads to more diagnostic work-up but no diagnosis of breast cancer. When abnormalities are found on a mammogram, the patient is recalled for additional imaging and follow-up tests. If found to be cancer-free at the end of diagnostic evaluation and for one year after her recall, the patient is considered to have received a false positive result.

“Despite the important benefit of screening mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality, it can lead to extra imaging and biopsy procedures, financial and opportunity costs, and patient anxiety,” said Diana Miglioretti, professor and division chief of biostatistics at the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher and senior author of the study.

False positive results are common. While around 12% of 2D screening mammograms are recalled for more work-up, only 4.4% of those recalls, or 0.5% overall, conclude with a cancer diagnosis.

“To detect breast cancer early, we need to be careful and investigate any potentially abnormal findings. So, women should not be worried if recalled for additional imaging or biopsy. The vast majority of these results are found to be benign,” said Thao-Quyen Ho, radiologist at the University Medical Center in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, research fellow at UC Davis School of Medicine and co-first author on the study.

Analyzing mammograms for false positive results

The researchers analyzed data collected by the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium on 3 million screening mammograms for 903,495 women aged 40–79 years. The screenings were performed between 2005-2018 at 126 radiology facilities.

The study evaluated screening modality, screening interval, age and breast density. It estimated the cumulative risk that a woman would receive at least one false positive recall over 10 years of annual or biennial (every other year) screening. It also assessed the risks of a false positive that resulted in a recommendation to repeat imaging within six months (short interval follow-up) and separately, in a biopsy recommendation.

Mammography versus tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening

The study found that the probability of receiving at least one false positive recall over a 10-year period was slightly lower with 3D than 2D digital mammography. The decrease in false positives with 3D vs. 2D mammography was greatest for women with non-dense breasts and those who had annual screenings.

The researchers estimated that over 10 years of annual tomosynthesis screening, 50% of women will experience at least one false positive recall, 17% a false positive short-interval follow-up recommendation, and 11% a false positive biopsy recommendation. This is compared to 56% of women screened with 2D digital mammograms having a false positive recall, 18% a short-interval follow-up recommendation, and 12% a biopsy recommendation.

Regardless of the type of screening, false positive results were substantially lower for older than younger age groups and women with entirely fatty versus extremely dense breasts.

Annual versus biennial breast cancer screening

The study also estimated 10-year risks for annual vs. biennial screenings. It found that screening every other year showed a considerably lower probability of at least one false positive result than annual mammograms over ten years of screening. This finding was observed for both 3D and 2D mammography.

“We were surprised that the newer 3D technology in breast cancer screening does not substantially reduce the risk of having a false positive result after 10 years of screening; however, chances of false positives are much lower with repeated biennial vs. annual screening,” said Ho.

For short-interval follow-up recommendations, 17% of women undergoing annual 3D mammography are estimated to have at least one false positive over 10 years, compared to just 10% of those undergoing biennial screening. False positive benign biopsy recommendations are estimated to occur in 11% of women receiving annual 3D mammograms but in only 7% of those screened every two years.

After 10 years of annual screening, the risk of a false positive result was lower in 3D than 2D mammography for all outcomes. For biennial screening, the risk of a false positive recall was lower with 3D mammography. There was no difference in short interval follow-up or biopsy recommendations.

The other authors on this study are: Karla Kerlikowske and Jeffrey A. Tice at the University of California, San Francisco; Rebecca A. Hubbard at the University of Pennsylvania; Brian L. Sprague at the University of Vermont; Christoph I. Lee at the University of Washington and Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research; and Anna N. A. Tosteson at Dartmouth College and Norris Cotton Cancer Center.  Miglioretti is also an affiliate investigator with UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research.

How Do Indians View Gender Roles In Families And Society: PEW Study

Today, Indians are largely accepting of women as political leaders, according to a Pew Research Center survey of nearly 30,000 Indian adults. Yet, in domestic settings, Indians tend to say men should have more prominent roles than women. For example, about nine-in-ten Indians agree with the notion that a wife must always obey her husband, including nearly two-thirds who completely agree with this sentiment.

Indian adults nearly universally say it is important for women to have the same rights as men, including eight-in-ten who say this is very important. At the same time, however, there are circumstances when Indians feel men should receive preferential treatment: 80% agree with the idea that “when there are few jobs, men should have more rights to a job than women,” according to a new Pew Research Center report.

The report, based on a face-to-face survey of 29,999 Indian adults fielded between late 2019 and early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, looks at how Indians view gender roles at home and in society more generally. The survey, which was also the basis for a 2021 report on religion in India, was conducted by local interviewers in 17 languages and covered nearly all of India’s states and union territories.

Here are key findings from the report.

  1. Indians broadly accept women as political leaders. India has a long history of women holding political power, from the 1966 election of Indira Gandhi, one of the world’s first woman prime ministers, to other well-known figures, such as Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee and Sushma Swaraj.

The survey results reflect this comfort with women in politics. Most adults say that women and men make equally good political leaders (55%) or that women generally make better leaders than men (14%). Only a quarter of Indian adults take the position that men tend to make better political leaders than women.

  1. While most Indians say that men and women should share some family responsibilities, many still support traditional gender roles. For instance, 62% of adults say both men and women should be responsible for taking care of children, while roughly a third of adults (34%) feel that child care should be handled primarily by women. Similarly, a slim majority (54%) say that both men and women in families should be responsible for earning money, yet many Indians (43%) see this as mainly the obligation of men.

Meanwhile, nearly nine-in-ten Indians (87%) completely or mostly agree with the notion that “a wife must always obey her husband.” This includes a majority of Indians (64%) who completely agree with this sentiment. Women are only modestly less likely than men to say that wives should obey their husbands in all situations, and most Indian women express total agreement with this sentiment (61% vs. 67% among men). (Throughout this report, differences in opinion between men and women are modest. In other words, Indian women typically are not much more likely than Indian men to express egalitarian views on gender roles.)

  1. An overwhelming majority of Indian adults say it is very important for families to have both sons and daughters, and a substantial share are accepting of sex-selective abortion. Indians are united in the view that it is very important for a family to have at least one son (94%) and, separately, a daughter (90%). Historically in Indian society, though, families have tended to place higher value on their sons than their daughters, a custom broadly referred to as “son preference.” One enduring manifestation of son preference has been the illegal practice of sex-selective abortions – using ultrasound or other tests to learn the sex of a fetus and terminating the pregnancy if the fetus is female.

The survey finds that four-in-ten Indians say it is either “completely acceptable” or “somewhat acceptable” to “get a checkup using modern methods to balance the number of girls and boys in the family,” a euphemism that connotes sex-selective abortion. In contrast, roughly half of adults (53%) say that this practice is either somewhat or completely unacceptable.

  1. Most Indians (63%) say sons should be primarily responsible for parents’ last rites or burial rituals, although attitudes differ significantly across religious groups. Religious funeral practices for loved ones are widely seen as very important in India, and at least according to Hindu tradition, sons must perform last rites for a parent to ensure freedom for the soul in the afterlife.

Most Muslims (74%), Jains (67%) and Hindus (63%) say sons should be primarily responsible for funeral rituals, but far fewer Sikhs (29%), Christians (44%) and Buddhists (46%) expect this from sons. (Muslims and Christians were asked about “burial rituals,” while all other respondents were asked about “last rites.”) Instead, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists are more likely to say that both sons and daughters should be responsible for their parents’ last rites. Very few Indians, regardless of religion, say daughters should be primarily responsible for funeral rituals.

  1. Muslims are more likely than other Indians to support traditional gender roles in families, while Sikhs are often the least likely community to hold such views. For example, while most Indian Muslims (61%) say that men in a family should be primarily responsible for earning money, just 17% of Sikhs say this. And Muslims are more than twice as likely as Sikhs to assign sons the primary responsibility of caring for aging parents (43% vs. 17%).
  2. Indians favor teaching boys to respect women as a way to improve women’s safety. As described in a previous Pew Research Center report, roughly three-quarters of Indian adults (76%) say violence against women is a “very big problem” in their country. Police cases registered as “crimes against women” nearly doubled between 2010 and 2019, and rapes and murders of women have led to massive protests across India. The survey asked respondents which of two options is more important to improve the safety of women in their community: teaching boys to respect all women or teaching girls to behave appropriately.

About half of Indians (51%) say it is more important to teach boys to respect all women, while roughly a quarter (26%) say it is more important to teach girls to behave appropriately. An additional quarter of Indian adults don’t take a clear position between those two options, instead voicing that some combination of the two approaches is necessary, that improved law and order through policing will improve the situation, or that women are already safe.

  1. Compared with people in other countries around the world, Indians have relatively traditional views on gender roles. Although Indian adults are roughly in line with the global median in their support for equal rights for women, by two other measures the Indian public appears much more conservative, according to a series of other surveys conducted by the Center in recent years.

Only one out of 61 countries surveyed has a higher share of adults than in India who agree completely with the notion that men should have greater rights to a job than women when jobs are scarce. And just two out of 34 countries surveyed exceed India in the shares who say a marriage is more satisfying if the husband provides for the family and the wife takes care of the house and children. On this question, the percentage of Indians who take this view (40%) is well above the global median (23%).

Shree Saini Crowned First Runner-Up At Miss World Pageant

Shree Saini, a former Miss India USA and Miss India Worldwide, has been crowned as the first runner-up at 70th edition of the Miss World 2021 pageant held in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Coca-Cola Music Hall, on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022. The 26-year-old Ludhiana-born Indian American represented the United States at the beauty pageant.

Karolina Bielawska of Poland was crowned Miss World 2021, which was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Karolina is currently pursuing her Master’s in Management and hopes to get a PhD too, according to the Miss World organization.

Introducing the winners, Miss World organization tweeted: “Our newly crowned Miss World Karolina Bielawska from Poland with 1st Runner Up Shree Saini from US 2nd Runner up Olivia Yace from Côte d’Ivoire.”

Toni-Ann Singh, Miss World 2020, also graced the event by performing a special number ‘The Prayer’ to show her support for Ukraine in the midst of its conflict with Russia. “Our current Miss World Toni-Ann Singh performs ‘The Prayer’ as we light candles around the world to stand with Ukraine. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house #mwcandlesforukraine.” tweeted from Miss World’s handle.

Beautiful, compassionate, talented, ambitious, gentle, humble, determined and dedicated to achieving the lofty goals in life, she has set before herself at a very young age, Shree Saini is a woman with a golden heart.

Shree Saini is from Punjab’s Ludhiana, but moved to Washington, DC with her family when she was five. Shree grew up in Moses Lake in Washington state, has been living with a pacemaker since the age of 12. With a heartbeat rate of 20 per minute, doctors ruled her out for her first love — ballet. But, literally dancing against all odds, Saini became a trained ballerina and has been accepted as a trainee by the prestigious Joffrey Ballet, based out of Chicago.

The story of Shree is one of resilience over adversities that would daunt even the sturdiest individuals. In October 2019, Saini collapsed right before the final night of the Miss World America competition, where she eventually got to wear the crown, which she accepted from Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden.

Taking to Instagram that evening, Saini’s mother, Ekta Saini, said that doctors had kept her daughter on “cardiac arrest watch” because just 1 per cent of individuals around the world get a pacemaker implant. Undeterred by the episode, Saini went on to be crowned Miss World America 2020.

Before she left for Miss World earlier this month, Saini shared a “global message of hope and resilience” in which spoke about how she survived a “major rollover car accident that left my face with bleeding wounds” while she was still in university.

Recalling that horrific episode, Saini wrote: “I no longer had my face. I couldn’t even recognise myself. I couldn’t even cry because my tears would burn as they would pass down my wounds. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever endured.”

The Instagram post, which went viral after Saini became the first runner-up at Miss World 2021, concluded with her urging her social media followers “to keep being solution-oriented … to never lose sight of hope … to have a possibility mindset … and to apply solutions to everyday difficulties”.

Shree was crowned Miss World America 2021 in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. Diana Hayden crowned Shree Saini, who is also the first Indian-origin contestant to represent America on a global stage. “I am happy and quite nervous. I can’t express my feelings (in words). All the credit goes to my parents, especially my mother because of whose support I am here. Thank you Miss World America for this honor,” Shree Saini said in her statement, after the crowning moment. Saini wrote on her Instagram, “I am the first American of Indian origin and first Asian to be crowned Miss World America.”

An advocate for heart health, Saini has had a permanent pacemaker since she was 12 and overcame a major car accident which left her with burns all over her face. But she rarely if ever lets any of that hold her back or define her.

