US Ambassador Garcetti Foresees Bright Future for India-US Relations: A Multiplicative Force for Global Good

The US ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, expressed optimism about the India-US relationship, stating that it is a “force of good for the world” with a “positive romantic ambiguity” for the future. Speaking at Carnegie’s Global Tech Summit 2023, Garcetti highlighted the growing breadth and depth of ties between the two nations, emphasizing efforts to negotiate differences and plan for the future.

In his address, Garcetti humorously likened the historical status of the relationship to a Facebook status of “It’s complicated,” suggesting that it has evolved into a phase resembling dating. He remarked on the complexities of merging habits, symbolizing the ongoing efforts to understand and navigate the partnership’s direction. Despite the uncertainties, he underscored a shared desire on both sides to advance the relationship.

Quoting Garcetti, “There’s a positive romantic ambiguity about where this will ultimately lead… But there’s a strong desire on both [sides to take the relationship forward].”

Reflecting on the partnership’s effectiveness, Garcetti pointed to the G20 Summit as a notable example. He commended the collaboration between India and the US, emphasizing how their joint efforts surpassed a simple additive relationship, producing a historic consensus involving 20 countries.

Quoting Garcetti, “India-US relationship is not additive, its multiplicative. We demonstrated that at G20, where it was more than just 1+1 equals 2 countries, 1+1 actually produced 20 countries together with a historic and strongest, deepest statement ever put forward by a G20.”

The ambassador highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States as a significant milestone in the relationship’s growth. He noted the extensive discussions and numerous deliverables, emphasizing the unprecedented nature of the continued communication between the two nations.

Quoting Garcetti, “if you get three to five deliverables, that’s a strong state dinner. The week before [the state dinner], we were ploughing through 123 different deliverables.”

Garcetti concurred with External Affairs Minister Jaishankar’s perspective that the state dinner should be viewed not as the pinnacle but as a new base for US-India relations. He emphasized President Joe Biden’s recognition of the relationship as the most consequential in the world.

Quoting Garcetti, “[President Joe Biden] is the very first president to say this is most consequential relationship in the world.”

Addressing the role of China in the bilateral ties, Garcetti acknowledged its importance but refuted the notion that the relationship was primarily centered around China. He asserted that 95% of the relationship was fundamentally about other matters, characterizing China as a component related to deterrence.

Quoting Garcetti, “Peace is critical, but deterring war, respecting borders and sovereignty, making sure that we don’t have people who steal intellectual property, that we are not overly dependent on any one place for a supply chain, is a deterrent peace.”

Responding to concerns about India’s ability to absorb the impact of US-China derisking, Garcetti emphasized that missing this opportunity would be a loss. He also addressed challenges hindering the desired flow of Foreign Direct Investment, pointing to India’s status as the “highest taxed input major economy in the world.”

Quoting Garcetti, “It’s not a criticism…but it’s harming your own internal capacity to be the manufacturing powerhouse that India should be. That we want it to be. That it is starting to accelerate to become but it will require some fundamentally deeper changes.”

G20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla, participating in the discussions, echoed the sentiment that the relationship is multifaceted and constantly evolving. He emphasized the collaborative role of the US and India as a force for good in the world beyond their individual interests.

Quoting Shringla, “The relationship is amazingly multifaceted, but it’s also constantly evolving. US and India are a force for good in the world together, not just for our countries.”

Cyclone Michaung Leaves Chennai in Deluge Crisis: Rescuers Battle Flooding as City Grapples with Devastation

In the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung’s assault on India’s southern coast, the city of Chennai faced widespread flooding on Wednesday, compelling rescuers to employ boats to reach stranded individuals in their inundated homes. The cyclone, accompanied by heavy rain and powerful winds, uprooted trees, and inflicted damage on roads, resulting in the loss of an estimated 13 lives, particularly in the manufacturing hub of Tamil Nadu. The flooding, triggered by torrential rains preceding the cyclone’s landfall in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday afternoon, prompted rescuers to utilize inflatable rafts and ropes for evacuations in Chennai, a city with a population exceeding 6 million, renowned for its status as a major automobile and technology manufacturing center.

As Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner Dr. J. Radhakrishnan highlighted, “There are pockets of low lying areas.” The efforts of rescue workers were vividly captured by local media, showcasing their determination as they waded through waist-deep water and engaged in the retrieval of stranded individuals. Additionally, air force helicopters played a crucial role by airdropping food rations to those marooned in flooded homes.

The impact of the deluge extended beyond immediate human consequences, affecting industrial operations. Notably, Taiwan’s Foxconn and Pegatron had temporarily halted Apple iPhone production at their Chennai facilities due to the rains, with Foxconn resuming operations on Tuesday.

In the state of Andhra Pradesh, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Michaung, damage was relatively contained, primarily manifesting as road impairments and uprooted trees from the force of crashing waves along the coast. This calamity evoked memories of a devastating flood eight years prior, claiming around 290 lives, raising questions among residents about the city’s infrastructure resilience in the face of extreme weather events.

State Chief Minister M K Stalin expressed concern by writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking 50.6 billion rupees ($607.01 million) for the extensive damage. However, civil engineer and geo-analytics expert Raj Bhagat P emphasized that even with improved stormwater drainage systems in the city, preventing flooding in the face of very heavy and extremely heavy rains would have remained a challenge.

Bhagat P noted, “This solution would have helped a lot in moderate and heavy rainfall, but not in very heavy and extremely heavy rains.” Despite these challenges, the spirit of resilience prevailed as rescue efforts persisted amidst the adversity, emphasizing the need for both short-term relief and long-term infrastructure improvements to fortify Chennai against the unpredictable forces of nature.

Delhi Police Ramp Up Security Amidst Threats to Parliament’s Foundation on Anniversary of 2001 Attack

The Delhi Police have heightened their vigilance in response to a video message from Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, a Khalistani supporter based in the United States. In the video, Pannu issued a threat to “shake the very foundation of Parliament” on December 13, coinciding with the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. The authorities are taking the threat seriously, with a senior police officer confirming the implementation of enhanced security measures in and around Parliament.

The senior officer emphasized the commitment to maintaining law and order, stating, “No one will be allowed to disturb law and order. When Parliament is in session, we remain alert.” These assurances were accompanied by a clear message that all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to prevent any untoward incidents. Security has been bolstered not only in the vicinity of Parliament but throughout the entire city of Delhi.

The video message, delivered by Pannu, who is the chief of the banned organization Sikhs for Justice, also featured a photograph of Afzal Guru, the convict in the 2001 Parliament attack. In the video, Pannu made serious allegations against the Narendra Modi government, claiming an attempt on his life and vowing to respond on December 13. His ominous promise asserted that his retaliation would “shake the very foundation of the Indian Parliament.”

The threat issued by Pannu has raised concerns and prompted a proactive response from law enforcement agencies. The reference to the 2001 Parliament attack, a dark chapter in India’s history, adds gravity to the situation. Authorities are not taking any chances, and the increased security measures are indicative of the seriousness with which they are approaching this potential threat.

While the specific nature of Pannu’s allegations against the Modi government remains unclear, the mere mention of an attempt on his life suggests a heightened level of tension and animosity. Such claims, when made by individuals with affiliations to proscribed organizations, demand thorough investigation and a robust security response.

The timing of the threat, coinciding with the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament attack, adds a layer of historical significance to the situation. December 13 is a solemn day in the memory of the brave individuals who lost their lives in the 2001 attack. The threat to disrupt Parliament on this particular day is not only a security concern but also a potential attempt to exploit the emotional resonance associated with the anniversary.

As the authorities work to ensure the safety and security of Parliament and the people of Delhi, the larger question looms regarding the motivations and objectives behind such threats. Pannu’s affiliation with Sikhs for Justice, an organization that has been banned in India, raises questions about the broader implications of the threat and its potential impact on the socio-political landscape.

The heightened security measures in response to Gurpatwant Singh Pannu’s video threat reflect the seriousness with which law enforcement is treating the situation. The anniversary of the 2001 Parliament attack adds historical significance to the threat, emphasizing the need for a robust and comprehensive security response. As the authorities remain vigilant, the coming days will be crucial in determining the credibility of the threat and ensuring the safety of Parliament and the citizens of Delhi.

US Launches Visa Renewal Program for Indian Tech Workers

The United States is launching a domestic visa renewal program for certain H-1B visas in December, mainly benefiting Indian technology professionals.

The initiative aims to alleviate long wait times for visa appointments, particularly in India, initially issuing 20,000 visas to foreign nationals already in the US, with a focus on Indians due to their significant skilled workforce presence.

This move, announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit and formally endorsed later, has received positive feedback from the Indian community in the US. Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria praised the program’s implementation, highlighting its positive impact on over a million H-1B visa holders and advocating for further policy changes to support legal immigrants.

Highlights: US to begin H-1B visa renewals starting from December

US to launch a pilot program for H1-B visa renewals which is an advantage for Indian tech professionals.

The focus is on reducing waiting times, easing the process of renewals, and eradicating the need for individuals going back to their home country for appointments.

The program aims on covering 20,000 work visa renewals starting from 1st of December and looks forward on extending the program plan in 2024.

Pilot program details and objectives

US Launches Visa Renewal Program for Indian Tech Workers 2The program which started 0n December 1st, aims to have around 20,000 work visa renewals, constituting approximately 10% of the anticipated 583,420 H-1B visa holders. The program was initially proposed in February gained formal announcement and recognition during PM Modi’s visit to the US in September.

Presently, visa applicants must wait for an average period of 130 days, which is equivalent to 6–8 weeks for appointments in their home country. Moreover, individuals are restricted from traveling abroad until their visa has been renewed every three years.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, Julie Stufft, acknowledged the high demand in India for US visas and that the existing waiting times are unnecessary. She highlighted the program’s focus on simplifying the renewal process by aiming on easing it for Indians by enabling them to schedule appointments promptly.

Positive impact and future prospects

The program will be benefitting India, and will reduce the need for individuals to travel back to their home country for visa appointments. The streamlined renewal process also intends to free up valuable time for US missions in India in order to concentrate on new candidates.

A formal notice in the federal register which details the procedures, requirements, and guidelines for the first round of applicants is expected to be released shortly. The program covering 20,000 cases from December to February, paves the way for the State Department’s plan to extend the program for more employment categories in 2024.

Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a prominent figure in the Indian-American community, expressed happiness with the outcome, highlighting the positive impact on over a million H-1B holders, many of whom are Indian.

Immigration laws are seen becoming more inclusive, which is viewed as a positive development with commitment to easing restrictions on lawful immigrants. The evolving landscape aims to create a more accessible and accommodating environment for skilled professionals seeking opportunities in the United States.

Homelessness In The Most Advanced Nation: USA

Meticulously, it is no small matter that the term “homeless” or “homelessness” is dimming the brightness of the major cities of America, but exudes an aura of nasty politics or indirect support to the-drug-mafia!

When American President Trump passed through some of the beautiful roads of India, Trump did not ask why green tarpaulin was beautifully stretched for kilometers on one side.

Homelessness In The Most Advanced Nation USA 2But when the dark streets of most American cities, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the state of California, are turning into the ‘mecca of homeless’,  it is just hypocritical to laugh at the broad-mindedness of this great country and not hide it by applying “Modi tech ” here.

America is the so-called paradise on earth for developing countries, but its streets are rapidly being invaded by the homeless. In many places, morning scenes of their excrement, piles of stale food, and hardboard carton waste are becoming so common and obscure

.Unsheltered homeless means sleeping somewhere at night, not primarily designed for human habitation, such as a car, park, abandoned building, or train station. Over the past seven years, 40 percent of the nation’s homeless are now unsheltered homeless.

What are the causes of homelessness? The causes vary widely,  but are often linked to homelessness and poverty. Poor people generally do not have enough money to cover basic needs like housing, food, child care, health care, and education; with the nominal social security benefits they get every month.

Individuals may have terminal illnesses, an accident, or a lack of permanent employment. But the reasons we hear from those living on the streets are many.

Irresponsible gambling, misappropriation of money through money laundering, drug addiction, etc.

Factors that drive young and old to the streets more strongly than other causes are not particularly evident. Unsheltered homeless means sleeping somewhere at night not primarily designed for human habitation, such as a car, park, abandoned building, or train station. Over the past seven years, 40 percent of the nation’s homeless are now unsheltered homeless.

Lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, low wages, mental illness, substance abuse, and lack of needed services are creating more homeless people.

I recently happened to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco, the major cities in the state of California, and the miserable situation of the homeless in these cities prompted me to write a few lines on the subject. All facts and figures are supported by the internet and only my opinions are non-political. By evening, many of San Francisco’s streets were filled with homeless wretches. Homeless people crowded the alley leading to Eddy Street, where there were several hotels. It is not a group of old beggars, but a permanent group of people of all ages who have become homeless due to bad decisions, unemployment, and victims of drug abuse.

In the middle of the night, singing and shouting were heard, like a moment of pure jubilation and celebration. From the window of the fifth floor of the hotel where we were staying, I was astonished to see a young woman dancing naked but wearing only a hat: she could also be seen collecting dollar bills and shoving them into the hat. She also seems to be the one who distributes the drugs. In between, her show seems to have been a bonus for her intoxicated audience.

As light rain began to fall, many people began to move elsewhere. Seeing the old and unable to walk, huddled in the same shelter with the old hardboard sheets they had to sit and lie on, was saddened by the plight of the homeless. But when it came to know that most of them were “drug addicts”, the irresponsibility of the drug policy of this great country began to be realized. Freedom without restraint will never produce good results.

Los Angeles has a very high rate of homelessness. But most of the tents were finished and seemed a little more cramped. According to the city’s own statistics, about 30% of the homeless have already moved there after losing their housing. Another 17% were said to have lived in the city for less than a year before becoming homeless.

As Mayor London Breed admits, one of the reasons people come is because drugs are readily available here. The San Francisco Standard attempted a one-week cleanup two months ago, taking over the homeless encampment at Van Ness Avenue and Eddy Street. A completely different look was seen that day, the planting boxes of plants and trees were lined up at many places on the pavement.

APEC 2023 is the year-long hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in the United States in 2023 in San Francisco. Although some things were put together for that purpose,

The situation is worse than before.

Minna Street, lined with tents between Seventh and Julia Streets, about a mile from APEC, disappeared two months ago. But neither the political parties nor the rulers are interested in finding a permanent solution.

All of this leads us to several questions: We found many of San Francisco’s homeless population on Willow Street. The busy transit corridor has become the latest scene of controversy over the city’s drug, mental health, and homelessness crises, as residents and visitors alike decry increasingly unsanitary street conditions. They say the situation has had a devastating effect on surrounding businesses. It is becoming difficult to park our car there or eat in a restaurant in peace.


In recent years, court rulings have made it more difficult for cities, especially on the West Coast, to remove homeless encampments. In 2018, the US Ninth Circuit Court found that homeless people cannot be punished for sleeping outside in public places unless adequate alternatives are available.

There is another side to this. In September 2022, the Coalition on Homelessness sued San Francisco for violating its own laws to remove homeless shelters. A federal judge has barred the removal of homeless shelters in San Francisco unless people can find alternative shelter.

Los Angeles will have the largest homeless population in the country in 2022. According to 2022 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data, approximately 582,000 Americans were homeless on the streets. The city of San Francisco was officially named “Little Saigon” for a portion of the western stretch of Tenderloin, Larkin, and Hyde Streets between Turk and O’Farrell. The area has one of the highest levels of homelessness and crime in the city.

Experts say the biggest reason California’s per capita homelessness rate is five times that of Texas is because housing in California is so expensive;

The average one-bedroom unit in California rents for $2,300 per month, compared to $1,200 in Texas. Although both cities suffer from crime, Los Angeles is actually safer. LA’s crime rate was 2870 per 100,000 residents, 22% higher than the national average. The violent crime rate is 722 per 100,000 residents, 86% higher than the national average. Many advocates claim that providing a welcoming environment for camping and drugs does not attract the homeless and that only more subsidized housing can solve homelessness. San Francisco shows the folly of those arguments.

As Mayor London Breed admits, one of the reasons people come is the easy availability of drugs. Claims that adequate subsidized housing will solve the homelessness problem are belied by San Francisco’s efforts. In the last 15 years, the city has created more than 7,000 permanent housing units, reports said.

It is shameful to say that 7000 units have been built in a place with 70000 homeless people.

Homelessness and how to deal with it has become one of the most pressing political issues in recent elections in liberal cities like Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Austin. Republicans have portrayed Democrats as incompetent and fearless when it comes to addressing the crisis. The public across the political spectrum wants elected officials to take action.

The local administration has to devise a mission to rehabilitate all the unimaginative-size of homeless people on a wartime basis. This requires the first establishment of bonded facilities, such as correctional centres. There should be strict controls to prevent intoxicants and drug dealers from entering these centers.

Because homeless people who have lived on the streets are accustomed to living with abusing their freedom, these centers may have difficulty keeping them. A good percentage of them are able to work. If nothing else, large farms created with these centers would be able to produce the fruits and grains needed by this country at a low cost.

Or small industrial units manufacturing other goods can be established within these centers.Rehabilitation would be more feasible if the funds for the running of these centers were raised and wages commensurate with the work.

Nothing will be solved if political parties continue to blame each other. True, the current administration may not be giving much importance to it. While the number of poor people in this country is increasing and the homeless people on the streets are dimming the brightness of this country, it is our rulers who turn a blind eye to it and dim the country’s prosperity and the tourists inflow to these cities.

Instead of guaranteeing the basic amenities of those at home, the “hidden agenda” of keeping the walls and gates open for anyone to come into this country and provide luxury living facilities and citizenship to those who come in the name of unaccountable refugees, while common people know, is nothing short of a double standard, USA is prosperous, only if no citizen is found wandering the streets of America as typical homeless. Otherwise the world will proclaim that we run on a shameful double standard policy.

BJP Wins In 3 Hindi Heartland States in India, Congress Wins In Telangana

India’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won big in the Hindi heartland, wresting Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh from the Congress while comprehensively beating anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress party failed to retain its bastions in the three states. However, the grand old party achieved significant success in southern India, wresting Telangana from K Chandrashekar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi. The Northeastern state of Mizoram has elected a regional party, the Mizo National Front, where the ruling BJP came a distant third. The elections results were announced on Sunday, December 3, 2023.

Of 90 assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh, the BJP bagged 54 while the Congress won 35. In Rajasthan, the BJP got 115 of 199 seats.

The right-wing party was also likely to be re-elected in Madhya Pradesh for a record fifth term by winning 163 of 230 seats.

The Congress comfortably won Telangana state, which was ruled by the Bharat Rashtra Samithi party, formerly known as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. Of 119 seats in the southern state, the Congress won 64, while the BRS got 39. The BJP won eight seats in the state.

Elections in the five states were held last month and more than 160 million people, or a sixth of India’s electorate, were eligible to vote. Polling in India is generally done in phases owing to the large population. “We always said we will win the heartland states,” BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda told the media. “The results are the outcome of our finest political strategy and work on the ground.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the party should not get “disheartened by this defeat” and should start preparing for the general elections with INDIA parties with “double enthusiasm”.

Modi and leaders of Congress, led by Gandhi, criss-crossed the states, addressing campaign rallies and promising cash payouts, farm loan waivers, subsidies and insurance cover, among other incentives, to woo voters.

The election results indicate the voter mood ahead of the national elections in May in which Modi is eyeing a third consecutive term. At the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday evening, party members and supporters lined up on the two sides and Modi walked between them, waving. The activists showered him with flower petals, chanting “Long live Mother India” and other slogans.

BJP Wins In 3 Hindi Heartland States in India, Congress Wins In Telangana (NDTV)
Picture: NDTV

BJP’s performance was better than widely expected as opinion and exit polls had suggested a close contest between Modi’s party and Congress. Modi remains widely popular after a decade in power and surveys suggest he will win again next year. However, a 28-party opposition alliance led by the Congress has come together to jointly fight the BJP, posing a renewed challenge.

Modi told jubilant BJP members at the party headquarters the results suggested a third term next year was guaranteed.

“The results in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan indicate that the people of India are firmly with politics of good governance and development, which the @BJP4India stands for,” Modi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

BJP had suffered a setback itself when it lost the big southern state of Karnataka to Congress this year, as Rahul Gandhi, Congress Party leader worked hard to revive the party since its drubbing in the 2019 election and went on a 135-day march across the country covering more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles).

Rahul Gandhi has been instrumental in building the united opposition alliance, called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance or INDIA, after the Karnataka victory and his temporary disqualification from parliament after being convicted in a defamation case. Gandhi posted on X “the battle of ideology will continue.”

Politicians and analysts say state elections do not always influence the outcome of the general elections or accurately indicate national voter mood. Results of the last round of state elections before national elections have been misleading in the past.

The 2024 general election to India’s Parlaiument comes at a time when India is facing multiple challenges, including rising unemployment, attacks by Hindu nationalists against the country’s minorities, and a shrinking space for dissent and free media.

Modi Announces Green Credit Initiative At COP28

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on December 1, 2023 that India has shown the world the perfect balance of ecology and economy. He made the remarks while delivering an address at the high-level segment of COP28 in Dubai.

“Despite India having 17 percent of the world’s population, our share in global carbon emissions is only less than 4 percent. India is one of the few economies in the world that is on track to meet the NDC targets,” the PM said adding that his country is continuously making progress to achieve the goal of reaching net zero by 2070.

He highlighted that targets related to emissions intensity were achieved 11 years ago while non-fossil fuel targets were achieved nine years ahead of schedule. Additionally, the PM underscored that efforts are being made to reduce emission intensity to 45 percent by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuel to 50 percent.

“India has consistently given importance to the issue of climate in its G-20 Presidency with the spirit of One Earth, One Family, One Future,” Modi said enumerating the various green initiatives launched by India, including the Global Biofuels Alliance and Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment.

Modi Announces Green Credit Initiative At COP28 (FE)
Picture: FE

Urging participation from the COP states, Modi announced the launch of the Green Credits initiative, a campaign that aims to facilitate mass participation as an effective response to the challenge of climate change. The program’s long-term goal is to restore degraded and abandoned land and river catchment areas through the issuance of green credits to plant trees there.

At a joint session, the United Arab Emirates and India officially launched the Green Credits initiative and unveiled a website that would compile policies and best practices that encourage eco-friendly behaviors.

The Prime Minister concluded his address by expressing India’s commitment to the UN Framework for Climate Change Process and proposed to host the COP-33 summit in India in 2028. In the hopes of a successful COP28, he advocated for an inclusive and equitable energy transition, as well as the continuous development of innovative technologies and their transfer to other countries, to propel collective progress toward a secure future.

Asserting that the world does not have much time to correct the mistakes of the last century, PM Narendra Modi on Friday announced a ‘Green Credit Initiative’ focused on creating carbon sinks through people’s participation and also proposed to host the UN climate conference in 2028, or COP33, in India.

Carbon sinks are essentially anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.

What is it?

Addressing the high-level segment for heads of states and governments during the UN climate conference (COP28) in Dubai, Modi called for a pro-planet, proactive and positive initiative.

He further said the Green Credits Initiative goes beyond the commercial mindset associated with carbon credits, which are essentially permits that allow entities to emit certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

The Green Credit Initiative is similar to the Green Credit Programme, notified domestically in October. It is an innovative, market-based mechanism designed to reward voluntary environmental actions in different sectors by individuals, communities and the private sector.

‘India has walked the talk’

Asserting that India has presented a great example to the world of striking balance between development and environment conservation, PM Modi said India is among the only few countries in the world on track to achieve the national action plans to restrict global warming to 1.5C, the guardrail to avoid worsening of the impact of the changing climate.

Modi called for maintaining a balance between mitigation and adaptation and said that energy transition across the world must be “just and inclusive.” He also urged rich countries to transfer technologies to help developing nations combat climate change.

Meetings that matter

On the sidelines of the COP28 summit, Modi met with the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and said that India deeply values its strong ties with the Gulf nation.

Modi also met Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Ali, UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

While Israel has a war going on with Hamas, the other countries (Bahrain, Ethiopia and UAE) have deep economic ties with India.

Global Electoral Landscape 2024: From Biden-Trump Rematch to Putin’s Prolonged Reign and Modi’s Bid for a Third Term, Key Elections Define a Pivotal Year

In anticipation of the 2024 elections, the global political landscape is poised for significant shifts. As we approach November 5, millions of Americans will cast their votes, potentially deciding whether incumbent Joe Biden will secure another term at the age of 86. Despite concerns about Biden’s age, a majority of voters view him as the favored candidate, setting the stage for a potential rematch with former President Donald Trump. However, echoes of disinformation from the previous contentious election, marked by the storming of the US Capitol, are likely to linger.

“Disinformation looks set to be a feature of the campaign,” reflecting the challenges of the past, where misinformation played a role in the polarized political climate. Trump, despite facing multiple criminal trials, stands as the standout favorite for the Republican party nomination.

Across the globe, another enduring political figure, Vladimir Putin, has been at Russia’s helm for 23 years, making him one of the longest-serving leaders. The constitutional amendment in 2020 allows him to extend his rule until 2036, potentially surpassing even Joseph Stalin’s reign. With the war in Ukraine quelling dissent and imprisoning opponents, Putin’s path to another six years seems unhindered, particularly with key challengers like Alexei Navalny and Igor Girkin detained.

Moving to India, where nearly a billion voters are gearing up for the April-May elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist BJP party aim for a third term. Modi’s political strategy, criticized for stoking tensions with the Muslim minority, has garnered substantial support from the majority Hindu population. Despite concerns about civil liberties, Modi is the clear favorite, credited with elevating India’s global standing, notably achieving milestones in space exploration.

In June, the European Union will witness its largest transnational election, involving over 400 million eligible voters across 27 countries. This election will be a pivotal moment for right-wing populists, testing the momentum gained from recent successes in Dutch and Italian elections. The outcome will influence decisions on issues ranging from mobile phone roaming charges to online data privacy, reflecting the broad impact of the EU Parliament’s decisions.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, the June elections hold the promise of historic change. Two women, former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and businesswoman Xochitl Galvez, are vying to become the first female president in a country with a history of machismo. Sheinbaum, representing the Morena party, leads early polls, while Galvez, part of an opposition coalition, brings a diverse perspective to the race. Samuel Garcia, a young governor, adds another dimension to the electoral landscape.

As the world watches these elections unfold, the political dynamics are undoubtedly complex, with implications reaching far beyond national borders. The challenges of disinformation, power consolidation, and the push for historic milestones underscore the significance of these electoral events on the global stage.

US Thwarted India’s Plan To Assassinate Sikh Separatist Leader

US authorities have thwarted a conspiracy to assassinate a Sikh separatist on American soil and issued a warning to India over concerns that it was involved in the plot, according to multiple people familiar with the case, a media report said.

The target of the plot was Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an American and Canadian citizen who is the general counsel for Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US-based group that is part of a movement pushing for an independent Sikh state called “Khalistan”, Financial Times reported.

People familiar with the case, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence that prompted the warning, did not say whether the protest to New Delhi led the plotters to abandon their plan, or whether the FBI intervened and foiled a scheme already in motion, Financial Times reported.

The US informed some allies about the plot following the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh separatist killed in Vancouver in June. In September, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said there were “credible allegations” linking New Delhi to Nijjar’s fatal shooting.

One person familiar with the situation said the US protest was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a high-profile state visit to Washington in June. Separate from the diplomatic warning, US federal prosecutors have filed a sealed indictment against at least one alleged perpetrator of the plot in a New York district court, according to people familiar with the case, Financial Times reported.

The US justice department is debating whether to unseal the indictment and make the allegations public or wait until Canada finishes its investigation into Nijjar’s murder.

Further complicating the case, one person charged in the indictment is believed to have left the US, according to people familiar with the proceedings.

The US justice department and FBI declined to comment on the matter. The National Security Council said the US does “not comment on ongoing law enforcement matters or private diplomatic discussions with our partners” but added: “Upholding the safety and security of US citizens is paramount,” Financial Times reported.

Washington shared details of the Pannun case with a wider group of allies after Trudeau went public with details of the Vancouver killing, the combination of which sparked concern among allies about a possible pattern of behaviour. (IANS)

Indian Community Bids Farewell to Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal

The Indian American community in the New York region organized a farewell dinner in honor of India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, who returns to India soon to take over another important assignment as spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs. Held at the Moghul restaurant’s banquet hall in Edison, NJ on November 20, 202 hundreds of Indian Americans and leaders representing several community organizations attended the event, sharing of their fond memories of their close association with the Consul General of India.

Indian Community Bids Farewell to Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal 2Nearly 400 people attended the Federation of Indian Association’s farewell for one of the most memorable diplomats in recent history from India, one who had weathered the storm of COVID, brought the diaspora of Indian Americans closer to the Consulate, and who oversaw the delivery of consular services to the doors of many communities in the 10 states of the United States which were under his jurisdiction – for a period of 3 years.

In addition to Consul General Jaiswal and his wife Abha, the leadership and executive committee of FIA-NYNJCT, there were several high-profile guests who came to bid a fond farewell, among them Dr. Sudhir Parikh, advisor to FIA and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph, Mayor of Edison Sam Joshi, Mayor of West Windsor Hemant Marathe, and H.R. Shah of TV Asia, to name a few. Edison, NJ, which boasts possibly the highest number of people of Indian origin, presented a proclamation in the name of CG Jaiswal, to him, at the event.

In all the speeches delivered at the event, the departing Consul General was recognized for his easy accessibility toIndian Community Bids Farewell to Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal those in his jurisdiction. Whether it was opening the Consulate to numerous community events, or going to many other events where he was honored and where he was making the presence of India felt in the diaspora.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh said CG Jaiswal was the “exceptional” person for exceptional times, when Covid hit, and India celebrated its 75th independence year. As soon as he landed, “he right away recognized the plight of the Indian students. … he did such an excellent handling of the situation,” Dr. Parikh recalled. He also helped many Indian organizations channel their assistance to India including the FIA, to help victims there; He took the Consulate to the community, holding consular camps all over the 10-state jurisdiction. “Jaiswalji has broken the record with events every other day. I have seen the last 23 Consuls General work here, and I can tell,” Dr. Parikh said.

Describing him as a “people person” – “calm, cool, always smiling,” Dr. Parikh said, whose quality of making one feel he or she is the center of his attention – “I really appreciate that quality.”

Edison Mayor Sam Joshi speaking at the farewell function for Indian Consl General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, hosted by FIA Nov. 20, at Edison, NJ. PHOTO ITV Gold

Edison’s Mayor Joshi said he had come to see CG Jaiswal not only as a diplomat but as a friend. He recounted an instance of when a building burnt down in Edison and most of those affected were Indian origin. He called CG Jaiswal about their passports etc., and they got the help needed.

“On behalf of all of Edison, thank you so much,” the Mayor said, and he read out from a special proclamation issued for the time and effort the Indian diplomat had given to help Edison citizens, and for his “superior leadership.”

Consul General Jaiswal in his speech, praised the Indian community for helping and supporting him and his team to carry out their duties. “In this 3 years, we have received excellent support in meeting our responsibilities,” he said, describing it as a “very healthy relationship” between the Consulate and the people it served. He added that he is most impressed by the achievements of the Indian American community and the second generation.

After Covid hit, “Since May of 2020, the Indian Consulate has been open every day of the week,” CG Jaiswal told the audience, something not seen in any other consulate around the world. He recounted some highlights during his tenure – such a the raising of the Indian flag at Times Square; people coming at 2 am at night to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telecast speech; and the 8,000 who came to the White House to welcome PM Modi during his state visit to Washington, which he said, speaks volumes for the community’s achievements and recognition.

Deputy Consul General Jeph spoke of how the Consular team worked diligently under CG Jaiswal’s leadership, and how community engagement was the departing diplomat’s primary objective.

Ankur Vaidya, chairman of FIA, spoke emotionally about how CG Jaiswal had served his Motherland in taking up the diplomatic path of the Indian Foreign Service. “You have championed the diaspora,” Vaidya noted, adding, that the farewell was more to recognize and salute the journey to serve their nation. He also recognized Abha Jaiswal for her steadfast support without which the hard task would not have been possible.
Vaidya recalled the millions and millions of dollars in aid sent by organizations from the US and how the CG facilitated all that. “Kudos for putting that effort … to you and your team.”

From a time when going to the Consulate was intimidating, Vaidya said, today, people want to visit the building and see for themselves. “May your career shine…” to bring India and US closer together, he added.

Ambassador Randhir Kumar Jaiswal , on July 19, assumed charge as Consul General of India in New York . He succeeded Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty  who remained Consul General from April 2017 to June 2020. Ambassador Jaiswal ‘s last posting was as  Joint Secretary cum Social Secretary to the President of India Ramnath Kovind . A 1998 Indian Foreign Service officer, Jaiswal headed the foreign affairs office of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and advised  the President on India’s foreign policy. He had earlier served as Consul General of India in Johannesburg ,South Africa.

Jaiswal is no stranger to New York. He had earlier worked as a Counselor at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York. Jaiswal, an officer of the 1998 batch of the Indian Foreign Service, will succeed the current spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, who has been appointed India’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.

During his diplomatic career of more than two decades, Jaiswal has served in Portugal, Cuba, South Africa and at India’s permanent mission to the UN in New York. Jaiswal has also served in the external affairs ministry as the deputy secretary, looking after relations with the US and as joint secretary managing ties with countries in western Europe. In mid-2017, he was deputed to serve the President as the joint secretary responsible for international relations. He was appointed in his current position of consul general in New York in July 2020.

Jaiswal has also been part of the Indian delegation at climate change conferences. He has a masters degree in history from Delhi University.

What is the cause of the increase in Indian migrants without proper documentation entering the United States by foot?

In recent data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an unprecedented surge in the number of undocumented Indian immigrants crossing U.S. borders on foot has been reported. The migration trend, which has been on the rise for several years, has witnessed a dramatic spike, with 96,917 Indians encountered – whether apprehended, expelled, or denied entry – from October 2022 to September 2023, marking a fivefold increase compared to the period from 2019 to 2020, when the figure stood at 19,883.

Experts in immigration attribute this surge to various factors, including the overall increase in global migration post-pandemic, the oppression of minority communities in India, the utilization of more sophisticated smuggling methods, and extreme visa backlogs. The number of undocumented Indians in the U.S. has steadily risen since the borders reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, with 30,662 encounters in the 2021 fiscal year and 63,927 in the 2022 fiscal year.

Out of the nearly 97,000 encounters in the current year, 30,010 occurred at the Canadian border, and 41,770 took place at the Southern border. Muzaffar Chishti, the director of the Migration Policy Institute’s New York office, noted that the Southern border has become a preferred staging ground for migrants worldwide, as it allows for a quicker entry into the U.S. compared to waiting for a visitor visa in Delhi.Gaurav Khanna, an economics professor at the University of California, San Diego, highlighted the relatively unguarded stretches at the Canadian border, making it an attractive entry point. The migration route from India to the U.S. typically involves multiple legs, with migrants passing through various facilitators and regions like the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and South America before reaching the U.S.

Despite the challenges faced by migrants on these long and treacherous journeys, the overwhelmed immigration systems often leave them in limbo. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) emphasized that families entering the U.S. illegally would face removal, but experts argue that deporting individuals to faraway places is not as straightforward, as countries like Mexico may not readily accept them.

Pawan Dhingra, a professor of American studies at Amherst College, noted that the number of undocumented Indians crossing U.S. borders has been growing for years, reaching an unprecedented level in the current fiscal year. Concerns arise that the spike may be linked to worsening conditions for minorities, such as Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians, in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has faced criticism for human rights violations.

Dhingra pointed to the agricultural sector deregulation in India in 2020 as a potential trigger, leading to massive protests and unrest, especially in the state of Punjab. While the bills were repealed in December 2021, the destabilization and protests may still constitute grounds for asylum claims.

The promised new life in the U.S. appears ideal to migrants compared to perceived challenges in India, with success stories of Indian Americans and previous migrants serving as attractive factors. Decades-long visa backlogs and the aftermath of COVID-19 have created desperate migrants in India, who, with the help of social media-savvy groups posing as travel agencies, often pay their life savings for the perilous journey.

Gaurav Khanna and Muzaffar Chishti emphasized that misinformation, circulated on platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, further complicates the situation. The treacherous nature of the journey is not always fully understood by migrants, contributing to the dangers they face. Last year, a tragic incident involved a lower-income family of four found dead near the U.S.-Canada border, underscoring the risks associated with these journeys.

Chishti concluded that the journey is extremely difficult, requiring individuals to either mortgage their life savings or take on significant risks, emphasizing the desperation for economic or political change among those willing to undergo such challenges.

Upon reaching the U.S. border, individuals who have embarked on journeys spanning multiple continents often encounter a disorganized immigration system that lacks the capacity to provide clear answers, according to Chishti. The Southern border processes have historically been designed with the assumption that single Mexican men are entering the country for work. However, the evolving dynamics, including the presence of more families and non-Mexican or Central American migrants, have outpaced the system’s ability to adapt to the new volume and challenges.

The current immigration system struggles to cope with the increased diversity of arrivals, primarily driven by asylum claims. Chishti highlighted the insufficient number of beds and Border Patrol officers to screen individuals, leading to a practice of allowing people in various categories. A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement emphasized that each case is individually assessed, considering the circumstances in accordance with U.S. law and Department of Homeland Security policy.

However, Chishti pointed out that returning asylum-seekers is diplomatically complex and necessitates agreements between countries. The absence of such agreements between the U.S. and India often results in Indian migrants being issued notices to appear before judges, contributing to the existing backlog in immigration courts. Without legal representation, migrants may face significant delays in their hearing dates, exacerbating the strain on the immigration system.

Chishti described the system as buckling under its own weight, and he noted that smugglers exploit this information, using it as part of their marketing strategy.

While other destinations like Europe or the U.K. may be logistically easier for migrants, the U.S. holds a distinct allure for Indian nationals, according to experts. Dhingra emphasized that the perception of the U.S. as a highly developed country with abundant opportunities makes it an attractive destination. Despite the logistical challenges and the strained immigration system, the U.S. remains a promised land for many in the South Asian diaspora.

As the number of undocumented Indian immigrants continues to rise, questions arise about how the Indian American community will respond to this growing group of lower-income immigrants. Dhingra pondered whether the community would advocate for acceptance and support for these migrants or adopt a stance focused on “law and order” with little sympathy for those crossing without full documents. The outcome, he noted, is challenging to predict.

Republicans Form Congressional Hindu Caucus

House Republican Conference Chair, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik officially launched the Congressional Hindu Caucus (CHC), in the presence of fellow Republican lawmakers and 600 Hindu American Leaders from around the country, on November 15, 2023, at The Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.

The event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) and its Chairman and CHC’s Policy Advisor, Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, also celebrated Diwali along with CHC’s Co-Chairs Elise Stefanik and Pete Sessions, along with lawmakers and community members.

“And for each of you here from the Republican Hindu Caucus, your core values of free enterprise, fiscal discipline, family values, and a firm foreign policy not only guide the Hindu American community, but our central tenets shared and fought by House Republicans and Republicans across America,” noted Stefanik while adding “That is why, today, I am so excited to announce the official launch of the Congressional Hindu Caucus in the United States Congress with my good friend and Co-Chair Pete Sessions.”

Stefanik said, “As we conclude Diwali festivities, we have the joyous reminder of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. This guidance must remain at the core of our mission each and every day as we tackle the very great challenges in front of us,” and reminded everyone of the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas.

Commending the role of Hindu Americans for their support to Israeli and Jewish friends, she said both India and the United States form a “unified force to counter terrorism.” “Countering communist China’s malign influence, collaborating on technological development and security cooperation, and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific must remain top priorities,” added Stefanik while talking about US-India jointly tackling China. “To do so, we will continue to pursue policies that encourage and enhance trade between the United States and India, decrease India’s reliance on Russian and Chinese made defense equipment and increase collaboration and joint quad and bilateral military exercises.”

Republicans Form Congressional Hindu Caucus

She urged that the “United States and India can continue to pursue a strong foreign policy [stance] to combat aggression, discourage authoritarian regimes and contain territorial expansions,” adding House Republicans and CHC should join forces with millions of Hindu Americans nationwide and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It is also vital to fortify connections and further amplify the considerable achievements established by Shalli, RHC, President Trump, and Prime Minister Modi, she added.

Stefanik also recalled that President Trump was the first Presidential candidate to acknowledge the noteworthy achievements of Hindu Americans during a 2016 rally in New Jersey. She noted that during the rally Trump said in Hindi “Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar” which went viral with 1.2 billion views around the world. She went on to say “Ab Ki Baar Republican Sarkar,” on behalf of the House Republicans.

Commending second-generation Hindu Americans for their “significant impact on American society, business, culture, and American history,” she continued “From all over the world your unique experiences have shaped and influenced our country, continuing the time-honored tradition of American exceptionalism and the American dream.”

CHC’s Co-chair, Congressman Pete Sessions, said, “The things that the Republican Party teaches today are the same things that Ronald Reagan taught also… that we will stand with our allies. And America will stand with its allies like we’re doing not just with India, but also with Israel.

Praising the work of Hindu Americans, Sessions said “Shalli Kumar, Elise Stefanik, and I will be taking our message around the United States. And we intend to take not only our candidates, but we intend to take our members, some 150, who represent people [from] all over this country and include Hindu Americans in that political relationship to reshape our world and our country,” while asking the help of Hindu Americans to share and spread the message.

Kumar emphasized, “This will be one of the largest caucuses in the US Congress that would be actively engaged in enacting legislation and passing resolutions important to the Hindu American community,” while highlighting the “impressive educational and professional achievements of the Hindu American community,” said a press statement from RHC.

Notably, Congressman Shri Thanedar also launched a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain American Congressional Caucus on September 29, 2023. “We should really fight against hatred in the world. We should fight against bigotry, and we need to unite and lift people. We need to foster understanding, promote inclusion, and take affirmative policy actions” Thanedar said after launching the Caucus.

A congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress that meet to pursue common legislative objectives. Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, an Indian-American is the founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition. Shalabh Kumar said more than 150 members of the US House of Representatives have committed to becoming members of the Congressional Hindu Caucus.

This would make it one of the largest caucuses in the US Congress that would be actively engaged in enacting legislation and passing resolutions important to the Hindu American community, Kumar added.

Hindus In The US Celebrate Ancient Sun Festival

(RNS) — An ancient ritual as old as Hinduism itself has traveled through time and space all the way to the waters of California’s Bay Area.

Starting at sundown on Friday (Nov. 17), hundreds of Hindus will wade into the waters of Quarry Lakes, a manmade lake in Fremont, California, to express reverence to nature, which they believe to be God manifest.

The festival of Chhath, which originated in the Indian state of Bihar, is devoted to Surya, the god of the sun. Worshippers thank Surya for providing light, warmth and life by fasting for three days and offering solitary prayers and fruits.

The ritual celebrating the rising and setting sun predates the Hindu gods that are more commonly known today, and stems from the earliest tradition of Hinduism, known as Vedic Hinduism.

But Chhath’s rituals, stemming from the earliest roots of Hinduism, known as Vedic Hinduism, which was prevalent in India more than 3,000 years ago, predate the Hindu gods we know today by some 1,400 years.

With a focus on meditation and gratitude, the Vedic tradition, named for the Vedas, its sacred texts, is still present in yoga’s Sun Salutation, or suryanamaskar.

“What I really value in Chhath is a connection to my roots and to an ancient tradition,” said Pushpita Prasad, a Bihari Californian who has participated in the festival in recent years. “It makes me feel very powerful to be a part of something that my ancestors might have been doing thousands of years ago.”

While it began with a single family’s observance in 2011, the Quarry Lakes Chhath has turned into an event that will draw 1,700 people this year — a number limited by the Quarry Lakes park authority’s cap on attendance. With more than 4,000 Hindus expressing interest, the event is sold out in minutes after word spreads that registration is open.

“People become very nostalgic about this,” said Sunil Singh, who founded the Quarry Lakes celebration with his wife, Shalini. “It is the holiest and most auspicious festival in Bihar. “My goal is to encourage the next generation, so they get engaged and they know what Chhath is.”