Shree Saini, who has been recognized by several organizations and states and world renowned persons for her work and is aspiring to be an actor, told this writer during a recent interview “I am now “Miss World America Washington,” which is preliminary to Miss World America and Miss World! Miss World Titles have been won by Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra. It’s the largest and the most philanthropic pageant, having raised 1.3 billion dollars for charities around the world. And I want to promote the many charitable initiatives this noble organization does all around the world.”

The official Instagram handle of Miss World America shared the news with a caption that read as, “Shree, who is currently Miss World America Washington, also holds the prestigious position of “MWA National Beauty with a Purpose Ambassador,” a position she earned by working tirelessly to help those less fortunate and in need. Among her many accomplishments, her work has been recognized by UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Susan G Komen, and many others. We are certain Shree will continue to immaculately embody Beauty With A Purpose, and no doubt will be successful in raising awareness and attention to the Miss World America mission. Stay tuned and follow the Miss World America 2021 journey!”

Shree Saini has also been crowned Miss India Worldwide 2018 at a pageant held in the Fords City of New Jersey. “My dance journey began when I was only 3 years old, but a substantial part of my dance journey was filled with both physical and emotional hardships. When I was 12, I was diagnosed with a complete heart block. I had to get a pacemaker surgery. The average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Cardiologists told me I could never dance again,” Shree had noted on her social media.

Instead of giving up, Shree Saini went back to dance class with her left arm tied up in a cast and practiced up to 6 hours a day in order to regain her strength. Saini noted on media that even though “dance is a very competitive, cut-throat, high stakes sport”, she wants to “encourage teachers, students, parents to always be uplifting, emphatic, especially when it’s difficult. Real Love takes courage.”

Saini, who has studied at Harvard, has been trained in acting at the Yale actors conservatory. The Punjab native, who moved to Washington State when she was seven, experienced hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. For years, she said, she felt like an outcast at school for being a person of color. Shree has created an app on emotional heath at Stanford University. She has given hundreds of presentations in over 80 cities and six countries and written about 400 articles in newspapers on emotional fitness, via her non-profit shareesaini.org.

Shree says, “The best award is knowing that YOU made a POSITIVE difference in someone else’s life. A girl recently approached me after a talk and started crying. She mentioned that she had followed my journey for a while and felt encouraged to pursue her dreams, despite obstacles. I gave her a big HUG and started to tear up as well. WOW. Your positive words and actions do make a positive difference. Keep being EXTRA LOVING AND ENCOURAGING.

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

After doctors diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect at the age of 12, Saini recalls how she struggled to adapt to the life-changing situation of needing a pacemaker while still in middle school, especially when other students did not treat her kindly as a result. “I truly believe your legacy is defined by how you make others feel and the positive difference you make in your lifetime,” said Shree, who started her non-profit organization, when she was 15. Shree said it was her dream to compete for a world title, which was started when she was in the elementary school.

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

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

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

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

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

Shree gives credit to her parents, Sanjay and Ekta Saini, who have not only supported her dreams, but have gone beyond to help her succeed at every step of the way. Pointing to her mother, Ekta, Shree says, “My mother is my role model, who has been with me, supported me and have encouraged me to work hard and realize my dreams.”

Regarding her future goals and ambitions, Shree is candid about her choices. If good offers come her way, Shree is open to acting in movies, whether it be in Bollywood or Hollywood. Another effective way to showcase her talents and still more importantly, another way to champion and spread her message for a better, just and peaceful world. “Meanwhile, I want to continue working on my nonprofit and become an ambassador of emotional health by continuing to visit as many places as possible, spreading my positive message of hope,” Saini says.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im7eb8b68Ek

TAGC Women’s Day Includes A Variety Of Activities And Fashion Competition

Telugu Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC) the first Telugu organization in the USA, celebrated Women’s Day on March 6th,2022 at Monty’s Elegant banquets in Bensenville, IL. TAGC is devoted to the awareness and promotion of Telugu Heritage and Culture in the Midwest region headquartered in Chicago, The association was originally founded in 1971 and it  recently completed its golden jubilee celebration and entered into its 51st year.

Over 350 women of Indian origin participated in this women’s day event. Program started with a devotional song by Singer Ramya and lighting the lamp by Uma Avadhuta, President of TAGC 2022, Women’s Day Chairs Sirisha Madduri, Archana Podduturi and Co chairs Ramya Nagulavancha, Ramya Kapila and Deepa Gudipally. All the other women’s Bod’s Vinitha Podduturi, Manasa Lattupalli, Neelima Cheikicharla, Prasanna Kandukuri and Madhavi Konakalla were also present. This year’s theme was Retro Style where all the ladies came out in their best retro looks. All the ladies were excited to show off their beautiful outfits and style. Anchor Sahithya Vinjamuri was an addition to enthusiasm in ladies.

Speaker Deepthi Suri provided very valuable information and great insight on the benefits of Ayurveda in our daily lives. Several fun filled activities were meticulously planned and executed to create a joyful atmosphere in the event that were thoroughly enjoyed by all the ladies after 2 years of pandemic situation. Special games like selfie Lele, Bomma blockbuster and Naari Shakthi by co-chairs engaged and entertained everyone.

Continuing with the core values and traditions of TAGC, this year also the members raised money for a non-profit organization named Suguna Foundation with operations in west Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India which supports care and living for needy seniors.  There was an overwhelming response and contribution this year which is among one of the top fundraising amounts. Regal Jewelers sponsored gold and silver coins for raffle tickets. Special gifts from India to attended TAGC members was an additional attraction of the event.

First time in the last 50 years TAGC conducted Mrs. TAGC competition which received a huge response from everyone. Judges Prachi Jaitly, Vasavi Chakka and Neelam Saboo coordinated talent and question rounds to finalize on winners. Swetha Chinnari was the title winner and Poonam Patil and Archana Ramakrishna were the first and second runners ups respectively.

All members enjoyed the sumptuous snacks and dinner sponsored by Hyderabad House in Schaumburg, IL. Food Chair Srinivas Adepu and Co.chair Rama Kanth Jonnala coordinated very well and organized the food. Membership chair Madhavi Konakalla with the help of Manasa Lattupalli helped at the front desk in registrations and took it very smoothly. Treasurer Santosh Konduri, Jt treasurer Sridhar Alavala and Secretary Pandu Ranga Reddy were also present to help in checking in all the ladies. Decoration team chair Neelima Cheikicharla did an excellent job in coordinating with the decoration team. Retro style photo booth was the highlight of the event. Event ended with cake cutting and DJ by Pranav Sai with technical help by Srikanth Bethi.

TAGC president Uma Avadhuta thanked Past President Venkat Gunuganti and President elect Parameshwar Yarasani and also involved Board members and Volunteers to make the event grand success and congratulated all the beauty contest winners. She also thanked all the sponsors for the event and donors who gave the donations for a great cause.

Maneesh Media, International University of Vedic Wellness Present Book Launch At Women’s Day Celebration

Maneesh Media along with International University of Vedic Wellness unveiled a spectacular event to commemorate the International Women’s Day celebration and the launch of Maneesh Media’s new book, “India Calling 2022” on March 8th, 2022 at the Marriot in Hoffman Estates, IL. India Calling 2022 is a new book celebrating India’s Prime Minister, Modiji’s mother Heeraben Modi who is 102 years of age! This book also depicts the 113 magnificent foreign trips of the Indian Prime Minister Modiji and the outcome of those trips during his leadership

The International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world to honor the remarkable hard work and achievements of women in every field. This extraordinary event also acknowledged women’s empowerment by honoring the significant efforts of women to make the world a better place to live in. A life of dignity is the birthright of every woman. Women’s empowerment is key to advancing the development of every country. Empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities and improved prospects for the next generation.

Dr. Mrs. Santosh Kulshrestha Kumar – Founding Executive Director, of Metropolitan Asian Family Services, Universal Metro Asian Services, and International University of Vedic Wellness, along with Mr. Chandmal Kumawat – Chairman of Maneesh Media partnered and made possible this historic event. Dr. Mrs, Kumar was named as “Mother Theresa of Chicago” for her dedication to fulfilling the needs of the downtrodden and her selfless community service for more than 40 years. Through her organizations, Dr. Mrs. Kumar has Established a proven successful multi, disciplinary pathway to the empowerment of Seniors Citizens over the past 30 years.

Mrs. Kumar has provided a broad framework for collective action for senior citizens to nurture their innate talents, enrich their groundbreaking ideas and engage in innovative experiences which has become a global model. She has achieved this by providing critically needed services to multiethnic senior citizen population especially the Indian diaspora with employment opportunities, creating more than 10,000 jobs per year, homecare services to over 10,000 homebound seniors mostly Indian diaspora every year by integrating state of art technology with a human touch in this digital age. Her model of service is being replicated in several parts of the world including India.

Mrs Santosh Kumar who established a global network and a functional platform, took painstaking efforts to propagate and promote India’s Prime Minister Modi New India in USA and India. Mrs Santosh Kumar motivated and sensitized the Indian Americans and the gatekeepers of minority communities in India to Prime Minister Modis Vision for Development of all. Mrs Santosh Kumar is a beacon of hope and lighthouse of service and care to the vulnerable Indian American Senior Population during this COVID 19 Pandemic.

International University of Vedic Wellness Center’s mission is to provide wisdom, peace, and stability through ancient knowledge, consequently, leading to a stress-free and pain-free lifestyle for all. Attaining this kind of lifestyle will aid in sustaining a more stable and peaceful world and avoid wars in the present time like the Russia/Ukraine War!!!

The event commenced with the lighting of the lamp by Dr. Mrs. Santosh Kumar, Mr. Neil Khot, Mr. Kishor Mehta, Acharya Rohit Joshi, Dr. Rakesh Asthana, Mr. Chandmal Kumawat and Ms. Marta Pereya. Roshita Pandey and Radhika Subramanian did a great job of compering. Dr. Mrs. Santosh Kumar began her welcoming speech by shedding light on the importance of women and encouraged every woman to stand for her rights. She soulfully thanked Mrs. Heeraben Modi for providing to the world such a treasure, Prime Minister Modiji! She praised Modiji for he lives the philosophy of ancient Vedas which believes that the whole world is one family living in Peace, Harmony, and Prosperity!

Priya, 28-Year-Old, Sworn In As Chennai’s Youngest Mayor

Priya Rajan, a Dalit woman, has become the youngest mayor of Chennai (formerly Madras), the fourth-largest city in India with a population of around 10 million.

Rajan, 28, a postgraduate in commerce, was sworn in on March 4 as the 49th mayor of the city.

Welcoming the appointment, Father Vincent Chinnadurai, the former spokesperson of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council, said it was a remarkable moment for Dalit women.

“We appreciate the state government for this bold move. I am sure more women will feel inspired by Priya Rajan,” he added.

Chennai, the state capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, is a hub for education, health, information technology and automobile industries.

Considered the second-oldest city council in the world after London, the Greater Chennai Corporation was formed in 1668 by the erstwhile East India Company, which founded it in 1640 as a trading post.

It is an important milestone in Tamil Nadu’s political history that a Dalit woman is being placed as mayor of this big city. It is a sign of empowerment of a marginalized community

The state’s ruling DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or Dravidian Progressive Front) under the leadership of Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin, 68, won a landslide victory in the polls held on Feb. 19 after a gap of 11 years.

Rajan, a member of DMK, is also the third woman to hold this prestigious post and joins 10 women across the state who have been elected as mayors and chairpersons in various small cities and towns.

Capuchin Father Kulandai Swamy told UCA News: “It is an important milestone in Tamil Nadu’s political history that a Dalit woman is being placed as mayor of this big city. It is a sign of empowerment of a marginalized community.”

Father Swamy, a known social activist, said Rajan’s appointment “will blunt the [pro-Hindu] BJP’s communal propaganda in Tamil Nadu as it shows the willingness of Dravidian parties to uplift the Dalits.”

According to the modern Panchayat Raj system, the local body administrative system followed in India since 1992, the head of a city or town or village council is elected from among the elected members.

In Tamil Nadu, half the posts of heads of city corporations and town municipalities are reserved for women and other marginalized sections of society.

The post of Chennai mayor was reserved for a woman belonging to the Dalit (formerly untouchable) caste.

Empowering Dalits will not only improve their social stature but also reduce the atrocities perpetrated on them to a certain extent

Savukku Shankar, a political critic, told UCA News that “reserving the Chennai mayor’s post for a Dalit woman is a very important decision as regards empowerment of the marginalized.”

In the absence of a reservation policy, known as India’s affirmative action program, a Dalit becoming the elected head of a major city would have remained a dream only, Shankar said.

“Empowering Dalits will not only improve their social stature but also reduce the atrocities perpetrated on them to a certain extent. Such an affirmative action will go a long way in bringing Dalits to the mainstream,” he added.

According to the national census figures for 2021, Dalits make up 25 percent of India’s approximately 1.3 billion people. It is said that nearly 70 percent of Indian Christians come from Dalit castes.

At Vatican Women’s Day Event, A Call For Female Voices In Peace Talks

As European nations attempt to defend Ukraine without being pulled into a war, an ecumenical group of women representing charitable organizations around the world called for more female representation in peace talks and negotiations.

The occasion was an event called “Church and Society: Women as Builders of Dialogue,” organized by Caritas Internationalis, a global network of Catholic humanitarian organizations, and hosted by the British Embassy to the Holy See for International Women’s Day.

In a conflict shaping up as a face-off between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, known for posing shirtless and riding bears, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has captivated the world with his sometimes swaggering rhetoric, several of the women at Tuesday’s event noted the absence of women in the peace negotiations. 

Advocating for a peace process that is more diverse, Susana Raffalli, a nutrition adviser at Caritas Venezuela, who appeared via Zoom, was one of several speakers who praised women’s emphasis on dialogue. Women tend to be more concerned with “actually bringing commitments and agreements toward peace,” Raffalli said. In Venezuela, she said, women are more conscious of vulnerable populations’ stake in the peace process.

Tetiana Stawnychy, the president of Caritas in Ukraine, highlighted the tremendous efforts made by women on the front lines in Ukraine and in other conflict zones, including those working as first responders and as civilians to help the most vulnerable.

When war breaks out women are often portrayed chiefly as victims, said Rita Rhayem, a health and HIV adviser for Caritas Internationalis, and that obscures their role as first responders. To maximize women’s contribution to conflict resolution, she added, leaders need to “remove the barriers that confine women” and allow them to take public roles in responding to war.

Maria Immonen, director of the Department for World Service of the Lutheran World Federation, urged institutions and governments to uphold their commitments to promote female leadership, “ensuring that they have equal access to the tables where discussions are had and decisions are made.”

Aloysius John, the secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis and one of the few men to address the conference, said it is essential to reevaluate “the place and role of women in our societies,” not only at negotiation tables but wherever war has touched people’s lives.  

In this Feb. 15, 2021, file photo, Rohingya refugees headed to the Bhasan Char island prepare to board navy vessels from the southeastern port city of Chattogram, Bangladesh. (AP Photo, File)

Just returned from camps in Bangladesh, where Rohingya Muslims, forced from their homes in Myanmar, live in challenging conditions, John said he witnessed firsthand “the important role the women in these camps are playing to be constructors of dialogue and harmony.”

The Catholic Church is reexamining the role of women in its own institutions. Pope Francis has begun an ambitious project known as the Synod on Synodality aimed at reorienting the church’s power structures to focus on the needs of marginalized people, including women. The three-year consultations will result in a 2023 summit of bishops at the Vatican.

“If you really want to listen to the poorest then you have to listen to the women,” said Sister Nathalie Becquart, the undersecretary overseeing the synod and the first woman to hold such a post. Becquart described the synod as “a sandbox for women,” where new models for female inclusion can be developed and put into action.

Women’s Voices Raised Against Hate In India

More and more women from different walks of life and corners of the world are raising their voices against the treatment of minorities in India today.

“Unity and the safety of citizens is the first and foremost condition of a country’s security,” Roop Rekha Varma, former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University (LU), told IPS.

With Ramesh Dixit, a former professor LU, Varma walked into a local police station to file a police report against hate speech against those who have threatened to kill Muslims in India.

In a recent case, provocative speeches allegedly calling for a genocide of Muslims were made at a December 2021 conclave held in the Himalayan town of Haridwar.

“If 100 of us become soldiers and are prepared to kill two million (Muslims), then we will win … protect India, and make it a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a senior member of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha political party in a video recording of the event.

Pandey, Wasim Rizvi alias Jitendra Narayan Tyagi, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, and Sagar Sindhu Maharaj are facing hate speech charges for their utterances.

Varma is shocked at rising incidents of unprovoked targeting of Muslims, including Muslim women, in recent times.

Sunita Viswanath, founder and executive director of Hindus for Human Rights, a US-based civil society organization, is equally anxious.

“Muslim women in India are being barred from entering college for wearing the hijab. This is a country where the Prime Minister rode to power promising equal rights for women. Clearly, not everyone is equal. If this is not apartheid, please tell what is,” Viswanath says. She referred to the controversy that erupted in January when a government-run college in the Udupi district of Karnataka state barred girls from attending lectures for wearing headscarves. The matter is now under judicial review.

Along with 16 other civil society organizations in the US, Viswanath organized two Congressional briefings on India’s treatment of Muslims.

“We are US citizens of Indian origin, and we have the power to influence and to move US lawmakers and the Biden Administrations to speak out,” says Viswanath on social media. She feels that the world needs to understand that something is wrong in India, that India is on a perilous path.

“India’s tryst with hate is on overdrive. The only way we can fight systematic hate is to stand by India’s tried and tested secular fabric,” Saumya Bajaj told IPS on the phone. Bajaj is associated with Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM), a Delhi-based group for unity among citizens.

“Terrorizing Muslims and Christians on a daily basis seems to be the new norm. We, as citizens, can no longer afford to remain silent spectators to this macabre celebration of hate engulfing us?” reads a circular, inviting citizens to say no to hate mongers.

GNEM demands that the police investigate all violence cases against fellow citizens, including online abuse. Nayantara Sahgal, 94, an award-winning Indian, says she does not recognize the new India.

“Today, that India is disappearing. My country is unrecognizable. It seems like a foreign country full of hatred and exclusion. There is a deep slide in democracy. It is utterly despairing. Yet we cannot be silent. A writer has to speak loud and clear,” the former vice president of PEN International said in a recent interview.

Booker Prize-winning author and essayist Arundhati Roy fears that Hindu nationalism could break India into little pieces like Yugoslavia and Russia. The hope is that ultimately the Indian people will resist what she calls the fascism of the ruling party.

Sahgal is pinning her hopes on the elections in five Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh (UP), until March 7.

In UP, interfaith marriages have been restricted in recent times. Muslim men married to Hindu women have been harassed by vigilante mobs and often arrested by the police. Many online attempts to humiliate and terrorize Muslim women continue.

Sahgal is the daughter of Vijay Laxmi Pandit, sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, first prime minister of independent India. She is also the widow of the late bureaucrat Edward Nirmal Mangat Rai, an Indian Christian. Today she is concerned about the safety of her Christian relatives and Muslim friends as incidents of majoritarian hate against minorities peak.

Sabika Naqvi, community and advocacy head at The Fearless Collective, says that vocal and assertive Muslim women have woken up in India to find their names on Auctioning apps – from Sulli Deals over the last two years to Bulli Bai. The call to rape and kill Muslim women is routine, and efforts to dehumanize Muslim women is on the rise, she says.

“They fear our ability to write, to speak, to journal, to dream, articulate, assert, organize, and fiercely fight the oppressors. They either sexualize us, try to act as our messiahs or plot to kill. But we are here to conquer the world. We are lawyers, poets, journalists, actors, activists, entrepreneurs, scholars and much more,” says Naqvi, adding that this is not just a ‘prank’ or mere ‘bullying’ but harassment that Muslim women face every day.

The Fearless Collective is a movement that helps citizens move from fear to love through the creation of participatory art in public space.

Naqvi feels that the time has come to speak up and ensure that solidarity voices are louder than those who support hatred.

Huma Abedin Steps Out, Brings Her Memoir To Abu Dhabi

There’s no easy way to tell Huma Abedin’s story. So, she’s telling it herself, bringing her voice to an international stage in the United Arab Emirates and speaking about her recently published memoir.

For more than two decades, Abedin has been the ever-loyal aide to Hillary Clinton, starting as a young intern to the First Lady in 1996 and rising to become her advisor and trusted confidante as Clinton became senator, secretary of state and, ultimately, the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I was kind of the invisible staff person behind the primary person. And I liked it,” Abedin told The Associated Press during a visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday. “I loved the work and decided after a while that a lot of other people were telling my story and I would choose to reclaim that history myself. And if I didn’t write it, somebody else would.”

For someone content to play the supporting act, she appears comfortable now stepping out into the spotlight with her memoir titled: “Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds”, even if it means confronting the judgement and shame she’s faced over her marriage to former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose confiscated laptop roiled Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Abedin’s professional and personal life collided in 2016 when Weiner’s contact with a 15-year-old girl prompted the FBI to open an investigation because emails Clinton had sent to Abedin were found on a laptop federal agents had seized from him. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison over his messages to the young girl. Following his release, he is now planning to host a weekly radio show.

To tell her own story, Abedin, 46, penned a memoir just under 500 pages long. Or, as she puts it: “I vomited on paper. All of my feelings, all of my emotions, all of the ‘Why did she stay? Why did she go? Did she change the outcome of the 2016 election?’”

One review of her book in the Guardian describes reading about her courtship to Weiner, who was her first love, as “watching a horror film and screaming at the heroine not to go into the haunted house, while knowing that, of course, she will.”

Abedin, though, is quick to point out that her life has also been filled with extraordinary moments and privilege.

“I was never the smartest, prettiest, best in anything. I knew one thing, though. When I walked into the White House in 1996, I was prepared to outwork anybody and hard work got me to where I am,” she said.

Born in the United States, Abedin moved to Saudi Arabia with her Indian father and Pakistani mother as a toddler and lived there until college, visiting the U.S. during summer breaks. That experience and background made her a “novelty” in Washington’s political circles, she said.

Her Muslim faith and family were what she leaned on the most during her darkest days.  “My parents very much, you know, taught us what our identity was and that was number one, you’re an American, number two, you’re a Muslim — and everything else is background music,” she said. “As long as you had that grounding, as long as you had that place where you knew you could draw strength, where you knew you had a strong family to support you, everything was going to be OK.”

Abedin’s interview with the AP came after she took the stage for the the inaugural Forbes 30/50 Summit. Donning an emerald-colored dress, her raven hair flowing in soft curls, her presence drew young female admirers and requests for selfies and photos.

All the while, she kept a watchful eye over her 10-year-old son with her on the trip, letting him know she would be nearby for another interview.

“When Anthony was in prison for almost two years, and I really was a single parent and did not have (my son’s) father around, I have to tell you, it was really, really hard,” she said. “I mean, there were days where I wasn’t even sure I’d get through the day.”

Abedin lost her father at a young age to illness and wants her son to grow up knowing his. She said it took hard work to get to a place where both she and Weiner are present in their son’s life, despite their separation since 2016.

“Even though his father and I are not together and will not be together, we will be in each other’s lives forever and we had to figure out how to work together,” she said.

Abedin remains Clinton’s chief of staff, a role that keeps her busy.  “We are partners in crime — in adventures that is,” Abedin says oft her relationship with Clinton. Abedin is currently working on a show for Apple TV+ based on Clinton’s book with daughter, Chelsea, called “The Book of Gutsy Women”.

Abedin and Clinton shared a stage last year for the first time at a 92nd Street Y event, with Clinton supporting Abedin as she talked about her book, which is full of praise and admiration for her boss. Clinton said the FBI investigation during the final weeks of her campaign impacted the outcome of the election, which Donald Trump won. She said she felt angry and bewildered by the FBI probe, but never considered firing Abedin, despite people urging her to.

“Everybody supporting me knew this was a particularly damaging event, but why would I fire Huma? So, of course I didn’t. And wouldn’t, at all,” Clinton said.

Abedin, too, told the AP she remains unflinchingly loyal to Clinton.

“I’m lucky, you know, she’s a friend and mentor, a boss, and she’s always been there for me, and I’m always going to be there for her,” Abedin said.

AAHOA Board Members On The Strides Women Have Made In Hospitality Industry

The March issue of Today’s Hotelier magazine is on newsstands everywhere, and in honor of Women’s History Month, AAHOA Female Director Eastern Division Lina Patel and AAHOA Female Director Western Division Tejal N. Patel are featured on the cover. In the cover story, Lina and Tejal share their perspectives and insights on the strides women have made in the industry and the progress still to come for the association.

As is true for numerous industries, leadership positions across many facets of hospitality have long been dominated by men. But times are changing, and women make up growing per-centages of leadership positions at hotels, within the brands, at supplier companies, and pretty much everywhere else. And groups such as the Castell Project have put considerable effort into accelerating the numbers of women in hospitality leadership and owner-ship. AAHOA also is on the front lines of this fight, its members are playing an increasingly important role in leading the industry forward in the march toward gender equality in leadership.