In India, families celebrating Chhath will travel to the holy waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered by many Hindus to be blessed with spiritual properties from their namesake goddesses. They will break their three-day fast with a particular type of wheat that they have grown in a way that ensures it is untouched by birds. They also use a special set of utensils to break the fast.

While details like these are not always the same here in the States, to the Singhs, having the community eagerly show up to perform an ancient practice aimed at being one with nature is enough.

“The puja is not only doing the formalities,” said Shalini, using the Sanskrit word for an act of worship. “The real prayer is how you connect with God. It’s better to do whatever little modifications you can do to keep the culture, and keep your heart clean and pure.”

Hindus In The US Celebrate Ancient Sun Festival

When the couple started the Quarry Lakes Chhath, their daughter was just 4 years old. This year she wrote about her family’s mark on the Bay Area in her college applications.

“Because it’s so big now, it’s not possible for just two people to handle it,” said Shalini. “We are very thankful for our community and our friends for engaging with us from end to end.”

When she came to the U.S. from Bihar, Shalini said, she never expected to celebrate Chhath in a bigger way than she did at home. “My prayers were heard,” she said.

For Manisha Pathak, founder of the Overseas Organization for Better Bihar, the festival creates an awareness about Bihari culture beyond its attendees. “Chhath is so relatable because it’s all about nature, and nature is for everyone,” said Pathak. “It is not just for Biharis.”

A Silicon Valley software engineer, Pathak began performing the ritual herself about 10 years ago. As the puja requires only meditation on the self, it doesn’t require a priest, a rarity in Hinduism.

As with many of the spiritual philosophies of Hinduism, Chhath is said to offer health benefits: The vitamin D from the sun radiates energy within the observer and can be passed along to anyone who is touched by the vrati, or person performing the puja.

“At the end of the puja and the sun rises, when I am gazing at the sun with water in my hands, that is a burst of energy that I absorb,” said Pathak. “It feels like I can move mountains.”

The tradition requires one member of a family to maintain a strict fast from sundown on Friday to sunrise on Sunday. At the end, everyone is fed Thekhua, a famous Bihari treat made of wheat, jaggery (made from cane sugar) and clarified butter, or ghee.

“Chhath puja is an experience of union with God,” said Pathak. “What is God according to Hindu belief? It is nature, the energy, the vibration. You experience that unity when you are standing in water just with your eyes closed. There is stillness there, and it is so amazing.”

Prasad, an advocate for Hindu Americans and board member of the Coalition of Hindus of North America, said the power of this ancient tradition lies in its ability to be celebrated just as fervently in modern times. As a lesser-known festival, she added, Chhath is emblematic of the sheer diversity of beliefs that are honored from every Indian state.

“This is a beautiful ecosystem that has nourished and cherished diversity for thousands of years. It has allowed massively different beliefs to coexist,” she said.

Pathak, who is a Hindustani classical vocalist, posts covers of traditional Chhath folk songs in the Bhojpuri dialect on YouTube for audiences of hundreds of thousands. Many of the songs are dedicated to Chatthi Maya, the goddess associated with Chhath, said to be the protector of children. “As a kid, I used to go to a river and see my whole family doing the puja together,” said Pathak. “And the same feeling comes up here. When I see other people doing it at the same time, those same memories come alive.”

Australia Stun India, Lifts Cricket World Cup 2023

The much anticipated and unbeaten winning spree of the Indian cricket team in the current tournament fell short of the hope and hype Team India had created leading up to the final match of the One Day International World Cup Cricket Tournament on Sunday, November 19, 2023

India’s rivals, Australia won a record-extending sixth men’s Cricket World Cup on Sunday, defying the odds and a partisan home crowd in Ahmedabad, India to defeat host nation  by six wickets.

India failed to live upto the expectations after it had dominated much of this tournament, cruising to 10 consecutive wins and ratcheting up the pressure in this cricket-obsessed nation that has waited 12 years for another one-day trophy.

But its near impregnable batting line-up faltered in the face of Australia’s savvy bowling while Travis Head’s spectacular 137 off 120 balls anchored Australia’s run chase as it cantered towards victory and another World Cup trophy.

Australia quietened the wild support from the 130,000-strong home crowd by dismissing their previously unbeaten opponents for 240 before Travis Head’s sensational century meant they romped to victory with seven overs to spare. After their bowlers expertly took advantage of a slow pitch, Australia were themselves reduced to 47-3 as India hit back in an electric new-ball spell.

But Head and Marnus Labuschagne calmly weathered the storm with a stand of 192 as Indian hope drifted away from the world’s largest cricket stadium. Head was caught for 132 from 120 balls with just two runs needed, but Glenn Maxwell flogged the winning runs a ball later while Labuschagne ended 58 not out from 110.

The superb victory means Australia extend their record as the most successful side in 50-over World Cup history and now sit four titles clear of the rest of the pack. It also caps a six-month period in which they beat India to win the World Test Championship and retained the Ashes in England.

India, meanwhile, were left crestfallen as their bid for a first white-ball title since 2011 – an achievement which looked unstoppable as they made rampant progress through the semi-final and group stage – fell at the final hurdle.

One of Australia’s greatest nights

This was supposed to be India’s day in front of an enormous home crowd with their prime minister Narendra Modi, who this stadium is named after, up in the stands. Instead, it ended in crushing disappointment as Head produced one of the great World Cup knocks and Australia ran out surprise and comfortable winners.

By the time 29-year-old Head reached his century, some in the vast stands had already made their exit, while seamer Mohammed Siraj was in tears at the end.

Australia were contenders when this tournament began, without being tipped by many to go all of the way, just like when they won the 2021 T20 World Cup. Their campaign hit serious jitters early on with defeats in their opening two games, first by India and then South Africa, but they have won the title with nine consecutive victories, beating every team in the tournament in a row. Australia may have won it all before, but this ranks as one of their greatest nights.

Australia Stun India Lifts Cricket World Cup 2023

Indeed, Australia and India opened their campaigns against each other in Chennai on October 8, when star India batter Virat Kohli combined with KL Rahul to steer his team’s chase of a moderate total and get their first win of the tournament.

India were in a similar situation in Ahmedabad, where Kohli (54) and Rahul (66) once again came together for a rescue act. However, India’s batting collapse on the biggest stage saw them put up a paltry target of 241 at the end of 50 overs.

Australia’s bowlers, led by Mitchell Starc’s brilliant display of fast bowling with figures of 3-55 in his 10 overs, kept the Indian batting powerhouse at bay with regular dismissals. Captain Cummins ended with figures of 2-34 in 10 overs, while fellow seamer Josh Hazlewood had 2-60 in his 10 overs.

Head ends India’s dream

Head did not play in the first four games of Australia’s campaign because of a broken hand, but Australia kept him in their squad, knowing the match-winning quality he possesses. He scored 109 in his first appearance against New Zealand but this innings was on another level as he first dealt with intense pressure before punishing the bowling.

After his opening partner Warner nicked the first ball of the chase through the slips, Head crashed two boundaries to settle Australian nerves. Warner then edged a wide ball to slip for seven off Mohammed Shami, while Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith both fell to the brilliant Jasprit Bumrah.

The crowd was alive again at that stage, although Smith’s lbw decision would have been overturned had he reviewed. Those wickets came in a manic opening period in which India took the upper hand but also gave up 15 extras in the powerplay alone, those in blue seemingly too eager to defend their low score.

content Australia Stun India Lifts Cricket World Cup 2023

Batting became easier on a slow pitch that had offered more turn in the day, and Head took advantage. He cracked 14 fours and four sixes, with the sixes all pumped high over mid-wicket. On 99 he would have been run out as he scampered to three figures, had Ravindra Jadeja’s throw hit from cover.

He was finally out for 137, caught at deep mid-wicket attempting to finish in style. As he left the field he was embraced by Labuschagne and was congratulated by the Indians with the result already decided.

Superb Aussies tie down India

Head’s innings will take the headlines, but this victory was built on a sensational performance with the ball and a brave decision to bowl first at the toss by Pat Cummins.

Captain Rohit Sharma gave India a rapid start with 47 from 31 balls, but from 76-1 in the 10th over, Australia applied a stranglehold on India’s star-studded batting line-up and did not let go.

Head played a crucial hand too, brilliantly catching Rohit as he ran back from cover, before Shreyas Iyer was caught behind off Cummins four balls later to leave the hosts 81-3.

That left Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to attempt a rebuild, but the canny Australia bowlers kept the scoring to a crawl through a mix of short, slower balls and athletic fielding, all while captain Cummins mixed his pack to great effect.

Kohli and Rahul put on 67 in 109 balls before the former captain played on to Cummins for 54 in the 29th over to leave the vast stadium stunned in silence. Rahul then nicked a beauty from Starc, ending any real hope of a significant India score.

India’s lower order had hardly been needed in this tournament, and when finally called upon, Ravindra Jadeja managed only nine and Suryakumar Yadav 18 with just four boundaries coming after the first 10 overs.

India’s worst performance with the bat came at the worst possible time in the tournament, but huge credit must go to Cummins and his champion attack.

‘We saved our best for last’ – what they said

 Australia captain Pat Cummins: “We saved our best for last and a couple of big-match players stood up and we’re pretty chuffed. We were desperate in the field, I thought it all started against South Africa last week. The boys were fantastic. We’ve got an ageing squad but we are still throwing ourselves around. We were really chuffed with 240 because we were happy with anything under 300.”

India captain Rohit Sharma: “We were not good enough today but I’m really proud of the team and how we played from game one. We tried everything we could from our side but it wasn’t supposed to be. We were looking at 270 or 280 but then we kept losing wickets. We couldn’t get a partnership together and that is exactly what Australia did to win the game, they stitched a good partnership after they lost three wickets.”

Player of the match, Australia’s Travis Head:

“Not in a million years did I think that would happen [being man of the match today and in the World Test Championship final]. What an amazing day. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it. It is a lot better than being sat on the couch at home! I’m very lucky that everything went well and I was able to get back and the support that the boys showed, I didn’t think this would happen. I was nervous in the first 20 balls but Marnus [Labuschagne] batted brilliantly and it is great to bat with him. It was an amazing partnership.”

Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix- Countdown Starts!

The wait is almost over after so many months of wondering what it will look like to see the world’s best racing cars here on the busy Las Vegas Strip.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is a planned Formula One Grand Prix due to form part of the 2023 Formula One World Championship, with the event taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, on a temporary street circuit including the Las Vegas Strip.

It seems to be a big, impossible challenge, revamping one of the most well-known streets in the world the Las Vegas Strip, into a racing circuit. But the inaugural Formula 1 Heineken Silver Vegas Grand Prix, set for Nov.16 to 18th, is hustling to do just that in a $560 million civil-planning and engineering feat underway before the track goes hot within a few hours.

Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix Countdown StartsThe F1 World Championships season consists of a series of races, known as the Grand Prix, held usually on purpose-built-in circuits and, in a few cases, on closed city streets.But it is going live in the busy streets of Las Vegas, with enough modifications and protections erected in the brightly lighted streets inside the city itself.

Have you ever heard names like Michele Alboreto, John Watson, Eddie Cheever, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg,  Derek Daly, Marc Surer, Andrea de Cesaris, Niki Lauda, Derek Warwick, Elio de Angelis, Mario Andretti; they are all legends in the grand prix car racing challenges.

Of course, you might have heard of Lewis Hamilton, who holds the record for the most race wins in Formula One history, with 103 wins to date. Michael Schumacher, the previous record holder, is second with 91 wins, and Sebastian Vettelis, third with 53 victories.

You might wonder about the prize money for the winner of the F1 race.To put this in perspective, Mercedes’ win as ‘constructors’ champion in 2020 saw them take home $135 million, while Aston Martin – known as Racing Point at the time – took home $60 million for finishing last, which, as you can see was less than half of Mercedes’ winnings.

F1 is returning to Las Vegas for the first time since the 1982 Caesars Palace Grand Prix, with an all-new circuit twisting through some of the city’s most famous landmarks set to provide thrilling scenes under the lights.

The new Las Vegas Grand Prix has strong support from the state and local government and will be held at night on a course awash in neon lights and before a crowd of up to 100,000 each day of the weekend. Pook estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 people attended the inaugural Caesars Palace Grand Prix for comparison’s sake.

Tickets were priced at roughly $2,000 a year ago for the Las Vegas race. Prices for practice on Thursday and qualifying races on Friday have also dropped dramatically. The current  price dropped about 50% from $385 to $180 for Thursday and on Friday.

Vegas track has 17 corners, is one of the three longest in Formula One, and has one of the lengthiest straights: nearly 1.2 miles along Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip. Drivers are expected to reach a top speed of 212 mph, running around in 50 laps. But those are just specs. What makes it unique is the location, The Las Vegas Strip.

The CEO of F1’s parent company issued a public apology to Las Vegas for the many challenges its residents have tolerated and endured on the road to bringing the Las Vegas Grand Prix to the city by this weekend. There will be 105,000 people, so the sheer scale of it, even for Las Vegas, will be the most significant event Las Vegas will have, said Greg Maffei.

And that is not just the race crowd itself, as thousands are expected to visit Las Vegas next week to be a part of the race experience, even if they don’t have tickets to the event.

Just after the event, these roads will have to be repainted for normal traffic patterns.Thousands of temporary lights will have to be dismantled. A three-story huge grandstand across from the Bellagio fountain will be dismantled as well.

(Dr. Mathew Joys, is an accredited journalist and columnist contributing to English and Malayalam media. He is the GIC Global Media Chair and Director of Indo American Press Club.)

India To Take On Australia In World Cup 2023 Final

India will take on Australia in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Sunday, November 19 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. It is going to be a special occasion at the largest stadium in the world as Team India will chase their third title in what has been dubbed as the ‘3 ka dream’ while the five-time champions, Aussies will eye a record sixth title.

India are on course for a historic third One Day International World Cup title, having just reached the final of the 2023 Cricket World Cup. The Men in Blue defeated New Zealand to book their place in the final of the 2023 edition. With that, India’s unbeaten run in the World Cup is now extended to 10 matches.

Only one win remains in between the Rohit Sharma-led Indian cricket team and the Cricket World Cup trophy. India have not an ICC trophy since 2013 and the Indian cricket team is on the cusp of ending that drought at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

India To Take On Australia In World Cup 2023 Final (The Guardian)
Picture: The Guardian

Australia beat South Africa by three wickets in the second semi-final of the ICC ODI World Cup. Australia crept into Sunday’s World Cup final against India after winning a low-scoring thriller against South Africa at Eden Gardens by three wickets.

Chasing 213 after a superb century from David Miller had helped the South Africans recover from 24 for four and 116 for six, Australia’s batsmen took it in turns to throw away their wicket in front of a crowd of nearly 48,000.

India and Australia had last clashed in the final of a World Cup back in 2003. Australia won that game by 125 runs and lifted the World Cup trophy for the third time. It also went on to win the following edition in 2007.

This would be the fourth final for India in the ODI World Cups and the country that started the trend of winning the World Cup on home soil when they won it in 2011 under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, would look to continue on the momentum.

Since then, Australia and England won the World Cup on their home soil in 2015 and 2019 as well. This will also be India’s first victory against Australia in a World Cup final and after West Indies and Sri Lanka, they could become the second team to defeat the Aussies in a World Cup final. The last time these two teams met in a final, India lost badly in 2003 in South Africa.   India last won the title in 2011 after beating Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It won its first World Cup title in 1983 under the captaincy of Kapil Dev.

India would also become only the second team after Australia to win the World Cup three times or more, Currently, they are tied at two along with the West Indies. India would also become the only team to win the World Cup twice at home after having hosted it four times.

The Indian Diaspora’s ‘Indentured Route’ – And A ‘Lost’ Children’s Quest For Identity

Ironically, the forced migration also laid the seeds of a diaspora in countries where Indians of another generation looking for better economic opportunities would not have normally settled.

The Indian diaspora – estimated at 30 million and growing depending on how inclusive one makes it – has been the subject of much writing and discussion in recent times.  It is seen as an important source of  ‘soft power’ for India, and the one to leverage it politically and diplomatically has been none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who unfailingly includes an engagement with the diaspora in every country he visits where Indians have settled in substantial numbers. The Indian diaspora is a source of investment and support for the ruling dispensation, and large sections of the diaspora in turn idolizes Modi – he calls them “brand ambassadors” of the country  – and the mass adulation that he receives from New York to Sydney has been the envy of his hosts, whether in the United States to Australia.

The Indian Diaspora's 'Indentured Route'However, the diaspora is not just the affluent and well-settled Indians In the richer economies of the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, or Down Under who have been the subject of special reports in The Economist and other reputed international publications as a “powerful resource” for the nation. When talking or writing about the Indian diaspora and their experiences, a segment that is often lost sight of are the so-called ‘lost Indians’ – descendants of “more than 2,2 million indentured labor (who) were moved from India to more than 26 countries in various parts of the world, making it one greatest mass movements of India’s future Diaspora worldwide”.

Bhaswati Mukherjee, a former Indian diplomat who was Ambassador to UNESCO and the Netherlands and has studied this subject extensively, delves in her recently published book “The Indentured Route: A Relentless Quest for Identity”,  about how a few million Indians were shipped in the 19th and early 20th century as indentured or contract labour to work in British plantations across the world, from Suriname to South Africa, to Mauritius and the Reunion Islands; to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

The Kalapani metaphor

This is a story that hasn’t been told in its entirety or the trials and tribulations of the shipped labour documented for posterity. “The journey of India’s children across the Kalapani, their suffering and humiliation at the hands of the colonizers and their relentless quest for identity cannot remain an untold narrative,” argues Mukherjee who chose to shine the light on what she calls “a forgotten part of our history” in which the British, adept at using transportation to distant shores as a form of punishment, came up with the system of indenture “as a substitute for slavery” after the British Parliament abolished slavery in 1833.

How the term Kalapani – literally meaning ‘dark waters’ – gained currency as a metaphor for the forbidding ocean whose crossing, it was believed, would not just bring them evil but make high-caste Indians lose their exalted status is itself a fascinating commentary on how the British played upon Indian religious sentiments and economic deprivation, which in many ways was their creation, to set one community against another in the process of crushing “a so-called subordinate culture”.

The penal act of transportation across the high seas and oceans as contract labour to run the sugar and coffee plantations of British, as well as Dutch and French colonies, that had lost African labour following the abolition of slavery was just not an act of crafty business and political manipulation but a cynical economic action that duped tens of thousands of poor Indian workers into believing that they were being given the choice of a better life which they could harness to better the indigent family conditions back home.

This thinking gets reinforced by a question from the Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series quoted by Mukherjee that, in a bout of self-searching, wonders if  “It is important to consider whether the Indian indentured labour had been inveigled into a new system of slavery’.

Rainbow nations

Ironically, the forced migration also laid the seeds of a diaspora in countries where Indians of another generation looking for better economic opportunities would not have normally settled. “The movement of one-and-a-half million Indians across continents from the mid-nineteenth century was dictated by the demands of imperialism and finance capitalism,” noted Mukherjee, as the “descendants of the indentured built new rainbow nations in the erstwhile plantation colonies as free and independent states” to become the “protagonists of a hybrid culture, similar to India but also different.”

How Indian culture and traditions, in the form of festivals like Diwali, have not only taken roots in these countries, much to perhaps British chagrin, in the form of cross-cultural celebrations is perhaps illustrated in the nine-day Divali Nagar festival, a popular diaspora draw, that takes place in Trinidad and Tobago, where nearly 40 per cent of the 1.3 population of the twin islands is of Indian extraction.

At the recent inauguration of the 35th edition of the festival, Mayor Faaiq Mohammed of Chaguanas, Central Trinidad, pointed out that the National Council of Indian Culture, through the Divali Nagar festival,  “(had) brought cultural traditions of our ancestors, allowing our multi-cultural and multi-religious and multi-ethnic society to embrace Divali and what it represents as a national festival” in the Caribbean nation.

This is a meticulously researched book spanning continents that narrates the painful story of India’s earliest migrants who established new cultural roots that kept them emotionally connected to their native land and whose forefathers’ epic transoceanic journeys have now come to be acknowledged in the UN system as one of history’s greatest tragedies of human exploitation just as slavery had come to be accepted. (The author is a veteran editor and founder, South Asia Monitor. Views are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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Ayodhya Illuminates with Record-Breaking 22.23 Lakh Diyas in Deepotsav Celebration, Sets New Guinness World Record Ahead of Ram Temple Inauguration

Ayodhya, located in Uttar Pradesh, experienced a spectacular Deepotsav celebration on Saturday, adorning its ghats with hundreds of thousands of earthen lamps. On the eve of Diwali, the temple city set a new Guinness World Record by lighting 22.23 lakh diyas simultaneously across 51 ghats along the Saryu River.

This record-breaking tradition began with the onset of Deepotsav celebrations in 2017 under the governance of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The inaugural year witnessed 51,000 diyas, and the numbers escalated to 4.10 lakh in 2019. The subsequent years marked a substantial increase, with over 6 lakh diyas in 2020 and more than 9 lakh in 2021. Notably, in 2022, the ghats of Ram ki Pairi were adorned with a remarkable 17 lakh diyas. However, the Guinness Book of World Records only considered those lamps that remained lit for at least five minutes, setting the record at 15,76,955.

Preceding the Deepotsav festivities, a procession featuring eighteen tableaux, themed around the Ramayana, Ramcharitmanas, and various societal issues, paraded through Ayodhya. Uttar Pradesh Minister of Tourism and Culture, Jaiveer Singh, flagged off the procession at Udaya Square, navigating through different parts of the city before reaching Ram Katha Park.

These thematic tableaux addressed crucial topics such as children’s rights and basic education, women’s safety and welfare, self-reliance, protection of forests and the environment, and advancements in science and technology. Additionally, they showcased various government initiatives aimed at societal development.

The significance of this year’s Deepotsav celebrations is heightened by the ongoing construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The eagerly anticipated inauguration of the Ram Mandir is scheduled for January 22, 2024, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi slated to attend the historic event. The confluence of cultural festivities and the temple’s progress adds a distinct charm to this year’s Deepotsav in Ayodhya.

During Diwali, “Dispel the Inner Darkness through the Light of Knowledge”

Gopi Diwali at Times Square, presented by KIA, lit up the heart of Times Square, celebrating cultural diversity, equity, and inclusion. Aligned with the NYC Diwali school holiday, the event transcended the traditional symbolism of Diwali, focusing on illuminating the inner self and fostering unity, enlightenment, love, peace, and harmony for a more peaceful world.

“The festival aimed to unite people from diverse backgrounds, focusing on education to foster unity and diversity, prioritized including children and teaching them to be responsible citizens, compassionate individuals, and good neighbors.”, said the Founder of Diwali at Times Square, Neeta Bhasin.

One of the evening’s highlights was the grand Diya (lamp) lighting on stage, synchronized with the countdown on the One Times Square tower. The ceremony drew distinguished guests, including Eric Adams, NYC Mayor, Senator Chuck Schumer, Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, Consul General of India Randhir Jaiswal, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Justice Karen Gopee, and various esteemed dignitaries.

During Diwali Dispel the Inner Darkness through the Light of Knowledge 2The Gopi, a California-based family-run dairy company, emphasized the universal message of peace and love through Diwali. Annie Keropian-Dilsizian, Gopi’s Marketing Manager, highlighted the event’s historic significance. Festival goers received complimentary full-size product samples, including Gopi Lassi and Paneer, to add joy and tradition to their Diwali celebrations.

Steven Center, COO & EVP of Kia America, expressed “Diwali’s core values of balance, harmony, and joy are mutual guiding principles of Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, which takes inspiration from the contrasts found in nature and humanity, that’s why Kia is proud to participate as presenting sponsor of Diwali in Times Square and recognize the festival of lights.”

The festival showcased an awards segment, honoring outstanding individuals: Neera Tanden the recipient of the “Woman of the Year in Public Service” US Domestic Policy Council Director, expressed gratitude “Celebrating Diwali in Times Square was a pleasure. Thanks to Neeta Bhasin and the Board for recognizing my commitment to improving lives. This event honored the invaluable contributions of the Indian American community, enriching and strengthening America”.

Procter and Gamble COO, Shailesh Jejurikar, was honored with the “Man of the Year in Private Service” Award said “I am humbled and honored by this recognition. As I reflect on my career, I am inspired by Procter & Gamble’s commitment since its founding 185 years ago to improve consumers’ everyday lives. This dedication fuels my determination to create a meaningful and lasting impact.”

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar who played a pivotal role in establishing the NYC School Holiday and strong support for Diwali at Times Square was honored with the ‘Samman Award’.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams declared October 28th as Diwali Day.

Senator Chuck Schumer who never misses Diwali at Times, loves the Indian community. In support of the community Senator said ‘I wrote laws to allow more Indians to come to America and New York. The more Indians are in New York, the better New York is. I will change the law to make it more so”.

Randhir Jaiswal, the Consul General of India, NY stated, “As we celebrate Diwali in Times Square, we mark not just a festival but a milestone in the recognition of our culture, as Diwali becomes a public holiday in schools.”

The “Light Up Concert” dazzled with Bollywood star Mika Singh, Indian American sensation Shuba, and local talents, making it a vibrant celebration of cultural diversity and impactful individuals.

A R Helping Hands Diwali at Times Square is an annual event that celebrates Diwali with grandeur, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to embrace unity in diversity, honor outstanding achievements, and celebrate the festival of lights.

We are honored to receive a message from Prime Minister Modi, extending heartfelt greetings for the joyous occasion of Diwali.

India-US Défense Ties Key Pillar For World Peace, Stability: Blinken, Austin

Amidst the ongoing conflicts in Israel, Hamas, and the Russia-Ukraine war, the ongoing fifth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Level Talks in New Delhi, has been described as very crucial.

US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, both are for meetings with their Indian counterparts, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Blinken has said that India-US defense cooperation is “a key pillar” for bolstering the partnership of the two countries in “international peace and security, and specifically, working to promote the rules-based order and uphold the principles at the heart of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence.”

“Our defense cooperation, which we’re strengthening again today, is a key pillar of that work,” Blinken said in his opening remarks at the 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue that began in the national capital earlier in the day

Also in his opening remarks, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in his opening remarks that there have been “impressive gains in building our major defense partnership over the past year, and that will help us contribute even more together to the cause of peace and stability. We’re integrating our industrial bases, strengthening our interoperability, and sharing cutting-edge technology,” he added.

India US Défense Ties Key Pillar For World Peace StabilityBlinken said the two countries were taking very concrete steps to deliver on the vision that President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forward at their meeting in Washington in June.

“We are promoting a free and open, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific, including by strengthening our partnership through the Quad, with Japan and Australia,” he explained.

Blinken went on to say that “one significant way we’re doing that is by enhancing maritime domain awareness: sharing commercial satellite data with countries in the region to boost their capacity, for example, to combat illegal fishing, piracy, drug trafficking”.

“We’re also coordinating humanitarian relief and disaster response efforts in the Indo-Pacific. We’re harnessing together the power of innovation to make our economies more resilient and to make our communities more secure, while expanding inclusive economic opportunity.

“That’s evident in the cooperation on semiconductors and advanced biotechnology; on our unprecedented investments in deploying clean energy at scale in our countries as well as across the region; and our joint research and exploration projects in space,” he added.

The top diplomat mentioned the people-to-people ties between the two countries and the steps that are being taken to reduce visa wait times and facilitate travel between India and the US.

Jaishankar held “an open and productive discussion” with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken here on Friday on strengthening strategic New Delhi-Washington ties, the fallout of the raging Israel-Hamas war and regional issues including the geopolitical situation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The meeting took place ahead of the fifth edition of the India-US 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue. “Pleased to meet with Secretary of State @SecBlinken this morning. An open and productive conversation on further developing our strategic partnership,” Jaishankar posted on X.

“This visit has a particular significance because we need to follow up on PM Modi’s June visit and President Biden’s September visit. This is a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, so we take a broader view of what we are doing.”

The central focus of these talks is to address the ongoing conflicts and regional security concerns while strengthening the strategic ties between India and the United States. The agenda is expansive, encompassing the India-US Strategic Relationship, as well as exploring avenues to enhance bilateral relations and collaboration within international forums such as the QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) and I2U2.

One prominent subject for discussion is the military standoff on the northern borders between India and China. Both countries have a vested interest in resolving this standoff amicably, thereby contributing to regional stability.

Another matter of great concern is the global security implications of the Russia-Ukraine war. As members of the QUAD, a coalition dedicated to ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific region, India and the U.S. are likely to deliberate on their respective roles in the context of this global event. The ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza region may also find a place on the agenda, with a focus on containment to prevent further escalation.

ITServe Alliance’s Highly Successful Synergy 2023 Sets the Path for a Brighter Future

(November 9th, 2023: Atlantic City, NJ) Networking, learning, and sharing of knowledge, great and highly acclaimed speakers, insightful workshops, collaborating with one another, strengthening bonds, celebrating one’s achievements and accomplishments, cultural and fun events, awards ceremony, showcasing of business booths and products, and delicious and multi-ethnic cuisine, and attended by over 2,200 members of ITServe Alliance, who are small and medium size companies of Information Technology were only some of the highlights of ITServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 held from October 26th to 27th, 2023 at the popular Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, NJ.

In his presidential address, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance, welcomed the members, leaders, chapter presidents, sponsors, and volunteers to Synergy 2023 and expressed his “sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment, and dedication, and for investing your time and energy and resources. You are the backbone of our organization, and your unwavering commitment is what propels us forward.”

Describing the mission of ITServe Mahajan said, “We are the voice representing the interests of small and medium scale enterprises of IT industry, protecting our members’ interests. We give back to the community and invest in startups, which is to help the United States maintain its leadership in innovation and technology. It is about coming together, collaborating, and liberating our collective strength. It is about finding synergy, not only within our own businesses but also across our entire community.”

Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 is the only one-of-a-kind conference delivering innovative strategies, unique insights, and proven tactics for success, exclusively for IT service companies and individuals. Synergy 2023 will focus on developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations, sponsors, and supporters to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding.”

Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 said, “As we gather here, let’s remember that our unity as a community is our strength. I took on this leadership role, an opportunity, driven with a single objective: to help at the end of the conference, each attendee departs with concrete insight to grow their business to the next level. Because in all of you here today, there is both gratitude and a deep sense of accomplishment, knowing our collective vision is alive and thriving.”

Sangani, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering. The essence of synergy lies not only very knowledge exchange but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions, be it scaling your business to the next level, diversifying investments or starting new territories. Let’s make the most of Synergy.”

Jagadish Mosali, President-Elect of ITServe said, “Hope everyone at our flagship event has enjoyed Synergy 2023. Some of you know and some might not know the countless amount of time our “Volunteer CEOs” from the Synergy Team as well as the Board have spent to make the event successful as you have seen. My deepest appreciation to both Sung Hero’s as well as  the “Unsung Heroes. Thank you all for your service and commitment to the organization and giving back to the community.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Chief Guest at Synergy 2023 delivered the Keynote Address during an interactive session with ITServe members on October 27th evening. Ms. Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States has dedicated over four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and US Senator.

During a candid “Fireside Chat” Secretary Clinton shared with the audience very candidly about her private life, growing up as a child, her marriage to Bill Clinton, struggles in managing careers as a daughter, wife, mother, and a public figure holding numerous important positions locally, nationally and internationally.

Secretary Clinton praised the contributions and accomplishments of the fast-growing and influential ITServe Alliance members. She said, “I’m so proud of the many accomplishments of the Diaspora in the United States. I want to thank you and commend you for your extraordinary contributions to the nation.  I am so impressed by the many contributions you’ve made, in addition to building your businesses and providing employment for people.”

Secretary Clinton urged the ITServe member community “to continue to be involved in your communities, to be members of civic clubs, volunteer groups and take part in American society in every way possible, and also decide if you so may choose to become an American citizen. And for those of you who have children, who are American citizens, guide them to be very active. Not just getting their education or being a successful person economically but being involved in civic life. There’s a lot to it. I know you are good role models for people in many parts of our country. So, I am very grateful for the many contributions that you are making and will make in the future.”

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media spoke about “Leadership Lessons: The Stunning Parallels Between Great Leaders of the World and Today’s Top Business Leaders.” He said, “You have to do things even if you feel you’re not fully ready to do it. The next year or two will be very severe. But also keep in mind that enormous positive changes are coming. There will be in 2025, after the elections, with your help a new immigration law on H1 B Visas, virtually unlimited to meet the needs of a growing economy.” Giving hope in this world of wars, Forbes pointed to areas of hope. “We saw it in the meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Modi weeks ago. These forces are coming together to make sure there is peace in the world.”

Phaneesh Murthy, Founder & CEO of Primentor addressed the audience with his insightful talk on, “Strategies for Scaling and Sustaining a Successful IT Company from One to 100 Million Plus” The keynote address by Zack Kass, Technology Futurist, and Generative AI Solutions Specialist focused on: “AI for Small Business Success: Navigating the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

Ashish Agarwal from Turbo Start, DVC led the Startup Cube Panel on “GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups.”  Post Lunch, a Financial Panel Discussion explored “Alternative Investments for Diversified Business Portfolios and Funding Solutions for Diversified Growth.” The Breakout Session in the Afternoon was about: “Mastering the Art of Effective Recruiting in the Staffing Industry” by Barbara Bruno.

“State, County, City, High-Ed & Federal Government Contracting: Opportunities & Challenges” was yet another important topic at the Breakout Session in the afternoon and was led by Nazeera Dawood, CEO of The M & A Panel Discussion deliberated on, “Driving Growth and Value Through Strategic M&A: Opportunities and Challenges: Accelerating Business Expansion.”

Another interesting Breakout Session on the first day was about, “Increase Cash Flow $$$ and Collect Bad Debt,” led by Douglas Fuchs at Goldman, Evans & Trammell LLC.

Kevin O’Leary, a Venture Capitalist and Star of ABC’s Shark Tank delivered the Evening keynote address on: “The Path to Profit: Strategies for Building a Successful Business.” Through specific portrayals from his popular Shark Tank, his insightful address to the loud applause from the crowd referred to successful business strategies to enhance business profits.

During the Gala ITServe honored the Grand Sponsors: Four Oaks Insurance and TrackEx, as well as the Platinum Sponsors of Synergy 2023: AG FinTax, BBI Law Group, Ceipal, Imagility, Oorwin, Q 1 Technologies, SOMIREDDY Law, Tech Insurance Agency, and Vitel Global were honored for their generous support to ITServe Alliance and its Synergy 2023. In addition, 20 Platinum Members of ITServe were honored during the Gala with Mementos.

The morning of October 27th began with the keynote address on “Navigating the Financial Crises and Regulatory Landscape: Lessons Learned and Insights for IT Staffing Company Owners” by Sheila Bair, Former FDIC Chair.

Other sessions in the morning included a Startup Cube Finals on GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups, which Ashish Agarwal, Turbo Start, DVC led. The Immigration Panel Discussion focused on “Navigating Immigration Challenges and Policies.” The CXO Panel focused on “The Evolving Role of IOs and CTOs in AI and ChatGPT Powered Digital Transformation.” Other panel discussions addressed issues related to “Contracts And Litigations,” and “Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce.”

A Special Guest Session at Synergy was a “Dialogue with Yuvraj Singh,” a highly popular international Cricketer, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. Synergy 2023 will conclude with a Live Musical Concert by Bollywood Playback Singer and Filmfare Awardee Kanika Kapoor.

During Synergy 2023, ITServe honored high-achieving Entrepreneurs with Leadership Awards. ITServe Alliance recognized and honored companies that have demonstrated exceptional growth and success during a specific period. The ITServe Fastest Growing Company Awards were a testament to the impact of businesses that embrace innovation and strive for excellence.

Ashok Dandamudi, PR Director for ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 offered participants a platform to come together to hear industry leaders speak, engage in discussions with lawmakers, participate in interactive breakout sessions, deliberate on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in the world of IT Staffing and Technology.

Amar Varada, Chair of Synergy 2023 said, “Synergy 2023 had prominent speakers, and valuable sponsorships, and helped grow a community network of industry professionals across the country. We are grateful to the unwavering support of our members, volunteers, and sponsors, whose collective efforts made this event a memorable one for all.”

Anil Atyam, Chair of Speakers for Synergy 2023 emphasized the curated lineup of speakers and panels. “We are thrilled to have a diverse and esteemed set of speakers for this year’s conference. From policymakers, and technology leaders to industry innovators, our speakers are pivotal in shaping the discussions and providing invaluable insights that can be immediately applied in various sectors of the IT industry.”

As a participant at Synergy put it, “Synergy 2023 an incredible experience, and I feel so grateful to have been a part of it. The energy and enthusiasm that you brought to the event were truly inspiring, and I came away with a wealth of knowledge and new connections. Once again, thank you for all of your hard work in putting together such a fantastic event.”

With cultural events, music, dance, and sumptuous food, in addition to all the learning and sharing of knowledge, Synergy 2023 provided actionable insights and strategies that companies can directly implement, serving as a catalyst for taking businesses to the next level. Beyond being an arena for networking and knowledge sharing, Synergy 2023 has proved to be a veritable marketplace for ideas and innovations.

Led by an amazing, energetic, and inspiring leadership, ITServe is a fully voluntary organization, where its members and leaders dedicate their valuable time and resources, working selflessly to strengthen the organization and its mission to give back to the larger society. ITServe’s core leadership consists of: Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair; Vinay Mahajan, President; Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect; Anju Vallabhaneni, Secretary; Mahesh Sake, Treasurer; Ravi K. Komatireddy, Joint Secretary; Sunil Savili, Joint Treasurer. The Governing Board Members include Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair; Shashidhar Devireddy, National President 2016; Gopi Kandukuri, National President 2018; Amar Varada, Synergy Chair 2023, & National President 2020; Raghu Chittimalla, National President 2021; Devender Aerrabolu, National President 2022; and, Vinay Mahajan, current National President.

In addition to the 21 ITServe Chapter Presidents across the United States and the dozens of various Committee Chairs, the Executive Board of Directors of ITSeve, who play a critical role in enhancing the mission and vision of ITServe Alliance include: Manish Mehra, Director Chapter Relations; Samba Movva, Director-Corporate Social Responsibility; Srikanth Dasugari, Director-Membership; Ram Nandyala, Director-Benefits & New Chapters Launch; Siva Moopanar, Director-Political Action Committee; Ashok Dandamudi, Director – Public Relations  & Media; Omprakash Nakka. Director- Products & Startups; Dasarath Kunapaneni, Director – Sponsorship; Venu Sangani, Director – Synergy; Vinay Parachuri, Director – Bylaws; and, Anil Atyam, Director – Technology.

Founded in 2010, ITServe Alliance is the largest association of Information Technology Services organizations functioning across the United States. Established to be the voice of all prestigious Information Technology companies functioning with similar interests across the United States, ITServe Alliance has evolved as a resourceful and respected platform to collaborate and initiate measures in the direction of protecting common interests and ensuring collective success. ITServe Alliance now has 21 Chapters in several states across the United States, bringing the Synergy Conference to every part of this innovation country. For more information, please visit:

Blooming BRICS: Former White House Economist Warns of Dollar’s Growing Challenge

The US dollar could encounter a formidable challenge from BRICS countries due to their expanding size and influence in global trade, warns former White House economist Joe Sullivan.

Sullivan, in a recent op-ed for Foreign Policy, highlighted the rising concerns that BRICS nations might introduce a currency to rival the US dollar in international trade. This potential currency could potentially displace the dollar from its current dominant position in global trade markets and as the primary reserve currency.

Although BRICS officials have denied the existence of such a rival currency, Sullivan cautioned that the bloc of emerging market countries, which has recently welcomed Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, poses a threat to the greenback based on its growing influence.

Sullivan also pointed out the substantial influence of the BRICS bloc in commodities markets. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates are among the world’s leading exporters of fossil fuels, while Brazil, China, and Russia are significant exporters of precious metals.

The inclusion of Saudi Arabia, in particular, could provide BRICS+ with a significant advantage, as the Middle Eastern nation holds over $100 billion in US Treasury bonds, contributing to the total holdings of US Treasurys by BRICS countries surpassing $1 trillion, according to Sullivan.

Sullivan argued, “The BRICS+ nations do not need to wait until a shared trade currency meets the technical conditions typical of a global reserve currency before they swing their newly enlarged economic wrecking ball at the dollar.”

He also highlighted the growing prominence of China’s yuan in global trade, as Beijing’s trading partners increasingly use the renminbi.

Sullivan further warned that these trends could eventually place the US dollar in a position similar to that of the British pound in the 1800s when it lost its international dominance.

He explained, “The BRICS+ states do not even necessarily need to have a shared trade currency to chip away at King Dollar’s domain. If BRICS+ demanded that you pay each member in its own national currency to trade with any of them, the dollar’s role in the world economy would diminish. There would not be a clear replacement for the dollar as a global reserve. A variety of currencies would gain in importance.”

However, some economists hold a different view, suggesting that the US dollar’s role as the world’s primary trading and reserve currency will likely persist for an extended period. The data from the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund show that the greenback continues to outperform rival currencies in international trade and central bank reserves by a significant margin. The yuan has only recently made modest gains in central banks’ holdings.

FDA Proposes Banning Brominated Vegetable Oil from US Food Products

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put forward a proposal to discontinue the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as an additive in food products across the nation. This move is in response to concerns about its safety and follows California’s recent ban on BVO, making it the first state in the US to do so. It’s worth noting that BVO is already prohibited in Europe and Japan.

James Jones, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for human foods, stated, “The agency concluded that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe after the results of studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health … found the potential for adverse health effects in humans.”

Brominated vegetable oil is a substance created by modifying vegetable oil with bromine, a pungent, deep red chemical. It is typically used as an emulsifier in citrus-flavored beverages to prevent the separation of flavoring. Bromine is also commonly found in flame retardants.

While BVO is still used in some products, especially in sodas, the number of items containing this additive has decreased over the years due to previous restrictions by the FDA. In the 1970s, the FDA reevaluated BVO and determined that it was no longer “Generally Recognized as Safe,” leading to increased regulation of its use.

Furthermore, market pressure and consumer awareness played a significant role in companies voluntarily removing BVO from their products. A petition in 2012 with over 200,000 signatures highlighted the health concerns associated with this ingredient.

Health Risks Associated with Brominated Vegetable Oil

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization focused on consumer health and environmental issues, has identified several health risks linked to BVO. These include damage to the nervous system, headaches, irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, and memory problems. BVO can also accumulate in the body over time.

While the studies that prompted the FDA’s decision were conducted on animals, they revealed negative health effects at levels that closely approximate real-world human exposure. One of the observed harms includes toxic effects on the thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing hormones critical for regulating blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism.

The proposal by the FDA to ban BVO is currently open for public comment until January 17, 2024, and it will undergo a review process before a final decision is made. In the meantime, consumers who wish to avoid BVO in their food products are advised to carefully check ingredient lists before making purchases.

Scott Faber, the senior vice president for government affairs at the EWG, expressed his support for the FDA’s move, stating, “Today’s announcement will ensure everyone has access to products that don’t contain BVO.” James Jones of the FDA emphasized that this proposed ban is a result of the agency’s commitment to monitoring emerging evidence and taking regulatory action when safety concerns arise.

PM Modi and UAE President Express Deep Concerns Over West Asia’s Security and Terrorism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shared concerns over terrorism, security issues, and civilian casualties in West Asia during a recent phone conversation with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed. This discussion is part of India’s outreach to Arab nations amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Modi took to social media, stating, “Had a good conversation with my brother HH @MohamedBinZayed, President of UAE, on the West Asia situation. We share deep concerns at the terrorism, deteriorating security situation, and loss of civilian lives.”

He emphasized the importance of resolving the security and humanitarian challenges promptly and highlighted the mutual interest in achieving lasting regional peace, security, and stability.

India has strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas in southern Israel, asserting that there is no justification for any form of terrorism. Simultaneously, India has reiterated its enduring support for a two-state solution, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, and viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel within secure and recognized borders.

The UAE stands as one of India’s closest strategic partners in West Asia, and both nations are part of the I2U2 grouping, which also includes Israel and the United States.

Modi’s conversation with the UAE President follows his previous phone calls with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan. During the conversation with President Sisi on October 28, they discussed the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in West Asia. Modi mentioned that India and Egypt share concerns about terrorism, violence, and civilian casualties. They agreed on the need for early restoration of peace and stability while facilitating humanitarian assistance.

On October 23, Modi engaged in a conversation with King Abdullah of Jordan, exchanging views on West Asian developments. They both expressed concerns regarding terrorism, violence, and civilian casualties, underscoring the necessity for concerted efforts to resolve security and humanitarian issues promptly.

Furthermore, Modi spoke with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu on October 10, reaffirming India’s strong support for Israel during challenging times. He unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

ITServe’s Flagship Synergy 2023 Held In Atlantic City

(November 1st, 2023: Atlantic City, NJ) Networking, learning and sharing of knowledge, great and hignly acclaimed speakers, insightful workshops, collaborating with one another, strengthening bonds, celebrating one’s achievements and accomplishments, cultural and fun events, awards ceremony, showcasing of business booths and products, and delicious and multi-ethnic cuisine, and attended by over 2,200 members of ITServe Alliance, who are small and medium size companies of Information Technology were only some of the highlights of ItServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 held from October 26th to 27th, 2023 at the popular Harrahs Resport in Atlantic City, NJ.

In his Presidential address, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance, welcomed the members, leaders, chapter presidents, sponsors, and volunteers to Synergy 2023 and expressed his “sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment, and dedication, and for investing your time and energy and resources. You are the backbone of our organization, and your unwavering commitment is what propels us forward.”

Describing the mission of ITServe Mr. Mahajan said, “We are the voice represent the interests of small and medium scale enterprises of IT industry, protecting our members’ interests. We give back to the community, and invest in startups, which is to help the United States maintain the leadership in innovation and technology. It is about coming together, collaborating and liberating our collective strength. It is about finding synergy, not only within our own businesses but also across our entire community.”

Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 said, “As we gather here, let’s remember that our unity as a community is our strength. I took on this leadership role, an opportunity, driven with a single objective: to help at the end of the conference, each attendee departs with concrete insight to grow their business to the next level. Because in all of you here today, there is both gratitude and deep sense of accomplishment, knowing our collective vision is alive and thriving.”

Sanghani, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering. The essence of it so synergy lies not only very knowledge exchange, but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions, be it scaling your business to the next level, or diversifying investments or starting new territories. Let’s make the most of Synergy.”

Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 is the only one-of-a-kind conference delivering innovative strategies, unique insights, and proven tactics for success, exclusively for IT service companies and individuals. Synergy 2023 will focus on developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations, sponsors, and supporters to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding.”

Jagadish Modsali, President-Elect of ITServe said, “Hope everyone at our flagship event has enjoyed Synergy 2023. Some of you know and some might not know the countless amount of time our “Volunteer CEOs” from Synergy Team as well as the Board have spent to make the event successful as you have seen. My deepest appreciation to both Sung Hero’s as well as  the “Unsung Heroes.”. Thank you all for your service and commitment to the organization and giving back to community.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Chief Guest at Synergy 2023 delivered the Keynote Address during an interactive session with ITServe members on October 27th evening. Ms. Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State of the United States has dedicated over four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, and US Senator.

During a candid “Fireside Chat” Secretary Clinton shared with the audience very candidly about her private life, growing up as a child, her marriage to Bill Clinton, struggles in managing careers as a daughter, wife, mother, and a public figure holding numerous important positions locally, nationally and internationally.

Secretary Clinton praised the contributions and accomplishments of the fast-growing Indian Americans. She said, “I’m so proud of the many accomplishments of the Indian diaspora in the United States. I really want to thank you and commend you for the extraordinary contributions to the nation.  I was so impressed by the many contributions you’ve made, in addition to building your businesses and providing employment for people.:

Secretary Clinton urged the Indian Diaspora “to continue to be involved in your communities,to be members of civic clubs. volunteer groups, and really take part in American society in every way possible, and also to make the decision if you so choose, to become an American citizen and as you wish to do. And for those of you who are the children, who are American citizens, guide them to be very active. Not just getting their education or being a successful person economically, but to be involved in things. There’s a lot to it. So, I think that the Indian diaspora, you know are good role models for people in many parts of our country. So, I personally am very grateful for the many contributions that you are making and will make in the future.”

Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media spoke about “Leadership Lessons: The Stunning Parallels Between Great Leaders of the World and Today’s Top Business Leaders.” He said, “You have to do things even if you feel you’re not fully ready to do it. The next year or two will be very severe. But also keep in mind that enormous positive changes are coming. There will be in 2025, after the elections, with your help a new immigration law on H1 B Visas, virtually unlimited to meet the needs of a growing economy.” Giving hope in this world of wars, Forbes pointed to areas of hope. “We saw it in the meeting between President Biden, Prime Minister Modi weeks ago. These forces are coming together to make sure there is peace in the world.”

Phaneesh Murthy, Founder & CEO of Primentor addressed the audience with his insightful talk on, “Strategies for Scaling and Sustaining a Successful IT Company from One to 100 Million Plus” The keynote address by Zack Kass, Technology Futurist, and Generative AI Solutions Specialist focused on: “AI for Small Business Success: Navigating the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

Ashish Agarwal from Turbo Start, DVC led the Startup Cube Panel on “GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups.”  Post Lunch, a Financial Panel Discussion explored “Alternative Investments for Diversified Business Portfolios and Funding Solutions for Diversified Growth.” The Breakout Session in the Afternoon was about: “Mastering the Art of Effective Recruiting in the Staffing Industry” by Barbara Bruno.

“State, County, City, High-Ed & Federal Government Contracting: Opportunities & Challenges” was yet another important topic at the Breakout Session in the afternoon and was led by Nazeera Dawood, CEO of The M & A Panel Discussion deliberated on, “Driving Growth and Value Through Strategic M&A: Opportunities and Challenges: Accelerating Business Expansion.” Another interesting Breakout Session on the first day was about, “Increase Cash Flow $$$ and Collect Bad Debt,” led by Douglas Fuchs at Goldman, Evans & Trammell LLC.

Kevin O’Leary, a Venture Capitalist, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank delivered the Evening keynote address on: “The Path to Profit: Strategies for Building a Successful Business.” Through specific portrayals from his popular Shark Tank, his insightful address to the loud applauses from the crowd referred to successful business strategies to enhance business profits.

During the evening Gala Grand Sponsors: Four Oaks Insurance and TrackEx as well as the Platinum Sponsors of Synergy 2023: AG Fintax, BBI Law Group, Ceipa; Corp, Imagility, Oorwin, Q 1  Technologies, Somireddy Law, T I A Tech Insurance Agency, and Vitel Global were honored for their generous support to ITSereve Alliance.

As a participant at Synergy put it, “Synergy 2023 an incredible experience, and I feel so grateful to have been a part of it. The energy and enthusiasm that you brought to the event were truly inspiring, and I came away with a wealth of knowledge and new connections. Once again, thank you for all of your hard work in putting together such a fantastic event.”

With cultural events, music and dance, sumptuous food, in addition to all the learning and sharing of knowledge, Synergy 2023 provided actionable insights and strategies that companies can directly implement, serving as a catalyst for taking businesses to the next level. Beyond being an arena for networking and knowledge sharing, Synergy 2023 has proved to be a veritable marketplace for ideas and innovations.

“Synergy 2023 had prominent speakers, and valuable sponsorships, and helped grow a community network of industry professionals across the country,” said Amar Varada, Chair of Synergy 2023.

Anil Atyam, Chair of Speakers for Synergy 2023 emphasized the curated lineup of speakers and panels. “We are thrilled to have a diverse and esteemed set of speakers for this year’s conference. From policymakers, and technology leaders to industry innovators, our speakers are pivotal in shaping the discussions and providing invaluable insights that can be immediately applied in various sectors of the IT industry.”

Ashok Dandamudi, PR Director for ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 offered participants with a platform to come together to hear industry leaders speak, engage in discussions with lawmakers, participate in interactive breakout sessions, deliberate on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in the world of IT Staffing and Technology.

The morning of October 27th began with the keynote address on “Navigating the Financial Crises and Regulatory Landscape: Lessons Learned and Insights for IT Staffing Company Owners” by Sheila Bair, Former FDIC Chair.

Other sessions in the morning included a Startup Cube Finals on GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups, which were led by Ashish Agarwal, Turbo Start, DVC. The Immigration Panel Discussion focused on “Navigating Immigration Challenges and Policies.” The CXO Panel’s focused on “The Evolving Role of IOs and CTOs in AI and ChatGPT Powered Digital Transformation.” Other panel discussions addressed issues related to “Contracts And Litigations,” and “Direct Client Engagement in the World of Contingent Workforce.”

A Special Guest Session at Synergy was a “Dialogue with Yuvraj Singh,” a highly popular international Cricketer, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. Synergy 2023 will conclude with a Live Musical Concert by Bollywood Playback Singer and Filmfare Awardee Kanika Kapoor.

During Synergy 2023, ITServe honored high achieving Entrepreneurs with Leadership Awards. ITServe Alliance recognized and honored companies that have demonstrated exceptional growth and success during a specific period. The ITServe Fastest Growing Company Awards were a testament to the impact of businesses that embrace innovation and strive for excellence.

Founded in 2010, ITServe Alliance is the largest association of Information Technology Services organizations functioning across the United States. Established to be the voice of all prestigious Information Technology companies functioning with similar interests across the United States, ITServe Alliance has evolved as a resourceful and respected platform to collaborate and initiate measures in the direction of protecting common interests and ensuring collective success. ITServe Alliance now has 21 Chapters in several states across the United States, bringing the Synergy Conference to every part of this innovation country. For more information, please visit:

Government Denies Phone Hacking Allegations After Apple Alerts

Opposition Leaders Accuse Government of Hacking Attempts

Several Indian opposition leaders and journalists have accused the government of trying to hack into their phones after receiving warning messages from Apple. Apple’s alert stated that it believed the recipients were “being targeted by state-sponsored attackers” without specifying the attackers’ identity. The Indian government has dismissed these allegations, with federal ministers calling them “destructive politics.” However, they also noted that the government would “investigate to get to the bottom of these notifications.”

Around a dozen opposition politicians, including MPs from the Congress party and other opposition parties, confirmed receiving the messages from Apple. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stated that he and his staff had also received the alert and expressed no fear, saying, “You can do as much [phone] tapping as you want, I don’t care.”

Some journalists, including Siddharth Varadarajan, a founding editor of news website The Wire, reported receiving the message as well. The government has asked Apple to participate in the investigation “with real, accurate information on the alleged state-sponsored attacks,” according to federal information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Apple’s Statement on State-Sponsored Attacks

Apple’s support page for users explains that “state-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time.” These attackers target a “very small number of specific individuals and their devices.” However, Apple does not provide specific details about what triggers these threat notifications, as revealing such information could help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behavior to avoid detection in the future.

Technology analyst Prasanto K Roy explained that companies like Apple look for activity patterns to detect large-scale, coordinated malware attacks. While it is technically possible to attribute such attacks to a particular country or state agency, Apple prefers not to make specific attributions.

Political Reactions and Allegations

Indian politicians and journalists shared screenshots of the messages they received from Apple on social media, with some pointing out that no member of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had confirmed receiving the notification yet. Opposition leaders raised questions about the selectiveness of these notifications.

However, later in the day, BJP minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that his colleague Piyush Goyal had also received the alert, prompting further discussions about the implications of the notifications.

Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha connected the alerts to the upcoming general election and stated that they should be viewed within the context of ongoing attacks on the opposition.

BJP leaders responded to the allegations by calling them baseless and shifting the responsibility to Apple to clarify the meaning of the notifications.

Historical Surveillance Allegations

Several opposition leaders in India had previously accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of placing them under surveillance. In 2019, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit alleging that Indian journalists and activists were targeted by Pegasus, a surveillance software developed by Israeli firm NSO Group. NSO claimed to work only with government agencies.

In 2021, Indian website The Wire reported that over 300 phone numbers on a leaked database of thousands of numbers, associated with government clients of NSO, belonged to Indians.

Additionally, in the previous year, a political controversy arose after the New York Times reported that India had acquired Pegasus from Israel as part of a defense deal in 2017. The Indian government denied purchasing the spyware.

As the allegations continue to circulate, questions surrounding the notifications and their implications persist.

Synergy 2023 Begins in Atlantic City, Celebrating Remarkable Achievements of ITServe Members

(October 27, 2023: Atlantic City, NJ) ItServe Alliance’s flagship Synergy 2023 was inaugurated here on Thursday, October 26th, 2023 as over 2,200 members of ITServe Alliance, who are small and medium size companies of Information Technology came together at Harras Resort in Atlantic City in New Jersey for networking, learning and sharing of knowledge, collaborating with one another, strengthening bonds, and celebrating their achievements and accomplishments.

In his Presidential Welcome address, Vinay K. Mahajan, National President of ITServe Alliance, welcomed the members, leaders, chapter presidents, sponsors, and volunteers to Synergy 2023 and expressed his “sincere gratitude for your unwavering commitment, and dedication, and for investing your time and energy and resources. You are the backbone of our organization, and your unwavering commitment is what propels us forward.”

Describing the mission of ITServe Mr. Mahajan said, “We’re in the forefront, guiding and empowering its members. ITServe today is a powerful force focused on safeguarding the interests of small and medium business enterprises. We have more than 2,200 member companies, spread over 21 Chapters, they generate 175,000 high paying jobs across the United States. Our members contribute almost $12 billion to the US GDP. We at ITServe Alliance are immensely proud of us for being very successful. We are the voice represent the interests of small and medium scale enterprises of IT industry, protecting our members’ interests. We give back to the community, and invest in startups, which is to help the United States maintain the leadership in innovation and technology.”

Mahajan went on to say, “I always thank you members, because of you, we are all strong together. Our success today is not about working alone in isolation. It is about coming together, collaborating and liberating our collective strength. It is about finding synergy, not only within our own businesses but also across our entire community. As we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the digital age, our role today is even more critical. We are not just service providers. We are architects of transformation. We shape the future of industries and enhance the lives of individuals worldwide. This event is dedicated to you. Together we will innovate and lead the way in the IT services industry. Thank you for being part of synergy. Let us embark on the journey together and fueled by the spirit of collaboration and the pursuit of success.”

In his opening remarks, Venu Sangani, Director of Synergy 2023 said, “As we gather here, let’s remember that our unity as a community is our strength. Last year in Orlando, Florida, I took on this leadership role, an opportunity, driven with a single objective:  to help at the end of the conference, each attendee departs with concrete insight to grow their business to the next level. Because in all of you here today, there is both gratitude and deep sense of accomplishment, knowing our collective vision is alive and thriving.”

Sanghani, who led a dedicated and visionary team organizing this historic event said, “ Synergy 2023 is our landmark flagship gathering, whether you’re a familiar face from previous years, or you’re experiencing this your first time, I promise you that the opportunities for growth and learning forging a path with connections during this event unmatching with featuring seven keynote sessions from seven different domain panels, panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions and I encourage each one of you to be fully present, engage dynamically and above all, collaborate with fellow members. The essence of it so synergy lies not only very knowledge exchange, but inspiring one another. Let the success stories of fellow entrepreneurs ignite your ambitions, be it scaling your business to the next level, or diversifying investments or starting new territories. That is going to happen at Synergy 2023. Let’s make the most of Synergy.”

Vinodbabu Uppu, Governing Board Chair of ITServe said, “Synergy 2023 is the only one-of-a-kind conference delivering innovative strategies, unique insights, and proven tactics for success, exclusively for IT service companies and individuals. Synergy 2023 will focus on developing strategic relationships with our partner organizations, sponsors, and supporters to work for a better technology environment by building greater understanding.”

In his inspiring inaugural keynote address, Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Media sooke about “Leadership Lessons: The Stunning Parallels between Great Leaders of the World and Today’s Top Business Leaders.” Forbes said, “You have to do things even if you feel you’re not fully ready to do it. The next year or two will be very severe. But also keep in mind that enormous positive changes are coming. For example, the issue of immigration today looks hopeless in a town called Washington, which is becoming the epitome of hopelessness. There will be in 2025, after the elections, with your help a new immigration law on H1 B Visas, virtually unlimited to meet the needs of a growing economy.”

Referring to the global situation, Forbes said, “We know we live in a world today, where Russia, China, North Korea and Iran feel that the United States is a declining power. China has made very clear it wants world domination. Russia under Putin has made it very clear he wants to recreate the Soviet empire. Iran wants to be the hegemony of the Middle East and control the oil and dominate the region and ultimately eliminate Israel. In the crazy border wars, China keeps pushing against India. Not a good environment.”

Giving hope in this world of wars, Forbes pointed to areas of hope. “We saw it in the meeting between President Biden, Prime Minister Modi weeks ago. The meetings with South Korea, Japan and the United States. Whoever would have thought that Japan and South Korea would be cooperating with one another. These forces are coming together to make sure there is peace in the world.” In the domestic front, Forbes advocated for tangible, practical and cost-effective measures with minimum regulations to address the issues affecting the United States, which includes, rising inflation, climate change, labor market and annual growth of the economy.

Phaneesh Murthy, Founder & CEO of Primentor addressed the audience with his insightful talk on, “Strategies for Scaling and Sustaining a Successful IT Company from One to 100 Million Plus” The keynote address by Zack Kass, Technology Futurist, and Generative AI Solutions Specialist focused on: “AI for Small Business Success: Navigating the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

Ashish Agarwal from Turbo Start, DVC led the Startup Cube Panel on “GTM Pitfalls Faced by Growing Startups.”  Post Lunch, a Financial Panel Discussion explored “Alternative Investments for Diversified Business Portfolios and Funding Solutions for Diversified Growth.” The Breakout Session in the Afternoon was about: “Mastering the Art of Effective Recruiting in the Staffing Industry” by Barbara Bruno.

“State, County, City, High-Ed & Federal Government Contracting: Opportunities & Challenges” was yet another important topic at the Breakout Session in the afternoon and was led by Nazeera Dawood, CEO of The M & A Panel Discussion deliberated on, “Driving Growth and Value Through Strategic M&A: Opportunities and Challenges: Accelerating Business Expansion.” Another interesting Breakout Session on the first day was about, “Increase Cash Flow $$$ and Collect Bad Debt,” led by Douglas Fuchs at Goldman, Evans & Trammell LLC.

Kevin O’Leary, a Venture Capitalist, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank delivered the Evening keynote address on: “The Path to Profit: Strategies for Building a Successful Business.” Through specific portrayals from his popular Shark Tank, his insightful address to the loud applauses from the crowd referred to successful business strategies to enhance business profits.

During the evening Gala Grand Sponsors: Four Oaks Insurance and TrackEx as well as the Platinum Sponsors of Synergy 2023: AG Fintax, BBI Law Group, Ceipa; Corp, Imagility, Oorwin, Q 1  Technologies, Somireddy Law, T I A Tech Insurance Agency, and Vitel Global were honored for their generous support to ITSereve Alliance.

With cultural events, music and dance, sumptuous food in addition to all the learning and sharing of knowledge, Synergy 2023 has been curated to provide actionable insights and strategies that companies can directly implement, serving as a catalyst for taking your business to the next level. Beyond being an arena for networking and knowledge sharing, Synergy 2023 has proved to be a veritable marketplace for ideas and innovations.

Founded in 2010, ITServe Alliance is the largest association of Information Technology Services organizations functioning across the United States. Established to be the voice of all prestigious Information Technology companies functioning with similar interests across the United States, ITServe Alliance has evolved as a resourceful and respected platform to collaborate and initiate measures in the direction of protecting common interests and ensuring collective success. ITServe Alliance now has 21 Chapters in several states across the United States, bringing the Synergy Conference to every part of this innovation country. For more information, please visit:

India-NZ ODI most-watched online sports event worldwide

India’s triumph over New Zealand in the ongoing 2023 ODI World Cup ended a two-decade-long drought. Faced with a formidable challenge from New Zealand, Indian Tech and Infra proudly declared that the India versus New Zealand match became the most-watched online sports event worldwide.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his heartfelt congratulations to the team, expressing on X, “Kudos to the Indian cricket team for their remarkable victory against New Zealand! This was a splendid collective effort where every player made significant contributions. The dedication and skills displayed on the field were truly commendable.”

The clash unfolded in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, and delivered an exhilarating showdown, featuring a track set for a 300-plus total. Mohammed Shami left an indelible mark by claiming five wickets for 54 runs, securing his second five-wicket haul in an ODI World Cup and joining the elite company of Anil Kumble. Virat Kohli, with his 95 runs, steered India to a four-wicket triumph over New Zealand with two overs to spare.

This victory marked the Indian cricket team’s first win against New Zealand in the ODI World Cup since 2003. It not only ended a two-decade-long wait but also made a significant impact in the digital sphere. The match captured the attention of 43 million viewers worldwide, making it the most-watched online sports event globally.

India, 5 th Largest Economy Ranks 111 out of 125 Countries in the Global Hunger Index

Even as nearly one million children of Gaza face a genocidal campaign by Israel driven by relentless bombing and a cruel embargo on essential supplies, the Global Hunger Index 2023 has drawn our attention to the growing pangs of hunger across the world. The GHI2023 report attributes the alarming global hunger scene to a combination of recent developments like the Covid pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war apart from deeply embedded socio-economic reasons and the rapidly worsening climate crisis. Now Israel’s genocidal siege and invasion of Gaza reminds us how in today’s world hunger can still be inflicted as a form of war. If Israel is not immediately restrained, we will soon witness a veritable famine and thousands of people dying of hunger and thirst in Gaza.

The GHI 2023 report indicates a general stagnation and even reversal on the front of combating hunger. The hunger index is calculated as a combined measure of four factors – undernourishment (among children as well as adults), child stunting (percentage of children below five years of age with low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition), child wasting (percentage of children below five years of age with low weight for their height, indicating acute undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five). The two most critical regions of the world in terms of the spread and scale of hunger are South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa with a GHI value of 27.0, way above the global average of 18.3.

Picture: IAS Compass

The biggest contributor to South Asia’s alarming situation is none other than India which has been steadily slipping in GHI rankings over the last one decade. With a GHI score of 28.7, India now stands at 111 out of 125 countries. Each of India’s South Asian neighbours fares significantly better than India – Pakistan ranks 102 with a GHI value of 26.6 while Nepal (GHI 15.0) and Bangladesh (GHI 19.0) have made remarkable progress occupying respectively the 69th and 81st positions. Sri Lanka, of course, still has the best record in South Asia with a GHI score of 13.3 and the 60th rank. Among the four factors making up the GHI index, India has the most alarming child wasting rate of 18.7% which reflects acute undernutrition. The overall GHI score of 28.7 puts India in the ‘serious’ category of hunger-stricken countries. Undernutrition is not just stunting the growth of millions of India’s children; an alarming 58.1 percent of India’s women suffer from various levels of anaemia.

The response of the Modi government to the GHI 2023 report has been similar to its standard response to all such global reports – be it the Oxfam inequality report or India’s alarming decline
in terms of press freedom or various other indices or measures of democracy. The Modi government lives in a perpetual denial mode and even contemptuously rubbishes these reports as foreign or western conspiracies.

India has been the only country to find fault with the GHI report, but the authors of the report have convincingly rebutted Modi government’s objections. The data used in the GHI report are
collected from verified sources including statistical updates issued periodically by concerned countries and studies by various multilateral agencies. The GHI findings are corroborated by other global studies on hunger and food security. The Global Food Security Index report released annually by the British weekly magazine The Economist placed India at 71st position out of 113 countries in 2021 and at 68th position in 2022. While India with 57.2 points was placed at the same level as Algeria, China stood at 25th position with a score of 74.2.

While the GHI report focuses on undernutrition, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality, the GFSI report is based on measures of food security driven by factors like affordability, availability, quality and safety and natural resources and resilience. The problem in India is now not so much with availability of food where India ranks 42 with a score of 62.3 as with affordability where India finishes 80th with a score of 59.3. The lack of affordability can only be overcome by running a powerful public distribution system, stopping profiteering of food and by improving the purchasing power of the common people. The Modi governmen’s policies are taking the country in the opposite direction. While the regime denies the shocking reports of hunger and lack of food security, in election time it projects the claim of distributing ‘free ration’ to 80 crore people as its biggest achievement. This claim itself is the strongest official testimony to India’s abysmal performance as revealed by the global reports on hunger and food security.

One look at the reports focusing on inequality, hunger and the conditions of India’s workers is enough to deflate the hype manufactured around the G20 summit and the celebration over the tag
of the world’s fifth largest economy. The government keeps talking of demographic dividends and empowerment of women.

The GHI report throws light on the alarming health conditions of India’s children and young women. Add to this the gloom caused by the trajectory of India’s jobless, nay job-loss, economic growth and the precarious conditions of India’s young working and job-seeking population and we know how the Indian people are being systematically impoverished and ruined. The question
of the Indian people’s right to food and effective and universal food security cannot be reduced to the Modi government’s cynical vote-seeking in the name of ‘free ration’. The GHI and GFSI
reports tell us that continued neglect of the agenda of food security is bound to push India into a bigger disaster.

Modi, Sundar Pichai Discuss AI, Electronics For Good Governance In India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual meeting with Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, on Monday. During this interaction, PM Modi and Pichai discussed Google’s plans to contribute to the expansion of the electronics manufacturing ecosystem in India. The Prime Minister commended Google for its collaboration with Hewlett Packard (HP) to manufacture Chromebooks in India.

Additionally, PM Modi acknowledged Google’s “100 languages initiative” and expressed his support for making AI tools accessible in Indian languages. He encouraged Google to focus on developing AI tools that promote good governance, as stated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Modi also extended a warm welcome to Google’s intention to establish its global fintech operations center in the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) located in Gandhinagar. During the meeting, Pichai informed the Prime Minister about Google’s plans to enhance financial inclusion in India by leveraging the capabilities of GPay and UPI. He emphasized Google’s commitment to contributing to India’s developmental trajectory.

Furthermore, PM Modi invited Google to participate in the upcoming Global Partnership on AI Summit, which is scheduled to be hosted by India in December 2023 in New Delhi.

Picture: TOI

Notably, earlier this year, Sundar Pichai had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Modi during the Prime Minister’s official visit to the United States. At that time, Pichai had announced Google’s significant investment of $10 billion in India’s digitization fund and shared insights with the Prime Minister.

Pichai also highlighted Google’s plans to establish a global fintech operation center in GIFT City, Gujarat. He praised PM Modi’s visionary approach to Digital India, considering it a blueprint that other nations are eager to emulate.

The meeting between PM Modi and Sundar Pichai is not a first. The Google CEO had previously met with the Prime Minister during his visit to India in December the previous year. During this meeting, PM Modi expressed his delight in discussing innovation, technology, and related matters with Pichai, emphasizing the importance of global collaboration in leveraging technology for the betterment of humanity and sustainable development.

Winter Weather Outlook: Possible El Niño Influence

The upcoming winter season in the United States may bear the hallmark of El Niño’s influence, as indicated in a recent forecast from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and Atmospheric G2.

This influence is discernible in the comprehensive three-month winter outlook. The forecast suggests that a robust El Niño is anticipated for this winter, a phenomenon typically linked to above-average temperatures in much of the northern United States. In contrast, it often results in slightly below-average temperatures in parts of the southern U.S.

However, it’s important to note that this outlook provides a broad three-month trend, so there could be periods of both warmer and colder weather in specific regions compared to the general forecast.

Month-by-Month Projections

Let’s delve into the month-by-month projections for this upcoming winter and examine some key factors that might alter this outlook.

December: Winter could kick off with unseasonably warm conditions in the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, and Northeast. If you were hoping for a chilly December to set the holiday mood, you might be in for disappointment. Cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, and New York City are all expected to experience temperatures significantly above average. Meanwhile, the southern tier of the U.S. is likely to see temperatures close to the seasonal norm.

January:As the new year begins, the southern U.S. might experience slightly colder-than-average temperatures. A typical feature of El Niño is cool and wet conditions in parts of the southern states during the heart of winter, and this outlook suggests that from the Southern Plains to Georgia and the Carolinas, there’s a possibility of increased chances for snow and ice. On the other hand, parts of the Northwest and Northeast have the highest likelihood of experiencing above-average temperatures in January.

February:The last full month of winter may bring a split in temperature trends. In February, the warmest temperatures compared to the seasonal average could prevail in the Northwest and northern Rockies. Conversely, the Southeast to the mid-Atlantic might have a higher chance of encountering colder-than-average temperatures.

Factors that Could Alter the Winter ForecasT

Several critical factors could potentially modify the winter forecast.

  1. Atmospheric Response to El Niño:The extent of the atmospheric response to El Niño’s warm Pacific waters plays a pivotal role. According to Dr. Todd Crawford, Vice President of Meteorology at Atmospheric G2, the current atmospheric conditions resemble those of the 2009-10 El Niño, which was characterized by cooler temperatures in the central and eastern U.S. Therefore, close monitoring of trends in the coming weeks and months is necessary to determine the extent of El Niño’s influence on winter weather patterns and whether the outlook may shift towards cooler conditions.
  2. Polar Vortex Strength:The weakening of the polar vortex later in the winter can have significant implications for weather patterns. When the polar vortex weakens, the frigid air typically trapped in the Arctic can spill into parts of Canada, the U.S., Asia, and Europe. This happens because the jet stream becomes more blocked with sharp, southward meanders, redirecting cold air toward lower latitudes. Dr. Crawford suggests a good chance of a mid-winter weakening of the polar vortex, which could lead to colder conditions during the latter part of winter.
  3. Global Warming Influence:The recent surge in global warmth is another factor to consider. As of the end of September, the Earth was on track to experience its warmest year on record. Dr. Crawford notes that this additional burst of global warmth in 2023 may result in an upward shift in temperatures. In practical terms, this means that warm periods could be even warmer than usual, while cold periods may be less severe than typical.

While the winter outlook suggests an influence of El Niño with a predisposition towards warmer conditions in the northern U.S. and cooler conditions in the southern U.S., these projections are subject to modification based on the evolving interplay of these significant factors. Therefore, as winter approaches, we must remain vigilant and adaptable in our preparations for the upcoming season.

Arundhati Roy Charged Over Kashmir Comments Made 13 Years Ago

Indian authorities have filed charges against the acclaimed author Arundhati Roy for public statements she made over a decade ago regarding the tumultuous Kashmir region, marking the latest development in the Indian government’s increasingly restrictive stance on free speech under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.
Suman Nalwa, a spokeswoman for the New Delhi police, stated that the government had given approval for charges to be brought against Ms. Roy and Kashmiri law professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain. The charges encompass various sections of Indian law, including those related to provocative speech and the incitement of enmity between different groups.

The Lieutenant Governor of the Delhi region indicated that the government had contemplated pursuing a more severe sedition charge against Ms. Roy and Mr. Hussain in connection with a case originating from a complaint lodged in October 2010 by a right-wing Kashmiri Hindu activist against speakers at a conference on Kashmir.
However, no such sedition charge was filed, as India’s highest court is currently deliberating the validity of the colonial-era sedition law, which critics assert has been misused for decades to stifle dissent. The reason for the police’s decision to act on the activist’s complaint over a decade after its filing remains unclear.

Picture: NYT

The action taken against Ms. Roy, a prominent critic of Prime Minister Modi, and Mr. Hussain occurred shortly after New Delhi police conducted raids on the residences and offices of numerous journalists associated with an online news portal recognized for its critical stance on the Indian government.

Previously, the authorities had also targeted the organization NewsClick. However, their crackdown escalated following the publication of an article in The New York Times that revealed connections between an American tech mogul financing the website and the Chinese government.

On Tuesday, a New Delhi court denied bail to the founder of NewsClick and another individual linked to the website, ordering their detention for ten days. Both individuals, who deny any wrongdoing, face charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, an anti-terrorism law. Many individuals charged under this law have spent years in detention awaiting trial.

Regarding the Kashmir conference-related case, Mr. Hussain, speaking from Kashmir, informed The New York Times that he had not received any formal communication regarding the charges. When asked for comment, Ms. Roy stated that she needed to consult with her lawyer before discussing the case.

Two other individuals accused in the activist’s complaint, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a prominent figure in Kashmir’s separatist movement, and Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, a former university professor, have since passed away. The two men were not related.

The conference, titled “Freedom — the Only Way,” took place in New Delhi on October 21, 2010. During that period, tensions in Muslim-majority Kashmir were running high after the death of a 17-year-old boy who was struck by a tear gas canister fired at close range by Indian security forces as he returned from a tutoring session.

The year saw a cycle of unrest in Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of approximately 120 demonstrators.

In a guest essay published in The New York Times that autumn, Ms. Roy described the turmoil, noting, “Since April, when the army killed three civilians and then passed them off as ‘terrorists,’ masked stone throwers, most of them students, have brought life in Kashmir to a grinding halt. The Indian government has retaliated with bullets, curfew, and censorship.”

In the complaint filed by the Kashmiri Hindu activist, it was alleged that several speeches at the conference, including Ms. Roy’s, had “endangered public peace and security” and that the speakers had advocated for the “separation of Kashmir from India.”

In her speech, Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize-winning author of “The God of Small Things,” recounted an incident in which she was accosted by a television reporter who repeatedly asked her, “Is Kashmir an integral part of India?”

She responded, “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. However assertively and frequently you ask me, even the Indian government has acknowledged that it is not an integral part of India.”

The Modi government, which assumed power four years after these events, has taken measures to bring the Kashmir region under direct control, revoking its limited autonomy and suppressing democratic principles and opposing voice

“One Nation, One Election Concept By B.J.P. Will Disrupt The Democratic Process:” Anil Shashtri

Anil Shastri, son of late Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, was hosted by the I.O.C.U.S.A. in New York at Baldev Randhawa’s residence in New Rochell on September 28, 2023, to discuss current political dynamics in India. Mr. Shastri shared memories of his father and discussed the need to strengthen the I.O.C.’s hand to support the Indian National Congress party. He spoke in detail about how democracy is being diminished in India under Modi’s leadership and the importance of recapturing the letter and spirit of the constitution and saving democracy by defeating the ruling B.J.P. in the upcoming election.

“Unlike in last eight years, India’s electorate and young generation are now realizing their misperception of Narendra Modi’s rule, and re-election of B.J.P. for a third time could lead to a disaster. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi formed a broad coalition, “I.N.D.I.A.,” after winning states like Karnataka.” Mr. Shastri said. “Opposition parties like A.A.P., T.M.C., and NCP were reluctant to work under I.N.C.’s leadership before Karnataka elections. However, they now understood that Congress-led opposition with a one-on-one fight only can defeat B.J.P.,” he added.

He asserted that if any leader in India can answer Narendra Modi by looking into his eyes, it is Rahul Gandhi. Despite all the posturing, Narendra Modi is now afraid and feels threatened by the resurgence of the Congress Party. Anil Shastri criticized the B.J.P.’s “one nation, one election” concept, stating that simultaneous elections in the state and central governments would disrupt the Indian democratic process, potentially extending the President’s rule beyond six months, which needs a constitutional amendment and that the basic structure of Indian constitution is unchangeable. He criticized Modi’s government for deliberately using issues such as “one nation, one election,” etc., to divert the attention of the people from the real problems that they are facing. This is also a “Chunav ki jhumla” like depositing 15 lakh rupees in every citizen’s bank account.

Great leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastry and Jawaharlal Nehru thought their image would be magnified if the country’s image was built up. Contrary to that, Narendra Modi believes precisely the opposite, and Narendra Modi, as Prime Minister, used the recent G-20 sessions to build his own image, said Mr. Shastri.   He also advised the I.O.C. volunteers to use social media and other related technology to the maximum extent to change people’s perceptions in India by conveying reality and facts to them.

Anil Shastri recounted his father Lal Bahadur Shastri’s extraordinary determination, honesty, and hard work. He shared anecdotes about his father’s refusal to accept Russian and other countries’ aid during food shortages and his father’s determination to protect his self-respect as Prime Minister of India. Answering an audience’s question, Anil Shastri said that his father was so poor that he could not afford a boat ticket. He also rejected the free ride offer of the boatman and used to swim across the mighty Ganges to attend his school.

When asked why he swam, Lal Bahadur Shastri said to Anil Shastri, “When a person cannot protect his self-respect, he will not have the right to live.” Similarly, he said that he could not compromise with the self-respect of India by accepting money or any aid from other countries during a food shortage. He not only advocated but also gave up dinner once a week as a response to the food grains blockade by the major powers during the Indo-Pak war. The meeting commemorated the immense achievements of Lal Bahadur Shastri, such as the sowing seeds of the green revolution and the victory of the Indo-Pak war.

Harbachan Singh, Secretary-General, welcomed Shri. Anil Shastri and his wife Manju to the meeting. Mr. George Abraham, vice-chairman, described the goals and aspirations of the I.O.C. and emphasized the importance of close cooperation and dialogue. Mohinder Singh Gilzian, the President, introduced Anil Shashtri to the audience and lauded him for his dedication and commitment to the party.

Gurmit Gill Mulapur, Amar Singh Gulshan, Sophia Sharma, Dayan Naik, Sharath Chandra Vemuganti, Joshua John, Baldev Randhawa, Jose George, Paul Karukapallil, Thomas Koshy and Harry Singh also spoke.

John Joseph thanked host Baldav Randhawa for their generous hosting of the event and the Chief Guest Anil Shashtri and Manju Shastri for their kind presence.

Arya Samaj of Chicago Celebrates 200 Years of Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Ji

Arya Samaj of Chicago land also hosted Mega Multikund Maha Yajna on Sunday, October 1st, 2023 at 700 Hillview Ave., West Chicago, IL. The event was a celebration of 200 Years of Maharshi Dayanand SaraswatiJi – An Uplifting Socio-Spiritual Celebration

The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the year-long celebrations commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of Maharishi Dayanand SaraswatiJi, at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Delhi on February 12th, 2023 and it is echoed by all Arya Samajs around the world.

“When the British imposed the policy of appeasement on the Indians, Arya Samaj started the Vedic movement in the country. Arya Samaj has been a vibrant movement in India. There was a time when Arya Samaj was dominant from Basti to Karachi,” said the chief minister addressing the Golden Jubilee Mahotsav of Arya Samaj in Basti.

Maharshi Dayanand SaraswatiJi was born on 12th February 1824. Maharishi Dayanand SaraswatiJi was a social reformer who founded Arya Samaj in 1875 to counter social inequities prevalent during the times.  Maharshi Ji had played crucial role in the Indian Freedom movement, united all Hindus, Women Rights, Child Marriage, Important of Vedas. Arya Samaj has played a crucial role in the cultural and social awakening of the country through its emphasis on social reforms and education.

Ajay Gharia Ji and Ash Perti Ji along with Dr. Ashok MehtaJi and all board members of Arya Samaj of Chicago land had planned the Multikund Maha Yajna. Devotees from all over Chicago land joined the celebration and 21 families joined as Yajmans. It was a wonderful program with three havan kunds set outside. Dr. Kamlesh Chokshi Ji – One of the top scholars from India who retired as Director/Professor from Gujarat University had performed the Havan with vadic mantras. AsmitaJi and SarlaJi had sung the ardas/prayer. Pratibha Jairath Ji along with Shree Kamath Ji, Shaila Khedkar Ji and Jitendra Bulsara Ji sang the melodious bhajans. Dr. Ashok Mehta Ji, Ramesh Malhan Ji and Om Dhingra Ji had thanks everyone.

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi on Gandhi Jayanti

The members of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago celebrated Mahatma Gandhi Ji life on Gandhi Jayanti where the life-size monument of Gandhiji was located in the Heritage Park, Skokie, Illinois on October 02, 2023. Dr. Santosh Kumar, the President of Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Dr. Shriram Sonty, Vice President, Mr. Suresh Bodiwala, the Chairman, and Mrs. Dipti Shah, the treasurer of Gandhi Memorial Foundation along with invited guests,  Somnath Ghosh, the Counsel General of India, George Van Dusen, the Mayor of Skokie and State Senator Ram Villivalam, Dist. 8, Mr. Prayag Raj, Vedic Acharya and over fifty elderly seniors and staff members from Metropolitan Asian Family Services, Chicago, Niles, and Schaumburg sites got together there to honor and to pay homage to the Father of our Country Mahatma Gandhi, Bapu, with great love, enthusiasm and joy.

In his opening remarks, Counsel Gosh recognized Gandhiji as a political ethicist having an enormous impact all over India and the world. He proudly talked about the impact Bapu had on Martin Luther King, Jr. when he visited India in 1959. He stated that King, Jr. was greatly inspired by Gandhiji and accepted Gandhiji as his spiritual Guru, and acknowledged the fact that Gandhiji was one of the rare people who could say, “My life is my message.” Counsel also mentioned a book, “A Promised Land” written by Mr. Barack Obama when he was the President of the US. He emphasized that President Obama, in the book, talked about someone who asked him that in the entire sweep of human history, if he was to meet one person, who would he like to meet! President Barack Obama’s answer was Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr. Sonty Sriram remembered his visit last year to the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station in South Africa to be a part of Human Rights celebration where Mahatma Gandhi was a victim of racially discrimination and was forcibly removed from a first-class train compartment in 1893. Dr. Sriram sang Gandhi’s favorite Bhajan “Veshnav Jan to Tene re Kahiye je Peed Parayi jane re..e..” as well.

Mayor George Van Dusen recalled a memorable ceremony in 2004 when the life- size statue of Mahatma Gandhi ji “an icon to world peace” was introduced in Skokie Park, with about 1500 people in attendance and a hovering helicopter that dropped rose petals. A unique floral tribute to such an auspicious occasion!

Bodiwala emphasized the fact that Dr. Chandrakant Modi, a prominent member of South Asian Community, Chicago who put forth a great effort in 2004 for having the Gandhiji Statue at the Heritage Park, but because of his ill health, he was not able to join in the event.

All invited guests including the Senator Ram Villivalam and the members of Gandhi Memorial Foundation praised Gandhiji for the kind of man that he was, the man who dedicated his life to the struggle for freedom and justice, the man who advocated for the path of peace, truth, and self-sacrifice, the man who encapsulated the true spirit of humanity and nationalism, the man who drove away the mighty British Empire from India with his non-violent approach, and finally, a man who became famous as a Father of our Country India.

Promoting Gandhian ideals, Dr. Kumar asked everyone to uphold his principles in our personal and societal lives with “Simple living and high thinking” …one person, one town, one country, and finally the whole world can for sure. She gave an example of such a person and admired Dr. Sriram Sonty for living such a life and following Gandhi Bapu’s footsteps. Mr. Raj, Vedic Acharya added the spiritual element to what Dr. Kumar stated and asked everyone to read and follow the philosophy of Gandhiji’s beloved book Shrimad Bhagwat Gita.

MAFS seniors Mrs. Sudarshan Malhotra, Mrs. Rujuta Pancholi, Mr. Mohinder Vaid and others expressed veneration by singing a Bhajan/religious song that Bapu used to sing, “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram..” with great zeal and liveliness. Mr. Vaid showcased Gandhiji’s three monkeys with words, explained the meaning of each monkey’s message, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

Also, he sang a well-known Bollywood song, “Suno Suno Duniavalo Bapu ki ye Amar Kahani.” Mrs. Pancholi remembered Gandhiji as a legendary, historic Patriot who stood for social justice, equality, humanity, and self-reliance and concluded reflecting on Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

MAFS Managers, Mrs. Dipti Shah, Mrs. Jahnavi Bavisi, Mrs. Promila Mehta and Mrs. Mital Patel, with the help of other staff members, successfully managed the entire program very well, including making sure that everyone who was present at the Gandhi Memorial was provided tea and snack boxes as well. The event was concluded with a vote of thanks and appreciation to all by Dr. Santosh Kumar. (Photographs and Report by: Asian Media USA)

Facing the Diabetes Dilemma: Can Yoga Be the Unexplored Solution to Our Silent Epidemic?