Here, we feature perspectives from two women who hold leadership positions within AAHOA. They stand on the shoulders of those who came before them while carrying the torch for those who will come after.

By LINA PATEL, CHO, FEMALE DIRECTOR EASTERN DIVISION

After immigrating from India to the U.S. in the early 1980s with my parents, I practically grew up in a hotel. Like many AAHOA Members, I cleaned rooms, did the laundry, worked front desk shifts, and even mowed the lawn. I vividly remember coming home after school and immediately racing to the hotel lobby to begin my shift. Today, countless shifts and many years later, I’m the owner and operator of a Days Inn by Wyndham in Cincinnati, OH, and my portfolio includes Wyndham, Marriott, Choice, and IHG properties across the Eastern U.S.

I’m also privileged to serve on the board of the Franchise Advisory Council for Days Inn, where I help fine- tune brand standards before passing them to hotel owners with the goals of maximizing revenue, saving money, and providing resources needed to operate their hotels efficiently. Through my time in this industry, I’ve become experienced in negotiating and forming international business partnerships, and I started an international company catering to international extreme adventure travel, Himalayan Glacier Trekking, in 2010.

As a second-generation hotelier, I have faced more challenges than I care to recount here, and I don’t cite my accomplishments to brag. Instead, they demonstrate the difficulties that many of us have faced on our ascent into leadership. And while the journey certainly isn’t easy for anyone in this industry, women undeniably face additional obstacles. However, as Michelle Obama said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” The women of AAHOA are always ready to board the limitless learning platform provided by AAHOA, and there are many examples besides myself of women who are breaking down barriers and helping to level the playing field.

“I have faced more challenges than I care to recount here, and I don’t cite my accomplishments to brag. Instead, they demonstrate the difficulties that many of us have faced on our ascent into leadership.”

As an AAHOA Board Member and industry veteran, I want to help create opportunities for women hoteliers and provide a platform for us to learn from and inspire each other, and set everyone up for years of progress and success. For example, my team and I have hosted more than 45 women hotelier education and networking sessions across the nation, planned three women hotelier conferences, and hosted five brand-development days and six educational sessions at national conventions with 1,200 women attendees being the largest educational session on the AAHOA platform!

AAHOA provides opportunities for women hoteliers to build relationships with local officials and decision makers in our local governments to ensure they understand our businesses and our industry. Without question, women play an important role in the hospitality industry, and especially in the families of so many AAHOA Members. Although many of our mothers and sisters played an equal role in helping these businesses succeed, we have yet to see enough women serving in prominent industry roles, but I’m proud that AAHOA strives to lead by example and counts growing numbers of women leaders among its membership.

Women are the backbone of America’s hotel industry, and they remain underrepresented in the industry. AAHOA is committed to changing that, as its initiatives to help women hoteliers take their rightful place in our industry started with education and networking events. When we all work together, the opportunities are limitless.

By TEJAL N. PATEL, CHO, CHIA, FEMALE DIRECTOR WESTERN DIVISION

AAHOA Members represent the heart of the hotel industry. They are the owners and operators of more than 60% of all hotels in the country that not only provide jobs for their employees but also invest in their local communities. Their hotels are more than places where people sleep; they’re gathering spaces, community centers, and often sources of support for those who need it most.

When you walk into an American hotel, you’re most likely walking into the life’s work of an AAHOA Member, whose contributions help strengthen the economy.

Since the 1940s, Asian-American hoteliers have been planting the seeds critical to the growth and success of the industry generation after generation. The entrepreneurs of this diaspora are the American Dream personified. They are AAHOA.

The association will continue promoting and protecting the interests of its members through advocacy efforts, as it has for the past 30-plus years. However, as we enter this “rebuilding/recovery” phase, AAHOA Members are at an important juncture that will shape the industry during the next five years and beyond.

Poor prospecting of hospitality labor, increase in costs, and supply chain problems are just a handful of the myriad issues owners face. Furthermore, the need for hotel franchising reform has only been amplified by frustrated franchisees.

Our industry is no stranger to downturns and adverse circumstances. Resiliency is a key pillar of our entrepreneurial spirit. AAHOA has gone through bumps, yet we have come so far since we were founded. But, there is still work left to do.

There are many potential challenges that could threaten industry recovery, but none is more threatening than a lack of unity and teamwork from all fronts. The ability to put ego aside and seek out other ideas from others – whether inside or outside of our industry – is key to getting the best results.

“To excel today and tomorrow, each AAHOA Member must continue to learn and grow in unity.”

Success comes not just from constantly working hard and thinking strategically but working on the right things at the right time. It’s easy to tear each other down when someone has a different perspective than you or challenges your thinking.

But, that’s the critical point that allows us to collectively make impactful change. Most of our membership is rooted in the South-Asian diaspora, yet there is diversity among us. It’s important to understand that there are many different ways of thinking, and our diversity is what enables us to do great things together, united.

The impact of AAHOA Members during the past 30 years has been tremendous.

AAHOA Members were the first to own their hotels and take control of their destinies. AAHOA Members were among the first to embrace technology, globalization, and franchising. AAHOA Members took control of their businesses and turned them into profit-generating assets. They expanded their businesses, brought in new blood, and raised capital to acquire and build more hotels.

To excel today and tomorrow, each AAHOA Member must continue to learn and grow in unity. It is my sincere hope we all come together and focus on the future trajectory of our industry and association. I also hope our members’ presence will be felt in every facet of hospitality: from the guestroom to the boardroom to the halls of Congress.

In India, Head Coverings Are Worn By Most Women, Including Roughly Six-In-Ten Hindus

In recent weeks, protests in India over Muslim headscarves in schools have gained international attention. The controversy began when a high school in the Southern state of Karnataka banned hijabs in classrooms, and demonstrations have since spread to other states. The Karnataka High Court has been deliberating the legality of the school ban and is due to issue a verdict soon.

Head coverings are relatively common among Indian women. About six-in-ten women in India (61%) say they keep the practice of covering their heads outside of their homes, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2019-2020. That includes a majority of Hindu women (59%), and roughly equal shares of Muslim (89%) and Sikh women (86%) – although the exact type of head covering can vary significantly among and within religious groups.

India’s adult population is 81% Hindu and 13% Muslim, according to the latest census conducted in 2011. Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains account for most of the remaining 6%. The Center’s survey only included adults ages 18 and older and does not show what share of school-aged girls wear head coverings.

How we did this

There are regional differences among Indian women when it comes to head coverings. The practice is especially common in the largely Hindi-speaking regions in the Northern, Central and Eastern parts of the country. In the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, roughly nine-in-ten women say they wear head coverings in public. In stark contrast, fewer women in the South say they cover their heads in public, including just 16% in the state of Tamil Nadu.

These regional differences are largely driven by Hindu women, as Muslim women tend to keep the practice of covering their heads in public regardless of what region they live in. This leads to large differences between Muslims and Hindus in the South in particular.

In the South, 83% of Muslim women say they cover their heads, compared with 22% of Hindu women. In the Northern region, meanwhile, roughly equal shares of Muslim (85%) and Hindu (82%) women say they cover their heads in public.

Within the South, the state of Karnataka stands out for its relatively high share of women who wear head coverings. More than four-in-ten women in Karnataka (44%) say they wear one, compared with 26% in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, 29% in Telangana and even fewer in the states of Kerala (17%) and Tamil Nadu (16%).

A majority of Muslim women in Karnataka say they cover their heads (71%), compared with 42% of Hindu women who say this.

Nationally, head coverings tend to be more common among women who are older, married, more religious and who have less formal educational attainment. The practice is also more prevalent in rural areas.

But in the South, age, education and other demographic differences are less of a factor in whether or not women cover their heads. Religion, however, does make a difference: Muslim women and women who are more devout are likelier to cover their heads in public. Among women in the South who say religion is very important in their lives, 29% say they cover their heads in public, compared with 18% who say religion is less important in their lives.

Headscarf wearing also varies by political affiliation. Even though some proponents of the hijab ban have been described as supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), women with favorable attitudes toward India’s ruling party are actually more inclined to wear head coverings in public than women who do not favor the governing party. This is true nationally, and in the South. Among Indians overall, 66% of women who have a positive view of the ruling BJP party say they cover their heads outside their home, compared with 53% among those who view the party unfavorably. This correlation may – at least in part – be tied to the fact that BJP supporters tend to be more religious.

Celebrating 70 Long Years on British Throne: ‘Remarkable’ Queen Elizabeth

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee for the “remarkable achievement” of reaching 70 years on the throne. Prince Charles welcomed his mother’s wish that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, be known as Queen Consort when he becomes King.

He said he and his wife were “deeply conscious of the honor”. The Queen is the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, and spent the day privately. In a message marking the 70th anniversary of her reign, the Queen said it was her “sincere wish” that Camilla would have that title.

Prince Charles said in a statement: “The Queen’s devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year.

“We are deeply conscious of the honour represented by my mother’s wish. As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout.”

The Queen’s reign began when she was 25 years old, following the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952.

The monarch said that, 70 years on, the day is one she remembers “as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign”.

The 95-year-old said in a written message to the nation: “I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me.”

The Jubilee is the monarch’s first without the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 73 years, who died last year.

She reflected on how much she had gained from support given “unselfishly” by Prince Philip and thanked the goodwill shown to her by “all nationalities, faiths and ages in this country”.

The Queen signed off the message: “Your servant Elizabeth R.”

Camilla, the future Queen Consort

Since marrying into the Royal Family 17 years ago, Camilla has grown into her role as a senior royal.

The path to public acceptance has been at times rocky, and at first Camilla was a controversial figure who was blamed by some for the end of the prince’s first marriage to Princess Diana.

In 1994, Charles admitted to adultery with Camilla, but said it came after his marriage to Diana had “irretrievably broken down”.

It was not until 1999 when she and Charles went public with their romance,

Since then, Camilla has won over a cautious public. She has been praised for championing her own causes and interests, including supporting literacy charities, animal welfare and organizations helping victims of domestic abuse.

Many have congratulated the Queen on this historic day, including Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron – three of the 14 British prime ministers to occupy No 10 during her reign.

Mr Johnson posted on Twitter: “I pay tribute to her many years of service and look forward to coming together as a country to celebrate her historic reign in the summer.”

His predecessor, Mrs May, described the monarch as “an extraordinary woman, who has dedicated her life to the service of her people and our family of nations”.

Mr Cameron said: “There can be no finer example of dignified public duty and service.”

Leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, echoed these sentiments, saying he would like to express his “deepest thanks” for 70 years of “unparalleled public service”.

The Labor leader added: “Her Majesty The Queen has been one vital and valued constant in an ever-changing world, representing security and stability for our country, during the ups and downs of the last seven decades.”

A message from the White House said the Queen had, over her 70-year reign, “strengthened the ties of friendship, shared ideals, and faith in democracy that forever unite our countries”.

The Queen used the eve of her Jubilee to directly address the unresolved question of Camilla’s future title.

Nitu Chandra Bags Two More Hollywood Films

Actor Nitu Chandra marked her Hollywood film debut with Never Back Down: Revolt last year. One of the female leads in the film, she was seen engaging in high-octane combat sequences. Currently being managed by late actor Irrfan’s team in Los Angeles, USA, she has bagged two more Hollywood projects. And she insists on playing parts that doesn’t represent Indians in a skewed manner.

S The actor says that she turned down Hollywood offers that represented Indians in a not so positive light; also talks about Indian actors appearing in blink-and-you-miss-it roles in international projects

he tells us, “I’ve denied two projects where Indians weren’t represented in a very positive light. I don’t want to do anything that maligns our identity. I want three billion global Indians to be proud of me.”

Indian actors, who have been a part of Hollywood projects over the last few years, have often been trolled for their blink-and-you-miss-it appearances in them. Talking about it, Chandra says, “There have been films where they’ve done a two-minute or a five-minute role. But they were hugely publicised and hyped, and the audiences were promised something big. And since we, Indians, are very emotional, we were disappointed after the watching those films.”

But the 37-year-old actor wants to change that with her choices: “I’ve been listening to interviews where Indian actors say that they’re happy to be a small part of a project, but I was very proud to be one of the main leads in a commercial Hollywood film.”

To focus on her career in the West, Chandra has bought a home in LA and is planning to buy a house in London, UK, too. “I want to work everywhere in the world, across languages. I did a Greek film (Block 12; 2016) too where I did a lot of action,” she says, adding, “I often thought why not go out and grab opportunities all over the globe? As women, we’re so strong, and I believe we can achieve whatever we aim for.”

Indian American Woman To Serve As Judge In New Jersey Municipal Court

The first female Indian American judge Dipti Vaid Dedhia is nominated for the post of Judge in Edison Municipal Court by Edison Mayor Sam Joshi.