It’s early in the evening. You’ve just wrapped up a big dinner, feeling stuffed to the brim, but something’s off. You can’t quite pinpoint it, then it hits you – you skipped dessert, that classic ‘sweet tooth’ craving. You swing open the fridge, its light revealing frozen pizzas and leftover takeout, and then you spot it – that box of pastries your cousin dropped off a few days ago, what a lifesaver. You take it out and keep it on the table. Just as you’re about to indulge in the world of brownies and cheesecakes, an old magazine beneath the box catches your attention. Before you can take a bite, there’s an article on Diabetes staring right back at you, its headline blaring, ‘According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 422 million people worldwide are living with diabetes, and this number is anticipated to rise.’ You recall chatting with your cousin about their 48-year-old neighbor who recently passed from complications related to high sugar levels. You can’t help but think of the irony as you place the pastries back, untouched and pristine, into the fridge. With a heavy sigh, you shut the fridge door, leaving those tempting treats behind

Please excuse my earlier attempt at humor; there’s truly nothing humorous about diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 37.3 million Americans, which is 11.3% of the US population, have diabetes. Out of this number, 28.7 million have been diagnosed, while an alarming 8.5 million remain undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. Notably, Type 2 diabetes accounts for a staggering 90.9% or 21 million of all diabetes cases in the US. The financial toll is significant as well. In 2017, the CDC estimated the total cost of diagnosed diabetes to be $327 billion, comprising $237 billion in direct medical expenses and another $90 billion due to reduced productivity.

Let’s delve into how this impacts Indian-Americans. Statistics indicate that Indian-Americans are more susceptible to diabetes compared to other groups. The diabetes prevalence rate among Indian-Americans stands at 15.7%, a figure that notably surpasses the national average. Furthermore, Indian-Americans tend to develop type 2 diabetes at a younger age compared to other ethnicities. The latest statistics on the economic cost of diabetes for Indian Americans are from the American Diabetes Association’s 2022 Diabetes Care in Indian Americans report. The report found that the total cost of diabetes for Indian Americans was estimated to be $36.4 billion in 2022. This includes the cost of medical care, lost productivity, and premature death.

Diabetes is a “slow poison.” It is a disease associated with other conditions like high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness, and other ailments. Diabetes is not curable, but it can be managed. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to understand how you can live a decent lifestyle by enjoying sweets in moderation and at the same time get your Diabetes controlled. Unfortunately, there is no drug known to mankind that can cure Diabetes. While a significant armamentarium of medications can help control your blood sugar, some come at the cost of having side effects. Many effective diabetic drugs have fallen into disrepute because they do not protect the heart. The present dictates to pharmaceutical manufacturers is only to discover medicines that have proven protection for the heart. The simple reason being a diabetic mostly dies due to heart disease or its complications.

It is essential to understand that medications, even when taken appropriately, do not cure or treat diabetes mellitus. This disease is called a lifestyle disease, and its treatment requires extensive lifestyle changes, with medications secondary to it. Millions of people have successfully been able to keep their Diabetes absolutely in control after engaging in radical lifestyle changes. Though it sounds complicated and impossible, it will disrupt your regular work and almost certainly entail giving up your profession. Fortunately, such fears are uncalled for because all you need to do is practice yoga for half an hour 4/5 days a week, including 10 minutes of mindfulness and meditation. You might be thinking that it is a long prescription. It is not.

Yoga is a practical and effective lifestyle modification that involves Asanas (Postures), Dharana (Mindfulness), and Dhyana (Meditation). Whether you believe it or not, at least seven of the eight components of yoga are essential to induce a lifestyle change. Yoga space has been unfortunately polluted by half-baked experts who need clinical training. Whether yoga works or not in Diabetes is not based on my personal experience. I would then be no different from the “erudite” neighborhood yoga practitioner or Guru who believes their experience is all that is required to prove that it works. Unfortunately, clinical medicine, including yoga therapy, is a scientific proposition propelled by research. Modern medicine agrees with yogic principles that stress exacerbates Diabetes. When stressed, your body releases hormones that can cause blood sugar to increase and blood pressure and heart rate.

Picture: USA Today

The therapeutic benefits of yoga, especially concerning diabetes, have been increasingly recognized in scientific literature. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in both PLOS ONE and the Journal of Diabetes Research highlighted yoga as a comprehensive and alternative approach to preventing type 2 diabetes. These studies specifically noted improvements in fasting blood glucose, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure among pre-diabetic individuals following yoga intervention. Furthermore, an article in the Asana – International Yoga Journal emphasized yoga’s efficacy in not only maintaining overall health but also in preventing the progression from a pre-diabetic state to Type 2 Diabetes and averting further complications in those already diagnosed. Another study in MDPI underscored yoga’s potential as an alternative exercise for type 2 diabetes patients, given its comparable benefits to other exercises in enhancing muscle strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, and its added advantage when combined with standard management.

Regular walks, combined with specific yoga poses like Dhanurasana and multiple twisting poses, can be helpful for people with Diabetes, as it helps burn off the excess sugar that has built up in their bodies and stimulate insulin production. In addition, Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutation, is a sequence of 12 powerful yoga asanas, which is another effective way to reign in your rising blood sugar level. However, it can be modified by doing a faster variation that consumes more calories.

Last but not least, ‘you are what you eat’ might be quite literal for people with Diabetes. Indulging your sweet tooth urges might make you sweeter, literally, by increasing the blood sugar level in your body. This, unfortunately, has multifarious unseen ramifications, including blocking blood vessels leading to heart attack, stroke, or even amputations! People who have Diabetes should be aware of how essential it is, in addition to their yoga practice, to maintain a disciplined approach to their Ahara (diet). Yoga is effective in bringing blood sugar levels under control, particularly when combined with dietary modifications. If you have Diabetes, the most important thing you can do for your health is to pay close attention to what you put in your body, basically your diet. A diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, and raw veggies is low in calories and fat and contributes to an alkaline diet of high-quality natural foods. Avoid overeating by eating modest, frequent meals.

Yoga’s many health benefits include aiding in the management of Diabetes without leading to its dangerous complications. Yes, you can indulge in sweets, cakes, and chocolate occasionally, but remember that the central teachings of yoga are self-control and discipline, as well as avoiding overindulgence. So, when you practice yoga regularly and follow its principles, it is your best insurance to lead a healthy and long life.

The American Academy for Yoga in Medicine is hosting a webinar on Diabetes Management on November 4th, featuring expert physicians discussing how Yoga can be advantageous for individuals dealing with diabetes, or for anyone aiming to prevent its onset. It’s not merely about physical flexibility; it’s about fostering a balanced lifestyle and nurturing your overall well-being. Your path to a balanced, healthier life can start with this insightful session.

(The author is a Cardiologist, Meditator, and Yogi based in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. He is the Founder and Chairman of the American Academy for Yoga in Medicine. He is the Editor in Chief; The Principle and Practice of Yoga in Cardiovascular Medicine. [email protected])

Indian Lawmakers Conclude Session in Old Parliament Building Amid Controversy Over New Facility

Indian lawmakers have wrapped up their final session in the current Parliament building before relocating to a new facility, in response to a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the
session, Modi celebrated India's parliamentary history and highlighted the recently concluded Group of 20 (G20) summit.

This move comes after major opposition parties boycotted the inauguration of the new Parliament back in May, deeming it extravagant. It marked a rare instance of unity against Modi’s Hindu nationalist ruling party, which has held power for nine years and is now seeking a third term in the upcoming elections.

The new Parliament building, characterized by its triangular shape, came with an estimated price tag of $120 million. It’s a part of a broader $2.8 billion renovation project in central New Delhi, aimed at modernizing British-era offices and residences. This comprehensive initiative, known as the “Central Vista” spans over 3.2 kilometers (1.9 miles) and encompasses new government ministry and department buildings, as well as Modi’s upcoming private residence.

During his speech in the lower house, Modi praised his government for its role in the G20 summit. This summit witnessed India’s pivotal role in brokering compromises among divergent
global powers on crucial global matters. Modi specifically underscored India's efforts in bringing the African Union into the G20 fold. He also mentioned the recent successful lunar mission, in which India’s spacecraft landed near the moon’s southern pole.

Modi’s address didn’t solely focus on recent achievements; he also delved into Parliament’s historical significance and highlighted some major decisions made by his government within the parliamentary context.

The announcement of this five-day special session last month drew criticism from opposition lawmakers, who argued that the Modi government had not been transparent about its
parliamentary agenda. Only last week did the government release a "tentative list" that outlined four proposed bills, including a contentious one expected to alter the process of appointing India’s chief election officer.

The new Parliament building is situated in close proximity to the old one, a circular structure designed by British architects in the early 20th century. The new facility, spanning four stories,
boasts a total of 1,272 seats across two chambers, nearly 500 more than the previous one.

Largest Hindu Temple Outside India Inaugurated In New Jersey

BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, the largest Hindu temple in the United States, opened its doors on Sunday, October 8th, in New Jersey. Situated in the city of Robbinsville, New Jersey, this temple is heralded as the largest Hindu temple outside of India in the modern era.

In a letter to BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed the profound spiritual significance of this occasion for devotees worldwide, stating, “It is an occasion of profound spiritual significance for the vast legion of devotees worldwide.” The temple will be accessible to the public starting from October 18th.

Architectural Marvel

This magnificent temple is a testament to unparalleled craftsmanship. Its construction involved four distinct varieties of marble from Italy and limestone from Bulgaria. These precious materials embarked on an extraordinary journey, spanning thousands of miles from their origins to India and ultimately reaching their final destination in New Jersey, as reported by the Associated Press. On-site, skilled artisans meticulously assembled these intricately carved pieces, akin to assembling a colossal jigsaw puzzle, resulting in the creation of this monumental Hindu temple.

Covering an expansive 126-acre area, this architectural masterpiece owes its existence to the unwavering dedication of artisans and volunteers who devoted approximately 4.7 million hours to painstakingly hand-carve around two million cubic feet of stone, according to the report.

The temple’s walls are adorned with carvings of historical figures, including prominent figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, as highlighted by Yogi Trivedi, a temple volunteer and a scholar of religion at Columbia University, in a statement to NBC News. He marveled at the temple’s beauty, saying, “I wake up every morning and scratch my eyes thinking, ‘Am I still in central New Jersey?’ It’s like being transported to another world, specifically to India.”

Construction Efforts

The construction of the Akshardham temple, a collaborative effort involving 12,500 volunteers from around the world, commenced in 2011, according to PTI.

This monumental achievement marks a significant milestone for the Hindu community in the United States and stands as a symbol of the dedication, craftsmanship, and unity of its creators. As it opens its doors to the public, it is poised to become a source of inspiration and a place of spiritual significance for devotees and visitors alike.

California Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Ban Caste Discrimination

California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Saturday that aimed to explicitly prohibit caste discrimination within the state. This legislation, which had gained approval from the California legislature the previous month, sought to identify caste as a subset of ancestry in the state’s civil rights laws, granting residents legal recourse in cases of caste-based discrimination.

India’s caste system, evolving over centuries, established a rigid social hierarchy based on ideas of purity, with an individual’s caste assigned at birth. Although India formally outlawed caste discrimination shortly after gaining independence in 1947, caste-based bias and inequality persist and have spread to other nations.

Picture: CNN

In his explanation for vetoing the bill, Newsom argued that it was “unnecessary” because the state already prohibited discrimination based on caste. He stated, “In California, we believe everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter who they are, where they come from, who they love, or where they live. That is why California already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics, and state law specifies that these civil rights protections shall be liberally construed.”

Some groups, including individuals of Indian descent, opposed the California measure, contending that it unfairly generalized an entire community. While caste is most commonly associated with India and Hinduism, it has extended to other South Asian countries and religions.

In recent years, individuals who have experienced caste-based oppression in the United States, particularly in Silicon Valley where a substantial number of employees are South Asian immigrants, have begun to speak out about the discrimination they face.

A coalition of civil rights organizations, faith-based groups, and progressive legal scholars supported the bill’s effort to amend the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Unruh Act, and the Education Code to include “caste” and other aspects of ancestry. Nevertheless, the bill faced fervent opposition from some Indian Americans and Hindu organizations who argued that it unfairly stigmatized South Asians and Hindus.

Equality Labs, an advocacy organization representing Dalits, those at the lowest rung of India’s caste hierarchy, supported the bill. Despite Newsom’s veto, Equality Labs regarded it as a victory. Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs, expressed, “While it is heartbreaking to receive the Governor’s veto, it is not a reflection of the incredible democratic power that our communities showed. We did the impossible. Caste-oppressed people have been mobilizing for years to fight against this form of historical violence and will continue to do so.”

Earlier in the year, Seattle became the first U.S. city to prohibit caste discrimination. Several higher education institutions, including Brown University, the California State University System, Colby College, and Brandeis University, have also incorporated caste protections into their nondiscrimination policies.

In 2020, California filed a lawsuit against the tech giant Cisco and two of its engineers, alleging discrimination against an Indian employee because of his lower caste status. Although the state later dropped the case against the two engineers, litigation against Cisco remains ongoing. Cisco stated at the time that it was dedicated to fostering an “inclusive workplace.”

Caste has been a contentious issue in California over the past two decades, particularly regarding the portrayal of Hinduism in textbooks. Some Hindu groups argued that proposed textbook language perpetuated bias and stereotypes against Hindus and lobbied for the removal or modification of certain references to the caste system.

Mixed Reactions After CA Governor Vetoes Caste Discrimination Bill

Reactions began pouring in thick and fast on Saturday as soon as California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the controversial and groundbreaking caste discrimination Bill SB 403, a legislation that would have added caste to the anti-discriminatory clause of state law. It is no surprise that California’s Democratic Governor Newsom has shamefully vetoed the statewide bill that would have banned caste discrimination. Just days ago, Newsom (who is a multimillionaire himself) outrageously vetoed a bill backed by WGA, SAG-AFTRA, and other labor unions, which would have given unemployment benefits to workers on strike.

This veto on the bill to ban caste discrimination is not coincidentally coming at a time when US imperialism, led currently by President Biden and the Democrats, is courting the regime of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his far-right BJP.

In fact, the Biden administration has said that the Modi regime is a “linchpin” in the US agenda in the New Cold War. And the Hindu right-wing organizations, such as the Hindu American Foundation, which opposed the anti-caste-discrimination bill, are closely aligned with the Modi regime.

It’s clear that Biden and the Democratic Party care far more for the strategic relations of the American ruling class with the reactionary Modi regime than they do for oppressed-caste and other marginalized people.

This is a setback, and it’s important activists and working people learn the lessons and understand why we won in Seattle but not in California.

As Socialist Alternative and I have said since we won our historic first-in-the-nation Seattle legislation against caste discrimination in February, we won because we built a fighting struggle of rank-and-file activists and workers, not putting our faith in Seattle’s Democratic Party establishment.

Here in Seattle too, Democrats, including self-described progressive ones, were initially opposed to our bill, some of them repeating Hindu right-wing talking points.

Seattle Democrats were forced to vote YES only because of the strength of our grassroots, working-class campaign. If anything, given the high stakes in a prominent state like California, such a fighting strategy was even more necessary.

Unfortunately, the NGOs that led the California effort failed to take this approach. They instead worked in collaboration with Democratic politicians, and refused to build a fighting campaign.

Ajay Shah, Convenor, HInduPACT and President of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) said: “When politically motivated California assembly and senate succumbed to an 18-year long systematic multi-pronged attack engineered by forces inimical to Hindus in various forms, Hindus kept their struggle for truth, justice and equality alive. Today, we thank Gov. Newsom for rejecting Hinduphobic SB-403.  SB-403 would have targeted Hindus kids in the elementary schools and Hindu professionals and business owners.  It would have led to the bullying of Hindu children and baseless and yet relentless persecution and prosecution of Hindu professionals as we have seen in the CISCO case.  I want to especially remember community organizer Milind Makwana who sacrificed his life as he fought against this Bill”

Rakhi Israni, HinduPACT Executive Director, Legal said:  “We are grateful to Governor Newsom for standing up for the privacy of Californians.  SB-403 would have made it easier for companies to collect and sell our personal information without our knowledge or consent. This is a critical issue, and we appreciate the Governor’s leadership in protecting our privacy. Governor Newsom’s veto of SB-403 is a victory for privacy. It sends a clear message that California will not stand for companies that track and sell our personal information without our consent. We urge the Legislature to sustain the Governor’s veto.”

Amitabh Mittal, General Secretary of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) said:  “Thank you, Gov Newson, for vetoing this draconian bill that attempted to harass and divide the entire Hindu community under  the garb of a non-existent “caste” issue in the US.  Congtulations to all Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain American Community members for this crucial victory.  We’re proud of all the Leaders who worked relentlessly to make it happen.  Nefarious designs of hate, divide and destroy have no place in these United States.

Tejal Shah, Convenor of HMEC (Hindu Mandir Empowerment Council), an initiative of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), representing hundreds of North American temples said: “The impact of SB-403 on the Hindu temples and culture would have been devastating. Chanting of Sanskrit mantras during prayers would have been construed as castetist act.  Today, we thank Gov. Newsom for protecting the right of Hindus to practice their religion in privacy and freely.”

Newsom’s veto of these pro-working-class and anti-oppression bills is a reminder, once again, of how the Democratic Party is as tied to the interests of the ruling class as the Republicans are. Working people and those fighting against caste discrimination and other forms of oppression need to build independent movements and fight to build our own political organizations, because the Democratic Party is a graveyard of social movements.

Covid Vaccine Inventors To Receive Nobel Prize

Three years after the first mRNA-based vaccines became available, to prevent COVID-19, the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded to two scientists who made those vaccines possible. Katalin Kariko and Dr. Drew Weissman were recognized for their work modifying the genetic material mRNA to make it more useful in treatments like vaccines.

Picture: USA Today

When they met at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s, Kariko had been a longtime champion of mRNA technology, but struggled to convince the rest of the scientific community of its promise since RNA was notoriously unstable and had not produced any meaningful treatments. Weissman was working on developing an HIV vaccine, and thought an mRNA approach might be worth a try. The rest is now Nobel history.

Here are some of the highlights of their journey:

  • mRNA theoretically held a lot of promise in being able to treat genetic and infectious diseases, but also tended to aggravate the immune system, creating a dangerous inflammatory reaction.
  • Kariko and Weissman spent decades figuring out that changing the mRNA code slightly would make it less prone to stimulating this aggressive inflammatory response.
  • Their discovery made the COVID-19 vaccines possible, and is now being

The winners

  • Hungarian scientist Katalin Kariko and her US colleague Drew Weissman, who met for the first time while waiting in the queue for a photocopier before making mRNA molecule discoveries, paving the way for Covid-19 vaccines, won the 2023 Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday.

The discovery

  • The discoveries by the two Nobel Prize scientists were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020.
  • Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, they contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.

The research

  • Kariko, 68, and Weissman, 64, longstanding colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, have already won a slew of awards for their research.
  • In recognising the duo this year, the Nobel committee broke with its usual practice of honouring decades-old research, aimed at ensuring it has stood the test of time.
  • While the prizewinning research dates back to 2005, the first vaccines to use the mRNA technology came out just three years ago and is now being used to develop other treatments for diseases and illnesses such as cancer, influenza and heart failure.

Prize money

  • The pair will receive their prize, consisting of a diploma, a gold medal and a $1 million cheque, from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who instituted the prizes in his last will and testament.

Last year’s winner

  • Last year’s medicine prize went to Swede Svante Paabo for sequencing the genome of the Neanderthal and other past winners include Alexander Fleming, who shared the 1945 prize for the discovery of penicillin.

Modi Government Seeks Detailed Report On Anti-Christian Violence

The Indian government’s Minority Commission has called upon a Christian organization to provide a comprehensive report regarding the violence against Christians, following the group’s appeal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s involvement five months ago.

On September 21, during a meeting in New Delhi, the National Commission for Minorities requested the United Christian Forum (UCF), an ecumenical entity, to submit this report within one month. Commission chairman, Sardar Iqbal Singh Lalpura, conveyed that they intend to conduct their own examination based on the UCF’s report and will subsequently present a comprehensive report to Prime Minister Modi. Christian leader A. C. Michael, who led the delegation, confirmed this development.

The UCF initiated this request for Prime Minister Modi’s intervention to address the escalating violence against Christians following Modi’s visit to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi on Easter Sunday, April 9.

The UCF, responsible for documenting incidents of violence against Christians in India, asserts that attacks have surged, particularly after 11 of India’s 28 states introduced extensive anti-conversion laws. Most of these states are governed by Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to Michael, these anti-conversion laws contradict the essence of Article 25, which guarantees religious freedom for Indians. He added that these laws are often misused by fringe pro-Hindu groups to target Christians.

The forum contends that governmental indifference contributes to the rise in anti-Christian violence. They reported 525 incidents of violence across 23 Indian states up until August this year, compared to 505 incidents for the entire previous year.

The delegation included John Dayal, the spokesperson of the All India Catholic Union, as well as UCF executive members Tehmina Arora and Siju Thomas.

Picture: UCAN

Michael remarked positively on the meeting with Lalpura, expressing encouragement. Lalpura assured the Christian leaders that the commission would address the growing persecution of Christians and urged them to dispatch fact-finding teams to areas affected by violence.

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, ranks highest in incidents of violence against Christians, followed by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in central India. Uttar Pradesh is governed by the BJP, which also wields significant influence in the two central Indian states.

In Uttar Pradesh, Christians constitute a mere 0.18 percent of the state’s 200 million population, with the majority being Hindus. Generally, Christian presence is less than one percent in central and northern Indian states.

Christians in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand primarily belong to tribal communities, and Hindu groups aligned with the BJP have launched a nationwide campaign called “Ghar Vapasi” (returning home) to convert them to Hinduism.

Michael stated that their forthcoming report would encompass comprehensive details of every recorded anti-Christian incident. It will also address the anti-conversion laws, violent assaults on Christians, and issues related to reservation status, all of which are pressing concerns for the Christian community in India.

Christian leaders have expressed that their community feels marginalized. For instance, the National Minorities Commission currently lacks a Christian member, although it includes representatives from Buddhist and Sikh backgrounds. Indian Christians outnumber adherents of these religions.

Lalpura pledged to expedite the appointment of a Christian member, according to Michael. In their letter to Prime Minister Modi, the UCF called for the inclusion of Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and tribal Christians in India’s affirmative action policies. Such policies reserve quotas in government jobs, educational institutions, and legislative bodies to integrate these marginalized groups into society. Despite recommendations from various committees, successive governments have denied reservation status to Christians, arguing that Christianity does not have a caste system, and therefore, there cannot be Dalits among Christians.

Air India Acquires 3 Brand New Aircrafts

Air India CEO Campbell Wilson on Friday said that the airline had, this week, acquired three brand new aircraft including first Airbus A350, and two Boeing 737MAX.

In letter, Wilson said that the aircraft acquired are part of the mammoth 470-aircraft order announced just a few months ago. “As well as Air India being the first Indian carrier to acquire the A350, this transaction makes us the first scheduled carrier to use the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), and the aircraft the first widebody to have been leased through India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).

“The A350 is now undergoing some interior and technical modification and will receive a new coat of paint with the new Air India livery, so will only enter Indian skies in December. However, the B737MAXs will arrive much sooner… in fact, the first one is winging it’s way to India as I write!” Wilson said. The CEO also said that they inaugurated a new Emergency Command Centre (ECC) at their headquarters in Gurugram this week, replacing two erstwhile Air India facilities that were well past their prime.

“This new, state-of-the-art facility would be where, in the event of a crisis affecting Air India or our alliance partners, our actions would decided, coordinated and overseen. While we all hope that we never have to actively use this facility, the ECC gives us a world-class base equipped with the latest technology so that we can respond with the best possible support,” he said.”

We will also be refreshing and strengthening our Go Team with ground handling, flight safety members and technical representation, and adding to our Family Assistance Team to ensure we can provide humanitarian support wherever needed. Currently, we have 750 ‘Angels of Air India’ volunteers who will soon undergo training in emergency management, and we are always keen for more,” he added. “Speaking of technology, I’d also like to acknowledge the D&T and Customer Experience teams for the successful transition of all customer service channels to our own technology stack.

This includes telephony, computer-telephony-interface, interactive voice response, customer relationship management, customer data platform and artificial-intelligence-driven agent-assist technologies, which allows us to have a unified view of all customer support needs,” he said in the letter.

“Modernising and in housing this tech stack, and better interfacing it with other key systems, gives Air India better control, independence and ability to materially improve our customers’ experience with us, and to accelerate the development and deployment of new capabilities,” he added.

‘India’ Or’bharat’: Constituent Assembly Debates Showed Reasonableness Amid Opinion Divergence

As “India, that is Bharat” plunges into a frenzied if largely risible political jockeying over the country’s nomenclature, reading the debates of the Constituent Assembly dating back to December 9, 1946, reveals a sober and civilized parliamentary discussion on the subject.

A sampling of comments in the Constituent Assembly debates shows none of the current angst over the name triggered by the speculations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is about to rename India as Bharat. The incongruity of “India, that is Bharat”, as given by Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who drafted the Constitution, was pointed out by some members of the Constituent Assembly just as an independent India was taking shape.

The incongruity of “India, that is Bharat”, as given by Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who drafted the Constitution, was pointed out by some members of the Constituent Assembly just as an independent India was taking shape.

Addressing the Assembly. Dr. Ambedkar said, “I propose to move amendment No. 130 and incorporate in my amendment No. 197 which makes a little verbal change in sub-clause (2). I move “That for clauses (1) and (2) of article 1, the following clauses be substituted: India, that is, Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

Blending of East and West’

Mohammed Tahir, a member from Bihar, said, “I would like to submit that it is a matter of shame that our Constitution could not fix a name for our country. This is a proof of the intelligence of Dr. Ambedkar that he suggested a hotch-potch sort of name and got it accepted. Well, if somebody would have asked Doctor Saheb about his homeland, he could have replied with pride that he belonged to Bharat or India or Hindustan. But now the Honourable Dr. will have to reply in these words: “I belong to India that is Bharat”. Now, Sir, it is for you to see what a beautiful reply it is.”  Tahir’s comments came during a debate on November 24, 1949.

Algu Raj Shastri, a member from the United Provinces, said this on November 21, 1949, “It is, Sir, a matter of deep sorrow and deep regret for me that we in this country did not rise above the slave mentality and we did not say frankly what would be the name of our country. I think, Sir, there is no single country of the world which has such a clumsy name as we have given to our land that is ‘India, that is Bharat.’ The fact, Sir, is it is no name at all and we have failed very badly in giving it a proper name.”

Picture : TheUNN

Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava, a member from East Punjab took a more nuanced position on November 18, 1949, saying, “Now I would like to draw your attention, Sir, to a few minor things embodied in the Constitution. India has, no doubt, recovered herself; we have got our ancient India now. As regards the name of the country the term India that is Bharat” has been laid down in the Constitution and some of my friends objected to this term. As for me, I have no serious objection to it. It is a fact that we cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world; We have centuries-old connections with England and the rest of the world. The world will always know us by the name of India. But so far as we are concerned, in our hearts and souls our country shall always remain as Bharat. So the terms India and Bharat have been bracketed in order to meet the needs of our countrymen as well as of the outsiders. The world will call us as India and we ourselves will call us as Bharat. Thus there will be blending of the East and the West.”

Divergent opinions

Hari Vishnu Kamath, a member from Central Provinces and Berar, put a much finer point on the debate on November 14, 1949.  “The Draft as passed by the House reads, “India, that is, Bharat”. The revised draft presented to the House says, “India, that is Bharat”. That I do not think is what was intended by the House when we accepted article 1. What was meant was, India, that is to say, Bharat. That is why two commas were inserted and the phrase was interposed. It does not mean, “India, that is Bharat,”. This is wrong English, so far as the meaning intended is concerned. I think the original was perfectly correct and it was absolutely wrong on the part of the Drafting Committee to change the wording.”

In another debate he also said, “Some ascribe it (name of Bharat) to the son of Dushyant and Shakuntala who was also known as “Sarvadamana” or all conqueror and who established his suzerainty and kingdom in this ancient land. After him this land came to be known as Bharat. Another school of research scholars hold that Bharat dates back to Vedic…”

That seemed to test Ambedkar’s patience. “Is it necessary to trace all this? I do not understand the purpose of it. It may be well interesting in some other place. My friend accepts the word “Bharat”. The only thing is that he has got an alternative. I am very sorry but there ought to be some sense of proportion, in view of the limited time before the House,” he said.

Jagat Narain Lal, a member from Bihar, had a different spin altogether. “I come to some of the drawbacks, or, I might say, some of those omissions which I regret. For example, Sir, I would have liked the name ‘Bharat’ to come before India. It is a fact that ‘Bharat’ and India have come in, but I would have liked ‘Bharat’ to come before India, he said on November 25, 1949.

R K Sidhva, a member from the Central Provinces and Berar, was both prescient and reasonable in saying on November 25, 1949, “India in future will be called Bharat but that does not mean that we discard the name Hindustan.”

Kamalapati Tripathi, a member from the United Provinces, said, “We are pleased to see that this word has been used and we congratulate Dr. Ambedkar on it. It would have been very proper, if he had accepted the amendment moved by Shri Kamath, which states “Bharat as is known in English language ‘India’”.

Change in debating nature

To which Ambedkar responded saying, “This matter was debated at great length last time. When this article came before the House, it was kept back practically at the end of a very long debate because at that time it was not possible to come to a decision as to whether the word “Bharat” should be used after the word “India” or some other word, but the whole of the article including the term “Union”—if I remember correctly— was debated at great length. We are merely now discussing whether the word “Bharat” should come after “India”. The rest of the substantive part of the article has been debated at great length.”

Several other members had also chimed in during the historic debates. Seth Govind Das, also from the Central Provinces and Berar, said on November 17, 1949, “In this Constitution, our country has been named ‘India that is Bharat’. It is a matter of gratification that the name Bharat has been adopted, but the way in which this has been put there has not given us full satisfaction. ‘India that is Bharat’ is a strange name.”

Lakshminarayan Sahu, from Orissa, said on 17 November 1949, “Our country was first named Bharat. Then it was thought that ‘Bharat’ would not be understood by other countries of the world and the words ‘India that is Bharat’ were included. What is this?”

A.B. Mandloi of the Central Provinces and Berar, said on November 18, 1949, “Taking into account our ancient civilisation, culture and traditions, we have adopted a suitable name for our country, namely, Bharat. That has also been done with the common consent of all.”

“It fills our heart with joy when we consider that once more this ancient land which was hitherto known as India only will be known as Bharat,” said Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri, of Assam, on November 22, 1949. “For the first time, after a dependence of more than 1,000 years India, Bharat has emerged as a Sovereign Democratic Republic,” said S. V. Krishnamoorthy Rao of Mysore State the same day.

The overall tone of the debates over the name of the country as incorporated in the new constitution was reasonable even though at times very detail-oriented. Dr. Ambedkar did seem to occasionally display impatience over the way some of the members dwelt on the country’s ancient past to make their points.

From there to now, there has been a remarkable change in the way the same subject is being discussed with the politics of its timing as well as its hidden motivation, namely, to thwart the newly minted INDIA opposition alliance, dominating the discourse. (The author is a Chicago-based journalist, author, filmmaker and commentator. Views are personal. By special arrangement with Indica) Read more at:

In Hindu Heritage Month, Hindu Americans Seek To Educate The Public — And Themselves

(RNS) For Hindu Heritage Month this year, Hindus want to highlight their faith for external audiences, but also grow broader awareness amongst Hindus themselves.

When Hindu Heritage Month was held for the first time two years ago, its organizers hoped to educate their fellow Americans about the contributions Hindus have made in the world. Most could name yoga as a Hindu influence; some might bring up the holistic health practices of ayurveda. But since ancient times, Hindus have been pioneers in astronomy, architecture, mathematics and numerous other fields.

“We have so much to be proud about, and we’ve been very modest in keeping it to ourselves,” said Ramya Ramakrishnan, community outreach director for the Hindu American Foundation, one of the sponsors of the month’s activities. “This is the way to tell people: ‘Look at what our faith has accomplished.’”

Now, the organizers of this third Hindu Heritage Month hope their movement will educate not only the wider public, but Hindu Americans themselves, about their faith’s growing profile in the United States.

“Thirty-five years ago, we didn’t have these organizations and institutions,” said author Rajiv Malhotra at the kickoff event for this year’s program, held in Monroe Township, New Jersey. The leaders of those that existed “were scared,” he said, “and stayed within the temples, but not out there the way we are today.”

Vijay Satnarine, the director of education strategy for the Hindu American Foundation, said that there is work to be done within the Hindu community. Even today, many Hindus’ knowledge of their faith remains at a “high-school level,” he said, adding that Hindus in positions of power do not always bring the fullness of their culture or heritage to their professions.

For decades, some Hindu Americans have blamed the U.S. education system, which has given short shrift to Hinduism’s legacy in world thought. At the same time, critics say, American educators restrict their discussions of Hinduism and Hindu culture to polytheism, caste hierarchy and arranged marriages, misleading not only outsiders but practitioners themselves.

“This very constricted education has left us unable to talk about our own diversity,” said Satnarine.

But the emergence of India, the birthplace of Hinduism, as a nascent superpower has begun to change how the world thinks about the country and the faith. The inaugural event included the reading of a written statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. “The rise of Indians and Indian diaspora in diverse fields, from space to sports, trade to technology, has created an immense interest in India, its people and its culture,” it said.

The month’s organizers want people to know that Hindus and Indians are not synonymous. Instead, the month is meant to highlight the global Hindu community, which extends from Indonesia to Kenya to the Caribbean and is rooted in a shared value of universal oneness.

The Hindu American Foundation has been marking  Hindu American Awareness Appreciation Month since 2013 to recognize the specific contributions of the Hindu American diaspora, such as temples built on American land or the first Hindu members of Congress.

But the increasing attention to Hinduism in the past few years prompted a small group of Hindus to found the current initiative two years ago, aiming to rewrite a narrative centered on the caste system, Hindu nationalism and idol worship.

“We need to bring our cultural values, our mantras, or beautiful bindis and tilaks and colors to the world and be known for all of the good things that Hinduism has to offer,” said Richa Gautam, a member of the HHM core committee.

Despite its beginnings in the depths of the pandemic, the effort has taken off. Last year, about 100 proclamations in cities and school boards across the nation were issued. Virginia became the first and only state to sign a bill making October Hindu Heritage Month in perpetuity. And in 2023, the states of Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey proclaimed the month Hindu Heritage Month.

This year, the organizers are emphasizing Hindus’ involvement in American life, hoping to dispel the view of Hinduism as a mystical, inward-looking faith.

“Hindu Americans have been very good citizens, enriching the tapestry through our cultural heritage and our universal Sanatan values,” said Gautam. “If we build awareness, there won’t be that exotic element that exists for us.”

Part of that task is to counter academics, even those in departments of religious studies, who have approached the faith from a Western, often Protestant Christian, paradigm of what “religion” means, advocates say.

Educational efforts like the Hindu American Foundation’s “Dharma Ambassadors” training program, which allows for Hindus to promote a streamlined narrative of the faith, or the accredited Hindu University of America, which offers courses on everything from Hindu feminism to advanced Sanskrit, strive to combat just that.

“A lot of our students, even though they were born and brought up as Hindus, they still have a very basic, partial, even sometimes erroneous knowledge about Hindu traditions,” said Aravind Swami, the vice president of operations for HUA. “When our students have discussions with anyone in the Hindu community, they’re able to speak with a greater sense of confidence and purpose.”

Jai Bansal, vice president of education for the World Hindu Council of America and one of the main organizers of Hindu Heritage Month, said the most valuable aspect of the initiative is to make all Americans recognize the Hindu values, from nonviolence to karma, as part of their history and their everyday lives. That, he said, is a job for all Hindus.

“One of the fundamental beliefs in our dharma is that ignorance is the root cause of all problems,” said Bansal. “It’s up to community leaders to try and distill our dharma in a form that modern society can easily digest.”

Bansal believes Hindu Heritage Month is a way to rally the global Hindu community, diverse as it is, to that task.

“If we continue with it, just think of someday 1 billion Hindus around the world celebrating their common heritage together — what kind of a message that will send to the world at large,” he said. “I’m just hoping for that day, whether I see it myself, or the next generation sees it.”

Human Activities Push Earth Past 6 Planetary Boundaries, Posing Existential Risks

In a groundbreaking study, it has been revealed that humanity has transgressed six out of nine planetary boundaries crucial for preserving Earth’s stability and resilience. The study, published in Science Advances, identifies these six boundaries as climate change, biosphere integrity (encompassing genetic diversity and ecosystem energy), land system change, freshwater alteration (encompassing shifts in the entire terrestrial water cycle), biogeochemical flows (covering nutrient cycles), and novel entities (including microplastics, endocrine disruptors, and organic pollutants).

Drawing a striking analogy, Katherine Richardson, the author of the study from the University of Copenhagen, likened these planetary boundaries to blood pressure, stating, “If your BP is over 120/80, it is not a guarantee of a heart attack but it raises the risk. The same is true here — the breaching of individual boundaries does not imply immediate disaster but raises the risk of setting processes in motion that are likely to dramatically and irreversibly change the overall environmental conditions on Earth to one that no longer supports civilization as we know it.”

This research marks an update to the planetary boundaries framework, which was initially introduced in 2009 to delineate the environmental constraints within which humanity can safely function. Katherine Richardson emphasized the necessity of revising the framework to align with our evolving comprehension of Earth’s system dynamics and human impacts on it.

Conducted by 29 scientists from eight countries, this is the third iteration of the framework. The researchers commenced by identifying the processes in Earth’s ecosystem that have played a pivotal role in maintaining favorable conditions for human habitation over the past 12,000 years—a period renowned for its environmental stability and warmth.

Subsequently, they evaluated the extent to which human activities have disrupted these processes and pinpointed the threshold at which these disruptions heighten the likelihood of substantial and irreversible transformations in Earth’s overall conditions. To facilitate their analysis, computer simulations were employed.

The results unveiled that humans triggered breaches in two of the planet’s safety measures—climate and land systems—in 1988, placing us at imminent risk of systemic upheaval. Specifically, the researchers set the planetary boundary for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and radiative forcing, which represents the magnitude of the energy imbalance in the atmosphere, at 350 parts per million (ppm) and 1 Watt per square meter (Wm−2) respectively. Presently, these values stand at 417 ppm and 2.91 Wm−2.

Regarding land system changes, the study assessed the global forested land area as a percentage of the original forest cover boundary, which was originally estimated at 75 percent. However, the current global value has plummeted below this safe threshold, registering at 60 percent.

For biosphere integrity, the researchers set a limit of fewer than 10 extinctions per million species-years. Alas, their conservative estimations indicated that the actual extinction rate far surpassed this boundary, standing at over 100 extinctions per million species-years. At present, approximately one million out of the eight million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, with over 10 percent of genetic diversity within these species lost over the past 150 years.

The second facet of biosphere integrity pertains to the energy accessible to ecosystems, known as net primary production (NPP). It represents the difference between the amount of carbon generated through photosynthesis and the amount expended during respiration. Currently, humans are appropriating roughly 30 percent of the energy that was available to support biodiversity.

This comprehensive study serves as an alarming reminder of the perilous path humanity is treading concerning the environment. It highlights the urgency for concerted global action to reverse these boundary transgressions and safeguard the planet’s delicate equilibrium. Without immediate and effective measures, the risk of triggering irreversible changes that threaten civilization as we know it becomes increasingly substantial.

AIA-NY honors six at glittering Benefit Gala

Tagline: Highlights of the Deepavali Fest on October 1 released

Hicksville, NY: The Association of Indians in America (AIA-NY) held its Benefit Gala under the Presidentship of Dr Jagdish Gupta to raise funds for the iconic Deepavali Fest at South Street Seaport in Manhattan on October 1.

The glittering gala was held on September 17 in the chandeliered ballroom of the newly opened Pearl Banquet Hall in Hicksville, NY. It was attended by over 200 prominent people including past presidents of AIA and advisory board members.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Asmita and Arun Bhatia, Founder and CEO of the Arun Bhatia Development Organization. Excellence in Healthcare Administration Award was given to  David Seligman, Deputy Regional Executive Director for Northwell Health Western Region.

Dr V. K. Raju, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University was honored for Excellence in Ophthalmological Surgery & Prevention of Childhood Blindness. On his behalf, his daughter Dr Leela V. Raju, herself  an eminent ophthalmologist, accepted the award.

Dr Subhash Kini, Director, Center for Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai (Morningside), received the Excellence in Bariatric & Minimally Invasive/Robotic Surgery Award.  Businesswoman/Entrepreneur Award went to Sharda Haridas Kotahwala, for their family business in Diamond & Precious Stone Jewelry business. Dr Saurabh Lodha, of the Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, was given the Excellence in Dermatology – Special Young Physician Award.

New York Life Insurance Company, a major sponsor of AIA’s  Deepavali Festival, was honored for Community Service  Excellence. NY Life’s Corporate Vice President, Srinivas Ranga received the plaque.

In his President’s address, Dr Gupta said that the honorees tonight are the crème de la crème of our community, including physician leaders, philanthropists, educators, and entrepreneurs.

Dr Gupta, an eminent gastroenterologist who took over as AIA-NY president on June 2, emphasized that “AIA-NY has been organizing the Deepavali Festival in New York for the past 36 years, and it has become an iconic event, attended by thousands of people from the Tri-State area, including both Indians and non-Indians.

Highlights of the free-to-public Deepavali festival at South Street Seaport on October 1 include: Children’s Program (1.30-3 pm), Nach Inferno (4-5.30 pm), VIP Hour (3.30 – 5 pm), and the finale – Fireworks on East River at 7 pm. Many lawmakers,  dignitaries and entertainers are expected to participate. Print and electronic media are invited to cover the mega event.

At the gala, Dr Gupta congratulated the community as Diwali has been declared a school holiday in New York City. “Over the years, it has come to symbolize our culture and heritage in the USA  as Diwali is a manifestation of Indian culture.”

Dr Samin Sharma, Advisor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of AIA-NY, in his address, highlighted the stellar achievements and contributions of Indian Americans, particularly in healthcare.

Citations for AIA-NY from Indian Consul General Randhir Jaiswal, Nassau County Chairman Bruce Blakeman, and New York State Senator Kevin Thomas were received by Dr Gupta.

AIA Board members at the gala included Dr Samin Sharma, Dr Nirmal Mattoo, Animesh Goenka, Dr Shashi Shah, Dr Buddhadev Manvar, Sunil Modi and Smiti Khanna. Past Presidents in attendance included Harish Thakkar, and Dr Narinder Kukar.

Nilima Madan was the Gala Chair.

Dr Gupta, former President of IALI, AAPI-QLI and Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation, thanked Fareportal-CheapOair/Qatar Airways Alliance, New York Life, Mount Sinai Hospital, and the Northwell Health System for their generous contributions toward Deepavali Fest.

A sumptuous dinner followed.

How Canada became embroiled in diplomatic spat over killing of Sikh separatist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of ‘credible allegations’ of Indian involvement in a Sikh leader’s death.

How Canada became embroiled in diplomatic spat over killing of Sikh separatist

(The Conversation) — India and Canada have engaged in tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions as part of an escalating row over the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil.

The expulsions follow claims by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that there are “credible allegations” linking the Indian government of Narendra Modi with the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, a prominent member of the Khalistan movement seeking to create an independent Sikh homeland in the Indian state of Punjab, was shot dead on June 18, 2023, outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia.

With tensions between the two countries rising, The Conversation reached out to Mark Juergensmeyer – an expert on religious violence and Sikh nationalism – at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to bring context to a diplomatic spat few saw coming.

1. What is the Khalistan movement?

“Khalistan” means “the land of the pure,” though in this context the term “khalsa” refers broadly to the religious community of Sikhs, and the term “Khalistan” implies that they should have their own nation. The likely location for this nation would be in Punjab state in northern India where 18 million Sikhs live. A further 8 million Sikhs live elsewhere in India and abroad, mainly in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada.

Picture : Bloomberg

The idea for an independent land for Sikhs goes back to pre-partition India, when the concept of a separate land for Muslims in India was being considered.

Some Sikhs at that time thought that if Muslims could have “Pakistan” – the state that emerged through partition in 1947 – then there should also be a “Sikhistan,” or “Khalistan.” That idea was rejected by the Indian government, and instead the Sikhs became a part of the state of Punjab. At that time the boundaries of the Punjab were drawn in such a way that the Sikhs were not in the majority.

But Sikhs persisted, in part because one of the central tenets of the faith is “miri-piri” – the idea that religious and political leadership are merged. In their 500-year history, Sikhs have had their own kingdom, have fought against Moghul rule and constituted the backbone of the army under India’s colonial and independent rule.

In the 1960s, the idea of a separate homeland for Sikhs reemerged and formed part of the demand for redrawing the boundaries of Punjab state so that Sikhs would be in the majority. The protests were successful, and the Indian government created Punjabi Suba, a state whose boundaries included speakers of the Punjabi language used by most Sikhs. They now compose 58% of the population of the revised Punjab.

The notion of a “Khalistan” separate from India resurfaced in a dramatic way in the large-scale militant uprising that erupted in the Punjab in the 1980s. Many of those Sikhs who joined the militant movement did so because they wanted an independent Sikh nation, not just a Sikh-majority Indian state.

2. Why is the Indian government especially concerned about it now?

The Sikh uprising in the 1980s was a violent encounter between the Indian armed police and militant young Sikhs, many of whom still harbored a yearning for a separate state in Punjab.

AP Photo/Sondeep Shanker

Picture : RNS

Thousands of lives were lost on both sides in violent encounters between the Sikh militants and security forces. The conflict came to a head in 1984 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched Operation Blue Star to liberate the Sikh’s Golden Temple from militants in the pilgrimage center of Amritsar and capture or kill the figurehead of the Khalistan movement, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He was killed in the attack, and Sikhs around the world were incensed that their sacred place was violated by police action. Indira Gandhi was assassinated in retaliation by Sikh members of her own bodyguard.

In recent years, several firebrand Sikh activists in India have reasserted the idea of Khalistan, and the Indian government fears a return of the violence and militancy of the 1980s. The government of Narendra Modi wants to nip the movement in the bud before it gets too large and extreme.

3. What is the connection between the Khalistan movement and Canada?

After the Sikh uprising was crushed in the early 1990s, many Sikh activists fled India and went to Canada, where they were welcomed by a large Sikh community – many of whom had been sympathetic to the Khalistan idea. A sizable expatriate community of Sikhs has been growing in the country since the early 20th century, especially in British Columbia and Ontario.

Sikhs have been attracted to Canada not only because of its economic opportunities but also because of the freedom to develop their own ideas of Sikh community. Though support for Khalistan is illegal in India, in Canada Sikh activists are able to speak freely and organize for the cause.

Though Khalistan would be in India, the Canadian movement in favor of it helps to cement the diaspora Sikh identity and give the Canadian activists a sense of connection to the Indian homeland.

4. Has the Canadian government been sympathetic to the Khalistan movement?

The diaspora community of Sikhs constitutes 2.1% of Canada’s population – a higher percentage of the total population than in India. They make up a significant voting block in the country and carry political clout. In fact, there are more Sikhs in Canada’s cabinet than in India’s.

Although Trudeau has assured the Indian government that any acts of violence will be punished, he also has reassured Canadians that he respects free speech and the rights of Sikhs to speak and organize freely as long as they do not violate Canadian laws.

5. What is the broader context of Canada-India relations?

The Bharata Janata Party, or BJP, of India’s Prime Minister Modi tends to support Hindu nationalism.

Recently, the Modi government used “Bharat” rather than “India” when referring to the country while hosting the G20 conference, attended by President Joe Biden, among other world dignitaries. “Bharat” is the preference of Hindu nationalists. This privileging, along with an increase in hate crimes, has led to an environment of fear and distrust among minorities, including Sikhs and Muslims, in India.

Considering the high percentage of Sikhs in Canada’s population, Trudeau understandably wants to assert the rights of Sikhs and show disapproval of the drift toward Hindu nationalism in India.

And this isn’t the only time that Trudeau and Modi have clashed over the issue. In 2018, Trudeau was condemned in India for his friendship with Jaspal Singh Atwal, a Khalistani supporter in Canada who was convicted of attempting to assassinate the chief minister of Punjab.

Yet both countries have reasons to try to move on from the current diplomatic contretemps. India and Canada have close trading ties and common strategic concerns with relationship to China. It is likely that, in time, both sides will find ways to cool down the tensions from this difficult incident.

(Mark Juergensmeyer, Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of TheUNN.) (How Canada became embroiled in diplomatic spat over killing of Sikh separatist (

G20 Summit Showcases India’s Fence-Sitting Foreign Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Challenges of India’s Diplomatic Role

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

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

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

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

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

Picture : CSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can’t Prosecute Journalists For False Reports”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture : Reddit

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNESCO Announces Inclusion of 13 New Sites in World Heritage List

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

1.Palestine – Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.Germany – Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt

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

7.Denmark – Viking-Age Ring Fortresses

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

8.Canada – Tr’ondëk-Klondike

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

9.Republic of Korea – Gaya Tumuli

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

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

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

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

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

12.Ethiopia – The Gedeo Cultural Landscape

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

13.India – Santiniketan

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

14. Latvia – Old Town of Kuldīga

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

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

UNESCO Just Added 27 New World Heritage Sites for 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tributes paid to India’s parliament at special session

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is India Having A Special Session Of Parliament?

A special five-day session of Parliament called by the government during ‘Amrit Kaal’ began on Monday, September 18, 2023. This comes amid an intense speculation about the government’s agenda for the rare move. The five-day special session of the Parliament began at 11 am on Monday. The session was held in the old Parliament building, and MPs moved into the new building on Tuesday, the second day of the special session.

Indian lawmakers, including PM Narendra Modi, have paid tribute to the country’s old parliament ahead of a move to a new building. While addressing media persons outside Parliament, PM Modi said that several important decisions will be taken during this special session of Parliament. The Prime Minister called on MPs to pledge to work towards making India a developed country by 2047.

The special session is being held amid criticism from opposition leaders who claim that the government has not disclosed all the business that could come up during the week.According to the government, eight bills have been listed for discussion during the session – but this agenda could be changed or expanded during the course of the week.Opposition leaders have questioned whether a special session was necessary to discuss these bills when MPs are set to meet later this year for the winter session of parliament.

Picture : Mint

Indian lawmakers usually meet for regular business three times a year in parliament – a budget session, a monsoon session and a winter session. On Monday, Mr Modi began the special session by commemorating the legacy of India’s parliament since 1947, when the country became independent from British rule. The government has held several events to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Modi said that leaving the old parliament was an “emotional moment” as the building was filled with special memories and that the structure would continue to inspire future generations. “The biggest achievement of this parliament is that it has kept people’s faith in democracy alive,” he said in a speech where he also mentioned India’s successful Moon landing and hosting of the G20 summit.

“Well, this building is full of memories as the PM also said, it is full of history. It will be a sad moment. Let’s hope that the new building has better facilities, new technology and more convenience for the members of the Parliament. But still, it is always an emotional moment to leave an institution which is so full of history and memories,” Shashi Tharoor added.

The new building

A day before the special session Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday hoisted the national flag atop the “Gaja Dwar” of the new Parliament building.For the new Parliament building, this will be the first session.

A new dress code has been announced for the parliamentary staff of various departments. The new dress code with floral motif for a section of staff has already kicked up a political row, with the Congress dubbing it as a “cheap” tactic to promote the ruling party’s poll symbol — the lotus flower.

Old vs new building

Designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the existing historic Parliament House Complex has stood for over 96 years and is a repository of India’s democratic journey. The new building has been designed by Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management led by architect Bimal Patel.

All the political parties with a presence in Parliament have issued a whip to their Parliamentarians, directing them to ensure their presence during the special session.

The government has listed some bills and marking the 75 years of India’s Independence as its agenda for the special session.

But the Opposition has not seemed satisfied, indicating that the special session, possibly in the new building, may follow the old suit of shouting, sloganeering and ruckus over the government’s “hidden agenda”.

A special discussion on Parliament’s journey of 75 years starting from the “’Samvidhan Sabha” (Constituent Assembly) is listed on the agenda.Four bills including the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners to be taken up during the session.

And a custom

The customary all-party meeting was called by the government on Sunday on the eve of the special session of Parliament. Floor leaders of all parties attended the meeting.

Several parties made a pitch for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, giving 33% quota to women candidates in elections. The government has responded by saying that an appropriate decision on the women’s quota bill would be taken at the right time.

Special sessions are not that common – according to legislative expert Chakshu Roy, the government has sometimes convened them “for specific occasions, like commemorating parliamentary or national milestones”.

Biden Reaffirms US Support For India’s Seat On The UN Security Council

During his speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United States to reform the United Nations Security Council membership, thus supporting India’s primary goal of a permanent seat on UNSC. Biden emphasized support for other key US-India strategic endeavors including strengthening of the Quad partnership, advancing Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), and welcoming the African Union’s inclusion in the G20, accomplished during India’s leadership in that forum.

Addressing world leaders during the UN general debate, President Biden recalled, “In my address to this body, last year, I announced the United States to support expanding the Security Council, increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members. The United States has undertaken serious consultation with many Member States and will continue to do our part to push more reform efforts forward…”

Biden noted, “This month we strengthened the G20 as a vital forum welcoming the African Union as a permanent member by upgrading and strengthening our institutions… That’s only half of the picture. We must also forge new partnerships, confront new challenges…” adding “In the Indo Pacific, we’ve elevated our Quad partnership with India, Japan, and Australia, to deliver concrete progress to people of the region on everything from vaccines to maritime security.”

“Similarly groundbreaking efforts were announced at the G20 [in New Delhi] connecting India to Europe, through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel – will spur opportunities investment across two continents…” Biden added about the PGII initiative.

Picture : TheUNN

Over 151 Heads of State and Government are participating in the high-level week in New York, where four of the five permanent members of UNSC – Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom will be absent. US President Joe Biden is the only permanent member of UNSC who participated and addressed global leaders as well.

PM Modi, who successfully hosted the G20 Summit in New Delhi, will not be traveling to New York to address the UNGA session. Instead, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar will address the session on September 26 and is expected to reaffirm India’s commitment to several vital issues including the Global South.

On the eve of the UNGA session, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that India’s participation during the current session will underscore its steadfast dedication to the “global cooperation, peace, and sustainable development.” This commitment is rooted in the vision of a unified global family and resonates with the sentiments articulated by PM Modi, according to Kamboj.

Emphasizing India’s focus during the UNGA session, Kamboj noted, “Firstly, as the current President of the G20, India will continue to emphasize issues that are vital to the Global South countries including climate action, finance, and the sustainable development goals. We proudly opened the doors for the African Union to join the G20 recognizing the importance of global collaboration to address contemporary challenges.”

Kamboj pointed out that the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration underscores India’s dedication to fostering sustainable economic growth and promoting environmentally friendly initiatives. This commitment is exemplified by the collective focus on an inclusive and action driven G20 agenda under PM Modi’s guidance.

On human rights and social issues, Kamboj added “We stand firmly for women’s rights, constructive human rights dialogues, and an intercultural dialogue for peace. India will Chair the 62nd session of the UN Commission for Social Development, the first time since 1975, that India holds this esteemed position.”

About UN reforms, Kamboj said India actively engages in discussion surrounding UNSC reforms with a primary goal of securing permanent membership and emphasizing the need for expansion of both permanent and non-permanent member categories. Furthermore, India will prioritize efforts to revitalize the Non-Aligned Movement.

On September 18, two members of G4 nations, Japan and Brazil met on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York and discussed ways to carry forward the G20 agenda under India’s Presidency.

“The two Ministers shared the view that Japan and Brazil will continue to strengthen cooperation as ‘strategic global partners’ and that they will work together towards the G20 Rio de Janeiro Summit next year, building on the achievements that led from the G7 Hiroshima Summit to the G20 New Delhi Summit,” Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Kamikawa Yoko, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Mauro Vieira said in their joint statement.

The Joint Communiqué of the Fourth Trilateral Meeting of the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations on September 17 also reaffirmed their leaders “commitment to promote effective multilateralism and welcomed the extension of G20 membership to the African Union.” Notably, the African Union was inducted as a permanent member during the recently concluded G20 Leaders’ Summit under India’s Presidency in New Delhi.

UN Living In The 1940s Mindset, Urgently In Need Of Reforms

(IPS) – Politically, the United Nations has largely been described as a monumental failure —with little or no progress in resolving some of the world’s past and ongoing military conflicts and civil wars, including Palestine, Western Sahara, Kashmir, and more recently, Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and Myanmar, among others.

Still, to give the devil its due, the UN has made some remarkable progress providing food, shelter and medical care to millions of people caught in military conflicts, including in Ukraine, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Somalia. Has the UN been gradually transformed into a humanitarian aid organization — diplomats without borders?

How fair are these characterizations?

Meanwhile, during the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly beginning September 18, some of the world’s political leaders, representing four of the five permanent members (P5) of the Security Council, were MIAs (missing in action): Prime Minister Rushi Sunak of UK, President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China.

The only P5 member present was US President Joe Biden. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, a country described as one of the world’s rising political and economic powers willing to lead the Global South, was also missing.

Picture: FP

Is there a hidden message here for the UN? And is the UN beginning to outlive its usefulness–politically?

Asked about the absence of four P-5 members of the Security Council, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was blunt when he told reporters: “I don’t think it is because we have or we have not a leader of a country that the high-level week is more relevant or less relevant. What’s important is the commitments that Governments are ready to make in relation to the SDGs, in relation to many other aspects of this week. So, this is not a vanity fair… What matters is not the presence of this or that leader. What matters is the commitment of the respective government in relation to the objectives of the summit.

Meanwhile, the reform of the UN – including the revitalization of the General Assembly, the increase in the number of permanent members of the Security Council and the lack of gender empowerment at the highest echelons of the UN hierarchy, with nine all-male Secretaries-General and only 4 women out of 78 presidents of the General Assembly – has been discussed for decades. But still these issues have never got off the ground. Or will they ever?

In an interview with IPS, Natalie Samarasinghe, Global Director, Advocacy, Open Society Foundations, said change is challenging at the UN. The organization is predicated on balancing principle with politics — and the former prevails only when it can be aligned with the latter. It has been subversive, supporting the fight against colonialism and apartheid, and helping the marginalized to advance their cause through development and human rights.

At the same time, it has helped to maintain the power structures of 1945. That is reflected in the UN’s priorities,programming and personnel. And this formula seems weaker now, with the UN now seemingly peripheral in the peace and security realm, and struggling to coordinate global responses to the shocks of recent years.

This does not mean the organization cannot change. Today’s UN would be unrecognisable to its founders: with its strong focus on sustainable development, nearly four times the number of member states, and bodies devoted to almost every dimension of human endeavour.

The UN’s charter does not mention the iconic blue helmets or UNICEF — perhaps the organization’s best-known ‘brand’, nor does it allude to the role of the Secretary-General as the world’s top diplomat. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change and GAVI, the multistakeholder vaccine alliance — inconceivable seven decades ago — are further examples of the UN’s ability to adapt to new realities.

A wide view of the General Assembly Hall at the start of the Assembly’s seventy-first annual general debate.

Yet, other parts of the organization seem frozen in time, most obviously the Security Council. So, is change possible? It is depressing that the prospect of a female Secretary-General still feels remote, or that only four of the 78 presidents of the General Assembly have been women. This should not be our ceiling for reform but our floor.

We have regional rotation for positions. Why not gender rotation? This is surely as achievable a change as it is necessary.

The Security Council, meanwhile, is probably the least likely area of movement. But its gridlock — on substance and reform — has increased the appetite for the General Assembly to act as a counterweight to exclusive clubs.

The closest thing we have to a world parliament, the importance of the Assembly has grown as lower-income countries become increasingly frustrated at shouldering the brunt of global shocks without any real say in solutions.

This is part of a broader trend. At the UN, it encompasses improvements to the Secretary-General selection process in 2016, Liechtenstein’s success in ensuring that a Council veto automatically triggers a debate in the Assembly, and the Syria investigative mechanism.

But the real action is likely to be outside the New York. Leaders like Biden and Macron seem to have taken up the calls of Mottley, Akufo-Addo and others to reform the international financial architecture. The G20 in New Delhi echoed language in the Bridgetown Initiative and V20 Agenda on issues such as debt and access to capital.

All of this shows that we may have finally reached a point where smaller, more vulnerable countries can no longer tolerate the status quo, and where larger, richer countries realise that interdependence is not just a concept.

Q: At a press conference last month, Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, emphasized the “UK’s ambition to drive forward reform of the multilateral system,” saying, “We want to see expansion of the Council’s permanent seats to include India, Brazil, Germany, Japan and African representation.” But even if this proposal is adopted by the GA and the UNSC, it has to be followed up with an amendment to the UN charter. How arduous and long-drawn-out is the process of amending the charter?

A: Even in 1945, the composition of the Security Council was a compromise, with permanent membership and vetoes intended to encourage the five powers of the time to serve as guardians of the international order. That illusion was shattered before the ink had dried on the charter, as the Cold War cut short the organization’s honeymoon.

Today, our multipolar and polarised world is better described as a hot mess. Longstanding conflicts such as Palestine and Kashmir remain intractable, while crises pile up: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine.

Some commentators argue that Russia’s wanton aggression is not the first time one of the five permanent members (P5) has invaded a country. Others adopt a reductionist view of the Council’s role: preventing conflict between the P5 rather than maintaining peace and security. But after 18 months of genocidal acts, it’s hard not to see it as emblematic of the UN’s failures and constraints.

Even areas where the UN previously banked successes are flagging. Most people go back two decades to Liberia or Sierra Leone when asked to cite successful peace operations. Until its collapse, the Black Sea grain deal was a rare example of mediation gone right.

Invariably, debates on how to strengthen the UN’s peace and security capacity focus on the Security Council. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, states including the US have been more vocal on the need for change. Yet renewed interest has not made reform more likely.

Procedurally, reform requires amending the UN charter. This needs approval by two-thirds of the General Assembly’s members and ratification by their legislatures, including the all of the P5. It has happened only once in relation to the Council (in 1965, when the number of members was raised from 11 to 15, and the voting threshold increased accordingly). Politically, one of the biggest hurdles is the lack of agreement within regions on who should get a seat.

Council reform is a prize worth pursuing — and one that merits more creativity, on the role of regional organisations, for instance. But it may be better to channel this energy into how to leverage the collective power of the UN system as a whole.

From sanctions to investigations, there is much more the General Assembly could do on peace and security, including by building on Liechtenstein’s proposal. The Peacebuilding Commission, too, could become more central, for example by bringing in actors such as the international financial institutions. And it is worth looking at how mediation could be done differently, with more resources and a more diverse pool of negotiators.

Q: Civil society organizations (CSOs) have played a significant role in UN’s mandate to provide international peace and security, protect human rights and deliver humanitarian aid. Has the UN given CSOs, their rightful place?

A: Over 200 civil society organizations were at the birth of the UN. Their presence helped to secure references in the Charter to human rights, gender equality and social justice.

Seventy-eight years on, thousands will come to New York for the opening of the General Assembly. Even more work with the UN every day, as its development and humanitarian activities have mushroomed. These areas now account for over 70 percent of its funds and roughly two-thirds of its staff.

But many CSOs engage from the sidelines. Only a fraction will be allowed into UN Headquarters, while those on the ground often face steep barriers to cooperation. For all the talk about partnerships, a similar situation exists for other actors, from local governments to business.

This ignores that perhaps the most profound transformation of the ‘‘international community’ in recent decades has not been geopolitical realignment but the rise of non-state actors.

We live in a world where private sector profits eclipse GDP, where social movements can mobilise millions of people, and influencers can wipe out billions with a single post; and where a girl sitting outside her school with a sign can change the global conversation. And yet the international system remains stubbornly state-centric.

Instead, partnerships should be the norm. CSOs are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing climate change. They provide essential assistance in humanitarian crises and step into the breach in conflict zones. They stand up for those who are ignored and abused, serving both as the UN’s partners and its conscience.

Their contributions should be valued and harnessed, through a high-level champion for civil society, greater resourcing of grassroots groups; and an overarching strategy for engagement. As concerns around legitimacy and power grow, this strategy should include a gradual transfer of the UN’s development and humanitarian functions to local partners.

This would foster a greater sense of ownership, agency and accountability. It could also breathe new life into the SDGs. From the UN’s vantage point, it would help to alleviate the unsustainable growth in its workload, free up limited resources and mitigate the incompatibility on the ground of various functions it is expected to perform – political, humanitarian, development and human rights.

Such a move is likely to meet with considerable resistance, including from inside the UN. It is easier to cite the number schools built or refugees rescued as evidence of success, especially when geopolitical tensions make advances in areas such as norm-setting and mediation more challenging.

But it is precisely in those areas where the UN is most needed: functions that cannot easily be fulfilled by others — even with two regional organisations on board, the G20 is not the G193; and where it is uniquely placed to make a difference — from emergency coordination to global solidarity.

That should be the guiding spirit leading up to next year’s Summit of the Future: a realistic task list for the UN, greater responsibility for partners, and higher ambition for the world’s people.

(Natalie Samarasinghe has also served as CEO of the United Nations Association – UK, becoming the first woman appointed to that role; she was speechwriter to the 73rd President of the General Assembly; and chief of strategy for the UN’s 75th-anniversary initiative.

A frequent commentator on UN issues, she has edited publications on sustainable development, climate change and conflict; written for Routledge and OUP on human rights; and co-edited the SAGE Major Work on the UN. She has also supported a number of civil society coalitions, including the 1 for 7 Billion campaign to improve the Secretary-General selection process, which she co-founded. IPS UN Bureau Report)

India Denies Role In Canadian Sikh Leader’s Murder

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said September 18, 2023, authorities were “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking New Delhi’s agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, an assertion India quickly dismissed as “absurd”.

The spat deals a fresh blow to diplomatic ties that have been fraying for years, with New Delhi unhappy over Sikh separatist activity in Canada. It now threatens trade ties too, with talks on a proposed trade deal frozen last week.

Each nation expelled a diplomat in tat-for-tat moves, with Canada throwing out India’s top intelligence agent and New Delhi responding by giving a Canadian diplomat five days to leave.

Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen is “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”, Trudeau told the House of Commons in an emergency statement on Monday.

He was referring to Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population, three years after India had designated him as a “terrorist”.

Nijjar supported creating a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent, so-called state of Khalistan in India’s northern state of Punjab, the birthplace of the Sikh religion, which borders Pakistan.

India’s foreign ministry did not disclose the name or rank of the Canadian diplomat it had asked to leave the country. “The decision reflects the government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” it said in a statement.

The ministry had summoned Cameron MacKay, Canada’s high commissioner, or ambassador, in New Delhi to notify him of the move.


Earlier, New Delhi urged Ottawa to take action against anti-Indian elements in Canada. “Allegations of the government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” it said, adding that similar accusations made by Trudeau to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been “completely rejected”.

It said the “unsubstantiated allegations” sought to shift focus away from “Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have been provided shelter in Canada”.

“We urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the ministry said.

Trudeau said he had raised the matter directly with Modi on the sidelines of G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month, and had urged his government to co-operate with Canada to resolve it. Modi, in turn, conveyed strong concern to Trudeau over recent demonstrations in Canada by Sikhs calling for an independent state.

Canada has the largest population of Sikhs outside the Indian state of Punjab, with about 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.

Khalistan is the name of an independent Sikh state whose creation has been sought for decades. A Sikh insurgency killed tens of thousands of people in India in the 1980s and early 1990s before it was suppressed by tough security action.

Picture : WPLG

New Delhi has been wary of any revival, with a particular focus on small groups of Sikhs in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States, who support the separatist demand and occasionally stage protests outside its embassies.

The United States and Australia expressed “deep concern” over Canada’s accusations, while Britain said it was in close touch with its Canadian partners about the “serious allegations”.

U.S. authorities have urged India to cooperate with the investigation, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Britain will continue trade talks with India despite Ottawa’s allegations as London is not looking to conflate negotiations about a trade deal with “other issues”, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson told reporters.


India has been particularly sensitive to Sikh protesters in Canada with some Indian analysts saying Ottawa does not stop them as Sikhs are a politically influential group there.

In June, India criticised Canada for permitting a float in a parade depicting the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, perceived to be glorification of violence by Sikh separatists.

Ottawa paused talks this month on a proposed trade treaty with India, just three months after both said they aimed to seal an initial deal this year.

Modi did not hold a two-way meeting with Trudeau at the G20 summit, despite similar meetings with other world leaders. Days earlier, metro stations in the Indian capital were vandalised with pro-Khalistan graffiti.

Trudeau’s allegations have put ties under increasing strain.

“Three months after the killing, no one has been charged. Nor did Trudeau say who his government believes carried out the killing,” independent geopolitical analyst Brahma Chellaney posted on X.

“But his unproven allegation, by sparking tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, will likely bring Canada-India relations to a new low.”

India Shows the Way in Expanding an Inclusive Medical Education

Ever since the first medical college was established in 1835 in Kolkata in India, the scope and breadth of health education in India has widened, especially in the past decade. From just 19 medical colleges and nearly 1,000 students in 1947, the number of medical schools in India has grown tremendously, having one of the largest number of medical colleges in the world.

Incorporating principles of diversity, inclusiveness, and expansion by adding new medical schools every year with specialized areas of Medicine, India’s model of medical education has now come to be a model for the rest of the world to emulate.

According to Dr. Lokesh Edara, who has been leading the efforts for AAPI’s Global Medical Education Initiatives and currently serving as the Chair of Board of Trustees of The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), ever since gaining Independence from the colonial British rule, India has expanded its medical education program with 19 medical schools to now having 706 medical colleges in 77 years.

Picture : Fast Voice Media

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has taken medical education to newer heights. India created in a span of nine years, 317 new medical schools. Dr. Edara says, in 2014, there were 387 medical colleges having a total of 51,348 MBBs seats in the country. In 2023, the number of medical schools has expanded to 706 colleges with a total of 108,898 medical seats across the nation.

When it comes to the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India had seven AIIMS in 2014. Today, the number of AIIMS has increased to 22. “The Indian model of AIIMS funded by the federal government should be a model to the rest of the world,” Dr. Edara said.

Another area, where the Indian model is significant for the rest of the world to emulate is its inclusiveness and encouraging of minority communities in the nation. India is the only country that has its constitution facilitating the establishment of minority institutions. India is home to the people of several minority religions, resulting in 2 medical schools for the Sikhs, 2 Christian medical schools, 2 Jain medical institutes, one Buddhist medical school and as many as 26 Muslim institutions, in addition to 6 Linguistic minority medical colleges.

Indian laws also provide reservation to students from minority and backward communities, with more than 50% of medical schools’ seats reserved for admission. “This is one of the best examples of diversity and inclusiveness in education in the world,” Dr. Edara said.

The presence of growing number of specialty education in Medicine, catering to the diverse, rural, urban and complex needs of the patients in each medical school is where India again leads the world. The MCI/NMC in India has mandated that there be departments catering to the specialty areas, catering to the special needs of each patient.

AAPI has been spearheading medical education advocacy programs for India, Dr. Edara pointed out. “The uniqueness of medical education in India is that Indian medical colleges have been mandated and they have as many as 23 specialized departments of medicine. NMC, NBEMS are also models in India for the rest of world for generating specialties of physicians.

Picture : TheUNN

Advancing medical education from High School onwards, many states in India have mandatory anatomy, physiology and biochemistry deportments, making them as essential subjects for students admitted from 12th Grade onwards. And for para medical departments, there are similar programs along with medicine, surgery, OBGYN and pediatrics.

Today, India boasts of more medical graduates with specialties in comparison with the rest of the world due to the establishment of clinically mandatory departments in medical colleges. For instance, in ophthalmology, India has 1927 seats vs the United States having 509 seats, which is 374% higher than that of the US. In the field of MS ENT/Otolaryngology, India has 1417 seats, while the US has 373 seats, an increase of 380% in India.

Seats for Orthopedics in India is 2847, while the US has 899 seats, with 222% greater number of seats in India. In Anesthesiology, India has 429 colleges with 4687 seats, while the US has 1746 seats, which is 268% more seats in India. There are as many as 2544 seats in India vs US having 1274 seats for post graduate studies in Hematology, which is 266% higher in India than USA.

With 1408 seats in India as against 528 seats in the US for Radio Diagnosis, which is 200% higher in India than in the US. Radiation Therapy/Oncology seats are 239% higher in India than the US with 457 seats in India vs 191 admissions in the US. There are as many as 1360 Psychiatry seats in India to the 2164 seats in the United States annually. In the field of Pulmonary/TB & Respiratory, the US has 1172 seats while India has 1045 MD seats today.

India is planning to create one Post Graduate seat to each MBBS graduate passing out from medical schools. AAPI has been advocating for post graduate seats in family medicine with at least 20 % of all Post graduate seats as India has 25 million newborn babies every year, urging the Government of India to increase neonatologists, Dr. Edara pointed out.

NBEMS has created more postgraduation and super specialty physician programs at private and government run hospitals helping the capacity building across India. This model of medical colleges is unique to India not only for producing more specialists, but they are also delivering much needed specialty services across India both at medical colleges and in private practice.

AAPI has been advocating for formative assessment of postgraduates and changing to high quality computer based high order assessment for MBBS and postgraduates. “I request eLearning platform to MBBS, postgraduate, super specialty, nursing and para medical education for higher transfer of knowledge and the help protect public health,” Dr. Edara said.

India is aliso a model in expanding medical colleges and health delivery. India is concentrating on its challenges to address National Eligibility Test (NEXT) similar to USMLE of USA and UKMLE of UK. AAPI has successfully advocated that NMC made emergency medicine department mandatory in all medical schools with post graduate programs.

In addition, AAPI has been advocating for the implementation of multiple-choice theory assessment option for Post Graduate Final Theory Examinations by NMC has bridged the assessment gap for Indian students aspiring to compete with students from the rest of the world. This approach also helps high level of transfer of knowledge.

According to a JAMA published article in August 2020, the projected estimates of African medical graduates in closed Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU)medical schools were established between 1868 and 1904 surrounding the 1910 Flexner report, consequences associated with the closure of historically Black medical schools.

If the 5 closed historically Black medical schools had remained open, the steady expansion and rapid expansion models indicated that these schools might have collectively provided training to an additional 27, 773 graduates and 35,315 graduates, respectively, between their year of closure and 2019.

Quoting from a study by researchers from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the AAMC that was published in JAMA Network Open that linked a higher prevalence of Black doctors to longer life expectancy and lower mortality in Black population, Michael Dill, the director of workforce studies at the Association of American Medical Colleges and one of the study’s co-authors said, “This is adding to the case for a more diverse physician workforce. What else could you ask for?”

It is enocuraging to note that the United States and  AAMC have been addressing  disparity un the recent past. As a result, the number of Black or African American matriculants increased by 9%. Black or African American students made up 10% of matriculants in 2022-23, up from 9.5% in 2020-21. First-year Black or African American men increased by 5%.

Matriculants who are Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin increased by 4%. Individuals from this group made up 12% of total matriculants. American Indian or Alaska Native matriculants declined by 9%, comprising 1% of matriculants.

“The increases in first-year enrollees from historically underrepresented groups reflect the efforts of the nation’s medical schools to increase diversity and further address the nation’s public health needs,” said Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC, senior director. “The AAMC is focused on diversifying the physician workforce, including American Indian and Alaska Native students, to ensure the next generation of physicians reflects the communities they serve.”


Modeling India, the rest of the world can address minority medical schools. The United States has addressed diversity by establishing minority medical schools. However, given the ratio, the United States can afford and fund minority medical schools from  4 to another 15 schools.  There were 10 HUCU minority medical schools in 1920, due to quality issues, there are only 3 minority medical schools continuing to function, namely, Howard, More House, Meharry, producing 14% of medical students from the minority community.

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) is a private, nonprofit, community-founded, student-centered University, committed to cultivating diverse health professionals,  who are dedicated to social justice and health equity for the underserved populations through outstanding education, clinical service, and community engagement. Minority students represent over 67 percent of its total enrollment.

There ar some enocuraging sings recently. African American student enrollment is more than double the national average (32 percent CDU compared to 14 percent nationally). Also, Hispanic student enrollment is above the national average (17 percent CDU compared to 14 percent nationally).

While India with its annual GDP of 3 trillion Dollars is able to invest in establishing 317 new medical schools in less than 10 years, adding 40,000 new medical seats to these colleges, the United States with an economy of 33 trillion Dollars should be able to invest far greater in the education, especially for the minority communities.

The USA can add at least one minority school for each state, beginning with at least 15 more new minority medical schools in the states with a sizable number of minority population. The United States can multiply the model to most states similar to the model India has.

Federal funding of 2 billion dollars per medical school, in addition to philanthropic contributions will go a long way in enhancing the participation of minority communities, including African American, Hispanic and Native Americans in the much-needed medical education, and contribute towards adding more minority and HBCU medical schools creating a minimum of 1,500 or more minority physicians per year to the main pool of physicians’ community and provide needed health care in the community.

Similarly, establishing medical schools for Native American Indians can address this gap in giving representation to this population. Out of the estimated 5.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) in the U.S., there are only about 3,400 are physicians, just 0.4% of the physician workforce, according to a 2018 AMA Council on Medical Education report, “Study of Declining Native American Medical Student Enrollment.

In addition, the United States must work towards capacity building in Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners from the Minority communities in bridging the wide gap that is present today.

The India model of minority medical schools and capacity building can be followed across world. The India model of mandatory departments can help build specialists, catering to the country’s needs. India’s model of one medical college every district can help access to high quality health care in the rural and remote areas of the country.

G-20 Establish Mechanism to Monitor Incidents of Hate, Targeted Violence

The G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, which was agreed on Saturday (9 September), reiterated the group’s commitment to promoting respect for all religions and condemned all acts of religious hatred, including those committed against holy texts and symbols.

The declaration noted the July 25 United Nations General Assembly resolution on “promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech” and stated: “In this regard, we strongly deplore all acts of religious hatred against persons, as well as those of a symbolic nature without prejudice to domestic legal frameworks, including against religious and holy books.”

Narender Nagarwal, who teaches Law at the Delhi University, while speaking on the G-20 joint declaration, said, “I do believe that the G20 New Delhi declaration of September 9, 2023, which denounces all forms of discrimination, hatred, and violence towards vulnerable ethnic groups, is a remarkable accomplishment of the conference. The G20 countries have always been at the forefront in tackling global issues, and the New Delhi Conference of world leaders has reinforced its commitment to confronting targeted violence and hatred on the basis of religion, caste or language against minorities as a critical issue that demands immediate attention and action.”

He added, “This declaration is a clear indication of the Group of 20’s collective determination to combat all hate crimes, including Islamophobic violence, against minorities. I welcome this initiative of the leading players of global politics and treat the declaration as a powerful message to those who overtly or covertly instigate Islamophobic hatred and other sorts of bigotry against ethnic and vulnerable groups.”

On the way forward, Nagarwal urged the G-20 leaders by saying, “I would appreciate if the G-20 secretariat established an observatory commission to investigate reports of hate and targeted violence against ethnic and vulnerable groups and submit progress reports to member states on a regular basis. The adoption of collective action sends a powerful message of unity, solidarity, and hope to the people of Indian society who have endured the burdens of hate crimes, discrimination and Islamophobic violence for far too long.”

Michael Williams, founder and president of the United Christians Forum, said, “Religious tolerance has been a part of the UN Charter, the Indian Constitution, and now our Prime Minister has reiterated this in the G20 Joint Declaration. I only hope that Mr. Modi will ensure its speedy implementation akin to the Demonetisation urgency and will continue to see it through like the GST policy.”

Williams added, “Prime Minister must ensure that anyone who indulges in hate speeches, religious violence, and religious bullying are brought to account so that such Joint Declarations actually have meaning and impact on the lives of citizens. They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but, with true implementation, this intent of the Summit is something India needs right now.”

Dr. Prem Chand, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, ARSD College, University of Delhi, observed: “Unity in Diversity is not only a line but it is the virtue which is inherently reflected in each aspect of our great country India. Historically and culturally, India has been nurtured by different religions and cultures. The spirit of the Constitution of India is secular and secularism is being practised by the India Government. Religious freedom is one of the fundamental rights given by the Constituent Assembly of India to its Citizens. In this backdrop it’s a welcome step that G20 agenda has deplored the religious hatred and considered equality of all religions.”

Dr. Prem Chand added, “India is a multi-religious country but unfortunately some political parties are doing communal politics and they divide people only to grab power. In this scenario India should respect what is inherited and keep it to the values of the Constitution of India.”

John Dayal, a noted social and human rights activist, opined: “G-20 was sitting at a time when religious discord, sponsored mostly by ruling groups in India and in most other countries, have brought the world to the brink. Many Peoples Summits preceding G-20 had, in their call to put people first, highlighted the threat to the world leaders, it seems, successfully prevented any discussion on this issue. It was not high on the agenda anyway.”

Dayal said, “Big countries have lost whatever moral authority they ever had in naming and shaming regimes with a track record of religious bigotry and ill treatment of minorities. Apart from their own records in condoning the burning of the Qur’ān, for instance, in several European cities, the G-20 have turned a blind eye to infringements and absolute ignoring of the United Nations Charter and its focus on religious freedom and freedom of expression as the core values of a shared humanity.”

G20 Summit 2023 In India Discusses Sustainable Development and More

The G20, or Group of Twenty, is a coalition of nations that convenes regularly to deliberate on global economic and political matters. Together, these G20 countries contribute to a staggering 85% of the world’s economic output and over 75% of worldwide trade, housing two-thirds of the global population. Comprising the EU and 19 individual nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US, the G20 holds a unique position on the world stage.

Established in 1999, the G20 emerged in response to the Asian financial crisis with the primary goal of providing finance ministers and officials a platform to strategize methods for restoring economic stability. In 2008, the group elevated its stature, hosting its inaugural leaders’ summit as a response to the global financial turmoil that year, with the aim of promoting international cooperation.

In recent years, the G20 has widened its purview, incorporating subjects like climate change and sustainable energy into its discussions. Each year, one of the G20 member states takes on the presidency and sets the agenda for the leaders’ summit.

The 2023 G20 summit, presided over by India, will spotlight critical topics such as sustainable development, the pursuit of just and equitable global growth, and debt forgiveness for developing countries. Additionally, US President Joe Biden is expected to engage with leaders from developing nations to propose reforms for the World Bank, potentially unlocking more funds for infrastructure development and climate change mitigation.

Picture : AlJazeera

Crucially, much of the negotiation and diplomacy will occur behind the scenes, in one-on-one meetings between leaders held on the sidelines of the main summit hall. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to use the summit as a platform to elevate his country’s global standing and establish himself as a significant world leader, particularly in the run-up to the spring 2024 general election. Modi is keen to ensure that the summit doesn’t get bogged down in disputes over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which marred the 2022 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Discord around this issue even prevented the issuance of a joint statement following the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Delhi in March.

Remarkably, both Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping will be absent from the summit. Putin will be represented by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, while China will send Premier Li Qiang in Xi’s stead.

Aside from the Ukraine conflict, other contentious matters could emerge at the summit. In May 2023, China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a G20 meeting on tourism held in Indian-administered Kashmir, as this region includes territory claimed by both Pakistan and India. Another source of tension has arisen between India and China after Beijing published a map asserting Chinese ownership of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau, both disputed territories. The US has urged China to put aside its differences with India and adopt a “constructive role” at the summit.

The G20 has experienced varying degrees of success since its inception. During the 2008 and 2009 leaders’ summits, held in the midst of the financial crisis, leaders reached consensus on numerous measures to salvage the global economic system. However, critics argue that subsequent summits have been less productive, often due to discord between rival global powers. Nevertheless, the one-on-one meetings between leaders have frequently yielded positive outcomes. For instance, at the 2019 summit in Osaka, then-US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping concurred to recommence talks to resolve a major trade dispute.

Security is always a paramount concern at G20 summits, given their propensity to attract anti-globalization protests. The Indian government has taken extensive security measures ahead of the Delhi event, including road closures around the venue and deploying 130,000 security personnel across the city. Unique measures have also been introduced to deter troublesome monkeys from disrupting the summit, as Delhi has a substantial monkey population that authorities wish to keep at bay.

The 2023 G20 summit promises to be a pivotal event, with India at the helm emphasizing sustainable development, equitable global growth, and debt relief for developing nations. While the specter of the Ukraine conflict looms, leaders will engage in discreet discussions to address a range of pressing issues, including World Bank reform and climate change.

The absence of key leaders like Putin and Xi adds an intriguing dimension to the proceedings. However, the G20’s track record, marked by both achievements and challenges, underscores the importance of these high-level diplomatic gatherings in shaping the global agenda. Amidst stringent security measures and innovative tactics to deal with local fauna, the world will be watching closely as the G20 nations convene to chart the course of the global economy and address pressing international concerns.

Joe Biden Expressed Concerns About Human Rights, Free Press With PM Narendra Modi

US President Joe Biden has said that he held “substantial discussions” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ways to strengthen the Indo-US partnership and thanked him for his leadership and hosting the G20 Summit in New Delhi. Biden told reporters here in the Vietnamese capital that he also raised the importance of respecting human rights with Prime Minister Modi.

Biden, who arrived in New Delhi on his first visit to India as the US President, held wide-ranging talks with Modi and they vowed to “deepen and diversify” the bilateral major defence partnership while welcoming forward movement in India’s procurement of 31 drones and joint development of jet engines.

“I want to once again thank Prime Minister Modi for his leadership and his hospitality and hosting the G20. He and I have had substantial discussions about how we’re going to continue to strengthen the partnership between India and the US building on the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House last June,” Biden said during a press conference here.

“As I always do, I raised the importance of respecting human rights and the vital role the civil society and a free press have in building a strong and prosperous country with Modi,” he said.

Picture : ParadePhash

According to the joint statement issued on Friday after Modi and Biden held bilateral talks, “The leaders re-emphasised that the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, inclusion, pluralism, and equal opportunities for all citizens are critical to the success our countries enjoy and that these values strengthen our relationship.” Biden also talked about the “significant business” he had done in India during the G20 Summit.

“This was an important moment for the United States to demonstrate our global leadership and our commitment to solving the challenges that matter most to people around the world. Investing in inclusive growth and sustainable development, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening food security and education, advancing global health and health security,” he said. “We showed the world the United States is a partner with a positive vision for our shared future,” he added.

On the corridor connecting India to Europe with the Middle East and Israel, he said that are going to open up untold opportunities for transformative economic investment.

He said the “illegal war in Ukraine” was also discussed at the summit and there was sufficient agreement on the need for just and lasting peace.

Responding to questions, President Biden said his goal is to provide stability around the world by building America’s ties with Vietnam and other Asian countries as he insisted that he is not trying to start a “cold war” with China.

“It’s not about containing China. It’s about having a stable base,” said Biden, who is here as Vietnam was elevating the United States to comprehensive strategic partner.

Biden also said that he met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the G20 in New Delhi and ”talked about stability.” “It wasn’t confrontational at all,” he added.

Indian American Episcopal Bishop In USA, Prince Singh Restricted From Ministry

(RNS) — Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh, provisional bishop of the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, is being placed on leave and will be barred from practicing any form of ministry pending the resolution of a denominational investigation into allegations that he had physically and emotionally abused his wife and sons.

Since June, the bishop has been voluntarily participating in a Title IV investigation, an internal disciplinary process for Episcopal clergy accused of misconduct.

In a letter dated Sept. 7 and obtained by Religion News Service, the Rev. Clifton Daniel III, the bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina who is overseeing the Title IV investigation, cited “a series of public allegations” as reason for the decision.

“These include allegations that you verbally and physically abused your sons over a period of years; that you threw objects at your ex-wife, threatened her with a knife and by raising your hand at her; and that you publicly misrepresented facts related to your divorce,” the letter said. “In the light of these allegations, I have determined that you may have committed an Offense under Title IV, and that the good order, welfare or safety of the Church require that I place restrictions on your ministry.”