“We should all be happy about Dedhia’s appointment.” Mayor Joshi said, “Our Council members unanimously approved this nomination.”

Dipti Vaid Dedhia was nominated by Edison Mayor Sam Joshi.

“Dedhia’s appointment broke a glass ceiling that we should all be proud of. Our Council members supported this nomination unanimously,” Mayor Joshi said in an official statement.

Formerly the Deputy Attorney General in Employment Counsel and Labor for the State of New Jersey, Dedhia graduated from George Washington University before receiving her Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University of Law. She has spent decades litigating complex employment matters, investigating complaints involving violations of law or policy, and representing the governor’s office of Employee Relations in arbitrating grievances between the administration and labor unions, according to a statement released after the meeting.

“When I was young, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my career, but I had two amazing parents who motivated me to strive for a life of significance and conscience. In recognition of their immense impact on my life, one of my main goals in my new role is to be an example to the youth of today. My message to them is simple: though the path may not be clear as you stand here today, your goals are attainable. Achieving your dreams through courage, kindness, and perseverance is not a cliche – I am living proof,” Dedhia said in the statement.

Dedhia was the recipient of the Most Successful Mediator Award in the Passaic County Superior Court Clerk’s Program, in addition to her years of expertise offering legal advise on labor laws, anti-discrimination rules, prevailing pay regulations, and best employment practices.

Indian American Dipti Vaid Dedhia has become the first female South Asian municipal court judge in Edison and New Jersey’s history with the Edison Township Council confirming her nomination.

“Dedhia’s appointment broke a glass ceiling that we should all be proud of,” stated Edison’s first South Asian Mayor Sam Joshi, who had nominated her. “She is the most qualified and ready for the job.”

“It was truly my honor and privilege to nominate Dipti Vaid Dedhia as Edison’s next municipal court judge. Our Council members supported this nomination unanimously,” Joshi said after the confirmation vote Jan 26.

Born in London, Dedhia, a wife and mother of three, moved to New Jersey with her parents at the age of 2 and has lived in the state for the past 36 years, including 20 in Edison.

Formerly the Deputy Attorney General in Employment Counsel and Labor for the State of New Jersey, Dedhia graduated from George Washington University before receiving her Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University of Law.

She has spent decades litigating complex employment matters, investigating complaints involving violations of law or policy, and representing the governor’s office of Employee Relations in arbitrating grievances between the administration and labor unions, according to an official statement.

“When I was young, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my career, but I had two amazing parents who motivated me to strive for a life of significance and conscience,” Dedhia stated. “In recognition of their immense impact on my life, one of my main goals in my new role is to be an example to the youth of today.

“My message to them is simple: though the path may not be clear as you stand here today, your goals are attainable. Achieving your dreams through courage, kindness, and perseverance is not a cliche – I am living proof,” she stated.

Dedhia was a recipient of the Most Successful Mediator Award in the Passaic County Superior Court Clerk’s Program. She has participated in national civil rights competition and is certified in deposition skills by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.

Dedhia is a frequent contributor to Huffington Post, Brown Girl Magazine and the Aerogram, according to the township.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Works Towards Changing the Uneven Impact of Climate Change

The research showing how climate change-related events disproportionately affect vulnerable communities is staggering. From New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to New York City after Superstorm Sandy, extreme weather events tend to hit minority communities hardest. A 2019 study found that Black Americans living in communities hit by disasters over the study period lost nearly $20,000 in wealth—whereas their white counterparts gained more than $126,000 as investment flowed and communities rebuilt.

New legislation unveiled Tuesday last week by Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal aims to turn that grim reality on its head with a slate of initiatives designed not only to mitigate the damage caused by climate-related disasters to vulnerable communities but also to turn the wave of investment that comes after a disaster into a bright spot for them.

“One of the things we really want to fix is how the resources get distributed: who gets the jobs, how do we make sure that those jobs are well paid, and that it becomes an opportunity to—wait for it—build back better in those communities,” says Jayapal.

Jayapal’s legislation, which draws on consultation with a range of environmental groups, contains a laundry list of policies with that aim in mind. The bill would establish a grant program for states, local governments and nonprofits to create jobs in “climate resilience” with a requirement that the recipients commit to employing a diverse workforce. These jobs include things like preemptive climate resilience work—think of retrofitting and restoration that helps soften the blow of a major disaster—as well as jobs that follow the storm, like clean up and debris removal. These industries already exist in some parts of the country, but worker protections are uneven. The bill’s text say that this grant program could create one million jobs annually that provide for worker safety and benefits.

The legislation would also provide funding for local governments to come up with their own resilience plans—and require them to address the disparate challenges faced by the most vulnerable communities. A new Office of Climate Resilience at the White House would serve as a hub for the federal government’s coordination with vulnerable communities.

Jayapal unveiled the bill Tuesday morning with 30 progressive Democrats as co-sponsors, but, with provisions like a loosening of immigration rules for climate resilience workers, it faces a tough road to pass as written in the politically divided Congress. Even so, Jayapal says elements of the 131-page bill can shape discussions on a range of other active policy discussions. The proposal could, for example, inform how Congress structures a Civilian Climate Corps, a proposed federal program to put Americans to work on climate projects that already was included in the climate and social spending bill that passed the House of Representatives in the fall. Other elements could help support the Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative, which requires 40% of the benefits of federal climate investment to benefit disadvantaged communities. “This is actually laying out a vision,” she says.

That vision leaves much of the details to states, cities and communities—and that’s sort of the point. Activists have spent years calling on government to pay closer attention to environmental justice issues while also demanding solutions that empower local leaders.

Beyond the substance of the bill, the legislation would also deliver some political benefits, helping people connect the hundreds of billions of dollars that the Biden Administration hopes to spend on climate measures to the everyday lives of key constituents.

“If people feel like they’re never being considered, that frontline communities are never being considered, or that fossil fuel workers are never being considered, their lives and livelihoods are not being considered, we will lose them politically,” says Jayapal. “They will either go to another party, depending on where they are or they just won’t come out and vote.”

Queen Elizabeth II – Queen of Unique Qualities

No doubt, across the Commonwealth countries or the English speaking world, the only one person known and honored as “the Queen” is Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom. She is remarkably a great personality of numerous specialities, February 8th, on this day in 1952  Elizabeth II was proclaimed “The Queen” of Britain.

Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-ruling British monarch during 2015, when she surpassed the ruling of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. She is also the first monarch to celebrated the Sapphire Jubilee, which marks 65 Years of throne, and now on great 70 years, by this February 8th.

Surprisingly the Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t use and old alarm clock. Instead Her Majesty wakes up every morning by hearing the bagpiper, playing outside of her window for 15 minutes daily morning at 9 am.

Though Indians fought against British rulers by Quit India Movement, and chased them out, we cannot forget the good things they did in India; and no doubt still we respect the Queen for the highest official position she holds.

The Queen undergone homeschooling by Britain’s best tutors. She mastered constitutional history and law as preparation for her future role, and took lessons in religion from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

She has so many special privileges, and she doesn’t need a driver’s license, a license plate, or a passport, which makes her position unique. In other words, since all British Passpirts are issued in the name of the Queen, she herself doesn’t need or have one. And the Queen also doesn’t require a driver’s license to drive or a license plate on her car.

You might wonder to note that the Queen gets about 200-300 letters every day. She reads a few by herself and then has staff members respond.

She was the First Lady of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member. She had the privilege of learning and speaking French from French and Belgian governesses at a young age.

Another thing is about her celebrating her birthday twice. On April 21, 1926, she was born but has two recognized birthdays. The first is the actual anniversary of the day she was born (April 21) and another day as her “official” birthday, when the weather is better, for the Trooping the Colour parade. The tradition was started in 1748 with King George II.

To buy the material needed to create her beautiful wedding dress, the Queen spent her rationing coupons and the British government gifted her 200 coupons Her beautiful iconic dress featured a 13-foot-long train with over 10,000 seed pearls imported from the US.

All whales, swans and dolphins in the U.K. waters belong to the Queen since the early twelfth century.The Queen is the owner of an apartment in New York City too. It is reported that in 2015, Her Majesty purchased an $8 million, 3,000-square-foot modern penthouse in United Nations Plaza in New York City.

You wish to hear about Her Majesty’s drinking habits. “Before lunch a gin and Dubonnet, added with a slice of lemon and too much of ice, is her favorite. With lunch, she will take wine and a dry Martini and a glass of champagne in the evening.”

Her purse is not just to keep any money or other belongings, but it is used as a gadget to signal her staff. Just like we hold the smartphone always, the Queen is spotted only with her handbag. It is said that when ishe places her bag on the table, it is an indication that she wants to go within five minutes. If she puts her bag on the floor, it is a negative indication that she’s not enjoying the conversation and wants to be escorted out at the earliest..

In 2004, the Queen hosted a “first ever ladies only event” to celebrate “Women of Achievement” Luncheon at Buckingham Palace. She is patient enough to sit for over 129 portraits during these years of her reign.

Queen Elizabeth II, has a diamond jewelry collection quite as vast, historic and intentionally impressive, as mentioned while she celebrated her 95th birthday in 2021. Her collections include many deeply personal pieces such as the wide diamond bracelet she received from her beloved Prince Philip, who died on April 9.

Even the monarch goes undercover sometimes in public. On a recent low-key trip to Scotland, she met some (ignorant)American tourists while walking. When the tourists asked if she lived locally, she mentioned that she had a house nearby, and when asked if she’d ever met the Queen, she simply pointed at her security and said, “No, but he has!”. Yes, “The Queen” is bold, beautiful and hilarious too!. Long live the Legend- The Queen Elizabeth II!

Documentary ‘Writing With Fire Shines’ Light On The Only All-Women News Outlet In India

It’s 2016 and inside a newsroom in India, a group of rural female journalists are discussing why they need to pivot away from print reporting to digital. It’s a conversation that would feel familiar to journalists across the world—except many of the reporters at the online news outlet Khabar Lahariya have never even touched a smartphone, let alone used it to capture video. “I’m scared,” one woman says, noting that she is still learning how to report for print. Another explains that she doesn’t even use the phone her family has for fear she may damage it. But as time goes on, they learn anyway.

When filmmakers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh sat in on this conversation at Khabar Lahariya, it confirmed that they had stumbled upon something special. A year earlier, they set out to create the documentary Writing With Fire, which closely follows a handful of Khabar Lahariya’s journalists from 2016 through 2019. The film marks the married couple’s first feature debut and was made by their production company Black Ticket Films, which focuses on social justice issues.

Khabar Lahariya’s journalists report on illegal mining, rape cases, subpar sanitation, elections and religious polarization in their local communities in Uttar Pradesh, India—the country’s most populous state and one with significant caste discrimination and high rates of crimes against women. The award-winning film, which premiered at Sundance in January 2021, was recently shortlisted for an Oscar in the ‘Documentary Feature’ category. In a group interview with TIME staff on Jan. 20, and in later follow-up conversations, Thomas and Ghosh shared how they approached the story and their experiences working on the film and releasing it during the pandemic. “We wanted the audience to have an immersive experience of what it means being a Dalit woman journalist working in Uttar Pradesh,” Ghosh says.

The women at Khabar Lahariya, which translates to ‘Waves of News’ are predominantly Dalit—among one of the most marginalized groups in India, which includes individuals oppressed as lower-caste or those falling outside the caste system altogether.

The central character of Writing With Fire is Meera Devi, who is the outlet’s chief reporter when the documentary begins. (She is now bureau chief.) Devi is a charismatic leader who is deeply invested in the growth of the journalists working for her and the stories she tells. In one scene, Devi—who is Dalit herself—visits a Dalit neighborhood as part of her reporting on the national government’s Swachh Bharat Mission, which had promised universal sanitation for all Indians. She asks a woman whose family still has to defecate outside their home whether she thinks the government is lying when they say they have fulfilled this promise. “Look at the condition of my house. We have to take our children to the forest, even at night,” the woman responds. When Devi asks another Dalit family why their home is so far outside the main village, they say it’s because other communities consider them impure.

Devi and her family also face discrimination, too. She says in the film that her daughter’s classmate started mocking her upon learning that she was Dalit. “I tell my daughters their caste identity will always follow them. This is how our society is structured. But it’s important to challenge the system,” Devi says.

Devi serves as a dedicated mentor to those working under her, teaching them everything from how to use a smartphone and recognize the English alphabet to thinking critically about angles and framing. In one scene, she sits a junior reporter, Shyamkali, down to explain why her story about a religious guru could inadvertently promote his work and gloss over how some have used their status to sexually exploit women.

Initially, Shyamkali is one of the members of the newsroom who struggles most with her work. (In another scene, editors say she has a low monthly publication count.) But by the end of the film, her impactful reporting on a rape case leads to the arrest of the alleged perpetrator—a testament to her growth under Devi’s guidance. “The rigor with which they have trained each other is so strong and deep,” Ghosh says.

Devi approaches her interviews with a genuine curiosity, even when she may not agree with the views of those she is interviewing. “As journalists they are looking at the deep wounds of India with a compassionate lens, with a genuine intention to understand the world,” Thomas says. In one scene, she asks a man why he is wearing political insignia at a religious festival. When he responds saying that God doesn’t discriminate between the political and non political, she gently asks what has God got to do with politics.

While the film unpacks serious issues such as caste oppression and violence against women, the female reporters who drive the story maintain their spirits while out in the field. Part of that was by design: Thomas says she was tired of one-dimensional stories about female suffering that fail to portray the warmth and complexities of female solidarity. “People come in thinking that this is going to be a dark, heavy social justice film coming out of India and then they experience the intelligence, wit and acumen of these women and they’re like whoa,” Ghosh says. “The film wouldn’t be half as powerful without that.”

Thomas says the film also illustrates the importance of diverse newsrooms. In India, many newsrooms are dominated by dominant caste men. Meanwhile, at Khabar Lahariya, many of the reporters are survivors of the kinds of trauma and challenges that they write about in their stories. “They come from the communities that they report on. There is this added sense of: if I don’t show up at this place, at this time, tomorrow, nobody else will,” Thomas says.

The documentary notes upon closing that more than 40 journalists have been killed since 2014 in India, making it one of the deadliest countries to practice journalism.

Thomas and Ghosh hope the film moves viewers to consider how they can support independent local media, wherever they live. “The fourth estate, globally, is under duress and it’s important for citizens to champion its values, to find journalists and institutions whose work they believe in and find a way to support them,” Ghosh says.

Khabar Lahariya had already been operating for more than a decade when the filmmakers arrived to document their work. Now, their Youtube channel has almost 550,000 subscribers, their team is growing, and they are closely following this year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Asked whether the filmmakers’ presence may have influenced Khabar Lahariya’s successful trajectory, they were clear that it was a coincidence “They’re a juggernaut. There was no stopping them,” Ghosh says. “It was like, this train is moving. Do you want to hop on or not?”

Sex Ratio Improves To 1,020 Females Per 1,000 Males In India

The number of females per 1,000 males in the country has risen from 991 in 2015-16 to 1,020 in 2019-21, as per the Economic Survey tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

The sex ratio at birth, i.e., female children per 1,000 male children born in the last five years, has also grown from 919 in 2015-16 to 929 in 2019-21, the Survey noted.

To prevent gender biased sex selective elimination and survival and protection of the girl child, the government has made specific interventions through the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (BBBP) scheme.

Sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years has improved in 2019-21 from 2015-16 in all states except for Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Meghalaya, Goa and Nagaland, the Survey said.

The total fertility rate (TFR), which is an average number of children per women, has also come down to 2 in 2019-21 from 2.2 in 2015-16, as per the Survey.

The total fertility rate has even come down below the replacement level of fertility (2.1 children per woman) in the country, the Survey said.

In all the states and UTs except for Manipur, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, the replacement level of fertility has been achieved.

Increasing the use of contraceptives, especially the modern methods, better family planning, and girl education have possibly contributed to the decline in the fertility rate, the Survey noted.

It also outlined that the family planning method has increased from 53.5 per cent in 2015-16 to 66.7 per cent in 2019-21. Significant improvement has also been observed in the infrastructure and services reaching to the public, such as institutional delivery, among others.

As per the report, institutional delivery has increased to 88.6 per cent in 2019-21 compared to 78.9 per cent in 2015-16. (IANS)

Women Leaders Inspire With Share Personal Life Stories At Women’s Forum During AAPI’s Global Healthcare Summit

“A woman is defined by her courage and self-confidence,” Dr. Tejaswini Manogna, Miss India-Earth 2019 and the titleholder of Divine Miss Earth India 2019, in her eloquent and inspiring keynote address at the Women’s Forum told the hundreds of AAPI delegates during the Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad earlier this month. “Be brave to voice your choices and do not give up your goals. Speak up. Do not suffer in silence. Be bold and brave to voice your opinion. If a woman can lead at home, she can lead the world. Dream to do something for others. If I can do it, you all can do it,” Dr. Tejaswini Manogna said.

The Women’s Forum organized by Dr. Seema Arora, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Meher Medavaram, Dr. Malati Mehta and Dr. Uma Jonnalagadda, had a galaxy of successful women, who shared with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world.

The Women’s Forum had Dr. Meenacshi Martin, a practicing consultant Psychiatrist and award winning Theater Artist, Film, Television and Netflix Actress; Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme) who has been a part of over 50 new medicines successfully launched including vaccines in the US and globally; Dr. Shantha Kumari, a senior gynecologist and laparoscopic surgeon, committed to have ‘Cancer Mukt Bharat’ by 2030, to elevate women’s health globally and to stop violence against women; Preity Üpala, a former investment banker turned into ‘Thought Leader, Media Entrepreneur’ and a Miss India International, based in Hollywood, California, is a Geo-political Expert, award-winning International Columnist, and director of The Omnia Institute and, Dr. Tejaswini Manogna, Miss India-Earth 2019 is an Indian model and beauty pageant titleholder. A medical doctor by profession, she won the title of Divine Miss Earth India 2019 and represented India at the 19th edition of the Miss Earth pageant held at Parañaque City, in the Philippines

Miss India-Earth 2019, in her keynote address at the Women’s Forum during the 15th annual GHS 2022 organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in Hyderabad, India, referred to how the “Nature has given us, the women a bigger responsibility of being a mother, who has a huge influence on one’s children.” Stating that her own mother “taught me the value of simple living and high thinking. She did the best to give me the best in life and gave me the path, and attitude of never giving up. Be grounded and humble in spite of all the accruements,” she said.

Telling the audience that she has the vision to be “the voice and be the ambassador for the youth,” Dr. Manogna, the young and charming young leader said, “This vision has given me the inspiration to wear many hats and achieve many things in life.”

Preity Üpala, the Host of a popular show called ‘The Preity Experience’ shared with the audience, her own personal life and stated: “IWhat has inspired me in my life and how my life can be of inspiring to all. In the 21st century, we need to redefine empowerment. Be proud of where you come from and our culture and we have much to teach the world.” While describing that “A woman is a like a tea bag, we would know only when she is in hot water,” she said: “Women are the future of the world.”

She stressed the need for understanding the importance of “Culture, which is my upbringing and values. Power is how you can be in harmony within you and with the others; Dharma, which is the purpose and the path that help make an impact; And, finally,  Fulfilment, which is in the journey but not at the end. Leave the world a better place than you had inherited and have the joy of making a positive impact,” she told the AAPI delegates.

Dr. Shantha Kumari, President of Federation of Obstetric & Gynecological Societies of India, the Treasurer of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics urged her fellow women to “Have the courage to say NO to violence against women. Women across the world are being impacted by violence. If you have the will, you can do it. Encouraged all women to do regular cervical cancer screening to avoid cancer, which will result in ‘Cancer Mukht Bharat.

She advocated for involving local leaders who can help make changes. DHEERA in collaboration with WHO and UNICEF is now offering online certification courses.  Stating that “Women in India are more empowered than women in many other countries of the world,” she said, “Women should have the right to choose her life, when to do marry, give birth to child and raise them.”  Partnering with men, she called upon women to “create awareness about the need for gender neutrality. “You will be empowered only when you can help empower others,” she said.

Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology at Sanofi-Genzyme told the AAPI delegates: “I am here to represent women across the world.” Born in New Delhi to a mother who was extremely poor, but worked hard and became a Nurse and immigrated to the US. “Despite the many hardships, she helped us get the best education and that brought about changes. Mother is the key pillar in one’s life, and let us continue to elevate her.” Stating that, “prevention is more worth than treatment” she said, “Empower. Educate. And, Inform about the need to prevent illnesses.”

Dr. Meenacshi Martin, an award winning Theater Artist, Film, Television and Netflix Actress, shared with the audience her own personal story of how born and  raised in a remote village in India, facing numerous challenges at early ages of life, has helped her achieve many things in life today. Faced with numerous road blocks and overcoming them bravely in life, she told the audience how being a full time mother to a son with cerebral palsy, she has been able to pursue her goals in life, fulfilling her passion for Medicine and acting, all going together. She said, “As we grow and mature, our goals keep changing. We, the women are very adaptive. When faced with resistance or failures, challenges or pushed to the wall, we are forced to react.  Everyone gets that inner courage when you are faced with challenges and pushed to the corner.”

Dr. Seema Arora, Chair, AAPI National Women’s Committee, a Past Chair Board of Trustees of AAPI, and a strong advocate of women empowerment and has been playing an active role in uplifting women in various walks of life, in her introductory remarks, gave an  overview of the programs organized by the Women’s Forum, with focus on “women who inspire.” Introducing the panelists, she called them, “an inspiration to the world.”

Dr. Arora said, “The Women’s Forum had a panel of “Women Who Inspire” from all walks of life who have achieved extraordinary feats in each of their phenomenal lives. This exhilarating forum has been organized with the objective of bringing together some of the most accomplished women under one roof who are role models for all other women around the world.”

Quoting the famous and inspiring words of Mother Teresa, ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples,’ Dr. Meher Medavaram, Chair of GHS Women’s Forum, and the regional director for AAPI Northeast central division, Illinois Indiana and Wisconsin, said, “This is precisely what some of these amazing women leaders are going to shed light in the women’s forum at the GHS summit!”

Dr. Shivangi, Advisor to AAPI Women’s Forum underscored the importance of the Women’s Forum in AAPI convention and Global Healthcare Summit, and how it has evolved and today it’s one of the much sought after event, with distinguished panelists on the Forum. “The Women’s Forum is where successful and powerful women come and share their life’s dreams, challenges and this empower and inspire other women. Today’s Forum is about how career changes by women affect t them and the larger society.”

In her concluding remarks, summarizing the inspiring life stories of brave women who have shown the path to many others around the world, overcoming the challenges, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the only 4th Woman President of AAPI in the past four decades, said, “That was amazing to hear your personal stories of inspiration.” Reflecting her own life, the Woman Leader, who has made huge contributions to AAPI in her own unassuming manner, while taking AAPI to newer heights, said, “I look at myself and say, ‘you can do it, if only you put your heart and soul into it.’ Nothing is impossible. Impress yourself and be proud of your own self.”

Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 40 years. For more details, please visit:  https://aapisummit.org/www.aapiusa.org

Smriti Mandhana Wins ICC Women’s Cricketer Of The Year

The 25-year-old is only the second player, after Australian allrounder Ellyse Perry, to win the highest individual distinction in the women’s overall category of the annual ICC awards more than once. She was also named in the ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year.

Mandhana, who was named ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year and ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2018, pipped fellow opening batters Tammy Beaumont of England, Lizelle Lee (South Africa) and Gaby Lewis (Ireland) to the the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy. Jhulan Goswami, who won the same award in 2007, is the only other Indian woman to ever win an ICC annual award.

The stats: In 2021, since India’s return to cricket on March 7 following a 364-day gap from the international scene — primarily because of the pandemic — Mandhana scored 855 runs in 22 international matches across three series, at an average of 38.86, posting a century and five fifties.

Mandhana was named the Player of the Match for her maiden Test hundred — 127 during India’s maiden women’s day-night Test, which they drew against Australia at Gold Coast.

Pakistan left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi was named the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year. He was awarded the Sir Garfield Sobers Award for taking 78 wickets across formats in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20 in 2021.

Her 15-ball 29 and fifty in the T20I series went in vain though as India fell short in both the matches and lost the series 2-1.
The Southpaw was in good touch in the series against Australia, starting with the ODI series where she scored 86 in the second ODI.

She compiled a brilliant century in the only Test (the first of her career), and was awarded the Player of the Match. She scored her second T20I fifty of the year in the final T20I, though India fell short and lost the series 2-0.

Mandhana made India’s first-ever pink-ball Test even more memorable by smashing her maiden century in the longest format.

Inspiring Art Entrepreneur Archana Srivastava Shares How Art Is A Medium To Empower Women And Communities

“To me, preparing and letting women to make vital decisions in their life and in society is women’s empowerment . I seek to empower women through my work.” Today’s woman dreamer, Archana Srivastava, is a dynamic, renowned Mumbai-based artist, with a passion for highlighting history and tradition. Archana shares her view as art as a medium for empowerment, and her dream for her art career (such as her interest in NFTs, digital, and 3D art). She also reflects on her experiences as the wife of a senior bureaucrat. A relatable and creative journey, enjoy Archana’s story!