The letter orders Prince Singh to refrain from any ordained ministry, in or outside of the Episcopal Church, effective immediately until they are modified by Daniel, or changed or removed by a disciplinary board of bishops “or upon termination of any disciplinary proceedings in which you are a Respondent.” Singh may request a review of the restrictions by a panel of the disciplinary board.

“We are grateful to see this important step forward and look forward to hearing more,” Prince Singh’s sons, Nivedhan and Eklan Singh, and their mother, Roja Suganthy-Singh, said in a statement to RNS. The family members added that they are still “wary” because they believe Singh should have been placed on leave months ago.

The brothers originally disclosed their allegations to the denomination’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in December 2022 and have said that Curry and Bishop Todd Ousley, who heads the denomination’s Office of Pastoral Development, mishandled their allegations. Curry has recused himself from overseeing the Title IV investigation and designated Daniel to act as the presiding bishop for the case.

On Tuesday (Sept. 5), after 55 bishops in the Episcopal Church signed a letter citing concerns about members of their ranks receiving “free passes,” Curry announced recommendations for revising disciplinary procedures for bishops.

“For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of our integrity, and, above all, for the sake of the well-being of every child of God who is a part of this church, we cannot, we must not, and we will not sit idly by when anyone is hurt or harmed in our midst,” Curry said in his announcement.

Prince Singh’s predecessor in the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, Whayne M. Hougland Jr., was suspended in 2020 after admitting to adultery. Last summer, members of the dioceses issued a complaint citing serious concerns with the Title IV process. They asserted that the Episcopal Church prioritized the healing and well-being of the bishop at great financial expense, while providing little support to the impacted dioceses. Nivedhan and Eklan Singh and Roja Suganthy-Singh told RNS they hope the pattern does not repeat itself.

“Fifty-five members of the House of Bishops recently signed a letter professing that bishops should not get free passes for misconduct,” Nivedhan, Eklan and Roja Suganthy-Singh wrote in an email. “Until they follow up on this sentiment with real action by taking steps to hold Bishops Curry and Ousley accountable for their track record of mishandling Title IV cases, we cannot take this profession to be anything more than sentimentality and image-management.”

525 Incidents Of Violence Against Christians In India in 212 Days In 2023

As we Indians are feeling proud of world leaders assembling in our country under the presidency of India led by the charismatic Prime Minister Shri Narender Modi for the G20 summit, there are Indians facing incidents of violence for practicing a faith that is of their own choice.

In the first 212 days of this year, 2023, 525 incidents of violence against Christians have been reported from 23 states of India in just 8 months as against 505 incidents in the whole year of 2022. June has seen the highest number of incidents with 89 followed by July with 80, 68 in August, 66 in March, 63 in February, 62 in January, 50 in May and 47 in April.

There are 13 Districts in India wherein practicing Christianity is becoming dangerous. Bastar is leading with 51 incidents of violence against Christians followed by 14 each in Kondagaon and Azamgarh, 13 each in Jaunpur, Raebareli and Sitapur, 12 in Kapur, 10 each in Hardoi, Maharajganj, Kushinagar and Mau, 9 each in Gazipur and Ranchi.

Three (3) large states of North India are witnessing the highest number of incidents of violence against Christians: Uttar Pradesh leading with 211 incidents followed by Chhattisgarh with 118 and Haryana with 39 incidents.

Picture : TheUNN

All these incidents of violence are by mob violence led by so called vigilante groups of particular faith who are allegedly receiving support from people in power. Attacks against Christians do not stop with mob violence only there are 520 Christians who have been arrested accused of false forced conversions with any proven evidence.

There are 54 cases of social ostracism predominantly occurring in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. This exclusion involves denying victims access to basic resources such as village water sources, common roads, etc. Additionally, in certain situations, victims are prevented from harvesting their own crops, leading to adverse economic consequences.

This year also saw Delhi NCR experiencing incidents of violence with four recorded cases in which individuals conducting prayer meetings were confronted and disrupted by religious extremist groups. These extremists resorted to physical assault against the victims and used threats to coerce them into ending their prayer gatherings.

As per the reports recorded by the United Christian Forum (UCF), the incidents of violence against Christians have been increasing sharply and steadily since 2014: 147 incidents in 2014, 177 in 2015, 208 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020,505 in 2021, 599 in 2022 and 525 incidents in first 212 days of 2023.

This press release does not include the details of Manipur wherein, according to media reports, over 300 Churches belonging to various communities were destroyed, nearly 200 people died and over 54, 000 were displaced since May 3, 2023. While the situation remains tense and volatile, we will await the official report of the Government’s inquiry and investigation.





Petition On Violence Against Christians Before Supreme Court Of India

The matter is coming up on 12th September 2023 before a bench led by the Chief Justice of India for final hearing. The Union government is opposing our petition. Our advocate Colin Gonsalves has submitted an interim prayer for SIT comprising officers outside the respective states to register FIRs, investigate and prosecute; police protection prayer meetings conducted by the Christian community and to provide legal aid to all the victims. For further details, please contact: [email protected]

Modi And India’s Global Influence Are Viewed Favorably

Last week, political leaders gathered in New Delhi for the annual G20 summit, the first ever to be held in South Asia. As international attention is drawn to India, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that views of India are generally positive across 23 countries.

A median of 46% of adults hold a favorable view of India, while a median of 34% have unfavorable views. In comparison, views of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which were collected in a subset of 12 countries, are more mixed: A 37% median say they have confidence in Modi, and a 40% median say they lack confidence in him.

The new survey examines views of India and its political leaders in and outside of India, as well as Indians’ views of other countries. The survey includes eight middle-income nations that Pew Research Center has not surveyed since 2019, before the outbreak of COVID-19, due to the challenges of conducting face-to-face interviews during the pandemic. Below are some of the key findings from the survey of 30,861 people in 24 countries, including India, conducted from Feb. 20 to May 22, 2023:

Indians are more likely than others to believe India’s power is on the rise. Around seven-in-ten Indians believe their country has recently become more influential, compared with a median of 28% across 19 countries who said the same in 2022. In those 19 countries, respondents were most inclined to say that India’s influence had not changed much in recent years (48% median), but only 19% of Indians agree with this view. Indians are just as likely as those in other countries to think India’s influence has become weaker in recent years (13% vs. a 19-country median of 13%).

Modi is popular in India, but has more mixed reviews internationally. About eight-in-ten Indians (79%) have a favorable view of Modi, including a majority of 55% with a very favorable view. In comparison, a median of 37% in 12 countries, most of which are middle-income, report having confidence in Modi to make the right foreign policy choices. Kenyans are especially confident, with 60% saying they trust Modi to do the right thing regarding world affairs, while Argentines are particularly skeptical. Just 12% in Argentina have confidence in the Indian leader. At least one-in-ten in each of these countries also do not offer an opinion on Modi.

European attitudes toward India have turned more negative over time. Favorable views of India have declined by roughly 10 percentage points or more in all five of the European countries where past data is available. The greatest change is seen in France, where just 39% now have a favorable view of India, compared with 70% in 2008. Notably, French adults are also less likely than they were in 2008 to share an opinion on India. In all other countries, people are more or about as likely to offer an opinion on India as they were in 2008.

Indians stand out for their favorable views of Russia. Whereas a median of only 14% across 22 countries have a positive view of Russia, a 57% majority of Indians see Russia favorably. Indians are also the most likely to have confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing regarding world affairs among all publics surveyed. Likewise, the United States is seen more favorably in India (65%) than in many other countries surveyed. When it comes to China, India stands out for the opposite reason: It is the only middle-income country surveyed where a majority has unfavorable views of China.

International views of India and Modi

Negative attitudes toward Pakistan persist in India. Roughly three-quarters of Indian adults hold an unfavorable view of Pakistan. This includes 57% who have a very unfavorable opinion. Indians’ views of Pakistan have consistently been unfavorable since the question was first asked in 2013, with the share holding an unfavorable view of the country never dipping below 60%.

Outside of India, substantial shares in many countries surveyed do not offer an opinion on India and on Modi. In the U.S., this includes 40% who report having never heard of Modi. Some groups are more inclined to provide a response to the two questions: This includes men and those with more education in several countries. Younger adults are also generally more likely to offer an opinion on India. Within India, a quarter or more do not offer an opinion of Indian National Congress (INC) leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. (PEW Research)

India Rebuffed Requests For More Press Access Ahead Of G20 Summit

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

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

Picture : KTVZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G20 In New Delhi, A Milestone For India, US Leadership

Xi Jinping’s decision to stay away from the Group of 20 summit may have been intended to deny India its moment. Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi — along with the U.S. and Europe — figured out how to more effectively counter China on the world stage.

Fellow G20 nations hailed India’s success in reaching an agreement on a joint communiqué that remained in doubt just days before world leaders gathered in New Delhi for their most significant annual diplomatic event. Apart from finding consensus on Russia’s war in Ukraine, the most difficult issue, they also elevated the African Union as a full G20 member and took action on issues like climate change and debt sustainability that are priorities of emerging markets.

The final outcome irked Ukraine, which saw the compromise on war language as weaker than what leaders produced just 10 months ago in Bali, Indonesia. But for the U.S. and its allies, criticism of a communiqué that on substance was similar to Bali and has little impact on the ground is a small price to pay for giving Modi a win that bolsters India’s status as a rising power capable of blunting China’s global influence.

U.S. President Joe Biden led the charge, seeing in India his administration’s best hope of isolating China and Russia — and providing a booster shot to the U.S.-led world order. The result showed that Washington is finally learning the language of the so-called Global South, with India as its principle guide.

“Some commentators are pointing to watered-down language on Russia-Ukraine as a sign of Western ‘climbdown,’” said Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But there’s another way of looking at it: The West is also invested in making sure India got a win. A lack of consensus would have been a huge disappointment for India.”

If there was a moment that illustrated the summit dynamics, it was Biden’s meeting on Saturday to discuss White House-led efforts to deliver more financing to developing nations.

Along with World Bank President Ajay Banga, the first Indian American to hold the role, Biden was pictured with Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa — key members of the BRICS grouping, minus China and Russia. That bloc expanded earlier this month, posing a challenge for the Group of Seven advanced economies.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer swiped at China by referring to those nations as “the three democratic members of the BRICS,” saying they and the U.S. were all committed to the G20’s success. “And if China is not, that’s unfortunate for everyone,” Finer said. “But much more unfortunate, we believe, for China.”

And the U.S. didn’t stop there. It separately announced a deal with India, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries to develop an ambitious rail and maritime network across the region. Biden hailed it as a “game-changing regional investment,” cementing the deal with a three-way handshake that included Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the U.S. president had cast as a “pariah” ahead of the last American election.

That kind of pronouncement is more likely to appeal to Middle East interests than badgering over human rights, even if the project’s time line and funding remains vague. The U.S. denied it was meant to counter China’s growing influence in the Gulf, but a French official acknowledged it was designed to provide competition for Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying that wasn’t a bad thing.

“I want to see China succeed economically,” Biden told reporters Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he flew after the G20. “But I want to see them succeed by the rules.”

Xi’s move to skip the G20 summit for the first time since he became president in 2013 marked a shift in behavior from last November, when he cast himself as a statesman with a responsibility to “get along with other countries.” China’s negotiators also risked appearing petty in looking to thwart India’s progress, taking a stand on minor issues like Modi’s use of a Sanskrit phrase and the U.S.’s bid to host the G20 gathering in 2026. The Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, called the U.S. “just a copycat” for its Mideast infrastructure plan.

In a further blow to Beijing, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the summit that her nation plans to withdraw from the BRI while still looking to maintain friendly relations, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. At a press conference after the G20, Meloni said she spoke to Li, representing China in Xi’s absence, about the BRI but a decision had yet to be made.

Going into the summit, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accused China of acting as a brake on progress toward a joint statement. At one point in the deliberations behind closed doors, Beijing raised the issue of access to semiconductors in a discussion of climate action, people familiar with the talks said. That prompted National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan — a leading advocate of U.S. export controls on chips and chip technology to China — to decry “the idea of holding climate hostage” to unrelated issues.

China’s Li told leaders that the G20 “needs unity instead of division, cooperation instead of confrontation,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported. That followed a commentary posted hours earlier by a Chinese think tank affiliated with the country’s top spy agency, which criticized India for having “sabotaged the atmosphere for cooperation” at the G20 by pushing its own agenda.

But China relented on its opposition to the communiqué, and India drew praise from all camps for negotiating a compromise. People familiar with the discussions said the breakthrough occurred after India, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa jointly put forward a proposal on language describing the war.

“This consensus itself shows the cemented role of India as a trustworthy fulcrum of a world bitterly divided on geopolitical issues like the Ukraine war,” said Swasti Rao, an associate fellow at the Europe and Eurasia Center at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. “There is little doubt that middle order powers wish to keep the global economic order multipolar and not fall into the Chinese game of dominating it.”

While the final language on Ukraine made some U.S. allies uneasy, supporting the compromise presented a bigger opportunity to align more closely with major democracies in the Global South that ultimately serve as key swing nations when it comes to Russia’s war and other world issues. G7 leaders publicly praised the outcome, with Sunak insisting that the language adopted was “very strong” and that “Russia is completely isolated.”

‘Just and durable’

For the U.S., any move that bolsters India and amplifies other democracies in the Global South helps to counter China and Russia’s influence, particularly when it comes to bringing about the G20’s call for a “comprehensive, just and durable peace” in Ukraine. Back in May at the G7 summit in Japan, the U.S. and its allies struggled to convince Modi, Lula and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo to side with them on Ukraine, even after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a surprise appearance. Zelenskiy wasn’t invited to address India’s G20.

A senior European Union official said the agreement effectively saved the G20 as the last global forum bringing together the world’s major powers. Moreover, the official said, it helped bridge the gap between the G-7 and emerging markets, who would now be partners in holding Russia to account if it doesn’t follow through on seeking a just peace in line with UN principles.

Other senior European officials said China shot itself in the foot by staying away from the summit, allowing India to cement its leadership of the Global South and providing the U.S. and Europe a clear path to strengthen ties with emerging markets.

Even Russia, represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after Vladimir Putin stayed home, saw the agreement as a win. Moscow was pleased that BRICS democracies served as interlocutors with the G7, according to a person familiar with the situation, underscoring China’s status as an outsider looking in.

The U.S., of course, could yet stumble in its bid to appeal more to the Global South. Ahead of the G20, Biden skipped a summit in Indonesia hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a move that appeared like a snub to Widodo. The U.S. president sought to do damage control in Delhi, meeting the Indonesian leader briefly and pledging to meet him at the White House in November, when world leaders head to the U.S. for the APEC summit.

More significantly, however, was India’s ability to grasp the moment to assert a global leadership role. Modi — who is on pace to extend his decade in power next year — declared that “history has been created” while his chief negotiator, Amitabh Kant, called India “the spokesperson of all the Global South.”

“More than anything else, it has amplified the voice of Global South,” Kant said of the summit outcome. “It has also demonstrated that India has a huge capacity of bringing the world together and leading the world. (TIME.COM)

US Praises India For Unanimous G20 Joint Declaration Balancing North South Interests

The US conceded space to the host India in the wording of the final Delhi Declaration of G20 on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic skills that virtually represented a coup as the final document came out despite fractures in the group.

The declaration earned the praise of the US.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called the statement a “significant milestone for India’s chairmanship and a vote of confidence that the G20 can come together to address a pressing range of issues.”

“The G20 statement includes a set of consequential paragraphs on the war in Ukraine. And from our perspective, it does a very good job of standing up for the principle that states cannot use force to seek territorial acquisition,” Sullivan  told newspersons.

Still, the language differed from last year’s G20 declaration, which stated “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.” So, in a way, it was a diplomatic coup for India as the host country took a softer line than the Bali G20 one by not calling it a war but saying,  “All states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition.”

US and western nations wanted stronger language to condemn the aggression on Ukraine as they succeeded in the Bali G20 conference. The Russian invasion was described as a war in the declaration then.

Picture : Sakshi Post

The softer tone in the Delhi declaration showed that US and western allies yielded space to India, the host country, to word it differently which still had the same effect but also gave India the leverage with its long term ally Russia, whose leader Vladimir Putin did not attend, balancing its equations with US and Russia at the same time – a feat pilled of by the foreign office officials under foreign minister S Jaishankar along with trusted allies .

Russia, as a member of the G20, would have to agree on any consensus statement on Ukraine. Russia and China had resisted stronger language in a final statement, making any kind of agreement difficult. No G20 summit has concluded without a joint declaration of some type, media reports said.

Leaders gathered here for the annual Group of 20 summit managed to agree on a joint statement laying out shared views on climate change and economic development but showed the fractures within the group by stopping short of explicitly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported .

Diplomats virtually burnt the midnight oil to sort out what sort of language and phraseography the final draft  joint statement required in the lead-up to the summit . Anticipating snags, Indian foreign office officials along with its allies managed to play down the Ukraine situation as a war.

The eventual compromise statement amounted to a coup for the summit’s host, Prime Minister Modi, but still reflected a position far softer than those the US and its Western allies have adopted individually, CNN reported.

US President Joe Biden’s hopes of convincing the world’s largest economies to rally behind Ukraine during his two-night stay in India for the summit did not bear fruit in the way he wanted, but he still liked the final wording. He also pressed his case for American investment in the developing world.

Even as the summit was midway through on Saturday, the leaders agreed to the joint declaration acknowledging the situation in Ukraine while not papering over the group’s major divides on the issue.

“All states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition,” the declaration read, without explicitly singling out Russia for its invasion. The document also stated opposition to the use of nuclear weapons and highlighted the economic effects of the war in an indirect reference to Putin’s threat of using nuclear weapons if NATO allies intervened militarily to help Ukraine.

In a reflection of the deep fractures among the G20 nations, the statement acknowledged “there were different views and assessments of the situation”, US media reports noted.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko however criticised the declaration. Kiev was not invited by India to the G20 summit.

“Ukraine is grateful to its partners who tried to include strong wording in the text,” he wrote on Facebook. “At the same time, the G20 has nothing to be proud of in the part about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Obviously, the participation of the Ukrainian side would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation. The principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains as key as ever,” media reports said.

The absence of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin – US President Biden’s arch rivals –  provided opportunities for Biden to make a more affirmative case at the summit, White House officials said during the summit.

Biden said Saturday he would have welcomed the presence of his Chinese counterpart at the summit, but that positive outcomes were still possible. “It would be nice to have him here but, no, the summit is going well,” Biden said when questioned about the impact of Xi’s absence.

Biden hoped to leverage on the two leaders absence at the summit to portray the US as a credible counterweight to China’s economic outreach.He announced new plans partnering Europe, the Middle East and Asia to construct a major new transit corridor connecting the regions, thus challenging Beijing’s own efforts at expanding global trade with its belt road initiatives.

“India calls upon the world to come together to transform the global trust deficit into one of trust and reliance. This is the time for all of us to move together,” Prime Minister Modi said as the gathering got underway.

“Be it the divide between North and South, the distance between the East and West, management of food and fuel, terrorism, cyber security, health, energy or water security, we must find a solid solution to this for future generations,” he emphasised. It was a message of unity at a markedly fractured moment for the grouping, the US media observed.

While Biden enjoyed success at other summits convincing European leaders and NATO allies to step up their military support for Ukraine and tighten their punishment of Russia, many nations, particularly in the Global South, weren’t  convinced. They viewed the billions of dollars in Western assistance pouring into Ukraine sceptically, and sought a more balanced relationship with Moscow, CNN said.

Biden’s aides claimed the president welcomed the opportunity to make the case for Ukraine, including to audiences that aren’t necessarily on the same page. “Part of what makes the G20 an appealing format for the United States is it gives us a chance to interact with and work with and take constructive steps with a wider range of countries, including some, frankly, that we don’t see eye to eye with on every issue,” US deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told reporters on Saturday.

G20 Leaders Declaration adopted in New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the second session of the G20 Leaders Summit, announced that the leaders declaration has been officially adopted by the member states at the New Delhi Summit.

“There is good news. With everyone’s cooperation, consensus has been reached on New Delhi G20 Leadership Declaration…I announce the adoption of this declaration,” PM Modi told the gathering amid loud applause.

The official document contains 112 outcomes on various developmental and geo-political issues. It mainly focuses on Strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive Growth; Accelerating progress on SDGs; Green development pact for a sustainable future; Multilateral institutions for the 21st Century and Reinvigorating multilateralism.

“The #NewDelhiLeadersDeclaration has been officially adopted at the #G20India Leaders’ Summit! Today’s era must be marked as the golden age of human-centric globalisation & India’s G20 Presidency under the leadership of PM @narendramodi has worked tirelessly towards this goal,” G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant wrote on X.

In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, the declaration reads, “Concerning the war in Ukraine, while recalling the discussion in Bali, we reiterated our national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly and underscored that all states must act in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety. In line with the UN Charter, all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

Drawing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier statement that ” Today’s era must not be one of war,” the declaration states that all member states will work together to mitigate the war’s negative impact on the global economy and welcome all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine.

Modi Can’t Make India a Great Power Government-Backed Intolerance Is Tearing the Country Apart

Starting September 9, New Delhi is scheduled to host the G-20’s 18th annual summit. The event, in the eyes of the Indian government, will mark the country’s growing international importance. “During our G-20 presidency, we shall present India’s experiences, learnings, and models as possible templates for others,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared last year, when his country assumed the organization’s leadership. This August, he asserted that India’s presidency would help make the world into “one family” through “historic efforts aimed at inclusive and holistic growth.”

The government’s message was clear: India is becoming a great power under Modi and will usher in an era of global peace and prosperity.

But 1,000 miles away from New Delhi, in the northeastern state of Manipur, India is caught in a conflict that suggests it is in no position to serve as an international leader. Over the last four months, ethnic violence between Manipur’s largest community, the Meiteis, and its second-largest minority, the Kukis, has killed hundreds of people and rendered 60,000 people homeless. Mobs have set fire to over 350 churches and vandalized over a dozen temples. They have burned more than 200 villages.

At first glance, it may seem as if the violence in Manipur will not hinder Modi’s foreign policy ambitions. After all, the prime minister has traveled the world over the last four months without having to talk about the conflict. It did not come up (at least publicly) in June, when U.S. President Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet for Modi in Washington, D.C. It was not mentioned when Modi landed in Paris three weeks later and met French President.

Emmanuel Macron. And the issue has not arisen during his visits this year to Australia, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

Picture : OPIndia

But make no mistake: the events in Manipur threaten Modi’s goal and vision of a great India. The state’s violence has forced the Indian government to deploy thousands of troops inside Manipur, reducing the country’s capacity to protect its borders from an increasingly aggressive China. The conflict has also hampered India’s efforts to be an influential player in Southeast Asia by making it hard for the country to carry out regional infrastructure projects and by saddling neighboring states with refugees.

And the ongoing violence could give other Indian separatist and ethnic partisan groups an opening to challenge New Delhi’s primacy. If these organizations do begin to rebel, as some of them have in the past, the consequences would be disastrous. India is one of the most diverse countries in the world, home to people from thousands of different cultures and communities. It cannot function if these populations are in intense conflict.

There is little reason to think that tensions will ease under Modi, and plenty of reason to think they will get worse.

The prime minister’s central ideological project is the creation of a Hindu nationalist country where non-Hindu people are, at best, second-class citizens. It is an exclusionary agenda that alienates the hundreds of millions of Indians who do not belong to the country’s Hindu majority. It is also one with a track record of prompting violence and unrest—including, now, in Manipur.

Modi’s allies and supporters like to argue that the prime minister is personally transforming India into a new superpower. Modi’s deputies, for example, suggest that the prime minister has earned respect unmatched by any previous Indian leader. Modi “exudes India in many ways, and I think that has had a big impact as well on the international community,” Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, remarked in June.

The country’s pliant media have declared that Modi is vishwaguru: the world’s teacher and guide. But Manipur shows that India stands little chance of becoming a global leader as long as Modi is at the helm. Great powers need to be stable, and the ruling party’s exclusionary policies will open the country’s various fault lines, creating chasms that lead to violence and drain the state’s capacity. Manipur has sent Modi a warning. He is ignoring it at India’s peril.


Modi is not the first Indian politician to promote Hindu nationalism and majoritarianism. The prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have spent decades trying to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra, or a nation exclusively of Hindus. Along the way, the groups have routinely provoked bloodshed. The groups, for example, inspired the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The RSS helped destroy a historic mosque in 1992, which set off widespread riots.

But although Hindu nationalism has been around for decades, the movement has amassed more power than it ever has before. Manipur provides an insight into how. In theory, the state should be unfavorable terrain for Hindu supremacists. Its Meitei majority does not traditionally identify as Hindu; they have instead followed an animistic faith, one with its own beliefs and traditions. The community’s language is not Hindi, nor is it one of Hindi’s cousins. In fact, until the late 1990s, the Meitei nationalist movement sought independence from India. Meitei organizations should, if anything, oppose Hindu nationalists ruling the country.

But the BJP and the RSS have worked to get ethnic groups that form the majority in their own states to join their cause (except when they are Muslims), arguing that these groups deserve to dominate their regions—just as Hindus should dominate India overall. Sometimes, the BJP and RSS even try to amalgamate smaller communities of animistic faiths into the Hindu tradition.

Their message does not always land, but in Manipur, it appears to have done so. Many Meiteis now say they are Hindus, and the community’s nationalists identify as part of the BJP’s program. They believe that they are the original inhabitants of Manipur—the sons of the soil—and that Kukis are illegal immigrants from Myanmar. Their argument mirrors the one made everywhere by the RSS, which claims that Hindus are the original inhabitants of India whereas Muslims and Christians are outsiders.

Great powers need to be stable.

The state’s chief minister, Nongthombam Biren Singh, has fashioned himself accordingly. Once a pluralist politician from the Indian National Congress—the main opposition party—Singh joined the BJP in 2017 and has positioned himself as a Meitei partisan since 2022. He won Manipur’s state elections again for the BJP, and he has been leading the charge against the Kukis.

In the months before the conflict began, he adopted a policy of arbitrarily evicting Kuki villages under the pretense of protecting forests. Beginning in February, his government began checking the biometric details of people living in Kuki-dominated hill districts in order to identify “illegal immigrants.” In March, he blamed “illegal immigrants from Myanmar” engaged in the “drug business” for protests against the state’s efforts to evict Kukis from their villages. And in April, he told an RSS-controlled newspaper that “foreigner Kuki immigrants have taken control of the social, political, and economic affairs of the native tribal people of the state.”

Singh’s policies and rhetoric are squarely at odds with the Indian constitution, which was designed to safeguard marginalized groups. The document affords all of the country’s indigenous minorities—including the Kukis—special protections to secure their land, language, and culture. But under Modi, those protections are falling apart.

After winning reelection in 2019, Modi’s government quickly stripped Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, of its constitutionally enshrined protections. He then split the state in two and downgraded the resulting components from states into federally controlled territories. Anticipating widespread unrest, Modi deployed vast numbers of troops into what was already a militarized region and shut off the area’s Internet. It was a brutal response, and one that sent a message to other protected groups.

That included the Kukis, who are now at risk of losing their own protections. In April 2023, the state’s high court ruled that the state government must recommend whether Meiteis should be given access to the same set of privileges granted to the Kukis, including reserved jobs, reserved university seats, and the ability to buy land in Manipur’s hill regions. (In the context of Indian politics, this effectively meant telling the state it had to give Meiteis access to these privileges.)

The decision, immediately condemned by Manipur’s Kuki and other tribal communities, kicked off the recent unrest. As tribal groups marched to protest the order, they began fighting against Meiteis who supported it. Soon, the clashes escalated into organized bloodshed. Meitei-majority areas in the Manipur’s Imphal valley were cleansed of all ethnic Kukis. In response, Kukis targeted Meitei households in their midst.

But even though both sides have resorted to violence, it is clear that tribes have borne the brunt of the carnage. Kuki women have been raped and subjected to other forms sexual violence. Indian soldiers have done little to arrest armed Meitei men. Manipur’s police have done almost nothing while Meitei groups ransacked their armories. Since the conflict started, mobs have taken more than 4,900 weapons and 600,000 rounds of ammunition—including mortars, machine guns, and AK-47s—from Manipur’s stockpiles. Almost 90 percent of these weapons have been taken by Meitei militias.


The Kukis are not an isolated ethnic group. Instead, they belong to a broad network of tribes that live in Manipur, Manipur’s neighboring states, and two of India’s neighboring countries: Bangladesh and Myanmar. As a result, tens of thousands of Kuki families have fled into these jurisdictions, turning Manipur’s conflict into a regional issue.

The exodus and violence have undermined Modi’s grand strategy. Under Modi’s “Act East” policy, for example, India is trying to build infrastructure connecting its remote northeastern states with Southeast Asian countries. But the instability has delayed these ambitious projects.

The government, for instance, cannot begin a planned highway linking India to Myanmar and Thailand until there is peace in Manipur. It also cannot start a project that would improve the Indian northeast’s coastal access by building a road to the Burmese river town of Paletwa. (Civil conflict in Myanmar is holding up these endeavors as well.) India’s bid for greater influence in Southeast Asia therefore remains stalled, even as China continues its heavy regional spending under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The spillover is not the only way that Manipur’s violence has made it harder for New Delhi to compete with Beijing. Over the last 40 months, the Chinese and Indian militaries have been locked in a series of heated—and sometimes lethal—border standoffs, as China works to grab Himalayan territory from India. As a result, protecting India’s borders has become one of the country’s main foreign policy objectives. But to send troops to Manipur, the federal government had to pull a whole mountain division of roughly 15,000 soldiers away from the Chinese-Indian border, weakening India’s defensive posture.

China, of course, may not capitalize on India’s border weakness; Beijing has its own security priorities and issues. But even if the conflict in Manipur does not end up directly helping China, the violence will still degrade India’s international position. Since its independence from British colonial rule in 1947, India has been bedeviled by many separatist insurgencies. Sikh separatists, for example, waged a bloody, failed campaign for independence in the northern state of Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s. Maoist insurgents fought against India in parts of the country’s east and center.

Some of these groups still exist, and they occasionally remind Indians of their presence by carrying out spectacular acts of violence. The central government’s complete collapse in Manipur could embolden all of them to challenge New Delhi, putting India’s security establishment under increased pressure and diverting its energy and resources away from major external threats.

And yet despite these risks, Modi has been remarkably blasé about the conflict. He has not visited Manipur, and he has refused to meet with elected representatives from the state. He has not chaired a meeting about the violence, nor has he issued major statements condemning the deaths or suffering of Manipur’s people. He did not react even when the house of his junior foreign minister was burned by a large, angry mob in the state’s capital. His silence was broken only after 78 days, when he spent all of 36 seconds criticizing the violence after a video of two naked Kuki women being harassed and paraded went viral. Modi talked about the fighting again a few weeks later, but only when opposition parties tabled a no-confidence vote in parliament in order to force him to speak about the issue. Even then, Modi raised the subject about 90 minutes into his remarks, after all the opposition lawmakers staged a walkout in frustration.


There are several explanations for Modi’s silence. One is Manipur’s location. The state, tucked into India’s northeast corner, is seen as a distant land—barely connected to the country psychologically, physically, and now digitally. (The government has largely shut down Manipur’s Internet in response to the unrest.) Another is that Manipur is home to just three million people, a tiny fraction of India’s 1.4 billion residents, and so the country’s BJP-friendly media can easily ignore its politics. A third is that Modi may believe he can fix the conflict without saying anything, simply by throwing more troops and police at it.

But the final explanation for Modi’s silence is more chilling: the prime minister cannot condemn what is happening because it would expose the debilitating contradiction between his ideological project and his vision for a strong India. The BJP’s goal is to create an India where Hindus, as the party defines them, control everything. It is encapsulated in the BJP’s old unitary slogan—“Hindi, Hindu, Hindusthan”—and is evidenced in its virulently anti-Muslim election campaigns. (During the 2019 national elections, Amit Shah, now India’s home minister and Modi’s second-in-command, called Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh “termites.”) Letting the Meiteis dominate the Kukis is perfectly in keeping with this majoritarian vision. It may, in other words, be the natural outcome of Modi’s politics.

Modi has certainly behaved as if he does not mind Meitei dominance. The prime minister could fire Singh, or he could use his considerable weight to make the country’s armed forces actually check Meitei violence. But he has not. Instead, Modi has placed his political interests ahead of the requirements of India’s constitution. He has decided that, although the BJP’s behavior in Manipur may alienate some voters, it is more likely to help by rallying Meiteis to the party’s side. Corralling the country’s Hindu majority through exclusionary rhetoric and actions has, after all, helped Modi win commanding national elections.

But in the long run, Modi’s project will take a toll on the authority and credibility of the Indian state. It will open up fault lines between and among India’s many communities—divides that will widen and cement into permanent gulfs. The country could eventually confront what the British Trinidadian writer V. S. Naipaul called “a million mutinies,” threatening India’s own being. The northeast’s various other ethnic groups might begin fighting with each other.

India’s southern states, which have their own distinct languages and identities, could demand more freedoms from New Delhi. Kashmir and Punjab—which do not have Hindu majorities—could experience renewed sectarian violence and insurgencies. Both places are on India’s volatile border, and so conflict in either would bode poorly for New Delhi’s international dreams.

The BJP’s goal is to create an India where Hindus control everything.

Even if Hindu supremacy does not result in widespread civil strife, the Indian government’s nationalist program could still undermine its bid for global leadership. New Delhi likes to argue that its aspirations are peaceful, but the RSS has long spoken of trying to establish Akhand Bharat: a fantastical, greater India in which New Delhi would govern over all or part of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. When the Modi government unveiled a new parliament building in May, it even featured a mural of the entity. Multiple countries lodged formal complaints in response.

None of those countries, of course, are part of the West, which has nothing to directly fear from India’s regional goals. Indeed, Western governments seem to believe they will gain. The United States and Europe both openly hope that as India grows more powerful, it can serve as a strong check on China. As a result, they have gone out of their way to avoid criticizing New Delhi, irrespective of its bad behavior.

But the violence in Manipur clearly shows the limits of India’s potential under Modi. The country will not be able to effectively defend its borders if it has to divert military force to suppress internal unrest. It cannot serve as a counterweight to China if it is burdening other parts of Asia with domestic conflicts. In fact, India will struggle to be effective anywhere in the world if its government remains largely preoccupied with domestic strife.

For New Delhi’s Western partners, an India that cannot look outward will certainly prove disappointing. But it will be more disappointing for Indians themselves. Theirs is the largest country in the world; it should, by rights, be a global leader. Yet to be stable enough to project substantial authority, India needs to keep peace and harmony among its diverse population—something it can accomplish only by becoming an inclusive, plural, secular, and liberal democracy. Otherwise, it risks turning into a Hindu version of South Asia’s other countries, such as Myanmar and Pakistan, where ethnic dominance has resulted in tumult, violence, and deprivation. Everyone who wants India to succeed should therefore hope that New Delhi can see the problem with its vision—and change course before it is too late. (Courtesy: Foreign Affairs)

India Mulls Simultaneous Polls To Parliament And State Assemblies

After fulfilling key promises such as the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and abrogation of Article 370, the ruling BJP is now focussed on the party’s agenda of simultaneous polls in the country.

The Modi government has constituted a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to explore the possibility of ‘one nation, one election’.

 Since coming to power in 2014, the Modi government has been a strong votary of simultaneous polls, citing financial burden caused by an almost continuous election cycle and jolt to development work during the polling period.

The Kovind-led panel will explore the feasibility of the exercise and the mechanism to see as to how the country can go back to having simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls, as was the case till 1967.

 India had simultaneous polls before — national and all assembly polls were held together in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967.

 The latest move comes a day after the government called a special session of Parliament between September 18 and 22, the agenda for which is under wraps.

Picture: Bussiness Standard

Although there is speculation that the government could table the ‘one nation, one election’ bill in the upcoming session, it may not be the case given it will involve a long process of public consultations and feedback from various quarters.

 The primary challenge would be to sync the terms of various state assemblies with that of the Lok Sabha.

A 1999 Law Commission report had argued in support of simultaneous elections, but another draft report by the Commission in 2018 said that “simultaneous elections could not be held within the existing framework of the Constitution.”

It would require multiple constitutional amendments, especially Article 83 and Article 172, which stipulate a five-year term for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, respectively, from the date of the first sitting.

With the BJP’s performance in state polls often inferior to its show in Lok Sabha elections, party leaders are of the view that simultaneous polls will result in national issues taking centre-stage and the ‘Modi factor’ playing a bigger role, stripping regional leaders of some of their sway.

Hindenburg 2.0 Accuses Adani Group Of Manipulating Finances

At a time when the Supreme Court is hearing the Adani Group-Hindenburg case, the business conglomerate was on Thursday hit by fresh allegations that it used family associates to secretly invest hundreds of millions of dollars through “opaque” Mauritius-based investment funds to fuel the spectacular rise in group stocks.

 Citing a review of files from tax havens and internal Adani Group emails, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said two individual investors with “longtime business ties” to the Adani family used such offshore structures to buy and sell Adani shares between 2013 and 2018 — a period during which the ports-to-energy conglomerate saw meteoric rise to become India’s largest and most powerful businesses.

OCCRP is a non-profit global network of investigative journalists funded by Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.

Picture : Eligibility

 OCCRP said Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli from the UAE and Chang Chung-Ling from Taiwan spent years trading Adani group stock worth hundreds of millions of dollars through two Mauritius-based funds that were overseen by a Dubai-based company run by a known employee of Vinod Adani.

 Market regulator SEBI had been handed evidence in early 2014 of alleged suspicious stock market activity by the Adani Group, OCCRP said citing a letter.

U K Sinha, who was then heading SEBI, is now a director and chairperson of an Adani-owned news channel.

The fresh broadside, which comes months after US short-selling firm Hindenburg Research published an explosive report in January that accused Adani Group of running the “largest con in corporate history”, sent all 10 listed Adani stocks down.

 Shares of nine out of 10 Adani group companies closed in the red on Thursday, taking a combined hit of Rs 35,708 crore in market valuation after the OCCRP report. More here

 On the OCCRP allegations, the Group on Thursday termed them as “recycled allegations” and called them “yet another concerted bid by (George) Soros-funded interests supported by a section of the foreign media to revive the meritless Hindenburg report”.

 Opposition parties, which stalled proceedings in Parliament for nearly one full session when the Hindenburg allegations first came out, were quick to latch on to the OCCRP to attack the government and Adani Group.

Maintaining that India’s reputation is at stake ahead of the G20 Summit, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked why PM Modi was silent on the allegations and demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).

Shaktikanta Das Of India’s Top Bank Ranked As Top Central Banker

Shaktikanta Das, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has achieved global recognition by securing the top spot in the prestigious Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023. In this authoritative ranking, he was bestowed with an ‘A+’ rating, placing him at the pinnacle of central bank governors worldwide. This distinguished evaluation was conducted by the esteemed US-based Global Finance Magazine.

Das has garnered accolades for his adept stewardship of the Indian economy, particularly during a turbulent period of global economic uncertainty. His remarkable achievements include maintaining a firm grip on inflation and providing crucial support for economic growth.

As of December 12, 2018, Shaktikanta Das assumed office as the 25th Governor of the RBI, succeeding Urjit Patel. His tenure is marked by a string of influential roles, including serving as the Secretary of the Department of Revenue and the Department of Economic Affairs within the finance ministry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his heartfelt congratulations to Shaktikanta Das for attaining the coveted ‘A+’ rating in the Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023. He underscored the significance of this achievement, stating, “Congratulations to RBI Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das. This is a proud moment for India, reflecting our financial leadership on the global stage. His dedication and vision continue to strengthen our nation’s growth trajectory.”

In the Global Finance grading system, an ‘A’ signifies an exceptional performance, while an ‘F’ represents a clear failure. In this regard, Shaktikanta Das’s ‘A+’ rating underscores his outstanding contributions to the central banking sphere.

Trailing behind Das in the rankings are Switzerland’s Governor Thomas J. Jordan and Nguyen Thi Hong, the central bank chief of Vietnam, both of whom also received ‘A’ ratings.

The report emphasized the global reliance on central bankers in the fight against inflation, which has surged due to pent-up demand and disrupted supply chains. Central bankers are increasingly called upon to address these economic challenges.

Global Finance’s annual Central Banker Report Cards are a platform to honor bank governors whose innovative ideas, originality, ingenuity, and tenacity have set them apart from their peers.

Joining Shaktikanta Das in the ‘A’ grade category are notable central bank governors like Roberto Campos Neto of Brazil, Amir Yaron of Israel, Harvesh Kumar Seegolam of Mauritius, and Adrian Orr of New Zealand, all of whom have been recognized for their remarkable performance.

Additionally, several governors received an ‘A-‘ rating in the report, including Leonardo Villar of Colombia, Hector Valdez Albizu of the Dominican Republic, Asgeir Jonsson of Iceland, and Perry Warjiyo of Indonesia.

It’s worth noting that Global Finance has been evaluating central bank governors from 101 countries, territories, and districts, including prominent institutions such as the European Union, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Bank of Central African States, and the Central Bank of West African States since 1994.

Shaktikanta Das’s ascendancy to the top of the Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023 is not an isolated recognition of his excellence. In June of the same year, he was honored with the title of ‘Governor of the Year’ at the Central Banking Awards 2023 held in London. This further underscores his exceptional contributions to the field of central banking.

Shaktikanta Das has emerged as the preeminent central banker globally, earning an ‘A+’ rating in the esteemed Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023. His adept management of India’s economy, particularly during times of global economic uncertainty, has earned him widespread acclaim. This recognition not only reflects his dedication and vision but also positions India as a leader on the international financial stage. Additionally, his ‘Governor of the Year’ accolade at the Central Banking Awards 2023 in London underscores the enduring impact of his contributions to central banking.

India’s Moon Rover Completes Its Walk

India’s lunar rover has concluded its exploration on the moon’s surface and has been placed in sleep mode, marking a significant milestone in the nation’s space endeavors. This development occurred less than two weeks after the rover’s historic landing near the lunar south pole, as confirmed by India’s space mission.

In an official statement released on a Saturday evening, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) reported, “The rover completes its assignments. It is now safely parked and set into sleep mode.” This decision was influenced by the impending lunar nightfall, as daylight on that part of the moon was coming to an end.

The ISRO statement further revealed that the rover’s scientific instruments had been powered down, and the data it diligently gathered during its lunar expedition had been successfully transmitted to Earth through the lander.

Originally, the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover were expected to function for a single lunar day, equivalent to 14 days on Earth. In a hopeful note, the statement mentioned the current status of the rover’s battery, stating, “Currently, the battery is fully charged. The solar panel is oriented to receive the light at the next sunrise expected on September 22, 2023. The receiver is kept on. Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments!”

Despite the success in various aspects of the mission, there was no mention in the statement regarding the outcome of the rover’s mission to search for signs of frozen water on the lunar surface. Such discoveries could prove crucial for future astronaut missions, serving as a potential source of drinking water or even the production of rocket fuel.

Just a week prior, the space agency had announced a significant discovery by the rover, confirming the presence of sulfur and identifying several other elements on the lunar surface. The rover’s laser-induced spectroscope instrument had also detected the presence of aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen, and silicon.

However, the mission wasn’t without its challenges. The Indian Express newspaper reported that the electronic components on board the Indian lunar mission were not designed to endure the extreme low temperatures experienced on the moon, dropping to less than -120 degrees Celsius (-184 degrees Fahrenheit) during the lunar night, which spans approximately 14 days on Earth.

Pallava Bagla, a renowned science writer and co-author of books focusing on India’s space exploration, emphasized the rover’s limited battery power. He noted that while the data had safely made its way back to Earth, the rover’s ability to wake up during the next lunar sunrise remained uncertain, as the electronic circuits and components weren’t equipped to withstand the moon’s frigid conditions. Bagla remarked, “Making electronic circuits and components that can survive the deep cold temperature of the moon, that technology doesn’t exist in India.”

India’s achievement in successfully deploying a rover to the lunar surface came after a previous attempt to land on the moon in 2019 had encountered difficulties. This recent success positioned India alongside the United States, the Soviet Union, and China as the fourth nation to accomplish this remarkable feat.