1) Tell us your story. You are an artist deeply rooted in Indian history and tradition, and your work is across mediums. You have had multiple solo art exhibitions as well and have had multiple recognitions for your work. What inspired you to become an artist? What inspires you creatively?

Since childhood I was passionate about art and art was like ‘Therapy’ to me. Born in a family which thrived on art and culture, it was an easy choice for me to draw, sketch, colour and paint. In early childhood days, I started drawing on slate (writing board), paper, walls and floors as soon as I could hold crayon or chalk in my hands. My family saw great potential in me and my parents would encourage me to draw/paint and to participate in school, district-level and regional competitions. Winning in such competitions encouraged me to paint more. I was a sincere student and excelled in academics. Often my study hours will get stretched and I would get exhausted. I would then draw on my practice notebook a face, figure, landscape or still life. As a result each of my practice notebook would have multiple figures and forms drawn on the last many pages. In fact often the pages with drawings would outnumber the pages with writings.

I was happy doing well in academics and pursuing art as well. My academic orientation helped me complete Ph.D in History and I started teaching graduate and post-graduate students as guest faculty in various colleges and universities off and on.

As far as the art was concerned, formal training was never an issue as my elder sister is into serious painting and my mother is also an artist. Plus over the years I have had the good fortune of learning from national and international-level award-winning artists, professors of reputed art schools on one to one basis informally. They did teach me technicalities of art but asked me to remain original in my imagination. In fact, everyone of them without exception encouraged me to have my own style. Thus I am one of those fortunate souls who learnt everything about art without joining an art school full time. Gradually, guests and visitors visiting my home would look at paintings at my place and ask me to have a public display of my artworks. Encouraged by their persuasion, I booked a reputed art gallery in Mumbai in 1999 and started working diligently towards my first solo exhibition. The exhibition was very well-received and thus began my journey as professional artist. I took up art as my profession with great enthusiasm and gusto, becoming a full-time artist and a part-time academician.

Thus art which began as ‘therepy’ became ‘thoughtful’ as I consider art to be a subtle form of expression. Through art intangible subjects can be made understandable. My art is mostly thematic and message-oriented. I enjoy portraying the complex messages contained in the ‘verses of ‘Bhagvad Gita’ and ‘Sufi poetry’ etc. I try to depict the‘non-obvious’ metaphorically, thus making it understandable.

2) You received the “Woman of Excellence Award 2020” from the Indian Achievers’ Forum. How do you define women empowerment? Do you seek to empower women through your work?

According to me, preparing and letting women to make vital decisions in their life and in society is women’s empowerment .

Raising the status of women through education, awareness, literacy, skill-development, training etc. and in turn making them self-reliant (financially, emotionally, socially and physically) constitute a major part of women empowerment.

Yes, I do seek to empower women through my work! I had made a whole series on rural Indian women. Basically, I tried to draw attention to their problems and generate awareness regarding their plight.

During my stay at several districts of Maharashtra, India I tried to solve their problems by connecting them to various NGOs, making them aware of the various women-oriented govt. schemes as well as their rights and above all, making them aware of the protection provided to them under law.

Right now, as CEO and Founder of ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. I am focusing on uplifting the condition of women artists and artisans of India.

3) Your husband is also a highly respected bureaucrat in Mumbai India. Very exciting – what does the life of a wife of a bureaucrat entail? What were some key learnings?

Being wife a of a senior and well-respected bureaucrat is both satisfying and challenging. Satisfying, as it gives you enormous opportunities to look at various problems and strengths of the country closely. It also gives you various opportunities and roles to work for the society directly or indirectly. Challenging, as it requires acting absolutely responsibly. One has to shift from one district to the other district owing to various transfers and handle many things single-handedly owing to the hectic nature of the spouse’s job. Bureaucrats are called backbone of the nation. While you are supporting and informally advising the policy-makers and law-enforcers, you can’t afford to be anything but responsible.

Given the integral role the spouse plays in the future of an individual’s life, career and field, it is important for a spouse of a bureaucrat to be level-headed, mature, dependable and conscientious. A supportive atmosphere at home can make one calm and stable to make positive and impactful decisions which can benefit society/ city/state/country.

The key learning from the experience has been that it is absolutely necessary for the wives of the bureaucrats to have their own identity. Bureaucrats and their families are closely observed and followed by many (especially at the district-level postings). Somewhere you are also being looked at as a role model. It would be a failure to derive your identity just from your man. That’s what women empowerment is all about and one can’t just preach it ; one has to practice it too. Secondly, a confident individual with a sense of worth and purpose will make a better companion and counsel than someone who is bitter having low sense of worth and nagging sense of unfulfilled potential.

4) You have recently started working on promoting the work of folk artists in India .Tell us more about that.

As CEO and Founder of ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. I aim to safeguard the interest of the folk and tribal artists and artisans of India. Folk and tribal art of India is rich in tradition and heritage and celebrated throughout the world. But unfortunately the condition of the artists and artisans is far from pleasant. They rarely get their due. Their artworks are bought at a very low price and sold at insanely high price at regional, national and international markets. Many of them quit their rich traditional/family art and opt for menial jobs in the villages. As far as some folk-arts are concerned, there are only a few families left in the country which pursue them. These art-forms need to be conserved and preserved. For that, it is very necessary to protect the artists from being exploited and support them in various ways. ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. is committed to doing that. It plans to help

them by providing resources, giving access to the technology to work more efficiently , helping them upgrade their skills, giving them platform to sell their artworks, creating awareness about the value of their art in public through workshops and symposiums and enriching their lives as a whole.

5) As the platform for women dreamers, what is your next big dream? What are you focusing on for your next exhibition?

As an entrepreneur, I dream to see ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. realising our vision to bring about a sense of creativity & learning in folk and tribal artists in India and attaining our mission to create opportunities for them. I also dream to make ArtSage Pvt. Ltd. a commercially viable venture.

As an artist my dream is to go three-dimensional and digital.

For my next exhibition, I am planning to convey/portray my thoughts in 3D as well. With this idea I plan to have installations alongside the paintings. Installation art is an art-genre of three- dimensional works that are often walked around and contemplated.

One can discriminate installation art from sculpture art (which is also 3D) owing to its complete unified experience, rather than a display of individual artworks which are separate from each other.

I plan to have installations that are both interactive and immersive.

Also I am really fascinated by the idea of NFT art as an emerging trend and plan to create digital artworks which can be exclusive collectible NFTs.

Priyanka Chopra On The Cover of Famed Vanity Fair Magazine

Priyanka Chopra has achieved what every star anywhere in the world aspires for — to be on the cover of ‘Vanity Fair’. She’s on the cover of the February 2022 edition of the magazine celebrated internationally as much for its in-depth articles as for its cutting-edge photography.

Unveiling the cover, ‘Vanity Fair’ tweeted: “After a journey into ‘The Matrix’, the actor enters 2022 with her cup overflowing –reflecting on her storied Hindi film industry career, marriage, and creating a path for herself in Hollywood.” Looking artfully messy, a sultry Priyanka appears on the cover in an off-shoulder, off-white ruffled dress from Fendi.

The magazine, previously edited by celebrity journalists such as Tina Brown and Graydon Carter (who’s played by Jeff Bridges in the film ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People’), is now helmed by Radhika Jones, an Indian American.

Describing her as “a driven woman who has transcended what’s previously been possible for an Indian actor in Hollywood,” the ‘Vanity Fair’ cover story goes on to say: “She is an outsider who broke down barriers and built a place for herself within the walls of Hollywood. Now she’s on a mission to welcome others in.”

Priyanka, notes the article that traces her life’s story from her days at the Army Public School, Bareilly, will finally be playing lead film roles as she had in India” with the rom-com ‘Text for You’ and Amazon’s ambitious spy series ‘Citadel’ later this year.

And about her own story, especially her rise to stardom in Hollywood, Priyanka says: “It’s taken a lot of pavement pounding to be able to get people’s attention, and to be able to get an acceptance of the fact that someone like me can be the lead of a Hollywood feature.”

She adds (and the sentiment will go down well back home): “There’s very few of us from South Asia who get to do that. I hope that the part that I play in it will sort of push the envelope a little bit.”

As A Controversial Verdict Acquits Bishop Franco, Groups Vouch To Take The Case To High Court

A Kerala court on Friday acquitted former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a nun 13 times over three years in a convent, citing lack of evidence in a case that shone a spotlight on violence against women in religious institutions.

Stating that  “in-fight and rivalry and group fights of the nuns, and the desire for power, position and control over the congregation” were evident in the case, a trial court in Kerala Friday acquitted Franco Mulakkal, the former Jalandhar Bishop of the Catholic Church, of all charges in the alleged rape of a nun. The high-profile case had led to an unprecedented public protest in Kerala more than three years ago by other nuns in support of the complainant.

Bishop Mulakkal, who became the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested for rape in 2018, was accused by a 50-year old nun of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. Mulakkal faced a slew of charges, including wrongful confinement, unnatural sex, rape of a woman incapable of giving consent and criminal intimidation.

The Court order last week said that “This court is unable to place reliance on the solitary testimony of PW1 and to hold the accused guilty of the offences charged against him”. Mulakkal was present in the courtroom when the verdict was pronounced. He later broke down in the corridor outside, hugged his lawyers, and told reporters before leaving the premises: “Daivathinu sthuthi’ (Praise the Lord).”

According to the Kottayam Additional Sessions Judge G Gopakumar, “This is a case in which the grain and chaff are inextricably mixed up. It is impossible to separate the grain from the chaff. There are exaggerations and embellishments in the version of the victim. She has also made every attempt to hide certain facts. It is also evident that the victim was swayed under the influence of others who had other vested interest in the matter,” Gopakumar wrote in a 289-page order.

However, one of the nuns who had spearheaded the protest against Mulakkal, Sister Anupama, expressed disbelief at the verdict. Speaking to reporters with tears in her eyes, she said: “We cannot believe this verdict. We will continue this fight until the day our fellow sister gets justice, even if it means we have to die. All the testimonies were in our favour so we don’t know what happened in court. We will definitely appeal in the higher court.”

S Harisankar, the former Kottayam district police chief under whose leadership the investigation was conducted, described the verdict as “extremely unfortunate”. He added, “We had fully expected a conviction. This verdict will be a surprise for the entire Indian legal system. it was after suffering huge psychological pressure that the survivor disclosed the assault to her fellow nuns” and that the verdict would “send a wrong message to society”.

The allegations against Mulakkal (57) came to light in June 2018 when a senior nun, belonging to the order of Missionaries of Jesus, submitted a complaint to the Kottayam police chief, accusing the bishop of raping her and subjecting her to unnatural sex 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in the district.

Subsequently, an FIR was filed against Mulakkal on charges of rape at the police station in Kuravilangad, where the convent is located. Mulakkal denied the charges and described the complaint as a “retaliatory act” for disciplinary action taken earlier against the complainant in an unrelated incident.

In September that year, a public square in front of the Kerala High Court premises in Kochi saw unprecedented scenes as five Catholic nuns, who were close to the complainant, sat on an indefinite hunger strike demanding the arrest of the bishop.

On September 21, 2018, the police arrested Mulakkal and booked him on rape charges, in the first such action against a Catholic bishop in the country. Mulakkal was released on bail nearly a month later, and divested of his responsibilities as bishop in the Jalandhar diocese.

In April 2019, a Special Investigation Team of the Kerala Police filed a 2,000-page chargesheet against Mulakkal. The trial commenced in November 2019, with the prosecution listing 83 witnesses of whom 39 were examined during the trial. A number of senior figures from the Church, including Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry, and 11 priests and 25 nuns were among the witnesses.

Mulakkal, who had first applied to the sessions court for a discharge without facing trial by alleging that the charges were fabricated, also saw his petition challenging the sessions court’s dismissal of his discharge plea being dismissed by both the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court, which said it was devoid of merits.

He also sought the High Court’s intervention in deferring the trial due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was also rejected on the grounds that adjournments in a trial need to be restricted.

The nun alleged that she had first approached the church’s senior officials, including the Pope but had not received any response, though the Vatican removed him from the diocese’s administrative roles.

The nun has also been at the receiving end of threats from powerful figures within the Catholic establishment who even came down hard on her supporters including one — Sister Lucy Kalappura — who was not only evicted from her convent but also had her membership of the congregation revoked.