This triumphant mission not only signifies India’s growing prominence in the realms of technology and space exploration but also aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aspirations to project India as an ascendant nation, asserting its position among the global elite.

This multifaceted mission commenced over a month ago and was executed with an estimated budget of $75 million. India’s success on the lunar surface closely followed Russia’s Luna-25 mission, which had the same lunar region as its target but sadly veered into an uncontrolled orbit and crashed. Luna-25 had aspired to become Russia’s first successful lunar landing in 47 years.

Roscosmos, Russia’s state-controlled space corporation, attributed the mission’s failure to a lack of expertise, resulting from the prolonged hiatus in lunar research following the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.

India’s space journey has been active since the 1960s, encompassing satellite launches for both domestic and international purposes. Notably, in 2014, India successfully placed a satellite in orbit around Mars, a significant accomplishment that drew global attention. As part of its future plans, India is gearing up for its maiden mission to the International Space Station in collaboration with the United States, demonstrating its continued commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration.

Long Wait For Green Cards Threatens Separation Of Indian Families

In the United States, a substantial backlog in Green Card processing is putting over one lakh Indian children at risk of being separated from their parents. With more than 10.7 lakh Indians in line for employment-based Green Cards, which grant legal permanent residency in the US, the current system’s limitations suggest that completion could take a staggering 135 years. This crisis primarily affects those under H-4 visas, with a recent study by immigration expert David J. Bier from the Cato Institute highlighting that approximately 1.34 lakh Indian children under H-4 visas may age out before their Green Card applications are processed, forcing them into separation from their families.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, DC, has drawn attention to this pressing issue, emphasizing the severity of the problem. When factoring in dropout factors such as death and aging out, the waiting time remains at a staggering 54 years.

Under the H-4 visa system, children moving to the US with their parents, who hold H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, are permitted to stay until they reach the age of 21. Once they reach this age, they can no longer remain in the United States under the H-4 visa category. These young individuals, sometimes referred to as “documented dreamers,” face two difficult choices upon aging out.

Picture : MSN

The first option is to apply for an F-1 or student visa, which allows them to study in the US. However, this route doesn’t grant them the right to work without obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD application process is often protracted and expensive, with no guarantees of success, as only a limited number of children manage to secure the F-1 visa.

The second alternative is to return to their home country, which can be an emotionally challenging decision. This is particularly true for those who have spent the majority of their lives in the US, with minimal or no connection to their family in India.

The age limit imposed on H-4 visas and the extensive backlog in the Green Card process have created significant uncertainty and anxiety among Indian families settled in the United States. While the Biden administration has proposed a rule that would permit certain H-4 visa holders who turn 21 to remain in the US and work, it remains uncertain when or if this rule will be put into effect. Additionally, President Biden had pledged to modify the 7 percent country cap for Green Cards, but concrete steps towards this change remain to be seen.

The lengthy waiting times for Green Cards in the United States are endangering the unity of Indian families settled there, especially those with children on H-4 visas. Urgent reforms are needed to address this issue and provide a more compassionate solution to prevent the forced separation of families.

Is India Going To Be Renamed Bharat?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has replaced the name India with a Sanskrit word in dinner invitations sent to guests attending this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, triggering speculation that the name of the country will be officially changed.

Reports suggest, India is likely to be renamed Bharat. Buzz on the country’s name change gained ground after images of the official invite to the G20 Heads of State and ministers for a dinner being hosted by President Droupadi Murmu came to the fore. The invite shows the invite was from “the President of Bharat“.

Picture : Gulte

The name change from “India” to “Bharat” in the formal invite for a global summit, that will see Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak in attendance, could possibly be a hint by the Modi administration that India could soon be renamed.

Several Opposition leaders took to social media to share the invites to the dinner to be held on September 9th, that shed the country’s English name “India”. Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist government is rumoured to be looking to change the name during a special parliamentary session this month amid instances of the removal of the traces of previous governments and leaders, including the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, from official landmarks and buildings of national importance.

What is India officially called?

The official name for the country is mentioned in the Indian Constitution as “India, that is Bharat” that “shall be a Union of states”. The Indian Constitution was written and made public in 1951 and the issue had been heavily debated after India gained independence as well, in 1947.

Nehru, also a historian, had said in his book, Discovery of India: “Often, as I wandered from meeting to meeting, I spoke to my audiences of this India of ours, of Hindustan and of Bharata, the old Sanskrit name derived from the mythical founders of the race.” He had mentioned the three most popular names – Hindustan, India and Bharat – with their own roots to the geographical and historical relevance of the country.

All the official documents for the country in English carry the name “India” when referring to the Republic, its ministries, domestic and foreign correspondence, and even while mentioning leaders as Indian leaders. Valid identity cards like passports and voting cards use the term “India” as the official marker of citizenship. The documents published in colloquial Hindi language say “Bharat” instead of “India”.

Where do the names India and Bharat come from?

The earliest records used to identify the country reveal the usage of “Bharat”, “Bharata” or “Bharatvarsha”. These commonly used terms have found a place in the Constitution alongside “India”.

Bharat, a Sanskrit name for the country, comes from ancient Puranic literature and also from one of the two major epics of India – the Mahabharata – in which Indians are believed to be the descendants of king Bharat, a mythical figure Hindus claim had started the Indian race. Many historians believe it dates back to early Hindu texts. The word also means “India” in Hindi.

The name “India” gained relevance when the country was ruled by the British from the late 18th century onwards, and was prominently used in historical maps. After gaining freedom, the country’s new leaders did not do away with the usage, but incorporated it in official documents.

Who is calling for Bharat to be used?

After centuries of the country being known as India outside its borders, the Modi administration is pushing for the name change. This is coincidentally just weeks after the country’s opposition leaders formed an alliance bloc called “INDIA” – short for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance – in a bid to remove Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in elections next year.

Several right-wing leaders of his party cheered on the probable use of “Bharat” as the only official name for the country on Tuesday, after photos widely shared across social media showed an official invite for India’s G20 summit asking foreign dignitaries to join the “President of Bharat” with no mention of India on the card.

Recent media reports about a “special session” of the Indian parliament, coupled with the photo of the invite, have also sparked rumours that BJP is planning to use the rare session to announce its intention to officially rename the country.

Why is it in the news now?

The biggest push came after the opposition rebranded itself as “INDIA” and claimed it wants to protect democracy and the idea of a united nation that it insists has been attacked by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party amid a sharp rise in attacks against other religious minorities in the country, prominently Muslims.

Right-wing political leaders from Mr Modi’s BJP, however, insist “India” was introduced by British colonialists, is a “symbol of slavery” and argue that a name change is an effort to reclaim India’s Hindu past. Large portions of India’s population, however, follow several different religions. Several of Mr Modi’s ministers have dropped India from their social media bios and replaced it with “Bharat” in the past few weeks.

Since then, some officials in Mr Modi’s party have demanded the country be called “Bharat”, without explaining how official documents, prominent national buildings, hospitals, colleges and universities using “India” in their name will be renamed.

Biden Arrives In India For G20 Summit

US President Joe Biden will travel to India on Thursday to attend the G20 summit. He will also have a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the summit, the White House has announced.

India, President of G20, will host global leaders at the summit, which will take place on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi. On Thursday (September 7), the US President will travel to New Delhi to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit, the White House said in a statement.

On September 8, he will participate in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi. On Saturday and Sunday, Biden will participate in the G20 summit, where the US President and G20 partners will discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues, including clean energy transition and combating climate change.

Picture : The Guardian

They will also discuss ways to mitigate the economic and social impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and increase the capacity of multilateral development banks, including World Bank, to better fight poverty and address global challenges.

The President will participate in the G20 Summit on Saturday and Sunday where he and G20 partners will discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues which include clean energy transition and combating climate change.

They will also mitigate the economic and social impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine and boost the capacity of multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to better fight poverty, including by addressing global challenges, the White House said.

“While in New Delhi, the President will also commend Prime Minister Modi’s leadership of the G20 and reaffirm the US commitment to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation, including by hosting it in 2026,” it added.

Earlier, amid the reports of Chinese President Xi Jinping skipping the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Biden had said that he hoped that Xi would attend the meeting in India.

While in New Delhi, the US President will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation. The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies.

The United States will host the summit in 2026.

INDIA Meet Gives Shape To A Unified Opposition To India

At their third conclave in Mumbai, INDIA parties resolved to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls together “as far as possible”. Amid speculation of early polls, the Opposition bloc set up a 14-member coordination committee as its top decision-making body.

Top leaders of the opposition bloc held talks in an informal setting in Mumbai on Thursday evening to chart out a concrete roadmap and evolve a structure for cooperation among the alliance partners.

Before the meeting, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was seen chatting with Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut and NCP’s Supriya Sule and Jayant Patil. Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar were also seen sharing light moments ahead of the meeting.

The Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary among others were present in the meeting.

“The meeting was good. You will know the details tomorrow,” Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray told reporters. Thackeray hosted dinner for the INDIA leaders after the meeting.

Picture : MINT

Against much anticipation, no seat-sharing formula could be finalised in Mumbai, indicating major differences among the parties. They also did not launch a logo for the alliance. Its resolution said, “Seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take.” The coordination committee has got the task of starting the work on seat sharing.

While a comprehensive action plan for taking on the PM Modi-led NDA government in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections has been finalized at the end of the INDIA alliance meeting on Friday, the crucial discussions on a seat-sharing formula were left to state-level committees comprising leaders of various parties, Congress sources told the media.

The Congress and a few other parties have also identified 400 parliamentary seats out of the total 543 where a one-on-one fight with the BJP is possible and will push for such contests, a senior Congress leader said.

The INDIA bloc is in no hurry to appoint a convenor, but it has been proposed that a coordination committee of 11 members be appointed, the leader said.

 The INDIA bloc is likely to announce a coordination committee as well as unveil a logo for the alliance. The opposition leaders had earlier met in Patna and Bengaluru.

Not officially invited, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal made an unexpected entry at the conclave stage, leaving some Congress leaders miffed. KC Venugopal, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, reportedly complained to Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, the official host of the meeting, over the presence of his lawyer. Sibal, who had quit the Congress last year as he didn’t want to “hang on coattails of any party” was seen being warmly welcomed by NCP’s Supriya Sule.

In their second conclave in July in Bengaluru, the INDIA bloc’s resolution declared a national caste census as one of its demands. But in Mumbai, when JDU, SP and RJD pushed for the caste census demand, TMC opposed it.

Rahul Gandhi said PM Modi’s call of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ would never materialise just like the Britishers failed to finish off the party during their heydays. He claimed his party would replicate its win in Karnataka notched up a few months ago in poll-bound Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. “The INDIA alliance is going to defeat the BJP in national elections and the Congress party will win the polls,” he said.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge during the third INDIA meeting on Friday asked the alliance partners to be ready for more attacks from the ruling party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming days due to vendetta politics and said “INDIA strength is making the government nervous”.

He also targeted the BJP and the RSS for increase in hate crime in the country and also accused it of trying to keep the states under check. Addressing the INDIA bloc leaders here on second day of the meeting, Kharge said, “The success of  both our meetings first in Patna and second in Bengaluru can be measured by the fact that the Prime Minister in his subsequent speeches has not just attacked INDIA but has also compared the name of our beloved country with a terrorist organisation and a symbol of slavery.”

“We should be prepared for more attacks in the coming months, more raids and arrests due to this government’s vendetta politics,” he said. The Congress leader asserted that the more ground INDIA alliance gains the more the BJP government will misuse agencies against the opposition leaders. He cited the example of the central agencies actions in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and recent actions in the states of Jharkhand and in Chhattisgarh.

“Today every section of our society — be it the farmers, youth, women, the marginalised, middle class, public intellectuals, NGOs and even journalists — all have been at the receiving end of BJP’s authoritarian misrule and 140 crore Indians are looking towards us with hope to relieve them of their miseries,” Kharge said targeting the government.

Hitting back at the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Kharge, who is also the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said, “The communal poison that the BJP and RSS have spread over the last nine years is now seen in hate crimes against innocent train passengers and against innocent school children. It is no surprise that when people involved in gruesome rape are released and felicitated in one part of the county, it encourages horrific crimes and parading of naked women in the other. In Modiji’s India the wife of a Kargil brave heart is also not spared.”

Kharge was referring to the recent killing of four people in train by an RPF constable, naked parading of women by a mob in Manipur, release of Bilkis Banu rape accused.

“It is the BJP govt’s apathy towards the marginalised that makes their leaders urinate on poor tribals and dalits and the culprits are left to roam freely,” he said referring to the Madhya Pradesh’s incident.

Slamming the government further, the Congress leader said that the Central government headed by the “Prime Minister wants to keep states under check. States are being denied their share of the tax revenues. MGNREGA dues to Opposition ruled states are not being given. Special grants and state specific grants are not released as per recommendation of the Finance Commission. Investors are forced to move their investments and projects out of opposition ruled states to states ruled by the BJP,” he said.

He also referred to former party president Rahul Gandhi’s press conference on Thursday questioning the Prime Minister’s silence on alleged stock manipulation by Adani Group.

“He (Rahul Gandhi) demanded a JPC probe into charges of round tripping and reports of Opaque Investment from Mauritius based Company. It is unexplainable why the Prime Minister is not getting the matter investigated?” Kharge questioned.

Kharge alleged that the BJP wants complete control on agencies and institutions — it is adamant on controlling the appointment of ED Chief, the CBI Director, Election Commissioners or even judges of courts across the country.

“Through the course of the three meetings INDIA alliance has successfully held the government accountable both within and outside Parliament as a united front. Our strength makes the government nervous and which is why it has further bulldozed important bills in Parliament, suspended our MPs on flimsy grounds, filed privilege motions against us, switched off our mikes, not allowed cameras to cover our protests and blatantly censored our speeches on Sansad TV,” he said. He also said that he would like to end on a positive note as the people of this country are our hope.

“The success of Chandrayaan 3 and our scientists from ISRO, success of sports people like Neeraj Chopra and young chess wizard Praggnanandhaa make us all proud. I want to congratulate all of them on their success for inspiring the next generation,” Kharge added.

India Celebrates Praggnanandhaa, Chess Champion

Eighteen-year-old Indian prodigy R Praggnanandhaa could not pull off a repeat of his giant-killing acts of the last few days as fancied Magnus Carlsen beat him in the tie-break to win the in the final of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan last week.  The two classical games on Tuesday and Wednesday had ended in draws, stretching the final into a tie-break.

After a keenly contested first game, the second game was a rather tame affair with Praggnanandhaa falling behind quickly and agreeing to a draw.

Carlsen, who had been under the weather due to food poisoning and did not look at his best in the first classical game, showed why he is so tough to get past with his remarkable comeback in the tie-break.

He ultimately beat Praggnanandhaa 1.5 – 0.5 in the tie-break to win the trophy. Norwegian Grand Master (GM) Carlsen, 32, became a first-time winner of the FIDE World Cup – with which he also retained his No. 1 global rank.

Praggnanandhaa defeated world No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura in the fourth round and eventually went on to shock world No. 3 Fabino Caruana 3.5 – 2.5 via the tie-break in the semifinals on August 21, earning the reputation of a ‘giant killer’.
Former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand had won the FIDE World Cup in 2000 and 2002. But, back then, it was held under a different format.

PM Narendra Modi hailed Praggnanandhaa for his remarkable performance at the FIDE World Cup and said he showcased exceptional skills to give a tough fight to the formidable Magnus Carlsen in the finals. “This is no small feat. Wishing him the very best for his upcoming tournaments,” he added.

Praggnanandhaa, or Pragg as he’s popularly known, made headlines for becoming the world’s youngest player to play in the finals and the third-youngest person to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, putting him in the league of prodigies like Carlsen himself and Bobby Fischer.

The teenager’s achievements have bolstered his reputation in the field. With younger players making a mark, it also signals a “generational shift” in the game itself and that shift “is likely to heavily favour India,” Devangshu Datta, a columnist and Fide-rated chess player wrote in The Times of India.

During this World Cup, four Indian players advanced to the quarterfinals, securing an impressive 50% of the available slots. Currently, there are 21 Indian players who hold positions within the top 100 junior players in the world, all under 20 years of age; among them, four rank in the top 10 and seven in the top 20.

These youngsters “will almost certainly dominate chess for a decade or more,” says Datta. And the theory is a plausible one, because thousands of young Indians are now playing chess – a trend that began in the 2000s after Anand’s victories made headlines – and has since steadily picked up speed.

Smartphones and cheap internet access have made it easy for children to hone their skills through apps and online tournaments, while basic chess coaching is easily available as well. This is significantly different from the way things stood even a couple of decades ago.

“For Indians players who arrived on the scene even two decades after Anand, access to regular training under a GM (Grandmaster) was almost inconceivable,” notes sports writer Susan Ninan in The Indian Express.

Picture: HT

GIC Celebrates Independence & Chandrayaan Day

Global Indian Council President PC Mathew presided over the meeting, and the Global General Secretary delivered a detailed welcome speech. Dr. Gopinath Muthukad as the Chief Guest and Dr. Jija Madhavan Hari Singh IPS, Rtd. (Global Goodwill Ambassador of GIC)graced the event with their valuable presence. “Conquering the Moon Mirrors Our Journey as a Nation Marked by Determination, Challenges, Perseverance, and the Pursuit of Excellence,” a global news reporter stated with emphasis.

The meeting began with Kumari Krystal Shajan (New York) singing the American National Anthem, followed by the Indian National Anthem by sisters Aditi & Ananya from Kerala, who won popular awards and applause from the Flowers channel music competition in its 1st phase.  

Chief guest Dr Gopinathan Mudukad addressed the gathering as the audience were awaiting to hear from the World famous Magician who turned into a Philanthropist. He expressed his happiness and endorsed the achievement of Chandrayaan 3 mission and the achievement of India from its independence in 1947. 

He prolonged his speech that Independence is complete in its entirety when all the humans around are also independent in all aspects. He was mentioning about the differently abled population of India who are still not recognized by the world community. The social stigma about disability has to go away and society should accept them without bias. 

A considerable percentage in India’s population has some kind of disability which is unnoticed by many. Children should be educated to take this invisible majority. He announced the opening of the Different Arts Center at Thiruvananthapuram on August 27, 2023, wherein 300 differently abled children are enrolled, and appreciated Global Indian Council for its vision and missions.

Global Goodwill Ambassador of GIC, Dr.Jija Madavan Harisingh IPS, former DGP of Karnataka, on her Independence Day message emphasized that it is an honour to come before the GIC community. She continued in her detailed and eloquent statement that “Today, we come together in excitement, not only to celebrate our cherished Independence Day but also to commemorate a remarkable milestone in our nation’s history” Chandrayaan- 3, the Indian Moon Mission. 

As we unfurl the tricolor flag of India, we are reminded of the sacrifices, struggles, and indomitable spirit that culminated in our independence on August 15, 1947. Our celebrations today go beyond the boundaries of our nation. Our global Indian community is connected not only by our heritage but also by our aspirations for a better future. Just as our forefathers dreamt of an independent India, our scientists and engineers at ISRO dared to dream of reaching the lunar surface. 

And they achieved it! India’s historic journey to the moon is a testament to our unwavering commitment to be global! Congratulations to ISRO for reaching new heights in space exploration!💕Chandrayaan-3, with its orbiter, lander, and rover, at a frugal cost of only 75 million dollars, which is much lower than what other countries have spent on missions, and less than half the cost of even a Hollywood movie.

As we celebrate our nation’s moon mission, we also observe the indomitable spirit of inquiry and innovation that defines us as Indians. Our journey to the moon mirrors our journey as a nation” marked by challenges, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence. Just as our freedom fighters did not waver in their commitment to a free India, our scientists did not falter in their quest for lunar conquest. They teach us that with determination, the sky is not the limit! Today, let us pledge to carry forward this same spirit of innovation. Let us remember that as global Indians, we are not bound by borders; we are bound by our shared values and aspirations. 

We have the power to make a positive impact on the world, just as India’s moon mission has! In conclusion, as we celebrate India’s Independence Day and the remarkable Chandrayaan-3, let us remember that our heritage is a source of strength, our diversity is a source of unity, and our dreams are a source of inspiration. Together, as a global Indian community, we can continue to reach for the stars and achieve greatness.

GIC Cabinet members Prof.Joy Pallattumadom VP, Adv Yamini Rajesh Associate Secretary,Tom George Kolath -Associate Treasurer, Adv Susan Mathew – Compliance officer, Adv Seema-Public Relations Officer,  Dr. Mathew Joys – Media & Publicity felicitated the event and expressed their congratulations on the successful mission of chandrayaan 3. 

The following chapter Presidents/CoE chairperson and members also felicitated the event. African Chapter president – Dr Mohan Lumba, NY chapter president – Dr. Anil Paulose, Andrews Kunnuparampil, Health & Wellness CoE – Dr Jacob Eapen, Usha George, Marginalized Community: Dr Narayanankutty, Education & Literature: Prof VC John, Travancore chapter: Prof KP Mathew, Cinema & Visual media Red Carpet: Komal Kothari, Sunil Hali & Trilok Malik, Vani Madula, Woman empowerment chairs: Sosamma Andrew, Dr. Alice Mathew, Business: Elizabeth Paulose, Arts&Culture: Minku Buttar, Deepa Mohandoss from the Canada chapter, Eminent community leaders like Kallikkadu Babu, and Alex Koshy also felicitated the event.

Tom George Kolath Ass. Treasurer greeted all with Independence Day wishes and also shared our gratitude to “ISRO chairman Dr. Somanath, all the scientists, and teamwork and contributions to Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji. Unity and diversity are our strength. We remember all our freedom fighters and all the leaders who started the footwork of this research and developments of our great nation India.” Tom also gave a Vote of thanks and thanked the chief guest, cabinet, emcees, performers, and all participants.

Hindu Leader Removed From Parliament Of World’s Religions For Links To Hindutva

The Parliament of the World’s Religions has quietly removed Hindu religious leader Nivedita Bhide from its list of speakers at this week’s conference in Chicago after activists raised concerns over her links to Hindu nationalism.

MEE first reported last week that anger was growing over Bhide’s inclusion at the event over her links with the far right, but also her history of spreading Islamophobic disinformation about minorities in India, including Muslims and Christians.

A source familiar with the issue at the parliament confirmed to MEE on Wednesday that Bhide, the vice president of Vivekananda Kendra, a Hindu nationalist social service and “nation-building” organisation, had been removed due to her affiliations and her Islamophobic social media posts.

Earlier this week, Bhide, who was scheduled to address a plenary session at the conference on 16 August, was no longer listed as a featured luminary on the Parliament of the World’s Religions program.

Vivekananda Kendra also did not respond to MEE’s requests for comment.

Rasheed Ahmed, the executive director of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), welcomed the decision, but said it was worrying that Bhide had been invited in the first place.

“It raises a concern if there are other speakers who similarly profess or normalise Hindu supremacist ideologies while invoking diversity and other seemingly progressive and cultural symbolism,” Ahmed told MEE.

A history of Islamophobia

In 2017, Bhide was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award by the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Activists said that she has routinely shared the rhetoric of right-wing Hindu nationalists who demonise prominent Indian activists.

 Targets have included Afreen Fatima, a researcher and activist, Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub, and the late Christian priest, Father Stan Swamy.

Bhide has also been seen participating in events either hosted or endorsed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu paramilitary organisation that aims to turn India into a Hindu state. She actively reposts disinformation, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia on social media.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions describes itself as “cultivating harmony among the world’s spiritual traditions and fosters their engagement with guiding institutions in order to achieve a more peaceful, just and sustainable world”.

Ahead of this year’s convention, titled A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights, programme director Phyllis Curott said the parliament was “uniting in a collective, courageous and clear reply to the most dangerous crisis confronting us today – authoritarianism”.

BRICS Expands From 5 To 11 Nations

Leaders of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — decided last week to expand the grouping and admit six new members. Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina will become part of BRICS with effect from January 1, 2024.

BRICS expands from 5 to 11, Modi says it’s a message to all global bodies

There are about 23 countries which have formally applied so far for membership of the grouping.

At a joint media briefing in Johannesburg, South African President and Summit host Cyril Ramaphosa, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said, “We have consensus on the first phase of this BRICS expansion process…

“We have decided to invite Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS.  We value the interests of other countries in building partnership with BRICS and have tasked our Foreign Ministers to further develop the BRICS partnership model and list of prospective countries (which want to join the grouping),” Ramaphosa said.


He said the decision on the new members was agreed upon after firming up the guiding principles, criteria and procedure for the expansion process. There are about 23 countries which have formally applied so far for membership of the grouping.

Prime Minister Modi, in a tweet, said, “On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of BRICS, we have taken the decision to expand this forum. India has always fully supported this expansion. Such an expansion will make BRICS stronger and more effective. In that spirit, India welcomes Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE into the BRICS family.”

He said the “expansion and modernisation” of BRICS is a message that all institutions in the world need to mould themselves according to changing times.

“India has always fully supported the expansion of the BRICS membership. India has been of the view that the addition of new members will further strengthen BRICS as an organisation, and give a new impetus to all our common endeavours,” he said.

Modi said the decision to expand the bloc will further strengthen the faith of many countries in the multipolar world order.

The BRICS, in its declaration, said, “We have decided to invite the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS from 1 January 2024.”

The grouping was formed in September 2006 and it originally comprised Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). It was renamed as BRICS after South Africa was accepted as a full member in September 2010.

At present, the BRICS represents 41 per cent of the global population, 24 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of the global trade.

Chinese President Xi described the expansion of BRICS as a “new starting point” for cooperation in the grouping. “It will bring new vigour to the BRICS cooperation mechanism, further strengthening a force for world peace and development,” he said.

Speaking via virtual mode, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the expansion.

Ramaphosa said, “Through this Summit, BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous.”

He said the BRICS is ready to explore opportunities for improving the “stability, reliability and fairness of the global financial architecture”.

This strategic move aims to bolster the economic prowess and global influence of the BRICS bloc, countering the influence of the United States and its Western allies. The expansion carries noteworthy implications in terms of augmenting trade participation and political representation for the member nations. Notably, India stands to gain from this expansion due to its escalating prominence within the group.

This expansion, however, raises pertinent questions about the bloc’s political aspirations and its capacity to effectively advocate for the interests of the Global South. The inclusion of the six new members underscores the BRICS’ evolving nature, potentially shifting its initial economic focus towards broader geopolitical ambitions.

Initially coined by British economist Jim O’Neill, the BRICS acronym underscored emerging investment opportunities rather than political objectives. The establishment of the BRICS in 2014, which later incorporated South Africa, centered on fostering economic engagement. However, the subsequent additions suggest a broader vision, which may divert the bloc from its original purpose.

While the expansion of the BRICS appears promising on the surface, it carries inherent complexities. The decision-making process within such a diverse coalition is fraught with challenges. Prior to this expansion, the bloc already grappled with differing foreign policy and economic goals among its founding members. The inclusion of nations with distinct economies and geopolitical stances could exacerbate these existing challenges.

For instance, India’s evolving relationship with Western powers and its well-known tensions with China highlight the disagreements within the group. Furthermore, while the intention to expand the BRICS is evident and several countries have expressed interest, the bloc’s overarching vision remains unclear. This lack of clarity poses a significant threat to the group’s ability to maintain unity and exert influence.

Projected to collectively account for $27.6 trillion in GDP, representing 26.3% of the global total, the initial BRICS members are set to welcome the new entrants, elevating the anticipated GDP to $30.8 trillion, with a 29.3% share of the global market.

The strength of the BRICS alliance has traditionally rested on its significant share of the world’s population, largely attributed to China and India, the only two countries with populations exceeding one billion. Notably, the alliance’s demographic weight will increase further with the inclusion of Ethiopia, boasting a population of 126.5 million, and Egypt, with 112.7 million residents.

A prominent question surrounds the potential for the BRICS to achieve “de-dollarization.” Despite claims of reducing dependence on the US dollar, the BRICS’ own New Development Bank, established to rival Western institutions like the IMF, remains significantly tied to the dollar. A comprehensive shift away from the dollar would necessitate a radical transformation of the entire financial ecosystem, which has relied on the dollar for decades.

While some member nations, such as Russia, have initiated trade in alternative currencies, a complete overhaul seems distant. Additionally, while the integration of affluent oil-producing nations contributes financial assets, a cohesive economic strategy demands more than just monetary input. Achieving cohesion involves sharing a vision, purpose, and compatible economic strategies, elements that the BRICS alliance has historically struggled to unify.

Despite the apparent benefits of BRICS’ rapid expansion, challenges accompanying such growth should not be overlooked. While attaining supremacy in the global commodities market holds promise, it does not automatically translate into geopolitical significance or an immediate shift away from the US dollar. Many of the participating countries maintain substantial economic ties with the West, making a swift separation difficult and potentially detrimental to their own economies.

Furthermore, although there is growing public interest in commodities, as evidenced by increased Google searches, this doesn’t always correlate with a genuine comprehension or willingness to deviate from existing trade norms. Hastily altering global economic institutions without well-defined strategies can result in economic instability.

The expanded membership of the BRICS alliance undoubtedly has the potential to reshape global economic discourse. However, this potential is countered by inherent challenges arising from the diverse economic objectives, geopolitical affiliations, and historical conflicts among the member nations. To truly challenge Western dominance and the supremacy of the US dollar, the BRICS bloc requires not only expansion but also cohesion, a clearly defined vision, and time.

According to a Reuters report, more than 40 nations have expressed their interest in joining the BRICS alliance. Among them, a subset of 16 countries has formally submitted applications for membership, including Algeria, Cuba, Indonesia, Palestine, and Vietnam.

President Biden To Join G-20 Leaders In India To Address Global Challenges

US President Joe Biden is set to make his way to India from September 7 to 10 to participate in the G-20 Leaders’ Summit, an event aimed at tackling a variety of pressing worldwide issues. During this summit, President Biden will engage with fellow leaders in discussions encompassing critical topics, including the ongoing Ukraine conflict, as revealed by the White House on Tuesday.

The White House disclosed that President Biden plans to commend the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi within the G20 framework. This accolade underscores the significance of India’s role as the host country for the upcoming G20 world leaders’ summit scheduled for September 9 and 10 in New Delhi.


This event is anticipated to bring together a notable assembly of global leaders, marking one of India’s most prominent diplomatic efforts. Having assumed the G20 Presidency on December 1, 2022, India took over this mantle from Indonesia.

At the forthcoming summit, President Biden will be actively engaging with his G20 counterparts in a dialogue aimed at addressing a diverse range of shared challenges. Among these issues, the focus will encompass collaborative efforts towards the clean energy transition, a critical element in the fight against climate change. The G20 partners will also be dedicating discussions to devise strategies for managing the socio-economic repercussions of the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

Highlighting the importance of global financial institutions, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized the intent to bolster the capacity of multilateral development banks, including the renowned World Bank.

The goal is to enhance their effectiveness in eradicating poverty while simultaneously addressing the overarching global issues at hand. The discussions are expected to delve into innovative approaches to harnessing these institutions for tackling the intertwined challenges of poverty and global crisis.

As President Biden makes his presence felt in New Delhi, he will extend appreciation towards Prime Minister Modi for his stewardship of the G20. Furthermore, this visit will serve to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to the G20 as the primary platform for international economic cooperation. An additional testament to this commitment comes in the form of the United States’ decision to host the G20 summit in the year 2026.

In consonance with these developments, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser at the White House, indicated that President Biden’s conversations with his counterparts during the summit sidelines will revolve around several core themes. High on the agenda will be the issue of climate change, reflecting the urgency of global efforts to combat this existential challenge.

Equally pressing is the topic of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, a situation that continues to elicit significant international concern. These engagements reaffirm the collective resolve of the G20 nations to collaborate in finding solutions to the world’s most formidable challenges.

President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to India for the G-20 Leaders’ Summit signifies a critical juncture for global diplomacy. The summit’s agenda underscores the importance of united efforts in addressing complex issues such as climate change and the ongoing Ukraine conflict. President Biden’s participation further reinforces the United States’ commitment to the G20 framework as a cornerstone of international cooperation, both through his commendation of Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and the nation’s future role in hosting the summit. The summit serves as a reminder that in a world characterized by interconnected challenges, collaborative endeavors among global leaders remain paramount.

A Solo Victory India Achieved In The Lunar Race

In recent weeks, a celestial competition took place, as both India and Russia raced to be the first nation to achieve a lunar landing in the moon’s southern polar region. On the 14th of July, India’s spacecraft, Chandrayaan-3, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, carrying a lander weighing 1,726 kg, housing a 26 kg rover. Following this, Russia launched its Luna 25 lander, weighing 1,750 kg, on the 9th of August from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Eventually, on August 23rd, India emerged as the victor, with Chandrayaan-3 gently touching down in the polar terrain at 8:34 AM ET. S. Somanath, the head of ISRO, exclaimed, “We have achieved a soft landing on the moon,” celebrating the successful endeavor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed this sentiment, stating, “This success belongs to all of humanity. And it will help moon missions by other countries in the future.”

The fact that India and Russia were in a competitive race despite India’s 26-day lead was due to ISRO’s strategy of taking a leisurely five-week trajectory, maneuvering through multiple orbits around Earth before reaching lunar proximity. In contrast, Russia’s Luna 25 embarked on a quicker trajectory, aimed at reaching the moon in under two weeks, with both planned for landing around August 23rd.

DEccan Harald

However, a twist occurred. Luna 25 entered lunar orbit on August 16th but crashed into the lunar surface on August 20th after an engine firing mishap. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, conveyed that the spacecraft deviated from its intended path, leading to a collision with the moon’s surface.

Modi’s claim of a historic landing was substantiated. While the U.S., China, and the former Soviet Union had previously achieved soft lunar landings, none had reached the moon’s south pole. This location presents unique challenges due to its rugged and boulder-strewn terrain. ISRO’s achievement of navigating Chandrayaan-3 through hover mode at 850 meters above the surface, searching for a suitable spot, attested to both the spacecraft’s agility and the expertise of mission control engineers.

Despite the difficulties, the moon’s south pole remains a crucial target for space agencies and private companies. The area is believed to contain water ice and potentially frozen lakes in permanently shadowed craters. India’s Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, confirmed these theories, detecting icy regolith through onboard instruments and verifying water’s presence with an impactor probe.

The significance of these findings resonates with future lunar exploration plans. Water ice can be used for drinking water, oxygen production, and rocket fuel. NASA’s Artemis program aims to land astronauts in the south pole region in the coming years for such purposes, with China pursuing a similar goal by 2030.

However, the focus now shifts to Chandrayaan-3’s mission. Equipped with various instruments and a small rover, it will explore and study the moon’s surface. This research is a step toward understanding the region that may eventually become a home for human explorers.

The space race between India and Russia concluded with India’s successful landing in the moon’s south polar region.

While Luna 25 encountered difficulties and crashed, Chandrayaan-3 achieved a remarkable feat by touching down in a challenging area. The implications of this achievement for future lunar exploration and potential human settlement are significant, as scientists uncover the moon’s resources and prepare for further missions.

How China Influenced US-India Ties In The Last 76 Years

As the US tries to break the stranglehold of China on its supply chains, especially in hi-tech, India is emerging as a venue for what is now called ‘friendshoring’ – developing manufacturing in friendly countries that can be reliable partners. From being a recipient of food aid from the US seven decades ago, India has emerged as a partner in defence, space, health and technology.

China, intriguingly, has been a constant factor in the trajectory of India-United States relations, putting them at odds in the first years after Independence but now propelling them to the apex.

In the years after Independence, India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru backed Beijing while the US supported Taiwan laying the foundation for the many differences between them that would continue in many forms. Now it is China with its aggressive postures from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and beyond that helping strengthen bonds between India and US that share worries about it.

Eurasia Review

Yet, even as the two largest democracies draw closer, a shadow of ambiguity persists in their ties.

India still will not back the US unambiguously, is still dangerously reliant on Russia for defence, and is wary of going too far in provoking China while appearing with them on international forums. And it is the China factor that makes Washington so forgiving of India’s neutrality ignoring calls, especially in the US media tinged with hostility to India, especially under the BJP.

Those in the administration with an unblinkered view of geopolitics know that were India to break with Russia, its defences would be degraded making it vulnerable to China and thus reduce its value as a strategic partner.

Leaving geopolitics aside, perhaps the most momentous development is a person of Indian heritage, Kamala Harris, holding the second highest office in the US – something Franklin D Roosevelt, the US president who laid the groundwork for India becoming free of the colonial yoke, might not have dreamt of.

How initial warmth turned to fissures

Modern India’s ties to the US can be traced to Roosevelt forcing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the archetypical racist colonialist, into signing the 1941 Atlantic Charter promising independence for colonies with a clause about self-determination.

“America won’t help England in this war simply so that she will be able to continue to ride roughshod over colonial peoples”, Roosevelt is said to have warned the imperialist.

Roosevelt, who tried unsuccessfully to have an emissary mediate between the British and India’s Independence movement leaders, could not force Churchill to implement it as long as World War II was raging. But ultimately, Roosevelt’s idea prevailed and India became free under both their successors, US President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Clement Atlee.

Truman had high expectations of a democratic India and sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru his own plane to bring him from London and went out of his way to greet him on arrival and feted him in 1949.

But China intervened. With Cold War both leaders were hung up on China – Truman was backing Taiwan, then officially recognised as China at the UN and was set against a Communist Beijing, and wanted Nehru, who was behind Mao Zedong, to switch sides.

That was the first overt sign of the fissures between the two countries, yet about three-quarters of a century later, it is China that is drawing them closer.

Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared Nehru “one of the most difficult persons”. Shortly after the visit, Nehru declared more firmly the policy of not aligning with blocs, which would later become the concept of non-alignment.

In the Korean War that broke out a year later when the US and Beijing’s forces clashed, India stood neutral, much to the chagrin of Washington.

But the US continued with economic assistance for India and in 1951 Truman pushed through the India Emergency Food Assistance Act when India faced severe food shortage.

The 1962 China war and aftermatch

Engulfed in an ideological fog, Nehru ramped up his rhetoric of nonalignment,  which in effect was perceived as critical of the West. The tenuous relationship with Washington continued with a slight warming of ties between Nehru and the wartime general President Dwight Eisenhower, who expressed respect for Nehru in his memoir. In 1959, Eisenhower became the first US president to visit India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had grown closer to the US, joining the two now-defunct defence collectives, SEATO and CENTO, and benefitted militarily from the US.

India Today

The China war in 1962 shocked Nehru into reality and temporarily abandoning his veneer of nonalignment sought US military aid from President John F Kennedy, which he received.

The Soviet Union, which had broken up with China, began supplying arms to India, notably the MIG21 fighter jets, although the supply began after the war.

The Kennedy administration initially supported Nehru’s request for setting up a massive state-owned steel plant at Bokaro, viewed as a socialist project it faced political opposition. Moscow stepped in to help India set up the steel plant further deepening ties between the two countries.

That was further strengthened at the cost of Washington during the 1965 Pakistan War when Islamabad flung advanced US weaponry at India, which was using mostly British and Soviet arms.

Yet, when the danger of famine loomed over India, President Lyndon Johnson rushed food aid to India in 1966, while also extracting promises to reform agriculture and to tone down criticism of the US internationally. India and the US had already been collaborating in agriculture development and what was probably the greatest achievement in India-US cooperation followed, helping India achieve food self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution in a few short years and making it one of the nations that can extend food aid to others.

The 1971 Bangladesh and dip in ties

The 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence is the nadir in New Delhi-Washington relations. A month before the War, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Washington and met with President Richard Nixon, asking for help to temper the Pakistani military crackdown on what was then East Pakistan and to deal with the crisis of refugees fleeing army terror.

His vulgar personal comments about Indira Gandhi and about Indians emerged from White House tapes that were made public decades later.

Given the deep ties with Pakistan and Islamabad acting as the broker for the US to establish relations with China, Nixon made the infamous “tilt” to Pakistan and tried to intimidate India by sending the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal.

Under Presidents Jimmy Carter, who visited India, Ronald Reagan, who warmly received both Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv who succeeded her, and George Bush, the senior, the two countries plodded on with no breakthroughs in their relations.

India’s nuclear test brought sanctions against it from President Bill Clinton, marking another diplomacy dip between the two nations.

Although relations with India had had a rocky start at the start of his administration due to Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s perceived hostility, Clinton came through when Pakistan sent its forces into Kargil in Kashmir in 1999.

A war seeming likely when India began to root out Islamabad’s forces, Clinton called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington and read him the riot act, forcing him and then-military chief Pervez Musharraf to withdraw their troops.

The beginning of the embrace

With the emergence of the Indian American community and the onset of India’s economic liberalisation, Clinton started the steps that have led to the embrace of the two countries now.

His visit to India the next year, was the first visit by a US president in 22 years, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to Washington the same year.

A bipartisan consensus on cooperation with India was becoming entrenched and President George W Bush in 2001 ended all the sanctions against India, that were already beginning to be relaxed.

The 2001 terrorist attack on the US that was orchestrated by Pakistan’s allies in Afghanistan brought a sense of urgency to New Delhi’s and Washington’s war on terror, even as Islamabad took advantage of its geography in the US invasion of Afghanistan.

India and the US began joint military exercises in 2002 and in 2005 signed an agreement on the framework for defence cooperation.

That year the two countries also signed the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement that allowed them to resume cooperation in the area, while having an impact beyond their borders facilitating trade in nuclear equipment and materials.

The agreement became the centre-piece of the era of Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh visited Washington in 2005 to discuss it, and in 2008 after it was ok’d by Congress, while Bush went to India in 2006 to finalise it, and during that trip the two countries agreed to increase trade and loosen restrictions.

Singh returned to Washington the next year on a state visit at the invitation of President Barack Obama, and made another visit in 2013. The cerebral Indian leader bonded with the intellectual American and the relations in economy and defence took off.

China has again taken the centre in the relations between the US and India, but this time with a convergence – India jolted from the Nehruvian illusion and the US waking up to the looming threats in the economy, trade and, more importantly, security.

The Quad, the group of India, the US, Australia and Japan, that was to play a greater role later on was launched in 2007, but collapsed quickly when Canberra cooled towards Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without ideological baggage and with a fresh outlook on the world, opened up the avenues for ties that bind closer. Once shunned by the US, his election made Washington realise the new realities of India and Obama quickly invited him to visit in 2014.

He arrived like a rock star feted by tens of thousands of Indian Americans. Besides vowing to boost trade, the two leaders turned their focus to climate change and agree on programmes on green energy.

Obama was the guest at India’s Republic  Day celebration the next year.

In 2016, Modi addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time and the US gave India the status of Major Defence Partner, which led to an agreement on an agreement to deepen military cooperation

At President Donald Trump’s invitation, Modi visited Washington in 2017 and in 2019 the two of them went together to Houston and paraded at an event billed as “Howdy Modi” that drew about 50,000 people.

Trump went to India in 2020 for his last foreign trip as president and was greeted by a roaring crowd of about 100,000 in Ahmedabad.

During the Covid pandemic, India sent some medicines at the request of Trump, as well as some medical supplies, while the US sent medical equipment.

While New Delhi was already sending vaccines to many countries, the Quad which was revived in 2017 devised a joint programme to provide developing countries with vaccines made by India.

On the trade front, Modi’s “Make in India” clashed with Trump’s “America First” resulting in a mini-trade-war. Trump ended preferential trade status for some Indian products under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences programme asserting that New Delhi does not give “equitable” access to Indian markets for some US products – among them whisky and motorcycles.

India retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 products, among them almonds, and the US hit back with more duties on Indian aluminium and steel imports.

But they went ahead on the defence and security front, signing a slew of pacts including the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that gives New Delhi access to advanced technologies and realtime military data and the  Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for intelligence-sharing.

What Next for U.S.-India Military Ties?

A new agreement between top U.S. and Indian officials will deepen military cooperation and bolster strategic tie…

The unthinkable happens

When President Joe Biden came into office and the full impact of China on security, trade and the economy hit him, he revved up cooperation with India.

The Quad meetings were raised to summit status and Modi attended it in Washington in 2021.

Ignoring opposition from the vociferous left in the Democratic Party and the ideologically liberal mainstream media, Biden invited Modi for a state visit last month.

Not only was the US selling India advanced military equipment worth several billions of dollars, but it was also authorising the production of military jet engines jointly in India while promoting cooperation in defence production, something unthinkable some years ago.

(The writer is Nonresident Fellow, Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi, Views are personal)   Read more at:

AAPI’s Leadership Training Focusses On “Leading From The Inside Out”

(New York, NY: August 22nd, 2023)  Physician burnout is an epidemic in the U.S. health care system, with nearly 63% of physicians reporting signs of burnout such as emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at least once per week. The American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) in its efforts to provide education and helping the reduce burnout and offer insights into effective leadership strategies, organized a Leadership Conference for AAPI leaders at the Indian Consulate in New York on Saturday, August 19th, 2023.

“Leading From The Inside Out” was the theme for the Leadership Conference organized by AAPI, which was attended by dozens of AAPI members form across the nation. Experts from Brahma Kumaris and Point of Life Foundation presented insightful workshops for the members of AAPI. The workshop is intended to provide healthcare workers with practical self-care tools for health and wellness and help build a simple daily meditation practice.”

In her welcome address, Dr. Anjana Samadder said, “Welcome to the first ever Leadership Conference by AAPI after the Covid pandemic that impacted our  lives in so many ways. This Conference led by Brahma Kumaris and Point of Life Foundation has been designed to help AAPI leaders develop deeper clarity about the nature, scope, and the need for and ways to care for us, who are deeply impacted by the pandemic and the daily stressors of caring for our patients. The workshops today encompasses a wide range of skills that not only reflect one’s ability to process emotions, but even more importantly, their ability to communicate with, manage, and be true leaders in the modern world.”

In his brief remarks, Consul General of India, Shri Randhir Jaiswal praised the achievements and contributions of Indian American physicians. He highlighted the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington, DC and thanked AAPI members for coming out in large numbers to be part of the event. Calling the Indian American Physicians as the “real heroes” Ambassador Jaiswal said “You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others. What is unique about AAPI is that you bring a global perspective to defeat the virus and serve the people. We are proud of your achievements, serving the people all across the United States.”

Shri Randhir Jaiswal thanked AAPI members for their response to the Covid pandemic and beyond, serving selflessly millions of people around the nation,  and  their actions have become a benchmark for the rest of the Diaspora community. He lauded AAPI and the tireless work of its members. “You have put a benchmark for all other diaspora organizations,” he said.

Dr. Anupama Tiwari, a Professor of Pulmonary Critical Care at the Albany Medical School and a Raja Yoga advocate for holistic healing led the presentation along with along with Judy Rodgers, a consultant and media specialist, who is also the co-founder of the Center for Business as Agent of World at Case Western. Judy, the co-author of “Something Beyond Greatness,” spok about the three critical areas of Doing Leadership: Adaptability, Mindful Communication, and Self Mastery. She said, “Listening is an act of love and respect.”

Dr. Neha Bungla presented her insightful thoughts On Being A Leader. Dr. Neha is a primary care physician in outpatient and inpatient, as well as a dance teacher. A Raj Yoga practitioner, her mission has been advocating for a healthy mind. According to Neha, “Values matter the most to you as a leader” and she spoke about values such as: Integrity, Honesty at the core, and Dedication. Her insightful talk was focused on “How do we maintain stability in the midst of low frequency energy.” She said, “What you think, affects how you act and feel. Great leaders don’t tell what you need to do but show you the way.”

Satyan Shah, an Investors turned Board Certified Health Coach, having an MBA, is now turned to meditation, whose passion is promoting holistic lifestyle for the past 14 year. He shared with the audience how his successful job at the highly competitive Finance World took a turn for the better, by practicing Yoga and mindfulness.

Self Care and Meditation wer the topics presented by Dr. Anjali Grover, an Endocrinologist,

and a wellness chief and trustee. She’s a Raj Yoga meditation enthusiast, using it to influencing patient care, teaching and life.  Elaborating on self-care strategies, Anjali said, “Time is trying to tell us something. When I take care of myself I can give my best to others. The foundation of self-care is awareness of who I am. We have the dual Self Beauty and Beast. Beast is the acquired self, and we forget our true natural self, which is Beauty,” she said. “Start with one moment, one thought. Embrace the role entrusted to you. Embrace change. Embrace challenges. Nurture the seed of inner strength by spending few moments daily on meditation. Accept and appreciate each one plays in your role. Be there in the present moment.”

Dr. Kala Iyengar is a pediatrician turned spiritual teacher, who advocates meditation’s role in health. She directs Peace Village Learning and Retreat Center, BK, US. Sr. Kala provided education on Raj Yoga Meditation and creating the right mindset for mediation. “Yoga is the connection to the spiritual self,” she said. “Mind is like a horse that is driven by the external world. Knowing what is controlling my mind is essential. Then, there is a need to reverse the trend,” she said. She led the participants to a 20 minutes long meditation, using techniques from Raja Yoga.

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, President-Elect said: “The leadership conference was a well organized event by Dr. Kusum Punjabi. The speakers were outstanding and there was so much to learn from them as leaders. Thanks Consulate General of India, New York for hosting this event.

It was an awesome experience participating in India’s Independence Day celebrations in New York City. Thanks to FIA for organizing it and proud of AAPI for representing American physicians of Indian origin!”

In his remarks, Dr. Sumul Rawal, Secretary of AAPI, who coordinated the conference. said, “Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic and this is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness and leadership through Yoga and Meditation practices.”

Dr. Avinash Gupta, Executive Vice President of the Federation of Indian American Associations (FIA) and an organizer of the AAPI Float at the annual India Day parade urged AAPI members to join in the 41st annual India  Day Parade by FIA on Madison Avenue at the heart of New York City.

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, a key organizer of the event, while introducing the need for the timely conference said, “This is an afternoon of informative and enlightening presentations by leaders from the Brahmakumari’s World Spiritual Organization and Point of Life Foundation is geared to provide RP members and healthcare professionals with them. effective management and relationship assertive communication strategies, practical self-care tools for health and wholeness and step to build a simple daily meditation practice.”

The AAPI Leadership Conference was sponsored by MOCAAPI, Suresh Nachani, Real Assets, Dr. Nand Panwani, Polina Tours, ABC Billing, Dr. Lokesh Edara, and, Dr. Anajana Samadder.  For more details on AAPI, please visit:

No-Trust Motion Against Modi Govt. Fails With Walkout By India’s Opposition

The no confidence motion, passed by opposition alliance I.N.D.I.A against the Modi government, was defeated in the Lok Sabha after a heated debate Thursday, August 10th, 2023 amid a walkout by the opposition. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused the government of not doing enough to stop the Manipur violence.

The no-confidence motion moved by Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi against the Modi government was defeated in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote. The Opposition bloc INDIA leaders staged a walkout while PM Modi was replying to the no-trust motion, which was put to vote in their absence.

Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla had accepted the motion by the opposition last week after which August 8 to August 10 was set for the debate on the motion.

This is the second time Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing a no-confidence motion.

The first such motion against the Modi government was introduced in 2018 over granting a special category status to Andhra Pradesh, which was later defeated.

Picture : VOIX

The Opposition’s walkout prompted a furious rebuke from PM Modi. “Those who don’t trust democracy are always ready to make a comment but don’t have the patience to hear the rebuttal. They would speak ill and run away, throw garbage and run away, spread lies and run away.”

The opposition had tabled a no-confidence vote in Modi largely to force him to appear and speak about the three-month-long crisis, about which he had refused to say more than a few words.

Only after the opposition had walked out did Modi make a few, brief remarks about Manipur.

After accusing the opposition of not having the “patience” to listen, he said: “I want to tell the mothers and sisters of Manipur that the country and the parliament are with you.”

The current session of parliament, which began on 20 July, has been dominated by the opposition’s anger at Modi’s refusal to talk about the violence that has engulfed Manipur.

Modi assured the people of Manipur that the government is working to restore peace in the violence-hit state. “The violence in Manipur is saddening. Crimes against women are unacceptable and the central and state governments are working together to ensure the guilty are punished, “I want to tell the mothers and sisters of Manipur that the country and Parliament are with you. I want to assure the people of Manipur that we will work to develop Manipur.” Modi said, “After 2014, India secured a spot in the top five [economies]. When you bring no-trust motion in 2028, we will be in the Top 3.”

In Efforts To Influence Elections, Modi Govt. Seeks To Replace CJI In On Poll Panel Selection Committee

In a controversial move, the Modi Government has introduced a Bill removing the Chief Justice of India (CJI) from a three-member panel to select the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners. Instead of the CJI, the three-member panel, when formed, would consist of a Cabinet Minister besides the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, and the Prime Minister, who would head it.

The Bill is expected to allow the government to have more control in the appointments of members of the poll panel, an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering national and state election processes in India.

The Supreme Court in March had ruled that a three-member panel, headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha and the CJI, will select the CEC and ECs till a law is framed by Parliament on the appointment of these commissioners.

Picture : Tribune India

The apex court’s order was aimed at insulating the appointment of the CEC and ECs from the Executive’s interference. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph, in a unanimous verdict, held that this norm will continue to hold good till a law on the issue is made by Parliament.

However, the BJP-led NDA government has sought to influence the process and appoint its own men on the panel, and thus influence election process favoring the ruling party and its machinery.

According to the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, a three-member selection committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the LoP and a cabinet minister nominated by the PM shall select the CEC and ECs. More here

A slugfest

The bill was introduced amid an uproar by the opposition parties that accused the government of “diluting and overturning” an SC Constitution bench order. The BJP, however, said the government is well within its right to bring the bill.

“Read the Supreme Court judgement. It had suggested a transient method for appointment of the CEC in absence of a statutory mechanism. The government is well within its right to bring in a bill for the same,” BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya posted on ‘X’, formerly Twitter.

The new bill will now neutralize the judiciary’s involvement in the selection process and is likely to initiate a new confrontation between the two branches of government.

This is one of many such disputes involving the Executive and Judiciary in recent years with both bodies differing in their views starting from the Collegium system to the basic structure doctrine.

Recently, the Centre passed the contentious Delhi Services bill on July 7 circumventing SC’s judgement to strip the control of civil services in the national capital from the elected government of Delhi. The apex court on May 11, had delivered a verdict that gave the Delhi government control of services in the national capital, excluding the matters relating to public order, police and land.

Opposition, critics call out government

Meanwhile, leaders from the Opposition have called out the Modi government and accused them of trying to turn the election commission into a “partisan” body.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he has always maintained that the government will overturn any Supreme Court order that it doesn’t like and this is a dangerous situation that can impact fairness of elections.

The proposed panel will have two BJP members and one from the Congress, and therefore, whoever is selected to the poll panel will be loyal to the ruling party, Kejriwal, who is the Aam Aadmi Party’s national convener, alleged on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Congress MP and the party’s whip in Lok Sabha, Manickam Tagore, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah want to control the EC by bringing the bill. “Modi and Shah want to control the EC as they are doing now,” Tagore wrote on X.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate called the Bill a “gimmick” to make the Election Commission a “complete puppet” in the hands of PM Modi. “Why does PM Modi need an election commissioner of his choice?  If this arbitrariness is not unconstitutional and unfair then what is?” Shrinate wrote on X.

TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Saket Ghokale said the Modi government “is making the Election Commission its own bunch of stooges” and called the bill a “clear step towards rigging the 2024 elections.”

Constitutional expert Gautam Bhatia wrote on X: “The bill will formalise executive control over appointments to the election commission (2:1 majority in the selection committee) – further moving towards an executive Constitution.”

Indian Parliament Passes Landmark Data Protection Bill

The Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament) on Wednesday, August 9th  passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDPB), 2023 by voice vote. The Bill will now become law after President Draupadi Murmu grants her assent.

From hefty penalties ranging from a minimum of ₹50 crore to a maximum of ₹250 crore on social media platforms for violating rules to enabling digital markets to grow more responsibly while safeguarding citizens’ data, the Data Protection Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) on August 7.

In the Upper House, the Bill was presented for passage by Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Industry leaders on Wednesday hailed the passing of the Digital Protection Data Protection (DPDP) Bill 2023 by the Parliament, saying India is rapidly digitising and hence the bill stands as a crucial and long-awaited piece of legislation which upholds an individual’s right to safeguard their digital privacy.

Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, tweeted that he feels deeply privileged at being given an opportunity by Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to help achieve this important step to protect our citizens rights and support innovation economy and governance”.

“My engagement on the issue of privacy started in 2010 and led to me filing a case in the Supreme Court as a petitioner that fought and succeeded in order that Privacy is a fundamental right,” he said.

“More than a decade on, India and Indians under PM Modi have a global standard Digital Personal Data Protection law,” the minister posted.

Union Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw moved the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha after the Lok Sabha had already passed it.

Ruchir Shukla, MD, Safehouse Tech said that the bill is set to establish an international benchmark for data protection frameworks. “While online safety for institutions have been prioritised thus far, this bill will ensure safeguarding individuals in the digital world too,” Shukla said.

The Data Protection Bill will assess penalties based on the nature and severity of the breach, with potential fines of up to ₹250 crore for instances of data breaches, failure to protect personal data, or failure to inform the Board and users of a breach.

The Bill will apply to the processing of digital personal data within India where such data is collected online, or collected offline and is digitised. It will also apply to such processing outside the country, if it is for offering goods or services in India.

Personal data may be processed only for a lawful purpose upon consent of an individual. Consent may not be required for specified legitimate uses such as voluntary sharing of data by the individual or processing by the state for permits, licences, benefits, and services.

Data fiduciaries will be obligated to maintain the accuracy of data, keep data secure, and delete data once its purpose has been met.

The Bill grants certain rights to individuals, including the right to obtain information, seek correction and erasure, and grievance redressal.

The Centre may exempt government agencies from the application of provisions of the Bill in the interest of specified grounds such as security of the state, public order, and prevention of offences.

According to Manish Sehgal, Partner, Risk Advisory, Deloitte India, the Bill will enhance the privacy cognisance of Indian citizens by empowering them with their privacy rights through transformative accountability measures to be adopted by the enterprises. The Bill brings in the much-needed legal framework to foster trust in digital markets. On one hand, it protects the privacy of Indian digital citizens and on the other, it enables digital markets to grow more responsibly.

In the event of a data breach, companies are mandated to promptly inform the Data Protection Board (DPB) and the affected users. Processing data of minors and individuals with guardians must be done only with the consent of guardians, according to the Bill.

Why The Hindu Right Opposes Affirmative Action In The US

At the point when the US High Court as of late banned governmental policy regarding minorities in society in school affirmations, among those praising the second were areas of the Hindu right in America.

The Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT), for instance, was quick to tweet: “#RacialQuotas in ed. adversely impacted #IndianAmerican students. We welcome #AffirmativeAction ruling by the #SCOTUS”. HinduPACT is an advocacy group established by the US branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHPA) – an organisation known for its role in the rise of Hindu militancy in India.

However, for what reason does a gathering related with the Hindu patriot reasoning of Hindutva care about governmental policy regarding minorities in society in the US?


To some degree, it is an indication of a consistently developing kinship between US preservationists and diaspora Hindu patriots. However, similarly, it means that a hazardous obscuring of lines between legislative issues at home and abroad – and a work to close down analysis of verifiable and current oppression individuals from strict minorities and lower standings, in India as well as in the US.

For it is that separation that governmental policy regarding minorities in society looked to handle under the watchful eye of the High Court struck it down.

A unified governmental issues

However Indian Americans – like most migrant networks – proceed to generally uphold the Leftist alliance, fragments of the Indian diaspora have been revitalizing help for conservatives. That pattern has gotten forward momentum lately.

The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), sent off in 2015 by Chicago-based finance manager Shalabh Kumar to construct a scaffold between Hindu Americans and the Conservative Faction, expectedly advocates for more modest, restricted government and lower charges. It accepts the public authority ought to deter single nurturing and early terminations and that fighting extremist Islam ought to be key to US international strategy.

Kumar by and by supported previous President Donald Trump’s position on prohibitive migration as well as his arrangements to construct a wall along the US-Mexico line.

Moderate arguments are additionally simple to recognize on the sites of gatherings like HinduPACT, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Hinduvesha, American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) and the VHPA. These are generally joined by analysis of American dissidents.

All of this filled in as the setting for Indian Top state leader Narendra Modi’s manly relationship with Trump, broadcast to the world through two uber rallies they kept intact – one in Houston, Texas in 2019, and the other in Ahmedabad, India in 2020.

At the point when numerous US administrators, particularly in the Progressive alliance, were raising worries about the Indian government’s for the time being repudiation of Kashmir’s naturally ensured semi-independent status, Trump and his organization stayed unflinching in their help for Modi.

The legend of ‘merit’

No place does this moderate conjunction appear as obviously as it does in training. The equals between the resistance to governmental policy regarding minorities in society from Hindutva bunches like HinduPACT and the feeling against station based training shares in India among numerous upper-position Hindus are striking.

In the two cases, this is situated as a fight for supposed merit – pandering to casteist and bigoted sayings to recommend that recipients of governmental policy regarding minorities in society or quantities are less meriting school seats. Disregarded, again in the two examples, are the long stretches of foundational treachery and oppression minorities, particularly African Americans, in the US and against individuals from lower positions in India, which makes any thought of a level battleground negligible.

In India, the people who contend against position based governmental policy regarding minorities in society appear to have acquired from the conservative idea of “turn around bigotry”, frequently heard in the US, when they contend that any reservations and portions for lower standings lead to “switch separation” or “converse casteism” against meriting understudies.

However, they seldom notice or recognize the uncontrolled rank based segregation as well as regular badgering and vilification looked by lower-standing understudies in establishments of advanced education, driving some like PhD researcher and Dalit dissident Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula to end their own life. In his splitting letter, he composed: ” My introduction to the world is my deadly mishap.”

In the US, this works out in the utilization by Hindutva gatherings of the Indian-American people group’s “model minority” picture to contend that it doesn’t need or need the help that other ethnic and racial minorities need.

In this, they advantageously conflate Hindu Americans and Indian Americans. The RHC promotes the way that Indian Americans have the “most noteworthy middle family pay” of every single ethnic gathering, are least subject to government support and have among the most elevated levels of training.

In an infographic on the “Direction of Hindus in America”, HinduPACT transfers a comparative message, adding that, “Indians skirted the ‘ghetto stage’ normal to most foreigner stories”.

However, following the High Court controlling, a Seat overview uncovered that most Indian Americans believed governmental policy regarding minorities in society to be something to be thankful for. Hindutva bunches have plainly fizzled, up to this point, to persuade them in any case.

In numerous ways, however, US governmental issues is the genuine objective these gatherings are hoping to impact and the point is to safeguard the interests of Hindu patriots in India.


Diaspora Hindu patriots have lately attempted to contend that Hindus are the casualties of broad and foundational separation, strict contempt, disgrace, slander and destructive savagery. The VHPA’s “Hinduvesha” drive blames significant colleges for developing “a biological system of researchers, funders, and diaries to sustain Hinduphobic grant”.

Hindutva bunches venture to such an extreme as to look at the segregation Hindus supposedly face universally with the defamation and abuse looked by Jews in Europe before the Holocaust.

On its site, HinduPACT contends that scrutinizing Hinduism for standing based separation is additionally proof of Hinduphobia. Hindutva bunches have gone against bills to boycott standing separation in California and the Seattle City Chamber, calling them Hinduphobic and claiming that the regulation would build dangers of harassing and viciousness looked by Indian Americans in schools and work environments.

Furthermore, after the St Paul City Chamber passed a goal in 2020 that was reproachful of the Modi government’s citizenship regulation changes which victimize Muslim refuge searchers, the VHPA gave an assertion saying that “the genuine motivation behind this goal is to make scorn for Hindus and individuals of Indian beginning dwelling in Minneapolis – St. Paul region”.

As a result, any analysis of the Modi government’s strategies in India is considered Hinduphobic in the US by these gatherings.

A risky future?

The impacts of this mission by Hindutva gatherings – against legislators, scholastics and ordinary residents went against to them – are apparent.

In 2019, after an article uncovered the developing impact of Hindu majoritarian governmental issues in the US, Ro Khanna, a Popularity based representative from Silicon Valley, tweeted: ” It’s the obligation of each and every American lawmaker of Hindu confidence to represent pluralism, reject Hindutva, and represent equivalent freedoms for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians”.

Assaults on him were prompt and relentless. After four years, Khanna seems to have mellowed. As a matter of fact, in the number one spot up to Modi’s visit to the US recently, he wrote a “bipartisan letter calling for Modi to address a joint seating of Congress”. He supported his choice to do as such by demanding that “the method for gaining ground on common liberties is to draw in with the Indian PM”.

In the midst of strain from Hindutva activists, the language of the California position segregation bill was likewise altered. Rather than position being a different class under the state’s non-segregation regulation as was initially planned, it was currently characterized as a “safeguarded class under the bigger umbrella of ‘lineage'”.

Hostile to charge activists praised this weakened form as a triumph, however the bill’s defenders demand the substance of the regulation remaining parts unaltered.

These are indications of a hazardous invasion of Hindu patriotism in American legislative issues.

Back in India, this philosophy has savagely separated a country and battered its majority rule government. Presently it’s adjusting itself against civil rights – whether on governmental policy regarding minorities in society or standing based separation – in the US, while attempting to menace pundits of the Indian government into quietness.

This is presently not simply India’s concern. It’s America’s as well.

Australia and Bollywood Forge Cinematic Bond

In a narrative that could rival Asia’s grandest movie plots, an unexpected love story has unfolded between Australia and the luminaries of Bollywood. Despite the considerable geographical distance, a genuine connection has burgeoned between the two realms, showcasing the depth of this cross-continental relationship.

Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese embarked on a journey to Delhi to engage with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. The discussions spanned a gamut of topics, encompassing trade, defense, and cricket. One particular announcement captured the headlines—an agreement on bilateral Audiovisual Co-production. This accord was designed to foster collaboration and cultural interchange through joint Indian-Australian film projects. Australian arts minister Tony Burke humorously referred to it as “bringing a slice of Bollywood to Brisbane.”

Picture : TheUNN

Contrary to its recent prominence, this bond traces back several decades, as depicted in the forthcoming documentary “Brand Bollywood – Downunder.” The film, set to debut this fall, delves into the expansion of ties between the Indian film industry and Australia since the late 1990s. Anupam Sharma, the documentary’s producer, writer, and director, was born in India but ventured to Australia as a child to visit relatives. In the 1990s, he enrolled in a Sydney film school, choosing acting as his sub-major.

In a video interview with CNN, Sharma reflected on those early days, saying, “There was a distinct lack of opportunities. I was doing the usual thing, playing a doctor or a spice shop owner in a TV commercial.” Fast forward to the present, and the landscape has transformed dramatically.

The shift is palpable in Melbourne, where the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, now in its 14th year and the largest of its kind outside India, has unfolded. Over ten days, more than 100 films in 20 languages are showcased, alongside panel discussions, an awards ceremony, and even a Bollywood dance competition.

Sharma narrates the evolution of this unique connection with a touch of serendipity. In 1997, a fortuitous twist of fate led him to seek out Feroz Khan, often referred to as “Bollywood’s Clint Eastwood,” who was visiting town. With a daring attitude, Sharma cold-called hotels, hoping to connect with the star. His gamble paid off when Khan’s assistant reached out for a meeting. This encounter led to a fruitful partnership, culminating in the production of “Prem Aggan” in 1998, a movie Khan directed, wrote, and Sharma produced.

The collaboration gained momentum from there, with Khan pioneering the trend. Bollywood enthusiasts flocked to cinemas to witness stars performing exuberant song and dance routines against the backdrop of iconic Australian landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Twelve Apostles. A slew of Indian movies was filmed in Australia over the ensuing years.

In 2008, “Love Story 2050,” starring Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra, was shot in South Australia, becoming a significant moment in the cinematic landscape. Baweja shared that the film was a result of seamless production environments, efficient government support, and breathtaking locations. This cultural fusion was so impactful that the then-state premier Mike Rann even secured a cameo role.

As the success story spread, Australia encountered a deluge of requests, not only for visas for future productions but also from tourists eager to explore the movie locations. Sharma aptly described it as a “huge Bollywood bandwagon.”

The narrative shifted in 2009 when tensions emerged due to apparent racially motivated attacks on Indian students in Australia. This marked the end of the honeymoon period, but Sharma pointed out that the enthusiasm for collaboration persisted. He emphasized, “Australia realized that after ‘servicing’ Bollywood for over 13 years, it was time to shift gears and move to collaboration with Indian cinema.” This transition birthed a new phase, concentrating on shared narratives and narratives that highlighted the Indo-Australian experience.

In a tale where distance couldn’t deter the power of cinematic connection, Australia and Bollywood found themselves in an enduring love story, building bridges of creativity and culture across continents.

The unfolding romance between Australia and Bollywood has led to the creation of a new genre of films, characterized by a Western structure and an Indian essence. This bond has given rise to acclaimed movies like “Lion,” “Hotel Mumbai,” and Anupam Sharma’s very own creation, “UnIndian,” a romantic tale centered on an Australian woman with an Indian soul.

Describing this unique blend, Sharma elucidated, “It means films made with a Western beat – around 90 minutes long, not the three hours of Bollywood. The distribution, the financing, the structures, the editing are Western, but the soul, the emotions, the music, the drama is still Indian.” However, the term “Bollywood” occasionally stirs mixed feelings. Sharma acknowledged, “There are people who would swear at me for saying the word Bollywood.” He highlighted the diversity within the industry, likening it to an Indian goddess with multifaceted arms.

Australia has already formed 13 formal co-production partnerships with countries like Canada, China, and the UK. If India follows suit, it would unlock co-production opportunities, granting access to government funding, grants, loans, and tax offsets.

Once ratified by both the Australian and Indian parliaments, the Audiovisual Co-production Agreement could yield substantial benefits for both nations—both economically and culturally. Garth Davis, the Australian director of “Lion,” eagerly welcomed the prospect, emphasizing the enrichment that collaboration brings. He praised India’s history, humanity, and spirit, along with the exceptional skill level within the industry.

Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, Mumbai-based composers and musicians who worked on “UnIndian,” expressed their enthusiasm for more collaborations. Salim Merchant applauded Australia’s “vibe,” stating, “I think it’s wonderful there’s that synergy. Film is a beautiful medium. Making films that have both the diverse cultures and traditions creates a lot of love and respect between the two countries.”

The burgeoning audience for Bollywood productions in Australia has added to the allure of collaboration. The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, initiated in 2010 by Mitu Bhowmick Lange, has drawn immense success. Lange set up the festival in response to her own desire to watch Indian films and has seen it grow beyond the Indian community. Australia’s Indian-born population is now the second-largest migrant community in the country, accounting for 9.5% of the overseas-born population and 2.8% of the total population.

As cultural connections deepen, both sides aspire to broaden their appeal. Sharma asserted, “Australia wants to boost its diversity credentials.” Simultaneously, Sharma noted a friend’s perspective that “Bollywood is not after a wider audience, but a Whiter audience.”

However, the shifting dynamics of global consumption seem promising. Lange observed, “The world is getting smaller and smaller, and streaming has changed everything.” She believes that the global appetite for foreign content has evolved, contributing positively to bridging cultural gaps.

The agreement’s potential is met with hope and optimism. Sharma stressed, “Indian films have always been a universal language for foreign governments to engage with India.” This alliance between Australia, a highly professional film industry, and India, a prolific cinematic powerhouse, is anticipated to be mutually beneficial. In Sharma’s words, “The marriage between the two has to be a win-win for both.”

Dr. V. K. Raju And  HIs Eye Foundation Prevents and Treats Blindness

Dr. Vadrevu K. Raju, a world-renowned ophthalmologist, who has lived abroad (in England and the USA) longer than in India, has visited India more than 200 times since 1977. Each visit was a working vacation to combat avoidable blindness among Indians, especially children.  He founded “Eye Foundation of America” in 1979, which is active in India and 30 other developing countries across the globe.

Dr. Raju who was recently appointed to the Faculty of Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University, is a man with a vision: creating a world without avoidable blindness. Dr. Raju earned his medical degree from Andhra University and completed an ophthalmology residency and fellowship at the Royal Eye Group of Hospitals in London.

Dr. V.K. Raju, who was born in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India is a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Director of the International Ocular Surface Society, Director of the Ocular Surface Research and Education Foundation, Chairman of Goutami Eye Institute in Rajahmundry and is the President and Founder of the Eye Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to realizing a world without childhood blindness.

In 1977, Dr. Raju began traveling home to India to offer his services as an ophthalmologist to those who could not afford, or access, desperately needed eye care. Since 1979, the Eye Foundation of America has expanded its reach to over 25 countries, screened millions of patients, and provided hundreds of thousands of surgeries. As Dr. Raju points out, prevention is more beneficial than disease management, and lifestyle changes can be preventive. His organization’s programs, which aim at prevention through education and lifestyle modifications, include the 100,000 Lives (diabetes prevention) campaign in India and the WV Kids Farmer’s Market Program in West Virginia.

These preventive services and medical and surgical interventions were delivered in the form of eye camps in the early days, and the EFA was initially founded to allow for easier transfer of state-of-the-art equipment and medicine from the United States to India. As the Foundation matured, it became so much more. The EFA is now a global organization responsible for treating millions of patients, performing hundreds of thousands of surgeries, and training hundreds of eye care professionals to join in the global fight against preventable blindness.

One focus of current outreach efforts is in the prevention of diabetes and its health consequences. Diabetes-related complications typically strike during the prime of life and include the development of cataracts at an earlier age than normal, a two-fold increased risk of glaucoma, and small blood vessel damage (i.e., diabetic retinopathy). Retinopathy can cause blindness; however, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90% of cases. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that 20% of the diabetic world population resides in India, approximately 61.3 million diabetics.

The Eye Foundation of America is entering a new phase in its mission of ending avoidable blindness by collaborating with the Rotary International, GAPIO (Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin), and AAPI (American Association of Physicians of India Origin). In collaboration with these 3 organizations, preventive services and medical and surgical interventions were delivered in the form of eye camps in the early days, and the EFA was initially founded to allow for easier transfer of state-of-the-art equipment and medicine from the United States to India. As the Foundation matured, it became so much more.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) in premature infants can cause blindness; however, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in up to 90% cases. The EFA is now a global organization responsible for treating millions of patients, performing hundreds of thousands of surgeries, and training hundreds of eye care professionals to join in the global fight against preventable blindness.

Dr. Raju has received numerous awards, including the AMA Foundation Nathan Davis Excellence in Medicine International Award, Four Time Awardee by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Martin Luther King Jr Achievement Award from WVU, Distinguished Community Service Award from AAPI (American Association of Physicians from India), Pride of the Pride Award from Lions International District 29, Vaidya Ratna (conferred by Shankaracharya of Kanchi), Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Ophthalmologists of Indian Origin, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WV State Medical Association. Dr. VK Raju was among the class of 2017 inductees into the University of Toledo Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North America Telegu Society. Dr. Raju was awarded with the Excellence in Medicine Award by GOPIO – Virginia in 2021.

Dr. Raju has published several books, seventeen chapters, and over 100 publications in scientific journals. Through his recently released book, “The Tragedy of Childhood Blindness in India,”  Dr. Raju while expressing his gratefulness to Mother India for giving him the best medical education almost for free, attempts to discuss in the voluminous historical and philosophical material in the book, and connects the readers with present-day India.

 The most recent EFA publication is a short self-help book inspired by the voices of many great leaders. “How to Live Like Gandhi” can be purchased at All proceeds go to combatting avoidable blindness.

For the past four decades, Dr. Raju and the EFA have been actively and tirelessly on a crusade to eliminate avoidable blindness in areas plagued by poverty and poor access to medical care. The EFA’s mission is to eliminate avoidable blindness under the guiding principles of service, teaching, and research.

 This is accomplished through eye camps and brick-and-mortar hospitals in developing countries, training of medical personnel to serve the needy, and educating the population at large on preventative eye care and healthy lifestyle choices. With adequate education, patients are empowered to take charge of their lives and their own health and prevent further deleterious consequences of their poor lifestyle choices, while sharing this knowledge with their friends and families.

 The public is educated on eye care and injury prevention, and local teachers are taught how to screen for early eye problems in children. Patients, their families, and the greater community benefit from preventative medical care, free procedures, and access to education.

 When education and preventative measures are insufficient, medical and surgical interventions are performed. With the aim of permanently providing world-class state-of-the art services to populations with poor access to health care, the EFA helped to build 2 hospitals in rural India: the Srikiran Eye Institute and the Goutami Eye Institute.

 With all of Dr. Raju’s momentous achievements, he has also ensured that his life’s work and vision are self-sustaining. Dr. Raju has passed on his knowledge, plans, and vision to the future leaders of this movement: Dr. Leela Raju, Dr. Raju’s daughter and fellow ophthalmologist, is the EFA’s Secretary and Coordinator for Education and actively participates in its mission. Her father’s humanity and passion stimulates whatever she undertakes, Leela says. “This is not a job for him; it has never been a job,” she says. “He does his work with passion and he enjoys it. His enthusiasm and passion are infectious.”

 The Goutami Eye Institute has a wing dedicated exclusively to children, and the EFA has future plans to build another service and research eye hospital in India where no child will be denied treatment and children from around the world can come to receive services. Dr. Raju and the EFA are also committed to finding new cures for age-old eye disease in children.

The EFA has served approximately 2.5 million patients and performed 340,000+ vision-saving surgeries, with 30,000+ surgeries performed on children alone.

 Over 40 years of noble work bringing vision to millions in India started unexpectedly for Dr. Raju. While living in London, Dr. V.K. Raju traveled home to India on vacation, where a farmer asked him to examine his eyes. Dr. Raju complied, but without any instruments. In 1977, Dr. Raju returned to rural India with personnel and equipment, and offered his first eye camp near his hometown in 1977. This was the inception of the foundation’s work, beginning with the West Virginia Ophthalmology Foundation. The West Virginia Ophthalmology Foundation subsequently became the EFA in 1992.

  “I feel so incredibly thankful for my personal and professional gifts, and I make great efforts to share those gifts with those in need of my services,” says Dr. Raju, and he generously gives freely of his own time, money, and medical expertise to help the less fortunate for the past several decades. Never too tired to give his best for preventing, caring, and sustaining the vision for the visually impaired, Dr. Raju says, “Our work is only just beginning.”

Indian Americans: A Journey of Acceptance in American Society

From Silicon Valley startups to leading medical institutions, Indian immigrants began to leave their mark, their contributions reflecting their ambition and drive.

In an ever-evolving global landscape, the recent state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States stands as a significant milestone, marking the strengthening bonds between two of the world’s largest democracies. This visit, hailed as a turning point in India-US relations, has not only fortified the strategic partnership between the two nations but also highlighted the substantial contributions of the Indian diaspora to American society. Prime Minister Modi, during his visit, praised the Indian diaspora as India’s “strength,” emphasizing their crucial role in the US economy and society. This acknowledgment from one of the world’s most influential leaders is a testament to the remarkable journey of Indian Americans.

Picture : Rediff

The narrative of Indian Americans is a saga that began over a century ago, a story of dreams, aspirations, and the quest for a better life. The first wave of Indian immigrants arrived on American shores in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, primarily as agricultural workers in California’s fertile farmlands. These pioneers embarked on a journey spanning thousands of miles, leaving behind the familiarity of their homeland for the promise of the American dream.

However, this journey was far from smooth. The early immigrants faced numerous challenges, from the harsh realities of manual labor to the sting of racial discrimination. Yet, they persevered, their resilience echoing in the fields they tilled and the communities they built.

Picture : ASPI Strategist

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 marked a significant turning point in the history of Indian immigration. The Act, which abolished the national origins quota, paved the way for a new wave of Indian immigrants, primarily highly skilled professionals, including doctors, engineers, and scientists. This influx of talent from India played a pivotal role in shaping the American technological and medical landscape. From Silicon Valley startups to leading medical institutions, Indian immigrants began to leave their mark, their contributions reflecting their ambition and drive.

Indian Americans, now numbering an estimated 4.4 million, have emerged as the second-largest Asian American group in the country. The majority of Indian Americans are Hindu (72%), followed by Muslim and Christian populations. But it’s not just their numbers that command attention; it’s the remarkable strides they’ve made in education, income, and professional fields that truly set them apart.

Education is a cornerstone of the Indian American community, with an impressive 73% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. This figure stands in stark contrast to the national average of 33%, underscoring the community’s deep-rooted emphasis on academic excellence. This pursuit of knowledge extends into their professional lives, with one in four Indian Americans making their mark in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Achieving remarkable accomplishments, they have risen to leadership positions in some of the world’s most eminent companies. Their ingenuity, innovation, and steadfast work ethic have propelled them to the forefront of their industries, making them highly respected and influential figures.

Indian Americans are not just employees or professionals; they are business owners, innovators, and job creators. With an estimated 1.2 million businesses under their belt, Indian Americans are making a significant impact on the U.S. economy. These businesses, spanning across various sectors, generate an estimated $1 trillion in annual revenue.

A striking example of this entrepreneurial success can be seen in the hospitality industry. According to a report by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), Indian Americans own more than 40% of all hotels and motels in the United States. This includes approximately 20,000 properties, a testament to their significant presence in this industry. The rise of Indian Americans in the US motel industry has been so remarkable that it has given birth to a playful moniker, the “Patel Motel Cartel.”

Indian Americans have made substantial strides in the political arena. Several notable figures have achieved unprecedented success, inspiring millions within the Indian American community. This rise is a testament to the assimilation of Indian Americans into American society, without losing their unique identity or heritage. It’s a testament to the American public’s growing acceptance of the role Indian Americans play in the progress of America.

The rise of Indian Americans in the US political landscape is powerfully exemplified by Vivek Ramaswamy. An entrepreneur and author, Ramaswamy has made a significant leap into politics as a Republican candidate for the 2024 US presidential elections. Despite facing challenges, including an attack on his Hindu faith, Ramaswamy has garnered cross-party support, underlining the growing acceptance of Indian Americans in politics.

Ramaswamy’s campaign is gaining traction, with him currently ranking third in the national primary field according to the FiveThirtyEight polling aggregate. His active campaigning and media presence have made him a prominent figure in the Republican presidential primary, reflecting the increasing influence of Indian Americans in American politics.

As we look to the future, the Indian American community continues to grow, evolve, and make their mark. Their journey is a testament to the fact that America’s strength lies in its diversity, and its acceptance of Indian-Americans enriches the nation. The story of Indian Americans is not just their story; it’s an integral part of the American narrative.

US Congressional Delegation Meets PM Modi, Strengthening Indo-US Ties

A Bipartisan US Congressional delegation in India for the nation’s 77th Independence Day met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 in New Delhi. During the meeting, Modi praised the bipartisan support as key to strengthening the bilateral strategic relationship between the two democracies.

The delegation included US Representative Ro Khanna of California, Democratic co-chair of the India Caucus, Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, Republican co-chair of the India Caucus, as well as Representatives Ed Case, D-Hawaii, Kat Cammack, R-Florida, Deborah Ross, D-North Carolina, Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, Rich McCormick, R-Georgia, and Shri Thanedar, D-Michigan.

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, PM Modi said, “Glad to receive a Congressional delegation from US, including co-chairs of India Caucus in the House of Representatives, Rep. @RoKhanna and Rep. @michaelgwaltz. Strong bipartisan support from the US Congress is instrumental in further elevating India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.”

Picture : New India Abroad

Welcoming the delegation to India, PM Modi conveyed his appreciation for the “consistent and bipartisan support” of the US Congress and highlighted his recent visit. “Prime Minister fondly recalled his historic State Visit to the US in June at the invitation of President Biden during which he had an opportunity to address a Joint Session of the US Congress for a second time,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Prime Minister and the US delegation highlighted that the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is based on shared democratic values, respect for rule of law and strong people-to-people ties,” the PMO said.

During his June visit to US, PM Modi also attended various events, apart from the address to Congress. He was hosted by Biden as well as First Lady Jill Biden for a state dinner at the White House as well as a State Luncheon by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US Vice President Kamala Harris.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also met US Congressional delegation on August 16, and discussed the transformation underway in India. The two sides exchanged views on advancing the bilateral partnership between India and US. They discussed the global situation and collaboration between India and US on multilateral, regional and global issues.

“A good interaction with US Congressional delegation today. Glad they could join as we celebrated #IndependenceDay. Discussed the transformation underway in India, especially its outcomes of better governance. Shared our aspirations and expectations for Amritkaal. Also exchanged views on our advancing bilateral partnership. Shared perspectives on the global situation and our collaboration on multilateral, regional and global issues,” Minister Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.

“Representatives Khanna, Thanedar, Waltz and others are doing a great service to the bilateral relationship in undertaking this visit. The Indian Embassy in Washington, DC and several other stakeholders have been working closely with them to create an impactful itinerary,” says Sanjeev Joshipura, the Washington DC based executive director of Indiaspora.

This historic visit holds symbolic significance, marking the first time Indian American lawmakers are part of a US House delegation to India, highlighting the growing influence of Indian Americans in US politics and their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations.

For Rep. Khanna, this is history coming full circle. His grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar was an Indian freedom fighter who spent four years in jail alongside Gandhi and later was part of India’s first parliament.

“As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, we are proud to lead a bipartisan delegation to India. We will be there to discuss how to strengthen economic and defense ties between our two counties, the oldest and largest democracies,” Khanna said prior ro his visit to India.

“Both of us believe that the U.S. India relationship will be a defining one of the 21st century. India is a key partner in ensuring multipolarity in Asia and the denial of China as a hegemon. We must continue to strive to make progress and build our partnership based on our shared founding values of democracy, freedom of the press and assembly, and human rights. This delegation is a historic opportunity to drive further collaboration and advance shared aims,” Khanna said

Earlier this year, Khanna and Waltz hosted a historic US-India Summit on the Hill featuring panels and remarks from government leaders, experts, and Indian American leaders from across the country.

“His grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar was an Indian freedom fighter who spent four years in jail alongside Gandhi and later was part of India’s first parliament,” the US government said in its press release referring to the history Ro Khanna and his family share with respect to the Indian Freedom struggle.

On his visit to India, Khanna said, “As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, we are proud to lead a bipartisan delegation to India. We will be there to discuss how to strengthen economic and defense ties between our two counties, the oldest and largest democracies.”

Fragile Freedom Must Be Fiercely Defended

After Prime Minister Modi’s much-celebrated visit to the United States, there was a growing debate as to the level of success compared to the previous visits by Modi himself or the former Indian prime Ministers. In an Economic Times report, various industrialists in India called it trend a setting or landmark visit. However, an article in Time magazine called the Biden-Modi meeting a failure for democracy. The truth is somewhere between these two assertions.

Undoubtedly, Biden’s embrace of Modi was a significant endorsement by Washington that has made several of his allies in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party express deep concern about the state of affairs in India. About 75 Washington lawmakers, Senators, and Congressmen wrote to Biden in an open letter demanding that Biden discuss growing human rights violations in India. American mainstream media in general, decried Modi’s past complicity in rights violations and his current governance that discriminates religious minorities across India.

It is to be noted that Modi was on a visit to the United States when one of the states in the union called, Manipur, was burning by ethnic clashes involving Hindu militants and Tribal Christians. Although the BJP propaganda machine has been eager to portray that as a dispute between two ethnic groups involving land rights, the burning of 243 churches in the Meitei heartland alone reveals the hidden agenda of the party in power. It is inconceivable that Mr. Modi hasn’t spoken about Manipur before or after his state visit to Washington.

Washington’s Deep State’ might have embraced Modi, but the mainstream media’s stories tell altogether a different story about the situation in India. In a press conference held in Washington along with President Biden, Modi pretended to be surprised by the question about how India treats its minorities. Not long after that, the Muslim WSJ reporter who asked that question was threatened and trolled mercilessly by those faithful followers of the Prime Minister.

Picture : TheUNN

There is little doubt in independent minds that Modi has been presiding over a period of rapid deterioration of human rights and religious freedom and the increasing criminali