A group of nuns of the Kuravilangad Convent in Kerala, who helped the victim, said they couldn’t believe the verdict.  “We will fight it out till the end. We are ready to die to uphold our cause. Till the end, everything was fine and we have no idea what happened later. We will stay at the convent as we are not scared of our death,” said a teary-eyed Sister Anupama, who was the public face of the years-long battle. She alleged that the trial court refused to hear hapless wails of a victim who can’t even speak loud.

Women Who Win Organization Donates Over 300 Pairs Of Shoes To Refugees

As Boston gets colder by the day and the snow falls all around, many of us strap on our favorite winter boots, keeping our feet warm and protected. However, in our very own greater Boston community, there are hundreds of people (women, men, children) without a good quality pair of shoes in their closets, unknowingly exposing themselves to foot conditions like frostbite and other dangerous infections. An often overlooked problem, our Boston-based nonprofit women empowerment organization, Women Who Win, wanted to help solve this issue through launching an exciting philanthropic initiative, The Shoe Project.

This Holiday Season, the Women Who Win team spearheaded shoe donations and also provided foot health educational materials  to Boston populations in dire need, including Haitian refugees, women’s shelter residents, and adult day health centers. They partnered with renowned companies and organizations including Hoka Apparel to ensure we are providing high-quality, podiatrist approved shoes.

Haitain refugees have faced a significant plight, and there are hundreds of them across Massachusetts, struggling to find basic essentials. A major humanitarian crisis around the world and in our neck of the woods, the Women Who Win team excitedly joined the Gift of Gratitude project on December 19th, an event where they provided vaccine clinics, and other basic essentials like blankets etc. to Haitians in need. We led a shoe donation drive at the event with the Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE), and were able to donate over 150 shoes to these refugees. The First Haitian-American City Councilor of Boston Ruthzee Louijeane stated, “It was really wonderful to see communities coming together to support our immigrants. We are in a difficult season right now that really asks us to look out for each other. Few things demonstrate that more than welcoming the stranger in our midst.”

Women’s shelters also expressed a strong need for new shoes for their residents. We organized donations with the St Patricks Shelter in Somerville Massachusetts, and at the Forever Young Adult Day Care in Hyde Park. Residents at the shelter often work 2 jobs a day to make ends meet, in worn-out shoes putting their feet at risk and discomfort. The women were elated to receive a new pair of shoes for the new year, and felt empowered and equipped in their new footwear. The thrill of a new pair of shoes is one we can all relate too, and we were excited to provide this feeling to over 150 women across these shelters.

The Shoe Project is a philanthropic initiative under Women Who Win, a nonprofit organization founded by three Boston residents, Dr. Manju Sheth, Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, and Shaleen Sheth. Dr Manju Sheth is a physician at Beth Israel Lahey health with a passion for media. She is president and Co- founder of INE multimedia and Women Who Win. Dr. Deepa Jhaveri is a podiatrist and the President-Elect of the Indian Medical Association of New England. Shaleen Sheth is a co-founder of Women Who Win with a passion for technology and nonprofit leadership. The Shoe Project was born with the mission to empower communities one step at a time.

The Shoe Project has worked with and been supported by IMANE, Boston Medical Center, the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association), Deckers X Lab, Hoka Apparel, Lion’s Club, and Rotary Club.  Our co-founder, Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, a podiatrist states, “this project is very close to my heart as it ties in my profession and my Indian roots to create an immense impact in the daily lives of hundreds of people by preventing limb threatening foot infections. This project has also created a buzz in the podiatry community, particularly with Indian-American podiatrists as well as major footwear companies who have offered tremendous support for this initiative.”

To support The Shoe Project and Donate Shoes to a Local Community in Need with Women Who Win, visit them here

Meera Joshi Appointed Deputy Mayor Of New York

New York City’s Mayor-elect Eric Adams has chosen Indian-American Meera Joshi to serve as his Deputy Mayor for Operations, charting yet another historic milestone for the Indian-American community but also for one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

Joshi, who previously served as head of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission for five years, will be one of five women Deputy Mayors that Adams announced December 20, 2021. She will start in the new position around the end of January according to news reports.

“As Deputy Mayor for Operations, Meera Joshi will ensure that our City is able to respond in real time to meet and exceed the needs of every community and be a model of excellence for all urban centers,” Mayor-elect Adams tweeted. Mayor Adams created more history by announcing five women as his Deputy Mayors to administer the city.

Mayor-elect Adams, when announcing his five women deputies, tweeted out the following message – “For us to ensure that NYC recovers quickly while addressing the inequalities athat plagued us well before COVID-19 struck, we must have top leadership that can both deliver for and is representative of New Yorkers.”

“I am deeply honored to be selected by Mayor-elect Adams to carry out his mission together to build the heart and soul of New York, its infrastructure and its operations,” Joshi said in the Politico article. The publication also reported that Joshi thanked President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for appointing her to the FMCSA role.

During her time as FMCSA’s acting administrator, Joshi said she wanted to eliminate truck drivers’ stressors and to make truck driver a more attractive long-term career. In November, she attended the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Board of Directors meeting via videoconference.

“Some of the items that continuously come up since I started in January are all focused around the work-life balance of a truck driver,” she said. “We’re focused on safety, and to the extent that the work-life conditions aren’t there or they are not habitable, it does have a tremendous impact on safety. Overworked truck drivers, drivers who are dealing with roads and bridges that aren’t kept up, not having an adequate parking area, not having clean bathrooms, having to wait excessively while loading or unloading and not being paid.

“These are all stressors that we believe – and I think we will find agreement within this room – that have a direct connection to safety. So we’re focused on addressing some of these critical issues that underpin the ability of the industry to function safely on the nation’s roadways.”

Joshi is currently the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Most recently Joshi served as General Manager of the New York office of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, and before that as chief regulator of New York City’s for hire vehicle industry.

“Under her leadership, New York City mandated the reporting of granular trip data from large app operators, which informed landmark data-driven safety reforms, enforceable pay standards for drivers and meaningful access to service for the disabled,” her profile on the transportation.gov says.

Joshi was named deputy administrator of FMCSA, which made her the de facto leader of the agency on Jan. 21. In April, President Joe Biden nominated Joshi to take the permanent role as administrator of the FMCSA. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee advanced Joshi’s nomination through a 22-6 roll call in October. However, Joshi’s confirmation still hadn’t been approved by the full Senate.

Politico reported on Dec. 20 that Joshi will become New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ deputy mayor of operations after he is sworn in on Jan. 1. Prior to being nominated by Biden, Joshi had been serving as acting head of FMCSA from January 20, 2021.

Joshi is not afraid to confront those in power when she disagrees, or make challenging decisions such as leaving the federal administration to take on a city job, albeit one that relates to an iconic global metropolis and financial capital of the world.

In 2019, when she was New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commissioner, she publicly disagreed with Mayor Bill de Blasio over a congestion fee he was planning to levy, and resigned. The Wall Street Journal in its headline said, “Resignation of NYC Taxi and Limousine Chief Shakes Industry,” indicating her influence. Joshi called the fee “potentially devastating” for cabdrivers.

Following her decision to accept Mayor-elect Adams’ appointment, the FMCSA praised her tenure at the federal level. “Meera Joshi has led FMCSA through historic times—as an unprecedented global pandemic, countless natural disasters, a cyberattack on a major domestic pipeline, and widespread workforce shortages challenged the freight economy in ways never before seen,” American Trucking Association President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement following reports that Joshi will be leaving the Biden administration, reported fleetowner.com news site.

Spear went on to say, “Throughout her tenure, the trucking industry has found Deputy Administrator Joshi to be a candid, collaborative, and valued partner in government,” Spear added. “Her use of data and stakeholder input drove a sound policy process designed to meet real-world needs. Her leadership has helped to ensure our industry could continue to safely serve the American people and meet the demands of the economy during these incredible times.”

Joshi was born in Philadelphia, PA, and grew up there. She did her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and her got her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1995.

In its biography for the nomination, the White House noted her experience of more than 16 years leading government oversight agencies. Apart from being Chair and CEO of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the nation’s largest for-hire transportation regulator where she spearheaded novel Vision Zero campaigns using data tools to keep high risk drivers and unsafe vehicles off the road, the White House said.

She also led landmark policy, including establishing robust open transportation data standards for app based providers; enacting the nation’s first for-hire driver pay protection program and providing broad access to for-hire transportation for passengers who use wheelchairsk, the Biden administration noted.

Prior to transportation regulation, Joshi was the Inspector General for New York City’s Department of Corrections, responsible for investigation of corruption and criminality at all levels of New York City’s jail operations. She was also the First Deputy Executive Director of New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, leading investigations of police misconduct.

In addition to her government positions, Joshi served as General Manager for the New York Office of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, and was a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Lays Out ‘Whole-Of-Government Approach’ On Biden Agenda

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday urged lawmakers and the White House to take a “whole-of-government approach” to advancing President Biden’s agenda.

“Today, the elected leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling on the President and all Democrats who believe in the need to Build Back Better for climate, care, immigrants, and those seeking economic dignity and opportunity to come together and deliver for the American people,” Jayapal said in a statement.

The statement comes after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he was opposed to Democrats’ massive social spending and climate package, known as the Build Back Better Act. Manchin, a moderate, cited concerns about inflation and the national debt.

Jayapal said congressional Democrats should continue to prioritize passing a version of the Build Back Better Act. She said that a revised bill should keep as much of the legislation that the House passed in November as possible intact, and shouldn’t be narrower than the $1.75 trillion framework the White House released in October.

“We have worked too long and too hard to give up now, and we have no intention of doing so,” Jayapal said.

Jayapal also said the White House should take a series of executive actions while negotiations on legislation continue, echoing comments she made to reporters earlier in the week.

“The Progressive Caucus will soon release a comprehensive vision for this plan of action, which will include immediate focus on actions that lower costs, protect the health of every family who calls America home in this time of surging omicron cases, and show the world that America is serious about our leadership on climate action,” she said.

Jayapal also called for federal action on voting rights. “We are encouraged by the dogged determination of our Senate colleagues to achieve this top priority, and progressives in the House remain committed to seeing it through,” she said.

India To Raise Marriage Age For Women To 21

The Cabinet Union Cabinet has cleared a bill that proposes to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21, bringing it in line with the men’s. The government is expected to bring before the parliament amendments to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Special Marriage Act, and the Hindu Marriage Act.

It’s based on the recommendation of an expert panel headed by MP Jaya Jaitly and NITI Aayog member Dr. Vinod K. Paul.  The 10-member task force was formed by the union government on June 4.

PM Narendra Modi had also said during his Independence Day speech that the legal age of marriage should be raised from 18 to 21 for women for the “health of daughters and sisters” and to prevent malnutrition

The amendments could be placed before the parliament as early as this winter session, TOI reports. A scourge Currently, the legal age for marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men. Yet, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, 26.8% of women aged 20-24 were married before they turned 18.

Several studies have linked child marriage to maternal mortality, malnutrition of the child and poverty. Maternal mortality rate is the number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 children born.

For instance, sustained campaigns and policies such as making the legal age of marriage at 18 have helped reduce India’s maternal mortality rate from 677 in 1980 to about 145 now.

But… The NFHS data show that penalising marriage under 18 has not stopped the practice. Experts, therefore, say raising the age to 21 will, therefore, not truly serve the purpose as educational and welfare schemes would. Data protection panel: Social media should be publishers

The joint parliamentary committee’s report on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, was tabled before both Houses of Parliament on Thursday. The 542-page report was finalised after nearly two years of deliberation.
It recommends.declare all social media platforms as ‘publishers’.widen the scope of the Bill to include non-personal data. 81 recommendations for modifications and over 150 drafting corrections and improvements in various clauses of the bill.

Rare cooperation Congress MP Jairam Ramesh tabled the report in Rajya Sabha amidst opposition protests demanding the revocation of suspension of 12 MPs and sacking of junior home minister Ajay Mishra Teni.

BJP’s PP Chaudhary, the chairman of the committee, tabled the report in Lok Sabha. “This report shows that if the chairman is cooperative, (and) the government is accommodative, the opposition is responsive,” Ramesh said.

And dissent The report contains seven dissent notes, one each by Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh, Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and Gaurav Gogoi, TMC’s Mahua Moitra, BSP’s Ritesh Pandey and BJD’s Amar Patnaik.

Among other things, they flag the “unbridled powers” certain sections of the Bill accord to the union government, including the power to exempt any government agency from the entire Act.

What now?

Under Parliamentary rules, the bill as amended by the JPC is considered draft legislation that will need to be cleared by Cabinet before it returns to Parliament for passage.

The Union cabinet may accept the draft as it is. It could also move official amendments to the Bill tabled by the committee.

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